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Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 2:53pm (UTC -6)
Re: ORV S2: Identity, Part I

Wow, that was really impressive. Already a couple of weeks before, I have decided that The Orville is more fun to watch than Discovery, despite my emotional attach­ment to Trek. This epis­ode was far more riveting than any­thing Dis­cov­ery has de­liver­ed, because the con­flict, the tension and the near-impossibility of solu­tion flows naturally from the established charac­ters and back­grounds. It’s on a par with out­stand­ing Trek episodes like Best of Both Worlds or The Die is Cast.

Now I know why Kaylon always seemed to remind my of Cylon.

However, I feel stymied that the Union is obviously run by goof­balls. It seems they knew no more about Kaylon than the viewers did at the begin of the show (which is, no­thing). The whole idea of the Kaylons po­ten­tially join­ing the Union was brought up (ret­con­ned?) only two epis­odes ago (Hap­py Re­frain), IIRC, in Old Wounds Isaac men­tion­ed only “an effort to initiate rela­tions be­tween Kaylon and the Union”. As soon as the issue popped up in this epis­ode, I knew that we were in either for bad writing or a bad surprise.

BTW, I like Isaac as a character — it offers the intellec­tual power of data but omits the latter’s em­bar­ras­sing ser­vil­ity. An Android who is proud of his non-human qual­ities makes a better crew­mem­ber, and a far better ant­ago­nist. In my extra­pola­tion, the un­ex­­pect­ed shut­down will be used as a back­door to re­store the char­ac­ter at the end of the war arc. It would be a shame if the third season were to run without Isaac.
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Mon, Jan 22, 2018, 11:35am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Vaulting Ambition

This episode had three colossal Points of Greatness: Michelle Yeoh, Michelle Yeoh and Michelle Yeoh. She has an enormous presence, and can even make SMG act.

Moreover, writing was much better this time, and direction and cut even impressed me. Moreover, I found the A story at the imperial palace genuinely interesting, well-written and insightful. The Kelpian Dinner scene was great and more terrifying than any CGI-enhanced agonizer.

But …

The Lorca Revelation fell flat for me. I had carefully collected all the various hints about Lorca being really !Lorca, and had hoped they would turn out red her­rings. Lorca as a grey, troubled anti-hero would have been interesting and might have given an un­usual angle to expose the Fede­rations dark spots, to chal­lenge and reas­sure Utopia as DS9 has done before. Being just an Evil™ person from outside ex­tin­guished all interest in the character and destroys all con­tribu­tions he could make to the show. More­over Jason Isaacs will be missed from the second season.

The mycelial network dying — yeah, this was one of two or three options required to keep continuity. Yawn. I guess it will be saved but cannot be used in the future (the Pahvans come to my mind, as their pre­ferred shade of blue looks rather sporey, and they could be involved in regenerating the eco­system). For me, the mushroom trip sub­plot was basically OK, and it brought us !Stamets as a new villain. Not that we had too few before.

The Ash/Voq subplot fell rather flat. We are probably meant to believe L’Rell destroyed Voq in order to save Tyler, but I’d be surprised if it were true, given she comes from the “weavers of lies” clan (where did she get the fancy cloves from? Starfleet Standard equip­ment?), and not from Médecins Sans Frontières. Saru is really a gullible guy.

I also first assumed for certain that the two Stamets’ have changed body, but on second viewing, it is less clear. I still believe it because this show has a taste for surprise twists. Note that Stamets did once utter the name “Hugh” in !Stamet’s presence, so ?Stamets talk­ing about Hugh to Tilly is no proof. The ?Stamets awak­ing in the ISS Charon said “He did it“, and I take this to mean he was Stamets thinking Hugh brought him out, but I admit it could have been !Stamets think­ing Stamets did the job.

I found watching the episode entertaining, but it was by no means a thought-provoking or otherwise deep experience, and that’s grosso modo true for all the episodes yet. Was there ever a difficult choice to make? Did someone ever put real trust into another person, without good reason but just relying on the other’s good­­ness? Were there ever beliefs put to the test, or even shat­tered? Did anyone ever experience some­thing that changed his mind­set and gave him stuff to think about afterwards?

