6 Burning Questions About The “Star Trek: Discovery” Trailer

The debut trailer for Star Trek: Discovery — the first Trek TV series in 12 years — premiered today at CBS’s upfronts presentation, and it left us with a lot of ~questions~.

1. Is the show’s lead character, first Officer Michael Burnham (The Walking Dead’s Sonequa Martin-Green), part-Vulcan? And if so, is she related to Spock?!

Set 10 years before the events of the original Star Trek TV series, Discovery was likely to tantalize fans with its references to past (or, uh, future) Trek history. The biggest nod in this trailer is Sarek (James Frain), a Vulcan ambassador and the father of Trek’s most indelible character, Spock.

Sarek appears multiple times in the trailer, speaking ominously to Burnham about “great unifiers” needing “a profound cause.” He seems to be a mentor of some sort to her. Their most curious exchange even suggests that he’s known her since she was a child, with a young Burnham wearing a classic Vulcan haircut, and Sarek telling her that she will “never learn Vulcan” because her “tongue is too human.”

So does this mean Burnham is at least part-Vulcan? Sarek sired Spock with a human mother — perhaps her parentage is similar? Spock never had a sister within Trek canon, but perhaps she’s his cousin?

The official poster for Discovery, prominently featuring the classic Vulcan salute, certainly reinforces the idea that Burnham’s heritage is connected to Vulcan.

[Raises single eyebrow] Intriguing.

2. Where is the USS Discovery?

According to CBS, Michelle Yeoh’s character, Captain Philippa Georgiou, commands the USS Shenzhou. But Burnham is supposed to be the first officer on the show’s namesake, the USS Discovery, captained by Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs).

So, where is it? The trailer ends with the Shenzhou engaging the Klingons. Perhaps that encounter does not go very well?

3. How much did they spend on this show?

After the series premiere airs on CBS, Discovery will appear exclusively in the US on the network’s streaming service, CBS All Access. (In Canada, it will appear on Bell Media, and in the rest of the world, the show will air on Netflix.)

In order to make CBS All Access compete with the big streaming services, CBS plainly needs Discovery to pull in the millions of Star Trek fans who faithfully watched the many Trek TV shows during the franchise’s heyday in the 1990s. The $5.99 per month service features about 12 minutes of ads an hour, and an ad-free version costs $9.99 per month — not a small amount of money to ask fans to pay for a single TV show.

And based on the copious, feature-film-quality visual effects in this trailer, it would appear CBS is willing to spend a lot of money to convince those fans to spend theirs.

4. What is with all the lens flares?

In Aug. 2016, in his capacity as Discovery’s showrunner and executive producer, Bryan Fuller told reporters that the show was set in the “Prime” Trek universe. Which is to say, it is not a part of the alternate universe of Paramount’s recent Star Trek movies starring Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto.

But then Fuller left the show to focus on his commitments to the Starz series American Gods. He still has an executive producer credit, and he did write the scripts for the show’s first two episodes, but in December he told Newsweek that he was not involved in the show’s production at all.

Meanwhile, the Trek aesthetic most evoked by Discovery’s trailer is indeed from the recent movie reboots — including swooping camera moves, sleeker uniforms and ship design, and all those lens flares made (in)famous by director JJ Abrams. (Alex Kurtzman, who co-wrote the first two of the Trek reboot movies, also serves an executive producer on Discovery.) Even if the show does remain in the classic Trek TV universe, its visual inspiration is clearly not drawn from the endearingly cheap design of those shows.

5. What’s the deal with the Klingon makeover?

The Klingons will play a key role in Discovery, likely centering on the efforts of T’Kuvma (Chris Obi, pictured), who is described by CBS as “the Klingon leader seeking to unite the Klingon houses.”

But based on the trailer, the Klingons have gone through a rather extreme makeover.

Granted, the Klingons have certainly, um, evolved over time.

1967’s Star Trek
1996’s Star Trek: Klingon videogame
2017’s Star Trek: Discovery

And the Discovery Klingons don’t look quite as intense as the Klingons from 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness.

Paramount Pictures

But still…

@skylatron @StarTrek new look –who dis?! lol

— Jamar Edoho 🕴🏾 (@QuestLvLAwesome)


No, seriously, WHAT ARE THEY???

  1. How did you feel about the Star Trek: Discovery trailer?

    1. I love Trek, and I loved it.

    2. I don’t like Trek, and I loved it.

    3. I love Trek, and I didn’t like it.

    4. I don’t like Trek, and I didn’t like it.

    5. I’m just meh on all of it.

6 Burning Questions About The “Star Trek: Discovery” Trailer


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    For Anyone Who's Still Not Over Mufasa's Death In “The Lion King”

    1. Hi, hello, welcome. Let’s travel back to a time when we were all still innocent. The day was June 15, 1994, and this cool new Disney movie called The Lion King was in theaters.

