Star Trek: Discovery

"An Obol for Charon"

3 stars

Air date: 2/7/2019
Story by Jordon Nardino & Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts
Teleplay by Alan McElroy & Andrew Colville
Directed by Lee Rose

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"An Obol for Charon" is perhaps the most classic take on classic Trek yet from Discovery. After last week's "Point of Light" seemed to go in about 15 directions at once in its pursuit of various serial subplots, "Obol" is very disciplined in focusing on the exploration aspects of Trek within the confines of a ship-in-peril premise and a tighter — if familiar — plot and structure. The result is a very solid outing, particularly with its late revelations, but one that is somewhat held back by some quirks in execution.

One quirk in execution is a trend I'm noticing this season, which is Burnham's Extreme Empathy Face. (BEEF acronym and trademark denied.) Sonequa Martin-Green's performance seems to divide viewers. I've mostly found her to be fine, but I've noticed a lot more overt emotion this season as the Big Awful Secret surrounding Spock is mostly played with pained looks as Burnham explains — or doesn't explain; more like hints around — the cause of this huge rift and resulting emotional turmoil. Every time the topic of Spock comes up, Burnham seems to be on the verge of going to pieces. It's a similar thing here when Saru starts to get sick. These are the sorts of moments that benefit from being downplayed. In the case of the Spock thing, as I've already mentioned, the whole thing just feels like it's building up so much that there's a huge risk of it simply fizzling out.

"Obol" presents us with the whereabouts of Spock's shuttle (following his breakout from the psych ward where he allegedly killed three of his doctors), which Discovery chases before the episode takes a left turn into a standalone alien encounter when the ship is faced with a huge, mysterious sphere that wreaks havoc on the ship's systems, starting with the universal translator. I've never been a fan of trying to address the universal translator within the plot — the whole thing is best thought of as a fantasy device unless you assume it's wired directly into everyone's brain somehow — but there's something fun about Burnham and Pike breaking into Klingon in mid-sentence and then Saru having to save the day with his linguistic expertise. It sure beats explosions and flying sparks.

The sphere provides a good alien lifeform mystery (and ultimately a very Trekkian one) and its design is intriguing. What are its intentions? Even if the intentions aren't hostile, it's still causing problems with the ship's systems and prompting the need for a lot of problem-solving for our crew. Meanwhile, Saru gets sick and reveals that he is undergoing the Kelpien vahar'ai, the point where Kelpiens are supposed to sacrifice themselves to their planet's predator species and will otherwise die a painful death of biologically induced madness. These two things might be connected.

The B-plot involves the captured alien lifeform from the mycelium network which had previously assumed the identity of Tilly's friend May. It escapes its containment chamber and promptly tries to absorb Tilly and take over her body. Again, communication (or miscommunication) may be the key here; the alien tells Stamets that Discovery's jumps are causing harm to the beings inside the spore realm, and I'm interested in learning more about what that means. This aspect of the plot is not resolved by the end of the episode, but the structure of the storytelling works so much better than "Point of Light" because everything just has more time to breathe. There's a way you can do both standalone and serialized simultaneously, and "Obol" finds that balance.

I asked for more Tig Notaro in my review last week, and that ask has been answered. I got perhaps more, and less, than I'd bargained for. Notaro plays Jet Reno as a one-note sarcasm machine (the script offers little else) that pushes right up to the edge of annoying without making me actively dislike her. After her effectiveness in "Brother," I'd hoped for more from this character than a string of overly scripted one-liners, so let's hope this improves. (Admittedly, some of the one-liners are decent, but they are too clearly cleverly overwritten.) On the other hand, Stamets and Tilly make for a hugely effective and likable pairing, with Stamets' bedside manner providing a nice support to Tilly's vulnerability. The writers are onto something here, and Anthony Rapp and Mary Wiseman both make the most of it.

But the core of this story is really Saru. He's integral to resolving the mystery of the sphere, of course, but I was far more interested in his Kelpien backstory and the new implications of what happens here. His decline into apparent death is so earnestly played and milked for pathos that it seemed for a brief moment like the writers might actually go through with it, even though my brain knew killing off the show's best character was simply not going to happen. The Saru/Burnham scenes work well because they reveal things about both characters. For Saru, they reveal how much it took him out of his element to join Starfleet in the first place. And when his ganglia simply fall out rather than killing him — removing the fear that has defined his entire existence — it indicates a new direction for the character that could be transformative not just for him, but his entire people. For Burnham, Saru on his deathbed elicits a promise (which she intends to keep even though he survives) to continue trying to pursue a dialogue with Spock even though she's certain he doesn't want it. The good Trek stories have good character cores, and "Obol" has a few.

The resolution of the alien sphere plot is workmanlike and effective, if hardly groundbreaking. I like the idea of this thing being a galactic old soul trying to impart its wisdom before dying, if only it could figure out how to communicate it. (It's this very communication that's causing all the problems.) Pike calls it the galactic equivalent of sea scrolls, containing millenniums of collected knowledge. What might we learn from it?

"An Obol for Charon" is a re-correction from last week's disjointed un-re-calibration — so that makes it an un-un-re-calibration, I guess? I'm hoping this season can stay a little more consistent so I don't run out of prefixes.

Some other thoughts:

  • The pursuit of Spock's shuttle is interrupted here, but promises to resume at once. At this point, I'm thinking this season should've been called Star Trek Discovery II: The Search for Spock.
  • The last time Saru's fear was removed from him, in "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum," he turned against his crewmates. I don't expect that again, but I do wonder if Saru's new life without fear will come with unexpected consequences, psychological or otherwise.
  • The episode introduces Pike's first officer, referred to only as Number One (and played by Rebecca Romijn). This is essentially a cameo that re-establishes a character not seen since "The Cage"/"The Menagerie," and I expect there's more forthcoming.
  • The Enterprise was disabled by its new holo-communicators, which Pike hated anyway. I really don't need the aesthetic tech inconsistencies between this show and TOS explained to me. I accept them as a matter of 50 years separating television production values. I don't care.
  • Someone aptly pointed out that Tilly ends up in the Upside Down at the end of this episode. And, yeah, that's pretty much dead-on. It even looks the same.
  • Stamets drills into Tilly's temple to install the neural device, but he just slightly drills the surface as to not bore a hole through her skull and make the scene too unpleasant to watch. But then I wonder to myself — why is the drill needed at all? I guess the neutral device can transmit through a skull, but not all the way through a skull. Those extra millimeters really make a difference, huh?
  • I believe this the first episode of Discovery to be rated TV-PG by CBS. This felt appropriate given the episode's more traditional content and approach.

Previous episode: Point of Light
Next episode: Saints of Imperfection

◄ Season Index

224 comments on this review

Rahul
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 8:34pm (UTC -6)
Glad to see this episode being more focused than last week’s frenetic “Point of Light” with some interesting sci-fi (the sphere trying to make “last contact”) and what Saru learns about himself and his race. But it also had some low points with Jet Reno’s annoying character and the blob spore/fungal network/Tilly subplot.

Like last week’s episode title “Point of Light” this week’s episode title makes little sense to me. But at least DSC is not going with the 1-word episode titles so frequently seen on VOY and ENT. DSC comes up with some intriguing titles but they aren’t very meaningful.

Saru’s probably my favourite character on DSC — I’ve always liked his empathy and humility. The Kelpian race is also particularly original in that they have this fear in the DNA + the ritual suicides. Of course Saru wasn’t going to die and maybe it’s a bit convenient that his ganglia just fall off and his fear is forever gone. But I think it’s a good story about how he took his chance at Star Fleet and wanted to be the best he could be given that he started pretty much at the bottom (as a refugee) — this episode refers a lot to the Short Trek of when Georgiou came and got him. And Saru can never return home — so he’s made some serious sacrifices to be in Star Fleet. So he denies his race's doctrine and calls it a lie.

And I guess what Burnham takes out of it is that she should forge ahead and be there for Spock, which she didn’t want to do at the start of the episode.

I think the most noteworthy thing about the blob/May thing is Tilly reflecting on her strange childhood. She took May for granted as May believed in her. But after that part it was bad science fiction. It’s a bit of a body snatcher thing with May not wanting to release Tilly as Stamets/Jet Reno try and rescue her.

Not at all a fan of Jet Reno’s snark. So she’s old school compared to Stamets -- fine. I suppose these 2 are going to be like polar opposites of each other as they technobabble their way to solutions. That’s not something I look forward to very much, given Reno's attitude.

As for the sphere, tons of knowledge for the ship to work through and I’d expect it to have some answers on the 7 signals / Red Angel and what’s up with Spock. Thought it was cool/original in how it was trying to communicate with the ship (like a computer virus). Easy to see how it could be seen as a threat but Saru proved his worth again.

I keep thinking of what Saru went through as the kind of things Spock went through — fighting through pain and even the pon farr (where if he doesn't mate, he could die). Spock was very much the alien on TOS just as Saru is so different on DSC. They are loners amid a society of humans and realize how awkward/different they are.

2.5 stars for “An Obol for Charon” — I think this is the 2nd best episode of DSC S2 so far after “New Eden”. Still feels a bit rushed/frenetic but the A-plot with Saru’s plight and trying to understand the sphere was good sci-fi. Jet Reno drags this episode down and the majority of the Tilly/blob subplot was mediocre. Overall, the episode felt better balanced between being self-contained and pushing the overall arc along a little bit.
Yanks
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 8:34pm (UTC -6)
MUCH better than last week.

More to follow of course.
Nick B
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 9:26pm (UTC -6)
A self-contained Disaster episode with a unique take on the danger itself. The The journey into death is explored here (hence the reference to Charon the ferryman of the dead), but I think the main message was about the legacy we leave behind.

Definitely more in line with a season 2 episode. An all-around slow, thougtful show.
Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 9:29pm (UTC -6)
Hrmm...It was significantly better than last week, and arguably the best episode of Discovery to date.

What I liked:

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

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

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

What I disliked:

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

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

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

I'd say three stars.
Justin Minor
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 9:32pm (UTC -6)
ANNNNND tillys in the Upside down
FELCommentary
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 10:02pm (UTC -6)
While season 1 was an absolute failure of a season-wide story with minor filler - I'd call it classic Trek - episodes, and last week's episode being a fat stinker, this episode brought the Season 2 steam train back in full force.

I feel like Discovery is starting to figure out some of the unique ways they can tell classic Trek stories and events, like the universal translator bugging out and everyone was speaking different languages. A very cool way to showcase what would originally have been a line of dialogue in an older series.

Branching off of what I said earlier, this is also the classic "holy crap the ship is about to explode" episode style of Trek with a hopeful resolution involving a desecrated and dying alien species we've never seen. It's death parallels very well with Saru's ideology and reason for being in Starfleet, as he thought his legacy was going to die and be continued by Michael, but it is only the next chapter.

Speaking of, fantastic performances by Doug Jones, Anthony Rapp and Mary Wiseman again. And what's that? SMG actually emoting? Well I'll be damned. Although it was kinda hard to get through with the r/iamverysmart dialogue: did she really have to say "is it truly inevitable?" "Is this really the end" would have worked fine.

My only other big gripe is Jet Reno's character. Yay, another sarcastic asshole on Discovery. Because we didn't have enough of them in season 1. Her back and forth with Stamets was entertaining to a point though, and much like in the older Trek series, Stamets bringing up Earth's pollution problem highlights humanitarian issues we suffer with today. I'm sure the hardcore older fans will see this as nothing more than "SJW" pandering because we're in an era where we're so scared to hear that sometimes we suck.

Also while the camera work was farrrrrrrr better than the last two episodes (a note to this episode's director) the audio mixing was a little wonky. Some scenes with yelling or explosions were really loud when my volume was perfectly default with the regular back and forth talking.

3.5 stars for An Obol to Charon, and my favorite episode of Discovery, next to New Eden and Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad. Let's hope the show continues its slow burning Spock story that isn't jumping the gun like Season 1's Klingon War.
Tim C
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 11:49pm (UTC -6)
Hot damn, Disco! That's how you do it!

Four stars. This one had me right from the start: Rebecca Romijn's Number One is a great casting choice, and the hand-wavey dismissal of why the Enterprise doesn't have fancy holo-communicators (Pike hates them and had them completely ripped out!) brought to mind DS9's similar dismissal of the Klingon makeup change.

A bottle episode, a ticking clock, and a technobabble mystery is as vintage Star Trek as you can get, but "An Obol For Charon" juices it with some excellent character work for both Saru and Burnham, who both have honest-to-god complete arcs through the episode and finally get their relationship properly explored and defined. And I dunno about you, but I was really, genuinely moved by the scene in Saru's quarters, and that's a first for this show.

Then on top of *that* extremely solid spine, we get the return of Jet Reno! Fighting with Stamets, who is also kind of a jerk! Fun, hilarious B-story material that also looks like it's setting up the next episode's plotline, and potentially also helping resolve the question of why Starfleet retired the spore drive.

This is exactly what I've been wanting from this show: stand alone Star Trek stories with good character work that doesn't forget what happened last week. I am as pleased as punch with this episode.

Two stray thoughts: (1) The malfunctioning universal translator is such a fun concept I can't believe it's taken Star Trek several hundred episodes to get to it, and (2) Jet Reno says the chief engineer sent her down to the sporehouse. Are we ever going to meet the chief?!
John Harmon
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 11:52pm (UTC -6)
“The malfunctioning universal translator is such a fun concept I can't believe it's taken Star Trek several hundred episodes to get to it”

This is so not the first time something like this has been done in Trek.
John Harmon
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 11:56pm (UTC -6)
I count at least three different cannibalized Trek stories for this episode: Babel, Disaster, and The Inner Light.

It only really got interesting towards the end with Saru finding out the truth about his people. That actually got me.

The line about getting rid of holocomms made me cringe. Clearly nothing more than a response to fan backlash. And totally not enough of an explanation when everyone else in Starfleet seems to use them.

Otherwise it was too frantic and I’ll focused as usual. Best thing I can say is at least it looks like they’re getting ready to nix all this spore nonsense.
Tim C
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 12:03am (UTC -6)
Time for a classic Internet Trekkie pop quiz, John Harmon: what other episode has had the UT go haywire like that? You mention Babel, but that was a different concept: a virus rewiring people's brains.

Offhand, the only times I can genuinely think of the UT being treated as a real piece of tech that could go on the fritz, rather than just being assumed to be 100% perfect in all situations (even the Delta Quadrant!), is the early struggles in Enterprise.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 3:34am (UTC -6)
DS9's "Sanctuary" also showed problems with the UT (similar to those shown in ENT)


MadManMUC
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 4:08am (UTC -6)
Well, colour me impressed: STD finally managed to *mostly* entertain me for a change, and parts of it almost made me believe I was watching a Star Trek show.

@ John Harmon:

'I count at least three different cannibalized Trek stories for this episode: Babel ['Babel One', ENT S04E12, I assume you mean?], Disaster, and The Inner Light.'

Agreed. There was also a strong thematic similarity to 'Force of Nature' (TNG S07E09), as well as a more passing thematic similarity to 'The Omega Directive' (VOY S04E21); by these references, I mean to compare the damage caused to subspace by warp drive/omega particles with the damage caused to the mycelial network by the spore drive.

In other words: this isn't Trek territory that hasn't been covered before (and in better ways).

So, no surprise, nothing new in this episode.

——

Having said that, I do find that the sphere plot was largely well-executed. The bit when the UT went stone bugfuck was actually pretty funny. What I didn't like so much this outing was Pike: he seemed a bit too befuddled, and it was like everyone (not just Burnham this time) were running circles around him. I know no-one is perfect, but I kind of felt like he was too much in way over his head to justify him sitting in the centre seat for this.

And, naturally, Michael Burnham has all the answers, and helps save the day. And this is really tedious.

——

Meanwhile, in engineering ...

I really don't know what to make of this plot, to be honest. It just seems to be put together so haphazardly that I'm not even sure the production team have an idea where this is going. It's really unfocussed.

The psilocybin gag was entirely too meta for my liking, I know that much. ('Hey, Trekkies! We know you're making fun of the spore drive! We are, too, see? Ha, ha!' Oh, piss off.)

@ Justin Minor:

'ANNNNND tillys in the Upside down'

This made me laugh ... because it seems like it's true. Which is kind of a depressing thought, actually.

There's something else that bothers me about Stamets and engineering. He's not the chief engineer and, yet — throughout S01, and so far in S02 — he seems to be completely detached from any sort of command structure, other than reporting directly to the bridge. Seems to me that if an order for engineering comes down from the bridge, it should go to the chief engineer first, who then delegates, yeah? makes no sense to me to not simply make him chief engineer, and put this chain of command stupidity to bed ... especially since we've never seen the Discovery's chief engineer, or even know their name.

——

The scenes with Number One were pretty superfluous, I have to say. Like a Constitution-class power relay, it largely went nowhere and did nothing. I can't help but think all of this was just fan service.

——

Also, the retconning of the holographic systems. Seriously, fuck off with this facile explaining away of stupidity that should never have been included to begin with. It didn't wash with the Kling-orcs and their hair (or lack thereof, and we're *still* waiting for an explanation why they were unnecessarily re-designed in the first instance), and it doesn't wash with the anachronistic holographic comm system.

——

@ FELCommentary:

'My only other big gripe is Jet Reno's character. Yay, another sarcastic asshole on Discovery. Because we didn't have enough of them in season 1.'

Too right. None of that did anything good for me.

——

The Saru plot was pretty interesting, but I don't this the show's bible (if, indeed, one exists) has Kelpians all that fleshed-out, and they've started making things up as they go along. In any case, I worry for the future of the character. This whole bit about suddenly feeling power after ditching the ganglia signalled to me that they're going to start fucking with the characteer, and make him go on unempathetic power trips.

——

In any case — in the STD context — I will give this episode 2/5 stars.
Tim C
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 4:32am (UTC -6)
@MadManMUC

"It didn't wash with the Kling-orcs and their hair (or lack thereof, and we're *still* waiting for an explanation why they were unnecessarily re-designed in the first instance)"

Did you feel this strongly when the Klingons were first redesigned in The Motion Picture? How 'bout the Romulans suddenly growing forehead loaf out of nowhere in TNG? The Tellarites from TOS through the movies through to ENT? The Andorians? etc

I mean, not every change in production style needs an in-universe explanation. TBH I still think it was a mistake for ENT to do it for the Klingons. DS9 already gave that as much on-screen explanation as it needed, which is to say none at all, because most reasonable people will just accept that trivial things like makeup are going to change over the years.

Mind you, I think it's a lot easier to accept such changes when they're accompanied by good storytelling, and most of the Klingon material in DSC has sucked so far.
Dan Bolger
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 4:37am (UTC -6)
An Obol was a small unit of Greek coinage / currency. Charon is in Greek mythology and one of Pluto's moons.
MadManMUC
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 4:43am (UTC -6)
@ Tim C:

'Did you feel this strongly when the Klingons were first redesigned in The Motion Picture?'

I was six years old when this happened.

'I mean, not every change in production style needs an in-universe explanation.'

Well, they kind of do, actually. Besides the Klingons and the Romulans, Tellarites and Andorians didn't occupy a particularly prominent place in fandom, if we're going to be truly honest. They didn't turn up on-screen in TNG, DS9, or VOY, and only turned up a couple of times (at most) in TOS. It wasn't until ENT that they decided to do something more with these races.

My point being: fans probably didn't care all that much because they weren't all that invested in these races to begin with.

Unlike the Klingons: they figured more prominently in TOS. They were present in five of the six TOS feature films. They were *everywhere* in TNG, DS9, and one TNG feature film; and they even managed to get shoe-horned into VOY and ENT.

So, yes: in-universe explanation for such a prominently featured race in which fans had decades of emotional investment is required. Especially since TNG, DS9, and — to a lesser degree — VOY explored Klingons and their culture at great length.

And for the record: I didn't agree at the time with Romulans having forehead bump in TNG. And I still don't.
Tim C
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 5:16am (UTC -6)
Points taken, MadManMUC. (FWIW, I wasn't even born when TMP came out. My introduction to Trek was watching Dad's recorded-from-TV VHS tapes of TOS. I actually still remember the first time I saw TNG when I was (five? I think) and I almost word-for-word quoted Bashir from Trials and Tribble-ations: "Those are *Klingons*?!")

I guess what I'm driving at is, we probably wouldn't care as much if DSC's Klingon plot from season 1 had been the awesome, engaging viewing that the writers were clearly hoping for and fell so far short of. There were some elements of it that I felt could have been compelling, if we'd been given a single likeable Klingon protagonist amongst all of it.

Trek has a long history of ignoring or fudging previously established canon when it wanted to. The DSC Klingons are probably the most egregious example (although the massive size and design differences between DSC ships and TOS/ENT ships are a close second in my mind), but I think that when it's production choices like that that are breaking the show for you, then the real problem is that the stories aren't doing well enough to make you roll your eyes and accept it.

TLDR, I don't think there's much to be gained by harping on about the more superficial differences, even if they do vaguely irritate me as a lifelong fan.

Having said my piece I'll leave it there for my comments on this episode I think. I can wait till next week to have another nerd fight.
Dan Nugent
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 6:11am (UTC -6)
I am still furious that it's 10 years before the TOS and the ship doesn't look like it was made out of cardboard and plastic bottles.
wolfstar
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 6:35am (UTC -6)
2 stars - a bottle show, made up of filler nonsense. It's Masks + Twisted + Vox Sola + some episode where someone gets possessed... (and it's worse than all of those apart from Masks). Nothing that happens makes any sense.

