Star Trek: Discovery

"The War Without, The War Within"

2.5 stars

Air date: 2/4/2018
Written by Lisa Randolph
Directed by David Solomon

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"The War Without, The War Within" ends with the Mirror Universe version of Philippa Georgiou being named the captain of Discovery by Admiral Cornwell as an act of desperation to try to turn the tide of the war with the Klingons, which Starfleet is badly losing. It's yet another episode-ending WTF moment in a season awash in them.

The problem with always dialing up the crazy to 11 is that the audience becomes conditioned to the environment until an 11 just starts to feel like a 5. Making MU Georgiou the captain — in a scene that goes out of its way to make clear that none of the other characters were aware this was happening until it happened (for no good reason except to keep it hidden until the final reveal to the audience) — is surprising, sure. But it's surprising for perhaps the wrong reasons. We've reached the point where we expect some sort of last-minute episode-closing "shock" and the number of available variables in this episode seems to inevitably bring us to this conclusion. Rather, the reason it's surprising is because it's so ridiculous that this is alleged as the solution to Starfleet's war problem.

The entire war all season has essentially been a plot device that serves to put the Discovery in the position to either win or lose the entire thing (until the next week at least), usually because of the convenience of the spore drive. There's been very little philosophical thought about what the war means for Starfleet, the Klingons, or the characters. Lorca's role in it and the decisions he made have been rendered irrelevant by the fact that he was an evil impostor from another universe. But now we get an episode that tries to show how desperate Starfleet is now that the Klingons are destroying starbases in the upper command's backyard and knocking at Earth's doorstep. And Cornwell's solution is to turn to the emperor of the Mirror Universe to execute some brilliant plan — because we need a mind capable of dark, diabolical strategies to pull us out of the nosedive, I guess. Because no one in Starfleet has the sort of military competence that can fend off an enemy that has no unity and is attacking the Federation as a bunch of separate, disorganized factions.

I dunno. The plot does what the plot does. If the writers say the Federation is toast without the Discovery's magical spore drive that can do whatever the plot needs it to do to fix this week's problem, then okay, whatever. But it sure makes Starfleet look pretty useless without their magic mushrooms.

Speaking of the spore drive, it continues to persist despite the dire status of Stamets' spore crop. In this case, they manage to grow a new crop in accelerated time by using the properties of a conveniently nearby planet. Unless I missed it, which is possible, the episode doesn't even bother to explain what's actually happening to grow the crops. This planet apparently just allows the crops to be grown immediately. It's amazing how much technical VFX work goes into this sequence and how little discussion and insight. Maybe I'm missing the point and this is visual storytelling meant to replace traditional exposition and technobabble. But given how much Discovery glosses over plot points and expects us to fill in the rest, this just feels like another example.

The bizarre thing about all of this is the sheer technical confidence of the presentation somehow almost wins the day. I can't put my finger on why, but this series somehow works — at least for me — in the moment as these events unfold on the screen. It's only when faced with writing a review that I realize, in looking back over what happened, that the whole thing is so weirdly shallow and contrived. Even the episode-ending WTF cliffhangers are effective for the way they tease interest for what's coming next. I want to see Georgiou commanding the ship in the next episode even if, at the end of the day, it probably makes no logical sense whatsoever. After everything this crew just went through with MU Lorca, why would MU Georgiou be any better for the cause?

Or maybe that's the point. MU Lorca was winning the war, and Starfleet has been losing ever since he left. So I guess we need to embrace the darkness to win? Sadly, I doubt there's really even that much philosophy going into this decision on the writers' part. I think it's more about getting Georgiou back in the captain's chair because it would upset the apple cart and make for more dramatic opportunities.

It's worth noting that despite the last-minute reveal, "The War Without, The War Within" is a surprisingly subdued outing of this series that goes to a lot of effort to deal with character business (like the ones surrounding Ash Tyler), and that brings us up to speed on Starfleet's situation and even briefly tries to get inside the minds of the Klingons (Cornwell's discussion with L'Rell). It also continues the trend of realizing the Discovery has a crew beyond its main characters, and it continues to prove Saru is a great character forged in a vintage Trekkian mold.

The big piece of business we deal with here is Tyler. Apparently cured and freed of Voq (until the writers decide otherwise, I suppose), Saru releases him from custody. This feels like a possibly foolish decision: Why should we trust that L'Rell actually killed Voq, and that Voq might not come back to wreak all kinds of havoc? But it also feels like the most Starfleet decision — one of forgiveness that concludes Tyler, whomever he might be, shouldn't be faulted for Voq's actions. The scene between Tyler and Stamets, which I liked, shows that forgiveness is neither impossible nor simplistic. And the scene where Tilly sits with Tyler in the mess hall is nice — but perhaps a tad overplayed and, yes, simplistic when we see how others then slowly come and join them.

Then, of course, there's the scene where Burnham goes to Tyler (at Tilly's urging) to resolve their relationship. It's a tricky scene and I'm not sure it hits all the right notes, but it made a valiant try considering I never really was on board with the whole Burnham/Tyler romance in the first place. (It worked best in "Into the Forest I Go" when it was based on shared suffering, but I never really felt like the two had much chemistry overall.)

But even when I have doubts about this series, its messy plot and its harried nature and lack of focus, I see a show that reminds me of Star Trek. Part of the problem, I think, is the rush to reverse engineer crazy plot twists comes at the expense of a real narrative that holds together. It makes for a show that's often more fun to watch than to write about.

A few brief thoughts:

  • It's interesting watching the discussion and seeing what blows up about an episode. This week it was Sarek's use of the mind meld on Saru and the questions surrounding consent. To me it was a throwaway moment used to quickly move the plot along and nothing more. I didn't even give it a second thought.
  • We learn the MU Discovery was destroyed by the Klingons shortly after it arrived in the PU. This feels like a complete waste of a promisingly pulpy episode premise. Why have it cross over into the PU in the first place?
  • Georgiou's daring plan is to use the spore drive to jump into Kronos and do something daring. I forget what. A real brilliant military mind wouldn't need a spore drive to carry out a war-winning plan.
  • I refuse to spell Kronos as "Qo'noS" even though the latter is canon. I just won't do it. Too ridiculous, even as apostrophized Klingon spellings go.
  • Saru's stint as captain was brief. Hopefully he's not done for good, but Cornwell takes command of Discovery through most of this episode, and it appears Georgiou will be leading for the season finale.
  • As much ground as this episode tried to cover in getting us back into the war storyline, there's a lot to do in the finale to wrap this season up. I hope the finale is more resolution than cliffhanger, but I don't have high hopes of it being conclusive. We'll see.

Previous episode: What's Past Is Prologue
Next episode: Will You Take My Hand?

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314 comments on this review

Chris
Sun, Feb 4, 2018, 8:30pm (UTC -5)
The CONSTANT cutting to reaction shots of the bridge crew is so annoying, haha. But, this episode actually felt like a Star Trek episode. Lots of character analysis, for once.
Todd
Sun, Feb 4, 2018, 8:35pm (UTC -5)
So the Federation's plan is to turn over command of the Discovery to the leader of a savage parallel universe Empire...and throw its principles and guiding ideals into the nearest garbage chute. I question the writing on a decision like that. As well as the wasted opportunity in deciding the ISS Discovery was destroyed. RIP Captain Killy.
Chrome
Sun, Feb 4, 2018, 8:51pm (UTC -5)
This episode was basically a debriefing of the past few shows. While not intense and gripping like the last few episodes, there were many great character interactions and developments which, as others mentioned, felt more like an older Trek episode. Sarek was great and basically stole every scene he appeared. !MirrorGeorgiou was fun to watch too, and she was cleverly integrated into the Discovery crew with a secret mission.

Speaking of which, any thoughts on what Georgiou’s plan with Starfleet involves? Genocide of the inhabitants of Qo'noS? Would that be enough to stop the war?
Karl Zimmerman
Sun, Feb 4, 2018, 9:03pm (UTC -5)
In some ways I liked this episode a lot more than the last one. It felt more like "Trek" in a lot of ways. The episode actually had a little bit more of the epic/big universe feel at times that the series has been lacking - perhaps in part due to the more extensive use of extras, and in part because we actually learn some things about the war for the first time in what - eight epiodes? Burnham's arc finally seemed to be going somewhere again. And I actually appreciated a slow, talky episode, along with the Archer reference.

Other things, though, were pretty bad. I don't mind dialogue-driven episodes, but as has been the case in the past with Discovery, there is often too much expository dialogue. People just don't talk on this show in the natural way that real human beings do. Also, someone pointed out a few weeks ago that there are no three-way conversations in Discovery, and ever since then it's driven me crazy. It's just dyad after dyad talking in rooms together.

All the Ash stuff felt stupid, even when the emotional beats were okay. At least we heard someone say that he won't be able to serve, Stamets was still livid, and Burnham didn't forgive him (for now), but overall I just hate that it seems like yep, L'Rell did "fix" him somehow. It basically returns him to where he was before - just a fucked-up dude, but for a different reason.

The Klingons winning the war despite being politically divided was just dumb. Yes they have a "killer app" in the form of a cloaking device, but the idea that a politically divided group of 24 houses, which do not coordinate tactics, strategy, or logistics, could put the Federation on the brink of defeat is just ridiculous. As is the mission, for that matter. I'm no military expert, but it's pretty clear no one writing for the series knows how wars are actually fought.

The series seems to me to be heading full speed ahead to a "reset" in the final episode. I say this because it's clear that Starfleet has okayed MU Georgiou to annihilate all life on Qo'noS. We know that won't happen within the context of the Prime Universe, and we know (both from this episode and the clips from next week) that Burnham (and probably others) won't be down with it. But even if they do interfere, and somehow the Federation wins the war, it would result in the main cast being charged with mutiny, thrown out of Starfleet, and no season 2. Hence I think - given spore tanks are back at full - Stamets is going to try and send them back in time - either to just before they left, or maybe even to before the Battle of the Binary Stars.
Mac
Sun, Feb 4, 2018, 9:31pm (UTC -5)
I enjoyed this episode a lot. It's nice to have a slower, more emotional episode that takes time to develop characters after having so many action packed episodes, many of which leaning more on the shallow side. I liked the ending to this episode as well, and Saru is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters in Trek. Michelle Yeoh always does a great job.
Del_Duio
Sun, Feb 4, 2018, 11:04pm (UTC -5)
Some things were good: Saru, Stammets, MU Georgiou, the unexpected twist (again with the twists!) that hey look we found Georgiou she wasn't really eaten to death! But this was a pretty boring episode overall. There just seemed to be like ten things they touched on which doesn't really work in a show that's under an hour but here's my initial takes:

Spores grown via the Genesis device's prototype or whatever. I'm sure they touched on how they were going to grow new spores but this whole thing kind of felt shoehorned in.

MU Emporer is going to use a WMD from inside Q'onos.... A hundred years before Sisko so maybe that's where he got the idea lol.

Ash and Michael: Will they or won't hey?? This subplot was just super boring to me, even though I liked a lot of the whole Ash Tyler setup in the earlier episodes.

--

SMG just can't carry this show. She's painful to watch a lot of the time and here again for most of this one. I watched TNG's "The Enemy" last night and Picard just kills it in that one. THAT is what you need for your main lead, and she's just not near that caliber. Everything about that episode- Tye story, the acting, the characters- smokes this one, minus the visuals but of course in 30 years these will likely be dated too.
Trent
Sun, Feb 4, 2018, 11:11pm (UTC -5)
As someone who's found the preceding 11 episodes of Discovery to be very goofy, manic, dull and generic (I liked the pilots), I found E14 to be the show's best episode. I had a big dumb grin on for most of it. Some of its positives:

1. A beautiful score
2. The camera work, framing and editing are now slow, contemplative, less manic and less reliant upon close-ups and moving swoops. Discovery is a lot less ridiculous when it takes its time and doesn't desperately fight for attention.
3. No more dull Lorca arc and MU goofiness. Whilst the idea of using the MU as a means of commenting on the PU during a time of war is genius, I found this all to be a waste of time and/or shoddily executed.
4. No ridiculous comic book action scenes, but instead lots of contemplative dialogue.
5. Captain Saru is wonderful.
6. Discovery now feels like a Federation ship, with busy corridors, happy crewmen and officers working together.
7. Admiral Cornwell is wonderful here. I would love her becoming a reoccurring cast member.
8. Captain Phillipa is back (okay, she's MU, but we'll take what we can get)
9. Great, ominous uses of silence.
10. The CGI shots of Discovery weren't annoyingly choppy, but graceful and lingering.
11. The franchise's idealism shines through loud and clear.
12. That Ash and Stamets scene really pulls at the heartstrings.
13. Old school, sanctimonious, self-righteous Trek moralizing. Yeah baby. Now shave your head and go cage-fight Abe Lincoln.

Some old negatives remain:

1. There are 2 poor scenes (one with the Empress, one with Ash) here in which Michael's motivations and inner-psychology are explicitly explained. Show, don't tell. This is on-the-nose writing.

2. The Ash/Voq/Michael arc can't help but feel a bit schematic and manipulative and so very forced.

3. The politics of the show continue to be a giant goofy strawman. Debating whether barbaric feudalistic hyper-conservative pseudo-Islamic Trump Klingons should be wiped out or compassionately not wiped out is to miss all the complex socioeconomic causes of these problems, and the complicity of groups like the Federation in their formation. The show's allegory doesn't say anything meaningful about our world beyond the trite platitudes that pass for "progressivism" in US politics. Radicalism is derived from the Latin word "radix" meant "root". Discovery is petrified of real roots.

4. IMO the actress who plays Michael, Sonequa Green, is out classed by everyone around her. It's very distracting. She seems uncomfortable reading science-fiction dialogue.

Anyway, I think this episode points at what Disco can become if it's allowed to be freed of most of its Michael Bay aesthetic and MU/Klingon-war baggage.
WTBA
Sun, Feb 4, 2018, 11:14pm (UTC -5)
Really enjoyed this one, but a slightly lower score (if I were to give one) than the last three.

That Ash/Michael scene just made the episode screech to a halt. SOOO boring and overlong. Glad the episode was nearly 50 minutes, but I'd have taken a couple minutes out of that scene.

Yeoh is knocking it out of the park. Great scenes with Michael, Cornwell, and Sarek.

Loved the Ash in the mess hall scene. Tilly showing a lot of compassion (very Star Trek), and others quick to follow her lead.

Cornwell is still a little dry for me. If she wasn't this way before the nine months passed, I could contribute it to how rough the war has been, but instead the actor seems to just be very stilted. I have read she is good in other stuff. Not sure if it is the writing here.

Hard to see how we wrap up the war in just another 50ish minutes (any chance it is an extended finale a la Doctor Who?).
Trent
Sun, Feb 4, 2018, 11:17pm (UTC -5)
Chrome said: "Speaking of which, any thoughts on what Georgiou’s plan with Starfleet involves? Genocide of the inhabitants of Qo'noS? Would that be enough to stop the war?"

I hope not. I was thinking it has something to do with the Augment Virus (is this canonically possible?).


Trent
Sun, Feb 4, 2018, 11:30pm (UTC -5)
Anyone notice that the season has now become the plot to ST: Into Darkness? Both feature a lead ship on a secret assignment with an experimental drive to the Klingon homeworld to destroy it, complete with an overthrown human emperor secretly recommissioned as a starfleet officer with vast experience in warfare.
Rahul
Sun, Feb 4, 2018, 11:33pm (UTC -5)
Like most DSC episodes, this one was hit and miss but it lays out an interesting plot for taking the war to the Klingons who have decimated Federation territory. Guess it sets up a grand finale with a major conflict on the Klingon home world next week. I'm skeptical that so much faith is being put in Mirror Georgiou's victory over the Klingons in the MU as being the right plan for the PU, but desperate times call for desperate measures, I suppose.

The Burnham/Tyler scene was tedious for me. Yes, they're in fragile emotional states due to not getting what they needed from the relationship ultimately, but to some extent there's an arbitrary nature to it (Tyler's situation in particular given L'Rell "cured" him). And as for Burnham, why does she still say she sees Voq in Tyler? Because he challenged her? And Tyler needs Burnham's love to find his way back? This subplot is a mess and I don't care for it.

Now they're going to regenerate the spore drive with the use of a special moon? Doesn't it need to be dead and gone to get back in line with canon? And the need to jump to a cavern on Qo'noS and mapping it from the inside out is bizarre, not to mention that Stamets is fine to do jumps again. Did we not deal with ethical issues before?

What I did like was some of the common situations the characters face -- like Sarek/Mirror Georgiou as parental figures to Burnham and her respect for them. Yeoh was the most compelling figure in this episode even playing a MU character -- she has a clear purpose and is doing what she can to achieve it.

Good ending scene where we've basically got the Shenzhou recreated on-board Discovery. This coming full circle seemed right even though it's Mirror Georgiou in charge -- maybe Saru gets marginalized again! So this is what Admiral Cornwell wants although what freedom for Mirror Georgiou means is unclear. Liked the Archer reference as the last Federation officer to visit Qo'noS like 100 years ago -- go to keep these little reference bits coming!

2.5 stars for "The War Without, The War Within" -- I'll give DSC credit for coming up with good episode titles (unlike VOY and so many of it's 1-word episode titles). But with 2 episodes to go, this one had to cover a lot of ground and it did an OK job of juggling a number of things. Definitely held my interest except for the Tyler/Burnham scene -- better was his adjusting to life without Voq and the support Tilly and the crew showed him. The overall plot is intriguing, albeit requiring unusual action.
Skwinty
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 12:41am (UTC -5)
Much better than the last episode, but a bit boring.

Tilly has changed. She used to be a goofy, nearly autistic type character, now she acts like a totally average person. I don't know if they just decided to scrap that aspect of her or if it's supposed to show how recent events have affected her or what, but it feels strange to me. I didn't like her much before, to be honest, but now she's just another normal crewperson and nowhere near as interesting.

SMG still can't act.

I did not like the magical terraforming of the mushroom moon. Like Del_Duio said, it seemed shoehorned in. They needed spores, so hey, toss in a cool scene with helicopter agra-transport probe thingies. And if they only had one small mushroom left, how did they use that to launch like 30 probes? And why couldn't they just have done that on a smaller scale in the spore room they have on Discovery? The whole thing seemed sort of silly.

Making Georgiou captain was a terrible decision. I don't buy for one second that anyone would believe she was the PU Georgiou, especially since there was no decent explanation of why she would still be alive, and that they just left the MU, where everyone has a duplicate. Anyone on Discovery with half a brain would realize who she really was.

And why would they hand the captaincy of Discovery over to a megalomaniacal murderer from the MU? Oh wait they already did that once didn't they? I think his name was Lorca, and that worked out great didn't it?

2 stars.
JP
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 1:23am (UTC -5)
The idea of letting a Klingon Manchurian candidate roam the ship free after undergoing an unknown treatment by his Klingon handler/programmer was ABSURD. The crew had no way of knowing that Ash was going to snap in the first place, so there's absolutely no telling when he might snap again. And who's to say that Ash wouldn't be sending secret communiques to the Klingons or otherwise subverting Discovery's mission? What an outrageous risk Saru took by letting Ash run free--and for what benefit?

Stamets' reaction to the murderer of his partner was subdued to the point of absurdity. Stamets should be demanding that Ash be confined to quarters or the brig, but instead, he's somehow satisfied knowing that Ash feels just terrible about what he did! But that absurdity was eclipsed in the mess hall, when Tilly decided that the murderous Klingon spy looked lonely sitting by himself. Ash is not just some misfit who needs a friend: HE'S A GENETICALLY ENGINEERED KLINGON SPY. The Federation is now overrun by Klingons, billions of lives hang in the balance, and they're letting a KLINGON SPY RUN FREE ON THE SHIP AND COZYING UP TO HIM AT DINNER!!!

DOESN'T ANYONE NOTICE THIS?? I FEEL LIKE I'M TAKING CRAZY PILLS!!
Chillyn
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 1:29am (UTC -5)
Yusssss! MU Georgio is my favorite character so far in the series. Sucks the season is over next week. I'm hooked.

Tim
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 1:46am (UTC -5)
@Karl

“As is the mission, for that matter. I'm no military expert, but it's pretty clear no one writing for the series knows how wars are actually fought.”

That was one of my biggest gripes about the Dominion War in DS9. It felt like it was written by someone with a History Channel understanding of World War II. They read the cliff notes but didn’t actually study the political, economic, diplomatic, and strategic realities of Total War. Compound that with the writer’s unwillingness to take genuine storytelling risks (Betazed gets occupied off screen, for an emotional gut punch, but Bajor conveniently gets to play Switzerland and is barely inconvenienced by the conflagration) and I’m meh on the whole war arc, despite standout episodes like “In The Pale Moonlight.”

That being said, I found it more compelling than this. The Klingons are on Earth’s doorstep? Really? We’re supposed to buy that? DS9 never used that trope. TNG only did it once, during the television run, for the infinitely more memorable “Best of Both Worlds.” I don’t know how next week's episode will end but I feel confident predicting that it won't reach the level of “Mr. Worf, fire.”

Sigh.
WTBA
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 2:28am (UTC -5)
@JP Saru said Ash was limited to certain areas and they even put the equivalent of an ankle bracelet on his wrist. As for secret messages, he is likely locked out of the comms and any codes he had as security chief are terminated.
Sure, he is freer than maybe he should have been, but it wasn't total freedom. Also, presumably this Dr. Pollard (was that the woman Saru talked to about Ash's condition?) signed off on it.
Tim C
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 3:14am (UTC -5)
2.5 stars. I miss Jason Isaacs and the intensity he brought to the show. None of the other actors feel commanding in the same way he pulled off, although Michelle Yeoh comes closest, and we're obviously not allowed to keep her forever.

Aside from that, it was nice to be back in the Prime, although as soon as a time jump to a dire future is introduced, we know what's coming, don't we! A good old-fashioned Star Trek Reset Button™. The last time I recall that getting a good push was the ENT season four opener when the Temporal Cold War was deleted from the canon (and good riddance). Here's hoping DSC will similarly use the opportunity to excise elements of the show that haven't clicked.
Ubu Noir
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 3:22am (UTC -5)
SMG is still hideous in the role. All that posing is exhausting.
wolfstar
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 4:43am (UTC -5)
Absolutely solid episode - a full show of meaningful and interesting character interactions. Scene after scene of strong character-based dialog that a) is about character first, plot second and b) when it does move the plot forward, strives to do so in logical and character-based ways rather than arbitrary ways. The spore magic is again iffy, and the last-minute plot setup apparently required for next week's episode of making MU Georgiou captain in the guise of PU Georgiou is a terrible idea... but other than those two apparent plot prerequisites, it's such a refreshingly grounded, mature, character-based hour. Lisa Randolph is this show's saving grace. Good work from Shazad Latif and Jayne Brook too. 3.5.
AR
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 5:17am (UTC -5)
Really liked this episode, a bit more than the last, though that's probably just because well-done setups impress more than somewhat underwhelming conclusions. Loved the character work. Not sure what to think of Georgiou taking command, but it makes sense from her perspective - if she's going to be stuck here, rather than be locked in a cell (or set free to....do what, exactly?), why not impersonate her Prime counterpart like Lorca did, and kill some Klongon scum in the process (and maybe try to jack Discovery to get home)? With the Federations's back to the wall, I'm surprised she didn't ask for even more :D

One thing, even with the Klingon factions either at each others throats -- or at the very least all operating their own separate agendas -- I don't understand why Earth is still standing. Stamets said Starbase 1 was "100AU from Earth", that's what, just outside the Kuiper belt, relatively speaking? If Starfleet doesn't have enough ships to keep their "only remaining sanctuary" safe, that close to their capital planet, how isn't Earth already conquered?

Nitpicks aside, 3 stars.
manolo
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 6:00am (UTC -5)
Aha! So after 14 crappy episodes we finally 'discovered' why all the fuss about "Return to Axanar" xDDD they should be ashamed that a fan could crap better writing (thus having better understanding of the source, and imagination) than "the real deal", damn!
MadManMUC
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 6:04am (UTC -5)
This week on 'Slow-Motion Car Crash Masquerading as Star Trek':

• The Earth's solar system is woefully under-defended. One single Klingon house can take out a starbase just outside the solar system with barely any starships (three? really?) to stop them. And, apparently, with no reinforcements from Earth coming. One can only be thankful Starfleet had learnt its lesson by the time Wolf 359 happened, even if they were on the losing side. At least they had ships to throw at the Borg.

• Miraculously, the Klingon Houses seem to be able to not bother trying to take each other out for control of the Empire, and have it together long enough to take out the Federation instead. Because, well, civil war sucks, and would be a complete waste of resources, and would mean they wouldn't be able to mount a cohesive strategy against Starfleet, am I right? Oh wait, they're not actually united, you say ...

• Turns out terraforming takes no time at all, and Federation starships seem readily equipped for the job (how convenient!). Makes one wonder why there was so much hype around the Genesis Project, 28 years later. Clearly, Dr Carol Marcus & Co were rank amateurs.

• SMG still can't act.

• Neither can the mouth-breather who plays Tyler.

• Their 'romance' is still so painfully written and trite to watch, I want to stab my eyes out with an X-Acto knife.

• Happy to see Stamets got over his BF getting the Worf Neck Snap™ so quickly. Chin up, lad, that's the spirit.

• Captain Lorca was actually a mirror universe terrorist, and he was running the supposedly most important ship in Starfleet? How awful! Terrible! We should see to it nothing like this never happens again! Until ...

• Uh-oh! We're in the shit! Make the mirror universe Georgiou captain of the supposedly most important ship in Starfleet! What a great idea! What could possibly go wrong, right?!

• The utter numpties in the writers' room seem to think dropping references to the second-worst Trek series will lend their own shit-show some legitimacy. How cute.

• You told me there were no Kelpians over there. And then you ate one. That's OK, I forgive you. Lying, betrayal and eating sentient beings happens sometimes. I still love you, you big mutinying, war-starting, Kelpian-eating silly.

• Hi, my name's L'Rell. And I'm a piece of furniture.

• Hey guys! Guys! He's really a Klingon, he killed our doctor, but he's allowed to wander around and stuff, and have lunch with us! Group hug!

Sigh. I fucking hate this show.
manolo
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 6:05am (UTC -5)
Ah! I forgot, now the shrooms aren't just magical speed devices, but also "an advanced system of geophysical imaging". Wow! F**k physics! Right? xD I better started to LOL because I couldn't trust my ears! xDD
manolo
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 6:38am (UTC -5)
@MadManMUC Yeah, pretty much like that lol. That "official" fiction is pretty much unimaginative, like several writers work separate and then bond all the pieces in a cacophony of pure manure seasoned with bad acting. I'm glad I practically get to watch it for free in Netflix, feels like watching any other fanfiction from youtube, but this one worst than anything else!
Mertov
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 8:03am (UTC -5)
Lisa Randolph's second episode as a writer (first was "The Wolf Inside"), and it is the most Star Trek-y episode of the season so far. The episode's primary vehicles are the dialogues and the crew interactions, problem-solving, dealing with an urgent problem, and yet, still push for some strong character-building moments. It was a welcome slow-down after the preceding few high-octane-action and ambitious-mirror-universe episodes. The episode was well-paced despite having almost no action scenes. I never thought one time about Lorca - and I liked the character and Isaacs - for one second during the episode, I didn't miss him. Lisa Randolph should write more episodes.

James Frain (Sarek) and Jayne Brooks (Cornwell) are excellent in this episode in portraying their characters. It also helps that the script offered them great material to work with.

I hope Saru remain captain once this latest mission is over. He fits well into that role. Georgiou should not stay there beyond the resolution of the war, obviously. I love Yeoh but, unlike many others here, I don't find her acting to be five-star since her appearance in the mirror universe (I did, in the first two episodes). She is fantastic in action scenes, but otherwise, maybe playing a vicious character suits her less, I don't know. Also unlike many others, I think Martin-Green acted well in this episode. I really got into it emotionally when she had her scene with Ash (for his part, Latif is "ok"). I find Martin-Green fine in her role. There are a few actresses that could have played it better, but we could say that with a ton of beloved characters/actors in Star Trek, including couple of captains.

I would still like to see Detmer involved in an episode at some point. Coutts acts very well with the very little she is given. She always has a presence and her facial expressions say a lot on the scene. Her character could be given so much more to do in this show as a regular bridge officer who worked on Shenzhou and Discovery in both universes. That is one complaint I will continuously have, until she does.

I am curious to see what Jammer says.
Warrior4Jah
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 8:12am (UTC -5)
Although I find it very interesting to read how others are analyzing, picking apart and (at times rightly so) criticizing this show; I decided to put my thoughts here without first reading through all the comments (I will do so after and the Jammer review too!).

What I did like:
- Actions seems to have consequences on a character level. For example; Stamets and Tyler, this is not done with a simple apology (and how could it). I almost expected Stamets to punch Tyler in the face.
Another example is Tyler vs Michael, will this ever be fixed?
Now the writers can really exploit the issues create there on a character level for the time being. Voyager was one the shows I liked; it was a shame that they didn't write on the tension and the struggle of integrating a Maquis and Starfleet crew.
This can be a disappointment (to me) if they don't develop the characters more.

- Ash walking in the canteen; must have been really awkward for him. I did had to think about Michael when she did that the first time. I decided that for the crew accepting him (instead the bar fight with Michael) was positive. Starfleet ideal; at the same time it seems Tyler has a very uncertain future and I don't expect him to be a Starfleet officer (albeit he will still have a role; specialist Tyler? :P).

- Something I always disliked in the past is that all Starfleet admirals have limited roles and always seems to be idiots. Almost like when you are promoted from Captain to Admiral (ok there must be ranks in between) one is transformed into a tool. Atleast she is not a throw away admiral; I am keen to see what her role will be.

- Georgiou in the captain seat? Did not expect that; I wonder what consequences this has for the crew and Starfleet morality. I also wonder if this is a blessing or a curse.

- Michael Burnham acting seems to have improved (or better then in some other episodes); can't really point out how or what.

- The ship doesn't seem so empty as that it did before. Almost like now Lorca is gone people dare to show up again or some sort of normal duty roster is restored? Or perhaps they realized this themselves.

- The new captain Georgiou with Saru can be very interesting; if I where Saru my threat gangia would be up always next to her (honestly, somehow usually the docters where played by the best actors imho - the actor playing Saru really sells it!). The empress played by the same actor feels like a whole other person, compliments.

Questionable:
- Klingon houses divided? Well I am not sure you can wage a war when you are not united anymore. Perhaps you could reason that the federation would have been conquered in 9 months if they would be organized.

- The reference to Jonathan Archer was nice; but I still don't get why the Klingons don't look like the Klingons from 100 years ago. I am probably a broken record stating that I don't like that. But I made my peace with it. I hope they do keep speaking English (Although in the past I always wondered why any alien would speak English - perfect universal translator aside).

For a discovery episode I would rank this 3.5 out of 4. Compared to some of the better episodes on earlier series I would say 3 out of 4.
Also; I think they need to have another season to really get in groove. Oh and this is just all my opinion and -I might change my views according to what happens more with discovery-.
They (the writers) did some poor things and some good things, sporadically (heh) great things. Thats no different then earlier Startrek series; it has to remain to be seen if doing this different then most other Startreks will help them or hurt them in the mid/long term.

As for some hoping they jumped vastly into the future; Well I would dig that, I am not sure if 150 years in the future would be closer to Picard or Janeway (need to check that) But that would really not help the klingon war story ball they need to pickup. So in that sense I think its a good idea they jumped back around that time. Jumping 150 years in the future will make Discovery influence on the klingon war moot and they just be an anomaly (which opens posibilities to other nice stories).
Del_Duio
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 8:23am (UTC -5)
Oh and can someone please send Tilly some 60 coarse sandpaper and file that potato off her forehead? Damn, it's as distracting as SMG's "acting"

:(
Del_Duio
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 8:27am (UTC -5)
@Mertov-

"The episode was well-paced despite having almost no action scenes. "

Did you not watch the 7 minute long Tyler / Burnham ordeal near the end? God, that was so painful and unnecessary. It totally killed any pacing they had going for them.
Karl Zimmerman
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 8:32am (UTC -5)
Warrior4Jah,

I agree that the *attempts* at character development here are welcome. But at the same time, don't you think it's a little late in the game to be throwing this stuff out there? The next episode has a lot of loose ends to tie up, and will almost certainly be action driven, meaning these arcs will either be aborted (if a reset takes place), be given only lip service, or left hanging until the next season in 2019.
Gul Densho-Ar
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 9:04am (UTC -5)
Not quite sure. On one hand, I liked this episode, a welcome change in pace, and more Star Trek than Star Wars for once.

However, I shared Jammer's recent concerns about how long Discovery wants to--and will be able to--uphold this level of craziness. Turns out it just keeps getting crazier. The plot is just too bonkers for my liking.
Warrior4Jah
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 9:19am (UTC -5)
@Karl Zimmerman,

It is very late indeed. I have to agree with you. I am hoping (and thinking) they will not do a reset.
Actually it feels a bit as we are or should be halfway through the 1st season. That could also mean that the focus of this series is skewed.

My wife made a very interesting remark; there was a drop from the sporedrive touching Tilly. In Aftertrek (which I like to see - even though its one big commercial.. - we should rate those!) one of the writers mentioned we need to wait for season 2 for an explanation/follow up.

This suggest that there is no (full?) reset; but still does not guarantee that the current character issues will be developed futher. The show (we?) deserve that.
It would imho "suck" the most if its given lip service.

Also now I've read though all comments. @Del_Duio.
I also notied that; as it bothered me at first, I think its a good idea not only to have "perfect" people on tv. So I made my peace with that.

On a generaI note; I found Tilly really annoying at the start of the series, now I don't. I hope she does retain some unexpected weirdness. I also think its hard to get into season 2 without a more character focus. We have bridge crew we know very little about (Detmer and Aiream are potentially intersecting) and the development done in this episode; provided they don't indeed dismiss it in the last episode.
Warrior4Jah
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 9:21am (UTC -5)
-intersecting = interesting
Elise Kehle
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 9:23am (UTC -5)
Just a quick line to say that I really like SMG's acting. some of it is just that Trek is more comfortable with the touchy-feely stuff now, so she has more to work with than previous roles have offered, but she's still the accomplished actor playing the most humanized Trek lead to date. My favorite thing about her scene with Tyler though, was her clarification that regardless of his responsibility for Voq's crimes, the first and biggest crime was breaking her trust.

Ash's belief that I MUST DO THIS MYSELF, shared by so many Trek characters, most irritatingly Janeway, finally caught up to him here. His performance of self-sufficiency and independence, Kirkishness kept him from getting help, and contributed to the murder of Dr. Culber. THAT is what makes his crimes possible, and THAT is the part that could have been avoided if he had been less proud. I see this as similar to, but more successful than what was done with Poe Dameron in Last Jedi.
Del_Duio
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 9:25am (UTC -5)
@Warrior:

Yeah, I know sorry that sounds totally shallow but man it's like every light source in the show just makes it cast a shadow worthy of song haha.
Warrior4Jah
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 9:30am (UTC -5)
@Del_Duio,

I didn't say that it didn't bother me anymore after one episode.
It can also be clealy seen om Mary her face in aftertrek :).
They got that continuity aspect right :D
MadManMUC
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 9:34am (UTC -5)
@Warrior4Jah

'drop from the sporedrive touching Tilly. In Aftertrek one of the writers mentioned we need to wait for season 2 for an explanation/follow up.'

Ugh, oh no. They'll probably decide some hitherto unknown all-powerful, malevolent Q-like race actually inhabits Mushroom Land, and it will take possession of her.

Yay us, I can hardly wait.
Mertov
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 9:36am (UTC -5)
Del Duio, I totally understand why to some, like you, that scene may come across dragged-out. I even agree with you to some extent on it. It could have perhaps been a minute or two shorter. At the same time, I saw a deep inner conflict being played out on the part of both characters - Elise touches on it in the above comment - and I appreciated the dialog in which they both tried to express how much that conflict has an impact at a personal level, as well as their inability, as much as they try, to put themselves in the other ones shoe. They are both hurt deeply (Michael by Ash, and Ash more by his own inner confusion leading to despicable acts beyond his control) and it is totally possible that they find themselves at a loss for words to conveyed their inner-conflict in a concise manner to the other person.

I don't believe Latif does very well in scenes like this (he does better when he portrays someone in control of his actions), but I believe Martin-Green portrayed her part very well. But again, I don't totally disagree with you, but that alone is simply not enough for me to change my position that this was a well-paced character-building, dialog-oriented episode.
Trent
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 10:25am (UTC -5)
The fans of previous episodes don't seem to like this one. Lots of people calling it dull. I feel so out of sync with everyone else; I've found all the manic, superheated previous episodes dull, yet enjoyed the lethargic pace of this one. Reminded me of the days when Picard and Riker used to just chill in Ten Forward.

Here's a funny video of Worf to cheer everyone up on gloomy Monday:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMxuEnZavMg
Mertov
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 10:50am (UTC -5)
Trent, I feel out of sync with you then :) because I liked both, previous mirror-universe episodes (except the last one, it was average unless you are big action-scene fan) and this last one. I agree with you on what you say next though. There is no doubt that, like you said (I also expressed a similar view in my first post), this was a more Trek-y episode, as in more reminiscent of, in your words, the "lethargic pace" of some retro Trek.
Worf.. LOL.
Worf's Purple Space Bazooka
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 11:38am (UTC -5)
This episode was okay but it didn't really come anywhere near hitting the highs of the previous two. The walk-and-talk scene between Burnham and Saru in the beginning felt refreshingly old Trek.

I thought for sure that Burnham lying about meeting (and eating) Kelpians in the MU would be a much larger plot point, but apparently not.

Didn't imagine after the 3 pilot episodes that this show would keep my attention, but here I am. It's been a solid (if deeply flawed) first season.
BZ
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 11:50am (UTC -5)
Some thoughts on Georgiou:

Nice to see her back but...

