The following article discusses spoilers for The Elysian Kingdom.Theres a genre of writing best embodied by the serial escalation of premises found on forum threads in certain corners of the internet. Its the sort of energy that imbues this weeks Strange New Worlds as it takes a one-episode detour into a fantasy parody. Not content with dropping the crew into a swords-and-sorcery romp, theyre all tasked with playing against type! Oh, and the only people who can save them is an awkward buddy-cop duo of the noble Doctor and the grouchy engineer! Shut this off five minutes or so before the ending and this could easily be the second best episode of the shows first season.The Elysian Kingdom is both the episodes title, and the subject of the book Dr. MBenga has been reading to his terminally ill daughter Rukiya throughout the series. Shes annoyed by the ending, which requires the noble king to choose what thing hes willing to give up at the conclusion of the story. MBenga tells her, when hes cured her, she can rewrite the story any which way she chooses. And before you can say gee, that foreshadowing was a bit on the nose, the Enterprise gets caught up in the nebula its been studying, unable to move.By the time the doctor gets to the bridge, the ship has been covered in tapestries and ye olde tiki torches. Everyone bar him (and, as it turns out, Hemmer), has been mind-wiped into becoming characters from the book. Pike is a cowardly courtier, Laan is a comedy Disney princess, Uhura is the big villain and Spock is an evil wizard with a Fabio wig and two-day stubble that reminds us all Ethan Peck is, in fact, hot under that goofy Vulcan haircut.Marni Grossman / Paramount+Its been a while since weve seen Star Trek lean into its often-denied campy side and, as Ive said before, its a groove Strange New Worlds works well in. The fact the series feels confident enough to do this just eight episodes into its first run speaks volumes about how the creative team are doing. (You just know theres a whiteboard in the writers room with Musical Episode(?) written up top, and Im here for it.) If theres a downside, its that the ensemble is big enough that some actors get short-changed in their moments to play out of character. Of course, none of this would work without Babs Olusanmokuns central performance to hold the story together, aware of the ridiculousness of the situation but remaining true to MBengas inner turmoil.Of course, I wouldnt be writing about Strange New Worlds if there wasnt also a small list of annoyances. The tone reminds me a lot of Futuramas glorious M*A*S*H parody with iHawk, the robot with a Maudlin / Irreverent switch on his side. This episode wants the switch to be jammed at both ends, mixing high camp with a meditation on, uh, something.We must now talk about the ending, (again, spoiler warning) which is such a weird left turn that it makes my scalp feel itchy just thinking about it. The denouement of the episode sees the sentient nebula offer to take Rukiya off the ship and cure her illness, allowing her to live a life of fantasy in the stars. She appears, moments later, as an adult, telling her father about her life and reassuring him he made the right decision to let her go. Suitably resolved, hes back at work minutes later.Marni Grossman / Paramount+Sorry, it doesnt sit right. I can understand the notion of giving up your kid to save their life, and parents have thrown kids from burning buildings on that basis. But the idea hed make that decision in about half a minutes conversation with a sentient space cloud with unclear motives? MBenga has spent the whole season so far working to find a cure for Rukiya, and was even given a promising lead just two weeks back. This storyline has been seeded through enough of the series that this feels like its the creative team course-correcting.Im going to go out on a limb and say the abruptness of this is the resolution of a production problem. My guess is that nobody realized just how quickly children age, making it difficult for Sage Arrindell to play a child trapped in temporal stasis. Its the reason Malcolm David Kelly left Lost at the end of its first season: You cant pretend everyone has spent just 40 days on the island if the kid visibly ages a year since they shot the pilot. (I assume, too, the episode was shot on the standing Enterprise sets as a way of saving cash for the finale unless those gorgeous period costumes rinsed through the shows substantial budget.)Alternatively, the writers planned this out and it was always meant to be something that resolved itself within the first season. In that case, Im forced to wonder who in the world thought that a father just handing over his kid in such an arbitrary fashion was a smart emotional beat. Unless its one of those situations where more emphasis was placed on the surprise of it, rather than the logic, narratively or emotionally. To me, it feels a bit like yet another Strange New Worlds episode where, much as I want to offer praise, theres always something that leaves me a bit cold.
If you're looking to upgrade to a speedy, compact desktop, Apple's Mac Mini M1 is a good option. The machine is back on sale at Amazon right now for $570 thanks to a coupon that knocks $99 off its price. That's the lowest price we've seen on the desktop that runs on Apple's M1 chipset, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.Buy Mac Mini M1 (256GB) at Amazon - $570Yes, we're on M2 machines at this point, but only a couple of Apple computers run on that updated processor (and only the M2 MacBook Pro is even available right now). The Mac Mini M1 remains the most affordable way to get an M1 device in your home, too, as the latest iPad Pros that share the same processor start at around $799. The desktop is powered by an eight-core CPU and eight-core GPU, plus a 16-core Neural Engine. While we haven't given the Mini M1 the full review treatment, you can expect it to run similarly to the MacBook Air M1, which is speedily and efficiently.While the Mac Mini M1's design isn't anything to write home about, that almost works to its advantage. Apple didn't change much from the Intel version, keeping the machine a sleek, square box interrupted only by a couple of ports: two Thunderbolt ports, two USB-A connectors, an Ethernet port, one HDMI port and a headphone jack.The biggest issue we have with the desktop is its lack of upgradeability its RAM and storage are soldered in place, so you're stuck with the amount that you initially purchase. RAM is arguably more crucial than storage here, since you can always connect an external SSD to the Mini M1 if you need to offload important files. If those limitations don't bother you, the Mac Mini M1 could be a great replacement for your aging desktop.Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.
Spotify has expanded its old Concert Hub and added more features to make it easier to find information and tickets for live events in your location. The streaming service sources listings for the hub, now called Live Events Feed, from its ticketing partners that include Ticketmaster, AXS, DICE, Eventbrite and See Tickets, among other companies. During the height of COVID-19 lockdowns, the Concert Hub helped users find at-home or studio performances, podcast recordings and other online performances. Turns out Spotify was studying user behavior at the same time. Sam Sheridan, Product Manager for Live Events Discovery, said Spotify spent the past two years studying the music industry and its users. One of the most important behaviors the company noticed was that fans would engage with artists on the platform and then leave to search for concert listings or to follow them on social media to be able to stay on top of any upcoming tour dates. "We think the Live Events Feed is an opportunity to help close this loop," Sheridan said. If you don't see the Live Events Feed in your app, simply search for "live events." You'll see a listing of all the performances in your area, and clicking on any of them would lead you to an interface that includes a link where you can find and buy tickets. If the artist you're listening to has an upcoming tour date, Spotify will show you that event in-app while you're listening. Spotify has also built a new messaging tool that can notify you about upcoming concerts based on your listening habits. Don't worry you can tweak your notification preferences so you don't have to get messages if you don't want to. Sheridan says Spotify will work "to even further integrate event discovery directly into the app" to make it more intertwined with the listening experience, so we'll likely see more updates to Live Events in the future.