Pros:
- Doug Jones's performance is just wonderful
- Saru's transformation and its ramifications are the episode's strongest moment. I'm really interested to see where this arc goes from here. It's great that Saru is getting substantive material related to his species and their situation.
- Sonequa is better here, the scenes with Saru bring out the best in her performance
- I feel like Burnham actually grew in this episode, in an organic way. Instead of the episode telling us things about her, we saw her grow by going through this experience together with Saru. I hope the sibling theme of Burnham and Saru being an ersatz brother and sister to each other is continued and developed further, and that it's woven into the Spock plot and the Kaminar plot.
- Pike
- Owosekun
- The setup for writing the spore drive out of the show permanently by rejigging it into something akin to fluidic space that shouldn't be intruded on as doing so is dangerous to travelers and threatens the inhabitants
- There is potential to use the Saru plot to discuss how fear can be used to manipulate people and make them believe things

Cons:
- The science is just total nonsense, but I say this every week
- Main issue with this episode is Tig Notaro's awful wooden acting. She's not just bad, her terrible line delivery kills every scene she's in - it literally sounds like she's just reading her lines off a piece of paper in front of her. Even though Stamets and Tilly aren't favorite characters of mine, the scenes with the three of them made me appreciate Anthony Rapp and Mary Wiseman more. In Rapp's scenes with Notaro, he's acting for both of them. Notaro's performance is worse than Blalock was in S1 of Enterprise by some distance and way worse than the average one-episode guest character.
- I'm not keen on the change in the Kelpiens'/Saru's backstory between S1 and S2, despite the potential it holds. We were initially given the impression that the Kelpien were actively hunted and that they had to be wily, agile and hypersensitive to danger to stay alive. Now we're told that they're essentially docile and domesticated and live quiet agrarian lives in small family groups until they enter a predetermined biological phase that signals the end of their life, after which point they're harvested. Neither one is more or less interesting than the other, but a big change in backstory like this isn't good. I know shows have done this before with individual characters (Data being cured by hypospray in The Naked Now, Sisko talking about his father's death in The Alternate, Odo hitting his head and being knocked unconscious in Vortex) but it's not good to do it with a whole central society on your show.
- Tilly's plotline. I burst out laughing when she started talking in the possessed voice. I'm on board with this as a way to write out the spore drive for good, but it's so silly.
- The straight-up ripping-off of Stranger Things. (Before anyone suggests Stranger Things rips things off too, I'd argue rather that it pays intelligent, loving homage to the properties it references, whereas Discovery is just blatantly copying it here. In S1 a few people also flagged up the similarity of the "spores" to The Expanse's protomolecule, and this is now even more apparent as of this episode.)
- The weird "psilocybin" moment
- The UT malfunction, that somehow replaced the crew's actual speech and left them speaking all kinds of different Earth languages that weren't their own (Burnham and Saru speaking Russian?), and even left Burnham and Pike unable to understand each other. The UT is best just left alone as there's no feasible way it could work in practice as presented on Trek... we all just understand it's a necessary dramatic device, a workaround that quietly sits in the background. Meddle with it or try to explain it and the ridiculousness of the conceit is exposed. At best, this episode could have shown the English-speaking human characters still able to understand each other but not able to understand alien crew members.
- Everything about the sphere and the "virus" plot. None of it made any sense and Saru's conclusions and derivations (that it was "dying") didn't make any sense. The show wanted to have its big Trekkian moment where the characters work out "it's not trying to harm us, it's trying to communicate with us" but had no idea how to get there. Saru essentially pulls the idea out of thin air based on some bad pseudoscience technobabble then passionately presents it as fact. The way the episode forces an analogy between the sphere's death and its attempt to leave a legacy to Saru's request that Burnham publish his edited diaries after his death (an idea I loved) is awkward.
John Harmon
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 7:18am (UTC -6)
And the ancillary bridge crew continue to get no development. No, giving them random technobabble to spout does not count. They’re still just set decoration and that’s not ok. I really want to care about these characters in the same way I do with every past Trek series. But they don’t seem to care to do that.

@MadManMUC I was actually talking about the DS9 episode Babel, where a virus makes them all speak a different language and random gibberish and nobody can understand each other. It’s not a UT issue, but it’s the same concept.

And @Tim C DS9 did have at least one episode where the UT wasn’t working right and couldn’t translate an alien’s language.
BZ
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 7:55am (UTC -6)
I actually liked this one. I can't explain it rationally, but I liked it. At the end of the episode, I didn't react with "huh?" or "that's it?", but with that sense of contentment that I didn't totally waste an hour. And I absolutely thought Saru might die. We had major characters die before. Was the episode wonderful flawless, etc? No, but one of the best of discovery so far.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 8:05am (UTC -6)
@Dan Nugent
"I am still furious that it's 10 years before the TOS and the ship doesn't look like it was made out of cardboard and plastic bottles."

I gotta say that the video-game aesthetics that most modern sci fi (including Discovery) is using, doesn't look any more realistic then those cardboard sets from the 1960's.

Sure, it looks "cool" and "shiny". But it looks just as fake. At least TOS had the excuse of having a very limited budget and only 1960's tech to work with. Discovery has not such excuse.

And at least the TOS Enterprise, as cheap-looking as it was, felt like an actual design of a space-faring vessel that made sense. I say this as a guy who builds simulators of REAL spaceships as a hobby.
Warrior4Jah
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 8:20am (UTC -6)
Great episode; I really liked the universal translator drop out. Nice detail regarding the universal translator glitching a bit at start while explaining that away.
Then it does fail outright when they bump on that anomaly/organism.

In my opinion it was also great that it wasn't Burnham providing all the wisdom and solutions. The translator being fixed by Saru and he being able to speak all those languages is something that I could buy, knowing that Saru always had to be better then the rest as the only Kelpien proving himself in Starfleet (although, more then 60 languages? Do Kelpiens have a knack for languages?).

The number one at the start had a TOS vibe. Nice to see that she atleast orders some normal food like a cheeseburger :).
Not everything works in this episode; I thought Tig and Stamets had a nice dynamic, but Tig needs some more practice (so also screentime?). Tilly and that "May" Blob had a bit of an Alien vibe to me. Acceptable because the rest was quite good. It felt like a bit of exploration was done, and the characters could breath.

Some more positive points to me:
- Crew interacts; it starts with a bridge meeting.
- Main story was built op nicely and Saru evolved.
- Burnham evolved and had some genuine emotions
- Discovery did some discovering.
- The bigger picture; the search for Spock (wait a minute!) was not forgotten.
But the Episode worked as a stand alone. I never liked the resetswitch which was often pressed on TNG and VOY.

Other points:
- Sporedrive is it going to retire? (finally?).
- Stamets apologized quite quickly to "May" believing her outright.
- Are they going to kill of Saru?! No, but Discovery is so unpredictable I was afraid that they really where going to do that. They got me there (and that might be possible).
- Saru is going to change; not sure if I like that. But it allows Saru to evolve, and we are not just told in a few lines. We got a whole episode to explaint that.
- The first episode that Pike wasn't great but ok. I do still like his character.

So far I am hanging between 3 and 3.5 out of 4. I would give the first two episodes a 3 out of 4, the second 2 out of 4.
Booming
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 9:05am (UTC -6)
good episode.
And even Martin-Greene finally got some emotions out of me even though she was off the mark a few times during the first 20 min. Maybe it is true that it is the Vulcan backstory that is holding her back.
The new addition (Tig Notaro?) on the other hand was a weak point. Pretty wooden. It is odd when people act like mortal danger is the time for witty banter. This is not Guardians of the Galaxy.
And the episode took the time to breath a few times which was great.
The whole universal translator bit with the guy who looks like an insect was a little eye rolling but on the other hand I laughed about Tilly with electrified hair.
A good restart after the last episode which was confusing on several levels.
Chrome
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 9:41am (UTC -6)
The UT scene in the beginning was great. First Burnham was speaking Klingon, then she started speaking Spanish, I saw Arabic in the subtitles... I wonder how many other languages there were? Sure, UT issues have been done before, but never in such a creative and captivating way. I wonder how many takes it took to get that scene right.

I loved the Saru material. His one weak point as a character had always been his timidness in the face of authority even when he should've spoken up (i.e. Lorca). So it's nice to see a story about why and what it meant for him being the only Kelpian to make it out into space and explore. And his species hasn't made First Contact yet? That sounds like an interesting story thread and I liked the idea that a false notion about death was holding his whole species back.

You know, I like Tig Notaro's standup and she was fine in the opener but she didn't do anything for me here. She started to remind me of Dr. Polaski as she insulted a beloved character in her first major scene. Maybe she'll grow on us, who knows.

Very solid episode, 3 stars seems right.
Trent
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 9:57am (UTC -6)
Last week's episode got trashed for being a bore, but this episode is worse because it botches something far simpler.

If last week's episode was a failed attempt at a serialized psycho-drama, this is Discovery failing at something simpler and more fundamental to Trek: a self-contained disaster episode (cf TNG's "Contagion") which juggles multiple bubble-gum plots. And so in this episode we bounce between formulaic A, B, C and D plots, each of which feels like a series of mechanical, obligatory beats to hit. This is writing by plug-and-play algorithms. Art as a modular, cut-copy-and-pasted thing by writers who are absolute hacks (Jordan Nardino, famous for NBC's Desperate Housewife's and Alan McElroy a comic book and video game writer who's major film writing credit is Halloween 4). That this passes for competent writing - every line and piece of dialogue in this thing is off-kilter, poorly written, delivered, paced or flows oddly - betrays either this production's absolute contempt for the audience, or how desensitized to bad writing audience's have become.

Shapeless and incapable of generating real mystery, excitement or compassion (BIG CLOSE UP ON MICHAEL'S CONTORTED FACE NOW! CUT TO HEART WARMING BRIDGE CREW REACTION SHOT NOW!), Discovery's almost like a Michael Bay movie which thinks its being clever, or like watching an engineer try to force an elephant through a pipe; everything is manic, self-impressed and straining for importance. To top it off, we then get two pseudo-death scenes which recall Spock's death in "Wrath of Khan", all cynically straining to milk tears from the audience.

TOS gets accused of being ham, but surely this is real ham.

Omicron said: "And at least the TOS Enterprise, as cheap-looking as it was, felt like an actual design of a space-faring vessel that made sense."

TOS' production design still feels cool. The interior of the ENTERPRISE, modeled on WW2 era gunboats and bigger naval vessels, felt like that of a real big metallic lug. TNG's interior designs were similarly fresh and original, as were DS9's station and most of its Bajor sets (the only thing dating DS9's production design is its garish display screens, which are a step down from TNG's LCARs displays). Discovery's set design, meanwhile, mimics both the show's aesthetic and writing: it's all just glitzy, chaotic spam. There's no elegance anywhere.
Kinematic
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 10:02am (UTC -6)
Going to be a voice of dissent here: this was better than last week, but still not good at all.

The Saru plot is the most important part of the episode but it's forced and does more harm than good to the character. Doug Jones is a great actor and the character is one of the best on the show, but suddenly giving him a countdown to death and requiring Michael to mercy-kill him feels really forced. SMG shows a bit more emotional range than before, but she still can't sell it and it's especially annoying that Saru calls her his best friend and lavishes her with praise when there have been no signs of such a relationship before, just because Michael has to be at the center of everything. Although Michael is really the only character he could go to because his relationships to non-Michael characters have almost no development, like all character relationships not involving Michael.

The Kelpien background we're given is incoherent. Fear as the basis of their psychology makes sense if they've evolved to evade predators, but now we learn that they're actually cattle who are programmed to offer themselves up to members of another species as food. Wouldn't it make sense for them to be docile and apathetic in that case? These concepts were created just to work in the moment as plot devices, which cheapens the story and character of Saru. It would be easier for him to just say "my people evolved on a planet inhabited by carnivorous megafauna so we have a heightened fear response."

And then at the end of the episode the danger is ended, Saru goes through an unexplained evolution and he says he's lost all his fear. What happened to showing instead of telling? His character is being developed via contrivance rather than organic growth within the story, and that could lead to a mess even the best actor couldn't fix. If he goes on another manic mutiny episode like what happened on Pahvo and then gets forgiven it's going to be hard to see him as a character rather than a plot device himself.

The sphere creature storyline was the best part of the episode, its hacking of the translator was an interesting spin on the classic Trekkian struggle to communicate with an alien. I think some of the inspiration from it might have come from TNG's Tin Man. Number One was also a good performance and a relief from the Michael Show.

But the engineering plot was all kinds of awful; the banter between Stamets and Reno smacks of modern Hollywood quips-as-characterization. And badly written quips at that. Also, Stamets complains of ecological damage from dilithium mining. This is a spacefaring society, aren't there plenty of lifeless asteroids they can mine for dilithium? Unless for some asinine reason it can only be found on life-bearing planets. It's a clumsy allusion to the real-life alternative energy debate.
Trent
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 10:25am (UTC -6)
Kinematic said: "And then at the end of the episode the danger is ended, Saru goes through an unexplained evolution and he says he's lost all his fear."

The entire episode feels like an attempt to write the franchise out of some bad ideas introduced in season 1: so here we have the loss of holograms in favor for flat screens, Saru losing his ganglia and Discovery's slow losing of its spore drive.
Yanks
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 10:36am (UTC -6)
@Karl Zimmerman,

"The main flaw in this episode however was somewhat poor characterization. First, Pike's conclusion that the alien megastructure was belligerent seemed very random and was transparently for story purposes to create a short-lived conflict. I came out of that scene thinking less of him, which shouldn't have happened."

This didn't bother me. I had Kirk visions swirling in my head here. If I'm the Captain, I interpret anything that snags me out of warp and holds me like a fly on fly-paper as an immediate direct threat to my ship and crew. He DID listen to Suru and Michael when they provided a viable option to it's intent.

"More fundamental though is the oddness of the sudden deep relationship between Burnham and Saru. We've had no evidence on camera they particularly liked one another. Their relationship on the Shenzhou was distant and prickly, and even though Saru came to forgive Michael, we didn't really see a budding friendship as we did with Tilly. I understand that for narrative purposes Saru had to be close to someone, and since he knew Burnham the longest (and she is the main character) it should have been her. But this relationship just seems...unearned. Which is a shame, because viewed in isolation, not knowing anything about the arc of Discovery as a whole, this character work comes off a lot better."

I agree here. I had the same thoughts as Michael and Suru were conversing before his assumed death. But.... I finally got a very good emotional performance from Michael so I didn't mind it that much. I wish I could have seen such depth when she was pulling away from Ash. Well done SMG!! They have mended their relationship throughout the series. They certainly weren't at odds like they were early on. I think they truly have brother/sister feelings for each other. If I wasn't convinced before, I am now.

Good to see Reno back on screen.... although I thought her nip and tuck with Stamets was a little over the top. Not too bad though. I enjoy her delivery and dry humor. Nice to see Staments get past his pouty self and become engaged once again. Is Jet going to end up being Discovery's Chief engineer?

A note about "Engineering"... in the episode they said the "spore room" wasn't part of main engineering, but when Michael said she was going to engineering to help with the shields she showed up there... and when the bridge calls engineering, Stamets or Tilly answers from the "spore room".

Tilly.... another knock-it-out-of-the-park performance by Mary. (stands and applauds!!) She's just awesome. So much heartfelt emotion and different emotional states conveyed and it all seems so REAL. You go girl!

Suru... I was watching the scene where he's talking Michael into cutting off his ganglia (sp) and I thought I'd missed something and thought about checking IMDb to see if Doug Jones was still a part of the crew after this episode (lol). Great performance by Doug and more great background concerning the Kelpians. I liked how the short 'The Brightest Star' added to this episode as well. Had we not had that, it may have been too much to absorb. This was the first time Discovery tugged my emotional heartstrings.

Very good "Star Trek" story here. Yes, it's been done before (I tire of hearing that because I challenge anyone to come up with something totally new in Trek), but this was done VERY well and wasn't a carbon copy of another trek episode.

The pacing was welcomed; especially after last week. Only a couple "cuts" seemed a little quick.

I believe we've seen the beginnings of learning why this spore drive can't be sustained in trek. It seemed May's primary concern was that her people that were being adversly affected (killed?) by Discovery's jumping. More to follow I'm sure.

Love how they melded the Universal Translator problems into this episode. Probably the best it's ever been done in trek.

Michael had a couple "I'm Michael and I have to save the world" moments, but it wasn't that bad in this one.

Also enjoyed meeting #1 from the Enterprise. "Cheeseburger and fries" ... lol She will become more intergral in this plot I'm sure. I think the actress player her well.

I also liked, as I did the Klingon hair "fix", how they addressed the holocommunicator "issue" in trek canon. Maybe they should have never went there, but at least they addressed it and we can move on.

I don't know that I can knock this one. A GREAT Star Trek episode in my book and I think Discovery's finest effort to date.

Well done. What a monumental improvment over last week!

4 stars from me.
Rahul
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 10:58am (UTC -6)
I largely agree with "Kinematic" who makes some very good arguments. This is definitely not a great episode (2.5 stars for me) but I'd be a little less critical of the Kelpian mythos. While Saru suddenly losing his ganglia and having no fear does come out of nowhere and makes him fearless (not great writing), I do think it is somewhat creative and intriguing to have the species know that they serve as sacrificial lambs ultimately and that they just live with the fear. But that shouldn't prevent them from carrying on normally when the fear is not present. Not sure if "Kinematic" saw the Short Trek about Saru. But Saru's no longer just an ordinary Kelpian as he talks about his evolution in Star Fleet. He definitely shouldn't be apathetic anymore.

I agree Doug Jones put forth a terrific performance here in showing the Kelpian battling through pain (the Star Fleet training in him coming to the fore) to help solve the problem. Michael Burnham's character didn't do much for me in the scenes with Saru on his death bed, but of course, she has to be at or near the center of everything.

Also agree with Trent -- it is definitely a focus of DSC S2 to fix the fuck ups in S1 and get this show more in line with canon. So the Klingons are growing hair, somehow the spore drive and fungal network is being eliminated and the big result of the Red Angel/7 Signals arc will be that Spock is back to good ol' TOS Spock again (I assume).

All this being said + my initial comments, there's enough good stuff in "An Obol for Charon" and I wouldn't be surprised if Jammer gets to 3 stars on it. But there's enough, for me, to be disappointed with (Jet Reno and the Tilly subplot principally).
Yair
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 10:59am (UTC -6)
This is the best DIS yet, exceeding my expectations following the previous throwback episode.

The Orb storyline is obvious filler but it's reasonably well delivered, and it develops into storyline which explores the Saru character and gives new depth and new questions. I liked that a lot. SMG even tries to act and is less Mary Sue than ever! The B-storyline is rote, and weighed down a bit by Reno which overdoes its gimmick.

* I'm not 100% sold on the 'Saru asking Michael to kill him' scene. I was sold in the moment (at least until Michael did cut), but now that I think of it I'm not so sure. There was already basis to doubt Saru's self-diagnosis. After all, very weird things happen on DIS all the time, this was a very unusual case and Saru is not a medical expert on anything (as far as we know).

Had Michael killed Saru, Michael would have always wondered whether he'd lived had she refused. Is it Saru-like to ask his friend to live with such guilt? He could have, for example, asked 'kill me when I go mad' instead.

Also, I doubt Federation law allows Saru's request. In the modern day, accepting jurisdictions require a supporting medical opinion for euthanasia. Add in the fact this is a Starfleet officer, so even when euthanasia is legal it probably requires Startfleet approval. He's quite possibly asking her to risk serious legal consequences, and I think Michael has learnt to avoid that.

* The writers should ease up on the superlatives. 'Most empathic soul' I can live with, but 'had to fight for every breath'? Please. Michael Burnham is no Tasha Yar.

* Aside, Stamets can't be very well versed in 21th century history. Any serious action regarding AGW would require a lot more than building solar panels. Probably that's the pop-history version decades after the issue was solved.

*** All in all, DIS has developed two characters reasonably well, Michael (which I have a lot of issues with, but no the amount of development per se) and Saru. Maybe add in Tilly. Stamets, however, seems to be regressing, he was a more interesting character 1st season. The writing is improving, now the show needs a slightly larger cast. 3 characters + a de facto guest star (Pike) isn't quite enough for this format.
Kinematic
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 11:01am (UTC -6)
@Trent

But was Saru's heightened fear something that needed to be written out? If Data was analogous to the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz who wanted a heart, Saru could have been the Cowardly Lion, a character convinced he has no courage but whose bravery is apparent to everyone but himself by the end.

A character trying to overcome instinctual fear is an interesting twist on the classic Trek character who yearns for humanity, like Spock, Data or Seven. Now that struggle is over by writer fiat.
Yair
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 11:22am (UTC -6)
Oh, and lowish 3 stars I guess. I'd given it higher if I had to grade it immediately afterwards, but as I think about it the seams come apart a bit and one can see the stitchings.
MadManMUC
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 12:13pm (UTC -6)
One thing did occur to me after the fact, which pissed me off:

We get ample screen time and dialogue for Linus the Saurian (I'd love to slap whoever came up with this, and thought it was funny) in this episode, but the rest of the bridge crew are still furniture that make occasional urgent noises.

Do _any_ of these writers understand how Star Trek actually works with an ensemble cast, delivering characters people actually give a shit about every week?

And do we really _need_ Linus the Saurian, yet another half-baked character to clutter this show up? Couldn't another one of the bridge crew have done his job, read his lines, and allowed us to get to know him or her a little better?

Imagine being one of the actors getting a call from their agent, 'Hey, you want to be one of the bridge crew on a new Star Trek show?' 'FUCK, YES,' exclaims the poor young actor who remembers watching TNG re-runs with mum and dad when they were wee, and imagining how cool it would be, being someone like Geordi, or Worf, or Crusher.

Nope, sorry, kid. Your job is to sit there, look like you're completely out of your league, and occasionally tell the Captain-du-Jour where you are in space with all the possible urgency and panic you can muster. If you're lucky.

Otherwise, you just sit there looking baffled, and say fuck all, and your character doesn't develop beyond that.
John Harmon
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 12:20pm (UTC -6)
How did Tilly sit there perfectly still while someone bored a hole into her head with a drill? That part was utterly ridiculous.

Why is Saru trying to get Michael to mercy kill him? Why I Michael going along with it? She was definitely going to do it. Why would you not go to sickbay. Saru isn’t a doctor. Why is the captain ok with this??? Why is nobody else informed? I kept thinking of past Trek shows where Picard and Sisko would chew Worf out for trying to pull similar actions.
MadManMUC
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 12:23pm (UTC -6)
@ John Harmon

Oh yeah, the head-drilling thing. Ugh. Utterly ridiculous. And then, Reno wipes her a bit with what looks like a tissue ... AND THE WOUND ISN'T EVEN SPURTING BLOOD.

FFS.
blazzano
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 12:51pm (UTC -6)
I have to say that (based on the somewhat limited amount of material given so far), I quite like Captain Pike's character...even if this particular episode wasn't his finest showcase. He seems to be a natural cross between Kirk and Archer. The effect is one part familiar, one part distinctive. But overall, he's one of the most Trek-like things within this Trek series. Hopefully he sticks around for a decent length of time.
John Harmon
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 12:57pm (UTC -6)
I miss the days when something like this (7 signals) would just be a 2 part episode. Then they’d spend the rest of the season having new adventures. Both seasons are basically taking a two part premise and stretching it out over 15 episodes and it’s so boring and tedious.

Netflix does the same damned thing and it’s why every Netflix show sucks.
Artymiss
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 12:57pm (UTC -6)
Enjoyed that although the scenes in Engineering were seriously peculiar. I like Reno but then I like Dr Pulaski. Stammets has really felt underused this season in contrast to the last, maybe he'll leave early for the Vulcan Science Academy?

Brilliant performance by Doug Jones. He genuinely had me worrying they were going to kill him off! Logic told me no way would they do that, but his performance was so powerful I started to think bloody hell, no!!!, they're really going to kill him the bastards!!!

Loved Saru's tart "I do have eyes and ears Burnham!"

@MadManMUC

So I didn't mishear! The guy with the lizard head is really called...Linus. Where did that character suddenly spring from and why bother when they could've actually spent the screen time developing one of the original bridge crew's characters! Agh, frustrating! I think Linus took a wrong turning on his way to The Orville.

wolfstar
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 12:58pm (UTC -6)
Yeah, for me, Discovery Pike is better than Archer (or Janeway). Could possibly say the same about pre-twist Lorca too though :/. Archer was barely a character. Janeway was great at first and always well-acted, but written far too inconsistently in the latter seasons.
John Harmon
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 12:59pm (UTC -6)
Also that not Geordie transporter operator in the beginning said “teleported incoming”. T E L E P O R T E R. They couldn’t even get that right.

And Michael says “it’s illogical for a virus to kill its host”. That was actually a line in this episode.
MadManMUC
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 1:00pm (UTC -6)
@ Artymiss

Nope. You unfortunately heard correctly. I guess this is the producers' answer to people complaining S01 was too grimdark.

