Star Trek: Discovery
Air date: 3/17/2022
Written by Michelle Paradise
Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
My one-sentence review of "Coming Home," Discovery's fourth-season finale, is as follows: It does all the right Trekkian things, but is predictably and sometimes painfully obvious about it. There's very little that happens here that was not telegraphed or expected, and that simultaneously speaks to this season's merits and shortcomings. On balance I consider this pretty average, mostly because it whiffs at being an emotional and visceral payoff (while trying way too hard at that), even as it succeeds in affirming the season's overall values and mission statements. The substance is fine, even admirable; the execution is ... sigh.
On the plus side, this season of Discovery is the most true-to-Trek of the four seasons of this series thus far, highlighting the importance of diplomatic restraint, communication efforts, teamwork, and individual contributions, while warning against the dangers of unchecked aggression and hubris. In the end, the values of Starfleet are affirmed and rewarded, which is exactly the way it should be if you're going to tell a story that extols the traditional Federation.
On the negative side, because this story plays out exactly as it should — indeed, the only way it possibly could, sans any real wrinkle — all suspense is lost amid the march to the foregone conclusion. The only real question here is whether Booker will survive the hour amid the tough call Burnham has to make to save the mission at the possible cost of his life, and that's a question the writers answer by having their cake and eating it too.
With Tarka having taken Booker's ship out of the enclosure, the 10-Cs have cut off communications with Discovery, which frantically tries to re-establish them. T'Rina attempts to telepathically communicate with the 10-Cs (why didn't she try this before?) but it fails spectacularly and knocks her to the ground and gives her a nasty headache and nosebleed (okay, maybe that's why). The 10-Cs no longer trust Discovery, so now we have to regain their trust while simultaneously trying to stop Tarka from taking out the DMA with his superweapon. Reno and Book attempt to reason with Tarka. He's not listening, at least not at first.
Meanwhile, Starfleet sends everything it can to Earth and Ni'Var in an attempt to evacuate as many people as possible before the DMA debris field starts hitting the planets. The best-case scenario is that the rescue might be able to save 400,000 people from each planet before they're destroyed. Tilly returns for an episode alongside Admiral Vance as a part of the rescue mission. In this week's example of Annoying Camera Moves, the camera constantly rocks back and forth aboard Vance's rescue ship, apparently to give us the sense the ship is spinning.
Buried under all the camera shaking and stagey pyrotechnics in the Countdown to Disaster Plot (which quiets down enough for Meaningful Dialogue whenever necessary), there's a palatable story here about Tilly having found her place in the world and being glad she did (even if she thinks she's going to die about 10 minutes after having reached this point in her life). It's just too bad all of this is shoehorned into the massive crisis du jour and happens for a character who was all but written out of the show months ago.
There's some decent tension around the Tarka/Booker/Reno bits, where they are finally able to talk sense into the guy and he comes to realize the error of his hopelessly obsessed ways, and the actors put in their all. (Let it be said that David Ajala and Shawn Doyle have turned in consistently strong performances this season that convey fully realized emotional arcs that feel earned, give or take an obsession that casts aside the consequences to entire planets.) The fact that Michael has to put together an intercept shuttle mission to destroy Book's ship is a reasonable nod to "Kobayashi Maru," which hinted that she had never had to face the no-win scenario as a leader (although she still doesn't really, given how this plays out). When Book's ship is destroyed and the emergency beam-out appears to fail, Michael's devastated emotional reaction is also earned, and the fact that she quickly pulls it together to "be the captain" is a nice bit of professionalism on a series that frequently prioritizes its feelings.
And setting aside the subpar CGI of the starship sequences, it can never be said that this series doesn't deliver the sci-fi visuals in the scenes that matter. We get our good look at Species 10-C in their environment and it's a triumph of imaginatively alien and colorful visual design. And if the way we communicate with them has now been greatly streamlined and simplified thanks to Saru's translation device, it at least makes logical sense under the circumstances, and his device is sensibly depicted.
Bringing back Book was one of those things that seemed kind of inevitable (the 10-Cs intercepted his transporter beam and held him in stasis), but closing out the big communication effort by using his personal emotional experience from the loss of his family and world is a nice way to bookend his arc, and it fits neatly into the whole idea of Species 10-C as beings who communicate largely through broad feelings.
But clearly, "Species Ten-C" was the breakthrough episode, and "Coming Home" is merely tidying up loose ends while often running the risk of redundancy. The successful communication efforts from that episode were paused so we could go through a crisis, solve that crisis, and pick up where we left off. It's fine as a matter of plot beats, but it speaks to the general problem — still among the biggest issues for this series — which is that these serialized arcs just can't sustain 13 episodes without running out of steam and retreading covered ground.
The back half of the season plays like a big compromise, where we're doing episodic tasks (the poker game in "All In," the titular "Galactic Barrier," and the necessary but excessively protracted 10-C research in "Rosetta") that play into the bigger picture but feel more like homework for the big test than an entertaining set of worthwhile adventures. This series needs to either stop with this obligatory serial structure, or make the arcs much shorter and varied, because holding onto all these cards for eight, 10, or 13 episodes mostly just ends up proving untenable, because we basically know what the play will be. It sure doesn't help when they imperil Earth in the final episodes to artificially raise the stakes (although I guess that's a step in the right direction, away from imperiling the entire galaxy or universe).
It also doesn't help when characters are simply repeating themselves and moving millimeters forward per episode. Case in point: The whole business between Saru and T'Rina, which started in the fourth episode and finally reaches its inevitable payoff here. And what's that payoff? That these two agree to hold hands affectionately? Great, thanks. The same goes for Culber and his work stress. Payoff: going on vacation with Stamets. Riveting. Merely telling a story over 10-plus episodes doesn't make it meaningful; it just makes it long. This show needs to consider telling more stories over fewer episodes. I wasn't a huge fan of the Adira/Gray storyline, but at least they mostly resolved it in a reasonable amount of time.
On the other hand, Discovery has made some significant progress this season by working closer to the traditional ethos of Star Trek. It did some good world building by bringing the discussion around the DMA into the current-day Federation and its stakeholders. And supporting players like Rillak and T'Rina helped make this world feel larger than Discovery often has in the past. And continuing to build up the Federation in the background (with Earth rejoining at the end of this episode) makes a difference. The debate around Species 10-C and the DMA were intriguing elements to set up an arc around, even if the writers didn't have enough material to sustain all the episodes before falling into stalling patterns. (I think the solution is to take the hybrid approach of having one-offs and not be solely focused on the arc, something the season kind of did early on before the "Earth is in jeopardy" plot took over.) Lastly, the series finally made an effort to make the supporting bridge cast into characters rather than wallpaper (although they still have a ways to go before they're solid characters). So in terms of fixing past seasons' errors, this season made the most progress.
But ... the show really needs to stop being so earnest about everything. It just comes off like a schmaltzy self-parody, even seeping into good scenes like the communication with the 10-Cs. The goofy celebration scenes after the deactivation of the DMA and the tidy voice-over wrapping everything into a neat bow — it's excessive to the point of eyerolls and laugh-sighs. And that's unfortunate. If the show could modulate its emotional self-importance a tad, it might not come across as so insufferably square. I suppose I'd prefer earnest to cynical, but there's got to be a more natural-feeling middle ground.
"It's a 10-hour movie!":
- Although the series has been renewed for a fifth season, the finality of this episode definitely felt like the writers were hedging their bets in case another season wasn't ordered, with Earth rejoining the Federation and a final scene featuring Earth's president (played by Stacey Abrams).
- Speaking of, the response to the Abrams cameo was as predictable as tomorrow's sunrise (cue people like Ted Cruz turning it into the usual Twitter-rant grist). I suppose at this point any appearance from someone in any political party is just asking for trouble from the other side, but there was nothing remotely controversial about the cameo in and of itself.
- We dodged the bullet of having Oros turn out to be part of the DMA plot, which is good — and indeed the lack of seeing Oros again at all is one of the things that refreshingly doesn't get tied up in a neat bow along with most everything else.
- Tarka pays for his obsession with his life, which I expected, but he tries to do the right thing at the very end, which I perhaps didn't expect. As season-long recurring characters go, he's at the top of Discovery's list, even if his obsession got a little one-note near the end.
- I've really soured on the external starship VFX. They're generally pretty terrible, and I just don't get why.
- Species 10-C's ability to understand and interact often plays as a function of the plot. I still find their unknowing disregard for what the DMA does to other life to be ridiculously ignorant and simplistic for such advanced beings (and the explanation given here is inadequate at best). And yet they can sense that Book's failed transporter beam is important, and are able to rescue him from the death the episode alleged.
- With Tilly's return, Mary Wiseman shows up in the opening credits, but I'm unsure if she still counts as a member of the "regular" cast or is now just "recurring." For that matter, are you a part of the regular cast if your name rotates in and out of the opening credits (like Tig Notaro and Blu del Barrio) depending on if you are in that week's episode? Arguably, Oyin Oladejo (Owosekun) and Emily Coutts (Detmer) are more "regular" than these others because they show up in nearly every episode, yet they're never in the opening credits. I'd probably need a SAG-AFTRA union rep to clear this up.
- That's it for another season of Discovery. Thanks for reading, and I'll hopefully see you over in the Picard reviews, and all the other Trek series throughout the year. Who'd've thunk we'd be this awash (drowning?) in Star Trek just a few years ago?
Previous episode: Species Ten-C
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133 comments on this post
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 4:02am (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 4:38am (UTC -5)
Might gripe a bit about how neatly all the loose threads were tied together (e.g., Book challenging 10-C and their quick acquiescence thereto), the 'suicide mission' that was anything but, and the lack of suspense regarding Book's fate, but the finale served its purpose well.
As a proponent of many of the policies and views held by the 'President of United Earth,' I enjoyed that a great fan of Trek got such a cameo.
And although the season ought to have been edited down considerably, it still remains my favourite of the series. The season was a decent watch.
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 4:47am (UTC -5)
I love the fact that the "President" was a huge fan of Trek growing up and got to live out a dream by guest starring.
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 6:09am (UTC -5)
That said, it still didn't truly manage to rekindle my interest in this particular show, which was always going to be a big ask after the third season left me so cold. There's a lot of new Trek out there now, and I think that all three of the other new shows have been better executed than Discovery. It's an easy out to pin it on the show's relentless focus on Burnham, but for myself, the real problem lies in that I've just lost all interest in most of the other characters as well. They've been wallpaper for too long, and the show is now suffering the same problems that Voyager had towards the end of its run, where having so many non-entities was actively harming the overall capability of the show to depict a believable fictional reality.
