Star Trek: Discovery

"Saints of Imperfection"

3 stars

Air date: 2/14/2019
Written by Kirsten Beyer
Directed by David Barrett

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Saints of Imperfection" is Discovery's heaviest venture into technobabble disaster plotting to date. That this episode is fairly focused, well-paced, involving, and has some solid moments of emotion makes it easier to look past some of the dopier and/or insane things happening here.

But the episode's big reveal would've landed better if the series' creators and actors weren't so good at spoiling their own show in the press. I've known for months that Dr. Culber would be returning from the dead at some point this season. Part of that is my own fault for reading any headline about this show when I should know full well the creators will give plot points away if it means promoting their show. But then they also put Wilson Cruz's name in the opening credits at the beginning of the hour, so by the time we get to the reveal that the "monster" terrorizing the mycelium network is actually Culber — who has been trapped there since he was killed by Voq/Ash last season — we have already figured it out.

That's not really the episode's fault, and it's too bad, because it's a pretty decent reveal that tracks with what we've seen with Stamets being convinced he'd experienced Hugh's presence during Discovery's jumps. Say what you will about the magical and convenient properties of the spore network and now its ability to conquer (some) death — the series at least did the legwork in getting to this point and setting up the pieces.

Finding Culber is an added benefit from the true mission here of finding Tilly, who was pulled into the network by May through an "organic transporter" cocoon (which is actually a nifty idea). Tilly is being recruited by May — who is a physical manifestation of the spore aliens — to help find and destroy the "monster" which May explains is destroying them. Much like in last week's "An Obol for Charon," the whole problem stems from a Trekkian lack of the ability to communicate, rather than arising from anyone's malice. Both the spores and Culber think the other is attacking them, while believing they are merely defending themselves.

Stamets figures out how to jump Discovery halfway into the network in a way that allows a small team to interact physically within it and search for Tilly. Meanwhile, Tilly promises to help May destroy the monster, before helping bridge the divide once it's discovered the monster is really Culber. There's a lot of technobabble used to get us from here to there and everywhere in between, as well as a sensational VFX light show, and a lot of impending disaster for the ship. Imperiling the ship with a countdown clock as the ship rumbles like it's going to shake apart is probably the worst and most tropey decision made here, especially as the characters keep stopping to explain things for our benefit when they should be getting the hell outta Dodge.

But the reunion of Stamets and Culber makes for some good emotional scenes. There's something charming about how Anthony Rapp manages to convey "The guy I love is still alive!" along with "This crazy science stuff is awesome!" It's a human performance that's necessary to keep us grounded amid all the mushroom wizardry. And the episode manages to draw out the suspense when it looks like Culber might not be able to return to the physical world after all (before using the cocoon transporter doodad and May's help to ultimately make it back).

The B-plot that brings in Georgiou, Tyler, and the Section 31 ship captained by Leland (Alan van Sprang) is more mixed. For one, the whole dance around Georgiou's true identity is just stupid. Starfleet and Section 31 have covered up the fact that Georgiou is from the Mirror Universe while also somehow changing history to allege Captain Georgiou of the Shenzhou survived. Why is this necessary or believable, and why do we have to go through the nonsense of Burnham confirming this bogus cover story and not telling Pike about it? (At least she tells him she's holding back some information, and Pike goes along with it for now.)

The writers would also be wise not to take this whole Georgiou supervillain thing too far. While I laughed at her hissing at Burnham like a snake (Michelle Yeoh gamely chews the scenery), this is not the sort of thing that bodes well for deep characterization. I get that she's from the Mirror Universe, but now that she's here why not mine that for something more substantive — like seeing the friction arising from her new bosses controlling her, for example — instead of just making her a comic book villain?

On the other hand, I like that they appear to be setting up Leland as an ideological opposite to Pike but not a villain. The two of them know each other from years back, and this teaming could make for an interesting battle of philosophies. Cornwell flat-out says they are on the same team and must work together to figure out this whole Spock investigation.

"Saints of Imperfection" has significant flaws, but on the whole I thought this worked in a very Discovery-specific way.

Some other thoughts:

  • That final communication between Burnham and Georgiou indicates maybe Georgiou is trying to reach out and make peace with Burnham. I wouldn't trust her, and Burnham doesn't, but it would be good if they followed through with this and gave Georgiou a little more shading. We'll see.
  • Leland is bald, unshaven, and wears a black leather jacket. Equally subtle would've been if he'd been wearing a black T-shirt saying "BADASS."
  • The Search for Spock™ continues, this time with a fakeout when Spock's shuttle door opens and it turns out to be Georgiou. Dear writers: Toying with the audience in this manner is not going to do you any favors when Spock eventually does show up to (my prediction) stunning anticlimax.
  • People seem to be up in arms that Section 31 is — gasp! — not the same secret organization it was when we encountered it on DS9. Is it so hard to imagine a significant change in the organization's profile in the course of a whole century? (And Section 31 was not as underground as you may remember, as seen by the end of "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges.")
  • Tilly pinky-swears May that we're not done with the spore network yet.
  • I assume, or at least hope, there will be some sort of character arc dealing with the fallout of Culber's death and return. If he retains all his memories, it's sure going to be awkward the next time Tyler stops by sickbay.

Previous episode: An Obol for Charon
Next episode: The Sound of Thunder

◄ Season Index

283 comments on this review

Rahul
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 8:44pm (UTC -5)
Given that this episode was mostly about rescuing Tilly from the spore network and fraught with BS pseudo sci-fi, I wasn’t a fan of it. Plenty of manufactured drama (Stamets/Hugh, May's babbling about the fate of the spore network) that just didn’t have me emotionally invested. With more potential going forward is Section 31 and Discovery having to work together to find Spock. This search for Spock is dragging and it’s building up to fizzle badly. That Georgiou has some motive that Burnham wants to uncover for finding Spock — that just ups the anticipation, but I’d be surprised if the payoff meets expectations.

Enough with the spore network already. I’m not sure what to make of Hugh as the monster that threatens the spore network and that May wants Tilly to kill — seems like Hugh defending himself with some tree bark is the threat? I just think this is overall dumb sci-fi. Stamets seems to pull theories out of his ass. And speaking of asses, where was Jet Reno this week? Not that I’m complaining.

The May character really doesn’t help things being so neurotic. But I suppose she’s fighting for her existence somehow? Anyhow, the sooner this Tilly / spore network subplot is ditched, the better for DSC. But Hugh Culber is back as the cocoon (an organic transporter in the spore network) dissolves to get him back. No idea what went on here.

I’m not a fan of all the Michael Burnham monologues. They basically just state the obvious (searching for our path etc.) with an air of grandstanding philosophizing. This episode starts and ends with one. Seems to me prior Treks used them sparingly (aside from captain’s logs) and were used to much greater effect as their rarity made them more worthy. I suppose it’s just another tool to make Burnham the center of attention.

I did like how Pike clued in that Burnham is not telling the full story about Tyler and Georgiou. He gave her some latitude here, which I think is fine. But I do like his character and the interaction with the head of Section 31 also shows him to be a fairly no nonsense leader. DSC has found a way to bring Tyler back on Discovery as Section 31’s rep — unfortunately this will mean more emotional stuff between him and Burnham, which didn’t work for me in Season 1 due to all the Voq stuff arbitrarily confounding things.

2 stars for “Saints of Imperfection” — for me, the weakest episode of DSC S2 as it makes the poorest of the subplots take center stage. There’s just too much bad sci-fi nonsense to try and make sense of and the episode tries to manufacture emotional impact with things like Hugh/Stamets hugging and the rescue from the spore network. Section 31 is well in the open as Admiral Cornwell gets involved and this goes straight to DSC’s modus operandi which is to use shock value to win points. Pretty mediocre stuff that was heavily candy-wrapped.
Yanks
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 9:16pm (UTC -5)
I'm not sure what to make of this one. It didn't piss me off like 'Point of Light' did.

I guess if you were emotionally vested in Hugh then this episode strikes a cord for you. Me not so much.

Too much spore stuff in this one? .. I think so.

Everyone's performances were fine.

This one really didn't advance the "Search for Spock"... chuckle.

So we get pretty much the whole season 1 gaggle back together again. Ash, Georgio and Hugh along with everyone else but Captain Lorca. Will the spores find him as well? ... I don't know how you can not think so at this point.

I agree with Rahul... let's bench this spore stuff for a while. I guess killing a species as a result of jumping is no longer a reason to can it, so your guess is as good as mine as to what reason it will be benched.

They got Tilly back, I'm happy about that.

2 stars I guess.
Spockless
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 9:52pm (UTC -5)
Guess we are not getting Spock next episode either.. just their way of making us subscribe to this for another month
William D Wehrs
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
I confess this episode broke me. Never a moment to build character, just problem, solution, problem, solution. Over and over. The way they Culbert was brought back to life was incredibly laughable. What? Stamets kissed him and then brought him into the nebula with him. Give me a break. And then just when I thought they might do something daring and actually leave him, nope another solution. Add melodramatic acting and direction, the opening had me rolling, and this episode became one of my least favorite Trek episodes I've ever seen.
Gil
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 10:22pm (UTC -5)
On the latest episode of Star Trek: Missionary…

Hi, I’m Mary Alice Young, remember me? I shot myself in the head 15 years ago on Wisteria Lane and I’m here to tell you that life is like a box of chocolates, and if you just got a little bit of faith it’s really not about whether you fall down, but whether you get back up to reach for the moon, because even if you miss at least you'll be among the stars where everybody thinks they have a plan, until they get punched in the face for not drinking upstream from the herd since it was what was on the inside that counted.

Praise The Red Angel! Sing hallelujah! [!fart!]

* outa ****
FELCommentary
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 10:43pm (UTC -5)
My opinion is pretty much the same as the others that have commented so far: no real serious interest in the continuous use of the Spore Drive (thought the whole human experimentation thing would have made them write it out of the show), May is still continuing to be ear gratingly annoying, and a lot of the technology used in the episode was more fantastical than actual sci-fi.

Hugh coming back was just idiotic and the result of really bad season 1 writing. I get the writers are trying to make up for those mistakes from the last season, but it came across in such a ridiculous way.

Pike needs to be waaaaaaaaaaay less lenient with Burnham. This is the second time she's held something back from him, and given her history of - you know - starting an entire war, he should force her to talk or throw her in the brig. But she's has Mary Sue Plot Armor so whatever.

Also Section 31 is the single worst kept secret in all of Star Trek. How do you go from a Starfleet agent secretly working with Section 31 (Sloan and Reed) to people walking around with dark clothing, a black badge and a personalized ship saying "I WORK FOR SECTION 31"?

The high points were the nice little reference to Operation - Annihilate! with Leland and direction. The shaky cam is mostly used for dramatic scenes and the sound mixing is way better than last week.

I also would like to say that I personally think the pacing of the Spock storyline is perfect: remember how rediculously rushed the Klingon War story was, and how after 4 or 5 episodes the Discovery is single handedly winning the war? Yeah let's not do that again. They're pacing it out very well with filler episodes, character building and the half a million subplots the season has.

2 stars is a good rating for this episode, it's a mediocre part-2/subplot episode that suffers the same mistakes and drooling writing style of Point of Light. But next week's trailer looks extremely promising.
Jeanne
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 10:57pm (UTC -5)
How did we go from section 31 being so offensive to most federation sensibilities that its very existence has to denied, to "I know you Starfleet folks and you section 31 types have really different views on secret unaccountable crypto-fascist police forces, but we're all just gonna have to accept one another." I'm going to go watch inter arma silent leges again in a huff.

Episodes should not end with Michael Burnham literally praying that the writers know what they're doing.
Leif
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 11:03pm (UTC -5)
So I guess people do post SPOILERS in the comments without WARNING there are spoilers before. Jammer posts his review? I really need to stop reading them before he posts his review...
William D Wehrs
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 11:10pm (UTC -5)
@Leif.

My apologies. I was under the impression people came here either after seeing the episode or not caring about spoilers. In the future, I will endeavor to keep my comments spoiler free.
Mackennon King
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 11:34pm (UTC -5)
My only problem with Discovery so far is how unlikable Michael Burnham is. Don't get me wrong, I really like Sonequa Martin-Green, but her character bores me to death, and I still don't think she's redeemed herself for what she did in season one. So far, it's the supporting characters that make this show for me. Lorca, Pike, Saru, Tilly, Stamets, and even Georgiou (despite barely being in the show) are so much more likable and memorable. I hope Michael gets better over the course of this season and the seasons yet to come.
Shannon
Thu, Feb 14, 2019, 11:41pm (UTC -5)
Ugh... I didn't mind the spore network plot at first, but the whole "bringing Hugh back from the dead" thing was way over the top for me. I mean, really??? The only thing that saved this episode was the last 5 minutes where Section 31 is now converging with Discovery to solve the mysterious signals mystery... Looks like next week's episode tackles Saru's epiphany that the "great balance"on his planet is nothing but a great lie, so I'm looking forward to that. He's a far more interesting character, and the plight of his species is a far more classic Trek story line.

2.0 stars for this latest episode.
Mertov
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 12:00am (UTC -5)
***Spoilers -- For Leif**** (although leif, I'd suggest simply not reading the comments if you have not watched the episode, which is what I do too)



I agree with Shannon about Culber's resurrection (which was essentially fan service for the outrage between seasons). It was wrong to kill him in the first season and now they right'ed the wrong (supposedly) with another wrong (the outrageous recovery of Culber via... something). If that portion were taken out, Tilly's trip into the network and her interactions with May are actually o-kay, I could have even bought the "someone" being the monster line, but I knew it would be Culber as soon as that was pointed out earlier in the episode (plus his name was in the generic).

Like FELCommentary's related paragraph above, I also like the pacing of the Spock-search plotline. Director Barrett (who also directed "Magic Make the Sanest Man Go Mad") and performances of Wiseman, Mount, Yeoh, Van Sprang, Rapp, Latif did their best to save some of the mediocre scenes, but.....

I enjoyed the Discovery/Section 31/Yeoh/Pike/Latif related plotline and scenes. And of course, good visuals, as usual. I would rank this episode above "Point of Light" for the second season, but nowhere near episodes 1, 2, and 4. I would also be just fine if the Burnham monologues fell into oblivion, even though I like the character.
Tim C
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 1:11am (UTC -5)
2.5 stars. "Saints of Imperfection" opens, irritatingly, with another vapid monologue for Burnham that is delivered with as much portent as Sonequa Martin-Green can muster but is just too wishy-washy to actually make any impact. It's doubly irritating because the visual montage that accompanies the monologue is actually quite effective and does a much better job of conveying the gravity of the situation. Show, don't tell!

Things pick up after this: the shuttle chase, the Georgiou reveal, and the tension between Pike and Leland is all well-played. Georgiou and Burnham's conversation in the hallway was especially enjoyable; the way the Emperor just openly discusses her real identity in public whilst Burnham looks around in horror speaks perfectly to the character's supreme arrogance and self-confidence.

From here, we're on to a crazy Treknobabble rescue mission, and I enjoyed this at first. The bizarre visuals, the conviction of the actors selling it, the drama of the wall of death encroaching on the crew (shades of Starship Mine there), and especially Mary Wiseman's performance of a supremely pissed-off Tilley slowly coming back down to some good ol' fashioned Starfleet helpfulness.

But it falls apart for me once they find Dr Culber. The Treknobabble escalates way too far past the point of no return and becomes incomprehensible gobbledygook that's way too close to Futurama's parodic skewering of the crazy-idea-explained-by-simple-analogy schtick. ("Like putting too much air in a balloon!") The emotion of the ending is undercut by it, and that's a shame, because better writing would have allowed Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz to put their talents to good use.

Two stray thoughts: (1) Retcons be damned, I like this recasting of Section 31, and I feel like it actually gives even greater impact to its introduction in DS9's universe, which was forever happily deconstructing the utopian fantasy of TNG. Seems like in this era, S31 is just a dark division of Starfleet Intelligence that still has to answer to the admiralty, which makes far more sense to me than a completely unaccountable and unknown division that's been around since the dawn of Starfleet. I find it interesting food for thought that the hubristic, happy-go-lucky Starfleet of Picard's time had by that point disappeared so far up its own ass that they couldn't even reconcile the *existence* of such a division with their Pollyanna views of the world, and by looking the other way ultimately surrendered their own control and accountability.

And (2): Mary Wiseman's outraged delivery of "OH THAT OLD TRICK!" to some incomprehensible babble. Shame that by about 35 minutes in I felt like she was speaking for me.
Uxbridge
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 1:40am (UTC -5)
I was knocked out of this episode early, as soon as Emperor Georgiou walked out of that shuttle. I absolutely hate that character (if you can even call her that). The whole thing just felt like a jumbled mess to get Dr.Culber back. I am happy he is back, but it again reminds me of one of the many poor decisions made in season one. If they didn’t stupidly kill him, this dumb episode never would have existed.

And there is still too much damn music playing when characters talk. I actually miss a word or two because the background music is so loud.
Alan
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 1:48am (UTC -5)
This has somehow turned an idea dumber than threshold (the mycelial network) and brought it to the nth power of stupidity.

Next time you want to save someone who died:
Go beserk and shift in and out of the mycelial network. Kiss dead persons tear or saliva. Find a connection to the spore network and make a cocoon. Dead person will exist in network so partially go into network. Find person. Use connection to then gobble up dead person (spore version) and spit it out in our world.

Who comes up with this stuff? This is dumber than anything in season 1. Makes super blood look amateurish.
Jack
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 3:11am (UTC -5)
The worst part was Tilly and spore-Mae’s sudden BFF “don’t leave me” scene at the end.

At this point, I don’t really care about anything that happens to these characters because it could all change in (quite literally) six seconds.
Booming
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 5:31am (UTC -5)
I think I liked most of it but in a lukewarm kind of way. The whole "we are now good people" lines were a little on the nose but I like the more humane tone nonetheless. The whole Culber storyline was really weird and at the same time obvious. There was a moment where I thought that Culber wouldn't come back and that moment was great. Bold storytelling... but then of course technobabble blah and he is back. At this point it feels like the mycelial network is starting to eat season one.
I'm not a big fan of how Section 31 is presented. Sure they had to have contact with high officers (like with Ross in DS9 or Bashir who calculates the number that had to be involved to commit founder genocide and it is like 140) but now they are just walking around on the bridge. Maybe they become more secretive over time but still. What saved the episode for me was good acting across the board.
Oh and the ending monologue was very meta which was a little weird, too.
Writers you don't have to tell us that you know that we think that season one was bad and that you want to improve. Just improve!
MadManMUC
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 8:09am (UTC -5)
I really don't know what to say. This episode was just pure, rank idiocy from beginning to end.

Also, it seems I'm out a few strips of latinum.
philadlj
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 8:18am (UTC -5)
Well now, that was exciting! Gripping would be another word I'd use. I've grown a bit weary of Disco bringing up technologies in season 1 that are then withdrawn season 2 in order to preserve almighty "continuity" with TOS (I am not as strict about all Treks having to connect perfectly, even in the Prime Universe, and like Jammer I don't really mind how high-tech the Disco and Enterprise look in this show compared to TOS because TOS was on a shoestring budget and Disco isn't). But...if you have to eliminate the spore drive from Starfleet use for the rest of its history, this was a satisfying way to do it.

Even Stamets was at one point so caught up in how cool the Mycelial Network was, it didn't occur to him or anyone else until now that it wasn't streets they were traversing, but cities, with the Discovery plowing through them like a bulldozer. Their convenient mode of transportation is the spores' apocalypse. One of their own managed to interface with Tilly in the form of a friend in order to explain that predicament. Like all good Trek (I'm thinking of Darmok) this is an episode that boils down to profound differences in perspective between lifeforms that must be overcome with communication and cooperation, not shooting.

It also all but makes official the unofficial policy of all Trek captains to risk the ship for the sake of a single crewmember, as long as that crewmember is a regular cast member. Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway, and Archer have all done this. Space sucks, and Starfleet officers know what they signed up for may lead to their deaths. Who can forget Sito Jaxa's cruel fate, or (in a simulation) Troi sending Geordi on a suicide mission to save the ship. But Tilly has saved the Discovery more than once, and now it's the Discovery's turn to save her.

In this case, even a dyed-in-the-wool Starfleet Man like Pike is willing to be a little hypocritical on this point: Starfleet leaves no one behind, provided that someone means something to them, or more imporantly the audience. If Pike was always blithely sending major characters to their deaths one after the other in order to save everyone else, it would get pretty old, and we'd think he was a pretty cold dude! Trek has always tried to balance the delicate discrepancy between the characters with red shirts or only last names going through the grinder so the people we know can make it out safe and sound. In this, Disco is keeping that practice consistent.

So! Tilly is in trouble. She's been pulled into SporeWorld(TM) by Spore-May in human form, who also seems to be protecting her there, but also brought her there so she'd have no choice but to help her "people" with their current crisis. But while Spore-May is in human form, she has yet to adjust her perspective. She, and the rest of the spores, believe they are under attack by a literal monster. She warns Tilly not to touch the dark tree-like forms, telling her they're highly toxic. But it's clear that a human like Tilly and a Mycelial lifeform like May have very different ideas of what is and isn't harmful to their existence.

Tilly is also extremely freaked out by what has just happened: the cocoon in Engineering basically served as a kind of Mycelial transporter, dissassembling her atoms in one place and reassembling them in the SporeWorld. But once Discovery half-jumps into the Network (something they've never done before and is both incredibly risky and incredibly cool-looking), the sciency types start to realize what's going on here: the two realms are at odds with each other; they never should have met. Once they do, the competing systems start to fight one another instinctively. This isnt good-vs-evil, it's just two very different kinds of life that go together like oil and water.

This is why the spores start to decompose the Disco's hull, and why the reconstituted Culber and the bark with which he's covered his body are harmful to the spores. tl;dr: This Spore Drive think ain't gonna work out, at least not without further considerable damage to a sentient civilization, albeit one in a form the crew did not immediately recognize. Life too weird to be initially identified as life; it's a staple of Trek, and the misunderstandings between such groups of life can be as compelling as its varoius political humanoid entanglements, because it gets to the primary crux of Starfleet's mission of exploration.

While I was spoiled by the somewhat confusing real world news that Culber Would Definitely Be Back and Not Just As A Ghost, that lack of surprise was largely offset by three factors for me: One, I liked the character, was sad to see him disposed of so quickly and needlessly, and wanted him back. Two, the actual moment he returns was a surprise. Seeing him cowering there, in terrible shape, the very environment trying to eat away at him, was truly shocking and appalling. The place seemed inhospitable enough for Tilly for those first few minutes; I couldn't imagine a human having to be there for days, weeks, months on end.

Third, while it involves a lot of technobabble, my suspense of disbelief held up regarding the explanation of his resurrection. The explanation worked for me. His case is certainly unique under these specific circumstances, but hey, if an ancicent Vulcan ritual can bring Spock back to life, I'm game for it happening in a more sci-fi way. The law of conservation of matter ties into this servicably, if imperfectly. Broken down to its elements, Dead Culber + Stamets + Spores = Live Spore-Culber, via a process similar to what "May" used to appear in both Tilly's head and to the others in the SporeWorld.

This led to the almost heart-rending moment when Culber tries to cross the mycelial barrier, only for his arm to disappear, but like Saru almost dying last week, I could not believe the show would mess with us to that extent by killing off a character they JUST brought back through virtual magic. Thankfully, May tells them she'll figure it out, and that big hunk of matter in Engineering eventually transmuted into a Culber who can exist in regular space. Execution-wise, there was a lot of standing around explaining things that undermined the urgency going on with the Discovery--either take your time OR have a ticking clock; you can't do both!--but all's well that ends well. I still can't imagine being on that bridge sitting on my hands waiting for the all-clear as long as the crew had to.

Ultimately, this was presented as a kind of swan song to the network (at least in the way Stamets and the Disco has been interfacing with it), as well as a means of bringing back the good doctor, who I'm sure will have to deal with some measure of PTSD. That brings us to Ash Tyler, Section 31 Agent, as well as Section 31 itself. Let me start here by saying that I don't consider what DS9 said and didn't say about S31 to be the end-all-be-all gospel. DS9 took place nearly a century after Disco, so who knows what S31 is up to in this time? Well, Disco is going to show us. The Glenn and Discovery were themselves secret, being highly-experimental propulsion platforms, so S31 participation in the project, both for logistical support (as we see here) and keeping everything under wraps, makes practical sense.

Does Section 31 seem to be awfully..."out in the open" and "official" in this Disco depiction? Perhaps, but let's look at who and what they're interacting with. Only a handful of people have a remote idea what Spock is up to. Pike and Leland have a past. Georgiou is Mirror Georgiou, who met Ash and recruited him when the whole Klingon thing didn't work out. And then there's the good Admiral, who naturally is going to know things most Starfleet Captains wouldn't. We're still very much dealing with a small group of people who know S31 is involved, forming a closed, secure bubble. Sure, WE know now that S31 has ships and officers and uniforms and special long-range communicators and other tech. But WE aren't everyone. We are privileged like all the oter characters involved.

We may now be aware of these things, but the VAST majority of Starfleet and the Federation probably aren't. That's good enough for me. And again, if S31 means we can have interactions with Ash and Giorgiou, then so much the better. The S31 we see here may be very different and far less "secretive"-seeming than what Sloan described and Bashir dug so deep to uncover (literally going into Sloan's head). But let's not forget that not everything we, Sisko, Bashir, and even Admiral Ross, showed the whole picture of what S31 was, either in their timeline or, more importantly, nearly a century ago. They're Black Ops, and I'm on board with it.

So I think I've said about enough...I'll end by assigning a score of 3.5 out of 4 stars. This episode had a lot to accomplish, but I think it succeeded admirably, and I and my friend were on the edge of our seats for most of its runtime. I'm looking forward to seeing Culber recover and rejoin the crew, and the next instance of the crew believing they're about to see Spock, only for Spock to still be a step or two ahead ;)
philadlj
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 8:38am (UTC -5)
Regarding Burnham and Giorgiou: I really like what they’re doing with these two. Of course the former doesn’t trust the latter, and probably never will. But she’s still...Giorgiou, ya know? In the same matter, Giorgiou may always be underwhelmed by this nerdy, stoic version of Burnham rather than the apparently savage badass she knew and loved. But she’s still...Burnham, ya know?

Burnham lost Giorgiou, while Mirror Giorgiou lost Mirror Burnham. Now all they have is the mirror version of the person they knew and loved, but that’s better than nothing. It’s a very cool dynamic. I especially like how Giorgiou remains a wild card, like she could kill Leland and take over his ship at any time...or just remain in her nebulous and arguably enjoy more freedom than being a fugitive on the run.
Chrome
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 9:45am (UTC -5)
The monologue at the beginning doesn't bother me, it's just an episode framing device like the Captain's Log, and I'd prefer that stayed around as a Trek tradition.

Based on the preview, I had low expectations for this one and rightfully so, perhaps, as none of the spore science was very enjoyable or believable. Yet, I'll give one aspect of it some praise - when the Discovery was intersected with the mycelial network, the image and effects looked gorgeous, like watching a 3D attraction at Universal Studios or Disney Parks. It was a technically brilliant scene, but admittedly a dramatic yawn.

The Section 31 portion of the episode was the most engaging part. What's interesting here is we see, like in DS9's "Extreme Measures", that Section 31 is also made up of normal people with everyday lives who may have been on the command track. It's nice that there's the moral question of why one would decide to join Section 31 like Leland, while other people who prefer shinier and noble values would prefer proper Starfleet channels like Pike.

I find the situation politically poignant because there's a big question of border security (in the U.S., but I think in the UK as well) going around and there's two sides to the story. For the U.S., there's the open "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" aspect of the country while at the same time there needs to be an elusive and secure office trying to weed problems among those masses. Thus, like the U.S., the Federation has a certain duality of purpose where it needs to follow the Captain's oath but at the same time someone has to do the less glamorous job of securing the path for the oath to work. These sides often seem in conflict, but they have both have patriotism at heart.

So, yes, I didn't like mycelial conflict and resurrection story but this episode had its moments. The least I can say is that it kept a good slow and concerted pacing which had been a problem throughout season 1 and the lousy Klingon story in "Point of Light".
Karl Zimmerman
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 10:20am (UTC -5)
I really didn't like this week's episode, though my opinion might have been swayed in part by being sick and having a bad sinus headache. Easily beats out Point of Light as the worst episode so far this season.

