Star Trek: Discovery


2 stars.

Air date: 11/25/2021
Written by Anne Cofell Saunders & Glenise Mullins
Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi

Review Text

As I was watching "Anomaly," I realized we've reached the Hallmark Greeting Card stage of the Trekkian technobabble episode. This episode is overly earnest Touchy Feely Trek taken to a level of near self-parody. It wants so badly to engage on an emotional level that it does so to the point of extreme pushiness, while failing to engage on the level I really wanted to meet it on, which was pseudo-intellectual. I wanted to understand what this anomaly was and how it kinda-sorta works, but that's beyond the scope of this episode, which is more about how everyone feels about everything that's happening.

Oh, sure, it pretends like it's all about the data and the research and the science of it all, but is it really? At one point, the anomaly causes all artificial gravity to go haywire and makes everyone float above their stations before being slammed back to the deck. That's a kinda cool visual, but most of the episode is the usual camera-shaking and sparks exploding that we've come to expect in Star Trek jeopardy shows for decades, and this episode pummels us with it relentlessly.

This is also a story that at one point, I think, alleges that black holes are not detectable, making the heading of this 5-light-year-across behemoth impossible to predict, which seems to fly in the face of both science and fiction. I could be misunderstanding what was actually said here, but that's precisely my point: This show bulldozes through the details so quickly to get to the next personal/emotional crisis (amid the camera shaking) that it can't be bothered to describe the supposedly important mechanics of the anomaly at hand. In the TNG days, the anomaly would've been explained in a conversation where the crew all talked it over, and we might even have gotten a nifty Okudagram. I miss those days. Now everyone is too busy dealing with their (and everyone else's) baggage to deal with the task at hand.

We've been moving in this direction for years with Discovery, and "Anomaly" pushes it into melodramatic and arty pretentiousness. This is the most sentimental hour of this series since Burnham said interminable goodbyes to her parents and Ash Freaking Tyler in "Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 1." Most of the soul-searching is focused on Book. And, yes, he has a pretty good case for being emotionally compromised, what with his brother and nephew and homeworld being destroyed by the anomaly. But after about the third time Book was haunted by the image of his little nephew running through the corridor of his ship, I had reached my eye-roll breaking point.

This isn't awful so much as excessive. Or, I don't know, maybe it's kinda awful. I could get behind the idea of Stamets trying to connect with Book, and this tying back to their shared duties of piloting the spore drive, but some of this is so ham-handed that it becomes downright corny. There used to be a time when I wanted Star Trek shows to deal with their characters more. Now I just want them to deal with the sci-fi problems more. That might not be the case if the emotional journey weren't constantly explored in the middle of a crisis in such a contrived and superficial manner, while the music swells and the episode acts like the very universe hangs in the balance of these people's shattered lives.

Come to think of it, it might. If Book can't pull it together and navigate his ship out of danger and return with the all-important data that explains the galacticataclysmic anomaly, all will be lost. After all, Burnham announces at the outset that Discovery will study the anomaly and will figure something out, such that the fate of Kwejian doesn't happen ever again. After all, We Are Starfleet and We're Here to Help. Because, sure, maybe in the face of a tornado we can simply will the tornado out of existence with our good intentions — or at least study the tornado enough to invent an enhanced warning system that can save the lives of hundreds of townsfolk and allow Helen Hunt to finally get over the loss of her dad.

I know. I'm being mean. It's more fun at the moment than wading through this dirge-like exercise in earnestness, something which proves self-defeating because the characters stop being relatable and feel like avatars for the script's self-importance. After the lengths the crew goes through to retrieve the data, they learn that it won't help them predict where it's going, because it simply changes direction on a whim, against all known laws of physics. So, mission not accomplished. Not yet, anyway.

"We thought you was a toad":

  • Saru's back, and he takes the place as Burnham's first officer. Fine and good.
  • I love how everything shakes and the bass rumbles amid the crisis, except when we slow down for Really Important Heartfelt Dialogue, like when Burnham speaks to Book while inside her privacy chamber (LOL, eye-roll). Then everything gets deathly quiet, and the seconds the characters supposedly have to react stretch into decades.
  • The initial shot of the anomaly is a major disappointment. Everyone looks at it in serious, amazed, hushed tones, but it's a bunch of white sparkly things with no context for scale or whatever the hell we're supposed to be looking at. The final pull-back, fortunately, is much more impressive and ominous — although it hints at an Armageddon scale that this show frankly doesn't need to be repeating, especially if it's all filtered through the characters' emotional journeys anyway.
  • I did laugh at Tilly's awkward mood-breaker after asking for Saru's professional ear. The show needs more self-awareness like this to break through its ever-seriousness.
  • The fact the anomaly moves at apparent random apart from any sort of sensible physics — and the fact it has an energy cloud around it that sensors can't penetrate — definitely has me suspecting some sort of intelligent superbeing lies at its center, not unlike V'Ger in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
  • Color me impatient with Gray's quest for a synthetic body, mostly because the show still hasn't bothered to explain what Gray actually is, and Gray himself is pretty lame/annoying as a would-be character so far, as evidenced by his concern over a mole on his synthetic body's hand. Is Gray merely a piece of Adira's psyche/symbiont, or an actual lifeform that somehow exists separately? (If the latter, then how?) Culber says he will be able to transfer Gray's consciousness into a synthetic body, and he even name-drops the sister-show example of Picard doing it 900 years earlier, but it's not exactly the same thing, is it? Picard was actually a living person in a living body. Whatever.

Previous episode: Kobayashi Maru
Next episode: Choose to Live

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81 comments on this post

    It's episode 2 of season 4 and Discovery is doing what Discovery does best... and it ain't great.

    Burnham whispered her way through most of the episode. And, of course, she ultimately proved instrumental in saving the day (and her lover and all that vital data).

    But what's with the whispering when she's in her own quarters or having a one on one conversation? Speak up, be demonstrative... you run this ship, you call the shots. Don't talk like you're a stowaway on your own vessel.

    The lip service paid to the season 1 finale of Picard and the obligatory explanation why not everyone is using android bodies is... well, it's there. The whole "Let's get Gray another body" and having them adjust it to their specifications is like being caught in a metaphore avalanche. Transitioning, we get it!

    Tilly is now larger than Culber and Saru... and she gets to comment on Saru's size? Goodness.

    Saru thinks it's an honor to serve under Michael. Of course he does. "Mr. Saru" is a nice touch tho.

    This season's planet munching anomaly is 5 light years across. "That's huge" according to the Federation president.

    Liked this one a lot better than the premiere. Saru's return is contrived as hell, but I'll allow it because Doug Jones is so good in the part. What's his arc for the season going to be though? I sure hope it's better than last year, where the writers constantly undermined his leadership in order to railroad Burnham into the chair.

    With a single, strong character thread running throughout the episode - how does Book cope with the apocalypse that has just befallen him? - there was enough emotional content to latch onto amidst the technobabble investigation plot that they both enhanced one another.

    Speaking of the technobabble, I actually liked it! It almost sounded plausible. I have no idea if it actually was, but it was light-years ahead of some of the show's previous efforts. I'm interested to learn more about whatever the hell this anomaly is. My hope (always a dangerous thing to have with this show) is that it's truly just a force of nature that serves as a catalyst for political and personal drama, rather than some alien superweapon or some shit.

    It feels like SMG is still trying to find her gear playing the Captain. I'm looking forward to see how her performance grows to fit the new role without the constant conflict of butting heads with her superiors. She did a good job of portraying Burnham's conflict over whether to risk the ship to stay tethered to Book, and I felt for her.

    I liked Tilly becoming the mentor rather than mentee, and her own recognition that she was sounding like Stamets, which made me laugh because it rang true. We all unconsciously take on characteristics of our teachers, if they did their jobs well.

    I still don't understand what the hell is going on with Gray: what *is* he? From what I remember of that awful season three finale, it was never explained just what it is that makes him different from Adira's previous hosts that they're going to be able to transfer him into a new body.

    And someone should tell the set designers that the new flamethrowers they've installed on the bridge look *incredibly* silly. They don't look like the ship is taking damage; they look like some Starfleet engineer was on smack.