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 7:34am (UTC -5)
And of course, everyone lived. I really thought Book might have bought it, or at least been transported to the good universe or wherever the hell Tarka was going.
The finale does not justify the tedious journey they took to get here. Oh, it might have been a more stable ride, but oh so boring.
I'm done with the series. I stopped caring towards the end of season 2. While it's been fun to prod at it over the past few years, I have my limits when tasked with enduring so much saccharine, overwrought and shallow writing.
Hopefully next season will be the final word.
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 8:31am (UTC -5)
First, I'll talk about what I liked here. It's nice that Tilly returned in more than just a cameo, having extended scenes with Admiral Vance. Sean Doyle's final scenes as Tarka were incredible (it's so much more weighty to see a character who seldom breaks down come to this point). I also really liked that ultimately the season had a cohesive character arc for Michael having to learn to put her own feelings secondary to the greater good. Michael actually was fairly passive in this episode overall come to think of it - everything was shown as being a collective/collaborative effort. She didn't go mono-a-mono with a bad guy, didn't face down peril alone - she was just the captain of the ship. Everybody who actively fucked things up this season - from Book to Ndoye to even Tarka - gets a chance to reconsider and help make things right, which is a very Trekkian message. I even liked the perhaps controversial choice to have all of the high tension of the episode (stopping Tarka from destroying the DMA controller) finish up with half the runtime left to go, allowing for the final half hour to be a denouement for the season. This episode would even work as a series finale quite well.
That said, my god, can't we actually have some fucking consequences here??? Everyone pretty much gets off the hook for everything. The episode teases on multiple occasions Book's death, but ultimately he survives. Then it drops that he's arrested, and he's left off with "community service." Reno gets off (which I expected). They say someone needs to be sacrificed to stop Tarka, and for 10 seconds it seems like Detmer is going to do it, then Ndoye volunteers to rectify her mistakes - and survives anyway. Stamets says they have to destroy the Spore Drive and it will take decades to get home, and then 10-C decides to send them to Earth anyway. Ultimately the only losses were Tarka and...Book's ship?!? I don't need to have a body count for season finales, but decisions should have consequences, and this is a consequence free finale, where everyone is happy at the end and goes off on vacation, as if the writers were concerned we would be traumatized if there was the slightest bit of bittersweet here.
One little niggle for me - Michael mentions to Species 10-C how Tarka was driven by grief regarding his lost "friend" - before Book is shown to have survived. I might be missing something, but when did Book tell her this?
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 9:12am (UTC -5)
Then this episode comes around and shits all over it. After spending several episodes on how the universal translator won't work on the 10-C, they basically act as if it does now. In last week's episode, the light patterns were an auxiliary language made by the 10-C for communicating basic mathematical ideas and that's it. Both sides had to use lots of really clever creativity in order to express and decipher abstract concepts in this limited mathematical language. And these creative ideas were explicitly included and explained to us in the episode, like using the ratios of gases in a breathable atmosphere to communicate the idea of "the Federation". Then in this weeks episode, the light patterns have become a magic universal translator. No more clever use of mathematics, Saru can now just freely encode any human concepts and human sentences that you want to say into light patterns, and decode them just as easily. What a shame. What a waste. Communication with the 10-C has gone from being mysterious and fascinating and intricate and clever to being utterly boring.
To be honest, as someone who has studied linguistics, universal translators have always been one of the Star Trek techs that break my suspension of disbelief the most. Most episodes they just lurk in the background and I can ignore them or forget about them, but when issues of translation are brought to the forefront, there are often so many things which don't make sense or are impossible with universal translators that I have to headcanon around somehow in order to get the episode to work for me. So often issues of translation totally bring me out of the episode.
I guess it just annoys me that translation was actually done *decently* in Star Trek *for once*, they had a really nice thing going for it last episode, and then this episode comes along and just undoes it all and shits all over it.
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 10:21am (UTC -5)
Tarka's dead. Book is gone. The 10-C are dealt with. Tilly came back for a bit and Michael got patted on the back for being the best (same old, same old). Other than that... What did the season change about the status quo of the show?
We lost Gray and Bryce, Zora piped up about her sentience and Culber is feeling overwhelmed. But these all seem minor, forgettable story points. It's very telling that the one major, seemingly lasting development in 13 episodes was Saru getting close to the president of Ni'var. But it took them 13 episodes to go from "Madame President" to "Please, call me T'Rina". I've heard of slow burn, but this is ridiculous.
As for the finale itself: as amazing as the 10-C looked, the resolution to the DMA storyline felt rushed and unbelievable. Just ram Book's ship with a shuttle. Okay, day saved!
And all it took to convince the 10-C to restructure their entire society is to go "No, stop, you're hurting us and you're polluting space... don't do it anymore" And they simply comply and instantly better their lives like it's an episode of Captain Planet? Truly, the 10-C be so very alien to us.
And yet, within the space of an episode the 10-C do manage to learn so much about humans that they can pick up on Michael's sadness and resurrect Book? Remember when it took Sisko half the DS9 pilot to explain linear time to the Prophets... And he was one of them!
But that's Discovery for ya... No lasting consequences for the main cast. In that respect, it's much like Voyager. Except for that wormhole that drops Discovery off next to Earth.
As for having Stacey Abrams guest as the president of Earth... It's a very Discovery thing to do. I bet they were all real pleased with themselves. Moving on.
All in all, I don't think you could have wished for a better series finale. But sadly, they've been renewed for series 5.
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 11:35am (UTC -5)
Andre is 10000% right that the entire premise of last week's episode was just thrown out the window here. There is absolutely no way to translate the abstract concepts Michael and Book and even Rilak were talking about into math. Sorry. So much of what they said would be entirely alien concepts to the 10-C. We could learn to teach them that. We could learn to communicate on that level, given time. But after twelve hours, or whatever? There's just no way. Absolutely none.
I was 100% certain the 10-C had saved or would save Book (I figured their technology would allow them to gather up his scattered transporter signal after the fact), so no suspense there. I don't know that I buy Tarka's remorse ten seconds from achieving his goal. Sorry, but to come that far . . . it was very well acted, but no. I don't buy it. They could have easily shown he had great regrets while still being committed to his course of action. Hell, they'd been doing that in every episode all along this season! I don't believe that at the last moment he'd have stopped if he could.
Ndoye surviving was ridiculous, but who cares. At least Michael didn't get into that shuttle to pilot it herself. Are the writers learning how to write her as the captain?
The evacuation of the Earth, the Tilly/Vance stuff, was important to show. It's that kind of thing that had been missing in previous episodes. The DMA threat never felt like it had teeth. If those sequences hadn't been in this episode, it would have felt hollow.
It would have been a nice opportunity to showcase the 32nd century Enterprise . . .
Rilak mentioned the Borg at one point when discussing how the 10-C are not individuals. I guess that means they're still around in some form. I mean, not necessarily, but that would be like me saying "you mean like the Athenians?" when someone says a newly discovered society is a democracy. I would probably pick a more contemporary example as a frame of reference.
Tig Notaro was in the opening credits. I wish that means she'll be around more next season, but she's been pretty clear she's exactly as involved with the show as she wants to be already.
I wonder if this is the last we see of Tilly except as an occasional guest star. She wasn't terrible in this episode. Reminded me that she doesn't have to be terrible.
I don't think Bryce has been written out of the show, necessarily. I think his "goodbye" scene earlier was more of a "we know this is the last time we'll be seeing him this season" scene. Discovery was going beyond the galactic barrier, so if he wasn't available to shoot all those episodes, they wouldn't want him on the ship, and if he wasn't available to shoot for this season finale, then he wouldn't be in any of the rest of the season.
I hope they keep Federation headquarters parked over Earth.
I would have liked to see a Culber/Book or a Culber/Book/Stamets scene. Book seemed to finally be at peace after his speech to the 10-C and it would have been nice to express that to the people who were helping him earlier in the season. Yes, Discovery--I wanted an emotional scene discussing trauma, and you didn't give it to me! Haha, oh god, what are you doing to my brain . . .
I like the thought that Tarka might have survived and made it where he wanted to go. I hope Discovery never follows up on that though and leaves it open-ended. More poignant.
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 1:26pm (UTC -5)
They should have introduced 10C much earlier even if it was one scene, or one act, to show us where they were, what they looked like, or what they were doing...
"lower life forms"? So the 10C treat the universe like a forest and chop everything down without any care? Like they said, 10C could show empathy and love, so where is the planning?
Overall it was good, it landed well, but it could have been much better. Yes, about the consequences, I thought they would have materialised Kweijian after they re-materialised Book. Book should have stayed dead to make it meaningful but if Book was only there to admonish 10C about their DMA, there was no consequence, apart from - we will be careful in the future. Ndoye should have perished to show impact of her sacrifice...
It landed well but it took too long to get there; there should have been some compensation by 10C
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 2:17pm (UTC -5)
i’m not going to be so scene by scene extensive… Or reiterate points already well made, but !....
One rather major thing hasn’t added up for me since the DMA was first shown .
The first time we see it and everyone’s all aghast, we are told that it’s, what ?... five light years across ??
if it’s actually the size of multiple solar systems how is it gently nudging up to one planet at a time and slowly breaking it apart ?
as if it’s the size of a cosmic haystack and yet it’s only doing damage one needle point at a time ?
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 3:40pm (UTC -5)
1. No consequences and no real challenges. Everyone survives and thrives but the bad guy.
Vance and Tilly staying behind to sacrifice themselves? Nope. T'Rina's overwhelming mind meld? Nope. (And all for "They are confused" - Troi-level insight!) Book sending Reno back with the one transporter to sacrifice himself? Nope. Ndoye's suicide flight mission? Nope. Tarka sending Book back to sacrifice himself? No-- okay, sort of, but they pulled that trick two minutes ago with Reno.
Discovery sacrificing the spore drive to enjoy some Voyager cosplay next season? Nope. Earth and Ni'Var? Nope. I didn't want mass extinction, but I never really felt that threat. And I can't even with the warp-capable HQ: "Each deck of Federation Headquarters is able to function independently, essentially as its own lifeboat." Okay, it's 3190, but *smacks head*.
On TNG, I'll never forget Riker saying "Fire" knowing that he was about to take out Picard/Locutus - we know that Patrick Stewart isn't leaving the show, yet the results didn't feel like a cheat, and the mental stakes of Riker's decision are so much more resonant for me than any of the fake sacrifices they make over and over on Discovery, only to have them almost instantly resolved.