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

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

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

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

There were also macro problems with the entire episode. The dialogue was very clunky, dumb-sounding, and (things like Georgiou DRAMA aside) seemed to just exist to plot the plot to tech the tech. And the episode was framed with Burnham monologues on either side! Honestly I think part of the reason why I disliked this episode so much was because it had so much content which reminded me of the aspects of Season 1 I really didn't like.
Dave in MN
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 10:22am (UTC -5)
^

Side note:

An oft- forgotten part of Emma Lazarus's poem:

"I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

Doors have no purpose if you can walk around them.
Trent
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 11:51am (UTC -5)
In terms of direction, this episode is a bit different to its predecessors. Stationary shots are held longer, conventional close-medium-long shot language is obeyed at times, there are less crane shots, a better sense of geography, and the action sequences mount in tension and build incrementally to a climax rather than flail messily everywhere like a Michael Bay movie.

The episode's GAY REUNION SCENE! was also a great moment IMO; overwhelming love and emotion oozed from the scene, and heartbreak too, when Stamets shockingly realizes that his lover can't make it across the threshold. I found this to be the most powerful/dramatic scene in the series thus far.

There's also a nice reference to TOS' classic Gorn episode, "Arena", when Pike says to Captain Vela: "I thought you'd be dealing with alligators at Cestus III!"

Also good were all the bridge action scenes, which for the first time in the series have managed to be dramatic/tense whilst not drowning in steady-cam shots, whip pans, canted angles and CGI spam. A sense of geography is maintained.

The episode's "biological transporter device" was also a very clever idea, and the episode's environmental themes decent in theory.

But the usual negatives also apply: terrible voice overs, Michael's weirdly contorted face (which Jammer calls BEEF: Burnham's Extreme Empathy Face), lots of Spockteasing, silly spore drive shenanigans, Evil Emperors, Moody Ash Tylers, lame postmodern humor ("I hate a Type3 phaser rifle..." etc), exposition heavy dialogue which doesn't flow (this show leaves nothing unsaid, and elaborates in clunky ways or in ways which kill the flow of the moment), and a hokey Spore World which is rife with hand waving magical powers.

For example Culber is in the Mycelial Network because his "consciousness was saved by Stamets touching his tears" and because he "drifted between the network and our plane of existence" and didn't die because of the "law of conservation of energy". This all seems very silly, and I'm not sure the motivations of the episode's spore creatures make sense (why did they recreate Culber just to break him down again?). The image of the Discovery spinning wackily, activating its spore drive and then wedging itself like a knife in a cake, halfway in Spore World and halfway in Our World, is also one of the goofiest effect shots I've ever seen.

The episode's environmentalism also manages to be timely and reductive; here Spore World is being destroyed because of Our Choice of Transportation, whereas in the real world, environmental catastrophe is chiefly because of our global debt-ponzi economy's grow or die imperative. But of course economics is now a no-no on Trek.

This episode also begins the mainstreaming of Section 31. As the episode's title alludes, Section 31 are imperfect saints. Nation Building, one character explicitly says, is itself always a messy business. This is Trek as neo-con wet dream, the Federation now explicitly just Contemporary America with lasers. Yes, the TOS era did portray the Federation as hypocritical, gunboat diplomats, but these were overwhelmingly Gene Coon scripts which used the Feds to allegorically attack contemporary America and Imperialism. The tone in Discovery, meanwhile, normalizes such things. Section 31 is just part of How Things Naturally Are and to think otherwise makes you an idealistic fool.

It's also telling that, when Discovery works well, it still never raises itself above any modern Marvel/action TV series. This feels like a bunch of comicbooky heroes and villains racing through generic plot and dialogue to get to the end of their mechanical Mystery Box plot. It's a Marvel series in Trek drag, and you never get the sense of a real artist, a real writer of substance, with something personal to say.
Trent
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 12:04pm (UTC -5)
Is it just me, or is the Section 31 ship designed to echo the TOS-era Romulan Bird of Prey? Did Section 31 steal cloaking tech from the Romulans? And why does Section 31 use comm badges so many centuries ahead of the TNG era?

Time and geography also seem to make no sense in Discovery. People and ships seem to cross paths and huge distances far too quickly and easily. Enterprise sits out the Klingon War, but is just a stone's throw away from Discovery, which is chasing Spock, but stops off at a spacedock to pick up Number 1, and Evil Emperor is on the Klingon Homeworld but also chasing Spock, and Admiral Cornwall is on Earth, but also on a Section 31 ship (with the ugliest looking bridge ever), which is also chasing Spock. Throw in a rendezvous with Amanda, and....where the hell exactly is the Discovery? How does deep space feel so small? Why is a ship, which is in near constant warp, repeatedly caught up by visiting supporting characters?
Trent
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 12:23pm (UTC -5)
Karl said: "The dirty, shaggy, half-mad Culber we meet is nothing like the serene spore-ghost we saw in the first season."

Stamets is also fine in Spore World and never seems attacked like Culber is. Why is this? And why does Spore World reconstruct Culber into Spore Culber only to then begin eating him when his bodily materials become native to the network?
MadManMUC
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 12:26pm (UTC -5)
@ Trent:

'And why does Section 31 use comm badges so many centuries ahead of the TNG era?'

Err. This show takes place in the 23rd century. TNG in the 24th. And, unless my maths are off, there are only 108 years separating the start of STD S01 and TNG S01.

But, in any case, point taken. I wasn't keen on that, either.
Jason
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
^Trent & Madman

I noticed that too. Maybe Data selling his combadge in the 19th century or Henry Starling in the 1990s discovering one led to an earlier model of a combadge.
MadManMUC
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 12:44pm (UTC -5)
I've had time to sort of digest this episode. And I still think it's bad.

The Mushroom Land subplot was cheap. Cheap, cheap, cheap. It made no scientific sense, it made no sense to the broader Red Things arc, and it was never really about Tilly at all. It was a vehicle to incomprehensibly and unrealistically bring Culber back with the cheapest of the jaw-droppingly cheap back-pedals.

Pity they didn't manage to bring Barbara back, too, whilst they were in the Upside Down. But, anyway ... if we're exceptionally lucky, this is the last we'll see of 'May'. Her voice made my ears want to gush blood.

And then there's Georgiou. I despise this character, and I really wish she'd been offed in the MU (and I really don't like Section 31's presence in this show, either). She brings absolutely nothing good to the party. She's a two-dimensional moustache-twirler, right up there with the Duras Sisters or a Scooby-Doo villain.

I really don't know what the writers and producers have planned for Georgiou, Culber, Tyler, Adm Cornwell, Leland, Reno, Spock (eventually) or Linus the Sneezing Saurian but, after this week's episode, it's abundantly clear that this show has — literally — a growing problem. It has entirely *too many* characters in circulation. The fucking bridge crew are still pieces of furniture for all we know them, and the show still gets flooded with new characters to make the situation even more untenable.

They seriously need to trim the fat, here.
Drea
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 1:12pm (UTC -5)
It's difficult to express how much it means for a gay couple to have the arc we just saw for Stamets and Culber. The first kiss between two men on Star Trek being followed immediately by one of their deaths let us down profoundly. If you're not queer, you might not realize the harm of the endless repetition of "bury your gays" in movies and TV, or how exceptional it is to have an Orpheus story with anything other than a straight man.

My partner and I had no spoilers and were invested in every step. We begin with the stakes of rescuing Tilly, and that mission conflicting with Tilly's need to rescue the JahSepp despite her fury at her abduction. In Trek, we've often had "monsters" turn out to be creatures defending themselves against us. This time, a human is the "monster," and a species that has only just learned to communicate with us faces the decision of what kind of people to become.

Reclaiming Hugh turned into quite the roller coaster. We the audience know how stories work and realize we're either getting him back permanently or giving Stamets a final closure and goodbye. The episode plays with the stakes at just the right pace that we remained in suspense over which one it would be. We verbally exclaimed, "oh noooooo!" when Culber's hand couldn't manifest into our world. In order to bring him back, we would need to sacrifice something, namely our newfound ability to communicate with the JahSepp--and even then it wasn't a sure bet.

Tilly's compassion to aid strangers even when those strangers have harmed her ultimately brings forth those strangers' capacity to do the same. Both she and Stamets combine love with scientific knowhow to bring about a reunification past death. If this isn't Star Trek, I don't know what is.

Notes & Quibbles:

The explanation for Culber's return could've used more tech-leaning technobabble. Stamets transferred Culber's brain patterns into the mycelial network, which feels awkwardly new-agey to call his "energy." It's no more science fantasy than most of Trek, but the language used leaves it feeling less grounded.

Section 31 looks like a fairly overt black ops outfit. We have to assume that they're actually quite secret, and just the small bubble of characters we see happen to know about them.

It's not clear why May couldn't ask the JahSepp to lay off the Discovery for five minutes. My best guess is that she couldn't actually communicate with them while manifested as May. Leaving Tilly alone had been pre-arranged, and the others never left the ship and so were safe. We ought not have to guess at this significant plot point, though.

To my surprise, Ash and Mirror Georgiou are interesting to have around. I particularly enjoy Pike's interactions with Ash.

The Spock plot continues to develop at an appropriate pace. Personally I'm glad the season is holding off on having him onscreen.
Artymiss
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 1:18pm (UTC -5)
That was awful. I absolutely hated the Culber rebirth nonsense. I found it almost offensive because it's such a lie. Our loved ones die, it's incredibly painful, we may never really get over it, we do not get a second chance with them, they don't spring back to life via some slimy cocoon, and I would prefer personally for the Stammets storyline to reflect that. I'm taking it all far too seriously I know! I wish I could just find it laughably bad (which it certainly was).

@MadMan
Yeah I was half wondering if we'd see Barbara! This episode was so ridiculous that why not?! I'm afraid May will be back at some point due to the pinkie promise thing. She'll be able to get back via Culber because *insert wild techobabble here*.
Dobber
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 1:29pm (UTC -5)
I simply can’t understand how the writers could write a Section 31 like this if they actually knew what section 31 was. They seem to be under the mistaken impression that Section 31 = Starfleet Intelligence. This story would actually be fine if it was just starfleet intelligence we were talking about here (and then maybe Emperor Georgeo could actually be in Section 31 but using Starfleet intelligence as a cover under Captain Georgeos identity). Why didn’t they just do that? It makes no sense!
MadManMUC
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 2:08pm (UTC -5)
@ Drea:

'It's difficult to express how much it means for a gay couple to have the arc we just saw for Stamets and Culber.'

Just so that we're clear — and I can only speak for myself, here — I can certainly appreciate your sentiment, even if I don't have your experience.

Any complaints I have about Culber's return are purely from a narrative, functional, and (pseudo-scientific) Sci-Fi point of view. The fact is, it was clearly a mistake to kill Culber off in the first instance, and the writers came up with this clunky, new-agey, suspension-of-disbelief-jettisoning drivel to compensate for the error.
Kinematic
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 3:15pm (UTC -5)
So some of you were wondering what Discovery's main theme or moral is? I figured it out.

This show's message, perhaps its overall purpose, is to justify and indeed glorify United States foreign policy.

The first season begins by contrasting a benevolent Starfleet who repeat the motto "we come in peace" to a bestial foreign culture who react murderously to the Federation's superior ideals. The Federation's failure to act decisively leads to a bloody war. This war is resolved by using a weapon of mass destruction to make hostages of the enemy nationals and install a puppet despot whose goals coincide with the Federation's.

In the second season, we've seen the Federation's secret intelligence corps assassinate high officials to preserve their puppet L'Rell, and the writers make sure we understand this is a Good Thing. In the last episode we've watched as the entire Discovery crew was saved thanks to the convenient intervention of a Section 31 vessel. Michael and Pike take issue with S31's amorality, but Georgiou reminds us that "nation-building is never easy," and Pike's disdain for Leland is corrected by Admiral Cornwell, reminding him of the usefulness of people whose path "isn't always clear." Even if that path sometimes leads to you assassinate the wrong ambassador. This stuff could've been written by Henry Kissinger.

That doesn't mean we haven't met a few characters along the way who were -too- ruthless, Lorca being the prime example. He went too far and had to be put down for the greater good. But what made him different from Empress Georgiou? Why is L'Rell now considered acceptable Klingon leader despite the fact that she was a high-ranking member of the vicious fringe Klingon sect whose action sparked the war?

The reason is that Georgiou and L'Rell are more worthy than Lorca in the eyes of the Church of the Woke. The Church of the Woke is a new religion with just two tenets: "tolerance" (of things we approve of) and "diversity" (but not diversity of opinion). According to this religion, these are the only remaining virtues and anyone who upholds and represents them is a certified Good Person regardless of any selfish or destructive acts they may have committed.

Georgiou is a powerful, competent Asian woman, so it's okay for her to have a happy ending despite the fact that we watched her commit cannibalism and mass murder onscreen. L'Rell is also a cannibal, raped a POW and was complicit in starting a war that killed millions, but she represents female empowerment so all is forgiven. If a male character on Discovery was revealed to have coerced female prisoners into sex, does anyone believe he would be portrayed as anything but a monster?

If you belong to the right marginalized groups and mouth the right platitudes, you can commit any misdeed and all is forgiven, because your motivations are inherently pure and whatever you did was just helping to pave the way toward an enlightened future. The Federation, like the United States that woke ideologues imagine, is not good because it -upholds- high ideals. It is good because it pays lip service to humanitarian ideals regardless of its actual actions. Michael's sermon delivered at the end of Season 1, where she asserts that "we are Starfleet" in the wake of some very unStarfleetish skullduggery, brings this contradiction into sharp focus.

People have remarked that despite its touted diversity, this Star Trek has been the most American of them all, with every major human character but Georgiou representing US culture. It's no wonder -- this is no longer a show about a better future or about humanity as a whole. This show is about leveraging Star Trek's reputation to paint a rosy picture of the present-day United States and its relationship with the world.

"Infinite diversity in infinite combinations" has officially given way to "my Federation, right or wrong."
Mac
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 3:21pm (UTC -5)
@Dobber

Forgive me for asking, but what is Section 31? I know it's something from DS9, but I've only seen about half of the first season (I'll continue watching DS9 in about a week, after I finish TNG). I thought it was kind of like the intergalactic CIA.
Sam
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 3:29pm (UTC -5)
When it boils down to it, this episode was about a bunch of sentient mushrooms kidnapping Tilly into their mushroom dimension via a mushroom transporter. Everyone has to rescue Tilly but turns out the sentient mushrooms just need help defending themselves from a dead guy who's made of shroom matter/energy who just wants to defend himself. They throw the dead guy into the mushroom transporter with a dash of his DNA to bring him back as a mushroom-human hybrid and bam the search for Spock continues...but now there might be time travel involved with the 7 signals.

- Burnham now has a fourth facial expression ("grim determination" as in the shuttle bay scene, adding to her reportoire of "difficult conversation", "intense sadness" and "plain confusion").

- Camera work is a huge improvement on the last two episodes. Lots of shakycam in the shroomverse though.

- The only acceptable colour is still blue.

- "I envy those who can believe there is a greater hand writing our story, who chooses the words to keep chaos at bay." No stop, please. Don't try to be deep when you know you don't have the writing chops.

- I am giving negative fucks about Spock at this point.

- The "three minutes" before the spores eat the ship seemed to stretched forever. This deflated all the tension and made the scene with getting Cubler back stick out awkwardly in my opinon.

I'm interested to see what the next showrunner brings to DSC, since I wasn't too impressed with this episode. 1.5 stars at most for me, upgrading to 2 stars if we include the awesome visuals.
Maq
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 3:37pm (UTC -5)
Ok, Point of Light was a bad episode. I am still not happy with involving section 31 and re-involving the emperor. This episode was ok an view-able.

In fact I enjoyed it.

Basically one main Tilly theme and the continuous Angel Spock theme. For the story telling I also think it was wise to let Admiral Cornwell make the different methods same goal statement.

Mary Wiseman is a good actress but sometimes there are scenes that are catastrophic. I think that more due to that the directors wants to try to stretch her capabilities to the limit.

In this episode she was good and she managed to play a character who sometimes can be very chaotic and girly and direct switch to a focused and courageous person.

Generally this was a fairly well acted episode.
Gil
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 3:44pm (UTC -5)
Section 31 was gridmark claptrap back on DS9 and Enterprise and is more or less a laughing stock on STD, so other than 12 year old MMORPGrs and the Jack Bauer fan club, I can’t imagine how anyone could possibly engage with this black clad, moustache twirling panto juvenilia on any level other than the comical.

Sure, if you wanna dive head first into this sort of reactionary nonsense, call it anything: ”Space Force: Super Action Science Team,” “Battle Trek: Imperium,” “Stardate 22524.0,” “Galactic Federation Squad,” “Ba Ba Star Ship” or … just “Star Wars”, but don’t call it Star Trek unless your idea of a progressive, secular, post-scarcity science fiction drama looks and sounds just like good ole fashioned Manifest Destiny like Mom used to bake.

The deliberate right-wing pandering of STD (and DS9 and Enterprise before it) is more than transparent, as is the relentless move to de-secularize Trek for CBS All Access viewers, what with all the mushy-headed prattle about faith and belief routinely vomited out of the mouths of Federation officers and scientists alike, to say nothing about this whole Catholic-hued, Red Angel mystery box BS that season two revolves around.

Even without the distracting ham-fisted identity politics, STD was already an unlikable incarnation. It’s Star Trek for folks who hate(d) Star Trek; the sorts of people who can't imagine, and in fact may actually prefer, a future that looks just like the present, expect for the sparkly weapons and sleek space ships to mow down the natives.
Trent
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 4:18pm (UTC -5)
I think I'm in love with Gil.
Dobber
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 4:33pm (UTC -5)
@Mac

It’s kind of a spoiler to explain but since you asked I’ll tell you (but this is your last chance to scroll away :p)

Section 31 is a secret organization that operates outside of official starfleet channels. Their goal is to ensure the security of the Federation by any and all means necessary. They do not conform to the ideals of the Federation or Starfleet to achieve their goals and they are not accountable to anyone. They justify their existence by reference to an obscure passage in the Starfleet charter (article 14, section 31) dating back to Starfleets original inception (before the Federation). Starfleet command denies all knowledge of their existence, and indeed even high level starfleet officers are not necessarily aware of them (unless they have some reason to be).
Thomas
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 4:38pm (UTC -5)
Dobber, you’re only part right:

SISKO: There's no record of a Deputy Director Sloan anywhere in Starfleet. And as for Section thirty one, that's a little more complicated. Starfleet Command doesn't acknowledge its existence, but they don't deny it either. They simply said they'd look into it and get back to me.
Loud Morn
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 4:39pm (UTC -5)
@Trent @Gil

https://them0vieblog.com/2017/09/12/trump-trek-how-star-trek-voyager-is-perfectly-trumpian-star-trek/

if you "want" a perfectly right wing star trek, here it is!
Dobber
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 4:41pm (UTC -5)
@Thomas, ok sure but saying “we’ll look into it” implies they don’t know but can’t say that it’s not true, so they’re not denying the existence of it but they certainly seem to be denying knowledge of it
Peremensoe
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 4:49pm (UTC -5)
@Loud Morn

Not sure I agree with everything there about Voyager, but that’s a fun read. Thanks :-)
Gil
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 6:19pm (UTC -5)
@Lord Morn

Oh boy, where to begin? I won't actually, because it would be unseemly to take up too much of Jammer's space shit canning another author’s publication, still the fella literally falls on his face with the likes of…

"Voyager is not about exploration. Voyager is about a ship desperately longing to return to an idealised notion of home, much like Trumpism longs for a return to an idealised past."

Clearly Darren didn't get the studio press kit back in '95.

Voyager was abducted and transported 70,000 light years from their home in the Alpha Quadrant. Where the hell else were they supposed to go? And what in all get out is notional about getting back to where you were abducted from?

Where he was hoping to go with that Morlocks in MAGA hats angle is beyond me. But wherever it was, he didn’t dig deep enough.

Anyway, along with dishing out a great many more false equivalencies between VOY and DS9, the author engages in straw man arguments (woulda, coulda, shoulda in universe stuff; citing R. Moore, in fact) to bolster his thesis whilst completely ignoring the sad realities of producing for network television (TOS’s storied production, anyone?).

In the main, there’s a whole lot of intellectual dishonesty, stretching a theory until it so thin it’s about to break, and drawing really, really strained conclusions going on in that article—though I can't disagree with his description of the first couple jingoistic seasons of Enterprise.

****

Ya know what turned me off J.J. Trek back in '09, other than how loud, dumbed-down and obnoxious it was, it was seeing Spock smirk at the thought of Nero's destruction and hearing Kirk authorizing that destruction with a phrase as cavalierly broish as "you got it."
UnknownGenius
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 6:36pm (UTC -5)
@ Gil

How is this possibly right wing pandering with a whole gay couple kissing on screen, not to mention characters using f bombs? For me, this is far removed from classic Trek, and far, far removed from anything remotely right wing. Not to mention the lead is a black woman.

That being said, Discovery needs to take a long hard look at Michael Burnham. Literally every character makes decisions revolving around her, and is only shown in relation to her. When has Pike ever had a one on one with any of the crew besides Burnham. Besides Tilly and Stamets, which of the characters talk to each other without Burnham?

Where is the O'Brien and Bashir of this universe?
Where is the Kim and Parris?

Before Voyager even got to episode 2, we knew Tom Parris went to prison, and what he went to prison for. We knew Tuvok was undercover in the Maqui. We knew Chakotay had defected from Starfleet. We knew Harry was a happy go lucky kid. And don't even get me started on how much we knew of DS9's characters. What do we know about the rest of this crew besides Burnham, Saru, Tyler and Tilly? They haven't bothered giving any other character a backstory.

End of rant
Invictus
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 6:52pm (UTC -5)
True, we knew everything we needed to know about the Voyager crew by episode 2. Sadly, any lasting character development stopped there.

We didn’t know much of anything about Garak until the end of -season- 2, and the rest is history.
Tim C
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 7:13pm (UTC -5)
Loud Morn, are you keeping a dossier in your drawer labelled "Bad Takes"? :P That article is right in many of its criticisms of Voyager's creative decisions (never following up on the Maquis conflict, always too afraid to alter its own status quo). But saying it's "Trump Trek" is freaking ridiculous.

Trump himself is a pathological liar, an irredeemable narcissist, openly racist, and obviously corrupt - in addition to just being plain dumb. Trumpism itself doesn't even have a cohesive philosophy, beyond "fuck you, libs" and an utter disdain for nuance.

Voyager is none of those things. Creatively timid and afraid to step outside the safe confines of "generic Star Trek", yes. But that's not a result of political philosophy; that's a creative decision that Rick Berman and Paramount executives made because they saw it as their Star Trek flagship. (For more on that, see Stephen Poe's "Vision Of The Future" book about the creation of Voyager - which the author of this piece actually quotes from, so how on Earth he arrived at this weird take defies belief.) Janeway's desire to get the crew home is born out of duty and guilt over stranding them in the first place, not conservatism.
Gil
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 8:06pm (UTC -5)
@UnknownGenius

Believe it or not, but there are at least as many shades of right as there are of left. And identity politics is GMOd fruit thrown from the Tree of Fake News née Knowledge, anyways, so…

In other words: skin colour is immaterial. Sexuality is immaterial. Gender is immaterial. Decorum is immaterial. These calling cards are as relevant to the politics of this show as the Discovery's deck plans. But they certainly drive the plebs to distraction, don't they?

From behind the curtain outa earshot:

“Our work here is done, wouldn’t you say?”
“Indubitably. And work well done, if I may say so myself.”
"You may."
"You're too kind."
"You flatter yourself." [beat]
"Shall we be off, then?"
"Mmmm… Somewhere with more of a challenge, perhaps?"
"Indeed! I have heard word of some Pickard thingee."
"A Pickard thingee?"
"Yes, a Pickard thingee. Very high profile. Thoroughly upstanding stuff. And altogether ripe for the taking."
"Sounds inviting. Alrighty then, Pickard it is."
"Tally ho?"
"Tally ho!"
Brian
Fri, Feb 15, 2019, 9:54pm (UTC -5)
Loud Morn’s article is the best piece of reading in this section so far. I’ve always suspected the homogeneity of Voyager had an isolationist slant, but this chap really did his homework connecting it to some surprising political trends in the last years.
John Harmon
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 12:57am (UTC -5)
This was som of the worst writing of the series. Once again there’s too much going on, it’s just a series of events with no emotion or tension or logic.

The dialogue is just awful.

The first scene you had Stamets explain how he was going to find Tilly, and Burnham would just repeat what he said as if she was offering new information. This happened more than once in the opening scene. Holy shit it made my head hurt.
Steve
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 2:48am (UTC -5)
Just boring. Too much going on once again. Can't wait for next week and the next Orville episode.

1.5 stars for this from me.
MadManMUC
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 2:52am (UTC -5)
Oh, I forgot to give this episode my rating:

This episode owes Quark 100 bars of GPL just for the privilege of being allowed to exist.
Tommy D.
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 3:34am (UTC -5)
If I had to rate this on the Jammer scale, it would be 1.5 stars. I just couldn't get totally into this one.

As much as I like having Dr. Culber back, I think this episode just highlights how silly it was to have him killed off in the first place. I did think for a moment though his death would be permanent, and I credit the actors for that.

I also think that the Section 31 stuff isn't very interesting, nor is the Ash Tyler character. And I do think they could slow down the technobabble solution scenes. They come so quickly after a problem is presented that they don't feel quite earned, if that makes sense.
wolfstar
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 7:06am (UTC -5)
Within the space of three episodes, we've had "Tyler died. Just kidding, he's alive again! Saru is dying. Just kidding, he's not! Tilly died. Just kidding, she's back. Hugh died. Kidding again, he is back!"
JohnTY
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 7:35am (UTC -5)
@wolfstar brilliant.

Seriously, is this show written by people who can't get a job writing video game cut scenes?
Booming
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 8:49am (UTC -5)
@wolfstar: I thought it was pretty obvious that Tyler was alive. I also never believed that Tilly or Saru would die. And people were in mortal danger in TNG or DS9 all the time. And Hugh was more like you want him back, here he is. Season 2 does a lot of do-over.
ticonstar94
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 10:09am (UTC -5)
I really dislike monologue/speech endings...... its so corny these days. Almost as bad as season 1 finale...." that's starfleet, that's starfleet." UGH

This episode was ok...everything felt rushed to me,
Steven
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 12:12pm (UTC -5)
I think it’s a bit of misstep to bring Culber back. Not because I don’t like the character, he was one of the better parts of S1. But my problem is it cuts into the “anyone can die” feeling this series had. Part of what was good last episode with Saru nearly dying was, because Discovery has staked itself as a series not afraid to piss off the audience with big risky decisions like killing regulars off, Saru dying felt like it might be on the table. Now that’s kind of gone and we’re getting this sort of “It’s okay we’ll wish them back with the dragonballs” type of resolution.

Now, to be totally fair, Landry and O’Connell are still dead, as is Lorca (but you never know). And Discovery isn’t the first Trek to do this (Spock, Data, Dax, Sisko?!, Kirk in STID). I just hope this doesn’t become a continuing pattern because Death is Cheap is a rotten soap opera gimmick.
MadManMUC
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 12:23pm (UTC -5)
@ Steven:

'I just hope this doesn’t become a continuing pattern because Death is Cheap is a rotten soap opera gimmick.'

The obvious solution is to stop killing off — or threatening to kill off — major characters to begin with, especially since they don't particularly add anything valuable to any of this series' stories.

Unless they kill off Michael Burnham. I'd be all-in with that idea.
MadManMUC
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 12:25pm (UTC -5)
' [...] especially since they [...] '

And by 'they', I mean the character deaths/near deaths.
Mario
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 12:55pm (UTC -5)
@Kinematic

I think you are right on your "bigger picture" appreciation. Thanks for the imput.
Blue_Mike
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 1:33pm (UTC -5)
I'm still not sure where people are getting the impression that the Section 31 of the late 24th century didn't have access to ships. There is literally nothing in the dialogue to suggest this, and besides which, where do people think the holodeck they had Bashir in for most of "Inquisition" was situated if not on a ship?
Jason
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
@Blue_Mike

People just like to nitpick. Obviously S31 had ships, how can anyone operate in space without a ship? Though I think it’s good to discuss the capabilities of the ships/tech. Is there cloak or just good stealth tech, regular warp or transwarp, what’s the armament, etc.
Daya
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 2:07pm (UTC -5)
Most of people's objections on this thread are actually addressed in throw-away blink-and-you-miss-it lines. So in case you missed it, here is a primer on this episode:

1. Culber rode Stamets' connection into the mycelial network, where his energy merged with mycelial matter to form mycelial-Culber. (More on "energy" below.)