I am disappointed that on this highly serialized show it’s only the plot that develops (in a most baroque way, with a lot of orna­menta­tion but little sub­stance), yet the cha­rac­ters only talk about how they change, to cover up that they really never do. It does not help that the cha­rac­ters are also weak, with just one or two traits per person, just as much as the plot requires.
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Fri, Jan 19, 2018, 1:28pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The Wolf Inside

@Plain Simple

I think this is the curse of serialized TV: The single episodes cannot be enjoyed as a standalone outing, but must serve a larger plot, which reduces their individual meaning.

If done badly (Alias, I am looking at you!), this results in completely meaning­less episodes that might fit together at the end of the season (or show), or more likely will never fit. They might be still engaging and thrilling, and efficiently moti­vate viewers to return to the screen next week, but in hind­sight, the experience is shallow. As with fast food, that you can’t stop eating but get stomach ache from.

In my mind, shows like Buffy, B5 and DS9 did it right, because they began mostly episodic, used the strengths of this format for characters and atmo­sphere and to establish the universe, and only switch­ed to serialized mode when the big things are going to happen. Yet, in the current word, where at­ten­tion spans range be­tween milli­seconds and mi­nu­tes, it is no longer an option to spend entire seasons on world­building and characters (which per­haps is why fran­chises are so com­mon — they draw on past worldbuilding).

I basically agree with all your criticism, but like I don’t pan a government in its first 100 days, I give the writers the bene­fit of doubt for the entire first season. My checklist of „things to fix before season finale“ grows longer and longer, but some items did get checked in the last two epis­odes, and I hope for more. Maybe I fell into the trap that I be­came so hungry for Star Trek that I am too patient now.

The dialogue between Archer and Silik is in “Storm Front II”, around 20:10. But you are right, there is a similar one with Hernandez also in the following episode.
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Fri, Jan 19, 2018, 8:00am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The Wolf Inside

@ Plain Simple

At the current point, I see little other options that to discuss the plot. This whole season is just one story, and we cannot judge the value of the story, or its ideological character, before we know what it leads to.

I remember well how much I hated the 3rd season of Enterprise, which I used to call “24 in Space”. At the end, however, this criticism evaporated, because Archer stopped channeling Jack Bauer and behaved like a Starfleet Captain again (and I loved the dialogue with the Suliban spy “Captain, you have changed“ — “Not for the better” in the otherwise horrible Nazi two-parter).

So let’s wait for the remaining two episodes to air before critisizing the plot. I do agree, though, that till now the plot works mostly by mystery, twists and shocking revelations, not by logic or character. This gives the show a character that I compare to fast food (somehow appetizing and even addictive, but not really nourishing or long-time sustainable). But if the writers are significantly cleverer than they have yet shown us, I don’t doubt they could still pull off a five-course meal out of elements that are yet sown.
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Mon, Jan 15, 2018, 12:06pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The Wolf Inside

I am underwhelmed.

Stamets’s Mushroom Trips continue to annoy, Tilly was for the first time painful to watch (I want more of Killy!) and all scenes on the ISS Shenzhou felt like swimming in syrup. This does include the big Tyler/Voq scene which came as no surprise at all, but repeated everything that was already known or guessed in boring detail. I will not even go into the sluggish inner monologue at the beginning that talked about things that should have been shown. Or the communication with Captain !Maddox which was interspersed with infodumps by Burnham.

I did like scenes with !Saru, and found them almost heartbreaking. Tyler’s execution scene was somehow clever, yet it failed my hope that I would have never to deal with this mumbling dumbass again.

Saving grace was the scene on Harlak. Here, finally, we found some relatable, intelligent people talking about interesting things, and !Sarek was put to good use. If I had been Burnham, I’d have asked him to mind-meld with Tyler to find out what is wrong with him, but then the situation was already complicated enough. I can only hope the rebels did make it in time (BTW, who played !Voq? End credits don’t tell)

Speaking of time. The premise “Ship ordered to destroy a planet but Captain not willing” was much better handled in the “Mirror, Mirror” episode, where the crew repeatedly challenged Kirk’s decision to wait, but !Detmer seems to be perfectly fine ignoring Terran General Order Four (shouldn’t it have been 24? Hey, continuity!☺) while the captain sorts out private matters with her lover.