2. The 10-C experience goes from e=mc2 to ep13=happy finale time.
After the painstaking math/hydrocarbon/light show linguistics build-up of last week, when Rillak started speaking to 10-C, I was like, "Slow down, they won't be able to translate tha-- oh." I'd have bought that they can exchange more info than last episode, but it went straight to complex conversation to suit the urgency of the plot.
There was a lot of interesting, Star Trekkian opportunity to explore how a higher intelligence perceives less evolved lifeforms that gets watered down to: "Oops. Our bad." How could the 10-C not register other intelligent lifeforms capable of interstellar travel? Aren't the spaceships a hint? Wouldn't they at least be interested in the spore drive?
The 10-C are not humanoid, but they were living on a planet, cared for their young, and are capable of emotional empathy and fear-based protective action. Yet their scanners didn't pick up similar beings? If they saw us as ants, I might get it, but the finale didn't explore this disconnect in perception.
The one as many / many as one aspect bears no fruit and did not add anything to the 10-C. I don't even get the logic of Book's speech or why it makes a difference:
10-C: "Sorry 'bout that, we'll recalibrate our sensors."
Book: "We are interconnected! Make it right!"
10-C: "Okay, we'll drop our defense system for good and beam you back to Earth. Have a nice day."
3. Star Trek fans want to be on board but Discovery makes it so hard.
All the Star Trek shows have their weak points, but in the end, I just don’t care about Discovery's characters and the way they are constantly shuffled around as plot devices, which cheapens the characters and the plots.
All the “rah-rah we’re a team, we’re Starfleet, let’s fly” stuff is laid on so thick, when all you need are characters making character-motivated decisions that show us they genuinely care about each other and their collective mission. They tell us but they don’t show us.
What individually motivates the Disco characters? I’m thinking of DS9 and TNG and how the exchanges they have as a unit/team are fully informed by their backgrounds and histories, which we’ve often seen develop through episodes focusing on individual characters. Tilly and Culber might be the closest secondary characters with depth, but they have both been lost in the ether. This show is such a character pile-on that I often have to remind myself of their names and jobs when I see them. I miss Georgiou.
What’s most disappointing is that Discovery has gone from darkly intriguing and messy (Season 1) to painstakingly boring and schematic (Season 4). It’s a true paradox for me that it’s gotten better and worse at the same time. As always, better luck next season.
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 3:59pm (UTC -5)
Go away and wave your MAGA flags and demonstrating your lack of understanding of Trek elsewhere.
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 5:21pm (UTC -5)
Again, I don't want to come down too hard on Discovery. This show is improving and frankly feels like Star Trek in a way seasons 1 and 2 didn't. I was never really "offended" by this season. But I'm still not invested in these characters. With 13 episodes to tell such a thin story, Discovery could have done so much more character development.
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 6:17pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 7:24pm (UTC -5)
I can't stand DSC. I also pretty much gave up it after s2. S3 was a real slog to get through and since s4 isn't easily available in my country i cba with it.
I've been reading the reviews anyway and it seems like unless you're prepared to forgive the terrible script, writing, acting and unearned emotional scenes then you simply aren't going to enjoy it.
DSC is Star Trek in name only.
The Expanse was mentioned again. It somehow feels unfair to DSC to compare the two when Expanse is the absolute pinnacle of sci-fi and the other... isn't.
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 8:54pm (UTC -5)
My concern about the season is how the best character in the series (Saru) has been completely under utilized. He is a captain but yet, he isn't the captain. I don't get it.
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 9:13pm (UTC -5)
You're talking shit, son.
The last two episodes in a row of Discovery have been the absolute epitomy of everything Star Trek stands for.
There's nothing wrong with the writing, or the acting.
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 10:15pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 11:00pm (UTC -5)
Some of the plot points here are ridiculous (or borderline so). Like Book getting out of the forcefield with his cats' collar? And how the 10-C can't just annihilate Book's ship with Tarka dodging these orbs? And the use of the spore drive continues to bug me -- the writers have totally waived their hands about the health effects on Stamets and the state of magic mushroom network.
A couple of things from the epilogue -- I believe Rillak said her partner's name is Kate? So she's a lesbian. And did one of the bridge officers (Nilsson?) say COVID as she's about to go on vacation? The new Federation president is a black woman. Nothing wrong with that on its own, except that we have Burnham and Ndoye already as very high-ranking black women in this series.
2 stars for "Coming Home" -- we knew the DMA would be stopped, Tarka (being a straight white male) would get killed, Book and Burnham would have some time together etc. -- so the finale did wrap everything up well but it sure was cloying. The 10-C got a bit de-fanged sort of like the Borg on VOY but they did whatever the writers needed to have their cake and eat it too.
I still think that with a disappointing finale, S4 was DSC's best season (just edging out S2) but I really wish it was not renewed for S5. DSC has a ton of warts , but it can produce some quality Trek now and then. But it usually misses on its season finales.
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 11:13pm (UTC -5)
Am interested where they go from here, so I'll give credit.
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 11:20pm (UTC -5)
"You're talking shit, son.
There's nothing wrong with the writing, or the acting."
Well unless the cast suddenly learned how to act I'll disagree (a little more politely I might add).
They have to be the worst team of actors since ENT. In fact they make ENT look good.
Unfortunately the writing was so bad I couldn't face this season of it. So I can't argue on that one.
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 11:32pm (UTC -5)
Burnham has only a few big weeping moments and they feel a bit more organic this time out. Nice to see Book get better than a meaningless revenge death or cliched sacrifice.
Tilly is back for a Wesley Crusher style cameo. Shrug. I can’t think of a single word positive or negative to say about it; she’s just there.
The DMA plot and aliens didn’t make much sense this season, in spite of endless exposition and pseudo-mystery. It’s not quite a Nexus-level plot device, as it doesn’t seem to serve any destination in particular. But it’s not terribly memorable beyond the odd emotional and collective elements.
I agree that the somewhat overlong epilogue played like a series finale (everyone gets some resolution and it’s the first season of Discovery to end without a cliffhanger. Gee I hope that’s the case: it’s been a wild ride, but this series has been an uneven and poorly scripted bore for the most part. I like emotional shows; this one just felt forced and artificial with all of its unearned tearful payoffs interspersing endless narrative gaps.
I’ve read that Paramount has renewed this show for a fifth season, but I really hope they let it die here on a relative high note, despite being the second-shortest live action Trek series in number of episodes. It’s become a chore to watch something that has so clearly run out of ideas, inspiration, and motivation. And there’s too much other Star Trek on Paramount right now, including the upcoming Strange New Worlds that I’m not terribly excited about.
This show got Star Trek back on TV (well, streaming) after a very long absence and revived the brand. That’s good enough. Let’s leave it there please.
Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 1:11am (UTC -5)
- Apparently ALL these ships' bridges have more pyrotechnics installed on them than a KISS concert, not just Discovery's.
- Argh, Tilly returns. Actually, I get why she's there til the bitter end, but is it really necessarily to have Vance also be there to stare down certain death if things don't go according to plan? Like, did the writers forget that he's Starfleet's top admiral and not just some random captain who's supposed to go down with the ship? Maybe I'm nitpicking but this strikes me as really dumb strategically.
- Isn't it awfully trusting to send Ndoye for that "suicide mission" that the fate of the galaxy depends upon after what she just pulled...? Like, I get it, she had supposedly valid reasons for what she did, but why take her word for it? She could totally have been Tarka's mole for all they knew.
- Book only now telling Tarka that Oros ceases to exist seems like a pretty shitty gasligthty thing to do. They were in this together precisely because Book shared Tarka's conviction that Oros made it that other dimension. There's no new information that would cause either of them to doubt this.
- I don't imagine Tarka's actor particularly enjoys being written as such a flip-flopper at the 11th hour but he'll be damned if he doesn't do his best to act the hell out of this insufferable script.
- I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be pleased that the villainous SWM they killed off this time probably isn't actually straight and therefore not a SWM, or if I should be displeased that this means they've lowered the bar back down to Kill Your Gays. I'm honestly really conflicted about this, guys.
- Even though it was totally obvious that Book would live, the ONLY reason they delayed that revelation was to milk even MOAR tears and theatrical emotes out of Burnham and I hate that rationale so much. Her performance borders on self-parody here and I'm not sure whether the director or the actor deserves the larger share of the blame.
- How do you all feel about finally getting to feast your eyes upon the GLORIOUS NAKED BODIES of the 10C aliens? Was it everything you hoped for and more?
- "Greetings, 10C aliens. We have some urgent reques--" "Ahem, we're more in the background. Those are our lava lamps you're talking to."
- "These aliens don't seem to understand that we are not one." "Tell them... we are 42."
- I know everyone's already said it but I hated the contrived reason given as to why 10-C was so careless about destroying the galaxy. I also didn't like how this whole arc is about getting to meet the aliens only for their entire conversation to basically boil down them saying "OK." This is anti-climactic in the same way Wizard of Oz was except that at least with that, all of the characters came out of it with some transformative wisdom.
- Did ya'll notice that no one asked if the aliens could save Tarka too? I understand why things turned out differently for Tarka than for Book, but my point is that none of the characters would have known that. As it stands, it makes it seem like the only reason Book is spared is because Burnham LOVES him, and that just reeks of unprofessional favoritism. Also, I'm not quite understanding why Ndoye's transporter beam wasn't commandeered like Book's was...
- LOL @ the party montage... we don't even get a proper scene so it might as well be a commercial for The Keg
- Book gets "community service" but is that honestly much different from what he's been doing this whole time?
- Man, they're really stacking the deck with their lesbians this season right up to the upper echelons... not that we couldn't all benefit from lesbians running the galaxy, but even Stacey Abrams too? REALLY? That's almost as bad as casting Trump as the president of earth and pretending that he's totally not Trump because we're 900 years in the future. I don't mean that it's bad because Trump is bad (though he totally is) but because that's pretty on the nose politics-wise, even for Discovery.
Hold on...we have an incoming transmission from Parad0x:
"there is nothing wrong with the writing"
Okay.... okay. Well, in that case, forget everything I just said.
Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 4:48am (UTC -5)
I honestly don't get why people bother coming here to say how much they hate it. I don't go posting in a forum about something i hate just to tell a bunch of strangers I hate it. I would, you know, post with critiques about things that I generally like.
Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 4:52am (UTC -5)
Yeah, they need book for next season I suppose so he can't be given a life sentence in the slammer, but at least a trial would have been reasonable. He did just about commit genocide or at try to start a war with a species that could wipe out the galaxy.
Overall this was far and away the best season of Discovery. THe bar is lower than our beloved series from yesteryear, but this was a huge step up. Picard is off to a good start to after an atrocious Season 1. I am encouraged they at least have attempted to move back to some Trek roots and not just completely abandon it like they did for much of the last few years.
Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 4:56am (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 7:28am (UTC -5)
I mean, consider a hypothetical person who saw Season 3, skipped this season, and tunes back in for Season 5. We have no idea what the plot will be next season of course, but what will the differences in the setting will basically just amount to Ni'Var and Earth rejoining the Federation. Book's ship is gone, even if Book may not be. Oh, and Tilly and Gray are presumably both still largely or entirely absent (though this isn't really due to the season arc - they left of their own accord early in Season 4).
In one sense this isn't that different from previous seasons of Discovery. There's never been long-term planning on the show which resulted in longer-form character and story arcs. But Season 2's beginning did have elements (Klingon political drama, Georgiou, etc.) which only made sense in the context of Season 1. And Season 3 would have been nonsensical to someone who didn't see the finale of Season 2, even if (for understandable reasons) there was little story continuity.
I concur with others this was written as a series finale. They obviously were not sure (again) if they were going to be renewed, and thus wanted to wrap everything up tight with a bow rather than leave a teaser for future seasons. They didn't worry about setting up a "new normal" because they'd get a chance to do it again. It's honestly yet another case of why the production realities of TV really limit long-form storytelling. Also yet more evidence that long-term planning in TV is more or less impossible unless you're cribbing from books (an advantage The Expanse always had).
Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 7:30am (UTC -5)
Because they/we feel emotionally invested in the show. We want to love the show but are let down episode after episode. There are things we like, like the premise (of the entire show, or the season), but are disappointed by the execution (writing, directing, acting). The show has so much potential that is very rarely utilized. I would be thrilled if the writing was more skillful, less plot driven and surprising, if the direction focused more on acting than SFX.
Alas it doesn't happen. It's frustrating because the good ingredients are all there. So we point that out. However, personally I am less and less invested. I am at a point where I simply don't care anymore. I skip entire episodes and don't mind if someone (almost) gets killed off. And based on that I actually post much less often.
Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 9:42am (UTC -5)
I guess I enjoyed some of it but damn... Book has a laundry list of crimes that are "the list is long and Michael isn't asking for leniency" and he ends up doing what amounts to community service. Because "there's always a reason" (obviously an allegory to allowing all the looting, murder and destruction in many American cities during the summer and fall of 2020).
Capt. Ndoye gets nothing... you know after sabotaging the negotiations, but she's worked hard over the last 20 years and surely you can understand so... whatever…
Picard, before he got old and potty-mouthed, stated "there is no justice as long as laws are absolute", a 1000 years in the future we've progressed to "there is always a reason and that's important". Oh how we will regress, good lord.
Michael gets promoted to Captain and is given the Discovery after needlessly killing a ship full leaderless Emerald Chain people. Nothing of real value matters… life only matters when it furthers the plot.
There was one little node of progress at the altar of Burnham worship… she didn’t personally pilot the shuttle that rammed Book’s ship. Of course it took the “singular mind” of our traitor to dream up that extravagant plan. I didn’t have an issue with Ndoye getting beamed out before the collision, that’s been done countless times in Trek. They just put a lock on her and beam her out in the nick of time. I do not understand though why it took an expert pilot to accomplish this or why it simply couldn’t be programmed into the shuttle. This IS the era of magic matter technology you know. … but the betrayer needed to be redeemed so…
I guess it’s plausible that the 10C recognized and placed Book’s transport into suspension. The timing of the explosion was off though. Tarka transported Book, the computer said it was 30 seconds to the barrier (or whatever it was called), then boom… that was the fastest 30 seconds in Trek history. It certainly would have been more impactful if Book had died.
It was nice to see Tilly again, and her part this time didn’t make her out to be a ditz. The Tellarite student looks really weird.
The Federation (or Star Fleet?) headquarters/evacuation ship was pretty cool visually and functionally. Individual decks departing was pretty unique I thought. We still haven’t met the Federation Vice
President though. No doubt it’s a “her”.
President of the Federation: Female
President of the United Earth: Female
Captain of Discovery: Female
Lead General of Earth’s defense: Female
Leader of Ni’Var: Female
Discovery bridge crew, all but 2 are female?
Discovery sentient sphere data: Female
I’m sure I’ve missed some. This is a series of the Valkyries as Q would put it.
Last week was so awesome by beautifully establishing how hard it is to communicate with a truly alien species and this week they can seemly understand everyone little speech (rant). Saru’s fingers just a tapping you know. This was more than a little disappointing. Of course Vulcan’s can meld with anything, through space glass it seems… just had to get that trek trope in there.
I continually think I’m watching a big budget movie with the visuals. The score is also feature worthy.
Every episode that Reno participates in benefits from her presence. She had only a few lines, but her delivery really hit it. Powerful. Not sure why she has such a limited role.
I didn't hate Adira in this one.
I think this was Sonequa Martin Green’s finest acting performance of the entire series. She really let her emotions show… she got me to tear up. Bravo SMG.
Another public figure gets a Star Trek appearance. Stacey Abrams played the United Earth’s President. I’m certainly not on her political side, but she is a Trek fan and I’m happy for her. I could only wish for an opportunity to have an appearance and line or two in a Star Trek episode.
Everyone regroups with their significant other/partner/family/pronoun and all is well. The Federation President walks in on Michael in front of the window where they had discussed the Kobayashi Maru and Michael doesn’t even acknowledge her… you know because she’s Michael frakin Burnham and she bows to no one… the President says she’s now ready to command the Voyager because she didn’t pilot the shuttle I guess.
Saru and T'Rina FINALLY hold hands… this has to be the longest courtship in history… I’m happy for Saru though. - it's hard to not root for him.
Same old stuff. Its obvious Discovery is never going to change. I’m sure next year we will have a season long arc where the fate of all living things is in the balance. It would be nice if they took a que from ST Enterprise season 4 and did a bunch of 2 or 3 episode arcs for season 5.
I probably shouldn’t, but I’ll go 2.5 stars here.
Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 9:44am (UTC -5)
In both episodes the telepathic contact is somewhat of a last resort.
I would not be totally surprised if the writers drew from this TAS episode regarding the DMA as it also originated outside the galaxy and wipes out planets full of sentient life in our galaxy. In both episodes, there is the demonstration of mercy/regret and ultimately a change in the way the 10-C/cloud-like creature will operate going forward. So from that standpoint, this episode has a very classic Trekkian resolution.
Credit where credit is due: DSC S4 had some of the best true sci-fi Trek has produced since TNG, IMHO.
Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 10:30am (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 4:48am (UTC -5)
"I would have liked a payoff for Tarka. Why not? He acted the heck out of his character and the scenes of him falling in love were really well done. Since everyone else pretty much made it, it would have been nice to have him wake up somewhere with his partner."
Thanks for mentioning this dave. Shawn Doyle really did an awesome job of acting here... he can't help the writing.
I'm OK with not knowing and that 10C didn't get involved. He was supposed to end up in a different universe so...
Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 11:09am (UTC -5)
Though the first half of each season was equally enjoyable for me, the second half of Season 4 rises far above the previous one's second half (including the acting and the immersion in sci-fi themes. I'd now say that season two is my second most preferred season after this one. Already looking forward to season 5 of DSC.
Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 11:47am (UTC -5)
- Very cliched and in places illogical writing, but the acting was good.
- Handling of the aliens was good visually, but the motivations/mindset not so good.
- To my mind, the music got super schmaltzy toward the end.
- Saru has just been tormented by this show for the entire run. He started out snarking meanly back & forth with Burnham. Then he lost his fear and became wise and kind, but an incompetent acting captain whom Burnham constantly challenged. He demoted her, then she became captain and he's now happy to be her First Officer. I mean, what drives this guy?
- The circle dance at the end with everyone's arms around each other, hopping around, was just facepalm worthy. High school girls in space.
- I was annoyed about the lack of consequences too. Then I thought, why wouldn't it be possible that 1000 years in the future, prison is an outmoded concept? After all, we don't cut off people's hands any more for stealing. But if they wanted to go with that theory, they should have stated it clearly. I wish they'd gone that route. But that would have taken imagination and courage.
- I'm beginning to think that the people who complain about the female-heavy cast have a point. I'm not trying to make a political point at all, just saying that the ratio seems to be getting more unbalanced, if anything.
Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 5:00pm (UTC -5)
Then you should try losing an election then keep claiming you won. I hear Orange the Clown's cameo is scheduled for next season. :)
Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 5:36pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 9:10pm (UTC -5)
I’m glad all those people enjoyed it for one reason or another.
I think the general vibe here is the same as it’s always been with Discovery. It has set its target audience and it is not going to budge. I am not its target audience but I watch in the hope I can get something from it. Unfortunately, it’s more groans and laughs than anything.
I see a characterisation issue. No one is well rounded, including having general faults. It’s as if they are assigned a 10-C molecule and have to abide by it. They need to take a look back at the Niners to appreciate fantastic characterisation.
I had to laugh at the pyrotechnics show as well. Do fiery explosions not pose a threat any more?
Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 10:12pm (UTC -5)
Did I understand the 10-C were mining to upkeep its barrier? We’re they protecting themselves from something or hiding?
I was waiting for the 10-C to introduce themselves by name so we didn’t have to keep up the 10-C stuff. I don’t believe this occurred? Perhaps that wasn’t relevant.
Lief. Glad to see you took off your mittens whilst typing :). Hope you enjoyed the 10-C reveal.
Bryan. Yes the party scene was filler and wasn’t required. Looked more like a season wrap party. Glad to see Ferengi’s aren’t stereotyped?
Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 10:59pm (UTC -5)
What an odd observation! I don’t understand why that would be an issue.
That said, I enjoyed the season finale for the most part. Two things (already well-covered by others) that bugged me were 1) writers creating an interesting concept for communicating wth the 10-C, only to blow it up by having Burnham and Book perform Shakespeare-esque soliloquies; and 2) the goofy celebrations at the end. At least they didn’t break into karaoke of earth's greatest hits. Oh, and Michael got fewer opportunities to over-cry. Thankful for tiny mercies.
Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 11:03pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 11:10pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 18, 2022, 11:15pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 2:37am (UTC -5)
‘Up’ managed to do this majestically and have my wife and I in tears, all within the first 10 minutes.
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 6:48am (UTC -5)
No one else has said this.
But I'll say it.
I couldn't stand the dubbed voice over. Did a lot to ruin the end for me. It kind of quarterised all the action. I didn't need to be told that someone lifted 'their eyelids and a worried look came upon their face.' Or that a character, 'turned away and walked toward the door.' It didn't seem to serve much purpose. I think the final episode, which I found reasonably satisfying, would have run more smoothly without the constant interruptions. Anyways... Heres to the next series.
