This is the final post of the Axanar critique. Thanks for joining me on this ramble through the script. I hope you enjoyed it.
Axanar ends on the planet. I’m guessing this is the peace conference. All of the delegates and bystandards are mingling. Travis has survived. Even though we won’t see it, I bet he’s changed.
Garth is busy looking at the sky.
April: None of this would have happened without you, Kel. I’m proud of you.
Meta-Captain April: We gave you a task a cadet could handle, and you didn’t fuck up. Good job.
Garth needs to get some angsting in before the end.
Garth: A lot of good people gave their lives up there. They’re the ones who made this possible. Not me.
That’s why the script has been all about Garth and not about those good people, right?
Since the script has focused on Garth to the exclusion of everyone else, as much as the writers want it to be seen as humility, it strikes one as false humility.
April: That’s it. You’re teaching humility at the Academy next semester.
Meta-Captain April: You’ll serve as a horrible warning.
(they both laugh)
For different reasons.
Here’s what I know. When the moment came, you made the tough calls.
It’s easy when you don’t have real relationships. From page one, the other characters were there for Garth to use to their advantage. Throwing them away took no more effort that throwing away a tissue.
That’s what it means to sit in the big chair.
What is with the constant references to the captain’s chair as “the big chair”? Once is a nice character trait, but this happens in dialogue and description.
Now that he’s praised Garth, April gets back to the Enterprise, probably so someone else can come kiss Garth’s feet.
April EXITS. As Garth turns to leave as well, he sees Kharn has been STANDING NEARBY, waiting for him.
Of course, he has.
Garth thanks Kharn for the effort he’s put into the peace treaty. So, Kharn has changed from a Khan-type character to a proto-Gorkon. Poor guy must have whiplash.
The pair starts walking and talking because if we’re not going to have a battle scene, we’d better have a walk-and-talk.
Garth wants to know what Kharn will do next. Kharn is apparently going to ride herd on the hardliners to give peace a better chance.
Garth: I certainly hope we’ve done more than simply postpone this war for another generation to fight.
That’s pretty much the definition of warfare right there. When did Garth become the naïve idealist?
Kharn: We Klingons are a proud people, Captain. But some of us know that winning a battle, while losing an Empire, is no victory.
Garth: And losing a battle, while preserving an Empire, is no defeat.
Deep Space Nine’s “Way of the Warrior.” I don’t really see the Klingon proverbs as being homage or plagiarism. It’s established in Trek that they’re a part of Klingon culture, so I’d expect them to be used sparingly in derivative works.
(smiles at Kharn’s look)
Yeah, I’ve read your book.
I think the script is trying to establish that Garth knew what Kharn was going to do because he read Kharn’s book, but we were never shown him with Kharn’s book so it doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Also, there’s something familiar about that line. Homage or parallel development, you decide.
Kharn: Perhaps if I had read yours, Axanar would have ended differently.
Or if you’d checked out your surroundings. Or not had a shapeshifting spy on your ship. Don’t give Garth too much credit here. (Hah, who am I kidding?)
Garth: That’s why I never wrote one.
“I just let other people write them for me.”
Kharn smiles. Truly, this Izarian is worthy of his respect.
The writers just can help themselves, can they? Three pages to go and they have to work in a little more praise of Garth.
Anyway, they pause in the walk-and-talk.
Kharn: There is a custom, I believe ,from Earth’s age of sail.
That’s “Age of Sail” to anyone who knows a damn thing about it. And why is a Klingon following an Earth tradition that’s centuries out of date by this point? Is there a Klingon branch of the Society for Creative Anachronism? (Fun fact: The offering of the sword dates back considerably further than the Age of Sail. It was also not confined to naval tradition.)
(he pulls out his knife)
Oh, I see. Sue needs a trophy.
Kharn: The master of a ship, having lost in battle, would present his weapon to the one who had bested him.
Why is Kharn educating Garth on Earth history? You know, it would make a lot more sense if this were cast as a Klingon custom. The audience would see the parallels—Garth could even remark on it—but it wouldn’t be as bizarre as a Klingon performing an Earth ritual.
(hands it to Garth)
This was my weapon, Captain.
Garth take the knife, honored. He’d like to return the gesture, but has nothing to give.