    2. *NANTS INGONYAMA BAGITHI BABAAAAAAA* Five seconds in and my five-year-old self is already fucking SOLD on this movie. Look at these beautiful animals! This is going to be such a joyful family film experience!

    3. Oh man, this movie already has more hugs than a VERY SPECIAL Full House episode. I am so ready for an hour and a half of pure joy.

    4. These sexy lions are so fucking in love that nothing bad is ever going to happen again, I’m so certain of it.

    7. Anyways, we find out that SEXY LION MAN has a name and it’s Mufasa. His brother Scar DGAF about Simba’s mountain thrusting ceremony and Mufasa is not happy about it.

    10. “I’m about to show you my damn teeth, Scar, that’s how MAD I AM.”

    13. Anyways, time passes and we fast-forward to the day that Simba finds out he is literally lion royalty.

    17. Simba cannot take the hint that his uncle literally hates him even though he does absolutely nothing to hide it.

    18. Then he goes off to sing a whole song about how much he can’t wait for his dad to die.

    20. Simba continues his streak of shitty behavior and goes to the LITERAL ONE PLACE Mufasa told him not to go.

    21. Don’t worry. Mufasa comes through to save him because Mufasa is THE BEST.

    22. And Mufasa and Simba chill and it’s totally normal. They’re just going to keep having happy bonding time for the rest of this movie. It’s gonna be so sweet!

    23. Meanwhile, in the eerie green chemical portion of the mountains, Scar is up to no good.

    25. Things are not looking…good. But, would he really murder his own family? WOULD HE?!

    26. Some amount of time has passed (not sure how much) and Scar is doing what he does best — fucking with Simba’s head.

    30. “Hey Mufasa! Something really bad is happening RN that I totally had nothing to do with! Come quick!”

    32. “But OMG I can’t believe Simba is in grave danger again. It’s almost like it’s not a coincidence.”

    33. Mufasa, the brave hero that he is, dives straight into the middle of the stampede.

    35. Then, he manages to get out of the stampede without being crushed…LIKE A BOSS.

    36. “Can someone lend me a paw? I literally just jumped into the middle of a stampede and still survived.”

    37. Oh good. Scar’s here. He’ll end up doing the right thing, right? It’s his own damn brother.

    42. And then Mufasa looks at his brother with so much pain in his eyes it is literally making me tear up just thinking about it. He is SO GOOD and SO PURE and his whole world is shattered because in this moment he’s just been betrayed by his BLOOD RELATIVE.

    46. And Simba realizes what has happened and he’s like, “Shit I didn’t want you to actually die dad. It was just a catchy I WANT song. They’re in ALL the Disney movies!”

    47. Now it’s about to get so painful, but we’ll get through this together. Simba’s like…maybe dad’s just sleeping? This is what people look like when they sleep.

    50. And then the dark truth sets in, as it always does, and Simba realizes his father is really dead.

    51. So he curls up next to his dad’s lifeless body and it’s honestly the most traumatic thing I’ve ever seen. In this moment we all collectively lost our innocence.

    53. And just when you think it can’t get any worse, fucking SCAR comes and convinces Simba that he’s responsible.

    57. He decides to live life according to Hakuna Matata with Timon and Pumbaa, which I’m pretty sure is code for “smokes a lot of weed.”

    58. And he turns into basically Mufasa 2.0 over the course of one INSTRUMENTAL BREAK.

    59. A lot of stuff happens, but he’s convinced to return to his home after he sees GHOST MUFASA in the sky. And he realizes that his father will always be alive in spirit and it’s so beautiful. It’s actually the only thing that makes Mufasa’s death just a little less painful.

    61. Simba goes home, he defeats Scar, bla bla bla. And then we’re right back where we started because THIS IS THE CIRCLE OF LIFE, DAMNIT…

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    This Might Be The Most Insane Job In “Bachelorette” History

    3. Well, I have some good news. The jobs on the upcoming season of The Bachelorette (which premieres on Monday) are NEXT LEVEL, much like this dramatic overhead shot:

    4. First up, there’s Lucas. His job is a whaboom. Yes, you read that correctly…

    5. W-H-A-B-O-O-M. Whaboom. As in…. whaaaaa the fuck?

    I have no idea what a whaboom is. All Chris Harrison will say is, “It’s hard to explain, but it’s a lifestyle.” YEAH OKAY CHRIS HARRISON.

    6. But I don’t even think the WHABOOM is the craziest, because I’m sure it’ll maybe make sense in context or something. The craziest job this season goes to Jonathan, who is a self-proclaimed TICKLE MONSTER.

