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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Mar 15, 2019, 10:18am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Project Daedalus

Thinking about it more, the unearned emotional beats regarding Airiam don't annoy me as much as last night. Basically the showrunners had been responsible for the arc, and Michelle Paradise wrote this episode. She was already handed a scenario where Airiam was compromised by Control, and needed to be defeated in some manner by the episode's end. She had two options. One was to not develop Airiam and treat her as a shallow plot device (as Discovery has often treated even main characters like Stamets) that needed to be defeated by Burnham. The other was to develop her into a character. She chose the latter. That the payoff was unearned is ultimately the fault of the showrunners, but it doesn't mean the writing of this episode was badly done.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 10:37pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Project Daedalus

Viewed in isolation, the episode had a lot of good elements. The dialogue in the last episode seemed like it went up around 15 IQ points, and it's continued here. I liked the little touch where Detmer essentially lampshaded to Airiam that they were secondary characters (the whole "going on an away mission" thing - considering Airiam was actually fairly high ranking it made little sense in universe, but made sense to us as viewers. The acting was for the most part great too (I never really liked Cornwell that much in the first season, but this one sold me on her as a character). Frakes did a good job with direction as well, although there were admittedly a few shots (the pan when Cornwell came out of the shuttle, and some of the slow-motion fight stuff) which was too stylized.

That said, as with others, I felt like the episode lost a lot of potential impact because Airiam was not well developed as a character. Hell, she wasn't even a character. In the first season, she was an extra. This season, she got a few more lines in earlier episodes, but wasn't even as developed as Detmer and Owo. It felt kinda like when Voyager would introduce a special guest character and then kill them off at the episode's end - which is not a good thing. Actually, it's a bit more extreme, because the episode was consciously framed largely from the POV of Airiam. Again, if they built her up as a character for the last season and a half, it would have been awesome. But I didn't get the feels with the emotional response to her death at the end. I just didn't.

A more minor quibble is the sudden veer into the plot - Cornwell's shuttle shows up, and she gives an infodump - was just a bit too much for me to suspend disbelief. Maybe I've gotten used to serialized drama, but I expected a tiny bit more connective plot tissue here. Some sort of indication as to what life on the run has been like for Discovery. We didn't get that.

The episode also felt curiously half-finished. Don't they still have to get in and disable/reset Control? Are they waiting till next episode? Will it happen off camera?
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 5:12pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: If Memory Serves

Here's an outside the box idea: The Red Angel is Burnham's mother.

Not Amanda - Burnham's birth mother.

Consider the following:
The Red Angel personally intervened to save Michael's life.
The Red Angel is female and human.
Burnham never actually saw her parents die - she was hiding in a cupboard IIRC.
Section 31 - Leland in particular - is somehow responsible for their "deaths."
Sarek raised Michael, and had connections to Section 31.Basically maybe Burnham's parents were either working for Section 31 or their work was known to them. Their research involved time travel. Control rules it was too dangerous and they must be killed. Burnham's mom somehow escapes into the future, finds a future suit, and is battling with Control across the timeline.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 12:42pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: If Memory Serves

Spock explicitly said that the Red Angel is human. If we take him at his word, it can't be "Zora" since she's an AI. Mind you, this is an absolutely horrendous idea which would totally ruin Calypso, which was a sweet little character study. It's like if TNG decided to follow up The Inner Light by revealing that the flute was a piece of advanced technology which allowed Picard to travel through time and space whenever he played it. Fanwank at its absolute worst.

The Red Angel saving Burnham does not mean that it couldn't be FutureBurnham. Some hypothesis about time travel suggest it would be possible if it happened in a closed loop - meaning someone was always "fated" to go into the past and do something. This would mean there was no free will, and the future was as determinate as the past, but that's how some physicists think of time anyway. Time is literally no different than the three dimensions of space - it's just an illusion of how our consciousness is set up that we seem to "move forward" through it.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 11:33am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: If Memory Serves

Regarding the Red Angel, it's now established by Spock it's a human. Also, Spock said "she" - which I think was obvious given those hips, but some people still seem to think it's a man for some reason.