2. The job of the JahSepp is recycling. They are like phagocytes. The JahSepp recognized mycelial-Culber as an anomaly / cancer and attacked it/him. Culber, before he became all PTSD, must have found he could keep the JahSepp at bay by using the bark of a tree poisonous to the JahSepp. Wearing this bark and moving around in the mycelial network hurt and started destroying the JahSepp. In a sense, Culber was like an immuno-deficiency virus.

3. The JahSepp are an organism in the mycelial network, they are not themselves the entire network, nor do they control it in the traditional sentient sense. I speculate that the individual JahSepp may not be sentient at all, it is their "continuum" which is sentient, or has turned sentient in the form of May due to the need to communicate for their own survival.

4. A few JahSepp individuals did attack Tilly shortly after she arrived inside the network (at mark 15:00 in the episode), but the continuum-consciousness embodied as "May" asked them to stop attacking her. JahSepp individuals / phagocytes seem able to accept this command, thus giving Tilly at least temporary protection against them. When Culber was "reborn" in the mycelial network, May probably did not exist yet, and individual JahSepp attacked Culber. Once May existed, she could have ordered the JahSepp to stop attacking Culber, but she already considered Culber the enemy.

5. For Culber to be reborn in the real world, someone needs to resequence atoms using information (rather like a transporter would). Two kinds of information are required -- information about the constitution of the physical body, and information about Culber's mental state. (The first was called DNA in the technobabble explanation, and the second was called "energy".) Both of these informations did exist in the mycelial network's Culber-reborn, and the real-world cocoon was a matter resequencer (it was a transporter after all). The only problem was there had to be some matter (raw-material) to resequence Culber from, because Culber-reborn was made of mycelial-matter, not prime-matter and breaking him down like a traditional transporter does would not have helped. It seems May found a way for the cocoon to cannibalize itself for the required raw material and produce Culber from the physical and mental information of Culber-reborn. In this sense, this episode becomes classic trek - reproducing entire people from pattern buffers after they were assumed to be lost / dead etc.

= = = =

Like most of you, I hated this episode to begin with. But then I went back and painstakingly paused through all the explanations. Now I like it, or at least I hate it less. I think the director or the editor or both did not understand the importance of the technobabble. Sometimes the actors are almost running lines into each other. The editor needs to understand that the audience needs time to assimilate a fact before another is thrown at it.

I hope my comment helps people see this episode in a positive light, because we really need to encourage Discovery to become better. Kudos to the writers for writing something non-trivial for once.

= = = =

There is a reference to Thermodynamics in the episode. The reference is not just new age funk, though it may sound that way at first. A very important quantity in Thermodynamics is Entropy. Entropy is just Information by another name. So as not to confuse the lay audience, the writers use the term "Energy" instead, but they really do seem to mean information here. Reminds me of the "beings of pure energy" that Kirk and Spock will encounter on Organia a few years after this episode.
wolfstar
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 2:28pm (UTC -5)
Daya, thanks for this summary. I get where you're coming from – and despite the storyline issues, I thought this was the best directed episode of the season – but it still doesn't make sense. On a certain level, I like how truly out-there this episode is. But it's not our job as viewers to paper over the scriptwriters' holes and force ourselves to rewatch/reappraise/re-explain episodes until we like them more.

If the mycelial network spans the galaxy/universe, how is it also a hard surface that you can walk around on (as Tilly does) and how does it have "trees" with "bark"? Trees are an earth plant, aren't fungal, and require soil, water and sunlight. How and why does the "mycelial network" have trees with bark growing in it?

The answer: no-one knows what the mycelial network is, including the writers of the show.

There's no way you can clone a person including their memories (this is Similitude science all over again). The idea of Hugh's "energy" or essence/consciousness being in his tears or saliva is fantasy – if they'd said DNA, I might have eye-rolled but it would have at least been an attempt to base Hugh's reincarnation more closely on actual science (heaven knows there are plenty of precedents in TNG and VOY's many "fun with DNA" episodes).

Like Trent, I also don't understand "why does Spore World reconstruct Culber into Spore Culber only to then begin eating him when his bodily materials become native to the network?"

I think they just wanted to have the twist of "ooh, there's a monster in the network" then have it turn out to actually be Hugh. Just like all the "it's not trying to attack us, it's trying to communicate with us" moments (in relation to both the sphere and the spores). Trying to force these little pseudo-Trekkian moments with absolutely no foundational underpinning.
Karl Zimmerman
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 4:27pm (UTC -5)
@ Daya

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

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

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

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

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

I'll grant that Trek has already implied that Vulcan minds do work like this with all the Katra bullshit, but this is at least semi-believable, because maybe Vulcan brain structure is very different from our own, with their minds operating as "software" rather than the mixed software/hardware of our own minds.
Alan
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 5:03pm (UTC -5)
I think the fantasy science from search for Spock and voyage home were never repeated because they were so outrageous and series breaking. Using them as a precedent is bad for the franchise.

Resurrecting Spock from the dead and going back in time by flying around the sun were mistakes but one was absolutely necessary for the survival of the franchise. Bringing Culber back in this manner is simply not. It was a mistake to kill him in season 1. The writers don’t deserve the chance to amend their mistake.
wolfstar
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 5:19pm (UTC -5)
Yep. Spock was TOS's most popular and beloved character. Dr. Culber is/was, unfortunately, barely more than an extra. I hope now, after this contrivance, that he'll be given the chance to be more than that.
Lynos
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 5:56pm (UTC -5)
I liked it quite a bit. It has terrific tension and special effects with an emotional core which I didn't see coming. Perhaps the first truly interesting/creative use of the mycelial network conceit.

Look, Discovery is an action show. It's not about ideas. It's hectic. It's intense. It's big. It's shot in cinemascope widescreen for god sake. It wants to be a movie.
Well, it succeeded.
On its own terms, this episode is a near masterpiece of pacing, action and imaginatively bonkers Sci-Fi. Don't stop to think about it too much, though. But for me it worked. I'm even starting to like Tilly who did nothing but annoy me last season.

But Michelle Yeoh is still too one-dimensional as the eeeeevil emperor. Hope this whole thing is going somewhere.

Looking up at the comments I see I'm in the minority here, but what can I say, for me it's the best of the season so far.
William D Wehrs
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 6:20pm (UTC -5)
"Look, Discovery is an action show. It's not about ideas. It's hectic. It's intense." Personally, I find those things antithetical. Something can't be intense if it's not about anything. Something could be shot by Alfred Hitchcock, and it wouldn't matter if I don't give a damn about the characters or the ideas on screen, and unfortunately that's where Discovery falls into. Why should I care about Tilly and May? There's been zero time establishing a friendship. Why should I care about Stamets and Culber? They had one scene brushing teeth together. Hardly the stuff of legend. Having said all that if people want to enjoy something for being a dumb action show, then good for you. I'm happy for you, even if I personally don't understand it.
wolfstar
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 6:23pm (UTC -5)
I don't want to get too much into the politics of Discovery, because I think there are enough other things to criticize about the show without getting into its worldview (which I don't think it honestly has... while it doesn't adhere to the Trekkian value system, it's also not consistent enough to have articulated a coherent value system of its own yet). However, I can very much see why people criticizing the show for being "right-wing" while others criticize it for being "left-wing" isn't necessarily a contradiction in terms. The show's ethos in practice reminds me very much of the classic Freddie deBoer quote: "21st century liberalism is ensuring a panel at a defense industry conference called Building a Deadlier Drone has adequate gender diversity." In other words, you can be as violent, imperialistic and ethically devoid as you want as long as you pay lip service to certain markers of progressivism. It's essentially a form of branding. It's also why the show treats Burnham and Emperor Georgiou as if they're awesome and expect us as viewers to want to spend time with them, even though they've both (especially Mirror Georgiou) done a bunch of terrible things. What they represent in symbolic terms in the marketplace of 21st century Anglo-American consumerist identitarianism (female POC empowerment etc.) trumps their characters' actual past behaviors and actions.
wolfstar
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 6:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: Mirror Georgiou... Putting an actor like Michelle Yeoh in that role is a fun gimmick for a few episodes, but as a more long-term thing, it's the equivalent of killing off Kira at the end of Emissary then getting Nana Visitor to play the Intendant for the rest of the series (or in this case, giving her her own series). Not just a huge amount of wasted potential but a waste of a very nuanced performer. In this episode, even when Yeoh's playing such a one-dimensional character, you can see just how good she is. And I don't doubt she's enjoying the opportunity to be cartoonishly evil and vamp it up. But compared to what the writers could be giving Michelle Yeoh to do instead of playing a caricature, it's a waste.
William D Wehrs
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 6:41pm (UTC -5)
@WolfStar. Really like that analogy between Kira and Georgiou. That really puts in concrete terms why the character is so problematic. What's all the more frustrating is there is room for depth there. For example, why not play up how mirror Georgiou is hurt she can't have a relationship with Burnham akin to the one she had in the mirror universe. This would make her more relatable. But nope, let's just have her hiss like a snake that won't be eye rollingly stupid at all.
Jason
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 6:51pm (UTC -5)
@wolfstar

I don’t know, the show hasn’t made us think Georgiou is anything more than a petty tyrant. The reason you’d want to spend time with her isn’t because she’s an awesome person, but because you recognize there’s an interesting story to be had, even for villains. Am I embracing right wing politics if I enjoy watching Darth Vader rise to power?
wolfstar
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 7:10pm (UTC -5)
Oh yeah, I recognise there's an interesting story to be had with villains, but not for cartoonish ones. Winn, Seska and Dukat were amazing characters, but Mirror Georgiou is like season 7 Dukat or pagh-wraith Dukat – there's just no interest there and my faith in the storytelling goes out of the window. Like William D said – if they're insistent on using Mirror Georgiou, they could at least give her a little bit more nuance. They don't have to make her good, just make her interesting.
brian
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 7:18pm (UTC -5)
this was silly. It felt like Star Trek: the Netflix show, which... I guess thats what it’s essentially been from the jump. The crew goes to the upside down and brings Hugh back from the dead with magic.

The amount of time they stood around talking while the ship was exploding around them was just cartoonishly laughable.
Karl Zimmerman
Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 8:14pm (UTC -5)
Lynos's "like a movie" comment gets down to one of the main issues Discovery often has - in Season 1, and in parts of Season 2 - including this episode. Dialogue is edited down to the bone in such a way that makes sense for a single 90-minute action flick, but doesn't make a lick of sense for long-form serialized drama.

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

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

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

This is awful, but considering the limited run time in a major movie, it does make sense that you can't really develop more than a single character in 90 minutes. Particularly in an action movie where much of the time will be taken up by unscripted action scenes and the like. But importing this sort of...economy of dialogue...into serialized TV drama is inexcusable. Discovery episodes can run as long as they like, and filming two people in a room talking is comparably cheap. And no one is forcing them to jam pack plot into every single second of the show. They really need to slow down and realize what they can accomplish if they stop to take a breath.
Booming
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 12:51am (UTC -5)
@ Karl Zimmermann: I just want to point out that matter is just a state of energy. Go deep enough and everything is energy.
And there is of course the nurture vs. nature debate. And case studies with twins seem to indicate that nurture is more important. So the mind could be seen as software that is accumulated over ones lifetime. But I guess you meant software more in a religious way like a soul floating around?
Artymiss
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 2:30am (UTC -5)
@Karl Zimmerman

"no one is forcing them to jam pack plot into every single second"

I agree with you. It's really odd for a serialized TV drama to have such a lack of interest/patience in character development. I can't care about characters who I know very little about. Why should I? I don't give a damn about Culber for example - what do we actually know about him apart from he's a Dr and likes opera and is in a relationship with Stammets and got his neck snapped by Tyler (a really offensive scene actually, just put there for cheap shock value). And what do we know about Stammets? Again very little and how many episodes has he been around for?! There's been no interest in establishing back story for anyone except Michael and to a lesser extent Saru. So much back story on one character (Michael) to try and force us to care about her. The only character I care about is Saru and I suspect this is down to Doug Jones's performance rather than the scripts.

Do the writers actually understand character development eg allowing the bridge crew to speak in this season is not character development!

I have wondered if it relates to lack of confidence on behalf of the creators ie if we don't cram this episode full of flash bang wallop action people will get bored!!! and STOP WATCHING and be rude about us on social media!!! etc etc etc They always seem so pleased with themselves though so maybe it's actually arrogance rather than lack of confidence...

(Why does Discovery have so many producers and executive producers? Every time I look at the opening credits I'm astonished by all the names tagged with producer rolling past. Is this normal in TV these days?)
MadManMUC
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 2:39am (UTC -5)
@ wolfstar, William D Wehrs, Jason, Karl:

I couldn't agree more with your thoughts on Georgiou. I find it staggering that she's had this much screen time already since S01, and she's not evolved the slightest bit past the moustache-twirling stage.

And this is what's galling about it: all that screen time, and no development. In theory, serialisation should encourage character development, but it apparently doesn't in STD's case.

Put this in contrast to 'Chain of Command' (Part II, specifically): Gul Madred and Picard — in the space of an old school 'hour'-long (I put that in quotes because it's not a full hour) cable TV crisis-of-the-week episode — form a deep, rich (though, albeit a very sick) relationship. We know how and why it comes to be. The way it unfolds makes sense to us. We understand Gul Madred's motivations. We even have a sense of his own personal history, and are introduced briefly to a member of his family, and how all of that relates to Picard's current plight as a captive/torture victim.

And all of this happens despite cutting back to the Enterprise many times to deal with that part of the plot.

So, despite the limitations of format, Gul Madred — to me, anyway — was a fully-formed, multi-dimensional character/villain, more than worthy of having my attention.* TNG didn't have the luxury of week-to-week serialisation, theoretical open-ended episode times, and big budgets. And yet, it very competently, very deftly gave us one of TNG's most memorable episodes with one of its more memorable villains.

So, what's STD's problem, then? It has production luxuries all other Trek series before it could only fantasise about, and yet it can't scrape together a basic, well-rounded and developed villain that people want to spend time with. Or protagonist characters who grow with each episode, and who the audience gets to know well enough to want to emotionally invest in their well-being (i.e.: the entire bridge crew).

The only conclusion I can draw is that there's no focus or agreement or direction among the show's army of co-executive producers (decision by committee rarely produces anything worthwhile), and that the writers are rank amateurs.

*It also helped tremendously that Gul Madred was played so deliciously by David Warner; but, even an actor as fine as him can only accomplish something if the material he's given to work with is good. And the material he was given for 'Chain of Command' was excellent.

And, as an after thought to this example, here's a quote from the episode that Memory Alpha has at the top of Madred's article. Picard to Gul Madred:

'Whenever I ... look at you now, I won't see a powerful Cardassian warrior. I will see a six-year-old boy who is powerless to protect himself. In spite of all you have done to me, I find you a pitiable man.'

A line of dialogue like this only works when there's substance behind the characters. So far, almost none of the characters on STD — and most certainly not Georgiou — have come anywhere close to earning this sort of dialogue directed at them, despite all of that screen time they've had so far.
Lynos
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 2:40am (UTC -5)
@ William D Wehrs

"Something can't be intense if it's not about anything.".

I tend to disagree. Let's look at the iconic first 10 minutes of Scream. It's an intense opening, without us really knowing what's going on or really knowing anything at all about 's Drew Barrymore's character. And still, it's a knuckle-white scene. Why? Mainly because of how it's directed. Cinema can be about simple emotions and still work. It's a visceral medium.

If I meet Discovery on its own terms and do not expect it to be what it isn't (a thoughtful Sci Fi show) but an action/adventure extravaganza - then the episode work on that same visceral level. There's an engaging mystery, a ticking clock, and very impressive special effects to sell the alien surrounding. So I do care on a superficial level, I'm not gonna sit here and pretend that I broke in tears when they rescued Dr Colber, but it was an involving episode none-the-less.
Lynos
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 2:46am (UTC -5)
To add to the above, I think what I'm trying to say is that my expectations from Discovery are so low at this point, than when an episode manages to grab my attention and keep me involved for the entire running time then it's a successful episode in my book.

Because heck if I know what this show or this season are about. Every episode seems to go in a different direction.
Timo47
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 6:22am (UTC -5)
Depite being structured and paced somewhat better than previous episodes, this one just didn't work for me.
BEEF (Copyright: Jammer) was back in full swing. The voice overs at the beginning and end fell completely flat. The emo scenes at a time when the ship was in danger sucked all tension out of the episode. And the way they brought back Culber was totally unbelievable. Instead of trying to explain everything what's happening with technobabble, I think it would be much more refreshing if this show would just sometimes have the characters say that they don't know why x or y is happening. You're dealing with space and "the unknown" after all. The show should stop trying to come up with explanations for things that are ludicrous to begin with.

And if Culber's return was really planned like this from last season, I wonder what the writers have tried to accomplish with this story line. It all strikes me as pointless. He died, now he's back. Would it have made a big difference if he had never died? If his death had impacted Stamets in a major way, I would understand it. But aside from a few mourning scenes, it's a all wasted.

Discovery also continues its trend of hitting us with "Surprise!" moments as a way of advancing its stories. This is getting really tiresome. It starts with Georgiou being in Spock's shuttle. So she was also looking for Spock but why was she still in his shuttle after it was clear he wasn't there? Just dump the shuttle and go back to your own Section 31 ship. And where was she even flying to?

Nothing on this show progresses naturally. Things happen because the writers want to move from point a to point b. Like how Cornwel all of a sudden shows up on the S31 ship. Was she always there? Was she nearby on her own ship? A theory was posted on another site that Cornwell was actually Georgiou in disguise, which would be totally in line with how Discovery as a show operates. Still, even if that's the case, it should still be believable for everybody else on Discovery and the S31 ship that she arrived via a ship or through some other fashion. Why didn't she just use the holographic communicator?

Cornwel is also a reminder of what a small universe this has become. Doesn't Starfleet have any other admirals? And the best/only available S31 representatives just happen to be Georgiou and Tyler? Really? And on top of that Leland and Pike also know each other. For me the story lines of Georgiou and Tyler ran their course last year. Shoehorning them into this year's stories just doesn't work.

Last random thought: how come Cornwell has authority over Leland and S31? Isn't S31 supposed to be independent from "regular" Starfleet?
MadManMUC
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 6:30am (UTC -5)
@ Timo47

'A theory was posted on another site that Cornwell was actually Georgiou in disguise'

Eurgh. I hadn't even considered that possibility. But, you're right, it would be totally in line with this show's shitty MO.

I can't un-read this now.
Bold Helmsman
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 8:11am (UTC -5)
Section 31 was not created by Discovery but many people in the comments section here, I realized, would like to pretend that it never existed in the first place and would much prefer for Discovery to do the same.

I'm reminded of one of my favorite quotes by Benjamin Sisko, that it's easy to be a saint when you live in Paradise.

In order to preserve the vision of the Federation as an idyllic paradise it would be easier to pretend that nasty black spots like Section 31 never existed.

It's entirely natural, people in America have been doing the same thing for years, touting the American Dream while ignoring all of the problems behind it.

It's disingenuous to act as if Star Trek Discovery is somehow a vehicle for right-wing propaganda because it's discussing something that was already part of the canon.

This isn't the 1980s. It's frankly preposterous to talk about creating Paradise without dealing of all the nasty things under the hood.

It's not always easy, the people you disagree with aren't always going to be caricatures that are easy to hate, even people like Section 31, but dealing with that by looking it straight in the eye that's how you really move forward.
Clark
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 8:33am (UTC -5)
Feel like this show is finally starting to settle into itself. Theres a lot to nit pick and complain about, but it owns its weirdness and leans into it. There are good actors starting to fill out their characters roles. There's a lot to gripe about, don't get me wrong but I'd honestly take this over about half of Voyager and all of Enterprise. Seriously, think about the fact you watched Nelix's love life play out or Scott Bakula deal with his dog getting sick because he brought it to some random planet. At the end of the day I'll just fit this into the star trek history/ time-line as "that time they built a mushroom ship and it all got real weird, real fast.... we don't like to talk about that" and enjoy the ride.
3/4 stars for me.
Steven
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 9:27am (UTC -5)
@Bold Helmsman

Right. The thing is there isn’t very much Section 31 canon to begin with, so it’s a safe spot for these writers to make new stories without stepping on anyone’s toes.
OmicronThetaDelta
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 10:00am (UTC -5)
@Steven
"Right. The thing is there isn’t very much Section 31 canon to begin with, so it’s a safe spot for these writers to make new stories without stepping on anyone’s toes."

You are right. It *should* have been a safe spot.

Yet they still managed to completely violate canon by making Section 31 a well-known thing that everybody knows about. They pretty much took the only firm canon fact that was established regarding Section 31, and threw it into the trash bin.

It's stuff like this that proves the DSC show runners don't care about consistent world-building.
Paul M.
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 10:16am (UTC -5)
@MadManMUC: "Put this in contrast to 'Chain of Command'"

But why don't we put this in contrast with, say, Code of Honor, Justice, Angel One, When the Bough Breaks, The Outrageous Okona, The Royale, Manhunt, Shades of Gray, Menage a Troi, Devil's Due, The Outcast, Cost of Living, Aquiel, Suspicions, Liaisons, Dark Page, Sub Rosa, Genesis, and countless other TNG episodes that could best be described as utter schlock?

Don't get me wrong, I love TNG, I grew up on it, but when will we finally stop pretending that Star Trek was something that it wasn't? You can't cherry-pick Trek's very best and pretend all those dozens of misses never happened, and contrast that with Discovery.

Personally, I am of the opinion that Discovery is the best Trek show since Deep Space Nine... which isn't saying much because I really dislike both Voyager and Enterprise. Up till now, DIS isn't on the level of DS9 or prime TNG (Seasons 3-6); it doesn't even try reaching those heights as it seems to willingly abandon the more symbolic and mythological aspects of Trek (Calypso excluded: that short was phenomenal).

But!... I find it quite enjoyable for what it is: a razzle-dazzle action-adventure show with great special effects, engaging-enough story, and some very solid performances as well as characters. Say what you will, but after 20 episodes, I'd take Pike, Burnham, Saru, Tilly, and Stamets over Archer, T'Pol, Hoshi or Mayweather any day. And when we get really down to it, where were Sulu, Chekov, Uhura, Tasha, Troi, or Crusher 20 episodes in (or even much more than 20 episodes in?)

And the less we talk about The Toilet Humor Show that is being heralded as the Second Coming of Jesus Trek Christ, the better...
Daya
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 10:54am (UTC -5)
@wolfstar

I agree with you completely that it shouldn't be the viewers job to rewatch / reappraise / re-explain episodes. It is absolutely idiotic to be doing what I did, pause after every rat-a-tat-a-tat line of explanation. But there were explanations even to the problems you mentioned in your rebuttal to my earlier comment. (And yes, Daya the infinitely hopeful, pause-watched it once again, just for you!)

They did base the explanation on DNA, and explicitly said "DNA" a bunch of times at around 40:30 in the episode indicating both the "upload" and "download" of Culber was DNA based. About land, I agree there is no reason for land, maybe May created it out of spores since Tilly was going to continue to be human. Or may be the mycelial network has land (Why does V'Ger have a walkable platform around it?). About water / sunlight to grow trees, (a) May said "this used to be a paradise" so maybe situations used to be conducive to growing trees, and (b) the word "tree" and "bark" are just May's attempts to explain her alien world to Tilly. She and Tilly are connected telepathically, so I guess they are not using a UT.

About "why spore world reconstructs Culber into spore Culber and then begins to eat him", spore world did not reconstruct Culber in spore world, Stamets reconstructed Culber in spore world using his enhanced abilities when he is connected to the spore world himself. Only he hadn't realized it. Also, the spore world did not attack Culber. The JahSepp did. They are loosely the anti-bodies of the spore world. The JahSepp are probably low-level entities programmed for "cleanup". Think about human antibodies. If you transplant an organ into a human, antibodies will attack that organ because they recognize it as foreign, even though the transplanted organ would otherwise be beneficial to the human. The antibodies cannot be commanded by the human brain to stop attacking the new organ.

I believe that the scientific plot holes are about as large or small in this episode as any TOS / TNG episode. I think the difference is that Spock / Scott / Geordi / Data really sold the technobabble well. They looked like they believed it. Stamets / Michael / Tilly look like they are play-acting, especially while technobabbling. Or its bad direction. Which is why the pause-watch technique in the first place - to try to understand the writers without the intervening mediocrity.


@Karl Zimmerman

Thanks for taking the time to write a detailed and erudite reply. I did say in my previous comment that when the writers say "energy", they mean "information". You have called it "organization". I agree that energy / Katra / soul are new-age weasel words, and would have loved it if a Star Trek episode would have used more formal words for the same. (They did use DNA, but that is not all the information in a human, of course.)

Also, Karl, I would invite you to think of Cartesian dualism in the following way. To extend your analogy, there is no such thing as software. There are electrons surging through circuits, and bits of magnetized ceramic on spinning discs. But they *implement* software, just through these physical instruments. If you transported my PC, my OS will get transported with it automatically, yes, but that is no reason to deny the existence of my OS in all senses of the word "existence". My OS (Linux, btw) does exist, albeit on a separate plane of existence. When studying software, I will have lines of code in mind, which have no physical existence per se. But I still think in terms of lines of code, not in terms of surging electrons. Thus dualism exists even in a purely materialist world, as useful layers of abstraction.

To continue this analogy, if I put my computer through a transporter, I get the exact same computer back, right down to the exact same molecules in the same places. But if that were not possible, a cheaper and more approximate way to "transport" my computer would be to find hardware that was similar enough, and clone my disc by transmitting digital bits, i.e. just information. I propose that this is what happened to Culber, twice. Once during upload, and once during download. (You may debate whether this is possible for a human without transmitting the entirety of his being molecule-by-molecule, but there are other Star Trek transporter episodes which have assumed at least this level of dualism - The Enemy Within, Rascals, Tuvix - albeit not for the sake of basic transport, but for other plot needs.)


On a separate note, Karl, I would really like to believe for the sake of Star Trek morality and logic that quantum effects are important to the human mind (brain). Otherwise, wouldn't a prudent engineer program the transporter to read->reconstruct->destroy rather than read->destroy->reconstruct. If they used read->reconstruct->destroy, transporter accidents (remember ST:TMP) would never happen. The only answer must be that the only way to read the information is to destroy the object. We know that quantum information cannot be read classically, it can be "transmitted" into a new store of quantum information but cannot be replicated. I propose that at least according to Trek physics, transportation involves quantum information transmission. This also solves the moral conundrum of why the "destroy" phase of a transporter is not murder. There is no destroy phase, it is just a "quantum read". Since simpler objects can be replicated (but humans cannot, they can only be teleported), I would think the human brain uses some quantum physics which cannot suffer decoherence. This is why "pattern buffer degradation" is a big issue, pattern buffers store quantum information, not classical information, and cannot be maintained for a long time (due to quantum decoherence). (Which is why it is surprising that Scotty survived in a pattern buffer for years.)

As for transporter clones, I believe they are improbable because of the above reason, which is a purely materialist (but quantum) reason. Remember that Thomas Riker always liked the name Thomas, always, not after the split from Will, whereas Will never liked that name. The split thus has copied information inexactly (though I would like to think that usually the effects of human replication are much more grave than just a changed affinity towards a middle name).
Steven
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 10:57am (UTC -5)
@OmicronThetaDelta

I think that’s an overstatement. Tyler, a security officer, knows about Section 31 and Captain Pike knows about it because his school friend joined. DS9 takes place on a remote outpost far away from Starfleet Command so it makes sense they’d be out of the loop. It’s like frontier towns in the U.S. had very little knowledge of the security policies of Washington D.C. (rightfully so, most had zero impact on frontier life).

On top of that, there’s an often overlooked aspect of DS9 and it’s knowledge of Section 31. There are some indications that Sisko was working with knowledge of it in “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges” as he coaxed Bashir into playing along with Sloan. It’s just speculation of course, but since we know Admiral Ross worked with Section 31 and Sisko reported to Ross, it’s entirely likely that Sisko knows more about it than he lets on to Bashir.
Bold Helmsman
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 11:00am (UTC -5)
@OmnicronThetaDelta
Section 31 was never completely a secret, even in DS9. It literally could not operate that way. People knew about it, they just pretended not to.
MadManMUC
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 11:42am (UTC -5)
'DS9 takes place on a remote outpost far away from Starfleet Command so it makes sense they’d be out of the loop.'

