Two ships, 150 men trapped in arctic ice for two years.
Vainglorious leadership, months of darkness, native mysticism, spoiled food, alcoholism, scurvy, lead poisoning, and a creature picking off the men one by one, growing bolder in its forays.
The series really gets going when the amber twilight of the last meager autumn day– lasting but a few minutes– winks out, leaving the crew to fend off the creature and weather the darkness and cold in their crooked, heaving ships.
The men lose their minds. There is slow starvation, mutiny, suicide, and omnipresent fear.
When desperation pushes them off their ships, they attempt to cross a frozen hell, lugging their boats over the ice. Landfall and daylight brings no respite from the blinding, night-less desolation.
Some men falter, others rise to the occasion. Great conflict and drama ensues.
I loved it.
Well acted. Well directed. Well paced. Check it out.
Set inside the Superbunker on the eve of nuclear war… Here’s a snippet from the draft of chapter 11:
The football game resumed. The Saxons had scored a touchdown during Jin’s interlude, but somehow the Normans had scored as well. The game was now tied at 17 with two minutes left in the game. The Saxons broke the huddle and approached the line of scrimmage which was their own twenty yard line. The home crowd quieted once more. The first play was a pass that resulted in an eight yard gain. The second play connected for ten yards. McGuinn signaled for a timeout. After commercials for lite beer, erection pills, and more pickup trucks, the game returned. McGuinn ran four plays, connecting with his receivers on each, taking the Saxons down to the Norman forty yard line. There were fifty seconds remaining in the game. McGuinn rushed up to the line while the clock ticked away. Forty-nine… forty-eight… forty-seven… He took the snap and spiked the ball into the ground, stopping the clock at forty-four seconds. The camera cut to the pot-bellied Saxon place kicker who kneaded a football, placed it on a tee, and with a look of furrowed seriousness, booted it into a practice net on the sideline. His longest-ever, career field goal was fifty four yards. From where the ball was placed, it would be a fifty seven yard try. The Saxons knew they had to gain a few more yards to have a decent chance.
Coach Fulbright took off his headset. His lips silently formed words on the screen. McGuinn lifted his helmet and his lips started to move. Then Fulbright, noticing that a camera was zooming in on his face from a hundred yards away, covered his mouth with his laminated play sheet that resembled a Denny’s menu. McGuinn stopped talking and just nodded every couple seconds. Then McGuinn turned and ran out onto the field and into the Saxon huddle. The huddle broke and the players assumed their positions. McGuinn took the snap on first sound and extended the ball to the halfback who cut towards the right side of the line… but it was a play action fake. McGuinn rolled out with the ball in the other direction. The Norman linebacker pursuing from the back side discovered the ruse and cut towards, preparing to murder him. McGuinn was just able to get the pass off before he was pile driven into the ground, face first. The ball wobbled out, fluttering downfield about ten yards before it was intercepted by the Norman safety who was already charging fast…
The referee watching the play unfold could easily discern that the interception would be returned for a touchdown. He glanced at the flattened Brock McGuinn, then over to the charging Norman defender who snatched the fluttering ball out of the air and continued, without breaking stride, towards the goal, then he looked back at McGuinn…
And as if he was perhaps overcome by some sense cognitive dissonance at the notion of the underdogs actually winning the game…
Or perhaps because he was subtly informed by his supervisor before the game that it would be best for television ratings that Brock McGuinn continue playing in the post season for as long as possible…
Or perhaps because he was of Anglo-Saxon decent and ancient blood rivalries are sub-consciously passed on through genetic inheritance…
Or perhaps it was a legitimate, objective, unbiased assessment of the situation that merited a personal foul call…
The referee reached into his pocket, withdrew his yellow hanker chief weighted by a roll of pennies and…
The Norman safety ran into the end zone and spiked the ball. His teammates followed him and embraced each other and celebrated the miracle play and good fortune, but they heard the Saxon crowd begin to cheer and they instantly knew something was amiss. They turned back toward the original line of scrimmage and their fears were realized when they spotted the yellow flag and they spotted the skinny-armed, villainous referee whom they now cursed, and they spotted their arch-nemesis Brock McGuinn, now up on his knees, tufts of mud and grass stuck in his facemask and a shit-eating grin scrawled across his face.
“Unnecessary roughness!” shouted the president with unrestrained glee. “Fifteen yard penalty! Fuck you Normans!”
The skinny-armed referee announced the call and the crowd went into a frenzy of approval. The chubby Norman coach protested and spiked his headset to no avail. The ball was moved to the twenty five yard line. There were thirty two seconds left in the game.
The Saxons called three halfback dives in succession, forcing the Normans to use their timeouts. With twenty one seconds left, the pot-bellied Saxon kicker pranced out onto the field in his spotless uniform. The teams took their pre-snap positions. The crowd fell silent, meditating on the field goal that would secure victory. The long snapper snapped the ball. The holder plucked it from the air and set it on the ground. The kicker approached, planted his left foot and unleashed his coiled right leg. The ball launched toward the center of the uprights, over the outstretched hands of the desperate defense. The kick started out true. The crowd’s roar built. But then the ball started to fade left. The crowd roared louder, as if they might will it through the uprights with their screams. The ball tumbled, hooking toward the left post it…
The screen went totally dark…
“What the fuck is going on?” screamed the POTUS.