Given how this show works, the Red Angel is probably someone we've met before, probably the main cast. Frankly, Tilly wouldn't fit into that suit. That leaves, in decreasing order of likelihood, Burnham, Georgiou, Reno, Cornwell, and Amanda.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 8:18am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Blood of Patriots

Better than the terrible astrology episode, but not great.

On one hand, I'm glad after 1.5 seasons Malloy finally got a focus episode, giving Scott Grimes a chance to showcase that he can be more than awkward comic relief - that there's greater depths to his character than being...well...an idiot.

On the other hand, it basically plays like a slightly above-average Voyager episode. There's nothing at all here we haven't seen many times before. Considering the roll that The Orville was on for the last several episodes, this is a huge effin let down.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Mar 7, 2019, 10:05pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: If Memory Serves

Don't have much substantive to say, except - given the rating system here - I would call this a four star episode. On a ten point scale it would probably be a nine though, due to some minor flaws (like Ash still not doing it for me). Still, overall it's far and away the best executed episode of Discovery to date. It feels like Trek, was well directed/paced, had good emotional beats, and the exposition was handled in a relatively artful way.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Light and Shadows

I don't buy the argument that just because Enterprise fucked up the Temporal Cold War it can never be revived. TNG fucked up the Ferengi after all, and DS9 somehow salvaged them as a concept.

That said, I think it's very, very hard to get the TCW to make a lick of sense. I say this because any effort to alter the past would destroy the future due to a temporal paradox. This has been established numerous times in Star Trek.

The best way to square this away is to presume whatever temporal incursions the Red Angel and the "squid faction" are doing were always destined to happen, because they happened in the past and time is a closed loop. But if this is the case, the Trekverse is completely deterministic, and there's no drama in the outcome whatsoever.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 1:59pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Light and Shadows

@ Trent,

I partially concur with you. The arc just isn't engaging me this season.

It's funny, because on an episode-by-episode basis, I feel like Discovery's second season is much, much better than its first. However, the first season I felt more drawn to tune in because I really wanted to see how the hell they were going to pull the closing of the arc off (of course, they didn't).

This time I don't think they've painted themselves into the same corner - I don't think it's going to be a train wreck of a close at all. At the same time, the arc itself just isn't that interesting. The Red Burst/Red Angel aren't that intriguing as of yet based upon the teases, and the whole "Search for Spock" didn't really emotionally engage me. The best parts of the season to date have been watching the Discovery crew randomly stumble into things which only tangentially relate to the arc. I basically "tune in" now to see if the episode will be good or mediocre each week - not to get more pieces of the puzzle.

Oh, and as an aside, I wonder if they made some sort of massive change to the arc after Berg/Harberts were fired. Supposedly a major aspect of this season was going to be "Science vs. Faith." That was absolutely on display early in the season. But starting with the prior episode (the first one filmed after they were fired) the pseudo-religious elements of the Red Angel were basically entirely deflated, and we seem headed into a Temporal Cold War redux.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 7:54am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Identity, Part II

While I think some of the criticisms people have of this episode are fair, the critiques of the Kaylon are not I think.

First, just because machine races in other science fiction media have shown certain traits doesn't mean the Kaylon have to share them. All that The Orville had established about them is they had a higher technology level than The Union, were able to think very, very fast (similar to any computer) and believed themselves to be superior entities (emphasis on believe). That doesn't mean they actually are superior entities. And it doesn't mean their way of thinking might not have "blind spots" - whether due to how they were constructed by their creators or due to their own oversight.