    Not a good episode. In fact, maybe Discovery's worst to date. I understand the show has to get through some necessary plot, and it has to show the aftermath of Book's great loss on him, but the episode was just . . . limp. We all knew he'd by flying out of that anomaly, and there were no surprises in there. The episode was just characters walking through the motions, marking time until the end of it, really. Pretty disappointing. Especially after last week's premiere. Well, onto next week.

    . . .

    I understand some viewers may not be particularly interested in transgender stories but future technology is likely to have significant impact on the people who identify as such. It's also a salient social issue of our times. Star Trek should explore it, as Star Trek always has with the salient issues of its time in other eras.

    . . .

    Just as an observation, Tilly's really gotten big. I'm not trying to be mean, I'm just commenting on it because it doesn't seem likely a Starfleet officer would be in the physical condition she is in given all the technology they have in the future, including replicating all meals and completely customizing nutrition, etc. An argument can be made that "in the future, people won't care what kind of physical shape you're in," just like Roddenberry said about Picard being bald, but it doesn't hold water. Being bald doesn't affect your health or your ability to carry out your duties as a Starfleet officer (well, I guess he does lose a bit more body heat through his head on chilly away missions than Riker, buuuuuuuut . . . ). Tilly's body type does. If it were really the future, she would have addressed and corrected it by now, and it probably wouldn't have even been hard. Mary Wiseman is big enough now that it really stands out and is kind of breaking my immersion in the setting somewhat.

    (And before anyone says anything about the producers casting Tilly to make an intentional point about plus-sized bodied people in the future, go check out Tilly in her first appearance, episode 1x03. She was slim.)

    I know I'm being unkind here, but my view is, when you're an actress, maintaining your physical condition to appropriately inhabit your role is part of your job. You're literally paid for it. I know it's not easy. I know people can really, really struggle. But you're purposefully given the resources to accomplish it, because it is literally your job.

    . . .

    Not sure how I feel about Saru's new role. He seemed . . . beaten down, a bit of a doormat in this episode. I get the feeling Doug Jones might be feeling a little lost in what his character's journey from here is and so not sure how to play it? Me, too. I think I would have probably gotten him back on Discovery as a civilian, in an ambassador role. But then that isn't much useful chasing a giant space anomaly, I guess.

    There's precedent for another Captain-by-rank serving as an XO under another captain, in Kirk & Spock in ST:V-VI. But Decker got temporarily busted down to Commander in TMP when Kirk took over and relegated him to the same. It's a thousand years in the future, anyway. If Discovery wants to say Saru can still be a captain in rank while serving as XO under another captain, it doesn't really bother me much.

    I wrote my comment before seeing either of the two that proceeded it, and I find it really interesting that we all essentially commented on the same things about the episode. Ha!

    @ Tim C

    They haven't really explained what makes Gray different, because they don't really know. It has something to do with the way he died, that Tal is now joined to a human host rather than a new Trill host, and that the new human host was his lover, Adira, giving them an intense emotional connection and engagement. It seems Gray's entire consciousness was preserved with Tal, rather than just fading away into memories like it is supposed to shortly after death. It's made clear that the Trill have never seen anything like it before and they don't really understand it, and that it isn't supposed to happen.

    Speaking of Adira, it would be great if they started acting a little bit more like a joined being. There's been no indication that Tal's personality is anywhere present as a part of the Adira we see. That's wrong on the part of the writers. A Trill is not just a repository of memories and experiences. A joined Trill is a essentially a new personality created by the blending of the two parties. I guess Adira is human, which might change things, but it seemed in last season's episode set on Trill that the issues preventing a proper joining were resolved. Is Tal just a silent hostage held inside Adira?

    This episode didn't quite do it for me, though it had some good points.

    First the positive - everything relating to Book here. It's always enjoyable on those rare occasions where Discovery decides to allow a non-Michael character to be the focus of the episode, and he clearly is here, with a coherent character arc explored over the course of the episode. David Ajala does amazing work with what's given, and (in a rarity for Discovery) a lot of his pain is explained through visuals and physical action, rather than just telling us about his pain. Pairing him with Stamets was also a great move, in that we see two characters together who have heretofore interacted very little, giving us a new character dynamic which lets some sparks fly.

    The problem is everything else other than these character beats is mediocre. The first half of the episode is dripping with expository dialogue, with the writers continually telling rather than showing. This isn't a new sin of Trek, but it really made me not enjoy the first half of the episode at all, because (similar some earlier episodes, like parts of Season 2) it felt like the medicine the writers were giving us in order to get to whatever they consider "the good stuff" later.

    The second issue is the character beats outside of the Book/Stamets interactions are kinda one-note and sappy. I don't mind some melodrama, but it's fairly one-note, because so many of the dialogues boil down to "character A confides something/is vulnerable, character B acts as a perfect, understanding friend." I don't want everything to be Marvel-style quipping, but it's just boring seeing conversations between Michael/Book, Michael/Saru, Tilly/Culber, Stamets/Culber, and Adira/Gray all with the exact same dynamics. It makes it feel like it's the voice of a single writer who doesn't understand the differences between the individual characters very much. They're all just there to be an inclusive, supportive team.

    Two stars. I really wish they focused more solely on the POV of Book here - and maybe added a good deal more regarding Stamets - because the episode would have been greatly improved if all the other crap was tossed out the airlock.

    This was certainly an episode. Although the reasons for Saru being first officer felt kind of contrived, I think his dynamic with Burnham is already better here than it was last season, when Burnham was first officer and Saru was captain.

    Burnham's speech "Not on our watch" coupled with what the president said last week makes me think she's being set up for a big fall at some point this season.

    I like that the Captain can now have a cone of silence whenever they need to make a private call.

    I think it's amusing that even in the 32nd century, there are still exploding rocks everywhere when the ship gets hit. And those control panels must run on natural gas considering all the flames that shoot out of them.

    I can't really improve on what Karl Zimmerman said above, but I agree. The character interactions were all very similar to each other and a little tedious.

    It felt kind of weird to me that they were already joking about Burnham firing Stamets out of the airlock last season because it felt like they were building up to having a little tension between the two, but maybe they'll come back to that later.

    Even though this episode had explosions and crying scenes, it still felt slower paced than past episodes, which I appreciate. One of my problems with the show in previous years has been the pacing. When everything is always moving at a breakneck speed, it can get exhausting. I like that this episode slowed down at least a little bit.

    I like that they acknowledged Picard turning into an android and are going to use that as the template for turning Gray into an android. It's cool that they're reusing something they already established in another series like that.

    I don't know, I guess I'd give this something like 2 stars. It was fine. Some stuff I liked. Some stuff I didn't.

    Found this episode to be insufferable -- one of the things DSC likes to do is to overdo the emotions characters feel and it just felt like this kept happening over and over again. It was boring, annoying and hard to keep my interest. The plot and some of the arbitrary happenings, combined with technobabble were pretty poor. Have to say, this was one of the worst DSC experiences for me.

    Perhaps the one good thing in the episode was Ajala's acting for Book -- being disconnected, emotionally unstable. Good facial expressions and I liked how he initially dealt with Burnham and Stamets.

    So now Saru comes on board and is only too willing to be Burnham's No. 1. So now the DSC writers have their cake and are eating it as well -- all is now as it was supposed to be. Found this to be ridiculous. But maybe it's a Kelpian thing that Saru would turn down a command and work under someone he has been critical of before in Burnham?

    Burnham makes her grandiose speech on heading off to deal with the anomaly. Ugh. The pacing was initially way too slow -- the first part of the episode was uber-boring. Just took forever to figure out how to manage Book's ship's mission. And how long is this tether??

    The ongoing Adira/Gray thing is vomit-inducing for me. What is the point of this?? I thought nobody else was supposed to be able to see Gray but now Dr. Culber can see him and is making a body for him like Picard got at the end of PIC S1? Could not care less about this.