So, now we're stuck with this show's version of Neelix. Or Nog. (pick whichever one annoyed you more)
wolfstar
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 1:01pm (UTC -6)
"Why is Saru trying to get Michael to mercy kill him? Why is Michael going along with it? She was definitely going to do it. Why would you not go to sickbay. Saru isn’t a doctor. Why is the captain ok with this??? Why is nobody else informed?"

Because it's the only way the script can force this event, which otherwise concerns Saru and his health, to revolve around Burnham.

I had the same thought as you, I wanted him to go to sickbay. I was having a brief Sons Of Mogh flashback...
MadManMUC
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 1:09pm (UTC -6)
I'm just thinking — now that I'm reading all of your comments and that I've had more time to analyse this — that even if one finds a STD episode mildly entertaining in the moment, how easily it all falls apart and fucks the dog when one thinks about it even for five minutes.

Sigh.

wolfstar
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 1:32pm (UTC -6)
I agree with Kinematic on "quips as characterization", that's a really neat way of putting it. It's a fairly modern habit that Trek as a whole has largely managed to avoid, including Discovery, where it's fortunately limited to Stamets and to some extent Tilly (and now Reno). I never enjoyed things written by Joss Whedon or Jane Espenson for this reason – it's overly self-aware "aren't I clever" writing that makes all the characters end up sounding the same (like in Age Of Ultron, where an otherwise good story with compelling characters is significantly harmed by having them all constantly drop Whedon-quips throughout the film). Stamets is the least well-defined regular character on the show and they have to start giving him more of a personality than just snark, because Rapp can surely handle it. Instead they're pairing him with another snarker. Snark is not characterization. Even putting the issues with Notaro's performance aside, her character doesn't come over as a person but a conceit.

Linus is a copy of Dann from The Orville.

"And Michael says 'it’s illogical for a virus to kill its host'. That was actually a line in this episode."

And to think a gay guy co-wrote the story for this episode. Maybe they should have got him to do the teleplay too...

"the transporter operator in the beginning said 'teleporter incoming'"

I didn't notice that but I just went back and checked and you're right. Yegads.
Trent
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 1:49pm (UTC -6)
Kinematic said: "But was Saru's heightened fear something that needed to be written out?"

No, but Saru is a bit like Troi. He's a member of the crew with a "sixth sense", and so can immediately sense danger and bad vibes. The writers probably don't like having a character who requires them to constantly have to work lines in to justify why their "narrative twists and bombshells!" aren't detected by the ship's resident warning signal.
Stargazer
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 2:32pm (UTC -6)
"Snark is not characterization. Even putting the issues with Notaro's performance aside, her character doesn't come over as a person but a conceit."

It's her second showing on the show, so the 'snark' is what you notice most. This doesn't mean there's not more to her. Look at Picard, Kirk, Sisko, Janeway in Episode 2. Were they fully realized? So, why do you criticizise this show for it?


"Linus is a copy of Dann from The Orville."

And The Orville is an MRA copy of TNG. I very much doubt that the producers have to copy from a show that just crips everything from Trek and makes it more palatable for the knuckledraggers.


"And to think a gay guy co-wrote the story for this episode. Maybe they should have got him to do the teleplay too..."

Well done, because the defining thing about him is is sexuality that tells you exactly how he sees things and which beliefs he should have. Sure. Also: It *is* illogical for a virus to kill its host, at least until it had the chance to spread and propagate. But: Lots of viruses kill us because we aren't supposed to be their hosts. Because they have other hosts and they just accidentally adapted to us. But not well enough to reside in us without killing us. So, the statement is absolutely correct. (Apart from the fact that a virus does not think, so the 'logical' is misplaced here. But: She's an adopted Vulcan, of course she views thinks through this lens.)


""the transporter operator in the beginning said 'teleporter incoming'"

Maybe it's a personal habit. Maybe it's lingo that just disappears after this time (like the 'phase cannons' from ENT). Maybe it's vernacular that transporter chiefs use. Unless we live in that fictional universe, we've got no idea what language is normal and what isn't.
MadManMUC
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 2:48pm (UTC -6)
'Maybe it's a personal habit. Maybe it's lingo that just disappears after this time (like the 'phase cannons' from ENT). Maybe it's vernacular that transporter chiefs use. Unless we live in that fictional universe, we've got no idea what language is normal and what isn't.'

Grasping at Straws of the Day right here, folks.
Charles J
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 3:06pm (UTC -6)
You guys do know, that in an episode in which language and the UT play major roles, the use of teleporter instead of transporter, just might be foreshadowing and not a mistake on the part of the writers.
Mertov
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 3:07pm (UTC -6)
Wow.. Less than 24 hours since the show aired, there are already 47 comments in which the bickering back and forth has commenced, with over 20 of the 47 comments coming from just three people.
Makes Rahul's second post in the comments section of last week's episode recommended reading, that's for sure.
wolfstar
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 3:16pm (UTC -6)
I don't see bickering (...at least until the silly comment calling The Orville an "MRA" show), I see people agreeing with and complementing each other's interesting critiques of the episode. There's almost no conflict in this thread until the last few comments, and what there is (the discussion between MadManMUC and Tim C) is constructive and literate.
Maq
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 3:20pm (UTC -6)
Ok, good. Except for the major two parallel lines. Tilly line and the rest. It somehow felt like an original TOS. I men finding a strange intelligence, communicating instead of shooting? And to be honest , except a very special nostalgia factor, they was not always that good.

Still there are to many extra characters. Number one, Reno, Nhan and Linus the fish who we learnt is a saurian. To many but when the lower deck episode comes i look forward to met the able starman Mario solving problems within the pipes and plumbing area.

I liked the Burnham and Saru scenes. And Saru (with hid ganglia) was a very interesting character. I am not sure that removing them will be a gain.
Booming
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 3:21pm (UTC -6)
Kind of a lot of nitpicking here. That a guy said transporter. Jeez. There is like a million ways you could explain that. Maybe that specific crew says transporter beam and then shortened it to transporter. Or he was nervous or whatever. I guess nobody here has ever misspelled something. I find it funny that one would even notice that.
But I have to admit the virus line was odd. And quipping while the world crumbles yeah not only wheadon does that. Gunn does it. Most Marvel movies do. It is their brand I guess with a few exceptions. I hope that they don't do that in Discovery because that while funny for the first few movies in the Marvelverse is very annoying now.
And please guys don't tell me about that stuff doesn't make sense. The other shows had gigantic stuff in plain side. Sisko and Picard commanding fleets for example. Are the admirals just too lazy? And there are so many examples. You forgive this because you love the shows but you could pick apart most episodes for days.
Mertov
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 4:09pm (UTC -6)
Very solid episode. I’d put it in my top-three episodes of DSC, and I think it’s the second time I said that since Season 2 began. Anson Mount is continuing to kill it as Pike and Saru is fast becoming one of my favorite Trek characters. This was also one of Martin-Green’s better showings, the scenes with Saru and Michael were my favorite ones in the episode, along with the universal-translator malfunction one. Very engaging way to tackle it, with a number of languages spoken by the crew, and they played off the confusion well (I especially love Detmer’s look as she is talking), and it also aligned well with the sphere’s intent.

Mary Wiseman as Tilly is great in the engineering-room scenes, Stamets was fine too, I can’t say the same for Reno which kept “An Obol for Charron” from being close to perfect for me. I am a big fan of Tig Notaro and I loved Reno in “Brother,” but here her snark comes across misplaced, although she delivers them well, because the setting and the moment makes it inappropriate.

I’ll wait for Jammer’s review for the rest. Can’t wait for next week’s episode, it looks like a Tilly-centric one from the teaser.
John Harmon
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 4:45pm (UTC -6)
“Maybe it's a personal habit. Maybe it's lingo that just disappears after this time (like the 'phase cannons' from ENT). Maybe it's vernacular that transporter chiefs use. Unless we live in that fictional universe, we've got no idea what language is normal and what isn't.”

Or maybe it’s just lazy writing from people who don’t care about Star Trek. Occam’s Razor.
John Harmon
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 4:47pm (UTC -6)
“Kind of a lot of nitpicking here. That a guy said transporter. Jeez. There is like a million ways you could explain that. Maybe that specific crew says transporter beam and then shortened it to transporter.”

He said teleporter.

“But I have to admit the virus line was odd. And quipping while the world crumbles yeah not only wheadon does that. Gunn does it. Most Marvel movies do. It is their brand I guess with a few exceptions.”

That makes it worse tbh. Star Trek is just trying to be Marvel now which is not a good thing.
Trish
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 5:14pm (UTC -6)
Speaking of grasping at straws, the laughable notion that Discovery is for true progressives and The Orville is for the right-wing is the shoddiest bit of pop culture propaganda imaginable. If one factors in DVR viewing, more people are watching The Orville than Discovery, so while Orville doesn't have a huge audience by network standards, it does have a sizable audience by sci-fi standards. The canard that this audience is primarily made up of "men's rights activists" is a joke on its face.
Booming
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 5:40pm (UTC -6)
@ John Harmon: Oh right but why is that so bad?? Teleportation, Transportation I fail to see the difference.
And I wouldn't say that they try to be Marvel. It was a part of one episode.
@Trish: Who is saying that? Is Macfarlane not fairly progressive even though he is a egomaniacal hack.
Trent
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 5:53pm (UTC -6)
John Harmon said: "Or maybe it’s just lazy writing from people who don’t care"

One character in this episode even says "We got a hundred giga electron-Volts surging through the relays!"

100 GeV wouldn't even be noticeable if it touched a human. A mosquito flying into you at full speed would pack over 10 times that much energy.

I feel, like most modern TV, the raisen detre of Discovery is to stall, delay and keep people watching and so paying. The season is one big Spocktease. Every episode engages in Spockblocking, with some minor Trek totems sprinkled here and there to keep you watching.
Trent
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 5:59pm (UTC -6)
Oh, the episode also had a "degrees Kelvin". Kelvin is an absolute measurement, not defined by degrees. So the show's scripts don't seem to be checked by anyone with science credentials.
Stargazer
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 6:02pm (UTC -6)
Yeah, that's something that real scientists would never say or write.

Oh, wait: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/156/3775/645
Charles J
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 6:08pm (UTC -6)
Regarding Saru, does anyone really believe that the producers would create the Kelpiens, just so they would forever remain prey? And, by extension, never become potential members of the federation?

At some point, this transition was going to happen. It's logical it would start with someone like Saru.

Now understanding how much of his culture's core beliefs are false, Saru has new found motivation to help his people. Adding extra strength to this, is that Saru's journey has been his own. No one can say he was forced into his current position by outside influences. And, he accomplished everything he did while being a walking ball of anxiety.

What would his people accomplish if they also were able to experience what Saru has? What would have they accomplished if they had know the truth sooner?

It also raises other questions. Like is this the Kelpien version of puberty? If so, exactly how long would Kelpiens live if they weren't harvested? Is the species that preys on the Kelpiens artificially modifying, or delaying, this process? Were the Kelpiens always prey?

Regardless if they answer those questions or not, Saru's transformation gives him, and the writers, new aspects to explore. Who is he, and what does he become now that fear is no longer a primary driver in his life? How will others respond to him now? What does he do with the information he now has? What about his sister? How will he react when they encounter other people similar to his own?

Oh, and this could be the writers starting Saru on the path to be Captain.
Charles J
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 6:15pm (UTC -6)
I swore I remembered people complaining about the use of degrees Kelvin in Star Trek before. Lo and behold, this is from Memory Alpha:

"Technically, the measurement for Kelvin is not preceded by the qualifier "degree", however, several instances the term "degrees Kelvin" has been used throughout Star Trek. Geordi La Forge, made several claims to this combined term in both "The Child" and "Half a Life", rather than correctly stating them as simply kelvin. Data, also in "Half a Life", Gideon Seyetik in "Second Sight", Chakotay and Harry Kim in "Alter Ego", the computer voice in "Concerning Flight", Tom Paris in "Demon" and Tuvok in "The Haunting of Deck Twelve" were also guilty of adding the additional qualifier."
Tim C
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 6:36pm (UTC -6)
@Trish

"If one factors in DVR viewing, more people are watching The Orville than Discovery"

Citation needed (and don't take that as a comment about the merits or politics of either show). As far as I'm aware there are no hard audience metrics available for DSC. What we do have (and if anyone can add to this list, it'd be great):

*Parrot Analytics places DSC as one of the most in-demand "digital originals". (This was shortly before season 2 premiered: https://www.parrotanalytics.com/insights/streaming-demand-the-most-wanted-television-in-the-united-states-30-december-2018-05-january-2019)

*In August last year, CBS All Access reported 2.5 million subscribers and say they've had 50% growth since: https://variety.com/2019/biz/news/cbs-all-access-growth-star-trek-super-bowl-1203124097/

*In 2017, Netflix said DSC was it's #4 "family show": https://media.netflix.com/en/press-releases/2017-on-netflix-a-year-in-bingeing

With Netflix as notoriously opaque as they are with their viewing data, I think it may well prove impossible to *ever* do an apples-to-apples comparison of DSC's viewing figures internationally against free-to-air shows. Even in the USA, the CBSAA subscriber figures don't tell the whole story: they don't count people watching the blu rays, people watching on a Netflix VPN, illegal downloaders etc.
Shannon
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 7:35pm (UTC -6)
Big improvement over last week, as this show was more aligned with the first two episodes, and does very well as a stand-alone story. I live the mystery surrounding the alien structure, and how Saru was able to determine that it was trying to communicate (Classic Trek). Speaking of Saru, I thought his storyline was fascinating, as we learned something new about his race. With his fear gone, and knowing that his race has been living a lie, there is so much potential for future Saru stories.

Didn't like Pike as much in this one, as I thought his desire to not lose Spock's signal trumped his Starfleet ethics as he seemed eager to "pull the trigger" until Saru talked him off the ledge. But then again, his emotions got in his way, and he is human after all... Definitely Martin-Green's best performance to date, as this was the most human I've seen her throughout the series. Still not sure what to make of the whole Tilly thing. Time will tell.

One minor nitpicky thing: I know the writers are trying to get the ancillary characters more involved, but that conference room "briefing" was pointless, especially since Pike wasn't there. It was as if the writers said "we need to give these guys some lines".

Anyway, I would give it 3.5 out of 4.0 stars.
Sheldonari
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 8:44pm (UTC -6)
Suru is the highlight of the episode, and of the series so far.

Now, that's what an empath should be.

Take that Deanna Troi.
John
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 8:46pm (UTC -6)
It's still too frenetic for me to be able to enjoy it much. Some event happens and before it's had a chance to be taken in and digested, its meaning is almost instantly declared by someone in the crew and thrown back at us. "Oh look, Saru's ganglia fell off. This must mean _______!" And meanwhile I'm thinking, well, yes it could mean that but it also could mean a whole bunch of other things. Can we consider those, at least? But there's no breathing space to think about the possibilities because we're onto the next emergency.
RENATO
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 9:35pm (UTC -6)
Just a thought I had while watching the episode. What if the changing happening to Saru (and that apparently happens to all Kelpiens) is the transformation from Kelpiens to the Ba'ul people mentioned in the Brightest Star episode from Short Trek?
Brian Lear
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 12:58am (UTC -6)
1 star for me. I felt like this was some of the worst writing in the entire series. Once again too many subplots. Too many random characters inserted. Too many self-aware quips. People don't seem like they're from the future. Prince reference? Jeez. Scenes last 5-10 seconds then shift. Everything is told to the viewer in as wooden a way possible. So many shots through cluttered blue holo screens that look too busy to be real. "Whole episode is about Spock, kind of, except not really." Pacing, direction, and flow is completely off again. Not a single line comes off naturally. It literally feels like lines are being read off cards, and they aren't good lines. And my biggest criticism? Michael Burnham. She still has to be the focal point of everything even in an episode that really has nothing to do with her? What exactly is her role on the ship? I don't even know. Is she first officer? I literally don't even know what she does, what her rank is, or really what her role is on the ship. I think I knew at one time, maybe, but, her character is so muddled, that it's really impossible to tell just what the POINT of Michael Burnham is. Why was that final scene with Saru and Michael Burnham so IN-effective? Many reasons. But for me, the main reason is that it simply reminds me of the fact that the writers MUST write MICHAEL BURNHAM into every scene where anything important happens, ever. It was so distracting that I found myself not even listening to all the probably interesting stuff SAru was saying about his species.

SMG steals every scene she is in. And that's NOT a good thing.

A few, major positives though...
- spore going away?
- Mary Wiseman is one of the best, if not the best actors on the set.
Stargazer
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 2:34am (UTC -6)
"People don't seem like they're from the future. Prince reference? Jeez."

Counterpoint: People a hundred years later constantly reference Shakespeare who is much older than Prince and to whose works far fewer people now living have been exposed.
Dave
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 2:45am (UTC -6)
David Bowie and Prince won't be remembered in 100 years from now.
Leif
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 2:46am (UTC -6)
Do you guys not lost warning of spoilers before posting comments? Or should I just assume thats a given for any,comment before Jammer posting the review...I'm trying to decide,if the alien life form plot was original or not..any other thoughts...the last contact is a fresh spin sort of as long as the goal is to teach and not leave a legacy a la Inner Light or Masks..well Masks was more to transform....bit the virus sort of similar...and unique as far as melding organic and inorganic parts and not,being telepathic right a la Voyagers Bliss creature..
100fps
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 3:03am (UTC -6)
When the smash-and-grab, Jason-Bounre--fever-pitch editing on Discovery is rewarded by additional subscriptions to All-Access, the producers feel that they have been validated in their approach to storytelling as a series of scenes that must be sped up to the level of incoherence. This is one reason why people who REALLY do not like this whipsaw style, and hate the show because of it, are doing themselves no favors by continuing to pay for it. It's vaguely the equivalent of the DieHard movies phenomenon: it took the last film in the series, which was beyond awful, to (one hopes) slow the grosses
MadManMUC
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 3:05am (UTC -6)
'People a hundred years later constantly reference Shakespeare who is much older than Prince and to whose works far fewer people now living have been exposed.'

LOLZ. Now, *that* is funny.

Shakespeare is taught in middle and secondary school curricula throughout the Anglo-Saxon world for well over a century (and as early as the 17th century in the colonial-era United States), and in university curricula throughout the rest of non-Anglo-Saxon world for decades, if not longer.

Prince, on the hand ... not so much.

Please, do try to debate in good faith. Or, at least, with a basic grasp of the facts.
Booming
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 3:15am (UTC -6)
The question again is fairly simply answered. Is it possible that people listen to Prince in 100 years.? Yes.
Maybe some of the very old stories or plays we enjoy today were not considered earth shattering when they were created. Marcus Aurelius philosophical work is pretty unimpressive but still discussed today. Why? Because we don't have many primary sources from that era. It could be the same with Prince. Maybe he is one of the few musicians whose music survived the third world war.
John Harmon
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 3:16am (UTC -6)
Not to mention you’d have to consider that after WW3 completely upending the entire world and its societies, that a lot of small pop culture references would be lost.

I miss when Trek crews actually talked in a dignified manner and didn’t make 20th century pop culture references. People in Discovery just sound like any random person now. They sound like the characters in The Orville.
MadManMUC
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 3:38am (UTC -6)
@ John Harmon:

'Not to mention you’d have to consider that after WW3 completely upending the entire world and its societies, that a lot of small pop culture references would be lost.'

I think that — WWIII notwithstanding — 20th and 21st century pop culture won't survive because of its very nature: it's simply disposable, a mass-produced commodity with no more lasting historical value than the paper or plastic cup you got your takeaway coffee from yesterday morning.*

It will be remembered, certainly, as a broad category, in the historical analysis of these centuries, but I can't imagine there's any one musician, sitcom, supermarket queue novel, et cetera that can survive to be considered important in any historical or cultural sense. Not as far as pop culture goes, anyway.

I'd argue that pop culture exists in large part thanks to Shakespeare, anyway. One of the reasons he is so extensively studied — quite apart from his plays and their content (which, I will fully admit, I'm no fan of, but I understand and champion his contribution to humanity's advancement) — is the fact that he helped bring theatre to the masses, whereas it was previously more the domain of the privileged and well-off.

One might even consider him the grand-daddy of pop culture, because of the accessibility he brought to the uneducated masses (I suppose someone also made a handsome profit in the process, too).

* Things like disposable paper and plastic takeaway cups, on the other hand, will most certainly be remembered a hundred years from now. To, I dearly hope, the entirety of that civilisation's shame.
Stargazer
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 5:30am (UTC -6)
"Please, do try to debate in good faith. Or, at least, with a basic grasp of the facts. "

I am. But, fine, let's switch to music: People remember music that is a 100 to 200 years old. There's Bach. There's Haydn. Haendl. There's Satie. There's Miles Davis. There are the operas of Gilbert & Sullivan (pop culture of their time). People still read Robinson Crusoe, The Man of La Mancha, Gulliver's Travels, Lovecraft, Poe. People still watch movies made by Fritz Lang. The ENT crew watched old movies all the time.

We don't see current musicians as "culturally relevant" because we are to close to them. The makers of Doctor Who did not think it would be remembered when they started the show.

Heck, Gene Roddenberry did not assume that Star Trek would still be a culturally iconic thing when he created the show in 1964 to 1969.

So, yeah: You may not think that a Prince reference is believable, but that's due to your cultural outlook, not due to the showrunners having no clue.
ticonstar94
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 9:14am (UTC -6)
I thought this was a really solid episode.
4/5 stars for me.

I guess the drill part was silly, but maybe it was a laser drill that made the incision really quick? (dont remember if they said it was/wasn't)

The engineer woman- i get her character is supposed to come off as sarcastic, but to me it's just irriating.

Very typical star trek plot which I enjoyed, even though i kinda felt like it had been done before.

I liked the scene with the universal translators malfunctioning. It was something that I never considered could really happen on star trek.

On a sidenote: I'm a big star trek fan, but some people on here and youtube comments are really really nitpicky, like geeze... do you forget how much TNG was hated when it first started out, I think Discovery is still trying to find itself, and it should be given that chance. Do I care that the bridge uses TNG sounds, the sets don't look like they were built from the 60s? etc..... NO

Dougie
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 10:40am (UTC -6)
Most artists don’t make their music or art to try and be iconic. They make it to soothe an internal need. The culture and society determines if it becomes iconic. They also make their art to... eat. It’s a job. We need to be careful tossing around names like Shakespeare. There’s direct evidence that Bill Shakespeare was as much a writer as a publishing house, a la Alfred Hitchcock. He, like some of the other greats, gets credit for the works of employees who labored at his great publishing house, at which he was chief editor, of course.
William Shakespeare
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 11:44am (UTC -6)
@Dougie

Your comment cuts me to the quick, sir. Are such accusations leveled against Stephen King, hyper-prolific author of the 20-21st centuries? ;)
My Ganglia is Not Convinced
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 11:51am (UTC -6)
@ticonstar94

"I'm a big star trek fan, but some people on here and youtube comments are really really nitpicky"

dude they said "degrees kelvin", LITERALLY UNWATCHABLE /s
Saru's Ganglia
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 11:52am (UTC -6)
@ticonstar94

"I'm a big star trek fan, but some people on here and youtube comments are really really nitpicky"

dude they said "degrees kelvin", LITERALLY UNWATCHABLE /s
Booming
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 1:17pm (UTC -6)
@ Ganglia: I'll show you nitpicky. If the show was "literally" unwatchable then it would need to be invisible or hidden. :) But yeah I chuckled about your comment.
It is kind of fascinating that people even notice that stuff. Teleporting and degrees and whatnot. I watch the show and think that was good or that wasn't good but a lot get really emotional about it. But I'm never really sure why.
And as a general statement. I thought that I would be quitting Discovery midseason but it has improved. I will probably watch the whole season now.
Henson
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 1:56pm (UTC -6)
I think the issue of nitpicking has to do with Trust in the Author. When an audience has trust in the author, like we do retrospectively for Trek of the past, we're more likely to forgive minor errors like 'degrees Kelvin'. But after DSC season 1, a lot of people either lost trust or confirmed their lack of trust in the showrunners. As such, these minor problems can then look less like mere blips and more like indications of a trend in the quality of the product.
John Harmon
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 2:29pm (UTC -6)
“I guess the drill part was silly, but maybe it was a laser drill that made the incision really quick? (dont remember if they said it was/wasn't)”

They said they didn’t have a laser scalpel. It was a regular drill. Whirring and everything. I just can’t imagine being able to sit still and silent during that lol
wolfstar
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 2:47pm (UTC -6)
I agree with Henson. Even at the lowest points of Enterprise and Voyager - and there were a lot of those - they'd never have called the transporter a "teleporter" or had stuff like the spore drive or the "transwarp beaming" (from Earth to Kronos) of the Abramsverse films.

