Star Trek: Discovery

"Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum"

2 stars

Air date: 11/5/2017
Written by Kirsten Beyer
Directed by John S. Scott

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The biggest problem with Discovery is that too much of the larger narrative feels like a messy, contrived improvisation that suffers from the fact that entire scenes — possibly entire subplots — appear to be missing. Consider this episode, which benefits from some pretty decent character work for Saru — but also features a subplot involving the Klingons that is so fragmented and filled with inexplicable character actions that it sometimes borders on incoherence. Even the title — "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum," which translates to "If you want peace, prepare for war" — doesn't really make sense given what's actually happening in the episode. (The war has already been underway for months, so why are the writers being both pretentious and inaccurate?)

And yet the show holds my interest and keeps me wanting to know what comes next because of its notable forward momentum. It's like a freight train that keeps moving, but every so often throws me out of the boxcar and into a ditch so I have to get up and try to jump back on.

There are moments when this felt like the most involving episode of the season, and others where I didn't know whether characters were lying or just stupid. It's gotten to the point where I'm assuming scenes that don't add up are because either (a) the writers are coyly hiding things or (b) have simply written a mess. I know I've said this before, but it continues to be this series' modus operandi: Do a bunch of things that might make sense later, or possibly never, but definitely not now.

On the good side of the scale, the story opens with what is perhaps the best and most visually coherent space battle so far on this series, which shows Lorca using battle tactics (and a willingness to put his ship in direct line-of-fire danger) to try to save a fellow Starfleet vessel under attack by the Klingons. He fails, and it's a moment that shows how Discovery's spore drive does not guarantee battle victories when outnumbered against cloaked adversaries.

To attempt to overcome the cloaking disadvantage, a Discovery landing party (Saru, Burnham, Tyler) investigates the mysterious properties of Pahvo, a world that vibrates in a musical unison of shared life force. It's believed the secret behind this "music" might serve as a type of "space sonar" that could make the cloaked Klingon ships visible to Starfleet and turn the tide of the war. That tide (apparently in unseen scenes) has turned against Starfleet, which now is back on the losing side after all the winning that Discovery had previously brought. Apparently Starfleet was winning so much they got sick of all the winning and said "It's just too much winning!" and decided it was time for some losing.

The landing party's investigation reveals the existence of the Pahvans — intelligent beings who exist as wisps of light in a unified experience with their natural world. This falls squarely into the "seek out new life" mantra of Trek, and the Pahvans' communication with Saru has a profound effect on him that's well-sold by Doug Jones: He is able to overcome his hard-coded Kelpian fear for the first time in his life. This has the side effect of making him abandon the mission in favor of instead trying to show Burnham and Tyler the true gifts of this world rather than plundering its secrets for technological gain. Jones is good in these scenes, and through him the story is especially effective in revealing the true depths of Saru's plight as someone constantly afraid of the universe because it's built into his DNA — and what a relief it is to finally be free of that lifelong fear. This, of course, is a play on the Trekkian staple of "alien influence drives a character to become the story's antagonist," requiring Burnham and Tyler to figure out how to stop Saru from sabotaging the mission. But it's effectively rooted in Saru's character, so it pays good dividends.

On the bad side of the scale is the stuff aboard the Klingon ship, which is riddled with question-raising plot gaps. Admiral Cornwell is being held prisoner by Kol on the sarcophagus ship. Kol wants L'Rell to interrogate Cornwell because of L'Rell's renowned skills as an interrogator. L'Rell agrees to do so, but instead quickly announces to Cornwell that she wants to defect to the Federation in exchange for freeing her.

This comes so far out of left field that I at first assumed it was a sly interrogation tactic meant to gain Cornwell's trust in a way that would be used against her. But no, apparently L'Rell hates Kol and wants out of this mess. (Also for other unknown reasons possibly involving Tyler.) L'Rell and Cornwell walk down a corridor, apparently to escape, and Kol sees them. With the jig being up, L'Rell kills Cornwell in a manner and with shot selection that makes you question whether Cornwell is actually dead. L'Rell then sees all her colleagues have been executed by Kol. Kol later calls her out as a traitor, then accepts her into his house when she kneels before him, then orders her to be executed by his minions (who are interrupted by the next plot point).

In a word: Huh?

I'm at a loss here. These events are so strangely depicted that I don't know what's actually happening, what's "clever" subterfuge, and what's simply incompetence by the show's writers and director. It's probably a combination of all three.

Add this to the other missing pieces here: L'Rell has somehow ended up on this ship with Kol again (how, when, and why? — and why would Kol even have entertained accepting her after she and Voq deserted him?) after having been (inexplicably in the first place) on the prison ship. Meanwhile, Voq is mysteriously still absent (L'Rell mentions him as having just gone off into some self-imposed exile — yeah, right), further fueling all the nonsense/speculation around how and when Tyler will play into this, which seems like an untenable plot disaster just waiting to happen.

Look, I really want Discovery to be a good show, but so far the larger arc stops and starts in weird fits, major gaps are completely ignored, the characters are all over the map, and the show lacks a larger scope of world-building and supporting characters. L'Rell has bounced all over the place because she and Kol are apparently the only Klingons in the universe that matter.

The longer this goes on, the more this series feels like it adds up to less than the sum of its parts — which, let me also say, are mostly okay. But I want more than okay. The paradox about this and many episodes of Discovery so far is that they often work in the moment. But if you give it any thought after the fact, things begin to fall apart. The bar here should be higher than passive non-scrutiny. The bar in terms of drama and writing should be Battlestar Galactica if that's the sort of television Discovery is trying to be (which, it seems to me, is probably the best comparison in terms of hybrid serialized/episodic character-driven sci-fi exploring a war backdrop). So far, Discovery is hitting nowhere close to that.

The final scene hints at shades of "Errand of Mercy" by having the alien Pahvans intervene in the conflict between Starfleet and the Klingons by inviting Kol to rendezvous with Lorca at their planet. Nothing can go wrong here, right? Hopefully we'll get something good out of this face-off instead of something nonsensical.

Some other brief thoughts:

  • I'm going with two stars for a rating here, which may imply I think this is the worst episode yet. That probably isn't truly the case, especially given the Saru material, but the L'Rell stuff really drags everything down, and the rating is probably a cumulative reaction to the larger arc's missteps more than anything.
  • Michael expects to go back to prison after the war. That's an interesting note. I hope they follow this up now that they've raised a point I figured would be a non-issue moving forward.
  • Saru says it was him, and not the Pahvans, who is responsible for all of his actions. I like the choice to not write it solely off as mind-control but instead as a series of choices made because of a fundamental change in mental state. At the same time, I think it's unfair to say Saru is solely responsible for his behavior, as a fundamental part of who he is was taken away, thus vastly altering the whole.
  • There's a brief subplot involving Stamets' mood turning sour and his admission to Tilly that the continued exposure to the spore drive is taking its toll. I thought this was a good piece of connective tissue showing something along the margins that needed to be addressed, and even better how Stamets is keeping this a secret and foregoing treatment because he doesn't want Culber to have knowledge about his side effects, which Culber would likely help cover up. Even though I have questions about what exactly Starfleet knows about Stamets and the spore drive, the check-in nature of this plot is exactly the sort of thing missing over in the flailing L'Rell story.
  • The scenes between Michael and Ash are meh. I'm okay with the writers following this avenue and developing it from the events of "Magic," but it needs more wit, energy, chemistry, something. This is just idle romance by the numbers (which is to say, like most Trek romances). Burnham's "the needs of the many/few/one" speech felt too needlessly shoehorned into the dialogue to be useful. Yeah, I get it. She's from Vulcan. Who else is she?
  • This episode was originally going to be where they split the season up, but CBS later elected to split it after the next one instead. That was probably a good move, because it would have been underwhelming to go into hiatus after this episode. It also conveniently comes just before my CBS All Access monthly pass is set to expire, forcing me to renew just so I can watch one more episode. Well played, CBS. Curse you, CBS.
  • CBSAA rating for Sunday: 3 stars — Still several annoying video stutters throughout the hour, but nothing too disruptive, and it even stayed in HD the whole time! But like I said, four stars is the "as good as cable or Netflix" bar to clear here. Anything less is still flawed.

Previous episode: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad
Next episode: Into the Forest I Go

◄ Season Index

215 comments on this review

Rahul
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 8:26pm (UTC -6)
This episode suffers from trying to advance too many subplots unlike last week’s Mudd episode which was a well-contained story. This can be the problem with certain episodes as part of a larger story arc and as a result it's rather unsatisfying.

Here we’ve got: 1) the mission on Pahvo, 2) L’Rell and the Admiral on the sarcophagus ship, 3) Tilly worrying about Stamets using the spore drive. The episode jumps between these 3 although mostly between the first 2.

What’s good is that finally, in the 8th episode of DSC, we’ve got an away mission on an actual planet. Interesting idea for the strange native life on the planet who get Saru under their "spell". Also interesting is this idea of a natural transmitter on the planet that can help the Federation detect cloaked Klingon ships — not as crazy an idea as the spore drive, but still a bit far-fetched.

The more interesting subplot is between L’Rell and the captured Federation Admiral. She's apparently trying to defect with the Admiral's help but winds up killing the Admiral and pledges allegiance to Kol, who she admits to the Admiral she hates. Decent scenes here. I guess its under Kol's orders that the crew of her ship were all killed? Wonder what Voq is up to. Really wish these Klingons would speak without subtitles though...

The planet's native life forms presumably want to try to make peace between the Federation and Klingons -- good luck with that. They didn't seem to have any luck putting Burnham or Tyler under their spell like they did Saru, so what are they going to do with Kol??

One complaint worth reiterating for me is that the Klingon ships (from the opening battle scene where one Federation gets destroyed) don't look like the ones we've come to know from TOS and even updated versions on TNG/DS9. Perhaps not surprising since the Klingons look completely different.

2 stars for "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum" or "If you want peace, prepare for war" -- finally a title that makes a bit of sense as the sarcophagus ship is on its way to Pahvo at the end of the episode. Anyhow, nothing special here -- kind of an in-between episode setting the stage for something better down the road (hopefully) with L'Rell's deception and a confrontation between Discovery and the sarcophagus ship, and who knows what's going on with Stamets. But it's good to see an alien planet and new life form, something integral to Trek.
Jeanne
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 8:34pm (UTC -6)
This was pretty good bread and butter alien possession material, good use of Burnham, Tyler, and Saru, reasonable space combat. The Klingon material was okay. I liked that the pace felt as if it had slowed way down this time to something approaching classic Berman-era: the conversations felt like they could breathe, and it was nice to see the characters interact without feeling as if the show was trying to Establish Them. Confusing ending (was Saru possessed or wasn't he? Can the Pahvans understand language or can't they? Is the Admiral dead or isn't she?) and kind of overly Meaningful Burnham speech knocks it down, but I like the general insight into Saru--his wail that Burnham "takes everything" lifts the plot out of Alien Possession doldrums, and I like the Tyler stuff about wanting to hurt the Klingons and the multiple ways we can read that. It's a pretty affable low 3 / high 2.5 stars from me, and I wish the show would spend a little more time just getting lost in low-stakes material like this.

(Nitpick: I still don't understand why the Federation has life sentences for well-intentioned mutiny but lets Harry Mudd off with a warning, but okay.)
Troy
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 8:49pm (UTC -6)
Sometimes, Discovery is clumsy. I couldn't follow most of what happened on the Klingon ship. I am having a hard time following most of what happens with the Klingons on this show. Perhaps when the first half of the season ends, i'll understand more when i watch the series from the beginning.

A few points and questions I would like to make that perhaps you can help me out with:

Bryan Fuller left the series at some point during production, and with it, his direct influence (if I understand it all correctly). If so, at what point does this begin to be apparent? Did he leave before any of the show was produced? Or was it in the middle? Did his vision begin with Context is for Kings? or with The Vulcan Hello/Battle at the Binary Stars?

I remember reading how Majel Barrett recorded her voice phonetically in a manner similar for Siri, etc. so that we can hear her as the computer voice. So far, it hasn't been used.

I'm glad the producers on Discovery turned down Jason Isaacs "Git R Dun" catch-phrase he wanted to use for Lorca. I hope the reason was not because it was copywrited by Larry the Cable Guy, but because it was stupid.

Axanar. I have a friend whose experience with Star Trek consists of the Abrams films (which she thought were entertaining), The Cage (which she said was sexist, old fashioned, and boring), VOY's Message in a Bottle (also boring), and TNG's Samaritan Snare (stupid to the point that she couldn't believe that TNG was so highly regarded). Yet, when Axanar was cancelled because Paramount had effectively put an end to such fan films, she theorized that the new Star Trek series being planned (Discovery) might have a similar plot and thus Axanar's success might be a threat to CBS. Any thoughts?

As for tonight's episode, it was good until the Klingons showed up.
Chrome
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 8:54pm (UTC -6)
Definitely felt like a slow-rolling setup for the “fall finale” next week. What’s significant is the Discovery losing one of its encounters despite having the spore drive, which in turn puts more pressure on the away mission. I liked the premise of the mission too; creating spatial sonar for tracking cloaked ships.

The Pahvo planet itself is beautiful, with the creatures that inhabit it being both mysterious and a bit creepy. What’s great also is the show forgoing a reset button, and showing what felt like realistic progression in Burnham and Tyler’s relationship. It’s explained here that Burnham isn’t off the hook for her mutiny yet either, and still expects a life sentence after the war.

This is a big Saru episode, though I feel like more could’ve been done with it. It seems like he was lured into a paradise planet for his species, and the whole thing reminded me of the Voyager episode “Bliss”. What’s interesting was Saru apologizing after healing up and ultimately regretting failing his team.

The Klingon plot looks intriguing, but I feel like I can’t judge that plot or this episode entirely until I watch next week’s show.

A couple notes:

Stamets’ limitations are getting explored, and it sounds like the spore drive is causing some real internal damage.

*Spoiler*: Admiral Cornwell dies; I’m sure most of us saw that coming.
matthew martin
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 9:35pm (UTC -6)
I think the last two episodes have really redeemed the series, at least in my eyes. I was ready to write the whole thing off but last week was great and this week's A plot was fantastic, I thought.

It was classic Trek, and had a great twist with Saru not actually being mind-controlled, but actually just being a weak-willed person who made a bad choice.

The B and C plots were nothing but overt set-ups for the midseason finale. I get the need to get all your pieces in place, but the B plot failed to do anything for me and the C plot (all two scenes of it) was so slight it isn't even worth mentioning.

The A plot was stellar though and gives me hope that they can pull off a good finale. Their goal to shoot for is Kobol's Last Gleaming.

Good luck Disco
Skupper
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 9:44pm (UTC -6)
These aliens on Pahvo have been trying to contact someone 'since the beginning of their existence', and even built a giant antenna to broadcast the sound of their planet into space, and yet this is the first time anyone in history has ever heard it and showed up? Maybe they've only existed for a week or so.

Since Starfleet had never been there how did they know there was a giant antenna, and what makes them think it would ever be able to decloak ships? And btw, how would it decloak them anyhow? If Starfleet knows what signal or frequency or whatever it is that decloaks Klingon ships, why do they need this planet? Why not just have their ships send out the signal themselves? How did they integrate their Starfleet technology with a tree? I don't understand any of this Pahvo stuff.

And now we see that Saru is insanely strong and fast. And also that he broke about 50 rules and regulations, assaulted fellow officers, and nearly ruined their entire mission, because he wanted to stay on the planet, but he's not going to get punished in any way I guess. He himself said at the end that it was him doing it, just because he finally felt unafraid for the first time. It wasn't mind control or anything, only him wanting to stay.

2 1/2 stars.
Karl Zimmerman
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 9:46pm (UTC -6)
Much as was the case with The Orville I'm left with mixed feelings on the Discovery outing this week.

Visually, this outing was an absolute feast. The space combat scene at the beginning of the episode was the first time such a scene lasted longer than fifteen seconds and/or didn't seem hopelessly confusing. And the planet was absolutely gorgeous - better than anything we've seen outside of the Kelvinverse.

There were other good things about this episode. The dialogue mostly flowed naturally. There was minimal use of technobabble. I can't point to any plot holes. The characterization was fairly decent as well, particularly for Saru. In addition, while the Klingons still aren't doing it for me, the scenes flowed more naturally than earlier in the series. Either that or I'm just getting used to the horrible prosthetics and can tune them out now.

The bad is the confused pacing and structure of this episode. The past three episodes wisely stuck to a conventional A/B Trek format, but this episode included the opening combat scene and then tried to advance three plots - doing full justice to none of them. The A plot - the planetside adventure on Pahvo - is the only one which was given any resolution over the course of this episode. Remarkably little happens here however if you take away the extra special effects and the character work. It is still better than the other two plots however. The B plot on the Klingon ship, and the C plot with Tilly investigating Stamets's health, are both frustrating because since they are part of the season-long arc, nothing whatsoever is resolved. Instead we're just left with additional questions.

Also, my eyes were rolling so hard when Burnham and Tyler directly quoted the whole "needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." Those sort of references are only smart when they're subtle, not when you bang someone's head over the most notable quote from the most famous TOS-era movie. Will they drop a "resistance is futile" into the next show?

In general, this was a gorgeous, but remarkably shallow episode. Strip away the gorgeous visuals and the generally decent character work, and what is this episode about? Nothing - and I don't mean that in a Seinfeldian sense.
Ian Whitcombe
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 9:57pm (UTC -6)
Troy, to try to shed some light into your questions as to at which point the series deviated from Fuller's plans. Here are a few things to consider:

Akiva Goldsman was hired as a producer after Fuller's departure. The writing credits for "The Vulcan Hello" indicate that he re-wrote Fuller's teleplay.

Bryan Fuller mentioned in an interview that the then unnamed second episode was written by Fuller and Nicholas Meyer. This didn't turn out to be the case.

Given all this, as with Fuller's previous contributions to Voyager, it's extremely difficult to ascertain how much credit Fuller deserves and what is being carried through.
Brian
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 10:15pm (UTC -6)
So, it appears that little blue thingies swirling around can explain, be, or do anything in this universe. Except it's the laziest possible way to characterize a new race. There are FAR too many blue sprinkles in this show. The writing, after a glimmer of hope in the last 2 episodes, is right back in the dumpster. Speeches to cameras galore, overly expositional wooden dialogue, and excruciatingly long filler scenes (near the end with the antenna). The kissing scene was cringey and not even close to believable. The plots are muddled, the pacing is off again. The dutch angles somehow are back. Overall this was a lazy episode and the writers seriously need to get their sh*t together.

1 star.
Karl Zimmerman
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 10:31pm (UTC -6)
One further comment before I go to bed. SMG and Latif have zero chemistry together. No, not even that, negative chemistry. I not only don't buy the relationship between their two characters, I find myself hoping that Ash Tyler is Voq and he is "unmasked" as soon as possible, in order to ensure that we have to deal with a minimum of perfunctory "romantic" scenes in the future.
Skupper
Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 11:12pm (UTC -6)
Also at the beginning they had to transport 30km away from the antenna because it created too much interference, yet at the end they transport standing right next to it. Just thought I'd mention that. :D
John Harmon
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 12:56am (UTC -6)
@Skupper because at the end Burnham successfully integrated the Federation technology into the crystal antenna thingy
John Harmon
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 1:13am (UTC -6)
I must say I was surprised by this episode. It was the first time I genuinely cared for Saru. For those confused, he wasn't possessed. The aliens just gave him peace of mind for literally the first time in his existence. Doug Jones was able to bring a lot of emotion through that makeup and my heart broke for him. I wasn't expecting this show to actually get me.

The planet was beautiful and the aliens were actually unique. I don't think we've seen anything like that on Trek before, a planet where the indigenous species basically are the planet. It was genuinely intriguing.

The Klingon scenes were less annoying this time, but still pretty annoying. The dialogue seemed a bit quicker which helped. Back to Battlefield Earth Dutch angles. It's amazing how in the few minutes the female Klingon spoke English it was so much easier to care about her as a character at all. They need to seriously...seriously stop with the subtitles.

I'd like to get some opinions on this, but I can't be the only one who thinks the Starfleet tactical vests are dumb am I? What function do they serve? If you get hit with a laser weapon, a padded flak jacket isn't going to help you. I'm guessing they're there because someone in production thought it looked cool to drive home the military angle.
Seven of Nine
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 3:06am (UTC -6)
I'm starting to buy into this whole Tyler =Voq theory... I was thinking maybe while Tyler was out of the picture and Burnham and Saru were fighting, maybe he established a connection to the Klingons? Just thinking there must be some sort of correlation with the introductory "previously on STD" showing Tyler being recruited as chief of security with captain Lorca saying he trusts him. And maybe Tyler/Voq was referring to his hatred for the Federation during his rant about how the Klingons tortured him. I don't know... Maybe I should take off my tinfoil hat and just accept that the plot is what I'm seeing. Hopefully we'll soon see what happened to Voq.
Data344
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 5:17am (UTC -6)
I wish we could see more alien planets in this series, with their budget they should be able to give us worlds the previous shows could've only dreamed of showing. As is, we finally get one, and it was honestly kind of bland to me, in a previous show it'd have likely been the main focus, and would've gotten more time to be fleshed out, here it's just one of many subplots, and anything interesting about it has to be rushed through. I hope it gets fleshed out more next week, but I imagine it'll be mostly a mcguffin to fuel more Discovery VS Klingon action.

I'm guessing Tyler is the one who really drew the Klingons towards Pahvo, I'm about 80% convinced now that we'll be getting the twist that he's Voq (honestly, I'm not sure I want it, but it'd definitely be more interesting than any of the stuff with the Klingons so far, and might actually make me more invested, since we'll be able to have a Klingon character without that awful make-up!)
MiaBN
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 7:49am (UTC -6)
I'm actually ok with Saru getting a pass. Sure, he said it was 'him' that did all that, but he had his fear inhibitions removed. Pretty much anyone would be a nutjob if they had zero fear of anything, including consequences. Those inhibitions are what prevents us from following through on every (normal) crazy impulse we have.
Craig
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 8:28am (UTC -6)
Episode summary: A bunch of blue lights make Saru feel so peaceful that he resorts to using violence on Michael to keep the feeling of peace.

Hey, at least the episode title fits this time!

So far we have mushroom spores that make Stamets act high and crazy, and blue light aliens that make Saru feel a sense of peace and tranquillity. Something tells me someone on the writing team has a fondness for recreational drugs.
BZ
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 8:36am (UTC -6)
Is anyone else seeing parallels with the Organians in "Errand of Mercy"? Aliens much more advanced than they appear? Extreme pacifists? Seemingly don't understand that they are about to be clobbered by Klingons?

I mean I don't think it will end the same way. I don't see peace breaking out in the mid-season finale. Unless they string this plot out for the rest of the season, of course.
Chrome
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 9:14am (UTC -6)
"I have a friend whose experience with Star Trek consists of the Abrams films (which she thought were entertaining), The Cage (which she said was sexist, old fashioned, and boring), VOY's Message in a Bottle (also boring), and TNG's Samaritan Snare (stupid to the point that she couldn't believe that TNG was so highly regarded)."

She was right, "Samaritan Snare" is stupid. Even the writers were unhappy with it.

"what makes them think it would ever be able to decloak ships? And btw, how would it decloak them anyhow? If Starfleet knows what signal or frequency or whatever it is that decloaks Klingon ships, why do they need this planet?"

That's not how active sonar works. Active sonar emits pulses or sounds and then listens for echos. That kind of sonar can detect not only other ships, but radio silent objects like rocks and hazardous debris. There's no reason I can think of why it couldn't detect a cloaked ship (assuming it works in space, which, in this case it apparently does).
Lobster Johnson
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 9:25am (UTC -6)
So if there's a blatant issue with this episode it's very apparent that it's the bizarre episode runtimes CBS is imposing on Discovery.

This is a streaming show, I don't care if it airs on cable in Canada, they should be completely unbound from conventional TV lengths and yet somehow this episode wound up being SHORTER than the average TV episode when it very apparently needed to be LONGER.

Why is this show not averaging 55-60 minutes, at the least 45? If they're going to do a big multi perspective storyline you need that extra time, imagine Game of Thrones or the Wire trying to tell a big hyperlink storyline in 40 minute installments (not a comparison of quality, just a comparison of narrative structure).

There is nothing that pisses me off more than a show struggling against absurd network demands, especially when this episode had so many cool elements floating around on the planet. I want more of that! Fuck CBS.
Shannon
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 9:28am (UTC -6)
I enjoyed the A plot with the landing party on the planet. Definitely felt like classic Trek, and it was nice to see the director/producers actually allow time for meaningful conversation, which brings these characters out in the open more. I also like the fact that this time around Discovery was not able to swoop in and save the day. War is hell, and we see that here. Hard to judge the other plots because much of this episode is set up for the fall finale next week, and the storyline with the Klingons is still puzzling. Hoping that it all comes together next week. But overall I liked the show, and would give it 3 stars.
Karl Zimmerman
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 9:41am (UTC -6)
One comment I missed last night - the Burnham/Tyler romance is completely limp and unconvincing. Okay, I'll grant Burnham is emotionally stunted, and if Tyler is actually Voq he's probably faking it all anyway. But it's absolutely dead weight in the episodes drama wise. I'm hoping that not only Tyler is Voq, but that he's unmasked in the next episode so I don't have to deal with any more perfunctory "romance" scenes which do nothing to deepen either character.
Yanks
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 9:53am (UTC -6)
@ John Harmon
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 1:13am (UTC -6)
"I must say I was surprised by this episode. It was the first time I genuinely cared for Saru. For those confused, he wasn't possessed. The aliens just gave him peace of mind for literally the first time in his existence. Doug Jones was able to bring a lot of emotion through that makeup and my heart broke for him. I wasn't expecting this show to actually get me."

