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Mon, Jan 15, 2018, 5:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S1: Despite Yourself


A few days ago, I was reading your review of the final episode of Voyager, and this remark caught my attention:

"Ultimately, the overall biggest problem with "Endgame" is that no one pays a price for Voyager getting home, despite all the questionable means exploited to get there. There's a lot of talk about how getting home is not the most important thing about Voyager's existence. Indeed, one of the story's key turning points comes when Harry — yes, Harry — makes a "rousing" speech in the conference room about how Voyager's mission is the journey and not the destination. Unfortunately, coming from Harry, I found this speech laughably portentous. It's also not very true. Voyager has always been about the destination, because the journey has usually been contrived for the sake of easier entertainment value."

Your criticism was made in the context of a larger criticism about the show's being a series of one-off, self-contained episodes, where there are no consequences, where there is no continuity, and where characters do whatever the jerry-rigged plot of the week require them to do.

I've liked Discovery very much, on the whole, but find it interesting how the serialized format does not necessarily erase the problems in Voyager's storytelling.

While Voyager's "destination" - overriding focus - was always getting the ship back home, with the little moments that made up the journey scattered into overplotted, underwritten story pieces that never mesged, Discovery's "destination" is also a problem: It is whatever "gotcha" or twist moment the show wants to spring on us (Voq's identity reveal, for example) so that we'll be awed in the moment...

Characterization and character motivation, week in and week out, vary in accordance with the immediate need to deliver big on one of these "Bang" moments.

The problem with structuring a show that really is made up of a series of mini-arcs, each leading to its own "Wow, What a Great Moment That Was!" is that you've made it harder for yourself to just slow things down (kind of like when Nicholas Meyer, after hearing Ricardo Montalban's first line readings as Khan, told him, "You're letting them see your top. Never let them see your top.")

The min-arc structure (which is also on Game of Thrones) encourages this kind of roller-coaster approach to storytelling.

Voyager should have been more about the journey than the destination. Discovery should find a way to be more about the journey than the turning of the screws on us while we ride the bus.

Possible solution (easier said than done): settle for something in between complete serialization and complete one-offs. Battlestar Galactica did somewhat well in this regard; it had an overarching arc but in between the grand moments characters talked about things that did not immediately further the demands of the plot.

Discovery has shown it is capable of finding some kind of balance ("Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad"); I hope it tries again.
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