Secondly, just because Isaac doesn't have emotions - like all other Kaylon - doesn't mean that he must come to the same conclusions they do. People always make this mistake in Star Trek with Vulcans too, thinking that if they use "logic" there is only one possible conclusion they can make. Logical decision making requires prior assumptions, including a code of ethics. Isaac had a very different experience than was the norm for his race, which led his own priors about the utility of human life to veer sharply away from those of the rest of his race, which only saw sentient organic life as a potential threat.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 9:45pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Identity, Part II

I'd rate it as three stars. It was a well-done big action piece with some nice emotional beats included. However, the episode did not really surprise me even in the slightest. It basically took the path of least resistance towards resolving the crisis.

On the other hand, at least it avoided the "it was all a simulation" or "this was an elaborate test of humanity's intentions" that some had suggested. That sort of reset button would have been very disappointing. It looks like - once again this season - The Orville is drawing more lessons from DS9 than the other Berman-era Trek shows - willing to have both the global setting and the characters evolve as time goes on.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 8:45pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Light and Shadows

It was a decent episode, but not one of Discovery's better ones.

I guess I'll start with the A plot - Burnham's search for Spock finally drawing to a close. I thought that this was - generally speaking - well done. SMG put in an above-average performance for her (aside from the very beginning of the episode). I enjoyed seeing Amanda again as well. I felt like Sarek's decision to not just turn Spock in, but turn him over to Section 31 made little narrative sense though - it just happened because the plot demanded it. And after that discussion it's very, very hard to see why Amanda would ever stay with Sarek. Not sure how I feel about finding out that Spock is...erm..."special" either. I liked seeing Georgiou's character deepen a bit, though I felt like - once again - people were being dragged along a bit by the needs of the plot rather than anything which was grounded in the characters.

As for the B plot - holy hell was there a lot of technobabble! I appreciate that this plot helped to build trust between Pike and Tyler, but that's really just about all I appreciate about it. Otherwise it just was a bunch of flashy graphics and plotted way, way too goddamned fast.

Under Jammer's scoring scale, I'd go with 2.5.
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Karl Zimmerman
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 8:14pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Saints of Imperfection

Lynos's "like a movie" comment gets down to one of the main issues Discovery often has - in Season 1, and in parts of Season 2 - including this episode. Dialogue is edited down to the bone in such a way that makes sense for a single 90-minute action flick, but doesn't make a lick of sense for long-form serialized drama.

I mean, right now I've been rewatching The Expanse in anticipation of the fourth season coming out later in the year. Much like the earlier seasons of Game of Thrones, The Expanse has loads of dialogue which is - quite honestly - not plot critical. It's two or more characters sitting in a room shooting the shit, either getting along together or (more likely) sniping at one another at least a bit. The purpose of these scenes are character development. They let us know both more about who the characters are and the status of their relationship at that particular point in the show. They are a key part of any successful drama.

Discovery - for the most part - seems to think there's no reason for these dialogues to exist for anyone - unless they happen to be Micheal Burnham. In the few brief cases where they are allowed to take place (such as Stamets telling Tilly to say less things) the show seems to want to get them over and done with as quickly as possible. Mostly it just wants its non-Burnham characters to be plot-exposition devices - to have everything they need to say in a given episode either tie into the problem of that episode or the overall plot arc.

This is weird for TV. But this is normal for movies. I remember reading some years ago that one reason why so many movies fail the Bechdel test (having two women talk about something other than a man) is because main characters in movies are usually men, and screenwriters are specifically instructed to make sure that conversations between secondary characters reference the protagonist.

This is awful, but considering the limited run time in a major movie, it does make sense that you can't really develop more than a single character in 90 minutes. Particularly in an action movie where much of the time will be taken up by unscripted action scenes and the like. But importing this sort of...economy of dialogue...into serialized TV drama is inexcusable. Discovery episodes can run as long as they like, and filming two people in a room talking is comparably cheap. And no one is forcing them to jam pack plot into every single second of the show. They really need to slow down and realize what they can accomplish if they stop to take a breath.
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Karl Zimmerman
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 4:27pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Saints of Imperfection

@ Daya

The "energy" comment was when my eyes really started rolling, because it's clear no one in the friggin writer's room had any idea how the human brain actually works.