I'm with ya, although I've experienced some emotions in this series. Doug Jones really nailed it in this one; tremendous performance.

"The planet was beautiful and the aliens were actually unique. I don't think we've seen anything like that on Trek before, a planet where the indigenous species basically are the planet. It was genuinely intriguing."

Agree! I need to watch it again to get a better grasp on the whole episode/planet/attempts at communicating... After reading Skupper's post, I'm now officially confused.

"The Klingon scenes were less annoying this time, but still pretty annoying. The dialogue seemed a bit quicker which helped. Back to Battlefield Earth Dutch angles. It's amazing how in the few minutes the female Klingon spoke English it was so much easier to care about her as a character at all. They need to seriously...seriously stop with the subtitles."

Agree here as well. While I've become proficient at reading the damn things... #1 I just don't want to have to and #2, I would like to pay more attention to that great set and visuals.

"I'd like to get some opinions on this, but I can't be the only one who thinks the Starfleet tactical vests are dumb am I? What function do they serve? If you get hit with a laser weapon, a padded flak jacket isn't going to help you. I'm guessing they're there because someone in production thought it looked cool to drive home the military angle."

I had the same thought the first time I saw them. So far I've chocked it up to being able to carry more security stuff etc... they also could prove beneficial in hand to hand combat and we are at war with the Klingons.
BZ
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 10:03am (UTC -6)
Come to think of it, why is (was?) Discovery singlehandedly winning the war? All it has going for it is the element of surprise, but, as seen in this episode, it can be overpowered if there is enough Klingon firepower somewhere. It doesn't even have to be cloaked. If the Klingons want to successfully attack something, all they need to do is position enough ships somewhere that Discovery will know it can't handle, and then it won't even try to intervene. Of course they have to get by conventional ships to get there, but they already do anyway, without Discovery in the picture.
Lobster Johnson
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 10:06am (UTC -6)
@BZ

I really think they should've done a montage of the Discovery speeding through some missions with Burnham's log about turning the tide, it would've helped with the "show don't tell" factor.
Yanks
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 10:08am (UTC -6)
@ Chrome
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 9:14am (UTC -6)

"Active sonar emits pulses or sounds and then listens for echos. That kind of sonar can detect not only other ships, but radio silent objects like rocks and hazardous debris. There's no reason I can think of why it couldn't detect a cloaked ship (assuming it works in space, which, in this case it apparently does)."

Correct. The difference here is it obviously won't work with sound as sound doesn't travel through space. But it would be huge if they could figure it out with whatever the technology/natural phenomenon is on Pahvo.

My guess is they can't figure it out or Star Fleet would have rendered cloaking devices moot and we wouldn't have needed to perform surgery on a torpedo in TUC.
Galadriel
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 10:48am (UTC -6)
I consider this quite a thin episode. Maybe the payoff will come next week, and then I will try to uncomplain about this week’s installment.

But till then, I am heavily disappointed. The Disco’s captain is already mad, as is Stamets and to some extent Burnham, and now Saru joins the club. Also, there is a derivative element here, as the Pahvans seem to head somewhat into the direction of the Organians.

And again a female recurring character is killed off (is she? I guess yes), which seems to be a design principle of this show (Georgiou and Landry) despite that there are more males than females around. Do the writers want to direct all male enthusiasm at Burnham by removing other potentiallly interesting female characters?

The L'Rell subplot made very little sense. And this “we need this technical breakthrough to win the war” is hardly a new idea in the show.

Praise for the production values and characterization of Saru. Also, during the brief fight at the beginning we learned a little bit more about the bridge crew of the Disco. Yet this is hardly enough for an hour of TV — unless next week’s episode succeeds in wringing something substantial out of this mess.
Peter G.
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 10:55am (UTC -6)
Well, finally! This is a big change in quality from previous installments and has a Star Trek feel to it at last. We have a new planet, a new life form, an away mission, and we learn more about Saru's race. The planet visuals are nice and the pacing is less frenetic than normal. This is a big turnaround for the series, however there are some weaknesses in the episode as well that prevent it being what it should have been.

-I cannot believe how bad the visual effects in space battle still look. I swear, Voyager and Enterprise look a hundred times better than this show does in depicting starships, space combat, weapons fire, and even the 'danger' of the combat. This is really pathetic to see from a modern show with what must be a huge budget.

-The editing and continuity in this episode showed some signs of poor decision-making, bordering on incompetence. The storyline as it played out on the Klingon ship was incoherent and it was difficult to even literally understand what was going on. It seems that (SPOILER) L'Rell wanted to defect...ok, not sure why, but ok. Then inexplicably she and the Admiral randomly chance on Kol (was it him? I didn't even know!) in the corridor. How did this happen? Was it a planning mistake, was the escape plan so shoddy that they were just walking down a busy corridor? Or were they caught? No clue. Then L'Rell 'kills' the Admiral. At first I was sure it was a ploy, "look, she's trying to escape! See?" and that the escape would continue. I actually thought she beat up the Admiral but she was fine, and backing this up was that the Admiral was blatantly still breathing when she hit the floor! Except that L'Rell drags her into a corpse room and leaves her there, so...is she actually dead after all? I don't even know! And why did Kol (if it was even him) make no comment about L'Rell wasting their prize prisoner for nothing. There was no need to kill her there, she was already disarmed and disabled, so it looked like a random killing of a useful prisoner, but no follow-up there. And then Kol accepts her into his alliance anyhow...but then announces he knows she's betrayed him. But...how? Why? How does he know? Why did he paint her face first and then have her taken away? What the heck is going on with this editing? The whole story there was a garbled mess the likes of which I've never seen on any Trek series to date.

-The Captain is getting more screen time, which is good since Isaacs is good, but the moment the episode switched to Burnham doing a narration my spine tingled. She is no annoying to listen to; she actress really carries no weight or interest to me. Frankly I think she's quite bad in her speech and vocal qualities, although she can be emotive with her face on occasion. Overall I feel like that actress really cannot hold her own given the weight of the series she's supposed to carry.

-This is episode number two where Saru's character is being assassinated. IDIC should tell us that even a race's 'weakness' can be a strength when added to the mix of other races; that everyone has something to contribute. But nope, this is the 2nd time we're seeing Saru's racial qualities as simply being an unacceptable liability. Here, though a clear and conscious choice with no alien influence, Saru decided that his personal clarity of mind and good feelings were more important than duty, Starfleet, his fellow crewmates, and the entire Federation. I was so sure it was alien control at first, or symbiosis or something. But nope! It was just how he would naturally act when freed from his fear. Meaning, he only does his duty out of cowardice? Oh come on. This guy, in full presence of mind (more full even than normal) decided that murder and mutiny were preferable to leaving the planet. This should mark the instantaneous end of his career and land him in the same cell as Burnham, who also betrayed her Captain and crew based on a feeling. I guess the two of them deserve each other. And yes, I find this betrayal just as egregious as Burnham's in the pilot. I thought we had gotten past that kind of sensationalist writing, but I guess not. This aspect of the episode sunk it more for me than any other.

-Despite how poorly it reflects on the show that the XO would do this and suffer no consequences (he apologized, after all!!) I really enjoyed seeing a non-human exhibit physical capabilities that made him legitimately scary. It was really cool seeing him run, and I liked his anger a lot, as well as the brutality of his kick. I guess it would be like boxing against a horse or something, so kudos for that. We got a bit of Spock on TOS being ridiculously strong, so it's nice to see another race have some natural advantage. Maybe one day we'll see Saru in hand-to-hand with a surprised Klingon.

-I liked Stamets' explanation for why he decided to keep his problem to himself. Too often in a show people don't communicate problems for no reason at all and it's a completely fake reason for it to blow up. But they gave him a good reason here that made perfect sense.

-I find myself unable to like or care about Tyler. It's not just the Tyler/Voq angle, but simply put he sounds like he's about to yawn whenever he's speaking and he mumbles a lot of his words. He just doesn't look that interested in what's going on. I just find him a drab person to have in scenes - I can't even find an equivalent in another Trek series. Maybe Harry Kim?

So overall very uneven BUT it had a much improved tone over other episodes and it kept my attention without aggravating me all that much (just a little, heh). I would say the show still suffers from amateur-hour syndrome as certain aspects of it like the poor battle FX and the sloppy editing are simply inexcusable. But its positives were enough to keep me interested, and I would qualify this as being as good as maybe a mediocre ** TNG episode, which is actually quite good.
Rahul
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 11:36am (UTC -6)
Hi Peter G. --

I actually thought the L'Rell subplot was the best or most interesting part of this mediocre episode. I think she indeed did kill the Admiral after ramming her into that machine (the Admiral, I presume, dies later beside all the other bodies in that area, which I think was L'Rell's ship).

But the key point I think is L'Rell says she hates Kol. I think she genuinely confides in the Admiral and does want to defect but when Kol spots her, she has to kill the Admiral and make it seem like she's on his team. Also, Kol wanted her to prove her worth, which pissed her off. And I think it was Kol (through his henchmen) that murdered her crew. So, unless I'm completely wrong, I think she plans to work under Kol and look for another opportunity to defect or take him down later.

As for Kol telling L'Rell she betrayed him, I think that was in reference to taking the Admiral away, but maybe he's giving her another chance because he likes her interrogation skills? This is the one part I'm uncertain about.

Anyhow, just my $0.02 in response to your comments.
Lobster Johnson
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 11:46am (UTC -6)
The thing I find bizarre about L'Rell is she's supposed to be a stealth character and goes on and on about assassinating Kol and sneaking off the ship and then they just sort of lazily walk around the corridors.

I would probably fault this more in the direction than the writing since you'd think the script would probably indicate she should be stealthy if they're gonna have her keep talking about. It's up to the directors to depict that.
MadManMUC
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 12:07pm (UTC -6)
Meh.

The away mission felt a bit more like proper Trek than other episodes have, and it was certainly well-executed, from an art direction point of view.

The Klingon Plot-B: this is so non-sensical that it's borderline hilarious. Nothing, not one single part of this thread makes any sense at all. It's also a dramatic failure: one is left coming away from the Klingon plot simple not being able to care less about it.

Also, Klingons apparently think they're Hirogens, now, with their face paint. I can't even begin to properly articulate how much I hate what the producers have done to the Klingons.

The romance thing between Tyler and Burnham is just painful to watch. These two have no on-screen chemistry to speak of, everything feels shoehorned and forced. Dreadful. Please stop.

Also: mangling the 'needs of the many' speech doesn't make this non-Trek show Trek.

And speaking of not caring, I actually don't care about any of these characters. Not the engineer, not the cadet, not Saru, not Burnham, not the captain, and certainly not the Klingons. Isn't one of the rules of good drama to have characters people feel emotionally invested in? These ones here have completely inconsistent character development, they're stone-faced, wooden, boring and I can't relate to any of them.

Also, I'm really, really, really tired of this series ripping off wholesale other episodes of various other Trek series. The rip-off count so far:

• 'Equinox' Parts 1 & 2 (VOY)
• 'Cause and Effect' (TNG)
• 'Errand of Mercy' (TOS)

I'm going to watch the rest of this season to see if there's even the slightest glimmer of hope this can actually turn into a real Star Trek series. I fear, though, I will simply have to accept that it won't, and that I will simply hate this series, and need to stop watching it.
Mertov
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 12:49pm (UTC -6)
Agreed with Shannon's comment above in its entirety. Peter G. also talks more in detail about what Shannon touches on in her last couple of sentences. That whole sequence from when L'Rell leaves the interrogation room with the Admiral until the last scene in the Klingon ship is very clunky. Hopefully, that will get cleaned up next week. Hard to judge Part 1 without Part 2.

I must say Saru running like a gazelle through the planet's foliage was a thrill to watch.

Anxious to read Jammer's review.
Mal
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 12:59pm (UTC -6)
@Chrome, I agree. For a change the space battle was actual enjoyable. A little strategy goes a long way. I also agree with your take on the planet and Ash/Burnham. Both were pleasantly diverting.

Really enjoying Ash more and more every week. He’s so good he almost makes SMG bearable. Almost.

The only part of the episode that was a drag were the Klingons. Aside from the captions and the makeup, as @Peter G. mentioned, the Klingon plot makes only marginal sense.

I’m just assuming that the writers don’t know how to write, but that if they did, they intended for L’Rell to be Discovery’s Garak. Because other than lying, L’Rell's desire for defection is ridiculously abrupt. Before Damar defected, he went through so many humiliations over so many episodes, that you actually wondered how he ever managed to stay loyal so long?!

Also, I'm just assuming that the “death” of Admiral Kat was fake, and that she’ll live to sleep with Lorca again.

Here’s hoping they wrap up all this nonsense with the “Fall Finale.” Then they can send Michael back to jail, and get this show on the road with a couple new cast members. This time folks who can act. Maybe even a hot new lady friend for Ash…

Love,
Mal
Yanks
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 1:03pm (UTC -6)
An alien planet!!!! Nice to see an away team!

Quite the Saru episode. I think Doug Jones kills it with this character!

I'll need to watch it again to clearly understand the planet's mumbo-jumbo with regard to vibrations/sound/antennae. However it works, I doubt they will figure it out. Star Fleet has yet to figure out they need to lock on "ionized gas". (TUC)

A visually stunning episode. Star Trek has never looked so good on any screen. Great space battle early... Discovery doesn't win? .... we lose a Star ship and over 400 soles? .... things are getting pretty tense.

I don't like that fact it seems we have the old Stamets back. I liked him better after his link with the spore drive.

While I'm glad they didn't lose the Michael/Ash "love interest" after the last episode, I think they may have missed an opportunity with the Michael/Ash budding relationship. They muddled in "the needs of the many... blah, blah..." but it could have meant much so more had Michael used her eventual return to prison for life as a reason to keep Ash at arms length; at least for awhile.

So, is our ADM dead? ... or was she just knocked out cold on purpose? What treatment is L'Rell going to be subject to? Is Ash Voq? .... was L'Rell really wanting to defect? .... after L'Rell saw all those corpses I really don't know what the frak is going on (haha) Good on them I guess :-)

Setting up for a good mid season closer here I think. Seems everyone has an invitation for a party! On Aftertrek, the guest said the writers generated a script to beat 'Balance of Terror'. Pretty big words, we'll see what we get. I'm pretty excited to see next weeks' chapter of Discovery.

But not to slight the true highlight of this episode, Saru's part in this was fantastic. Love how this character grows as the season progresses. Pretty strong and fast fella. To live your entire life in fear... gotta be tough.

When I was watching this, the end of the episode came really fast... (I was like.. damn... it's over?) that means that I wasn't bored and that I wanted more.

Solid 3.5 out of 4 stars for me.

We might get a 4.0 episode out of Discovery yet!
WTBA
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 1:09pm (UTC -6)
Despite enjoying it more than now, this was easily the least engaging episode for me so far.

Too much happening. Everything was rushed and truncated.

Likes:

- Burnham is expecting prison after the war and sees Disco as a temporary assignment.

- Opening battle was very well done. Lorca tried so hard to save the other ship.

- L'Rell has some sort of plan (who knows what?). Classic House of Mokai.

Dislikes:

- Burler (Tyham?) does nothing for me. I was afraid they were going to bang in the tent. Glad they didn't.

- Saru filled the all-too-common role of being influenced by the aliens of the week (but yes, they will be back it seems). The prey stuff with him is very weak to start, and this fit in with it, I guess, but it just isn't great characterization...yet.

Other:

- Stamets part did a lot in only a few minutes, but why didn't we see him "flying" the ship sooner? Will Tilly tell Burnham about Stamets' issues?
Yair
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 1:35pm (UTC -6)
* Yay for finally showing us more of the war. It's supposedly the overarching drive behind everything, so it must feature strongly in the background.

* Yay the bridge crew have names. They still look super-green, as if someone field-promoted them from ensign.

* So Michael goes back to prison after service? I should cheer for *something* having consequences on DIS, expect this doesn't make any sense unless the intention is to promote defection. Or eventually say something like: "we gave you every reason to defect but you didn't so you're free to go" - which means no consequences again...

* The plots makes no sense as usual. In the A-Plot, the Discovery would have tried to make contact very soon thereafter, they'd had stayed as long as the detector isn't on and there's isn't any obvious danger. Saru couldn't have kept them away indefinitely. And given the locals' alleged taste for harmony, Saru can't keep them happy and keep Burnham and Tyler down.

Therefore, Saru's actions don't quite compute. The logical course of action for him would tell the crew the locals demanded he stay on planet for some reason - it's not like they have any way of verifying that. Easiest - Tell them they accept the detector but demand he stay in return and everything he wants is accomplished (I suspect the aliens don't really mind the detector since it is sort of activated at the end without any protest or attempt to stop it).

* This episode does a good job in making almost every named character (save for maybe Lorca) look even worse.

* In general, the DIS writers love creating open mysteries for us. It's a feature they copied from 'modern' TV, but they don't seem to understand how to use it. A mystery is nowhere near enough to make good TV by itself - for one thing, the viewers need to care first. The problem for me is that I don't quite care.

Sometimes, it's because the resolution is a bit too foretold. Sometimes (often) it's because I don't care for the characters involved. For example, I don't care about Tyler or what form of spy he is. I don't care about the admiral (if she's not dead, she's going to die soon in order to keep Lorca), and so on.

All in all, I enjoyed the previous episode more. After improving a bit the recent few chapters, DIS hasn't improved this time at all, rather the opposite IMHO.
Yair
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 1:54pm (UTC -6)
A few things I forgot to mention:

* Michael is saying the federation is now losing the war (after saying the previous chapter it was winning). I like the war featuring more, but a voiceover telling us the current score is totally not the way to do it (the battle was better).

* Shouldn't Stamets have a CMO to talk to? (IIRC, the Doctor is not the CMO). I don't really think the Doctor would be in any danger if Stamets told him (Starfleet seems to have decided to ignore the inconvenient stuff on Discovery), and I'm sure the Doctor would be extremely angry if he found out.
Mertov
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 1:56pm (UTC -6)
" [...] Therefore, Saru's actions don't quite compute. The logical course of action for him would [...]"

I am not sure this is fair. The epsisde made it abundantly clear that Saru's logic was compromised at that time for reasons that several commenters already mentioned. If fear was the dominant emotion in my mind (I can't even begin to fathom how miserable that would be), and I discovered for the first time a life without it, my reasoning/logic would be out the window too, especially during the first 24 hours of that never-before-felt level of comfort.
Karl Zimmerman
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 2:06pm (UTC -6)
As an analogy to understand Saru, imagine if your empathy was suddenly turned off. You might still be aware and be able to rationally think things through, but without a moral compass you'd be free to act like a psychopath. Similarly, it seems like fear is the central driver for Kelpians even in situations where it's not immediately evident. Without fear driving their decision-making process, they have no control over themselves, and could easily do something which not only seems out-of character, but genuinely awful.
Yair
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 2:10pm (UTC -6)
@Mertov -

Saru must have been to contain his fear if he manage to get into Starfleet. He must have a great level of self-control. I don't think that would go out the window once he stops being afraid. I can see him being very driven to keep his new state - but not losing all of his reasoning.

Besides, he is perfectly able to tell some fib about what the aliens told him and manage to destroy the others' communicators - why couldn't he instead tell the lie which easily gets him everything he wants? If anything, he should have been tempted that way, and not trying to keep the others on the planet.
Yair
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 2:14pm (UTC -6)
@Karl Zimmerman -

Hmmmmm... That wasn't my headcannon, but I can accept your idea. It's pretty nice actually. But my point was actually about his logical reasoning.

I can understand why he decided to ignore his friends and the mission and wanting to stay. I don't understand why he didn't use the obvious way to do it, instead doing it in a way that insured opposition. I'm pretty sure Lorca would be happy letting him stay on the planet if that meant the detector was on.
Skupper
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 2:17pm (UTC -6)
@Chrome

'That's not how active sonar works. Active sonar emits pulses or sounds and then listens for echos. That kind of sonar can detect not only other ships, but radio silent objects like rocks and hazardous debris. There's no reason I can think of why it couldn't detect a cloaked ship (assuming it works in space, which, in this case it apparently does).'

I realize how sonar works, but that doesn't explain anything.

The whole planet creates a sound, that they transmit out into space through the antenna, so that is where they get the idea of sonar from, but sound doesn't travel through space. So how would it work? Let's see what the show says.

MIKE: ...It is Starfleet's plan to modify the electromagnetic frequency of Pahvo's signal and harness it as a form of sonar that can detect the cloaked Klingon vessels decimating our fleet, make them visible to our sensors, and turn the tide of war in our favor.

And later on they say they should be able to detect cloaked ships now, but that the music is gone and replaced with an elecromagnetic wave, so it isn't working.

So were the Phavans using the antenna to broadcast music through an electromagnetic frequency? Like AM radio? And Starfleet was going to somehow modify it to detect cloaked ships? But if they already knew the frequency and how to modify it then what do they need the planet for? Is the music super special music that detects cloaked ships or what? Why would it? If so, how does Starfleet know that? And how would they know how to modify it to work on Klingon cloaks in the first place? All that makes no sense.


I was also thinking about the Ash/Voq thing, and if Ash is Voq (which I'm almost certain he is), he must have been altered to look human, and that could be how they somehow end up explaining why Klingons basically look human 10 years from now (if they ever bother with that, that is). Maybe he went through some sort of genetic alteration to change his appearance and it spreads throughout the empire like a virus or some such thing. Though they already explained why they look human on ENT in a similar way, so why they look like they do now doesn't make much sense in the first place. I'm just fishing here. :)
Skupper
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 2:21pm (UTC -6)
The writer's were lazy if you ask me. They needed a way for Starfleet to detect ships. What's one way we do that here on earth? Sonar. That uses sound. So an alien planet that makes sound. The end. No more thought put into it than that.
BZ
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 2:56pm (UTC -6)
I don't think that's lazy at all. They've explained it enough that it sort of makes sense, but not enough to poke holes through the science. The problem (that some people have, not so much me) with the spore drive is that it's explained too much to the point that we know it can't work that way.
Chrome
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 3:02pm (UTC -6)
Burnham said it was a "form of sonar" but we don't know how it's been adapted to work in space. It could be that the "sounds" emitted from the antenna are pulses which can travel through space, but the conflict would need to be within a certain range of the antenna for the pulses to hit enemy ships, rendering them detected.

It really doesn't take much imagination to figure out how it could work. They've employed similar technology for detecting cloaked vessels such as in TNG's "Redemption".
Peter G.
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 3:13pm (UTC -6)
@ Chrome (and others),

"It really doesn't take much imagination to figure out how it could work. They've employed similar technology for detecting cloaked vessels such as in TNG's "Redemption"."

It was pretty firmly established in TNG that *only* a tachyon grid could expose cloaked ships, so we have one of two options here: either Starfleet in DISCO is full of it and don't know what they're talking about, or the cloaking device is much faultier in this era and is far easier to expose. I think the latter is a good enough explanation without having to get technical, but I worry that it's the former. The whole point of sonar is bouncing particles (sound, or whatever else) off an object to detect it. The whole point of cloaking devices is that particles and energy don't bounce off of them or otherwise register. So either the organic tech on this planet is really crazy (like a tachyon particle tree...which is fairly inconceivable), or else it does something else entirely.

From watching the episode I kind of looked at the aliens and though they were vaguely spore-like and wondered if their tree didn't use some of the same principles of the spore drive, like maybe teleporting signals from the tree across vast distances, which might penetrate a cloak. I mean, once the show is asserting that wholesale teleportation is easy to do, then yeah, you might as well be able to teleport sensors into a cloaked ship as well.

I don't like it, but it's internally consistent. The only jarring thing about the writing on this is that Burnham seems to be definitively stating, as a clear fact, that this tree will *definitely* turn the tide of war, and on this point I have no idea how in the world they can know that. This show has a minor obsession with individuals or single pieces of plot being the end-all single thing to solve any crisis. The spore drive makes the Discovery the ULTIMATE WEAPON and the tree on this planet is the ULTIMATE SCANNER and Burhnam is the ULTIMATE THINKER. And so forth. So much for the Federation being primarily about large groups of people working together, it turns out what matters is having the ultimate people using the ultimate weapon :p
Chrome
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 3:30pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G.

"It was pretty firmly established in TNG that *only* a tachyon grid could expose cloaked ships"

Actually, in TNG they mentioned that the Federation originally used gravitic sensor nets before they figured out how to make tachyon detection (See "Face of the Enemy"), which eventually supplemented the gravitic sensors. Then there's those homing missiles that could detect warp signatures in "The Undiscovered Country". Thus, the Federation has employed quite a few technologies in attempts to outmaneuver cloaking.
Peter G.
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 3:36pm (UTC -6)
@ Chrome,

Good point about the gravitic sensors. However Undiscovered Country was a matter of homing in on the impulse drive, not the warp drive. It was the particle emissions the torpedo locked on to, which is useful in a close-quarters fight (i.e. if you already know the enemy is around) but not useful for long-range scanning and trying to determine where the enemy is headed.
James Alexander
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 6:33pm (UTC -6)
Karl I understand that analogy completely and can relate.
part of one of my conditions is that my empathy is atrocious and I have no idea what anyone else is feeling. its like being either blind or clueless sometimes and I sometimes don't know how to act with it.
Pocket University
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 6:33pm (UTC -6)
I wade in here, not having any access to the show itself at present, however...