Maybe if Discovery knocks out a stellar season 3-7 like TNG did, we'll overlook its rocky start the way we overlook TNG's now. There are plenty of early TNG episodes with terrible science and protocol, like the Enterprise making contact with a pre-warp civilization in Justice, the transporter magic of Lonely Among Us and Unnatural Selection, the genetic engineering in Unnatural Selection etc. Two-thirds of S1-2 is barely unwatchable, the other third is solid. To me, Discovery has yet to reach that meagre hit rate.
Booming
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 3:45pm (UTC -6)
@ John Harmon. DIdn't they say that they had a first aid kit. Maybe they gave her a little something. But it was strange scene.
@ wolfstar: I seriously don't know what the difference between a transporter and a teleporter is??
I needed quite a while to watch the last two seasons of voyager and to this day have only watched the first season of enterprise. So for me Discovery has kind of surpassed enterprise at this point. But I have to admit that enterprise was dead to me when I heard the theme song.
Loud Morn
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 4:07pm (UTC -6)
Hey guys,
I've found a nice article which sums up STD quite well:
https://www.currentaffairs.org/2018/05/the-dismal-frontier

What is your oppinion?
Quincy
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 4:24pm (UTC -6)
Wow. This was terrible. The main idea was solid, but the execution after the sphere infects their universal translator was god awful. Discovery has always had problems with disjointed execution, but it got dialed up to 11 this episode.

And that whole plot with Tilly. God damn, please kill her ass off. I can't stand her, neither the actress, nor the character itself. If they wanted a quirky and discombobulated character they should've gotten someone like Carrie Preston from the Good Wife. I know she's older than Tilly's supposed to be, but the character could've been rewritten.

And enough with the environmentalism in space. That crap is putrid. The universe can't be that fragile or none of us would be here with neutron stars, supernova, black holes, quasars, dark energy, colliding galaxies, etc releasing metric f#&% tons of energy mankind could never hope to match. I. Simply. Do not. Believe. That. Bull$#!%. It was the same with the TNG anti-warp episode. Jesus Christ on a crucifix. It's just not credible.

That whole Tilly story arc with the dirty booger alien is rancid. And not just because it focuses so much screen time on Tilly. This episode could've been so good if they'd just focused on the alien sphere. It didn't need anything else. Certainly, not some stupid story line about booger extraterrestrials kidnapping annoying crew members. They keep trying to overload every single episode with, not just single stand alone plots, but multiple story arcs. With the sphere, Spock, and Saru, how the hell is that not enough? Why in god's name would you stuff yet another story ARC into this episode?

That whole scene with Burnham and Saru just went on and on so long that it became too maudlin; I wanted to blow my cookies all over my screen. I'm really glad they didn't kill off Saru, but there was no reason to make that scene that sappy if they weren't going to go through with it. It was over the top. Also, I'm not sure if I like the new development with Saru or not. It could go either way. It has plenty of potential, but I'm not confident that Discovery's writers and show runners can pull it off.

All these bridge crew characters are just place holders. They gave them more lines this episode than usual, but they've yet to give them all personalities. At this point, I'm not sure how they'd go about it. It's annoying when I hear them speak, because I know they're just cardboard cut outs that aren't likely to ever get developed. I don't even know or care to know any of their names. I thought the engineer from the asteroid was going to be good addition, but to bring her on just to out snark Stamets, as someone above pointed out, is retarded. One asshole character is enough. Stamets took a lot of last season to grow on me to where he completely fits on the show for me. Who needs two assholes in your show? That's like bringing in another Dr. McCoy to insult Spock or, another Pulaski to talk crap about Data.

I know all Treks start off slow and cumbersome, but there should be some signs of Discovery's cast hitting it's stride. Everybody looked like amateurs this episode. I'm a fan of Discovery, but this was a set back for me.
Rahul
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 4:24pm (UTC -6)
@wolfstar

"Maybe if Discovery knocks out a stellar season 3-7 like TNG did ..."

I understand where you're going here but it has to be said that TNG S7 was pretty lousy and I'd hardly call TNG S5-6 stellar -- they were OK at best. TNG S3 was stellar and TNG S4 was pretty good. This is my opinion based on reviewing all the episodes and looking at average ratings for the season. And yes, TNG S1-2 are the 2 worst seasons in all of Trek -- so I'd say DSC is already ahead of TNG at this stage of its life, as hard to believe as that sounds.

I think for a lot of people TNG is their favorite Trek, having "grown up" watching it. There's no question it enjoyed fantastic success and gave birth to DS9, VOY, but I think if you look at the series as a whole, it produced a ton of really bad episodes. But TNG managed to be more than the sum of its parts with a cast of characters that really grew on us. Let's hope DSC can come close to achieving what TNG did. But I don't expect DSC to crank out even as many episodes as TOS did (79).
Rahul
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 5:05pm (UTC -6)
@Loud Morn

I was intrigued by "What is Star Trek without the socialism?" If there truly was no socialism in Trek, I'd be super-happy. But I had to stop reading after the author said "William Shatner is a terrible actor". I completely disagree here and it's not worth my time to continue to read whatever this author has written.
John Harmon
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 5:11pm (UTC -6)
@Booming the difference is that the term used in Star Trek is “transporter” not “teleporter”. I think this might actually be the first time that mistake has ever been in Star Trek. I could be wrong though. It’s just another thing that speaks to the haphazad way this show is slapped together.

There’s no passionate showrunner like we used to have with Michael Piller. There’s nobody to help with the design that truly loves Star Trek and wants to keep things consistent like we had with the Okudas. There’s no science advisor to help with terminology like we used to have with Andre Bormanis (he’s actually helping on The Orville now). The extent of their scientific research was glancing over the work of a mushroom loving wacko hawking his phony holistic wares and considering that a good enough “scientific basis” to use as the foundation of the whole series.

So yeah, pointing out the lousy terminology of “teleporter” over “transporter” is nitpicking, but we’re only nitpicking because it’s just one more thing about this show that just gets it so wrong.

Also, I don’t think this show even compares to seasons 1-2 of TNG. I actually enjoy watching most of those early episodes. There’s only a small handful I’d consider truly bad. Even when the show did get bad, it still had a cast of characters I cared about.
John Harmon
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 5:19pm (UTC -6)
@Rahul you should read The whole article. It’s worth it.
Loud Morn
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 5:24pm (UTC -6)
@Rahul sorry to disappoint you regarding socialism in star trek:
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/24/opinion/make-it-so-star-trek-and-its-debt-to-revolutionary-socialism.html

and about that Shatner-comment... serious? that's why you finished reading that article?
wolfstar
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 5:28pm (UTC -6)
That's a really great article, thanks.
Brian
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 5:36pm (UTC -6)
Just remember, at this point in TNG we were getting masterpieces like "Elementary, Dear Data", and "A Matter of Honor".

Guest stars like Daniel Davis' Professor Moriarty.
Air-tight scripts like "A Matter of Honor" with stunning performances by Jon Frakes and the Klingon co-stars.

And Discovery gives us Tig Notaro. And "more Michael Burnham".


Stargazer
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 5:40pm (UTC -6)
"but to bring her on just to out snark Stamets, as someone above pointed out, is retarded. One asshole character is enough."

You should think about the adjectives you use to describe things you dislike. There are thousands of words you can use that do not insult millions of people.

---

"so I'd say DSC is already ahead of TNG at this stage of its life, as hard to believe as that sounds. "

Look at the Rotten Tomatos score. Read the critics reviews. Look at the grades the AV Club, for example, gives. DSC at this point is the most critically succesful Star Trek show in history. More than TOS was. More than TNG was. And certainly far more than DS9 and VOY were.

No other Trek series has been welcomed this positively by people who review television for a living and certainly know their stuff. Which makes the violent dislike from so-called Trek fans even more unbelievable.

---

"the difference is that the term used in Star Trek is “transporter” not “teleporter”."

How do you know it's a mistake? It could be foreshadowing. It could be new terminology. It could be vernacular. Has there ever been an episode where they that "this is definitely not a teleporter"? Because unless there has, they can call it a Whiz-Bang-Machine and it would still not be a mistake, just a personal choice. They can call the Warp Drive a Hyper Drive and it would still not be a mistake, because it was never stated that it cannot be called thus.

The other "mistakes" (hologram technology, Lorca behaves strangely, Klingons look weird, Klingon ships look differently) have all turned out to be things that were planned and well explained later on.

So, I think it's unfair calling this a mistake when it might have been an active choice by the writer to signify the coming problems with communication.

---

"There’s nobody to help with the design that truly loves Star Trek and wants to keep things consistent like we had with the Okudas."

Look at the websites that every week show you just how well this actually incorporates or foreshadows ideas and technology from the other TV shows. Just look at the early-model VISOR, for example. The people who make this show clearly love Star Trek and know their Star Trek. They just cannot make it look like a 1960s show in 2019.

---

"glancing over the work of a mushroom loving wacko hawking his phony holistic wares"

In a show with FTL travel and instant communication across the universe, with nearly all aliens looking like humans and being able to procreate with each other, in a show with replicator technology and matter teleportation, in a show with telepathy... this is where you draw the line as it being 'unscientific'? Really?
Booming
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 5:41pm (UTC -6)
Is Star Trek not more like communism? No money. housing, healthcare, food, clothing. All for free.
Rahul
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 6:08pm (UTC -6)
@ Brian,

We've only had 19 episodes of DSC -- and actually TNG wouldn't come up with "Elementary, Dear Data" until its 28th episode. Calling it a masterpiece is a bit much, although it is a pretty good episode. DSC came up with "Into the Forest I Go" which I think was it's best episode and better than anything TNG did in S1.

So I think the potential is there with DSC, although I agree with you that SMG as the lead actor isn't up to the level as other Trek leads and Tig Notaro (a minor character) is terrible so far -- still early though. Would be good if Notaro had better writing to work with and wasn't made to come across as a jerk.
Riker's Beard
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 6:25pm (UTC -6)
@Brian
"Just remember, at this point in TNG we were getting masterpieces like "Elementary, Dear Data", and "A Matter of Honor".

Guest stars like Daniel Davis' Professor Moriarty.
Air-tight scripts like "A Matter of Honor" with stunning performances by Jon Frakes and the Klingon co-stars."

Hmm. I really love TNG, but I don't think I would ever call Elementary and Matter of Honor "airtight masterpieces".

Matter of Honor in particular had an unbelievably stupid Klingon captain who blamed the Enterprise for putting "space bacteria" on his ship. Sure, yeah, must've been the Enterprise. I guess he'll try to destroy the Enterprise with his one Bird of Prey, which isn't enough to take on a galaxy class. It doesn't make any sense and it is solely there to create conflict for the end. So it's not exactly "airtight". That said, I really enjoy that episode, despite it's issues.

Fans sometimes tend to put older Trek shows on a ridiculously high pedestal in order to undercut Disco. At this point, DS9 was still very much finding it's legs and Voyager felt extremely underwhelming with it's plots and character development.

Give DSC some credit where credit is due, it actually does have some reasonable arcs for it's characters. We were not getting much of that from other Trek shows in their early seasons... but then again if you don't actually like any of the Disco characters, then I guess this observation doesn't stand for much. Oh well. :P
brian
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 6:26pm (UTC -6)
"No other Trek series has been welcomed this positively by people who review television for a living and certainly know their stuff. Which makes the violent dislike from so-called Trek fans even more unbelievable."

Stargazer, you are so FOS.

Metacritic:
Discovery Season 1: 558 negative, 483 positive
Discovery Season 2: 42 negative, 41 positive

Voyager Season 1: 2 negative, 59 positive
Voyager Season 2: 1 negative, 15 positive

TNG Season 1: 6 negative, 94 positive
TNG Season 2: 3 negative, 25 positive

DS9 Season 1: 1 negative, 70 positive
DS9 Season 2: 1 negative, 18 positive

Star Trek Discovery, no matter what YOU think, is NOT a popular show. For every person that likes it, there are at least 1-2 people who really don’t. You can state your opinion, post your review of the episode. But please stop trying to denigrate the opinions of others, or somehow nullify the reality that many people are unhappy with this show. We need discourse and discussion. There are going to be harsh reviews, and glowing reviews. Telling other people their opinions are “unbelievable” or somehow not valid is just not okay.
Steven
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 6:33pm (UTC -6)
@brian

Stargazer was referring specifically to critics as in people like Jammer. Indeed your source, Metacritic, lists 0 negative critic reviews for Discovery.
wolfstar
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 6:36pm (UTC -6)
"Look at the grades the AV Club, for example, gives. [...] No other Trek series has been welcomed this positively by people who review television for a living and certainly know their stuff."

Oh yeah, Zack Handlen for AV Club is a stellar writer and he truly knows his stuff. And the grades he gives Discovery on an episode-by-episode basis aren't that different from Jammer's. But have you read his reviews? He tears the show apart. And rightly so. And he's not a writer inclined to do that.
Quincy
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 6:44pm (UTC -6)
@Stargazer "You should think about the adjectives you use to describe things you dislike. There are thousands of words you can use that do not insult millions of people."

It took a moment for me to know wth you were talking about.

1) Be more specific.
2) I don't insult millions of people. Never in my life have I called a disabled person, moving at the speed god made them to move at, retarded. I reserve that word for people who somehow can't get up to the speed they were born for. If that's a problem for some folks, then that's their problem, not mine.
3) Manufactured outrage doesn't move me. Neither does politically "correct" propaganda.

@Stargazer "Look at the Rotten Tomatos score. Read the critics reviews. Look at the grades the AV Club, for example, gives. DSC at this point is the most critically succesful Star Trek show in history. More than TOS was. More than TNG was. And certainly far more than DS9 and VOY were. No other Trek series has been welcomed this positively by people who review television for a living and certainly know their stuff. Which makes the violent dislike from so-called Trek fans even more unbelievable."

No one should be looking at Rotten Tomatoes. That garbage is manipulated, bought and paid for propaganda. Nothing more unbelievable than that nonsense. People who need to be told first what to like, in order to give themselves permission to like it, then like Saru, they need to hurry up and have their ganglia fall off.
Tim C
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 6:48pm (UTC -6)
(Warning: essay incoming. I have nothing to do this weekend...)

@Loud Morn

God, I thought I'd be able to stay away from the never-ending DSC arguments, but that opinion piece...

I could spend all day doing that incredibly boring Internet thing of cherry-picking select quotes from the piece and ripping them to shreds, so instead I'll attack the main thrust of the article: the tired and unprovable statement that "Discovery isn't Star Trek".

We've already discussed here on these boards the ways in which Discovery is a different beast from the Berman or Roddenberry eras of Star Trek, purely by how we're receiving it. As a show on a streaming subscription service in 2019, vs a prime time mass audience broadcast show in the 90's, there is now literally decades of distance between Discovery and the last era of TV trek. So when people say "Discovery isn't Star Trek", it usually boils down to two main points:

1) "Discovery is too dark in tone, so it isn't Star Trek!"

This one is pretty easily refuted. Some of the most popular episodes and movies in Star Trek's history have been its darkest. A short list: "The City On The Edge Of Forever". "Yesterday's Enterprise." "In The Pale Moonlight." "Equinox." "Damage." And my personal favourite entry in the entire Trek canon, "The Undiscovered Country" is an obvious stylistic departure from the previous movies. Just listening to that opening score! The more metallic, militaristic bridge of the Enterprise. The assassination scene. The gritty Rura Penthe. Kirk's quiet, personal confession of outright racism.

The obvious counter-argument is that these are individual episodes and movies in a vast universe of diverse stories, and that is true. But with Discovery embracing a more serialised narrative style, and having significantly shorter seasons (remember, the previous shows usually had 26 (!) episodes a year to broaden their scope), they have a more limited window to carve out their identity.

Remember when the Voyager writers wanted to do a literal Year Of Hell, and that idea was nixed by higher-ups? At the time, it was a creative shot in the arm that the show desperately could have used. Instead we got a (good) two-parter and four more years of business as usual, declining ratings, and rehashed stories - with the occasional flash of brilliance that reminded us of how good that cast and production team could be, and how frustrating it was for the audience for them to be stuck in a creative straitjacket.

Discovery isn't Star Trek because it's dark? Please. Star Trek does dark all the time, and when it refuses to because of some notion of "that isn't Star Trek" (i.e. Voyager) then it just results in creative mediocrity. Let Disco have its own identity, I say. It's far better than timid creative blandness.

2) "Discovery does not have an ensemble cast, so it isn't Star Trek!"

This one always strikes me as ridiculous, given where Star Trek began. TOS did *not* have an ensemble cast. Look at the opening credits: it stars William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy (and later, Kelley was added in). Every episode bar only a very select few focus exclusively on the triumverate of Kirk, Spock and McCoy. This focus continued all the way through the TV show right up until the end of the movies. The bit players would all get some good lines, but the story was almost *never* about them.

If a qualification for Star Trek is that you must have an ensemble cast, where every bit player on the bridge gets their own couple of episodes every season, then TOS isn't Star Trek, and that's obviously ridiculous. Discovery is perfectly entitled to try something new, and make a show where the Captain doesn't have the lead role, and we don't really know or care about the inner life of the helmsman.

3) "Discovery isn't Star Trek, because they changed the Klingons/because holograms/because transparent viewscreens/because sound effects!" etc

The Klingons have already undergone one major revision in the history of the franchise, when they magically grew head loaf in TMP. How was the frame of the TOS Enterprise "refit" into the movie-era Enterprise, with the obvious differences in size and interiors? Just how many years transpired between TOS, TMP, and TWOK, exactly? Why does the Enterprise-D appear to have different saucer sizes in different shots? Just how big is Deep Space Nine, exactly? Why don't slingshots around the sun ever get used for time travel in the Berman era? When Scotty is rescued in TNG, why do they use a TOS era transporter effect instead of a TWOK-TUC effect? Why doesn't young Picard have hair in Nemesis? Why are the Xindi apparently never mentioned ever again after they attack the Earth? Why does the NX-01 bridge have better displays than the NCC-1701? Why is Nick Locarno suddenly named Tom Paris? Why did we never see the Borg Queen in Best Of Both Worlds?

In other words, if your argument that Disco isn't Star Trek rests on canon inconsistencies or retcons, then that also invalidates your favourite show/movie in some small way too. Deal with it.

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

None of what I've said above is to say the Discovery is perfect, or the greatest series ever. There are several creative decisions I wouldn't have made, most of all making it a prequel.

What I definitely would agree with, though, is trying something new. And in the eyes of many - like the author of this opinion piece - that seems to be the greatest crime of all.

Much like the producers at Paramount back in the day, shackling Voyager's creative reins to the ghost of TNG in the hopes that residual popularity would last forever and sustain their doomed new TV network, the people who charge that "Discovery isn't Star Trek" would seem to prefer the universe to remain creatively frozen in amber, an Orville-style rehash of a storytelling style we've already had over 700 episodes of, in the fear that somehow, attempting something new will invalidate the things they already love.

Personally, I think that's bollocks. Discovery could crash and burn and turn out to be the worst thing ever, and my beloved TOS ain't going anywhere. A season or two of boring Klingon dreck isn't suddenly going to erase "Darmok" from existence. A badly-told war story can remind us of the ways that Deep Space Nine did it well. Outrage over (and eventual sympathy for) a tortured tardigrade brings to mind Janeway's cold fury in "Equinox".

Discovery is Star Trek, because Star Trek isn't just one thing. It's a wide, flexible, endless universe with plenty of room for new approaches. And after over fifty years of endurance, it's safe to say that if it goes away, it's never going to be for long.

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

All of the above aside: that entire article is wrong because it says Shatner is a terrible actor. Fuck you, Current Affairs!
Rahul
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 6:56pm (UTC -6)
@ Loud Morn,

I'm well aware of how influential socialism is to creating the future that Trek exists in. But like warp drive and some of the other technology, the idea that socialism could actually create such utopia is bunk. We have to watch Trek with a certain suspension of disbelief and for me that extends to the way that futuristic society was created. I don't think of how it all came to be, I just accept it as fiction (like traveling at hundreds of times faster than the speed of light) and go from there.

Since others seem to like that article, I'll give it a read even if I already have a major disagreement with its author. For the record, I think Shatner is a terrific actor!
Mertov
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 7:32pm (UTC -6)
The comfort of not having had Internet around when TNG and DS9 started (for example) and not having read the scathing reviews of those shows in their early years and claim that DSC is the only one generating negative reviews.
I remember distinctly a full-page news of the upheaval (on a prominent newspaper - Boston Globe?) when TNG began and bunch of Star Trek fans (including those leading the Trekkie fan groups) were all up in arms having a fit over how on earth such a show could carry the label "Star Trek."
Trent
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 7:34pm (UTC -6)
Nice articles Loud Mourn. I've always maintained that, for nu-Trek to be relevant, edgy and stop repeating itself, it needed to become even more politically radical. What you need is a series about ambassador Picard schooling prospective Federation planets on the art of becoming post-capitalist, eco-friendly, sustainable, post-scarcity space commies. Go full techno-hippie. Embrace the Roddenberry.

Right now Trek is a kind of smug Democrat; tolerant-space-liberals patting themselves on the back for being enlightened whilst kicking ass like Rambo and committing the occasional genocide, war crime, and unavoidable waterboarding. This stuff is played out.

One thing I like about Orville is that its unashamedly post-capitalist. And by just existing, arguably does something to help counter the There Is No Alternative mantra/cynicism of our times.

John Harmon said: "Also, I don’t think this show even compares to seasons 1-2 of TNG. I actually enjoy watching most of those early episodes."

I agree. By this point, TNG gave us "11001001" and "Heart of Glory", which IMO are great episodes. "Neutral Zone" is also very good. Then there are "Where No One Has Gone Before", "Justice", "Angel One", "When the Bough Breaks", "Symbiosis" and "Coming of Age", which are messes, but all have interesting ideas/allegories or Picard speeches. More importantly, TNG season 1 felt distinct from everything else on TV. Discovery, meanwhile, feels like a Marvel TV series.

