Saturday, June 27, 2009

(92) Chains of Betrayal

92 Chains of Betrayal is now online and available for viewing!  This is a Fan-made TNG episode out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  Much awaited, it is available on You-Tube in five parts.  It takes placing during the 5th year of TNG, shortly after the events of "Unifications" (See Pro Trek TV shows).

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Rating: 3.  Word to the wise:  The beginning is the weakest part of this film, and it gets consistently better as you watch it.  If you decide to watch it, commit to watching it through, it will pay off.  This film suffers from several of the biggest problems with fan films... the people who are making it are inexperienced, and try to take multiple roles (directing AND acting) that pros do rarely, because they know it's a trap.  I'm not saying that being Canadian doesn't help.  It helped Shatner and Doohan!  But even Canadians can't do everything!

The following review has been edited due to corrections from the filmmaker.  All of his comments accurately reflect this review as it stood before he made those comments, and all errors are mine, not his.

The acting is very uneven.  Darren Bot starts out awful and work his way up to not distractingly bad.  Although it could also be that Riker is just poorly written here.  He does look the part.  He is a nice looking man.  John Rogers is very good as Worf.  Derek Howard makes a  very good Data, too.  Anna Beard as Dr. Crusher and Tanya Miklenic as Counselor Deanna Troi do good work, much better than many Star Trek fan film's female actors, who are often the weak links in a fan film.  Timothy Williams does well as a white Georgi La Forge.  He handles it strait, which is fine.  There is nothing in this story which would touch on Georgi's race, anyway.   Racan Souiedan takes on a bit too much, but proves a better actor than I at first gave him credit for.  Like I said, watch it through.  The racist characterization of O'Brian, though, was disturbing.  Lance Piebenga was greatly challenged at playing Wesley Crusher by the fact that he was the same age as the other actors, and he could not rise to the part.  I would characterize his work as fair to poor.   Directing was also fair, editing was good.  No long pauses and just one inconsistency, or jumps in the story that just didn't follow, and the story moved along, neither too fast nor too slow.  Writing, likewise, was good.  The story made sense, and gave us clues we would have picked up on in a professional production.  Production work was again, uneven.  The use of what I mistook for a hair dryer at one point as a prop was a distraction. (Mr.    Souiedan has corrected me on this.  You can see his comments as a comment on this section).  Special effects, including using stills of Capt. Jean-Luc Picard with a moving mouth a la Late Night With Conan O'Brian instead of casting an actor took away from the show.  On the other hand, the use of actual footage from the show for the outside of the ships was well integrated into the story.  They did very poorly with the Vulcan and Romulan ears, too.  The uniforms don't fit right, but they aren't terrible either.  Green Screens were initially used poorly, and, again, it improved significantly as the show progressed.  The Green Screens were handled well once you  got to the middle of the story.   Unless you consider the idea that any organization, including Starfleet, can be corrupted and compromised, to be a point, the story did not make a point.  Again, we are in the middle. (Mr. Souiedan indeed wanted to make this point.  Again, read his comments in the comments section).

 This is its You Tube play list,  and home page, , and vis:

Chains of Betrayal 1 of 5  (8:14)
Chains of Betrayal 2 of 5 (8:37)
Chains of Betrayal 3 of 5 (7:14)
Chains of Betrayal 4 of 5 (9:56)

Chains of Betrayal 5 of 5 (5:18)

Here is a history of the Film:
Article in Wikipedia:
Here is the Chains of Betrayal - World Premier Announcement
IMBd ad (I was not successful in getting it through this ad)

The filmmakers has not made this film available for Torrent downloads, and claims by DVD makers that they have this film should be regarded as suspect.

Spoilers and plot summary below.  Comments by the filmmaker below that.

It’s Star Trek: The Next Generation, but, shades of William Shatner and James Montgomery Doohan, they’re ALL Canadians!...