Basically, a lot of people falsely believe in Cartesian dualism - the idea that the mind and the body are separate things. Basically, under this loose analogy, the brain works as "hardware" while the mind is the "software." The body is "matter" and the mind is "energy."

But the fact of the matter is, there is no such division. There are of course purely energetic elements of the human mind, like electricity and magnetic fields. But there are also elements of the mind which are only energy in the chemical sense (meaning, unless you want to want to count borrowing an electron here and there, they're bound up in matter). Much of the mind is just the pure physical structure of the brain. Destroy the structure, and that element of the mind is gone. Fundamentally, "we" are not energy. We are organization, which falls apart via entropy.

There are ways you could use an understanding of how the mind works to make resurrection happen. For example, the whole Star Trek "transporter clone" thing is correct, given a materialist understanding of the universe. Perfectly copy someone's body - including the brain - and you have continuity of consciousness - it's literally the same person. Similarly, in principle a virtual copy of your brain down to the molecular level (most scientists don't think quantum phenomena really impact consciousness) would be enough to make a self-aware copy of you in a machine. And in an infinite universe, the chance of "you" somehow inexplicably popping into existence somewhere else after you die is...well...certain eventually.

But just talking about the mind as "energy" is new-age woo. That's the religious concept of a soul, not how the human mind actually works.

I'll grant that Trek has already implied that Vulcan minds do work like this with all the Katra bullshit, but this is at least semi-believable, because maybe Vulcan brain structure is very different from our own, with their minds operating as "software" rather than the mixed software/hardware of our own minds.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 8:07pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: Deflectors

Didn't comment earlier because I've been getting over a bad illness. But put me down as thinking this was one of The Orville's better outings - albeit marred a bit by a slow start and a completely inconsequential B-plot.

I can see why people might argue having an allegorical discussion of "the closet" is a bit dated now. Hell, people were attacking friggin Bohemian Rhapsody for showing Freddie Mercury as being sexually conflicted in the 1970s, which is presentism if I've ever seen it. To me though, the performances of the "core four" of the A plot (Talla, Bortus, Klyven, and Lokar) elevated the story tremendously.

Honestly, it had elements of a classic dramatic trope - the tragedy - that Trek has barely touched upon in the past. I mean, one could argue that the end of The City on the Edge of Forever was tragic. But it wasn't a tragedy in the classic sense because Kirk made the right decision. Here we have four characters who are defined by their upbringing, duty, and culture, all acting in such a way that a calamity is bound to happen. Thematically, the entire episode is ripping off a giant scab and leaving a bloody wound behind.

Still, I'd rate it as only a three star episode, because as I said, the B plot was rote, and it took a long, long time to get rolling. It wasn't really clear at all given the ho-hum beginning that the final act was going to be so brutal. I wish they'd learn to pace a bit better on this show.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 10:20am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Saints of Imperfection

I really didn't like this week's episode, though my opinion might have been swayed in part by being sick and having a bad sinus headache. Easily beats out Point of Light as the worst episode so far this season.

First I'll give the episode some credit. I thought it seemed on a macro level well put together. While other episodes this season had fancy camerawork, fast cuts, and other distractions, the production itself was much more straight ahead this time around. And the overall narrative structure of the episode was pretty coherent, with the A plot (Tilly lost in the sporeverse) and the B plot (Section 31 crap) relatively tightly put together.

But, when you zoom in past the 5,000 foot view, it had a lot of issues.