Stargazer said: "Look at the Rotten Tomatos score. Read the critics reviews. Look at the grades the AV Club, for example, gives. DSC at this point is the most critically succesful Star Trek show in history. More than TOS was. More than TNG was. And certainly far more than DS9 and VOY were."

Discovery is rated less than Enterprise on IMDB. Discovery has a user Metacritic score of 4.6 out of 10. The actual text of Discovery's AV Club reviews have never been extraordinarily positive. Some of the highest grossing films last year were junk like Deadpool and the Avengers. JJ Trek has a 94 percent positive rating on Rotten tomatoes, supposedly making it better than Wrath of Khan and the Undiscovered Country. George Bush was elected twice by tens of millions of people. Clearly all these stats and ratings are dubious and need to be skeptically read. People also seem naturally quick to gush over the last thing they saw (OMG THIS IS THE BEST EVA!) and slow to compare or put things in context.

Stargazer said: "this is where you draw the line as it being 'unscientific'? Really?"

But a franchise requiring a suspension of disbelief, doesn't absolve it of silliness. Spock's surprise brother in Star Trek 5 was silly. Voyager's space salamanders was silly. DS9's Breen were silly. TNG's Ferrenghi were silly. Disco's spinning saucer spore jiggy is silly.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 8:04pm (UTC -6)
@Tim C.
"In other words, if your argument that Disco isn't Star Trek rests on canon inconsistencies or retcons, then that also invalidates your favourite show/movie in some small way too."

Sure... IN SOME SMALL WAY. But it's a matter of degree:

There's still a huge difference between a show that has an occasional continuity error, and show that doesn't even *try* to adhere to previously established canon.

BTW most of the examples of "continuity errors" you've given aren't errors at all.

"[Star Trek is] a wide, flexible, endless universe with plenty of room for new approaches. And after over fifty years of endurance, it's safe to say that if it goes away, it's never going to be for long."

How come you're so sure? Do you seriously believe that the words "Star Trek" magically gives a franchise immortality, regardless of
the actual content it provides?

One of the main reasons that Star Trek endured for so long, is that was set in a more-or-less consistent universe. Another reason is that it was always an optimistic an inspirational show.

You can give another dozen examples of TOS or VOY or DS9 "going dark", but it won't change the simple fact that these shows - as a whole - gave us a hope for a better future. These shows also inspired many *many* teens to become scientists and engineers.

There's absolutely no guarantee that Star Trek will continue to flourish after abandoning these core principles. It may (or may not) survive as pure entertainment but will it continue to be as influential as it was in its first 40 years?

I find that very hard to believe.

OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 8:15pm (UTC -6)
@Mertov
"I remember distinctly a full-page news of the upheaval (on a prominent newspaper - Boston Globe?) when TNG began and bunch of Star Trek fans (including those leading the Trekkie fan groups) were all up in arms having a fit over how on earth such a show could carry the label 'Star Trek.' "

Sure, there are guys like that.

But then, there are guys like me, who happily embraced every new Star Trek series (including Enterprise) as it came out, and still - some how - I can't stand either the JJ-Films or Discovery.

So clearly, something is different this time.
Mertov
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 8:29pm (UTC -6)
I didn't embrace Enterprise so much myself. Much less than DSC. So, there are guys like me too, who can then turn around and say by that reasoning: "so clearly, something was different this time" (with Enterprise).

By the way, people I mentioned in that post were not jusy 'guys' like you and me. One of them was Joan Verbe (one of the leading names in one of the few Star Trek organizing committees, I met her at a convention in nid-80s, and so were the others mentioned in that full-page article. We are not talking about random Trekkies.
Elliott
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 9:15pm (UTC -6)
Excellent post, Trent.
Tim C
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 10:19pm (UTC -6)
How am I so sure that Trek will survive, @OmicronThetaDeltaPhi? Because that's the lesson of history, my friend! Star Trek has already survived two Dark Ages and there's no reason to think it wouldn't survive a third. Quite aside from the lucrative allure of a pre-existing franchise to the corporate bean-counting types, creatively speaking there will always be people influenced by Star Trek who want to give back to the universe. Hell, even Quentin Tarantino wants to make some new Star Trek!

I don't think it's a stretch.

Your contention that Star Trek's internal consistency is a key reason it endured over the years, and I will grant you that, even if I think you're perhaps giving it too much weight. But I will put it to you that it takes a lot more than some new Klingon makeup, or some fancy CGI holograms, or some anachronistic sound effects to break an entire canon. (Personally, I find the DSC sound effects utterly delightful, with their mix of cheesy 60's TOS and the more understated TNG.)

And what makes you so dead-set certain that Star Trek has abandoned its core principles? I saw plenty of them on display in Discovery's first season - the difference being that they were constantly interrogated by the presence of officers like Lorca and Security Chief Redshirt. The writers were not always up to the task of doing so intelligently, but I simply don't agree that the optimistic world view was abandoned. It was just being tested.

Finally, do you really find it impossible to believe that a new generation of children could be inspired by the likes of, say, Michael Burnham? I would point you to Katharine Trendacosta's excellent piece on just how much she was inspired by Voyager, and specifically Captain Janeway: https://io9.gizmodo.com/why-star-trek-voyager-meant-the-world-to-me-1679736359

As she says: "The "seeing yourself on screen" thing is a cliché, but it really is important. It's not just seeing people you can relate to, it's seeing people you can relate to *being successful*. That's the empowering part."

A woman of colour as the central character, in the science officer role, who has earned redemption for her mistakes and respect from her peers? You may not personally enjoy the show or the Burnham character, but that won't apply to everyone. I would contend that viewed with fresh eyes, someone like Burnham could be an exceptionally inspirational figure to a young person, just as James T. Kirk and Spock were for me in my formative years.

As for questioning my list of canon inconsistencies and retcons, feel free to go ahead and blast away! Those were ones I could just name off the top of my head. I reckon I could jump on Memory Alpha or Ex Astris Scientia and find a thousand more for you to nit pick. :P
Trent
Sat, Feb 9, 2019, 10:49pm (UTC -6)
Thanks Elliot.

To bring up another topic: has JJ Trek turned warp drive into hyperdrive?

In the first JJ movie, a ship "drops out of warp" and is surprised to find itself in the middle of a battle. A battle its sensors should have detected long before it arrived.

Similarly, in this Discovery episode, the ship surprisingly stumbles upon, and is yanked out of warp by, a giant sentient planet ("Something's grabbed us out of warp sir!"). This never happens in Trek. A planet of this size should have been detected far in advance by the ship's sensors.

It's as though the episode ditches Trek tech for Star Wars tech, in which ships travel relatively blind in hyperspace, and are yanked out by gravity wells.
Booming
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 12:47am (UTC -6)
@ Omicron: "You can give another dozen examples of TOS or VOY or DS9 "going dark", but it won't change the simple fact that these shows - as a whole - gave us a hope for a better future. These shows also inspired many *many* teens to become scientists and engineers."
I know this argument about scientists but is that really true? And could one argue that kids like you who are fascinated by science will always find something that inspires them to pursue a scientific career. But you could be right. This is also my main problem with Discovery and one thing that actually is different from the other Trek shows (so far, they are obviously rewriting a lot of stuff). A show that asks: Wouldn't it be great to have a future were people aren't so greedy, so selfish but kind and open hearted?
But Tim C. is also right to point out that this is all bonus. The 700 other episodes are still there.
Discovery in a way never had the chance to become one of the trek shows because it is behind a pay wall. That is a pretty high wall for a 13 year old.
Nathan
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 2:46am (UTC -6)
As someone who's pursued a scientific career, I take issue that doing so has anything to do with a "better future". The majority who pursue scientific careers will end up working for large pharmaceutical companies helping to sell opioid drugs for the masses to get hooked on, or engineering oil rigs to further decimate Earth's ecosystem.

In fact, it could easily be argued that a large amount of our problems wouldn't exist if certain people hadn't pursued scientific careers. Without combustion we wouldn't be facing a rapidly warming world, without gunpowder hundreds of gunshot victims each year would be saved, and and if it weren't for the invention of ships, genocides would have been prevented.

There is no 'better future' in inventing more things to substitute for our humanity.
Booming
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 3:21am (UTC -6)
@ Nathan: Somebody has watched fight club last night. :)
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 7:46am (UTC -6)
"But I will put it to you that it takes a lot more than some new Klingon makeup, or some fancy CGI holograms, or some anachronistic sound effects to break an entire canon."

That's exactly my point.

It takes more than this bit or that bit, but all these bits add up.

What's worse: This is an example of the maxim "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts". When you add all these changes and discrepancies together (many of which were done for absolutely no good reason) you're beginning to realize that the show-runners simply don't care about these things anymore.

So it is no longer possible to view a given continuity gaffe as a simple oversight, or even as a necessary concession needed to tell a better story. These inconsistencies have simply become the show-runners modus operandi. And this, I argue, is a problem.

A similar thing can be said about the way science is used in Star Trek. It is true that Star Trek was never hard sci fi, and that all Trek series had their share of silly "science".

But in all but the very worst episodes (e.g. Salamander Janeway) the previous Trek series always tried to have at least a semblance of making scientific sense. Sometimes they messed up, but they *tried* and it showed. Discovery doesn't even try. It's all about being cool and flashy and shiny. This too, I argue, is a problem.

"The writers were not always up to the task of doing so intelligently, but I simply don't agree that the optimistic world view was abandoned. It was just being tested."

They lost me at the minute our "heros" decided to plant a bomb on a Klingon corpse to kill mourners. And Sarek's advocation of genocide in the S1 finale served as an another example of this.

Compare Discovery's take on this issue to - say- DS9.

DS9 is the classic example of "an optimistic world view being tested". Their section 31 stories took a very dark turn. But Section 31 WERE WRITTEN AS THE BAD GUYS. You weren't supposed to root for them.

And when Sisko pulled his stunt in "In the Pale Moonlight", it was written as terrible dilemma. The entire episode was about the moral consequences of what Sisko did.

Compare this to the gung-ho attitude of Discovery (at least in season 1)... Do you see the difference?

"Finally, do you really find it impossible to believe that a new generation of children could be inspired by the likes of, say, Michael Burnham?"

Not at all.

But i *do* find it unlikely that Burnham will inspire these children to work for a better future, or to pursue an interest in science.

@Nathan
"As someone who's pursued a scientific career, I take issue that doing so has anything to do with a 'better future'. The majority who pursue scientific careers will end up working for large pharmaceutical companies helping to sell opioid drugs for the masses to get hooked on, or engineering oil rigs to further decimate Earth's ecosystem."

Please don't blame the entire scientific community for your own shitty career choices. I know plenty of scientists and engineers, and none of them work in anything questionable.

Besides, if you hate science and technology so much, what the heck are you doing on the internet?

(random fun fact: If you're over 30, then there's a very good chance that you owe your very life to modern medicine)

Of-course, science can also be used for doing bad things. But Star Trek doesn't condone these uses, does it? I doubt many people came out of watching TOS/TNG "inspired" to build oil rigs or create addictive drugs or develop atom bombs...
Stargazer
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 9:02am (UTC -6)
"These inconsistencies have simply become the show-runners modus operandi. And this, I argue, is a problem."

Yes, but it is *your* problem. There are millions of viewers who were not even born the last time Star Trek was a big thing. A majority of the audience may never have watched TOS, they may only know the Abrams movies. And it's smart to treat this as a show that offers some connections for old coots such as us, but that mostly treats this as a fresh property that may be the first exposure to Trek that many people have. So, making it visually more modern, more interesting, more in tune with modern expectations of storytelling (cf. Star Wars/Marvel movies) is a very smart choice.

It's clinging to the 'but it was different in the past' attitude that makes people reject this show despite its multitude of strengths.


"Compare this to the gung-ho attitude of Discovery (at least in season 1)... Do you see the difference?"

Yes: Sisko committed a war crime, hid the evidence and decided that he'd do it again because the needs justify the means. In Discovery a small group of people was about to committ a war crime, but Burnham reminded them that there was a better way and that the Federation was better than this. So, the difference is that it's actually Discovery that offers the more optimistic version of the future and that has the more morally-aligned characters.


"But i *do* find it unlikely that Burnham will inspire these children to work for a better future, or to pursue an interest in science. "

Burnham is a strong, interesting, incredibly intelligent character with strong morals, honest emotions and an enduring love for science that might very well end up as an idol for a lot of young girls and boys. Like the Prince reference: We're in the moment, so we can't judge its downstream consequences. It might not happen, it might happen. You are guessing just as much as the rest of us is.
Brian T
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 9:22am (UTC -6)
I was very entertained by the episode; it is one of my favorites so far.

My biggest complaint is that by trying to do too many stories, the writers don't spend enough time on each idea to really flesh it out.

I enjoyed the chaos of the UT going haywire, but by the next act, it was somewhat dismissed. Absolutely loved Saru's expression of "didn't any of you bother to learn a 2nd language?", haha. I think they could have spent an entire episode on the idea of the crew being too dependent on their technology and maybe even developed some of the background crew members a little by highlighting their different cultures via language.

The dying sphere alien was also cool and very representative of classic Trek, but again, not enough time was spent on it. Seemed to be a combination of TNG's "dyson sphere" and "inner light" but without the payoff. I hope there will be a follow-up on the importance of saving its data in future episodes, especially since Pike essentially called it the equivalent of finding the "dead sea scrolls".

Saru is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters. He is Discovery's answer to Spock, the alien in among the crew, which is strangely enough since Burnham is pseudo-Vulcan.

Saru's ritual suicide at the end had me wondering about Starfleet's attitude toward that behavior. In the DS9 episode "Sons of Mogh", Sisko was adamant about not letting Worf assist in Kurn's suicide, even though it was an established Klingon tradition. Yet in TNG episode "Ethics", Picard seemed to have no issue in letting Riker assist Worf with his suicide when he was medically crippled. I guess it varies from Captain to Captain and also by situation? But then that brings me to Burnham and the question of whether she would actually assist Saru in the ritual. After pondering it for a while, it made sense that she would find it an acceptable practice since she was raised in Vulcan culture. In the Voyager episode "Death Wish", it was established that Vulcans approve of ritual suicide, which is why the Quinn choose Tuvok as his advocate. Tuvok even acknowledges that "Vulcans who reach a certain infirmity with age practice ritual suicide" and this biological madness of Saru's probably qualifies as such a situation. Makes you wonder why Sarek didn't commit suicide back in TNG's "Unification" where he was clearly suffering immensely from his Bendii syndrome...maybe his human wife convinced him to fight it?

Dan
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 9:32am (UTC -6)
Brian puked: "Just remember, at this point in TNG we were getting masterpieces like "Elementary, Dear Data", and "A Matter of Honor". I would hardly call these masterpieces.

And you we were also getting masterpieces like "Shades of Gray", "Manhunt", and "The Royale".

ST:TNG revisionist history always amuses me.
Artymiss
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 12:07pm (UTC -6)
@Brian T

Saru as "Discovery's answer to Spock". Personally I think of him as Discovery's answer to Odo!
MadManMUC
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 12:18pm (UTC -6)
@ Brian T:

'in TNG episode "Ethics", Picard seemed to have no issue in letting Riker assist Worf with his suicide when he was medically crippled.'

Oh, I'm not sure I'd agree with you, here. It's been a while since I've seen the ep in question — and I'll most certainly have to re-watch it — but if I recall, it wasn't that Picard didn't have a problem with it, as such. It's simply that he put the ball entirely in Riker's court, counting on his first officer to ultimately follow his conscience, without having to pull rank.

I don't know, I could be remembering it quite differently than how it actually played out. Like I said, I'd have to re-watch it.
Paul M.
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 12:49pm (UTC -6)
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi, what was your first Trek?
Steven
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 1:16pm (UTC -6)
No, Madman, you really should watch it again (or even read the transcript). The thing with “Ethics” was that Picard was willing to let Worf commit ritual suicide. It’s not that he condoned suicide per se, it’s that he respected Worf’s beliefs and one of those beliefs was that living crippled is worse than death for a Klingon. Sisko intervenes in DS9, true, but the solution is horrific as it effectively ends Kurn’s life as Kurn (without consent).

Here, Saru has his own death ritual to give him a dignified end before he goes *mentally insane* and dies anyway. They don’t get into it, but an insane person is most certainly a danger to the crew. What was really the choice here? Does anyone think putting Saru in stasis *against his will* until they find a cure or something is an enlightened way of handling the situation?
Yair
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 1:44pm (UTC -6)
@Steven,

There were reasons to doubt Saru's self-diagnosis. IIRC he has no medical training that we know of, his culture is at a low level of technology compared to the Federation, sickbay barely got to look at him, and for all we know Orb induced death state could be different from the 'real' death state. Or perhaps the madness state could be easily treatable with Federation technology. Regardless the madness state is not much of a threat given Saru gave notice in advance.

I'll go further and state that it's quite possible that keeping Saru alive *against his will* may well have been justified. He's a Starfleet officer, when he signed up he gave up some rights. Now people depend on him. The Discovery may not be able to finish its critical mission without him (this episode is proof). Killing oneself without permission can be compared to desertion, and could well be illegal under Starfleet's laws**.

Imagine that Torres wanted to kill herself in VOY, or Trip in ENT S3. Lets further say all the prerequisites here are satisfied in those cases. Wouldn't Janeway or Archer still have justification to order them to live given the circumstances? If Pike can order Saru to his death if he has reason to believe it's necessary (and we probably agree that he can), why can't he order Saru to live?

** This doesn't contradict "Ethics", since Worf didn't decide to commit suicide. Maybe if he had he'd have to submit a formal request. Since it was obvious that Picard would honour such a request, no character had reason to discuss it.
Steven
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 2:03pm (UTC -6)
@Yair

That thing with that argument is even though soldiers do give up some freedoms from serving they retain certain civil rights that need to be respected by their commander. A commanding officer cannot, for example, order a woman serving under them to get an abortion because pregnancy would interfere with her duty.

Of course we don’t know Starfleet rules so we can’t say for certain what rights are protected or not and you could be correct. But respecting someone’s control over their body seems like a more respectful, more Trek way of handling it, at least in my opinion.
Yair
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 2:41pm (UTC -6)
@Steven,

Perhaps captains always grant permission for this in typical peacetime circumstances, but there are enough circumstances where there's more at stake than one person, and that should be enough for Starfleet to justify a rule requiring asking for permission.

Look at the other side: Letting Trip die early enough in ENT S3 probably kills humanity. Torres might be replaced by Carey, until he dies and Voyager ends up without a proper chief engineer (if she dies early enough, millions of aliens probably die in "Dreadnought"). Letting Saru die here, would have who-knows-what consequences. The Discovery arguably may well not have enough time to get a new first officer without compromising its mission (a mission considered vital enough to bend the PD). Now maybe not all these circumstances justify overriding a person's wishes, but some of them must.
Steven
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 3:03pm (UTC -6)
@Yair

Good points, but I think saving Saru “for the mission” doesn’t really apply here. One important factor that differntiates Saru from say B’Elanna is that no one in Starfleet appears to know much about Kelpian physiology (they’re a pre-First Contact race) and Saru is a lone refugee. So, even assuming stasis could save Saru someday in the long run, he would be out of commission - certainly for the remainder of this mission - and perhaps years more for Starfleet to figure out how to treat Kelpians in this condition. So I don’t think exigency is a workable justification to violate a species’ rights here.
Yair
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 3:25pm (UTC -6)
@Steven,

it could be that Starfleet couldn't save Saru in the short run. But maybe they could. His biology wasn't completely alien, the doctor could check adrenaline levels. They can't know whether they could save him without checking him. Saru got, what, five seconds at sickbay? Besides, as I stated earlier, there were good reasons to doubt Saru's self-diagnosis beforehand.

They could have tried to help him, and if they couldn't fix him then let him die. Assuming the stakes are high as they seem to be, the worst case where Saru lives a while longer then he intended wouldn't have been so bad.
Steven
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 3:41pm (UTC -6)
But Yair, you’re skipping over the part where even in the best case scenario Saru’s rights are violated. This is something Picard understood about Worf and the Klingons and it’s not something to just gloss over.

So maybe Saru survives but remembers being sedated and he realizes Starfleet didn’t care what he wanted. He goes back to his people and tells them Starfleet can’t always be trusted and suddenly that First Contact the Fedration is hoping for is off the table.

Now, I’m not saying all these things will happen for certain mind you, I just point out the dangers in being cavilier about individual rights.
Brian
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 3:54pm (UTC -6)
Dan wrote:
"And you we were also getting masterpieces like "Shades of Gray", "Manhunt", and "The Royale". ST:TNG revisionist history always amuses me."

Dan, the funny thing is that all of those episodes still carried more weight than any single episode of Discovery for me.

"Shades of Gray" had an excuse, funds ran out because they over spent on previous episodes, and they needed to do a clip show that didn't cost anything. That was the result. Discovery has no excuse ($6 million budget per show).

Manhunt is a light-hearted episode, it isn't particularly bad or poorly written, just kind of fluffy. But don't forget that here we learn about Riker and Troi's past. Plus, watching Frakes, Stewart, Barret, and Sirtis on screen is entertaining just about any way you slice it. Riker and Troi had some funny banter, sideways looks, etc. It's not a good script but you have a cast that is fun to watch regardless and they still made it fun.

I like "The Royale". It made no sense at all, but for me it was a fun episode, and if you look in the comments for that episode there are plenty of people who loved it.

So, you can keep on defending discovery on the grounds that "Hey TNG wasn't perfect in season 2 so give Discovery a break" and that's fine. Just realize that when TNG WAS hitting the mark in season 2, it was doing so on a much more advanced level than anything we've seen on STD. AND, even its low points either had a good reason, or were still entertaining regardless. AND, if TNG did make an error it basically was self-contained in one episode and didn't mess up the entire season. Unlike STD, where the mistakes just compound themselves and take up huge amounts of vital story-telling time, coming back to haunt us every single episode.

So, please, defend Discovery on its own merits, and don't forgive its critical mistakes because of a couple stinkers in TNG season 2. You're letting STD off too easy.
Brian
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 4:10pm (UTC -6)
"Burnham is a strong, interesting, incredibly intelligent character with strong morals, honest emotions and an enduring love for science that might very well end up as an idol for a lot of young girls and boys."

ROTLMAO. Stargazer....

Spock, Bones did that.
Data, Geordi, and Picard did that.
Dr. EMH, B'Elana and Janeway did that.
Doctor Bashir and O'brien did that. Shoot even *Rom* did that.

SMG's Burnham does not rank in that list. She just doesn't, no matter how awesome and integral to everything they try to write her.

Yair
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 4:13pm (UTC -6)
@Steven,

I don't think it's right to call this a cavalier attitude. It's one that tries to balance the needs of the crewmember with the needs of other people.

Let me put it by analogy. Captains can order crewmembers to their death. The reason Starfleet allows captains to make this call is not because the crew are considered cannon fodder, but because of the general interest. This is far from an unlimited power, Captains can't run death matches on their ship. They need to have reasonable cause, or Starfleet would be *very* displeased.