The scenes on the Discovery leave a mixed impression. While I enjoyed Saru (and, to a much lesser extent, Tilly), they both behaved foolishly. More and more it becomes clear that (a) Discovery is an almost empty ship and (b) the writers do not understand the concept of scientific specialization. Tilly is a engineering cadet, so surely she can also do medical scans and devise therapies, heck, this is all science and since the writers apparenty understand none of it, they assume that someone who does will automatically understand all of that sciency stuff.
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Mon, Jan 8, 2018, 2:14pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Despite Yourself

I found this a riveting episode, on a par with “Forest” last year (which I con­sid­ered the best up to that time). After a couple of stinkers, DIS now really delivers.

Ruling Empress of this episode is, of course, Tilly. I liked her from the very begin­ning, she has only grown better since (no one com­­plain­ing about her choice of words, huh?). Her wish to become captain has been granted in amaz­ingly short time, and I wonder whether there will be a cost as­so­ci­ated with it.

With Ash, it’s the opposite. I found him hard to bear from the very beginning, oscillating between bad­assery, madness and PTSD randomly, and I can’t stand his mum­b­ling speech which makes it neces­sary for me to switch to sub­titles. Sure, he is an im­por­tant plot tool, but this does not mean I have to invest him emo­tion­ally. His killing of Culber (the first un­ex­pected thing he ever did) won’t help, either, and I found his speech to Micheal (“What­ever this place makes you to do, or me”) distasteful.

Glad to see not too much of Micheal here. Not that I dislike her actively, but I prefer ensemble work, as was done here. She was terrific as IIS captain, conveying both her moral out­rage and her playing to the rule simultaneously.

Yet the elephant in the room is Lorca. He was fastest of all to adapt to the MU’s rules, but that could be the result of his military thinking and does not necessarily entail that he is now “back home”. Also, some of his re­morse speeches about Stamets condition ring some­what true.

But if, as so many fans want to believe, he was orig­i­nal­ly from the MU, then I want to know why he came back to the place where the most ruth­less people of the multi­verse hunt for him, where he has no allies and nothing to care for? Why not stay in the Prime Universe, given that he is the wolf among sheep there and can achieve any military career easily and risk­free? Or is he mis­sing the agony booths so much?

Other points: If he knew about the Terran way of treat­ing pris­on­ers, his of­fer­ing to pose as one would have been extreme­ly ballsy. And in the scene where the crew responds to the “Cooper”, he was very close to an­swer­ing the call (which would have blown the cover im­me­di­ate­ly). His looks when he com­ments “That’s absurd” appears ab­so­lute­ly genuine.

Eagerly waiting for more. I would also really like to learn how the “ISS Discovery” fares in the PU. I’d even more like to learn how your hu­man­ity is af­fect­ed if you are forced to pose as a psycho­path 24/7.

The “faceless Emperor” also sounds intriguing. Be­cause of the “faceless” part, it could be virtually ever­yone, even Emony Dax. I note that we have not yet learnt of the MU counter­parts of Saru, Georgiou, Stamets, Culber, Corn­well and, I say with emphasis, Tyler, since every­thing seems to con­cen­trate on him.

The preview for next week seems to indicate that our heroes will meet the Rebellion and make contact with a certain goateed Vulcan. This does not sound like the MU arc is going to end in that episode, so we will not run out of Captain Killy too soon.
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Mon, Nov 13, 2017, 8:52am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Into the Forest I Go


I find it difficult to believe that someone socialized in the Terran Empire (with agony booths, routine assassination of COs and comfort women) could pose as a Starfleet Officer. By the MU’s standard, Lorca would probably be the most empathetic and humanistic captain in the whole Terran fleet. Makes still marginally more sense than Garth of Izar, though.

A mirror version of Georgiou would be great — I expect her to be as nasty as Empress Hoshi, but with Michelle Yeoh’s acting capabilities.

I don’t think we can at this point rationally judge on canon violations, because we don’t know how it all will sort out. ENT Season 3 attracted much criticism during its run (“This is not my Federation!”), yet at the end, continuity issues were ±neatly solved.
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Mon, Nov 13, 2017, 4:31am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Into the Forest I Go


I noticed that, too. In “Context is for Kings“, Lorca said that unlike the Glenn, the Disco made only jumps in the range of hundreds of kilometers (before getting an organic pilot). Nevertheless, I can interpolate that these jumps were somewhat unprecise, or that a quick succession wouln’t work, or something else that requires the jumps in this episode to be done with a pilot.