    7. Let’s be real, he LOOKS like the kind of guy who identifies as a tickle monster.

    9. Check out all of Rachel’s guys before the big premiere here. (The rest of them have pretty normal jobs, TBH. SO BORING.)

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    Laura Linney And Cynthia Nixon On Acting, Aging, And Empathy

    Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon are attempting a rare feat on Broadway: They’re switching roles every performance. In the Manhattan Theatre Club’s revival of Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes, the actors alternate between playing the lead role (the cunning, assertive Regina Giddens) and a supporting one (Regina’s timid, abused sister-in-law, Birdie). And sometimes — when there’s a matinee and an evening performance — they play both parts in one day.

    This is not the first time Nixon has performed two roles simultaneously: When she was a college freshman in 1984, she managed to appear in two Broadway shows at the same time, The Real Thing and Hurlyburly, running from one theater to the other between performances. Nevertheless, The Little Foxes is a daunting test for both actors. “We’re both making a lot of mistakes, and we’re both learning from the mistakes that we made and watching someone explore something on their own,” Linney said. “I got to a point like the week before we moved into the theater when my brain basically exploded. I could not remember anything. It’s like my brain just started to reject everything, because it had been so much to take in. Fortunately I worked past that.”

    Linney and Nixon have both garnered acclaim for their range and their ability to master two roles. Both earned Tony Award nominations: Linney for Regina, and Nixon for Birdie.

    In a free-flowing conversation at BuzzFeed’s New York headquarters, the actors talked about taking on this unique challenge, as well as their thoughts on the theater at large, aging, and roles for women over 40.

    Left: Linney as Regina and Nixon as Birdie in The Little Foxes. Right: Nixon as Regina and Linney as Birdie. Manhattan Theatre Club

    On sharing the lead role

    Cynthia Nixon: You know, Laura was the person who was really cast in this play, and then she very amazingly invited me in. So I also—

    Laura Linney: I just thought they made a mistake and they should have cast you in this play.

    CN: But I also had to get over the idea, which I’m still getting over a tiny bit, but it’s hard to get over the idea that this is not really Laura’s production, you know what I mean? And nobody made me feel that way, but it was such an amazing thing to be invited, and such an unexpected thing and lovely thing, but intimidating.

    LL: Oh, Cynthia.

    CN: Well, little bit.

    On when they first became aware of each other

    LL: I was aware of her long before she was aware of me, because Cynthia was a legend growing up. If you were a theater kid in New York City, I mean, you wanted to be her. You just did. She was doing two shows at the same time. She was a professional actress before any of the rest of us were. And it was dazzling. And I remember seeing you in both Hurlyburly and The Real Thing. … So I was aware of Cynthia very, very early on.

    CN: Laura, I never told you this, but I passed on two roles at Manhattan Theatre Club, and it was Beggars in the House of Plenty and Sight Unseen.

    “Everything that I hold to be good and true and worthy, I learned in the theater.”

    LL: Thank you!

    CN: And I passed on these two parts, and she got ’em. I saw her in both of them, she was amazing in both of them, and I could never catch her after that.

    LL: MTC [Manhattan Theatre Club], which is where we are now.

    CN: Which is where we are now!

    On getting their starts in theater

    LL: It’s the foundation of how I live my life, actually. My father was a playwright, so I was around it all the time and loved to talk shop with him, just loved it. And basically everything that I hold to be good and true and worthy, I learned in the theater. So not even just about the work, but just about life. Discipline, problem solving, creativity, how to get along with people.

    CN: Collaboration.

    LL: Collaboration. … For me, it has informed every move I’ve ever made. And it saved me in many ways and still does. When things get hard, you can cling to the work.

    CN: My mother was a failed actress, but that was our bread and butter — what we loved most to do was to go to the theater and talk about it and dissect it and understand it. I think that speech that Meryl Streep made at the Golden Globes recently, that just really hits it on the head in terms of why the arts — and just the arts in general, you know, movies-slash-theater-slash-television, the medium where you pretend to be somebody else and other people watch you do that — in terms of teaching you empathy for other people. And, whether you’re the actor or the audience, trying to lose yourself in somebody else’s story.

    I think what Laura was saying about teaching her all the lessons, you know, as a child actor, right, that’s a whole ball of wax. That’s a really mixed bag of stuff. I look at so many people that I knew personally or didn’t know personally but who have ended badly, have died young, have been destitute — there are a lot of bad child-actor-gone-wrong stories, a very high percentage, but I think the thing about it is that a lot of those are Hollywood stories, and you don’t have that same kind of a thing in the theater. And you have people like Sarah Jessica Parker — and it’s also because of her mother and where she came from and all that stuff — but how you’re taught to be responsible for yourself rather than endlessly people waiting for you and bringing you things.