Racan Souiedan is Cpt. Jean-Luc Picard
Darren Bot is Cmdr. William Riker,
Timothy Williams as Lt. Comdr Geordi La Forge
John Rogers as Lt. Worf
Anna Beard as Beverly Crusher (English accent!)
Tanya Miklenic as Counselor Deanna Troi
Derek Howard as Lt. Commander Data
Racan Souiedan as Ambassador Spock
Lance Piebenga as Wesley Crusher
Graham Houston as chief O’Brien
Leanne MacKay as Admiral Hastings
Sam Scott as Tomalak
Alex Wilson as Romulan 1
Bart Newman as Romulan 2
Michael Melgaard as Romulan 3
Adam Benzan as Romulan 4
Jeff McCloy as Franklin
Directed, Produced and Written by Derek Howard and Racan Souiedan
Not credit for who plays Wesley, although he’s in the film. Poor.
Sam Scott Executive Producer and Cinematogralphy
Jamie Quast Editing
Sound editing Derek Howard and Sam Scott
Visual Effects Graham Houston
Improvisonal Monolgue John Rogers

Green screens are used.

Data, Riker, Troi, and a (White) Geordi La Forge are playing bridge, but you can feel them reciting their lines... well, maybe not Troi.  We hear Wesley Crusher on the intercom saying Picard is gone, concluding, without logic, that he’s dead.  Riker is just a very poor actor.  He can’t even slam the table with conviction.

Riker calls a meeting in the small meeting room, and “Young Ensign Crusher” ...Wesley...  is asked to explain why he thinks Capt. Picard is dead.   Ricker is out of control with anger, and Dr. Crusher objects to how Ricker addresses Wesley.   Geordi wants a logical scientific explanation, while Worf expects fowl play.

Geordi and Data are assigned to examine Airlock 14, where Picard was last seen, and Ricker will contact Star Fleet Command.   Wesley joins Data and Geordi in the air lock.  Data thinks the doors opened due to a computer malfunction.  The sensors show what they know... that the captain was then, then gone.

In an officer, Riker sits by a white computer (which has a black face... hmmm...) And tell it to link to Starfleet Command.  A Blonde-wigged woman answers, apparently no older than other college students (no makeup to age was used) she is addressed as “Admiral”.  (Looks like she's wearing a wig.  I've been told now that' not the case.) She asks him to continue his investigation, but Starfleet Security will send Ambassador Spock as their own investigator.

They all sit on one side of a table, and Riker joins them.  No one is satisfied with their findings.  And they are all having trouble coping with the loss of the Captain.  Riker feels that sending Spock undermines his authority.  He is still angry.  We hear a beep, and O'Brian reports that a Shuttle with Spock is attempting to come aboard.

End of Part I Start of Part II

We see the shuttle come in, then Riker meets Spock in the air lock. Spock must speak with him in private.  But they talk in the tube between floors.  Riker says it’s a computer malfuction.  Spock points out Starfleet suspects otherwise, or he wouldn’t have been sent, and his mind meld with Captain Picard gives him insight into him that no one else has.

Spock received the preliminary report, but also demands unlimited access to computer logs, including the personal logs of the Senior Staff.   Riker must comply.  Spock does not seem Spock-like.

In private quarters, Troi complains she has a headache, that her special senses are blocked, and has felt so since almost the start of the investigation.   Riker suspects Spock.   Spock finds personal logs in which Riker complains that the good of the ship in their mission to Romulous is being subordinated to the needs of Spock, and that if that continues he’ll have to take matters into his own hands.  Spock calls the Admiral and reports a suspect.

Riker, called out by Spock, says the log was months ago, and his loyalty is to the ship.  Spock also uncovered that Geordi needed out on the Poker game to do maintenance on Air Lock 14, the one in question, and Riker delayed it to get the game going.

The crew, in 10 Forward,  still has the same status, but Riker is locked in his quarters.  The scans show that Capt. Picard was in the air lock when it decompressed. Troy, Wesley, Geordi, and Data confer with O'Brian.  “We all know Will’s innocent, right?” Troi asks.  Wesley purses his lips.  Worf assures them that Riker has honor, and Geordi also has full confidence in  Commander Riker.  They agree they stand by Riker, but Georgi is troubled.  Dispite Data’s statistics showing 43 such accidents on Galaxy Class starships, this doesn’t happen on the Enterprise.