There is another thing which I noticed only on second viewing: Immediately before the last, ill-fated jump, Lorca types coordinates into a touchpad, and for half a second you can read the line “Override-Lorca“ on the screen (ca. 43:40). Immediately afterwards, he says “Let’s go home”.

So, I am no longer sure whether the jump to the debris field was an accident. Maybe we are coming close to what Lorca’s agenda really is. He now has both the anti-cloak-gimmick and the spore drive at his hand, and he might now see the time to use them for his own purposes.

BTW, some fans actually guess Lorca is from the Mirror Universe (I don’t, because according to Spock barbarians cannot successfully mask as cultivated people). OTOH, I cannt believe that he abducted the Discovery just out of fear of Cornwell — after his breakthroughs, he won’t be bothered with a psycho test.

Stamets looks really bad. Maybe he becomes the Traveler in TNG? It is strange that disaster seems to affect mostly the two couples. I have a bad feeling about that.
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Sun, Nov 12, 2017, 11:38pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Into the Forest I Go

I join the chorus: This was a great episode, a good harvest of all the seeds that had been planted before. For me easily the best of the nine.

Now with both L’Rell and Tyler on board, the Voq issue will hopefully proceed to a solution. L’Rell’s words “I will not let them hurt you” and “Soon” point into hat direction.

Tyler’s memory has obviously tampered with — he claims that he has been tortured for 227 days by L’Rell, yet this cannot be true as she has an alibi for most of that time (she was first with Kol, then with Voq). Clearly, more payoff is waiting.

Did I get that right? Discovery is still around Pahvo, while Admiral Cornwell has already arrived in Starbase 88? And the cloak-breaking algorithm gets refined on Discovery, while no one in Starfleet has a backup? Strange writing choices.

With respect to the end — hmm, no one knows where the Magic Mushroom Drive has kicked the ship to. It could be the Mirror Universe (rumour says that Disco will play an MU episode), or the strange “Time Trap“ from the eponymous animated episode, or something completely different.
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Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 7:04am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S4: The Augments

I see a lot of parallels between the stupid Augments and the stupid crew of the Valiant (DS9). Both groups consist of bright individuals who have been told about their brightness, and they all fail miserably because of overconfidence and lack of experience.

Also, both had an anormal upbringing: The Augments spent their first 10 years with only one adult, and then were on their own for another decade. I am sure they studied a lot (books, videos, whatever), but they were still unprepared for the Real World™. The Red Squat cadets had been fast-tracked and elite-educated, but had little contact with other and cultivated a feeling of superiority. They did not know that you may well talk yourself out of an exam question, but can’t do the same in battle situation.

The question Nature vs. Nurture comes up a couple of times in this trilogy, but is never really explored. The result is pretty underwhelming: Augments are bad because they are bad. That would of course be OK in SW, but ST should and could do better — see e.g. the DS9 episodes on genetically improved humans.
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Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 1:21pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

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 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”.
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Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 10:48am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

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.
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Sat, Oct 28, 2017, 10:41am (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Lethe

I find it surprising so many people complain about the “holodeck”, given that the holographic simulation was sooo much behind what we saw in TNG. The holograms in DIS are very limited: They can be shot with a “simulation phaser gun” (not the same tool, I guess, as used in real fight, because it counts hits), but they do not engage in hand-to-hand combat as real Klingons would. It s very likely that they are not material and cannot be touched.

While, when Picard starts his holo program (“The Big Goodbye”), he remarks on its ability to produce smell and realistic background noise and naturalistic behaviour in the holo characters. He does not mention the quality of the optical representation — in my interpretation, he expects optical excellency (because the tech is 100 years old), but is impressed by what is new.
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Tue, Oct 24, 2017, 12:14pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Lethe

@ Chrome “The actress who plays Cornwell is only credited for three episodes... ”

I do not think this is significant — on IMDB, also James Frain is currently credited for three episodes only, yet I am sure we will see Sarek again.
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Mon, Oct 23, 2017, 12:35pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: Lethe


The animation of the Discovery arriving at the nebula (second 956) is the same as the one shown when Discovery escaped from Klingon space in the previous episode (2269 seconds into the video). So clearly, spore drive was used.
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