If Captains can similarly order crewmembers to live that would be for the general interest, not because individual rights are considered irrelevant, and It's quite possible Starfleet will want a reasonable cause there too.
Steven
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 4:34pm (UTC -6)
I agree it comes down to balancing the interests and in the end we don’t really have enough information to make the best decision. I think we’re supposed to believe Burnham *did* have all the information and she was willing to commit the ritual but still hesitant because it clashed with her personal beliefs.
Dan
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 6:29pm (UTC -6)
@Brian

I don't feel any need to "defend" Discovery. I'm enjoying the series so far, and am leaving it room to grow and tell its story/ies. Kind of like what ardent ST:TNG fans had to do for at *least* 2 seasons. Hell, the first season of TNG was enough to keep me away from it until the fifth season started.

If you don't like Discovery, fine, but don't expect people to "defend" it because you have issues with its approach.

Shades of Gray had an excuse...SMH. Even the *writer* of the "episode" thinks of it poorly. It simple never should have been made.

Somehow I get the feeling you'd find a way to prop up a turd like Code of Honor if it meant ripping on Discovery. =P

John Harmon
Sun, Feb 10, 2019, 10:16pm (UTC -6)
The difference between this and Ethics is that in Ethics, Worf was medically diagnosed as paralyzed with basically no chance of recovery and had permission from the captain about deciding to end his life.

In Discovery, you just had Saru diagnose himself and decide in the span of a few minutes he was going to kill himself, only he tells Burnham and that’s it. The captain isn’t let in, there’s no extensive medical study done on him. It was cartoonish.
Stargazer
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 6:38am (UTC -6)
"The captain isn’t let in, there’s no extensive medical study done on him. It was cartoonish. "

Look at the crew standing up when he leaves the bridge. They know and the captain knows, because he was on sickbay with Saru. Just because they don't show the scene doesn't mean it didn't happen.

You also don't see Burnham getting from the lift to Saru's quarters. We assume she must have gotten there, because she arrives there in the end.


"no extensive medical study"

The ship's doctor clearly has no idea of his anatomy and how should she: Saru's the only Kelpian they have for study and he comes from a medieval society, so they probably have no idea about their own biology, etc. Unless they'd disected him and put him in a laboratory for ages, they can study him all they want, they wouldn't have medical data that would be helpful. They're lacking comparison and reference cases.

So, it's not cartoonish. It's just the only course of action available if you think through it.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 7:01am (UTC -6)
@Paul M.

"OmicronThetaDeltaPhi, what was your first Trek?"

TOS, via syndication in the 1970's. The first episode I've ever seen, I think, was "The Corbomite Maneuver".

@Dan

Here's the thing about TNG:

It was crystal clear what the show is about ever since the pilot.

Nobody is going to argue that "Encounter at Far Point" was a great episode or anything, but it *did* set the tone for the rest of the series 7-season run. It was clear what they were going for, and it was something that I - as a fan of TOS - liked.

@Stargazer
"Burnham is a strong, interesting, incredibly intelligent character with strong morals, honest emotions and an enduring love for science that might very well end up as an idol for a lot of young girls and boys."

No.

It is certainly what the show wants the viewer to believe, but the way her character is written is anything but that.

Wasn't it Burnham who committed mutiny and attempted to start a war with the Klingons in "The Vulcan Hello"? When that's your introduction to a character that's supposed to be "a symbol of strong morals", then you have a problem.

Besides, the results of her "inspiration" speak for themselves. Apparently, those who idolize her character are mostly "inspired" to attack every person who disagrees with them as "racists" and "misogynists". So apparently, the character isn't really that great in inspiring the best from her fans...

OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 7:32am (UTC -6)
@Trent
"The entire episode feels like an attempt to write the franchise out of some bad ideas introduced in season 1: so here we have the loss of holograms in favor for flat screens, Saru losing his ganglia and Discovery's slow losing of its spore drive."

Personally, I think Saru's original background was one the few good (and original) bits of characterization in Discovery.
BZ
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 10:43am (UTC -6)
One question I don't think anyone has asked yet is what Saru's change implies given what happened in "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum" last season. From what little we see of the "new" Saru in this episode, he doesn't seem mentally unstable or super-selfish like he was in that episode (although it does seem like he is willing to disregard the Prime Directive to reach out to his people again). Maybe Saru's new state is not the same as the one in that episode, but those events should at least be brought up and hand-waved if they're not going to be explored in future episodes.
Charles J
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 11:31am (UTC -6)
@OTDP

"Wasn't it Burnham who committed mutiny and attempted to start a war with the Klingons in "The Vulcan Hello"? When that's your introduction to a character that's supposed to be "a symbol of strong morals", then you have a problem."

Burnham was trying to save lives when she mutinied. She also wanted to avoid conflict with the Klingons when she tried to shoot first*. Those are moral acts. Moral people can, and often do, make bad choices for the right reasons.

Also, Burnham reexamines her choices and takes personal responsibility. That's a key aspect of being a moral person.

What she did was unethical. She violated her oaths, as well as the explicit and implicit codes of Star Fleet. But, making an unethical decision doesn't make one immoral. Nor, does being ethical make one moral.

It could be argued that Star Fleet sticking to its principles was ethical, yet immoral, because it did lead to the immediate deaths of thousands.

* A recommendation that she didn't come up with on her own. She went to Sarek, who is an ambassador, for advice. Advice that was based on the experience Vulcan's had dealing with the Klingons.

"Apparently, those who idolize her character are mostly "inspired" to attack every person who disagrees with them as "racists" and "misogynists". So apparently, the character isn't really that great in inspiring the best from her fans."

Yeah, I'm going to say this is a gross oversimplification. Your own points about Burnham's morality are a good example, because they weren't made in good faith.

Kirk routinely makes decisions in TOS and the movies based on his own personal morality. He violates the ethics and codes of Star Fleet just as often as he adheres to them. Wrath of Khan is in part an examination of this. It's made him a legendary Captain and Admiral, but at what cost?

Trek has had multiple episodes in which characters have had to contend with the moral and ethical choices they made. Are people tearing Riker a new one for what he did in The Pegasus? Are people dragging Worf through the mud because he didn't identify a vessel before he shot at it in Rules of Engagement (and what if that ship had been full of civilians)? When Picard decides to save the planet in Pen Pals, do people begrudge him for making a moral choice, even if it violates the Prime Directive?

There are elements of misogyny and racism in some of the critiques of Burnham. Not because all the critiques don't have some merit, but because some of those critiques aren't applied with the same rigor to other characters. Or, at all.

They are being applied as if Burnham is either the first character in Star Trek who isn't the ideal Star Fleet officer. Or, that she's the least professional officer to ever step on the bridge of a star ship. Even though, across 700 episodes, we've seen characters make decisions similar to Burnham's. Sisko poisons an entire planet for goodness sake. He ultimately decides that assassinating a Romulan and killing a forger was worth it if it will save thousands of lives. Then he deletes his log.

Almost no character in Star Trek hasn't had some moral failing, made morally ambiguous choices, or violated the ethics of Star Fleet. Be it in their past, or in the "present" experience of the show.

There would be no drama if the characters weren't constantly wrestling with their moral and ethical choices. They'd be flat and lifeless.

Folks don't have to like Burnham. They can be put off by her personality. But, when they say she represents the worst of Star Trek, I have to question what franchise they've been watching. You either have to have not being paying attention. Or, you're actively putting up blindspots just to make this one character seem worse than she actually is.

Let's put it this way. Ask yourself this question: If it was Captain Kirk, would he have advocated for shooting first? If it was Kirk straight out of the academy? If it was Admiral Kirk?

Based on what we know of him, that answer isn't automatically yes he would, or no he wouldn't. But, is he capable of it? Yes, yes he is. Because, his moral code is one what would allow him to pull the trigger if he thought it would save lives. Does that make him a terrible character? No, it makes him Kirk.

Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if Kirk would be the contrarian, advocating for Burnham's thought process. He may not defend all her choices, but a young Kirk seems like someone who would understand what was going through Burnham's mind.
Chrome
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 11:58am (UTC -6)
@Charles J

Fascinating discussion. One point that's interesting about Kirk is he's absolutely willing to buck the system if he thinks it's in the best interests of everyone. I remember one of the solid critiques of TNG in its early days was that Picard and Riker were too "goody two shoes" and spent more time laboring to follow protocol than actually solving problems. Of course, I think Picard and Riker come into their own and fans have come to accept that, but it's always been a creative battle in Star Trek. It's funny, because I think you could argue they went too far in trying to correct Picard to be more like Kirk where you start getting these weird mischaracterizations in the movies. The plot of Star Trek: Insurrection seems downright crazy compared to the series proper, and it might just be that they wanted to capture more of the TOS era.

"To hell with our orders!" Was that really Data talking?
Trek fan
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 12:04pm (UTC -6)
IMHO Kirk would not fire the first shot in the scenario set up in the Vulcan Hello. In the ep Arena he was quite disturbed at the possibility the Federation may have been the aggressor against the Gorn (intentional or not is unknown). Is he quick to draw a phaser? Yes. Would he open fire on a Klingon vessel that has not fired on him, based solely on a Vulcan course of action taken in a different circumstance? Don't think so.
RumbleRed
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 12:06pm (UTC -6)
@BZ

Finally! I was waiting for someone to point that out! Saru has lost his fear before, and made it quite clear that he wasn't under any insidious mind control, that's just how he was when he wasn't being constantly burdened by his biology screaming at him. If anything, the crew should be wary of this turn of events.

Guy went from "huh, I'm finally not afraid" to throwing people around like ragdolls in the space of an episode.
Yair
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 12:14pm (UTC -6)
@Stargazer,

They obviously ran _some_ medical scans all this time. They couldn't possible recruit a complete unknown into Starfleet, and sickbay did get a little out of him. If Starfleet knows nothing, than Saru should have never been allowed to beam into any planet, since the local conditions could have killed him immediately for all anyone knows. Lets face it, we don't know whether Starfleet could have cured the condition Saru thought he has and the characters not even trying is a plot hole since they obviously care for him.

Also, you're ignoring the bigger issue, that it wasn't clear at all Saru was dying even before the twist. The only thing sickbay said was that Saru had a lot of adrenaline and that he was in a enough pain to make a human pass out (it isn't clear to me whether the pain was related to Saru's 'death state' or the orb's death throes reflected into Saru's empathy or the orb's attempts to communicate, it's possible he wasn't in pain by the time he was in his quarters because the orb was gone). The only person who said Saru was dying was Saru, and he apparently has zero medical knowledge.
Mertov
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 12:25pm (UTC -6)
Rumble Red and BZ,
Great points. I remember Saru being deeply regretful in sickbay (or at least expressing alarm) over his own behavior on the planet in "Si Vis Pacem," after his first experience with not living with constant fear. I would think that he learned something from that. I also wonder if the Ba'ul are actually 'enlightened' Kelpiens which would bring in a sinister angle on that race, but would be consistent with what we know of Kelpiens (according to Saru). If so, it would put Saru in a unique position to tackle the issue of the two extreme existences. We shall see if this angle is explored in future episodes.
Jason R.
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 1:31pm (UTC -6)
"Burnham was trying to save lives when she mutinied. She also wanted to avoid conflict with the Klingons when she tried to shoot first*. Those are moral acts. Moral people can, and often do, make bad choices for the right reasons. "

Ahem you are talking about the mutiny, but that was the least of Burnham's crimes. Did you forget her willfully murdering the Klingon leader (turning her phaser to *kill* from stun) 10 minutes after breathlessly imploring Giergiou to capture rather thank kill him, because the latter would plunge the Federation into interstellar war?

What was the moral to that act? Willfully murdering a head of state out causing war that would kill millions is okeedokee if it's for a noble cause like revenge? Whoops - did they really mean to have her do that?
Thomas
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 2:07pm (UTC -6)
KIRK: I know your father's the Vulcan Ambassador for heaven's sake, but you know how I feel about this. They're animals!
SPOCK: Jim, there is an historic opportunity here.
KIRK: Don't believe them! Don't trust them!
SPOCK: They are dying.
KIRK: Let them die!
Tim C
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 2:46pm (UTC -6)
Jason R, way to complete divorce a situation from its emotional context. In "The Vulcan Hello"/"Battle At The Binary Stars", Burnham's in a fraught state by the time she pulls the trigger on T'Kuvma. In a very short period of time, she's accidentally killed in self-defence, been severely injured, and then advised by her father to take a (rather logical, in my view) course of action that puts her in direct opposition to her mentor. And through all of this, she is directly confronted with some serious past childhood trauma.

She's *on edge*, and just as she seems to be making tottering steps towards amends with Captain Georgiou - whom she clearly idolises - Georgiou is killed. She's just lost not only her career but someone she loves. Taking revenge on T'Kuvma may not be justifiable, but it's sure as hell understandable.

Furthermore, Burnham is severely punished for these choices, and blamed by a majority of her colleagues for a long time thereafter for kicking off the war (even though it was very likely going to come to that point anyway). It is a slow path to redemption for her through season 1. Personally I don't think it was entirely earned by the writers, but the artistic intentions are clear and I think it was one of the more compelling ideas of the debut.
Peter G.
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 2:50pm (UTC -6)
@ Thomas,

Are you trying to say that it's the same thing to pre-preemptively ATTACK someone you suspect may be hostile rather than to seek a dialogue, as compared to declining to stick your neck out and risk your crew to help an enemy that may double cross you and kill you for trying? These are so far apart that it's ridiculous.

That being said Kirk is not entirely in the right here, and his concern about the Klingons comes from his son being murdered by then, not from the command principles we saw in TOS. He is a much more wounded person by the time of STVI. To whatever extent his attitude at the beginning of STVI comes from a place of pain rather than principle, the entire movie is about exactly that. In "The Vulcan Hello" there is basically no content about Burnham's wrongness and what she has to learn in order to realize why she was wrong. Since she never learns much of anything in S1 the comparison seems especially odious to me.
Trek fan
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 2:54pm (UTC -6)
Kirk ultimately did not let them die. After the testy conversation with Spock he went along with the peace initiative, to the point of not firing on Chang's ship and not raising shields when the battle cruiser was bearing down on the Enterprise at point blank range.
Clark
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 3:29pm (UTC -6)
A lot of good in this episode. Good character development, interested to see how Saru changes after this since he was kind of one note by default. Tig makes a good foil for Stammets and her presence helped to balance the absurdity of the mycelial network plot. Could pick nits but not worth it, I liked the episode. 3/4 for me.
Jason R.
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 3:30pm (UTC -6)
"Taking revenge on T'Kuvma may not be justifiable, but it's sure as hell understandable."

Ummm. Alright let me try to respond as best I can here. In some quarters it would be understandable. In a criminal law context, for instance, I do feel the fact of T'Kuvma's just murdering her mentor before her eyes might justify some kind of temporary insanity defence. At a minimum it might justify a court having some leniency on her in sentensing.

But let's be clear: in the foregoing posts someone claimed that she made a "moral choice" (murder?) for the "right reason" (revenge?!) and before that, someone implied that Burnham was some kind of role model for peopke today wantkng to go into the sciences etc...

What makes the whole thing doubly egregious is that Burnham knows completely the consequence of killing T'Kumveh because she said it herself in the same episode. Preventing war was allegedly the reason for her mutiny, and she betrays that goal explicitly, with eyes wide open when she switches her phaser to kill and shoots him in the back.

This isn't "to hell with orders". This isn't Kirk being angry and skeptical if peace with Klingons or even Sisko poisoning a planet (killing no one but forvcong its evacuation) This isn't even Sisko (unknowingly) murdering a Romulan Senator to save the Federation. This is naked selfish revenge due to personal failure of character. Could it get her an acquittal in court if she had a good lawyer? Maybe. Is this an f-in role model? Good god no.

And if the show acknowledged the implications of this decision, if there was some serious consideration of Burnham's weakness of character I'd be intrigued. Does it ever do that? NOT talking about the mutiny now - talking about the *murder*. Does it? Well?
MadManMUC
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 3:53pm (UTC -6)
@Jason R et al: Just to add to the problem of the Burnham character: S01 was so fucking poorly plotted and written, that — really — at no time in the progress of that season did she ever earn her redemption. Not in any realistic way. There was no visible remorse. No humility. Nothing.

If anything, the actor — because she's a wooden, talentless hack — portrayed the character as actually looking as though she was the victim, sarcastically delivering her lines that were probably meant to convey contrition ... insofar as the gormless writers thought they know how to write it.

So, by the time the finale rolls around, she's somehow Saint Michael again, without the character, the actor, or the writers having earned this.

Come S02, aaaaaaaaall of that is forgotten, and she's allowed to be the know-it-all Mary Sue she was originally written to be, re-instated to rank and position, and utterly implausibly and smugly lecturing her way through episodes week after week.

So between this and all of her other aforementioned faults — and so very scant redeeming qualities — this isn't a role model I would want any kid to have.
John Harmon
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 3:57pm (UTC -6)
I really don’t like this argument that Michael Burnham was completely distraught over her captain being killed and that’s why she killed T’Kuvma.

She had him dead to rights with her phaser. She could have stunned him and beamed him back to their ship. She paused for several seconds, silent and calm, then switched the phaser to kill, then shot the dude right in the chest. She straight up committed murder. Yeah he killed Georgiou. Which means she should have been even more determined to complete her mission to get justice for her death.

If she was so emotionally unstable that she just entirely drops her mission because someone in her away team dies, why was she on that mission? Why is she in Starfleet at all? It was a terrible way to start the series. With competent writing, you could make that scenario work, but the way it’s presented is laughable.
Steven
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 4:04pm (UTC -6)
Jason R., forget criminal law. Imagine if a foreign warship sailed in proximity of Rockall (UK territorial waters) and started jamming English radio signals. The Royal Navy came to investigate it but her crew was assaulted by people on the warship. Wouldn't there be a pretty heavy case that the Royal navy had a right to retaliate with deadly force?
Jason R.
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 4:11pm (UTC -6)
"Jason R., forget criminal law. Imagine if a foreign warship sailed in proximity of Rockall (UK territorial waters) and started jamming English radio signals. The Royal Navy came to investigate it but her crew was assaulted by people on the warship. Wouldn't there be a pretty heavy case that the Royal navy had a right to retaliate with deadly force?"

Well the scenario you are describing is comparable to Burnham killing that Klingon while space walking on the Coffin ship - which nobody disputes was self-defence. You do realize that's not the incident we are talking about, right?
Steven
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 4:15pm (UTC -6)
You're talking about a continuation of the same engagement. The ships didn't pull away and declare a cease-fire.
Jason R.
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 4:22pm (UTC -6)
Fair enough Steven. And to be clear, Burnham's chief sin wasn't murder per say. I mean okay, she was a sdier and he was a hostile attacker after all.

No the chief sin was the murder *as an act of willfully blowing up her mission* the very same mission that she implored Giorgiou to go on to prevent a war. Burnham is the one who explained the dire consequences of killing T'Kumveh. The writers could have made the implications less clear, could have used another character to explain this but they chose Burnham. They chose to make her unambiguously the one who chose an act that *she believed* would start a war that could kill millions. In a situation, no less, when just pulling the trigger on stun would have completed the mission and saved all those lives.

This is the corner they wrote themselves into with this character. There is no rationalizing out of that box.

And you know what, I would have completed the damned mission. Most people, even everyday shmoes would have. Burnham's choice was appalling. A role model? Good god!
Quincy
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 5:18pm (UTC -6)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi

The Klingons started the conflict when they attempted to kill her and she killed one of them in self-defense. She was attempting to stop the war with a Vulcan Hello. Would it have worked? Who knows? They quickly became outnumbered, so it's up in the air. It's a good bet standard Starfleet protocols wouldn't have fared any better. The Klingons were already gearing up for war.
Tim C
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 8:55pm (UTC -6)
I'm curious how those damning Burnham forever for killing T'Kuvma feel about Data trying to murder Fajo in "The Most Toys"?
John Harmon
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 12:20am (UTC -6)
They’re completely incongruous scenarios.
Peter G.
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 2:01am (UTC -6)
@ Tim C,

If you're going to try to argue a point (and it's great to do so!) then you'd best try first to actually sort of what it is people are saying before you argue against it. Nobody is damning Burnham for committing a murder. Indeed, there could be a very nice way to explore how a character deals with doing a murder, and how they might get past that and reform. The actual critiques have nothing to do with her being a murderer. They have to do with the idea that she's supposed to be a role model; and further, that despite having done a murder and never shown repentance for it we're suppose to think she learned something from it and it now a wonderful person.

The Most Toys is not Data's character per se but is about asking how high the stakes would have to be before it's legitimate to kill someone not in self defense. What if you know for certain they will kill others if you do nothing? Or to put it in the most extreme form, would you kill Hitler, knowing what he'd do later? I don't know if there's an easy answer, and certainly in Data's case we don't get follow-up episodes to deal with it because the show wasn't allowed episodic continuity. But if you've read the discussion on the thread for that episode you'll see that there is some debate about what Data's actions meant.

However on a serialized show to have a blatant murder, which, as Jason R. puts it, also happened to scuttle a mission and start a war, and then to have no postmortem discussion about it, no repentance, no weighing the decision, even that would be ok narratively if she was subsequently treated as a suspect character. The galling thing, I think, is chiefly that we're expected to view her as the voice of reason and the wisest of them all when clearly she's the most depraved and most in need of help. They have the whole thing ass-backwards. And make no mistake, we would have greatly enjoyed a story about a murderer who needs to slowly learn Starfleet's lessons from inside the pit in order to climb back out again.
Tim C
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 2:10am (UTC -6)
Murder's murder, isn't it?
Tim C
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 2:16am (UTC -6)
Peter G, you must be kidding. Burnham's paying the price for killing T'Kuvma is one of the major story threads of season one. No repentance?!?! She goes to prison! She thinks she *deserves to go back*! Throughout the season, she willingly throws herself into dangerous situations in an attempt to atone for her actions, despite the fact she's technically not obligated to do a damn thing.

The story wasn't executed as well as it could have been, but it was there. No offence, but if you didn't pick that up watching the show, you need to watch it again.

Also, John Harmon wrote that she "straight up committed murder" like that was a count against her. Personally, I reckon T'Kuvma deserved what he got, and the idea that the war wouldn't have happened without its chief advocate is... problematic, at best.
Yair
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 3:17am (UTC -6)
@Tim C

Burnham was sent to prison for the mutiny alone and for no other crime ("For the charge of mutiny, it is our ruling that the defendant be stripped of rank and hereby sentenced to imprisonment for life."). Perhaps she didn't tell them of what she did to T'Kuvma and of the implications thereof (some repentance that is). Alternatively, maybe she did tell them and Starfleet found no fault (which is dubious considering Burnham herself thought it would lead to the deaths of many).

Either way, she's never punished or (as far as we know) even examined regarding T'Kuvma,, and whenever she tells people she kills T'Kuvma she tells it matter of factly, there's no trace of any self-examination going on.

Furthermore, Burnham is obligated to act as an officer. According to Burnham herself (in "Si Vis Pacem"), her release was temporary in order to serve in the war, and her sentence will resume after. If she stopped serving, Starfleet would have no doubt resumed her sentence earlier.
Yair
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 3:28am (UTC -6)
"kills T'Kuvma" should be "killed T'Kuvma " of course.
Booming
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 3:37am (UTC -6)
Burnham killed T'Kuvma yes. But the Burnham haters should maybe rewatch the scene which I just did and first of all she shoots T'Kuvma the very moment he stabs georgiou. So it is defense of a third party. And she just came out of a dangerous struggle with another Klingon. No court on this planet would charge her for shooting him the a second after he stabs her captain.
Seriously guys get a grip.
Tim C
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 4:38am (UTC -6)
Yair, she's not obligated to do jack. She could indeed go back to prison rather than continually risking her life on dangerous missions with the Disco surrounded by people who have shunned her; it's a conscious choice to do so, and one that's redemptive in of itself.