She is treated as a visiting (or exiled?) head of state rather than a prisoner. My gut reaction is that this is wrong, but thinking about it, it actually makes a certain amount of sense.

Doesn't everyone aboard the ship know that Mirror Georgiou is aboard the ship? Was the admiral's declaration about "Captain Georgiou" just a way of saying "this is our cover story if anybody asks"? Or Are we supposed to think some of the crew were not informed?

Why are we trusting Mirror Georgiou any more than we did Mirror Lorca? All it takes is another "Captain's Override" and Georgiou is back in the MU using the most powerful ship to retake the Emperorship. Or does Georgiou not know how to do that since Lorca was intimately familiar with the spore drive? Failing that, she could take command of the weakened Federation and turn it into another empire.

Even forgetting all that, the MU Klingons are not necessarily the same as the PU Klingons. I thought the whole point of the MU resistance planet was that the MU klingons are more reasonable and willing to work with other races to resist the Empire. Michael didn't get anywhere figuring out how to make piece with the Klingons because the MU Klingons are so different. Suddenly Mirror Georgiou is the PU Klingon behavior expert?
AR
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 12:26pm (UTC -5)
As far as I can tell, the only people who know that Georgiou is from the MU are Michael, Saru, the transporter chief that beamed them in (who was sworn to secrecy), Sarek, Adm. Cornwell, and I assume whatever guard was posted outside her quarters. So I'm guessing the rest of the crew will buy the cover story.

Also, to be fair, the MU Klingons may very well have been quite similar to PU, until the Terrans conquered them (do we know from any of the mirror eps when this happened?). I'm not sure if the MU Klingons are 'more reasonable' so much as years/decades of Terran oppression and the...destruction? ("little more than a blackened mass of dust") of MU Qo'noS leaving them with little choice.
BZ
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 12:44pm (UTC -5)
@AR,
We don't know when Terrans conquered the Klingons. And, sure, the Klingons may be similar, but they may not be. Of the most heavily featured mirror species, the humans, Bajorans, and Ferengi are noticeably different. The Vulcans are substantially the same. The DS9-era Klingon-Cardassian alliance seems to portray both species as similar to their PU counterparts, but it's not like anyone would realize this in the era Discovery is set in, especially when the only Klingons they meet in the MU are the rebels.
Marco
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 1:28pm (UTC -5)
New here, so some intro.
I am a late-ish follower of Trek Lore. I am old enough to have been around TOS, but I was in a different country, so never really watched it. My exposure to Trek started with TNG, which remains my standard bearer. Could not get that enthused by DS9 (too dark and brooding). Voyager was ...meh. Enterprise? It had potential at the beginning, but then it got too much "9-11 all the time" so I ended up watching for T'Pol, mostly :). So, what to make of this Discovery thing?

I concur with the main problem: what does this show want to be? I am not overly worried about canon, but I want the show to be TREK, optimistic and forward looking. Is it enjoyable? Yes, the last few episodes were fun, more so that the first half of the season. Let's hope to see some continuity of development. TNG first season did not know what it wanted to be, and it was bad. Let's see if things improve here.
Regarding CBS all access: I use my iPad app, on my home wireless network and with one exception in the first season (I think it was episode three, but I am not sure) streaming has been flawless. But as soon as Discovery closes the season, my subscription will cease.
LJ
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 1:33pm (UTC -5)
I really liked this episode! Gotta agree with others that this one feels more Trek-y and it's good to see that the level of Trek-y-ness on the show only seems to be increasing. Which implies that the thing that gave the show such a different aspect as really Lorca and his MU ways. Like I said before, I'm going to miss Jason Isaacs and I still wish his character hadn't been reduced to a one-dimensional villain in the last episode, BUT if this contributes to the show getting more Trek-y, I'm okay with it.

I did find the spore thing to be lazy written, again, but oh well, it's technobabble and as far as I can recall, technobabble in Trek was always lazy written, with very few exceptions. So it's not such a big deal, to me.

Unlike many others here, I enjoyed the Burnham/Ash thing and I'm glad that, for once, they didn't choose to follow the "love forgives everything" path. For me, it was refreshing to see that Burnham is not so ready to forgive her former lover and for a good reason too. Same goes with Stamets. That scene in the corridor was played out very well, you can see that Stamets is making his best effort not to punch Tyler.

Also unlike many others, I like SMG's acting. Sure, it isn't Sir Patrick Stewart's level of greatness, but I think she does well with the role she's given, i.e., a human raised by Vulcans, with a Vulcan posture but human and very flawed emotions. I also think that her character better definined as being more emotional or more logical, instead of an uncertain mix of the two, would benefit her acting.

As for the final decision of letting a MU character captain the ship, well, it shows how desperate the Federation is to win the war. But then again, they were ready to excuse Lorca's "unorthodox" actions as long as he was winning the war, even though they didn't know he was a Terran, so I suppose the only difference between that situation and this one is that, at least this time, they know this Georgiou is Terran.

Having said that, though, I hope there is more to their plan than just annihilation of Kronos (I don't recall how to write the planet's name "correctly", sorry. :p). So I hope there was a bit of dialogue between Sarek and MU Georgiou that we deliberately didn't get to see, explaining that her plan works out in a way that's less genocidal and more Federation. I guess we'll see. Really good to have more of Michelle Yeoh next week anyways.

3.5/4.0
Dom
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 1:40pm (UTC -5)
@Marco, if you can tolerate Discovery, give DS9 another try. DS9 is nowhere near as "dark and brooding" as Discovery and it's got an amazing cast of characters.
Peter G.
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 1:42pm (UTC -5)
I'm stunned that no one mentioned the most significant moment in the episode, besides of course Darth Georgiou being given command. I'm talking, of course, of the moment of mind-rape perpetrated by "Sarek". I'm putting his name in scare-quotes because that's not something Sarek would ever do, so whoever this character is must be someone else. In ST VI there's a very noteworthy scene of Spock mind-ripping info out of Valeris, and it's portrayed shockingly as a rape, where her betrayal of the entire Federation and the stakes involved are meant to be the backdrop of Spock doing so. However that's a character who, in the same movie, already made the claim that "logic is the beginning of wisdom, but not the end", and this action should be taken within that context. And even so we shouldn't be so sure that what he did was right.

But here we have "Sarek" nonchalantly mind-raping a loyal Starfleet officer for information he probably would have willingly provided anyhow. And no one on the bridge says anything! Must we have more examples of Starfleet's values failing to exist throughout this series? I was flabbergasted when I saw this, even though I've already come to expect little in the morality department from this crew. And it was some justification he gave, too - that in wartime expedient measures are necessary. You know what, if the series had wanted to reboot the Vulcans into being a mercilessly logical people (which makes a kind of sense) then I could see a Vulcan shifting from civil to brutal at the drop of a hat if logic warranted it. But that's the thing - that was not the Vulcans of previous Treks. The Vulcans aren't merely logical, but value peace and IDIC. I'd go as far as to suggest that I think the Vulcans we knew would rather die than become aggressive rapists, and hopefully the Federation in general feels the same way. This is beyond Sisko having criminals abused and keeping his mouth shut about a despicable Romulan senator being assassinated; this is brutally assaulting a Federation citizen and Starfleet captain who did nothing wrong. It's just outrageous. The writers of this show don't have enough understanding of reality to be able to write in responses from the crew to match the action. You can tell what the writing intent was, very easily. They wanted more edgy "this is war!" stuff, where a new hardcore edge shows just how far Starfleet has been pushed. I get it, but in process reality is ignored, the crew - who have missed this 9 months - don't react, and no one speaks of it again after this. In TNG this would have been the subject of the entire episode, whether or not such an action could be justified. Here is happens, no one says anything, then it's forgotten because [plot]. Just wow. It's right up there with what Lorca did to the tardigrade, only worse because here there was no question of Saru's sentience. This is not the Federation we know, and not the Sarek we know.

The only acceptable explanation of what we just saw would be an old theory which I bemoaned but may be the case after all: Star Trek Sliders. Maybe this "PU" isn't the PU after all, but another parallel. I don't see how this Klingon war scenario can possibly lead to the continuity we know anyhow, so maybe it just doesn't. It's sad to think that this whole series is just an etch-a-sketch that gets erased by the end, but maybe that would be better than having to engage in doublethink to accept it as part of the franchise.

Other than this egregious moment in the show I was also mystified by how they had no communications from any Starfleet vessels, then magically Cornwall's ship just appears and they've been boarded all of a sudden. Shouldn't they have been picked up on long-range scanners hours away from Discovery? And wouldn't it have been awfully suspicious if they refused to answer hails, resulting in a red alert? How did they sneak up on the Discovery like that? And especially considering that they subsequently mention that going to warp is dangerous because they could be detected. I just didn't understand what was happening there, like, literally went "huh"? and had no idea what was happening. That's just a bad story-editing mistake, unless I missed something crucial. If so then that's my bad, but if I understood the story correctly then this was a beginner scripting mistake where what happened simply made no sense.

Beyond that, I thought Saru seemed to carry himself well as a captain. My favorite moment of his was a cursory "With me." to Burnham as an instruction that she should walk with him. It was good, as he wasn't trying to establish his authority; he already had it. Also a good amount of screen time was spent on the Tyler situation, which was needed, although to be frank nothing on the subject was said that we didn't know already, so on that score it was somewhat ineffective. The news that Burnham didn't want to go back to him (yet) needed to be told, but I feel like the way it was dealt with gave us a lot of emotional reactions from people (in the mess hall, and from Burnham) but not much discussion about what to actually do about him. Saru, at least, addressed that a little, although I find it highly questionable that Saru has enough information to state definitively that the Tyler persona wasn't responsible at all for what happened. How in the world does he know that? On L'Rell's say-so?

The spore situation seems to have resulted in another arbitrary deus-ex-machina, where the entire sub-plot of losing the spores is now erased by simply writing in that they can make news ones any time they want. Then what was the point of making a big deal about losing the last crop? It was irrelevant, of course, because [plot] always trumps [unsolvable problem]. Painting themselves into a corner and then making up some crap to magically fix it was exactly the MO of both LOST and Fringe.

Speaking of which, I've been thinking about what I wrote in a previous post about this being Fringe 2.0, and the more I thought about it the more I realized that Discovery hits all the same notes and makes the same moves as Fringe. The stories are very similar as well in some respects, including that they both involve a broken or sullied main character who is otherwise a genius (Walter, and now Burnham) who needs to be given a chance to prove themselves again, and involves cross-overs into the alternate universe where much hay is made out of the comparisons between the prime and alternate versions, culminating in certain people switching universes to have hijinx in the other universe. The main casts of each are also both crack science teams that come up with techniques far in advance of the rest of the world at that time, which in both shows becomes an exercise in science fantasy (as some other posters have put it) and magic, for all intents and purposes. Oh, and wasn't there something in Fringe about preventing the apocalypse as well? I forget that detail, but I think there was. Kurtzman certainly knows how to reboot his material.

Another thing Fringe and Discovery have in common is that both are essentially chamber pieces, using very few characters and always having stories revolve around them. In engineering any scene we see will necessarily involve only Stamets and Tilly, and no one else, even though she's still a cadet and this is a science ship. Any scene to do with command will involve Saru and maybe one other person. There are no senior staff meetings, no recurring secondary characters (Voyager syndrome), and no familiar faces other than the main crew. There's no O'Brien on this ship, or a Dr. Selar, or even a Naomi Wildman. Do the producers have a budget problem or something? It's very weird. Maybe the writers just don't know how to write in new characters, but it's more likely they're not allowed to. There's no guest actor of the week, no Sonia Gomez to spill coffee on Picard, nothing. Now this is still S1 so maybe it's best to compare this only to S1 of the other series; but then again why should we? Don't they have enough Trek under their belts to know how to do it right out of the gate by now?

Gotta agree with a recent post that the show is really suggesting why they went hardcore after Axanar and had it canned. It's pretty clear they chose to purloin that story from them and tell it themselves. I guess we'll see how they do it, since as of now it looks like "Discovery saves the day" will be the mechanism they use to turn the tide of the war, rather than a heroic captain learning the Klingon's methods and out-thinking them (which was the direction Axanar was going to take).

The one thing I'll say about the plan to teleport into Kronos is that at least they're acknowledging the god-power they have with a drive like this. I mean they can do even better than this, right? They could teleport right into the high council chambers and torpedo the high council; they could teleport inside any shipyard, blow it up, then vanish; they could teleport inside a Borg ship, steal a transwarp coil, and rule the universe with it; well, you get the idea. This tech has to be eliminated pronto, because as of now the entire story has been hinging on it every episode and it's enough with the [plot] details that all state whether they can or can't use the Ultimate Weapon in a given moment. The reasons why they can or not are so arbitrary that the plot isn't ever allowed to just flow in a logical direction. It's always crazy twists and turns, and usually to do with Stamets or the drive. You might as well tell me the magic wand is 'out of charges' and then later say it's 'been refilled'. Whatever, it would play much the same way.

Still can't get over that mind-rape, though. I bet you it's never brought up again, either.

Chrome
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 2:00pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

As awful as it looked in TUC, I don't think Spock mind-melding Valeris was supposed to be considered rape within the context of the film. Yes, it looked painful, but that's only because Valeris was actively struggling to fight the mindmeld. Any struggle against confinement is going to hurt. If you're put handcuffs and start to struggle, they will chafe your skin and begin to hurt too. Some mentally unstable prisoners even need special cuffs to make sure their wrists don't bleed from the struggle.

And in this episode, the context of the mindmeld it's completely different. Saru has nothing to hide from Sarek and gives his thoughts freely. The mindmeld is understandable, even from Saru's point of view, considering how unbelievable it is that the Discovery could magically reappear after being vanishing months ago. And since Saru did not fight the mindmeld, it didn't look painful like Valeris's mindmeld. I might grant that it's a little invasive, but being put into custody with shackles, then a holding cell for necessary questioning would be invasive in its own right.

Then you have to consider that there were Klingon ships rampant in the sector and time was of the essence. Seems logical enough for Sarek to do, to me.
Plain Simple
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 2:04pm (UTC -5)
Sharing my first thoughts after watching, without having read the posts above. I'll catch up eventually.

This episode started off good. I was enjoying the interactions of Saru with Burnham and Saru with Tyler; one of the first scenes I can remember where I actually started to appreciate Tyler as a character. And then they turned Sarek into a rapist. Great. Thank you very much DSC, that was exactly what we wanted out of a beloved Trek character. Couldn't they have put a line in with Sarek asking Saru if he would be okay with a mind meld? No, just invade his mind without permission and don't even make a thing of it afterwards. I had hoped they would've learned from the backlash to Troi being used this way on TNG.

The rest of the episode I actually quite liked, even though (or perhaps because) it was just a transitory episode between last week's action and what I suspect will be more wall-to-wall action again next week. Perhaps I just like setup episodes. I liked the 3rd MU episode (with Gergiou and Burnham talking a lot) better than the 4th non-stop action one as well.

So, here we go. The good, the bad, and the Discovery again.


The good:

-More crew interactions. The scene with Tyler in the mess hall was nice, if a bit schmaltzy.

-Even L'rell's scenes were decent this week. Not the highlight in any way, but decent.

-We are done with Tyler-Burnham. At least, I hope we are. That relationship never felt real to me.


The bad:

-Well, I mentioned the big one above at the start of my post. That is a rather big one which casts a shadow over the whole episode for me.

-Sarek's "love is wonderful" speech felt a bit strange, coming from a Vulcan. I guess he's always been a strange one, marrying a human and all, but still... I'm not sure what to make of it.

-There was a particular little moment that took me out of the story. The Disco arrives at the destroyed star base. The admiral is in shock. Saru orders the Disco "out of there at maximum warp" (or something to that effect), but, importantly, doesn't give a course where to go. Then the admiral regains her composure a little and when Saru asks what her orders are, she says "maintain course, we're meeting Command". What course? They were just fleeing. How does she know the current course is the right one. I know, a really silly little thing, but it did take me completely out of the story at that point, because it felt written, not real.

-Another odd bit of dialogue was within the span of a few minutes Sarek and Cornwell both saying the exact same line; something like "the resemblance is striking". Perhaps it was just the delivery of the line when the admiral said it. If she had put the emphasis on "is", to stress to Sarek that he was correct, it would've felt less out of place. Now it just sounded to me as if the writers couldn't come up with two different lines for the scene.


The Discovery (long term consequences of this episode):

-DSC is doing its utmost not to take all the opportunities they provide themselves to get the spore drive out of the picture. Now there is suddenly a whole planet of the spores (fun fact: if you look back at last week's episode when the green spore lands on Tilly you can see her mouth the words "take your stinking green light off me you damn dirty spore"; also, not so much fact).

-I hope they end the Klingon war next week. I just don't feel the tension. We know earth is not going to fall to the Klingons. We know the Federation (or the Klingons) won't be wiped out. I hope they'll find a satisfying way to round it all up next week.
Plain Simple
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 2:05pm (UTC -5)
One more in the "good" column. Tilly's comment about how Tyler will turn out the way they treat him going forward. Nice Trekkian message there.
LJ
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 2:06pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

Maybe it's just me, but I always saw Vulcans as they are being represented in DSC, i.e., as beings that rely extremely on logic, whose respect for the IDIC philosophy is more lip-service than action, and with that come out as haughty and self-important. Especially the character of Sarek, which was shown to be racist in relation to Tellarites, a terrible father to Spock and totally patronising towards his wife, all of this in the very first time we see him, in Journey to Babel. Spock isn't like this because he's half human, but that's the way I see most Vulcans.

Also, if I recall well, CBS didn't have any issues with Axanar until its producers started to selling their stuff and making lots of money using the Star Trek brand, which in hindsight was shortsighted of these producers not to expect CBS to be mad at copyright and licencing issues. I think people overestimate Axanar anyways. We never got to see the whole thing, just that Prelude to Axanar Video, that although well-acted (for a fan production) is also really boring, in my opinion.
Tim
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 2:09pm (UTC -5)
"Still can't get over that mind-rape, though. I bet you it's never brought up again, either."

Or:

1. The throwaway line in the third episode about the Federation using penal labor to mine dilithium. Come again???

2. The enslavement of the tardigrade, "Crack it open if you have to."

3. Michael flipping her weapon from stun to kill and murdering the man she was supposed to capture, alive, in order to avoid a war, thus starting said war. Double fail here.

Star Trek: In Name Only
LJ
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 2:17pm (UTC -5)
@Plain Simple

As I understood it, in that scene Cornwell was still so in shock that she didn't process Saru's words before and thought they were on a defined course, hence her ordering them to "continue on the same course". Her words deliberately didn't make sense, to show how shocked she was.

And as I said above, maybe it's just me, but I don't think of Sarek as being "one of the most loved characters of Trek". In my opinion he was always portrayed as a dickish character. But again, maybe it's just me.
Peter G.
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 2:48pm (UTC -5)
@ LJ,

"And as I said above, maybe it's just me, but I don't think of Sarek as being "one of the most loved characters of Trek". In my opinion he was always portrayed as a dickish character. But again, maybe it's just me."

I think it's just you. LIke all Vulcans, he says what he's thinking, which doesn't always sound 'nice' to someone looking to be complimented. He was never racist towards Tellarites, for instance, even though in Journey to Babel he says things to them very bluntly that offends them. But their reaction there is perhaps similar to what yours is: he's saying this [not nice] thing, what an asshole! But that implies a motive of some kind to either harm them, or to otherwise take no care not to harm them, and I think that's not in evidence. The whole difficulty of a race that lives a life of pure logic is that they don't see some facts as being better or worse than others: truth is truth. We should only live up to that example. So for a Vulcan to tell a truth that hurts someone's feelings, well, from the Vulcan point of view, the fault is in the individual who values their ego more than the truth. All Sarek did was recite facts to the Tellarites about their species. That's not racism, any more than it would be racist for him to have said that humans are weaker than Vulcans or have rounder ears.

One thing we do know about Sarek is that he's supposed to be an upright, honorable person, worthy of representing the entire Federation as an embassador, and stubborn in his convictions to a fault. He'd rather be estranged from his own son than to compromise what he sees as his principles. In this, Picard and he seemed to find something in common, and I think their meld was meant to portray them as being two-of-a-kind in some sense. I don't think Sarek is mean to be seen as 'diskish' any more than Picard is, although both of them can certainly be set in their ways. The Sarek we know, so principled that he won't bend at all, isn't consistent with mind-rape Sarek who will change his ethics to suit the needs of expediency, nor is it consistent (although this part was less of a violation and more of a facepalm moment) with him explicitly valuing love and speaking of that aloud to people. Later on, in Journey to Babel, he goes on to explain his union with Amanda as having been "the logical thing to do", which should only go to show that whatever he feels deep down, he would never come out and say something so un-Vulcan. Tuvok would surely react to such a statement with an eyebrow raise, and Spock might even rise to give the good old double eyebrow raise.
Dom
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 3:15pm (UTC -5)
First of all, Katharine Trendacosta at io9 is killing it with her Discovery reviews. She's really excellent at identifying the problems in each episode (and occasional bright spots). Definitely worth a read:

https://io9.gizmodo.com/on-star-trek-discovery-the-federation-takes-burnhams-1822725496

This line is for me the biggest problem with the show so far:

"But the important thing in this show is always the effect this stuff has on Burnham, not anyone else."

Burnham isn't a particularly interesting character. Fine, whatever. But what really has bugged me is how the show sometimes sabotages the plot, other characters, and logic to get where it's going with Burnham. It's also kind of tiring that she's always the one who saves the day. This show has a good ensemble, use it! Let one of the episodes focus on Tilly or Stammets or Saru.
alongtimetrekkie
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 3:29pm (UTC -5)
Whew... finally, an episode that doesn't start with people pointing guns at each other (at least as I recall it). Just having a breather from all the violence was refreshing. Moments of compassion! Tilley talking to Ash in the mess hall! People smiling and greeting him! Thank *goodness*.

I think I've finally figured out (for myself, anyway) why this show has been failing: it takes itself all too seriously. If you're going to go full out interstellar warfare, with the immediate risk of Earth being wiped out and even the multiverse destroyed, you had better have the storytelling skill to live up to it. Jules Verne, PK Dick or Spielberg would even have trouble with stakes that high, stakes like secretly beaming *into* the Klingon homeworld with a constitution class starship. STDisco never relents, never cracks a joke or throws in some sly subtext about its own absurdities or contradictions. Scenes that are simply *calm* provide relief just because they are.

Contrast Picard: he was always musing about his own mistakes, imperfections, lack of knowledge. Not all this posturing about being the Alpha in the room. He was Alpha by not trying to be Alpha. Even in TOS, the cheesiness and joking served to allow us to step back and say, "this whole project is absurd" (universal translators? human teleporters? aliens that look a whole lot like humans?). That made it relatable.

Lorca, Michelle Yeoh (both of them), Michael, even Sarek (!), they constantly seem to be trying to prove themselves. Tilly is the one beacon of humor here, along with Saru on occasion. What's interesting is that Tilly was the character that seemed most out of place in the first episodes of the season (which feel like a year ago now).

People wonder why many The Orville fans are so proud of their show and critical of STDisco. That's because they've figured this out. Star Trek doesn't work without a sense of humor. It doesn't have to be slapstick and gross-out humor like the Orville. But *something* subversive, self-effacing, not-so-damn-serious has to be there, in order for the Star Trek universe to work as successful fiction.
glendenb
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 4:24pm (UTC -5)
FWIW, my guess is the season comes full circle; episode one started with Michael Burnham betraying Georgiou and starting the war; my guess is it ends with her betraying MU Georgiou and somehow ending the war.

My instincts tells me we haven't seen the end of Lorca, the actor and character is simply too interesting to let him go. Much as adore Michelle Yeoh, I the Georgiou character is not long for this world (either she gets back to the Mirror Universe or gets good and killed as a result of Burnham's actions).

I love the serialized nature of the story telling but they need to ease off the constant dramatic revelations, turns of fate and reversals. It would be smart to toss in an episode or two that doesn't connect to the larger story arc; give us as viewers a chance to catch our breath.
Akkal
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 6:04pm (UTC -5)
I loved this episode! Easily four stars from me. Captivating dialogue, nice "spore-regrowing" scene, among other things. Some scenes nearly brought a tear to my eyes.

The only thing that made me question this episode is why Discovery wasn't spotted and attacked by the klingons, considering the vast prescence the klingons seem to have all around. I guess that's to come in the next episode.
Paulus Marius
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 1:09am (UTC -5)
I also thought this was a great episode. It scored very high on the Trek-o-meter for reasons others have outlined above. I found the slow pacing very appealing. I found the Ash/Burnham scene not only necessary - but great. (Not perfect, but definitely great.)

Characters were true to themselves. The music was fantastic. The ship almost lovingly shot. The spore terraforming scene was high on the Trek values many have been pining for: exploration, wonder, possibility.

I find I am less and less interested in questions of canon as time goes by, despite having been a pedantic nitpicker about them when TNG and DS9 first aired. I think this has made me a happier Star Trek fan.

I felt that any flaws to be found in this episode directly relate to flaws from other episodes. From where I'm sitting now, it might just be my favourite of the series so far. It left me with that Trekky feeling, y'know? But Jammer's persuasive, so I look forward to hearing what he has to say....
Brian
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 1:13am (UTC -5)
I really wanted to like this episode more than I actually did. After first viewing, I was impressed with how the script felt much better than the last few, how they were finally listening to feedback and incorporating more character scenes, and showing more of the crew. The pacing was slowed, and the impact was overall positive. Lisa Randolph has an extensive resume of TV writing and it's obvious she has experience with pacing a show--something many of the STD writers have struggled with this season. The Discovery suddenly feels more "starship-like" than ever before, showing how far a few simple scenes with extras, or an exterior shot of the cargo/shuttle bay, can go towards creating a sense of place and atmosphere.

Which is partly why I was so unexpectedly disappointed this week. They made great quality of life improvements and up until the last 15 minutes the show had good momentum, so why did this episode of Discovery fall flat yet again for the umpteenth time? Once again, the show is sinking under its own weight, the weight coming in the form of baggage left over from the early part of the season. Baggage which would have been long forgotten if the show was not so thoroughly addicted to serialization. The Ash/Burnham sub-plot comes back from the dead, and after a pleasant hiatus during the MU arc, we are treated to a yet another dyad scene where Ash and Burnham tell us how they are feeling. The scene drags on forever. I don't blame Latif or Martin-Greene--they really tried their best with the script they were handed, but there were just too many words. They could have handled this scene--what should have been a real climax in their arc--with sensitivity and subtlety. What transpired in this scene could have been delivered in complete silence or with minimal words, in about 1-2 minutes. Hell, in the hands of extremely capable actors this scene could have been accomplished with Ash and Burnham passing each other in the hall with just a look and a response. Instead we got what has unfortunately become par for the series--bloated scenes that fail to deliver. This one came off like a checkbox despite their valiant attempt to sell it.

Second reason--the acting. One can't help but notice, a vast majority of these failed scenes feature SMG in some way. There is just something not right about how she is playing her character and it's enough to make one doubt her abilities as an actress. It's difficult to tell as a viewer what the true problem is, as they've handed her a fairly difficult task in trying to play a vulcan human hybrid. I can say that Tim Russ came across as more comfortable in his role during the pilot episode of Voyager, than SMG does by nearly the end of season 1, and that is a big problem for the show. My inner "cynic" imagines a casting where she was picked not for her acting abilities, but because she was black and female. Now I realize that isn't politically correct of me to say, but her lackluster performance sort of forces me to go there. Beyond SMG, there is variable talent, but it's pretty hard to tell who's good when only a few characters ever get to be in the story. Cornwell (Jayne Brook) delivers her lines in the most awkward way, she really seems uncomfortable on the set also. Latif does an adequate job and gets stars for effort. I think if he got better scripts he could do really well. Probably the only cast member who has been consistently excellent is Michelle Yeoh. Compared this cast to TNG and it's just no comparison--Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner. These guys carried the show through the first season of horrible scripts and if it was not for the excellent cast I'm fairly certain the show would have tanked.

The third item dragging this show into the ground is the spore drive. And it's not even that I have an issue with the science or lack-there-of. It's not a bad idea and I do find it interesting. What I take issue with is how it is used in the show, or should I say over-used. Someone else alluded to this in their review--it's used essentially as a magic wand to take the Discovery anywhere, anytime, and do anything. Sure, it can get you stuck in the Mirror Universe, or maybe kill Stamets. But somehow, the writers always seem to find a way out and suddenly the spore drive is a good idea again. It's like a wild card or a magic box that anything can pop out of at any time---risky yet somehow always ends up being essential to drive the story forward. This time, used to initiate an extremely silly side-plot involving the propagation of a new crop of spores on a random moon. Every time it comes up it's like "Ahh, the spore drive--what insane development in the plot will it enable next?" It's one of those things that would have made a great standalone episode in TNG, or even a two-parter, then everyone realizes it isn't safe or sustainable and the technology is shelved, but then next season it's pulled out again for a reunion, and so on. Something that comes up like once or twice a season, sort of like Q. And in essence, that's what the spore drive is. It's a Q. Q was fun in TNG because nobody controlled him. And that's why the spore-drive isn't much fun. Discovery has too much control over it. Way too much control to be believable or immersive. For example, it would be far more entertaining if the mycelial network contained entities that you had to negotiate with in order to use the network, ala the wormhole in DS9. That's not to say DS9 didn't mine the wormhole for all it was worth in terms of plot development. They sure did. But I liked how very early in the show, they did set up some lore to explain it, spent a few episodes very deep in that lore actually, and came out the other side with a plot device that was far more realistic and immersive. And it was limited, it went from one place to another and that was it, which ended up making DS9 feel very significant because of that limitation.

So, for me 2 stars. I appreciate the slower pacing, lack of meaningless action scenes in this one, but the episode inevitably had to carry the series baggage forward. They waited until the last 10 minutes to do it, but it eventually came and it continues to weigh quite a bit. The absolute best thing they could do for the next episode is drop some of it.
Markus
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 1:44am (UTC -5)
@MadManMUC:
Could't agree more with your well-reasoned rant...

Although I must confess this was one of the best episode this season so far in the sense of "watchable without feeling ashamed". If it were just a guilty pleasure as watching StarTrek once was... The show is just awkward as a whole.
Plain Simple
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 3:47am (UTC -5)
@Peter G.: "I'm stunned that no one mentioned the most significant moment in the episode, besides of course Darth Georgiou being given command. I'm talking, of course, of the moment of mind-rape perpetrated by "Sarek"."

After posting my first comments above (which I did without reading others' earlier comments first), I went back and read through all the earlier posts, expecting this issue to be heavily discussed. I was very surprised when it wasn't and started wondering if I had somehow misinterpreted that scene completely. I don't think I did. Sarek did force himself into Saru's mind without permission. I was glad to read your post and see that someone else was troubled by this.


@LJ: "As I understood it, in that scene Cornwell was still so in shock that she didn't process Saru's words before and thought they were on a defined course, hence her ordering them to "continue on the same course". Her words deliberately didn't make sense, to show how shocked she was."

Perhaps. That's not how it played to me, but it might have been how it was intended. Maybe if the scene had ended with Saru saying "lay in a course for ...", I would've taken it in the way you describe it.


@LJ: "And as I said above, maybe it's just me, but I don't think of Sarek as being "one of the most loved characters of Trek". In my opinion he was always portrayed as a dickish character. But again, maybe it's just me."

A didn't write "one of the most loved characters", but "a beloved character". Either way though, that's besides the point. The point is that the episode didn't make anything of that scene. It was not presented, discussed, and denounced for the violation it was. It just happened, no one protested, and we're done. And there was absolutely no good reason for it. I understand that they want to use the mind meld as a way to bring characters up to speed with the story, without the need for exposition scenes, but Sarek could've just asked Saru if he could mindmeld with him. If Saru had said yes, then there wouldn't have been a problem. If he had said no (and why would the writers have him do that?) perhaps it would've been clearer to the the writers and the people on the bridge why it would be a problem if Sarek went ahead with it anyway.


@Brian: "After first viewing, I was impressed with how the script felt much better than the last few, how they were finally listening to feedback and incorporating more character scenes, and showing more of the crew."

I'm not sure which feedback you are referring to, but I seem to remember in one of the early episodes of After Trek (I only watched a couple of those; they really grated on me; too bad, I'd love to see some honest conversations with the people involved with this show) they had some people from the show on as guests and they said they were in the process of filming episode 13 or 15 (if my memory serves) at that time. So when we started watching DSC, they were pretty much done filming all episodes, so there wasn't really any time to incorporate external feedback into the show. Now, they probably had internal test screenings and the like, perhaps that's the feedback you mean?
Plain Simple
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 3:49am (UTC -5)
Sorry, "A didn't write" in my post above should of course have been "I didn't write". (But I didn't write "I didn't write" as I wrote "A didn't write".) Always fun, post-proofread error spotting.
Alan
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 4:14am (UTC -5)
Does it strike anyone else as odd that each episode is written by a different writer? Or does this explain perfectly the direction of the series so far? There's a collaborative writing experiment in which I have participated where one person writes a chapter or section of fiction, and another writer follows on with the next chapter. Naturally, each chapter becomes more absurd and extreme than the last because you don't know what the previous writer was thinking or where they were planning to go with the narrative. The plot of Discovery seems to suffer from this syndrome. For example, first the spores were introduced as a method of travel, then they were a means to go to other universes, then a vaguely-drawn mindscape in the vein of The Nexus, then a power source which when destroyed kills all life everywhere. I don't know how much the Discovery writers actually collaborate, but this is the kind of writing that kids would come up with if you got them together to brainstorm for ideas, each trying to outdo the other in the awesomeness department.
Genga
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 6:48am (UTC -5)
Again, I enjoyed the first half of this episode massively, the second fell off a little.

Positives

- The longer we keep Michelle Yeoh the better, she brings something to the show that many others can't

- Tilly and Tyler's scene was very trekkian

- Captain Saru is fantastic, and it's nice to see a little more crew interaction

- I'm interested to see what they do, to sum up this war, imo it's getting exciting and hopefully, they don't fudge it up

- I really felt Cornwell did a good job in this episode, especially the scene where Starbase 1 is destroyed, that moment of silence very effective

- Sarek also put in a good performance

- People are saying here that Stamets has forgiven Tyler, I'm not assured of that, we shall see. I hope that don't just forget that happened

Negatives

- SMG and Tyler - I am pleased they didn't just forgive each other, and they left it in the right place but boy did that scene drag on.

- I really thought, no spore supply left, the destruction of that spore energy thing, could this be a plot device to get rid of the device? no, yet again they are re-used. This bugs me how many times is this spore drive going to save them or constantly be the same plot device. It would just be nice to have something fresh.

- I miss Issacs, this is something I'm unsure of should his name still be in the acting credits? If the character is really gone do they not take that out. I am unsure.

Ed
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 7:46am (UTC -5)
@Genga

Great post! I'm also a big fan of Georgiou, Saru, and this episode's increased character interaction. If anything there was too much....I won't say too much content, but too much POTENTIAL content for one episode. The crew adapting to the near total defeat of the Federation, Tyler trying to fit in again, Georgiou dealing with her loss of power, etc.




Dom
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 7:49am (UTC -5)
@Brian, I agree with a lot of what you said. That Burnham-Tyler seems out of place, feels like it had potential but didn't quite hit the mark. I do think, as you pointed out, part of the problem with this show is how its serialized. A scene in which Burnham confronts Tyler would have been a perfect ending a few episodes ago when the Ash-Voq subplot was front and center. If we'd spent an episode watching Ash try to overcome Voq, only for it to end with Burnham giving up on him, that could have been a great emotional climax to an episode. Instead, the scene is dumped in the middle of an episode that isn't structured around the Ash subplot. It's a coda to a something we haven't really felt invested in for a few weeks. Granted, there are other important moments with Ash in this episode, like his scene with Tilly, but the Ash-Burnham scene felt like something the writers had to stick into the show just to make sure they addressed the issue rather than because it made sense for the story they're trying to tell in this episode. I actually think this is a larger problem with the show.

It feels like the show is going from plot point to plot point rather than telling a story organically. Episodes check off a bunch of plot points rather than making each episode an intellectually or satisfying emotional experience. Beats from subplots are picked up episodes later when they lose some of their impact. If nothing else, Discovery has helped me appreciate why I prefer episodic or semi-serialized TV over heavily serialized TV.
MadManMUC
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 9:11am (UTC -5)
Cinema Blend is putting forth the theory that Burnham might actually get killed off:

https://www.cinemablend.com/television/2307291/is-star-trek-discovery-planning-to-kill-off-michael-burnham

We could only be so lucky.
Lobster Johnson
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 9:24am (UTC -5)
@Genga

"- I miss Issacs, this is something I'm unsure of should his name still be in the acting credits? If the character is really gone do they not take that out. I am unsure."

He's a series regular so he gets credited in episodes he does not appear in for the whole season per SAG rules, Isaacs and the other Discovery regulars also were credited in the first 2 episodes despite not appearing.
KT
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 9:32am (UTC -5)
I remain puzzled as to why the creators of Discovery decided to base this series on the Klingon war, DS9 did much better with its representation of war. Also I do not like that this episode has contradicted what was said in DS9 s07e20 "The Changing Face of Evil" when Klingon General Martok remarked admiringly about the Breen's attack on Earth, saying "even my people never attempted that.". And yet here it is; Earth is in jeopardy from an imminent Klingon attack!

Also just wanted to add that by the time I got around to watching the DS9 war seasons I had already seen 'Insurrection' and so I knew that while the federation death toll was high, they did 'win' the war. But even whilst knowing this I experienced anxiety when the death toll of thousands were announced each week. I cared about /that/ Federation, I don't about this one but I can't put my finger on why. I guess it's due to the stupid plot driven, contrived writing which brings me out of myself when watching these episodes. To the people who are enjoying this series; have you seen DS9 in its entirety? how does it compare in your opinion?

Also did Starbase 1 look like a Federation/Starfleet base to you? IMHO It was not reminiscent of anything we'd seen previously near Earth, instead, to my eyes it seemed like a Cardassian and Klingon-esque architecture base. Perfect for the 23rd Century MU Klingon-Cardassian alliance! but not for a UFP starbase IMO!

