Blood And Fire – Part II

Star Trek: Phase II

This is an episode of a fan-made series whose storyline may be invalidated by later official studio productions.

Stardate not given: A boarding party from the Enterprise is trapped aboard the derelict Copernicus, which is infested with Regulan bloodworms – an infestation which demands the immediate destruction of the Copernicus and the sacrifice of anyone left aboard her, per Starfleet regulations. But the boarding party includes Spock, Rand, DeSalle and Captain Kirk’s nephew Peter, so he’s in no hurry to execute the mandatory order to destroy Copernicus. Scotty tries a last-ditch maneuver, beaming the boarding party to another deck of the Copernicus – one where, amazingly, Spock’s team finds survivors, including Dr. Jenna Yar and the secretive Commander Blodgett. Dr. Yar claims to be working on a cure for the plague spread by the bloodworms, but McCoy dismisses her proposed treatment as impossibly dangerous for any patients subjected to the process. With time running out, McCoy comes up with his own alternative to Yar’s treatment, and insists on beaming himself to the Copernicus to administer it; if it doesn’t work, he’ll be sentencing himself to death along with the boarding party. In the midst of this already-bleak scenario a Klingon ship arrives, commanded by Kirk’s nemesis Commander Kargh, who is ready to destroy the Copernicus and all aboard if Kirk won’t.

Watch Itwritten by Carlos Pedraza & David Gerrold
directed by David Gerrold
music by Fred Steiner

Cast: James Cawley (Captain Kirk), Ben Toplin (Mr. Spock), John Kelley (Dr. McCoy), Bobby Quinn Rice (Ensign Peter Kirk), Evan Fowler (Alex Freeman), Denise Crosby (Dr. Jenna Yar), Bill Blair (Commander Blodgett), John Carrigan (Commander Kargh), Charles Root (Scott), Jay Storey (Kyle), Kim Stinger (Uhura), Ron Boyd (DeSalle), Andy Bray (Chekov), Meghan King Johnson (Rand), Nick Cook (Hodel), Paul R. Sieber (Agrens), Patrick Bell (Xon), Debbie Huth (Fontana), Jeff Mailhotte (Sentell), Joel Bellucci (Bren), Anne Carrigan (Le’ak), James Avalon (Klaar)

Notes: Dr. Jenna Yar (full name: Jenna Natasha Yar) is the grandmother of Lt. Tasha Yar from Star Trek: The Next Generation; by this stage she has already had a daughter, presumably Tasha’s mother, who is safe on Earth and isn’t seen in this story. Section 31 is retroactively worked into the classic Trek timeline here; it was actually first mentioned in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in the 1990s, and later in Star Trek: Enterprise.

Review: The long-awaited second half of this Trek cliffhanger arrived more than a year after the first part hit the web, and even so, I’m writing this review based on a mostly-complete pre-release edit whose final two acts are still in the “temp edit” stage.

Star Trek: Phase II - Blood And Fire, Part IIThe first part of Blood And Fire was about as good as a fan film’s going to get anytime soon, so all that part two has to do is live up to it. In a strange way, it succeeds and doesn’t quite reach the same level, all at the same time. It succeeds in wrapping up the actual story, bringing Section 31 into the fray and adding a surprisingly low-key celebrity cameo from Denise Crosby, and it barrels toward the inevitable grim conclusion of the happy couple set up in part one (anytime wedding bells are heard aboard the Enterprise, it’s practically the bell of doom for somebody – see also Balance Of Terror).

I hesitate to criticize the pacing or editing of segments of the show that aren’t finalized, because in the end it may not be what everyone else sees when Blood And Fire Part II hits the web in finished form; there’s an element of the story that unfolds in an almost Farpoint-esque way, and it’s given a lot of time to unfold like that. And yet I like, or at least understand, some of the editing decisions – the sheer sense of wonder is palpable, the effects are gorgeous and the part of me that still enjoys the languid FX shots of Star Trek: The Motion Picture doesn’t want them to touch the pacing at all.

Punches are not pulled on telegraphing to the audience the scope of the personal loss that Peter Kirk faces, and Bobby Rice pulls no punches in getting that across. Some of his dialogue is looped in the scene where all of these plot developments come home, and while it may not sound completely naturalistic, it is at least true to the editing style of classic Trek (go back and watch the closing scenes of Charlie X for a similar example).

For the regular cast, Kirk and company and thrust into more conflict than even the movies have foisted upon those characters, particularly between Kirk and McCoy. Bones gets to be a downright irascible bastard in this episode, and John Kelley is up to the challenge of taking him there. High marks are also due for Evan Fowler and for Denise Crosby, who gets something a bit less campy than Sela here. Bill Blair does the best he can in the role of Blodgett, but the character as written stops just short of twirling his moustache in some scenes.

Overall, it’s another outstanding entry for Phase II / New Voyages; I guess my ambivalence about this episode as opposed to Part I is that I’m wondering where the allegory went. For years, tales have circulated about Blood And Fire being an appropriately fiery criticism of the lack of forward motion on a cure for AIDS, with the bloodworms standing in for the disease; Part II really seems to drop that ball. I was ready – and rooting for – David Gerrold to tear into all sorts of social injustices, and somehow it just doesn’t happen. Maybe over the years the legend became bigger than the story itself. In any case, the script as written/rewritten is expertly executed.

November 20, 2009

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