    On competition (or the lack thereof)

    LL: There’s a real passing down in the theater, almost ad nauseam. You have to listen to older people talk about their experience, but it makes you very aware of what has come before you or what is coming after you — that you’re a part of a link in a chain. It’s not all about you. I know that actors and actresses have a great reputation for being very, very selfish, and in some cases, that’s very true. But in the theater I find it doesn’t help you to be selfish. You sort of have to be selfless in the theater, and the more selfless you are — that doesn’t mean don’t take care of yourself — but the more you sort of surrender to the work, I find, the better the work is. That’s just my experience.

    “I still know I have an awful lot to learn.”

    CN: And not to bash LA, but there is always a feeling in LA of where your stock is. Are you the top of the heap at the moment or do you have the blockbuster, did you get cast in that thing? And in New York — not to say New York isn’t a competitive place — but there’s much more of a sense of, we’re all here and some of us are up and some of us are down and some of us are in the middle, but we have a longer view of history and how it works, rather than just this week.

    On taking on smaller projects

    LL: I think we just want to do good work, and you want to get better. I still know I have an awful lot to learn, and I hope I’m put in whatever situation it is that’s gonna help me learn it, or that I’ll get to watch really good people do what they do. Cynthia has Quiet Passion that’s just come out, and I have The Dinner that’s just come out, and these are both low-budget movies that are certainly not summer popcorn films, but I think movies that we’re both very proud of and make us feel good to be a part of. … And some big movies are terrific, and some aren’t. They’re made for different reasons, and they have different impacts and they’re very different experiences making them. But if they’re good, if you’re with good people, then hooray.

    CN: I mean Laura’s been in a lot more big films than I have, but there’s a way in which I feel like, when you’re on an enormous film and there’s an enormous crew and there are three cameras and there are like 20 setups for every scene, first of all, it’s very… I find it very intimidating. And it’s also sort of deadening in a way.

    LL: Yes, you get totally depersonalized.

    CN: It’s like, you have to wait for the camera to come to you. It’s also so much then about the camera and about the fancy things they’re doing, and you’re like a cog. When you’re on a lower-budget film, with one guy who maybe has a camera strapped to him, you’re a much bigger part of that pie. You can be a sliver in a big Hollywood movie, but you can be a quarter of that [indie movie] pie. And I feel like, first of all, there is a real freedom that you feel from that, because it’s like, you know what, if this is terrible, nobody’s gonna ever see it, so I can be more brave.

    On where the best roles are for women over 40

    CN: I feel that the thing about film and particularly about TV, actually, is it’s being created now.

    LL: We’re living in the best time, actually.

    CN: We’re living in the best time so far because there are many more women writing and women directing, women producing, and people are finally catching on to [the fact that] women want to go and buy tickets to see female characters and more than one in a film. So I actually think it’s a very fertile time to be a woman over 40. But having said that—

    “I never felt like a happy-go-lucky ingenue to begin with.”

    LL: Do you wish there was more? Of course.

    CN: Of course. So theater is still catching up. So roles like Regina that are in the canon, they’re few and far between, ’cause it’s written 80 years ago or whatever. There’s Phaedra, there’s Regina, there’s Medea. But there’s really a handful, and when you think about film actresses and film roles that there have been lately, there are many more. But as an actress, you can play a role that you are 22 years too old for and you can get away with it onstage.

    On the privilege of aging

    LL: I just find it a big relief. I never felt like a happy-go-lucky ingenue to begin with.

    CN: We’re serious people, god help us.

    LL: And parts are written better when you’re older. When you’re young, you’re written to be an ingenue, and you’re written to be a quality. You’re actually not written to be a person, you’re written for your youth to inspire someone else, usually a man. So I find it just much more liberating.

    And I don’t mind aging. I mean, my whole thing is, it’s just a privilege to age. I’ve had too many friends die, I’ve watched too many people suffer, it is a total privilege to age. And I get very, very, very irritable with people who complain about getting old, because I know a lot of people who would gladly trade places with us. I’m not saying it’s easy, I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt your feelings, I’m not saying it’s not painful — and physically as well as mentally and spiritually — and it’s frightening at times. However, people have really lost perspective, and it’s a really bizarre topic of conversation that it’s become a cultural peg in our world that aging is a bad thing. It’s not logical to me.