Let's start with the main plot of the episode - the search to find Tilly, which also results in the inexplicable discovery of Culber. I realize that Trek is full of dumb technobabble, but this episode took things waaay past my suspension of disbelief. I mean, I guess I'm glad we didn't find out that all souls of the dead resided in the mycelial network, that it was just a one-time thing with Culber. But it was very clearly some sort of awkward retcon. The dirty, shaggy, half-mad Culber we meet is nothing like the serene spore-ghost we saw in the first season. I also don't understand how if real atoms don't exist in the mycelial network that Tilly, Stamets, and Micheal managed to - you know - breathe. Because my disbelief was never suspended, I simply couldn't emotionally invest in the reunion of Stamets and Culber, even though I knew it was supposed to be a touching moment. I suppose it was a nice Trekkian touch to have the "monster" be Culber - who was just trying to defend himself - but too little time was spent on this.

Regarding the B plot - the introduction of Section 31 to the Discovery crew - there really wasn't a plot at all. I suppose it's setup for later in the season and might develop some sort of payoff. But basically we see that Michael still doesn't like Georgiou, that Pike doesn't trust Tyler, and that Pike and Leland had some sort of history together. The last point in particular confused me, because through most of the episode they seemed like old friends who went down different paths, but then Cornwell dressed both of them down and said they had to work together??? They already were working together!

There were also macro problems with the entire episode. The dialogue was very clunky, dumb-sounding, and (things like Georgiou DRAMA aside) seemed to just exist to plot the plot to tech the tech. And the episode was framed with Burnham monologues on either side! Honestly I think part of the reason why I disliked this episode so much was because it had so much content which reminded me of the aspects of Season 1 I really didn't like.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 9:29pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: An Obol for Charon

Hrmm...It was significantly better than last week, and arguably the best episode of Discovery to date.

What I liked:

First, the show actually made cohesive narrative sense. I was worried from the trailer that there were going to be too many plots again like last week, and it would come across as a "slice of the arc" rather than a cohesive episode. But I was wrong. Saru's subplot was intimately wrapped up in the negative space wedgie this week, to the point they were essentially one and the same. Number One basically had a brief cameo, and Jett Reno fit in pretty seamlessly (though I wonder what the hell she's been doing the last few weeks). Only the Tilly spore-entity subplot kinda stuck out as not related to the main thrust of the episode much, but an A/B format is fine for Trek.

I liked that the show was essentially a more modern take on a typical Trek trope. And I found it refreshing that the search for Spock and the whole Red Angel thing were bumped really, really far down the totem pole this week.

Some of the performances were great this go around. Doug Jones deserves an award for tonight, and carried the episode by sheer force of will. It was great to see him get some focus after barely being an extra for the first three episodes this season. His dialogue even made mention of something I had noted - that he was carrying himself like he was a starfleet officer and nothing more. No longer. Tig Notato was great as well in her role. I was happy to see Stamets actually get a bit of a weightier role this week as well.

What I disliked:

Small elements of the production of the show continue to irk me. There weren't as many as the past two weeks, but there were some fast cuts - particularly away from emotional scenes with Saru and Burnham - which blunted their impact. The music remained a bigger problem. It's too damn high in the mix, and particularly in the earlier portions of the episode I think I missed several lines between it and the distracting ambient noise. Who the hell mixes their sound?

SMG was a bit off in some scenes I think. She did a good job in the final scene with Saru, but in some of the earlier ones her cadence was just...odd. It weakened the scenes considerably.

The main flaw in this episode however was somewhat poor characterization. First, Pike's conclusion that the alien megastructure was belligerent seemed very random and was transparently for story purposes to create a short-lived conflict. I came out of that scene thinking less of him, which shouldn't have happened. More fundamental though is the oddness of the sudden deep relationship between Burnham and Saru. We've had no evidence on camera they particularly liked one another. Their relationship on the Shenzhou was distant and prickly, and even though Saru came to forgive Michael, we didn't really see a budding friendship as we did with Tilly. I understand that for narrative purposes Saru had to be close to someone, and since he knew Burnham the longest (and she is the main character) it should have been her. But this relationship just seems...unearned. Which is a shame, because viewed in isolation, not knowing anything about the arc of Discovery as a whole, this character work comes off a lot better.