Okay, so I gather that the big idea is to detect cloaked ships using SONAR, but since sound can't travel through space, a new kind of SONAR that uses EM waves instead of sound waves.

The usual term of art for "SONAR but with EM waves instead of sound waves" is... RADAR.

So cloaked ships are invisible to everything except... RADAR.

Wasn't The Orville supposed to be the parody series?
Del_Duio
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 8:25pm (UTC -6)
@WTBA

"Too much happening. Everything was rushed and truncated"

Yeah that and the weird editing job were pretty much my issues with it too.
Hank
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 9:01pm (UTC -6)
Here we go again. Spoilers ahead.

We lose characters again, for no reason, and to little effect.

Saru goes braindead. The Admiral is dead. T'rell is dead. "Could I bother you to START FIRINGGG??????" - generic action movie line 108, uttered by our beloved captain Lorca. "Romance". Almost as believable as the "I don't like sand" scene in Star Wars II. T'Rell saying the names of some klingons - that we never heard of before, and know nothing about. I find it funny that Kol just outright tells here "You done goofed", and has her killed/tortured/whatever, as her "escaped prisoner" routine was absolutely unbelievable, and he looked like he thought the same. More blue stuff. Lensflares ...

Regarding the "Sonar": Sooooo much wrong with it. First: If electromagnetic waves could detect cloaked ships - a cloaking device would be meaningless. Point a light at it: "Haha, found you". But even if we grant the special property of those waves: They travel at lightspeed. So they detect Klingon ships in the home system of the aliens. Everywhere else, nothing happens, until the waves ("light") reaches that area of space - so prepare to wait 1000 years to use this. Now, if the waves travel in subspace, I have no clue what would happen - but I am pretty sure that they wouldn't decloak Klingon ships all over the quadrant. Why oh why oh why don't the writers realize how big space is? Could they please read "A hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy"? Because space is big. Really big. Like, totally absurdly huuuge!

The worst part is, it would make sense for the federation to be able to see through the cloaking quickly - that way, this technology would become obsolete until the Klingons get a cloaking device from the Romulans, working on a completely different principle - So Kirk could be surprised/terrified by the thought and continuity would be intact for once. And the coffin ship is ancient, so it would make sense to be outdated. But why does it have to be something so stupid? The visuals also reminded me more of some fantasy game than SciFi. Granted, we had crystals everywhere, but come on ... a glowing crystal tree that magically transmits through the whole galaxy in almost no time .... and nobody noticed, even though they were trying to get noticed? .... And why was there a hut in the forest? Thosy disembodied beeings wanted a place to store stuff? Oh, and reading what I wrote again: How ancient exactly is the coffin ship? Because we KNOW what Klingon ships were capable of in earlier times, because there exists a thing called "Enterprise" ... So t'was ancient aliens all along ...
Gee
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 9:14pm (UTC -6)
I'm enjoying reading the different takes people have on these episodes. I for one am having difficulty liking this ST iteration. I keep watching in the hope that I'm going to find something about DIS that clicks with me but it's eluding me unfortunately. I won't go rehashing too much - all the commentary above has covered everything I feel admirably, but just at the highest level I'm struggling to care about the characters, the premise, the ship and the whole thing's place in the ST history.

I don't want to write off the characters (or those who portray them) but I'm yet to find a connection with any of them. I don't seem to care what happens to any of them and although I get that the first season of any show can suffer from yet to be filled character depth, I'm not even finding these people likeable. Maybe that's a side effect of the at-war premise but I just don't feel any grief when Starfleet is hammered; or joy when they triumph. This is exacerbated by the fact I never seem to really see what's going on - the FX is so focused on mind-boggling rapidity I'm not given enough candy to suck on when it comes to a good battle scene or anything to do with the ship.

Oh yes, the Discovery herself. She is not treated with any awe-inspiring majesty in the same way every Enterprise was or indeed Voyager was given. The destruction of the Enterprise in STIII and the Enterprise D in STG were emotional because I loved those ships; the unveiling of the A in STIV put a lump in my throat and the first glimpse of E in STFC was thrilling. This is because the ships were just as much a character in the show as the actors, in line with that great maritime tradition of ships having personalities of their own. In DIS, it feels like the ship is an afterthought. We aren't given fly-bys or cool FX sequences, instead we are given very quick glimpses of her spinning with that weird spore drive or she's dropping in and out of overly vivid battle sequences or in such perpetual darkness that it's hard to make her out sometimes. And I'm afraid that from what I have seen of her, she looks like she was designed inside and out by someone who was equipped with only a ruler and a coffee mug.

The placing of this timeline prior to TOS is also frustrating. I didn't watch ENT because I struggled with the 'beforeness' looking far more advanced than the 'afterness'. This is in spades with DIS - holodeck anyone? If DIS had been set sometime after VOY, this would have made more sense to me. And it's a nitpicky thing but I'm not a fan of the uniforms - I just don't know who's who and who's doing what. All those stripes are meaningless, Tilly seems to have a different emblem to the rest (have I missed something there?) the rank insignia are virtually indistinguishable and again, there's nothing there for me to invest any emotion the way I did with all the other variations, which subtly or not gave you a clue as to who did what and who commanded who.

I'm not going to go into the whole Klingon thing - that's been addressed fairly comprehensively by everyone else, but I must echo a Simpsons episode that sent up the ST films - "Again with the Klingons!"

But probably of most irritation to me (besides Saru!) is the frequent referencing to TOS characters and quotes etc. I won't go near Mudd, but last night they trotted out "...or the one", a line so heavily invested with STII and STIII emotion I frankly found it sacrilege. And is the galaxy so small that no tale can be told involving the Federation and Starfleet that doesn't in some way come from/lead to/implicate Spock and his relatives?

Upon hearing the name Discovery I had hopes the show would more heavily feature that aspect of space exploration that always made Trek so appealing and awe inspiring. There is nothing remotely "where no one has gone before" about this iteration, but instead there is a depressing premise and confusing execution that leaves me cold and disappointed in the opportunity missed.
hpontes
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 9:38pm (UTC -6)
Rating: 1.5/4

Pros: Good sci fi
Cons: too much subplot, too much prosthetics, too little scifi?

I'm slowly feeling like I'm watching this just because it's Star Trek, and just because it's sci fi.

Star Trek for me was about really amazing/different races, sciences, ideas, built around some sort of relatable struggle. But apparently that was the major turn off for mainstream audiences, the technobabble.

Instead we're left off with some weird BSG/New Age sci fi that is essentially little science fiction and more other things.

Discovery is to me what Stargate U was to stargate. The dorks and geeks built and kept the genre alive, and the genre is now kicking back and saying, "that's not enough".

There was some good sci fi there, the different lifeform, Saru's race, etc. But it was all submissive to other plots.

Apparently Saru's dilenma was akeen to Tuvok/Neelix's hybrid episode. Where he's allowed to make his own decisions and etc, but we're supposed to feel like it's for the greater good. Except it was so random and sudden to me, I generally really thought he was possessed and was kind of annoyed with Michael not just shooting him already and trying to talk to a possessed person.

These episodes just feel so short and like the time is spent trying to make everything visually interesting.

In a normal Trek episode we would've gotten :

- More dialogue
- A lot more scenes of Saru and how he was as a child, his life, how he's always wanted peace.
- Then we would've gotten some sort of plot about fabricated peace, and ignorance vs true peace.
- Then a good part about him being free to choose his own life.
- Then how it was a time of war and what he wanting not mattering as much.

We would've had... I don't know, thoughts. That's what Star Trek is to me.

Star Trek in the star wars world would've begun with Luke saying C3PO and R2D2 are pretty sentient, and therefore should not be sold and bought, and then an argument about what is life, what is the soul, etc etc. I love Star Wars, and when watching it I can bypass all that.

But when I watch Star Trek... I expect Star Trek.

I get there's a war, but Michael's constant reminder of what Starfleet does and what it stands for is a continual slap in the face of what we're not getting.

Even the engineer/disease/cadet scene was so weird.... A cadet just disobeyed... A chief engineer (I think that's his title) is medically disabled... But we're all just ok with breaking every rule...

Even the kiss was so forced to me....

I don't know. I've watched every Star Trek movie and series because I'm a fan. The new movies did a good job of balancing what we had, and what we have. I don't know if I would've loved Star Trek as much if DS9 and Voyager was like the movies...

STD is not really doing a good job of balancing the old and the new imo.
Thomas
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 10:00pm (UTC -6)
I agree with the comments which have said the short episode runtimes are a problem. I get the impression that these episodes were written and filmed to be 50-60 minutes long and then edited and trimmed down afterwards. It feels like there is so much emphasis on moving the plot forward that there is no room to breathe, no moments of beauty or ecstasy, and little chance for the characters to express themselves without the pressures of narrative exposition.

In this episode in particular, there was a real opportunity to show Saru's connection to the blue spirit creatures in an artistic and beautiful way. I am thinking here of moments like when Kirk in Star Trek II walks into the Genesis cave and seeing the planet at the end. Or Picard quietly pondering the fate of the village in his old age The Inner Light. Those moments of wonder are what set Star Trek apart. Instead what we get here is a brief and rushed description by Saru himself of what happened to him.

I can't help but wonder whether this production style is a symptom of attention-deficient nature of television viewers today. Are they worried we will switch off if they slow things down?
Skupper
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 10:40pm (UTC -6)
FYI, the actual runtime of this episode is 37:15 after you discount the opening 'previously on...' and the beginning and end credits and the preview of the next episode.

The last episode was 43:20. So over 6 minutes longer.


Kinematic
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 11:05pm (UTC -6)
Here's my complete list of questions about the Klingon plot:

1. Why does L'Rell growl, glower and generally make every effort to appear untrustworthy when trying to convince the admiral she wants to defect? She's obviously familiar with human language and culture.

2. Why did the guards allow L'Rell to remove the admiral from her cell?

3. Did the guards just leave the newbie interrogator completely alone with a highly valuable prisoner, not even watching the cell door?

4. Why does L'Rell lead the admiral on foot through the ship to make their escape? She was appropriately concerned with stealth before.

5. If L'Rell's intent was to betray the admiral, why didn't the admiral react to such a careless escape plan?

6. Why does L'Rell kill (?) Kor's prized prisoner by ramming her into a conveniently placed high-voltage power conduit while Kor was watching? The admiral could have easily been incapacitated and taken back to her cell.

7. Why does Kor nonchalantly accept this? Doesn't he wonder why the admiral was out of her cell in the first place?

8. Why does Kor take up L'Rell's offer to dispose of the body? Does he not feel the least bit suspicious about what she's doing?

9. L'Rell told Kor that the admiral was dead, so why does she say the prisoner 'escaped' during their subsequent meeting? If the admiral did survive and L'Rell facilitated her escape (maybe in a modified space coffin?), she just confessed. If not, she sounds crazy.

10. Does L'Rell not expect Kor to be furious with her after having killed the admiral without extracting any useful information? She should be taking off in the first available escape pod after such a debacle.

11. Why does Kor play the bizarre game of "I'm taking you captive, never mind I want you to join me, just kidding I know you're a traitor" with L'Rell? It could be read as trying to suss out her motivation, but given the rest of the plot it's like a cherry on top of a schizophrenic sundae.

If the writers are attempting to portray a truly alien way of thinking by the Klingons, kudos to them because I can't square their actions with any human logic. This show is swiss cheese.
Dick
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 12:24am (UTC -6)
Just finished watching this episode, and it didn't work for me at all. ALL of the Klingon stuff (overdone prosthetics, hideous production design, subtitled dialogue, inscrutable characters) continues to drag the series down. I hope the Klingon War ends soon and our heroes warp off to find better adversaries.

The stuff down on Pahvo was better, but not great. It was nice to see location shooting in a non-Southern California environment, and the non-corporeal lifeform(s?) with an unclear motivation was a Trek-like premise. Watching Saru freak out and use his super-strength to subdue Tyler and Burnham was also kind of cool, but I have to wonder why they didn't just work together to ambush him, incapacitate him with phasers, and then transmit a signal to the Discovery.

Unfortunately, the plot moved too fast (a typical problem for this series), and the whole "living planet" idea didn't develop beyond a warmed-over take on "Avatar". Ideally, they should have ditched the Klingon subplot and given the scenes down on the planet more time to breathe. It takes time to develop dramatic situations, and the complete lack of tension in this series is probably its Achilles' heel (huge problem with the Abrams movies, too).

Random Thoughts:
- At this point, I couldn't care less about the fate of Admiral Cornwell. Any tension regarding her fate was deflated by the confusing crosses and double-crosses on board the Klingon ship. I suppose it could all be resolved in an interesting way next week...

- When Tyler and Saru use a magic crystal to link minds, Saru's threat response is triggered by Tyler's duplicity. Was it really all about the transmitter or is Tyler hiding something else???

In all seriousness, Ash Tyler is the most likable and relatable character on the series thus far. It will be very disappointing (i.e. bad scriptwriting) if he is revealed as a spy.

- Although the scenes between Stamets and Tilly seemed superfluous, I'm glad we're starting to see the negative side effects of the spore drive. I assume this bizarre science experiment gets shut down by the end of the season.
John Harmon
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 1:54am (UTC -6)
In After Trek, the actress who played Admiral Cornwell mentioned that there were deleted scenes from the episode of her character and L'Rell talking more and getting to understand each other more.

Why was this deleted??? You're outside the restraints of network programming and you cut the episode to be even shorter than it would be on network TV? Why? Let it be as long as it needs to be.

Also in the latest After Trek that same actress seemed like she stumbled over her words talking about her character not being dead. The host tried to save it. That caught my attention.
Latex Zebra
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 3:04am (UTC -6)
Decent episode, not one of Discovery's best but it was worth it for Saru legging it across the cliff top.
I hope they clear up the is Tyler a spy or isn't he.
One minute he says something that makes you think "If he's a spy he has sure done his home work." Then he proper telegraphs things and makes you yell "You're a spy..." We've not seen Voq for ages either.
I will be annoyed if he is.
Cornwell isn't dead. Think that is pretty obvious.

Much as I am enjoying this show (certainly a lot more than a lot of people on here) I do agree with the common held though... Why make it a prequel? A few tweaks to the foe and this could have been set after Voyager... Maybe something is going to happen in the second half of the season that hammers home why they wanted another prequel. At the moment it doesn't make sense.
MadManMUC
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 3:18am (UTC -6)
@hypontes

'A cadet disobeyed'

Gah, I know, right? This Tilly character — under *any* other series' captain and senior staff — would have been sent packing back to the academy for intensive lessons on how to address one's superiors and follow orders.

This characterisation is neither cute nor charming. It's fucking obnoxious.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 5:04am (UTC -6)
@Pocket University
"Wasn't The Orville supposed to be the parody series?"

Not necessarily "parody", but the light-hearted one where stuff doesn't always need to make sense: yes.

The Orville was also supposed to be the series where the crew are 21st century roughly-edged everyday joes, and the one where the personal conflict between the Captain and his ex-wife XO is played for laughs.

Now, here are some questions for those who are actually watching both series:

Which of these two series has a more professional crew? Which crew has a stronger moral compass? Which series has better plot logic and more believable science? Which series is better at tackling issues in the best tradition of Star Trek?

People here have made it clear that I'm not allowed to say my own opinion on this, so instead I'm posing these as open questions. What do *you* think?
Filip
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 5:09am (UTC -6)
I would honestly appreciate it if one of the people who actually praise this show would answer a question I had after watching this episode:

What the hell did I just watch?

The writers’ tendency to cram as much as possible within the time limit now not only produces choppy scenes and dialogue, it produces plots bordering on the senseless. Nothing screams bad writing more than the fact that a viewer has to read a lot of other people’s comments and takes on the show to put together any sense behind Saru’s actions. And even then, the premise does more harm to overall character development than good. Let me just say this, I watched a lot of Star Trek. And I mean a lot. That much that rarely, if ever, I miss anything important to understanding the plot. That much in fact, that the moment Saru asked for Tyler and Burnham’s communicators, I knew exactly what would follow. The explanation of the twist that followed however, that he wasn’t possessed after all, flew right over my head. And I attribute that to the fact that the writers bit off more than they could chew and can’t form their ideas into a logically functional show.

Let’s move on to the scenes aboard the Klingon ship. What?! Just.. What?! One moment, L’Rell is assuring the admiral she knows what she doing because “she lived on that ship,” the other she is slamming her into a conveniently placed energy relay because Kor appeared out of nowhere. The sudden and random shift of the scenes left me wondering what the hell just happened. Also, why is the Discovery’s crew utterly unconcerned with the admiral’s imprisonment? The last we see, Lorca made a very ambiguous call to wait for Starfleet’s orders, and then… nothing. Too many important loose threads that I feel will never be addressed.

The chemistry behind Tyler and Burnham is non-existent. Zero. Their take on “the needs of the many” was so laughably bad that it made me physically hurt.

The motivations behind character’s actions make no sense, and not because they are mysterious and it is up to us viewers to figure it out, but because they the writers consistently fail to materialize them in some reasonable form on screen.
I keep giving this show a chance, but every time it disappoints me more and more.
The opening battle sequence wasn’t half bad, but what good is it worth when for every good thing Discovery does, it does ten bad. The show can’t keep on banking on the Star Trek name forever.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Also, a word about the theory of Tyler actually being Voq in disguise. I did a bit of research, and as it turns out, the actor credited for playing Voq has an Imdb page consisting solely of Discovery and pictures of him in full Voq mask. It is ridiculous to a point where people began speculating if he even existed, and that the character of Voq was actually played by Shazad Latif – the same one that plays Tyler. Now, the writers could be playing a trick on us, but, based on what we’ve seen so far, I think that would be giving them too much credit. Even if it turns out Tyler is Voq, there has already been so much speculation about that, and given that the show’s immersive quality is zero, I could only say – good for him.
Filip
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 5:21am (UTC -6)
@John Harmon

"Why was this deleted??? You're outside the restraints of network programming and you cut the episode to be even shorter than it would be on network TV? Why? Let it be as long as it needs to be."

Because CBS is all about making money, and when the show's through with its run on All Access and Netflix, they plan on selling it to network TVs and it already being the fitting length would save them a lot of painful editing.
MadManMUC
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 5:22am (UTC -6)
@OTDP

'People here have made it clear that I'm not allowed to say my own opinion'

Wat?! Fuck that. Express your opinion to your heart's content, I say.

But to answer your questions, 'Which of these two series has a more professional crew? Which crew has a stronger moral compass? Which series has better plot logic and more believable science? Which series is better at tackling issues in the best tradition of Star Trek?'

The Orville. The Orville. The Orville. The Orville.

STD is just balls-out, flagrantly awful on all points.
Ubik
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 6:42am (UTC -6)
@OmicronBetaDeltaPhi

"Which of these two series has a more professional crew? Which crew has a stronger moral compass? Which series has better plot logic and more believable science? Which series is better at tackling issues in the best tradition of Star Trek?"

Alright, being a watcher of both shows, I will tackle these for you.

More professional crew? It depends on your definition of professional. If you mean "competent," as in, who would I trust with my life more, the answer is Discovery, no contest. These guys are clearly better trained, smarter, more mature. They have had to confront more difficult choices and events, and they have come out in one piece, events that likely would have lead to everyone on the Orville being killed in about half a minute. If you mean, who follows the chain of command more, than the answer is The Orville. Of course, to be fair to Discovery, the people in Orville have been involved, on the whole, in much lower-stakes decisions, and so haven't really had cause to question orders. So, The Orville crew is more obedient, and more cohesive as a crew. The Discovery crew are more competent.

Which crew has a stronger moral compass? It depends, again, what you mean. If you mean, who has acted, so far, in a way that is obviously and clearly moral, making decisions that are non-controversial, that even a Kindergarten student could easily agree with them? The Orville. These are good, wholehearted people (aside from the wife's affair, of course), well-meaning, friendly. They haven't really faced any major high-stakes decisions (changing the sex of the baby was probably their most morally contentious issue), and so their morals haven't really needed to be tested. So, in a universe in which we are counting objectively moral decisions, the Orville crew wins this easily. On the other hand, the Discovery crew are more deeply troubled by their moral decisions. Michael and Saru are clearly haunted by decisions they feel they have had to make, in extremely complicated and ambiguous situations. They are affected more deeply by their moral consciences, and they are more aware of the difficulties involved attempting to live as a moral being. So: who has made the objectively more moral decisions? The Orville crew. Who has more understanding of the real-world complexities of the moral universe? The Discovery crew.

Which show has better plot logic?

Neither. Both shows have had trouble along these lines. It is possible that The Orville wins slightly here, if only because the plots have been simpler and less ambitious: less room for mistakes.

Which show has more believable science?

No idea. Not a science guy. You'll have to ask a science person. As a casual viewer, I have found the Discovery science more believable so far, but that's due to narrative style, pace, character interactions, skill at inventing gobbledygook technobabble, seriousness with which the science is taken by the characters, etc. In other words, it's a question of style. For a casual, non-science person, I suspect The Discovery seems more scientifically plausible. It is entirely possible that, the more about real science a person knows, the more The Orville becomes the more plausibly scientific.

Which shows tackles issues more in the tradition of Star Trek?

The Orville, hand-down. It more closely resembles the type of issue, the approach to the issue, the way of resolving the issue, of earlier Trek shows than Discovery, which more closely resembles other non-Trek properties we have all seen. This is not a qualitative judgment on my part, of course, because there is zero obligation, artistic, moral, aesthetic, commercial, or otherwise, for Discovery to do anything at all "in the tradition of Star Trek" - I am just stating it as a neutral fact. The answer to this question is clearly Orville.
MadManMUC
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 6:59am (UTC -6)
You know, there are lots of stories of people becoming — or wanting to become — scientists of every description, astronauts, engineers and so on because of Star Trek, especially TOS and TNG. People who saw this future, loved it, got inspired, and wanted to do their bit to make it a reality.

Will Discovery have that same positive impact on people a few years from now? Will people look on Star Trek Discovery and think, 'Wow. This really is a future I want to help realise', and aspire to become something that helps humanity get there?

Judging on what we've seen so far, the answer is a loud outright, 'NO.'

And this is the biggest shame of all with this series. It has taken something that actually had a real-life, inspiring legacy, and warped it into this dark, bleak, violent, gruesome (do we really need all of that gore in Star Trek, like in this last episode???), immoral, insipid, un-inspiring, and — ultimately — revolting thing that is nothing like what it should actually be.
Yanks
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 7:34am (UTC -6)
@ Kinematic
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 11:05pm (UTC -6)

"8. Why does Kor take up L'Rell's offer to dispose of the body? Does he not feel the least bit suspicious about what she's doing?"

It's Kol, not Kor?

www.imdb.com/character/ch0582036/?ref_=tt_cl_t9
Ubik
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 8:15am (UTC -6)
@MadManMUC

I agree, of course, that TOS and TNG were inspiring, that they were idealized worlds, that they made a whole generation or three of people want to be part of that world, or want to be scientists or engineers. That was absolutely valuable and awesome, and I would never want to lose either of those two shows, for anything. I was certainly inspired by TNG in my own way, as it surely was a factor in my eventually choosing to teach science fiction for a living.

But a TV show, or any work of literature or art, is not your rabbi, or your priest, or your social worker, or your mother. It is under no obligation to be inspiring. Some art is. Much of it is not. Discovery in no way erases TOS or TNG from existence - those inspiring shows are still there, and because of the glories of Netflix, can continue to inspire millions of people in the generations to come. I am already showing TOS, episode by episode, to my 8 year-old daughter.

But Discovery, at least for now, has no intention of being inspiring in that way. It's not interested. It's interested in doing other things, other valid and valuable things, and if we are to be fair reviewers of this work, we must judge it on how well it achieves its OWN goals, not the goals that we, because of our own personal preferences, have a priori set for it. You can say you don't like this new direction. You can say you prefer if Star Trek would continue to be inspiring. Those are perfectly valid expressions of personal taste. But they are not claims about the quality of the show itself. That would require us to judge it on its own terms, its own merits, given its own ambitions and goals.
Peter G.
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 9:15am (UTC -6)
@ Ubik,

"But a TV show, or any work of literature or art, is not your rabbi, or your priest, or your social worker, or your mother. It is under no obligation to be inspiring."

I guess it depends on how selfish the artist is, right? Do you do what you do because you believe in something, or because you get something out of it? There are lots of things in life people do just to get something out of it, which may include doing menial jobs. But why on Earth go into the arts if that's your ambition.

"But Discovery, at least for now, has no intention of being inspiring in that way. It's not interested. It's interested in doing other things, other valid and valuable things,"

What valuable things?

"Those are perfectly valid expressions of personal taste. But they are not claims about the quality of the show itself."