As for not showing any self-examination... leaving aside the fact that she's Vulcan-raised and not exactly prone to extroversion regarding her feelings, what exactly are you expecting? She killed the person who killed her mentor - a violent religious fanatic hell bent on starting a war, at that. If she feels anything, it's probably a sense of justice done - hence my earlier Data comparison.

I'm not particularly interested in discussions about whether or not what she did was technically murder. (For the record, I reckon it totally was and absolutely justified.) I'm more interested in finding out why some people seem to feel so damn judgmental about it. I serve in the military myself; the shit that Burnham goes through in the Disco premiere would break almost anyone, and I've known people who've fallen apart over far less.

Seems to me the armchair critics could stand to ask themselves how they would handle a similar situation. I suspect they'd have a reaction like Data: "I cannot allow this to continue".
Peter G.
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 5:00am (UTC -6)
@ Tim C,

"Yair, she's not obligated to do jack. She could indeed go back to prison rather than continually risking her life on dangerous missions with the Disco surrounded by people who have shunned her; it's a conscious choice to do so, and one that's redemptive in of itself."

She wanted to serve in Starfleet anyhow; it wasn't some sacrifice to continue to do so. You think it's a penance to allow someone to keep doing what they always wanted to do anyhow? That's like saying a teacher that violates a student serves penance by continuing to teach when they could just as soon have quit. The penance is *not* doing the thing you always dreamed of!

"the shit that Burnham goes through in the Disco premiere would break almost anyone, and I've known people who've fallen apart over far less."

What did she go through? All I can think of initially is that she had to defend herself in a quick close quarters encounter. I doubt this is enough to break most soldiers, although perhaps for a human (not a Vulcan!) it would shake them up some if it was their first combat. Past that, we immediately get into the ship to ship standoff, where Burnham mutinies in order to strike first. Are you saying that in your professional experience as a soldier that your average soldier would break orders, knock out their CO, and order a first strike against a *potential* hostile without consulting a superior? I'll follow this up in a moment:

"Seems to me the armchair critics could stand to ask themselves how they would handle a similar situation. I suspect they'd have a reaction like Data: "I cannot allow this to continue"."

I know you're talking here about once Burnham is on the Klingon ship, but backtrack a bit to the mutiny and order to fire first, because the events you're describing are a desperate attempt to dial back what Burhnam wanted to escalate in the first place. Do you believe most soldiers would have done the same as her and decided to fire first, even putting aside the mutiny angle? Would they have broken under these extraordinary circumstances? In case you
are thinking of saying yes, I'll remind you of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a not dissimilar event except that in the case of the CMC the stakes were far (FAR!) higher. So much higher, in fact, that there literally could not be a more tense situation imaginable, and I don't use that phrase lightly. And nobody in that scenario felt the uncontrollable urge to fire first, and certain persons even took extra measures to prevent their side firing first. This is exhibit A on how much self-control real-life humans have even under top-tier tension. And the Russians were every bit as feared as the Klingons here, with the proviso that the Klingons never had the capability to wipe out all human life with one button.

The one thing I'll grant about the events *following* this is that, once on the Klingon ship, seeing her mentor die could cause someone to break, and if Burnham did then she should require counseling. I also suspect that should would have gotten the insanity plea and gone into rehabilitation, rather than being sentenced as if she did what she did with full knowledge of her acts. Since she accepted her sentence I take this to be testimony by her that she did not break but knew what she was doing (at least regarding the mutiny). However I find the argument generally dubious that your average soldier would lose it after having volunteered for the equivalent of a high stakes black ops mission. Don't think groundpounder right out of basic: think Navy Seals. You don't volunteer for that kind of mission (or even insist on it) if you'll totally lose it when your teammate dies. That shows a general unfitness. And regarding whether she was actually justified in the killing, do you believe, as a military man, that it's justified to break orders in the heat of the moment for revenge, on the grounds that "it was a bad guy anyhow"? In your experience, what would happen to a soldier who knowingly defied the CO's orders in the field?
Peter G,
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 5:01am (UTC -6)
Just for clarity in my last post, "quick close quarters encounter" was meant to describe the first surprise incident with a Klingon when Burnham defends herself.
Yair
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 5:20am (UTC -6)
@Tim C,

That's a very technical definition of 'obligated'. If someone put a gun to my head, I guess you'd say I could 'choose' to my head blown out. Burnham's choice was between forced labour for life in a dilithium mine (strongly implied to be very dangerous, they talk about an 'accident' killing 50 convicts) and possibly redeeming herself in Starfleet serving as she did before, or at least serving in a place where she's not confined, not forced to do dangerous labour or to live with the type of people who go to that type of prison. That's a very easy choice.

The reason people are judgemental about killing T'Kuvma has little to do with the character himself. A slightly different setup and no one who have complained. It's about Burnham, who had an opportunity to fulfill her duty while preventing the deaths of millions (or at least she believed she had the chance) and chose to kill T'Kuvma instead (I am unable to review the scene right now, but that's certainly the impression I and many others got at the time). Now, there are extenuating circumstances, but she's supposedly an elite 'logical' Starfleet officer and we have higher expectations accordingly.
Tim C
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 5:26am (UTC -6)
Peter G, you can "highly doubt" all the things you like, but killing even a single person has very highly variable effects on different people, regardless of training, and this goes doubly so when it's accidental. (Recall Kira's horrified conversation with Dax when she's considering joining the Klingons in "Blood Oath".) Regardless, I don't cite it as the sole reason for what goes down thereafter.

Consider the sequence of events:

1) Unexpected fight for life, resulting in an accidental death.

2) Severe injury.

3) A high-stakes scenario, in which she's been given valid historical advice from her father on how to handle the Klingons: kick 'em in the teeth like junkyard dogs, as hard as you can. Amid the stress and tension of trying to figure how to make that stick in a Starfleet world, she's reminded of the reason she's adopted in the first place: Klingons murdered her parents while she listened. With justification, she fears for the life of her new Starfleet family.

4) She acts on that advice in an attempt to force the issue and prevent what she believes will be a greater tragedy. And yes, I've totally seen people make decisions on the fly in high stakes situations. Not as high stakes as *that* (because this is TV science fiction with spaceships that go pew pew and bloodthirsty warrior aliens), but I don't find it nearly as unlikely as you do.

The rest plays out as we've already discussed. You ask what would happen to someone who disobeyed orders like she did? They'd likely go to prison and get drummed out, *like she did*. But just because she acted outside the chain of command doesn't mean that her actions were unjust.

So let's boil this down. The diss on the character seems to be:

1) She killed T'Kuvma* in a moment of rage, so she can never be forgiven and never evolve into someone worthy of respect? How un-Star Trek an attitude.

*An utter dirtbag who deserved it, btw

2) She blew the mission, so she can never be forgiven and never learn from her mistake?

3) She mutinied, so she can never... ? You get my drift.

I love this idea that she's not a traditional Star Trek character because she's unethical or some shit. Let's not forget she's the one who leads the tardigrade away on the Glenn, she's the one who questions Lorca's methods and eventually liberates it, she's the one who insists on a dangerous mission to save Sarek, etc.

Burnham's a complicated character not given nearly enough credit, methinks.
Oirad
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 6:00am (UTC -6)
Just to chime in, I always thought one of the main problems of Discovery S1 was that it was not very clear what exactly Burnham was trying to get redemption for.

Lots of people (in the show) say that she started the war (Lorca says it explicitly in his first episode; and Burnham herself keeps track of the number of dead, seemingly endorsing this view). But in the premiere it was actually fairly clear that T'Kuvma basically forced the war and that Burnham (and Georgiu) just followed his script.

Unless the problem is killing T'Kuvma: but even not counting that we don't know if capturing him would have stopped the war (which, honestly, sounds doubtful), the only one to ever bring it up is the Klingon general, who (besides being the eviiiiiil adversary) is also trash-talking Burnham and is being an hypocrite since he had no intention of following T'Kuvma, but just wanted the war.

The mutiny is the other obvious answer (and would fit with the mutiny at the end of the season), but again it didn't really have consequences (it was stopped in, like, ten seconds) and was done clearly in a moment of distress (which just shows how poor was her self-control, not much her morality).

Or maybe it's the fact that she led her captain to the death (which would fit with the Emperor Georgiu storyline). Except that this arc doesn't really have a conclusion (or has an abhorrent conclusion, with letting the evil version of her captain free just because she feels guilty).

Or maybe it's planting bombs in the cadavers of the enemy to blow him up. Ops, no, sorry, they are evil so nobody cares.
wolfstar
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 6:39am (UTC -6)
I agree with Oirad - in S1 (which feels like a long time ago) the show kept telling us that Burnham was responsible for starting the war, when it was clear from the pilot episode that she wasn't. It feels like one of the inconsistencies resulting from the awkward transition between Fuller's original vision for the S1 arc and what it was turned into in his absence.
Jason R.
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 7:43am (UTC -6)
I really doubt that the average soldier would have broken like Burnham did or even the average person in general. But even if I am wrong on that point, Burnham isn't supposed to be average anything - she is the creme de la creme, the elite.

As for whether killing him actually made a difference to the war it's irrelevent because whatever the reality *she believed that killing him would make the war worse*. She is damned by her own clearly stated belief. That is what I mean when I say the writers forced her character into a box that she couldn't escape from. The writers just botched the story, spectacularly, irreparably.

As for the self defence theory, my recollection is that T'Kumvah stabbed Georgiou first. But even if he didn't, how is a stun setting less incapacitating than a kill setting? In Star Trek the two are effectively the same in putting someone down, unless it's a super soldier or an android or something, which T'Kumveh wasn't.

And I agree what others noted - the show addresses the *mutiny* but just ignores the implications of her killing T'Kumveh. Like I said the writers just botched it badly, and they basically tried to retcon yheir own character in the space of an episode.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 7:45am (UTC -6)
@Oirad
"Or maybe it's planting bombs in the cadavers of the enemy to blow him up. Ops, no, sorry, they are evil so nobody cares."

Say what?

Since when does "they are evil" justify committing war crimes?

@Booming
"Burnham killed T'Kuvma yes. But the Burnham haters should maybe rewatch the scene which I just did and first of all she shoots T'Kuvma the very moment he stabs georgiou. So it is defense of a third party."

Have you forgotten the fact that phasers have a stun setting? Burnham certainly didn't forget, as she deliberately changed her phaser from "stun" to "kill" before pulling the trigger.

And why do you use the term "Burnham haters"?

I, personally, don't hate her at all. I'm simply pointing out that raising Burnham to the pedestal of "an incredibly intelligent character with strong morals, honest emotions and an enduring love for science" (those were the
exact words used) is laughable. She's an action hero. Pure and simple.
Booming
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 8:17am (UTC -6)
@ Omicron: Who is raising her to that pedestal? Who here does that?
Being in a life or death struggle she amped the phaser up to eleven and shot the guy. Apparently Dis phaser only have two settings like Cardassian phasers. The stabbing and Burnham shooting him almost happened at the same time and it was not revenge because T'Kuvma was between her and Georgiou. She couldn't see that she Georgiou was stabbed and found out a few seconds later that Georgiou was in fact dead. Did anybody actually watch the scene?
On a general note. Yeah, I never bought the: "Burnham caused the war" narrative. That was pretty weak.
I also ask myself sometimes why for example Picard or Garak were never called Mary Sue (Marty Sue?)? Both characters who knew everything and were almost always right.
Oirad
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 8:24am (UTC -6)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi: I was sarcastic. Obviously the act is horrible, a crime of war, but the show doesn't care (and so, since it not seen as wrong, it can't really be something for which Burnham can seek/get redemption). Even Georgiu (who a few episodes later is said to be one of the best captains of Starfleet) doesn't bat an eyelid and goes along with the plan.
Jason R.
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 8:32am (UTC -6)
"I also ask myself sometimes why for example Picard or Garak were never called Mary Sue (Marty Sue?)? Both characters who knew everything and were almost always right."

I've come to the realization that while certain words may appropriately describe certain narrow situations, their use is almost always counter-productive and likely to inflame rather than enlighten. Their harm to civil discourse outweighs any marginal descriptive power they may have.

Mary Sue, like Mansplaining, belongs in this category.

Suffice it to say Burnham is a horrendous character, while Picard and Garek are not. It's as simple as that.
Yair
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 8:34am (UTC -6)
@Booming,

"I also ask myself sometimes why for example Picard or Garak were never called Mary Sue (Marty Sue?)? Both characters who knew everything and were almost always right. "

Lets see: Half of early TNG is Wesley Crusher saving the ship from stuff Picard couldn't deal with. Then Picard is forcibly turned into a Borg against his will. Err.. That's not Mar(t)y Sue at all.

Maybe Wesley Crusher was, but then they simply called such characters "Wesley Crusher". And he met such hatred that makes the current complaints regarding Michael Burnham look tame. Nobody is going to create a fan forum dedicated to the Michael's death (the infamous 'alt.wesley.crusher.die.die.die' newsgroup) .
Booming
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 8:48am (UTC -6)
@ Jason R. I wouldn't call her character horrendous but it is certainly not a great or good one. And that she (had to?) frown most of the first season certainly didn't help.
@ Yair: Isn't Burnham wrong sometimes. During the last episode she almost killed Saru. And we have a whole debate here how wrong it was to shoot T'Kuvma. She also saved evil Georgiou. She destroyed here relationsship with Spock. She sought Sareks advice several times when she wasn't sure what to do. What is a Mary Sue then? Just a woman who is right 80% of the time?
Chrome
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 8:55am (UTC -6)
Say what you will, but I think Wesley’s a great character :-)
MadManMUC
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 9:05am (UTC -6)
@ Chrome:

'Say what you will, but I think Wesley’s a great character :-) '

The best I was able to get to was simply getting used to him. ;)

I blame the writers, though. Wil Wheaton — by all indications — is actually a top bloke, and he took all the Crusher-hate in stride, and that couldn't have been easy.
Peter G.
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 9:12am (UTC -6)
@ Booming,

"Isn't Burnham wrong sometimes. During the last episode she almost killed Saru. And we have a whole debate here how wrong it was to shoot T'Kuvma. She also saved evil Georgiou. She destroyed here relationsship with Spock. She sought Sareks advice several times when she wasn't sure what to do. What is a Mary Sue then? Just a woman who is right 80% of the time?"

We need to distinguish between what we, the viewers, think about her actions, versus what the writers are trying to get us to believe. Those aren't the same thing much of the time in this series, I feel. Of all the things you listed (I haven't watched S2 at all so I can only speak about S1) *I* agree that she did bad things. But the way others on the show defer to her I'm 99% certain that she's meant to be portrayed as being correct. Who on the show chewed her out for saving Mirror Georgiou, for instance? On the contrary, "Starfleet" (meaning Cornwall and Sarek, who represent all of Starfleet) approved of it and even used her instrumentally in their plans. Shooting T'Kuvma? Never mentioned again by anyone. Saru? Portrayed as doing what she thought best, no doubt. For the Spock stuff, would you like to lay down money that it's revealed that she behaved charitably towards him and it was his own "issues" that caused their rift? From what I've read of the reviews it sounds like Spock is being built up to be a big troublemaker, maybe who later reforms. In other words, they're writing him to be what Burnham actually is but the writers pretend she isn't. Maybe that's called projection.

One thing is clear: their agenda throughout S1 was to portray Burnham as being the one voice of reason, the only one who could do what no one else could, the only savior of the tardigrade, the savior of the MU, the savior of Earth (and bane of the Klingons), Whatever else we may say of her - like her, hate her, whatever - I believe it's beyond dispute that she was meant to be understood to be the best at everything and the hero of the day whenever occasion needed. She's the Captain America of the ST universe. But I agree with you that she was, in fact, wrong many times. What I disagree about is that the writers were aware of it. I'm pretty darn sure they weren't, or when they *became* aware of it they tried to whitewash it and pretend it never happened.
Chrome
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 9:31am (UTC -6)
@MadManMUC

I blame the writers for "Journey's End", but "First Duty" is top notch. It's easy to say Patrick Stewart is a great actor, but I think he needed a childish foil like Wesley to break his pompous image, and Wil Wheaton can play a childish character.
Booming
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 10:02am (UTC -6)
@Peter G. The whole Mirror Georgiou thing makes no sense. I'm not a fan of that whole plotline. I don't remember much from the first season but I think that during the first few episodes Burnham was shunned by most on the ship and hadn't Lorca recruited here mostly because he was just an evil crazy person she would have worked herself to death somewhere. And Sarek is here father who also advised her to do what she did. And about the scene with Saru. Yeah sure she did what she thought was best. Don't we all?
And about Spock. I fear that the second season which so far is a considerable improvement will implode when he shows up.
About the Tradigrade. Lorca was evil and she went against that which kind of makes sense because at that point what did she have to lose. And no I did not perceive her as being the best at everything. She outperforms most other humans when it comes to knowledge, yes, but I always thought that was because of her Vulcan education which is supposed to be pretty intense I believe.
And what you believe about the writers intentions is just speculation, isn't it?
BZ
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 2:19pm (UTC -6)
In retrospect, it's obvious that Lorca hired Michael because he needed her in the MU. Note how reluctant he was to put her in harm's way in S1.
Yanks
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 6:35pm (UTC -6)
Didn't Lorca have the hots for her?
spinalatte
Tue, Feb 12, 2019, 10:51pm (UTC -6)
I liked this one. I held my breath for the "death scene" but it was better than I was expecting. I am interested in seeing what this will do for the character development for Suru as well as his species.

Without echoing too much of what has been said, I like that we are starting to see the crew develop, have meetings and have a role on the ship. I am still confused about the spore stuff, and now the blob-Tilley stuff, but we shall see what happens to this next week. I still think Pike is solid, although he was a little less intellectual about the sphere than I would have anticipated. I thought Burnham is better this season, but still seems to be involved deeply in everything going on in the universe at the moment.
John Harmon
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 12:12am (UTC -6)
For those saying there’s a lot about season 1 they can’t remember (myself included), there’s a reason for that. It’s the Alex Kurtzman style of writing. Jangle keys in front of your face so you’re too distracted to remember that none of what you’re watching makes any sense. Here’s a great article about it:

https://crudereviews.net/2019/01/23/discovery-in-depth-continuity-and-the-shelby-method/
Quincy
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 1:26am (UTC -6)
I just find it interesting that people indict Burnham for killing T'Kuvma, but I didn't see anyone here mention what Riker did in "The Vengeance Factor." People actually defend his actions, saying he had no choice. These arguments fall flat on their face when we can watch the exact sequence of events and SEE that he had a choice.

He beams down and stuns one of the target's bodyguards. He's not much farther from the target than the assassin. Instead of advancing immediately, he simply stands there and points his phaser at her. Clearly, when he stuns her, she doubles over in severe pain and is knocked backwards a step. He stuns her again and she's not only knocked backwards a step, but she sinks to her knees, leaving him PLENTY of time to run over there and grab her or the target or at least position himself between them.

Riker just stands there. Had he kept stunning her repeatedly, while advancing, she would've been incapacitated long enough to reach her and physically stop her. He doesn't even make the attempt. Telling her target, "stay perfectly still," instead of "get the hell out of the way!" was incredibly stupid.

This is NOT debatable. The authors clearly mean for us to conclude Riker had no choice. However, that's NOT what's on the screen. What's shown is so demonstrably retarded it's ridiculous. Riker had numerous choices. 1) Beam down with a whole security detail. If one phaser hurt her enough to buckle her to her knees, 6 phasers on stun would've taken her down. 2) Fire on stun repeatedly and rapidly. 3) Bring Data, who can move at superhuman speed. 4) Beam down between the assassin and the target. 5) Advance immediately instead of standing there looking retarded. 6) Beam her ass up, instead of beaming down in the first place.

These are just some of the choices he had. I can only conclude he'd already decided to kill her, despite these obvious, numerous alternatives, if she refused to surrender, just like most police officers would today. Riker was not emotionally compromised, as Burnham was, by both her mentor and captain's death AND her prior history with the Klingons. There is simply no excuse for the ending of this episode, yet people defend it by and large. Go and watch it on daily motion and tell me that's not one of the most retarded endings of any TNG episode. Riker doesn't take any heat for this.

I understand that Burnham's actions had more ramifications, due to failing her mission to stop the war that the KLINGONS started. However, her actions are clearly emotionally compromised. And while she shouldn't get a pass I don't think she should be utterly vilified the way people are doing.
wolfstar
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 2:49am (UTC -6)
You're absolutely right, but in the case of TNG, one badly written episode with a misguided, choreographed ending fortunately doesn't bleed over into any other episode of the series. Whereas Burnham shooting T'Kuvma in the pilot episode was foundational to the series (and presented as if it had been foundational to the war, even though it's not the reason the war started).

I absolutely don't indict Burnham for it because I don't consider her a consistent character – Discovery is a "ride" show and Burnham is something like a non-playable avatar for the audience, so as written, she simply carries out whatever actions are required to drive the plot forward.
Yair
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 2:54am (UTC -6)
@Booming,

I meant that fans were perfectly capable of hating on a male character which was thought to be annoying and have undue plot powers. The attempts to blame any critic of Burnham with sexism are tiring.

Aside, people here keep saying Sarek told her to do the Vulcan Hello. Check out what Sarek actually said. He keeps warning her (not to let her history get in the way, that what worked for Vulcan might not work for humans...) and Michael needs to prod him repeatedly to get an answer from him. We don't need a high EQ to see that Sarek does NOT want humans or the Federation to follow the same path. (come to think about it, did this even work for the Vulcans given that they are members of the Federations and Klingons are perfectly fine attacking it?)
OmicronThetaDelta
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 6:52am (UTC -6)
@Quincy

I agree regarding Riker and "The Vengeance Factor". He definitely shouldn't get a pass.

As for Burnham: I'm not vilifying her (though a case can be made that the entire Federation in DSC S1 behave very much as villains). I'm simply saying that she is not the moral role model that many people (including the writers) try to make her.

BTW Riker wasn't written as a particular role model either. That's what Picard was for :-)
Jason R.
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 8:41am (UTC -6)
"The authors clearly mean for us to conclude Riker had no choice. However, that's NOT what's on the screen. "

It is a little muddier than you imply. Just her touch was deadly, so arguably, Riker could not risk her shrugging off the stun (which she already showed superhuman resistence to) long enough to lay a fingernail on this guy.

But I agree it was awkwardly presented.

But remember, TNG was episodic, not serialized. As you said, it was obvious that the writers intended Riker to have no choice. Riker's actions in TVF do not carry through the series anymore than Janeway turning into a lizard and making lizard babies with Tom in Threshold carried through Voyager.