Err ... DS9 was in the Alpha Quadrant, in the same star system as a Federation candidate planet (Bajor), and charged with defending it. They were comparatively far away from SFC, sure. But they weren't so far away that they weren't getting regular updates, comms, etc, from SFC. Come on. By that logic, every single starbase and starship — including Enterprise — out on a deep space mission would also be totally out of the loop.

That argument makes (some) sense for the captain and senior staff of USS Voyager, but not for the captain and senior staff of Deep Space 9.
Bold Helmsman
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 11:54am (UTC -5)
Being out of the loop is not merely a matter of distance and frequency of communication. DS9 was not relevant to the main political hub of the Federation. Information on sensitive matters would not necessarily flow freely to them on sensitive matters.
Steven
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 12:49pm (UTC -5)
Madman, I don’t think you fully appreciate the frontier town metaphor, and I’ll be up frank and say I can’t take credit for it. I’ll cite how Rick Berman pitched DS9 (from the Wikia):

“if The Next Generation was Wagon Train in space, Deep Space Nine was to be The Rifleman in space – a man and his son coming to a dilapidated town on the edge of a new frontier.”

I’m other words, being relatively isolated is part of DS9’s format. You can see this in particular in the Maquis episodes where there’s conflicts on the Cardassian border and Sisko laments the conflict with his line about Starfleet not having a clue because they’re used to living “in paradise”.

Yes, occasionally some Federation officials come to visit, but they rarely know anything about the early Maquis or the Dominion conflicts. To the follow the metaphor, maybe the feds from DC visited the Wild West territories, but the sheer distance still kept many territories out of the loop politically, and allowed leaders in those territories a wide berth. Do you think Sisko could get away with half the things he does on the show if he was worried about Starfleet coming to investigate him regularly?

Anyway, there’s still my point that DS9 leaves it unclear the extent Sisko knows about Section 31, so it’s up to interpretation.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 1:10pm (UTC -5)
So much stretching to somehow make this show fit in with previous Treks. It never will. (Thanks to Midnight's Edge's reporting in Youtube for lifting the veil .on the Trek copyright issues).

All of the shows and movies (up to and including Nemesis) are canon.

Bad Robot only holds a license for alternate universe Treks. If Bad Robot/CBS wish to license anything for profit, it must collectively be at least 25% different than what came in the canon continuity we know so well.

Both the so- called Prime Universe snd Kelvin universes are NOT canon and never will be. By choosing the name "Prime", they are hoping that fans will believe/accept that Prime = Canon when it never will (for both legal and plot reasons). If the fans accept Prime = Canon, then CBS/Bad Robot will have the impetus to create whatever "Trek" they want and profit off of it, true canon be damned.

Three timelines:

Canon

Prime

And Kelvin.

Don't waste your time trying to justify this show with other Treks. It's a fool's errand!
Paul M.
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
Dave, I can't believe Optimus Prime died so easily in 1986 movie after having been practically impervious throughout the animated series! Also, did you notice that Jon Snow doesn't look like Arya when the books canonically state they look very much alike! So disrespectful to canon!

...

And to my childhood! My precious childhood!
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 1:48pm (UTC -5)
I'm not gatekeeping my childhood.

I had decades of a franchise with multiple iterations, all of which honored the legacy of what it means to be Trek (philosophical exploration though a sci-fi lens). The various creators (not me) made the universe to be consistent with one history and made it a point to shoe that temporal changes/offshoots were anomalies that need to be corrected.

You can giggle and laugh all you want, but facts are facts. Nu-Trek and STD are bastardized offshoots that are contractually obligated to NOT BE LIKE other Treks. Hence the reliance on "pew pew".... and stupid ideas like Spock having a human sister (or Spock being a murderer).

I'm not doing anything wrong: i'm just explaining the real- world reasons STD and Nu-Trek are nothing like what came before ... and the futility of trying to justify this as "canon".

It's not, it's some perverted alternate reality where Starfleet officers are mutinous, MU mass murderers become captains and Tilly floats in the Upside Down spore world. It's NOT canon.
Thomas M
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 1:49pm (UTC -5)
Trek’s pretty good with canon, but there are some glaring problems like Klingons going from looking completely human to looking like Worf. Speaking of the Klingons, does anyone remember them joining the Fedration, because TNG at first decided that was a thing.

Also, although later Treks visit the 1990s and a little past, Khan is no where to be found let alone the Eugenics Wars of the 20th century described in Space Seed.

Kirk was surprised by Romulan cloaking devices in Balance of Terror, but NX-01 already encountered them twice, including cloaked *Romulans ships*.

You can really end up going down the rabbit hole by using continuity alone as the standard of quality for a Trek show.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 2:04pm (UTC -5)
If you want Trek to emulate Disco's sensibilities from here on out, keep handwaving away the egregious violations of canon this show does on a consistent basis.

Oh, and don't expect "Picard" to adhere to canon either .... there's a reason Stewart was saying this new series will be a very different Picard character than what we are accustomed to.

It won't be canon Picard, it'l be Prime Picard with a different history and backstory (that'll be at least 25% different in art, ship-design, direction, scoring and storytelling style).

I don't want to see an alt-Picard on a series that tells stories in the way STD does .... but maybe you do. If so, more power to you .... but I'm not interested in pew-pew Jean Luc.

Oh, well, at least I have The Orville (and it's Trekl-like moral dilemmas) to soothe the sting.
Thomas M
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 2:21pm (UTC -5)
@Dave in MN

Handwaiving is part of Trek history, and it seems you’re willing to ignore that part of Trek history when it suits your tastes, so expecting otherwise from different writers with different ideas about Trek is a little hypocritical, don’t you think?

Let’s look at “Wrath of Khan”, for instance checking its background info:

“Khan's apparent recognition of Chekov and his remark "I never forget a face" are somewhat ironic, since Khan's appearance in TOS: "Space Seed" was in the first season and Chekov did not make his first appearance until Star Trek's second season; TOS: "Catspaw" was the episode which he made that first appearance.

In his DVD commentary track, director Meyer said that he was aware of the discontinuity but ignored it. Meyer acknowledged that he could have just as easily put Uhura on the Reliant and keep the consistency, but he preferred Chekov and referenced the fact that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle frequently contradicted himself in his books about Sherlock Holmes, saying that the continuity did not matter, as long as he had the audience engrossed in and enjoying the story.”

So, by your standards, should there be a Meyer timeline, since Meyer didn’t think continuity was necessary for a good Trek story?
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 2:24pm (UTC -5)
https://youtu.be/K828aSkhRHk

That's the link to the video explaining the copyrights and why STD/Nu Trek are so different than previous series.

You guys can say whatever you want, but the legal papers don't lie. Nothing Bad Reboot makes wil ever be canon ... or will tell Trek stories the way we became accustomed to over 40 years.

If Bad Robot & CBS think these alt-Treks are profitable, (for contractual reasons) you will never again see an episode like "Measure of a Man", "The Visitor" or "The City On The Edge of Forever."

Ask yourself, do you want that in your Trek for the rest of your life?

I don't.

Anyways, I've said enough. I just thought this was information a Trekkie might find prudent. Carry on!
Thomas M
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 2:36pm (UTC -5)
Dave those are your arbitrary standards for canon. How are they are a more valid than the Official canon, or Meyer’s or anyone else’s here? If you’d like us to respect your feelings about Trek canon I just hope you’d reciprocate the gesture.
Mertov
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 2:39pm (UTC -5)
Midnight's Edge is your source? LOL. The darling of all "STD" haters?

CBS has already issued a statement saying that they own the full intellectual rights.

Fact check no.1: Bad Robot is not involved in Star Trek Discovery.
Fact check no.2: There is no 25% rule.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 2:51pm (UTC -5)
There's actually a lot of articles online about the rights issue, I just chose to relay one link that collates all that information.

You can attack the source, but while I'm not going to spam up this forum with links, the Viacom rift is public knowledge and one Google search will show you I'm not talking out of my ass.

But whatever, plug your ears and circle the wagon if you wish. I can't make you accept information if you don't want to.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 2:55pm (UTC -5)
@Mertov

I like you, Mertov, but seriously, try doing a little research before you say laughably untrue things.
Paul M.
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 2:58pm (UTC -5)
I like you Dave, but lay off with canon please. It's... embarrassing. And the domain of 7-year olds.
Mertov
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 2:59pm (UTC -5)
You are right about accepting information that one wants to hear, except I am not the one doing that. I do accept facts though. And researh will tell you the following FACTS:
- Discovery is produced by Hideout Productions (Alex Kurtzman's company), Roddenberry Entertainment, and CBS Television Studios.
- Bad Robot's involvement is ZERO.
- 25% rule does not exist.

Or.........
........ you can believe youtube conspiracists who use "sprinkled" facts here and there to make a largely conjectured speculation sound real to people who want to hear what they believe (meaning, the ones you thought was me, but actually is you).
Mertov
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 3:00pm (UTC -5)
Thanks for liking me though Dave :))
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 3:00pm (UTC -5)
The CBS/Bad Robot peeps are notoriously lawsuit-happy with fan productions and unlicensed material.

If this were untrue, CBS would have sued them and there'd be a cease-and-desist letter. Instead, we get a nebulously worded statement from CBS about intellectual rights while Midnight's Edges publishes video after video while MONETIZING THEM.

Why haven't they stopped him if it's untrue and injurious to their product?

Because IT'S TRUE.
Thomas M
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 3:02pm (UTC -5)
Are rightsholders even relevant to the canon discussion?

Desilu Productions owned the rights to TOS before Gulf+Western bought them out. Does that mean the fans who enjoyed the post-Desilu Trek are living a lie and not watching true Star Trek? My apologies, but I really don’t see the distinction.
Mertov
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 3:07pm (UTC -5)
So your conjecture is that conspiracies must be right if the one conspired against does not sue them? LOL

There is no "CBS/Bad Robots" peeps with regard to DSC because Bad Robots is not involved in Star Trek Discovery (again, see facts above).

Repeating it what you want to believe 50 times will not magically make it true. Again, see facts (above).

---
Thomas,
Great comment.
MadManMUC
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 3:08pm (UTC -5)
'The darling of all "STD" haters?'

Now, I don't particularly like STD, that's for sure, but I'm absolutely *not* a fan of Midnight's Edge. I know a conspiracy-theorising charlatan when I see one.

In any case, for all I don't like it, I do believe the producers when they say that this show is set in the Prime ( = TOS+ST:TMP, TWOK, TSFS, TVH, TFF, TUC/TNG+GEN, FC, INS, NEM/DS9/VOY/ENT) timeline.

It's just that Kurtzman & Co are choosing to make a dog's dinner of it.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
There's a whole paper trail that leads up to this. M.E. actually has a MUCH longer video - almost an hour- that pieces together everything, and each individual piece of evidence can be found online for verification. There's also been sleuthing by others that have since shown further corroboration.

Again, you can scoff all you wish, but corporate entities don't allow people to rake in ad revenue while spreading untruths about their product, especially when said product is very expensive to produce and not doing so well. Not in the real world.

And, to Thomas, the reason it matters is seeing people here torture themselves to try to justify all the batshit stuff that happens on STD, whether about something canonical or the insane storytelling or rude character behavior unbecoming of Starfleet or the redesign of everything etc etc.

There's no point because it's not canon, it's a bizarro world version of Starfleet.

As I said, feel free to think what you want, but keep in mind that everytime you try to excuse every anti-Trek thing this show does, there's a distinct possibility you are helping CBS destroy the franchise by permanently morphing all future Trek into .... what Discovery is supposed to be.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 3:19pm (UTC -5)
^

That should have read "whatever Discovery is supposed to be."
Mertov
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 3:28pm (UTC -5)
Oh, I am not excusing anything Dave. The quality of the show is up to the viewer to decide based on their expectations.

I am simply citing facts.

Facts that the youtube conspiracy-theorists like the one you use a source can't cite because the blah-blah they spew out offers convenient "conjectures" for the willing ear, like Bad Robot and CBS's (non-existent) connection and some (imaginary) 25% rule, and act like the legal reality of Discovery, being produced by Hideout Productions (Alex Kurtzman's company), Roddenberry Entertainment, and CBS Television Studios, with zero ties to Bad Robot, does not exist.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 3:39pm (UTC -5)
I'm not going to get into the weeds debating the merits if you aren't willing to do some research to see if M.E.'s REPORTING (which is what it is, actual old- school 60 Minutes style journalism) was actually accurate.

Even his presentation, which includes internal production materials with handwritten notes (some unwittingly shared by the staff of STD themselves), is sourced and collated. Since then, we've seen several gaffes in both interviews and on Twitter (with various current Trek people) that seem to corroborate the theory, as well as CBS's oddly worded statement (very careful word choice there).

If you wish to, his multiple reports gave been dissected on Reddit and other forums. You can watch other people going down the rabbit hole to further shed light on the subject. Most fun (for me anyways) is watching a debunker ending up being the one to find a tidbit that further reinforce this reporting.

I think M.E. has First Amendment protection and CBS, Paramount and Bad Robot know it. Hes telling the truth.
There's nothing they can do ... if they sue, M.E. gets a discovery phase (ha!) in any legal action to see what the actual contract is.

Then it's public knowledge... and game over.
Jason R.
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 3:43pm (UTC -5)
I see canon this way: if you ignore it and the show succeeds, basically you get away with it and you look visionary for refreshing and reinvigorating the past. If it fails, you are judged all the more harshly and it become akin to an aggravating factor in sentencing after thd guilty vedict has been handed down.

No good product ever failed just because it didn't follow canon, but a bad product that ignores canon will be judged more harshly than one that doesn't.
Booming
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 4:01pm (UTC -5)
That video was ... weird. It is like if Alex Jones and TMZ had a baby. Does the midnight guy not basically say that all this is rumors and hearsay? And what is the 25% rule?
Gil
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 4:47pm (UTC -5)
The 25% rule thingy got started with John Eaves relating the guidelines for the redesign of the Enterprise for STD. A guideline presumably directed from legal.

"After Enterprise, properties of Star Trek ownership changed hands and was divided, so what was able to cross TV shows up to that point changed and a lot of the crossover was no longer allowed… That is why when JJ's movie came along everything had to be different. The alternate universe concept was what really made that movie happen in a way as to not cross the new boundaries and give Trek a new footing to continue."

This has since been rebuffed by CBS which claims modern VFX and adjusting for size relative to the Discovery were the motivating factors.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 5:01pm (UTC -5)
The showrunners shared some pics of development sketches at a convention and handwritten notes were visible in the margins of their own images that had that same 25% number.
Booming
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 5:08pm (UTC -5)
So that is not some copyright law?
And no primary sources. I have a hard time believing that.
Gil
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 5:21pm (UTC -5)
@Booming

Google is you friend (when it really isn't).

See "Star Trek: Discovery's Version of the Enterprise Had to Be Modified for Legal Reasons" @ i09 for example.
Gil
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 5:24pm (UTC -5)
@Booming

Also see trekmovie.com: "…comments from Eaves’ now-deleted Facebook post … implied that there were legal issues surrounding the use of the classic USS Enterprise design which dictated the changes seen in Star Trek: Discovery."
Booming
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 5:33pm (UTC -5)
@Gil: Sorry but these are secondary sources at best and most of it is less. It is impossible to convince me of such a thing without primary sources. Could it be true? sure. could it all be bullshit? Yeah.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 5:36pm (UTC -5)
Maybe it's not true, I don't know.

But it does explain why Fuller and Moonves had a split over canon ... and why Fuller was unceremoniously sent to the curb... and it explains every non- canon thing that's ever happened: bald Klingorcs, the reliance on the all-new totally licensable Spore Drive™, the redesigns of classic ships, the serialized non-philosophical storytelling, a Mary Sue sister for Spock, supernovae being instantly visible, tslking in a vacuum, holographic communications, why the few little things that didn't change (like sound effects and a Tribble appearing for a few seconds) aren't used in any product CBS has licensed ... basically everything that's not-Trek about Discovery.

Anyways, there's a (good) chance it is true, and IF it is ...

... then, from my perspective, you have to evaluate it ON THOSE TERMS.

Every episode is going to have a trade-off , it becomes a game of "How did they make that 25% different"? If it legally CAN'T be the Trek we once knew, then how is that fun for a fan?

I don't want psycho-incestuous Spock, I don't want the Ghostbusting of spore creatures, I don't want belligerent officers disobeying orders, I don't want character resurrections in the Upside Down, I don't want unscientific garbage that makes no rational sense.

I want Star Trek... you know, actual episodic science fiction with a philosophical bent.

STD isn't that: it is bad first-draft Epic Fantasy dressed up with a Star Trekkish fancy dress. It has no internal logic, no philosophy, no heart and no apparent endgame. This isn't Trek.

I want a crew that explores the galaxy while exploring issues, not this flashy boom-pow! program that honestly feels like a Mary Sue fanfic written by a casual fan .... especially when said show can, at maximum, 75% resemble what I like.

Despite my best efforts and multiple attempts, I can't get into it ... it's just not Trek, and it'll never be.
Gil
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 5:53pm (UTC -5)
@Booming

I wasn't speaking to the truth or falsity of any of it, just relating reports associated with the story. As Dave in MN pointed out, it might be true it might not be true.

You could always email John Eaves yourself and ask him if CBS threatened him with a lawsuit if he didn't pull down that Facebook post of his.
Steven
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 6:58pm (UTC -5)
I’m not sure I see the value in assessing the series on unsubstantiated gossip. Whether the changes you speak of stem from legal issues or the showrunners’ vision, the show is what it is, and we have the end product to judge on its own faults and merits.
Bold Helmsman
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 7:40pm (UTC -5)
@Dave in MN

The reason no one has tried stopping ME is likely because it's not worth it, and would only give the guy publicity.

As for the stuff you mentioned about Discovery, they likely changed the Klingons because they thought the originals looked too human (a criticism I've heard before on aliens in Trek), the Spore Drive is technobabble like every Trek has had, like TNG's holodecks or DS9's magic wormhole, the ship redesigns are because they have better technology to do it now, the serialized storytelling is because everything on TV is serialized now, Burnham being Spock's sister is to appeal to normal fans who know nothing about Trek except hearing Spock's name, supernova being visible is visual shorthand for the audience, as is the vacuum thing.

There's no conspiracy, they're simply trying to make a show that appeals to everyone, not just hardcore fans. Trek was never meant to be a walled garden only for the chosen, it's for everybody, even people whose only experience was the JJ movies.
Gil
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 8:14pm (UTC -5)
@Bold Helmsman

Ya, "everyone" who wasn't already a Trek fan that never tuned into Enterprise or "everyone" who wasn't already a Trek fan that made Nemesis or Beyond the monster hits they weren't.

The sorts of everyones that jump a sinking ship faster than rats at the next shiny thing to come over the horizon.

STD is in for the same sorry fate, and not just because it's thumbed its nose at long-time fans or requires a paid streaming service to watch.

And, no, Trek was never intended for everyone. The Cage didn't get canned for nuttin', you know. TOS' actual popularity amongst a certain demographic was only recognized when it took off in syndication, and then only hit prominence and broad appeal with TNG because it had no genre competition and no network breathing down its neck.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 8:19pm (UTC -5)
Right, three supposedly separate and independent media corporations aren't going to pursue the truth in court because it might look bad ...

..... but these same multiple corporations (with tons of lawyers on retainer) are going to let a lie fester ... that also makes them look bad?

That's not how things work, especially when those making the claims are profiting from them. Especially when these same three corporations will sue their fans for anything and everything under the sun, REGARDLESS OF HOW IT LOOKS.

Not doing anything is not part of their modus operandi.

Try to think rationally: there's a reason different people have written news articles/Youtube reports and none are stopped.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 8:34pm (UTC -5)
@Dave MN

"The CBS/Bad Robot peeps are notoriously lawsuit-happy with fan productions and unlicensed material.

If this were untrue, CBS would have sued them and there'd be a cease-and-desist letter. Instead, we get a nebulously worded statement from CBS about intellectual rights while Midnight's Edges publishes video after video while MONETIZING THEM."

Sue them for WHAT? ME isn't violating their IP.

And if you mean libel: You can't sue people for posting rumors (true or false) just because you don't like these rumors. Libel law doesn't work that way.

Besides, I think CBS are very happy with these rumors. After all, the so-called 25%-rule gives them a really convenient out to change whatever they want and then claim "we had no choice".

Also, forgive me for asking but why should we even care whether this true or not?
This question goes both to the alleged 25%-rule and to the alleged Bad Robot/CBS connection. How is any of this relevant to us, the viewers?

You don't need a lawyer (or a youtube conspiracy theorist) to realize that NuTrek doesn't fit canon. Nor are you going to convince those who disagree, with some obscure legal paper.

Seriously, this has to be most boring revelation/conspiracy theory I've ever seen in my life.
Gil
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 8:36pm (UTC -5)
@anyone

If you're weren't aware of it already, there was a thread at TrekBBS on the subject started back in April 2018 that includes pulled Q&A quotes from Eaves' downed Facebook page.

Again, did Eaves know what the *bleep* he was talking about?

Only the Phantom knows.
Mertov
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 8:42pm (UTC -5)
Gil here is your primary source, directly from CBS TV Studios:
"CBS TV Studios does, in fact, have the right to use the U.S.S. Enterprise ship design from the past TV series, and are not legally required to make changes. The changes in the ship design were creative ones, made to utilize 2018’s VFX technology."
(You can find it in several links on search)

Those are the facts (again):
- Discovery is produced by Hideout Productions (Alex Kurtzman's company), Roddenberry Entertainment, and CBS Television Studios.
- Bad Robot's (JJ Abrams's studio) involvement is ZERO.
- 25% rule does not exist in this matter.
(Add: that is... if there is such thing as a 25% rule)

DSC under CBS, and CBS owns the full rights to Star Trek (TV). They don't have to do anything different. Everything else is a rumor, conspiracy theory.

Wow..
Mertov
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 8:46pm (UTC -5)
And last but not the least.. if you notice, all the brouhaha is over the Enterprise's design anyway (even if the conspiracy theory held water). It's not about "Everything" having to be different.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 8:54pm (UTC -5)
I KNOW I saw sketches from the STD people with notes in the margins talking about changes that needed to be made (oft- wasn't just the Evans statement, the extra features of the 1st season DVD actually has as couple of staff make allusions to the changes not being for purely aesthetic reasons

You can label it a "conspiracy", but I think it stands about an 85% chance of being completely true.

And that other 15%? Obvioysly whatever agreement these various corporate entities do have, the public still won't like it .... and since CBS really NEEDS to sell STD as a viable product, they'll make up terms like Prime and Kelvin and hope some hardcore fans bbc will accept whatever a Trek CBS makes as "true" canon Trek.

They can't accomplish that feit in an actual court because of the Viacom split (which has been public knowledge since they stopped making Enterprise), but I'm sure they're thinking a Hail Mary Pass to the Court of Public Opinion is at least worth a shot.

If they can be seen by the fandom as the "true" curators of the franchise, it's a permanent license to print money ... whether they're creations are actually canon or not... whether they tell cerebral stories or not.
Gil
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 8:56pm (UTC -5)
@Mertov

As I stated upstream, I'm not speaking to the truth or falsity of Eaves' statements, or even CBS', which I've read, of course.

I'm just walking the steps back up the bread crumb trail to the source of the brush fire.

Eaves (and Schneider) made public statements about a particular IP and then they went into… silent running.

Make of it what you will.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 8:57pm (UTC -5)
Yikes, I hit post by accident before I could edit. Apologies for typos:

(Oft. = It, felt = feat
Mertov
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 9:01pm (UTC -5)
The bottomline is, the conspiracy gives sone DSC haters ammunition to claim that DSC is not canon. Except that facts don't line up with it.

And it's certainly a great thing that fans don't get to decide what's canon or not. Studios, franchise owners do. Or else, if it were left up to the fans, anything beyond the Original Series would not be called Star Trek since they each had substantial resistance from 'some' fan groups (as will future series of Star Trek, I gather).
Mertov
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 9:02pm (UTC -5)
Understood Gil. I was just providing that because I saw you in an earlier post asking for sources. Didn't mean to across as crass, sorry if I did.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 9:06pm (UTC -5)
@Everyone

Funny how nobody yet answered my question:

Why should anybody even care whether this is true or not? How is this relevant to the viewers?

Well, as I was typing this, Mertov posted a kind-of-explanation:

"The bottomline is, the conspiracy gives sone DSC haters ammunition to claim that DSC is not canon."

Which, frankly, doesn't make this debate any less surreal.

I guess it's fitting, in an era where Star Trek looks like this, we'll have Trekkies that use legalities instead of actual content to debate canon issues. Have the entire world gone mad?

(short answer: yes)
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
@Omicron

It matters because they don't understand the brand and are terrible stewards of Roddenberry's legacy.

What expectation would we have that any other Trek made by CBS not be just as bad (if not worse)?

They are renting a brand to make a buck. Speaking just for myself, if this is even partially true, CBS should never be allowed to spearhead a Trek series again. If I were Paramount, I'd tank this deal. Better no Trek than a future of endless STD clones.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 9:09pm (UTC -5)
Does any of Discovery feel like something Gene would be proud of?

That's all I have to ask myself: I honestly believe he'd be appalled.
Peter G.
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 9:21pm (UTC -5)
There is one reason I can see why the 'conspiracy theory' might be relevant. And please note as I say this that I'm not commenting on the legitimacy of the theory itself. For those who watched LOST when it *first aired* you will all be familiar with the most asked question at that time: do they really know what they're doing, or are they stringing us along? And if you indeed watched at that time - whether just for a season or two, or until the end - then you'll recall that there was a bit of a divide among fans, some of which loved what they were seeing and trusted in the storytellers, and others who became more and more convinced that they were being teased and that the wizard of Oz was just playing a game the whole time with no real solution in mind. The producers *promised* that they knew the whole time where things were going, and those claims ringed very much the same way as the current claims do that DISC is obeying canon in *awesome* ways that are *totally loyal* to the other series and that it will all *totally make sense* if you trust them. I'm telling you - these claims are a carbon copy of those from the LOST team, and in my opinion we're dealing with more or less the same team. Kurtzman is right out of J.J's crew, and especially now that he's really in charge it will be even more blatantly in his style. I find it hard to believe that anyone who was of adult age while LOST was airing would believe the same story from the same crew, when it became not only apparent but embarassingly so that the showrunners of LOST were not only playing fast and loose with their fanbase but in fact were blatantly lying through their teeth about it to everyone. And I'll point out that Fringe, while not quite as guilty as LOST in this respect, mostly due to airing for much less time, was still plenty guilty of improvise-itis where answers were promised but more often than not the writers had written themselves into a corner and had to solve situations with absurd magical solutions within what was claimed to be a sci-fi setting. The 'magic' in Fringe is very much akin to that in DISC from what I can tell at present.

And so in conclusion the reason the conspiracy theory is of interest isn't because it has value in interpreting the content of the show, but rather because it may serve as a gauge about how trustworthy the showrunners are. My instinct is to suppose that they are liars, and perhaps if the theory was true this would further the notion that they will say more or less anything that hypes their show and that post-truth isn't just something for the realm of politics and university.
Gil
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 9:23pm (UTC -5)
@Mertov

STD will live or die by its own sword. That sword being its scheme to retcon the still very much revered TOS and its cast of characters, because like Paramount and J.J. Trek, CBS wants and needs a soft reboot to keep the IP alive.

But just like J.J. Trek, STD is gonna go the way of the dodo.
Bold Helmsman
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 9:30pm (UTC -5)
@Dave in MN

If you feel that Trek is something that should be made only for chosen fans to enjoy... I recommend you you stick to fanfiction or something. Here in reality, Trek will continue to be made for everyone, even the unwashed masses of casual fans.

As for what Gene Roddenberry would have thought, I'm quite sure he'd have hated DS9, the series that made me a Trekkie and my favorite, so I could weather his displeasure quite cheerfully.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 9:34pm (UTC -5)
@Dave MN
"It matters because they don't understand the brand and are terrible stewards of Roddenberry's legacy."

No argument there.

What expectation would we have that any other Trek made by CBS not be just as bad (if not worse)?"

Absolutely no expectation whats-so-ever.

But how are the legalities relevant to this in any way?

BTW you can't copyright general ideas. Classic Trek does not have a monopoly on the stuff that made it good. This is precisely why nobody sued Fox for doing the Orville, for example. There cannot be any legal reason for why CBS can't tell us "Measure of a Man"-quality stories, even if they are somehow forced to tell them in an alternate timeline.