If you take an institution that was previously purposed in one direction, and then change its direction, don't wonder why people are displeased. Let me give you an analogy. If you have a hospital purposed for healing people, and buy it, and convert it into a spa while turning away people who need medical aid, yeah, I think people have a right to claim you ruined the hospital. Saying that it has a new valid and important function will really sound weak to people who relied on it previously as a refuge while ill. Maybe my analogy exaggerates a bit...or does it? I'm not even sure. I think Trek had a major impact on many people. Do the new owners have the right to change its goals? Sure. But did they have a responsibility to maintain its mission statement? I think so.
Hank
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 9:24am (UTC -6)
For me the comparison regarding Orville and STD boils down to this: Orville was pitched as:
-a comedy; which it isn't, it has comedic elements
-that does not take itself seriously; but it does, to a certain extent: The characters act out their stupid jokes seriously, in the style of most anime, for example
-thats more or less just a Star Trek spoof; which it isn't: I think Star Trek has not been mentioned so far, and there were no references that stuck out (like "Hey, it is almost as if you are on some kind of ... Trek to the Stars! YEAAAAAAAAAH"). Instead it built it's own universe from the get go.

Discovery on the other hand was pitched as:
-politically correct, which it gladly is not as much as feared (it could be argued that Star Trek always was against the current political correctness - when it was politically correct to put blacks on the back end of the bus, they put a black woman front and center, so to speak)
-inclusive (which it ... kind of is? In a tick the box kind of way (Black Character, Check, Gay Character, Check, etc. Orville handled it much better with Bortus imho.)
-serious; debatable - between the sporedrive and having someone with social anciety as cadet ... I mean, I can totally picture a stupid comedy show that goes "Yeah, we got a spaceship, and the captain has PTSD and thinks he's Rambo, and the gay engineer is on mushrooms all the time, and the main character is a mutineer with emotional issues, and her best friend on board is a cadet that suffers from aspergers and autism, but she wants to become a captain, and they fight "Klongins" who are all about "Muh Klongin supremacy", and the first officer is a coward!"
-Exploratory: It is right there in the name: Discovery
-Boldly going where no-one has gone before: Debatable, as we had ... 3 prequels now?

So, Discovery promised to be an updated, serious, engaging Star Trek series, that tackles deep moral dilemmas while showing humanity what is possible if we all work together. Of course it will be judged on that. The only moral dilemma (that I can t hink of) was if they should use the Tardigrade, and that got ... almost no discussion. It was basically just a case of "Everyone is fine with it but Michael Sue knows better".

Orville, on the other hand, set expectations (at least for me) really low. I saw the trailer and thought: "Well, this looks more Star-Trekie than STD, but I hate family guy - this will be fun for five minutes/watching in the background while doing other stuff". Yet they have a likeable cast (Bortus, Isaac, Alara, even Mercer, when he does not take the spotlight), take themselves seriously (I mean - Baby-Sex-Change on the third episode? In 2017? You can't get much more current and topical, and while some didn't like the portrayal (as it didn't fit with their personal view, or whatever), they at least tried), and they continue to tackle serious issues while being removed enough from our current times (in the sense that they are not fighting against the evil "Drumpfs" who just took over because of "Kussian Spies") and lighthearted enough to provide enjoyable entertainment.

And, of course, the Orville does not have 50 years of prior entries in the franchise to be judged upon. So while I care that Klingons have cloaking before they should have, I don't care that in Orville cloaking is apparently common place.

Funnily enough, I found the Science of Orville more believable so far. First, they treat space as big - which is imho the most important part. In STD, everything is 30 seconds apart. Second, they don't even try to come up with "clever" ideas. They have warpdrive, and nobody knows how it works, but thats fine, as it is not magical mushrooms. They don't have transporters, they have replicators, all pretty standard stuff. They flew threw a wormhole/black hole, and that is, quite honestly, fine. Yes, we all know that Einstein-Rosen-Bridges are not transversible, but hey, thats the Fiction part, and they at least try to stick to science. Not some "Yeah, we have like, a magical mushroom network, thats like, galaxy wide, and you can, like, be anywhere everytime man! Just with the power of your mind. Oh, we also have Vulcan Force users now, like, totally awesome maaaan". Or the stupid Sonar thing. Or the telescope ...

Orvilles ship designs don't look like somebody had a spasm while designing them. Seriously, you can't underestimate how much good set design influences the believablity of a show. In STD, all the Federation ships look dark, menacing, uninviting, like (WW2) submarines (yet lacking the functionality, strangely enough). That makes no sense, as crews are expected to stay on board for years on end - the Russians built a pool into the Typhoon class, for crew comfort, so it makes sense for a spaceship to be luxurious, especially as there are no space constraints, but weight constraints. The Klingon ships look outright impractical. There is no discernable function to any part of their design.

The Orville had a moment where a shuttle escaped a gravitational field, and was visibly held back by it, jutting about trying to escape. That was the only thing that really stuck out as bad. But STD has that spore drive animation that just makes no sense. Spinning the saucer section is fine - spinning the whole ship, that than moves down when leaving "Subspace" or whatever that is for ... no apparent reason is just ... I don't know, it looks "cool" but not sciency. Again, the shows built up different expectations, so I am going to judge STD more harshly. Also, that whole Space Whale thing was just stupid. First, it was not some totally strange lifeform like the crystaline entity that moved by ... something, but a whale - with fins - that apparently isn't crushed by air pressure ...

Space itself looks better in the Orville. It is mostly empty - not the weird colours and clouds and lightning and ... stuff of STD. The Black Hole in Orville looked really good - they took their clues from Interstellar, i guess. It is a much cleaner, more realistic and underplayed aesthetic, in contrast to STDs overladen hyperactive visuals.

As for crew professionalism: Orvilles crew was described as "Average Joes in Space" - and they pretty much are, but they at least try to be professional (at least some of them, some of the time. I just tend to ignore the "comedy" as I don't find it funny). STDs crew acts outright ... strange. No chain of command, everybody is constantly on edge ... no chemistry or harmony between the crew members. So while Orvilles crew seems like some badly people put on a spaceship and behaving better than expected (some of the time), Discoverys crew comes of as ... super trained stupid people. I mean, Giorgeo beat a Klingon in hand to hand combat, and Micheal did as well, which implies superhuman physiques and rigorous training - yet Lorca acts toward his crew as if they are fresh from the academy. The only one who seems reasonably professional is Saru (or was, till they made him the idiot of the week this episode). So again, it is different expectations colouring my judgement.

As for the moral high ground: Orville, outright. They are not perfect, but at least they don't torture, abandon or start wars at random. I could have never imagined describing a Star Trek crew with those words, to be honest. They even start an episode with a prisoner fight.... Orville even had that little moment where Cpt. Mercer says to his Ex-Wife "no, you do it, you are far more qualified than I will ever be". Havn't had something like that on STD, or I missed it. I can only remember "Yeah, lets mine the corpses, for shits and giggles".

As for plot logic: Orville said "Expect stupid plotholes, this is a comedy", yet has surprisingly little. STD said "Yo, we are super serious boy", and then they go ahead and make one stupid descision after another. Granted, the Orville crew does plenty stupid - but they are supposed to! They are supposed to be stupid people. Discovery is supposed to be a super secret ship crewed with the best available minds, yet they constantly make stupid descisions to insert forced drama... So it boils down to expectations again. When the Orville crew acts slightly less stupid than usual, they get a big cheer from be, because, hey, they are doing better than expected. When the discovery chief of security decides to "hey, I am going to manhandle that Tardigrade, armed with a phaser rifle, even though I just said that it is not hurt by phaser fire, so fuck it", it is just plain stupid. If it was John Lamarr overestimating himself, because he is a fool: Yeah, that is totally in character. But I have to wonder: Who the fuck made her a chief of security, if her idea of security is "Fuck it". Or the pilot of the shuttle that is transporting Burnham, that decides to go outside, because "Fuck it, no way I trip and get blown into space in pieces oh god damnit I am dead".

But the worst offender regarding plot logic has to be the "Yeah, we must not kill T'kuvma, or he will become a martyr - you know what, lets kill T'kuvma FOR NO REASON AT ALL". But that is not all. As we now have learned, nobody on the Klingon side even CARES about T'kuvma ... he is seen as a pariah, a nobody. So not only did that scene make the Federation look bad, and the characters stupid, their motivation to go onto the ship in the first place turns out to be meaningless to begin with, which makes that whole T'kuvma plot completely pointless. That scene was literally just there to kill Cpt. Giorgeo. Oh, and I almost forgot, the Klingons then let that super important ship drift for half a year ... for no reason ... What an idiotic plot point.

So yeah, Orville wins hands down, as it is far less offensive to me than STD. Even the stupid acronym of that show is an insult to Star Trek, just to put a cherry on top. And I know, I could abreviate it Disc, but seriously ...
Hank
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 9:34am (UTC -6)
@Ubik: "we must judge it on how well it achieves its OWN goals"

Okay, viewed in isolation, it is a run of the mill war story with bad science and plot holes apleanty, full of unrelatable characters who play catch with the idiot ball. It wanted to be inclusive, which it kind of is, but it kills off its female captain and puts the black character in prison, so ... it failed there as well? My guess is that if it was called anything but Star Trek, nobody would be watching this. It is just a boring Battlestar Galactica cover.
MadManMUC
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 9:37am (UTC -6)
@Hank:

Amen.
Lobster Johnson
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 9:52am (UTC -6)
@OmicronBetaDeltaPhi

I appreciate open questions but I'd ask you to consider a quote I've found very profound for all the Discovery and Orville discussions:

"Comparison is the thief of joy"

I personally really hate that it's become so hard to discuss either show without mentioning the other because I enjoy them both so much. It feels like a disservice to both shows.
Trent
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 10:34am (UTC -6)
"Comparison is the thief of joy"

Comparison is also the bedrock of discernment and refinement and helps guard against passive consumption. I'm reminded of the story of several tribal African teenagers who were taken to the UK and USA to view how others lived. When they returned home, they committed suicide months later, some because they were suddenly ashamed of their mud huts. Comparison, an anthropologist argued, made them unhappy. But I always thought the lesson was "build better houses".
Lobster Johnson
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 10:51am (UTC -6)
@Trent

I can genuinely say I wasn't expecting this conversation to go in this direction.
WTBA
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 10:53am (UTC -6)
Interesting take from Ex Astris: "Tyler and Burnham are the perhaps most believable lovers in the history of Star Trek. The chemistry between them is wonderful; the romance doesn't feel contrived at all."

Unless he means it sarcastically (which he doesn't seem to imply elsewhere), it is a wonder he is watching the same show.
Trent
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 11:06am (UTC -6)
Gee said: "This is because the ships were just as much a character in the show as the actors, in line with that great maritime tradition of ships having personalities of their own"

This is what I loved about TOS. You really get a sense of Kirk's man-love for his ship, which is constantly referred to his "lady", or the "only woman in his life he needs", and its safety is constantly portrayed as being his top priority, more important than even his own life. Indeed, the Enterprise and Kirk have such a bond, he can tell when its engines are off-kilter and when its hulls aren't vibrating on cue.

Picard's Enterprise conveyed a great sense of place, of a tangible 3D space, but it wasn't loved as much as Kirk loved his ship. Indeed, Encounter at Farpoint begins with Picard still learning about his ship. In contrast, when we first meet Kirk as a captain, he and the Enterprise seem to have been through a lot together already.

The Enterprise in JJTrek, meanwhile, has no personality. It's repeatedly battered and replaced and never seems a home or something that can be relied upon. Discovery's similarly coldly portrayed. It's Lorca's tool, a weapon, and he'd be happy on any ship that got the job done. There's none of that 17th, 18th, 19th century nautical romance between Lorca and the Discovery. Oddly, Captain Phillipa and the Shenzhou managed to convey some of that nautical warmth. You get the sense that the Shenzhou, with her telescopes, her lady-buddy XO and Captain, and its gang of explorers and mappers, is a nice place to hang out.
Trent
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 11:11am (UTC -6)
WTBA said "Unless he means it sarcastically (which he doesn't seem to imply elsewhere), it is a wonder he is watching the same show."

In fairness, Trek romances have a terrible track record. Kira and Odo, Sisko and his wives, Wolf and Dax, Chakotay and 7ov9...Trek romances are pretty bad. Indeed, the best Trek was at romance, was probably the Spock/Mccoy/Kirk, homoerotic bro-mance.
Chrome
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 11:39am (UTC -6)
I thought Burnham and Tyler were one of the better parts of the episode (although a very brief part, I was happy it wasn't just business as usual after last week.) Also, Trek can do decent romances, Paris and Torres were not bad at all.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 1:55pm (UTC -6)
@Hank

"So yeah, Orville wins hands down, as it is far less offensive to me than STD. Even the stupid acronym of that show is an insult to Star Trek, just to put a cherry on top. And I know, I could abreviate it Disc, but seriously ..."

Well, to be fair, there's absolutely no logical reason to abbreviate Discovery as "STD". Do you abbreviate "Star Trek: Voyager" to "STV"?

I agree with all the other stuff you've said, though.
a&s
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 2:07pm (UTC -6)
I like some aspects of the show, and I can say I fell in love with the troubled, shady character of Captain Lorca. Isaacs is fantastic, also Burnham, Stamets, and Tyler delivered some satisfaction here and there, but this Saru guy is just too irritating. I just can't see his struggle with constant fear and preylike nature being anything close to Datas search for humanity, or Spocks lack of it. He is simply too annoying, and while his use in science department would make some sense, its a nonsense to make a first officer out of him. Who would follow such a man?

Other than that, scenes on the ship and interactions among the crew are fairly enjoyable, but everytime the story takes us to Klingons, everything just starts to feel so wrong, forced, and in the end not believable.
From the pilot till now, not a single action or motivation coming from them made any sense to me. Is this writers intention, to make them more alien then we're used to from previous installations, or just super poor writing, I do not know.
Others have also complained how it is hard to follow Klingon scenes, given the language, their similarity etc. But from what I understand: The Tkuvma guy, without any right and social status took over an abandoned torchbearing ancient ship, started preaching ancient, radical philosphy to a few of his followers... And with just a few words exchanged with house elders managed to pursuade them and bring together every single Klingon house and to start a war that could very easily destroy them all.... It doesnt make any sense.
I wont even comment those scenes involving the Albino Klingon, Lrell and now Kor and our admiral, because I honestly have no idea what any of them are doing, or are supposed to be doing.
Jason R.
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 2:14pm (UTC -6)
"Comparison is the thief of joy"

I prefer:

"Analysis is the intellect's revenge on art."
WTBA
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 2:30pm (UTC -6)
Re: Turler (Burner...whatever)

It is less that it is not believable or that it is forced. They just seem to have ZERO chemistry. It is not just solemn awkwardness (as a PTSD/former POW and a Vulcan-raised human). It has pseudo-relationship beats, but none of the pathos or feeling. I'd feel more if we saw them having a date, rather than blandly being a couple on an away mission (it's no "Change of Heart" for example).

At least with say Kira/Odo, you bought his feelings for her, and they had known each other for YEARS.
Alexandrea
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 4:37pm (UTC -6)
It's a shame Discovery can't develop its stories as well as its space battles, since we have a logical sci-fi premise. The Discovery begins losing against Klingon cloaking technology, so an away team has been sent to a planet with naturally occurring subspace "sonar" that could reveal cloaked ships if amplified. The planet's ecosystem turns out to be an interlinked intelligent life form itself, which built the organic technology in order to contact other worlds. A crew member begins valuing the inherent peacefulness of this planet above his mission, and conflict ensues. Meanwhile, L'Rell attempts to defect by posing as the captured admiral's interrogator and escaping with her, but instead is caught, resulting in her capture and the admiral's death.

The trouble is that the episode races through each beat more as a narrative shorthand than as a developed story in its own right. Trek fans recognize the trope of a crew member on a paradise planet inhaling the flowers (I truly hoped that Saru would start craving some mint julep tea) and so the writers (or editors?) believe we can rush the implications as a foregone conclusion. We don't get to know these Pahvans, and the episode doesn't seem to care if we do. Similarly, the trope of coming to understand your enemy is one that the show supposes that Trek can take for granted, so that they don't really bother to show us L'Rell and the admiral doing it.

The episode was short and evidently had scenes cut that might have addressed these issues. Does CBS not understand that it is streaming this show? Not all added length is good length, but it's not by accident that most popular serialized television has slowly crept toward longer episodes, not shorter ones.

Still, it's not only a problem in this episode. The writers seem willing to raise Trek tropes as a kind of narrative shorthand in service to plot points rather than as meaningful explorations. The tardigrade served as the Trek story in fast forward of coming to know a seemingly hostile creature as peaceful. Internal Vulcan politics? One of the strong points of Enterprise appears in Discovery merely as a contrived way to put Sarek in jeopardy. "You already know this jazz," the writers seem to wink, "so we're playing this tune in double-time so we can get from A to B." It's like we're getting skins of Trek stories without their substance.
Hank
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 5:44pm (UTC -6)
@Omicron: I had to actually think about it, and I guess it is just a case of the most catchy and recognizable thing sticking, and force of habit. I honestly don't abbreviate Voyager, and "Voy" still has more ring to it than Dis or Disc, with "Dis" being negatively connotated and Disc sounding just stupid somehow. But that was mostly in jest anyway ;)

@Alexandrea: For me it is less the pace of the story (I can just accept non-sequiturs in a relatively short series), but the internal logic and resolution to those stories that makes it so hard to watch. Take the planned escape on the Klingon ship for example. I can believe that L'Rell would want to defect to the Federation, even if she just has some ulterior motive, and the Admiral being on board - after all, Trek has shown that Starfleet can be pretty naive and trusting, and as far as we know, the Admiral never had direct contact with Klingons before. But then they escape in the stupidest way possible and L'Rell outright kills the Admiral, only to be imprisoned/killed by Kol (or was it Kor?) five minutes later, because he obviously didn't buy her excuse - after all, he sees them both, asks "Why are you transporting her?" they look at him, THEN L'Rell starts a fight and kills the Admiral, THEN tells him that she "escaped". Everybody on this show is an idiot.

Same goes for the story with Saru: Yeah, sure, he wants his paradise. How about he tries to talk to people before behaving in the most idiotic way possible? He has no fear anymore, so he should feel elated, be thinking clear, instead, he just crushes their communicators right in front of their eyes. Why didn't he go outside to do that secretly? Why didn't he try to reason that the Pahvans just don't want them altering their signal? After all, he seemed to be the only one understanding them in the first place. There are a million options to build this plot very fast, that don't rely on one character being a complete idiot, and you can still come to the relevation at the end that Saru was not being manipulated - which opens another can of worms: How did he get to be on a star ship as first officer in the first place?

I agree with the Sarek example. They should have either left the politics completely in the dark, with Sarek just giving hints about it and not wanting to talk it out, or they should have had some buildup. And again, that plot is mostly scuttled by idiot actors and stupid storyline descisions. The terrorist being completely incompetent (and totally illogical, at that), and having Burnham and Saru have some kind of interstellar force connection. So for me, it is not the use of tropes that is so aggravating, it is the nonsensical plotting and completely inconsisten characterization. In one episode Tilly is barely able to tell Burnham that she sleeps in the wrong bed, and in this one, she just straight up confronts Stamets about his behaviour in no uncertain terms - two times. So either she has social anxiety or she hasn't, but please make up your mind, dear writers.
Evan
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 6:51pm (UTC -6)
It's already been mentioned that the Discovery crew feels too 21st century, but there's another thing that has been bothering me. Each crew of the previous Treks has always had a strong international presence - Chekhov and Scotty in TOS, Picard and O'Brien in TNG, Bashir in DS9. Each of these characters had different ancestries, and the foreign accents gave the me feel that the Federation was truly an diverse, international collaboration of a united Earth.

Discovery's crew is 100% American. You don't even get that in today's NASA astronauts, who are employed from all around the world based on their qualifications and experience. They've made sure to choose the Asian actor, the black actor, the middle-eastern actor. Which I do like. But this misses the point, because in this Trek universe it feels like the crew's characters all grew up in a version of modern USA.

I know it's a small gripe, but for me it adds to the insularity and claustrophobia of the show, along with the feeling that space is very small and the ship can materialize anywhere in a moment's notice. Aspects of the show like this only add to the argument that Discovery has borrowed too much from modern television and not fully understood important facets of prior Trek incarnations.
Ruth
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 7:51pm (UTC -6)
If the admiral is dead the actress needs to sue the editors. Such short scenes of her on the floor and she moved in one and was breathing in the other if not both. That’s not her fault, someone chose to use the footage of her taking a big breath, you can see her holding all her stomach muscles to hold her breath, it was ridiculous. All these fancy effects and they can’t use the right portion of the clip or the right take or whatever

I like how L’rell is trying to live, what, 4 lives now? I like her a lot (as a character! Wouldn’t want to be her neighbour or especially a competitor!) - I hope she’s going to get away in next week’s confusion and not be killed. I feel like her complaints about the pretty painted petaq were true (and that was before she saw members of her house apparently slaughtered by him), and maybe even getting the admiral out - but I doubt she truly wanted to defect. It just would have been another thing for her to juggle to her and Voq’s advantage

I’m buying the Burnham-Tyler romance. Seems realistic to me. But with this scene too where Saru felt his deception, they’re deliberately making us suspect Tyler of being a spy even if he actually isn’t.
Ruth
Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 7:54pm (UTC -6)
Evan, that’s interesting. Though it’s true, I was thinking the opposite when I was watching. I liked that the other ship was called the Gagarin. But you’re right, they need to show the international spirit in the crew as well. The first captain had an accent but of course they got rid of her which was a shame.
waynieo
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 4:33am (UTC -6)
As the series goes on, I have some continuity issues. Jammer has referred to it earlier, but I really wish they would deal with the spore drive thing because it doesn't feature in the future of star trek. The longer that the spore drive continues to exist, the more that it seems the writers seem to thumbing themselves up at the star trek universe. If it continues much longer, we will start to watch a show that isn't quite star trek... It also seems that no one has given any thought to the guy running the spore drive. One would think that they would have thought to look into injecting the aliens spores into himself that they would look into the long term effects of this. Thankfully it seems that they might just do that soon.
Steve
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 5:44am (UTC -6)
As a lot of people have said, the last couple of episodes have redeemed Discovery somewhat after a nervy start. But a recurring concern is that Starfleet seems to be run in a way that doesn't seem sustainable. There's no respect for chain of command; insubordination is barely punished; mutineers and strangers are given influential positions on the bridge; commanding officers are sent into clearly dangerous situations with woefully inadequate security. The plot is being driven forward by events that seem illogical to the point of breaking immersion – ironic, for a show in which logic is praised so highly - and the overall result is that the universe feels insubstantial and, frankly, a little cheap (again, ironic for a show that costs so much).
Steve
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 5:54am (UTC -6)
Re. Evan's comment that 'Discovery's crew is 100% American', adding to the 'insularity and claustrophobia of the show' – I'd take this further by saying that the show's whole universe is far too Earth-centric. The tardigrade was apparently a mutation of a creature from Earth (at first I thought the comparison to the tardigrade was only superficial, but as the series has gone on it seems that the creature is LITERALLY related to Earth tardigrades somehow). The mycelium network relies on mushrooms from Earth, and the only crew members capable of the DNA transfer required to operate the spore drive are the humans from Earth (as they share genetic material with the mushrooms).

The idea that a universe-defining concept like the mycelium network should have such strong ties to Earth makes the entire show feel somewhat naval-gazing and – again – claustrophobic. And it denies the series some of that sense of outward-looking wonder that made Trek feel so inclusive and open. While I'm not a huge fan of Christopher Nolan, it feels like a line from Interstellar sums how the show's writing differs from earlier series: "We used to look up in the sky and wonder at our place in the stars. Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt."
Lars Tarkas
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 8:21am (UTC -6)
Avatar meets This Side of Paradise. In This Side of Paradise, Spock observes that for the first time, he was happy; in this episode, Saru observes that for the first time, he wasn't afraid. I don't think Saru could be held any more accountable than Spock was - they did mess with his mind, after all. An OK episode, but nothing new.

I don't think Burnham would go back to prison after this. A court-appointed lawyer could get clemency for her after her service on Discovery, even if Burnham didn't offer a defense herself. She didn't seem to offer any defense in her trial, and she might have felt she was going back to prison, but as long as she serves honorably on Discovery, I think it's unlikely she would go back to prison if her time on Discovery ends.

I could do without the clumsy fan service with the "Needs of the many" speech.
BZ
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 8:21am (UTC -6)
@Steve,
That's an odd comment to make on a thread discussing an episode where we find an utterly alien planet that has nothing to do with Earth (except being M-Class I guess) where the only person able to communicate with the life-form is an alien.

As for the mushroom network and the Tardigrade, what makes you think earth had them first? Maybe the universe-spanning network came first and then came in contact with various planets including Earth. We don't know that humans are the *only* species to share DNA with them. In fact, was such a thing ever stated on the show?
Shannon
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 9:04am (UTC -6)
@Steve
"But a recurring concern is that Starfleet seems to be run in a way that doesn't seem sustainable. There's no respect for chain of command; insubordination is barely punished..."

I think that's the point of the show, Steve, is that war is hell. We've heard hints that Starfleet was mainly an exploratory, scientific organization prior to the war, and now every ship is being utilized towards the war effort. Imagine a modern day military unit of engineers. Would you want their Colonel/General who is also an engineer leading them into battle if they had to fight? No, you would replace that guy with a General Patton type who understands how to win a war.