    The whole data from the anomaly seems to be a red herring -- how is Stamets supposed to know how much time he needs to get it all? It is whatever is needed to cause Book's ship to be untethered and forced to ride some gravitation waves with Burnham guiding Book as a partner and not as captain. More contrivances.

    And when all's said and done, everybody has to thank each other and get super-emotional. Stamets thanks Book. Tilly thanks Culber. Burnham and Book grieve together. Everybody is there for everybody... just so annoying in how DSC tries to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

    I also have an issue with this episode having the exact same title as ENT S3 E2 (which was a vastly superior episode). Definitely some similarities in how anomalies affect the ship in unpredictable ways. But I think DSC should have called this episode "The Anomaly" -- kind of like "The Emissary" or "The Muse". Can't have 2 Star Trek episodes with the same title.

    1.5 stars for "Anomaly" -- DSC went back to one of its major flaws, which were absent from "Kobayashi Maru." Just a painful episode to get through for all the wrong reasons - weak plot, too much arbitrary happenings, and characters (other than Book) being excessively emotional and annoying -- what a bunch of sissies.

    With this episode I’m done. This show has devolved from mediocre trek to whiny dialogue and never ending raised stakes. Even Enterprise at it’s worst with the Xindi was significantly better than this. Burnham is simply not believable anymore (rolls the dice every single time with no repercussions) and bringing Saru back so clumsily only made the juxtaposition harder to fathom.

    Also somehow this show has way too main primary characters and yet many of the bridge crew just live aimlessly in the background. Honestly don’t even know their names 3+ seasons in.

    One star for this one (entirely for the cool first no gravity scene) and maybe 1.5 for the opener. One final complaint - why does this show get movie theater loud during some scenes then communicate in freaking whispers a minute later? Bye bye DISCO.

    I’m genuinely surprised by the reactions this far. I loved the episode. I’m still digesting it and will post more soon. Initial highlights include:

    -Book’s grief.
    -Book and Michael’s relationship.
    -Convincing technobabble.
    -Ensemble feel.
    -Stamets Stamets Stamets!

    I was really sour when I learned season 4 was going to be another Michael must save the universe plot, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised thus far.

    Two steps forward one step back after last weeks opener.

    By the numbers for the most part with some interesting bits and pieces (will the new holo thing be a plot point in future?).

    Struggling to care about the main plot if I’m being honest.

    While this episode wasn’t as strong as the Season 4 premiere, I found it entertaining.

    * Zero gravity scenes on the Bridge. Cool effects!!
    * Book & Stamets both put on show.
    * Loved the interactions between Burnham and Saru. It seems at this point that Saru is now a combination of Spock and McCoy.
    * To me, this was the first episode in which Burnham really takes on the mantle of Captain. And with the lead actor now “the Captain on the Bridge” everything seems much more organic.

    * A few scenes tilted over into maudlin territory, but it wasn’t as bad as previous seasons.

    Overall, I really enjoyed the ep and give it three stars out of four.

    I am usually in the position of dissenting with those who didn't like things, but today I was in a really bad mood, I guess.

    This is an adequate episode, maybe 2 stars. But if I have to listen to Michael Burnham make one more grinny, faux-inspiring, shittily-written speech, I swear to whatever God we believe in that I'm going to tear my hair out and throw it at the screen.

    QUESTION VOYAGER COMPARISON ALERT..Did anyone else think this Anomaly was a litle too similar to Chaotic Space in Voyager's The Fight episode. Since it moves randomly and is big..Chakotay even says in that episode how can something so massive move so fast?? Bit at least the magnetic part is different and it's much bigger I think than chaotic space.

    @ Leif

    I just read your comment in my head as "Chakotic Space." Which, you know, I guess isn't entirely all wrong! Haha.

    If you can pay attention to that episode long enough to try to figure out what is going on, you're a better viewer than I. Threshold is worse in my estimation because of its aggressive and malignant idiocy that sticks in your brain and annoys you long after the episode has concluded, but The Fight doesn't even pass muster as something that meets the basic metrics to be considered an episode of television. Thankfully, though, if I hadn't just rewatched Voyager last year, I wouldn't have remembered it existed! I'd forgotten again until you mentioned it just now.

    . . .

    Voyager was always running across large space anomalies. The one from the first season that was alive. The one that gave everyone what they wanted except Seven (actually, that one was alive too). The one that sucked all the ships in and Janeway had to forge an alliance out of pirate factions using Federation principles to escape (you know, that plot could have been a great two-parter, but in one episode, it can off kind of pat). The one that swallowed that Old Earth astronaut's space capsule so that it could end up in the Delta Quadrant. The one that blocked all the starlight from the empty expanse of space where they first met the Malons. And I bet I'm forgetting a bunch of other ones, too.

    * came off kind of pat.

    The one from the first season is the one where Janeway decides to pick B'Elanna over Joe Carey for Chief Engineer. There's some time bending thing going on as Voyager exits.

    Also Chakotay got his consciousness kicked out of his body by some aliens that one time and needed Indian dream totems to get back into himself, but I think that was in a nebula, not an anomaly. (It was . . . an anomalous nebula, certainly!)

    It's hilarious reading people's reactions. The first episode was weird, disjointed, way too frenetic, and full of failed cheesy humor, along with bad CGI. I don't see how anybody could rate that better than this episode.

    Man, Book was shook! Dude was cut to his quick. He got the "New Trek" Spock treatment and I felt every bit of it. The death flags were all over this and the last episode with Burnham and Book all smiles and roses. You just knew something terrible was coming down the pike. I didn't expect Book to lose his whole damn world, though. That was rough, but I enjoyed this episode. Stamets shed a lot of his annoying habits in this one and I appreciated his respectful promise to Book after they got out of the anomaly. Tilly was even bearable if you can believe that.

    As someone else mentioned, it looks like they're setting Burnham up for a big fall. Entitling the first episode Kobayashi Maru indicates that she's going to have to face that again and she's going to fail hard like Kirk did when he lost his son trying to get Spock back. This episode leads me to believe she's going to have to sacrifice Book or Book is going to sacrifice himself.

    I also noticed they mentioned Voyager and then run into a spatial anomaly. Voyager was MADE out of spatial anomalies. Chaotic Space is one, but the one I was thinking about was, "Twisted," the one in the second season where some life form or crew of lifeforms inhabiting a spatial anomaly was collapsing space, contorting and crushing the ship, and even scrambling the brains of Janeway at one point. They got out of it and at the end the lifeform downloaded 20 million gigaquads of information directly into their computers. There was an Apocryphal novel written about it where the information was a call for help and Voyager had to seek them out.

    Pretty sure the name dropping of Voyager is an Easter egg signifying that they're pulling from Voyager's spatial anomaly lore. God knows which one. I just hope they get it right. Finger's crossed.

    Nowhere else to post this, but Jammer, do you have any plans to ever add sections for "The Expanse," "Foundation," or the new Dune movie? Sorry for the off topic post.

    I second the commenter above in that I too found this episode better than the first (even though I happened to like the first).

    This second episode had better pacing, centered on a main plot, with a clear B story (no C, D, and E stories, and all mixed in a somewhat disjointed way like the premiere). Both stories contained human conflict, either within oneself like Book dealing with grief, or a conflicting dynamic between two people like Burnham and the newly introduced president. David Ajala was great in this hour.

    The episode also had adequate science technobabble and coordination and comradery among the main crew to solve problems, with each member seemingly more comfortable in their roles. We are finally getting episodes featuring just the Discovery crew and the main characters without extra seasonal characters taking up considerable time. I'm all for that. The dialogues featuring Saru, Michael, the Admiral, the President, Book, Stamets all had a purpose and motivation.

    3.5 stars for me, hit the right notes except for Gray's character who seems to appear and disappear at will, with no explanation of how he could possible come alive in any shape or form (I did however like the nod to ST: Picard).

    Jammer, I second Quincy's comments. Even if you don't write reviews about The Expanse, you owe it to yourself to watch "The Expanse." It's easily the best sci-fi show since BSG. It's got some of the best plotting I've ever seen in genre TV.

    The new Dune movie is also great. The Foundation show doesn't work for me and it deviates way too much from the books.

