Welcome, True Believers, to the penultimate episode of season two. The phrase “Vanishing Point” means two things. The first is the art term (shades of “Les Écorchés,” two episodes ago), in which in a perspective drawing (an invention during the Renaissance) it is the point at which receding parallel lines appear to converge. In other words, it is an art concept that allows three dimensions to be viewed in two. The second is the more general conceptual definition: the point at which something that has been growing smaller disappears altogether. Both definitions apply to this week’s episode.
This week marks the release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the fifth installment in the Jurassic Park film series. It was 25 years ago that Jurassic Park roared onto the silver screen, introducing audiences to billionaire philanthropist John Hammond’s wildlife park of cloned dinosaurs on the fictional Isla Nublar. Based on the 1990 novel written by Michael Crichton, who also brought us The Andromeda Strain (1969), Westworld (1973), and Coma (1978), Steven Spielberg secured the movie rights for $1.5 million even before the novel was released. He went on to direct this science fiction adventure film at a cost of $63 million but banked a whopping $1.029 billion in box office receipts!
Jurassic Park celebrates its 25th anniversary this summer, and it is one of the best movie-going experiences of my lifetime. The film features my childhood love of dinosaurs and introduces a world where they could be reintroduced into modern society. Now, this doesn’t mean that I expected a life of dinosaurs to come into existence after seeing the movie, but it left me ready to imagine such a reality and then debate whether or not dinosaurs were a good idea, including the cost of creating them.
If you were a kid in the '90s and into dinosaurs, 1993 was your year. When Jurassic Park was released, a Pandora’s box of toy figurines, comic books, and video games was unleashed. At school, if you opened up a copy of the Scholastic book club flyer, you’d probably see advertisements for a couple of Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) books, including Dinosaur Island by Edward Packard.
Not gonna lie, compadres – this might be the best Westworld episode of all time. One day after airing, and it has a 9.4 on IMDb. Avengers: Infinity War (the highest rated film in the franchise) has an 8.8. The Shape of Water, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture last year, has a 7.4. The Handmaid’s Tale, which won the Emmy for Best Prime-time Drama series, averages 8.6. Not that scores mean anything much, I just bring this up to show how much this episode is already becoming a fan and industry favorite. And count me in on that. My reaction when the end credits ran was a combination of shock and joy and for the first time in my life (or so I think), I stood up off the couch and just stood there looking at the television, knowing I wanted to do something and not knowing what. Yeah – I want to marry this episode and have a million of its babies. It’s that good. But I don’t want to oversell it.
Howdy, pardners. Before we git to this week’s hootenanny, some corrections and apologies must be shared. Last week, the person I called James Delos is actually Karl Strand, which kills me a little, because that name is so rich in meaning. “Strand” is German for “beach,” as in the place where they found all the dead hosts, and “strand” is English for either “land bordering water,” “to leave behind or abandon,” or “a fiber or filament twisted together to form a unit,” OR “one of the elements interwoven in a complex whole.” You could not have done more if you named this character “Karl Metaphor.” He is, after all, the one who said, “How did all these disparate threads come to create this nightmare?” Karl Strand wants to know the manner in which the strands came together!?! Damn, people.
“Fundamental Comics,” a monthly editorial series that introduces readers to comics, graphic novels, and manga that have been impactful to the sequential art medium and the comic book industry on a foundational level. Each month, a new essay will examine a familiar or lesser-known title through an in-depth analysis, exploring the history of the title, significant themes, and context for the title’s popularity since it was first released.