Recall the Voyager episode where green-around-the-gills Ensign Kim lamented to Janeway that he couldn't understand how captains like Kirk and Sulu were allowed to get away with the things that they did. Janeway very correctly pointed out to him that "it was a different time, where Klingons were lurking behind every nebula". I like that the producers are taking that angle here.
Steve
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 9:13am (UTC -6)
@BZ
You're right, it's certainly not relevant to this specific episode – more a general comment on the navel-gazing quality of Discovery's universe building.

It's stated in an earlier episode that only the humans among the Discovery's crew are capable of horizontal gene transfer to access the mycelium network, on the grounds that they share a common ancestor with mushrooms and therefore share a considerable quantity of their genetic makeup. The fact that the humans and the mushrooms are required to share a common ancestor for plot reasons rules out the idea that the mushrooms came to Earth from off-planet. (Particularly given that we're shown the origins of life on Earth in the final episode of TNG – no mushroom networks to be seen.)

I suspect that trying to make sense of it all is a waste of time, because the writers don't appear to have made any effort to make these things internally consistent. Discovery uses its science for effect and gimmicks, rather than attempting to make it coherent on any structural level. When you put that expectation to one side, it's a lot more enjoyable to watch – but as a fan of old Trek, which at least tried to make these things add up, it grates.
Dom
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 9:21am (UTC -6)
@Evan, that's a great point, one that I think helps explain why I'm not as excited about Discovery's "diversity" as I thought I'd be. I value diversity and the ability of peoples from different backgrounds to interact peacefully has been central to Star Trek. It is great that the series features the first openly gay Trek character. But Discovery seems like it's focused too much on how we as Americans in the 21st century view diversity rather than on getting a truly diverse crew. With the rising nationalism and xenophobia of our current era, I'd think it would be especially important to have crew members who don't look or sound like us.

This is yet another reason why I love DS9. The main cast truly felt like a group of disparate peoples who came from different cultures and practiced different faiths. Sisko's race wasn't just about his skin, but also about his beliefs and history. Kira's religious faith stood in stark contrast to the implied atheism of most Starfleet characters. The show subtly hinted at a class divide separating Bashir and O'brien (educated doctor with a English accent vs. working class Irishman) that they had to overcome before becoming friends. Of course, the large cast of aliens - Odo, Quark, Dax, Worf, as well as Martok, Garak, etc - made the cultural landscape feel more diverse than 20th century America.
Chrome
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 9:50am (UTC -6)
I believe some commenters are overstating the case about cultural diversity. Shazad Latif (Ash Tyler) is a British actor of Pakistani descent. Dr. Culber (Wilson Cruz) is a Puerto Rican. Landry (Rekha Sharma), although the character died, is an Indian-Canadian. That's not even counting the crew of the Shenzhou and the Klingons we see all the time who have their own multi-ethnic actors.
Peter G.
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 9:55am (UTC -6)
There was a funny spoof ad a comedy blogger once made that showed three people, one black, one Asian and one white, and the caption said "We at AT&T believe in diversity, which means people who look different." I'm paraphrasing it, but the spoof always stuck with me because of the trend of corporate tokenism and fake diversity using skin-deep criteria. There's a difference between diversity, and between making sure it *looks like* diversity. If DISCO had really had balls they would have made the bridge crew out of a fundamentalist Muslim, a Russian (yes, America is still hung up on Russia), a Hillary supporter, a Trump supporter, a hippy, a weapons enthusiast, and maybe a Jew. I joke a little, but my point is that real diversity is people working together who in our present climate we'd have hard time finding things in common. As the others have pointed out, right now it feels like a bunch of Americans with slightly different outward appearances.
Chrome
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 9:58am (UTC -6)
I believe that same argument could be made for any of the Treks, especially TNG, DS9, and VOY though. At the end of the day, it's an American series written primarily for an American audience cast by American directors.
Chrome
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 10:15am (UTC -6)
Though, I'll add, to Discovery's credit, they're doing a better job of including different ethnicities than The Orville, which I think it worth acknowledging.
Peter G.
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 10:32am (UTC -6)
@ Chrome,

Really? Let's go show by show.

TOS: blatantly put political enemies on the same bridge together at a time when things were not ok between the peoples. S2 onwards Chekhov goes on about Russian heritage nonstop; played for laughs, but still acting as a lampoon of "Americans invented everything". Others, like Scotty and O'Reilly, don't come off as Americans but rather as their own nationality, as does Uhura in a few cases. And of course there's Spock. So only Jim and Bones come off as American, and then it's blatant because they're both from the old USA.

TNG: Data is a total outsider, Troi is Betazoid and doesn't speak or act like the others (sometimes to her detriment as an actress, but she did maintain this over the series), Worf is Worf, Picard is 'French', and so the only American-ish people are Beverly, Wesley, maybe Geordi, and Tasha. But TNG scripted the characters so differently than contemporary speech (again, often to its detriment) that frankly none of them sound like contemporary Americans).

DS9: The only American-sounding people here are Sisko and Jake, and maybe Eddington later on. The rest are blatantly either from elsewhere or else non-human. And they're not just 'fake-from-somewhere-else', they really don't act like Americans. Dax may be white but she totally doesn't act like a modern person, especially at the start of S1 (which does evolve, but still).

Voyager: Kes, Neelix, Tuvok, Seven, Doc - all totally non-American. I'll grant you here that Harry, Tom, Janeway, and even B'Elanna act like they could be American in their turn of phrase and manner, so this one is maybe less diverse in that sense than the other series, but it's still pretty diverse, plus female captain was a big deal.

Enterprise: Actually the least diverse of them all, as only Phlox, T'Pol, and Reed come off as non-American. I was actually really put off when it first aired at how all-American the lowbrow the casting was done, and even the title theme pointed in the direction of Americana. So this series suffered from the same as DISCO in my view in this category.

I also think that the diversity in the JJ films was a big zero, so it would appear that *real diversity* is a thing that's been waning from Enterprise onward. In that sense it's not a new development, but we've definitely lost the concept of pushing the envelope of getting used to new people. Saru was a welcome exception here except that they're in the midst of sabotaging my ability to respect him.
Chrome
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 10:36am (UTC -6)
DS9: Everyone's drinking rootbeer and playing baseball. QED.
Ubik
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 11:00am (UTC -6)
@Peter G

I believe you are underestimating the value and significance of having a black woman as the lead. You are also, I believe, underestimating the value of having one of the leads be a member of a male gay married couple. It's not about quantity - it it were, you could say Uhura counts as much as Michael Burnham, which is clearly false.

Furthermore, Tilly is probably on the spectrum, striking me most plausibly as having Asperger's.

Tyler, whether he turns out to be a Klingon or not, is at the moment a lead, and he's not a white guy. Latif is part Pakastani, part English, I believe.

And Saru is as alien here as Odo was on DS9 (he has more in common with Odo than Data or Spock, I think). So, if Odo counts, so does Saru.

And it's a smaller cast of main characters than the previous Trek shows. So what do we have, among this smaller cast? A black woman, a gay man, a woman with Asperger's, a part-Pakistani man, and an alien. No diversity? Demonstrably untrue. You have listed or implied several factors you deem relevant in regards to diversity - nationality, political persuasion, religion - and while those are all valid factors, to limit it to those is arbitrary. Are nationality or culture or religion the only kinds of diversity? Perhaps in the 60's, nationality was mainly how people framed their questions of identity, and hence we have Scotty and Chekov. But in 2017, identity is framed in much more personal terms - namely, gender, colour, sexual orientation, mental disability. See? Exactly what we have on Discovery. Nationality is almost beside the point in our much more globalized world. It seems to me that, rather than merely imitate the TYPE of diversity found on earlier shows, the showrunners here updated their notions of diversity to better match our current 2017 notions of diversity.
MidshipmanNorris
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 11:24am (UTC -6)
Tangential: It is a big wall-banger for me to watch such vehement nerds attack the romantic chemistry of Burnham and Tyler. :| You try writing convincing romance in this cynical as (insert anglosaxon monosyllable) world.

I do agree about:

- Open-ended Mysteries For Their Own Sake.

This isn't going to end well. What was always cool about the writing on Star Trek was that the mysteries had a lot of thought put into them. If you end up putting too many mysteries in play, resolving them becomes an utter HELLJOB for the writers, and we will end up getting explanations in the end which a Packlid wouldn't buy. Watch it, producer man.

- Magical Plot-Resolving Convenient Science

Enough of this. Your show has already done this too many times. Start doing some research. I don't even want to go into examples, it's getting too frustrating keeping track of all the hand-waving. You may as well bring Ian McKellen on the show as Gandalf the Grey if you go much farther with it.

- The Tone of DISCO

Someone has said "If you want that uplifting, inspiring, warmfuzzyfeeling Trek, those shows have been made and are streamable now." I agree. This show's tone is up to IT to set, and your obsession with the words 'Star Trek' being EXACTLY what you think it is (IDIC, people) is probably doing more to interfere with your enjoyment of the show than anything you're seeing.

- Sonequa Martin-Green's Acting

...She was shaky in the first ep, I said so. This hasn't improved. Ms. Martin-Green is either being over-directed or just wasn't paying attention in acting school. Her character, whatever plots are being thrown at her, seems static and unchanging. The plot says she has developed, but the actress is still doing exactly the same notes as before. Someone needs to have a talk with either her or the director. She just isn't varied enough in her emotional throughput...I dunno. It's hard to put my finger on it. I feel like this character could be being portrayed better.

- The Slipshod Plot Progression

CLUSTER ####. That is all. It's been covered by others. This is the worst plotted ep of the series so far. Stop making magic science excuses. Stop making disjointed scenes go one right after another just to have the 'shock and awe' element to them. You aren't making a story, you're making a fireworks display. Stop it. Make a story.

- 'Ash/Voq'

Saru read his mind using the mind crystal thing from 'Aquiel.' Uhm...shouldn't Saru have realized he was Voq at that point, if he is Voq? He clearly states that he was able to see Tyler's intention to keep him there, but was that all he saw? Telepathy grey areas abound, but if he were a spy, I don't think he would have submitted to the Aquiel (TNG Season...5?) mind crystal thingie, unless he is profoundly stupid, which he doesn't seem to be.

This episode gets a solid 1 star out of 4 for me. This is lazy showmaking. Step it up much beyond this, Mr. Meyer. Come on.
Peter G.
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 11:29am (UTC -6)
@ Ubik,

You make a good point. However I'll deny at this point that the color of someone's skin should count as diversity, since as you mention the idea is to show new kinds of diversity. Once you have a black station commander you can't really say that having a black person on the show is revolutionary. That's sort of exactly what I'm talking about, treating diversity as being how people *look*. And as far as Ash Tyler goes, wherever the actor is from the character acts like a modern American (and claims he is from America).

Saru we agree on, and I'll grant you the gay couple, although the jury's still out on the latter as we'll have to see how they treat the material on that. So far we've only had one short scene where it was presented. But it is there, so you can check that one off.

Tilly is something else: yes, she may have a 'disability' if you want to call it that, but the fact that she acts weird and we just to the conclusion that she's on the spectrum isn't ideal. It would be better if we knew for sure that even people who are suffering from a developmental disorder can still excel. It's one thing to not have to mention Uhura's blackness; one could see it without it having to be discussed. But for an autism spectrum thing, no, I think it's actually problematic to just let us conclude that since she acts weird she has autism. And further, she even says in the pilot that she has a character flaw which her instructors expect her to work on, which to me sounds very different from someone with autism explaining to someone how they're different. I've known people with autism, none of them categorized it as a 'character flaw'. That's a super-weird way to call a developmental disorder that you can't help. So no, I'm not giving any kind of agreement to Tilly being 'diverse' just because she has a super-aggressive and irritating manner. Maybe she's just annoying and terrified, maybe it's autism. I won't jump to conclusions.
Shannon
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 12:07pm (UTC -6)
@Ubik

I 100% agree with your post about the changing nature of diversity, and how DIS is actually more in-line with how diversity is viewed today (or at least should be viewed) then during times that earlier series were produced. You could also through diversity of thought in there. It shouldn't just be about skin color or nationality.
Ubik
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 12:26pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G
@Shannon

Peter, here is what I'll give you: it would be nice to know for sure that Tilly has Asperger's. Because then, as you say, it could be an inspiring message about people on the spectrum overcoming their obstacles and excelling. On the other hand, I can imagine the struggles the writer's room would have trying to stick that exposition in there without it seeming either awkward or After-School-Special-Message-of-the-Week. It must be incredibly difficult to stick that information into the show, I think, without it screaming "Inspirational Message!" So I have sympathy for the writers, if they chose to leave that out. With that said, I am 100% certain that both the writers and the actor of Tilly have Asperger's in mind. I am married to a woman with Asperger's, and one of my daughters is fairly close to having it, and I suspect it would be absolutely clear to anyone who has experience with it that Tilly has it. So, for me, her presence on the show is extremely inspiring for my family, and a sign of contemporary notions of diversity.

The same goes for Stamets being an openly gay main character - we cannot underestimate how inspiring that is for gay Star Trek fans, and other fans who care about gay representation. Again, in an ideal world, it wouldn't have to be such a big deal, but unfortunately, it still is, and it's wonderful to see a 3-dimensional, well-written, well-acted gay man starring in a Star Trek show. In regards to where they're going to take it - given them time. It's only been 8 episodes!

As for colour of the skin being a valid factor in diversity, obviously "merely" how you look OUGHT not to make a damn difference in how we view that person, but the fact of the matter is, it always has, and still does. Sisko's blackness was not, with a couple of exceptions, a major factor in his characterization (it became more so in the later seasons, with the Holosuite episodes and his visits to New Orleans), but the representation of a healthy black father-son relationship WAS absolutely inspiring and amazing, all throughout the series. The colour of his and his son's skin alone spoke VOLUMES. Complex three-dimensional representations of people of colour are STILL important markers of diversity, and we should not dismiss that. We may all agree that we wish it weren't important, but I can guarantee you that for Star Trek fans who are women of colour, having Michael Burnham be the lead of a Star Trek show in 2017 is a godsend.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, this cast of characters is actually intensely diverse. Star Trek was behind the times for the last decade or two in that respect, yes, but this show has caught up very nicely (again, using a more modern notion of what diversity means.)
Chrome
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 12:32pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G.

"However I'll deny at this point that the color of someone's skin should count as diversity, since as you mention the idea is to show new kinds of diversity. Once you have a black station commander you can't really say that having a black person on the show is revolutionary."

To say that Sisko has fully fulfilled the need for a black lead sounds like a bit of wishful thinking. Unfortunately, our society still has its prejudices against non-whites and female leaders, and Burnham as the lead possessing both backgrounds is revolutionary, even (or should I say especially?) for an audience in 2017.

I suppose if liberals had it their way, the whole crew would be run by fundamentalist Muslims, as you suggested, but that sort of step would be extremely radical considering that all Treks have had predominately white casts, even the ones that purport to have some revolutionary aspects to their casts.

Anyway, I think I've said this another section, but these stories should never be about filling cast diversity quotas as a primary goal. In Trek, there is an *entire universe of diverse species* for the crew to explore and understand. I feel like that's going to happen in Discovery with the Klingons at least. Let's not spend too much time looking inward at the crew and start looking outward at the diversity of alien intelligence and life.
Peter G.
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 12:44pm (UTC -6)
@ Chrome,

I agree with you that I'm not in favor of 'liberal tokenism', aka diversity just to show off how diverse we are. What I'm talking about, though, is specifically showing that people who cannot get along today are in harmony in the future. That is what diversity means to me, not people who are visible minorities on the bridge together. People who, either due to nationality, religion, or whatever else, are severely at odds in our era but are past that in the future. That's why my slightly tongue-in-cheek suggestion included a Hillary and a Trump supporter, as well as a fundamentalist Muslim. It's not because that would *look* more diverse, it's because in actual reality these people can't cooperate right now with others who are different from them.
Peter G.
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 12:48pm (UTC -6)
In other words, it's a way of showing (rather than telling) that whatever major issues we have right now, we'll get over it and will be harmonious in the future. Israelis and Arabs? Democrats and Republicans? They will all be cooperating happily by 2250. That's what diversity means to me.

I'll fully grant the homosexual relationship is some real diversity so I gave that one to Ubik, but even then the social movement to support and accept gay people is quite well along and has progressed already further than anyone would have predicted in a short time. In that sense portraying gay people on tv, while certainly a positive thing, isn't revolutionary in the sense of showing us something hard to believe at present that will be true in the future. It's already believable in the present in most urban areas in the West. Still good to portray, but not quite what I'm talking about.
Dom
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 1:05pm (UTC -6)
I think the discussion has veered off course from @Evans' main point. His claim (and mine) wasn't that Discovery isn't diverse. It's that it's diversity as seen and understood in America. The Discovery characters come across as very 21st century American. Satu aside, they look and behave just like 21st century Americans. There isn't really much in the way of non-American cultural representation. This doesn't mean we shouldn't applaud Discovery for the diversity it brings to the table. It's just that, for people like me who care about the rest of the world, it seems like a step back for the franchise.
Galadriel
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 1:21pm (UTC -6)
As a European (who currently lives in South Asia), I cannot understand the American obsession with “diversity” — I really don’t understand what this word means.

Tyler, for example, is an American (grown up near Seattle), as was Sisko (amply proven by his interest in baseball), and on ENT really everyone seemed to come from the same society and behaved according to US military protocol (nothing is made of Reed and Sato coming from UK and JP, respectively). On VOY, every human was American. So, what is really diverse here? Am I supposed to relish the diversity between Americans of different physical appearance, when there could be also Swedish captains, Turkish science officers, Indian security chiefs or Korean programmers? Or even an Aymara engineer?

OTOH, Uhura had mother tongue Suahili and was most likely born in East Africa and Chekhov clearly has grown up in a Russian society; even the SF-born Sulu showed some “Japanese traits”, even if only of cheap token type. It seems that TOS was diverser than the later shows.

Casting actors of various “races” (what that means, I can’t understand either) does not create a realistic international atmosphere. Rather, the characters should be written with various backgrounds. This was never done in later Trek (exception Picard), probably because the era of nation states is gone by the 24.th century. That’s an artistic choice, and if we stick to it, then any discussion of “diversity” is void, anyway.

DIS brings national diversity to a new all-time low, everyone there seems American, which makes not much sense given this is TOS era. That Stamets is gay didn’t yet bring any payoff. Notwithstanding the female lead, the show is very much male-dominated (DS9 did much better in that respect).

I very much like Tilly, probably she reminds me to a friend who introduced me to computer programming. She was socially highly repressed, couldn’t stand a direct glance from anyone else and would often make poor jokes in the wrong moment to overcome her permanent anxiety. However, given an editor and a compiler, she did amazing things. Nothing here cries “mentally disabled”, but rather “I can handle my life in my way, even if that is different from your way”.
Chrome
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 1:29pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G.

Despite the crew having Discovery crew having philosophical differences (pro-science versus pro-war), I think they arguably get along as a post-conflict society that doesn't judge people based on their backgrounds. Homosexuality probably is the biggest example, but I think there's also something to be said about how much faith Lorca puts in Saru despite the two men obviously having their differences, and Saru being very much more alien in mannerisms compared to the rest of the crew.

I also think the show deserves some respect for depicting Burnham as an ex-con who is successfully reintegrating back into society. Tilly, even as a cadet with weird mannerisms much like Lt. Barclay, is also being given respect and patience to Tilly beyond what the Enterprise-D showed Barclay at first.

@Dom

Respectfully, I think we have discussed the points of American and non-American representation. As Ubik pointed out, nationality being a defining marker of diversity doesn't ring as true now as it did the 1960s when America was a bit more xenophobic. There are definitely more issues that resonate globally that the writers can depict and that's what we've been discussing.
Chrome
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 1:30pm (UTC -6)
Sorry, -crew having from the first sentence. Apologies for the editing error.
Jack
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 2:02pm (UTC -6)
The preponderance of WASPy surnames on so much later Trek has always bugged me. (not just the mains, but also background characters).

We've got 7-billion people on Earth -- most don't have names like Kirk, Tyler, Crusher and Archer.

I don't know why I used the word preponderance.

And this will sound odd, but here are a lot of places (Quebec, France, Italy, Holland, Korea, China, Spain) where women keep their maiden names. I'd always wished Trek had done that.

Oh yeah, and this episode was only meh for me. The Saru stuff didn't quite feel earned. And the Klingon stuff was confusing (mainly because I was only half-watching while wasting time on my laptop and I ended up missing some captions).

Jack
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 2:06pm (UTC -6)
"I also think the show deserves some respect for depicting Burnham as an ex-con who is successfully reintegrating back into society."

She's not really an ex-con -- the plan is for her to go back. She was pretty reviled on the ship, and her crime -- attempted mutiny to save the ship -- wasn't quite robbing a gas station. But, yeah, the show is focusing on second chances.


Yair
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 3:16pm (UTC -6)
"I also think the show deserves some respect for depicting Burnham as an ex-con who is successfully reintegrating back into society."

Burnham was never "deintegrated" for any real length of time. After a very temporary stay on the prison ship she ends up doing the same job on a different ship, where the crew is if anything more sociable. This is hardly reflective of the challenges former prisoners go through, like gaining legal employing or adjusting to a society which changed drastically while in prison.

If this subplot was not created only to give her some sympathy, the writers should at least develop the implications - not only her "ex-con" status, but whether the motivation which led to the original crimes has remained.

Burnham's problem in the pilot was that she hated Klingons so much she became unable to think logically or sensibly to the point of betraying her friends. In the next chapter she would probably deal with Klingons directly again, and this is directly relevant. We need to see how this affects her behaviour. If she changed, we are owed an explanation.
Pocket University
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 5:29pm (UTC -6)
Okay, having now had the opportunity to watch the show myself, it wasn't quite as bad as I was afraid it would be but it still doesn't make much of an impression on me. There just doesn't seem to be any discernable artistic vision pulling the whole thing together, The Orville at least has that even if its vision is essentially "copy TNG". Even the credits are weirdly generic-- perhaps they thought it would be clever not to do anything too overtly "spacey" this time around, but it really doesn't help.

I don't find myself invested very much in the characters save for post-shroomification Stamets (who seems to be channeling Lieutenant Barclay) and maybe Saru (who seems to be about 1/3rd Odo from DS9 and 2/3rds Kryten from Red Dwarf). I find myself caring more about the Klingons.

And the Klingons--ugh, you can't just completely revamp such a well-established part of the background, imagine if the new Star Wars had decided that Wookies should be covered with green feathers. What a mess.

@Peter G. "But TNG scripted the characters so differently than contemporary speech (again, often to its detriment) that frankly none of them sound like contemporary Americans)."

More like the employees of a Japanese congomerate--cool, formal and restrained on the job, with the tavern (10-Forward) serving as an informal back-channel after hours.

@Steve "Discovery uses its science for effect and gimmicks, rather than attempting to make it coherent on any structural level. When you put that expectation to one side, it's a lot more enjoyable to watch – but as a fan of old Trek, which at least tried to make these things add up, it grates."

Aww, why can't you just watch and enjoy it?

http://smbc-comics.com/index.php?id=4043
Thomas
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 5:46pm (UTC -6)
"Nationality is almost beside the point in our much more globalized world."

I agree. But globalization doesn't entail a monoculture - that is the fear of those wishing to prevent it. Even in our much more globalized world - the world of today - I can walk around my city and hear a wide variety of accents, view vastly different ways of expression and huge cultural variations in the way people live.

It definitely feels like Discovery has gone backwards from TOS original vision of Earth as a place where people of all kinds of different backgrounds and cultures can collaborate peacefully. Hell, it's even backwards from the perspective of today's culturally diverse workplace.

An appropriate comparison would be the current crew of NASA's ISS:

Joe Acaba (USA)
Alexander Alexandrovich (Russian Federation)
Mark Vande (USA)
Sergey Nikolaevich (Russian Federation)
Randolph “Komrade” Bresnik (USA)
Paolo Nespoli (Italy)

That's half the crew with non-American backgrounds, on an American station. What has happened between now and the 2250s that 99% of our space agency's personnel we have seen so far (Georgiou being the exception) appear to come from a single location on Earth? And what does it say about the show's vision of the future of developing nations when countries like India, Egypt and Indonesia are already forging ahead with their own space programs?
Mertov
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 5:49pm (UTC -6)
"Burnham was never "deintegrated" for any real length of time. After a very temporary stay on the prison ship she ends up doing the same job on a different ship, where the crew is if anything more sociable."

Really? More sociable than that of the Shenzhou? I am thinking of "Context for Kings" and how I fail to see how Discovery is more sociable, especially from Burnham's point of view. She arrives on the ship and is regared with disdain, fear, and everyone pretty much side-eyes her and it's clear she is made to feel like an outcast. WHereas in the Shenzhou she was respected by her peers, captain, and was in the number one position. I would hardly call that the same job and the crew more sociable from Burnham's point of view. And calling "6 months" any "real amount of time" or not, is completely subjective.

"This is hardly reflective of the challenges former prisoners go through, like gaining legal employing or adjusting to a society which changed drastically while in prison."