The cabinet members stared at each other and at the blackened screen in confusion. Then the page poked his head into the situation room.
“Mr. President, you have a call on the bat line.”
Loved season 1. Season 2 is terrible. Plot is hopelessly convoluted. It’s awful writing is anchored in unnecessary, unending, over the top violence. The compelling metaphysical questions are completely AWOL. The episodes are relegated to repeated scenes of shooting and murdering through obstacles, backed by a cheesey, SyFy Channel-grade soundtrack. There’s no one to root for. It’s just terrible. This show has jumped the shark. Too bad.
Sayeth Trump regarding the JFK assassination documents that were to be released a year ago:
“I agree with the Archivist’s recommendation that the continued withholdings are necessary to protect against identifiable harm to national security, law enforcement, or foreign affairs that is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in immediate disclosure.”
Set inside the Superbunker on the eve of nuclear war… Here’s a draft snippet from chapter 13:
The workers trapped inside the bunker turned away from the just-sealed blast doors and staggered aimlessly back towards their work stations. They passed through gauntlets of gawking elites, some smugly sipping their iced coffees, others casting looks of contrived concern, but most just appearing perplexed by the dazed looks on the sulking workers in gray shirts.
“Why do they look so glum, grandfather?” asked the little toe-head Prince Edward William Charles Henry, while clasping the aged hand of his great grandfather, James Edward William George, the Duke of Watford Gap, who was also the grandfather of the second-in-succession to the future King of England, Prince Henry William Edward Philip, who was already balding at thirteen years old and who himself would be crowned king in the unfortunate circumstance that his cousin, prince William George James Edward were to meet some unfortunate circumstance…
The Duke of Watford Gap patted the little prince of the top of his blond head, between the boy’s two enormous ears, while examining the throngs of trapped and stunned day workers shuffling past. “Everybody is saying we must have more people brought down into the bunker,” the Duke pondered, “But the people that are here are looking ghastly that they’re here.”
In Sector 16, the French sector, the glum procession was observed by French President Magimel and his sultry, ivory-skinned mistress from the balcony of his suite.
“Francoise?” she asked.
“What is wrong with them?” she asked in French, her upturned nipples visible through her sheer robe.
“Who, my dear?”
“The workers. The Greys.”
President Magimel, who stood draped behind the burgundy silk of his curtains wearing only his silver rolex, took a long drag on his electric cigarette and exhaled the steam. “Madame,” he answered as his eyes rolled up into his bushy gray eyebrows in introspection, “it is because hope is the source of all sadness and worry.”
“I feel sad for them.”
“Because they are the fortunate ones.”
“But they are separated from their families.”
“My dear, this bunker— this soute— will soon be all that is left of the world.”
“I still feel sad for them.”
“Don’t. Their lives have been spared. What else can be done for them?”
“Still, we must do something to cheer them. I think that perhaps we should let them have a sherbert.”
In the southern quadrant, which was situated the farthest possible distance from the European and North American sectors, were the hostels of the Sub Saharan African nations. Sector 178 was the partition carved off by the United Nations for Zimbabwe which comprised a single suite, floored in marble and fine finishes, constructed for the elites of that country which consisted of an allotment of two PINs: one for the Zimbabwe president and one for his special guest. The Greys who worked that section— almost entirely Mexican immigrants and high-minded bourgeois-leftist coeds— appeared even more sullen than those who worked in the others. Sensing that there would be no empathy forthcoming from their African masters, the quadrant in which they were now trapped was culturally and linguistically and radically foreign to them. They had every reason to fear being permanently estranged from their loved ones in that purgatory for the remainder of their lives.
The president of Zimbabwe, himself a murderous gangster bankrolled into power by Chinese industrialists, poured back his champagne, snorted a vile of cocaine, and belched out a derisive, schadenfreude laugh at the lowly caste of The Greys lumbering past under his window.
“Attention!” came the vaguely sultry voice over the loudspeakers again. “Attention: all guest worker personnel. Please refer to lodging instructions on the Superbunker intranet home page. You are required to report to your designated Protocol 4 accommodations within thirty minutes of the end of your shift.”
Writes Wolf Richter:
“What’s next? The day when we cannot get dental insurance without Internet-connected toothbrush.
There are many people who think nothing of it. They laugh at us. For them, we’re fossils that just cannot grasp the modern world where private life takes place on the Internet and is stored forever in the cloud. Formerly innocuous devices like toothbrushes, dolls, TVs, thermostats, fridges, mattresses, or toilet-paper dispensers, that are everywhere around the house, will see to it that more and more personal and even intimate data gets uploaded to the cloud as the Internet of Things invades not only our home but our body cavities.”