    CN: As the population is, in general, aging, there is more interest in what a 50-year-old, a 60-year-old, a 70-year-old, an 80-year-old is like. And one of the things that just naturally started to happen as I got older — and I could feel younger people looking up to me in a certain way and wanting to know things that I knew — I got interested in the women, in particular, who were 20 years older than me. Because when I was a kid, I wasn’t interested in them — I maybe was like dazzled by them, but now, when I meet women in their sixties and their seventies, I’m really interested in hearing from them. Because I understand in a way that I didn’t 20, 30 years ago, how much they know.

    LL: You also just have much more to offer. You have a lot more to give, the older you get. And you want to give it. I mean, some people want to give it. But there is a desire to pass down, to have a hand in the past and a hand in the future. There’s a continuum.

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    The Experience That Inspired Brad Pitt To Make A Movie About The War In Afghanistan

    1. The satirical comedy War Machine, out on Netflix and in select theaters on May 26, is the latest film from Brad Pitt.

    2. The movie tells the story of General Glen McMahon (Pitt), who tries to “win” the war in Afghanistan.

    War Machine is based on The Operators, a non-fiction book by the late BuzzFeed News reporter Michael Hastings. The Operators is about Hastings’ experience following General Stanley McChrystal around Afghanistan in April 2010, and it became a New York Times best-seller after its release in 2012.

    3. On Tuesday, Pitt answered questions about War Machine during a BuzzFeed News-presented screening and panel discussion.

    Kate Bubacz / BuzzFeed News

    Pitt, who produced the film alongside his Plan B production company partners, was joined on the panel by director David Michôd, political analyst Elise Jordan (who’s also Hasting’s widow), and Plan B co-president Jeremy Kleiner. The taped panel was moderated by BuzzFeed News’ Nancy Youssef.

    4. The actor said he’d previously made a trip to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and talking with soldiers in the hospital became part of his motivation for getting involved with adapting Hastings’ book into a movie.

    5. “The impetus for this film for me was a visit to Walter Reed, and seeing the sacrifice and really looking at it from the point of view as a father,” Pitt said.

    Kate Bubacz / BuzzFeed News

    6. “I met as noble and heroic of individuals as I’ve ever met, and I walked away going, ‘Why? Why? For what? Why?’”

    Kate Bubacz / BuzzFeed News

    7. The actor continued, “It’s what made me want to …. and what made us in our discussions, to follow through with a film of this nature.”

    Kate Bubacz / BuzzFeed News

    8. BuzzFeed News

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    This “Spongebob” Theory Might Explain A Lot About Mr. Krabs And Pearl

    3. Well, one of the biggest unsolved Spongebob mysteries has been about Pearl’s parentage.

    4. Did Mr. Krabs adopt Pearl as his whale baby? Is she his step-daughter? Is she his biological daughter? WHAT’S THE DEAL?


    5. There’s a theory going around that’s about to ruin your childhood as you know it. While the origin appears to be this Reddit thread, it’s had a resurgence on Twitter this week. You ready for it?

    8. But also, HMMMMMMMM? Could it be…true? There’s no denying Mr. Krabs has plenty of cash to spare:


    9. And Pearl definitely really likes both spending money and asking Mr. Krabs for it…


    10. People on Twitter are very *mixed* about whether or not this theory is actually plausible. Some have pointed out that Mr. Krabs uses the word daughter on the show…

    @jordansadlerrr From the episode “tutor sauce” on the spongebob wiki

    — Brandon (@Veil_SSB)

    11. But that might not really mean anything…

    @Veil_SSB @jordansadlerrr To be fair that’s still not definitive evidence. In some sugar baby relationships they us… https://t.co/lKti9BJahm

    — 🐝Norman🐝 (@Chuck_Normis)

    12. Others point out that Nickelodeon doesn’t shy away from dirty jokes:

    @Veil_SSB @Chuck_Normis @jordansadlerrr Spongebob has all kinds of crude jokes though it’s not like they can outrig… https://t.co/BVP8DhVNYh

    — .•°• VC •°•. (@gobthoIemew)

    13. But, then again, there is this *slightly* damning evidence…

    @jordansadlerrr ok i hear you but…

    — berry soto (@sunsetbae)

    1. So, is Mr. Krabs actually Pearl’s Sugar Daddy?

      1. OMG YES.


      3. It’s a Nickelodeon joke that’s not explicit but still kindaaa true.

    This “Spongebob” Theory Might Explain A Lot About Mr. Krabs And Pearl


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      How “Alien: Covenant” Makes Sense Of “Prometheus”

      Katherine Waterston as Daniels in Alien: Covenant Mark Rogers / Twentieth Century Fox

      Katherine Waterston plays a character named Daniels in Alien: Covenant, the second in director Ridley Scott’s series of Alien prequels that began with 2012’s Prometheus. Daniels is a new character with some familiar touches: She’s a crew member on the Covenant, a spaceship containing terraforming equipment and 2,000 colonists suspended in hypersleep, bound for a planet on which the workers and passengers hope to establish a unspoiled home together.