According to whose definition of "challenges former prisoners go through"? Some may say Burnham's challenges are far worse than that of most prisoners because she comes out of prison with enough fame that a vast portion of the population hates her and is immediately aware of what she did as soon as they hear the name, which cannot be said of most prisoners.
Jack
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 10:32pm (UTC -6)
"Burnham's problem in the pilot was that she hated Klingons so much she became unable to think logically or sensibly to the point of betraying her friends."

The first two episodes don't show that at all -- it's a logical, sensible decision (within the world of the story), although it's emotional in the sense that she doesn't want her captain or shipmates to die, it's based on Klingon behavior and she betrays nobody. I saw nothing, despite her past, to suggest that she hated Klingons.
Jack
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 10:48pm (UTC -6)
"This episode gets a solid 1 star out of 4 for me. This is lazy showmaking. Step it up much beyond this, Mr. Meyer. Come on."

Is Meyer even involved in day to day decisions on the show?
Cosmic
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 10:53pm (UTC -6)
This episode was a mixed bag, featuring multiple elements that were often times vague and confusing. None of these threads ultimately come together by the end... but maybe that was the point. Considering that this is essentially the first part of the mid-season finale, this episode might look better in hindsight... but as it stands now? Eh.

I appreciated that the series is finally focusing more on Saru, but the episode was very wishy washy towards his connection with the "spore aliens who are not the same spores as the spore drive". It played it off as if Saru had been infected or taken over in some way, but this turned out to be... false... this was to the episode's detriment, imo. If this is what Saru becomes when he is "alleviated" of his instinctual fears, then he shouldn't even be in Starfleet. Why did they accelerate Ash and Burnham's relationship in such a short time? Maybe this points to a possible Voq revelation in the next episode....

The progression of the Stamets storyline was welcome (Captain Tilly? Mirror Universe or potentially seeing into the future?), but way too brief.

The Klingon storyline this episode? It was... fine, I guess. Certainly better than what we got in the first two + "Butcher's Knife". Kol is effective as a Klingon villain, plus he has the most Klingon outfit out of any of them. The episode leaves L'Rell and Cornwell's fate up in the air... with how the scenes played out, I do not think the admiral is actually dead. Kind of messy on the execution, but not nearly as dull as the previous Klingon heavy episodes.

This episode is far too bulky and (for whatever reason) it has a shorter runtime. It tried to do a lot with LESS time than previous episodes. Why was it shorter than the others? Did they cut scenes out and then felt like adding any of them back in would add nothing to the episode? It definitely felt like it was missing something when it came to... all of it's story-lines. Kind of jarring.

Leaning towards a 2 star for this one, it left me feeling sort of bewildered and unsatisfied. The writers attempted to move multiple pieces at once, without providing much in the way of compelling material. Considering how much fun the standalone episode was last week, Disco should probably drop this war arc ASAP and stick to standard Trek-style episodes.
Skupper
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 11:35pm (UTC -6)
All this talk of 'diversity' I find to be sort of silly.

Maybe it's sort of important for Star Trek in some way, I don't know. I don't see why, if it is. I don't see why it matters.

I don't care if the entire crew is muslims, or blacks, or autistic people, or gays, or whites, or aliens or whatever. They could all be black autistic gay white muslim aliens for all I care.

All I care about is if the show is good, and so far it isn't really.

It's ok, but that's about it. Take some Star Trek stuff, mix it in with modern CGI and other cool tech stuff, and a war, and run with it. That's as far as the producers got I think. No real thought put into it beyond that.

Alexandrea
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 12:25am (UTC -6)
The conversation over diversity and representation is an interesting one. I'm thrilled to have Black, Pakistani, non-straight, and neurodivergent characters on a show with a pretty small main cast. I can't side with criticism that discounts the significance of this diversity, but I can agree that the human crew feels very culturally American, and portraying both humanity and other species as not culturally homogeneous could benefit the show.

@Hank
I think we're making different critiques, but both are legitimate. I'm pointing out that Discovery values rapid movement of plot points over exploring depth in the themes it raises, and you're raising that the plot points in question don't even make consistent internal sense.
Skupper
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 12:56am (UTC -6)
@Alexandrea

'I'm thrilled to have Black, Pakistani, non-straight, and neurodivergent characters on a show with a pretty small main cast.'

Sorry to single you out, but you were the last to respond, so why does it matter to you what the cast's makeup is? I honestly don't understand why it matters.

To me all that matters is that the show is entertaining and well written, and doesn't have too many plot holes, etc.

What difference does it make what nationalities or whatever the characters are?

BTW, that's the first time I've ever heard the term 'neurodivergent'. Is that another new category of people that needs to be included in every TV show now for some reason I don't understand?

DIS is a show about the future. Who knows what types of people will be there? To judge it by how it represents modern day America is pretty silly if you ask me.
Yair
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 1:47am (UTC -6)
@jack,

"I saw nothing, despite her past, to suggest that she hated Klingons."

Recall the flashback scene with Sarek when she's asked a question about Klingons. Also, it's the only way I can justify her acting so illogically.

"it's a logical, sensible decision (within the world of the story)"

Her decision was a totally BS idea in the first place.

* All of the other characters involved (including Sarek himself) tell her it's a very dubious idea at best.

* Assertions based on 100-year-old cultural data have no validity. What would have happened if Vulcans judged Humanity based on Khan during First Contact?

* Her logic was based on long-term deterrence. When 25 Klingon ships jump into your space it's simply too late for deterrence logic.

* Lets pretend killing T'Kumva after the battle would turn him into a martyr (except we don't actually see any evidence any Klingon cares). What would have happened if Starfleet shot first and killed him?

* Yeoh's argument was crudely put but right for a simple reason - firing first would have had an horrible effect on Starfleet morale. More than enough people blame Starfleet for the war in the current timeline - if Michael's decision was taken that number would jump.

* In a rare decision for the series, we know she was wrong, since the scenes from the Klingon ship show that T'Kumva was planning to start a war regardless (of course, no Starfleet personnel has that information).

@Mertov,

"Really? More sociable than that of the Shenzhou? "

Given Burnham's self-imposed social-isolation (she says in the previous episode she refused to socialize with most personnel on Shenzhou) - yes. Also, they acted like complete strangers to each other in the pilot and not a real crew. Some would say that was a casting issue, and didn't apply in the 'real' setting, but I think what's on screen should take precedence.

"And calling "6 months" any "real amount of time" or not, is completely subjective. "

This is considered an extremely short time in any real-world prison system.

" she comes out of prison with enough fame that a vast portion of the population hates her and is immediately aware of what she did "

Absolutely no evidence for that. I strongly doubt most non-Starfleet personnel are even aware of her history, much less 'hate' her. And every Starfleet personnel is required to interact with her based on her current position on Discovery.
Skupper
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 2:19am (UTC -6)
@Yair

"she comes out of prison with enough fame that a vast portion of the population hates her and is immediately aware of what she did "

Absolutely no evidence for that. I strongly doubt most non-Starfleet personnel are even aware of her history, much less 'hate' her. And every Starfleet personnel is required to interact with her based on her current position on Discovery.

In the third episode, she was made out to be an enemy of Starfleet, and that everyone knew who she was, the prisoners on board her ship and basically everyone on Discovery. And in another episode (not sure which one, maybe the same one), Tilley even mentions that the only Mike Burnham she knows is the the one that betrayed Starfleet. So everyone in Starfleet certainly knew of her, if not everyone in the Federation. She was, after all, the first person to commit mutiny.

Yair
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 2:34am (UTC -6)
"In the third episode, she was made out to be an enemy of Starfleet, and that everyone knew who she was, the prisoners on board her ship and basically everyone on Discovery. And in another episode (not sure which one, maybe the same one), Tilley even mentions that the only Mike Burnham she knows is the the one that betrayed Starfleet. So everyone in Starfleet certainly knew of her, if not everyone in the Federation. She was, after all, the first person to commit mutiny."

Her fellow inmates and the ship she was stationed on are hardly a representative example.
Skupper
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 2:52am (UTC -6)
I disagree, I think she was well known all over the Federation. But what do I know?

But if she wasn't well known, then how did all of those people find out about her?

And why does it seem like such a big deal to you whether she was or wasn't?
Yair
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 3:01am (UTC -6)
@Skupper

"But if she wasn't well known, then how did all of those people find out about her?"

There was plenty of time of her fellow inmates to learn about her. Probably Michael talked, or some guard talked, or they overheard some of the deliberations regarding her trial.

As for the Discovery, they were hosting dangerous prisoners, probably had files on all of them. Later, she became a part of the crew, where again they must have files for all of the crew.

"And why does it seem like such a big deal to you whether she was or wasn't?"

Read the conversation in context. The original argument by Chrome was that Michael represented as example of "an ex-con who is successfully reintegrating back into society". I argued that she didn't face any of the challenges former prisoners go through (no need to search for a job, near-same position as before, no need to adjust to changed society, actually does better socially on new ship).

The reply was she did face problems because she was 'widely hated', which I strongly disputed, since I don't believe most people know of her past, and those that do are required to interact with her as an officer of the Discovery.
Skupper
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 3:12am (UTC -6)
Hmmm...

I would say she was widely well known across the quadrant at least. That is what was hinted at, if not explicity shown on the show. She was the first Starfleet officer to be convicted of mutiny. That is a big deal. It wasn't hidden as you seem to indicate. It was a well known fact as far as I can tell from the show.

But I also don't want to debate it anymore. Maybe someone else can clarify it better than we can.
MidshipmanNorris
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 3:59am (UTC -6)
@Jack

["This episode gets a solid 1 star out of 4 for me. This is lazy showmaking. Step it up much beyond this, Mr. Meyer. Come on."

Is Meyer even involved in day to day decisions on the show?]

The fact that we can't tell is troubling in itself.

This was a weak episode, is my point.
Mertov
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 6:17am (UTC -6)
@Yair

I don't like to get in long-winded arguments on details, Skupper already said what needs to be said, it's quite evident that she is hated by everyone. The prisoners in her transport ship knew of her fame, she walks into Discovery and everyone knows of her fame, she is blamed (rightly or wrongly) for causing a war that is causing havoc in the world ("more than the world"). I am sorry but she is definitely widely known. The show makes that pretty clear.

And that was only to show that I disagree with your argument that Burnham was facing was hardly "reflective of the challenges former prisoners go through." She has a lot bigger challenges due to her fame, even if it were limited to Discovery (which, again, I strongly disagree, but I won't get into a back and forth on this detail and hijack the comments board, this is not a judge-jury environment). Only a small portion of former prisoners have to go into an environment where everyone they see and meet knows of them (at least in name).

As to 6 months being real amount of time or not, again it's subjective, because what counts is not what "is considered in any real world prison system" or our opinion but the point of view of the former convict. He/She has to face reality when he/she comes out, regardless of what stats say in a study done by unrelated people. And Burnham is far worse off in that context than most ex-convicts, for reasons I have already mentioned.

And sorry but to claim that Discovery is more sociable under her circumstances than Shenzhou, a ship in which she has served for years, and is the number one, is just not correct, just watching the show should make that clear. That is definitely not her situation when she arrives to the Discovery in prison suits with everyone side-eyeing her and being a complete jerk to her. I hardly doubt the security chief in the Shenzhou and the engineer were any less sociable to her than the ones on Shenzhou were. Her self-imposed social-isolation does not mean she has zero interaction with anyone, and when she does, she faced them as number one, not as a famous convict who made her entrance to the Shenzhou in convict's clothes.
Yanks
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 6:27am (UTC -6)
She's known.

As is her stint on Discovery.

The ADM went to far as to mention it was posing a morale problem in Star Fleet. (to Lorca)
Yanks
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 6:37am (UTC -6)
@Pocket University
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 5:29pm (UTC -6)
Okay, having now had the opportunity to watch the show myself, it wasn't quite as bad as I was afraid it would be but it still doesn't make much of an impression on me.

I'm probably here, although I think I have a little higher opinion of the show.

I think it's just like the "niners" hating Voyager or Enterprise. No, they aren't DS9, but they are trek and you need to accept them for what they are and move on. This also happened when TNG came out. Many of the TOS folks weren't too happy. If DIS copied lets say TNG (like The Orville does) folks would be having conniptions about that.

Discovery has a lot of "trek" in it. I acknowledge that sometimes it's just lip-service, but many times it's very true to it's roots.

The biggest "change" is it's serial. Even DS9 during it's arcs was more episodic than this.

I'm very interested to see where this next episode takes us and what direction the show goes with the remainder of season 1.
Yair
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 6:53am (UTC -6)
I'm not going to hijack this board, but the "I'm tired of commenting, so let me argue my case, but please don't make any counter-arguments" shtick is annoying. If you want to close the argument, do so, but don't use it as an excuse to have the last word and stop the other fellow from replying.

@Metrov,

Don't get stuck on the single episode where Michael is treated badly - she's technically still a prisoner at the time, it doesn't count as an example of 'former convicts reintegrating into society'. (And as I wrote, everyone had good reasons to know about her, this says nothing in itself about what's happening elsewhere). Look at her situation after 'release'.

She ends up being de facto number two (basically switching places with Saru). On the Shenzhou , she seems to have good rapport only with Yeoh, on Discovery she already has two-three friends. Furthermore, Every Starfleet officer is mandated to treat her professionally even if he doesn't like it, and if anyone on or near Discovery will make problems, Lorca (who seems to like her) will make sure it never repeats. I'll be genuinely surprised if she ends up in jail after the series, I'm sure something will happen to let her off.

@Skupper

You understand how large a quadrant is, right?
Mertov
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 7:01am (UTC -6)
"I'm not going to hijack this board, but the "I'm tired of commenting, so let me argue my case, but please don't make any counter-arguments" shtick is annoying. If you want to close the argument, do so, but don't use it as an excuse to have the last word and stop the other fellow from replying."

Uhm.. Where in my post did I say "don't make any counter-arguments"? I am sorry that you are annoyed by something that didn't exist in my post.

By all means, have at it, I was talking for myself..
Skupper
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 7:08am (UTC -6)
@Yair

''m not going to hijack this board, but the "I'm tired of commenting, so let me argue my case, but please don't make any counter-arguments" shtick is annoying. If you want to close the argument, do so, but don't use it as an excuse to have the last word and stop the other fellow from replying.'

No one said you can't make counter arguments, I only said I didn't want to argue about it any longer, so I wouldn't post about that topic anymore. I made it clear in my posts what I thought. You may be right, I may be right, who knows?, and if you disagree, or anyone else does, and want to say something different, that's fine. No one is stopping you. It's not like we can control the internet, no matter how much some of us may want to. :D

'You understand how large a quadrant is, right?'

Well, yes and no. lol. I wasn't trying to say that literally everyone in the quadrant knows of Mike. I was just making a point. Lots of people knew of her. That's all.
Yair
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 7:12am (UTC -6)
Ok, lets close thiat off as a misunderstanding.
Skupper
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 7:43am (UTC -6)
@Yanks

'I think it's just like the "niners" hating Voyager or Enterprise. No, they aren't DS9, but they are trek and you need to accept them for what they are and move on.'

Since I'm here already, I thought I would comment on this. I'm not a 'niner'. I liked DS9 when it was first on, but on my second viewing I found it to be sort of lame. Not so good, in other words. I think DS9 is mediocre, and I really hate Voyager, and I really like Enterprise. I don't know what that makes me exactly.

I also can't say whether having DIS be an episodic show or arcing storyline is good or bad on it's face. So far it's been lackluster and not what I expected it to be, but I don't attribute that to it's continuing story, I put all the blame on the writers and producers. It could have been so much better. OMG. So much better. I was hoping and expecting so much. Too much maybe. But it is what it is.

Here's hoping that future seasons will be better. :D
Chrome
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 9:32am (UTC -6)
A cadet like Tilly knowing who Burnham was by reputation is enough to show that she's infamous at Starfleet for criminal behavior. I think Burnham mentioned something about it one of her logs too, or am I imagining things?

@Yanks
"Discovery has a lot of "trek" in it. I acknowledge that sometimes it's just lip-service, but many times it's very true to it's roots."

It's funny because I'm not sure what they can do at this point to avoid this criticism. If they make any attempt to connect the continuities people complain that it's lip service, but if they ignore the continuities people will complain this isn't Trek. I would hate to be a writer for this show. Or maybe I just wouldn't read message boards. :-)
Peter G.
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 9:47am (UTC -6)
@ Chrome,

"It's funny because I'm not sure what they can do at this point to avoid this criticism. If they make any attempt to connect the continuities people complain that it's lip service, but if they ignore the continuities people will complain this isn't Trek. I would hate to be a writer for this show. Or maybe I just wouldn't read message boards."

So you're saying that the only two possible options for a writer are to use token continuity with no substance or to ignore continuity altogether? I know this isn't actually what you're saying, but it's the reality of what you're suggesting. I think maybe...just maybe, there's a third option :)

And btw, there doesn't generally seem to be disagreement here that DISCO is a significant departure from previous Trek style, themes, and structure. The disagreement seems to stem more from the issue of whether this is a good thing or not. But it's not particularly plausible to argue that they've invoked continuity *and* maintained it in its original spirit. The Harry Mudd from DISCO is *not* the Harry Mudd from TOS. That's a stone cold fact. The only thing to argue about is whether the new Mudd makes for good TV or not, but the idea that bringing him in somehow maintains continuity is laughable. Similarly for other aspects of the show.

They didn't have to do it this way, but they wanted to. Fine. But don't make like they had no choice but to either have no continuity or do have the sort of continuity they've chosen to have. At least JJ's films knew they didn't want continuity and so they framed themselves as reboots. But you can't have your cake and eat it too, so if continuity is going to be brought in it should be in the proper spirit of the original. We know very well who Sarek is, for instance, and what he's like, so making nu-Sarek an emotional basketcase (for a Vulcan) is obviously not continuity in the sense of working off of what was done before. It's new and that's not because the writers' hands were tied. They wanted it that way.
Ubik
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 10:20am (UTC -6)
@Peter G

I would just like to offer a slightly different perspective regarding these questions of continuity, and it's a practical one.

When Nicholas Meyer was asked to direct Wrath of Khan, he sat down and watched all 79 episodes of the original series. His conclusion, a fair one I think, is that they are about 1/3 great, 1/3 mediocre, and 1/3 awful. He chose Space Seed as a jumping off point, and the rest is history. In terms of continuity, he only had to manage reconciling 79 hours of television with his new film, and even with that comparatively small number (it's not, but I'm getting to a point), there are some major continuity errors in Wrath of Khan, some accidental, and I'm sure some deliberate. First, as we all know, Chekov never met Khan in Space Seed. Huge mistake. I'm sure it was an accident. More deliberate, I think, is the entire change in tone and attitude of the show. Starfleet now seems much more militaristic than it ever did during the original series. The bridge of the Enterprise may as well be a different room, a different ship, a different organization entirely, it seems so different. Carol Marcus was never mentioned before Wrath of Khan, and yet, in the series, there absolutely were episodes in which Kirk is nostalgically remembering "the woman who got away," and it's not Carol. It's other women.

If the Internet had existed back in '82, I suspect Wrath of Khan would have been deemed a betrayal of everything Star Trek used to be. Doesn't Meyer care about continuity? Couldn't he have used someone instead of Chekov? What's with all the submarine imagery? Starfleet is supposed to be on a mission of peace! And why didn't they use what's-her-face instead of this brand new character, Carol Marcus? Meyer clearly doesn't care about continuity, or the show, or its fans.

And that's with only 79 hours to worry about! I'm sure Meyer did his best, and still that massive Chekov mistake got through. Now, can we imagine expecting any new writer of Discovery to sit down and carefully watch all 7000 million hours of Star Trek, as we all have, and ensure that nothing serious, in any of those 7000 million hours, gets contradicted? That would be an utterly unreasonable expectation. These are professional writers, not Netflix bingers. What seems like an obvious contradiction to fans is often likely just an honest mistake. I guarantee these writers haven't watched Voyager or Enterprise religiously, and never rewatched all of TOS, TNG, and DS9 in preparation for this show. So they're bound to contradict things everywhere. It's inevitable.

As for deliberate changes, often they work just fine. Cochran is completely different in First Contact than in TOS, and that's totally cool. In fact, I would offer that Wrath of Khan is just as different from TOS as Discovery is from, say, TNG, or DS9 was from TNG. These sorts of drastic attitudinal and tonal changes happen every once in a while in the franchise, and they have been a part of Trek's appeal ever since 1982.

I guess what I'm saying is, accidental contradictions are utterly inevitable, even massive ones, because there are literally hundreds and hundreds of hours of Star Trek, and we want our television writers writing, not watching TV. And as for deliberate contradictions, even massive ones, they are not only acceptable but encouraged, provided they lead to good storytelling. (As to whether Discovery's deliberate changes have lead to good storytelling, I'd say the jury is still out, though you can't claim they aren't trying.)
Chrome
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 10:20am (UTC -6)
"I think maybe...just maybe, there's a third option"

What's the third option? Do you need to keep it hidden?
Peter G.
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 10:36am (UTC -6)
@ Chrome,

The third option is to use continuity as a spring-board rather than a straitjacket. Usually when you have fleshed out characters it's a lot easier to write than for characters you don't know. Writers sometimes say that once they know the characters a lot the dialogue stars to write itself. Having a large universe to draw from ought to be a boon rather than a constraint. But that's only if you're already immersed in it and love it. Bring in a writer on a 'mercenary' basis - meaning they write but aren't involved in Trek - then you've got to do a huge job managing them. For the Star Wars novels what they do is contract writers to take certain stories, but give them very strict parameters about what sorts of things can and can't be in the story, and they mention the specific continuity to be maintained about that story topic. Like if they're writing a Clone Wars novel they'll be given a fact sheet about the Clone wars specifically and be expected to stick to it. The good writers take this and run, the bad ones feel like it means they can't do anything with it. For Trek there should be a full-time consultant on-hand who can act as a filter through which all ideas flow so that good ideas can be made to fit the existing universe. The only way for it to work is for management to have the will to implement this, which I believe they don't. I don't think Kurtzman in particular believes in restraint or focusing ideas. He likes to throw things at the wall and see what sticks.

@ Ubik,

Great post! I agree with a lot of your sentiments there. Some of what I just wrote to Chrome applies as a response to you, and I'll add that the thing about Meyer is you can tell you loved the Trek spirit and tried to take the existing canon *forward* rather than to rethink it. Was Carol Marcus totally made up? Yeah. But it was something done to increase the complexity of Kirk's life, rather than to re-envision it. The TOS tale of the man whose only love is his ship was made even more real by showing that he even did have some real family that his career left behind. It's not altogether dissimilar from what ST: Generations tried to show (miserably) with Picard and his family.

So to me the issue isn't about being a continuity nitpick. I agree that there's no currency there. The issue is with discarding old continuity purely because you don't care about it or want to mention it as cred to the fans but don't actually value it yourself. It's like the difference between a friend sending you a Christmas card versus your auto dealer sending you one. The first feels like family, the second feels like something to keep the customers attentive.

However one thing I'll mention is that although I can't expect every member of the DISCO production team to be intimately familiar with every Trek episode, I do expect SOMEONE there with authority to have that kind of knowledge (and love). And not some schmuck they've veto because he's annoying, I mean a real story editor who has veto power. I'm sure they don't have someone like that there. But for "Magic to Make..." all they really needed was someone who had seen two (2) episodes, not 100 million. Keeping Harry Mudd consistent wouldn't have been very hard, so we must conclude they simply *wanted* to change him to be more gritty or whatever. And while Meyer may have introduced new elements never mentioned before, the centrepiece of his film, Khan, was exactly as we remembered. He was everything we could have asked for from the original, and with a serious budget behind him this time. But it's hard to invoke WoK because Meyer had the benefit of writing for beloved, known characters, while a DISCO writer had a scant few episodes of erratic character work to go from, so it's a lot harder here to have the script flow. The one thing that should have made it easier was Mudd, but since they re-envisioned him they had to start from square one all around.
BZ
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 10:46am (UTC -6)
You don't need to watch all of trek these days to maintain continuity. You go to Memory Alpha and type in "Sarek" or "Mudd". Watch those episodes (there are maybe 7 of them between the two). But then, they probably *did* do that. Maybe their extrapolations don't match other people's. Sarek is an emotional basket case because he's near death. Mudd is different because they are using him for drama instead of comedy. Remember how much the Ferengi changed when the reverse was done (of course, I'd rather they got rid of the Ferengi altogether, but that's just me)? Or the Trill when they decided to actually explore the species in DS9? Heck, we meet some TOS era Klingons (as in the same individuals) in TNG and DS9, and they act more or less like the new (TNG+) Klingons, with glory, honor, etc, not like TOS Klingons (generic warlike bad guys).
Chrome
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 11:16am (UTC -6)
I would certainly argue that Mudd's a better use of a TOS character than say, Khan was in ST:ID. It's hard to buy that Mudd's a token use of a character, because, quite frankly, many newer fans have no idea who Mudd is. I.e., there's limited value in name dropping him for those fans, because it's just a new character to them.

Contrast that with Khan who is singularly the most famous villain, perhaps in all Sci-Fi movies, after Darth Vader. Reusing Khan seems more like a token ploy to me, because it's basically guaranteeing a certain nostalgic response from the general audience and fans alike.