@Genga
Yes the Cornwell and Emperor scenes were bad-ass and/or effective and well written, e.g. "I am stronger than [my PU counterpart]"; this is a concise and understated way of revealing the psyche of Terrans without verbose ramblings about feelings and hopes and dreams etc. it is a shame about all the rest of the ep. which is still heavy in weird exposition and weirder spore drive developments.

@Peter G @Plain Simple about the mind meld
Saru seemed startled (and also in some slight discomfort) but ultimately he didn't object or resist. He had nothing to hide and did not mind the meld. So neither should you; 'Rape' is a subjective experience and Saru is the subject, not you.

@Alan
"this is the kind of writing that kids would come up with if you got them together to brainstorm for ideas, each trying to outdo the other in the awesomeness department."

I totally agree, this would explain the bonkers crazy of the overall plot and spore drive shenanigans.

@all the ppl still hoping Issacs will return
IMHO Murca was just a high concept hook to reel in the average joe sci-fi action pundit, also it is unlikely ST can afford Issacs for much longer anyway. Also he has said in interview he is not interested in playing a poor imitation of a Kirk or Picard; he generally plays bad guys.

@Brain who said "My inner "cynic" imagines a casting where she was picked not for her acting abilities, but because she was black and female. Now I realize that isn't politically correct of me to say, but her lackluster performance sort of forces me to go there."

I once wondered about this too, but I have since heard that Christina Moses was amongst many 'black' actresses who auditioned for the role so it's not like they did not have any other choices. Also I've read many reviews and there seems to be a certain group of people who buy into and/or like SMG's acting. So I think we may be part of a vocal minority on this point. I am glad about this because the better this series does the more likely we'll get another one; I am hoping I will like the next one better. Hopefully it is set in the 27th C or something!

@About the idea that the Federation couldn't win this war w/o MU help; I'm not so sure that's the takeaway here. While Murca demonstrated many gray errors, not all his tactics benefited the war e.g. his pushing Landry's buttons got her killed. Burnham's efforts to investigate the nature of the Tardigrade, despite Lorca, lead to successful first jump. There are many examples where Discovery's achievements were despite Murca not because of him. Also it is reasonable to conclude that Klingons would not have been able to occupy 20% of Federation space and decimate third of the fleet if Lorca hadn't sidelined UFP's vital asset i.e. Discovery. So had the switches with MU not happened, the UFP council would not have to resort to such drastic measures now. And if getting MU input now, helps the war, it's only fair IMO.
Todd
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 9:34am (UTC -5)
@Dom I feel like the writers have passed up one storytelling opportunity after another with this show... Spending pointless time with L'Rell and Voq in the early going was painful and boring. Spending time with Ash Tyler's whining now is just boring. I don't care about his romance with Burnham, his feelings or anything else about him. In a real world, he would be under arrest and facing trial for murder. That's it.

Meanwhile, the writers set up the ISS Discovery with Captain Killy and never let us see it. An episode of what they were doing in the Alpha Quadrant would have been interesting. Having the USS Discovery have to hunt them down to stop them from whatever would have been interesting (and would have offered a better use of the emperor character than stupidly giving her command of a Federation starship).

I feel like the writers of this show are amateurs who don't really know how to tell a coherent story. And I don't care anymore. There are far better things to watch.
Genga
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 9:39am (UTC -5)
@Lobster Johnson

Thanks for the info!

@Ed

I think they are in a bit of a rush to get everything moving for the finale, so they really packed it in. One of the disadvantages of a serialized trek! Very difficult to pace
Dom
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 9:56am (UTC -5)
@Todd, I agree, it all feels rather... slapdash. A bunch of "kewl" ideas thrown together without much purpose or meaning. It almost feels like they're rushing through stuff because they're not sure if they'll get a second season (even though we already know Season 2 has been announced). The show isn't giving us the time to really care about any of this. Ash and Burnham were a couple for maybe a week before his Vox personality took over? I barely had time to see them in a relationship before the show took it away.
Del_Duio
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 10:20am (UTC -5)
@Warrior:

"They got that continuity aspect right :D"

HAHAHAH!!
You sir, are alllllright!
Del_Duio
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 10:30am (UTC -5)
@LJ:

"And as I said above, maybe it's just me, but I don't think of Sarek as being "one of the most loved characters of Trek". In my opinion he was always portrayed as a dickish character."

Yeah, if you want beloved Trek characters I think not many can argue these:

Spock
Bones
Data
Worf

Now there are many others you could include of course, but those are solid locks with me.
Eric
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 10:32am (UTC -5)
"I watched TNG's "The Enemy" last night and Picard just kills it in that one"

Patrick Stewart was a Shakespearean actor before he did Star Trek. Those actors are of a higher calibre than others, since Shakespeare acting is so challenging, so it's not really fair to compare Sonequa Martin Green to him.

Her acting would be considered wooden if it weren't for her "raised by vulcans" back-story. Which makes me wonder how casual watchers who don't know what a Vulcan is will receive this show.
Del_Duio
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 10:36am (UTC -5)
@KT:

"To the people who are enjoying this series; have you seen DS9 in its entirety? how does it compare in your opinion?"

Holy God, there's an equation they made just for this sort of thing-

DS9 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>DSC

It's not like DSC hasn't been entertaining at all, or that ALL of the characters are bad, but DS9 just smokes it. Even the first season, which has maybe 3-4 duds and some standouts. It's just not even close.
Del_Duio
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 10:38am (UTC -5)
@Eric:

It's funny but I rewatched "The Defector" last night (which had some throwbacks to "The Enemy" in it) and that episode is even better. Even with 10% of the budget and visuals DSC has that was an amazing episode. I didn't remember just how good it was but easy 4 stars from this guy.
Eric
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 11:16am (UTC -5)
@Del_Duio

I found Season 1-2 of DS9 to be boring and cheesy, but to each his own I guess. 3-4 duds would be considered a lot these days, wouldn't it? Imagine DSC had 4 duds? CANCELLED!

I don't even remember "The Defector"...maybe I didn't see that one? You're making me want to go back and watch some TNG...
Lynos
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 11:20am (UTC -5)
Not sure if this was ever mentioned in the forums, but the Netflix airing of this show includeד the option to watch it with Klingon subtitles. That's a cute touch.

If only the show itself had exhibited the same kind levity once in a while... could this be the most serious Trek show ever made?
Ed
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 11:20am (UTC -5)
@Todd

The Ash and Voq mental patterns were measurably different so I don't think Ash would be guilty of murder. Or at least it would be debatable. To be a murderer it has to be you who did it.

I do think that even if he's legally innocent he'd be considered too much of a security risk to be allowed the level of freedom he has now.

I absolutely agree with you on how disappointing it was that we never saw the ISS Discovery. The real "Captain Killy" engaging in crazy adventures in the PU would have been fun.
Tim
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 11:27am (UTC -5)
@KT

"I remain puzzled as to why the creators of Discovery decided to base this series on the Klingon war, DS9 did much better with its representation of war."

I'm going to respectfully disagree on that one. DS9's representation of war was cliched on the tactical level ("The Siege of AR-558" is a poor copy of infinitely superior productions, like "The Pacific") and utterly implausible on the geopolitical/strategic level. _Captain_ Sisko in charge of a 600+ ship fleet, the Federation completely outclassed on a macroeconomic level one week, then winning the war the next, then outclassed again, etc. The Dominion is supposed to represent a creditable threat to the combined power of the Klingons, Romulans, and Federation at the end of the series, while being confined to ONE star system, because, "They can build ships at an impressive rate." Yeah, well, Switzerland can build rifles at an "impressive rate," but that doesn't make them a plausible threat to the Big Three at the end of WW2.....

"Also I do not like that this episode has contradicted what was said in DS9 s07e20 "The Changing Face of Evil" when Klingon General Martok remarked admiringly about the Breen's attack on Earth, saying "even my people never attempted that.". And yet here it is; Earth is in jeopardy from an imminent Klingon attack!"

This bit I agree with 100%. It makes me wonder why they had to set the series in this time period? Why not set it a hundred years after the adventures of Picard and his contemporaries? Then you can have your spore drive, the war, and all of this, without current fans scratching their heads trying to reconcile this all with what came before.
Peter G.
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 11:34am (UTC -5)
@ KT & Chrome,

I'm dumbfounded by your attempts at apologizing for what is a brazen and unambiguous rape. And I don't mean 'rape' in the newspeak sense where consent wasn't requested every step of the way via signed affidavit, or in the other new sense where one party decides after the fact that they felt violated. No, I mean classic rape, the way the term was always used. Someone is assaulted, without their permission, and their thoughts/body are taken advantage of.

"Saru seemed startled (and also in some slight discomfort) but ultimately he didn't object or resist. He had nothing to hide and did not mind the meld. So neither should you; 'Rape' is a subjective experience and Saru is the subject, not you. "

Had nothing to hide? Didn't seem to mind? Wow, I hope that's not your standard in real life for physical rapes. 'She seemed not to mind that much', or 'I bet you she even enjoyed it.' It's *totally irrelevant* how the subject of a rape reacts to it; they can hate it, enjoy it - none of that matters. If it wasn't consensual then it's criminal assault. Did "Sarek" ask for Saru's permission? No. In fact, he explicitly excused his own action by specifying that he was going to go ahead without permission. There is no conceivable way to interpret this as anything but blatant assault. And lest you think I'm just being picky for the sake of it, I actually think it was the express intention of the writer to show that Sarek is resorting to extreme methods because of how volatile the situation was. It was deliberately edgy. What strikes me as bizarre is how some people appear to view such an incident and try to write it off as "ah, it makes sense I guess, it's convenient to learn all his thoughts quickly." Oh, indeed, it certainly is convenient. I'm so happy that this is Starfleet's new standard. Boy would I want to live in that world.

The amazing thing is that growing up with TNG I thought how wonderful it would be to live in that world, and I think many people felt that way. That kind of belief in something better isn't dated and isn't something people don't need any more. Watching this show makes me terrified, and I certainly wouldn't want to live with those people.
Chrome
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 11:59am (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

I'm somewhat dumbfounded myself to see someone try to sneak a rape allegation into what's a very benign scene.

"'She seemed not to mind that much', or 'I bet you she even enjoyed it.' It's *totally irrelevant* how the subject of a rape reacts to it; they can hate it, enjoy it - none of that matters."

This is wrong. A defense of a rape accusation relies very much on what could be perceived as consent by the person alleging rape. Here, Saru's lack of resistance could be perceived as consent, assuming rape and mindmelding are equivalent which I'm not convinced of. Star Trek is set in a universe with alien beings with powers beyond our current knowledge, so it's really difficult to say "that's mind rape" when we don't know what standards Starfleet has for the Vulcan powers. Again, in ST: VI, no one was accusing Spock of raping Valeris in a more violent scene. It's consistent to that film then, that an even less hostile mindmeld wouldn't be considered rape.

@Trent

"I was thinking it has something to do with the Augment Virus (is this canonically possible?). "

I'm not sure that's canonically possible, but the showrunners have suggested that the physical differences would be explained at some point, tying DSC to later shows. I was thinking it could be a genocide that goes horribly right and results in an augment.
Paul M.
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 12:19pm (UTC -5)
@Tim: "This bit I agree with 100%. It makes me wonder why they had to set the series in this time period? Why not set it a hundred years after the adventures of Picard and his contemporaries? Then you can have your spore drive, the war, and all of this, without current fans scratching their heads trying to reconcile this all with what came before."

It probably has to do with Abramsverse. As we well know, for some time Trek hasn't been under one roof: CBS owns TV rights, while Paramount owns movie rights. My guess is that CBS doesn't want to deal with divergent TV/movie canons and in the process they intend to silently merge the two without ever saying so, probably banking on the fact that new audiences are going to be more familiar with 2009+ movies. And the only way to do that is to place the show in an era before the split occurred. That's also the reason behind much of the visual feel and design of Discovery which definitely owes much more to Abramsverse than to classic Trek.
William B
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 12:25pm (UTC -5)
Just thinking out loud here:

Out of curiosity, how was this Saru scene played? What I mean to say is -- why didn't Sarek just ask the information, or ask permission to mindmeld? Was Saru unconscious at the time?

What I mean to say is: in terms of Trek history, there are previous instances of mindmelds being initiated with people or aliens who were *not* in a position to consent -- e.g. the Horta in Devil in the Dark was impossible to communicate with before Spock did the meld, or the whales in Star Trek IV. There's also the controversial scene of Spock melding with a sleeping Kirk to help him forget his pain in Requiem for Methuselah. The thing that these have in common is that these were at least partly designed to help the meldees, and so the moral question is whether Spock's good intentions are justification enough to use this technique. If Saru was unconscious or unable to consent for some reason, then, while still pretty bad, it'd at least be fairly consistent with the way Spock behaved in TOS.

More generally, I agree that nonconsensual melds are really bad. But I'm not so sure this is all that unprecedented; reviewing on Memory Alpha, Spock used a meld through the wall to convince a guard to release them from jail in A Taste of Armageddon, and tried to meld with Kelinda in By Any Other Name to accomplish a similar thing, which failed. And then there's that time in...what, The Omega Glory?...where he apparently mind controls a woman across the room without touching her. So that's weird. Anyway, there are obviously instances of melds where the subject not only couldn't consent because of a species barrier, but would obviously not have wished to consent if they could communicate. A key element of these is that not only is the situation urgent, but Spock and Kirk were prisoners in each case, and were attempting escape, but it's unclear how much that should justify those actions.

The difference between these examples and scenes like the Valeris scene in STVI or Mirror Spock's forced meld with McCoy in Mirror, Mirror is largely in portrayal, but/and also what real world behaviours they largely map onto. The melds where Spock attempts to fool their captors function in the same way as the Jedi mind trick in Star Wars ("these aren't the droids we're looking for"), a bit of mental misdirection; the forced melds seem to function as a kind of extraction of information by (mental) torture.

What's worth noting is that TOS is also a product of its time, and the creation of the mindmeld was very specifically to give Spock a less violent way to dispatch enemies (in a similar manner to the neck pinch). Cases where Spock uses mind melds to trick his opponents into letting him go are meant to be cases where the main plot alternative would be for Kirk and Spock to punch them out, or possibly trick them a different way and then punch them out, ala the Fizzbin scene in A Piece of the Action. So to some extent, I think that the ethics of how to best use mind control as a defensive weapon wasn't fully on the radar during TOS, in which the various capture/escape scenes were mostly stagey and (as Trent put it) Brechtian, and we don't have to worry too much about Spock's mind control-as-plot device and how invasive it would be if it existed in reality. Even there, the torture-for-info connotations of forced extraction of information from mind meld are still largely present in Mirror, Mirror when mirror Spock uses it on McCoy. From what I've heard, it seems that DSC is a war show and is also meant to be gritty/realistic and so the torture connotations are harder to avoid.
William B
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
(Sorry for butting in -- I haven't seen this episode or that scene, and so I have no informed opinion about it. It just makes me think about how TOS dealt with Spock's telepathic/mindmeld abilities.)
KT
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 12:46pm (UTC -5)
@Tim, I'm not sure which one of us needs to go watch DS9 again -your description of the Dominion war is not how I remember it at all!

"DS9's war was cliched on the tactical level"

I am not claiming it was an accurate representation of how wars are fought or pan out in real life, but within the premise of a UFP, DS9's war was much not compelling then DSC has been.

"the Federation completely outclassed on a macroeconomic level one week, then winning the war the next, then outclassed again, etc. "

I remember that the Federation+Klingon Alliance were barely able to hold back the Dominion at the cost of many lives and ships until the Romulans joined the war. After this they were able to go on the offensive and once Cardassians turned it was pretty much game over for the founders.

"The Dominion is supposed to represent a creditable threat to the combined power of the Klingons, Romulans, and Federation at the end of the series, while being confined to ONE star system, because, 'They can build ships at an impressive rate.'"

I never got the impression the Dominion were confined to one star system; they clearly had the run of Cardassian Union's entire space.

Plain Simple
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 12:47pm (UTC -5)
@MadManUC: "Cinema Blend is putting forth the theory that Burnham might actually get killed off"

I didn't read the article you linked to, so perhaps they make the same observation in there, but I did wonder about that when Burnham said that her goodbye to Sarek felt final. Obviously Sarek is not going to die, unless we are still/again in some alternate reality/universe/magic mushroom trip.


@KT: "Saru seemed startled (and also in some slight discomfort) but ultimately he didn't object or resist. He had nothing to hide and did not mind the meld. So neither should you; 'Rape' is a subjective experience and Saru is the subject, not you."

What does it matter if Saru didn't mind afterwards (if that is even the case)? That doesn't change the fact that Sarek mindmelded with him without his permission. Let's imagine the following situation: Mr X is walking around town minding his own business when suddenly Mr Y walks up to Mr X and punches him in the face. Oh, the luck. It turns out that Mr X loves the kinky stuff and actually enjoyed the punch in the face, even though Mr Y was completely unaware of that fact when he doled out the punch. So everything's fine now and we say to Mr Y "well done, please continue punching people in the face without warning", right?
William B
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 12:51pm (UTC -5)
""The Dominion is supposed to represent a creditable threat to the combined power of the Klingons, Romulans, and Federation at the end of the series, while being confined to ONE star system, because, 'They can build ships at an impressive rate.'"

I never got the impression the Dominion were confined to one star system; they clearly had the run of Cardassian Union's entire space. "

I think Tim is referring to the dialogue about halfway through What You Leave Behind, when the Dominion really did retreat to Cardassia Prime only:

ROSS [on viewscreen]: Ben, we've driven the Dominion back into Cardassia Prime. We can keep them bottled up there indefinitely.
SISKO: What if they use this time to rebuild their fleet?
Peter G.
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 12:51pm (UTC -5)
@ William B,

The context of the meld in this episode is that Saru is captaining the ship when it's suddenly boarded by unknown assailants, who then turn out to be Admiral Cornwall and Sarek. They assaulted the bridge with an armed force and took control immediately, because we're told that they had witnessed the Discovery being destroyed previously (which was the MU version) and suspected the authenticity of this one. When they arrive on the bridge and see the Starfleet-looking crew there Sarek makes a beeline for Saru (who has phasers trained on him), pins him down, and says that what he's about to do is necessitated by the times (I paraphrase), and then melds with him. The scene doesn't last that long that the scenic direction doesn't really portray much of a reaction on Saru's part either way. It neither looks 'painful' nor acceptable, but he's sort of just stunned, probably because his mind doesn't know wtf is going on. The whole thing lasts around 5-10 seconds.

Comparing Saru's reaction to that of Valeris in terms of how uncomfortable it looked, one should note that Valeris had telepathic abilities and so to some extent was able to resist Spock despite the fact that he overwhelmed her. Saru would be able to offer no resistance, presumably not having been trained in mental defence against telepathy. From that stand point the meld would be smoother than the one depicted in ST VI since Saru wouldn't be able to offer any resistance.
Tim
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 12:52pm (UTC -5)
@Paul "That's also the reason behind much of the visual feel and design of Discovery which definitely owes much more to Abramsverse than to classic Trek."

You're not the first one to say this, but I just don't feel it. Discovery's production stands on its own. Any borrowing from the JJVerse seems incidental to me, a consequence of modern production techniques, not a deliberate borrowing per say. The JJVerse sets look like someone spent too much time in the Apple Store. Discovery's sets actually look, sound, and feel like Star Trek, reimagined for the modern age.

The production and sets are one of the few things about Discovery that I haven't complained about. They absolutely nailed it. By comparison, it feels like the movies didn't even bother to try.
William B
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 1:07pm (UTC -5)
@Peter, thanks for the description. That sounds very bizarre. And in particular, with STVI (and the TOS examples I listed), whether we see Spock's actions as justifiable or not, it's clear why he uses them, in the sense that the mind meld and "do nothing" are the only options. Perhaps he should have chosen "do nothing," particularly given the pain Valeris experiences, but we know that Spock was not acting in a situation where there was an alternative, less invasive, way of achieving his goals.
Tim
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 1:12pm (UTC -5)
@KT "I am not claiming it was an accurate representation of how wars are fought or pan out in real life, but within the premise of a UFP, DS9's war was much not compelling then DSC has been."

I'm assuming you meant to say DS9's was more compelling?

I'll grant you that I cared more about what happened in DS9 and that they avoided the Earth-is-at-risk trope that Discovery has already resorted to, but "more compelling" is relative. I'm in the minority of folks that think the Dominion War was a net minus for the Star Trek Canon. Not because of "Gene's vision" or any of the usual reasons given, but rather because of the sloppy way it was written and executed.

Most folks absolutely loved "Sacrifice of Angels," but I'm completely meh on it. The off screen decimation of Starfleet in "The Best of Both Worlds" had far more emotional impact than the CGI wankfest battle in "Sacrifice of Angels." For that matter, so did the destruction of the Odyssey in "The Jem Hadar." It feels like the writers and SFX people lost sight of "less is more" in favor of just spamming CGI models into the frame. It looks pretty, but there's no substance to it, and we never meet any of those crews, so why should we care?

Imagine "Sacrifice of Angels" with a smaller, TNG sized fleet, like the 20 ships from "Redemption," or even the 40 from "Best of Both Worlds." You've got six episodes leading into that battle, so you can introduce some of the crew manning those ships. This ship's captain went to the academy with Sisko. This one's Chief Engineer is an old Enterprise-D crewmember who got promoted. The Admiral commanding the fleet was an old friend of Curzon's back in the day.....

Now we might care more than not at all when some of those ships get killed in the desperate struggle to reach DS9 before the minefield comes down.
Peter G.
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 1:21pm (UTC -5)
@ William B,

"Perhaps he should have chosen "do nothing," particularly given the pain Valeris experiences, but we know that Spock was not acting in a situation where there was an alternative, less invasive, way of achieving his goals."

One thing about that scene is that the entire through-line of the film is needed to explain it. He's not just doing that because it's an emergency and it's expedient. He's coming out of a situation where he, personally, dragged his friends into a deadly situation from which they might not survive, and also risked the safety of the Federation in the process. His goals were lofty, but he knows at this point that he has personally messed things up badly and needs to fix it. We later see this sentiment expressed in Unification, and how that single incident went on to define the rest of his life. And I think the rape of Valeris is the ultimate crisis moment for him there, where he finally sheds the last remnant of his claim to follow total Vulcan beliefs. He makes an emotional decision, that he simply needs to do this to make amends. In a way I see the act as self-sacrificial: he chooses to sacrifice his own honor and act like a savage, cutting away his identity as a civlized, enlightened person, knowing that even though he has debased himself his friends are now more important than he is. So there's an enormous amount of context and meaning in the act, and there are gasps on the bridge when he does it, despite the fact that everyone knows Valeris is a traitor. But in this episode it's being done to a Starship captain by a Vulcan who is otherwise acting like his normal self (as seen in previous episodes), and this is supported unflinchingly by the Admiral and no one else on the bridge makes comment. It's never spoken of again for the rest of the episode.

"Bizarre" is one way to put it. Let's just say that the future as seen by this series is anything by idealistic. It reminds me more of the portrayal of Earth in Babylon 5.
Dom
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 1:22pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G., "The amazing thing is that growing up with TNG I thought how wonderful it would be to live in that world, and I think many people felt that way. That kind of belief in something better isn't dated and isn't something people don't need any more. Watching this show makes me terrified, and I certainly wouldn't want to live with those people."

This is probably one of the most disturbing things about Discovery and fandom today. There's a casual acceptance of violence and violations of basic rights that I find chilling. People seem positively titillated when shows veer into edgy grim dark territory, as if that is "reality" and anything less than dark and depressing is somehow unrealistic. Somehow, Jack Bauer torturing terrorist suspects is "realistic" but FBI agents trying to win hearts and minds is too idealistic. Somehow, a workplace in which people yell and fight all the time is realistic, but one in which people behave like professionals and get the job done isn't. Never mind that most FBI agents believe torture isn't effective and most workplaces aren't full of drama-ridden arguments.

It's not that Trek can't have violence or conflict or flawed characters, but Trek has always been about rising above that. If a character does something outrageous, there are repercussions. The previous shows ultimately condemned violence, and never treated it like a neat special effect or humor. Discovery seems far too comfortable showing a dark, dystopian version of humanity without any moral condemnation. Landry's acquiescence to assault against an unarmed prisoner, Mudd beaming people into space as a gag, MU Georgiou killing all her advisors with full gore, etc. Showing Sarek force himself onto another being is troubling, but it's even more troubling that so many people don't seem to care and that the show doesn't treat it as a big deal.
Yanks
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
@ Dom
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 3:15pm (UTC -6)

"First of all, Katharine Trendacosta at io9 is killing it with her Discovery reviews. She's really excellent at identifying the problems in each episode (and occasional bright spots). Definitely worth a read:"

I read it and I agree almost line for line with her.

OK, I watched this last night. Actually, I watched it twice.

The Good:

ADM Cornwell - I've been critical of Jayne Brook's performance on a couple of occasions here in season 1. Not here. I think she nailed her performance in this one. Well done. "Your highness, or whatever they call you" was great! I also thought her conversation with L'Rell was spot on and meaningful. Those two did "bond" on a certain level while on the Sarcophagus ship.

Stamets' meeting with Ash - I have more and more respect for this character as the season has progressed. His actions here were about as Star Fleet good-natured as you can get. "Good, maybe you are human" took me by surprise. I thought Rapp's performance here was riveting. Especially since he acting opposite a little whining ..... oh, whatever you call him. He's becoming one of my favorite Star Trek characters. ... no way did I see that coming early on.

Visuals - I felt they took a notch up in this episode. Not sure why. There have been a couple times earlier in the series I felt they reminded me of BAB5. Not in this one, I thought it all was pretty cool.

Pace - Thank god they seemed to have taken their foot off the accelerator. Good lord, take a breath. This one was probably the best yet in this department.

Tilly - There is nothing I don't LOVE about this character and Mary Wiseman's acting chops. She's about as "Star Fleet" as we've had in this show. Consistently humble and real, and one that will do the right thing, even when it's hard or unpopular. Her little speech to Michael trying to convince her to go see Ash was incredible and almost got a tear out of me. Bravo. I will be enourmously disappointed if they kill her off.

Suru - Doug Jones is right up there with Mary in the acting department. Suru's meeting with Ash I would say was very "Captainy". I'm one that doesn't think he should be locked up now as the doctors have determined that he is Ash and Voq is gone. I know this could twist and change, but I think Suru made the right decision with the information he's been presented. "I will not take your freedom" was a very powerful line I thought.

Michael Yeoh - She's really knocking this Empress part out of the park. Lot's of great lines in this one and she delivers them on point. She's not "twirling her mustache", she playing the part to a tee.

Michael - Telling Suru that "I couldn't let her die again" (or words to that effect) when talking about why she brought MU Georgiou back with her was outstanding - the truth this time.

Growing spores - I thought it was well done (I know that many think it's garbage). It's true to the "SCI-FI of Discovery". I really liked it when Stamets told Tilly she could name the planet when they were done.

Sarak - Peter G, his mind meld with Saru didn't feel to me like Spock's forced mind meld in TUC, or Tuvok's in 'Meld', or T'Pol's unwillingness to "comply" in 'Stigma'. I think Suru willingly understood the circumstances and that was clear when he didn't resist. He just sat there. I don't think Sarak's lines here are out of character for him. He married a human wofe for gods sake. I thought is conversations with Michael were touching and relevant. "Don't regret loving someone Michael".... sniff, sniff... I also thought is very joust with Georgiou was fantastic... he beat her at her own game. I'll agree with others that he dominates his scenes... very well played by Frain.

The not so good:

Our lead actress - Here we go... I've been on the "I support SMG as Michael" bandwagon from the get go. I've said she's growing into the part, blah, blah....

I'm afraid I was wrong and it really pains me to come to this conclusion. She's just not a very capable actress. If there was EVER a moment where we should have seen serious gut-wrenching emotion from Michael in this series so far, it was going to be the Michael/Ash meet up. I mean really... I was so disappointed. Here we go again, the center of a Star Trek series that can't act. Everything with her is monotone and statuesque. She's a beautiful woman, but nothing more than a fake, on and off screen. I don't think we've EVER seen any emotion from her, we've never seen the real SMG... in interviews or as Michael. It's all a facade) I seriously hope someone takes her aside, she takes the criticism on-board and gets some acting help before season 2. (if she makes it that far)

What was her character like on 'The Walking Dead'? I'm betting it was a physical part, that didn't contain much meaningful dialog and her physique carried the day.

Ash/Michael meeting - I've thought these two have had some pretty touching moments leading up to this episode. I really got a connection from them. Then we get this ... I'm not sure what to call it. I thought Ash's "I'm sorry" line was shallow (I thought it was crap at Stamets too) and it got even worse that he selfishly tried to put it all back on her. ... because her parents were killed by Klingons, etc. Really?
... he goes all bat-shit and almost strangles her and she's just supposed to forget it? She (they) had more than enough meat to sell this and just left it on the bone. That, and ending it with "we've done something special today" .... relates to her difficulties here how? It was hard to watch. Michael's stated she had to claw her way back.... blah, blah ... it was hard... blah, blah... really? ... is that what we've seen? ... we STILL DON'T KNOW WHY SHE CHANGED HER PHASOR TO KILL (when shooting T"Kuvma)... so all the other crap it just reading lines that someone made up. She really hasn't clawed up from anything, she's done whatever Lorca told her to do. Hell, she is now advising Admiral Cornwell.

The best part of this meet-up was when Ash took a step towards her and she took one backwards.

They could have used about 8 minutes for other things and this meet up could have been a non-verbal exchange (stare) where Michael ends in tears and leaves the room.

I hope I'm wrong, and SMG shapes up. I'm afraid I'm not.

So, this episode has much more right that wrong IMO. I think ending with MU Georgiou as "Captain Georgiou" was actually pretty cool and should be very entertaining in closer. I might have just told the crew what Star Fleet's decision was and why, rather than say they "found her". I don't think it will take long for the crew to figure out something is awry.

I don't know how long the season closer is, but it would be nice to get the equivalent of a two-parter here.... lots to do in this last episode.

Oh, I did like they revealed that Star Fleet says knowledge of the MU and how they got there needs to be squashed... along with the spore drive technology I'm sure. Good for the cannonites I'm sure.

3 stars from me. Looking forward to Jammer's thoughts/
Dom
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 1:28pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G., add to that 1) Valeris refuses to give Spock the information after being asked, and 2) there is a "ticking bomb" in that if Spock doesn't act quickly the conspiracy at Khitomer might succeed. Spock doesn't take that decision lightly.
Chrome
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
@Tim

I appreciate your thoughts on how DS9 handled a story heated conflict. From interviews, I get the idea that DS9's staff, particularly Berman and Behr, didn't all agree with the Domion War taking on several seasons of DS9. That's why I think many of war shows come off a bit half-hearted, because some of the writers had different things they wanted to do with the show.

@Peter G.

I think you're forgetting the whole "The Discovery" was taken over by an MU Doppelganger detail as well as the fact that encounter took place on active battle lines. But I don't think any of this matters, because at the end of this, it boils down to Saru's consent, which is implicit.
Booming
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 1:36pm (UTC -5)
Man Peter G you have issues!! I hope that all the witches with their baseless rape accusations do not get you!
And a nice little 1984 reference you hid in there. Society is clearly hunting down heterosexual men. One could even say "Big brother is touching you!"
KT
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 1:39pm (UTC -5)
@plain simple
"What does it matter if Saru didn't mind afterwards (if that is even the case)? That doesn't change the fact that Sarek mindmelded with him without his permission... Mr X is walking around town minding his own business when suddenly Mr Y walks up to Mr X and punches him in the face. Oh, the luck. It turns out that Mr X loves the kinky stuff and actually enjoyed the punch in the face, even though Mr Y was completely unaware of that fact when he doled out the punch. So everything's fine now and we say to Mr Y "well done, please continue punching people in the face without warning""

As an Ambassador, Sarek can give orders to Starfleet officers, in that context Saru and Sarek are nothing like the Mr Y and Mr X of your example. I haven't seen anything in previous treks to suggest mindmelds are on par with punches in the face. Maybe the better analogy would be a polygraph test?
Tim
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 1:42pm (UTC -5)
@Dom

“This is probably one of the most disturbing things about Discovery and fandom today. There's a casual acceptance of violence and violations of basic rights that I find chilling. People seem positively titillated when shows veer into edgy grim dark territory, as if that is "reality" and anything less than dark and depressing is somehow unrealistic. Somehow, Jack Bauer torturing terrorist suspects is "realistic" but FBI agents trying to win hearts and minds is too idealistic. Somehow, a workplace in which people yell and fight all the time is realistic, but one in which people behave like professionals and get the job done isn't. Never mind that most FBI agents believe torture isn't effective and most workplaces aren't full of drama-ridden arguments.”

This. This ten million times over.
Dom
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 1:51pm (UTC -5)
@Tim, I think the key to the DS9 Dominion War storyline is that it's not really about the war. The war is a backdrop to tell stories about the characters, but, with a few exceptions, the show doesn't really focus on the strategy or tactics of the war. Which is a decision I'm fine with and really par for the course in sci-fi. Babylon 5 also had some wonky strategy when it came to its war.
Peter G.
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 1:54pm (UTC -5)
@ Booming,

Since you offer no new perspective I'll take your comment to mean you're in full agreement with me :)

@ KT,

"As an Ambassador, Sarek can give orders to Starfleet officers"

No, ambassadors are not in the chain of command and have no authority beyond the specifics of their particular assignments. Do you know any ambassadors in real life? Do you think such a person can just walk onto a military base and start issuing orders? Let's just say that the answer is no.

In any case it's moot, because no one in Starfleet, not even the President of the UFP, has the authority to require people to submit to invasive mind melds.

But to be fair part of the fault here lies with TNG, which not only dealt with Betazoids with a light touch, but very deliberately treated reading peoples' minds as a jokey matter. I never found that cute, and think it's actually one of the few moral blemishes that TNG allowed to co-exist with an otherwise very admirable worldview.
Tim
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 2:28pm (UTC -5)
@Dom

I suppose that's one way to look at it, backdrop for the characters, but it still feels sloppy and ham-handed to me. It was as if the goal was, "Let's have a war! Star Trek has never done a war before!" rather than, "What kind of stories can we tell with a war?"

If you want to make it a character piece, well, take some chances. Don't occupy Betazed off-screen and use it as a throwaway line in one episode that we never follow up on. Occupy Bajor at the beginning of the war. Show us how that affects Sisko. He's "failed" in his role as the Emissary. Show Kira organizing the new resistance. Give us the other side of the story too, an internal political struggle between Weyoun and Dukat. Weyoun serves the Founders and needs to keep up appearances for the rest of the Quadrant, so he wants a light touch occupation, at least at the outset. Dukat wants to re-open the labor camps and avenge his former humiliation. The Bajorian resistance has to walk the line between the two, not accept the occupation, but not push so far as to give Weyoun an excuse to start listening to Dukat.....

Hell, they even took the easy way out when the Breen attacked Earth. Starships can lay waste to entire planets but all the Breen do is knock down some buildings in San Francisco? Nuke New Orleans. We don't know if Sisko's Dad is alive or dead. How's he going to handle that? What about Worf's adoptive parents in Russia? Keiko's family in Japan? None of this is ever touched on. It's just an empty "twist," the same empty writing that we're all condemning Discovery for.....

KT
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 3:06pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G.
"No, ambassadors are not in the chain of command and have no authority beyond the specifics of their particular assignments. Do you know any ambassadors in real life? Do you think such a person can just walk onto a military base and start issuing orders? Let's just say that the answer is no"

LOL! This is a hilarious response, thanks for the laugh, I needed it! :D You seemed to be confusing real life with ST lol!

According to the following eps, TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon"; TNG: "The Host", "Data's Day"; DS9: "The Adversary", Federation ambassadors have powers to issue orders and special instructions to Starfleet starship commanders.

"invasive mind melds"
Really? My impression of melds, in the context of Saru/Sarek, is no more or less invasive as a forced polygraph test ...
Dom
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 3:13pm (UTC -5)
@Tim, I don't disagree that those were valid directions for the story, but I also never felt like the story HAD to go in those directions. There are narrative reasons for the decisions they took that I respect and accept, even if I don't always agree.
Chris
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 3:21pm (UTC -5)
@Tim, that may be true but let's not forget about the myriad of other character-centric stories DS9 DID offer up. The Siege of AR 558, It's Only a Paper Moon, In the Pale Moonlight, Rocks and Shoals... even Homefront/Paradise Lost have some strong allegorical elements. I think the Section 31 arc is another good example of exploring war time, not just telling about it. Sure, sounds like DS9 towards the end of the show had throw-in lines that extend the scope of the war without much dedication, much in the way the Discovery exposition has been offered up, but there are so many more instances where DS9's writing far surpasses the characterization and allegorical storytelling regarding war and its effects than Discovery's.
Tim
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 3:29pm (UTC -5)
@Dom

You misunderstand me. I’m not saying that I disagree with the direction of the story, but rather that I feel like there was no story. The whole war was largely consequence free for our heroes. Even supposedly character defining events (e.g., Sisko’s choices in “In the Pale Moonlight”) were rarely K— if ever — acknowledged again. Picard’s experiences as Locutus and Kamin changed him profoundly. Sisko whines to the computer for an episode and goes back to being himself in the next.

In some respects Discovery does it better. There are consequences for the characters. They change between episodes. Past choices are not forgotten. I don’t know how they reconcile all of this with the Trek I grew up with, I suspect The Reset Button™ will come into play, but thus far at least it’s far from static.
Mertov
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 3:32pm (UTC -5)
It's unfortunate that the Sarek Saru mind-meld has turned into a big debate, which is probably what Peter G. wished anyway when he had his reaction (to uyse a mild term compared what it really was) and followed it up something to the effect of how it will never be mentioned again..