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 8:48am (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 9:28am (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 9:36am (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 9:48am (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 10:21am (UTC -5)
Great season finale. Did not feel rushed at all. Felt like a great, proper resolution of the season-long storyline of the DMA and how it affected everything and everyone.
I felt the resolution with 10-C was a bit like The Motion Picture and The Voyage Home, trying to understand something that was so difficult to understand, trying to communicate when communication seemed so difficult. Big, Trekky concepts. Well done, well-executed.
I was good with Book essentially getting community service, as mentioned above. Rillak said reasons matter, and she's right. Book's homeworld was destroyed. People he loved died. What Book is doing is restorative; he's trying to help people who were affected by the 10-C. Yes, he and Tarka fired an isolytic weapon. Yes, he and Tarka went off against what the Federation decided. But the 10-C was a huge threat before communications were established. And it was Book who told the 10-C that merely stopping what they were doing wasn't good enough. I seem to remember Kirk getting off lightly for violating Federation regulations; why not Book, when it's arguable that his words convinced the 10-C to not only stop, but to at least attempt to repair the damage they had caused.
As for a Tarka payoff? I think we saw it. The payoff was him finally realizing just how far he had gone and sacrificing himself to allow Book to live. I thoroughly enjoyed the dynamic between Tarka and Book. Both were so similar in terms of how much they had lost and how far they were willing to go to stop that from happening again. For some people, that loss consumes them, and they can't find their way back. For the more fortunate others, they are able to find a way to go on. There but for the grace of whatever power you believe in....
I liked the pacing of the last 15-20 minutes of the episode. It allowed for quieter moments, it allowed us to see individual characters and groups in those moments.
I loved the hell out of the Vance/Tilly scenes. It was good to see Tilly at peace with her decisions and her life, even in the face of impending doom. I hope they keep Vance around for more fantastic drinking scenes.
I enjoyed the Stacy Abrams cameo at the end. Finally, an Abrams Trek I can get behind! Anything that causes Ted Cruz to lose his shit is gold to me. Maybe a future Trek episode can show a Cruz stand-in on vacation on Risa, shirking his duties while his home planet's power grid fails or something. You know, for accurate representation.
3.5 stars from me, but I could be convinced to bump it up to 4.
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 2:55pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 3:34pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 3:39pm (UTC -5)
On the Stacey Abrams thing, I actually didn't recognize her at first. I guess that's because I'm not really into failed politicians. Speaking of which, I don't really care enough about Cruz either to enjoy his discomfort about the situation. I reserve my head space for the important things in life, like will Strange New Worlds be any good?
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 3:54pm (UTC -5)
Her role wasn't particularly large and she really didn't say anything (that I can remember) that would really qualify as political. I'm sure her presence was meant to make a statement (otherwise they would have cast a working actor in the role), but what that statement (beyond, we LOVE losing politicians) might be is anyone's guess. In any case, it was a nothing burger at best.
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 5:14pm (UTC -5)
Allegedly she is a trekkie. About her losing, I get that she is a somewhat controversial figure but this whole losing her first major election is not as hurtful as it may seem. Here a few US politicians who lost their first big election.
- Lyndon Johnson
- Richard Nixon (lost his first two)
- Jimmy Carter
- Abraham Lincoln
and Churchill lost the general election in 1945. Directly after winning the WW2.
The often cited rule is that you can lose two elections in a row, third loss means game over.
"I'm sure her presence was meant to make a statement (otherwise they would have cast a working actor in the role)"
Star Trek has a long tradition of casting famous people in minor roles. There seem to be quite a few favorable articles about her, though. Money motivated media focusing on what's important... #clickbait
Well, whatever. Thanks for clearing that up.
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 6:00pm (UTC -5)
While Abrams didn't run for office in 2020, she was instrumental in flipping Georgia blue. Her get-out-the-vote efforts, combined with TFG's lies of voter fraud, flipped two senate seats and won the state for Biden.
Abrams didn't say anything blatantly political in my opinion. While they won't say it, I'm sure her mere presence is the problem for some very fine people. Her very presence, instead of a republican's, I think is being interpreted by those VFPs that Trek thinks a Democrat's POV is more compatible with Trek's vision than a republican's, and they hate that.
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 6:03pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 6:41pm (UTC -5)
She's only famous for losing and (for a while) not conceding an election. Otherwise no one outside of Georgia would have known or cared. Her celebrity is of a very limited nature and almost no one who doesn't contribute to the DNC would even know who she is. Cameos in Trek are usually other entertainers we already know or people who work in the science and space fields.
As to her future prospects, I don't know and I don't care. The voters of Georgia are in a better position to judge such things.
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 7:14pm (UTC -5)
I also think the issue is not that she's "someone famous" but that's she's a politican in the role of a politician, which signals a political message. It's very different from Guinan cameos back when Whoppi was the most recognizably famous person on the cast of TNG. There's also a difference between famous actors and politicians.
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 7:40pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 8:29pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 8:46pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 8:59pm (UTC -5)
10-C: Sorry. We'll stop. We didn't know.
I'm sorry, but this "all a big misunderstanding" wrapup was totally foreseeable. It's pretty much what happened in Season 3 with The Burn.
As a four-decade Star Trek fan, I can only say Star Trek Discovery continues to be, for me, Star Trek Disappointment.
They've got so much available to them: a huge budget, great special effects, access to all kinds of talent, and the series has become one long morality play about tolerance, that acting on one's feelings is always appropriate no matter the circumstance, and that everything can be resolved with a heartfelt discussion.
I watch out of a perhaps misguided sense of loyalty to the concept of the original series: that people from diverse backgrounds can work together as an effective problem solving team, while remaining true to the ship's mission.
The magic of that original series was that when characters acted on their feelings or their ethnicities, that was seen as a deviation from the norm: the norm being do what's in the best interests of the ship, for the safety of the crew.
Now everyone breaks down all the time, starting with the captain, who is allowed to let her interpersonal relationship with a rogue non-crew member interfere with her professional responsibilities, with no consequence. The crew is wonderously diverse and representative, but the writers think we need to be constantly reminded: look! we're diverse!
In this future, even the ship needs a ship's counselor.
The constant navel gazing makes for some truly tedius story telling, as do the sucessive seasons of "the fate of the galaxy is at stake!" breathless story telling that ends with a meek "nevermind."
At the same time, there's Picard: a stellar (no pun intended) example of what a Trek series should be: taut, tight as bowstring and breathlessly headlong, so that when the episode ends, it comes as a suprise, not a relief.
How these two show exist in the same universe mystifies me.
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 8:59pm (UTC -5)
It's being said because it's the truth. Most people honestly don't care that she was in the episode, it's just a television show. She wasn't really elected president of Earth. She's still a failed politician like Cruze or Trump. Shouting at clouds won't change that.
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 9:13pm (UTC -5)
And yeah, she was basically there in this episode just to show up and say "oops, our bad, mea culpa, we were wrong, we'll be enlightened good guys again, can we start over fresh?" But you want to tell me her character wasn't in office just a few months ago? No. Seemed like she'd been president for a while, the way she was talking to Ndoye. So. What kind of leader gets elected the president of that kind of earth?
Sorry. I don't think it was a flattering role, actually.
She's also hardly anyone of any particular consequence at this moment. Just another Trek fan who managed to wrangle a cameo (and there have been plenty). Sure, there's always the chance this cameo ages in such a way that it sticks out like a sore thumb and is jarring in 20-30 years, like Donald Trump's cameo in Home Alone. But, you know . . . probably not. Much more likely no one watching at that time will have any idea it's a cameo at all, and just think it's another random bit-part actor.
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 10:17pm (UTC -5)
You've apparently put way more thought into the full implications of Abram's role than even the writers' themselves because I see zero indications that the audience is supposed to have an unflattering take on her when she actually appears on screen.
We've seen time and again that the writers have conveniently swept under the rug the narrative logic of past events, ignoring their implications, presumably because either 1) they want to take the story in a different direction and make a point that would be undermined by reminding us of past events (such as in how the Ba'al were utilized), 2) they simply forget about stuff or never kept track of all those minor details in the first place (such as whether the shields are up or down when using the transporters), or 3) they're just not very good writers and prioritize political point-scoring over solid storytelling.
Frankly, I believe that the third reason is most prevalent so I would caution against giving the writers that much credit regarding Abrams. I would much sooner concede, as a relatively insignificant cameo, that her inclusion is a mere afterthought, than that the writers anticipated that the audience would view her unfavorably.
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 10:24pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 10:46pm (UTC -5)
That's what I thought when I was watching it. I only found out who she was afterwards, and it didn't effect my opinion of the show (it wasn't terrible) one little bit. I doubt I am alone in that.
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 11:56pm (UTC -5)
I think the thought process behind her cameo was "hey we need a President of Earth in this episode, hey Stacey Abrams has been wanting to do a cameo, hey Stacey Abrams is a politician, okay let's do that." I don't think more thought went into it than that.
I don't think they were trying to be unflattering to her. Certainly that isn't the tone of the scene, as you say.
But I AM trying to say that I don't think the cameo can with intellectual honesty be "read" as some kind of paean to Stacey Abrams just because the cameo they found for her was the President of Earth. That actually, based on the show's constructed history of the future so far, President of Earth isn't a flattering or paean-izing role. No doubt some people will still try to argue that was the show's intent by having her play that role. I'm pointing out that argument sucks on scrutiny.
I guess some people will now accuse the show of still having that paean-izing intent and not caring that its own prior writing effectively nullifies it . . . nothing I can say to that, except I don't believe it. I do believe they were fully committed to their MAGA-Earth bit that they thought was oh-so-clever, and that it was in the forefront of their minds when writing about Earth at all times. So, if their intent had been to do this big paean to Stacey Abrams, well, they would have . . . like, made her the captain of the 32nd century Enterprise, or something. You know? Anyway.
I do feel it's dumb to keep talking about this. It isn't warranted.
(And how did I manage to write the word "paean" so many times in this post without making a "pee on" joke!)
Sun, Mar 20, 2022, 12:15am (UTC -5)
I had changed the settings online. I've fixed it and will be able to enjoy in a normal fashion
Sun, Mar 20, 2022, 2:05am (UTC -5)
As one of the people who brought it up, I have to agree.
Sun, Mar 20, 2022, 2:16am (UTC -5)
Sun, Mar 20, 2022, 2:16am (UTC -5)
And it is interesting that some people have such a bug in their britches about black actors on the show. They should calm themselves. This is the sci-fi world. STD is in no danger of becoming Star Trek: Black Lives Matter any time soon.