I'd say three stars.
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Karl Zimmerman
Tue, Feb 5, 2019, 11:32am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Point of Light

@Chrome

It's entirely normal for modern shows to use directors as hired guns, switching them out every 1-2 episodes. In the first season there were 13 directors across the 15 episodes, with only Osunsanmi and Goldsman repeating later in the season. This seems to be because it's literally too much work for any one person to direct an entire season, since post-production work on episodes early in the season is going on at the same time as filming late in the season.

That said, I feel like the direction work has been notably all over the place this season. The premier had very straight ahead workmanlike direction, which is actually more than I expected from Kurtzman. The following two episodes both had attempts to be "artsy" involving lighting, fast cuts, and weird angled shots which detracted from the story overall.
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Karl Zimmerman
Tue, Feb 5, 2019, 8:25am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Point of Light

This week's upcoming episode looks likely to be kinda a muddled mess like Point of Light rather than a coherent episode like the first two. Judging by the trailer, we get:

1. Some sort of anomaly/negative space wedgie which traps the ship (A plot?)
2. Saru has some sort of mortal illness.
3. More of the Tilly/spore alien subplot, with the now detached being attacking her and covering her body.
4. The introduction of Number 1.
5. The re-introduction of Jett Reno.

The latter two might be folded into one of the "main three" plots, but it seems altogether too much again for one episode.

Considering we know Berg/Harberts were fired after the filming of the 5th episode - and they had a short production hiatus to retool - I'm beginning to see why they were fired.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Feb 1, 2019, 9:48am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Point of Light

@MadManMUC

That would be the most...expedient...way to bring back Culber. Though I doubt it's the case. The May character seemed a lot more ignorant about things than Culber's spore ghost last season - so much so that it's hard to imagine the two are the same entity.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Feb 1, 2019, 8:28am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Point of Light

Thinking more about it, while I didn't hate the Klingon plot, I wonder what the hell the point of it was in the greater scheme of things. Was it really just to come up with an excuse to get Tyler off of Qonos? He could have easily just shown up with MU Georgiou a few episodes hence and had three minutes of expository dialogue explaining what happened. It would have been much cheaper, and given them more time to focus on the other plots (which appear to be more arc critical). Unless they actually plan to do something substantive with L'Rell eventually as well.
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Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Feb 1, 2019, 8:19am (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: A Happy Refrain

@ Booming

Personally, while I liked the first three episodes of the season, I thought episode 4 was mediocre, and 5 was outright bad - so bad that I wasn't really even enthusiastic about streaming last night's episode before it started. I'm glad I did - it was a classic.

As I said, the strength of The Orville appears to be relatively "light" character-focused drama - developing the main cast. The attempts to do "issue" episodes this season saw the show fall flat on its face to date. Of course we're only halfway into the season, and maybe they'll find a way to make a high-concept sci-fi show work, but it's just fine for me as a low-stakes drama.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Jan 31, 2019, 10:21pm (UTC -5)
Re: ORV S2: A Happy Refrain

Personally, I loved this episode. I watched most of it with a big goofy smile on my face, and the ending made me a bit misty eyed. In general I feel like these character-driven episodes have become the main strength of The Orville. Their somewhat irreverent tone, and the greater humor quotient, gives them a chance to do things with Isaac that TNG never would have done when Data had a "girlfriend" in the episode In Theory.

I also appreciated the inversion that took place over the course of the episode. When it started out it seemed like Claire was the object, and Isaac was the subject. That was interesting, but Claire's infatuation was building for some time, so it wasn't that surprising. But in the end this was really an episode about Issac. He was the one who ended the episode (we presume, since there is no reset button on The Orville) having made a realization about himself and grown as a person.