There also cannot be any legal reason for why CBS can't tell us any story they wish in (say) the 27th century which would mean a completely blank slate canon-wise.

In short, if CBS really wanted to give us good Trek, no contract would prevent them from doing so. The fact that they *chose* to set Discovery in the 2250's which is a continuity minefield, tells you that they simply don't know better.

Which, of-course, is nothing new.

"Speaking just for myself, if this is even partially true, CBS should never be allowed to spearhead a Trek series again."

But CBS should not be allowed to spearhead a Trek series even if those rumors are false.

So again, I don't see the relevance.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 9:37pm (UTC -5)
We talked about this somewhere before on here, but I must underline that Peter is EXACTLY right about Lost.

I watched it from the start and within three or four episodes, I guessed "The Island" was actually space-time nexus that doubled as a spiritual doorway. It was essentially "Purgatory".

I liked the show, but I thought if the twist was going to basically be a redux of The Sixth Sense, I wasn't interested in watching dead people take 6 seasons to figure it out ... all while an ever- increasing convoluted mystery grew and had to be explained away.

I ended up reading a well- publicized interview with the showrunners of LOST and they swore up and down that the characters were not in purgatory and everything being shown (even minor details like books characters were reading) were there for a reason.

So I stuck with it. I thought, these guys are confident, they make no bones about knowing what they're doing, they promise explanations for everything (at that point I think it was just polar bears and smoke monsters that they would've had to explain away).

What I got? A fun journey that got ever more ridiculous ... flashbacks that became ever less interesting, favorite characters dying while annoying ones lived and .... the slap in the face of the final season. I was PISSED when I figured out the ending was exactly what they said it wouldn't be .... and nothing REALLY would be explained.

How that reflects .on this? I don't know .

I honestly don't even know if it is true. But there's enough "breadcrumbs" (appreciate the analogy Gil) sprinkled about that I thought you all should know about it. That's all.

I went online to read about the four
Bold Helmsman
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 9:39pm (UTC -5)
@Peter. G
Why are you bringing up Lost? There are no long running JJ style mystery boxes here?

@OmnicronThetaDeltaPhi
If anything, the reason they choose this period of time to set Discovery, is probably to appeal to casual fans.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 9:40pm (UTC -5)
I pasted part of a text to my buddy about a car, sorry about that last part. (Haha, it's not easy typing huge missives on a phone).
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 9:45pm (UTC -5)
@Peter
"And so in conclusion the reason the conspiracy theory is of interest isn't because it has value in interpreting the content of the show, but rather because it may serve as a gauge about how trustworthy the showrunners are."

I don't understand.

Why would any sane person prefer to trust the showrunners rather than trust their own eyes and brains? If they say that their show "follows canon in awesome ways" and our very eyes prove otherwise, then that's evidence enough that they are either stinking liars or they have absolutely no idea what they're doing (or - in all probability - both).

We don't need esoteric behind-the-scenes information to tell us this.
Thomas M
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 9:49pm (UTC -5)
@Dave in MN

Gene Roddenberry had a lawyer, Leonard Maizlish, who he used to threaten the TNG and TOS movie producers well into the last years of life. He filed numerous lawsuits including one against director Leonard Nimoy, insisting 15 minutes of footage be cut from the film The Undiscovered Country for “too many military aspects”. (He lost, by the way, and the film was a rousing success for tackling tough Cold War issues).

We can thank Roddenberry for a lot of things, but he’s not the end all, be all, of Trek. As mentioned, DS9 wouldn’t even exist as we know it if it was up to him.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 9:57pm (UTC -5)
I will also add that what I've just said is also true in reverse:

Imagine an alternate reality where CBS had chosen to give us a 27th century series, or perhaps an official reboot series.

Imagine that in that alternate reality, CBS is also giving us tight plots and thoughtful sci fi in the best tradition of Classic Trek (which, I remind you, no legal contract can stop them from doing).

Now imagine, in this scenario, that the showrunners would come forward and tell us just how awesomely Trek their creation is. A statement which is also supported by what we see on screen (in that alternate reality).

Should we trust them any less, had we found that they are bound by some legal contract to not use the Classic Trek IP?
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 10:02pm (UTC -5)
Ok, well he became a little wacky in his last unhealthy years, but he also was the man that created the whole thing and spearheaded it for decades. The people who became caretakers after his passing were conscious of his vision to explore ethics though a science fiction lens . They were close enough in time to the original that they were able to compliment his philosophical view of Trek with the assent of eager happy fans.

That vision is absent on Discovery.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 10:03pm (UTC -5)
We don't live in that hypothetical world. I wish we did.
Mertov
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 10:17pm (UTC -5)
"Roddenberry's vision"
"Classic Trek"

Such elastic expressions. They can be conveniently shaped or molded according to the desires of various (and even opposite-minded) Trekkies.

Yet, when it comes to defining them, there is not one definition with which all Trekkies agree.
Bold Helmsman
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 10:23pm (UTC -5)
@OmnicronThetaDeltaPhi
You know, I've often thought the reason Star Trek has not advanced forward was because of the negative reactions they feared getting from fans.

@Dave in MN
Speak for yourself, I see all those things in Discovery.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 10:35pm (UTC -5)
@ Bold Helmsman

I literally said "Speaking just for myself". Why would you tell me to do what I I already freely admitted I was doing (more than once)? I was SHARING MY RATIONALE based on current evidence .

You don't score points in debates by not paying attention and skimming through my posts.
Gil
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 10:42pm (UTC -5)
I guess I can toss this is now.

Whose Star Trek is real Star Trek anyways?

@Bold Helmsman et al

Gene Roddenberry didn't invent Section 31, nor would he have. Gene Coon didn't invent Section 31, nor would he have. Hell, even Fred ”Show Killer" Freiberger didn't think to invent Section 31 to bolster TOS’ third season. Rick Berman didn’t invent Section 31. Neither did Brannon Braga. Nor Michael Piller. Or even Jeri Taylor.

Aspiring edgelord Ira Steven Behr invented Section 31 (the clandestine organization didn’t even make an appearance until the sixth season of DS9, and its only other appearance was in that cluster**** Enterprise). And given the specious, self-serving verdict he arrived at about the so-called negative feedback to DS9’s Rejoined, I hold Mr. Behr’s opinions about what Star Trek is or isn’t in very low regard.

Behr, again…

"Why is Earth a paradise in the twenty-fourth century? Well, maybe it's because there's someone watching over it and doing the nasty stuff that no one wants to think about. Of course it's a very complicated issue. Extremely complicated. And those kinds of covert operations usually are wrong!"

Gene Roddenberry’s United Federation of Planets is not Iain Bank’s The Culture (great book series by the way). Nor did Roddenberry conceive of the UFP as a mere analog to that American run dog and pony show called NATO. If anything, it’s a stark refutation of it. Gene Coon’s rewrite of “Mirror, Mirror” is the most obvious critique of the military-industrial complex and American imperial overreach in Trek canon.

And Roddenberry certainly would never have countenanced Bank’s Special Circumstances operating under the hood of the UFP because, for one, it would bely the moral imperative of non-interference that was established, and two, beggars belief that an organization like Section 31 could operate unremarked or unnoticed under the eyes, ears, noses and antennae of all the technologically advanced societies comprising the UFP (unless they're all in a conspiracy of silence).

Basically: given how technological advances have been informing and shaping hot button issues like privacy and surveillance today in the early 21st century, imagine how these same issues might evolve in the Roddenberry universe over the course of 200, 300 years, and what laws, treaties, technology and corresponding counter technology would be enacted, enforced and erected across worlds light years apart to prevent organizations like Section 31 from even achieving escape velocity.

So to suggest that Starfleet couldn’t pursue its peaceful, non-interventionist mandate without resorting to dirty tricks is pure projection on your part, Behr’s, and all the others who don’t, can’t or are unwilling to see anything possible past jury-rigged, Cold War genre tropes at best, or the ecocidal neoliberal agenda at worst.

Which is obviously why Roddenberry’s Trek could only thrive within a post-scarcity paradigm. In order for the future to be better off, humanity has to be better off (not just some).

Ira Steven Behr had his own agenda and priorities trying to get 26 episodes a year to air, and like other supposedly well meaning cooks adding to a broth, he thought it would be a good idea to stir in some Section 31 and mix things up a bit. Well, it did mix things up, and it wasn't a good idea then, and still isn't a good idea now, because it flies in the face of Trek’s received philosophy, at least as far myself and many like-minded individuals have come to appreciate it over the decades.

So, no, Behr certainly is not my source of “real” Star Trek. Frankly, one could strike DS9 from canon and I wouldn’t miss a thing apart from perhaps the often delightful interplay between Ben Sisko and Jadzia Dax.

Ultimately, this thing called Star Trek that has been riding the pop culture matter stream for the past 50 years is based on a wholly unoriginal and uncontroversial proposition, one made by countless people over the course of history: that humanity could boldly go where a pack of feral dogs fighting over a bleached bone in an alleyway cannot and never will go.

In nuce: Behr’s Section 31 farts in Star Trek’s general direction.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 10:48pm (UTC -5)
@Bold Helmsman
"You know, I've often thought the reason Star Trek has not advanced forward was because of the negative reactions they feared getting from fans."

You mean, the same fans that have been screaming for 15 years "DO SOMETHING POST-NEMESIS. PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, NOT ANOTHER PREQUEL"?

I, personally, have no problem with a prequel done well (hint: Discovery ain't it). But I'm in the minority. And even I don't have a *preference* for such a setting. Prequel or sequel, I don't really care. I just want quality stories and a consistent universe.

It's funny how some people insist on accusing Trekkies of "nostalgia" when the vast majority of them want a 25th century show.
Dave in MN
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 10:48pm (UTC -5)
Remmick came onboard in Season 1 hunting a conspiracy and that was under Gene's watch and with his blessing. And that was before even we got to see the spine-roaches and secretive movements within Starfleet.

He might not have thought up the actual Section 31, but let's not pretend like Gene thought there wasn't a ineed for and existence if a. Internal/externsl security apparatus with special powers.
Peter G.
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 10:53pm (UTC -5)
@ Bold Helmsman,

"Why are you bringing up Lost? There are no long running JJ style mystery boxes here?"

I'm not sure what your second question means. Do you mean to agree that S1 was a JJ style mystery box, or to suggest that there were no mystery boxes in DISC so far? If the latter, I would suggest watching S1 again and asking yourself, episode by episode, 'is it possible to understand what I just watched with no further explanation?' If the answer is no, and that the answer to the mysteries requires making it to the end of the season, then you're in a JJ style mystery box.

@ Omicron,

"Why would any sane person prefer to trust the showrunners rather than trust their own eyes and brains? If they say that their show "follows canon in awesome ways" and our very eyes prove otherwise, then that's evidence enough that they are either stinking liars or they have absolutely no idea what they're doing (or - in all probability - both).

We don't need esoteric behind-the-scenes information to tell us this. "

I didn't say we required the theory in order to realize this; only that the theory would be *relevant* to this point.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 11:02pm (UTC -5)
@Peter
"Do you mean to agree that S1 was a JJ style mystery box, or to suggest that there were no mystery boxes in DISC so far?"

Well DSC S1 may well have been a mystery box, but that storyline is over now. It is quite clear that the promised payoff never came. And given the direction that S2 is taking, it is equally clear that the promised payoff will not come in the future either.

Now, of-course, with S2 we have an entirely new mystery box with Spock. But as Scotty once said: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me".
Gil
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 11:13pm (UTC -5)
@Dave in MN

Context is relevant however.

All organizations and institutions have some kind of oversight office, committee or agency tasked with objectively monitoring and reporting on the lawful/unlawful operations of said organizations or institutions.

Remmick operated within and under the auspices of the Inspector General's office. He wasn't engaged in skullduggery undermining the governments of aligned or nonaligned planets, let alone murdering foreign dignitaries and the like (except until he wasn't Remmick anymore, of course).
Brian
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 11:25pm (UTC -5)
“I would suggest watching S1 again and asking yourself, episode by episode, 'is it possible to understand what I just watched with no further explanation?'“

It is, unless you’re referring to the larger arcs which of course take the season to explain. That’s not a JJ Abrams creation, it’s a part of serialized storytelling adapted to streaming television. In a streaming format, you can binge watch an entire season because it’s supported and encouraged by the service. Lost was a typical 24 episode/season show with a self-contained mystery and an ending leading to another mystery with the overarching plot being something like Voyager, i.e. when will the characters get off the island safely?
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 11:32pm (UTC -5)
Let's be fair.

I think it is pretty obvious that Roddenberry wouldn't have approved of DS9. No way he would have approved the Bajor religion storyline or the Dominion War. There are a dozen reasons why Gene wouldn't accept DS9 even before we discuss section 31.

And those who say we shouldn't put too much weight in this statement are right. We shouldn't judge are Trek by what Roddenberry - as a person - would approve.

BUT

This does not mean that we can completely decouple Star Trek from its Creator's original intentions. One cannot deny that Roddenberry created Star Trek with the intention of showing us better future. As Gil so aptly put it: A future where humans don't "act like a pack of feral dog fighting over a bleached bone".

And I, for one, think that this intention deserves to be protected.

I couldn't care less regarding what Roddenberry as a person would approve or not. But I *do* care very much about keeping Star Trek in line with his general intentions.
Bold Helmsman
Sun, Feb 17, 2019, 11:36pm (UTC -5)
@OmnicronThetaDeltaPhi
Considering how those same fans react to anything to dares to be different than TNG, I honestly can't blame the powers that be for not taking them at their words

@Gil
No need to put all the blame for Section 31 on DS9 or Behr.

TNG has its fair share of blame as well. When the Federation has enemies like the Romulans and the Cardassians around, something like Section 31 begins to sound more and more likely.

You can say people are pushing their perception onto Trek, but if anything history is the one doing that. The more people learned about the nasty underbelly of modern geopolitics, as they started to in the 80's, the more unrealistic the perfect, squeaky clean nature of the Federation starts to seem.

@Peter G.
Maybe I'm biased, but I really can't compare anything Discovery has done, to what Lost did.
Gil
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 12:16am (UTC -5)
@Bold Helmsman

Well, I can't say you're wrong about how historical experience influences interpretation, evaluation and re-evalution of speculative fiction. But, as I stated, I'm completely cognizant of the fact that Roddenberry's Trek can only exist within a very specific paradigm, i.e. a post-scarcity economy.

That's where the speculative part, the idealistic part, comes into play: are we humane enough to ever achieve something so inimical to our lizard hindbrain.

Otherwise any space faring future invariably looks more like The Expanse (which is the most consistently rewarding space opera I've had the pleasure to watch since Farscape in the mid aughts).
Peter G.
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 12:16am (UTC -5)
@ Brian,

"It is, unless you’re referring to the larger arcs which of course take the season to explain. That’s not a JJ Abrams creation, it’s a part of serialized storytelling adapted to streaming television. In a streaming format, you can binge watch an entire season because it’s supported and encouraged by the service. Lost was a typical 24 episode/season show with a self-contained mystery and an ending leading to another mystery with the overarching plot being something like Voyager, i.e. when will the characters get off the island safely?"

JJ didn't invent serialized long-format storytelling, but either spearheaded or at least popularized long-form teasing where the audience is being dragged through a series of improvisations where there's no planned payoff but they're making it up week by week. The typical reaction to such developments is "what!? how are they ever going to explain how *that* happened??" when some new over-the-top thing is revealed. Surely you're right that this must have occurred before LOST, but LOST perfected it and certainly made it notorious. When comparing LOST to, say, the 24 show, the big difference is that 24 seems to have the arc planned in advance with the occasional need to improvise due to casting issues and the like, but overall the story really was going somewhere. Although even that show did excel at cliffhanger endings, and in that respect LOST wasn't unique. Actually LOST didn't even employ cliffhangers all that often and tended instead to introduce borderline fantastical narrative elements that would seemingly be impossible to explain at first glance; and likewise over the top character developments that seemed like chaos except that we were assured it was all to some ultimately planned purpose. It's mostly this aspect I'm referring to with DISC. But I can see how there was a need for me to elaborate a bit on what I meant, so thanks for the comment to help me clarify.
Gil
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 12:39am (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

Just go back to the beginnings of television. Soap operas originated and exploited the seductive Big Tease, or as it's colloquial referred to today as: WTF?!?
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 1:15am (UTC -5)
Do you really want your sci fi to look like a soap opera, though?
Peter G.
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 1:23am (UTC -5)
@ Gil,

Touche. But there's a certain territory associated with soaps, and perhaps your suggestion isn't so far from what I'm saying. The typical differences between a soap and a weekly included having more far-fetched and even deliberately outrageous stories, and usually more outlandish acting and we might even say worse actors generally speaking. To the point of the outrageous stories, those almost become a design element in soaps, as pushing the boundary of the absurd while yet creating that magical hook is sort of the bread and butter of keeping the viewing coming back the next day. We can imagine the cliche of "But aha! I was your brother all along!!" and it may well hit close to home in how the twists of DISC are conducted. Regarding the bad acting I actually think this may have been deliberate in many soaps rather than a result of thrift, since in a way having very natural, believable acting might well conflict stylistically with the oft silly nature of the stories. It sort of fits to have ham acting going along with ham stories, all of which have a sense of fun and outrageousness that may help rather than hinder. We might compare this to commedia or some kinds of sitcoms, where 'bad acting' is actually required for the effect to come off, where serious in-depth realism from the actors would take the wind out of the zaniness and weight all down. One must, in short, not just suspect disbelief for soaps of this sort to work, but even to eliminate it altogether and accept the premise as being fantastical rather than real; this isn't dissimilar from what happens in a roadrunner cartoon.

So I do think your comparison is a propos to what I'm suggesting, which is that a teaser-style "gotcha!" set of twists and absurd turns in what I'm calling the JJ style is fantastical rather than believable, and perhaps comparing this to a soap isn't the worst idea. I don't exactly even mean to denigrate soaps as I say this; or at any rate I should say that I admire cartoons and commedia and that absurd storytelling can be great. But I don't think Trek ever was or should be that. Some have pointed out that DS9's MU episodes, with their Alice in Wonderland vibe (which I really do enjoy) seem to be the basic storytelling style of DISC, which I guess is legit if Trek is meant to be a nonsensical romp, but in my opinion that would be a catastrophic loss compared to what it could be. Not that ENT or most of the TNG films were groundbreaking or even acceptable, so I'm not of the "what have they done to my Trek!" camp. More like, ugh, more drek, what a shocker. I had become beaten down by it before DISC was ever created, so it's not really like this came as some surprising alarm to me.
Booming
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 2:19am (UTC -5)
I just want to point out that when it comes to copyright a number like 25% makes no sense because you cannot quantify art. Even between companies you wouldn't do that. You would use language like " significant difference between a and b" and than clearly define what that means most likely point by point.
And that midgnight edge guy is probably making money doing this stuff. Making money on conspiracy theories is a really big thing in the US for almost two decades now. There are probably thousands of people sitting at home and thinking about how they can create a conspiracy theory and make money with it. It doesn't lack a certain kind of irony that people believe this stuff but shout fake news all day. Considering that this stuff would never get the go ahead from an editor of a big newspaper. No, you would probably get fired.
And the improvisational or open ended writing style wasn't invented by JJ. And the extreme form of the style (completely free without any idea where it goes) wasn't that used in LOST because of Damon Lindelof? He is famous for using it. It is just one end of the scale the other would be to know from the beginning where everything goes.
Do I like the style. Well, let me put it like this. I stopped watching LOST during season 3 because at that point the gimmick was pretty obvious to me.
Full disclosure. I watched the Leftovers and that really cured me of the Lindelof style. Could Discovery be written in a similar way. I guess that is possible and I almost want to say probable. But if it is then we will find out sooner or later. Why? Because that is not a good way to write serialized TV.
Tina Y
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 2:47am (UTC -5)
And here it is, the apotheosis of one of the worst creations in Trek lore history- that deranged "mycelial" daftness. This might be the stupidest hour of Star Trek since the first season of Enterprise in 2001- probably the one in which they’re trapped in a cave, hallucinating… because spores (the poetry of fate). The only way this hot mess has any redeemable value- if the kingdom of mushroom magic is never mentioned again. But we shouldn’t be so lucky. And Sonequa, please, when they make you record pretentious narration, you don’t make it any better by affecting a voice that sounds like someone reading a storybook to a classroom of children. (Not her fault really, she isn’t directing herself.)

Fave scene from this ep: “Spock?” “Spock.” “Spocka Spock?” “Spocka Spock Spock Spock!”
wolfstar
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 7:51am (UTC -5)
I didn't get around to reviewing this episode... I'm hovering between 2.5 and 3 because despite the nonsensical plot, I found this the best directed, executed and paced episode of the season. David Barrett also directed Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad, and based on that episode and this one I think he's Discovery's best director. He actually directs with a sense of style. As an actioner, this was executed on a level with Into The Forest I Go.

Given that she didn't create the plot for this episode, I think Kirsten Beyer did a relatively decent job with the ridiculous material at hand. With the exception of the technobabble scenes, I found the dialogue reasonable and better than a lot of previous eps. The ep was also better and more coherent than Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum, her previous Discovery writing credit. One detail I liked was that she wrote Burnham as much more wary and hostile towards Mirror Georgiou, which for me helps to undo the damage of Burnham having "rescued" Georgiou and brought her over in the first place (one of S1's predetermined plot points that poorly served Burnham's character and that the show unsuccessfully tried to rationalize after the fact).

I also found Mary Wiseman way better in this episode, because her character was used seriously rather than as comic relief – her performance as an angry, frightened Tilly in a crunch situation was really strong, much better than the usual shtick.

I agree with the consensus on the content of this episode being absolute nonsense... but I wanted to flag up the things that worked well.
wolfstar
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 8:58am (UTC -5)
Tina - The Apotheosis Of Mycelial Daftness should have been the episode title, haha :)
MadManMUC
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 10:19am (UTC -5)
wolfstar, I'm going to give you some pretty substantial brownie points for using the word 'apotheosis'. That's a fantastic word, too seldom used! :D
wolfstar
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 10:58am (UTC -5)
Tina used it first in her comment, I was just paraphrasing her :)
Eric Jensen
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 12:06pm (UTC -5)
I thought it was very good. It was star-trek like, in terms of reconstituting back Culber's body (not unlike transporter technology), searching for Spock, and section 31's un-mysterious elements.
The mycelium network is not unscientific. Search BBC Earth - Plants talk to each other. "By linking to the fungal network they can help out their neighbours by sharing nutrients and information – or sabotage unwelcome plants by spreading toxic chemicals through the network."
Just because others do not understand technobabble or the concepts behind it does not make the technobabble implausible or too far fetched.
I liked how Tilly helped the situation with May. Only time will tell why section 31 is so unsecretive at the moment.
As for the long discussion in the MN as DSC is being enveloped, well they did not expect to see Culber and they did not expect to see Culber vanish pass the barrier. It is hardly faith if they saw what happened to Tilly and they talked about energy is not created or destroyed and DNA and using the mycelium matter instead.
Was Culber's death pointless in season 1? Not necessarily. It showed Voq's (in Tyler's body) intentions. However it is explained in this episode that Culber isn't fully dead. Why could Stamets see Culber in the network?
They could have explained Admiral Cornwall though. Like "Cornwell briefed us on this" or something. It was completely out of the blue. I thought the acting was good overall.
4 out of 4 stars.
Trent
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
Eric said: "The mycelium network is not unscientific. Search BBC Earth - Plants talk to each other."

I think Discovery got swept up by the pop-science explanations that were popular aroundabout the time fungal networks became popular in the mainstream (spread by books like "The Secret Lives of Trees", which scientists criticized for anthropomorphizing plants). What you go on to describe are not "choices", "sentient" or "directed" actions made by "talking" plants. It's just an accident; evolutionary pressures selecting for certain triggers which lead to pseudo-symbiotic behavior.

What you see in Discovery is completely different to the "reality" of fungal networks. Discovery posits a whole new world in which all of reality is connected by fungal tunnels (the real life "fungal tunnels" are not literal tunnels, just splotches of fungus which ooze compounds onto each other) populated by sentient beings.
petulant
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
The number 25 is clear evidence of the Unicorn Illuminati at work again.
Midquest
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 4:14pm (UTC -5)
I'm seriously baffled by the idea that this plot was ludicrous or some cop-out by the writers. If you watched Season 1, the way Culber is uploaded to the network and eventually returns is foreshadowed and explained by Tilly and Culber in the back half of the season. We had a pretty good idea this would happen, so kudos to the writers for embedding that story into Season 1. Point being, the story here was a natural outgrowth of last season, and one people predicted.

And the show itself explains Culber's immaculate and later rough forms quite well. He was neural energy, along with the Stametses and Discovery in Season 1; he was then reconstituted physically, which is what we see here.

Also, the mycelial network is indeed based on real science--real science stretched and imaginatively deployed as a kind of cosmic "What if?", but far more grounded in actual science than a good deal of what Star Trek has passed off as science.
Leif
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 4:32pm (UTC -5)
Can someone remind me when Section 31 was introduced on this vseries? Ws it two episodes ago this season with Georgiou's Klingon surprise party on Q'onos? Or was it sometime last season with MU Lorca

..and has anyone else ever thought they should show Section 31 in the Mirror Universe but that MU Section 31 would be like a charity organization that gives people in the Federation free hugs and gives Klingons some bunny rabbits to hold to male the Klingons look softer and less bald? And of course the MU Section would be called Section 13...bexwause you know like, 31, but like the reflection..Sorry this was my attempt at lame Rom on DS9-style mirror uni puns...Hope it makes somebody chuckle....
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 7:30pm (UTC -5)
The MU equivalent of Section 31 should be called Section 13 ;-)
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 7:31pm (UTC -5)
...Which was literally stated by Lief right above my post.

I tried to be clever, and ended up stupid. :-(
Jammer
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 9:05pm (UTC -5)
Review now posted.
Dave in MN
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 9:41pm (UTC -5)
Section 23.25

... since it's 25% different (possibly). ;)
Jason
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 10:41pm (UTC -5)
Great review Jammer, I think you liked it more than some people here, but you’re right, the episode works based on this show’s own terms. It’s kind of like how the Prophets intervened in DS9 quite a bit, but the show sort of explained them, even if the explanation itself was not very scientific.

Jammer wrote:

“People seem to be up in arms that Section 31 is — gasp! — not the same secret organization it was when we encountered it on DS9. Is it so hard to imagine a significant change in the organization's profile in the course of a whole century? (And Section 31 was not as underground as you may remember, as seen by the end of "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges.")”

I know, it’s wild, right? I hope once we get more info about Section 31 in this time period we’ll understand how it’s different and why it might need to become more secretive in time. One possibility is that the TNG era was relative peace and thus Section 31 served the Federation better by keeping a low profile. Then that all changed when the Dominion came and threatened the Federation’s existence.
Peter G.
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 11:02pm (UTC -5)
Jammer has always been great as judging a show based on its own aspirations rather than what he might have preferred to see. It's another reason why comparing ratings he gives one series to those of another doesn't work.
John Harmon
Mon, Feb 18, 2019, 11:33pm (UTC -5)
"Is it so hard to imagine a significant change in the organization's profile in the course of a whole century?"

Frankly, yes. I find it too hard to believe that something like Section 31 could be so well known in the 2250's and by the 2370's it's so secretive that nobody is even aware it was ever a thing. It makes it even harder to believe when you consider how much longer people live in this future so there's likely people from the time of Discovery still alive by the time of DS9.

The impression I got from DS9 was that Section 31 was like a rogue band of extremists, who interpret the law in what they consider the best interests of the Federation. Which is why they've always been able to operate with no oversight and be so secretive. I assumed they had operatives working within high in Starfleet command, but that it wasn't the same as Starfleet endorsing them.

To me it completely takes away everything that's interesting about Section 31 when you just make them an official branch of Starfleet that isn't secret in the least and they all just have a bunch of magical do anything technology more advanced than anything else in the show.