I am totally with Chrome, it was a benign scene under an exceptional context. Saru did not appear to have a problem with it when it was initiated and in retrospect he had no comment about it because it would only make sense that Sarek would do that, and Saru would implicitly want that to be performed so it can be cleared up efficiently and quickly. As if in the dire situation that Starfleet is in a dire situation, desperate for its own survival, as in that of thousands (millions perhaps), at the brink of total annihilation, and in the middle of that mayhem, the ship they thought has been destroyed for 9 months all of a sudden reappears magically with the same characters who are supposed to be dead.

And yeah, I am sure Cornwell and Sarek and Starfleet who are probably in a state of urgency due to their imminent disappearance from the face of the universe, are not going to be suspicious at all, and are simply going to "ask" them to tell their story and accept it like a kid accepts a fairy tale. Under the cirsumstances, I would not have been surprised if theysedated Saru with their phasers, tie him up, and do a mind-meld, and then, maybe I could see the argument (only a little), but in this context, ESPECIALLY with Saru not showing any signs of struggle, no..

And I'm dumbfounded (here is that word again) that one can go as far questioning personal values of other commenters because they read a scene differently than them. There were many other assaults (on bodies, as in, death-related) sanctioned by other characters in Trek, or even allowed by captains in the name of ridiculous other excuses, and I have never heard this type of overblown reaction.
Dom
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 3:40pm (UTC -5)
@Tim, sure there were consequences. Odo's entire character arc is defined by his relationship with the Founders. Dukat and Damar are two villains who change radically. Nog and Martok are two secondary characters who undergo dramatic growth. Kira goes from being a terrorist who hates Cardassians to being a responsible officer to helping Cardassians become terrorists.

I personally don't need the characters to keep bringing up stuff from past episodes just for the sake of it. Sisko didn't NEED to remind the audience of what happened in "Pale Moonlight". We already saw it. There was no dramatic need for him to bring it up. Moreover, it's something he's trying to hide from everyone else. I wouldn't have been opposed to it being addressed again, but I never felt like DS9 lacked because of it.

A big part of my problem with serialized TV is the tendency to bring up plot points just to show that there are CONSEQUENCES, even if it doesn't fit the story being told or the emotional beats of the episode. I think audiences are smart enough to realize that characters carry baggage from previous episodes without being reminded 50 times throughout a season.
Mertov
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
I apoligize for the many typos and errors. Writing on a phone is never easy and that was my last attempt at doing it. Keyboard from now on... In any case, here is more cleaned-up version of what I posed above...
----------------------------
It's unfortunate that the Sarek Saru mind-meld has turned into a big debate, which is probably what Peter G. wished anyway when he had his reaction (to uyse a mild term compared what it really was) and followed it up something to the effect of how it will never be mentioned again..

I am totally with Chrome, it was a benign scene under an exceptional context. Saru did not appear to have a problem with it when it was initiated and in retrospect he had no comment about it because it would only make sense that Sarek would do that, and probably, Saru would implicitly want that to be performed so it can be cleared up efficiently and quickly. (I believe William B. asked about the larger context or circumstances). Starfleet is in a dire situation, desperate for its own survival, as in, risking thousands (millions perhaps) of deaths, at the brink of total annihilation, and in the middle of that mayhem, the ship they thought has been destroyed for 9 months all of a sudden reappears magically with the same characters who are supposed to be dead. And yeah, I am sure Cornwell and Sarek and Starfleet who are probably in a state of urgency due to their imminent disappearance from the face of the universe, are not going to be suspicious at all of this sudden turn of events, and are simply going to "ask" Saru, Michael and the rest of the bridge crew to tell their story and accept it like a kid accepts a fairy tale.

Under the circumstances, I would not have been surprised if they sedated Saru with their phasers, tie him up, and do a mind-meld, and then, maybe I could see the argument (only a little), but in this context, ESPECIALLY with Saru not showing any signs of struggle, no..

And I'm dumbfounded (here is that word again) that one can go as far questioning personal values of other commenters because they read a scene differently than them. There were many other assaults (on bodies, as in, death-related) sanctioned by other characters in Trek, or even allowed by captains in the name of ridiculous other excuses, and I have never heard this type of overblown reaction.
Henson
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
@KT
Polygraph tests are notoriously unreliable, not to mention entirely dependent on how willing the participant is to answer questions. Saru, regardless of whether or not he is okay with the mindmeld, doesn't seem to have a choice. This is not a good analogy.
Peter G.
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 3:52pm (UTC -5)
@ KT,

"According to the following eps, TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon"; TNG: "The Host", "Data's Day"; DS9: "The Adversary", Federation ambassadors have powers to issue orders and special instructions to Starfleet starship commanders. "

I think you may be confusing kinds of authority. Ambassadors - just like any specialist - can be given command of a *mission* by Starfleet. For instance, in The Ultimate Computer we see Richard Daystrom given charge of the M5 mission, and he's neither in Starfleet nor is he an ambassador. But even in the capacity of being a mission commander they are not in direct command of the ship or its crew; that command rests solely with the captain. To quote Captain Picard from Peak Performance, in one of my favorite moments in all of Trek:

KOLRAMI: As the Starfleet observer I am ordering you to withdraw!
PICARD: I am the Captain of this vessel! Your order is nullified!
Yanks
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 4:02pm (UTC -5)
@ Peter G.
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 3:52pm (UTC -6)
Re: DSC S1: The War Without, The War Within

"...But even in the capacity of being a mission commander they are not in direct command of the ship or its crew; that command rests solely with the captain. To quote Captain Picard from Peak Performance, in one of my favorite moments in all of Trek:

KOLRAMI: As the Starfleet observer I am ordering you to withdraw!
PICARD: I am the Captain of this vessel! Your order is nullified!"

Correct. This is also aptly addressed in ENT: 'Fallen Hero'
Tim
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 4:02pm (UTC -5)
@Chris

"that may be true but let's not forget about the myriad of other character-centric stories DS9 DID offer up. The Siege of AR 558, It's Only a Paper Moon, In the Pale Moonlight, Rocks and Shoals... even Homefront/Paradise Lost have some strong allegorical elements. I think the Section 31 arc is another good example of exploring war time, not just telling about it"

We're going to have to agree to disagree on AR-558/Paper Moon, because I feel like those were Hollywood garbage, someone's ham-fisted attempt at grafting a bad Vietnam movie onto Star Trek, because it's "gritty," and that's what they think people do in war.

I will readily concede "Rocks and Shoals" and "In the Pale Moonlight," respectively as a ten and a nine, the absolute best of Deep Space Nine had to offer. The broader problem remains though; they essentially reset things after those episodes and never mentioned them again.

If I'm not mistaken, "Rocks and Shoals" was the first time Rom ever had to kill someone, but it's never mentioned again. A scene with him similar to O'Brien's Ten Forward confession in "The Wounded" would have been a lot less ham-handed than the trooper in "AR-558" with the Ketracel-white necklace. Why didn't we see O'Brien trying to mentor him through the war? Wouldn't that have been a smarter use of screen time than the scenes where O'Brien teaches him about self-sealing stem bolts?
Chrome
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 4:13pm (UTC -5)
Surely Sarek was on a mission from Starfleet in this episode...
KT
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 4:28pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G who said "I think you may be confusing kinds of authority."
In any case it was on Admiral Cornwell's authority that the meld was performed. Saru could have objected, instead he didn't even lean back and away from Sarek.

@Henson
You are missing the point I made in comparing the Sarek mind meld on Saru to polygraphs, which is that if polygraphs of the 22C are reliable, then what Sarek did was no more or less invasive than that; in no way is this mind meld tantamount to reap!!!! Also Saru did have a choice, he could have objected, stood up and spoke with Cornwell, instead he didn't even lean away from Sarek -he clearly didn't mind the meld AT ALL. HE IS ON SAREK's SIDE FOR GODSAKE, GET A GRIP!

@Tim
The story you are suggesting is a completely different story to the one the showrunners wanted to tell which revovles around the idea of the wormhole aliens manipulating the timeline in order to ensure Bajor's survival in the long run.

"We don't know if Sisko's Dad is alive or dead. How's he going to handle that? What about Worf's adoptive parents in Russia? Keiko's family in Japan? None of this is ever touched on."

You clearly didn't pay much attention when watching the show, the answers to these questions were very implicit in the fact that it was made clear that only one Breen warship made it past starfleet's defenses, it took some shots at Starfleet Headquarters, and the greater city of San Francisco including the Golden Gate Bridge before hightailing it out of sector 001.
Henson
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 4:52pm (UTC -5)
@KT

"You are missing the point I made in comparing the Sarek mind meld on Saru to polygraphs, which is that if polygraphs of the 22C are reliable, then what Sarek did was no more or less invasive than that"

But they're not reliable. And this is not a small point either; your analogy is predicated on comparing our moral judgements of Sarek's actions to that of a polygraph test, but those judgements change depending on the methods and reliability of the procedure. A polygraph test only gains what the participant decides to reveal, and even then it is not reliable. A mindmeld gains whatever the Vulcan is able to obtain (and based on Star Trek VI, you can obtain quite a lot), and it's very reliable.

I don't know if what Sarek did is analogous to rape or not, but it isn't analogous to a polygraph test.
Tim
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 5:05pm (UTC -5)
@KT

“You clearly didn't pay much attention when watching the show, the answers to these questions were very implicit in the fact that it was made clear that only one Breen warship made it past starfleet's defenses, it took some shots at Starfleet Headquarters, and the greater city of San Francisco including the Golden Gate Bridge before hightailing it out of sector 001.”

It’s a pity you had to go there, “You clearly....” because I was enjoying the back and forth of the conversation before that not so thinly veiled attack.

I watched the whole series and recall that episode quite clearly. The specifics of the attack are never disclosed in dialogue, only a snarky comment from Damar about it being a shame that “so few of your ships survived the attack.” In any case, you missed the point, which was to lament the way that scene was only used for shock value, a “twist,” the very thing we’re condemning Discovery for.

As for the notion that the show runners had some overarching vision of The Invisible Hand of the Prophets, that’s the first I’ve heard of it. I always found the pseudo religious aspects of DS9 (and Babylon 5 for that matter, which is one reason I’m inclined to believe JMS’ claims that they stole his series bible; this is not “Star Trek”) to be the least watchable part of the show, worse than the Ferengi episodes.
Ubik
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 6:19pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G (and others of a similar point of view)

I keep hearing this notion of Discovery being a bad Star Trek show because the characters do immoral things, and nobody around them acts as if the action is immoral, and thus this entire fictional Trek universe has lost all sense of morality.

I find this criticism strange, for many reasons. We can take this forced mind-meld as an example - who says this meld isn't meant to be red-line-crossing? It absolutely IS played as a violation of sorts, and the reason for this expediency is, in the context, fairly obvious - the Admiral and Sarek are not at all certain who these people are, or whether they are imposters. Think of it, perhaps, as the equivalent as the forced blood-letting that Sisko's Dad has to undergo in Deep Space Nine, to prove his identity, but with a much more urgent time constraint. It isn't pretty, and it isn't meant to be, and that level of amoral expediency is designed to communicate the severity of the stakes involved.

Nowhere in this show, absolutely nowhere, not in 14 episodes, have I seen any indication whatsoever that the show's ideology is any less moral than the ideology of, say, Deep Space Nine. The depiction of actions is not an endorsement of those actions. The show wasn't pro-torturing the tardigrade, nor pro-torturing Stamets, nor even pro-murdering that mirror-version of one of Michael's old friends in the turbolift. Those actions happened, and the show depicted those actions to explore the psychological and ethical ramifications of a person who considers themselves moral having performed questionable acts (or feeling forced to perform questionable acts, rather.) This show's morality is simply doing what Deep Space Nine did before it - questioning how far morality can go in more and more grievous situations.

It's not like the United States, for example, was pro-murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians with an atom bomb. They felt it expedient. Whether or not it was necessary is a question that has plagued historians and other thinkers ever since, and it was obviously an IMMORAL thing to do, no questions asked. If Discovery wants to explore similar moral quandaries, I think we should encourage it to do so, rather than demanding a strict and comforting moral code from its characters, which would teach us nothing, and only provide some confirmation bias, so we could warmly hug ourselves in our certainty that our own sense of morality is the right one, and that we would always stick to it. That seems like a less ambitious goal, in some ways, then what we have in this show here.
Trent
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 7:09pm (UTC -5)
Ubik said: "The depiction of actions is not an endorsement of those actions. "

I think it's the other way around; debating these actions is the art's means of justifying the contrivances it pushes in order to justify the depiction of actions it enjoys. Murder, torture, killing, crime, war, rape, violence etc are cool dopamine rushes. They generate easy shocks. You then tag on your moral to sanction, or absolve, the audience's consumption.


Ubik said: "I think we should encourage it to do so, rather than demanding a strict and comforting moral code from its characters"

But it's Discovery that is trading in a familiar and comforting moral message: there are cartoonish existential threats out there who want to decimate you, and so you have two options: genociding them, or holy compassion. Do you blow up Cronos? Do you kill the Tardigrade? Do you shoot first? It's an old strawman which has very little to do with anything. And in real life, it's always powerful jerks who appeal to these kinds of obfuscatory false binaries.

Given that most art's means of addressing this conundrum is to typically bite from both slices of the cake (Michael forgives Lorca, Phillipa kills him. The Feds love the Founders, but only after nuking them into submission etc), I wouldn't be surprised if the Feds destroy Cronos and then go back in time to save it.

Brian said: "The third item dragging this show into the ground is the spore drive. What I take issue with is how it is used in the show, or should I say over-used. Someone else alluded to this in their review--it's used essentially as a magic wand to take the Discovery anywhere, anytime, and do anything."

Brian Fuller probably cooked it up to rationalize a series which jumped time zones and universes. It will be interesting to see if the new writers ditch the concept. What bugs me most about it, though, is not the concept - it's basically just Warp Drive with added Hand Wave Powers - but the animation. The Discovery constantly spinning and flipping over itself looks really goofy IMO.
Peter G.
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 7:15pm (UTC -5)
@ Ubik,

Thanks for your response. I think you've hit the nail on the head of exactly what it is I'm talking about on occasion. And here's the issue: on TNG or DS9 taking an extreme measure would be presented as exactly that, with all the accompanying discussion, staff meetings, objectors, and a final decision by the Captain one way or the other. In the so-called darkest episode of DS9, In the Pale Moonlight, literally the entire episode is a Captain's log featuring Sisko trying to make sense of the morality of it all. In that same episode Bashir files an official protest (and over a minor part of the plan!) and Quark gloats over Sisko's illegal tactics. The episode makes the questionable actions *such a focus* that one can hardly say that they weren't given serious treatment. The same goes for numerous episodes in TNG and DS9, along similar lines where we get both sides of an argument. This kind of moral/intellectual dialectic is basically the cornerstone of Trek. People used to watch these shows and learn how to be better. I'm not kidding, this isn't some fan-hype theory or overstatement: that's really what those shows did for an entire generation. That's where the bar is set, so tough noogies for the next guy to come along and wants to use the Trek name

My problem with the red-line-crossing in DISC, as you put it, is that even though it's sometimes given a cursory context of being not-necessarily-good, it's never challenged outright, and certainly not in context of everyone being aware of the dilemma and hashing it out. First of all, few conversations on this show ever feature a group; most often it's two people in an argument. Right away we lose the moral focus there because we have only limited perspectives. But more importantly, the questionable tactics, many of which we now know were executed by a MU barbarian, are typically glossed through very *quickly* and without much of a chance for us to get reactions from everyone and aftermath. Right after a bad thing is done the [plot] flings along forward and we're in another plot problem. None of these issues ever get a postmorten discussion, no less a discussion while they're happening, because the plot pace is too fast. And that's deliberate too: the breakneck speed of the plot movements is designed to act as a 'page-turner' and keep us always guessing and always on our toes. Nothing gets resolved, especially not the moral issues, because we're supposed to always be on the edge of our seat being hit with one thing after another.

Of all the bad things done on the show, the events with the tardigrade were drawn out for the longest duration, and yet surprisingly little was ever said during that whole time that was really pertinent. They can all hear the thing screaming in pain (or at least making loud noises) and yet no one on the show over several episodes asks "Is that thing screaming? Are we hurting it?" It takes them forever to come to any conclusion, and even then only Burnham (of course) is smart enough to finally figure out what should have been obvious right from the get-go. In short, it was never about us learning about the tardigrade or about seeing the crew come to grips with how to morally treat a new life form. It was about us seeing how much smarter Burnham is than everyone else, and that was the extent of the show's plot there. Even after the creature was freed, do we get a postmortem asking what it meant, discussing whether the creature was sentient? Pointing at Lorca as having made a terrible mistake (to put it charitably)? No, the next episode all is forgotten.

That's my point. No one addresses these bad events, and it's because the show runners don't care about them *as* moral problems. They are all treated as *plot problems* to solve, like a puzzle, and when it's solved we move on. Do you see the difference? Bad moral decisions are treated as steps on the way to solving the puzzle, rather than as isolated moments in life that should have self-contained importance. "Did we harm a sentient life form" should be a topic that has an importance all of its own, and shouldn't simply be a minor accessory on a "did we get the drive working" plotline. And to be honest I don't think the writers care at all about the moral axis here, nor do they have any answers even if they were to decide to take the time to do so. That's just not their cup of tea. What interests them is how to get the RGM (Rube Goldberg Machine) in motion and keep it going. It's like a piece of clockwork, and the moral moments of the show have little more significance than being the ball that knocks over the peg.

This is why I hesitated in a previous review to call into question the morality of the writers. In truth I think they simply don't give a damn about any of that. Whatever the moral results end up looking like to someone like me will be completely incidental to the show's intentions. I do take the time to call out things like (in my opinion) Sarek's assault on Saru, because even though I know the writers want to be edgy it still shocks me to see these things on a Trek show. It's actually shocking to see them on any show, to be honest, but my sensitivity level is higher when I watch Trek. I get what they wanted with this scene, and they accomplished it: it's extreme times, and hard measures are needed. My issue is they never give these things their due in the episode and make a big deal about them. We're supposed to be impressed by the dark action and then move on and forget about it. It's not like anyone ever mentioned this again in the episode, like "Saru, are you ok? I can't believe what Sarek did, but I guess it was necessary." Something. Anything! It's worse than 24, really, because in 24 Jack grieves every time he has to do something horrible. The badness of his actions is never glossed over, even though in truth the show did sometimes sensationalize violence.
Peter G.
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 7:17pm (UTC -5)
@ Trent,

Wow, that is a great post.
Drea
Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 7:26pm (UTC -5)
@Ubik:

Previous Trek made a point of asking moral questions. Discovery rarely explores the themes it raises, and at times it depicts actions which informed viewers understand as morally problematic even in our era, to say nothing of what fits in Star Trek, but with no indication that the writers even thought the ethical issues through. The first major example would be Georgiou's planting a bomb in a corpse to attack during funeral rites after losing a battle. It's handled as a plot point with no moral implications whatsoever, and Georgiou is depicted as the torchbearer for Federation ideals throughout the series.

Tardigrade torture, on the other hand, is depicted as something that clearly horrifies Burnham, but the Trekkian tropes invoked here serve more as a narrative shorthand than as a moral issue in its own right. Witness the utter lack of any conversation whatsoever between Lorca and Saru over the loss of the creature.

Sarek initiating a mind meld without consent is another example. Spock does this in Star Trek VI, when the stakes are exceptionally high and time extremely short, and it's still a problematic scene. But Discovery blows past this sort of thing constantly without a thought. It's possible to raise instances in other Trek of issues that ought to be major moral questions being breezed past, but the history of the franchise takes its pride in exploring the nuance and consequence of moral and political decisions.

Discovery barely scratches at that. It seems content to stage action hours with Trek tropes layered on top, and depending on what you're looking for, that may satisfy. Jammer gives it more of a pass than I do, whereas others regard the show as utterly unsalvageable. It has quite the uphill climb after its first season.

MidshipmanNorris
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 4:10am (UTC -5)
I was profoundly affected by this episode in ways I have not been since I watched TNG in its broadcast run as a child.

I have read a lot of the criticisms you all levy at it, and without getting into a discussion of specifics or playing the "explain why everyone is wrong" game, I just want to say that no piece of writing is ever going to be so perfect that it cannot be criticised in some form or another. I feel that yes, we've had to forgive Discovery for a lot. But I recall the experience of forgiving TOS and TNG for a lot. DS9 did not grab my attention right away either, as I was becoming more mature and discriminating in my entertainment choices, and developing the ability to think critically.

But I eventually found a lot to enjoy about DS9, and I've even gotten a kick out of a VOY episode here and there. I didn't like most of ENT, at all, really, but I have gone back and re-watched some of it. It can be compelling at times.

But Discovery, in my opinion, transcends Star Trek in a lot of ways that someone merely thinking about "is this show a good Star Trek show" is not really making themselves open to.

Everyone was fine with the fact that Klingons and Humans were sworn enemies in TOS, because back then, the Klingons were merely strawmen representing Russia in viewer's minds.

The fictional race has evolved into something much more as time and various writers have had their take on them, and for me, it's been a good progression, rubber masks and gratuitous early-season subtitles and all.

L'Rell explaining to Cornwell that Klingons basically just keep coming at you until they're cut to pieces, while horrid and dark, says quite a bit about what it means to be a Warrior Race, to me, in a very simple and easy to understand way. For me, this final episode of the season will solidify whether I think this show is well written depending on its strength of writing about what it means to be a Klingon. I want to learn something about them that finally seems like a definitive statement, as this storied bit of Trek History comes to its untying.

I noticed SMG doing some acting in this episode too, and the dialogue in the much-derided scene between them felt far from irrelevant.

So much of Trek is a bunch of people cruising along in their sweet Starfleet Careers [tm] and eating whatever they want from the handy replicators while they ponder their interesting and rewarding day.

Michael Burnam is an example of a character whose life seems to collapse like a house of cards in front of her everyday, all while still having to work in space which, if I may say so, seems quite a bit less comfy here than in previous trek iterations.

Something about this show just resonates with me, and I don't seem to be able to put my finger on it. It really does seem intent on upsetting the apple cart a bit, but its roots in classic Trek are also apparent.
Ubik
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 6:02am (UTC -5)
@MidshipmanNorris

I agree with your post 100%. This show is deeply resonant, in a way not seen in Star Trek with this intensity and consistency since Deep Space Nine. Those who hate the show (and there appear to be many on this board) are, I think, misreading the show. It is, of course, difficult to have an opinion about a thing until one knows what that thing IS.

@Drea and @Peter G
Thank you for your considered responses. Here is why I disagree with you: this show is clearly not uninterested in the ethics involved in all these actions, events, and decisions. What is DOES do is explore those issues in a less direct way than, say, TNG or DS9. Those shows were very on-the-nose. The characters basically repeated whatever ethical debate the writers had in their own heads when planning the episode. Here are the pros, here are the cons. Now, that can certainly be compelling, and God knows some of the best scenes ever to appear on television happened in that Enterprise-D conference room, with Picard at the head. But it isn't the only way to explore ethical issues, and it isn't necessarily the most sophisticated way,

This show, in many ways, is more complex than the earlier Trek shows. It explores its ethical issues through action. It puts forward moral or ethical quandaries and then wrestles with them through action. When people see, on the screen, only action, they are missing the thematic content below the action. This is absolutely not a mindless action show, as the three Abrams movies so clearly were - this a Trek show deeply invested in issues of morality, character, and theme, and it presents those issues through visuals, through narrative, through symbol, through parallels or contrasts between characters, through other rhetorical devices almost never seen in Star Trek before.

And look - the pacing has been off. They have, in let's say a third of the episodes, gone much faster than they should have. So this exploration has by no means been perfect, and they need to slow down in their second season. But it's there. And to dismiss the writers out of hand for been uninterested in ethics or morality is, to my mind, grossly unfair, given what's actually there on screen. You just shouldn't be looking for it in dialogue.
Kinematic
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 7:02am (UTC -5)
Featured in this episode:

- Dark, brooding shots
- Starfleet officers forcibly boarding a ship and pointing weapons at other Starfleet officers
- A dubiously-consensual mind meld
- Cornwall looking shell-shocked as she details the atrocities committed by the Klingons
- Characters dour, depressed
- Evil space emperor discusses with Saru her recent cannibalism of a member of his species
- L'Rell expounds on Klingons' insatiable bloodlust
- Ash describes the gruesome procedure by which he was changed into a human
- A Federation installation has been taken over, 80,000 lives lost
- Federation authority figures make deal with genocidal tyrant

And this is after the characters' return from the evil universe.

The negativity in this series is palpable, isn't it? There were bright spots, like Tilly sitting next to Ash and the spore cultivation on the planet, but both of those events felt like improbable plot contrivance. The focus on dialog and character over action in this episode is definitely a change for the better, but why so relentlessly negative? The media now seems to be all about subverting expectations, and what could be more subversive right now than a genuinely optimistic, aspirational story?
KT
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 7:32am (UTC -5)
@Tim
"It’s a pity you had to go there, 'You clearly....' because I was enjoying the back and forth of the conversation before that not so thinly veiled attack."

Hello, in hindsight I can see why you might label that 'an attack'. But I did not intend it that way, I was just stating what I thought were facts in all my Vulcan-ish innocence. I am genuinely confused about your totally different impression of DS9 and wondering which one of us remembes it incorrectly or has a skewed impression.

"I watched the whole series and recall that episode quite clearly. The specifics of the attack are never disclosed in dialogue, only a snarky comment from Damar about it being a shame that 'so few of your ships survived the attack.'”

While it's true the specifies of the attack were not listed in a monotone dialogue, in DSC style, that info was in the details. Martok and Sisko, watching a screen which showed the destruction of the golden gate bridge and some nearby buildings, have a conversation about it:
Sisko: I had a lot of friends in those buildings. StarFleet destroyed most of the Breen attack force but by then most of the damage had been done
Martok: To launch an attack on Starfleet HQ ... even my people never attempted that ... the Breen are a race of warriors.
Then cut to briefing room at Cardassia HQ, consisting of Breen, Weyoun and Damar. A screen displays red dots in and around SF HQ, what one can only assume are all the hit areas. The attack was clearly limited to San Francisco. Weyoun is delighted that "we have struck fear into heart of our enemies".

Judging by the impression I get that you didn't pick up on these details suggests your attention span is more suited to the DSC type of story telling where Burham will explain what is going on and how she is feeling about it. And that is probably what separates ST fans who enjoy DSC and those who find it poorly written. Lets compare this twist, which takes place at the very beginning of an ep, to the DSC crew bringing up an previously unheard of "war map", at the end of an ep, which is brought up despite being unable to establish contact with Starfleet Command. The DSC twist, in comparison seems to be a cheap, and ill thought out or poorly written ploy. The DS9 twist comes across as a startling but natural evolution to the story rather than a string of implausible events which allow Murca to come to and get away with Captaining the Discovery in the PU .

"In any case, you missed the point, which was to lament the way that scene was only used for shock value, a “twist,” the very thing we’re condemning Discovery for."

Yes it was a twist, but it came naturally from the existing players in the Trek universe. There was nothing contrived and badly written about it. If this had been DSC the twist would have come at the end of the previous ep, and this ep would have started with Sisko in a monologue about how he is feeling more vulnerable and weak or something. DS9 always showed us plausible turns in the story instead of having weird technobabble or unexplained plot holes create twists.

"As for the notion that the show runners had some overarching vision of The Invisible Hand of the Prophets, that’s the first I’ve heard of it."

Maybe it was a retconned vision. But at the end of the series it was clear that the wormhole aliens had an infinity for Bajor. I then recalled that in S1 or 2, someone raised the question of why the Prophets would let Bajor suffer for 50yrs under Cardassian rule. It occurs to me that maybe the only way to give Major Kira the freedom fighting skills she needed to help a humbled and changing Cardassia is to make her a freedom fighter. That's the best I can figure anyways. I'm not saying it's an awesome overarching vision for a series, just that the story is in the telling and DS9 tells a fairly simple story really well and in doing so, elevates it to awesomeness. DSC tells a fantastical story on a high budget, but for the most part, fairly poorly, resulting in frustrated and annoyed fans such as myself.

"I always found the pseudo religious aspects of DS9 (and Babylon 5 for that matter, which is one reason I’m inclined to believe JMS’ claims that they stole his series bible; this is not “Star Trek”) to be the least watchable part of the show, worse than the Ferengi episodes."

I found it intriguing as prior to that ST had always remained neutral on such topics but if there is a msg about religion to takeaway here, it's just that one man's religion is another man's scientific curiosity or soemthing. Which doesn't disrespect either 'side' and acknowledges a truth in both.

I think JMS knows that he'd be hard pressed to prove any theft as ST is already full of powerful beings who appear to have magical or God-like powers. E.g In TNG's Justice, the Edo worship such a power. I got the impression that the power was a time and space phase-shifting station full of Edo people from a distant future, hence their protectiveness over the primitive Edo people that our crew meets. Similarly I think a case can be made for the wormhole aliens having evolved from people who lived on Bajor. And then there is Q, and TOS was full of very powerful and non-corporeal beings. I wouldn't be surprised if JMS was heavily influenced by ST to start with!
KT
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 8:16am (UTC -5)
@MidshipmanNorris
"much of Trek is a bunch of people cruising along in their sweet Starfleet Careers [tm] and eating whatever they want from the handy replicators while they ponder their interesting and rewarding day."

This is not an accurate impression of Trek. A lot of the Voyager crew were people who screwed up their Starfleet careers one way or another. In TNG, did the senior crew seem like they'd had a good day at the end of Lower Decks? or Chain of command? or when Ensign Ro defected? Did you watch the Lt Barclay eps? in DS9 Rom didn't have an opportunity to have the career he would have chosen, Nog's was interrupted by war, Jadzia died, Esri's career was interrupted by Dax. Wolf hasn't always been sure Starfleet is where he belongs. Sisko once contemplated leaving starfleet after his wife was killed. TOS: Kirk made blunders ENT: Archer had his ups and downs before getting the command which was often at risk due to Vulcan interference. T'Pol fell out of favour with her superiors may times. There are lots of examples to contradict your saying that Micheal is a unique character when actually she is Spock meets Ensign Ro meets T'Pol.
Trent
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 8:44am (UTC -5)
Kinematic said: "The media now seems to be all about subverting expectations, and what could be more subversive right now than a genuinely optimistic, aspirational story? "

Yes, and Discovery is not subversive. It embraces the overriding aesthetic, and political position of our times, as well as familiar war tropes. A subversive writer's take on the Klingon war would be much different: perhaps a minor Klingon house accepting the Federation's proposal to assist in the reordering and governance of one of its worlds - why maintain a feudalistic, warrior society when post-scarcity utopia is possible? - and the response this generates in the rest of the Empire. But in Disco, the Federation can't be allowed to allegorically stand in for anything other than how contemporary America mistakenly sees itself (good, liberal, violent only when push comes to shove from backwater primitives). Alternative methods of social ordering - what really makes the Federation a critique of our world - cannot be discussed.
Ed
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 8:54am (UTC -5)
I liked the episode for the most part but it kind of freaked me out as I was recovering from a delirium-inducing fever at the time.
Trent
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 9:04am (UTC -5)
MidshipmanNorris said: "much of Trek is a bunch of people cruising along in their sweet Starfleet Careers [tm] and eating whatever they want from the handy replicators while they ponder their interesting and rewarding day."

But that's also the point.

The coolest thing about every Trek series was simply chilling with buddies on a ship or space station. Then, when you're not relaxing in your super sweet space suit, you get to flirt with sexy aliens, read philosophy, wax poetic, solve political conundrums, work on your abs, replicate exotic food or battle space pirates. That's the point of the fantasy. It's a giant ubermensh or philosopher king fantasy, the implicit question always being: what constitutes a good, well-lived and/or moral life?

Tim said: ""I always found the pseudo religious aspects of DS9 to be the least watchable part of the show."

In execution maybe, but the core ideas were great IMO. I liked how the Feds treated the "gods" as aliens but respected Bajoran culture, how the Cardassians ridiculed the whole thing, and how the Bajorans relied upon faith to cope with colonialism and even justify their terrorism. This kind of juxtaposition - the Feds are militantly atheist and view religion from a materialist perspective, whilst the Bajorans are basically space Jews - is rare on TV. All these themes eventually jumped the shark, but the core ideas and even explorations were great, especially in S1 and S2.
philadlj
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 9:08am (UTC -5)
Maybe Cornwell should have consulted with Sarek, who surely knows about The Vulcan Hello: Klingons (as a monolithic people, individuals are more nuanced) basically only understand two things: Strength and honor.

If they defeat you, it's because you were too weak to resist them. If you retreat from the field of battle rather than face your fate, you lack honor, and they won't bat an eye at conquering more of you.

Starfleet has no doubt developed a defensive posture, but they just keep having outposts and bases chipped away by the various competing houses. What they need to do is act like a house themselves; to stop defending and go on the offense.

It's not the Federation Way, but to paraphrase Ben Sisko, when the peace is being lost, war could be their only hope. If the Federation wants to completely fall holding true to their principles, well, keep on doing what they've been doing.

Looking forward to seeing where this goes. I just hope whatever cliffhanger comes at the end of the finale comes AFTER there's been a turning point in the war in the Feds' favor.

And for crap's sake, give the secondary crew members more lines and stories next season!
Dom
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 9:26am (UTC -5)
Kudos on keeping up the interesting, respectful conversation from last week!

Admittedly, I'm probably closer to @Peter G. and @Trent in this debate, but I'm genuinely curious to hear from @Ubik and others what about this show is resonating on a moral level? What moral/ethical issues are you seeing and how are they developed? I get that Trek can explore ethical issues through action and not simply by having Patrick Stewart give a long monologue. Blade Runner is a perhaps my favorite example of ethical issues explored through "show, not tell", so it's possible. But even so I honestly don't see much of that in Discovery. What are you seeing in this episode that I'm not? I don't mean that sarcastically, I'm genuinely curious.
KT
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 9:43am (UTC -5)
@Trent
"This kind of juxtaposition - the Feds are militantly atheist and view religion from a materialist perspective, whilst the Bajorans are basically space Jews - is rare on TV. All these themes eventually jumped the shark, but the core ideas and even explorations were great, especially in S1 and S2."

How do you think it jumped the shark? The parwaiths?

I didn't feel Admiral Ross' position that Sisko choose between being Starfleet (and obeying his orders) or being the Emissary (and listening to the Prophets' warnings) was realistic under the circumstances -it is not like the prophets are a figment of Sisko's imagination; they have been identified as non-linear aliens via sensor readings. I don't see why Ross couldn't see that the wormhole aliens could easily have an affinity for Bajor and that their warnings should be heeded.
KT
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 9:55am (UTC -5)
@Dom
Blade Runner is a perhaps my favorite example of ethical issues explored through "show, not tell", so it's possible. But even so I honestly don't see much of that in Discovery. What are you seeing in this episode that I'm not?

Earlier on in the series I thought the Tardigrade and Burham were used as devices to say "don't judge a book by it's cover or what you've heard about it via the grapewine", Landry was rather mean to both of them but they didn't deserve it.

MU and Terrans are maybe an allegory for right-wing politics, and maybe the Klingons for the hyper religious or animalistic reactionaries of the world?

But you're right, I think, there's not much substance to DSC. There definitely is not a message per episode like with other Treks. It's mostly been contrived plot twist after twist and melodramatic exposition via Burnham.
Peter G.
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 10:26am (UTC -5)
@ KT,

"Earlier on in the series I thought the Tardigrade and Burham were used as devices to say "don't judge a book by it's cover or what you've heard about it via the grapewine", Landry was rather mean to both of them but they didn't deserve it."

I'm sad to say that I actually think this may be what they intended as a "deep" message. It's about appropriate for a grade 3 after school special.

Also I hope you're not right that the show content is about the American right-wingers, although I truthfully have no idea what they intended there.
Ed
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 10:51am (UTC -5)
@Peter G.
"I'm sad to say that I actually think this may be what they intended as a "deep" message. It's about appropriate for a grade 3 after school special."

----This reminds me of a story where the Buddha explained the basics of his message and a seeker complained that this was so simple that even a child could understand it. He responded, that yes it is, but few people of 80 practice it.

"Also I hope you're not right that the show content is about the American right-wingers, although I truthfully have no idea what they intended there."

----I think it's one of those "if the shoe fits" situations. The Terran Empire is in many ways a parody of any culture based on hyper-competitive social climbing. The Klingons of the T'Kuvma school of thought resemble reactionary isolationists of all kinds.

Dom
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 11:01am (UTC -5)
@KT & Peter, there do seem to be some nods thrown in the direction of condemning right-wing xenophobia with the Klingon concerns about remaining pure, but it's not very well developed and cartoonish. In TOS and even TNG to some extent, the villains could afford to be a bit one-dimensional because the story was never told from their point of view. They were there to serve the plot. In Discovery, however, we've had several scenes from the Klingon POV, we see how they live and behave on their ships, and they're still one-dimensional. The lesson, to the extent there is one, seems to be right-wing trolls are really just trolls, which goes against the Trek ethos of trying to appeal to people's better selves and understand differences of opinion.
Trent
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 11:05am (UTC -5)
KT said: "How do you think it jumped the shark? The parwaiths?"

Yeah, like most people, I thought the orbs, Parwraiths, firecaves, and all the lightning battles involving evil Dukat and evil Bajoran priestesses were very silly. I didn't like Sisko being a prophet either. I think the wormhole aliens should have had a more hands-off approach throughout the series, perhaps not even interacting with Bajorans and Sisko directly at all. Certainly not as deus-ex machinas.

Orbs, Jesus-allegories, prophecies and such seemed common in 1990s science fiction ( briefly resurrected for the Battlestar Galactic remake). The writers being of a certain age, and having a certain cultural upbringing, probably caused that.

Yanks
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 11:06am (UTC -5)
Question for the learned masses.

We learned that when Lorca redirected Discovery's jump to get back the the MU, that the ISS Discovery (pieces) took their place in the PU.

