Tor.com content by

Leah Schnelbach

The Monster of the Week is Time Itself in The X-Files: “Home Again”

It’s wonderful to see that after that clunky first episode, the rest of the new X-Files season has been strong. Honestly, last week’s “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” (minus that awful transphobic joke) and this week’s “Home Again” are among the best episodes the show has ever produced. Where last week focused on Mulder and his evolving quest for THE TRUTH, this week brought us down to a human level, as Scully dealt with personal tragedy.

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The Real Monster is Stephen Colbert in this Homage to The Twilight Zone

Some were concerned when Stephen Colbert left basic cable for CBS that he would need to soften his humor. So far, I think he’s avoided giving in to the demands of The Man admirably, and this week he also showed us one of the benefits of working or a corporate overlord: you can totally use all their stuff! Yes, just as NBC’s acquisition of Universal back in 2004 gave us Conan O’Brien’s greatest triumph: “The Walker, Texas Ranger Lever“, so has CBS’ mighty vault coughed forth Colbert’s “Twilight Zone: Just the Twists”.

[Also, how weird is it to see smoking on TV?]

We’re Going Back…to a Galaxy Long Ago and Far, Far Away

A mad Parisian genius known as Thirsty Bstrd has given us the single greatest work of nostalgia we’ve seen in a long time. What would happen if one combined the power of Star Wars and Back to the Future? What happens is that Obi Wan Kenobi has to guide young Luke Skywalker into the past, to ensure that Anakin and Amidala find true, if brief, love.

Let’s not dwell on just how much incest is happening, OK?

[Poor Luke really can’t catch a break here, can he?]

Is Swamps of Sadness Land Just a Neverending Line?

Have you ever dreamed of mounting a Luck Dragon and sailing off into the sky, raining hot justice down upon any bully you saw? Did you ever want to stand in front of The Rock Biter and whisper, “They look like such big, strong, hands” to yourself, and then weep openly in front of strangers? Did you ever want to stand before a pair of half-naked Sphinxes, screaming “BE CONFIDENT” in your mind as you imagine their eyes juuuust starting to open?

Boy do we have the theme park for you.

Bavaria Films is a Universal-esque theme park with a German twist, said twist being that you can relive all the horror you experienced the first time you watched The Neverending Story, and oh yeah! There’s a Das Boot exhibit. Fun for the whole family.

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The True Enemy is Revealed in The Expanse: “Critical Mass” and “Leviathan Wakes”

The Expanse ended last night with a two-part finale that easily ranked as a highlight of the season. Both episodes were tense, balanced perfectly between action on Earth and in the Belt, and best of all, gave us solid character development through the action. It also left us with a few answers, but many more questions as we wait for season two. I’m tackling both halves of The Expanse season finale, and once again, I think it’s easiest to pull the threads apart where I can and discuss the show in pieces.

Spoilers ahead!

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American Gods Adaptation Casts Ricky Whittle as Shadow Moon

We have a Shadow! The much-anticipated TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods has cast The 100‘s Ricky Whittle in the lead role of Shadow Moon. American Gods‘ showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green have been searching for a Shadow for months now, saying, “We searched every continent and country and all the islands in between for our Shadow Moon, and we are lucky to have found Ricky. Fans of the novel will find he has every bit of the heart of the character they fell in love with.”

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When Noir Meets Space Opera: The Expanse, “Salvage”

This week’s episode of The Expanse may have been the best yet, balancing tension and action into a great hour of space opera. We go with the crew of the Rocinante as they continue their salvage mission/favor for Fred Johnson, while former Detective Miller traces clues to Eros in search of Juliet Mao. This episode gave me an excuse to say, “They’re on a collision course with wackiness!” And reader, they were.

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What To Expect When You’re Expecting — The X-Files: “Founder’s Mutation”

After a somewhat shaky pilot, The X-Files miniseries gives us a much stronger second episode with “Founder’s Mutation.” The plot is a classic slice of series in the “monster-of-the-week” vein: A suicide wasn’t simply a suicide, but only Mulder sees that there’s something weird; Scully goes along with him, all the while thinking he’s overreacting; the plot eventually ties back in with Mulder and Scully’s personal life in an organic way that adds resonance to both threads. Plus, Skinner gets to be awesome!

Spoilers ahead.

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Do We Still Want to Believe? The X-Files: “My Struggle”

After much hype and an interminable football game, The X-Files returned to TV last night, bringing some of the old band back together. We had Fox Mulder, looking like he’d been run through the blade of a Black Helicopter; Dana Scully, no-nonsense, stunning, and occasionally covered in other peoples’ blood; AD Skinner showed up to bark exposition and plead with Mulder to just love him already; and Chris Carter was back to write the sort of long-winded harangues that have become more common on cable news sites than paranormal dramas.

I think I’m glad they’re all back? I think I liked it? It gets a little confusing, but I’ll do my best to recap the important stuff and dig into the heights of tension and the sloughs of mythology arcs below. So, if everyone is don la maison, we’ll begin. I hope the Smoking Man’s in this one.

Spoilers ahead!

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Star Wars is an Action Series Defined By Heroic Vulnerability

I’ve seen The Force Awakens twice since it came out, and I was trying to figure out what exactly made it so compelling to me. I finally realized that it honors a tradition from the Original Trilogy: in the midst of an often cartoonish space opera, it’s the moments of heroic vulnerability—not moments of action—that define the series. The more I thought about it, the more I came to believe that this is the emotional undercurrent that kept the trilogy so vital, and the fact that The Force Awakens embraces this theme is part of the newest film’s success.

Spoilers for The Force Awakens to follow.

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Series: Star Wars on Tor.com

Race, Publishing, and H.P. Lovecraft: A Conversation With Daniel José Older and Victor LaValle

Earlier this week, a large and enthusiastic crowd packed Greenlight Bookstore in defiance of freezing temperature and threats of snow. Greenlight hosted a launch party for Midnight Taxi Tango, Daniel José Older’s second novel in the Bone Street Rumba series. But rather than the usual reading-and-wine-soaked-light-conversation that is the centerpiece of most literary events, this party soon became a lively and wide-ranging conversation about race, publishing, and the true legacy of H.P. Lovecraft. Older’s reading was fantastic, but it was his discussion with Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver and the forthcoming The Ballad of Black Tom, that turned the event into one of the best literary nights I’ve ever attended.

[Don’t kill your darlings – put them on Twitter!]

Chewbacca Watches Kylo Ren Grow Up

Tyson Murphy, the Lead Character artist at Blizzard Entertainment, decided to break all of our hearts over the weekend when he posted this bittersweet comic on his Tumblr. It tells the story of Kylo Ren’s turn to the Dark Side through a particularly sad lens… You can check out the whole strip below, but beware of (A) spoilers for The Force Awakens, and (B) all the sadness in the galaxy.

[Seriously, it’s a lot of sadness.]