Also I have to wonder how Cornwell was able to assert why authority over Leland at all when Section 31 operates with no oversight whatsoever. He didn't have to listen to her.
Bold Helmsman
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 12:42am (UTC -5)
@John Harmon
Like Jammer mentioned, Section 31 isn't as secret as its made it out to be, even in DS9. It literally could not operate without the higher ranking people knowing about it. Those people simply pretend not to know about them, while accepting what they do, as Odo points out once.
Booming
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 1:22am (UTC -5)
@John Harmon:"The impression I got from DS9 was that Section 31 was like a rogue band of extremists, who interpret the law in what they consider the best interests of the Federation."
That is incorrect. In DS9 it is stated that Section 31 is pasrt of the original Federation Charta.
And another point. You say that you have a hard time believing that they changed in 120 years. The CIA didn't exist a 120 years ago and seen quite a bit of change and the FBI is also less than 120 years old and changed from a borderline gestapo led by an Enabran Tain like figure to a (until recently) well respected national police force.
Leif Elliott
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 1:38am (UTC -5)
Hey Omicron,

You don't seem stupid. I just got lucky and beat you and everyone else to the punch..I hope you and Jammer et al liked my other lame MU jokes though..I also like Dave' in MN's 23.25% "from concentrate Section 31" only 25%...

And I'd assume I'm also not the only one who thought OMG IS MIRROR EMPEROR GEORGIOU THE DESCENDANT OF MIRROR EMPRESS HOSHI SATO FROM THE ENTERPRISE MU EPISODE IN A MIRROR HAS ANYONE ELSE THOUGHT THIS?..It its yes I' mainly saying because they're both Asian women but also it fits since they were both Starfleet and empresses and since MU Empress Slut-Sato slept with Archer before she MU poisoned him does that mean that OMG IS MU GEORGIOU ALSO THE MU LOVE CHILD OF MU ARCHER WITH EMPRESS SATO FROM THEIR PRE-POISON TRYST..BUT WAIT GEORGIOU HAS NEVER MENTIONED WATER POLO SO SHE DOESN'T SEEM LIKE AN ARCHER..BUT WAIT THAT BIG SPORE DRIVE ORB THINGY ON HER MU PALACE SHIP COULD'VE BEEN A MYCELIAL WATER POLO BALL SO MAYBE SHE IS EMPRESS GEORGIOU AUGUSTUS ARCHER SATO TRIP TUCKER THE THIRD OR SOMETHING...OMG!!..HAS ANYONE ELSE THOUGHT THIS??

And last WILD PSECULATION..COULD TRIP'S CLONE SIM FROM SIMILITUDE BE ALIVE IN THE SPORE NETWORK LIKE CULBER SINCE THE GRAVIMETRIC BUBBLE GUM FIELD THE SPHERES CREATED IN THE DELPHIC EXPANSE LOOKS LIKE INTERDIMENSIONAL WOO-WOO THAT COULD BE CONNECTED TO THE SPORES..JUST A THOUGHT..MAYBE MAY IS SIM IN DISGUISE..Sorry for all caps..just want someone to read and be entertained amidst the 3,000 other comments here..
JohnTY
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 7:15am (UTC -5)
Jammer said "People seem to be up in arms that Section 31 is — gasp! — not the same secret organization it was when we encountered it on DS9. Is it so hard to imagine a significant change in the organization's profile in the course of a whole century? (And Section 31 was not as underground as you may remember, as seen by the end of "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges.")"

The point is not just the continuity issues. For Starfleet to openly condone Section 31 in this time period (or the 24th century) is completely counter to what the Federation is supposed to be about.

It also takes a great idea about the core of the Federation's ideals vs cold reality and turns it into a big, dumb, blunt instrument.

Can't say I've disagreed with one of your reviews more for some time.
wolfstar
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 7:42am (UTC -5)
Seconded on the Section 31 point... my issue with the Section 31 changes is not that it's implausible S31 would change in nature, it's that a) these changes have only been made because it's cool and edgy, and b) because post-DS9 and Enterprise, Section 31 has essentially been reduced to a backdoor narrative device to allow the introduction of non-Trekkian elements into Star Trek.
philadlj
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 9:16am (UTC -5)
Starfleet isn't "openly" condoning anything; Cornwell's chat with Pike and Leland was private, not live-streamed over the Federation News Service.

As for S31 running counter to Federation ideals, large monolithic governments circumvent or outright ignore their stated ideals, either in order to survive, or to gain an advantage over rivals.

That practice would not change in the cutthroat reaches of interstellar space. Gene's vague Utopian vision rarely passed muster even in TOS.

"Ideals" are a standard of perfection, and even the Borg haven't figured out how to achieve perfection.

*Ideally*, the Federation doesn't need S31 to survive, and operates under that high standard.

*Realistically*, S31 will always be a check against threats to the Federation, and if the Federation continues to survive, it's all gravy.

This is why I have no problem the DIS iteration of S31.
Rahul
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 9:35am (UTC -5)
I'm surprised at Jammer's obvious appreciation for this episode, which to me is clearly the worst of DSC S2.

But I do agree with his comments re. Section 31 -- that it is not the same organization seen in DS9. But let's not forget, it was a highly secretive operation during the time of ENT - recall in Season 4 where Malcolm had to meet the Section 31 dude in darkened back alley, and also how they were making backroom deals with the Klingons ("Affliction"/"Divergence"). So it seems Section 31 has changed from the time of ENT and "will change again" when it gets to DS9's time. I don't have an issue with that. But I would disagree that the Section 31 subplot is the weaker part of this episode. It isn't great but it's not as bad as the spore network rescue plot.

@ Peter G. says "Jammer has always been great as judging a show based on its own aspirations rather than what he might have preferred to see. It's another reason why comparing ratings he gives one series to those of another doesn't work."

I don't know if this means DSC's aspirations are lower! Certainly they're different. As for my evaluations of these episodes, I personally try to look at them the same way I'd look at the other Treks so that my DSC ratings jive with my ratings of the other Treks. So for me a 3* DSC episode is just as good as a 3* TNG episode, for example. Personally I think that's more helpful, but to each his/her own.
Booming
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 9:44am (UTC -5)
Leaning over to Jammer: Your Highness, the peasants are getting unruly.
Yanks
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 10:03am (UTC -5)
Rahaul,

Agree. no way I could make this one a 3 star episode either.... but as we've seen here time and time again, to each his own as, as you said, long as your consistant.

The best exchange of this episode by far was this:

"ADM CORNWELL: I need both of you to find him, and I need you to help each other.
Come on, fellas.
Cut the manlier-than-thou bullshit.
Leland, you camouflaged yourself from a Starfleet captain, your friend, in the
middle of a rescue mission.
NOT CORNWELL: - Admiral, our camouf -
ADM CORNWELL: Save it.
And, Captain Pike, Section 31 may not be the shining beacon of righteous conduct you want it to be, but they are a critical intelligence division, and we have more pressing priorities than debating Article 14 of Starfleet's charter.
Nation building is never pretty.
That is the unappetizing truth, and you know it.
Now, I don't care if you feel like you are on opposite sides.
We are all on the same team.
31 CAPTAIN: [EXHALES] We go back a long way, Chris.
But my job requires me to walk a line, and I crossed that with you.
I apologize.
PIKE: It's accepted.
I'll try to remember that my path is sometimes clearer than yours.
31 CAPTAIN: Well [CHUCKLES] that's the understatement of the millennium."

ADM Cornwell does pretty darn well in these type situations.... and of course we get the "manlier-than-thou bullshit." comment... I wonder when 2 gals get in an argument if a estrogen comment would be appropriate.
Chrome
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 10:41am (UTC -5)
@Yanks

I like the "manlier-than-thou" ribbing Cornwell gives because it accents the point that Pike and Leland know each other, and have something of a personal rivalry which motivates each captain's reasons for being in Starfleet.

I wonder if from here on out we're going to see how each man's philosophy shapes the Federation. My understanding is that the Federation of Archer's era was rugged and unrefined with its dealings with other species but they learned to better themselves throughout the series which led to a more enlightened era we see under Kirk.

Kirk himself was a bit of a cowboy who bucked the rules, but he always held a certain decorum and respect for other species - especially Spock who was his best friend. Then of course, we get to the Picard era where the Federation seems to operate like a well-oiled machine and personal conflict itself doesn't exist. But when you really think about it, there's so much mystery in the question of how each era got to be how it was. It's good to see that they're attempting to fill in the holes.
Yanks
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 11:14am (UTC -5)
Chrome,

"I like the "manlier-than-thou" ribbing Cornwell gives because it accents the point that Pike and Leland know each other, and have something of a personal rivalry which motivates each captain's reasons for being in Starfleet."

Not so sure about this one. This was sexist out of the gate. Not saying I didn't like it, I did. I thought it was necessary... she sure did get thier attention ... but that still doesn't answer the "shoe is on the other foot" question I posed.

"I wonder if from here on out we're going to see how each man's philosophy shapes the Federation. My understanding is that the Federation of Archer's era was rugged and unrefined with its dealings with other species but they learned to better themselves throughout the series which led to a more enlightened era we see under Kirk.

Kirk himself was a bit of a cowboy who bucked the rules, but he always held a certain decorum and respect for other species - especially Spock who was his best friend. Then of course, we get to the Picard era where the Federation seems to operate like a well-oiled machine and personal conflict itself doesn't exist. But when you really think about it, there's so much mystery in the question of how each era got to be how it was. It's good to see that they're attempting to fill in the holes."

I think it will most likely be the federation side we see "improvment" in. Section 31 has already charted it's path pretty much I think. The biggest thing they will have to contain is Georgiou.
John Harmon
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 11:49am (UTC -5)
"In DS9 it is stated that Section 31 is pasrt of the original Federation Charta."

That line wasn't saying that the organization was mentioned in the original Starfleet charter. Sloan just meant that that's where they got their name. From Section 31 of the Starfleet charter. That was always my interpretation. He's part of a group of people that interpret Section 31 to the extreme.

And honestly that's interesting. What's not interesting is making them a bunch of "badass super spies". That's boring as hell.

I can't believe that Section 31 would have been super secret and underground during Enterprise, then be the most well known thing ever in Discovery, only to then be so secret that nobody knows about it by the time of DS9. I honestly think Alex Kurtzman is just an idiot who actually doesn't understand what Section 31 is. I mean, look what he did with it in Into Darkness.
John Harmon
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 11:52am (UTC -5)
And also Cornwell's monologue at the end condoning Section 31 and saying how necessary they are for a society made me ill. When Sloan said it in DS9, it made sense because he was the bad guy. He was an extremist so of course he'd say something like that.

To have actual Starfleet agree with them ruins it in my opinion. Cornwell said "nation building isn't easy". In a post scarcity society it would be.

Discovery is just gross. It's just American Foreign Policy IIIIN SPAAAAAACE. I think Discovery is the most American Star Trek yet, and it makes me sad.

We're a far cry from the TNG era, where one of the edicts was to not just make Starfleet space police, forcing other cultures to conform to their way. They wanted to avoid making Star Trek look like it was just American foreign policy. Not anymore.
Chrome
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 12:12pm (UTC -5)
@Yanks

Well, that would depend on whether you think being manly, or competing for manliness is insulting. Personally, I don't! :-)

@John Harmon

I didn't watch Enterprise, but from reading up on it, it looks like they elaborated on a specific Article and Section of the Federation charter that created section 31. Now, I guess we could be pedantic and say the charter doesn't specifically mention creating a group to help carry out the extreme measures of the article, but if you know anything about the U.S. constitution, you would understand that a lot of the ways that the U.S. government branches were not outlined in specifics . They have been interpreted over the years to create a functioning government. The FBI, as mentioned above, isn't anywhere at all in the constitution, but derives power through the judicial branch (stemming from Article III, s2) who created it as a policing force to help the objectives of the DOJ.
Yanks
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 12:42pm (UTC -5)
@John Harmon
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 11:52am (UTC -6)

"And also Cornwell's monologue at the end condoning Section 31 and saying how necessary they are for a society made me ill. When Sloan said it in DS9, it made sense because he was the bad guy. He was an extremist so of course he'd say something like that.

To have actual Starfleet agree with them ruins it in my opinion. Cornwell said "nation building isn't easy". In a post scarcity society it would be.

Discovery is just gross. It's just American Foreign Policy IIIIN SPAAAAAACE. I think Discovery is the most American Star Trek yet, and it makes me sad.

We're a far cry from the TNG era, where one of the edicts was to not just make Starfleet space police, forcing other cultures to conform to their way. They wanted to avoid making Star Trek look like it was just American foreign policy. Not anymore."

Not sure it's the most American... Kirk recited the premble to the Constitution in an episode (Omega Glory)... lol

At the end of season 1, when "the answer" to the Klingon War was to give a weapon of mass destruction to an installed leader I thought "have we learned nothing"?

As far as "nation building isn't easy", I don't think she was refering to Earth. That's the place it should now be easy, not the imalgination of worlds in the Federation.
Booming
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 12:42pm (UTC -5)
@ Yanks: That is not sexist. She didn't say: "Boys, stop swinging your dicks around or men, always fighting, insecure idiots." And if she wanted to cover her bases: "Boys don't get you panties wet." That would be a double whammy. Sexist towards men and women.
So come on now. Don't be so sensitive and man up! ;)
@ John Harmon: Yeah, Chrome covered it pretty nicely. And I want to add that there are at least some admirals who knew that they existed like Admiral Ross.
Just think of it this way. At the beginning the Federation was often vitally threatened but over the decades it became more and more like paradise and people were less and less inclined to accept a Star Trek Gestapo. The better the Federation worked the lower their profile became. And we shouldn't forget that the Discovery is itself not a regular ship. You probably have to get through a million background checks to get on that ship because of the Spore drive which is super secret.
Yanks
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 12:46pm (UTC -5)
Booming/Chrome...

I didn't say I didn't like it.... read my whole post.

I do want to similar context while observing a cat fight though :-)
Peter G.
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 12:47pm (UTC -5)
@ John Harmon,

"To have actual Starfleet agree with them ruins it in my opinion. Cornwell said "nation building isn't easy". In a post scarcity society it would be. "

She actually said this in an episode? Oh lord. In modern terms that's a euphemism for regime change in foreign governments and quasi-imperialism in rich countries dictating policy to weaker ones. It's one thing if she was meant to be an Admiral on the wrong side of the Trek ethos, who needs to be corrected. But from S1's arc it seemed pretty clear that she *was* Starfleet, as their only representative that we ever see (along with Sarek), and that therefore we are meant to take her statements as representing those of Starfleet as a whole. If she is now openly condoning 31 then that means so is Starfleet, and it's not just a question of a few people in Starfleet doing sneaky things and the rest of the organization failing to attack the cancer because it pulls strings (like Palpatine).

That doesn't sound concordant to me with how DS9 portrayed it, which was as something that outraged your average officer when learning about it. Even O'Brien, the most loyal guy in the fleet, basically resorted to what basically amounted to treason to try to deal with them.
Jammer
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 1:17pm (UTC -5)
DS9 said Section 31 was a part of the original Starfleet charter. This was later shown in Enterprise as having existed under Article 14, Section 31. (This pre-dates the Federation, BTW.)

From there it's not hard for me to imagine that Section 31 at some point became an official arm of Starfleet Intelligence, if that's even what we are seeing here. And that arm could be completely dissolved and disavowed sometime in the next 100+ years, which is plenty of time for someone like Bashir to believably not have heard of them in the 24th century, where they could've been spun up again as an underground rogue operation.

Is it a retcon? Probably. But as retcons go, this is on more solid ground than most.

Regarding Kurtzman being an idiot: Why do some automatically assume that any executive is automatically operating in bad faith and knows nothing about what he has been charged with? And that he can't possibly have done his homework? Maybe he did and maybe he didn't, but the assumption of the worst is indicative of a really tough crowd. Let's see where this is going and give it a chance!
Jason R.
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Jammer's comments and would add that one of the more uncomfortable implications of the DS9 arc was that Sloan was essentually correct - but for Section 31's intervention in creating the Changeling virus the Alpha quadrant powers would almost certainly have lost to the Dominion.

The neutralization of the Founders was, arguably as much as the closure of the wormhole, responsible for the Dominion's loss. Their impact in the years leading up to the war and during it was, frankly, devastating. Consider that but for what amounted to protagonist plot armor, they would have single handedly 1) Blown up DS9 and half the Federation fleet; 2) Started a war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire; 3) Started another war between the Federation and the Tsenkathi and 4) Turned the Federation into a paranoid dictatorship etc...

None of the foregoing is really arguable in the context of DS9.

I don't fault DS9 for straying from Rodenberry's vision; I fault Rodenberry's vision (which was actualized most clearly in TNG through Picard) for being rubbish, completely at odds with the universe as it was portrayed. Even assuming humanity had forsaken its sins by the 24th Century, certainly the Romulans and Cardassians (and others) had not! The only thing the Dominion brought to the table that was really gamechanging was a ruthlessness and resourcefulness that others lacked. But this was a question of degree, not kind.

In this context, how could Starfleet not embrace at least some of Section 31's methods? Does the enlightened human of the 24th Century choose annihilation and enslavement over violation of his principles? It was always easy for Picard to choose principles behind the helm of a Galaxy Class starship capable of wiping the floor with virtually all of its adversaries.
Booming
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 2:04pm (UTC -5)
Peter G.: But Nation building is also a legitimate term used to describe stabilizing a country. Only because the Yankees used it to describe their wars is not the fault of the term. Shouldn't we listen to Wagner only because Hitler loved him... ok admittedly Wagner was antisemitic... hmmm.
@Yanks: I did. I did. Thats why I didn't say: Can you not just have fun! :)
Dobber
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 2:10pm (UTC -5)
@Jammer the way I see it, if Section 31 had previously been a public arm of Starfleet, for Bashir it would be like if you today encountered someone who revealed that they were a member of the Spanish Inquisition (or the Knights Templar for that matter). The reaction wouldn’t be “never heard of them” it would be “but they ceased to exist centuries ago!”. Especially for genetically enhanced memory Bashir.

Also, Section 31 is such an affront to Federation values that it makes no sense that the public could be aware of it without significant political and diplomatic reprecussions. Why would any other planet join or even trust the Federation when they are so openly hypocritical about their core philosophy? Why would the people of the Federation (especially the true believers on Earth) tolerate it’s existence? And how could they ever forget something like that was once part of their society?

Tbh there’s no reason they needed be depicted this way. The story could easily work without this retcon. It’s a shame.

Regarding Kurtzman, I’ve personally never voiced an opinion of him here but suffice to say I’m not a fan and I seriously doubt that he has done his homework (or even cares enough to). And that’s not an assumption, it’s an observation based on everything he has been involved with in the franchise so far.
Gil
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 2:37pm (UTC -5)
An obvious divide exits and has existed for quite a long time.

And, I would conclude, this divide speaks directly to the franchise’s ever diminishing returns.

On one side there are those who cherish and endorse Star Trek’s uniqueness and core values in the sci-fi TV pantheon, and on the other, those who don’t cherish its uniqueness or endorse its core values, and have no qualms whatsoever seeing it subverted to conform to passing trends or a prevailing zeitgeist, so that other than its surface affectations, the end product more or less resembles its crude assembly line competition.

That competition being shallow, hyperactive, sensationalistic, excessively violent, nihilistic fodder for the mass market, particularly a lucrative foreign market where generic action vehicles are easy sells. Which is J.J. Trek in a nutshell and STD by default.

And then there’s Section 31. Ah, Section 31…

From the volume “Star Trek Apocrypha, Vol. III”:

“Suddenly Behr leapt wobbly to his feet and punched the life-sized effigy of Roddenberry in the face, sneering ‘f**k off hippy,’ took a lusty gulp of Coors and then impassively returned to his game of Stratego with a satisfied belch. Buds Moore and Beimler chuckled and nodded approvingly from their seats around the desk, while off in the corner behind a mountain of scripts a heavy-browed Berman declaimed ‘would you assholes keep it down over there, I’m trying to work!’”

I mean, the UFP directly authorizing or silently condoning Section 31 would be like the Catholic church tacitly endorsing pedophilia. Uhmmm…

It’s progressive Trek vs reactionary Trek.

It’s optimistic Trek vs. pessimistic Trek.

It’s value-added Trek vs. discounted Trek.

@wolfstar: “[Discovery is] also not consistent enough to have articulated a coherent value system of its own yet.”

So how’s about an open declarative?

Nail meet coffin (otherwise known as slapping down the Boy Scouts around the camp fire):

“Section 31 may not be the shining beacon of righteous conduct you want it to be … they are a critical intelligence division … we have more pressing priorities than debating article 14 of Starfleet’s charter. Nation building is never pretty. That is the unadvertising truth and you know it.” — Adm. Cornwell

So … it’s ”nation building” now, is it?

Before Discovery:

“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship [fill in the blank]. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before!”

After Discovery (courtesy Behr):

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship [fill in the blank]. Its continuing mission: to co-opt strange new worlds. To plunder new resources and new technologies. To boldly go where every imperialist has gone before!

That isn’t Star Trek, unless a lot of folks didn't get the memo that 79 episodes of TOS, 366 episodes of TNG and 172 episodes of VOY had been retconned on account of 3 episodes of DS9 and Enterprise each.
Peter G.
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 2:39pm (UTC -5)
@ Booming,

"But Nation building is also a legitimate term used to describe stabilizing a country. Only because the Yankees used it to describe their wars is not the fault of the term. Shouldn't we listen to Wagner only because Hitler loved him... ok admittedly Wagner was antisemitic... hmmm. "

It's true that it *can* mean something altruistic...except that it never seems to. And if a term like this is being used in an American show in a time of American exceptionalism, I guess I'll drawn my own conclusions about what it's implying. Perhaps we'll see more of what Cornwall meant by it later.

@ Jammer,

"From there it's not hard for me to imagine that Section 31 at some point became an official arm of Starfleet Intelligence, if that's even what we are seeing here. And that arm could be completely dissolved and disavowed sometime in the next 100+ years, which is plenty of time for someone like Bashir to believably not have heard of them in the 24th century, where they could've been spun up again as an underground rogue operation."

Agreed, it's not impossible. I do think it's a retcon, but as you point out the retcon would be no problem on its own if the reason for its employment was meaningful, which remains to be seen. Others have suggested that it's a cheap way to introduce non-Trek plot elements under the guise of "but it's Section 31 stuff!" which may or may not turn out to be the case. S1 was rife with this device, instead using MU Lorca as the excuse for why anti-Trek attitudes were being shown. So now what needs to be shown is: do the showrunners really do espouse the Trek ethos, and desire to use these devices to show off antagonists to this ethos (Lorca, M-Georgiou, and now Sec-31) or do the showrunners basically prefer to have unethical plotting (from a Trek standpoint) and recognize that they need to excuse it? I guess you'll have to judge the integrity of this situation as it goes along.

I'll just throw in what my head canon is based on DS9's representation of Sec-31, because it's a bit far from what they're showing here. I sort of understood it to be the case that an old military organization (Starfleet) that had black ops and other arms that most high-ups were unaware of (just like the current military), and that some of these were really off the radar. So maybe a blend between military black ops and the CIA in this sense. At the time of the Federation's founding their activities would have become illegal, much like how the CIA and FBI were far from the ideals of the UN when it was first founded, and how they had to operate sort of underground, officially denying all of these activities. The CIA was supposedly reigned in around the 70's, but I believe all that happened was that it went further underground. So back to our topic, I think that like any dug-in group 31 would have gone deep underground in order to avoid scrutiny from the new Federation charter, and from that moment on operated basically autonomously, using resources it had already gathered for itself to maintain its activities. For instance if it needed a Federation lab, it wouldn't go in "as Sec-31", but would already have created fake credentials that made it look like an official assignment; what would the scientists know about this if the person giving the instructions had what looked like legitimate orders from Starfleet intelligence? Using guile and craft they could do all their maneuvering under the rader, with at best a minimal amount of people actually being in on it outright. By the time of DS9 this would be little more than a myth if it was known at all, to the point where they would have become completely concealed and all activities would have a front to go along with it that could be the 'legitimate' explanation of the resources being allocated. I never imagined it as being official past the founding of the Federation, and I think that's exactly why this point was mentioned, because the Federation would never have tolerated it, nor would the member races. It was deep cover rogue people acting basically as private vigilantes, but where Starfleet was sort of inclined to not chase them because they recognized that this group (a) got things done, and (b) could be denied as being part of the Federation, because they really weren't. *This* is the tidy arrangement that Odo pointed out. I don't think he meant at all to suggest that Starfleet was actually conducting illegal operations and then denying it; that's not tidy, that's just commonplace deceitful politics. What's tidy is denying it and telling the truth as you do it, knowing that 31 will still do their thing. I think it's more like Batman than anything else; this masked 'criminal' who helps Gotham. And were they to go after him it would cost them a lot even though he's violating ordinary civil law. The way Cornwall describes the situation it's basically analogous to the contemporary U.S., which is neither novel nor interesting. It's literal reality, so why do we especially need to see it in a sci-fi setting? So yeah, I really do think it's a violation of canon, inasmuch as we can establish the scanty information we do have as canon. It also violates common sense, I think, because the stability of the Federation really, *really* depends on their true honesty, not just official honest. Hypocrisy on their part would be their doom in so many ways. Basically it would mean that the Romulans and Cardassians are right and that the Federation are just better liars than the Obsidian Order.
Booming
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 3:00pm (UTC -5)
@ For anybody who doesn't want to read all of Gils post. "Two sides. One hates Discovery, loves STar Trek and is awesome and the other side loves Discovery and is garbage. The end :D
@Peter G.: I thought that she was talking about the Federation. And I just meant that it is just a standard term in political science.
Gil
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 3:10pm (UTC -5)
@Booming

I see you still haven't gotten over the chubby.
Tim C
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
I enjoy listening to people scoff that Section 31 could not possibly have been forgotten over the course of a century. The various units that I've served in over the years have undergone numerous name changes, mergers, de-mergers, decommissionings, recommissionings etc, and that's just in the relatively tiny Australian Defence Force. I could probably name a couple of these changes for you from the the units I've directly worked with, but across the entire ADF? Not a bloody chance without doing some deep research or consulting some historians.

Now consider how truly *massive* the Federation Starfleet must be to span such a huge chunk of the galaxy. How many personnel are in that, and organizations and sub-organisations, etc. The beauracracy would be mind-bogglingly huge and just like any beauracracy throughout the years, subject to the political whims of the time.

In me head canon: Section 31 was born as part of Starfleet Intelligence, and grew in stature through the ENT and TOS eras whilst still being (relatively) hush-hush. Sometime after this, something went down behind-the-scenes that saw them fall from grace. A political agreement? A feud between the "legitimate" Starfleet Intel and its black sheep? A personal grudge from someone high up in the admiralty?

Whatever it was, S31 was officially decommissioned and never mentioned again. But someone still believed in the mission. Fortunately, the politics of peace time meant that Starfleet was free to look the other way and pretend that humanity really was the morally superior species now, even as S31 continued clandestine operations.

Of course, the Dominion ruined all that and brought them out of the shadows again.
Booming
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 4:10pm (UTC -5)
@ Gil: I guess I haven't.
Paul M.
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 4:31pm (UTC -5)
Gil, while reading your posts is fun, as they are eloquent and enjoyable to read, they'd carry more weight had I not seen ones just like them countless times in almost every conversation regarding any given fictional universe in the last few decades. No matter the subject, whether TNG, DS9, BSG, Dr Who, GoT, Star Wars, Harry Potter, or any of the myriad other examples, it's always the same: The new guys are clueless hacks bent on destroying everything the original property stood for, opposed by stoic Revolutionary Guard composed of elite keepers of the flame tasked with the holy duty of illuminating the unwashed masses on the meaning of The Word. The Guard members are bestowed with a vital power: to issue Certificates of Faithfulness. Woe to those who fall short of their lofty standards!
Booming
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 4:32pm (UTC -5)
@Gil: Ok, full disclosure. I didn't remember that you were the chubby guy. And even without that info I think that your post is pretty weird.
Let's see: The bad side likes something that is reactionary, shallow, negative, nihilistic and they are probably foreigners while your side likes values, optimism is progressiveness. Just not in your posts.
Do you watch a lot of Jordan Peterson? :)
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 5:22pm (UTC -5)
@Paul
"No matter the subject, whether TNG, DS9, BSG, Dr Who, GoT, Star Wars, Harry Potter, or any of the myriad other examples, it's always the same: The new guys are clueless hacks bent on destroying everything the original property stood for, opposed by stoic Revolutionary Guard composed of elite keepers of the flame tasked with the holy duty of illuminating the unwashed masses on the meaning of The Word."

Ah. But what if the new guys *are* clueless hacks bent on destroying everything the original property stood for?

Are you saying this can never happen?

This situation is like the 'Boy Who Cried Wolf" parable, only you're mocking people like Gil and myself just because OTHERS have falsely cried Wolf in the past.