So, now that.... when Lorca made it back, is there a chance that PU Lorca came back to the PU? ... if so, where could he be? (as PU Lorca was never in command of the Discovery)

You know, DS9's Mirror travel didn't result in that other "guy" taking your place. I think they gone overboard with this on Discovery. I know it was the ION storm that switched the TOS guys in 'Mirror, mirror', but it looks like they think it happens all the time when traveling to the MU.
Peter G.
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 11:26am (UTC -5)
@ Dom,

That's my main issue with the portrayal of the Klingons. A Matter of Honor is the gold standard in Trek of taking a people that could have been a stereotype and "humanizing" them. The nuances scenes in that episode are superb, with each race learning about the other. The Klingons are different than us, but are not monsters. In DISC they're just a silly demonic charicature. They're not real people, and the manner in whiched they're portrayed is just as simple-minded and ugly as the so-called right wing they may be trying to portray. They're basically being portrayed as Middle Earth Orcs, and there is no room here to sympathize with them. They are eeevil, just like the MU people. That's an immeasurable backside from TNG S2.
Jason R.
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 11:36am (UTC -5)
Ed no doubt the Buddha's message was simple as is most great moral messages. But while a great message may be understandable to a child, that should not be confused with a message being delivered in a childish manner, which I think what was meant by the Grade 3 example.
Peter G.
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 12:38pm (UTC -5)
The hilarious thing about this supposed after-school-special message of "don't judge a book by its cover" is that, as it pertains to Michael, the message is completely inappropriate. People initially judged her on the ship as being 'the mutineer' and she was regarded as a traitor. You'd think, the moral being "they have to get to know her better and they'll see what she's really like", that in fact what everyone thinks about her is misinformed and that she's really 'so much more'. But actually, no! She's exactly what they thought she was: a mutinous person who literally does what she wants at every opportunity regardless of the consequences or the rules. The mutiny, in fact, is barely even the main issue staining her coming into episode 3; it's the fact that she murdered T'Kuvma purely because she wanted revenge on him. And this point is never even brought up; instead the shows keeps referencing "I started the war, so now I have to finish it." In fact, look at that paraphrase itself: "I have to finish it". You know someone is a megalomaniac when they personally declare that they will personally end a war. And then she sheltered the fact of Tyler having serious PTSD and problems to the point of incapacitation during a mission, which in fact directly led to Culber's death. Putting aside the foolish precautions Culber took in that situation, the whole situation was strictly on Burnham and her keeping secrets. And then there's the issue of saving Georgiou, which she admitted was an emotion, illogical decision. Fine, she recognizes, it, but all the same for that and other reasons we're being shown again and again that she hasn't changed a jot since the pilot. Whatever she did then she'd do again in a heartbeat. So how was the crew wrong about her, again, when she came on board?

So even the grade-school moral is false, if indeed that's a moral they intended. I know we were just throwing out ideas here rather than hearing it from the horse's mouth. But overall I cannot personally see any moral statement being made whatsoever through Burnham's arc. I can clearly see the "she's so awesome, right??" arc, but that's about it.
Oirad
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 12:50pm (UTC -5)
The allegory is quite clear: the Federation is "us" (i.e., the West, or US since this is an American show), the Klingons are the religious fundamentalist, Lorca (and the MU Terran) are the right-wing fanatics who look resonable at first (and seem to be "what is needed" in a time of crisis) but are actually fascists.

As with many things in Discovery, it is not a bad idea, but is wholly undeveloped and undermined by the various pieces - the Klingons are much more one-dimensional than their TNG (or even ENT) version, Lorca just becomes a racism-spouting superbad once he drops his façade, putting MU!Georgiu on the command chair is nonsensical. And the Federation, for some reason, is so weak that it can't survive even against a non-unified Klingon Empire.
Chrome
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 12:53pm (UTC -5)
Burnham's arc is one of atonement. As this episode says with Burnham's conversation with Tyler, her mistake at the BoBS is one she tries to live with every day. She's been challenged by Lorca giving her dirty missions where he doesn't mind if she tortures and kills or not, but she's always taken the higher, more Starfleet path.

As the story has progressed, Michael's temptation to double down on her crimes at BoBS have risen. She has even been put in a scenario where she could live her days helping to rule the Terran Empire if she only embraced her dark side like she did at the BoBS. Peter G. and others seem to think they same way Lorca did, that the BoBS is what defines Michael's character. But she's explicitly rejected that notion because she wants to reconcile her past and be a good Starfleet officer again.

Judging from next week's preview, there's going to be a big moral dilemma once again where Michael can take an easy path to end the Klingon War, one that's apparently endorsed by Sarek, Cornwell, and her lost friend Georgiou (albeit her counterpart). Her actions in the next episode will tell us what kind of character Michael wants to be, and perhaps a pro-Starfleet, pro-peace message is what we'll see. I'm interested to find out.
Peter G.
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 1:16pm (UTC -5)
@ Chrome,

"As the story has progressed, Michael's temptation to double down on her crimes at BoBS have risen. She has even been put in a scenario where she could live her days helping to rule the Terran Empire if she only embraced her dark side like she did at the BoBS."

I think you're misunderstanding me. Or alternatively, you may be seeing the arguments made here through the show's own "good vs evil" paradigm, but that's definitely not what I'm talking about. Burnham's mutiny wasn't done because she was eeeevil or power-mad, it was because she's undisciplined and cares for little more than how she feels in a given moment. The contrast you're drawing, that the dilemma here is between her being good or her being Darth Burnham is, to me, not pertinent to the criticisms I'm making. What I'm saying is that she's self-centered, typically makes emotional decisions rather than considered ones, and routinely will deviate from any pre-established plans when it personally suits her. Basically, she's not trustworthy. This has nothing to do with *her conception of her motives*, which I think is honorable. I think she tries to do the right thing, or hopes to. When the crew judged her upon her arrival it wasn't because they thought she was evil, but rather (correctly) because she had violated Federation principles because her own say-so was more important to her. And they were right. She puts her own feelings above Starfleet judgement or the Captain's orders. Basically she's Tony Stark in space, which is fun when it's a comic book, but not fun for me when it's in a Trek setting.

"Peter G. and others seem to think they same way Lorca did, that the BoBS is what defines Michael's character."

When did I say that? I never said one act defined her. I said that she's never changed since then and would do it again. I said that whatever made her believe she's always right and doesn't have to listen to anyone else is still in her. So while the one event certainly doesn't define her, it sits neatly in a consistent trend. Like any person, she doesn't have to stay that way, but so far she has. She absolutely doesn't not exemplify the story of someone who's been misjudged by her peers. So far she's been correctly judged, although certainly there is always hope for redemption.

"But she's explicitly rejected that notion because she wants to reconcile her past and be a good Starfleet officer again."

I agree that it seems she wants to. But she doesn't. To be frank I think the writers are simply confused on this score. I get the sense from the scripts that they think she actually is redeeming herself, but I do not observe that. She's just as she was. Anytime she does anything questionable and someone says something she jumps right in with some fancy explanation about how she had a specific reason. You know, I know people like that, who no matter what they do they will always have an answer for it. You really can't talk to them, it's like talking to a wall. Smart people like that will always have a 'good answer' for whatever they've done, and she's so deep in denial (or the writers are) that she can't ever see what she's done. I mean, check out her sentiments about the pilot: she's upset for having let down Georgiou and let her die, but not upset for having betrayed Starfleet values, or for executing a Klingon and deviating from her mission. When did she ever say on this series "What I did was wrong, and I really need to try to change myself." The writers don't want her to change, though, they want to 'prove' to us eventually how awesome she is and that she shouldn't change. And you know what, I'm actually concerned now that I'm thinking this through that this is an extension of the "I'm beautiful, I'm amazing the way I am, no one should tell me I should change" mentality. Very concerning if that's the case, since Trek is supposed to be about how to change ourselves to be better, not to dig in our heels and prove how great we already are.

Nievesg
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 1:26pm (UTC -5)
At home we felt that Sarek's mind-melding was intended to detect any disguised "Manchurian" human-klingon spies at the Discovery.

I mean,Voq/Tyler have been out for 9 months, but his creators (the Mokai klingons) have had enoug time to repeat the experiment planting more human-klingon spies anywhere. A good choice of spies might change a lot of things and explain some of the klingon success.

Of course, humans disappearing and returning as spies can't go unnoticed for too long, hence the new mind-melding "welcome": Discovery disappeared long enough to be suspicious.
Booming
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 1:36pm (UTC -5)
@ Trent "That's the point of the fantasy. It's a giant ubermensh or philosopher king fantasy?" Ok, I have to correct you here. Both philosophical concepts are miles away from the "reality" of Star Trek or what it stands for. Plato hated democracy because of that whole unfortunate business with Socrates (He was condemned by a democratic vote). And the ubermensch concept by Nietzsche is basically the antithesis to what Star Trek stands for aka equality, humility, helping the weak, free stuff like housing, food, medicine. The ubermensch concept actually sounds more like the core philosophy of the Terran Empire.
Chrome
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 1:43pm (UTC -5)
I'm not trying to put words in anyone's mouth, but I do wish some would be careful when they use the BoBS as a template for Michael's character when following episodes have shown Michael's goals to be different than that scenario. I think it's Michael's attitude that Peter above is criticizing, but I wouldn't confuse attitude with goals and mindset, which are more important. Burnham's a very capable officer who can tackle problems as they come even if she doesn't follow her mission to the letter ("Into the Forest I Go" with the mission aboard the Klingon ship comes to mind.)

Actions that some may characterize as self-centered, rash, or disobedient can also be indicative of an officer taking some initiative to get the job done. There's a famous scene in "Redemption, Part II" where Data ignores Picard's orders to regroup The Crazyhorse with the fleet. Completely on his own, Data has devised a way that would critically expose the Romulans and complete his mission. Data feels bad about taking the initiative later, but Picard consoles him telling him that officers "just following the orders" is an excuse many failed officers have given.

In DSC, I think Burnham does take this same line of initiative, because she's a capable officer and she's found out her own way to get the job done. Perhaps this brashness has remained the same throughout the series, but with characters brash characters like Kirk being hailed as heroic in Star Trek, I would hardly think that particular trait needs changing.
Dom
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 2:01pm (UTC -5)
@Chrome, I think one of the problems I have with Burnham is that her "brashness" comes across more as insubordination and hostility. Unlike Kirk or even Data in that case, she's not a captain. She doesn't have the experience to make those calls and often makes the wrong calls. She contradicts her captain openly on the bridge (although the later discovery about Lorca does paint that in a different light, that's not how her behavior appeared at the time). When Riker contradicted Picard, it was usually in the Ready Room or Conference Room. Riker would have been taken to task for contradicting Picard on the bridge.

I think another thing you're detecting in Peter's comments, as well as mine, is that by introducing Burnham as a mutineer, the show I think inadvertently set up a lot of fans to dislike her. It's hard to give her the benefit of the doubt when the first time we see her she makes such a colossal mistake. Even in the first few episodes, everyone talks about the Great Burnham as if she's the most competent officer in Starfleet. Lorca goes out of his way to recruit her. We the audience don't see that. Yes, she sometimes saves the day, but also sometimes makes horrible decisions and trusts the wrong people entirely.

I get that the show wants us to see her grow and learn, but in retrospect I wonder if it would have been smarter for the show to get us invested in the character first, show us a competent but brash officer, and THEN have her engage in a mutiny. You could then have a character arc in which a competent but brash officer learns judgment and wisdom.
Ubik
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 2:08pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G

See, the reason I think you're misunderstanding the series as a whole (in my opinion) may in fact be because of what I see as your misreading of Michael.

"Burnham's mutiny wasn't done because she was eeeevil or power-mad, it was because she's undisciplined and cares for little more than how she feels in a given moment. The contrast you're drawing, that the dilemma here is between her being good or her being Darth Burnham is, to me, not pertinent to the criticisms I'm making. What I'm saying is that she's self-centered, typically makes emotional decisions rather than considered ones, and routinely will deviate from any pre-established plans when it personally suits her. Basically, she's not trustworthy. This has nothing to do with *her conception of her motives*, which I think is honorable. I think she tries to do the right thing, or hopes to. When the crew judged her upon her arrival it wasn't because they thought she was evil, but rather (correctly) because she had violated Federation principles because her own say-so was more important to her. And they were right. She puts her own feelings above Starfleet judgement or the Captain's orders. Basically she's Tony Stark in space, which is fun when it's a comic book, but not fun for me when it's in a Trek setting."

So, you say she's undisciplined, and only does what she feels in the given moment? Wait a minute, I'm confused; are you arguing that she should follow orders more often? But then, when she follows Lorca's orders, for example to torture the tardigrade in order to make the spores work, you would argue that she never should have done that. So I really don't understand - how can you criticize her for failing to follow orders in some cases and then criticize her for following orders in other cases?

See, this gets to what I believe is one of the fundamental themes of the first season - the question of authority vs. individual choice. You and others read this as inconsistent writing, when in fact the ambiguity surrounding the question of when to follow orders and when to follow your personal instincts is precisely what the series is engaging with. Yes, there is some muddy writing around the entire mutiny itself: it's unclear from those first two episodes what precisely the outcome of the mutiny was - there appears to be no particular outcome, other than Michael's own guilt - but still, her motive for disobeying orders was because she felt she had inside information about how to prevent a war that her Captain failed to consider. Her motivation for mutinying is pure, as you say, although, perhaps, also rash and emotional - you would argue that the lesson she should have learned from this is to trust her commanding officer, I suppose. IS that the lesson she should take from this? In this case, we know that mutinying was wrong, because WE have inside information that the Klingons were going to attack anyway, which makes her mutiny pointless. But SHE didn't have that inside information. Given what she knew, why was the mutiny such a bad idea? Because disobeying or failing to trust your commanding officer is always the wrong thing to do?

But then, she is immediately placed under the command of Lorca, a person who seems to reject a lot of classic Federation principles, and encourages her to think of context, or her own instincts, rather than always following the chain of command. And then this new Captain immediately orders her to hurt this tardigrade. So - what is the easy lesson here? Follow orders, trust authority? Can't be - because following Lorca's orders, we learn, was also a bad idea. In fact, so many of the authority figures on this show so far (including Lorca and, now, the shell-shocked Admiral) or clearly NOT people anyone should be blindly obeying. The Admiral's putting Georgiu in control of the bridge is clearly an asinine act of desperation. Should Saru listen? Or should Saru mutiny against the Admiral and throw Giorgiu in the brig? Oh oh - now, suddenly, knowing when to mutiny and when not to mutiny is not such an easy question. I would argue, actually, that at this moment, NOT to mutiny against the Admiral would be the wrong thing to do, given her emotional state.

Also, as another example, consider that episode when Michael and Ash were on the planet, under the command of Saru - should they have blindly obeyed Saru in that context? Clearly not. He was going nuts, and they disobeyed him, and quite rightly.

So what the hell is Michael supposed to think about all this? She is trying to earn redemption for having shown a severe lack of trust in her commanding officer, and all she keeps encountering is evidence that, dammit, she SHOULD be questioning orders, all the damned time, considering how flawed and corruptible authority figures around her have turned out to be.

So: dismissing Michael as a selfish and emotional wreck who constantly disregards orders is an unfair and unsustainable reading of this character. She is, rather, a character who is constantly being put in positions where she must wrestle with the notion of authority vs. personal instinct. Sometimes when she resists orders, she is wrong to do so. But sometimes when she obeys orders, she is wrong to do so. Knowing when to obey authority is not easy. This continued exploration of this ambiguity, this struggle, in regards to authority is, I think, new in the Star Trek franchise.

We have, of course, had individual episodes where Captains or their first officers ignore orders. Ironically, most of the time, those decisions are treated, afterwards, heroically. Kirk and Picard ignore the Prime Directive several times, and it is often seen as the right thing to do, as a more humane and flexible attitude towards a mechanically rigid law. Kirk literally steals the Enterprise and breaks a quarantine merely to save a personal friend, and he is rewarded with a new Captaincy and three more movies. Time and time again, we have seen individuals in Star Trek reject orders, and the problem is usually solved easily and by the end of the episode or film. (In Star Trek III, Kirk wrestles with the ethics of betraying Starfleet NOT AT ALL.) At other times, we see that following orders was the wrong thing to do (Riker in The Pegasus comes to mind.)

But what we have here is an extended exploration of those difficulties, more extended than we have ever had in the franchise before. At the beginning of the series, Michael learns a lesson about trusting her commanding officer, and then she spends the rest of the season learning NOT to trust her commanding officer. Or the first officer (in that Saru episode). Or the new officer (Ash). Or the Admiral, who is clearly off her rocker. She consistently learns NOT to trust, while trying to earn redemption for an act of DIStrust against her captain and friend. None of this is easy, and just because Michael isn't given little Picardian monologues about how hard it is to know when to trust others and when to trust yourself does NOT mean that she show is not deeply invested in these questions. The tension in almost every episode centres on this very theme. The show explores these questions through character, through juxtaposition, through parallelism and repeated tropes, rather than through dialogue.

And, most of all, it offers no easy answers. Anyone who claims the presence of after-school-special messages from this series are misreading the series.

@Dom

And this would be one answer to the question you posed - what ethical dilemmas do I think the show is exploring. This is one of them. I believe there are at least three or four others.
Jason R.
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 2:44pm (UTC -5)
Ubik you focus on the mutiny but neglect the part where she murders the Klingon leader, right after imploring Giorgiou not to kill him for fear it would make him a martyr. She just shoots the guy in the back, going out of her way to kill when she had the obvious option to stun (you know, completing her mission as she claimed was cruicial to prevent the war not 10 minutes earlier)

Not only is Burnham self-centred and undisciplined, she is emotionally volatile to the point of being unhinged. Sisko loses it when Jennifer died but to his credit, he doesn't start a war over it.

On your second point, you are equivocating between following UNETHICAL orders versus following orders you merely believe to be wrong calls. Even in today's military a soldier has an obligation not to follow an order to do something immoral like torturing or murdering non combatants. But no soldier anywhere gets to just disobey an order merely because she thinks it's the wrong call, no matter how many lives she thinks will be saved in the process.

There is no equivalence between mutinying against Georgiou because Burnham thought she made the wrong call vis a vis the Klingons versus obeying Lorca's illegal orders to exploit / torture innocent likely sentient life.

If the first season is really setting up this comparison then it's a hopelessly false one.

But you know my personal theory is that the writers never even intended Burnham to murder the Klingon and I think they've essentially retconned that act out of existence implicitly by never bringing it up again. The scene may have just been horribly constructed or the direction messed up or perhaps it was badly edited, but my feeling is, despite what is plain and obvious from the scene that Burnham murdered the Klingon in revenge for Giorgiou, we are somehow meant to think that it was some sort of self-defence or inadvertance - the show is really that incompetent.
Dom
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 2:45pm (UTC -5)
@Ubik, I guess that is a theme, albeit very underdeveloped. A big part of the problem for me is that we never really SEE Burnham wrestle with these questions explicitly. It's there as kind of background, but never comes to the head or leads to much of an emotional payoff (aside from the tardigrade mini-arc, which I still think was Discovery's finest moment). There's no agonizing or thoughtful discussion with the crew about following orders, questioning Lorca, etc. We don't necessarily need a Picardian monologue, but I do think it's important to actually hear characters wrestle with the implications of their decisions. If the last episode contains a thoughtful discussion about when to follow orders, I might eat my words, but for now.

Also, I just don't trust Burnham's judgment. As per your question to Peter, "how can you criticize her for failing to follow orders in some cases and then criticize her for following orders in other cases?" The answer is quite simple. She failed to follow orders because she wanted to engage in a quixotic and aggressive attack on a foreign vessel, and when she obeyed orders she did so to torture an innocent being. I give her credit to eventually coming around on the tardigrade, but initially she was following the wrong type of order and disobeying the right one. It'd be like an American soldier disobeying an order to not fire on a car that is headed towards a roadside checkpoint, but obeying an order to torture a prisoner. Trusting Lorca and then saving MU Georgiou were also mistakes that just undermine my confidence in her. Don't get me wrong, I'm fine with a character who has bad judgment or is incompetent, but the show seems to be trying to depict Burnham as extremely competent and of sound judgment, and I just don't see that.
Jason R.
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 2:58pm (UTC -5)
Dom you hit the nail on the head. There is nothing wrong with depicting an unhinged or unstable character in fiction. But the writers seem hell bent on twisting the narrative to force us to see Burnham sympathetically, to trust their blueprint for her character and not our lying eyes.
Skwinty
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 4:12pm (UTC -5)
I think all this debating is interesting, but pointless, because I don't think the writers had that much in mind at all, other than making a flashy show with some plot twists and shocks in it.

People cherry-picking this scene or that scene to support their argument, and their argument making sense; then another person picking some other scene or two to support the opposing argument, and that also making sense; seems to indicate to me that the writers didn't have a coherent theme in mind at all.

All of the characters, especially Mike, seem to do what they do just because the plot requires them to do it, so they can get to the next twist or shock. I don't think the show is as deep as people are assuming.

I could be wrong, and maybe the last episode, or even next season, will prove me wrong, but I doubt it. It doesn't look that way so far.

But certainly don't stop debating. Like I said, I think it's pointless, but interesting nonetheless.
KT
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 4:16pm (UTC -5)
Jason R said "But the writers seem hell bent on twisting the narrative to force us to see Burnham sympathetically, to trust their blueprint for her character and not our lying eyes."

I thought this when Lorca appeared to be backing Burnham up but actually it was just Murca buttering up his chosen future Empress. So with that in mind, have the writers really actually been trying to force a better impression of Burnham onto the audience?
Dom
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 4:33pm (UTC -5)
@KT, that's a fair point. Lorca is a pretty unreliable judge of character. On the other hand, why does a guy who plots to become Emperor care so much about this one person? What's so special about her? It seems like so many of the characters treat her like she's the Chosen One™.

I did see glimmers of a more interesting, weaker Burnham in her scene with Tyler. I felt like it was one of the few times the character let the audience see her internal struggles. I'd love to see the writers spend more time there, with a Burnham who isn't always in control and has to wrestle with the consequences of her actions.
Dom
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 4:49pm (UTC -5)
Here's another good review of the show:

https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2018/02/star-trek-discovery-ive-made-a-lot-of-bad-emotional-choices/
Yanks
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 5:40pm (UTC -5)
Interesting conversation everyone. I'd like to chime in if I may.

Without quoting everyone, I will address I couple things I've read.

My #1 issue with this series is two-fold. 1 - is Michael's conscious decision to kill T'Kuvma. 2 - How they've framed Michael.

I hadn't thought of an "editing gaff" WRT to killing T'Kuvma. I would really have a hard time believing that as it is a character-defining moment.

Michael was introduced to us as a kid that lost her parents horribly and was saved by a Vulcan mind meld and eventual adoption and raising by Sarak. That clearly indicated to me that Michael should have personal discipline. I believe Sarak even made comment to this effect when speaking about the meld when he was saving Michael's life.

So, we are presented a disiplined, brilliant, Vulcan trained woman that was also personally trained for years by Captain Georgiou.

Every mistake she has made is contrarian to that baseline. Even when she does "lose control" and make mistakes, do you get the opinion watching her that she is really losing control at all? Thinking back on it I don't. The most recent "mistake" was her bringing MU Georgiou to the PU. Did we see anything like her fighting an urge to do this? Nope, she just did it. She wasn't even emotionally out of control when they ended up on the transporter pad on Discovery. Think back to killing T'Kuvma... did she toil with making that choice? Nope, she just deliberately did it. When she nerve pinched Captain Georgiou, was she emotionally fighting with her self then? That's not how I remember it. That's not how Michael made me feel. She went out of her way to deceive her.

This is why I have a hard time with the path they've chosen with Michael. We are supposed to get onboard with her "struggle", but I don't see a struggle. The best most honorable thing she's done in this show was to free the Tardigrade.

Now I realize this may be an incorrect perception on my part, but when we get what should be the most emotional moment in Michael's life, her meet-up with Ash... her first kiss, her first love betrayed, trust broken.... I didn't feel it. They should have has all of us in tears. I'm not certain if it's the writers, the directors, SMG's acting chops... I don't know.

Kirk's ACTIONS defined him. He never needed to tell us what he did. 'Enterprise' went too far on a number of occasions telling us that Archer was the end all be all for the future of the Federation. Michael saying in a passing conversation in a hallway that she's made some bad emotional decisions doesn't cut it. Don't say it, SHOW ME! I want her ACTIONS to define her. We all think Suru is doing a fine job as Captain because his actions lead us to think that way, not because he talks about it in passing.

Well, that's where I stand. Chime in please if I'm off base I'd like to know.
BZ
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 6:04pm (UTC -5)
Something I just thought about, and it's related to Yanks's point, is that Michael is supposed to be a (now former) first officer, but she doesn't look or act like one. Sure, we've seen very little of her *as* a first officer, but she acts like an ensign at the start of her career, not a "number one". The only person we see less sure of herself is Tilly, who is a cadet. And even Tilly seems to move ahead of her in some respects by now. Now, certainly Michael has no rank now, but you don't lose your experience when you get stripped of rank. And I can't blame the acting because she's clearly *written* like a junior officer, a Harry Kim, not a T'Pol, and certainly not a Riker.
Henson
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 6:27pm (UTC -5)
@BZ

Are you suggesting that Burnham was possibly fast-tracked by Sarek into her position as first officer, and that she hadn't earned it? Or that perhaps Georgiou misjudged Burnham's readiness for the position?

I mean, that would make sense, seeing as how she was first officer on the Shenzhou only seven years out of the academy. Considering how Data served for 19 years before becoming second officer of the Enterprise-D, Burnham's record does seem pretty accelerated.
BZ
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 6:41pm (UTC -5)
@Henson,

I'm not suggesting anything in-universe, but now that you mention it, it does make sense, given her "cadet to captain just like that" talk with Tilly. That sounded wrong to me, but I thought it was just a clumsy turn of phrase. Maybe that was *her* experience and Sarek *did* use his connections to fast track her. He did say "we'll find a place for her in Starfleet" implying something other than just sending her to the academy and letting her earn her way.
Skwinty
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 8:13pm (UTC -5)
Sorry to interrupt again, but I want do want to reiterate what I said before, that there was no plan, or theme, because I think it's right, but mostly because I thought of this analogy that I think is clever. :)

The character of Mike is sort of like a cat that climbed a tree. Some people think it was chased up there by a dog, and there is evidence for that. Some people think it climbed up there on it's own to stalk prey, and there is evidence of that.

But what really happened was, a spaceship came down and beamed it up into outer space to be a super jedi cat. And that's the true story.

Other Robert
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 10:40pm (UTC -5)
@Yanks "Michael was introduced to us as a kid that lost her parents horribly and was saved by a Vulcan mind meld and eventual adoption and raising by Sarak. That clearly indicated to me that Michael should have personal discipline. I believe Sarak even made comment to this effect when speaking about the meld when he was saving Michael's life."
...
"Every mistake she has made is contrarian to that baseline. Even when she does "lose control" and make mistakes, do you get the opinion watching her that she is really losing control at all?"

For people who were orphaned, I've found this is often a sensitive and explosive topic throughout their lives, and an otherwise very collected person can unravel around the whole topic of what happened to their parents. So for audience members who are orphans, I think the 30-second origin story we got about how she became an orphan probably cuts really deep and works fine for them. (Certainly there are many, many orphans in performing arts, which is probably why it's such a common plot device.)

Seen through this lens, it makes sense Burnham comes unhinged when faced with a Klingon threat, then T'Kuvma's killing of a mother-figure, an event also echoing the death of her bio parents at the hands of Klingons. Also explains her impulsive rescue of !Georgiou despite all common sense. I think maybe Ash's line about "Klingons killed your parents then you fell in love with a Klingon!" has some dramatic weight if you're really keeping all this in mind and feeling it because you too were orphaned. It doesn't take brilliant writing or acting or anything because you are already plugged in.

For the rest of us who are not orphans though, that 30-second obligatory audio-only flashback-in-a-flashback (yo dawg we heard you like flashbacks) where her parents are killed goes by in the blink of an eye, we didn't feel all the feels that an orphan would feel in that moment that sets up this whole season-long arc of her wrestling with the foundational event of her life. We just see a little kid who's scared for a couple seconds by a test. (During that somewhat incoherent scene, it is not SMG, but a brand new actress so we are simultaneously trying to figure out 1) is this a flashback? 2) where are we? 3) when are we? 4) who is that little girl with the Vulcan haircut? 5) what is going on here? 6) Is the bombardment happening in her mind or in the Vulcan school?) So we don't really remember this event in the context of her day-to-day adult decisions 30 years later at all. It certainly doesn't attach directly to her life as it's portrayed in the pilot.

By contrast, in Sisko's pilot episode flashback we at least see him and Jake lose Jennifer in realtime (with our *eyes*), and it brilliantly piggybacked off the emotional baggage we ST fans already had around Wolf 359. It is further cemented by the intense conflict it creates with our most beloved Picard. So even if we personally haven't lost a spouse/parent, we felt Sisko and felt the gravity of that event for his character as a defining moment. It's integral to his character as a single dad, as a widower in a strange place, a commanding officer who has already faced overwhelming opposition in wartime, all topics we get to explore in detail during 26*7 episodes that were properly paced.

With DISCO we were further confused by the label "Star Trek" thinking this story is going to develop an ensemble cast and that Burnham's origin story is a very small piece of a big tapestry. We kept looking for more tapestry, but as we arrive at the end of the season, we are finally forced to conclude that the whole thing really was about Burnham and her origin story was actually pretty much the most important fact of the whole season if we are to derive any meaning from the way they're wrapping things up.

I'm reminded of when I saw Arrival, the first time I'd been in a theater since the birth of my three-year-old daughter. The first 5 minutes of that movie completely gutted me as a parent, and I was weeping despite the fact that I met the character four minutes ago and still had popcorn in my mouth. However, my not-parent friend next to me was completely unphased, just as 10-years-ago-me would have been. As a result, I experienced the movie in a very emotional context... he did not.

If you're an orphan and you're still not buying any of this, then I dunno :)
Skwinty
Wed, Feb 7, 2018, 11:36pm (UTC -5)
What the hell are you talking about? Orphans? Really?

You think that this was what DIS has been about? I have nothing against orphans, but to say that this nearly psychotic year of DIS is about orphans is stretching things to the limit.

And for no reason whatsoever, I'll give my rankings of the various ST shows so far.

1. TNG
2. TOS
3. ENT
4. DS9
5. DIS
6. VOY
John Harmon
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 12:36am (UTC -5)
So...how did the ISS Discovery switch places with the USS Discovery? It didn't have a spore drive. We're told that the only spore tech in the MU is in the emperor's ship.
Booming
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 2:58am (UTC -5)
adding to other Roberts analysis: One should keep in mind that Burnham became a mutineer because of Sarek. A dominant father figure Burnham wanted to please (she didn't get into Vulcan Academy for example even though that wasn't actually her fault).
To SMG acting. I thought she was ok in the Walking Dead but not great. A lot of people liked Seven of Nine not noticing that she is/was a bad actress. In psychology that is called beauty bias. The same principle applies to Jadzia Dax who was a model before she basically started her (short) acting career with Star Trek. The more modern iterations of Star Trek always put some eye candy in there for obvious reasons. SMG is beautiful but the beauty bias doesn't seem to have an effect here. Maybe the problem is that unlike Seven of Nine or Jadzia Dax she is playing lead. Personally I'm also not a big fan of her acting so far even though it improved during the season. Could be the role but it could also be her limited acting range.
The best from a pure acting standpoint is probably Anthony Rapp. With Mary Wiseman and Shazad Latif behind. The film industry has a tendency to cast beautiful over ability when it comes to female actors. People who are very beautiful are mostly only average actors and this is where the beauty bias kicks in.

MadManMUC
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 4:19am (UTC -5)
@Skwinty said: 'I don't think the writers had that much in mind at all, other than making a flashy show with some plot twists and shocks in it.'

Bingo. This is it, right here. And, let's be honest: these plot twists are exactly surprising, we all saw them coming episodes away.

I promise you, you will never get anything nearly as profound as 'Balance of Terror', 'The Enemy', or 'The Inner Light' out of STD. What you will get is a poorly written, poorly acted mediocre sci-fi series that is Trek in name only and full of utterly dislikable characters, that is far more informed by Jar-Jar Abrams's lightweight action flicks (all the while wishing it had the serialised chops of GoT) than it is by the legacy of TOS, TNG or DS9 (hell, or even VOY).

And really, this is — for me — the worst crime this series is committing (redesigning the Klingons — if you can call them that — comes a close second). The Trek franchise (nu-Trek not included) has an incredible legacy that the showrunners of STD has willingly chosen to ignore in order to pander to the lowest common denominator. At the same time, they think that name-dropping Jonathan 'Golly Gee Gosh' Archer and his ugly ship every once in a while will put them on the fast track to hardcore fan acceptance, when all it really does it make this turd of a series look cynical and superficial (which it is, anyway).
Plain Simple
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 6:29am (UTC -5)
@KT: "As an Ambassador, Sarek can give orders to Starfleet officers, in that context Saru and Sarek are nothing like the Mr Y and Mr X of your example. I haven't seen anything in previous treks to suggest mindmelds are on par with punches in the face. Maybe the better analogy would be a polygraph test?"

You seem to be nitpicking my analogy for minor ways in which it is not like a mindmeld, while disregarding the similarities. It's about intruding upon someone's personal space (physically in my example, mentally in the mindmeld example) without prior consent. But I can change the analogy, if you'd like: Mr X is at work and Mr Y, his boss, walks up to him and without asking permission grabs Mr X's phone and starts reading all his personal emails (and Mr X is a prolific emailer, so many details of his personal live are contained in these emails). Afterwards Mr X says "oh, I don't mind; I don't have anything to hide". Oh well, say Mr X's colleagues, in that case we are all very happy to work for a boss who without warning can come up to us and read all our private personal communications.
Yanks
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 6:41am (UTC -5)
@John Harmon

"So...how did the ISS Discovery switch places with the USS Discovery? It didn't have a spore drive. We're told that the only spore tech in the MU is in the emperor's ship."

My thoughts exactly.

Also, the original Defiant didn't have a counterpart in the MU that came to the PU.
Plain Simple
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 6:52am (UTC -5)
@Mertov: "And yeah, I am sure Cornwell and Sarek and Starfleet who are probably in a state of urgency due to their imminent disappearance from the face of the universe, are not going to be suspicious at all, and are simply going to "ask" them to tell their story and accept it like a kid accepts a fairy tale."

So the urgency was so extremely high that we couldn't have had the following two lines?

Sarek: "Commander Saru, since time is of the essence I would want to perform a mindmeld to learn whether you really are who you seem to be and find out where you have been if you are."

Saru: "OK".

Mertov
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 7:45am (UTC -5)
Yes, if you saw the scene, at that moment, the urgency was very high.
And if Star Trek has to have quoted lines from fans repeated in scenes to satisfy them, I wish them good luck.
Nic
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 7:59am (UTC -5)
This episode had its moments, and its feel and pace was certainly close to what I would like to see on a regular basis. But it still hinges on us accepting all the craziness that came before at face value, which I can’t. In an episodic series, when you get a “turkey” episode, you can just pretend it never happened and move on. In a serialized show, if you have a bad storyline, you’re stuck with it.
And even with this episode,

- I haven’t counted, but I think there have been more mind melds in this season than in any other season of Trek.
- Some of you have complained about Sonequa Martin-Green’s acting. I agree that she’s no Patrick Stewart, but I say 90% of the blame goes to the writers for not sufficiently developing her character.
- I like Cornwell.
- Saru lets Tyler-who-may-still-be-Voq walk around freely, and later Emperor Georgiou is given command of the ship. I’m sure these are supposed to seem like demonstrations of Starfleet’s attitude of trust and forgiveness, but to me it just seems foolhardy. Given all the “twists” we’ve had on this series so far, I’m expecting a betrayal from both of them.
- Tyler blames Burnham for feeling guilty about falling in love with a Klingon. WHAT PLANET IS HE ON?
- And finally, we return to an oft-used Trek cliché: Fire Something at a Planet Which Will Take Effect Instantly ™.
juss100
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 9:06am (UTC -5)
@Booming "To SMG acting. I thought she was ok in the Walking Dead but not great. A lot of people liked Seven of Nine not noticing that she is/was a bad actress. In psychology that is called beauty bias. The same principle applies to Jadzia Dax who was a model before she basically started her (short) acting career with Star Trek. The more modern iterations of Star Trek always put some eye candy in there for obvious reasons. SMG is beautiful but the beauty bias doesn't seem to have an effect here. Maybe the problem is that unlike Seven of Nine or Jadzia Dax she is playing lead. Personally I'm also not a big fan of her acting so far even though it improved during the season. Could be the role but it could also be her limited acting range. "

I've not seen Voyager but I don't recall anyone ever accusing Terry Farrell of being a particularly decent actor (or Marina Sirtis in TNG for that matter. Or Gates Mcfadden for that matter.) I don't personally find her as terrible as SMG in DISCO because, as you say, she's not carrying the weight of the show on her shoulders and when she did have to, she at least had half-decent scripts to work with, which heightened the show, if not her acting performance.

I don't think that there's anything hypocritical - in dismissing SMG's performances which are, frankly, terrible from whatever angle you view them - she utterly fails to make a connection with either the audience or her fellow cast members. (I didn't think Michelle Yeoh was much cop in the opening episodes, either and I'm a fan of her HK movies. Professional Hong Kong actors do tend to struggle in English, not sure if that's the difference in the language emphasis, or the style of acting.) However, some of the other actors do come across as warmer or more engaging or marginally interesting so I think she should take the credit for her own failure, even whilst it's unfair and rather stupid of the writers to keep putting the success or failure of the show on her head and for them telling us that we *love* this character and she's wonderful and a hero before having proven as such. I initially cut her some slack for being a vulcan and not prone to emotion, but when one thinks how much character Leonard Nimoy got from his part, there's no comparison. Even Zachary Quinto looks like a genius alongside of her.