That’s why Kharn is educating Garth; Garth doesn’t know anything about his own planet’s history. If he did, he might know that occasionally a victorious commander would return the defeated commander’s weapon or refuse to take it, symbolically allowing him to retain honor.
Of course, once you give a Sue something, you’re never getting it back. It’s like my late dog with a toy.
Then he remembers – there’s an ARES PATCH on the shoulder of his dress uniform.
Garth uses the knife to remove it and hands it to Kharn.
“You get a patch! You get a patch! You get a patch! EVERYBODY GETS A PATCH!”
I am laughing so hard right now that I’m crying. Garth has nothing but patches. I know, I’m ruining a touching moment between Kharn and Garth. Still, if there’s a moment that sums up all of Axanar, that’s it.
Anyway, the patch stands for Ares, Garth’s weapon. Yeah, that was totally a vessel of exploration.
They shake hands and the script gives us another novel-worthy line: Born under different stars…they are brothers in arms.
Aw, how happy.
We have to have a parallel scene, however, so we jump to Soval and Mor’o, who discuss the future. They talk a little about politicking, apparently Vulcans and Klingons have a bit in common. Soval tells Mor’o he probably had to be more subtle that Soval did.
Mor’o: A Klingon more subtle than a Vulcan?
Soval: (arches an eyebrow) It is most illogical.
M’oro laughs, so I think that’s supposed to be a joke. It will never be as funny as Garth giving Kharn a patch, though.
Back to Garth, who is admiring his new trophy.
He looks at the knife, its blade still marked by the flames. He wonders how many lives it’s taken – a reminder that the price of peace is always paid in blood.
I’d love to see someone try to act that. With the number of unactable (inactable?) character lines in the script, I’d guess the writers are somewhat unfamiliar with how actors work.
Satisfied, Garth heads down the path towards the terrace…
…and is suddenly GRABBED AND DRAGGED OUT OF SIGHT.
My God, will this story never end? So much false tension here you could cut it with a cardboard knife. Wet cardboard.
It’s Corax. Of course, we need a little false tension so at first she’s in her Klingon guise and threatens to kill Garth, but then she changes back after taking his new toy away to show how awesome she is with her combat skills.
Corax: Or…you could just thank me. [instead of her “gutting him like a Targ”] We’ll figure something out.
I bet you will. It still won’t be appropriate.
Garth hails the Ares and says there are two to beam up. Leonov answers. That poor Transporter Chief must be back in the head.
Garth and Corax stand together, looking at one another with admiration and affection.
We’re on the last page, Garth has to get a little more admiration in before we end.
Garth congratulates her on her performance.
Corax holds something up…it’s the PAWN.
Oh, yeah, that had to make an appearance. SYMBOLISM. Of course, it has exactly nothing to symbolize here. It’s just a pawn.
Corax: I know. (smiling) That’s why you hired me.
Yeah, because that’s something that happens in Starfleet.
She tosses it to Garth.
Another trophy for our Sue. He’s getting quite a collection.
FADE TO BLACK.
Now that I’ve made my way through the Axanar script, I can say that I do not believe it measured up to the hype.
From the perspective of someone familiar with story structure, characterization, theme, and so on, it lacks what is required to be a successful story in its own right. It certainly had no commercial potential, which would require it to have an engaging plot and characters, to say nothing of snappier dialogue and more compelling visuals. Planning on it being a “calling card” for the team’s industry work was over-ambitious.
That said, I think it could have been a fun little fan film at least on par with Of Gods and Men and Renegades. Why? It has a lot of elements that identify it as belonging to the in-group: TNG-style technobabble and briefing rooms; shield percentages and tech-tech exploding; philosophizing, even if it’s quite shallow; Klingon proverbs. More than that, it has a Mary Sue who doesn’t exist as an independent character. As with the Twilight or Fifty Shades of Gray series, the main character is a hole the story that the audience can occupy. Audience members can make the writers’ fantasy their own. It’s regrettable that the creators couldn’t recognize Axanar for what it was and embrace those qualities. As those of us involved in community theater recognize, performance is not about being a union actor or winning a Tony; a good show, at whatever level, brings joy to its audience. As Trek community theater, Axanar could have brought joy to a lot of people. It just went a little too far, and its pride brought it down.