After an opening blow to the head during Federation membership talks, James Kirk is forced to navigate some very personal waters in order to save a planet which finds itself firmly in its neighbor’s targeting sights. The TrekMovie review of “The White Iris” follows the jump…
Star Trek Continues, now on its fourth episode, has quickly become a leading Star Trek fan film. Filming on one of two nearly complete TOS sets in the United States (Star Trek: Phase II / New Voyages has the other nearly complete set) gives a degree of instant association with the revered classic series, but jeweled blinkies and matching carpeting and paint chips will only get you so far. Story is deeply important to most Star Trek fans, and in this respect, “The White Iris” certainly delivers.
In the episode, Kirk (Vic Mignogna) is representing the Federation to the planet Chalcis, whose leader, Minister Amphidamas (Colin Baker, the Sixth Doctor from Doctor Who), is deeply concerned over the threat posed by neighboring Aretria, who oppose Chalcis’ appeal for Federation membership.
In the wake of an attack on Chalcis, Kirk returns to the Enterprise where an experimental drug leads to a recovery. Of course, a simple recovery would be too much to ask… and Kirk’s is complicated by a breakdown between visions of the past and realities of the present as he struggles to work with his crew and the Chalcins to avert destruction on a global scale.
In looking at the main cast, Vic Mignogna has quickly hit his stride as James Kirk. In “The White Iris”, he is able to deftly balance his own take on Kirk while, at the same time, honoring Shatner’s portrayal of the starship commander. In the episode, one gets the impression that Mignoga may well have drawn on the Kirk of the feature films for inspiration in adapting himself to his temporary ‘issues’, especially as the episode draws to its emotional climax.
Todd Haberkorn continues to grow and develop as Spock. He was the hardest of the Continues crew to really warm up to in the role, at least for me. His turn in “Fairest of Them All” really helped me to accept him in the Spock role, and this time around, essentially nothing about his performance took me away from the episode. He has arrived as Spock.
Chuck Huber, now two episodes (and some vignettes) into his role as McCoy seems to be finding a strong groove. His delivery in the McCoy role is a bit more subtle than DeForest Kelley’s, but on the whole, his performance is strong enough so as not to detract from the overall quality of the episode.
Chris Doohan, STC’s Scotty, felt somewhat underused in this episode. His initial ‘beam up’ call and subsequent dialogue in sickbay felt a bit overdone, but his pacing and delivery settled over the episode, to the point where, by the end, he felt smoother than in past outings.
The supporting players also turn in strong performances – Grant Imahara’s Sulu still takes a bit of getting used to; his delivery still comes across as being a little too much impersonation, but one can tell he has made continual efforts. It was nice to see Kipleigh Brown return as Lieutenant Smith in a second episode. Michelle Specht’s comfort in the role of Dr. MacKenna is obvious. Her presentation in this outing is more subtle at the right times, though finding her in a consultation with Spock and McCoy is still a little jarring – especially in a consultation about Kirk. Specht is fortunate to be a newly-developed character for the series, which ensures that her take on a twenty-third century psychologist finds a comfortable spot quickly.
Not being familiar with the work of Colin Baker, I find it hard to give any comparison with his past work. His appearance in “The White Iris” was adequate, if not a bit over the top in terms of delivery. He is, however, effective in ensuring that you are not quite sure, at least initially, about which side of the planetary squabble really are the good guys. His initial pressing of Kirk for the activation code on the planetary defense grid leaves you feeling that he’s possibly behind the entire situation – and the episode’s sense of dramatic tension is the better for it.
While the story is outstanding, the emotional tenor of “The White Iris” feels slightly out of place in Year 4 of the original five year mission. Kirk feels like he is at a point of development between the events of the first two feature films. It’s hard to simply chalk that up to a whack to the head which, frankly, as probably the weakest element of the entire episode. Though I am not a physician, I do work in a hospital full time, and so I am well versed enough in medicine (and, since my facility has it, trauma medicine) to have been less than convinced by both the injury and the cure provided. Kirk’s speedy physical recovery was almost too fast, and should have been accompanied by a far more insistent McCoy tirade than it got. I can’t help but feel that a different injury or dramatic vehicle could have been more effectively used as the catalyst for Kirk’s situation.
Of course, we at TrekMovie would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the brief cameo spot our own resident scientist Kayla Iacovino filled in “The White Iris”. (And here I thought that Lieutenant Iacovino was busy aboard the Starship Endeavour over in the Star Trek: Seekers series… perhaps she’s got a transporter-produced duplicate!)
Back to the development course being taken by Star Trek Continues (and, for that matter, by Star Trek Phase II/New Voyages), the time will have to come when we are given a clear indication as to whether the fan films are intended to spin off into their own universe independent of the evolution of the feature films, or if they are to full circle back to the return of the Enterprise to spacedock for her major refit. Kirk’s emotional development in Continues on the surface makes one feel like it will become a different universe, but to my knowledge, the goal remains to simply conclude the 5 year mission.
On the whole, “The White Iris” joins a fine lineup of Star Trek Continues episodes that are deserving of broad support. These episodes join a rich heritage of thoughtful and conscientious science fiction that has borne the Star Trek mantle for 50 years. Hopefully, we get 50 more, and then some!