Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Eagle Butte
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Several TV series explore history and space and warrant viewing on cold nights


Netflix is currently running Black Earth Rising, the story of a young woman raised with privilege and prestige by an international human rights lawyer, Eve Ahsby, living in Britain.

Legal Investigator Kate Ahsby, adopted out of Rwanda during the genocide of the 1990’s, struggles with her desire to know her biological family and to reconcile the anger she feels about the genocide of her people.

The external conflict arises when Eve Ashby takes on the case of a man who fought the genocide in the Congo, but is being charged with crimes against humanity.

Kate begs her mother not to take the case, but Eve does anyway, and both she and her client are murdered before a key recording can be played in the trial.

The series hinges on this recording, and the secrets buried in the adoption of Kate and what happened to her family and all of the people who were with her family at the time of their deaths.

The series has many flaws, but those flaws are overshadowed by the real-world dilemmas people find themselves grappling with on personal, interpersonal, and political levels.

The series questions everything from inter-racial and inter-national adoptions; the traumatic impact of genocide and other violent acts between groups of people divided along political, religious or racial lines; who controls the telling of history and why; what happens to a person who seems to fit in nowhere.

Kate identifies as a British African Tutsi. Some 800,000 Tutsi people were murdered by the Hutu majority during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

In 1997, the Tutsi army wiped out some 50,000 women, children, and sickly Hutus at a refugee camp in Zaire, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The story of Kate Ashby is imbedded in real events, but she is a fictional character who is forced to come to terms with a past that haunted her dreams. She is even more shocked when she discovers the past she thought true, was in fact false.

I highly recommend this series, which can be accessed on Netflix. The actors draw you in, but the plotline keeps you watching, feeding the audience with pieces of the past as Kate picks apart the puzzle half of the characters seem so determined to hide until the time is right, and the other half determined to hide at any cost.

Minus a few cliché lines, and a few glitches in the characterization of Kate and other characters, the series is worth delving into for is acting and its exploration of the impact of international affairs and political agendas on individual people.

The series was written and directed by Hugo Blick, and stars Michaela Coel as Kate, John Goodman as Kate’s boss, International Human Rights Lawyer Michael Ennis, Noma Dumezweni as Alice Munezero and Lucian Msamati as David Runihura. Blick also takes on a small role as a nasty lawyer in the show who also helps unravel the mystery of Kate’s past.

Star Trek: Discovery takes the audience on a different ship and through a series of battles that bend time and space.

While not well-received by some trekkies, and struggling in places to provide adequate justification for the decisions and actions of characters in certain situations, causing the audience to spend a little too much time wondering how the characters could be so daft, the series provides enough play in the Star Trek Universe and for the less knowledgeable trekkie (like me), to be entertaining.

That means, if you do not know the ins and outs of the characters and their timelines in the original Star Trek shows and films, then you will not be bothered about the changes and alterations made in this series.

That said, the show hinges on the USS Discovery’s journey to discover new worlds roughly a decade before Captain Kirk’s five-year mission — as portrayed in the original “Star Trek” from the 1960s — and a century before the events of “Star Trek: Enterprise.”

Created by Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman for CBS All Access, the series explores an incident mentioned in the original franchise, but that was never fully explored.

The USS Shenzhou searches for a damaged satellite and in the process finds an ancient ship dormant in the debris field of rocks. The ship turns out to be Klingon and First Office Micheal Burnham, who went out to investigate the object, faces a Klingon warrior she accidentally kills in her attempt to escape.

The first episode of the first season ends with Burnham accused of and sentenced to mutiny before she finds herself enlisted to work on the USS Discovery. The backdrop of the series is the Klingon Wars. 

The show stars Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham, as well as Doug Jones, Anthony Rapp and Mary Wiseman.

The efforts to authenticate the Klingon’s works, and as with other Star Trek shows, we are introduced to a wide range of intelligent species and their cultural realities. If you are interested in a good story with an exploration into how different cultures and people with different issues and agendas do or do not overcome their divides, as well as the possibilities of space and time, then I recommend Star Trek: Discovery.