Yes, Mudd was a recurring character in TOS, but he's no Khan, or even a Matt Decker or Charlie X. He's a roguish character with an uncertain past which does open up possibilities for new writers to have a crack at him. It certainly didn't hurt that they gave the role to a talented actor like Rainn Wilson, who actually has the range to play Mudd. Sure, Wilson's take on the character is bit more sadistic, but then we're witnessing only one part of his life. And Mudd had a good reason to act sadistic; in his previous appearance Lorca was a jerk, can you really blame Mudd for wanting revenge?
Alexandrea
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 4:42pm (UTC -6)
@Skupper

Why does representation matter in television, you're asking? Imagine if every movie released in theaters starred lesbian Muslims with autism. Maybe there's a straight White guy in a bit part, but the deep characterization, the heroics, and the narrative substance always go to a particular category of person, and one unlike you. Hey, you have nothing against lesbians, or Muslims, or people with disabilities. Some of these stories are great, others not so much. But people who look like you, or have your cultural background, or your life experience? Sidekicks at best, maybe a villain sometimes, and when they do appear Hollywood gets your culture embarrassingly wrong.

You have no role models in film and no portrayals of people like yourself, or what portrayals do exist make you out as untrustworthy or dangerous. What does this do to your self-esteem? Your estimation of your life chances? And how does this affect others' perception of you when they meet you?

In our real world, neurodivergent people have poor representation in film, and you did not even know who or what they are. Have you observed that people tend to respond with with less trust to the unknown or unfamiliar? Can you argue that it does not matter if people are treated with less respect because differential representation in mass media renders them unknown, or familiar only in particular roles?

Martin Luther King famously asked Nichelle Nichols to stay on the original series when she was thinking of leaving, because she should not underestimate the importance of millions of Black girls seeing a Black woman in a professional role on television for the first time. Representation matters, and it matters on Star Trek more than most places, because supposedly we are seeing a future in which persons of any creed, nation, or ethnicity have equal opportunity to serve and to achieve.
Jack
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 6:29pm (UTC -6)
The show suggests that Burnham is widely known as a mutineer in Starfleet.

See: the prison shuttle, the mess hall, the bridge, Tilly upon hearing her name, Tyler,the admiral in her meeting with Lorca, Burnham’s own statements.



Jack
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 6:33pm (UTC -6)
Diversity is about reflecting the world as it actually is, or at least trying to get a little closer to accuracy. There’s no agenda, necessarily.

The majority of people on the planet are not white, American males with Anglo-Saxon last names: So what’s wrong with showing some of that?
Yair
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 8:42pm (UTC -6)
@Chrome, @Jack

Oh, I never doubted that many in Starfleet know about Michael. We started from "Burnhum is an example of an ex-con", to 'well, she doesn't have many of their problems, but everyone hates her', to \well, Starfleet [0.1% or less of Federation population - or less - Y.] is aware of her history' (all paraphrased) - at every time the claim shrinks...

What's notable about the last claim about Starfleet is that everyone who's aware is required to treat her professionally, and well, Michael has no problems with people who aren't aware of her history. So there have been surprisingly little consequences for Michael following that one episode happening before she was enrolled on the Discovery.

And that's actually related to the wider debate about ST:DIS and 'modern' forms of TV. A disease of modern TV - a detail where it's much worse than 'old' TV - is opening plot lines and supposed mysteries without really intending any narrative payoff. They're just meant to look cool and to enthrall viewers, which helps profits. This affects even some rather good shows ("And they have a plan").

Eventually TV viewers learn that screenwriters do that, and many just decided to avoid any real investment in things that look like the writers playing a game in their expense. DIS came late in the current fad (after viewers built up resistance) and doesn't seem so well plotted (which leads to the suspicion there's no there there), so in a way DIS suffers from being too 'modern'. The writers should better up their game to avoid this backlash.

P.S. As I keep writing, the third episode actually proves very little. I doubt potentially dangerous convicts are just dumped in Tilly's bunk without telling her anything about them. She was probably told earlier. Most people we've met so far have had very good reasons and/or opportunities to learn about Burnham, far beyond the general population.
Simple Statement
Fri, Nov 10, 2017, 12:14am (UTC -6)
This made me feel really depressed afterwards. Star Trek shouldn't do that, but man -- what a lousy mess of a show. By this point in the series something should be clicking , but -- ugh. Zero chemistry. Michael Burnham as the focus of the series was a colossally stupid move. An actor like Rosario Dawson could've pulled it off but SMG has 2 expressions and spends most of the time posing dramatically and glaring. Get over it, lady.
John Harmon
Fri, Nov 10, 2017, 1:18am (UTC -6)
The review is taking a long time. I can just picture Jammer trying to get all of his thoughts organized for this episode. Not sure where his rating will fall but I look forward to reading his thoughts on it.
Del_Duio
Fri, Nov 10, 2017, 9:29am (UTC -6)
Well Discovery has finally done it:
It killed Jammer :(
Jammer
Fri, Nov 10, 2017, 3:50pm (UTC -6)
Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. My week has been busy with other things and I had to put off the review. This will sometimes happen. I am surprised I went this long without it happening already. Both new reviews will be posted tonight.
Del_Duio
Fri, Nov 10, 2017, 7:59pm (UTC -6)
Awesome, thanks Jammer!!
Ian Whitcombe
Fri, Nov 10, 2017, 8:38pm (UTC -6)
Jammer, I believe you have the episode credits for this week's "The Orville" listed at the top of your review. This episode was written by Kirsten Beyer and directed by John S. Scott.
Jammer
Fri, Nov 10, 2017, 8:53pm (UTC -6)
Review now posted.

@Ian -- Fixed the credits. Thanks for the correction. Messed up when copying and pasting between files. Too many things going at once.
WTBA
Fri, Nov 10, 2017, 10:10pm (UTC -6)
@Jammer

You questioned why Kol was on the Sarcophagus ship. Did he not steal it from Voq several episodes ago? After they got the Shenzou part...Where else has he been? Maybe I missed something.
Gul Densho-Ar
Fri, Nov 10, 2017, 10:34pm (UTC -6)
The criticism about the plot holes etc... I felt that from the very first episode. Star Trek was no stranger to nonsensical BS before, but DSC takes it to a whole new level. It's all over the place, a total mess, nothing makes any sense whatsoever. It's all style and zero substance, the entire series so far.

So only after lowering my expectations and turning off my brain after the first few episodes I could start to (somewhat) appreciate it, and this was actually the first episode I enjoyed. Maybe only because I didn't look for any meaning in anything.

Still, in my opinion so far the weakest of all Trek series. Inferior even to ENT's first season.
Mal
Fri, Nov 10, 2017, 10:39pm (UTC -6)
First off, anyone who skipped over the @Gee post above, I highly recommend going back and reading it. I don’t necessarily agree with everything @Gee has written, but the @Gee post reminds me why I keep coming back to @Jammer’s site, year after year after year. Somehow @Jammer has inspired an amazing collection of commenters. Truly a gift to the Trek community.

Next, @Evan, "Treks has always had a strong international presence - Chekhov and Scotty in TOS, Picard and O'Brien in TNG, Bashir in DS9. … Discovery's crew is 100% American. You don't even get that in today's NASA astronauts, who are employed from all around the world.”

I agree. And the sad thing is, @Evan, this is just one more way in which the STD creators have shown just how shallow they are.

Because it is all faaaaaaaake!!!!

Here is what the actor playing Captain Lorca actually sounds like: https://youtu.be/QFzINkr8ciQ

What a gorgeous accent!

Remember, Picard was supposed to be a frenchman. But they let Patrick Stewart keep his natural and beautiful accent. Can you imagine how much TNG would have lost if Picard had been forced to put on a fake french accent all those years?!?

But that’s what they are doing to Jason Isaacs. Instead of his beautiful natural self, they are forcing him to play an American. Why??? My guess is money - they think more people will subscribe to all-access to watch a show with an American captain, than with a foreign captain.

Same for Ash Taylor. This is the soft and sensual natural accent the actor really has: https://youtu.be/z_Vqngtodts

Call me crazy, but isn’t that a perfect lilt for someone the creators want to be a romantic pairing for Michael?

Compare that to the height of the cold war, when Chekov had a strong Russian accent on the bridge of the Enterprise (@Galadriel is spot on here).

As I’ve said before, STD is a devolved, morally debased version of Star Trek. And the rot starts right at the top, with the creators. They are a small and narrow-minded set of money-grubbing bean counters, who don’t want to do anything that might reduce their grand plans for all-access. This is a show run by small men. Roddenberry, JMS, Whedon - for all their faults - were masters of their craft.

Although an early episode of Discovery name-checked Alice in Wonderland, this episode betrays the creators actual inspiration: The Wizard of Oz. And Saru is a cowardly lion.

But the problem is, there is no wizard behind the STD curtain. It’s just a small man pulling the strings.
Skupper
Fri, Nov 10, 2017, 10:48pm (UTC -6)
@Jammer

'There's a brief subplot involving Stamets' mood turning sour and his admission to Tilly that the continued exposure to the spore drive is taking its toll....Stamets is keeping this a secret and foregoing treatment because he doesn't want Culber to have knowledge about his genetically altered condition, which he would surely help cover up. Even though I wonder how Starfleet doesn't have questions about Discovery's spore drive operation in the tardigrade's absence (and Stamets' genetic enhancement seems like an awfully open secret)'

Starfleet knows about Stamet's genetic enhancements, or at least the dead(?) Admiral Cornwell did, and so I assume most of the higher ups, at least, knew. Also most of the Discovery crew does as well. What Stamets was worried about was revealing to the doctor that running the spore drive is adversely affecting him, mentally. If Stamets revealed that, Dr. Culbert would have to report that fact, and then Starfleet would take Stamets off of Discovery, separating the two of them. Or if he tells the doc, and Culbert doesn't report it, and Starfleet finds out how it's affecting him, then Culbert would get into trouble. So Stamets doesn't want to reveal that the spore drive is messing with his brain, to avoid hurting Culbert, his boyfriend.
Skupper
Fri, Nov 10, 2017, 10:53pm (UTC -6)
I kept typing Culbert when it's Culber. :P
Thomas
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 12:45am (UTC -6)
@Mal

"Here is what the actor playing Captain Lorca actually sounds like: https://youtu.be/QFzINkr8ciQ "

Wow... I had no idea. Why would they change his accent? That is truly absurd.

It only makes me think of Babylon 5 and the actor playing Londo - an American but he puts on a kind of Eastern Euro accent for the character. And as hokey as it can sound at times, boy does it add to the colour of the show.

But that was back when sci-fi was sci-fi.
Thomas
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 12:50am (UTC -6)
Oh, and of course Walter Koenig, who was not a Russian.
Skupper
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 5:03am (UTC -6)
@Alexandrea

'Why does representation matter in television, you're asking?...'

I ask that because it shouldn't matter. No one should create a show, and think 'Are there enough black people? Let's add another one.' or 'Do we have a gay character? Toss a couple of those in there.' or 'Let's see, who did we leave out? Oh yeah! A neurodivergent character. Put one of those in too'.

TOS had diversity, yes, because it was trying to show that in the future, all races and nationalities etc. all worked together for the benefit of everyone. The characters existed to illustrate that point. They didn't include certain characters just to fit some preordained formula.

I think DIS has at least some of the characters it has, not to illustrate some higher ideal, but to fill a quota that they set forth beforehand.

The show 'Alphas', which I quite liked, but apparently not many other people did, had an autistic character on it, Gary, and I thought nothing of it. He seemed a natural fit to the show, and was written and portrayed well, and was probably my favorite character. On DIS, Tilly seems shoehorned in, just so they can say they have an autistic person on the show, and her character seems to be out of place in some way I can't put my finger on, and I don't like her much at all because of that. Every time I see her, I think to myself 'there is the autistic girl they put in the show'.

People having someone similar to themselves on a television show, so they can have role models and be represented, is a good thing. But not when it's forced in, to the detriment of the show as a whole, and that character in particular.

MLK also said 'I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.'

DIS judged people by their color, sexual orientation, etc. before they even started and forgot to make the content of their characters interesting or entertaining.
James Alexander
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 6:50am (UTC -6)
so the episode fell on its face in other words.
am I okay to skip this one or will I have to watch it for next week's finale?
Gul Densho-Ar
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 7:48am (UTC -6)
@James Alexander

I think you'll have to watch it, it's one of those episodes that ends with ...to be continued.
ben sisko
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 9:38am (UTC -6)
“DIS judged people by their color, sexual orientation, etc. before they even started”

What are you even talking about? When does the show ever make that sort of message? The only judgmental messages along those lines I’ve seen are coming from the fan base, and usually from daftly-named trolls.
Jammer
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 10:47am (UTC -6)
@WTBA: "You questioned why Kol was on the Sarcophagus ship. Did he not steal it from Voq several episodes ago? After they got the Shenzou part...Where else has he been? Maybe I missed something."

You are right. I got momentarily mixed up and was mistaken to question that. I have stricken that remark from the review.
Skupper
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 11:33am (UTC -6)
I didn't really want to get off on this tangent, but since I already did, I may as well continue.

@ben sisko

“DIS judged people by their color, sexual orientation, etc. before they even started”

'What are you even talking about? When does the show ever make that sort of message? The only judgmental messages along those lines I’ve seen are coming from the fan base, and usually from daftly-named trolls.'

If you think that the creators of DIS didn't purposely sit down in a meeting and discuss what 'types' of characters they should have on the show, you are living in a fantasy land. I guarantee you they deliberately added a gay couple, and an autistic crewperson, and possibly even Mike, just to try to show how 'sensitive' they are to the current social attitudes. I don't have a problem with that, per se, just that they did it so clunkily and obviously, and that it detracts from the show. Like making Sulu gay in the Abram's movies. No reason to do that, no reason not to either really, and it was done subtley, but it was done only to say they did it. It had no other purpose.

As I've said in another post, the show 'Modern Family' has a gay couple, and I could care less. It works fine there. I like them. They seem like a real couple dealing with real issues, and that they are gay is integral to the story a lot of the time. On DIS it's quite apparent it was done only so they could say 'Look! A gay couple on a Star Trek series! See! We're in touch with the public! Aren't we tolerant and awesome?' That is the message they are sending, and that, I think, is a bad message.
ben sisko
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 12:35pm (UTC -6)
@Skupper

You haven’t described why it’s clunky, though. You bring up Sulu in the movies, but he’s a different case since (a it’s a retcon and (b his being gay added nothing of substance to the movie other than diversity. Contrast that with Stamets whose gay and consequently worries about his partner getting in trouble if he reports his medical condition. Wouldn’t you say one of these examples weaves better into the story than the other?
Ubik
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 12:55pm (UTC -6)
@Skupper

I think they only made Lorca a straight white male to check off that box. It's like they're saying, "Hey, look, a straight white male!" In fact, that's the same reason Shatner was cast as Kirk in the original series, just to fill some kind of quota of straight white men. I hate when writers do that. Can't they have come up with the personalty and values of Kirk first, before they decided they were going to make him a straight white male? If you think the writers didn't deliberately decide, in advance, that Kirk was going to be a straight white male, before deciding anything else about him, then you're living in a fantasy land.
Marcus
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 1:05pm (UTC -6)
A show like Star Trek should have diversity for no other reason than to show that what today we consider to be "normal" is just convention. Really, an advanced post-scarcity society like Star Trek's Earth would probably be sort of anarcho-communist paradise. Heteronormativity, monogamy, marriage and traditional gender roles would probably be seen as backward archaic notions.
Personally,I think Star Trek is not left leaning enough!
Yair
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 1:10pm (UTC -6)
@ben sisko,

I don't think we should take Stamets words at face value. Starfleet is willing to ignore the violation of one of their most important laws, the ban on eugenics, for the war effort - what's a little medical condition to them? Starfleet will ignore this too. Given their previous experience with Augments, they're probably just happy Stamets isn't at the 'I rule the universe! Hahaha!' stage.

I suspect that Stamets is simply too embarrassed to report his condition. He wants things to continue how they were and worried about how the Doctor will react, or what will the Doctor find out. He can't say that to Tilly, so he's giving her excuses to keep her quiet.

Plenty of people in the real world avoid medical care or going to the doctor because they want to avoid the reality of their condition. If it came out (for example) that he only had a few months to live, than things would be very different.
Paul M.
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 1:23pm (UTC -6)
@Ubik: "If you think the writers didn't deliberately decide, in advance, that Kirk was going to be a straight white male, before deciding anything else about him, then you're living in a fantasy land."

Exactly. I wonder where all these "I'm all for diversity, but..." people come from lately. I'm all for people of color, but look how they're shoving people of color down our throats. I'm all for strong independent women, but look how they're showing strong independent women down our throats. I'm all for gays, but look how they 're shoving gays down our throats. I'm all for disabled people, but look how they're shoving disabled (or autistic) people down our throats.

News flash guys: maybe you're not as tolerant as you think. It's easy to be "above these issues" when you're straight white male (which I am by the way). So many people don't even register that the vast majority of important, plot-relevant, "heroic" characters are straight white males (aka people like me, hurray!). We take it for granted without even thinking. It's so ingrained in our psyche that any deviation from the norm automatically sends warning signals. "Huh, gays holding hands. Must be diversity quota!" And maybe it sometimes is, but why is it no one ever questions when a straight couple is holding hands. How come they can do it without comment in literally every TV show every created in the history of universe, but the moment a gay couple appears, it's "diversity quota"? Ditto for the above comments on Tilly: "Gee, they only included her cause autism, duh! How tolerant of us."

In other words, straight white guys can appear wherever and whenever, no questions asked. But we apparently need special approval, adequate plot relevance and sufficient character impact to dare to even contemplate having anyone else around.

Or in the words of my grandmother: "I don't hate gays, they can do all they want behind closed doors. I just don't want to see them." Ain't that peachy?
James Alexander
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 2:04pm (UTC -6)
@Gul Densho-Ar
damnit!

I suppose I could wait for the next episode, and watch them back to back.
tolerate this then move straight onto the next one before I realise what I just watched.

Skupper
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 3:04pm (UTC -6)
I will hopefully try to deal with all the feedback about my posts so far. If I miss something, forgive me.

I'll reiterate again this one point. I could care less what 'type' of characters are on the show. I've given several examples here in this thread and others why it doesn't matter to me. The problem I have with DIS is the presention of those characters.

They are clunkily presented, meaning that their introduction isn't natural. I'll quote from a previous post of mine from episode 5.

'I just hated the way they presented it here [that Stamets was gay]. In the first 4 episodes, it was sort of hinted at a little in various ways, and then in this episode, at the end, it seemed like they went "Hah! See! They really ARE gay! Did you figure it out?! And if you didn't, then what a surprise!". That to me was sort of insulting.'

If it was a normal thing on board, why save it for the final act of episode 5, in sort of a surprise ending type of thing? If they wanted to have a gay character or two, fine, but why present it that way? It smacks of gimmickry. There is no need to have a surprise in episode 5 about what was really going on. Just have them naturally introduced like any other character on the show.

Lorca, the captain, being a straight white male could very well have been a choice of ticking off boxes. The last 3 captains have been a white male, a white female, and a black male. Maybe it was time for another white male? I don't know, but at least he was introduced as a natural element of the show. Just as the asian woman captain was. She may have also been a tick box, but I accepted her as she was, just like Lorca. Neither of them seem forced upon the viewer. So no problems with either of them for me.

Tilly for some reason, just seems to be an add-on character. Autism or not. A character there only to be the 'autistic one', and that's it.

I specifically want to address this though...

@Paul M.

'News flash guys: maybe you're not as tolerant as you think.'

Because I dislike how certain characters are introduced or portrayed doesn't make me intolerant. In fact I believe it's quite the opposite. The fact that you don't care, is more indicitive of your own ignorance, rather than mine. I actually care how people of different backgrounds are treated in the show. All that seems to matter to you is that they exist. I believe that many of these characters were created to fill quotas, and nothing more. If you are willing to accept characters like that, so be it. I want something more of them. I want them to have a reason to exist on the show, and to be integral parts of it. Having a gay person or an autistic person on a show just to make it look good is ridiculous.

Like I said earlier, I'm not so sure about Mike, though there is very little doubt in my mind that she was also the product of another one of those meetings. But she fits in fine and seems a natural addition to the DIS universe, (other than being a shitty actress that is), so I have no problem with her.

I would rather have seen Mike and Saru get together than Mike and Ash, so does that make me a progressive or a racist or something? IDK. All these terms of hatred are always thrown around whenever anyone criticizes anything, so I don't even know anymore.

Watch the show. If you think it portrays and introduces certain types of people in a positive manner, bully for you. If you think it doesn't, then bully for you too, but everyone has their own opinion of how to portray or represent a certain group of people. And so far I think DIS has fallen a bit short in how it portrays some of those groups.

And I hate no one. Except maybe my ex-wife, but even that is questionable. :D
James Alexander
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 3:10pm (UTC -6)
@ Paul M.
not trying to wade into an ongoing row but Tilly was literally the first character I picked up on when we were introduced to the show.

without getting all social justice-y I thought it was pretty cool that they bought on an Autistic character who can actually do more than exhibit repetitive behaviors and act sheepish around other characters. she's an actual character, not a severely uncomfortable stereotype, and I like that we get to see her act like a human being.

I would want to see more of her, not just because she has the same condition as me, but because I find her character to be quite quirky and bubbly, and she's just a lot more fun than some of the others.

she may or may not have been a diversity pick but the actress and the writers have made her more than just a token, and the one criticism I do have is actually her character development. Tilly needs an arc just as much as Burnham or Stamets, and we need to be able to see change in her by the end of the season.
ben sisko
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 3:40pm (UTC -6)
“If it was a normal thing on board, why save it for the final act of episode 5, in sort of a surprise ending type of thing? If they wanted to have a gay character or two, fine, but why present it that way?”

To be fair it was pretty heavily hinted Stamets was gay back in “Context”. The only surprise about that ending was that Stamets was having strange reactions to the spore drive. I’m not saying the couple brushing their teeth was a superbly crafted three minutes of television, but there was certainly nothing offensive about it. If you go read the comments section here, every openly gay commenter said the scene wasn’t a big deal. It’s certainly no more offensive than DS9 revealing Dax and Bashir are together by showing them half naked together in bed during the cold open of that episode.
Skupper
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 3:55pm (UTC -6)
I guess I can say this for what is the third(?) time I think.

'I just hated the way they presented it here [that Stamets was gay]. In the first 4 episodes, it was sort of hinted at a little in various ways, and then in this episode, at the end, it seemed like they went "Hah! See! They really ARE gay! Did you figure it out?! And if you didn't, then what a surprise!". That to me was sort of insulting.'

They did 'hint' at it before then. But that's lame. Just show it or don't. Don't make it a reveal in the end of an episode as a surpise revelation. That's stupid. If that scene had been in the first episode or two I wouldn't care. But as they did it, it was lame.
ben sisko
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 4:05pm (UTC -6)
@Skupper

You don’t need to keep reposting the same thing, even if I didn’t quote it, it doesn’t mean me or others aren’t reading it. I’m not really sure it was intended to be the surprise you make it out to be. Still, you don’t really explain how they can “just show it” without setting off your corporate conspiracy radar. Should they have presented them as a couple in the middle of the episode? When would it not be a “surprise revelation” unless you comfortable seeing two men being intimate?
Jason
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 4:58pm (UTC -6)
I don't think Tilly's character was just thrown in there to tick a box. They clearly had an idea for a character who had high ambitions to be captain someday, but would struggle due to mental issues (the precise nature of which aren't entirely clear to me yet).

That's more fleshed out than say, Riker's character was in the beginning. And it's hopefully going to provide plenty of fodder for interesting situations and plot arcs for her character in the future. I think it's wise for the show not to put too much focus on her just yet - there are more important things to deal with at the moment.
Skupper
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 5:42pm (UTC -6)
I see I have to defend myself forever apparently, since no one can seem to grasp what I say the first, second, or third time I say it. I fault myself for this, for not being as eloquent as I wish I were.

Nowhere in the first 4 episodes was it shown that Stamets was gay. Fine. So what. But in the end of the 5th episode, all of a sudden we show him brushing his teeth with Culber. So that was a surprise. I would have said the same thing if it were Tilly and Lorca brushing their teeth together. It would have been a total surprise to everyone. Or Saru and Mike. Or whatever 2 people on the ship you want. It was a stupid way to introduce a relationship, and to me it just screamed out 'Look what we did!!!'. I would much rather they had had a scene or 2 with Stamets visiting Culber in sick bay and talking about having dinner or something. Like any other relationship would have probably been shown. To me it totally seemed as though they made it out to be some big reveal. And that's dumb storytelling. Gay or not. So it was clunky and stupid.

And as far as Tilly goes, yes, she has a lot of potential for differing stories, but what has she been so far? The goofy girl with occasional wisdom, that acts silly. That isn't a character. That's a cliche. And making her someone with a mental disability of some kind doesn't really define her character in any way. An autistic person was written in for this character, when it could have been literally anyone else.

If you want to include these 'types' of characters, make them believable. Make them real. Not the end point of a 5 episode joke, with 'gotcha!' at the end. Or a generic best friend character that is no different than any other young woman might be.

That's what I've been saying all along. I don't have a problem with the characters, just how they have been shown onscreen. And to me it hasn't been a very flattering representation of them, or anyone else for that matter. Everyone on Discovery seems to be an ass.