BZ
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 9:27am (UTC -5)
Sisko manged to carry DS9 despite his acting being subpar, especially when any sort of anger was involved. I find Jeri Ryan's acting to be quite good. SMG, hard to tell so far, I don't see much of a problem.

The thing is, a great character (as written) can be carried by an ok actor (Brooks). An ok character can be elevated by a great actor. I can't think of a good Trtek example. Maybe Tuvok. It remains to be seen how Burnham turns out.
Latex Zebra
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 9:37am (UTC -5)
Possibly my favourite episode so far.
Sad to see this coming to an end next week. Hope I (I wont say we because from the comments here everyone seems to dislike it) don't have to wait an age for season 2.
Can't wait to see where they go with all this.
Part of me is hoping for an epic reset just because of the implosion it will cause!
MadManMUC
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 9:39am (UTC -5)
The thing is with SMG and her acting:

I don't know about any of you, but I don't need Trek actors to be great ... but I do need them to be *likeable*. SMG is certainly not that. She's always sporting a contemptuous, peevish look on her face that makes me see red. Likeable she most certainly is not.

And the rest of the cast is entirely to one-dimensional for me to give a toss about them; they haven't given me any reason to like them (possible exception going to Saru and Tilly, but they're still one-dimensional), much less be emotionally invested in them.

People like LeVar Burton, Gates McFadden, DeForest Kelly, Michael Dorn, Avery Brooks, Nana Visitor, Robert Picardo, Robert Beltran, et al ... they're not *great* actors by any stretch of the imagination, but they somehow made their characters likeable, and that's more important, because it brings emotional investment from the audience.*

As it currently stands, I just want one of the writers to decide that it's time to kill SMG's character off. It's not like they'd be killing Spock, or the original refit Enterprise, is it?

*Well, maybe not Major Kira. I found her tedious and irritating (the character, not Nana Visitor).
MadManMUC
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 9:48am (UTC -5)
To be honest, the only really *great* actor any Trek has had are:

• Patrick Stewart. I defy anyone to try and tell me this isn't so, especially partnered with ...
• David Warner. His Gul Madred was the stuff of delicious nightmares
• Ricardo Montalbán (his acting in TWOK ran circles around everyone else)
• René Auberjonois. He can convincingly portray a whole range of feelings and emotions, and his comic timing is impeccable.
KT
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 9:52am (UTC -5)
@plain simple
It's not nitpicking to point out that whilst punches in face is obviously violent and clearly against the law, mind melds aren't.

"But I can change the analogy, if you'd like: Mr X is at work and Mr Y, his boss, walks up to him and without asking permission grabs Mr X's phone and starts reading all his personal emails (and Mr X is a prolific emailer, so many details of his personal live are contained in these emails)"

Yes that is a much better analogy but changing the personal phone to a company phone would make it a much more accurate analogy imo.
Dom
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 10:04am (UTC -5)
@KT, how is looking at someone's phone LESS of a violation of privacy than looking directly into their mind? Reading someone's mind is the greatest violation of privacy imaginable.
Dom
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 10:21am (UTC -5)
edit: MORE. Also, KT's change to a company phone is completely off base unless you believe in slavery. A Starfleet officer's mind is not Starfleet property.
Chrome
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 11:06am (UTC -5)
@Dom

I think the idea is that when you join a company you give up certain privacy rights (my company can randomly check my email if it wants). Enlisting in a military implies similar losses in privacy, which is something you consent to you when you sign up. Starfleet/Federation are organizations founded in large part by Vulcans, so there must be some rules and regulations regarding mindmelds. Perhaps Starfleet officers, per their commission, are subject to screenings by Vulcans or Betazoids, which is a privacy right they give away freely because they get a chance to visit strange new worlds and seek out new life and new civilizations. But joining Starfleet is a choice, and there's responsibility that goes with that choice.
KT
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 11:17am (UTC -5)
@Dom
Exactly what Chrome said; "... when you join a company you give up certain privacy rights"

It's not like Sarek probed whether Saru ever imagined Captain Georgiou naked or anything else not pertinent to the starship Discovery which is Starfleet property.

Ubik
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 11:35am (UTC -5)
@MadManMUC

See, when you say you don't like a Star Trek actor's acting, by your own admission you don't actually mean that at all - you mean you find the character unlikeable. This is an entirely different criticism. And you're perfectly welcome to that criticism, but it isn't the same thing as faulting the actor's acting skills.

All the casual dismissing of people's acting I see on this thread seems really arbitrary to me and, I'm sorry to say, imprecise. It is absolutely not an actor's job to "create a relationship" with anyone or to "be likeable" or to "make the audience care." That is the job of a roommate, or a spouse, or a best friend. To seek that kind of relationship with a fictional character seems to me, at best, a misplaced ambition. Who says you have to like a fictional character? Are you going to have drinks with them? Are they going to marry your kid? Here's a simple example: do we "like" Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy? What's there to like? I CARE about him greatly, because he is the hero, and the protagonist, and I believe his situation and his stakes, but like? In real life, the man would be insufferable. In A New Hope, he's a whiny brat, and by Return of the Jedi, he's an aloof weirdo. But I follow his story with enthusiasm because Mark Hamill did the job of making me believe he is who he says he is.

As far as I am concerned, it is the actor's job to make the audience believe he or she is the character the script says he or she is, and perhaps to add enough human realism and complexity to that person so that they seem real. That is the goal: verisimilitude. A performance is a memesis, a simulation, of a real person, not an actual person, and the actor's job is to make that simulation as believable as possible.

On that score, the vast majority of actors from Star Trek being dismissed here as bad actors are perfectly fine actors. Sonequa Martin is being asked to play a relatively simple character (as most characters in the Star Trek franchise have been relatively simple) - someone with problems making connections, with some emotional repression (which often leads her to emotional decision-making), and with some guilt for having betrayed a mentor. She is also intelligent. All pretty standard stuff. And do I believe that this Michael character exists, and that she is who the script tells me she is? Absolutely, with no hesitation. At the moment, she is probably the dullest character of this small cast, but that protagonist-problem has plagued writers from Dickens to Stephen King, so the writers here are in good company. She is perfectly solid. Do I like Michael? Absolutely irrelevant. I don't base my amount of "caring" about a fictional character based on how much I "like" them, or "approve" of them, or sympathize with their ethics or decision-making. That is how I chose my wife. For a fictional character, I have to find them HUMAN. In that respect, she more than suffices.

(As an aside, there have been, of course, on occasion, Star Trek actors who have far surpassed the material given them, and added such mind-boggling complexity to their characters that they seem more real to us than even real-life people. Stewart and Spiner are probably in that small company. The rest are probably in the cast of Deep Space Nine.)
Peter G.
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 12:17pm (UTC -5)
@ Ubik,

I think you're nitpicking word choice. I read MadManMUC's point about liking a character as meaning that you're happy when they come on screen, not that you want them to be your real-life friend. Richard III is a character audiences love, even though obviously he's a villain. I love the Darth Vader character of the original SW trilogy, and needless to say I would be hesitant to have him over for tea. Basically you can think of it as audience applause for an entrance; do you want to clap when a character enters the frame? I certainly do every time Garak and Dukat come onscreen in DS9. In DISC I'm usually very happy for a Stamets scene, for instance, and it's not because I think he's a really nice guy. I mean, MadMan even brought up Gul Madred in his list of great performances in context of his point, so I don't think he was even touching on the issue of whether characters should be likeable in a real-life sense.

Of course you're right, that it's important for an actor to be able to convince us of their reality. They need to be real to us. But part of what makes a character work is us wanting to watch them repeatedly. Verisimilitude can only go so far if we find the performance aggravating at the same time. Take, for example, the excellent portrayal of Dr. Van Gelder in TOS episode Dagger of the Mind. His performance is really quite convincing, but I can assure you that I wouldn't be able to tolerate watching him in repeated episodes; it's just not enjoyable to watch it more than briefly.

I was once in an acting workshop with a noted director and an actor was more or less failing to be convincing as a civil war general, but somehow everyone liked him in the scene anyhow and he was just so likeable. The director brought this up in her feedback and said that "if you're charismatic as an actor, that's talent." She meant that being able to invite an audience in to watch the performance is perhaps almost as important as the performance itself, because the job description isn't simply to be realistic, but to get an audience interested in the piece and to excite their imagination. The audience can do a lot of the imagination legwork for you if you can get them wanting to. Just wanted to bring this up, because it's easy to speak of acting on a axis of 'pure skill' but it's a lot more complex than just that. It's about being a storyteller as well, and perhaps that side of it is more important than having raw technical skills. A case-in-point in DISC for me is the Ash Tyler character. I will frankly admit that I'm impressed by some of the acting work that goes into some of his scenes; he's going through hell, seems genuinely to be suffering, and is doing some difficult work. And yet I don't like the character and don't care very much about what he has to say. Part of that is scripting, yes, but more than that I find that his characterization and storytelling are just flat. His voice is typically monotone in ordinary speech and I find him mostly expressionless. In short, he's giving me no reason to like him, despite what I recognize as some technical acting skills. So for me that's a net failure. The storytelling just isn't there.

English actors are often a breed apart because they're trained to tell stories. Patrick Steward famously used to do a one-man reading of A Christmas Carol, which obviously may have used his 'acting' skills but mostly was about him telling a story in an interesting and animated way. I think TOS cast excelled at this above and beyond those on the other series, because on that show there was an air of 'telling wonderful stories' that went far beyond just each actor doing his job of behaving realistically. Sometimes it actually wasn't that realistic, and it really didn't matter.

So for SMG and her Michael character I have to agree with MadMan, in that she isn't likeable to me, as in, I'm not thrilled at all when I see her enter a scene. It's not just her dialogue or characterization; I find her actual countenance annoying. I think someone used the term "standoffish", which I think is right, but more than that I see the actress just *trying so hard*, struggling to achieve something or other. She's really not relaxed, and I think her eyes are tense a lot of the time too. In her emotional scenes she tries really hard to be emotional, and then in other scenes tries hard to show she's got it together. I'm seeing all the work, rather than a character living a situation. I guess I'm getting a bit technical now. I have to be honest, though, I'm going to blame the show-runners for this rather than the actress, because she has a peculiar character bible and I suspect they were giving her bad advice about how to portray that. Some actors can't get far when the direction is bad. Look at Portman in the SW prequels for an example of that, since she's normally an excellent actress.
Booming
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
@BZ
Avery Brooks is trained with a masters degree in acting. He won critical acclaim in theater and is an acting professor. He tends to overact but that is because of his theater background where overacting is quite the norm.
Jery Ryan on the other hand was a model with a bachelor in theater and never actually did any theater work.
Bad actors or actresses like Jeri Ryan often underact or are put in roles where they don't need to show much emotion. Seven of Nine was an extreme example because she starts with very basic emotions. She plays an emotionally stunted person which is very easy to play. The audience because of the aforementioned beauty bias fills this acting void with there own emotions.
What that says about Ms. Greens acting ability is anybodies guess.
wolfstar
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 12:38pm (UTC -5)
In terms of the acting on this show, it's the least of its problems. Saru, Lorca, Cornwell, L'Rell and Georgiou are/were great. Latif is good (both as Voq, as Tyler and as whatever he is now) and is only being let down by the material. I wasn't finding James Frain that good earlier on but he was solid this week. Wiseman is alright, I feel she's overplaying Tilly's naivete slightly but it's not a big problem.

There are only two performances for me that aren't really working, one of which is Stamets. The character doesn't have to be likeable (brusque engineers are a cliche and can work well), but he does have to be relatable/engaging - we at least need to see a motivation or a bit of decency underneath the sneery veneer, some indication that he's not just a rude asshole who got lucky with a nice boyfriend. Instead, after 15 episodes(!), Stamets still just comes over as snide, embittered, self-absorbed and way more autistic than Tilly, who's kind and buoyant. His relationship could have helped humanize the character a lot, especially as Culber was warm and human in what little we saw of him, but to quote Zack Handlen: "this would’ve been so much more affecting if their relationship had been more than just a well-meaning concept. Dr. Culber never got a chance to rise above 'nice boyfriend with medical degree' and Stamets is just a persistent vocal tone. There was nothing to distinguish Evil Stamets from regular Stamets besides the wardrobe."

The second and main issue is, regrettably, Burnham. While I've come to the conclusion the actress is wrong for the role, she's also really not helped by the fact her character has no motivation - Michael is instead more like a video game avatar with no personality of its own that's designed to get the viewer from the start to the end of the level. She's still better than Jolene Blalock was in S1-2 of Enterprise... but not as good as Blalock was in S3-4, which is concerning as that's not an especially high baseline. Jeri Ryan was way better on Voyager playing a not dissimilar character - the buttoned-down, contrarian outsider with strong emotions bubbling away under the surface; a human brought up in a regimented non-human society and recovering from trauma. Nimoy on TOS and Ryan on VOY (alongside Picardo) were the best actors on their respective shows - they were compelling, relatable and could steal a scene with an eyebrow. We've all felt like outsiders at one time or another so getting the outsider character just right is really important, especially in a show like Trek that has a large outsider viewership. Ditto Starbuck on BSG - she could easily have been a totally unlikeable, hard-to-relate-to character, but the way Katee Sackhoff played her was tremendous, bringing out so much more than what was written on the page - you can see and feel Kara's pain, conflict and turmoil, her desires and her emotional injuries. She was one of the best things about BSG and her story spoke to me personally; Sackhoff played her as an open wound and with complex post-traumatic stress, but still three-dimensional, healable, and even able to be warm and playful sometimes. Compared to her (or Jeri Ryan, or Nana Visitor), SMG is so disappointing... just totally flat. What hurts is you can see her trying in some scenes, and those scenes are the most dilettantish. She's not being helped by Burnham's poor characterization (even the Enterprise writers had a better handle on who T'Pol actually was) but I think she's not mature enough for the role.
Dom
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 12:57pm (UTC -5)
@KT & Chrome, claiming that joining Starfleet means you surrender any right to privacy in your thoughts is the most ludicrous thing I've read on this site. That implicitly would mean Starfleet officers have no right to privacy and that Starfleet can collect any information about them that they want. With that type of power over its officers, Starfleet could do whatever it wants. It could blackmail officers by threatening to release private information. Star Trek is supposed to be a utopia, but that sounds like a dystopia.

This is completely different from companies checking your email. If you're using a company's technology or equipment during work time, they have a right to know what you're doing with it and if you're abusing it. Employees don't surrender all privacy to their employers. Companies can't ask about your politics or religion and your family circumstances during job interviews. Your employer also can't demand to go to your house and inspect it. Even for jobs with security clearance you must consent to a polygraph and it's only for a certain time with very clear, limited questions about your loyalty and criminal history.

By the way, I highly doubt the writers put half as much thought as you did into this scene. It's a poorly thought out scene and doubt it was meant to be all that important, but I'm just shocked how many people seem perfectly OK with Vulcans forcing themselves onto others.
Mertov
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 1:08pm (UTC -5)
My two cents in on the acting..

I understand that Avery Brooks has an impressive background in acting and I am sure he excelled on stage and in some other roles, but his overblown breathing, and his head nods averaging 4-5 times a second trying to show emotions, and syllables coming out at snail's pace, were very distracting. I thought he was the worst actor-captain in Star Trek (then again, he had some serious competition there).

On the other hand, I disagree with some posters on Ryan as Seven of Nine. And again, I understand she does not have the background filled with acting honors, and I have never seen her elsewhere except as a guest star in an episode of a comedy show (she was just "ok" in that), but.. as Seven, I always felt she killed it. Good examples would be "One" and that other episode where she was possessed by the Doctor for a large period of time. I thought she was excellent as Seven (and I remember Jammer noting how great she was also in his reviews). In fact, it was quite unjust to portray her as a babe and put her in that outfit just for "interest" from audience.

I think Martin-Green is fine in her role here. Nothing exceptional. The other cast are pretty good in my opinion. Rapp, Jones, Isaacs, Yeoh, Wiseman are great and Frain and Brook do well as guest stars. I wish (yes I am maxed out on this but..) Emily Coutts got to be more involved..
Chrome
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 1:19pm (UTC -5)
"claiming that joining Starfleet means you surrender any right to privacy in your thoughts is the most ludicrous thing I've read on this site."

No one ever said this, it's taking a reasonable idea to an extreme. We're just saying you lose "some" privacy rights and during an wartime emergency you'd reasonably expect to lose more.
Booming
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 1:23pm (UTC -5)
@wolfstar
Sorry. I don't mean to be insulting.
But Jeri Ryan is not a good actress.
Robert Picardo, Nana Visitor and Anthony Rapp are Broadway actors. And Latif was at the old vic. These are all fine, well trained actors. Jeri Ryan is not.
Jeri Ryan was loved because she is a blonde, blue eyed nerd fantasy (oh I'm so confused about emotions and need help all the time) with a super sexy body and the primitive mammals that we are want to be liked by people we... want.
Booming
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 1:27pm (UTC -5)
to all the Jeri Ryan fans: I'm getting Paul Potts flashbacks from back then when everybody would say what a great singer he is which clearly he is not. He is average at best.
Mertov
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
"Jeri Ryan was loved because she is a blonde, blue eyed nerd fantasy (oh I'm so confused about emotions and need help all the time) with a super sexy body and the primitive mammals that we are want to be liked by people we... want."

Sorry but, while she may have been loved by some for that, she was also appreciated by many for her portrayal of Seven, and to claim this type of blanket statement, is kind of offensive to her and to those who thought she acted well as Seven (underlining "as Seven")...
Booming
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 1:37pm (UTC -5)
http://s2.quickmeme.com/img/b9/b9ed6fc3c906f2702d40f2a2fce6dc0932ec754c743fef2e100026573cb69534.jpg
Peter G.
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 1:40pm (UTC -5)
@ Booming,

"Jeri Ryan was loved because she is a blonde, blue eyed nerd fantasy (oh I'm so confused about emotions and need help all the time) with a super sexy body and the primitive mammals that we are want to be liked by people we... want. "

You are SO wrong about this. She was loved by Trek fans *despite* all of this, not because of it. There was an initial backlash among diehard fans, even though general public ratings predictably went up when she came on. But that spike wouldn't have lasted if she had sucked at her role. T'Pol has basically the same character design as Seven, and was presented in just as shabby a fashion by Braga, and so tell me: how many people on this site routinely praise T'Pol's characterization and Blalock's acting? That is your apples-to-apples comparison right there.

I think you could do well to give Ryan more credit than to assume her accolades only come as a result of her looks. Do you not see how such an assertion could come off as...shall we say...insulting? That as a woman, she only got by because of her looks. You may not like her performances, which is fine, but to assert that other people only claim to like her work because of her body is an excessively cynical position to take.
Booming
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 1:41pm (UTC -5)
@ Mertov
That was jpg was supposed to be a Niles Crane pun. But I guess you I will leave you ... unpuned this time, my good sir.
Believe what you must. But she is still a weak actress and anybody who disagrees does not know what good acting is.
(I hope it works this time)
http://s.quickmeme.com/img/24/245c5473ca664a3ea00b7b21dcd57a8814ae84f02862d401538540584e31a401.jpg
Mertov
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 1:46pm (UTC -5)
Yeah sure.. That jpg was so profound as a critical-thinking tool, it blew me away..

Never mind that you are completely ignoring millions who may have no sexual interest in her, and are only taking into account those who are interested in female body lust..
Leighton
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 1:50pm (UTC -5)
Peter G: T'Pol's characterization and Blalock's acting were far superior to Jeri Ryan's. The reason she is not praised as highly has more to do with ENT's underrated status, which still mystifies me to this day because I'd rewatch even the weakest ENT episodes over a random VOY episode any day of the week.
Booming
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 1:51pm (UTC -5)
Peter G.
We had our little talk already and I find it somewhat funny that you are now accusing me of misogyny. Yes I think people in the movie industry select beautiful women far more often which is sad because there are certainly a lot of great female actors who don't look like super models. :)
Weinstein said often that he would help the careers of some actresses even though they weren't that good because of their looks.

Booming
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 1:57pm (UTC -5)
Mertov
It was signifying that I don't take this debate seriously and to show you that you can see me as smug guy if you like ;)
Believe what you want. Believe that millions would have liked here even if she would have been small and unappealing.
She still is and always will be a bad actress.

Peter G.
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 2:01pm (UTC -5)
@ Leighton,

I actually do somewhat prefer ENT to VOY, and I even agree that Blalock is underrated. Not that she's that good, but I think she wasn't bad either. But there's a difference between saying that she isn't horrible as people claim, and saying that she totally knocks scenes out of park. Ryan didn't always do that but she definitely hit some home runs as far as I'm concerned on VOY. I think there were one or two ENT episodes where I thought Blalock rose above the material to an extent, but even then didn't totally rock her scenes. My point was that many people are really impressed by Ryan's performance, and rarely do I ever hear anything but criticism about Blalock, and they're both good looking and had their bodies shown off on their shows. I don't think that chalking up the difference to the writing can explain that, because then why aren't people gushing over Terry Farrell? Her show had good writing and she was also beautiful (although never sexualized, so there's that).

@ Booming,

"We had our little talk already and I find it somewhat funny that you are now accusing me of misogyny. Yes I think people in the movie industry select beautiful women far more often which is sad because there are certainly a lot of great female actors who don't look like super models. :)"

I have no idea why you're confusing the motives of a casting director to hire them, with whether fans think they did a good job. Do you think that when someone is hired for their looks it automatically means they're a bad actor? That can be true, but I don't see any connection between criticizing a performance and between the motives of the casting. A person can be cast for the wrong reasons and be good, or cast for the right reasons and be bad. The one has nothing to do with the other.
KT
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 2:03pm (UTC -5)

@Dom
"Even for jobs with security clearance you must consent to a polygraph and it's only for a certain time with very clear, limited questions about your loyalty and criminal history. "

The last employment contract I signed says I should be prepared to submit my personal items (such as personal phone) for security checks if deemed necessary by the company. I'm sure there must be something like this in Starfleet regs; in STVI there was a ship wide search through all quarters and uniforms. In VOY Scorpion we learnt that medical officers are obliged to break patient confidentiality to the commanding officer if security is at stake. We also know that Starfleet charter says that rules can be bent during wartime or in face of an imminent threat e.g. This is the context you should judge Sarek's actions, not your own personal sense of privacy.

"By the way, I highly doubt the writers put half as much thought as you did into this scene. It's a poorly thought out scene and doubt it was meant to be all that important, but I'm just shocked how many people seem perfectly OK with Vulcans forcing themselves onto others."

It's not a poorly thought out scene, you are simply misunderstanding it. You appear to be mistakenly under the impression that mind melds are more severe than they actually are; probing someone's mind for particular answers is not the same as "forcing [yourself] onto others".
Jason R.
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 2:05pm (UTC -5)
I don't know how good Jeri Ryan is in general as an actress, but you don't need to be a great actor / actress in general to be great in a specific role. Brent Spiner certainly proved this point in my mind. For me Jeri Ryan was great as 7 of 9. Call it astute casting, good writing, whatever, but she was. I don't think her looks were the reason for her generally positive reviews or Troi and T'Pol would have enjoyed similar success and popularity. Ryan did well in spite of her looks and status as sex symbol, not because of it.
Hank
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 2:27pm (UTC -5)
Oh boy...

Mind Meld out of the blue. Jee, at least put some lube on next time.

Next, a minor thing. Our dear Mrs. Admiral firing a Phaser just for fun. We are off to a good start, but my standards are too high I guess. That scene in Star Trek VI was for nothing I guess.

Next, she wants the information about the MU classified AND destroyed .... eeeeh? *instert suprised anime girl sound here* M'lady, you can only have one of the two. When you destroy the information its lost, and not classified anymore... I guess you could classify a part and destroy another, but it just sounded dumb.

Then, Discovery is sent to Starbase 1, 100 AU from earth - which is fine - and 1 ly away from Discovery? So, Discovery jumped right next to earth? Yet the charts they were showing last episode made it seem like they were on the other side of the frontline, in Klingon space? Jesus ... one lightyear is nothing. The nearest star to Sol is four lightyears... But I guess it makes sense that the Klingons can destroy Starbas 1, when they are that close to earth already. God damn, can somebody please think of the fact that space is BIG? Like, totally huge and stuff? Just makes the show ridiculous.

Then some scenes follow that are quite alright, or at least seemed so, I don't know. Then somebody says that "StarFleet tactics have failed us". First: Are there different tactics for different empires? My guess always was that the tactics are universal, just the degree of violence is specific to certain races or empires ... If your tactics are so bad that the Klingons beat you while they are in a civil war ... Which leads me to the next point: The Empress says "Yeah, dudes, why not just, like, attack them for a change, instead of just defending?" and everybody is totally "Wooooooow, never thought of that". It is confirmed now, Starfleet high command is manned by idiots. There is not a single Admiral that has figured out that attacking enemy supply lines is vital for winning a war? Jesus ...

So now the plan is to map Kronos - from a cave. Harry Kim was already screeching in the background: "Interference! Interference!!" but then: Mycelium ex machina. Ok, writers, why don't you just ask the mycelium to fix the situation for you? After all, it is not only an energy source, a travel network, possibly sentient, necessary for all life in the universe, an anti-cloaking device, no, it is also a mapping service ... Does it hand out blowjobs and free lunches too?

Then, the scene between Sarek and Burnham was quite nice for a change. He said she made foolish choices and is only human. I couldn't agree more.

Oh, add terraforming to the list. Why was there ever a shortage of mycelium if you just thrust it deep into a planets crust and then pound it with blue radiation from phallic objects? Especially if it is mentioned five minutes earlier that it took years to grow? No, I don't know either, don't ask me. And it took all of twenty seconds or so. And everybody was so super excited, but why tho? Nobody knew this was even possible or that it would happen, so there were no expectations built up. But ok, at least the crew got some dialogue, and acted like a bridge crew.

I never noticed, but the uniforms look like training suits. The kind that is worn by underclass people. Maybe thats just my imagination though.

And then the big thing this episode: We just managed to endure 13 episodes of a MU-character wreaking havoc in the PU. It put Mrs. Admiral so on edge that she phasered a ... whatever that was. Fortune cookies? And now her plan is: put another MU-character in charge. I'd like to hear that job interview: "So, what can you tell me about yourself?" "Well, I am an evil empress from another universe, I genocide people for fun, and my favourite dish is Kelpian fear-tendrils. I also think that every nonhuman is an untermensch that should be enslaved." "... well, looks like you are the perfect fit!" Sigh...

Also, what does that say about starfleet? Every single Admiral, Captain or first officer is so incompetent that the empress has to take over, with advice that everybody could have come up with - which just means that starfleet is full of idiots. There is also no real sense of war, since this is just a curbstomp, to be stopped by a deus ex machina. Woohoo, such excitement. At least DS9 had the occasional fleet battle and situational report, Sisko was on patrol duty and so forth. Here it is just "Grow Mushrooms, Win War, acquire currency" or something like that. We also know how it will play out: the Empress will try to genocide the Klingons (the dark secret that she couldn't tell Micheal, because she only told her what she could handle - which in this case was one of the more obvious strategies one would employ in war), Micheal says "No way! I am Micheal Burnham!", the Empress will melt like in Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Klingons will give up. Boring.

Which leads me perfectly to the romance scene between burnham and ash. I couldn't understand half of it because they were talking so mumbled that I just couldn't make out the words. Either way, I didn't believe them for a second. Ash just looks ridiculous when he plays the crybaby, and Sonequa just can not act. There were glimpes of real emotion there, but honestly I don't care.

I laid out in the last thread what my preferred direction for the show would have been: Narrowing down the scope, focusing on characters, toning down the fantastic elements. Instead, they are widening the scope, and turn up the fantasm to eleven. All under the guise of the grim-dark theme of "In war, you have to throw your morals overboard!" - which is totally not a worn out chliché itself. If I want to see a "War is Hell" movie, I watch Fullmetal Jacket or Apokalypse Now. The Battlestar Glactica vibes were also strong this episode - the leadership is more or less gone, and our Admiral must lead the last survivors into an unknown future (like Mrs. President). But again, if I want to watch BSG, I watch BSG.

I hope you can make out something of value in my rambling review, I didn't spent much effort concocting it.
Booming
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 2:36pm (UTC -5)
I was never a big fan of ENT but as far as I know T'Pol was arrogant ,commanded people around and was not very nice overall which is almost the polar opposite to Seven of Nine. She was insecure, always needed explaining and came into the show as a victim. An orphan that was kidnapped and mutilated. They really pushed all the buttons here for men.
From an acting standpoint Blalock has the same credentials as Ryan which are basically none but here role was completely different.
And Marina Sirtis has not the looks of a supermodel and was often very emotional always telling the men on the bridge what they should do. She was also more or less a psychiatrist which is a profession a lot of people don't like.
And if Ryan is a bad actress what did people like about here?
Dom
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 2:56pm (UTC -5)
@Chrome, you're adding stuff to the scene that's not there, making up stuff about Starfleet regulations to explain it away. In all previous versions of Trek, a mind meld was treated as a serious invasion of privacy. At the least, it was treated as a serious and often intimate act that created a strong bond between the two people who took part in it. Never has it been hinted at that Spock or any other Vulcan had the legal right to just forcibly mind meld with someone without their consent. As others have pointed out, the meld in Undiscovered Country was treated like a Big Deal and a violation of Valeris' rights, but one necessary in desperate circumstances.

If as you're suggesting Discovery is truly suggesting that Starfleet has the right to read the minds of its officers without their explicit consent, then the show truly has lost sight of Roddenberry's utopian vision.
Hank
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 2:58pm (UTC -5)
@Booming: Well, maybe she just isn't a bad actress? Maybe just YOU don't like here? Has that thought ever crossed your mind? And even if people only like her because she looks good - so what? Is there anything wrong with liking attractive people? Or is it only wrong for man? I am frankly tired of this feminist mantra that "looks are not important" - yes they are, for both genders, and admiring an ideal is not a bad thing.
Chrome
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 3:10pm (UTC -5)
@Dom

I never claimed I had all the answers to Star Trek regulations, but I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say you need to give up a little privacy to be in Starfleet, like any other military. The Valeris comparison is invalid, because Valeris was actively resisting while Saru is passively complying. If there were some scenes where Saru was experiencing anguish from the ordeal, I might consider the greater ramifications of a mindmeld here, but that seems to be other side of the discussion "adding stuff to the scene".
Booming
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 3:12pm (UTC -5)
Hank
Because everybody who knows something about acting will tell you that she is a bad actress.
And about your femonazi fears. There is nothing wrong with liking somebody who is beautiful but it is pretty obvious that male actors very often do not need to look like a supermodel because there acting ability is more important while for women certainly in the past looks were far more often the deciding factor.
I personally just would like to see better actresses in three dimensional roles. And I think we see that more and more which is good.
Back to hating Disco, shall we? :)
Peter G.
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 3:19pm (UTC -5)
@ Chrome,

"The Valeris comparison is invalid, because Valeris was actively resisting while Saru is passively complying."

I don't know why you think the reaction to an action has any bearing on whether the action is assault or not. How was Saru supposed to "resist" again? With his telepathic powers? So if I knock out a stranger with one punch, and they 'don't resist', that's ok?

@ Booming,

"Because everybody who knows something about acting will tell you that she is a bad actress. "

Oh, really? ;)

Chrome
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 3:22pm (UTC -5)
"I don't know why you think the reaction to an action has any bearing on whether the action is assault or not. "

Simple: consent.
KT
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
@Dom
"you're adding stuff to the scene that's not there, making up stuff about Starfleet regulations to explain it away.... the meld in Undiscovered Country was treated like a Big Deal and a violation of Valeris' rights"

Dom, you need to put all your misconceptions about mind melds aside and rewatch STVI. The meld in Undiscovered Country was not treated like that big of a deal. Kirk just said "Spock?" and Spock grabbed Valeris and got "Admiral Cartwright" out of her in less than a minute. Nobody protested or looked remotely appalled.

"making up stuff about Starfleet regulations to explain it away"

Go and rewatch VOY Scorpion, DS9 Inquisition and ENT Divergence, I didn't make anything up.

"it was treated as a serious and often intimate act that created a strong bond between the two people who took part in it"

You are just making stuff up about mind melds now. Can you cite episodes which prove your claims?

"If as you're suggesting Discovery is truly suggesting that Starfleet has the right to read the minds of its officers without their explicit consent"

Both STVI and in the last DSC ep it is made clear that Starfleet isn't wrong to read minds when necessary in desperate circumstances. Veleris explicitly declined to answer and tried to repel Spock. Saru did neither, but you think Sarek was wrong and not Spock? bias much?

"then the show truly has lost sight of Roddenberry's utopian vision."

That's obviously an opinion based on your limited knowledge of Trek, hence it isn't worth much IMO
Peter G.
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 3:39pm (UTC -5)
@ Chrome,

Consent isn't defined as whether or not you resist after someone hasn't asked for your permission. Really not sure why you're using that as a definition. Frankly, the scene in DISC came across to me as Saru being cornered, and from the time Sarek actually laid hands on him he was more stunned than anything. I doubt he was equipped to resist or do anything else at that point. So Saru had maybe a couple of seconds to resist prior to the meld, but it's a pretty big deal to physically fend off a Vulcan ambassador following an admiral's commands. If you imagine a workplace environment with a power imbalance (i.e. boss vs employee) you'll see that very often the person in power can do something in appropriate without visible reaction even when it's very wrong, because the employee is either too stunned to react immediately or else isn't willing to make a huge huff out of something that they only in hindsight realize was a very bad thing. This isn't a direct comparison to what Sarek did, but imagining a boss trying to slap a female employee's butt, very few women are going to have enough guts to physically resist such an action by pushing him, screaming, etc, in that office environment, which is why it's all the more important for people in power to make sure the subject of their actions is ok with it.

It shouldn't take a subsequent scene of Saru bemoaning his situation for us to think there was a problem. In the example of a show featuring a boss slapping a woman's behind, the lack of a scene of her complaining about it wouldn't validate the action itself, any more than DISC omitting to do so means it was totally ok. But once again it should come as no surprise that the matter is dropped because the show has a habit of failing to follow up on significant events.
KT
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 3:41pm (UTC -5)
Correction to above post, I meant VOY Fury and not VOY Scorpion
KT
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 3:45pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G
".. In the example of a show featuring a boss slapping a woman's behind"

You've taken an example of something which is clearly assault and compared it to a mind meld. Why do you think that mind meld is tantamount to physical assault?
Peter G.
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 3:48pm (UTC -5)
@ KT,

"You've taken an example of something which is clearly assault and compared it to a mind meld. Why do you think that mind meld is tantamount to physical assault?"

Come on, you can do better than that. If people IRL sometimes don't visibly react to actual assault (especially when there's a power imbalance) then it shows that whether or not there was a reaction has nothing to do with whether something is an assault or not. Otherwise you could make the same argument about an ass-slap: no reaction = no assault. It's a bogus argument.

As fate would have it there's a top Reddit thread on right now about a woman who had her butt slapped by her boss at a busy function, and how at the time she was stunned and didn't react at all. Needless to say there are many comments in response, but there's one that I thought was pertinent to this issue:

"When I was in my teens, I always wondered why women didn't say anything when something like that happens.

Then, I had it happen several times, as a young man in my early twenties, by an older woman I worked with, openly in front of other staff. I said exactly nothing despite my discomfort in the situation out of humiliation. I felt...lessened. This person wasn't even a supervisor in a position of power over me so I can't even imagine how it feels in your situation.

I wish you the best in this."
Chrome
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 3:54pm (UTC -5)
"In the example of a show featuring a boss slapping a woman's behind, the lack of a scene of her complaining about it wouldn't validate the action itself"

What if the boss was dating the woman and she was okay with that sort of thing? There would be consent. What if Saru was prepared to give a mindmeld to facilitate an urgent military situation? That would be consent. Without any sign from the story otherwise, I'm willing to assume consent here given Saru's military commitment to Starfleet.
KT
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 3:56pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G.
You are missing my point, which isn't related to the notion of consent. Instead it was a point about the nature of mind melds; there is nothing that I recall from previous Trek to suggest that mind melds are humiliating. My impression (from STVI and the last DSC ep) is that mind melds are no more or less invasive than an accurate polygraph type test. Why do you think that a mind meld is tantamount to physical assault? Have you got an example from canon?
BZ
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 4:06pm (UTC -5)
I think we know very little about mind melds. Sure, they've been used as allegory for sex in the past (see Enterprise), but something does not need to always be an allegory for the same thing. TOS Klingons were an allegory for the Soviet Union. But the Soviet Union broke up (which itself was portrayed using Klingons as allegory) and we still have Klingons on Star Trek. They're not Russians in Space anymore.

We've seen very different depictions of mind melds, from sharing thoughts to reading them to occupying some sort of virtual space and conversing with someone who is braindamaged to mind control to part of mating. How do we know there aren't kinds or levels of mind melds?

On the other hand, human (and holographic) doctors have been shown to be distrustful of them, which implies there isn't a Starfleet regulation about them. It's inconsistent to say the least.
Kinematic
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 5:27pm (UTC -5)
I think one of the biggest problems SMG is having is that Michael is a very complicated character for her to inhabit. She has to contend with dual Vulcan and human natures, dead parents, a connection to the most important family of Vulcans in Star Trek, a fall from grace, a dead mentor, distrust from her peers, uncanny natural talent, atonement for past sins and a blossoming romance in the midst of a war. Her Walking Dead character was simple, but Michael is like every dramatic cliche rolled into one character. And to top it off the writers treat Michael more as a plot device than a character, giving her whatever motivations are most useful in moving the plot forward.

Mary Sue is a much bandied-about term but she really does take after bad fanfic characters. Like the new student who shows up at Hogwarts with shimmering aquamarine eyes who's actually the last of the True Fae on a mission to save the world from an evil worse than Voldemort and win the heart of her brooding werewolf crush. Even if Michael were well-characterized from episode to episode, the complexity of her background would be an albatross about the neck of even an actor like Stewart. The best way to create an exotic character on a show like Star Trek is to start with a few broad concepts and let the actor fill in the rest. That's how Leonard Nimoy defined the Vulcan species through Spock. Now SMG has to echo his portrayal of Vulcan culture and mix in a conflicting human side and a tragic backstory. It feels like an invitation to failure.
Hank
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 5:58pm (UTC -5)
@Booming: Which is why I find it so strange that you seem to not like Seven. She got the most attention on Voyager, even eclipsing Janeway, had nuanced character developement, interesting background, etc. etc. without being a mary Sue - which would have been easy to do. She even mimicked the Doctor perfectly that one episode, so she can act. I guess we just have to agree to disagree.