      “Like pioneers,” she says, citing her husband’s description of the future they’ve embarked on. The crew consists mainly of couples, on a journey only meant to be one-way — though their shared dream starts going terribly wrong almost immediately.

      Nevertheless, Daniels persists, through a briskly brutal personal tragedy and having her opinion overruled by the ship’s freshly minted captain, Oram (Billy Crudup), in what turns out to be a fateful decision to set down early and suss out whether a suspiciously perfect planet that’s much closer than their original destination could be a place for them to settle.

      Competent, capable with heavy machinery, crop-haired, and continually overruled by querulous men? Daniels bears all the marks of being Alien: Covenant’s knockoff of Ellen Ripley, the action lead played by Sigourney Weaver in the first four Alien films and a landmark heroine against whom few have measured up.

      The less-than-distinctive Daniels doesn’t come close to Ripley’s iconic arc as an inadvertent warrior, in the same way that Noomi Rapace’s Dr. Elizabeth Shaw fell short when she was set up to invite the same comparison in Prometheus.

      But the more Alien: Covenant unfurls of its great, grim story, the more these evocations of a stronger, more compelling character start to feel intentional, like it’s a feature and not a bug. Like, maybe Daniels isn’t as compelling as Ripley because she was never meant to be, because she’s not the hero of this story. Maybe it’s not the humans, flailing their way through the discovery that the misty, pristine-looking planet they stumbled upon is actually a very bad place on which to land, to whom Alien: Covenant belongs.

      Alien: Covenant — written by John Logan and Dante Harper — is, like all of the Alien films, a survival saga about a tenacious individual dealing with a rapacious life form intent on spreading itself across the universe. But at its center isn’t Daniels but David, the android aesthete introduced in Prometheus and played again in Alien: Covenant by an extraordinary Michael Fassbender.

      It’s David who dramatically turns up on the new planet, revealing himself to have been stranded for years after he and Shaw made their way there in a borrowed spaceship at the end of Prometheus, camping out in the ruins of an Engineer city. If anybody is an answer to Ripley in these prequels, it’s David. And the invasive species — well, that would be us.

      Scott’s 1979 haunted-house-in-space movie Alien and James Cameron’s brawnier 1986 Aliens (and their less reliable follow-ups) are movies about human perseverance in the face of a perfect predator, a nightmare creation capable not just of killing but of implanting itself in someone — of turning a living body into an incubator and a carrier of what’s essentially a weapon. These films were celebrations of the strength of this regular woman and her ability to be not impervious to terror, but able to act in spite of it.

      They made you invest in their collection of mostly doomed characters, something Alien: Covenant and, in a less clear way, Prometheus never ask of the audience. Alien: Covenant characters are also mostly doomed, destined to get offed in vividly disgusting ways, but they’re treated, almost impatiently, as fodder.

      Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that they’re considered at a curious, cruel remove, like a kid burning ants with a magnifying glass. In Alien: Covenant, all the displays of emotion typically used as a way to bring us closer to the characters onscreen instead play as distancing irritants. The crew members’ insecurities, fears, and love for one another seem to inevitably drive them into unsound decisions, like dragging an infected colleague back to the ship for treatment.

      Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland and Michael Fassbender as David Twentieth Century Fox

      The film’s main plot begins with a baker’s dozen or so of the crew, with Demián Bichir, Carmen Ejogo, Danny McBride, Amy Seimetz, and Jussie Smollett among the actors playing them, and the die-off starts almost immediately, not all of it due to extraterrestrial causes. They’re forever courting oblivion with their bold acts of faith, their insistence on taking care of the hurt instead of leaving them behind, and their poorly timed canoodling. Their messy humanity comes across as so inefficient.

      From the point of view of a synthetic — a humanoid robot — like David, it is. And it is, tellingly, David with whom Alien: Covenant begins, in an Earthbound flashback in which Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) awakens his newly created synthetic and tells him about his desire to find meaning behind mankind’s creation. David responds that he doesn’t share these questions, given that his creator is in front of him, and that he isn’t able to share Weyland’s experiences with mortality either.

      “You will die, I will not,” David says, a factual observation, but nothing the god complex–suffering Weyland Corp CEO wants to hear. Displeased, he demands David bring him some tea — a reminder that David was built in some ways to be superior to mankind, but also to serve and not outdo it.

      And yet David is still too close to human — “too idiosyncratic,” in the words of Walter, another android played by Fassbender, who takes care of the crew on the Covenant. “You disturbed people,” Walter tells David in one of their scenes together, which are consistently the best in the film.