We hear constantly about Burnham's mutiny in S1 but never her deliberately killing T'Kumveh out of revenge and throwing away her mission to capture him and stop the war. I wonder why? *cough* retcon.
Booming
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 9:32am (UTC -6)
@ Yair: If you meant me with your comment about how every critic of the Burnham character is called sexist. I was talking about comments that Burnham is a Mary Sue. I have no problem with critiquing the character. If you want to make wild accusations about people you disagree with you should at least name names.
@Jason R. In the scene there was no reason for revenge when she killed the klingon. From her point of view she couldn't see him stabbing her and only a few seconds after she shot him Saru told her that Georgiou had no life signs. Admittedly this could all be because of bad writing because there would still be the question: Why did she kill him? And if it was supposed to have happened because she was just on an adrenaline rush during a battle to the death then they didn't bother to mention that... or maybe they did. I really don't remember much.
Jason R.
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 9:38am (UTC -6)
So Booming your alternate theory is that Burnham just decided to change the setting from stun to kill and shoot a man in the back who had *not* killed her mentor?
Booming
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 11:10am (UTC -6)
@ Jason R. Georgiou wasn't dead when Burnham shot T'Kuvma. Why did she set the phaser on kill? Rage maybe. Watch the scene. It is kind of confusing. I don't know if the scene is just written confusingly or maybe the execution was.
Trent
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 3:20pm (UTC -6)
Another nice link John Harmon. The author's review of the last episodes (https://crudereviews.net/2019/02/02/star-trek-discoverys-point-of-light-returns-to-fractal-stupidity/) are also funny.
Quincy
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 3:45pm (UTC -6)
@Jason R. "It is a little muddier than you imply. Just her touch was deadly, so arguably, Riker could not risk her shrugging off the stun (which she already showed superhuman resistence to) long enough to lay a fingernail on this guy."

Actually, it's not. Dr. Crusher states out loud that it was specifically engineered to kill a certain family and that it's perfectly safe if you don't have that DNA pattern. Therefore, any one of the alternatives I suggested would've worked. She was no danger to Riker, he could've ran over there while she sank to her knee. No matter what anyone says. She's not about to shout, "this isn't even my final form!" and suddenly turn from a super assassin into a super duper assassin. In order for what we see on the screen to occur, Riker had to decide 1) he and he alone was going down to handle the situation and 2) he was going to kill her if she did not cease and desist her assassination attempt. That's assholery 101, considering she was only going after people who wiped out her family. And not only that, people who were still raiding and killing people to this day.

@OmicronThetaDelta
That wasn't aimed at you. Your objections have been measured and reasonable. Others on here and elsewhere are acting like Burnham is the scum of the earth. Apologies for the misunderstanding.
BRiAN
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 3:54pm (UTC -6)
Hey well this was OK. New Eden was better but this one shows they can do a Star Trek episode when they actually try. MUCH better than last weeks..

Would have been more helpful to jetison the Tilly plot. It was too much in the episode to begin with, and its hard to really feel for a crew member dying when there are two of them placed in mortal danger at the same time in different plots. Also it felt like two seperate episodes happening at once.

Both overall.... ill take it. It at least felt like a trek episode in good ways and did enough to make it feel fresh. Im still hoping they can hit one out of the park with a concept that both is new in terms of sci fi and also new in terms of how it is filmed. But this is good enough for now.
BRiAN
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 4:03pm (UTC -6)
also... I cant help but comment on the irony of someone saying Prince wont be remebered in 100 years despite the fac tthey are watching a TV show sequel to a nearly 60 year old show...

I do happen to agree having two pop culture references in the same ep might be pushing it a little bit. BC the way the dialogue was presented implied all characters would know who Prince is imediately. But then again most people would know a yellow submarine reference so... who knows.

Although I can totally buy that in the future Space Oddity has become basically a children’s nursery rhyme.




Also ugh... what a dumb and overly violent head drilling scene. which again.... lost its power due to being too rushed and it’s proximity to Sarus death plot.
Yanks
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 6:05pm (UTC -6)
@ BRiAN,

"Also ugh... what a dumb and overly violent head drilling scene. which again.... lost its power due to being too rushed and it’s proximity to Sarus death plot."

I didn't think so at all. I thought it was well done. Stamets and Tilly play well off each other and Mary once again nailed it.
Jason R.
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 7:54pm (UTC -6)
"Actually, it's not. Dr. Crusher states out loud that it was specifically engineered to kill a certain family and that it's perfectly safe if you don't have that DNA pattern. Therefore, any one of the alternatives I suggested would've worked. She was no danger to Riker, "

Not talking about Riker, talking about the warlord guy. She was literally two feet away from him and if she so much as touched him with the tip of her finger it would be instant death. Heck, she was within spitting distance and presumably a dot of her saliva would have been fatal. If you were the guy, would you want Riker to stun her (rather than kill) if the stun had already failed to put her down? All I can say is that if she launched a lugie at his face 1/2 second before collapsing from the stun Starfleet would be facing a hell of a negligence lawsuit from the dude's family or clan or whatever.

You know what I've convinced myself. I was wrong to think (as you do) that Riker killing her was unnecessary. He did what he had to do.
Robert
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 8:44pm (UTC -6)
Well put, Quincy.
Quincy
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 9:22pm (UTC -6)
@Jason R.

I didn't say you were talking about Riker. I'm explaining that, since Riker and anyone, but the target, were safe, he had any number of choices, which he intentionally abdicated BEFORE beaming down.

There is simply no excuse for not taking a full security detail down there. There's no excuse for not taking Data, who has superhuman speed down there. There's no excuse for not simply beaming her up instead of beaming down in the first place. There's no excuse for standing there looking retarded, instead of repeatedly stunning her to the ground, while advancing to a more secure location. There's no way to excuse what must have been Riker's decision BEFORE he beamed down. It's ridiculous to try.

I watched the episode a few hours ago. The guy was a murdering piece of crap, engaging in deadly raids that were ongoing, which is why the federation wanted to put a stop to it. What Riker did is akin to a prison guard killing another much less despicable inmate that he was romantically involved with, in order to protect Jeffrey Dahmer from being killed, when he had every opportunity to make another decision. You can't be as holier than thou as Star Trek sometimes attempts to make these characters out to be, while simultaneously making decisions like these. Your position is simply not credible. I'm glad you convinced yourself, cause you didn't convince anybody else.

@Robert
Thanks.
Peter G.
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 9:51pm (UTC -6)
@ Quincy,

I think you're really sidetracking from the main issue here, although to be fair Jason R. is also suggesting a side issue, which is that maybe Riker was justified given what we see. But I for one am willing to grant that what we see in The Vengeance Factor was botched straight-up. I'm 100% convinced that the writing and directing meant for us to accept that there was literally no other way to stop Yuta. The fact that you (and I) see that there was another way is a technical storytelling gaff, and I will be the first to back you up that this was a shame because otherwise I think I know what they were getting at.

The story was *supposed to be* about how you can be perfectly all set up for exactly one thing, and be ill-disposed to have any other purpose. This is shown to us in many ways:

-The Gatherers have an entire culture based on being rejected from their world and having to live by any means necessary. They are not set up properly to coexist peacefully and are uniquely disposed to survive as they do. This is why it's so hard to consider repatriating them.
-Yuta's purpose in life is solely geared towards vengeance and nothing else, so that it's nearly impossible for her to consider ever living another way.
-Riker and Yuta have that magical 'thing' that makes them like each other, and are set up by nature to want to be together. They could not avoid liking each other as that is how they're put together,
-Riker could not be any other way but do his duty and stop Yuta, no matter what he feels.

All of these genetic or predisposed traits make each party do what they have to do even if it hurts them. I think part of the episode's message is that the feeling for vengeance is actually hard-wired and would take an incredible amount of work to overcome, just as it would nearly impossible to change a culture like the Gatherers without considerable efforts. It's a very Trek message. And along with this message is the terrible realization for Riker that just as his biology is hard-wired to love Yuta, his sense of duty is hard-wired to stop her, which involves killing her, sacrificing his love of passion for his love of duty. He has the ability to overcome his hard-wired biology for the needs of the many, which the Gatherers are not yet culturally advanced enough to do. *That* is supposed to be the message, and his killing her is meant to be a tragic result of someone of advanced morality getting mixed up with someone good for him but whose biological nature takes her over and prevents her living up to better ideals. He has to kill that part of himself (the savage, the passionate) to serve the greater ideal, which is painful. That is exactly the sort of sacrifice the Gatherers would need to learn how to make to advance towards peace.

This is a great message on its face, even though I think the episode is needlessly mired in annoying scenes and is overall not that interesting in terms of plotting. And I certainly don't feel the great desire to see Riker together with Yuta (note that this is supposed to be a Kirk-Edith Keeler scenario) and therefore I don't feel the tragedy as we realize she must die. Instead we see a too-hasty love arc culminating in a muddled final scene where the staging is all wrong and the killing theatrical but unnecessary. But thematically it was meant to be absolutely necessary. Jason R. is right that the story requires that it be necessary, even though I agree with you that as we see it on screen things don't make sense.

But this is why the comparison between this and T'Kuvma's killing is off-base: In the TNG scene we have a clear storyline need botched by bad execution, which otherwise would have made sense and would show Riker as a superior man who knows to sacrifice his needs for the needs of others. In the DISC scene we have both a botched execution (forgivable, if sad) AND a botched concept. What were we supposed to gather if it had been shot correctly, after all? Either way it seems like we're stuck with a questionable character arc. Either Michael knows her mentor is dead, deliberately chooses the kill setting, and murders a Klingon to take vengeance and botch the mission (thus making her a criminal); or else if they had more clearly shot it as her killing T'Kuvma to save her mentor, only later discovering she failed and her mentor died anyhow, then instead we have someone who valued her mentor over the mission, botching things but perhaps understandably panicking when danger was afoot. This second case (which was not shot but was perhaps intended) would still make Michael derelict in her duty, but perhaps could serve to show someone who values personal love over duty. Amazingly if we're going to compare this result (which I'll remind you wasn't what they shot, but being charitable perhaps what they intended) to The Vengeance Factor then in fact the intention would have been to show that Michael is *not* as moral or good a role model as Riker, in that she will sacrifice the good of others for what she sees as her own personal wants. But that's still a human thing to show and would be legit, but would in no way recommend her as a role model. Instead it would show her to be a flawed person who perhaps needs to reform and learn the Trek way of thinking (the needs of the many...).

And recall: the main argument isn't that Michael is a monster - that's a straw man. The argument is that she *is not* a role model no matter how hard the writers try to portray her as one. Or if she is a role model, it is not one of Trek values but perhaps of some other set of values. Given the current intellectual climate in America I could, for instance, see Michael as being a case supporting the notion that "your feelings are more important than any kind of nebulous objective truth that others claim exists; so follow your feelings, not your intellect." If *that* were the working premise then actually Michael would be an exemplar of that from start to finish in the series. And maybe that's where I've been going wrong in my thinkings. I've been assessing her thus far as being a failure of Trek values; but maybe she was never supposed to be representing Trek values. Maybe DISC overtly espouses other values and has meant to supplant Trek values. In fact the more I think about it the more this makes sense and is consistent with other aspects of S1. Hmmmm....
Booming
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 12:25am (UTC -6)
As wolfstar said so far the Burnham character is more of a plot device. I'm really not sure what her character is.
@Jason R. And what values does Discovery overtly espouse? And in what way are these meant to supplant Trek values? You should keep in mind that Discovery is very successful outside of the US (it seems to be under performing in the US because of the pay wall). Most people who watch it don't see it through the US lens.
To give you an example most countries and their cultures aren't as militarized as the US. Yesterday I saw a debate where one asked what Nasa could achieve with the budget of the military. If you count everything the Military budget of the US is around 1.2 Trillion and none of the US participants were even questioning that. They have completely internalized that the US has to spent this gigantic amount on the military. Most countries in the West see it quite differently. To paraphrase Eisenhower: That are a lot of hospitals, schools and streets not being built.
Products like Discovery have to be watched through a global market lens. Most people in western countries wouldn't recognize social cues specifically aimed at US citizens.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 6:52am (UTC -6)
@Booming
"And what values does Discovery overtly espouse? And in what way are these meant to supplant Trek values? You should keep in mind that Discovery is very successful outside of the US (it seems to be under performing in the US because of the pay wall)."

The things that Peter mentions are hardly US-specific. This "my feelings are more important than objective truth" trend is a global endemic. Haven't you noticed that the entire world has gone crazy in the past decade or so?

And he is right when he says that season 1 of Discovery was pandering to this lowest denominator. Strip the name "Star Trek" from the show and change the few familiar names ("Klingons", "Starfleet" etc) and you'll be left with a generic sci fi action series of which there are a dime a dozen these days.

Season 2, of-course, is a completely different animal. But we're still stuck with some of the awful writing decisions from season 1 that were not resolved in any fashion.

Here's an interesting thought-experiment:

Imagine what would have happened if ST:Discovery was introduced with the stories from season 2: Pike as Captain straight from the start. Saru as XO. Burnham as the science officer. And the ship is actually exploring stuff (as it's name "Discovery" implies).

Of-course, they would probably need to add a new pilot episode for the characters to make sense: Portions of "The Vulcan Hello" for Burnham, and some background material for Saru. But other than that, they'd be ready to go.

I think this would have been a decent start for a new Trek series. And had they done this, it would have actually been appropriate to turn Burnham into the "one who is almost always right".

It would have been a wonderful twist on the usual Spock/Data type. Not an android. Not a Vulcan. But a human who was raised on Vulcan and taught their ways. That's bound to create countless opportunities for conflict and original story telling.

And I'm willing to bet that had Discovery started in this fashion, many fans who abandoned ship would still be onboard watching.
Booming
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 8:50am (UTC -6)
@ Omicron: I just quoted that source in a paper. It is about the American public debate:" heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy"
It is from 1964. So no I don't think that the world is going crazy or the US. I think the 90s were an unusually calm time (for the US). And in what debate are people claiming that feelings are more important than objective truth? And what way is that destabilizing the world? Are you referring to the debate about transsexualism? I can guarantee you that most Indians or Chinese have not the faintest idea what is moving the American psyche. The only thing they know is... him. When Europeans here USA these days their eyes start to bleed because of all the eye rolling. And in Europe we had bigger fish to fry in the past. Like world wars, soviet occupation, bordering the middle east and Africa. The two big shifts in the West during the last 15 years are that Europe is moving away from the US and most indexes see the US as a deficient democracy because of gerrymandering and citizens united. But public debate in Europe is pretty normal and US public debate always had hysterical tendencies. About Europe. Spain doesn't now what it is. France is kind of pissed because of Germany. Germany is torn between humility and arrogance. Italy is chaos. The Brits want the be part of Europe and then don't. Poland wants to be taken seriously. And so and so on. Pretty much like it always was.

And you are right about season one. What a mess that was. Phew.
Chrome
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 10:56am (UTC -6)
Basically Michael is Han and T’Kuvma is Greedo.
Ubik
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 5:03pm (UTC -6)
I'll just jump in here to counter one argument: I believe it is a straw man to argue that Michael is a failed role model. I have seen no evidence whatsoever in any of Discovery that we are meant to think of Michael as a role model. They start the series literally with her betraying her Captain, getting the Captain killed, and then accidentally starting a war. This is by no means a role model. What this is MEANT to be, clearly, is a redemption arc.

Now, it's obviously a failed redemption arc - her reasons for committing mutiny are never clear, her reasons for killing T'Kuvma are never clear, and worst of all, the reasons for everyone blaming her for starting the war are never clear (how exactly did her actions lead to the war? I really have no firm idea on that.)

In Season 2, she even has a brief moment (a good one) where, when thanked by Pike for following orders given that she disagreed with them, she answers that she has learned the hard way what not following orders can lead to.

So, this is undeniably meant to be a redemption arc, not a role model. We are MEANT to think she screwed up, that she paid a price, but then, because she is willing to learn from her mistakes, she is rewarded in the end with forgiveness.

I am not saying this worked - it didn't. And clearly, in the second season, they are trying to rewrite the character so that she is just a good officer with a bit of baggage, rather than a previously hated mutineer, and frankly, it is an improvement, if you just forget that all that mutineer-Klingon War stuff happened. (I would rather an unconvincing rewrite rather than writers feeling trapped with an unworkable character - see Bashir, Julian.)

Anyway, all of this to say, there is no evidence that Michael is intended to be read as a role model, and, I believe, plenty of evidence to the contrary.
Jammer
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 6:36pm (UTC -6)
Review now posted.
Landon
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 6:48pm (UTC -6)
2 1/2 or 3. The B plot for me seemed to be really annoyingly taking away from the main story, it also didn't serve or converge with the main plot at any point-not good. It was distracting and less interesting here. Also, this thing with the May creature is really, really dragging. So is yet another long term search for Spock story-not good. I for one do appreciate any decent attempt to explain discrepancies between series-theyre all supposed to inhabit the same living universe and thats a cool and special thing. So it sounds like I wasn't a fan, but everything else was interesting enough to get a barely passing grade from me. Same for the season overall so far.
Sid
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 8:34pm (UTC -6)
I enjoyed this one. Sure, it's not super original in some respects, but after 50 plus years of Trek and a dozen other shows I'm looking for solid storytelling first and foremost. Overall, since they shoehorned Pike and Spock into this series, might as well give me 'fan service' in the form of Number One, that pad she was holding, and Pike's line "Don't spare the horses".

Solid 3.5/4 for me.
Tommy D.
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 10:55pm (UTC -6)
I'd agree with a 3 star episode here. My only gripe would probably be I thought the Burnham/Saru deathbed scene was a little overdone, but I think thats a nitpick. Much better than last weeks outing.
Mertov
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 12:07am (UTC -6)
"An Obol for Charon" is a re-correction from last week's disjointed un-re-calibration — so that makes it an un-un-re-calibration, I guess? I'm hoping this season can stay a little more consistent so I don't run out of prefixes."

Hahahaha, classic!

Great review once again Jammer.
Jason R.
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 6:48am (UTC -6)
It seems as though pretty much every episode lingers on the low side of 3 stars with this show. Interesting.
Steven
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 9:04am (UTC -6)
Great review, Jammer. I too don’t really need an explanation for every technical difference from this show and the other shows. I would rather they cut that in favor of details contributing to main story they’re trying to tell.
Leif
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 2:38pm (UTC -6)
Jammer would you agree the life form was original and the idea of an old soul also original and creative...what made it not groundbreaking in yoyr opinion..and what would have made it groundbreaking? Thanks again for your reviews. I really enjoy them.
Franco
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 5:55pm (UTC -6)
Production values are the best reason to watch this show. This is how scify is meant to look. However, I'm holding my breathe till we get rid of all this mycelium network nonsense. I am hopeful.
Gil
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 2:20pm (UTC -6)
On the latest episode of Star Trek: Discombobulation…

0:00 Nu-Number One teleports over from the Enterprise (overheard on the comm channel).

0:52 Nu-Number One orders a Happy Meal; Nu-Pike, the coffee. Nu-Pike states the Enterprise is in space dock.

1:14 Nu-Pike and Nu-Number One conduct a tête-a-tête in Discovery’s mess hall. A static star field is observable in the windows behind them. Discovery is at station keeping.

1:46 Nu-Pike is called away to a briefing in the ready room and leaves Nu-Number One to leisurely finish her fries.

2:03 An interminable 90 seconds follows with Tilly oversharing as usual and Stamets carrying out his assigned duty as Discovery’s GBF*.

3:45 Cut to ready room (where the briefing Nu-Pike is late for is already in progress). The view out of the ready room’s windows show Discovery at warp.

4:50 Nu-Pike enters the ready room carrying his coffee, promptly breaks up the briefing and instructs the navigator to plot a new heading at maximum warp.

5:05 Burnham interjects: “I understand your first officer (Nu-Number One) is on her way to space dock. Was her visit informative?”

.˙.

1. Between the time we last saw Nu-Number One leisurely eating her fries in the mess hall and the 1:42 secs. it took Nu-Pike to get to the ready room, Discovery was already at warp and certainly a long, long ways from space dock. Which means that literally no time passed between Nu-Number One finishing her Happy Meal, being teleported back to Enterprise in space dock, and Discovery leaving space dock and going to warp.

2. Who gave the command to go to warp anyway?

3. How and when did Burnham find out Nu-Number One departed Discovery?

4. Was Nu-Pike’s coffee still hot?

Bueller?

This is just like Sarek’s disappearing act from the first episode all over again. One moment he’s there, and the next he’s … where did he go and how did he get there?!?

I realize STD has to move faster than the speed of thought to keep the ADHD generation in their happy space, and that so long as all that shaky, shiny & sparkly goin’ on keeps the eyes busy nothing actually has to amount to a hill of beans between the ears, but, sheesh, this pre-credits sequence really takes the cake for haste makes waste…

****

The non-sensical Universal Translator crisis is a topic unto itself.

****

1. By ordering a cheeseburger, fries and shake, Nu-Number One…

a) had Majel Barrett rolling over in her grave?
b) didn’t trigger an Incel uprising?
c) (with the retro do & makeup) let slip she’s actually a Jetson’s cosplayer?
d) became a role model for diet junkies who now strive towards a bright, bounteous, post-scarcity future where the daily consumption of fast food no longer poses a barrier to keeping a figure like a 46 year old Rebecca Romijn?

2a. The Discovery doesn’t have long-range sensors to detect objects in its path. It just J.J. jumps into trouble anytime anywhere when its dramatically convenient.

2b. The Federation itself doesn’t routinely map, probe or conduct long range scans of the Alpha Quadrant for largish astronomical bodies (unusual or otherwise). Nor does it inform its fleet of the location of said largish astronomical bodies (unusual or otherwise).

3. Nu-Pike is afraid of ghosts and spiders. Clowns too, probably (can’t wait for that episode!)—and no doubt all the other scary things stereotypical 8 year old girls are afraid of. A perfectly scientific post-viewing poll that was conducted revealed that these personal admissions apparently took the testosterone edge off Nu-Pike and subsequently made him appear less toxic to viewers who would otherwise find his lack of “girlishness” ironically sexist.

4. Clearly Tig Nigaro exists in some corner of pop culture I don’t frequent, because I honestly don’t get what the big deal is with her, other than the character she portrays is just another one of those glib, quippy assholes that blight the J.J., Whedon and Marvel Media-Verses.

5. Without assigning the subjective viewpoint of the hallucinating third party, the director broke the fourth wall with his objectified depiction of Stamets’ and Jet’s shared hallucinatory experience.

6. We still haven’t seen engineering or its chief because:

a) the brewery was demolished back in 2016.
b) CBS couldn’t get Netflix to pony up the quatloos for the set?
c) Discovery’s designer forgot to sketch one into the plans.

7a. Starfleet enlists officers of alien origin without an acceptable clinical understanding of their physiology or psychology.

7b. Starfleet promotes cadets with debilitating self-esteem issues into the officer ranks.

8. Burnham and Saru share an heretofore unseen and unmentioned bond of profound, expository depth. Well … Doug Jones’ makeup and body appliances were convincing at least.

9. The “we hardly knew you” CGI plot device of the week blowed up real good, endowing Discovery with the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, and … oh ya … Nu-Spock’s wayward heading too. How convenient. No doubt there’s a chapter on the Red Angel as well.

10. Orb’s Memory = Coin which is given to Nu-Pike = Charon who downloads it into Discovery = Hades(?) ∴ Hmmm… how apropos.

* GBF = Gay Best Friend

1 star out of 4 (for Stamets’ DIY handiwork).

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