The show opens with footage of the so-called Yonaguni Monument, a natural formation often mistaken for an ancient structure off Japan (it’s closer to Taiwan, but it’s a Japanese territory). The teaser doesn’t really set up the first segment after the credits, which has little to do with the rest of the show. It’s about the Challenger Deep, the deepest known depression in the ocean, followed by some paeans to the mystery of the ocean and its hidden secrets, along with a potted superficial history of oceanography. But the quick mention of real science exists only to lure unsuspecting viewers into thinking Shatner’s shitshow intends to tell the truth about its more extreme claims. By the end of the segment, Shatner is teasing lost continents.
The second segment begins with a discussion of Zealandia, the former landmass that once surrounded New Zealand millions of years ago. This becomes the warrant for swapping in a discussion of something much more recent—the rise in sea levels at the end of the last Ice Age, around 12,000 years ago, which submerged the continental shelf. Michio Kaku shows up to proclaim that “cities” are likely submerged, though he purposely doesn’t define what he means my “cities,” letting Shatner equate the continental shelf with freestanding continents, and “cities” with Atlantis. Soon enough the Ancient Aliens b-team like Hugh Newman and Andrew Collins are speculating wildly about phantom islands and lost continents. Collins discusses the story of Mu as though it were a true story, accepting James Churchward’s false claim to have discovered ancient Muvian tablets in Asia (a story he likely copied wholesale from Helena Blavatsky’s fake story about the Book of Dzyan) and tracing the map of Mu across the Pacific despite the manifest fact that no such land exists beneath the waves and “Mu” is an obvious concoction of equal parts Atlantis and Blavatsky’s Lemuria.
Churchward’s relative Jack Churchward, who doesn’t buy into James’s lies, is edited to look like does.
Shatner then tries to tie Nan Madol, a Polynesian city of basalt blocks, to Mu, borrowing nonsense from sister show Ancient Aliens. Newman calls the city “ridiculous” and impossible to have moved with human hands. Collins asserts that no one knows who built it, and we are meant to think that folklore about magicians building the city is somehow true. Robert Schoch tells us that Nan Madol was possibly the “last remnant of Mu,” though it’s obvious that the producers have edited him to sound like he is endorsing what he must understand is 1920s occult lore.
The third segment covers Yonaguni in terms that would have been embarrassing when Graham Hancock began promoting the site for Western readers as a monument from an Ice Age Atlantis two decades ago. (He piggybacked on fringe Japanese literature.) Schoch calls it an “absolutely incredible structure” and emphasizes its status as an eastern Atlantis, though he had previously, correctly, identified the formation as natural. Deceptive editing, or grifting? Only the producers know for sure. The whole place is an exercise in pareidolia, with its “sculptures,” “terraces,” and “roads” being nothing more than people imagining things into ambiguous natural shapes. Shatner and the talking heads offer a ridiculous claim that “human civilization” originated on Yonaguni.
The fourth segment discusses Lake Titicaca in the Andes Mountains. Brien Foerster, the tour guide, fringe theorist, and white Bible giant hunter who is an Ancient Aliens staple, shows up to say some words. The show splices him in alongside a real archaeologist to equate him with real scientists, part of the show’s propaganda effort to make parasites into heroes. The segment is generally a straightforward discussion of the archaeology of Lake Titicaca, until Foerster comes around at the end to pretend that humanity might have been involved with the lake long before history records humans in the Americas.
The fifth segment devolves into a recitation of Lue Elizondo’s favorite theme, underwater “transmedium” UFOs, with Ancient Aliens resumé-inflator Nick Pope helping to discuss stories of Navy personnel seeing objects rising from or descending into the ocean. Michio Kaku, who is, frankly, a complete fame-whore with no sense of professional standards or ethics left in his Ancient Aliens-loving bank account, asserts that the videos represent extraordinary technology America can’t duplicate and may therefore be extraterrestrial. I wonder what he thinks of a Vegas magic show. The laws of physics must be rewritten! I’m sure he’d say that if someone paid him enough money. Anyway, the segment is mostly recycled material from Ancient Aliens, including the “Malibu formation” Jimmy Church promoted ages ago based on a Google Earth anomaly.
The final segment explores the underwater ruins of Dwarka, found in 1983 and associated with a Vedic legend about a sunken city at the site. Although archaeology places Dwarka’s ruins in known historic times (dates vary, typically somewhere between 1500 BCE and 500 CE), the show alleges it dates back to 9000 BCE, a position favored by Hindu nationalists, who date ruins based on Sanskrit texts rather than facts. The show carefully elides the potential to discover historical cities or Ice Age era human habitations with Ice Age super-cities and “advanced” civilizations to make it seem as though scientists expect that the ocean holds the ruins of the lost global super-culture that Ancient Aliens and its quasi-spinoff shows have so far failed to find.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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