    Like BSG, The Expanse at least has a Trek tie-in as well, as it was made by a TNG alum (Naren Shankar instead of Ron Moore).

    That said, I get the idea that Jammer is pressed for time these days between work and family, thus I would never try and pester him to review something.

    I wanted to say too, that the whole "Transplant your mind into a synth body" did not in fact originate with Picard vis-a-vis Trek in General.

    For that, you want the episode "I, Mudd" from Season 2 of the Original Series.

    I haven't read all the comments, so i don't know if anyone else has noticed this, but every time the Discovey is hit or suffers damage, there's some rock concert flamethrower pirotechnics hapening on the background. They seem to be programmed to go off every few seconds. I know this is a very minor pet peeve, but that throws me off the action completelly. I can only see that, since it started on the first episode.
    That said, the show continues to be half assed at best. Discovery sounds to me like a sci-fi version of Greys Anatomy.

    This show/series needs to slow down. It is too action and plot heavy and the action and the plot aren't that good.

    A previous comment hit the nail on the head, "never ending raised stakes". It seems like every episode is always about saving the entire universe from a thing that's even worse than the previous thing. It's a well that has gone dry. I no longer believe or care that their universe might end.

    Discovery is at its worst when it's diving deep into the season's Big Bad Mystery. So much of the tension of the plot is between everyone and the anomaly. There's nothing interesting there. It's inevitable that as the season goes on we'll understand more about the Big Bad Mystery, have some minor plot points about how to unite to defeat it, and then in the last episode it will be defeated\resolved.

    Star Trek is at its most interesting when its not predictable. Not clean-cut. DS9 is a great example. In DS9 the choices weren't always clear cut. Characters were conflicted mixtures of good and evil. Choices had drawbacks.

    With Discovery it's basically everyone vs. the Big Bad Mystery. Much of the show's substance has been replaced with CGI BS. The ship is apparently just a large hollow space for turbolifts to go through. The ship bends and spins like a pizza cutter when they go to black alert. The started off with what's possible with CGI instead of starting off with a plot and using CGI to tell it. It's like no one cares about what should be believable or true within the universe. If the people making the show don't care, why should I?

    This was an AWFUL episode to me. I really hope they take a break from the Big Bad Mystery to tell a story that I actually care about.

    A simple pair of questions. A thousand years in the future and they've not got rid of those exploder corporation consoles? And who the hell thought things that produce FLAME JETS were a good idea on the bridge?

    Jammer, interesting to see that the show is starting to break you. I think it broke me after the season finale last year. I then listened to everyone here and watched the The Expanse…all five seasons. It is SO good. As Dom said, if you haven’t watched it, you definitely owe it to yourself to watch it. It will make you feel better about Sci-Fi.

    "Galacticataclysmic." Heh.

    Of course there's something intelligent inside the anomaly, Jammer. An impersonal, faceless enemy doesn't make for good drama. ;)

    To those recommending "The Expanse": I hear you, and I've heard you many times over the years. I have no reason to doubt you. But reviews aren't happening. Maybe someday I will be able to go back and watch it for my own enjoyment, but I can't say if that will actually happen or not. It's certainly not happening right now.

    Probably a wise choice. The Expanse is a good show but even though it is not a 100% bummer show, it can be quite rough. Considering how depressing things are right now, maybe stick to something more joyful.
    Positive thoughts!

    I didn't get around to watching this week's episode till today - what with all the family commitments. I thought of writing one of my reviews, but then I saw that @Jammer had written,

    "Now everyone is too busy dealing with their (and everyone else's) baggage to deal with the task at hand.

    We've been moving in this direction for years with Discovery..."

    ... and I couldn't have said it better myself.

    What a let down. 2 stars, but just barely.

    Forgettable filler/exposition episode that felt entirely pointless after the twist revealed that nothing they just did mattered at all. Saru back on board is nice, as he carries most scenes he's in and elevates the material.

    This Gray/Adira plot continues to feel really ham fisted especially after we went though a similar story with Stamets/Culber. Is the only way Discovery can do LGBTQ plots to have one of the characters die and then phantom haunt their lover before suddenly being able to come back alive? Hopefully there's a decent pay off to this but not holding my breath. Personally, wouldn't really mind if they accidently created some kinda Lore-type supervillian with this plan and Gray goes T2000/sleeper cylon on the Adira and the ship.

    1.5/4 for me.

    I intimated this above, but ever since Michelle Paradise came on mid Season 2, Discovery has had a kinda "group therapy" vibe to it. Not only is it all about feelings, it's all about TALKING about your feelings all the time.

    This is tedious for a number of reasons. One is it generally fails the show not tell rule of storytelling. If you want to get across that a character is depressed, you should just do it in their actions - or the subtext of the other things they discuss. IMHO they did enough showing with Book in this episode, but the rest, not so much.

    But the worse issue is just character versatility. Where are the Worfs or the O'Briens - the characters who are immensely fucked up at times on the inside, but they mostly just repress it or trudge through things? This is also part of the human emotional experience after all. As I said, it really does feel like everyone is written as the same person - as a writer avatar and not as distinct characters.

    "Not only is it all about feelings, it's all about TALKING about your feelings all the time."

    "it really does feel like everyone is written as the same person - as a writer avatar and not as distinct characters."

    Yes, these are very perceptive comments. I feel like these writers (Paradise, I imagine is mainly responsible) should be writing episodes of some daytime soap like Y&R or Days of Our Lives. Not that I've ever spent a second of my life watching that garbage but that's the kind of vibe I think DSC is aiming for while action scenes are interspersed. Everybody should get all emotional and cry all the damn time.

    BTW, I really suffered thru this episode. Please spare me a thought. Maybe we can all share our feelings about it.

    Re: the Expanse. Just stick it out through the first season if it doesn't grab you. Shouldn't be hard--it's not like it's bad television, but it isn't great. The second season is a lot better, and by season 3 it's "titans-of-the-genre" level good. (I mean, it still has to stick the landing, but I'm not worried.)

    Karl Zimmerman, I agree with your comments. Also, just on a basic storytelling level, you want to leave room for characters to grow and evolve over the course of a show. Throwing too much of their emotions robs later emotional scenes of their power. The characters seem to go through major melodrama each week, which becomes numbing. I got to the point in Season 3 when my wife and I were making bets on whether or not Burnham would cry in an episode.

    Not to bring up "The Expanse" again, but it has many great examples of building toward major character moments. Naomi seems like a pretty smart, tough character, so it's heart-wrenching to see her break down in season 5. If happy-go-lucky Alex is upset, that means something. I care about those characters because they feel like real people, not like attempts by a writer to make me care.

    Star Trek:Discovery - A Fist Full of Trois

    @Rahul it’s funny you should mention it as Paradise’s claim to fame before Discovery was running a teen vampire soap opera series. It’s pretty clear that the shows highlights are intended to be the emotional beats with the plot being a vehicle to get from one beat to the next. It’s a new genre, the soap opera in space. I’m all for new things but it’s not really for me.

    @Jammer JAMMER can you plewse reconsider reviewing The Expanse once you finally get around to watching it. Really hope you can respond when you can.

    @Jeffrey's Tubewhat ia Chakotic?? Is that a real word?? Never heard it before..but did you think the Anomaly in this discovery episode was too similar to any of those Voyager episode anomalies or is this Disco anomaly original enough? What does everyone elae think? And is it too similar tobthe Flux from Doctor Who??

    Hey Jammer, there's this awesome show called Lost in Space, could you review that? It has a robot I understand. And also a kid who ends up having a bone on his head when he grows up.

    Kidding aside, does anything thing Andromeda is worth watching? Also Dom mentioned that S2 and on improves for The Expanse. I tried watching S1 and found it really dull and so didn't go any further. Is S2-3 really that much better?

    Ok Jammer but before you review the Expanse, review Dr. Who and please promise that you will start at the beginning. If you do not watch the first 350 episodes you will not understand a lot of the humor from episode 740 and onward!

    Jammer can you also please review Power Rangers ? All 35 seasons please.