Look... both Gil and you are basically parroting a mantra over and over again. The difference is that he actually provides evidence to back his position. Have *you* ever given a shred of evidence to back your own position? You must have written over a hundred posts mocking the detractors of Discovery, but I don't recall you making an actual argument even once.

BTW you know what I've just discovered a few days ago? That ST:Discovery has turned Spock into a madman and a murderer. Funny how everybody is talking about his beard and smile (even funnier when you realize that "smiling Spock" came straight from the TOS canon), but this bit of character assassination almost went unnoticed.

Well, I gotta admit it kinds of fits what they already did to Sarek, doesn't it? Sarek, the genocidal maniac. Like father like son. And I challenge you to bring an example from another Trek series that butchered an iconic character from a previous series in this manner.

And then there's Section 31. Let's forget the canon consistency problem for a moment, and look at it from a different angle: The only reason Section 31 kinda worked in DS9 is that the Federation really faced an existential threat. I can live with the notion of such an independent shadowy organization that springs into action only in the most extreme scenarios.

But having them as a major component of everyday Starfleet operation? No. F***-ing. Way.

I would also like to remind you that our "heroes" did tons of very *very* questionable things in season 1. Things that were completely unheard of in any other Trek series. Even Jon torture-aliens-in-an-airlock Archer would have never resorted to planting bombs on corpses, nor would he ever suggest the complete annihilation of the population of an enemy home planet.

At any rate, you seem to be quite adamant in your claim that people like Gil and myself (and many other people here who are too numerous list) are talking nonsense. So how about giving actual evidence for your stance, for a change?
Gil
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 5:28pm (UTC -5)
@Tim C

“I enjoy listening to people scoff that Section 31 could not possibly have been forgotten over the course of a century. The various units that I've served in over the years have…”

…not existed in the highly technologically advanced 22nd, 23rd or 24th centuries.

And it’s really remarkable how many just sorta sweep this obvious distinction under the carpet.

Simply put, Tim C, your experience wouldn’t scale.

Although, to be fair, it’s infuriatingly common for genre series depicting a far future with extraordinary technology (and all that that would imply), to have its characters, or even the extraordinary technology itself, experience a sudden case of the dumbs for the sake of the plot.

@Booming

You found my post "weird". Fine. That's your reading. Move along.

But I'm not going to waste my time (and everyone else's) engaging with a dishonest debater who deliberately (and repeatedly) resorts to misleadingly reductive framing to concoct their rebuttal.

It amounts to no more than blatant trollery.
Mertov
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 5:34pm (UTC -5)
"BTW you know what I've just discovered a few days ago? That ST:Discovery has turned Spock into a madman and a murderer. Funny how everybody is talking about his beard and smile (even funnier when you realize that "smiling Spock" came straight from the TOS canon), but this bit of character assassination almost went unnoticed."

Did they? Did this get confirmed? When? I thought that was the 'alleged' crime and that Pike, Burnham, and Amanda, not believing it, were in pursuit of Spock themselves to get to the bottom of what happened.
JohnTY
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 5:55pm (UTC -5)
@dobber

Agree completely.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 5:55pm (UTC -5)
@Jammer

"Regarding Kurtzman being an idiot: Why do some automatically assume that any executive is automatically operating in bad faith and knows nothing about what he has been charged with? And that he can't possibly have done his homework?"

Is that a serious question?

We aren't talking about "any executive" here. We are talking about *Kurtzman*, whose past work is known to all. This is a guy who never ever did his homework in the past, so why would we expect his current project to be any different?

"Let's see where this is going and give it a chance!"

You mean, like you did with your reviews of Season 1? Every second review, you've said something to the effect of "this doesn't seem to make sense on the face of it, but we'll have to see if there's a pay-off later on".

Well, season 1 is over. How many of the loose threads that season 1 promised to address, were indeed addressed? Can we now admit, after the season was over, that the plot was a complete mess and that the people in charge (not Kurtzman back then) had no idea what they were doing?

If I were you, I would be wary of being fooled again in this manner.

Unfortunately, past experience have taught me that if a show *seems* to make no sense, then this is usually the case. Now, add to this:

(1) A new showrunner whose a past work is full of examples of terrible (read: nonexistent) world building.
(2) The fact that this showrunner announced that he's going to make something like half a dozen new Trek shows at the same time.

And the odds of this ending well are pretty much zero.

Let me be perfectly clear about what I'm saying here:

I'm not saying the show can't be enjoyable. I'm not saying that it won't have good drama or interesting premises.

But there's no way... none... that Discovery will sensibly fit into previous Star Trek continuity, or even with its own continuity. And I'm not talking about obscure timeline nitpickery here. I'm talking about maintaining a coherent fictional world with coherent characters. The writers for the show are too busy with the "ooh!" and the "aah!" and the "rule of cool" to actually bother with with consistency.

(like the Spock being a kook and a murderer. No doubt somebody came up with this idea as a "cool and dark" secret for Spock to have, without even pausing for a minute to think how absurd this development is given what we already know about the Spock character)
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 5:59pm (UTC -5)
@Mertov
"Did they? Did this get confirmed? When?"

I got it from the "Spock" article on Memory Alpha while searching for something completely unrelated to Discovery. Maybe the article was inaccurate.
Mertov
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 6:02pm (UTC -5)
Are you commenting on the show (or slamming it in this case) without watching it (again)?
John Harmon
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 6:17pm (UTC -5)
"From there it's not hard for me to imagine that Section 31 at some point became an official arm of Starfleet Intelligence, if that's even what we are seeing here. And that arm could be completely dissolved and disavowed sometime in the next 100+ years, which is plenty of time for someone like Bashir to believably not have heard of them in the 24th century, where they could've been spun up again as an underground rogue operation."

I just don't buy it. I can't believe that in the future of interstellar space travel, our history keeping would become so bad that in about one hundred years, nobody remembers what Section 31 is. If it was ever intended to actually exist as an official part of Starfleet, Bashir would have just reacted by saying "I thought they didn't exist anymore" or something like that. The only way I've ever been able to tolerate the idea of Section 31 is by assuming they were rogue extremists. Confirming them to be officially Starfleet just retroactively taints the entire franchise for me, to say nothing of how boring Kurtzman is making the idea.


"Regarding Kurtzman being an idiot: Why do some automatically assume that any executive is automatically operating in bad faith and knows nothing about what he has been charged with? And that he can't possibly have done his homework? Maybe he did and maybe he didn't, but the assumption of the worst is indicative of a really tough crowd. Let's see where this is going and give it a chance! it a retcon? Probably. But as retcons go, this is on more solid ground than most."

Yeah I'm definitely being hyperbolic by calling Kurtzman an idiot. I probably shouldn't. But he's been one of the people in charge of Star Trek for the last decade and everything he's done with it seems to Jubei with the idea that he just doesn't get or care what Star Trek is.

I've been giving the show a chance since the beginning. I was initially excited for it, but the truly awful writing has just been wearing me down. It's getting harder and harder to keep giving it chances. The writing, on its own merits, just doesn't cut it for me. There's some very basic things these writers consistently get wrong. It's frustrating when your brain is automatically writing better versions of the episodes you're watching.

I'll keep watching if for no other reason than to keep being able to enjoy the reviews on this site and not be behind. I don't know how much hope I have for the show though.
Saru's Ganglia
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 6:25pm (UTC -5)
@Mertov

Lol can you imagine a guy dedicating a large amount of time to a show he doesn't watch?
Steven
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 6:26pm (UTC -5)
Based on some of the comments here it seems like many of the people who don't watch the show come in to comment on it. It's their prerogative, but it does lead to some confusing discussions.

@Gil

Can there not be space for those of us who tentatively enjoy this show, but also enjoy the old shows? I fully admit there's a certain charm to the way old Trek shows are handled, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy Discovery for trying to adapt an old show into a modern format. It's also apparent by now that the showrunners are trying to correct their previous mistakes and handle this show more in the manner of its predecessors. Let's not hang them from the gallows just for trying, shall we?
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 6:55pm (UTC -5)
@Saru's Ganglia
"Lol can you imagine a guy dedicating a large amount of time to a show he doesn't watch?"

Yeah, I guess I gotta be crazy, spending less then an hour (on average) a day to discuss the only new show from a franchise I've been a fan of for nearly 40 years.

[Shatner's booming voice]
Get a life, Omicron!
[/Shatner booming voice]


@Steven
"Based on some of the comments here it seems like many of the people who don't watch the show come in to comment on it. It's their prerogative, but it does lead to some confusing discussions."

The amazing thing is that this usually doesn't result in any confusion at all. Funny how we're already half-way through season two, and this is the first time it caused any problems. Make of it what you will.

"Can there not be space for those of us who tentatively enjoy this show, but also enjoy the old shows?"

Definitely. I know that some detractors of Discovery also have a low opinion of the show's fans. I would like to make clear that I'm not one of these people.

"It's also apparent by now that the showrunners are trying to correct their previous mistakes and handle this show more in the manner of its predecessors"

Point taken.

And thank you for being civil about this. That was a breath of fresh air.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 7:16pm (UTC -5)
By the way:

I don't come here to "comment on the show". You don't see me come here out of the blue and give my opinions on either Discovery as a whole or a specific episode.

That, indeed, would be silly.

But that's not what I'm doing here. When I write here, it is always in order to participate in discussions about Star Trek and the relation of the current show to that franchise.

I think that as a fan of 30+ years, I've earned the right to participate in these discussions. And the same is true for any other Trekkie who comes here to discuss these topics, regardless of whether they actually watch Discovery or not.

Of-course, such a person would be expected to do his homework. But if - in general - he proves that he can contribute to this discussion just as intelligently as a person who actually watches the show, then he should be welcome here.

Besides, can you imagine how these discussions would have looked, if only the fans were allowed to participate in them? They would have been pretty one-sided, don't you think?
Trent
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 8:13pm (UTC -5)
Gil said: "It’s progressive Trek vs reactionary Trek."

It's generally easier to write reactionary stuff, and Trek's always had a reactionary streak. Its utopian aspects, the aspects which made it thoughtful and unique, were a product of the hippies, the Beats, the counterculture and anti-war movements, writers like Gene Coon and Piller, and survived in TNG because Roddenberry was still alive when it began. TNG's opening episode itself lays down Roddenberry's mission statement, a kind of teleology of Trek: man's no longer a savage, and is destined to continually evolve into something better.

But since DS9, this aspect of Trek has been chipped away, as Trek becomes subsumed to the wider culture; the deadendedness of capitalism, and its Reagannite "There is No Alternative" mantra. Like a series of Iphone updates, you then get endless variations of the same thing, manically rehashed and repeated and resold. The switch to serialization itself epitomizes a kind of corporate, cost-cutting, ruthless efficiency. No need for individuality, novelty, originality and difference. Slap some glitter on, stick in lots of padding, delaying tactics and stretch your tale out. With this comes lots of edgy cynicism and "pragmatism" as well ("People are flawed", "That's just how the TV business operates!", "That's how Trek always was!"), until DS9's literally wagging its fingers at you and mocking your naivety and idealism. Don't you know war-crimes are unavoidable and genocide is sometimes necessary? The Dominion - an amalgam of every fascist/commie/arab/chinese/kamikaze/japanese/terrorist stereotype - hate us and want to take away our freedoms! Go ahead. Pull the trigger. Do it.

The "utopian" aspects of Trek still linger - Disco relentlessly touts its "progressive" street cred - but these aspects start coming across as totems and phony, halfhearted poses. Most of its writers aren't even aware of this, as they're just people, and people are subsumed to a larger culture. They're stuck in the same box that utopian science fiction as a genre - which dates all the way back to the post-capitalist utopias of HG Wells, and the political utopias which preceded him - sought to explode. But those utopian writers were outsiders and iconoclasts, and the California of the 1960s - the place where the flowerpower movement, ecotopians and radicals went to die - is not the California of 2019. Case in point Kurtzman's band of Discovery writers, who write fare for Desperate Housewives, Supergirl, Beverly Hills 90210 and Halloween 4. Do you think any of them reads cutting-edge science fiction? Or is familiar with science fiction outside of contemporary TV? Or is even familiar with the history of utopian literature? If you half-ass contemporary Trek by emulating half-assed past Trek you get no-ass Trek. You need to go full ass (and then double it as a precaution, so you get 2 assed Trek).
Charles J
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 8:17pm (UTC -5)
@John Harmon

"I just don't buy it. I can't believe that in the future of interstellar space travel, our history keeping would become so bad that in about one hundred years, nobody remembers what Section 31 is. If it was ever intended to actually exist as an official part of Starfleet, Bashir would have just reacted by saying "I thought they didn't exist anymore" or something like that. The only way I've ever been able to tolerate the idea of Section 31 is by assuming they were rogue extremists."

There is a difference in what is in the historical record, what is accessible, and what is taught. As such, we don't know how much of Section 31's work was ever declassified, or even entered into the official record. We don't know what areas of Star Fleet and Federation history have been focused on over the years.

We also don't know how much of the Federation and Star Fleet have changed in shape and structure. Nor do we even know how many different sections and agencies comprise them.

Take the U.S. as an example. The Sourcebook of United States Executive Agencies includes this in it's appendix:

"[T]here is no authoritative list of government agencies. For example, FOIA.gov [maintained by the Department of Justice] lists 78 independent executive agencies and 174 components of the executive departments as units that comply with the Freedom of Information Act requirements imposed on every federal agency. This appears to be on the conservative end of the range of possible agency definitions. The United States Government Manual lists 96 independent executive units and 220 components of the executive departments. An even more inclusive listing comes from USA.gov, which lists 137 independent executive agencies and 268 units in the Cabinet."

If the Federation truly existed, the number of agencies, sub-agencies, and departments would surely number in the 100s. Many of them having changed names, gone defunct, been absorbed, or moved around, several times over the course of 100 plus years.

Although, your point does stand in one respect. Bashir is someone who is interested in spies. As a doctor, he'd be much more familiar with the agencies that intersect with his work on a day to day basis. Yet, as someone who has made spying a hobby, has a relationship with someone like Garak, and has been pulled into different plots, he'd be much more likely to stumble across references to Section 31 than anyone else on the station. Especially if Discovery establishes that they were much more well known than previously established. That's a thread someone like Bashir definitely would have pulled on. Even if it was just to satisfy his curiosity. And, considering how popular spies are, there would be thousands just like him, also pulling on that thread if they came across it.
Mertov
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 8:45pm (UTC -5)
"I think that as a fan of 30+ years, I've earned the right to participate in these discussions. And the same is true for any other Trekkie who comes here to discuss these topics, regardless of whether they actually watch Discovery or not.

Of-course, such a person would be expected to do his homework. But if - in general - he proves that he can contribute to this discussion just as intelligently as a person who actually watches the show, then he should be welcome here."

Yet, you don't earn the right to slam a show (twice) in a matter of 20 minutes, using wrong information, as if it was confirmed that Spock is a killer, precisely because you are not watching the show and depending on what you read others say, regardless of how X+ years you have been a fan of the show. Here is what you wrote (again) in those posts:

1)
"BTW you know what I've just discovered a few days ago? That ST:Discovery has turned Spock into a madman and a murderer. Funny how everybody is talking about his beard and smile (even funnier when you realize that "smiling Spock" came straight from the TOS canon), but this bit of character assassination almost went unnoticed."

2)
"(like the Spock being a kook and a murderer. No doubt somebody came up with this idea as a "cool and dark" secret for Spock to have, without even pausing for a minute to think how absurd this development is given what we already know about the Spock character)"

You are smearing the show on something that has not taken place. That's called smearing. 10+, or 20+, or 30+, or 50+ years of being a fan does not give you the right to smear a show with false information. Watching an episode before using something in that episode to make an argument would be the correct remedy for that.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 8:52pm (UTC -5)
@Trent

Honestly, I think your critique of DS9 isn't that accurate.

Equating the Dominion to terrorists/commies/chinese ignores the fact that:

1. They are an empire of conquerors with superior fire power.
2. They are f***-ing shape-shifters.

Just because people tend to be trigger-happy with the "enemy is an existential threat that must be dealt with at all costs" thing, doesn't mean that this claim can't - on rare occasions - turn out to be 100% true.

An additonal couple of things that should be noted:

1. None of the good guys supported the genocide of the Founders. That was a Section 31 plot, which was clearly painted as an evil plot. And even Sisko, in "In the Pale Moonlight", wasn't willing to go as far as killing the Romulan Senator. When he learned that Garak did that for him, he was *not* pleased.

2. The genocide thing didn't win the war. The final act that ended the Dominion War was an act of understanding between Odo and the Female Founder.

Of-course the fact that the Federation, via Section 31, almost committed genocide is still disturbing. Had they done a post-Nemesis series, I would have expected them to deal with the fallout of these acts (and perhaps eradicate Section 31 once and for all).

But this doesn't change the fact that DS9 still had a very Trekkian message. Contrary to what you're claiming, DS9 does not preach that the end justify the means. It just shows us what happens when good people are faced with very tough decisions (and when bad people like Sloane have too much power in their hands)

Which, by the way, is something that TNG didn't do often enough. An utopian vision is fine and dandy, but it isn't worth much if it isn't tested against external challenges. DS9 was willing to put the Federation through these tests.
Gil
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 9:32pm (UTC -5)
@Trent

"…Trek's always had a reactionary streak."

Progressive and reactionary have quite clear cut political definitions, so you'd have to provide some convincing examples which had permeable effect to support that statement.

And I see the word "utopia" bandied about so frequently to describe Star Trek I have to wonder what franchise people are actually watching or whether its deliberately being used as a cudgel to more easily spite it.

Seventeen century peasants transported to 2019 might very well believe we live in a utopia too, but you only have to look out your window or read the news to know we're not even close. Not. Even. Close.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 9:42pm (UTC -5)
Well, relative to a 17th century peasant, 2019 *is* an utopia.

The real litmus test is: Would you want to live in the future that's depicted on the show?

With TNG the answer is a very easy yes, which is why many people call it an utopia.
Gil
Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 10:11pm (UTC -5)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi

Well, there are opinions, and then there are dictionary definitions*.

From my viewings of the franchise I wouldn't be given to describe any of the iterations as utopian. Post-scarcity, certainly, but not utopian. Because by using utopia your setting a very definitive boundary line, and nothing I've seen in Star Trek would lead me to believe that either the 22nd, 23rd or the 24th centuries was anywhere near capital P perfect.

How could it possibly be with humans still around to muck things up?

* ya, ya, I'm being pedantic. But I'm not wrong. ;)
Booming
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 12:18am (UTC -5)
@Gil: It has become clear at this point that you do not discuss, you attack. Either by vilifying entire groups or by using ad hominem attacks. Which is very Trek, by the way.
Also after circling the scientific maelstrom for several month I'm now in calmer waters and these discussions have become really toxic and not much fun.
To all the people who come here week after week to hate on a show I can only say: Get a life.
Tim C
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 12:21am (UTC -5)
@Gil, you're right my experience doesn't scale, as was my entire point. What exactly do you think is going to be so different about the way that militaries work in the future, vs the comparatively tiny ones that exist now?

Do you contend that superior technology is going to force people to read their history books, which would be exponentially bigger and more detailed to cover such a vast interstellar organisation?

How much does the average American know about the various subdivisions of the CIA from 1947? Or let's be even more specific: how much does the average American *soldier* know about the various subdivisions of the CIA at all, as it exists today?

If you answer anything other than "very, very little" then you go home with the booby prize.

I don't cite my experience as some sort of definitive authority on the subject that cannot be disputed. What it does do, though, is give me some relevant perspective about the military life and the attitudes of soldiers in general. Outside of your unit (your ship, your starbase, etc) is generally not of much interest. Outside of your division *entirely* is shit that only junkies care about.

Feel free to take that info or leave it. It seems to me that you've already made up your mind.
Gil
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 3:22am (UTC -5)
@Tim C

Of course it’s all about the tech.

I sit here in 2019 observing the impact of technology, the good and the very bad, the debates surrounding its impacts, the good and the very bad, and the laws instituted and parties prosecuted, and I scale up. Add a variable like an honest broker and trends skews one way. Add a variable like a dishonest broker and they go another. A benevolent politician, one way, a dictator, another, and so on.

So it’s obviously all about technology and the way it will impact and shape law, education, production, internal governance, foreign policy and, of course, the private sphere. How it will be incorporated and deployed on the institutional and operational levels to keep that "utopia" everyone keeps going on about up and running 24/7, and it’s certainly about the technological infrastructure that will keep it safe and secure from internal or external malfeasance (and it won’t be put together with duct tape and elbow grease either).

Everything will be recorded and everything will be stored. Everyone who’s a player in the game will be tracked. Their lives an open book. History won’t go missing. Because there’ll be backups upon backups upon backups upon backups. And redundancies upon redundancies upon redundancies. There has to be for dynamic systems as large and complex as Starfleet or the UFP to maintain peace, security, stability and good governance.

And, of course, Earthers won't be the only players at the table either, there’ll be countless others like the Vulcans keeping as watchful and wary an eye using their own resources.

What a low man on the totem pole on a distant space station knows or doesn't know is not at issue here, but rather what the A.I.s, the redundant A.I.s, the historians, the academics and the executive and managerial classes running the Big Show all know.

So as I’ve stated before, unless everyone’s all in on one big conspiracy, Behr’s Section 31 simply could not exist on any functional level.
Trent
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 1:15pm (UTC -5)
Gil said: "And I see the word "utopia" bandied about so frequently to describe Star Trek I have to wonder what franchise people are actually watching or whether its deliberately being used as a cudgel to more easily spite it."

I use scifi writer Kim Robinson's definition of utopia and utopian fiction: "Utopia is an ongoing and endless praxis; the process of making a better world, the name for one path history can take." Trek being "utopian sf" doesn't mean it depicts a literal, perfect, faultless society.

By "reactionary", I was referring to things like Yeoman Rand enjoying being sexually harassed/raped by evil Kirk, moments of sexism, the dropping of Number 1 from TOS, the early portrayal of the Klingon's as a "yellow menace", the franchise's uncritical endorsing of a Cold War narrative (west good, eastern aliens bad), how DS9 lets countless shady things go by without decent critique (Section 31, Starfleet's rubberstamping of an unprovoked, genocidal attack on the Founders via the Romulans, its casual violating of another superpower's space etc), TOS' bashing of hippies, stoners, the way Kirk constantly equates a lack of suffering with social stagnation, and the way TOS constantly portrayed the Federation as a stand-in for post-war liberalism, all alternatives/opposition intrinsically totalitarian and stifling. "Enterprise", meanwhile, had one big pro-torture, 9/11 arc, which plays like a neo-con wet dream, and under the steering of Manny Coto (an arch-conseravtive who wrote for "24", and proudly produced a "Daily Show for conservatives") generally became more right wing (eg Orion slave girls no longer exploited, but "cunningly victimizing men") and/or endorsed a more indiscriminate use of force. The last nu-Trek movie, meanwhile, ends with a black, bigoted terrorist, who hates aliens, trying to blow up a "multicultural" space station, the Feds like stand ins for a contemporary liberalism which sees tolerance and non-judgemental diversity as the ultimate virtue, and not a lubricant for markets, cheap labor and growth. All of this is reactionary in the sense that it can't see beyond 21st century liberal democracy, or less.
Trent
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 1:38pm (UTC -5)
Omicron said: "None of the good guys supported the genocide of the Founders."

Before the Dominion even crosses the wormhole, or is at war with anybody, the Federation repeatedly violates their space (after being warned not to enter their territory), and then, totally unprovoked, endorses the Romulan's genocidal attack on the Changeling homeworld. Starfleet intelligence knows of the attack, doesn't stop it and doesn't warn the Dominion because the admiralty, quote, "thinks it has a good chance of success". Everyone supported the genocide of the Founders, and they all lived up to the Dominion's view of solids.
Peter G.
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 2:08pm (UTC -5)
@ Trent,

I was going to avoid responding to your list of 'reactionary' examples, many of which I don't think quite fit the way you're portraying them, but I do want to address this issue of the Federation "repeatedly violating" so-called Dominion space. In context of the series I think it's 100% crystal clear that the Dominion's territory, in their own eyes, was simply everything, and that anyone who didn't submit to them was in 'violation' of their space. Their actual empire certainly didn't extend anywhere near to as far as the wormhole, and based on the numerous expeditions to the GQ it seems clear that they had to go out of their way to send ships to the wormhole area to clear away the Bajoran colony and other matters. They were basically claiming the entire GQ for themselves, which is ridiculous. Or at least, it's ridiculous to expect anyone to recognize that kind of claim. And I've made this point before, but there's no actual such thing as "Dominion space". What we call "Klingon space" or "Romulan space" is only the result of wars, leading to a treaty signing where both sides mutually recognize borders and agree to obey them. Absent a treaty there is no official border; there is only one side making some obscure claim that the other side has no part of other than that they know it's coming as a threat.

If the Federation allowed other major powers to dictate their borders at will, guess where they would be? The Romulan border would no doubt include Earth itself and I guess the unhappy Federation would have to vacate since they don't want to tresspass. But that's not how it works: both sides instead need to sit down and hash it out so that there's no mistake. The AQ neutral zones were hugely important in Trek stories, and these were the result of negotiations. But the Dominion refuses to sit and deal, instead remaining obscure and only presenting themselves deceitfully after some time for observation and consideration, and the Federation is supposed to just bow down to whatever territorial claims they make? There would be no Federation if they operated like that. And putting aside even the issue of the borders, we know pretty much on the say-so of the Founders themselves that they would never feel safe under any circumstances with solids running around freely. Their intent from day one was to completely dominate (DOMINION) the AQ, and the process they went through was to figure out the best way to do this.

I'm making this nitpick because amidst a discussion of what is or isn't supposed to be a Trek ethos, I do think we need to be a bit clear about what the canon acutally says. And it never says that an evolved and ethical Federation culture is supposed to lie down and let tyrants have their way with no opposition. One thing the Klingons end up admitting is that the Federation are no pushovers, and we need to separate this fact from a modern day understanding of powerful nations, where it seems the only option at present is to be either a pushover or an imperialistic bully. But in the future we hope there will be the possibility of being strong without being abusive.
Yanks
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 3:08pm (UTC -5)
Thank you Peter G., I wasn't sure Trent watched the same series I did.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 3:53pm (UTC -5)
@Gil

"Well, there are opinions, and then there are dictionary definitions"

And then there's the common usage of a word, which doesn't necessarily fit the dictionary definitions (I didn't even look it up to check if you're technically correct, because it doesn't matter).

Suffice to say that the context in which the people here are using the word "utopian" is quite clear. So I don't see any point in turning this into an argument on semantics.
John Harmon
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 4:19pm (UTC -5)
Regarding the future of Star Trek being a Utopia, don't they specifically call it in that in the shows? At least Earth is specifically mentioned as a Utopia, because it's post scarcity and nobody ever wants for anything and all of Earth is United.
Johannes
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 6:40pm (UTC -5)
Utopia is a pretty much meaningless concept anyway.

If it means no one wants for anything, well, Barclay is still neurotic, Picard still wants children. There's still a counselor on board. People still suffer, and wants haven't gone away even though they can be satisfied at the touch of a holodeck panel. Utopianism doesn't seemed to have helped Barclay or Picard in that regard.

If utopia just refers to material wants, then many of us already live in one. Many western countries will let no one starve or go without housing (with the USA an exception). There are no flying cars or holodecks, but if we're using that benchmark then the mind will always conjure up better versions of things we don't have, no matter how well off we are materially. Own a spectacular cliffside property overlooking the mercury oceans of Kepler-90i? Well, wouldn't you like to own a whole planet, or star system?

I'd love to see a world where everyone got all their physical and emotional needs met no matter their situation, who they are, where they're from, what they look like, or what they've done. But I think we'll find that if and when that happens, nothing much will change in our lives without a dramatic change in mindset away from a mode of existence centered around 'getting'. That is a utopia we don't need to wait for, if we want it.
Quincy
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 8:39pm (UTC -5)
I hated the fact that Culber was brought back. Not only is it the wrong move story-wise, it didn't make any sense how they did it. How did he transport Culber into the network? I could understand if they'd had his body originally being buried in the network somehow, but the way they did it just made no sense. Also, the crises didn't make any sense at all considering the reveal. How the hell is shadow bark encrusted Culber killing off her people? If he's covered in toxic tree goo (which to me seemed to be native to the network), which was poisonous to spore creatures trying to eat it, JUST STAHP TRYING TO EAT HIS ASS! Problem solved. They have free will don't they? They quit trying to eat Tilly when told to. Go on a damn dead doctor deficient diet and STFU. How hard is that?