Sun, Mar 20, 2022, 8:23am (UTC -5)
Sun, Mar 20, 2022, 10:18am (UTC -5)
I had the United Earth president spoiled for me long before I could watch the episode, and if I hadn't been prepared like that I probably only would have noticed that they cast a crummy actor.
It has been mentioned that it is not so horrible for a political candidate to lose a couple elections, but if I was a failed gubernatorial candidate, and had no experience with acting whatsoever, I would be far too embarrassed to show up in a Trek show and essentially say "Look at me now haters, I'm the president of Earth, bitch."
I can't say I'm surprised or terribly upset by this, but the whole thing comes off as just dumb and embarrassing. And yes, Star Trek has always been political in the sense that it would examine social issues, but never like this. To come down hard with a passive endorsement of a political candidate is simply inappropriate no matter the candidate.
It's dumb Michelle Paradise. Super stinking dumb.
Sun, Mar 20, 2022, 11:07am (UTC -5)
Very good description. After a long jouerney, to big extent in the night or in a tunnel we now reachend the final desitation. Ths episode was quite watchable although not fantastic. I enjoy being home.
I have treid to rewatsch some of the episodes in hope I would liked them the second. I think I need to wait a while.
And now I learnt a little bit about american domstic politics. Was Angela Merkel busy? She would otherwise be suitable for the role of mother earth.
Sun, Mar 20, 2022, 11:15am (UTC -5)
One sentiment I get out of this entire discussion: Poor writing gets being woke a bad rep. I don't mind the show 's political view. It's just that it comes across so terribly clunky with a sledge hammer. Sledge hammers hurt. A skillfully written episode could convey the message just fine. DS9 especially did it very often quite successfully far beyond the stars. Alas, DSC just doesn't know how to pull it off. DSC says right in my face that it is woke. Um, OK. Thanks for your attitude. But that's not a good story. You need to be able to handle both.
Sun, Mar 20, 2022, 11:27am (UTC -5)
Your catch about United Earth is spot-on, but I do think the show was trying to have it both ways. Earth's post-Burn isolationist history should have given us a differently characterized President, but I didn't clock that until you brought it up because the President was presented with such reverence.
I think the reverence was intentional: "Look who we made President! Wouldn't that be swell?" To get to that, though, they had to sidestep the logic of what type of leader Earth's history would have produced, which they do literally right out of the gate when she says "There's nothing to discuss." (Earth not like Federation? Romulan ale for all!)
Of course, the President would be immensely grateful to the Federation, but that meeting could have been more grudging, remorseful, or self-reflective, with United Earth's leader expressing the error of their ways and having to eat some humble pie. It would have only required a few beats to get that across, but a) Discovery is not a disciplined shop when it comes to consistency, b) They didn't want to put across a flawed President within this cameo, and/or c) They didn't want to push a non-actor too hard.
I think getting to play this role would be a dream, but in the end, Abrams is as stuck with those writers as we are.
Sun, Mar 20, 2022, 11:32am (UTC -5)
The United Earth president was elected after the events of People of Earth on a platform of more inclusive involvement outside Earth. It was mentioned in But to Connect. Below is from memory alpha...
This politician served as President of United Earth in 3190. She was elected on a platform more inclusive than that of her immediate predecessor, inspired by the actions of Michael Burnham and the crew of the USS Discovery.
Sun, Mar 20, 2022, 12:02pm (UTC -5)
Ah, very good! I just rewatched that bit, and totally, there was a sense that United Earth was in transition and now had a non-isolationist leader. The reverence holds up, then.
I still would have liked a couple self-reflective beats to underscore the change more than "There is nothing to discuss," but it's of a piece with the string of happy time, coming together finale moments.
Sun, Mar 20, 2022, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Mar 20, 2022, 5:26pm (UTC -5)
For such a technologically advanced species who can apparently create wormholes and black hole-like gravity wells at will, their idea about energy collection seemed a bit short-sighted.
Why would they not just use the free energy produced by actual black holes to collect the all energy needed for their shields? This, instead of randomly and blindly destroying planetary systems? This is actually something an advanced enough civilization could do.
A theory for a method of harnessing energy from black holes does exist;
https://youtu.be/Q6ZEf6UZyco - Could we harness the power of a black hole? - Fabio Pacucci
https://youtu.be/crnxcK2UazM - We Could Exploit Black Holes For Infinite Energy, Experiment Proves
Sun, Mar 20, 2022, 6:04pm (UTC -5)
Ah. Well. That does change things. I mean, her government still voted to bomb the 10-C before trying to talk to them, and her top general also sabotaged Discovery and betrayed the Federation out of fear and a lack of conviction (later "heroic" act of contrition, or not). But, them laying this groundwork in a previous episode does seemingly catch the show out at trying to have its cake and eat it too re: how we're supposed to view the President of Earth in this later cameo. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
Okay, but let's for-real talk about more important things now. Like, do we think Owo and Detmer are secretly a couple? What about Bryce and Rhys? Are the DOTs part of Zora? Does she feel pieces of herself die when they do? How come it's been four seasons and we've barely even explored what the mycelial network is? Will it only ever be a plot device for teleporting the ship and making Discovery special? Is T'Rina a Vulcan, or a Romulo-Vulcan? She seems to use words conveying emotions in her language a lot, which Vulcans generally eschew as being somewhat embarrassing. Then again, wise Vulcans know it is illogical to deny they have emotions or not to acknowledge them, even while they control them. Is Saru a "failed captain," as someone else put it? Or did he just need a break after discovering everything he knew about his species was a lie, evolving physiologically, jumping a thousand years into the future, and solving a galactic tragedy that was caused by a member of his species he identified with emotionally, all without a break? Maybe he's just taking a minute to take stock and figure out who he is after all these changes, and Discovery is the most comfortable place in the universe for him, yes?
Mon, Mar 21, 2022, 8:59am (UTC -5)
One of the biggest issues with how Trek worked historically is the human population was supposed to represent all of Earth, but instead it reflected the casting realities of Los Angeles. Thus tons of white people, some black people and East Asians, and a surprisingly low number of Latinos. Not to mention an oddly limited number of visibly biracial people, even on isolated colonies where everyone reasonably should have intermarried. Some people tried to handwave this with headcanon that most of Africa and Asia was wiped out during World War III.
Regardless, if you look at the current global population 60% are within Asia, and 20% are within Africa. Most of the world has stopped having gains in population, but by 2100 Africa and Asia should be just about tied when it comes to a percentage of global population, with the remainder of the world an even smaller share.
Taking these same projections foreword (and presuming World War III is felt everywhere around equally) most humans in the future of the Trekverse should be predominantly African or South/East Asian in descent. So this kind of casting is more realistic. Except of course that after a thousand years of mixing, there should be way more people who don't look like much of anything in particular. Or even people who look totally East Asian but have a Swedish last name or something.
Mon, Mar 21, 2022, 9:43am (UTC -5)
"Regardless, if you look at the current global population 60% are within Asia, and 20% are within Africa. Most of the world has stopped having gains in population, but by 2100 Africa and Asia should be just about tied when it comes to a percentage of global population, with the remainder of the world an even smaller share."
*if climate change stops, otherwise huge parts of Africa will become a desert.
Mon, Mar 21, 2022, 3:22pm (UTC -5)
I think it's more than possible that some of us have given the whole thing more thought than the actual writers. :)
Mon, Mar 21, 2022, 9:30pm (UTC -5)
“Just out of curiosity, did Abrams say anything political? Or is her mere presence the problem?”
Her presence is the problem.
I say this as a fan of hers who agrees with nearly all of her desired policies.
Star Trek should not inject a modern day political figure into the narrative. All it does is alienate some sizable percentage of the audience. The folks who can’t see this are likely partisans who would immediately flip their script if it had been some nationally known right wing figure with the cameo.
Mon, Mar 21, 2022, 9:36pm (UTC -5)
“I don't think it's a problem to give Stacy Abrams a cameo per se (haven't active politicians been given cameos from time to time?”
I can’t recall another active politician getting a cameo in Trek. It may have happened in TOS, haven’t seen every episode, but I’ve seen every episode of TNG/DS9, most of VOY and ENT, and I’m not recalling it.
I wish they hadn’t even though I’m a huge fan of hers. :(
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 5:03am (UTC -5)
Things I liked :
For once, the crying from burnam was *earned* and not some melodramatic acting replacement.
They took the effort to construct a narrative that led to a believable reason to cry, and what do you know, I liked it. I wasn't even annoyed about the delivery, even though I will certainly never become a fan of the actress.
So, hopefully a lesson learned her : you want your lead to cry, then construct a plot that earns that. Else, don't have her cry. Then all is good. Deal? Please.
Also, the pacing, usually easily the weakest point of the show, was a lot better. Amazing how much a show can improve just by reasonable and well executed craftsmanship in that area.
Cgi and production values of course good as always. Alien design should be applauded for its alien-ness, even if they made the mistake to basically walk all over the whole concept of communication being complicated and essentially went back to "universal translator, now with Alexa RGB lightshow". Still certainly a bigger effort than yet another forehead prostethic, so credit where it's due.
And yes, clearly the first time that a DSC season does not end with an imploding cheese soufflé.
So, two and a half, maybe almost three stars from me. Why not more? Because that's about as much as I am able to care at this point. I don't care for the characters. Yes, many comparisons have been made with previous treks taking very long to really find their tone. That's true. But here's the difference to TNG or DS9 (I don't count voyager because it found what it wanted to settle on much earlier in my opinion, whether one liked it or not):
What people mean when they say that TNG or DS9 found their place at the end of season 3, what they are talking about are plot related. They managed to make me care about the characters looking before then. Did I consider many TNG stories in the Pre Riker Beard Phase clunky or even goofy? Yes.
But had the show managed to make me care about not only Picard but the entire ensemble long before the best of both worlds? Hell yes!
Same for DS9 and VOY.
DSC, on the other hand, is clearly in enterprise territory for me in that regard. I don't care about the characters enough. Where with enterprise this was largely due to super annoying Berman esque cowboy BS material given to the characters, Archer being both a terrible captain and a mediocre actor at best, they did at least try to make you care about the entire ensemble.
I certainly noticed that this season tried to correct the epic mistake of the first three seasons of reducing almost the entire ensemble to a background matte painting for the Burnam Saves The Universe show. Alas, I think it's too little, too late. And even now, you can feel their heart is not really in it. They don't really care about many or these characters, so why should I? I still know next to nothing about most or these people. And whenever they get to do something now, it's so one dimensional and hand wavey that it almost feels like the show is trying to just tick the required boxes.