    Honestly didn't know what Paradise's claim to fame was before she got the DSC gig -- but now that you point out what it is, it all makes sense (unfortunately).

    I seem to recall there being some eager anticipation for her to take a leadership role in the writing sometime around late S1 or early S2 -- but now that we know what she's all about, DSC is just going to be poor Trek for me. That's not a revelation at this stage, of course.

    But if it is, in a sense, carving out some new genre of Trek -- like a soap opera, for lack of a better description -- geared more toward certain types of fans, that's one thing. And it might make sense given all the different nu-Treks out there -- something for everyone, except some classic Trek fans. Just who is the target audience of DSC?

    Seems to be some joking around going on with throwing review requests at Jammer, but seriously I've always felt Jammer should review the original animated series from the early 70s. For one, I consider it to be true Trek canon (though there are others who don't) and subsequent Trek series have picked up on things from TAS. It features the original writers, most of the original actors' voices.

    On a separate note, it's interesting that some very highly regarded series started out with weak first seasons (in absolute terms or relative to subsequent seasons of the show). I'm thinking mainly of TNG, DS9 and B5. I guess you gotta know that things get much better in order to make it through Season 1 in some cases.

    @Peter G. -- I thought about trying to watch Andromeda but the first episode just turned me off and I've seen clips of various other episodes and realized it's not my cup of tea.

    It's not as if there weren't soapy elements of past Trek. Lots of Trek actors of course did work on soaps (most notably John de Lancie), but even beyond this Trek had a distinct soapy feel at times on TNG and DS9 - particularly whenever "romances of the week" were introduced.

    But in general, though over emotional, I'd say the vibes from Discovery aren't soapy. Soaps tend to thrive on things like characters making sudden personality twists, affairs, backstabbing, etc. As I said, Discovery tends to focus on the crew being supportive non-confrontational emotional allies as much as possible. They couldn't even let Tilly's snap at Adira last an entire episode without Tilly admitting to Culber she needed counseling!

    That's the real issue with the melodrama - it's all boring, because all of the characters act EXACTLY THE SAME. Where are the wild free spirits? Where are the emotionally closed-off introverts? Where are the assholes? Okay, Stamets is a bit of a dick, but even he's trying to be better - and he's the only character not named Michael who still has any definable personality traits.

    Call it like it is: This franchise has been co-opted in the worst way, lol. Enjoy your soap opera Trek, everyone.

    @Peter G., like Babylon 5, there are a ton of clunkers in Andromeda. Like Babylon 5, Andromeda touches a few themes that aren’t really done anywhere else in TV scifi. And like Babylon 5, when Andromeda is good, it is very good (@Jammer gave one episode 4 stars).

    So to save you some effort of wading through the highly skippable episodes, here’s the bare-bones list that will allow you to get everything worthwhile out of the show, and not waste any time on BS. To wit,

    s1e1 Under the Night - intro to the universe
    s1e2 An Affirming Flame - intro to the crew
    s1e4 Double Helix - intro to the villains
    s1e5 Angel Dark, Demon Bright - @Jammer gave it 4 stars, so yeah, catch this one
    s1e8 The Banks of the Lethe - holy exploding cali-melons!
    s1e11 The Pearls That Were His Eyes - starring John De Lancie (that’s Q baby)
    s1e12 The Mathematics of Tears - this show has the hottest ships
    s1e14 Harper 2.0 - trust in the Harper, the Harper is good
    s1e15 Forced Perspective - this ain’t the Federation, and Rhade is pretty rad
    s1e18 The Devil Take the Hindmost - the most Babylon 5 like episode of Andromeda
    s1e19 The Honey Offering - legit awesome - I can watch this episode any time
    s1e21 It Makes a Lovely Light - Bekka has the same problem Franklin and Garibaldi had
    s1e22 Its Hour Come 'Round at Last - a line from Tennyson and a poem read by G’kar

    s2e1 The Widening Gyre - a satisfying conclusion to a cliff hanger!
    s2e3 A Heart for Falsehood Framed - Ocean’s 11… in space
    s2e7 Una Salus Victus - @Jammer gave this one 3 1/2 stars, so why not
    s2e8 Home Fires - hottest head of state ever
    s2e9 Into the Labyrinth - good stuff
    s2e12 Ouroboros - the last episode of Andromeda

    At this point they fired the show runner, RHW, and from here on out, it is really a completely different show. You can stop watching. It would be like watching B5 without JMS. But if you really want something to wrap it all up,

    s3e10 The Unconquerable Man - in a parallel reality, this is the show Andromeda could have been…


    @ Mal,

    Actually I don't think there are any clunkers in B5. Even the weakest episodes are at minimum nice to watch, if not Earth-shattering. I can't think of one in the entire series I would ever consider skipping, although I will admit I skip the "Ivanova dance" in the episode with the Lumati. It's just too embarassing.

    It sounds like Andromeda might be worth watching, if you're saying it does some things very well. I might have to put up with the weaker episodes if it means getting some interesting sci-fi. What else am I going to watch anyhow? There's nothing on TV for me right now in the sci-fi realm.

    I said "The Expanse" because is space related, I will neve sugest "The Leftovers" (despite his quality) because is outside of this site profile (Caprica is the minor exception here I think). I believe Jammer would enjoy B5, Farscape and Firefly too. No need to write anything about it. Just enjoy it. There many more.

    @Karl, So what you are saying is that Discovery isn’t even good by soap opera standards ?

    @Peter G

    We can't be comparing Andromeda to B5. I'd agree with Peter that B5 didn't really have any clunkers -- and if Jammer reviewed it, I'm sure it would have way more 4* episodes than ANDR. But I must admit, I've only seen the first hour of ANDR.

    The one thing I'd say about B5 is how consistently good it was after its first season. OK, there's a minor drop-off in S5 but for a series with 110 episodes, I don't rate any of them below 1.5* -- and I only rate 2 B5 episodes that low.

    Damn, I just found out there's a new Netflix reboot of Lost in Space. So much for my reference to Bill Mumy...

    i will call this episode "everybody admits to being awkward and insecure, for which at the end everybody gets a participation trophy".

    i have not felt this disconnected to characters of a show that i actively try to like ever since, yes, andromeda.

    oh, and no, andromeda and babylon 5 should never, ever, ever be mentioned in the same sentence, unless its a sentence about two ends of a spectrum. B5 is easily among the best there ever was, andromeda is easily among, if not "the" worst. and that kind of includes season 1, since much of the stuff that felt at least somewhat valuable in between two unbearable kevin sorbo acting attempts was the hope that this would plant a longer thread that would at some point pay off according to wolfes plan - which it then never did, thus also turning these long arc plot thread plants completely worthless.

    but i digress. thou must talk about discovery.

    well, the one thing it did, credit where credit is due, that it made me a bit uncertain whether its the burnam character that i hate the most about the show - it might also be the writing.

    and i dont mean the 23467978469327464 empowering speeches that were all the same. i dont mean the trans metaphors (even though they are so painfully stiff and forced that it makes me wonder if these people have ever watched a single sense 8 episode or *anything* that dealt with this topic a million times better before). i dont even mean the pointless technobabble content of this episode or the, haha, genius idea to have it end with a "it was all completely pointless anyway" moment.

    i am talking about the inability of the writers to disappear behind their story. its all so so so clunky. let me point to one primary example:

    "mister saru".

    aaaaaah the eye roll inducing pain!

    its essentially as if you get a direct look into the writers room.