Anyway. I'm not talking about this subject anymore. Others can do whatever they want obviously.

LLAP


Paul M.
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 5:57pm (UTC -6)
@Skupper: "Because I dislike how certain characters are introduced or portrayed doesn't make me intolerant. In fact I believe it's quite the opposite. The fact that you don't care, is more indicitive of your own ignorance, rather than mine. I actually care how people of different backgrounds are treated in the show. All that seems to matter to you is that they exist. I believe that many of these characters were created to fill quotas, and nothing more. If you are willing to accept characters like that, so be it. I want something more of them.********** I want them to have a reason to exist on the show, and to be integral parts of it. Having a gay person or an autistic person on a show just to make it look good is ridiculous.*************

Exactly as I said in my previous post. Anyone who "deviates from the norm" has to have a special justification to exist. Straight white guys and non-threatening women, sure. Occasional person of color to make us feel good? Bring it on. Anything other than that though? You want a gay couple? An autistic person? An uncomfortable percentage of dusky cast members? Whoa there! I need some reasons and I need them now! Why are all these people cluttering my TV screen? Quotas! Quotas everywhere!

Seriously now, there is something unsettling to me when confronted with this school of thought. Why the hell can't Stamets be just an engineer who happens to be a gay who loves to brush his teeth together with his nice doctor partner? What, does his gayism (that's the word) need a special gay-oriented storyline to justify his existence? I really can't wrap my head around this thing.

This doesn't man that there isn't real "pandering to diversity" -- tokenism -- in cases where unimportant or side characters are black/gay/pink/whatever in order to simulate a sense of superficial inclusiveness or where the entire purpose of those characters are to be black/gay/pink/whatever and their whole storyline revolves around their affiliation to a particular group. But frankly, Discovery for all its problems, hardly belongs to that kind of TV show.
Skupper
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 6:45pm (UTC -6)
I know I said I wouldn't comment anymore, but I have to, and I swear this it the last post about this topic that I'll put to type.

@Paul M.

'Exactly as I said in my previous post. Anyone who "deviates from the norm" has to have a special justification to exist.'

You are either deliberately misreading what I've said, and are a troll, or you are somewhat thickheaded.

I never said that 'those' characters need any sort of justification to exist. I merely said that they should be portrayed better. If Tilly is autistic, then make her character austistic. So far all I've seen is a goofy young woman who likes to party and can give good advice sometimes. I've known autistic people, and I may be one myself for all I know, and none of them are the good time fun girl who gives advice to everyone. If you want to put an autistic or neurodivergent person or whatever you want to call it into the show, at least do it realistically, instead of just putting one in for the 'token' factor.

And I've already said about 10 times why the gay couple's relationship didn't work for me, so I won't even get into that again.

Also I want to make something clear. I don't care who is on a show. Or what their background is. I've said that many times. Because I believe it, and because that's what we are supposed to do right? Color, and sex, and race, etc. are all not supposed to matter. Right? But small minded people like you take something as innocuous as DIS and make it about color, and sex, and race, etc. You turn the world into a hateful place. I want to watch a show about space. You want to see a show about diversity and acceptance and want to make sure I like the gay characters, and don't disrespect the autistic ones, and god forbid I say anything against the black female lead! OH MY! I just wanted a new Star Trek show. This stupid nonsense about diversity is exactly what I feared would happen, and it did. No matter how many times someone like me explains their position (and I thought I did it reasonably well), it's still impossible to criticize a show that includes 'minorities', without somehow instilling undeserved hatred in people, even though your position may be well thought out and fairly logical. Because logic to some people means only opinion and bile and hate, no matter what the other person says.

Ubik
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 7:39pm (UTC -6)
@Skupper

The reason, I think, that you are having trouble making your point clear is because it's wrong. It's not that you're failing at eloquence or persuasion; you're actually doing fine in that regard. it's just that your initial claims are incorrect, and that's why no one understands what you're trying to say.

There was no intent to "surprise" by Stamets brushing his teeth with his husband. None. It would be no different than just introducing the fact that ANY character is married by having a scene in their home. The existence of that marriage doesn't need to sneak up on us by first introducing scenes in sick bay, or having the character mention their husband a few times first. A show can simply introduce the existence of a married life by having scene take place at home, between the married couple, which is exactly what it did. You are claiming the series was attempting to shock or surprise in some way, and there is absolutely no evidence of that. And, I suspect (and here is where you'll say I'm wrong), that if this had been a first scene between an engineer and his wife, you would have thought nothing of it; it never would have occurred to you to suspect they were trying to surprise you.

Second, Tilly is in no way less 3-dimensional, at this phase, than any other Trek character ever was by episode 8. She is, actually, significantly more characterized than, say, Worf or Troi or Riker were by the 8-episode mark in season 1. Did we demand better characterization by that point to justify even using Troi as a character? No - we just said to ourselves, "Okay, they haven't given her much yet, I hope they add more later." And that is all one can fairly say about Tilly. That she is probably on the spectrum does not obligate the writers to offer more justification for her existence as a character than would be required if she weren't on the spectrum. You appear to be demanding more of the writers from this character, faster, than you would require of them from a character that was more "standard," like Riker.

No one here, I believe, has accused you of hating minorities or anything. I certainly don't. But I do believe, by the arguments you have made, that you are creating expectations for these so-called "diverse" characters that you would not have had for the old fashioned white, straight male characters. Because they are "different" in some way, you have narrower or higher expectations for how they are introduced, and characterized. If they were more "standard" characters, there wouldn't be so many hoops for them to jump through in order to meet your expectations. That is just an observation on my part.
Forcalt
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 8:02pm (UTC -6)


I do not think DIS is trying to be "about," or is NOT trying to be about, the social issues many people here are saying it is (or is not). I think that people who devote a fair amount of time to these issues, want to believe that their entertainment stakes an opinion on them, so that these people can then say the show does or does not take the correct position on such issues. Why waste time on a show that isn't preoccuped with what you are, after all?

Veryfew people here at least recently are talking about things like acting or plotting or pacing or dramatic effectiveness-save for Jammer of course. It would be great if threads can focus on these things but maybe people just don't post messages on websites to talk about mere things like these any more.

Acting, editing, production values, story structuring-these are the things that make a show rise or fall-or used to

On the point of acting, I think that Shazad Latif is not a particularly good actor, at least not from what I have seen when Tyler is on screen. I know he has been in other things and I have not seen them so I do not want to call him a bad actor, but in my opinion, he brings very little to his line readings on this show and comes off as dull and unmemorable (whether he is "really" impersonating a human or not). I think this is to the show's detriment and is one reason why the relationship scene with him and Martin-Green's character did not work.

It is (for me anyway) an unusual criticism to criticize one of the regulars' acting on a show. Generally most Trek shows have had solid acting even by actors (I.e., Ethan Phillips, Anthony Montgomery) who were given little to work with.

The uninspired acting becomes more problematic in DIS than in previous episodes,
because the show is to me underpopulated. There is saru, Lorca, Tilly, Burnham, Stamets and Tyler, and then there is everyone else (don't believe me? Check the end credits). If the producers have already not tried to work on weaving more regulars into the show, I hope they can in the future.

Right now, characters are acting out their little self-contained plotlines, which may work if those plot lines are interesting; if they are not, it stands out more and not in a good way. It is possible to have an interesting show with characters who aren't really interacting with the other characters, yet Trek has never previously tried this and I do not believe it was them producers' intent for the characters on this show to stand dramatically in different universes than the others.

When they do so, the show may be good at any particular moment (as Jammer noted above), but when the episode is over, you wonder what you just saw; was all there was, or all that there is, to a character or scene. Plot holes and implausibilities stand out that much more with this kind of backdrop, and this episode as Jammer noted simply had too many head-scratching moments.
skupper
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 10:12pm (UTC -6)
@Ubik

'The reason, I think, that you are having trouble making your point clear is because it's wrong.'

Opinions? Pffftt. But yes, I'm wrong, you're right. The end.
Ian Whitcombe
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 10:20pm (UTC -6)
I find myself pretty depressed by some recent comments.

As a gay man, yes, it *does* matter to me that I see LGBT representation and diversity in Star Trek. I'm not going to pretend otherwise or say I'm satisfied that in the fifty-year history of the franchise how not one character reflected my own sexuality until now.

Skupper, being gay matters to me, and it matters that I see a gay couple on Star Trek Discovery.

Mertov
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 11:11pm (UTC -6)
People, come on.. He already said more than once (last one 4 posts ago) that he is not saying that they should not be on the show.
Peter G.
Sun, Nov 12, 2017, 12:46am (UTC -6)
On some topics I believe coherent discussion is impossible. Try to have a nuanced discussion about abortion, for example, beyond simply "pro-life vs pro-choice" and you'll be mired in accusations that you're really just with the 'other side'. Similarly, try and frame an argument as Skupper is doing in how certain things are portrayed and you'll end up with accusations that basically he's criticizing the existence of gay people in Trek. I don't care if he's right or wrong, but for heaven's sake at least try to respond to the argument actually being made rather than a straw man.

I wasn't fond of how the gay relationship was revealed, *however* I'll frame that by saying that I haven't been fond of how any of the character development has gone. It seems to be about checking off boxes all around, and by that I mean that they intend to show you character trait X and then give an exposition scene where they check it off in some perfunctory way. A good example of this is 'developing' Michael's character by having her essentially talk at the camera with monologues. I view the tooth-brush scene in much the same light. It was a scene not particularly relevant to the story and seemed to only exist to show a relationship in progress. The error there isn't showing gay people, it's bringing us into a relationship in a ham-handed way.

For those who think the relationship has thus far been treated with respect, I'd suggest looking at the treatment of Dr. Culber in general. What kind of person is he, other than being 'a doctor'? What does he think about...anything? He barely gets scenes on the show, and I can't even tell you if he's the CMO or not. If he isn't then I certainly don't know who is. If he had been a fully present character like Dr. Crusher then I could see a case for taking two characters we know and springing on us that they have a romance going. Maybe there could be an angle there where it's a secret relationship, against regulations for two senior officers, or something like that. Then we'd have a real reason why we didn't hear about it previously; they were keeping it under wraps. But here there's no reason, and Dr. Culber so far seems to exist only to have been noted as the significant other of Stamets. If wish he was more relevant to the show so that we could get a bit more about what it means that they're together. Maybe they have plans for Culber later on, but for now he's a cipher and seems to be just be 'Stamets' boyfriend.' That, to me, doesn't do justice to the first instance of a gay couple on Trek.
James Alexander
Sun, Nov 12, 2017, 3:23am (UTC -6)
@skupper
"none of them are the good time fun girl who likes to give advice to everyone"

I know I'm being pedantic but I know guys and girls with Autism who are like it.
thing about Autism/Asperger's it gets all of us in different ways. I love to give advice and I'm always getting involved with stuff, but you won't find me at a disco because I'll have a seizure and have to be led back out.
Jarvis9
Sun, Nov 12, 2017, 7:09am (UTC -6)
This is the second or third ep where the title doesn't make sense at all in the context of the episode. To be perfectly honest it bugs the hell out of me

James Alexander
Sun, Nov 12, 2017, 7:40am (UTC -6)
Jarvis, I think the writers were trying to be clever.
this is supposedly a set up episode before next week's blow-out, hence "if you want peace prepare for war"

the reason it doesn't make sense is because we've been at war since the pilot episode, and the pilot was the only good time to have a title about preparing for war.
Ian Whitcombe
Sun, Nov 12, 2017, 9:17am (UTC -6)
I love how a brief chaste exposition-free scene between two men is considered "ham-handed"
Chrome
Sun, Nov 12, 2017, 9:56am (UTC -6)
I actually like the title of this one (Lethe too), I just don’t think the episode lives up to the hype. If you’re going to use a Latin title, you better make a damn good episode like “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges”.
Andy's Friend
Sun, Nov 12, 2017, 12:18pm (UTC -6)
Re diversity on Star Trek: Discovery:

The problem with the ‘diversity’ seen on DSC is that it is defensive in nature, not innovative.

The ‘diversity’ seen is not trendsetting: it is merely following trends. It is meant to avoid accusations of not living up to the sensibilities of some modern viewers—not to serve as inspiration to make us appreciate true diversity.

There is nothing particularly ‘diverse’ about showing blacks, or gays. They are people like everyone else, and virtually the entire target audience already acknowledges this. This is not a series for Muslim fundamentalists, after all.

I cannot understand the silly American obsession with wanting to see oneself on-screen. It’s puerile, self-absorbed, and actually quite pathetic. I don’t need to see straight white males as myself to enjoy a good story. If China were making great sci-fi with an all-Chinese female crew only, I would love to watch it. When I lived in India, I watched Indian tv and films almost exclusively. I don’t need a straight white male in ‘Devdas’ (1955) to grasp the beauty of that story. What an intelligent audience wants is good stories, and good writing. So far, DSC is offering none of that.

Showing diversity would be having a couple of Hindu bridge officers profess their undying mutual respect and affection in an arranged marriage after Indian—or Vulcan—tradition, and show that arranged marriage evolve to be a happy one.*

Showing diversity would be to have an exceptionally charming, male Muslim bridge officer marry three different women among the crew, and show that polygamous marriage evolve to be a happy one.*

Showing diversity would be to have say, three people of assorted races and sexes all knowingly date each other—and showing that polyamorous relationship to evolve to be a happy one.*

*Within the ‘normal’ parameters of ‘happy’ relationships, not utopian bliss.


Think about it. What would that tell us about diversity and tolerance, regarding just this one aspect—relationships, amorous relations, and marital traditions in other cultures—in the future society depicted?

But we know why this is not the kind of diversity we are shown, don’t we? The truth is, there is neither much creativity among the creative forces behind DSC, nor any desire to show a more tolerant and diverse future.

So, we get this rubbish ‘diversity’ of ‘black female’ and ‘gay’, which is nothing but deeply offensive if you stop and think about it for a moment.

A Russian, a Japanese, and a black woman meant something fifty years ago. The ‘diversity’ we see on DSC means next to nothing today. It is not innovative, and it is not provocative. All things considered, the only thing that is provocative about these characters—including the gay relationship—is the lousy writing affecting virtually all of them in virtually all episodes of Discovery.
SmallKiwi
Sun, Nov 12, 2017, 12:28pm (UTC -6)
Jammer, have you considered reviewing the series The Expanse? IMO, it is the best sci-fi show on TV right now by a mile. Also, if you haven't seen it, you should watch!
Chrome
Sun, Nov 12, 2017, 1:30pm (UTC -6)
“I cannot understand the silly American obsession with wanting to see oneself on-screen.”

You frame this as if it’s specific to America, but I can assure you the highest rated television show in most developed countries is made in the respective country using characters from that country. There’s absolutely nothing “obsessive” about wanting to watch a TV with characters whom you can relate because they share many of your values.

If you’re trying to take the high ground by saying more television is exported by Americans for world consumption than it is imported then that’s accurate. However, American television is often superior, at least from a production standpoint, because of how much more lucrative TV is for sponsors (even foreign sponsors) than it is any other part of the world. In other words, it’s not an apples to apples comparison. You may as well ask why the French are so obsessed with their own wine when Napa Valley has some perfectly good wine to choose from.
Paul M.
Sun, Nov 12, 2017, 2:51pm (UTC -6)
"Jammer, have you considered reviewing the series The Expanse? IMO, it is the best sci-fi show on TV right now by a mile. Also, if you haven't seen it, you should watch!"

Seconded. I know Jammer has his plate full with job, family, not to mention DIS and ORV, but he'd really really want to watch (and review! heh) The Expanse. It's without a doubt the best space-based SF show since BSG: good characters, great sci-fi plot, outstanding production values, wonderful worldbuilding and a lived-in immersive sense of place. An almost perfect blend of serious and well-executed factional politics, character drama and a series-long creepy real-deal sci-fi mystery (and, it must be noted, Avasarala's dresses are a reason unto itself to watch the show. That old lady must be the best-dressed SF character in the entire space-time continuum. Just sayin'.) The series is a feast for the senses... while it lasts, that is, because with how much it allegedly costs and how low the viewing numbers are, I fear it might not get a fourth season. Hope springs eternal though!

Seriously Jammer, you should give The Expanse a go, maybe in the DIS/ORV off-season. I think it'd be right up you alley. At least watch it! And frankly, the site that has all these ST, SW, BSG and even Andromeda reviews deserves to be made even better with some Expanse goodness! It's a perfect fit.
Jammer
Sun, Nov 12, 2017, 4:30pm (UTC -6)
I have not seen The Expanse, and in fact had not even heard of it until very recently. Sounds interesting, but like you said, there are only so many hours in a day and I am already three seasons behind. So I might not be able to catch up with that one.
Paul M.
Sun, Nov 12, 2017, 4:48pm (UTC -6)
Two seasons with S3 on the way; 23 episodes aired thus far. Give it a try, see how you like it. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
J.B.
Sun, Nov 12, 2017, 5:17pm (UTC -6)
Yeah, The Expanse is excellent.
Hugh
Sun, Nov 12, 2017, 5:35pm (UTC -6)
I was interested in watching the Expanse until I learned that it was dark and creepy. It very well might be a great show, but I get enough of that in today's TV and movies - not to mention everyday life.
Paul M.
Sun, Nov 12, 2017, 6:25pm (UTC -6)
It's not *that* dark and creepy! I mean, it is, but there's a real sense of camaraderie, adventure, and wonder, as well as there being a lived-in, almost cozy quality to the worldbuilding that makes up for it. For example, BSG was extremely dark right out of the gate, but at the same time it... wasn't...? Watching Adama and Tigh eat noodles in the very first episode after the pilot or Baltar cavort around or simply watching Lee and Roslin form a quiet bond over a shared tragic experience... The Expanse has that similar comforting feel of flawed yet relatable and at their core decent people doing what they can to make the world a better place one small step at a time.

This will sound like a crazy example, but are Stranger Things dark and creepy? In a way, yes, but that show is also a love letter to the 80s pop-culture, that special brand of kid movies that were popular then (remember Goonies?), King, D&D, adventure of all kinds but, most of all, it's a celebration of innocence, childhood, and friendship. That's what resonated the most with the audiences and the show a hit, not creepy mirror universes, Cthulhoid monsters, paranormal powers and the like.

Now obviously, Expanse is a much more mature, political, and -- yes -- dark series. But the point is, that's not the point (if you'll pardon the pun). It has its heart in the right place with a compelling ensemble of fundamentally decent characters and a good old-fashioned true sci-fi mystery at the core.
karatasiospa
Sun, Nov 12, 2017, 6:35pm (UTC -6)
btw if anyone wants something dark and gritty and wardrama why not go for a walk in syria? yes there is the danger that you 'll be killed but that's war and dark and gritty life. but of course it's so easier to seat on your sofa and watch comfortably a dark wardrama.
Konstantinos
Mon, Nov 13, 2017, 2:17am (UTC -6)
"The bar in terms of drama and writing should be Battlestar Galactica if that's the sort of television Discovery is trying to be."

So if the bar is 2/4 (a just 50% ratio) and at the same time it is considered to be at the level of Battlestar Galactica it is a fairly great rating. Just try to apply this rule to any other show, not just sci-fi, and you will rarely do better than 50%. Personally if I had to rate any series according to BSG I would just it give 0 stars for every episode straightaway.

@karatasiospa

There are places closer to wherever you live that have people that are in trouble and places that are grim and miserable and so on. Some people also try to help their local communities as much as they can, so you are welcome to do something for them. Also think that "struggle for progress' was always one of the main messages of ST and struggle is neither easy nor happy.
karatasiospa
Mon, Nov 13, 2017, 8:22am (UTC -6)
@Konstantinos
yoy didn't understand my comment. First of all i'm living in greece with hundrends of syrian refugees coming every day, some of them are even drawn in the aegean waters.
Second i'm talking about the people who want trek to be a dark, gritty wardrama. They are hypocrites because if that's what they want then the should take a a walk in syria or yemen not sit comfortably on their house and bubbling about trek that must be (for them) a dark wardrama. Trek was supposed to be about a better future.
James Alexander
Mon, Nov 13, 2017, 9:41am (UTC -6)
okay yeah, that was crap.
for me it wasn't any one thing, and I can't write you an essay about why I didn't like it, but it was borderline unwatchable.
I got through about twenty minutes and started fast-forwarding, because I was bored and wanted it to end.

@Karatasiospa
the reason I like some darker shows is because they take their ideas seriously, and they put their characters through tough situations. it isn't just because of darkness, but because of the opportunity for character work and also because it allows the upbeat moments to mean more to me.
I don't have a problem with Trek doing this so long as its done as well, and it has been before.

the episode of Galactica where they built the blackbird is one of my favorites because its a lighter and brighter episode after weeks of suffering and misery, and it actually gives that crew something to celebrate.
Dave
Mon, Nov 13, 2017, 2:31pm (UTC -6)
Whoever's idea it was for all of the Klingon dialogue on this show to be subtitled was a bad one. Actors have to memorize pages of gibberish for no good reason. Are there not universal translators by now. Hoshi Sato had made considerable inroads into Klingonese a century earlier, and since this show has already cited Jonathan Archer, we are in that same timeline.

Also, my mind still refuses to look at these monsters and think "these are Klingons". All in all, this show is largely a chore to watch. Between all the Klingon dialogue being gibberish, and the set design being visual overload, it's rather exhausting.
wolfstar
Wed, Nov 15, 2017, 2:40pm (UTC -6)
2 stars. This for me was also the weakest episode of the season, worse than Lethe... that one was just bad and boring, this one was egregiously stupid while undermining two of the show's best characters. A episode with an A-story focusing on Saru and a B-story focusing on L'Rell could have been great - both actors are excellent, doing a really good job of creating a memorable, relatable character under heavy prosthetics.

I thought L'Rell wanting to defect and escaping with Cornwell would have been good, and if the ep had played this straight I'd have had no problems with this B-story, as I enjoy both characters. But the way the scenes unfolded, with one twist for twist's sake after another, was just odd and dramatically empty. We still don't know what L'Rell and Cornwell exactly planned, how and why they got caught, whether or not L'Rell actually intended to kill Cornwell in that scene, and if not, how L'Rell made it look like Cornwell was dead (and was able to keep her "body" safe), or why L'Rell - after first being initiated then being taken away as a traitor - was just sitting against the wall of the corpse room apparently unharmed in episode 9.

Unlike most commenters above, I actually found the Saru/Pahvo plot worse. "character is possessed/goes bad" is one of the hoariest writing cliches in the book and is rarely interesting to watch - turning one of your regulars into the monster of the week due to an alien influence so you can use them as peril and for chase and fight scenes is just schlock, it's actively stupid television. The scenes of Saru running along the cliff-top were cringeworthy, as was the depiction of the aliens, the planet and the crystal (Avatar on a budget, done badly - the money they're apparently spending on this series really isn't showing up on screen), and the facile "twist" at the end that he wasn't really possessed at all just made it worse... that's not character work, that's character assassination. I echo Filip's comment: "the moment Saru asked for Tyler and Burnham’s communicators, I knew exactly what would follow. The explanation of the twist that followed however, that he wasn’t possessed after all, flew right over my head. And I attribute that to the fact that the writers bit off more than they could chew and can’t form their ideas into a logically functional show."

I like Empok Nor a lot because of its atmosphere, it's pretty unique in Trek. Turning Garak into a crazed killer for an episode due to sci-fi reasons isn't necessarily a good use of the character, but the episode succeeds despite that - both of Bryan Fuller's S5 DS9 episodes have a really striking gothic tone that's executed fantastically on screen and by the actors (though The Darkness And The Light is obviously better). By the end of this hour I just found myself frustratedly wishing that Doug Jones and Mary Chieffo had been given better material. And again, the reason for the Burnham/Saru fight and the L'Rell/Cornwell fight is transparently because there would be no action scenes otherwise - just as Lethe included two totally unnecessary fight scenes (the Burnham/Sarek Matrix fights and the holodeck scene) for the same reason.

As this is my final review comment on Discovery's 2017 episodes I also want to concur with those who observed that we've seen almost nothing of the war (the good battle scene at the start of this episode and the spore drive rescue mission at the end of ep 4 are pretty much all we saw until ep 9) and the ship and the space scenes look bad. DS9 and VOY had better special effects two decades ago, whether using model work, CGI or a combination - even early battle scenes done entirely using models (The Die Is Cast, Caretaker) look better than the space scenes we're seeing in Discovery. I don't know why this is. But the lack of almost any visible evidence of the war combined with the fact there are no good shots of Discovery (just a fly-by with some rousing music would be nice; instead, we only see it when it jumps, and it looks bad and in poor detail even then) contributes to a claustrophobic feel to the series that I'm not sure is intended. I agree that we don't really have a sense of Discovery as a place.
Nic
Mon, Nov 20, 2017, 7:55am (UTC -6)
No, this was not the worst episode yet (that was “The Butcher’s Knife”), but it was definitely the most schizophrenic.

The scene between Tilly and Stamets is exactly the kind of scene we need to see to stay invested in his story and character, but I find it sad that after all the pre-release hype regarding the first long-term homosexual relationship depicted in Star Trek, Stamets and Culber have only gotten one scene together.

The planet-mission story was something we've seen countless times before, but the execution was fine. Strangely, the weakest aspects of the series are the ones that directly relate to the war.

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