Like, I hated most ferengi stories on DS9 and still do. But clearly, the makers looooved their ferengi. They loved the nephew of the bartender character more than DSC will ever care for 90% of its Bridge crew.
I don't think this is something that can be fixed at this point. No amount of saccharine (and boy did they put the saccharine-meter on eleven here) will repair this. I am glad for the actors that the extremely disrespectful treatment of them all (which always annoyed me to no end and certainly contributed a LOT to me finding the show lead mostly annoying) finally stopped at least to some extent, but for me as a viewer, this comes too late.
But even if it's too late for DSC to fix this, let's hope that it's a lesson learned for future work. You want an ensemble show ? Pay the price and invest the plot time that is needed to develop an ensemble. Don't want to do that? Don't pretend to be an ensemble show when you're not. That type of trying to have your cake and eat it too does not work, and makes your show lead look like a narcissistic ass, regardless of whether she/he actually is or not. Burnam is beyond redemption at this point for me.
But hey - I will happily call this solid entertainment, and will continue to watch. Being solidly entertained when the show gives its best like here, or going back to hate watching like I sadly still had to do for most of this weirdly mistimed, all over the place paced season.
Oh, and look, they gave Tilly another moment! I guess that's them trying to say "sure, we essentially wrote the one character that dared to not have a standard Hollywood body shape out of the show, but pleeeeease continue considering us woke trek, so look, there she is again!"
Truth be told, in that regard, DSC is not any better than Bermantrek. Or let's try to be fair and say, okay, 3 minutes of comeback screen time better than Bermantrek. Progress!
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 6:24am (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 5:14pm (UTC -5)
"Star Trek has a long tradition of casting famous people in minor roles. There seem to be quite a few favorable articles about her, though. Money motivated media focusing on what's important..."
Come on Booming, that's not the issue and you know it.
Mon, Mar 21, 2022, 9:30pm (UTC -5)
"Her presence is the problem.
Star Trek should not inject a modern day political figure into the narrative. All it does is alienate some sizable percentage of the audience. The folks who can’t see this are likely partisans who would immediately flip their script if it had been some nationally known right wing figure with the cameo."
Exactly, thank you Tim.
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 6:35am (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 6:53am (UTC -5)
journalists; infringements on citizens’ privacy rights; serious restrictions on free
expression and the press, including criminalization of libel, censorship, and
internet site blocking; substantial restrictions on freedom of association and
freedom of peaceful assembly; serious incidents of official corruption; “honor”
killings of women; trafficking in persons; and violence against lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons."
Here the wordy version
One could also mention his huge personal wealth in foreign accounts amounting to almost a billion.
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 8:54am (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 6:53am (UTC -5)
... and that's different from the free world how?
He IS a HUGE trekkie... look https://www.hoteliermiddleeast.com/uncategorized/11368-us-1-billion-star-trek-linked-resort-for-jordan
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 9:58am (UTC -5)
"... and that's different from the free world how?"
Jordan is part of the free world! It got a 37/100 in the Freedom House democracy index. USA only got an ok-ish 83/100 almost as good as Croatia (85) or Mongolia (84) and quite a bit better than Ghana (80). Hey and tied with Panama, Samoa, Romania and South Korea! :)
*(Germany 94; Sweden, Finland, Norway 100)
"He IS a HUGE trekkie... look https://www.hoteliermiddleeast.com/uncategorized/11368-us-1-billion-star-trek-linked-resort-for-jordan"
Uh it was supposed to open in 2014. Let's go to a parallel universe where it actually exists and visit
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 10:01am (UTC -5)
I could well be wrong about other active politicians getting cameos -- I just assumed it had been done before but, coming to think of it, I can't think of any examples. And I wasn't limiting myself to Trek. I recall Trump appearing on "Home Alone" but he wasn't in politics then. So perhaps it's some kind of unwritten rule or taboo. I don't know.
But then that would make the fact that DSC (aka ST:BLM) did it (and, more importantly, how it was done) even more egregious and divisive.
I recall a discussion about Trek being political -- my point was that there's a big time difference between how classic Trek was political and the overbearing politicization of Trek on DSC. To me DSC has long crossed a line and alienated a ton of Trek fans. That's not to say it can't produce a terrific episode but its political / ideological stance will always be an anchor.
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 10:02am (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 9:58am (UTC -5)
"Uh it was supposed to open in 2014. Let's go to a parallel universe where it actually exists and visit"
I have faith it will ride one day!!
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 10:05am (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 10:13am (UTC -5)
"I have faith it will rise one day!!"
Sure, if I hear Middle East, I think vacation.
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 11:39am (UTC -5)
"The one as many / many as one aspect bears no fruit and did not add anything to the 10-C. I don't even get the logic of Book's speech or why it makes a difference:
10-C: "Sorry 'bout that, we'll recalibrate our sensors."
Book: "We are interconnected! Make it right!"
10-C: "Okay, we'll drop our defense system for good and beam you back to Earth. Have a nice day.""
You completely missed what turned the tide in that scene. it had nothing to do with logic. 10-C are empathic/telepathic. They demonstrate this when they question Burnham why she is still sad despite her planet being saved. They've never even seen a human beings face before. Even if they had they have no reference or experience for ferreting out human emotions from facial expressions. How the hell would they know she is sad? The only way they can do this is if they can actually feel her sadness. This should've been obvious. They squirt out pheromones that force you to feel emotions. They exist as a singular collective. They are empathic at the very least and possibly telepathic at least amongst each other. Her standing their feeling grief while all these other people are rejoicing would be like a beam of blinding light to them.
It wasn't Books speech that changed their minds it was what Book was feeling while giving his speech that changed their minds. At the end of his speech Book's forehead lights up telling us he's using his empathic abilities. What he's doing is unclear. He's either connecting with them the way he connects with animals or he's broadcasting his emotions. What is clear is that 10-C would be able to read his emotions whether he's broadcasting them or not, just as they singled out Burnham and read her emotions. They demonstrate that they are reading his emotions and stand in solidarity with him by flashing his pattern back. They didn't just listen to his words they felt his pain as he himself felt it, maybe even experienced his loss directly as he experienced, like during T'Rina's mindmeld.
Clearly, if they saw exactly what he saw or even just felt exactly what he felt when his planet was destroyed, this would have a powerful effect on them given their history. They changed their entire way of life because of what happened to them. Now they have visited that exact same evil upon another group of innocent sapient beings. And now they have had their crime not just explained to them, but they've felt it viscerally, the same way they can feel what happened to their own people all those years ago any time they come into contact with some of those pheromones.
It's as if a bunch of Jews with fresh memories straight out of Auschwitz suddenly found out that they were also Nazis supporting brand new concentration camps. And not only that, they can directly experience what it was like to be in the concentration camps they themselves were unknowingly supporting? Assume for the sake of argument that these are decent morally upright people who would never want to do harm to others. They have values and principles equal to Starfleet's. Don't you think that would have the desired effect?
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 1:48pm (UTC -5)
I lol when Stacey Abrams showed up on screen. That was a little on the nose to say the least. Didn't bother me though. It's certainly not the first political cameo in popular culture from either party, so I don't see what the hoopla is about.
Stacey Abrams isn't even in office, is she? How is her having a (hopefully short) tv career after her political career even notable? Chris Christie was governor when he appeared on the Michael J. Fox Show. And Rudy Giuliani was mayor when he appeared on Seinfeld. Anybody remember Jesse Ventura, or, god forbid, Nancy Reagan taking over all of television in the 80s?
Did people think that Trek and Trek alone was supposed to be free from this stuff?
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 2:04pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 2:35pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 2:47pm (UTC -5)
Btw, that first one was her actual condition. Like it or not, 100% of the "blame" goes to the producers because it was their idea. She's not like Whoppi Goldberg begging them to find a role for her because she's such a Trekkie.
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 3:08pm (UTC -5)
So she is just a Trekkie and never thought about being on the show? It was the producers who approached her?? If it was supposed to create buzz, then I guess it worked.
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 3:23pm (UTC -5)
I'm saying that her liking Trek is completely incidental, unlike in other cases. You hear it all the time when unexpected celebrities justify their taking on a role within interviews to the press. "Actually, I read the all the Marvel comics as a kid so I was super hyped to be part of this film." As if jumping aboard the Marvel Cinematic Hype Train wasn't the main consideration... So even if she's being genuine about that, we should take it with a grain of salt.
Also, yes, the producers reached out to her. Michelle Pillar got the idea, Kurtzman thought it sounded great, and so on...
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 4:28pm (UTC -5)
"Also, yes, the producers reached out to her. Michelle Pillar got the idea, Kurtzman thought it sounded great, and so on..."
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 7:32pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 23, 2022, 8:59am (UTC -5)
Discovery is maybe the epitome of "the personal is political" - because there is literally no examination of politics beyond the lens of personal identity, and most of that is just through representation. Just show a person onscreen and your political content is finished! No need to actually examine the pitfalls of policies and ideals. No need even to build up a strawman just to knock it down again.
The Stacy Abrams cameo is a good example of this. It's a wink and a nod from the producers about where their proclivities lie, but it's not actually *saying* anything at all about progressive politics other than (presumably) that the majority of the writing team is progressive (which...let's be honest...is true of almost every writing team in Hollywood to some degree, and AFAIK every prominent Trek writer other than Manny Coto). It says nothing about politics, but it says everything about the politics of the showrunners. It will be meaningless in 20 years, but generated tweets now, so...mission accomplished?
Thu, Mar 24, 2022, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
@Dom nailed it.
Thu, Mar 24, 2022, 2:05pm (UTC -5)
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm so glad Star Wars and Marvel are bringing back episodic TV (or at least shorter arcs). Discovery and Picard feel like relics of the early 2000s obsession with serialization, but without the good writing to justify a serialized show.
Thu, Mar 24, 2022, 2:34pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 24, 2022, 2:40pm (UTC -5)
The idea of a season-long First Contact mission was good, but yes, also dragged out. And I was deflated a bit when it appeared show runners just took the film “Arrival” and ran with it. Glad next season will fall in line with the other shows going to 10 episodes.
Generally, it’s been style and execution that has always ALWAYS gotten in the way for Discovery. Not sure that is something I’ll ever adapt to. It’s the series’ signature by this point.