Spock’s investigation seems confined to listening to personal logs.  We hear Wesley complain that nobody listens to him, while Troi comments that Riker is acting strangely and wants his own command.  Un-Spock-like Spock says, “I have you now, Commander Riker.”

End of 2.  Beginning of 3

Spock calls in the crew, who examine his findings and say they don’t stand up.  Riker takes back the ship with the mutney of the crew and a pair of phasers.  Spock is escorted to his quarters where he reports his failure to get the Enterprise into the Neutral Zone to Romulan Command.  They say they’ll do it themselves, and they don’t tolerate failure.  Spock is told to disable the Enterprise’s weapons systems.  He will die when the Enterprise is destroyed.

They get the distress call from the neutral zone, and discuss the dangers, with Wesley saying that he has a bad feeling about this. “It’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees.”  Worf says in Klingon.  Spock  sneaks out of his room and is doing something with a hair drier in a hallway or tube.  Disabling the engines?  It’s not clear.  They get where they were going and find no distressed ship, but two Romulan Warbirds uncloak and attack.  Spock appears on the bridge and demands that they surrender, rendering Worf unconscious.  When Wesley is hit and he and his mother are transported to sickbay, Picard appears and phasers Spock, then orders Data to take the Enterprise to specific coordinates.  He is coordinating with the Klingons, who promply decloak.  The Romulans Cloak and flee.

End of 3.  Beginning of 4

“Permission to come aboard, No. 1" says Picard.  They go to the meeting room, where Picard reports that he had found Spock acting out of character and erradic, some months after their mind meld.  Attempts to get intelligence from Starfleet failed, so he allied himself with the Klingons, who were more forthcoming with help to investigate Spock’s behavior.  Spock had disappeared just a week after a meeting with Tomalak.  Picard was convinced Spock had been abducted and replaced with a Romulan impostor, and Starfleet wasn’t going to look at it.

Picard knew that, due to the mind meld, Spock would be sent if he disappeared, so he arranged to disappear with the Klingons.  The Klingons and he waited to see if the fake Spock would try to lure the Enterprise into Romulan space.  They followed signatures of cloaked Romulan ships, and believe they know where the real Spock is being held.  But Suddenly Georgi is in Engineering doing repairs, which have a long way to go.  The best he can give Picard is warp 2.5.  Picard says, “Set a course, Engage.”

The Enterprise is shown in orbit around a planet with no atmosphere, but the crew discusses the atmosphere of the planet, as well as electronic interference with their scans.  But they do detect a few lifesigns and what Counselor Try calls a “Strong mind” on the surface.

Picard insists, over Riker’s objections, that he is going down to the planet to get Spock, and Riker comes to, leaving Troy with the Com on the Bridge.  (Not Geordi?)  O'Brian is drunk as the beams down Dr. Crusher, Riker, Capt. Picard, and Warf.

They arrive, two Romulans dispatch the required redshirt, Franklin, and Worf dispatches both of them.  A battle ensues, in which phasers are the weapons but Worf waves a useless knife.  Worf and Riker win the fight, getting rid of the Romulans.  Riker makes a dumb remark, “Guess we didn’t need Franklin after all.”  There is a force field that can only be disabled by Data’s body so he does so.  Data survives, and they go in looking to rescue Spock.

The two guards says if they move they’ll kill Spock.  Picard points out they are in Federation space, and if they kill him it will mean war.  The Romulans beam out.  Picard lets them go so they can tell the Romulan Senate what happened.  Spock is unharmed when they remove what Worf calls the “Chains of Betrayal.” and sings something in Klingon.  They call on O’Brien to return them to the ship.

End of 4.  Beginning of 5.

We see a full cut of  Patrick Stewart's Picard ordering tea, earl grey, hot, before switching back to the Conan O’Brian Picard with another person’s mouth.  He meets with Ambassador Spock, who tells about being mislead about progress toward unification and being kidnapped and held.  Spock commends Picard for his death ploy, and says the Romulans will not again be able to establish a secret base in Federation Territory.  The real Spock does not seem “off.”