3.5 stars. This is the best episode that The Orville has done yet. Aside from the clumsy technobabble scene Issac had with Mercer, the episode had no flaws.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Jan 31, 2019, 9:13pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: Point of Light

Yeah, I dunno what to think here. It's definitely more a Season 1 episode than the first two this year. It felt like a "slice of an arc" rather than a standalone story. It tried to do three things at once (mostly to keep all of the cast involved I think) but really didn't spend enough time on any of them for my tastes.

I would define the Klingon plotline with L'Rell and Ash as the "A plot" of this episode, since it clearly got the most screen time. I honestly didn't mind it. It was done much, much better than the Klingon politics from the first season. Qonos finally felt kind of like a real place (though seriously - is the sun ever out guys?). What made the plot work for me was mostly that Mary Chieffo and Shazad Latif put in damn good performances, portraying the complexity of the emotions that each of their characters felt with aplomb. The scripting here felt a bit tighter too - maybe because this plot was focusing on emotions, rather than exposition. I knew the left field appearance of MU Georgiou was coming, but it was still honestly unwelcome. Her character really only existed as a dues ex machina to move the plot along, and blunted a lot of the earlier emotional impact. Nothing about her reveal made me feel any more confident about Section 31 being a major element going forward.

The B plot was basically Micheal and Amanda Grayson talking alone in a room together about Spock. It was just exposition for the sake of the viewer in a lot of ways, but Mia Kirshner just hit it out of the park in terms of a performance here, which made it forgivable when she was delivering the lines. Unfortunately, she kinda outacts SMG, which made Micheal's responses back seem a bit off in places - a bit too matter of fact. I'm still deeply conflicted about adding this entire tortured backstory to Spock which had never existed. I loved how Amanda basically walked out on Micheal at the end, furious at what Micheal had done to push Spock away long ago - that we didn't get the neat and easy resolution

The C plot - Tilly's "imaginary friend" and its removal - was kinda rote, though it continued to be creepy. I'm happy they went with a technobabble explanation rather than yet more woo. But it still felt like it was awkwardly wedged into the episode - largely to give Tilly and Saru something to do. Hell, Stamets appeared for all of two minutes in this episode - basically just gave some spore techobabble and then sucked the lifeform out of Tilly. I realize in a series like this not everyone can have an integral plot role every week, but his character has been getting quite short shift for awhile now.

I'd rate this 2.5 stars. There's some interesting bits here, but not enough to have a good episode. Still a lot less of a mess than much of season 1 however.
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Karl Zimmerman
Mon, Jan 28, 2019, 8:48am (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: New Eden

@Jack

Unfortunately, with the exception of Jacob (who served as something of an antagonist) the New Eden residents are a subject of the story, but only in a conceptual sense. They allow for Burnham and Pike to have a debate about faith vs. science and the ethics of the prime directive, and to be saved by the crew remaining on the ship. But the episode itself is utterly disinterested in them - something you can clearly see because besides Jacob only the religious leader gets any lines, and her role is almost entirely (poorly written) infodump. Fundamentally, the episode is about the Discovery crew though.

@ Gil.

The population was actually within the realm of reasonableness. Presuming about 150 people packed into the church (seems plausible given the size), you'd only need an annual population growth rate of 2.2% to hit 11,000+ in 2000 years. This is much higher than modern developed countries, but in the range of developing countries (many African countries are still at this rate or higher). You'd just need a social shift away from 1-2 child families back to 5-6 child families (which presumably would happen given lower development levels).

A deeper question though is how the transition period actually worked. I mean, I presume there was not enough food stored in the church basement to keep them fed for years. No domesticated animals either. Maybe if they were lucky they had a few potatoes they could plant. But they would be initially stuck hunting and gathering when they transferred over, and most people were likely ill-equipped for that lifestyle, given most wouldn't know how to do things like make stone tools or identify which plants were poisonous. Maybe the Red Angel somehow put them down in a place already prepared, with fruit on trees year round, docile animals, etc. In that case it might be slightly more believable.
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