      Walter is a more recent model of synthetic who has intentionally been made more robotic — he grinds his vowels a little, in one of the more convenient ways of telling the two apart. Walter is David, lessened, reined in, neutered in order to be less threatening to the species that created him. David — grandiose and effete and quite possibly a little mad from his experiences of use and isolation — has no such limitations.

      Prometheus netted Scott criticism for his shift from a story about monstrous extraterrestrials to one about mythology and the origins of mankind (with the occasional monstrous extraterrestrial); he appeared to be attempting to respond to questions no one seemed to be asking. But the stronger, bleaker Alien: Covenant clarifies Scott’s grander vision for these films, and in particular his themes about the relationship between creators and the created.

      Prometheus and Alien: Covenant are films about faith, both by way of the religiousness expressed by characters like Shaw and Oram, and via Weyland’s more science-filtered insistence that there must be a purpose to humanity — and a way to extend its existence. Weyland in particular is so presumptuously certain that his makers would welcome and assist him that he doesn’t really hear the point that David makes to him in Alien: Covenant’s opening sequence: that David has already met his maker, and that it wasn’t all that fulfilling.

      There are no benevolent gods in Alien: Covenant, and no answers coming — at least not from the Engineers, that enigmatic, highly advanced race shown to have been responsible for humanity’s development in Prometheus. There’s only creation, which is an act of individuality and of ego. Maybe it’s because Alien: Covenant is the work of an older filmmaker revisiting his past, but there’s an embittered, amusing outrageousness to both Alien: Covenant’s terrible beauty and the way Scott flips around his established classic, with its admired heroine, surrounding it in a context of epic human effrontery.

      It’s an Alien movie for our times, one in which mankind isn’t just under the thumb of an oppressive corporation but sewing the seeds of its own destruction on a more sweeping scale. When a xenomorph, in its classic form, finally does make an appearance in Alien: Covenant, we see it not from a horrified human perspective but from the clinical point of view of a synthetic. It’s a forebear of doom, but it also feels like a dark moment of triumph.

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      Why Joss Whedon Is Fighting For Planned Parenthood

      Joss Whedon’s “crushing depression” began in November, when election results swung the United States to the right. But in mid-March, the writer-director behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Avengers, and Avengers: Age of Ultron was resisting despair as he worked through the last day of a three-day shoot for Unlocked, his short film promoting Planned Parenthood.

      That afternoon, Whedon’s crew was setting up a scene in which a woman with breast cancer collapses in pain in her kitchen, dropping her groceries on the floor. The fictional character’s illness had gone undiagnosed because she had no access to preventive screenings — her local Planned Parenthood health center had been shuttered.

      “Women’s health care is so much just about women’s humanity,” Whedon told BuzzFeed News from the Los Angeles set. “It is about whether they have control over their bodies and whether they have control over their minds and their education and their decisions. It’s all wrapped up.”

      Planned Parenthood first approached Whedon to propose a film project about a year ago, he said. He and the organization’s president, Cecile Richards, discussed doing something celebratory for its centennial in October of 2016.

      But that conversation happened in a different world: Though Republicans have tried to defund Planned Parenthood before, they didn’t always control the White House and Congress. When Whedon started shooting this spring, a male lawmaker had recently wondered aloud why prenatal care should be required from health insurers; days after the shoot ended, a male senator would flippantly say — and quickly regret saying — “I wouldn’t want to lose my mammograms.” The Congressional Budget Office reported that the first version of the American Health Care Act would cut federal funding according to four criteria that were met only by Planned Parenthood and its affiliates. “The people most likely to experience reduced access to care would probably reside in areas without other health care clinics or medical practitioners who serve low-income populations,” the CBO concluded.

      The newest version of the AHCA — which aims to replace the Affordable Care Act — also eliminates Medicaid reimbursements for Planned Parenthood, effectively blocking low-income Americans who receive Medicaid benefits from accessing care at the nonprofit. This version passed the House on May 4 and is currently being debated in the Senate.

      Whedon launched the promotional short film in anticipation of Senate deliberations over the fate of the bill — and Planned Parenthood. A significant portion of the 2.5 million people who seek its services each year have very limited options, he said, and in Unlocked he tried to reflect the health care provider’s broad array of services, including breast cancer screenings, sex education, and access to birth control.

      Though he wrote and directed Unlocked, everything in it “has been generated from the women of Planned Parenthood and the stories they told me. … It’s not my voice that should be the last one heard, and I would be very happy if it were not even necessary to be a part of it. But we haven’t gotten there yet.” Whedon urged men to actively support women’s causes; he’s trying to contribute by directing and financing the video. (He also previously partnered with Planned Parenthood for a fundraising initiative in 2015.) “I think the role of men is — like any ally — to help, to observe, and act in the world in a way that’s helpful. To speak up when it’s time to speak up and to shut up when it’s time to shut up, which is the one we’ve never mastered.” (It’s a lesson he also had to learn for himself.)