    "it looks like people really dont like many of our characters"
    "but everyone likes saru"
    "he is a bit like all those other alien-perspective-on-humanity-characters of previous trek shows, amiright?"
    "dont know, havent seen those"
    "oh, no problem. i mean, hes like the mr.spock of our show. like, a CULT character in a way"
    "oh, yeah! a cult character! like mister spock!"
    "maybe we should make him mister saru!"
    "but noone has ever called him that. when he wasnt captain, they all just called him saru"
    "it could be a spontaneous idea of burnam! and those are always the best and never wrong, as we have established, have we not"
    "but would it not be awkward, when out of nowhere, they all call him mister saru, even people like tilly who so clearly was on first name basis with him for 3 years now?"
    "noone will notice. tilly is awkward anyway! also, the audience is stupid. theyll just go, 'cool, mister saru! such a cult character'"
    "we are so awesome"
    "everybody got their participation trophy?"

    i think they tried to establish "mister saru" three or four times during that episode. that fourth time, i threw up a little in my mouth, metaphorically speaking.

    so, yeah, i think after holding on for 3 seasons, this season is the one where i have to finally admit to myself, maybe its just a crap show. maybe its better to just watch it for laughs. very much like i did with a few more andromeda episodes after wolfe was fired as head writer.

    so, lets see. that black hole is actively changing direction. oh my. how, oh how could that be? heres an absolutely crazy thought, i know its super super unlikely and noone - certainly not the shows characters - is going to see this coming anytime soon, but maybe, just maybe, there might be some active agent steering this thing? maybe a potential antagonist?

    i mean, it would turn the - as always, universe ending - threat of the season from a faceless and thus uninteresting natural phenomenon into a weapon that is steered by some evil force! could it be?

    nah. way too unlikely. noone will ever think of that.

    guess this could serve as one of the motivations to keep laugh-and-hate-watching the show. to see how long they force their poor actors to play dumb and go "i have no idea how a natural phenomenon could change directions like that. maybe i should have watched some previous trek shows after all. what do you think, mister saru?"

    @Rahul said, "We can't be comparing Andromeda to B5.”

    Let me count the ways :)

    They are the only two scifi shows that take both genetic discrimination and religion seriously. Plus maybe The Expanse.

    On religion, to some extent The Expanse has mormons, but they are really just the butt of a joke, haha, let’s steal their ship.

    But Babylon 5 had a very well defined set of belief systems. There were the Maker religions (Garibaldi: "I let you walk out of here without telling the Drazi you've been poking holes in their deities”). There was the Minbari understanding of The Universe (Jeremiah: "You see, my friend the universe is sentient aware, alive. Now the Minbari understand this”). And of course Babylon 5 still had all the Earth religions,

    The Expanse tried to pick this up in a Matthew McConaughey-in-“Contact” sort of a way, but I’ll admit, the story line with the lesbian minister just didn’t grip me in the same way that grand Carl Sagan movie did back in the day,

    Andromeda has Rev Bem, a “Wayist” from a monster species known as the Magog (h/t Old Testament). He practices a type of futuristic hinduism I haven’t seen anywhere in scifi. Like Shepard Book for Mal in Firefly, on Andromeda, both Captains - first Bekka, then Hunt - rely on Rev Bem for sound counsel in troubled times.

    Rev Bem is Shepard Book, if Book was a blood-thirsty half-Klingon-half-Reaver.

    On biology, The Expanse has clear biological differences between Earthers, Marsies, and Belters - for example the scene early on where Avasarala tortures a Belter using his biological differences,

    And of course the theme of biological differences between humans and Telepaths is one of the central themes running through all of Babylon 5,

    "It's the tyranny of evolution. Sooner or later, you have a species that will have a genetic or technological advantage and that species will always conquer a species without that advantage. Carthage. The triumph of the Homo sapiens over the Neanderthal showed us that. Now what do we have? We have Homo superior versus Homo sapiens. On a level playing field, Homo superior wins every time.”

    But Andromeda kicks that up into high gear with the Nietzscheans,

    James Marsters could give Alfred Bester a run for his money!

    There are other ways to compare Babylon 5 and Andromeda.

    For example, as I’ve commented and @Rahul has responded elsewhere,
    Andromeda, like Babylon 5 and Earth:Final Conflict before it, (and unlike post-Berman Trek!!!), takes music seriously.

    @Rahul said, "I must admit, I've only seen the first hour of ANDR.”

    I’ll admit I was very skeptical about Babylon 5 when someone recommended it to me twenty-odd years ago. DS9 was still on, no one seemed to be paying any attention to B5 (certainly @Jammer wasn’t), so why bother??

    But there are more stories out there than just the ones we love:

    Babylon 5 may be closest to your heart.

    Firefly may be closest to mine.

    The Expanse may be the flavor du jure.

    We might all miss the golden age of new BSG episodes and watchable Doctor Who episodes.

    Some people hanker for Farscape.

    Others can’t believe we only got 1 season of Space:Above & Beyond (wtf!).

    But the truth is that today, we are stuck with bullshit shows like Discovery and The Foundation - both complete bastardizations of their source materials.

    Fortunately, there is much to recommend in Andromeda. Try a couple of the episodes on the short list I posted above
    before you rule it out completely.

    It is best to think of Andromeda with respect to Voyager as something akin to what Crusade was to Babylon 5, or Caprica was to nBSG. A wonderful experiment cut down in its youth.

    The sad thing about Andromeda is that - like Earth:Final Conflict - it extended in Zombie form for a full 5 seasons. But if the later seasons of E:FC were complete shit, that doesn’t take away from the amazing season 1. Same for DROM.

    As the writers of Andromeda might have said, Trust in the Harper. The Harper is Good. As JMS would have put it, Faith Manages.

    Even though I am kind of in awe to have found what must be the world's only sincere Andromeda fan, may I offer another perspective. Not to convince you or take anything away from your (actually quite inspiring) appreciation, but just to offer another angle for people who might consider watching after reading here.

    Even Andromeda season 1 was very much "meh". Yes, it did not suck nonstop (there were moments when Kevin Sorbo was not in the frame after all), but it was very much in that territory where a trekkie would go "ok, this isn't very good, but we know how this works with trek-ish shows, give it a few seasons to find its version of rikers beard".

    Only it then didn't.

    Imagine TNG, with its pretty bad first season, but then all the following seasons got worse. Like, a LOT worse.

    That's Andromeda. And that's the diplomatic version (god forbid if we started to actually talk about Kevin Sorbos performance).

    But I will openly admit that this is written in a semi triggered state since you keep comparing Andromeda and B5 (and the expanse), as if they were even remotely comparable.

    Like, sure, they have some overlapping topics, but what doesn't? A fine steak in a five star restaurant and a $1 cheeseburger from McDonald's both contain meat (allegedly), but I think everybody would agree that the difference in practice is more important than any theoretical similarity could ever be ;)

    Ah well, arguing taste on ze interwebs... :)

    @mosley, I want to thank you for pushing back on my post, as it prompted me to watch Ciroc Lofton’s (Jake Sisko) podcast with Robert Hewitt Wolfe (RHW), which turned out to be super fun!

    Cause of course before he ran Andromeda, RHW wrote for DS9.

    But on the podcast he tells the story of how he got his start... on TNG! RHW pitched a story for TNG about Picard and Geordi stuck back in time when the Watts Riots were breaking out. And Geordi has to protect Picard. They obviously didn’t buy it, but RHW eventually turned that into DS9’s "Past Tense”, which of course is a Trek classic!

    I love that RHW has a real sense of humor about Andromeda. Here’s what he wrote on twitter,

    "GENE RODDENBERRY’S #ANDROMEDA 5 seasons and 110 episodes that probably cost what one 8 episode Mandalorian season costs.”


    The theme of Andromeda - set far, far (far!) in the future after the Federation (er, Commonwealth) has fallen, puts Discovery season 3 to shame. Given that The Foundation is currently trying to cover similar territory (very poorly), there is something very Gibbon the air.

    People love to kick Babylon 5 around, whether it is Londo’s hair, or some of the truly terrible acting (“Protect!”). But for those who can look past that, there is something below the surface that is real. You may or may not see it in Andromeda. But RHW clearly poured his all into it. He and Ronald D. Moore have a lot in common - he talks about their military background here -

    and those echoes of a martial DS9 that you can hear so clearly in nBSG, sometimes breaks through all the sound and the fury in Andromeda. Especially in its early days.

    On the subject of how quickly series "get good". For me the Expanse pilot is fairly weak but does some good world building at least. By about 3 episodes its "good" and shortly after that it rockets into great and excellent. "CQB" and particularly "Doors and Corners" are superb early episodes.

