Posted on April 10, 2023
I was watching Dune (again!) last night when it occurred to me I was witnessing one of the most devastating betrayals in science fiction history. That immediately started my brain rolling on what other betrayals exist that are even close to the gravitas of Dr. Yueh dropping the shield wall.
- Dune – without question, no other dastardly act stands shoulder to shoulder with this one. Especially the way Denis Villeneuve depicts it in Dune Part 1. Absolutely heartbreaking.
- Order 66 – the idea of a massive slaughter of the Republic’s most noble knights at the hands of their former comrades is equal to the one in Dune, but its depiction in the prequels undermines its true importance.
- Soylent Green – that the rich are feeding the poor to the poor while munching on steak and fine wine is betrayal enough, but what really poured salt into the wound was the marketing department dipshit who decided to spoil the ending by having Chuck Heston scream, “Soylent Green is people!” in the trailer.
- Dr. Smith – the various incarnations of Lost In Space all rely on the inciting incident of Dr. Smith stowing away and trying to use the robot to kill the Robinson family. Each iteration has further refined Smith into a worse and worse monster, finally landing on a vicious sociopath who isn’t even a doctor at all.
- Alien – The corporation deciding the crew was expendable as long as they got their weaponized, acid-blooded chaos demon for R&D was pretty shocking at the time. However…
- Aliens – Imagine if Paul Rudd stabbed you in the back and left you to die. That’s right, sweet & funny Paul Rudd snickering as he abandoned you in a ditch. Well, back in 1986 the role of Paul Rudd was played by Paul Reiser and he tried to “impregnate” Ripley and Newt with alien chest bursters so he could get a percentage. A perfect comment on late stage capitalism and the Reagan era.
- Battlestar Galactica – Watching whole planets get razed because one horndog scientist let his little head do the thinking at exactly the wrong moment was excruciating.
- The Matrix – I like to pretend I’ve only seen the first Matrix movie and, honestly, I can’t remember anything from the second and third films (and may not, in fact, have even seen the third one), but I’ll never forget Cypher’s heel turn. That’s a big WOW in a movie full of big WOWs.
- Harry Potter – Yes, HP is not science fiction, it’s fantasy, but one could argue the same for Star Wars. I felt compelled to include it here as at least an honorable mention if for no other reason than Snape pulling the extremely rare fake heel turn to face turn.
As for why I was watching Dune (again!) last night, it’s just the most compelling story I know. I read it at least once a year from 8th grade through college and then sporadically thereafter. To see the absolute piece of art that is Dune Part 1 is to reconnect with a core artifact of my being.
There are three movies I turn to when I’m up late, can’t (or won’t) sleep, and don’t find anything on the one million channels compelling: Dune Part 1, Blade Runner, and Tucker & Dale vs Evil. They are all can’t miss choices. You can drop into any part of the story and immediately get swept along.