The May alien rebuilds his body from scratch with that same diseased booger interface with which she pilfered, plundered, and pillaged Tilly's village. I guess it's half replicator-half transporter. It breaks the body down atom by atom into a matter stream and transports you into and out of the spore network then reconstitutes your form. In this case, I guess she had Culber's pattern and she rebuilt his body from scratch with the replicator function.

It's definitely bad for the show. Culber's death served the show well. It increased the tension as it let the viewer know a main cast member can still die. Now not so much. It humanized Stamets for me at least. Up till then he was just the show's resident asshole. I thought for sure they were going to leave it at his being unable to cross over at the point when they were trying to get back home. That would've been a powerful moment and would've saved the episode for me. "You have to let me go." That could've led to some real character development for Stamets, but no such luck.

Only thing I like about this episode is that the dirty booger alien lost her Tilly interface, rebuilding Culber's ass from scratch. Maybe, just maybe, we won't see her behind for quite some time. I've got my fingers crossed. There's been entirely too much Tilly these last too episodes; I don't know how much more of her I can stand.

Another thing that's annoying me, it seems this season is destined to get overly maudlin from now on. All that panic with Burnham running to the spore room at the beginning was way over the top. (She was trained as a Vulcan. It's an artistic mistake to have her gushing all over the place, regardless of whether or not people want her "emoting.") And at the end, all that garbage about Tilly's sudden onset best friendship forever with May, whom she couldn't wait to get the hell away from ever since she found out she was ghost/dirty booger alien, was absolutely ridiculous. You staged a booty invasion, ass-jacked me to the upside down, and now no one knows me better! You're totally my BFF!!! Dafuq?!?
Quincy
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 9:04pm (UTC -5)
As far as people having a problem with mustache twirling Georgiou, can someone refresh my memory as to which evil mirror character, besides Spock, wasn't a mustache twirling caricature. I can't remember one, but I've only seen about half the mirror episodes anyway. Otherwise, that seems to be par for the course for mirror characters.
John Harmon
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 9:39pm (UTC -5)
@Quincy that's why people prefer Star Trek not go back to the Mirror Universe though. Previously we've seen MU characters in small doses and it gets old fast. Now we have one of those shallow cartoon villains given her own show.
Thomas
Wed, Feb 20, 2019, 9:41pm (UTC -5)
What would have been more interesting with Culber is if the spore-network Culber who got 'rebirthed' back into the fetus didn't carry his memories with him, and therefore doesn't remember Stamets or their relationship. Not only does it makes more sense scientifically (not that this is saying much in such a scientifically absurd premise) since DNA doesn't hold memories, but it would give rise to a promising narrative thread between the two characters. I find Stamets fairly bland so giving him some mental anguish to work with wouldn't have been a bad thing.
Tim C
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 1:16am (UTC -5)
I'm right with you, @Gil, on the technology for recording and retrieving history being so superior to our own. But the Enterprise computer being able to spit out an answer to "Computer, did Starfleet Intelligence ever have a black ops division?" doesn't guarantee that anyone is ever going to care to *ask* it decades after it officially stopped existing. Even then, who's to say that the *only* answer would be "Section 31, circa 2135 - 2293"? Or that the answer wouldn't be "That information is classified to Level X or higher"?

I agree that there's surely specialists who know the territory and can talk about the old stories of holographically-cloaked starships and black comm badges. There'd likely have to be several higher-ups in the admiralty (ala` Ross) who are aware of it, and Starfleet Intel agents themselves would definitely have heard tales. But your average Starfleet officer is unlikely to have ever heard about it except perhaps as a passing reference, and if the S31 of the TNG era are doing their job competently then they'd have no reason to ever ask.

Final point: this is a crazy sci-fi world where Data can magically disable a super-advanced race of cybernetic beings, or weird computer viruses can transform ships into history museums, or a self-destruct program can remain unnoticed in the background of a Cardassian computer system for years. It's not particularly outlandish to grant that S31 may simply have been able to, over the course of many years, strategically erase records of their existence in all the systems that matter. Or even maybe just Memory Alpha, said the be the Federation's central repository of knowledge.
Gally
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 2:12am (UTC -5)
@Thomas

I disagree, utopia is what we should be working towards, and when we get there civilization will be complete. Aldous Huxley knew this, you should read Brave New World if you haven't.
Gil
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 3:36am (UTC -5)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi

“…I don't see any point in turning this into an argument on semantics.”

Huh? I quite clearly flagged my own remark as being pedantic to begin with. The obvious conclusion would be that I was well aware of the minefield I was stepping into. No further step on your part was required.

But then you had to step into it anyway…

Logical fallacy: appeal to common practice.

Who gets to decide “common usage” and its validity anyway?

You? You and a couple of drinking buds? You and a couple of drinking buds and the Ladies Cheerleading Squad? You, a couple of drinking buds, the Ladies Cheerleading Squad and your clearly unimpressed mom—who’s been waiting for over an hour for you to drive her to Walgreens like you said you would?

I’m not telling you that you’re wrong necessarily, only pointing out the essential flaw in your argument, because no one is obliged to adopt your “common usage” or any other group or groups “common usage,” particularly if they belong to another group or groups with their own “common usage.”

Which brings us back to dictionaries and utopia, which, whether you like it or not, does have a lexical meaning.

Unless you’re going to suggest dictionaries be amended to accommodate EVERY “common usage” and applicable frame of reference out there, including one specifically for Star Trek… or, because it’s all such a bleeding headache, you just want to see each and every last one of the bloody things tossed into a river, I’d suggest just using scare quotes: “Utopia.”

Cut! Print!

@John Harmon

Re: usage of “utopia” in-universe

Ya, maybe. I certainly entertained the possibility. But I don’t think anyone here, including myself, is going to marathon over 300 episodes to test that theory.

@Trent

Re: your reactionary list

I don’t recognize STD, J.J. Trek or Enterprise as canon, and DS9, as I’ve gone on and on about to the dismay of some, crossed that fine line when Section 31 entered the picture, so I can only respond to concerns as regard TOS, TNG, DS9 pre Sec. 31 and VOY.

A) “Yeoman Rand enjoying being sexually harassed/raped by evil Kirk, moments of sexism, the dropping of Number 1 from TOS.”

That’s would be a misreading of events. By the end of the episode Rand knows it was Evil Kirk who assaulted her. At the same time, however, she’s also cognizant of the fact that Good Kirk desires her, and for very obvious reasons. When she is just about to address the issue Kirk gently and professionally saves both of them any further embarrassment with a simple “thank you, yeoman.”

But that civil exchange goes right out the window with Spock’s closing line: ”the, uh, imposter had some interesting qualities, wouldn't you say, yeoman?”, which is an objectively deplorable attempt by the writer to inject levity at the end of the episode given her experience. Note Spock’s smile and Rand’s unspoken, turn heel “Men!” Pure comedy gold, amiright?

A more disturbing scene, however, is when Rand—and in her own words—struggles to rationalize her defence, literally going as far as to tacitly condone a captain’s prerogative to objectify and take liberties with his staff. It’s classic Stockholm syndrome.

As for Number One, I believe her dismissal was a network directive. The very fact the character was created and filmed at all rather contradicts her mention on your list.

So, yes, TOS’ blatant sexism does undeniably make for discouraging and uncomfortable viewing some times. No argument here. But in the political sense, the status quo doesn’t react upon itself, it only perpetuates itself. The Women’s Liberation Movement’s rejection of the status quo, however, kicked off a reaction and reactionary movements intent on preserving and/or restoring the status quo.

B) “the early portrayal of the Klingon's as a "yellow menace", the franchise's uncritical endorsing of a Cold War narrative (west good, eastern aliens bad).”

The Klingons have for the longest time been associated with Soviet era Russians, whereas the Romulans were the “yellow peril,” but given Klingon naming conventions it’s kind of hard to ignore the obvious Asian influence. No matter, I think the introduction of the Organians in “Errand of Mercy” and the critique of the conflict that unfolds rather punctures that interpretation of yours.

C) “Hippie bashing.” I don’t think so. Yes, Kirk, as the authority figure and spokesman for the status quo in the room, regards Sevrin as a possible threat to life and property, but not because Sevrin and his troupe are members of a counter-culture. No, I think instead it’s because Sevrin, as we discover, is clinically unstable, and his condition WILL probably lead him to be a threat to life and property. Besides, Spock literally endorses the troupes search for a place other than the UFP to find their happiness.

So, no, “The Way to Eden” is not Ward Cleaver pointing a dismissive finger at the counter-culture movement at large, but rather it’s a direct warning from the writer and producers to all the young viewers out there in the audience to beware charismatic crackpots clamouring for Paradise.

And if anything, the mental instability angle is an anti-drug message.

Trivia: “The Way to Eden” was broadcast in Feb. 21, 1969. The Manson Family stepped onto the national stage and into televisions just 6 months later.

The remaining mentions on your list aren’t specific enough for me to address.

@Quincy

Re: moustache-twirling

Personally, “Mirror, Mirror” was the only episode not played self-consciously for its camp value.
Gil
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 3:55am (UTC -5)
@Tim C

Oh, sure, I weighed the possibility that Section 31 might possess these super mad computer skills to hide their tracks over the span of centuries, and everybody else in the Alpha Quadrant, including their A.I.s, are basically just a bunch of "utopian" dimwits, but then we're going down the road of the Illuminati and every other ancient secret society that's supposedly thrived(s) undetected under the noses of the prevailing social order—and so naturally Occam's Razor cut in and I dismissed the notion on all counts for lack of credibility.
Gil
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 3:12pm (UTC -5)
Clearing the backlog:

@wolfstar (Sat, Feb 16, 2019, 6:23pm)

Re: de Boer

Like every other useful idiot on the nominal left, concern troll at the wishy-washy “centre,” or screech hawk on the cursory right, de Boer’s broadside against that purported political monolith “the left” undermines the caustic kernel of truth he was aiming to call out in the first place, namely: selection bias—and how, yes, “consumerist identitarianism” is actively encouraged to serve as a bulwark against criticism of the real rogue elephant in the room: the amoral capitalist system.
Gil
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 3:16pm (UTC -5)
And lastly, let me lob this one out there before tonight’s episode:

@Paul M (Tue, Feb 19, 2019, 4:31pm)

Re: “…it's always the same: The new guys are clueless hacks bent on destroying everything…”

Yes, I realize we're all kicking a dead horse here. Isn't it fun?! (And why I’m inclined to switch things up a bit, if even only for my own amusement), but let's face a few basic truisms (brace yourself/selves):

Set your phasers to summary execution…

Just hold onto your panties for another 20 or 25 years, at which time the TOS “old guard” will either be too busy looking for their keys to engage in trivial online squabbling, developed early-onset dementia, or simply kicked the bucket. Problem (mostly) solved (cuz there’s still those pesky TNG and VOY kids to contend with). Nonetheless, by the time the Roddenberry torch bearers are all laid to rest it’ll be your turn at the post confronting a moaning horde of young whippersnappers and smug studio hires with crackbrained notions (of what constitutes Star Trek) of their very own.

Of course, the simpler, time saving solution would be for your side of the aisle to finally come up with an air-tight defence for such contentious topics, other than your usual presumptive excuse: “because it makes it* more realistic.”

Fun truism: a lot of boys/men get off on violent content that portrays their sex as (conflicted) martyrs for a cause, and generating content to feed this demo is amongst the easiest, no-brainer creative decisions a writer for film and/or television could make. Heck, Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” is essentially the go to template for 99% of Hollywood genre fare.

* i.e., your notions, not Roddenberry’s notions, of what Star Trek is or should be about or involve.

Set your phasers to facetious…

Over the course of three decades Star Trek was understood to be [insert purity test here] and thrived and thrived until, that is, some pimply-faced subscribers to “Clausewitz Quarterly” tip-toed onto the stage and started dropping flies into the ointment.

Now, if you’re like me, I don't like flies in my ointment. They’re not what I paid for. And I know for certain flies are not listed in the ingredients on the jar I bought at Macy's … because I can read them right here on the lid:

"100% Organic Star Trek. Non-GMO and gluten free. Not tested on lifeforms. Non-Comedogenic. Does not include soy, dairy, palm oil or Section 31. UFP Approved.”

And, no, I’m not about to drive all the way back to the store for a refund because they told me they probably weren’t gonna be carrying that brand anymore anyway. Heck, the cute guy behind the counter even suggested I try this exclusive new STD Rejuvenation Creme that just came on the market. And… STD Rejuva… WHAT?!? “I always wear protection, thank you very much,” I said. And then I got his number…

You really want to see the sky come tumbling down? Wait for that day a rebooted Harry Potter is transformed from a callow youth of good intention into a foul-mouthed, know-it-all, juvenile delinquent, and Hogwarts, it turns out, isn’t the safe space for budding young magicians its been portrayed as, but has instead been retconned to have a secret fifth house that acts as a clearing house for an age-old muggle sex trafficking ring that even the Ministry of Magic, in all its seeming power and influence, has neither heard about nor ever finds out about.

Set your phasers back to stun…

Of course Star Trek doesn't exist in a hermetic bubble. It’s fortunes have always been made and/or lost according to the tidal forces of the changing media landscape, shifting demographics, and the cold hard reality of profit & loss, but as both a consumer and critic of the media, I can’t help but always ask the five Ws: Who, What, When, Where, and Why.

There has to be perfectly reasonable explanation (other than profit motive, creative bankruptcy, studio/authorial desperation or sheer ineptitude) for the creative choices being made by the TPTB. And if they’re not perfectly reasonable, why are they carrying the day?

So I look at the lay of media land. I look at the producers. I look at the writers. And I look at all their CVs. And then I do the math. And curiously enough I almost always arrive at the same answer:

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, shame on both of us.”

I watched Enterprise. I watched J.J. Trek. I’m watching STD now. And following the indicators, there’s a unmistakable trending away from fidelity to the Trek ethos in favour of the flavour of the month, whereupon today in 2019 the franchise finds itself painted into that same dank, dark, distant corner of the flow chart where sophomoric YA serials on the CW slither and wriggle.
Robert
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 3:32pm (UTC -5)
"Just hold onto your panties for another 20 or 25 years, at which time the TOS “old guard” will either be too busy looking for their keys to engage in trivial online squabbling, developed early-onset dementia, or simply kicked the bucket."

What are you even talking about? The original fans for Star Trek (TOS) are pushing their 80s now and probably don't use computers for anything other than e-mail.

The vast majority of online complaints I've seen for this show tend to come from none other than millennials who grew up with Voyager and Enterprise being de facto Star Trek. No surprise since social media is most popular among that group to begin with.

Set your phasers to reality check.
Gil
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 3:59pm (UTC -5)
@Robert

"original fans … pushing their 80s."

I wrote "old guard."

A 30 year old in 1969 would be 80, yes, an 18 year old in 1969, 68, and a 6 year old in 1969 would only be 56 today. And then, of course, all those youngins who first saw TOS during its heydays in syndication throughout the '70s and into the '80s.

There was no new Trek other than interactions of TOS until 1987 with the premiere of TNG. A 10 year old in 1980 would only be 39.

So set your phasers to remedial reading and maths.
Gil
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 4:13pm (UTC -5)
grrrr…

Should read: There was no new Trek other than ITERATIONS of TOS…
Robert
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 4:35pm (UTC -5)
So you're saying another iteration of Star Trek will be out in 20-25 years and people who like Discovery will have to defend Discovery against that new show? That's not exactly a shocking revelation. Where's the beef? What is your point? Maybe start with a simple thesis and work your way from there because your comments are difficult to parse.
Gil
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 5:20pm (UTC -5)
@Robert

My comments were directed to a post by Paul M. Maybe, if you haven't already, a reading of his post would provide the context you seemingly can't parse out.

"That not exactly shocking."

I guess my labyrinthine preface (in acknowledgment of Paul M's post) that we're all "beating a dead horse" flew right over your head.

Seems to me your inclined to argue from the centre of a sandwich and ignore the slices of bread holding it together?
Robert
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 5:48pm (UTC -5)
Frankly, I can't imagine Paul M. will be able to understand them either.
Gil
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 6:02pm (UTC -5)
@Robert

Quel dommage.
Robert
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 6:16pm (UTC -5)
Not really.
Gil
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 6:51pm (UTC -5)
But really really? You seem quite determined to get the last word in about something you claim to have not understood.
Robert
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 7:01pm (UTC -5)
I’ve politely asked several times to explain your point but you prefer to insult people and speak in French. I guess you’re right, there’s no point in responding.
Charles J
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 7:06pm (UTC -5)
"And following the indicators, there’s a unmistakable trending away from fidelity to the Trek ethos in favour of the flavour of the month, whereupon today in 2019 the franchise finds itself painted into that same dank, dark, distant corner of the flow chart where sophomoric YA serials on the CW slither and wriggle."

Uhm... for the most part, each of the shows has reflected the time period.

TOS was very much influenced by the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the recognition that Western Europe didn't represent the entire world. The world was fully entering into a period that was post-Colonial and post-Imperialism.

TNG's focus on post scarcity, peace and liberal ideals was a reverse image of the 1980s. With the rise of Reganism and the new conservative movement, the fear of Nuclear war, the economic uncertainty that still lingered after the 1981 to 1982 recession and 1979 energy crisis, and the rising backlash against Civil Rights, TNG's optimism was rooted in our fears and concerns.

DS9 reflected where we were post fall of the Soviet Union. There was an even greater emphasis on the role liberal democracies and liberal institutions play in the world. The world was beginning to more fully understand the impact decades and centuries of Imperial and Colonial rule had on African, Asian and Middle Eastern countries and global politics. Those countries were also wrestling with rebuilding their economies, prioritizing their culture heritage, and becoming active political actors in their own right. And Western Democracies were trying to figure out their roles in all that.

Voyager is arguably the least political of all the shows. Shows and movies shows were still struggling to figure out what exactly defined the period after the Cold War and the Fall of the Soviet Union. How do you tell stories when we no longer have a big bad, or easy to define ideological conflicts? It's not surprising how much Voyager's emphasis on technobable is akin to how in the Pierce Bronson era, the James Bond series increasingly focused on more and more outrageous gadgets. If you look at sci-fi in the 1990s, it's incredibly apolitical. Even the anti-consumerist and corporate messages are mostly toothless. Shows like the X-Files and Babylon 5 were truly among the exceptions, and not the rule.

Enterprise is the most unfocused of all the shows, and that's not by accident. By the time it aired, it really wasn't clear what direction the world was headed in. Putin and oligarchs in the Soviet Union had put to rest the idea that people would automatically embrace capitalism and liberal democracies. Or, that they'd immediately lead to more freedoms. The political divide in the U.S. was even more apparent than it was in the 1990s. If you're on the left, the fear we were going backwards felt all too real. And if you're on the right, it felt like the values that guided this country were being unmoored, and the country might be ill prepared for new threats. Using nation states as the predominant way to define global politics was becoming complicated by all the other actors that now had sway over world events and policy. The founding of the European Union, the role of economic treaties and partnerships, the rise of global terrorism, corporatization, and the growing influence individual parties could have on global conversations and policy, made the world much more complex.

Enterprise, of all the Trek shows, most could have benefited from a brief hiatus before it was conceived and produced. Season 2 might have actually found something unique to say about our world post 9/11. Considering how the Bush administration went to war, the writers might have spent more time focusing on the founding of the Federation and less on Star Fleet.

As for the movies, Wrath of Khan could be read as the Boomers reflecting on the choices they had made in the 1960s. The Genesis device can be read as a commentary on how our technological prowess can both be our salvation, or lead us to do great harm. Star Trek III is revisiting the Cold War conflict that was still very much part of the public consciousness. Star Trek IV's environmental message was of the time. Star Trek VI is very much rooted in the fall of the Soviet Union and Communism. Star Trek 2009 is the start of a film series wrestling with a film industry that is increasingly making films with a global audience in mind. Coming two years after the end of the Iraq war and the start of the Iraqi Insurgency, Star Trek Into Darkness is about the dangers of military jingoism and stoking fears for political purposes.

What in culture and society is Discovery reflecting? We really won't know that for a while and I wouldn't venture to guess. It really takes close to a decade before it becomes clear what any piece of media is really tapping into. Especially as you have to look at what other genre stories were also ruminating on at the same time. What are the themes popping up over and over again.

The idea that Trek has been one continuous, unbroken ethos until DS9, JJ Trek or Enterprise came along is just bunk. For good and bad, every iteration of Trek has been of its time. Star Trek, like the majority of pop culture, is all about the flavors of the month.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 7:13pm (UTC -5)
The last two dozen posts are probably the most pointless argument I've ever seen here (and I've seen a few).

WTF happened here?
Gil
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 7:41pm (UTC -5)
Robert: "What are you even talking about? The original fans for Star Trek (TOS) are pushing their 80s now and probably don't use computers for anything other than e-mail."

But I did answer (see above for details). And here’s the Reader’s Digest version:

a) TOS fans are not all pushing 80.
b) TOS was the only Trek on the tube for 20 years.
c) TNG and VOY carried on the TOS legacy.
d) With the introduction of Section 31, DS9 ceased being Roddenberry Trek.

Ergo: there's still a huge pool of Roddenberry Trek fans out there who may be inclined to share their opinions about Section 31 online.

e) once all the Roddenberry Trek fans are dead and buried the Behr/Kurtzman Trek fans will quite possibly have to contend with a new Star Trek they won't agree with and they’ll spend their time online complaining about too.

Ergo: beating a dead horse.

Was that REALLY so difficult?

As I stated already, understanding the context for my post is provided by following the breadcrumbs back to the reason why Paul M composed his reply to me in the first place. Which, if you don't, and just jump into the middle, toss off a dismissive 'I don't get it; who cares anyway', then expect me to explain it all just for you, well…come on, who you trying to kid here.
Gil
Thu, Feb 21, 2019, 8:09pm (UTC -5)
@OmicronThetaDelta

If a post or comments are clearly not in direct response to you, what does it matter they're contents?

Jammer's site doesn't support threaded comments.

Don't like what you're reading? It doesn't interest or pertain to you? The content bores you to tears? Well, just move along. It's not that difficult. I do it all the time without complaint.
Hank
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 5:38pm (UTC -5)
"Life must be easy, if you think the [giant invisible hand]* that is writing this story actually knows what it is doing ..."

Well said, Burnham, well said. Imagine if the writers knew what the heck they are doing ...*sings* imagine there's no heaven!

*don't recall the actual wording here
Noxex
Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 7:33pm (UTC -5)
Roddenberry’s vision itself was a retcon and some BS he can me up with for 70’s con audiences. It’s only really ever seen in part of TNG. Apart from that, the whole utopian Trek thing has always been a myth, and if the average Admiral is any indication, Starfleet is pretty morally questionable.

All that being said, Kurtzman has one of the worst track records out there, so it is really difficult to give him the benefit of the doubt. BUT Discovery is just as much proper Trek as DS9 or those movies Gene hated so much.
skyelord
Mon, Feb 25, 2019, 8:15pm (UTC -5)
God I hated this episode. For me 0 zeros and the worst of the series (yes not season).

I've been a defender of DSC on the whole but this might as well have just been 5 minutes of "lets see how we can use some technobabble to resurrect a character we barely cared about and shouldn't have probably killed off in a show with so few proper characters anyway".

Pike has done a great job so far but are they trying to make him look week and have poor judgement. Risking the entire ship for someone is probably dead and then risking it for even longer who has been dead for months and probably/maybe still is.. seemed to make him look a bit irresponsible rather than heroic.

And I thought section 31 was a pretty decent idea in ds9 but it's just gone beyond stupid in DSC now. They have ridiculously advanced technology that's somehow never used by mainstream starfleet even in 200 years time (or whenever tng/ds9 is)

I'm never really that nit picky about canon/technology etc as long as the story is good and or it has some good characters.

For me this was just a horrible mess from start to finish. None of it had any emotional impact on me whatsoever (i'm not going to go into the sexuality thing since it has no relevance). The actor who plays Stamets seems to devolve into the SMG school of acting when Hugh is/was around: Pull a ridiculously over-the-top facial expression for far too long.

I range between indifference and dislike for Michael and in this one it was just indifference - what REALLY got my goat was the constant ticking clocks where the whole ship was about to get eaten alive by spores or whatever and yet the kept having long goodbyes, pinky swears and other ridiculous things. I mean ok if they want to stand there and chat and die fine but their whole ship/crew will die while they have another hug. Nice.

I hope that's finally the end of the spore drive now. A mushroom garden spanning the universe isn't a great idea imo but anyway..

S2 started so well.. exciting enough opening with rather too much action and then the awesome Eden (my favoirite episode of DSC by a long way - not original perhaps but well excecuted and Michael managed to behave reasonably for a second)

God what an absolute stinker.

I'm still wading through an Enterprise rewatch when i can stay awake through an episode (i'm watching them in bed to be fair) but even the worse of ENT wasn't as bad as this mess with a couple of exceptions (dog in sickbay and trip with annoying woman)
Gil
Tue, Feb 26, 2019, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
@Noxex

"Roddenberry’s vision itself was a retcon and some BS he can me up with for 70’s con audiences. It’s only really ever seen in part of TNG."

Even if your flippant attempt at revision wasn't desperate enough, you've also suffered an unrecoverable logic fail.

The vast majority of Trek's 70s audience did not attend a con(s), were aware of cons, could have attended a con, or might have had their opinion influenced by a con. (Regardless of whether Gene was making shit up on the spot or not). They watched the show at home like pretty much every else did, either alone or with like-minded friends, and gosh darnit, wouldn't ya know, they all seemed to have arrived at (and perpetuated) pretty much the same notions about the show's fundamentals that you apparently choose to ignore.

The proof is in the pudding, as it were.

"Discovery is just as much proper Trek as…"

…reconstituted pudding reduced for sale.

@skyelord

Curious how many praise "New Eden" for the familiar tone and structure it imparts, but casually overlook the episode's ersatz intellectual underpinnings. "New Eden" is steeped in anti-intellectual bias.
Skyelord
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 6:57pm (UTC -5)
@gil

Wow way to be massively condescending. I don't the need to justify why I like an episode or not in your terms.

That said I felt a vaguely emotional connection to Eden that I hadn't had in DSC so far (DS9 did this best as a series for me with epizodes such as The Visitor) so maybe intellectualism or otherwise isn't always really relevant when we're discussing our opinions of an episode.

People watch Trek for different reasons and what makes it True Trek or not is massively subjective obviously.

As stated. This episode did nothing for me as sci-fi or even as a good story with emotional attachment. It felt like a badly written/scripted/acted mess. The script is so bad sometimes I do wonder if even Hopkins or Streep could sell it.

I am still just about enjoying DSC somehow though.
Gil
Thu, Feb 28, 2019, 12:20pm (UTC -5)
@Skyelord

"I don't the need to justify why I like an episode or not in your terms."

Not my terms. Hardly my terms. But the terms already defined by Star Trek. Continuity isn't all about what this show should look like, but what it's underlaying philosophy is and has been.

Pike, a Starfleet captain, arguing for and making command decisions based on Pascal’s Wager does not jive with the rational, secular philosophy of Star Trek. Nor would it train its science officers to hold their tongue when the commanding officer is clearly going off the reservation to pursue his/her own irrational agenda.

Starfleet isn't in the business of training Christian apologists … or, at least it didn't before STD came along.
SlackerInc
Thu, Mar 28, 2019, 4:10am (UTC -5)
One of the bridge crew seems like a robot. But Data in TNG was clearly seen as a unique anomaly a century later. How do we square this?

This return of Dr. Culber is such woo. And it’s transparently engineered, along with the frenetic craziness of the third episode, to help get Ash and Michael back together.

I have said this before, but I really think I'm out this time. I was pulled back in in large part because I wanted to engage in the discussion here. But it's just too much of a slog. Although I am curious about those upcoming 3.5 and 4 star episodes! Maybe I'll just watch those.
Booming
Thu, Mar 28, 2019, 4:29am (UTC -5)
@SlackerInc
"How do we square this?"
It is revealed later how she "works" but I don't want to spoil it if you decide to continue.

There are good episodes coming but only watching the really good ones will at times not make sense because of the serialized nature of the show.
SlackerInc
Fri, Mar 29, 2019, 4:45pm (UTC -5)
I was thinking I'd still read recaps of others, maybe Jammer's review and comments section as well. Which doesn't save me a lot of time, I realize; but the bad episodes are just such a tough slog, it's not just about the time.

Would you say your view of which episodes are good lines up with Jammer's ratings?

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