    If i were to compare DSC out of 10 to Expanse as its best to worst range is say DSC is barely scrapes a 4 at its best but barely avoids 2s at it's worst. Expanse never really drops below a 5 (and thats mostly the pilot) and usually remains in the 8-10 range. Hence imo it's the best sci-fi series ever made.

    I mean there are definitely other worse sci-fi shows around "Another Life" for example but DSC doesn't really have any excuses with the resources and history it has available.

    As for Michele Paradise.. I'm not sure it's entirely her fault.. I think DSC has the weakest cast of any Star Trek series acting wise. That's why Isaacs and Mount managed to raise the quality level for every scene they're in (despite the ridiculous writing sometimes).

    Replacing some of the cast really wouldn't hurt this show. Well.. pretty much the whole cast.

    @grey cat, it's funny you should mention Another Life. I just started watching it cause I liked the first episode but the show pretty quickly went into the crapper after that and stayed there, and I stuck around longer than I should have hoping the dip was just temporary but it just got worse and worse as the season went on.

    Jammer you should totally review Another Life :)

    Nothing against Another Life. That show is the greatest terrible show out there! Season 1 is almost pure schlock gold! I have watched the first episode of season 2 which was still funny but I fear they now course corrected towards boring and serious.

    Sorry for the double post

    @grey cat, I don't think the DSC cast is terrible. Not stellar for sure but also not terrible. IMO the real weakness of the show is in the writing room. They want to have all this serialization and plots that span multiple episodes but they just aren't very good at executing on it. Couple of examples:

    - They mentioned in this episode that the ship named herself Zora. Why? Because it was in a Short Trek a while back. Does it tie into the current plot? No. It's just clumsily thrown in. Having a sentient ship that names itself is an interesting concept to explore further. How would the Starfleet brass feel about it? Does it impact ship operations in anyway? Would the ship object to executing a command it didn't want to? None of this stuff is explored though because we gotta deal with this anomaly thing and people's feelings.

    - I thought the Gray character was good in Forget Me Not but then he just kinda hung around for S3 inside Adira's head with nothing to do. Then later on they tried to give him more to do by making him visible in the holodeck, but that was really just done to meet the needs of the moment (providing an emotional beat between Gray and Culber where Culber promised he would get Gray his body and they had a good cry about it). This also raises interesting questions, what is Gray exactly, how did he get into Adira's head and why was he visible in the holodeck? Of course, none of this is answered because we have moved on to giving him a body, which I'm fine with as a sub-plot but when it's limited to "can you remove that mole", "why yes of course we can" it's just boring.

    - This whole anomaly thing is uninteresting and feels like S3 all over again. Another mystery box event that will drag on to the end of the season and be neatly resolved in the finale, and the resolution will likely be disappointing because the writers suck.

    - It's crazy we have to move on to the anomaly so fast because there's a ton of stuff still to unpack from the S3 finale. The impact of the fall of the Emerald Chain (which I'm not still not clear on exactly what that was but I guess it doesn't matter because it's gone now), the dynamic of the Federation now having all this dilithium. That's interesting. How is this impacting worlds joining, are they joining just to get it? How is that managed? Is it creating a new power dynamic between the haves and have nots? There's some really interesting stuff to explore there, instead we get a stupid scene with butterfly people.

    I get that a really good actor can elevate a scene above bad writing, but at some point we just have to accept that the writing in this series is god awful. It doesn't help that we get ridiculous special effects to boot which kind of make a mockery of the whole thing (flame throwers, Books' ship that randomly morphs, people getting thrown up and down on the bridge, spinning cameras, random flashing lights, etc.) I'll assume all this stuff is Kursman's influence.

    I guess that's the point though, it's supposed to be a show that moves at 1000 mph with really no time to flesh anything out. Nothing really makes sense if you think about it for more than 2 minutes but you aren't supposed to do that because it's always on to the next thing. We are supposed to just be along for the ride and be dazzled by all the special effects and action scenes while stopping here and there to cry with the characters during the emotional beats. There's really no plot here and certainly no science fiction.

    Anyways, end rant.

    Soon interesting points well made. Not really a rant :).

    No argument from me on the writing. It truly is dire. Personally I find the acting almost as dire. Culber and Burnham (and Gray) are just terrible. Tilly has had some decent scenes (ie not the "comedy ones") and Saru is definitely the best of the bunch.

    On reflection maybe only around 3 of the main cast are actually really good actors on any version of Trek - so yes, maybe the horrible writing is really highlighting that even more.

    I'm currently at least semi enjoying Foundation since I can't actually watch S4 of DSC without breaking laws.

    Foundation is awesome! I really love it. I'm currently re-watching it cause the first couple of episodes was confusing the first time.

    On the subject of Another Life, I managed to get through Season 1 when it came out. It honestly improved a bit on the back end to "bad Stargate-SG1" levels. The sheer absurdity of the show is you have this advanced ship - the first Earth ship with FTL drive apparently - and aside from the Captain Nico and XO, everyone is an incompetent 20something. No one with a military background, little scientific background, just a bunch of idiots you'd expect to work at a Best Buy. Makes Jonathan Archer's crew look prepared!

    The second season actually actively lampshaded how bad the crew was, with a more recently thawed out crewmember explicitly asks Nico if she ever wondered why she was sent out with a crew who was so...unprepared. But I honestly have better things to do than finish the second season, so I gave up after like Episode 3.

    lol. Foundation is definitely a mixed bag. I hear it's pretty painful for fans of the books. Luckily I never read the books. Some of it is good to me, some not so good. It's worth a look though.

    Lost in Space reboot has some pretty asinine things in it. All in all, it's middle of the road.

    Another Life is atrocious. But for some reason I find it fun to watch. I mean the first season featured a Boron based lifeform that jacked your spine and caused it to try and climb out of your body. Death by a different kind of Snu Snu. lmao!

    Oof, this episode sounds, as @Rahul put it, insufferable. Glad I skipped it.

    DS9 tends to be spoken about in these parts solely in reverential tones, but I thought one of its main flaws was too much in the way of soap opera type scenes of characters sitting around discussing their feelings.

    @KarlZimmerman does make an excellent point though (based on all the episodes from previous seasons I saw):

    “But in general, though over emotional, I'd say the vibes from Discovery aren't soapy. Soaps tend to thrive on things like characters making sudden personality twists, affairs, backstabbing, etc. As I said, Discovery tends to focus on the crew being supportive non-confrontational emotional allies as much as possible.”

    Right, it’s actually much more boring than a soap opera.

    @Mal: Thanks for the episode guide. I watched Andromeda when it was first on and found that it really dipped in quality later in the second season, but I didn’t know about the showrunner being fired until years later. What a shame, but there were a bunch of good episodes before that happened.

    I definitely agree that it’s too much to ask Jammer to review any series he isn’t already doing. But I don’t think it’s too much to ask him to create comment threads for episodes of those series, although I think you should “buy him a coffee”, as I have, before you lobby even for that.

    And Jammer, I assume those threads would be pretty cheap ways to increase your advertising revenue. Maybe you don’t want to have to monitor the threads and be spoiled for something you haven’t seen yet, but you could just put up a “No Lifeguard on Duty” disclaimer and let them be free-for-alls.

    If people are looking for thoughtful, high quality televised science fiction, I HIGHLY recommend Amazon’s Tales From the Loop. Eight episodes, and they aren’t making any more, so treasure those. But it doesn’t leave anything hanging, don’t worry.

    I particularly urge anyone who is an atheist and a parent to watch. The sensitive way a child’s questions about the potential for an afterlife were handled was just amazing, not like anything else I have seen anywhere.

    Ah this review is spot on! This episode was *so* maudlin I couldn't handle it. I know DSC is generally maudlin (this is my first comment for this show but I've been watching since the jump), and Michael Burnham gets the Wesley treatment with her awe-inspiring, Mozart of space-time brilliance, but this episode really highlighted every one of those irritating inclinations at the expense of any science or science fiction (lol: pseudo-intellectual is a great way of putting it).