@Kinematic: SMGs problem is that she only has two facial expressions. Concerned and surprised, but without the fine nuances that Jeri Ryan for example brought to an emotionally stunted character. Even when she smiles her eyes look surprised. She was no better in Walking Dead, either. Here Boomings concerns would be appropriate: She may have the looks, but she can't act herself out of a wet paper bag. On Walking Dead that didn't really matter as she was a secondary character, but here, with all the Mary Sue stuff going on ... Yeah, no way that that works in any way, shape or form.
MadManMUC
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 3:23am (UTC -5)
@KT:
'there is nothing that I recall from previous Trek to suggest that mind melds are humiliating'

Not humiliating, berhaps, but likely deeply, deeply unpleasant. just ask Kirk in STIII:TSFS when Sarek melded with him to know what happened to Spock's katra, which meant Kirk had to re-live those final moments all over again.

Oh, and for the record: Sarek asked Kirk's permission for this, despite Sarek no doubt feeling his own personal stakes were high.

Also, Picard has been on the receiving end of a Sarek mind-meld (although, to be fair, he volunteered for it), and the results weren't at all pleasant for him, either. In fact, he's is completely overcome by Sarek's emotions for hours. (TNG 3x23: 'Sarek').

'My impression is that mind melds are no more or less invasive than an accurate polygraph type test.'

This is bullshit, and you know it. Between the two incidents detailed above, as well as other example from VOY and ENT, we know that min melding is quite possibly one of the most invasive things a person in the Trek universe can go through. It completely exposes a person's thoughts, feelings and psyche to the person initiating the meld. If that's not invasive, I don't know what it.

In any case, part of the problem I have with this whole mind meld incident comes down — again — to two of the main problems that has been plaguing this stupid show from the beginning: the writing and the acting.

James Frain isn't Sarek. He doesn't look the part, he doesn't sound the part, he doesn't act the part. It's as though he either didn't bother to watch TOS: 'Journey to Babel', STIII:TSFS, STIV:TVH, TNG: 'Sarek', or TNG: 'Unification, Part I' or — if he did — he consciously chose to ignore all of the source material. And I say this because his interpretation of Sarek is frankly way off (and he's also entirely too young looking to be convincingly said to be Sarek 10 years before TOS).

The Sarek in all of the source material might come off as an arsehole sometimes — especially toward Spock — but he's a fundamentally decent man, and I highly doubt Mark Lenard's Sarek would ever be written to be the sort of person to have a cavalier attitude to mind melding with others. I think he would ask permission at all times.
MadManMUC
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 3:25am (UTC -5)
Apologies for all the typos. Posting a comment on this site from an iPhone is no picnic.
Booming
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 3:52am (UTC -5)
Hank
I dislike her limited range. She has no nuance. As I said it is like Paul Potts. People (mostly women in that case) just liked the guy for various reasons and were unable to see that he was just an average performer. But this has really nothing to do with Disco.
To your Martin-Green analysis I'm somewhat in agreement. It seems that her acting range is limited and not very nuanced. She has more than two expressions and a few times I found her acting convincing but the character is kind of confusing or even overloaded one might say.
The Tyler character is confused but wants to be accepted. Simple
Saru is cautious and kind.
Tilly is insecure but also brilliant.
Stamets is a little douchy but passionate.
But what or who is Burnham? I really cannot say. And this overly complex character is portrayed by somebody who appears to have a limited acting ability which is highlighted by three things: She is the lead surrounded by several good well trained actors and actresses and the other roles are simpler more accessible.

I will probably watch the second season. The first season was good enough to keep me watching.
I watched a little bit of TOS but the sexism is just to off-putting. I have seen far more female underwear than I care for in a Star Trek show. I mostly watch it for laughs. The Gorn fight or the lava monster. It is hilarious!
TNG and DS9 are my favorites. I watched every episode several times probably.
I never liked Voyager that much. I enjoyed, as most people, Picardos performance and I also liked Janeway even though her character was a little inconsistent but the rest of characters were so two dimensional and bland. I'm not sure that I watched the last season.
ENT was the first Star Trek show I disliked from the start. The theme song... horrible. I only watched the first season and some say that there were better episodes later on so who knows. I will not watch through hours of bland corporate emptiness for a few good episodes. Life is too short for that.
What is my main problem with DISCO (apart from the stupid name)? People compared it to BSG a show that I loved and I think that is a valid comparison but what is the main difference between BSG and the Star Trek universe. BSG was basically the west of today. Always fighting among ourselves, crazy politicians and on the warpath all the time and the story would always be about the question: Can we survive, can we overcome those weaknesses, can the sane politicians succeed, better angels and stuff.
Star Trek on the other hand or the Federation is a basically a white knight who can be battered even wounded but who in the end still acts wise and good. That principle was most prominent in DS9. In DISCO I'm not actually sure that the Federation is good. But the last few episodes give me hope.
Ok, that was a pretty long...
TL:dr Well, read it you lazy ass!
Johnno
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 5:10am (UTC -5)
I don't really care "who the characters are" on Discovery. None of them have any charisma. There's no Phlox, no Doctor, no Bashir, no Geordi, no McCoy. Bear in mind that I'm not talking about actors - personally I'm on their side. I want the writers to give them something to really sink their teeth into, material they can deliver with total conviction. At the moment they're not getting that, so I feel it's unfair to judge their performances so harshly.
Jason R.
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 5:52am (UTC -5)
"My impression (from STVI and the last DSC ep) is that mind melds are no more or less invasive than an accurate polygraph type test."

Respectfully, if you came to that conclusion after watching TNG - Sarek, Unification or even TOS Devil in the Dark you're bonkers.

As a total side note / tangent about polygraphs, they're pseudoscience garbage and I hate how even today I read stories in the news where it cites someone passing a polygraph or failing one as evidence of anything.
Amir
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 7:15am (UTC -5)
Speaking of pseudoscience, the idea that you can reach into someone's "mind" and retrieve information is also total garbage. Science has not discovered anything so much as resembling a "mind" in the first place, so any speculation on whether mind melds are "invasive" or on the same level as rape is laughable.
wolfstar
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 7:32am (UTC -5)
I disagree there's no Phlox. Saru is the Phlox (ie. the one genial alien character everyone likes despite the rest of the show).

Re: the mind meld debate, I agree with Dom - it's just a poorly thought out scene. I didn't really stop to think about it because there was so much else going on and the show didn't make a big deal out of it, but I agree it's out of order/not how Vulcans conduct themselves and was just there for edge purposes.

@Booming - I agree with a lot of your other comments regarding the various series. But I think Jeri Ryan is excellent and as a gay guy I've never once thought about her as an erotic object, not when I was a teenage boy watching Voyager for the first time and not now 20 years on. :) She's fantastic in the role and brings a lot to it. As Peter said, Trek fans love her despite her sexualized get-up, not because of it. Blalock improved a lot in S3+4 and deserves praise for it (especially given that the show treated her body much more leerily than Voyager did Seven's) but T'Pol isn't a beloved character in the way Seven is because both the character and performance were less engaging.
Filip
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 7:45am (UTC -5)
Easily the best episode so far, however still abundant in problems and stupid plot decisions.

I say the best so far because for the first time since the premiere at moments it actually felt like I was watching Star Trek. Interestingly enough, that came about at the same time Lorca got out of the picture. It had some decent character work and dialogue and it took its time to tell its story, unlike the episodes that came before it that were just a relentless series of plot building madness. I see a lot of comments criticizing the Tyler/Burnham scene for its dullness, however I thought it was a much needed change of pace. Yes, it could’ve been done better, but, in isolation, it’s not half as bad as people make it out be. The scene with Tyler walking into the mess hall and everyone joining him at the table I just loved. It felt very Trek-like with colleagues helping out their own in time of great pain and is a stark contrast between the ridiculousness that was the scene with Burnham dining in that same room for the first time. I also found the dialogue between the admiral and L’Rell excellent and for the first time I felt Klingons to actually be Klingons. “How does the war end? –It doesn’t.” Good stuff.

On a side note, it is nice to see some familiar faces. Andorians look great, but I’m not sure how I feel about those distorted voices.

However, and this is still a pretty big however, almost every good element is yet again directly linked to a nonsensical decision or is too obviously subjugated to the advancement of the plot. Take for example the Tyler/Burnham scene. I said that it was good in isolation because when you look at it from a wider context which is their entire relationship, it doesn’t carry as much weight as it should given how their entire relationship did not happen organically but was rather necessary to happen for this entire conundrum to exist. The forced manner in which the writers put them together makes this necessity blatantly obvious. To go on with the problems, while I found the mess hall scene superb, it is also made possible by an unexplainably foolish decision to let Tyler wander around the ship freely. While it is possible that he now really is Tyler, and all traces of Voq have been removed, we, or anyone onboard cannot be sure of that since the entire procedure is not well understood and one cannot be sure that Voq is truly gone. When you take into consideration the covert nature of their mission, it is without a doubt an utterly brainless idea to let a former Klingon sleeper agent roam around the ship.

I was surprised as well to see a comment about Sarek’s invasive mind meld so far down since the moment he forced himself on Saru I felt it wasn’t right. I see people trying to justify it, but it just cannot be justified and I would even call it worse than rape. One’s mind and thoughts are about the most intimate thing one has and the idea of someone freely examining it without explicit permission is just terrifying.

As this comment is getting pretty long, I am just going to say that I do not appreciate, not even in the slightest, everything spore and mirror universe related. Making MU Georgiou taking the identity of PU Georgiou has been thoroughly discussed in the previous comments so I am not going to. I will just say that it is a horrible horrible idea.

Let me just put this out – if humans are so vastly different from Terrans, what makes everyone think that PU and MU Klingons share the same qualities to the extent that the knowledge of MU Klingons would be so valuable as to help turn around a war that has gone so bad for the Federation?

Also, have you ever heard of the saying “divide and conquer”? So, how is an enemy divided into 24 different factions a bigger threat and a more destructive force than a single, united and coordinated empire?

Jason R.
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 7:50am (UTC -5)
"But I think Jeri Ryan is excellent and as a gay guy I've never once thought about her as an erotic object"

You win the internet with that comment. Bravo sir.
MadManMUC
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 8:07am (UTC -5)
I always found Seven of Nine more or less convincing. Yes, yes of course I think she's bloody hot, but in the paramters of her characters, she carried it off just fine, and had a number of stand-out moments (her out-of-the-blue romance with Chakotay was not one of those moments, however) and her interractions with the Doctor especially were great.

T'Pol, on the other hand, was basically a cynical attempt to re-create Seven of Nine, but with pointed ears, and I think failed miserably. And I agree with one of the comments above that she was far, far more sexualised than Seven was.

In any case, at least neither of these characters were a Mary Sue. Not like Michael Fucking Burnham.
Mertov
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 8:23am (UTC -5)
"I see people trying to justify it, but it just cannot be justified and I would even call it worse than rape. One’s mind and thoughts are about the most intimate thing one has and the idea of someone freely examining it without explicit permission is just terrifying. "

Ok, I'm sorry but this is getting ridiculous. And I have read Filip's comments with interest in the past I hope he does not take personally that I picked his quote above. It's just an example of many things being said about this, that is completely misplaced, and offensive (although probably done without realizing it).

First of all, the use of the term “rape” what took place between Sarek and Saru, which is not only misplaced and incorrect, but offensive. Rape is a form of assault, a sexual assault. You can look up “rape” in any dictionary and see that it specifically refers to forceful sexual encounter (or penetration) carried against the person assaulted without his or her consent. When you call Sarek’s action “rape” it’s offensive to rape victims, such as one of the two persons dearest to me in my life. If I were to show some of these comments to her and she sees how loosely "rape" is used and how some equate what Sarek’s mind-meld with what she went through by referring to it with the same noun (and in the above case, "worse than" !!!), she would be utterly flabbergasted. I am going to make sure she never has to see this page, because she is also a Trekkie! I am glad I never told her of this site (despite the fact I love Jammer's site, she will never know about it, not through me at least, I would hate for her to read this comments section!)

Second, I keep reading how Sarek's action does not fit with the Vulcans of Trek universe. Spock, the most emblematic Vulcan of all Trek universe, mind-melded with Kirk, NOT ONLY without Kirk's consent, but while Kirk was sleeping!!! ("Requiem for Methuselah"). And he didn't stop there, he REMOVED part of Kirk's memory while doing so! Without Kirk's knowledge or awareness! And with ZERO consent from Kirk who was asleep. AND it's not like Spock or Kirk were in an emergency situation, nor in any danger whatsoever, nor facing the potential destruction of Starfleet. But he decided on his own, with zero consent from Kirk, Kirk didn't even have a chance to be aware of it, AND he removed part of Kirk's memory.
And we are having a problem with Saru's action under these dire circumstances and calling it not becoming of Vulcans? Please....

Trent
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 8:33am (UTC -5)
Gotta disagree with the criticisms of Jeri Ryan and Jolene Blalock and their portrayals of 7of9 and Tpol.

I've never been attracted to 7of9, and she always seemed too infantalized to be a sex object. And yet I quickly found her a sympathetic, well acted, endearing and interesting character. She was the puppy to Momma bear Janeway. Whatever acting limitations she had, she nevertheless fit this role.

The only problem I ever had with her is that her arc was arguably too similar to that of Data and the Doctor.

Tpol I've always found a total babe, but again, her character arc was one of the few good things in Enterprise. An outcast bullied by the Federation and the Vulcans, yet devoted and loyal to both, I found her a very touching character. Her Jane Austen-esque relationship with Trip, and how this violated Vulcan tradition, was also interesting. I agree that the scripts constantly let her character and character arcs down, but there are a good solid six or seven Tpol episodes which really point to the character's potential under a better run series.

Sonequa Green's Michael is a different problem altogether. Michael is an overly complicated character, nonsensically asked to be too many contradictory traits; part Mary Sue, part damaged goods, part action hero, part stoic, part genius, part idiot. This comes across as schizophrenic, and someone with this psychological makeup would not be a "lead" in any real life story; Michael's the kind of person to exist on the periphery, on the margins, somewhat passively, as did other past dual-culture/dual-personality Trek characters (Spock, Worf, Tpol etc). A believable Michael in a realistic role would not also be an action heroine.
Jason R.
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 8:40am (UTC -5)
Mertov we are talking about something fictional here (mindreading) but I'm a little baffled by your outrage.

Let me get this straight: you think someone invading your *thoughts* is less invasive and violating than having sex with someone against their will?

Incidentally, I'd suggest that a mind meld is far more invasive and violating even than mindreading, as this involves *merging* of two minds. So it isn't even like the psi cops from Babylon 5 who can "scan" you. In the case of a MM you temporarily *become* the other person and vice versa. In Sarek and Unification that was some pretty heavy stuff.

But you still think a physical violation is worse? Really?

Gonna have to agree to disagree I guess.

Trent
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 8:41am (UTC -5)
Mertov said: "Spock, the most emblematic Vulcan of all Trek universe, mind-melded with Kirk, NOT ONLY without Kirk's consent, but while Kirk was sleeping!!!"

Spock also mind-melded with Gracie the whale. The guy is a total perv, if we're to accept (largely promoted by Enterprise) unsanctioned mind-melds as defacto "rape".

Trent
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 8:44am (UTC -5)
Now that I think about it, didn't Spock mind-meld with Nomad without its permission? He does the same to van Gelder in "Dagger of the Mind". The guy is a serial intruder.
Jason R.
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 8:48am (UTC -5)
No Trent, Nomad gave explicit permission. Not that ot made the scene any less ludicrous, lol.
Mertov
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 8:59am (UTC -5)
Hi Jason,
I've said my piece above and I agree 100%with your last sentence. I have lived with one for a longtime, but I still would not be able to tell you how it feels to be a rape victim so I am not sure I am qualified to answer anyway.
But I can tell you with certainty that she has watched a lot of Trek with me including episodes/films that have mind-meld (probably even those scenes mentioned here) and I have never seen her react badly to any of them (but she has reacted terribly to rape scenes in other films/series before). But I am pretty sure she would not remain reaction-free if she read some of the comments here calling the Saru-Sarek encounter "rape."
Jason R.
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 9:19am (UTC -5)
Mertov to be fair we are talking about something fictional here that by its nature cannot be seen. And for the record I don't read Peter G. or others to be saying that forced mind meld is the *same experience* as non consensual sex. It is merely a type of rape - perhaps worse, but not the same.

I mean I didn't have a horrible traumatic reaction to watching Chekov in the Agony Booth in "Mirror Mirror". I wouldn't expect someone who was waterboarded to have a PTSD flashback from watching the agony booth scene for many reasons.

Yet if you ask me if the agony booth is "torture" it is pretty easy for me to answer yes. And I will even say without too much hesitation I would rather be waterboarded than be put in the booth - and that is not denigrating or downplaying the experience of people who were waterboarded!
Mertov
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 9:20am (UTC -5)
On a separate note, as in unrelated to the Saru-Sarek-Spock discussion above, Jason, I am however baffled by this question you pose: "But you still think a physical violation is worse? Really?"

You think rape is just a "physical violation"? You don't see any mental damage being done? Really?

Mertov
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 9:25am (UTC -5)
"......mind meld is the *same experience* as non consensual sex. It is merely a type of rape - perhaps worse, but not the same."

No.. Once again, I can't believe I am having to say this: Mind-meld is NOT a "type of rape." I seriously do not want to repeat what I said in the above post about what rape is, or copy/paste a dictionary definition..
Filip
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 9:27am (UTC -5)
@Mertov

When you compare real life occurrences with a fictive concept such as a mind-meld the discussion takes a dangerously wrong turn. I say dangerous because discussing this subject in this light is threading on very thin ice so I will keep this short. Since there is actual trauma attached behind real life occurrences, it is immaterial to discuss the two in that context as there is no one who suffered from a forced mind-meld in reality. What I was referring to was an idea, a *concept* of penetrating one's mind as opposed to penetrating (in this case literally) one's body. When you look at it in this light, I do not see how you would think that pointing at the severity of one would trivialize the other. Never did I think my comment would provoke this reaction, and it saddens me that I explicitly have to say that in no way do I take those issues lightly. If it is the question of semantics that bothers you, then consider my original argument to be about Sarek *violating* Saru, under the threat of a gun, no less. I am not going to comment on this subject any further because of the danger of my words being wildly misconstrued.
Jason R.
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 9:28am (UTC -5)
I'll answer your question with a question Mertov. Which aspect of rape do you think is the most damaging, the physical or the mental? And if the mental aspect is the more serious one (which I think it is) do you see how a purely mental invasion, in essence, skipping the middleman, could be as bad or worse?
Liam
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 9:29am (UTC -5)
Blalock's performance as TPol is engaging for me because there is a sense of anguish about her conflicts between her cool, composed Vulcan exterior and who she wants to be having been surrounded by humans and influenced by their emotional outwardness. You see a vast difference between her mannerisms in early episodes and later ones. As far as I'm concerned, it's the conflict that all us introverts have and I've not seen this conflict performed better on Trek, at least certainly not by Seven who seems unaffected by everything thrown at her and not vulnerable in the slightest except by the contrivances of certain plots. Blalock may not be a trained actor but I remember reading in an interview she was very withdrawn as a child, which may have added to her performance as TPol.
Jason R.
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 9:40am (UTC -5)
The peril in comparing a fictional horror to a real life one is that just making the comparison may seem like trivializing the real deal.

I mean if you take, say, Darth Vader, and compare him to Hitler, Vader is undoubtedly worse in the sense that he murdered billions versus Hitler's millions. Enslaving a galaxy is worse than enslaving a continent.

Yet people will take offense if you put the two figures in the same conversation.

I don't think we are really arguing whether a fictional mind "rape" is worse than a real one or whether the two things are categorically similar. I think the issue is whether it's unseemly to even have the conversation in the first place.
Mertov
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 9:41am (UTC -5)
Jason, a rape victim could give you the best answers to your question, and to them what I (or you) think as to whether "which of their parts" is more damaged than the other is irrelevant , of that, I can assure you. And this commentary section is not the place for a lengthy discussion on that anyways.
----------
Trent said:
"" Spock also mind-melded with Gracie the whale. The guy is a total perv, if we're to accept (largely promoted by Enterprise) unsanctioned mind-melds as defacto 'rape'."

The way the term "rape" is being used so loosely by some, I'd agree with trent regarding Spock being a perv.
----------
Filip: Like I said before, you didn't say anything intentionally, and I hope you didn't take my post personally. As I have said above, I usually enjoy reading your commentaries. And I totally understand your explanation about the "concept," but also you must understand that words, vocabulary matter, thus, as you say, dangerous to compare fictional concepts such as mind-meld with real-life terms like "rape."
Yanks
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 9:46am (UTC -5)
@Nic
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 7:59am (UTC -6)
“-Some of you have complained about Sonequa Martin-Green’s acting. I agree that she’s no Patrick Stewart, but I say 90% of the blame goes to the writers for not sufficiently developing her character.”

I hope you are right. … but I’m not optimistic here.

@juss100
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 9:06am (UTC -6)
“ - in dismissing SMG's performances which are, frankly, terrible from whatever angle you view them - she utterly fails to make a connection with either the audience or her fellow cast members. (I didn't think Michelle Yeoh was much cop in the opening episodes, either and I'm a fan of her HK movies. Professional Hong Kong actors do tend to struggle in English, not sure if that's the difference in the language emphasis, or the style of acting.)”

I didn’t know her at all before this. It’s obvious she has an “English problem”, but for some reason I don’t think that hampers her really. I enjoyed her as Captain Georgiou more than as “her highness”, but I think she’s doing a pretty good job there.

@MadManMUC
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 9:39am (UTC -6)
“The thing is with SMG and her acting:
I don't know about any of you, but I don't need Trek actors to be great ... but I do need them to be *likeable*. SMG is certainly not that. She's always sporting a contemptuous, peevish look on her face that makes me see red. Likeable she most certainly is not.”

I agree here. We’ve lived with so-so actors in trek for 50 years, but if you grow to love the character then things are forgiven.

“And the rest of the cast is entirely to one-dimensional for me to give a toss about them; they haven't given me any reason to like them (possible exception going to Saru and Tilly, but they're still one-dimensional), much less be emotionally invested in them.

I would include Lorca on that list. Hopefully we get to know more characters in season 2.

“As it currently stands, I just want one of the writers to decide that it's time to kill SMG's character off. It's not like they'd be killing Spock, or the original refit Enterprise, is it?”

I wouldn’t kill her off, but much improvement is needed if you are going to center a series around her. I might recast her though. I was watching "Travelers" on Netflix and was impressed with Nesta Cooper. Go snag her, she can act circles around SMG.

@MadManMUC
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 9:48am (UTC -6)
“To be honest, the only really *great* actor any Trek has had are:

• Patrick Stewart. I defy anyone to try and tell me this isn't so, especially partnered with ...
• David Warner. His Gul Madred was the stuff of delicious nightmares
• Ricardo Montalbán (his acting in TWOK ran circles around everyone else)
• René Auberjonois. He can convincingly portray a whole range of feelings and emotions, and his comic timing is impeccable.”

I think I’d add Kate Mulgrew and Andrew Robinson to this list.

I'll also give Harris Yulin an honorable mention. Only one episode, but damn he was good.

@Booming
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 1:23pm (UTC -6)
@wolfstar
“Sorry. I don't mean to be insulting.
But Jeri Ryan is not a good actress.
Robert Picardo, Nana Visitor and Anthony Rapp are Broadway actors. And Latif was at the old vic. These are all fine, well trained actors. Jeri Ryan is not.
Jeri Ryan was loved because she is a blonde, blue eyed nerd fantasy (oh I'm so confused about emotions and need help all the time) with a super sexy body and the primitive mammals that we are want to be liked by people we... want.”

Jerry is a very good actress. If she wasn’t the 7 part would have tanked. It did not. Of course she’s beautiful…that should be a “hit” when judging her performance whether the show capitalized on that or not.

@Peter G.
Thu, Feb 8, 2018, 1:40pm (UTC -6)
“You are SO wrong about this. She was loved by Trek fans *despite* all of this, not because of it. There was an initial backlash among diehard fans, even though general public ratings predictably went up when she came on. But that spike wouldn't have lasted if she had sucked at her role. T'Pol has basically the same character design as Seven, and was presented in just as shabby a fashion by Braga, and so tell me: how many people on this site routinely praise T'Pol's characterization and Blalock's acting? That is your apples-to-apples comparison right there.”

Now I wouldn’t call Jolene a good actress, but she was perfectly cast for T’Pol and played THAT part very well.
Peter G.
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 10:32am (UTC -5)
@ Mertov,

You're not going to get very far on a comment site telling people not to make comments on a subject. I'm leery of the whole "I know actual people who've experienced X so you're not allowed to talk about it" routine. Do you realize that the entire point of storytelling and fiction is to give us access to experiences and show us points of view we haven't literally lived through ourselves? Putting ourselves in someone else's shoes is why we watch things. To then turn around and say that we mustn't speculate on what they're going through because *we haven't gone through it* is completely ass-backwards. Yes, on planet Earth right now the word rape is a reference to unwanted sexual activity, because at present that's the only kind of event like that we know of. Maybe some kinds of torture could also be called rape, so there's that. But in the future, or in a fantasy setting, all sorts of things that we currently don't think of as rape could be either similar or else at least alternatively invasive. I don't see the purpose of becoming bogged down in semantic frustration over word choice here. Maybe we'll call mind invasions "hurkyburky" in 500 years. I really don't care; right now we don't have an exact word for us but it seems like a pretty 'rapey' event to me, especially for the reasons Jason R. explained in detail.

As far as Spock goes, I would say two things. (1) There are obviously some inconsistencies in TOS, especially as far as technology and some fantastical elements go. They didn't have the detailing as nailed down as later came to pass on TNG. This isn't an excuse, but comparing one episode's mind-melds to another may well lead to contradiction to an extent. We have it pretty firmly established from subsequent Trek series, though, that merging of minds is insanely personal, the two people become one and share each other's lives and feelings (not just particulars of data), and that this is something so deep that Sarek never even melded with Spock due to their argument and not wanting to let each other in. ENT treated it as definitely sexual in some sense, although the other series didn't carry this implication exactly.

What Are Little Girls Made Of is probably the worst example you could dredge up because I think you'll probably find unanimous agreement that Spock shouldn't have done that. Citing that isn't going to demonstrate a flaw in our argument; rather you'll have us immediately agreeing that Spock violated Kirk's rights there and I find it a troubling moment. But as others have pointed out, when you have a series written exclusively by guest writers some of them are going to concoct things others would never agree with, whereas on a serialized show like DISC the onus is on them to establish continuity across the episodes. That's a harder job but it's the one they signed on for. So you can't have one episode with a terrible act and then pretend in the next one it didn't happen, whereas in TOS you can do just that. You can just skip that episode if you feel like it and pretend it's not part of the series; have at it. In DISC you can't do that, as each point hinges on the last.
Mertov
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 11:11am (UTC -5)
Peter G., I have already said all I wanted to say with regard to the mind-meld scene and it's ludicrous identification as "rape." I am not sure if you read everything I wrote anyway or your first sentence would not make sense.
Lastly, the second half of your first paragraph pretty much validates most of what I previously said.
Peter G.
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 11:20am (UTC -5)
@ Mertov,

"I am not sure if you read everything I wrote anyway or your first sentence would not make sense."

You didn't explicitly tell people not to make comments, but one can draw reasonable conclusions from a statement like this one:

"I am going to make sure she never has to see this page, because she is also a Trekkie! I am glad I never told her of this site (despite the fact I love Jammer's site, she will never know about it, not through me at least, I would hate for her to read this comments section!)"

It reads clearly as "you shouldn't be saying what you're saying." Let's not hedge on this: That's really what you meant, isn't it?

"Lastly, the second half of your first paragraph pretty much validates most of what I previously said."

No.

Mertov
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 11:33am (UTC -5)
Ok Peter..
Chrome
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 11:40am (UTC -5)
Let's try to find a common ground here. I think we can all agree that DSC writers added the scene because they (a) wanted to show the Federation was in a time of crisis that arose in the nine months Discovery left and (b) to save time with redundant MU exposition that had been given frequently in previous episodes.

If the scene offends you, that's fine, as it facilitates the writers' goal of (a). Could they have done the scene better? Maybe! Some of us like the scene the way it is, though.
Nievesg
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 11:59am (UTC -5)
Agreed with Chrome. The episode doesn't suggest that mind-meld is normal for the Federation. It rather shows the opposite: that Federation is desperate, full of spies (hence the distrust) and dying not only phisically, but also ethically. It shows that the mirror universe is not cartoonish, but what we might become in extremely hostile situations.

In fact, MU Lorca saved citizens on ep4 and didn't leave Tyler behind when he fled the Klingon prison (despite being told to do so): he was evil but with interesting grey/good moments. A very bad day in PU is like a normal day on MU (with Sarek's mind-meld on both universes). And that's the prelude to accepting MU Georgiou as a last-resort solution. PU is haveng a bad day a la MU

Discovery has returned from MU phisicallt. Now it will have the job of returning metaphorically their dark PU to standard PU again.
I bet my money on Tilly. She is EDUCATING Tyler into being human again (she didn't befriend him for fun, but for shaping him, or so she said). And I believe she will be busy doing the same on evetybody else...
Nievesg
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
Sorry: "having", "phisically", "everybody". Damn typos...
KT
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 2:54pm (UTC -5)
@MadManFUC
"It completely exposes a person's thoughts, feelings and psyche to the person initiating the meld."

No it doesn't. Mind melds are more of an exchange of thoughts (instead of communication by exchanging words). Thoughts are images and sounds from memory (and any emotions associated with those memories). If you watch TOS: Dagger of Mind, Spock uses a meld to question Van Gelder and then awaits the response. Likewise in STVI with Veleris. Also in STIII, Sarek views Spock's last moments through Kirk's eyes via a meld. In none of these instances is there any indication that all thoughts, feelings and psyche was exposed; only particular memories and thoughts (and feelings if applicable.)

Also those who are sexualising mind melds have got it all wrong. During ENT era, melds were considered offensive by many VUlcans because emotional transference can be an effect of mind melds and Vulcans of the time considered sharing emotions to be offensive. There might be a Bragga allegory for sex and STD (i.e. Panar syndrome) in there, but by no means does that mean mind melds are tantamount to some kind of mind sex. By TOS: Dagger of Mind, Spock is reluctant to do a meld at first because to a Vulcan emotions are a very personal and intimate thing. But Humans and Kelpains don't go to such lengths to suppress and hide our emotions so melds shouldn't feel inherently as intimate.

In ENT: Fusion, T'Pol was not ready to explore her suppressed emotions and dreams, but she was forced -this was clearly portrayed as a mind assault but there is nothing in DSC's Sarek-Saru meld to suggest assault. In fact, if Saru's emotions came through to Sarek during the meld then the meld was probably worse for Sarek than it was for Saru so please untwist your knickers.

@Jason R
"Respectfully, if you came to that conclusion after watching TNG - Sarek, Unification or even TOS Devil in the Dark you're bonkers."

TNG Sarek(/Unification) was a different deeper meld to counteract Bendi syndrome and is totally not pertinent to this discussion.

Skwinty
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 3:37pm (UTC -5)
http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Vulcan_mind_meld

Jason R.
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 4:15pm (UTC -5)
"TNG Sarek(/Unification) was a different deeper meld to counteract Bendi syndrome and is totally not pertinent to this discussion"

Source please?
MadManMUC
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 4:21pm (UTC -5)
@Yanks:

'[...] much improvement is needed if you are going to center a series around her. I might recast her though.'

You're right, much improvement is definitely needed; I fear, however, that for SMG, that ship has sailed long ago. In fact, that ship never even put in at her port. She's simply a rotten actress.

Recasting I hadn't considered, just because it kind of annoys me when it happens in other shows. Might be worth doing in this case, though. It'd be a bit 'burning the village to save it', but if it finally results in STD turning into a real Trek series (or at least making great leaps in that direction), I'd be all for it.

I'd call up Dominique Tipper (Naomi Nagata on The Expanse) for the job. Unlike that deadweight space-filler SMG, Tipper can actually act. Not only that, she's got real presence.

Actually, on second thought ... no, don't take Tipper away from The Expanse. I actually like that show. And after Thomas Jane left, I don't want to lose another character that I like.
Ed
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 4:37pm (UTC -5)
Season Finale

What does everyone think of the preview?

Part of it seems to happen in some Blade Runner-like slum with Klingons but also humans in it. Or some almost human alien--maybe smooth headed Klingons finally?(please)

I don't know, it was too short, but looked cool. Was it part of Quo'nos? Just above the cave network maybe.
Cynic
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 5:27pm (UTC -5)
Re: The phasered fortune cookies. The odd thing about them since their first appearance in Ep 3 is that we never saw a fortune paper come out of any of them. And now we never will.
Hank
Sat, Feb 10, 2018, 6:54am (UTC -5)
@Ed: I think that retconning Kronos again is totally unnecessary. But since these are not my Klingons, I don't care. And no, you won't see smooth-head Klingons, I think.

@Cynic: The Fortune cookies were a subtle hint that Lorca is evil: Since fortune cookies are not chinese, but a western invention, it is cultural appropriation or somesuch. The only thing missing is Lorca making Gergiou read out a fortune cookie in broken english: "Herro, you will meet ah strangeur who seem ohddly familliah, because he is you from mirroru univelse". No, I don't know where I am going with this either, your name inspired me.

In hindsight I am glad that they didn't use a fortune paper as cheesy forshadowing: "Micheal, you will meet a stranger who is not what he seems, but you will fall in love with hiim!" "Beware the Mushroom clouds!" "You are what you eat (sentient)!" "Beware the Space Ball!" "You will travel far to reach home" "Sun Tsu says: If at first you don't succeed - throw magic mushrooms at the problem until it disappears". Ok, enough cynicism.
KT
Sat, Feb 10, 2018, 7:00am (UTC -5)
@Jason R
That's just the impression I got from watching these mind meld eps over the years. http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Vulcan_mind_meld seems to agree with me as it says "A mind meld could also be used by its initiator to probe another person's mind".

But, as others have poster above, melds haven't been unambiguously defined by the various Trek shows and there seems to be some room for different interpretations. The impression I got is that when the words 'my mind to your mind etc' is used, a deeper meld with mental stability transference occurs (TNG Sarek, VOY Meld). Otherwise it's just a probing meld where particular thoughts are taken or given by the initiator in order to get or communicate a truth (STIII, STVI, VOY Gravity, DSC War within blah war without).

But feel free to interpret mind melds in a more black and white way if you wish. btw are you in the camp that thinks Lorca was too one dimensional?
Ed
Sat, Feb 10, 2018, 1:43pm (UTC -5)
@Hank

If this is Kronos, I'm not sure it's really retconning it to show a slum or industrial zone. We've seen virtually nothing but government buildings and the main skyline for years. It's a whole planet.

Showing different design and customs than we're used to is also OK with me as a in a culture of billions there might be some with a preference for more ornate architecture, face paint or preserving corpses.

What IS retconning in the bad sense unfortunately is creating a new breed of Klingons who then become the only Klingons when there is already a mythology explaining different types.

The new kind introduced by Discovery could have been a less human-like variant on the traditional crested kind of Klingon, with others at least seen in the background.
Brian1
Sun, Feb 11, 2018, 5:01am (UTC -5)
I was wondering, does anyone watch After Trek? I have to say it’s kind of annoying. On a show that I found more worthy it might be pretty cool and interesting, like TNG OR DS9, but here... basically the writers and actors get together with a professional suck up for a host and have a big circle jerk about how “great” and “amazing” this show and its various plot lines are, how “intense” the drama is (yawn), etc. Its a bunch of self congratulatory sessions on a show that doesn’t deserve it. Anyone else notice this?
MadManMUC
Sun, Feb 11, 2018, 5:38am (UTC -5)
Bryan1: I've never watched it. But from what you're describing, it'd be enough to make me want to punch the screen.
Nievesg
Sun, Feb 11, 2018, 5:50am (UTC -5)
@Brian1: I feel your pain, you're describing the interviews/extra contents of any dvd of classic Doctor Who. I love the show, but on interviews I expect more info and less patting on each others' shoulders. With one glorious exception: Peter Davison (the 5th Doctor), a sarcastic sharp mind full of evil jokes, I love him!
And on After Trek the feeling is the same, except the silly jokes. But sometimes there is some real piece of info on those interviews, so I still watch it sometimes. Not often anyway, I would need more contents for that...
KT
Sun, Feb 11, 2018, 7:43am (UTC -5)
@Brain1 about After Trek "basically the writers and actors get together with a professional suck up for a host and have a big circle jerk about how “great” and “amazing” this show and its various plot lines are, how “intense” the drama is (yawn), etc."

To be fair it does seem like the writers and actors genuinely think this show is awesome, as do many ppl who are not that familiar with Star Trek or have only seen Voyager. Also in the first few After Treks it was clear the host was not impressed but lately he seems to have come around.