      Since Donald Trump has become president, many progressive issues have returned to the fore. After the election, “it wasn’t as easy for me to go, ‘Let us take up arms!’” — Whedon had spent months during the presidential campaign making a series of ads indirectly promoting the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. “I was just tired.”

      But he hopes his short film can help bring some focus back to women’s reproductive health care and Planned Parenthood specifically. He does not consider himself an activist, though: “Because I will speak out, and because I have for a long time, I think I get mistaken for a real activist. But then you meet them,” he said, referring to people like the Planned Parenthood volunteers he’d encountered while researching the short. “You meet people who are truly informed and truly articulate and truly have dedicated themselves and given things up for the cause, and you’re like, ‘Okay, I made a video, so I’m cool too.’ … I really am just kind of a worker bee in this particular instance, trying to help the people who are doing the actual work.”

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      This Artist Re-CreatedThe “The Birth Of Adam” With Black Women And It's Stunning

      1. This is Harmonia Rosales, a 33-year-old artist living in Chicago.

      She’s been in tune with her abilities since she was very young. “I’ve been creating art since my motor skills kicked in,” she told BuzzFeed News.

      2. “I was raised in a creative environment,” she said. Rosales also noted that “artistic expression was floating in the air” in her household growing up. Her mother is an artist and her father, a musically inclined guy, played the congas.

      Courtesy of Harmonia Rosales

      Rosales credited her parents for sparking her interest in the arts. “Kids imitate their parents and my parents were great models for me. I repeated visuals of my mother hunched over her art table churning out illustration after illustration starting with a blank canvas and a vision of a full one. I often would crawl under my mother’s art table and track her movements, her brushstrokes, her ideas, her illustrations. She would let me experiment with all her expensive oils and brushes, never once telling me what to paint or how, but letting me find my own style.”

      3. One of Rosales’ pieces, which she calls “The Creation of God” recently went viral.

      The piece is based on Michaelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam,” famously displayed in the Sistine Chapel. “I wanted to take a significant painting, a widely recognized painting that subconsciously or consciously conditions us to see white male figures as powerful and authoritative and flip the script, establish a counter narrative,” she told BuzzFeed News, elaborating on why she decided to make reimagine the well-known work of art with black women.

      4. Says Rosales, “White figures are a staple in classic art featured in major museums. They are the ‘masters’ of the masterpieces. Why should that continue?”

      “Replacing the white male figures — the most represented— with people I believe have been the least represented can begin to recondition our minds to accept new concepts of human value. … If I can touch even a small group of people and empower them through the power of art, then I’ve succeeded in helping to change the way we see the world. … And when you consider that all human life came out of Africa, the Garden of Eden and all, then it only makes sense to paint God as a black woman, sparking life in her own image.”

      5. “In the essence of Picasso, my whole life,” Rosales said when asked how long it took her to create her latest piece. “Every skill, life experience, and emotion has led me straight to this particular piece and every piece thereafter.”

      Courtesy of Harmonia Rosales

      6. And the way in which her ideas form, and the way she’s acted on them, is a very organic process.

      “I have an idea, it might not be fully thought out, but first the idea. Then I let it marinate. Often I’ll place a blank canvas by my bed so that I may wake up and sleep to it. And, while I sleep, it speaks to me,” Rosales said. She also said that she doesn’t sketch her creations, everything happens at once on the canvas by which they are brought to life. “My subjects morph and their expressions change as they speak to me and reveal themselves to me. Sometimes I will go over an area multiple times until they virtually come to life.”

      7. Rosales’ work definitely has a recurring theme: women of color. “I paint women darker then me because I want no one to mistake who I’m representing. I paint what I know, who I identify with,” she told BuzzFeed News.

      “We have been underrepresented and misrepresented for so long that I feel I should paint to empower us. We need powerful images for our youth to see.”

      8. Her daughter is another reason why Rosales is passionate about the work she does. “I want my daughter to grow up proud of her curls and coils, her brown skin, and for her to identify as a woman of color, a woman of value.”

      Courtesy of Harmonia Rosales

      9. “What I do with my art contributes to the way she and all other little girls like her will come to recognize themselves.”

      10. Rosales’ “The Creation of God” will be part of an exhibited series in the near future.

      She also plans to work with fellow artist Aldis Hodge on a series about persecution that will debut at the end of the year. “This particular series will relate to the masses,” she said.

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