    Just a couple of comments since the review and most of the comments cover it well. I thought this episode just showed Burnham is not a good captain. Period. She is bogged down in her boyfriend's emotional baggage and she made a dumb decision. It seemed silly and convenient to imply (via Saru) that he would be better for the mission when he's sitting around in a fugue state. I suspect we're supposed to appreciate her empathy for his situation, but that seemed un-Captainlike and is a great example of the emotional focus sapping all the life out of the "mission" aspect.

    Also, I wish they had just let Gray go at the end of last season. He is the overly emo-dynamic in character form. There's no good reason for him to be around. He was never a member of the crew so he contributes nothing except to the missions. He's purely there to wring emotion out of scenes with Adira and he drags... them... down. Whenever he's "interacting" with a crew member she has to repeat everything he says because they can't hear or see him (yet). He is a major drag they dedicate a weird amount of time to. Maudlin.

    I won't be commenting or reading anything else for as long as I can't see Discovery where I live (no Paramount+, no Pluto tv, so no Discovery right now), but I need to say this, Jammer: I chuckle every time I read the "We'll feel our way through this" title. Too bad it'll disappear once the new review is posted. Like I said, I can't watch the episode yet, but boy, I can imagine what it must look like.

    Oh, son of a... they finally did it. After several close calls, they finally gave two Trek episodes the exact same title.

    "Tsunkatse" was nearly called "Arena" before someone pointed out that TOS had used it. We're finally at the point where there isn't even one person in the room to do that, aren't we?

    Wow, this was the usual Discovery crap, good special effects, lifetime soap opera drama, Burnham cannot act and a boring, boring anomaly as a setup for the earth/universe destroying evil.

    This episode makes for a good showcase of everything that's wrong with Discovery in general. I suspect that it will be dissected in film studies classes at some point in the future when the aura of newness and excitement has worn off. That said, I can see a lot of people accepting as passable enough sci-fi to munch their popcorn to -- space ships go whoosh, things go boom and sparks fly, and everyone seems to be having some pretty intense emotional reactions to everything that goes on, drawing the unquestioning viewer in. They keep making more episodes every year so a significant number of people have got to be paying for this stuff *shrugs*

    It really feels like the writers are flying by the seat of their pants, with little forethought or coherent explanations for why things happen -- honestly, it's becoming Magic Trek. We don't know how to track black holes because they're all but invisible, until suddenly they're visible with the right scan. Soongian androids were once these super rare special things and now everyone who wants one can have one, just like that. There's no precedent for cones of silence when you open a private channel but because the story wants to have Michael toggle between captain and GF modes while on the bridge in front of everyone, it would be nice if no one else could hear her get all touchy-feely in the middle of a life-or-death mission, so voila, she gets a cone of silence.

    Most problematic for me is the way how everyone just spontaneously spills their innermost feelings and personal problems that have nothing to do with each other all in the same episode. And in most cases, these issues seem to come out of nowhere -- there's no proper set up to establish them, and the characters don't seem to be struggling with the issues until all the sudden they're shedding tears and moping. And each character has to have their turn to do this. There's nothing wrong with exploring feelings and such, but they need to be firmly rooted to the theme and 'aboutness' of the episode, and if you have every character doing this at the same time, there is no thematic or emotional core to anchor the story -- it's just a messy free-for-all. The viewer gets emotionally exhausted with empathic whiplash as they are asked to abruptly understand and feel for one character, then another, then another. When all these disparate tears are supposed to have some sort of gravity and significance, none of them do.

    Dirge is a good word, Jammer. This show takes itself way too seriously and solemnly. Totally agree with the two star rating: this is such a boring and average retreat of the “shipboard technobabble peril while taking characters bond on a shuttle/planet” trope from late TNG and Voyager. Suddenly it feels like we’re back at Enterprise-level boredom and I’m really ok with this show ending after four seasons if this is the best it can show us in season 4.

    1. I hated Saru returning as first officer because it’s so unearned: it feels like the hurt that Michael did to him by disobeying orders was never fully confronted. This isn’t like Spock graciously stepping down for Kirk in Star Trek II, where it made sense because of his logical observations and years of carefully built trust between two different personalities.

    2. Burnham has become *boring* as captain; she had an edge as a bridge officer always pushing the limits that has suddenly disappeared without development or explanation. I liked her better as a revel; her style as a by the book captain early in this season feels forced and inauthentic. The Federation president as a foil isn’t fixing this problem.

    3. Burnham as captain now feels like anticlimax. It wasn’t earned dramatically. And Trek already had a great main character (Sisko) who went from commander to captain in a more believable way. Why does this show’s arc feel so artificial and forced by comparison?

    4. The more this show labors to make Tilly grow as a character, the more she feels like Nelix, the goofy kind supporting character who tries to become more of a leader. I liked Neelix, but I don’t like Tilly anymore: she’s suddenly become way too serious.

    5. The supporting bridge cast feels completely absent in this episode. Or as bored as I’m getting with this show, taking us all the way to the 32nd century to rehash the same old plots.

    6. I also thought about V’Ger at the end, and missed the intelligence of TMP’s story, where the mysterious visuals gradually built to something smart and comprehensible. I hope that happens here and it’s not just another technobabble threat of the month that has no original idea behind it.

    After just watching this episode (to continue my masochistic streak post Picard), I must echo other commenters that this episode may be the worst Star Trek episode in the entire franchise.

    ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HAPPENS. Here's the action plot: they discover what caused the destruction of not-Idris Elba's homeworld. They travel to the anomaly. They go in the anomaly to get more data. They have some difficulty getting out of the anomaly, but end up getting out anyway.

    That's it. That's the whole episode. Yet 90% of it is taken up by hollow emoting (different from holo-emoting), speechifying, crying, moping, sulking, and whining. MEANWHILE NO ONE TALKS LIKE THIS. Whether in real life, movies, or tv. Characters in soap operas don't even talk like this. It's gibberish. It's nonsense. I think the writers are sadists paid to torture. WHO IS THIS SHOW FOR??????????????????????????

    At least the bad Trek of yore was at least entertaining. I would love a Spock's Brain or Threshold on this show (maybe not Code of Honor though. I reckon THAT'S the worst ep of Trek). It would be fantastic if some weird alien transported Michael's brain out of her head. Or she got turned into a lizard and screwed lizard Stamets. Or even a brand new wacky plot where Michael disappears and we can't see or hear her (one can only hope).

    As a result of this show, in order to balance the universe, they need a show entirely set on Vulcan where no one has any emotion whatsoever. Just dry meditating and meals over silence. They read books and do math equations. Basically a Trek version of Goodbye, Dragon Inn.

    Finally! What Trek fans have clamoring for: More Gray! It only took one episode after the premier and I’m already sick of Star Trek: The Non-Binary and the Restless. I have to give it some props though, at least Burnham isn’t crying every episode.

    I’m pretty sure they’re telegraphing some sort of intelligent consciousness behind this thing because everyone is coming at it like it’s Thanos or something. Book and Co. seem to have a very personal vendetta against this… swirling ball of gravity. This is just poor writing. It’s like Moby Dick, but Ahab is hunting the storm and not the whale. Pretty dumb. I also still don’t understand how the black holey-thingy is light years across and totally wrecked Book’s entire planet, knocking it around a few million miles, but only seemed to break some wine glasses in his shop. I may have not been paying close attention, but is there any reason that ship wasn’t obliterated?

    O dear, I deceided to rewatch the season 4 hoping that the second attempt would get me to enjoy it. I started to check my telephone, check the actors in wikipedia etc.

    It is obviously as poor as the first time. What a shame.

    Well, seems like same old Discovery. This season is carrying on with the same good and bad the series has always had. I still feel like I don’t really know any of the characters. There’s still constant explosions and shaky cam. However if you’re a fan of direct to streaming b-movies it does deliver on that front. That’s what the entire series seems to be.

    And still no one has belts. Are they too low tech? Dangerous? Must be something.

    I'm sure someone will tell me and I'll feel stupid.

    Another awful episode. Discovery is by far the worst series in the franchise.

    Melodramatic nonsense is too frequent. And it means nothing when the show doesn’t permit you to connect with the characters.

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