They find no reason Picard was not given access to Spock’s reports, which had hereto always been public.  Clearly, the imposter was getting help from within Star Fleet Command.  “This could be the tip of a very large, very ugly iceberg.” Picard notes.   Closing sequence Patrick Stewart from when he returned from the Borg... he is disturbed (and wearing bandages) .


  1. This is a repost from Racan Souiedan. Unfortunately, I published his remark before realizing he included his e-mail, then couldn't delete it without deleting the rest of the post, so I've reposted the rest of the post.

    Thanks so much for reviewing our film, Barbara. I really appreciate your feedback, and I'm in many respects surprised at how canny your insight was into several aspects of the production. Do you have an email address I could contact you at? I just wanted to clear up a few factors with which I believe our sloppy work may have misled you. I would least like to explain a few of our directorial decisions to you.

  2. I think you're right in caling the acting a bit uneven, though the reason for this was more our rush to film, and the minimal notice we gave the cast. Darren Bot, for instance, came in to shoot on less than 24 hours notice, without having seen a script in over a year. Darren was not involved with writing the script, so any blame for giving him weak dialogue rests squarely with Derek and myself. We only had $200 to make the film, and our goal was simply to capture the story, which is why there's often sloppy makeup, costumes, and props. We also weren't well aware of the fan film community, and consciously tried to create a product that was well written and slightly humourous, but not too serious. We made "Chains of Betrayal" more for our friends in East Vancouver and the local music community, but also out of a love for Star Trek. Derek Howard and Sam Scott are very experienced film professionals, but our tight deadline got the better of us in the technical department more than a few times.

    I wanted to comment more specifically on a few points of your excellent review, just to clarify:

    1) The characters were generally written to represent extremes. That's why Riker is so rude and aggressive, and why Worf degenerates into killing and song whenever he can. Casting decisions like having a white Geordi were made by necessity, not choice. Again, we only had four days to shoot this, so we had to make a lot of tough calls. We were obsessed with "beating Abrams to it!" by getting our film premiered before the Star Trek XI reboot.

    2) I noticed you took issue with our portrayal of O'Brien, which I can certainly appreciate, but our intention was not to lampoon or belittle him. We were inspired by DS9 in setting him up as a playful drunk, as in that series him and Dr. Bashir often indulged in liquor after visits to the holosuites.

    3) The hair dryer prop is actually a light meter used for photography, and Admiral Hastings isn't wearing a wig (bad makeup/camera angle?). These are just further examples of laziness on our part.

    4) We didn't credit Wesley in the opening sequence because it's supposed to be set in season five, though our chronology and characterization of him is probably pretty inconsistent in other respects.

    5) Our decision to have stills of Picard and a voiceover was made out of deference to Patrick Stewart. We honestly didn't feel that anybody could do the part justice as a live actor, so we hoped that an authentic voice and real footage would speak to the character's power and presence.

    6) I think you hinted at the underlying purpose of the film, and you were definitely right. We took cues from the first season episode "Conspiracy" and were again inspired by DS9 in our choice as well, especially the show's more negative portrayal of the Federation, particulay with the intelligence group Section 31. We wanted to imply an underlying conspiracy within the Federation to work with the Romulan Empire, perhaps to crush the reunification movement or simply to weaken the Federation. We also wanted to make a point about privacy issues and heightened surveillance in recent years, by showing the impostor Spock sifting through everybody's personal logs. Our ending was designed to set up a possible sequel, although I doubt we'll ever get around to writing another script!

    I hope the above information is helpful in providing readers with a bit more context about "Chains of Betrayal", and the reasons behind some of our decisions. It's very flattering to have received the interest and attention of the fan community. That's been a rewarding part of this process for Derek, Sam, and I. We're just happy to finally have the film online for people to check out, regardless of what opinion they take from it.

  3. best fan fiction ever.