I still think that overall the show still sucks. My rankings of Treks:
1. VOY / TNG - it's hard to choose becos VOY was never as terrible as Code of Honour or Angel One (not even THESHOLD imo) but VOY was never as clever as Ethics either.
1. DS9 - if they'd been less ferengi eps and more bajor stuff in later seasons it'd easily be number one
4. ENT -its grown on me after a recent rewatch inc. Dvd extras with explanation and apology from Bragga. I still think he is a douche though
5. DSC - was at rank 6 until the last episode inched it back. It helps there's zero sexism
6. TOS - too sexist and most eps lacking imagination to be any higher, there are about 79 eps and only about 30 good ones

@skwinty why is VOY your least fav? Am I right in thinking you are male?
borusa
Sun, Feb 11, 2018, 7:49am (UTC -5)
Interesting someone mentioned Dr Who:

Contrast-Classic Dr Who with New Who: classic has slower direction,plastic sets but superior drama-with old vs new trek:
Same slower direction and plastic sets on TOS ( although they spent more on their show than the BBC did on theirs) but in terms of quality...
Discovery simply goes from strength to strength-it easily holds its own with the best of the previous shows in its and is superior to some of its predecessor shows,particularly ...ok-I won't .

MadManMUC
Sun, Feb 11, 2018, 8:04am (UTC -5)
@KT: 'DS9 - if they'd been less ferengi eps and more bajor stuff in later seasons it'd easily be number one'

Eek. No, no, no. Bajor and their dumb religion made those eps my 2nd least favourite after the Ferengi ones. I mean, really, who would want to see more Kai Fucking Winn, right? God, she was annoying.
KT
Sun, Feb 11, 2018, 8:40am (UTC -5)
@MadManMUC about "Kai Fucking Winn"

She was annoying but deliciously so. I had much a good time trying to figure out her angle and what made her tick. I liked that she was nuanced (she did heroic things during the occupation but afterwards seemed to be more into power than anything else).

But for a series which started off as being about the Bajoran frontier there wasn't a definite resolution to it (starfleet didn't send in Xenoantrolpolgists to figure out who and what are the wormhole aliens, who became the next Kai, did bajorans get over their 'religion'? Etc). That part of the ending was unsatisfactory with Sisko telling Kasidy "He might be back in a yr" as if to leave open possibility for feature film which never happened /big sad sigh/. And we are left to assume Bajor joins the ufp eventually.

Imo Bajor religion was not stupid because the wormhole aliens were god-like in many ways. They encouraged the bajorans to stay strong during the occupation. They have an affinity for Bajor to the point of manipulating Sisko into existence to be the emissary. They appear to be non-linear descendants of future inhabitants of Bajor (they have said "we are of Bajor"). This gives far more reason to follow your pagh than there is to follow any Earth religion except maybe Chakotay's skypeople.
Mertov
Sun, Feb 11, 2018, 8:51am (UTC -5)
I agree that After Trek is a let-down. They could do so much more with it. The little trivias and fun facts are ok, and the host has improved as KT said above.
There was one around the middle of the season that had two people from the production team as guests, they talked about what the sketch artists do, their work schedule, etc. I thought it was by far the most interesting segment.
Ed
Sun, Feb 11, 2018, 9:07am (UTC -5)
@KT

I always liked shows supposedly set in a real or imagined cosmopolitan setting to actually reflect that and agree with your taking sexism overt or implied into consideration when ranking the shows.

There's nothing wrong with simply wanting something to reflect its stated premise. If people from various Federation backgrounds (including both sexes and different cultures of United Earth) aren't visible as strong characters in a show about the Federation, why not?

The idea of that kind of society holds intrinsic interest to me, maybe because I grew up in a diverse environment and enjoyed it.

Why did we have to go so long being curious about what's going on with founding members like the Andorians? Yes, special effects but when did that stop TOS? Kudos to ENT with stuff like that. Even different kinds of Vulcans.

OK, TOS was still extremely groundbreaking for its time, but was TNG really on a social level?

Up to a point, yea, but it was also kind of a step back with more speeches about utopia than actually showing something that (minus aliens) couldn't have existed in a moderately conservative corporate 80s/early 90s environment.

It didn't help that the ship, Fed colonies and star bases always looked like convention centers or fancy hotels.

To be honest I mainly remember the Klingon-themed episodes of TNG once the show got around to developing them. Voyager wasn't as technically well made for the most part but at least put Federation values to the test in its better plots.

DS-9 was the best series and as annoying as the Ferengi could be they AND the Bajorans (and the general "outside the established Star Trek environment" vibe) provided much more of an exploration of "strange new worlds" even when staying fairly put specially
Ed
Sun, Feb 11, 2018, 9:15am (UTC -5)
....I mean "spatially." Electronic devices change our words! Possibly good Star Trek premise. :)
Jadzia
Sun, Feb 11, 2018, 5:18pm (UTC -5)
I like this series even if I don't love it the way I did DS9. The spore drive is a bit boring as is the whole Klingon storyline (also not loving the new Klingon look at all).
Agree about the fact that Lorca would have been much more interesting if he was the prime Lorca instead of being reduced to this two-dimensional cartoon character.
The comments above re Sonequa Martin-Green's acting are very thinly (or not at all) veiled racism/sexism and I'm calling it out for what it is. Are those self proclaimed critics who berate this talented, successful actress in any way qualified to criticize her ? Are you guys all Shakespearean actors? Or maybe you direct Broadway performances? I didn't think so.
Personally I am not of the entertainment industry and don't have a professional opinion to offer like some of the above commenters, but I think she conveys her torn personality beautifully...trying to appear Vulcan-like with her emotions boiling beneath the surface.
Anyways. One thing I got confused about - did the two Stametses switch places or not?
Looking forward to Jammer's thoughts on all this.
Mertov
Sun, Feb 11, 2018, 5:50pm (UTC -5)
I just watched this again for the second time, in preparation for this evening's finale. I liked it even better than the first time around. I felt that it was the most Star Trek-y epsiode as I said in my first comment above in this section, but I guess I did not grasp how vintage Trek few of the scenes were.

The scene with Saru showing tolerance to Tyler and letting him know that he can see the good in Tyler was about as emblematic as captains get, willing to let go of bad deeds for hope and growth of the individual. Also the scene with Cornwell and L'Rell during which Cornwell insists on trying to convince L'Rell to see the light for a peaceful solution. And then, the way Tilly attempts to convince that Burnham should look to at least have a dialogue with Ash. Saru, Cornwell, and Tilly were basically representing the core of Star Trek there. Detmer, Tilly, and Owosekun converging on Ash's table in the mess hall is a great moment too (the others could have stayed where they are though).

About Sarek... He betrayed Burnham once and hurt her deeply (ref: Lethe), and now he is betraying her again by being part of a plan and not letting her know (Emperor Georgiou and him had a secret talk). I am wondering if that had anything to do with Burnham getting vibes from Sarek that she may never see him again. Perhaps he feels the burden of that guilt (you can almost tell in that scene, Frain is great here in playing a character that is not supposed to show emotions, yet somehow conveys the feeling that something is wrong), and believes that once Michael learns of it, she will be upset with him - because it was behind her back or she would not have agreed with it had she known about it - and break all ties with him?

I doubt this finale will be a wrap-up episode anyway, so maybe that issue could be explored.
Jammer
Sun, Feb 11, 2018, 8:02pm (UTC -5)
Review now posted.
Mertov
Sun, Feb 11, 2018, 8:14pm (UTC -5)
Jammer, spot-on review as usual (how many times have I said that? Yet, I will again if deserved).

I can see (almost "feel it") through reading the review that the ending of the episode weighed heavily on your opinion, with valid reasons that you explained in detail. Others have mentioned it too. It was one of those "Come -- ON" moments..

I thought Stamets and company explained through some major trektechno-shucking-n-jiving how they manage to grow the crop, but I didn't grasp any of it, so either way, your criticism is valid on that too.

I love the "brief thoughts" stuff at the end that you sometimes add to your reviews. Thanks again.
Ed
Sun, Feb 11, 2018, 9:43pm (UTC -5)
Yes, the crop explanation was a doozy.

We can't grow the few remaining spore samples we have except in some ideal environment. If this dead moon had the capacity to sustain life it would be such an environment. So let's terraform it and grow an unlimited supply of the stupid things which paints us into the corner of not being able to phase out the spore drive anytime soon.

Why not practically anything else? A rare place with actual good conditions(instead of hypothetical ones) where a limited crop can grow in a short time. Or something synthetic rigged up in the lab? Residual spores inside Stamets' body?

I actually like the episode; just make up a better way to get new spores in LIMITED amounts. Have Georgiou dump the terraforming bombs on a key Klingon military installation instead to cause chaos and ethical conflict.
artymiss
Mon, Feb 12, 2018, 9:49am (UTC -5)
@ Jadzia

Just to say I completely agree with your comments re the Sonequa Martin-Green criticism on here. I have been really taken aback by the hatred directed at her. It seemed to really take off in the comment stream for this episode. I got the impression that posters didn't feel able to criticise this episode as much as they could earlier ones so turned their bile on to her instead.

No, the two Stamets didn't switch places.
Jason R.
Mon, Feb 12, 2018, 9:59am (UTC -5)
"Just to say I completely agree with your comments re the Sonequa Martin-Green criticism on here."

It was a pretty vile comment, accusing anyone critical of Green's acting of racism, "thinly veiled" or otherwise. The beauty of such a personal attack / motive speculation is that it's non falsifiable, and if people deny it, it's seen as further evidence of guilt.
Hank
Mon, Feb 12, 2018, 11:21am (UTC -5)
@Jadzia: I demand an apology from you right now, and from everybody else accusing me or anybody else of racism because we don't like an actress. If it wasn't for the show runners making a big deal about "Look, female BLACK lead", nobody would even talk about that. We already were long past any feelings that a woman or a black person in a lead role is anything special, or noteworthy, as it was normality until everybody decided to make it out to be something daring, groundbreaking or special, which it isn't, if we really are equal.

I am not dignifying your accusation with any kind of defense on my part, instead I implore you to really take an inward look and try to figure out why you think that everybody is a racist - and what your implicit assumption that everbody commenting here is white and male says about your own prejudices. You are not going to achieve anything trying to guilt-shame people towards your point of view. Sonequa Martin Green could be the whitest, manliest man on the planet and her acting would still suck, and no amount of vile accusations will ever change that fact. It just proves that she really is a bad actress if you have to pull the race and gender card to browbeat your opposition into submission. Shame on you.
Gul Densho-Ar
Mon, Feb 12, 2018, 11:36am (UTC -5)
Great review! Even gave it the same score that I did, for a change.
artymiss
Mon, Feb 12, 2018, 12:13pm (UTC -5)
@Hank and @Jason

I don't actually think the anti SMG comments I've read here are racist I should've made that clear in my earlier post. However the great majority of posters here are male and the great majority of posters strongly dislike both Michael and SMG and the focus on the Burnham story arc. Could there be a connection? I find Michael and her story arc interesting and I do not find SMG a bad actor, she is perfectly adequate in the role and will no doubt grow into it as the series progresses. I genuinely do not understand the hostility (extreme in some cases) towards her I find here and I therefore cannot help but wonder if there is some kind of gender issue at work, not necessarily conscious even. I just feel I am watching a different show from the bulk of you.

Jason R.
Mon, Feb 12, 2018, 12:57pm (UTC -5)
Artymiss, I can't speak for others, but I hated Burnham for the similar reasons that I hated Westley Crusher, only amplified by 10x because at least Wesley was a small part of an ensemble. Imagine season 1 of TNG only cut out 90% of the rest of the cast like Picard, Data, Geordie, Worf, Troi, Crusher and imagine Wesley taking all that extra oxygen. You wanna know what hate is?

Sure Burnham may not be an author insert like Westley but she's got all the hallmarks of what everyone despises about Mary Sue characters.
Jason R.
Mon, Feb 12, 2018, 1:05pm (UTC -5)
I should add to my comment that I do think that SMG is a very weak actress, or perhaps has simply been miscast. But I don't think her acting is the real source of the hate against her. The blame falls squarely with the writing and the compulsion to make this character the centre of the universe.
Peter G.
Mon, Feb 12, 2018, 1:38pm (UTC -5)
@ Jason R.

"I should add to my comment that I do think that SMG is a very weak actress, or perhaps has simply been miscast. But I don't think her acting is the real source of the hate against her. The blame falls squarely with the writing and the compulsion to make this character the centre of the universe."

I'm not sure I agree. Yes, the central problem is the script, and to whatever extent SMG may have failed I definitely feel that the script led her down the garden path. Some actors just can't make Shakespeare out of tripe like Ian McKellen can. However that doesn't change the issue that is all on her, which is her personal charisma. It's up to the actress and no one else that she comes across as likeable (as a character) and pulls you in to watch more. The script can be as good or bad as it wants, but if you get an Andrew Robinson in for a guest episode in DS9 S1 and he's so fascinating that they decided to bring him back, you can see the difference straight away. To be fair Garak's first episode isn't half bad, but it's not stellar either and his dialogue on paper is nothing without his curious and amazing interpretation of how to play those scenes. That's what you need from a series lead and they didn't get the right person for that.

I would compare DISC S1 to the SW prequels, because both hinged on the scripting and performance of a Chosen One. In both cases the entire story would stand or fall based on whether the audience accepted that person as the hero, and we saw what happened in Ep 2-3. Yes, the script was often despicable, but it should surely be clear that Christenson was as much to blame as the script was in being annoying to watch (especially in Ep 2). Was he miscast? Absolutely, so I wouldn't go up to him and personally blame him for it. I'm sure he did his best, and maybe he's a really nice guy for all I know. But he still failed utterly to draw us in to his character and like him, and as a result all there was to enjoy in those films were the secondary characters and the plot-line. Luckily a lot of the screen time was for characters like Obi-Wan, Palpatine and the Jedi Council, so we could get good mileage out of those films despite cringing during Anakin scenes. In DISC it's more difficult to get away from Burnham because she ends up being the only active factor in determining what everyone else is going to do most of the time. And like with Christenson, as much as I do blame the writing at the same time the actress is clearly also not living up to the legends they're making her out to be. She is no Chosen One, any more then Christenson was, for us to love as our protagonist. I guess my point is that the 'hate', as it were, should probably be ascribed to her lack of charisma as much as to how the character arc has been written.
Artymiss
Mon, Feb 12, 2018, 1:55pm (UTC -5)
@ Jason R

Well Wesley Crusher was utterly dreadful, we can agree about that!

Okay, I see where you're coming from now re Michael. I really don't mind Burnham or SMG but, that said, I am hoping that next season we learn more about the other characters and we do get much more of an ensemble vibe going on. That probably won't happen but I live in hope.
Hank
Mon, Feb 12, 2018, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
@Artymiss: I agree with Peter G and Jason R, and I can assure you that no underlying unconcious bias is at work here - that whole concept is up for debate anyways, but thats a different story. The point is, as the other two have said, that Micheal is a badly written character that is badly acted - but takes center stage anyways, and we are supposed to cheer for her and think that she is the best in the world. The show goes out of its way to spell it out for you: Michael is the most compassionate, understanding and overall best character in the world. In that sense, we really do watch a different show, because for you, she works on some level. For me, she worked for the first fifteen minutes of episode one. So in your viewing experience, you see a character that you can relate to, while I just see an actress having two facial expressions being praised and admired by everybody constantly. Where you see a conflicted character facing tough choices, I see a Mary Sue facing utterly avoidable and artifical dramatic moments that only amount to more praising and fawning by the rest of the cast, that only seems to be there to tell us how great she is. Like "The Room" - not undeservedly called the worst movie ever.
Peter G.
Mon, Feb 12, 2018, 3:26pm (UTC -5)
I just had a flash of a scene appear in my head, of Leonard Nimoy sitting in Sela's office on Romulus surrounded by CBS executives, who've handed him the script for this final episode. Sela can be there too, why not. And he reads the final speech that Michael says to Starfleet command, looks up, and says "I will not read this."

Dunno why that popped into my head. It's what I imagine Nimoy saying to scripting like this.
Hank
Mon, Feb 12, 2018, 3:52pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G.: It's your brain trying to alleviate the painfulness of the show. I have constant visions of Picard watching a recording of this show in the historical database and shaking his head in disbelief, before ordering Earl Grey and going back to bed in his grey robes.

Or that scene where Janeway talks to Chakotay about Kirk, and how those "Hot headed cowboys" did it back in the day, with Chakotay then mentioning Discovery, which brings Janeway to just sigh and take a sip of coffee, before ordering to never speak of this dark part of history again.

Heck, I could even imagine Damar and O'Brian sharing a cup of Canar in agreement that all is not so bad, after they were dragged into the Discovery Universe by a freak transporter malfunction.
Tim
Mon, Feb 12, 2018, 11:55pm (UTC -5)
@ KT, "why is VOY your least fav? Am I right in thinking you are male?"

Why do Voyager fans ALWAYS "go there" when confronted with criticism of their show? I know you weren't directing that at me, but I've heard it ad nauseam, and it's a cheap way to put someone on the defensive before you even hear them out.
Hank
Tue, Feb 13, 2018, 12:11pm (UTC -5)
@Tim: Because we live in the age of identity politics, and your Gender and Race determine what you are supposed to dislike. "Yes, of course those horrible men all hate Janeway - the strong independent woman(tm)". Nevermind all the valid reasons to dislike Janeway (or the assumption that hating Janeway makes you hate the show - Voyager is my second favorite, after DS9, even though I hate Janeway). If you dislike DS9, it must be because Sisko is black and you are white. The list goes on. Best to ignore it completely, but I know, it is hard, because it is such a fundamental attack on your character.
Tim
Tue, Feb 13, 2018, 2:52pm (UTC -5)
I liked Janeway in the first few seasons, she was a good avatar for Starfleet, but they turned her into a McGuffin later in the series. Whatever decision would keep the crew stranded in the Delta Quadrant is the one she would make. It could be principled idealism or ruthless pragmatism, consistent with her previous choices or completely out of left field, just as long as it served the needs of the plot and reset the status quo. Mulgrew is a decent actress, but nobody could have made that writing believable.

Ironically, the writers unintentionally stumbled into a racial faux pas with Sisko's character, when Avery Brooks called them out on the Black Man Abandoning His Child™ cliche. Another reason they should have forgotten about the pseudo religious nonsense (Immaculate conception, really? Really? On Star Trek???) and come up with a better ending for his character.

Speaking of female Captains, I've said it before and I'll say it here again: It was a waste of an amazing actress to give Captain Philippa Georgiou the glorified redshirt treatment. Michelle Yeoh absolutely NAILED the role of Starfleet Captain, in a way I haven't seen since Patrick Stewart. She had chemistry with Sonequa Martin-Green, something that I saw again in the MU episodes when they were paired together. Imagine Discovery with these two as the leads in a more exploratory and optimistic TNG/Voyager setting. That will forever be my "What if?" about this show. I bet there'd be a lot less people talking about The Orville if CBS had gone in that direction.....
Chrome
Tue, Feb 13, 2018, 3:12pm (UTC -5)
@Tim

"Ironically, the writers unintentionally stumbled into a racial faux pas with Sisko's character, when Avery Brooks called them out on the Black Man Abandoning His Child™ cliche."

It was for that reason that they added the line that Sisko may be coming back. I don't think they were intentionally trying to be racist though, probably just trying to ape the Jesus died for our sins mythos of Christianity.

"Speaking of female Captains, I've said it before and I'll say it here again: It was a waste of an amazing actress to give Captain Philippa Georgiou the glorified redshirt treatment."

Right? I wonder if they just didn't have the budget to get Yeoh to stay on as a regular cast member. Or maybe Yeoh has other commitments.
Tim
Tue, Feb 13, 2018, 9:42pm (UTC -5)
I never thought they were trying to be intentionally racist, but it does demonstrate the foolhardiness of that whole plot line, IMHO. Man Abandons His Children to Embark on Religious Quest is an asinine and selfish story even without the racial element. I honestly can't stomach to watch most of the Emissary episodes. It was okay when it was something that was reluctantly forced on Sisko, when he thought of them as "wormhole aliens," but when they went "all in" and did the immaculate conception nonsense, and had him actually embrace the role. Ugh. Just ugh.

There's a reason why nobody references "Rapture" as a good episode, lol.
KT
Sat, Feb 17, 2018, 9:29am (UTC -5)
@Tim
"Man Abandons His Children to Embark on Religious Quest is an asinine and selfish story"

We must have watched different shows as this is not what I gathered from DS9. Sisko died; sh*t happens. He didn't chose to leave his family. It was made clear that his preference would have been to retire on Bajor with Kasidy. Avery Brooks needn't have been concerned.
Chrome
Sat, Feb 17, 2018, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
“We must have watched different shows as this is not what I gathered from DS9. Sisko died; sh*t happens. He didn't chose to leave his family. It was made clear that his preference would have been to retire on Bajor with Kasidy. Avery Brooks needn't have been concerned.”

But he did choose to leave his pregnant wife and son to go face Dukat in a one-on-one showdown. Arguably he could’ve just stayed on the station and looked for a different solution with his crew. I know we’re supposed to have faith that what Sisko did was for the best, but I can’t blame people for being a bit skeptical. Was Dukat such a threat that he’d use his orange magic fire to blow up DS9? That wasn’t made clear.
KT
Sat, Feb 17, 2018, 1:50pm (UTC -5)
@Chrome
"Was Dukat such a threat that he’d use his orange magic fire to blow up DS9? That wasn’t made clear."

Dukat was raving about how the Parwraiths were going to set the entire universe in flames, to burn for all eternity. So yeah I'd say the station was in danger ...

"Arguably he could’ve just stayed on the station and looked for a different solution with his crew."

The path set our by non-linear wormhole aliens may not always be clear but we have to have faith that they did the best the could to repel the evil non-corporeal aliens (aka Parwraiths). And that Sisko's sacrifice was a necessity born out of the events on the station in 'Tears of the Prophets' and Sisko's not being there then. That's what he got for being a Starfleet family man first, instead of the Emissary who heeds the wormhole aliens. And after reading a lot of the negative comments about DS9 on these threads, I fear for all your paghs.
Jadzia
Sun, Feb 18, 2018, 8:16am (UTC -5)
Wow, Hank and Jason R. I stand by my earlier comment. You seem to have a lot of anger in you, mostly focused on women and Wesley Crusher.
Tim
Mon, Mar 12, 2018, 9:34am (UTC -5)
@KT

"Dukat was raving about how the Parwraiths were going to set the entire universe in flames, to burn for all eternity. So yeah I'd say the station was in danger ..."

This is my problem with the DS9 religious plot. It makes no sense even by its own rules. DS9 itself established that Prophets and Pah-wraiths can be killed, with off the shelf technology. They're not Gods or Demigods, they're just aliens, and they certainly can't "set the universe in flames," not when we can kill them with a few keystrokes.

It's one thing for the Bajorians to worship them, having built a religion around them from the earliest days of their civilization. It could have been an interesting story, they're "of Bajor," related to and invested in the Bajorian people, but to make them into literal Gods, with Sisko and Duket as the Archangel and Anti-Christ?

Ugh. It's the least watchable part of DS9.
Aldernut
Wed, Mar 21, 2018, 1:43am (UTC -5)
As a female fan of Star Trek, just chiming in on the Tyler/Burnham situation in this episode.

One word: disgusting.

Sarek: "There is also grace. For what greater source of peace exists than our ability to love our enemy?"
Burnham: "I've made foolish choices. Emotional choices."
Sarek: "Well...you're human. As is your mother."

What the hell kind of father starts religious guilt tripping her adopted daughter to get back together with a guy who tried to kill her? And then comparing the thing to his relationship with Burnham's mother? Is he a wife-beater now, perhaps?

Then the next scene:

Tilly: "When we were in the Terran Universe, I was reminded of how much a person is shaped by their environment. And I think the only way we can stop ourselves from becoming them is to understand the darkness within us and fight it. Tyler needs you."
Burnham: "I'm told he's doing well."
Tilly: "That's not possible. Not when he's lost a person he has cared about the most."
Burnham: "He killed a Starfleet officer. And he...he tried to kill me."
Tilly: "And those crimes are reprehensible. But Tyler is not the person who did that - at least he's - he's not anymore. He is something other. Someone new. What we do now, the way that we treat him, that is who we will become. I know you still care about him."
Burnham: "I do. That does not mean I should."
Tilly: "Michael, he's been stripped of his badge, he will never fly for Starfleet again. He'll be lucky if he doesn't end up in a lab. Or a cell. What kind of future can he have? Say what you have to say, even if it's goodbye."

Tilly here goes full on with the whole "Your treatment of your ex is categorical moral responsibility for the future of the human race. Plus, he's totally changed now. Besides, think of how bad things are for him." Seriously?

And then the finale:

Tyler: "I'm sorry. I know there's no way I can prove this to you, but Voq, he's gone."
Burnham: "I believe you...was there ever really an Ash Tyler? Did he love me? Cause I loved him. You lied to me. You said that if it got to be too much, that if you couldn't handle it, you would come to me. And it did. And you didn't. And that wasn't Voq - that was you, Tyler!"
Tyler: "Who the hell is Tyler? You think I know anymore? You think I've any idea who I am anymore, where I belong? This isn't about a lie - this is about you looking for an excuse to end it."
Burnham: "Excuse?!"
Tyler: "My crewmates have been kinder than they need to be. Why are you - the person who knows me the best - so quick to turn your back?"
Burnham: "Stop."
Tyler: "I want you to admit it. Admit that you can't do this anymore, because you finally went there with someone and things got complicated. Because your parents were killed by klingons and you fell in love with one."
Burnham: "Maybe you're right. I know, in my head, that you couldn't be responsible for Voq's actions - but I felt your hands around my neck. And I looked into your eyes and I saw how much you wanted to kill me. The man that I love wanted me dead. And no matter how hard I try, when I look at you now, I see Voq's eyes. I see him. Your crew might have put it behind them, but I can't."
Tyler: "I shouldn't be here. I should be an activated Klingon spy. Behind bars - or dead. Michael, the reason it didn't take, the reason L'Rell couldn't get through to me, that was you. Did Ash Tyler love you? Hell yes he did. And I can't find my way back without you."
Burnham: "We created something beautiful today in a desolate wasteland that had never seen life. After the Battle of the Binary Stars I was so lost. I had to sit with myself. I had to work through it. I had to crawl my way back. I'm still not there, but I'm trying. That kind of work - reclaiming life - it's punishing, it's relentless and it's solitary."
Tyler: "No, I-"
Burnham: "Ash, it's not easy letting you go."

So. Tyler, the guy who tried to strangle Burnham, is guilt-tripping her for 1) not having commitment, and 2) being responsible for his future. What utter bullshit, but I guess some manipulative assholes do this IRL too. Burnham should never have seen him at all, but I guess that's what your family and friends guilting and gaslighting you does, hmm?

IRL, if something like this happens to you,
1) you have every right to dump any guy, whether they try to kill you or not
2) if someone tries to kill you, cut all contact and immediately contact the police
3) if family and friends try to get you back with him, give the bastards and the now-ex-friends fully a piece of your mind

Would be nice if this kind of realism was around sometimes. People really need to stop with this "love conquers all, so it's women's responsibility to cure violent guys" bs. At least where I live, conservative Christian cults do it, and it results in pretty immense human rights abuses and suffering.
Peter G.
Wed, Mar 21, 2018, 9:50am (UTC -5)
@ Aldernut,

I agree completely with your assessment. The show seems to believe that Burnham had some sort of obligation to someone who literally assaulted her. The reasons behind the assault were unusual, of course, but that's got nothing to do with a clearly traumatized woman being made to feel like 'it's ok' that this guy is now walking free.

That being said, the show is set in the future rather than the present, so I could see an argument for them treating offenders with more compassion and understanding than we do now. From that standpoint I think it's legit to be treating Tyler with respect, although this point might have been more coherent if the crew had in general been exemplifying behavior more advanced than ours. For the most part, and certainly up to this point in the series, it seems more like they're a bunch of contemporaries who sort of claim they're more advanced but don't really act like it. That really does make treating Tyler like a good guy stick out a bit more like a sore thumb, especially after how the tardigrade was treated.

But there's a line between treating an offender with respect and pretending like he's still part of the gang and should be afforded the courtesies of a close friend. The romance 'plotline' here seemed to trump reasonably trying to take care of Burnham's needs as an actual person. So once again we see how her characterization was treated - as a device to advance a plot, in this case, the romance plot.
Tim
Thu, Mar 22, 2018, 3:26pm (UTC -5)




"The show seems to believe that Burnham had some sort of obligation to someone who literally assaulted her. The reasons behind the assault were unusual, of course, but that's got nothing to do with a clearly traumatized woman being made to feel like 'it's ok' that this guy is now walking free."

How is what happened to Burnham any worse than what Miles did to Keiko in "Power Play" or what she did to him in "The Assignment?" For that matter, there's what Data did to Geordi in "Descent," Troi kicking Worf's ass in "Clues," Garek trying to kill Miles and Nog......

Star Trek is literally swimming in these stories and I can't recall anyone throwing anyone else under the bus the way Burnham did with Tyler. That said, I also can't recall a pathetic gaslighting "I can't do this alone" whine-fest either. The whole scene makes me groan. The scene in the mess with everyone joining him was good Star Trek at least.....
Peter G.
Thu, Mar 22, 2018, 3:50pm (UTC -5)
@ Tim,

My answer would have to be that Tyler's 'real personality' wasn't taken over by an alien. Voq WAS his real personality, or at the very least a part of it. The Tyler persona was just overlaid on top of a Klingon sleeper agent. That it took on a life of its own it what the story wanted to say, but nevertheless it's not true that the human named Tyler was possessed and his actions weren't his own. On the contrary, they really were. The question that remains is "who is Tyler"? I think the better analogy here would be to someone with a mental disorder of some kind where the person's mood or even beliefs can fluctuate quickly. Sure, you can argue "he's better now" and that might take some time and evidence to demonstrate. In the meantime she should have kept her distance and not assumed that Voq mas magically gone just because everyone said so. And I'll point out again, getting rid of Voq (one of the worst pieces of Charlie Brown hand-waving this series did) was the elimination of Tyler's *real* personality, the one actually contained in the brain that came with the body. The human Tyler was basically a piece of programming left over after he was lobotomized.

I know the argument you were trying to make, but I don't think the analogy applies to this situation at all.
Tim
Thu, Mar 22, 2018, 9:39pm (UTC -5)
@Peter

Not sure where you drew those conclusions about the lobotomy/personality. It seemed like a ill convinced muddled mess of a story to me and I never got any definitive conclusions about which personality was “real.” Perhaps that’s an indictment of me, but meh, reading around the interwebs I’m not the only one...

Regardless, that whole scene, ugh. Just ugh. Probably the worst moment in the season for me. The whole subplot makes no sense, feels like Discovery in a nutshell, a bunch of twists in a supposed “novel” that make no sense in part or whole.
Peter G.
Thu, Mar 22, 2018, 10:44pm (UTC -5)
@ Tim,

I sort of thought my conclusions were just the literal story. L'Rell took Voq's body, crushed it into chopped liver to make it smaller and shorter, did DNA magic to make him read as Human, I guess, and then took Tyler's corpse and scanned his brain or whatever and downloaded his memories into Voq's mind, after (apparently) compartmentalizing Voq's consciousness like Sloan in DS9 seems to have suspected of Bashir. I mean, they don't say all of that verbatim and seemed to deliberately leave it all vague enough that there's virtually no point even asking what happened, but from the snippets we get I think what I just mentioned is what they were trying to say. The reason I call the 'real' personality Voq's is because it's biologically his body and his brain, just with Tyler's memories zapped into his head somehow. It's basically a Manchurian Candidate programmed personality, but not his real one. IT'S A FAKE!
Tim
Fri, Mar 23, 2018, 11:56am (UTC -5)
"L'Rell took Voq's body, crushed it into chopped liver to make it smaller and shorter, did DNA magic to make him read as Human, I guess, and then took Tyler's corpse and scanned his brain or whatever and downloaded his memories into Voq's mind, after (apparently) compartmentalizing Voq's consciousness like Sloan in DS9 seems to have suspected of Bashir. I mean, they don't say all of that verbatim and seemed to deliberately leave it all vague enough that there's virtually no point even asking what happened"

That is not at all what I saw watching that subplot. I'm not ruling it out, because it's enough of a muddled mess that it could go either way, but I saw it as Voq's personality being loaded into poor Tyler's brain, not all this DNA magic/chopped liver stuff. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I just read Aldernut's comment and viewed in the light that she's describing the subplot moves from "annoying af" into "offensive af" territory. It certainly did feel like a modern day relationship guilt trip that Tyler was laying on her, which made that whole scene unwatchable to me. The mess hall scene felt like "Star Trek" to me, the Stamets/Tyler scene was some hybrid between Trek and the real world, a good scene I thought, but the Tyler/Michael scene was painful. It felt like a Cops episode where the battered woman tells her handcuffed boyfriend that it's finally over. "No baby, I can change, I have changed!"

This whole subplot could be Exhibit A in what's wrong with Discovery. With the exception of Stamets, Tilly, and Saru, it's a cast of deeply damaged individuals, not at all Star Trek. Why do the writers/producers think this is what people want to see? Because it's "edgy" or some such? I will again come back to The Orville, which has 21% from the "professionals" on Rotten Tomatoes and 93% from the audience. The real world is depressing af already, why do the "professionals" assume that's what we want in entertainment?

For a non-Sci-Fi example, see NCIS. It's mostly episodic but still has long term plot lines, meaning no "reset button." The good guys usually but not always win. Even where the story gets dark it manages to remain true to its roots and never gets dark AND depressing. Is it the most realistic police procedural? Nope. Is it good escapism entertainment? Absolutely. Still a Top 10 show by ratings.....

Peter G.
Fri, Mar 23, 2018, 1:10pm (UTC -5)
@ Tim,

"That is not at all what I saw watching that subplot. I'm not ruling it out, because it's enough of a muddled mess that it could go either way, but I saw it as Voq's personality being loaded into poor Tyler's brain, not all this DNA magic/chopped liver stuff. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯"

I think this aspect of the plot confused a lot of people. It's actually exhibit A for me of how sloppy the writing for this show is, where people who watch it can't even comprehend what is literally happening to one of the main plot arcs. Another catastrophic fumble in story editing was in the episode on the Klingon ship when L'Rell was trying to get Admiral Cornwall off the ship. In that episode, too, it was almost impossible to parse what was happening one scene to the next.

I've only seen each episode once so maybe you or someone else could correct me, but I distinctly remember them mentioning that Voq's actual bones were crushed and re-sized, and his organs carved out and replaced with human ones (or something). We got the 'pleasure' of watching flashbacks of this operation like ten times in various episodes. The only conclusion I can form is that they needed Voq's brain and body to remain his but to be physiologically altered to look human-shaped. The bit about whose brain it is doesn't seem entirely clear, except that the only way it makes sense to keep Voq's body but mangle it is if a brain transplant is impossible for some reason. You'd think otherwise that putting Voq's brain in a human's body would be the best solution if they could have done that. As it was L'Rell made it sound like Voq himself would have to sacrifice the life he knew, not that he'd literally die and then have his personality downloaded into a human's brain.

I mean, yeah. The whole thing doesn't make sense anyhow. But can anyone else chime in with whether you think my interpretation makes sense? I thought it was the story as presented, but Tim is right that maybe I misread something or took some things too literally?
William B
Fri, Mar 23, 2018, 1:48pm (UTC -5)
I haven't watched this, but it occurs to me that some of the "Klingon sleeper agent" thing, in addition to playing on general Manchurian Candidate tropes, might also have been inspired by Arne Darvin in The Trouble with Tribbles...which is given a gritty remake where for a Klingon to pretend to be human requires horrifying physical alterations. The transformation of a side element in a comic fluff masterpiece into a horrific grimdark centrepiece plot seems pretty representative of what a lot of people here are saying about Discovery. (Usual disclaimers: I haven't watched the show, I don't know that this is actually true -- it's just a thought I couldn't help but share.)
Tim
Fri, Mar 23, 2018, 2:32pm (UTC -5)
@ Peter G:

"Another catastrophic fumble in story editing was in the episode on the Klingon ship when L'Rell was trying to get Admiral Cornwall off the ship. In that episode, too, it was almost impossible to parse what was happening one scene to the next."

Ah, yeah, I completely forgot about that. That was pretty damn bad now that you mention it. I have no idea what was going on in that scene. L'Rell was trying to escape, with Cornwall's help, but then gets caught so Cornwall (seemingly) sacrifices herself to save L'Rell because....... reasons??? That's how it came across to me at least. Then it was completely forgotten about until L'Rell jumps into the transporter beam in "Into the Forest I Go." Guess she was just chilling that whole time? Then our heroes make her a POW, not a defector, she dutifully fulfills the role of uncooperative prisoner, and we're just supposed to forget about the attempted defection a few episodes prior. TNG did the whole "reluctant defector" thing a lot better, in a single episode, with a fraction of Discovery's budget......

Ugh!

"I've only seen each episode once"

Same. I mean to sit down and binge them all in order but I keep finding better things to do on the weekend. To be honest, not sure if I've got ~10 straight hours of Discovery in me, and the stupid serialized plot means I have to watch them in fairly quick succession while devoting 100% of my attention to the screen.

By contrast, H&I airs all the "classic" Star Trek (TNG is "classic?" God I'm old....) shows, and even with DS9 you can watch while playing on your tablet, cooking dinner, etc., it's not this "Breaking Bad" thing where you have to pay EXACT ATTENTION to every second of every scene, or find yourself going "WTF?" five episodes later.
Peter G.
Fri, Mar 23, 2018, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
@ William B,

My take on the tone of the series is that your description is accurate.

The thought of Arne Darvin also occurred to me, but I didn't bring it up because in that case Bones scans him quickly and he reads immediately as Klingon. Is that because the only thing different about him is his...clothing? Eyebrows? Or is it because he also had altered physiology but after Tyler (retconned) they knew how to look for the surgical alterations? I guess that's why Darvin was in such a bad mood in DS9. Anyhow it's harder to discuss in a show where Klingons and humans look the same already. But yes, they may have been inspired by that one for the basic premise.
William B
Fri, Mar 23, 2018, 3:00pm (UTC -5)
Yeah, certainly the difference when Klingons and humans look the same anyway, and also McCoy's tricorder can identify Darvin immediately, is readily apparent. Still, I can't help but finding myself imagining some of the Discovery producers slamming their fists on the table declaring that what the world needs is a grim & gritty version of The Trouble with Tribbles.

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