Thu, Mar 24, 2022, 4:56pm (UTC -5)
Before DSC I only saw Shawn Doyle in The Expanse, where he was truly great as UN Undersecretary Errinwright. Of course, Expanse writing team -- helmed by Trek veteran Naren Shankar -- is so far ahead of Discovery's that it's embarrassing. The Expanse is The Wire to Discovery's Marvel - CW love child wannabe.
Thu, Mar 24, 2022, 5:01pm (UTC -5)
The problem here is that the execution is mediocre. Bad acting, bad dialogue, predictable plot resolutions and unlikeable characters keep making this show hard to watch for pure entertainment. It simply isn't competent enough at television to appeal to casual viewers, particularly when the price to pay for a trekkian message is dialing down the nonsensical action. And when it comes to hardcore trekkies, the great barrier is the well known dictum that writers can't convincingly make characters utter things that are more intelligent than their own intelligence. I think this is a more unsurmountable problem than earlier cynical attempts to pander to the lowest common denominator, because writers who aren't themselves deep thinkers will never be able to deliver any fresh, conceptually compelling ideas to this niche audience.
So did this show improve a lot? Yes. Do I have hopes it can become a truly good show? Not really. I fear we've already seen its ceiling, and it isn't very high. And I'd be very surprised if a show that can't fully satisfy either of its target audiences is getting many views
Thu, Mar 24, 2022, 5:13pm (UTC -5)
- T'Rina is the best portrayal of a Vulcan character since Sakonna in DS9's "The Maquis". (Trek started getting Vulcans wrong in the late 90s - Take Me Out To The Holosuite, Tuvok, and Enterprise's treatment of Vulcans are all examples of how not to do it.) Tara Rosling is wonderful.
- Rillak is a welcome presence who I hope continues to develop well.
- Saru was well-utilized all season. And I love the grace and economy with which his relationship with T'Rina has been established. It's so appropriate to the characters, as well as a welcome depiction of a romantic relationship between older characters, something earlier Discovery would never have done given its desperation to attract young viewers.
- Reno has too long been a weakly performed one-note character who seemed to have wandered in from a different show, but the material she was given in the penultimate episode almost singlehandedly redeemed the character - more of this please.
- Tarka was a villain who was a lonely obsessive and blinkered genius rather than cartoonishly evil, and the show never crudely demonized him but simply let his actions speak for themselves - he was fleshed out highly effectively in wonderful flashbacks that were restrained and dignified. In a series that never used to do subtlety, a number of ambiguities here turned out to be really smart creative choices: not just the ambiguity as to whether or not Tarka ultimately survives and whether or not he reaches Oros, but the ambiguous nature of their relationship and the decision for Tarka to be motivated by a deep, platonic, atypical love forged in adversity, rather than a too-obvious approach of making Tarka openly gay and having him and Oros clearly be lovers - subtext is so much more graceful and powerful and allows for a number of readings. Beyond a gay audience I think there is a lot of resonance here for people who identify as asexual (yet romantic) and just as a testament to that old-fashioned and undersung thing, a deeply loving non-sexual friendship between two men.
- As to Booker, I'm generally against planets being blown up in Star Trek, as it's the type of excess reminiscent of Star Wars, but at least the events of the season opener gave Booker good motivation all season and made the stakes personal to him.
- I was also really happy with the development of Zora this season - first of all the fact that the writers recognized the strength of the Calypso short and made a commitment to working towards it as an endpoint, and secondly as an interesting sci-fi idea that led to genuine debate that the show took seriously.
- We got more focus on all of the not-quite-extras on the bridge (Owo, Detmer, Rhys, Nilsson, Linus, Bryce/Christopher, Nhan), and if still not enough this was definitely a major step in the right direction - they were particularly well used in ensemble episodes, and even in episodes where they didn't have much dialog, they were directed in a way that shows they matter. And Owo is still acting SMG off the screen.
- I still consider Rapp (surprisingly given his pedigree) to be easily the worst actor on the show, but the weakness of his portrayal of Stamets was mitigated by a) using him more in ensemble scenes than one-on-one dialog scenes b) giving him material more focused on tech and practicalities that he can't go too far wrong with c) pairing him with other characters like Book rather than Reno or Tilly (both of whom he is too similar too for them to be a good character combination).
- Similarly, the much better-acted Culber continues to benefit from being integrated into the main ensemble and the fact the majority of his scenes are not with Rapp.
- Whatever the reason, writing Tilly out was the best decision the show has ever made. Her characterization and Wiseman's performance have gotten worse season on season, to the extent that one prays for the sweet mercy of Neelix or Rom whenever she's on screen, and her filler episode with the cadets was one of the worst hours of Star Trek I've ever seen - there are entire galaxies of quality between it and VOY's Good Shepherd, itself a below-average Voyager episode. She's become such a catastrophic character that her mere presence in a professional environment makes you question the believability of everything around her; serious scenes with good characters are impossible to take seriously when she's there alongside them performing her hackneyed ditz routine, one that contains no actual wit but represents a very specifically 21st century American type of "lol so awkward" humor that I think is going to date extremely quickly, and which takes audiences out of the narrative. (One mistake the show did make was give Adira some of this type of comic-relief material in Tilly's wake, but it wasn't anywhere near as bad, as Del Barrio is a better performer.)
- Yes, the season was too long and the material was stretched. But the story was told diligently from start to finish with good attention to detail (making sure to wrap up all loose ends and check in with every character), and many of the "filler" episodes were quite character-focused and well-performed, meaning that this is both DSC's strongest season on a plot front and on a character front.
- I thought the first few episodes of the season really struggled, which is why I was all the more surprised and delighted when it turned the corner. Kobayashi Maru had good ideas but poor execution and was frankly a mess; Anomaly's flaws are well-documented; and the Qowat Milat episode was jarring nonsense, too much of a step back to the mistakes of previous seasons (and Picard S1).
- There were a number of plot-heavy ensemble episodes this season that juggled 16-17 characters effectively, giving them all meaningful involvement in the events at hand. I haven't seen Trek do this effectively since DS9 (Voyager and Enterprise having no supporting ensemble) and while obviously not on DS9's level, this was brilliant and so welcome, and mostly done deftly and economically. These episodes remembered that Star Trek is in essence a workplace show, and understood that we enjoy seeing professionals working together constructively to solve a problem. There was much more of an attempt at scientific credibility here than the magic of DIS S1-3 and PIC S1.
- Likewise, the show could have chosen to make the DMA a deliberate weapon and the 10-C a shallow antagonist, and it smartly didn't. This plot was light years more intelligent than S2's stupid "Control" storyline or S3's "a child's tantrum made everything blow up", and the 10-C themselves were realized with wonder and beauty.
- Yes, there's too much focus on how the characters *feel* about whatever's happening at the time - the angst and therapy-speak can seem unprofessional and inappropriate for a military environment, particularly when characters take time out for extended heart-to-hearts during crunch situations - but I'm never going to criticize the show for caring about what its characters feel and think when it scarcely did this under its prior showrunners. Even Michael works better as a character and team leader now, rather than her original S1-2 conception as a viewer-avatar designed to chew through as much plot as possible back when Discovery was a "ride" show. SMG is more relaxed in the role and has better material, and some of her lighter scenes in particular highlight the genuine rapport she has with her castmates which comes through in her performance.
- I have no idea who Stacey Abrams is so that cameo meant nothing to me; I think it's acting as too much of a lightning rod. The show was unwise to afford a cameo to a current American politician (who is apparently standing in an election this year), particularly in the role of a politician. It can be interpreted as an endorsement and that shouldn't be the case.
- I understand that this new incarnation of Discovery is very female, particularly in its casting of authority figures, in a way that sometimes feels as if the show is making a point. But again, this is an overcorrection - have we all forgotten that Enterprise only had two female characters, one of whom was constantly treated as an object of sexual titillation by the show and its characters, and the other of whom was given very little to do? A lot of the criticism of Discovery's "wokeness" (some of which is justified, some of which isn't) applies in mirror image to Enterprise's dreadful attempt to tap into the U.S.'s then-prevailing Dubya-era zeitgeist by styling itself as a kind of rednecks-in-space show where the characters shoot first and ask questions later, brawn matters over brains, the captain is always right however he behaves (which ENT inherited from VOY), and the female officer is only there to be gawked at. Michael in S1-2 was an awful character, but Michael in S3-4 is merely bad in the same kind of way that Janeway and Archer were bad. Believe it or not, that's progress.
- The penultimate episode was absolutely wonderful, and while it felt Arrival-adjacent, I never felt it directly copied it. As noted by others, Close Encounters was also a major thematic inspiration... but the episode mainly felt like its own thing. It was written by the same guy who wrote The Examples and they DEFINITELY need to retain him on the writing staff because he's making a huge difference in terms of the quality of the show. "Species 10-C" was effective, rigorous and intelligent; intellectually and scientifically it's vastly superior to Darmok.
That's all for now.
Thu, Mar 24, 2022, 6:07pm (UTC -5)
"the ambiguous nature of their relationship...the decision for Tarka to be motivated by a deep, platonic, atypical love forged in adversity...a testament to that old-fashioned and undersung thing, a deeply loving non-sexual friendship between two men"
Sure, there's nothing to stop people from reading "super tight college dorm bros" into that, but they literally pushed their beds together and snuggled up. I'll agree that subtext can be more effective than explicit shags and kisses, but it doesn't get much more Gay Subtexty than that.
Fri, Mar 25, 2022, 11:39am (UTC -5)
Whilst I agree with everything and have nothing new to add re episode review, I'm pretty certain that the reason Tilly, Grey, Bryce etc have been out of the picture has had more to do with filming during covid. They organised a shift rotation for actors so all headcount were never on site at the same time. This came at the cost of having to explain the absence of characters.
Tbf, with all the delays with new seasons, both DSC and Expanse remained pretty punctual throughout the pandemic, but I believe that was the compromise.
Mon, Mar 28, 2022, 4:32am (UTC -5)
I think there have been plenty of political themes in the show (particularly seasons 1, 3 and 4); they simply are not as overt in the same way as an individual episode of DS9 would need to present them. I think that having a serialized show the handful of political themes run the course of the season, they come to the fore at times, and stay in the background other times. It's easy to think in episodic terms though, so with the older shows having a new story every week, it gives the appearance of having clear political storylines. Another difference with previous shows is that there were lots of 'little p' politics going on. Absent was the 'Big P' politics of the cold war era. The Berlin Wall had fallen. No more Soviet Union. The idea of a multipolar world was still in its early stages, and the US was considered the sole superpower, so the focus turned toward other (relatively smaller) social and political issues (btw I think this is also the reason why some fans use TNG as an example of a Trek that did not have politics in it - it did, but it was of the 'little p', everyday type of politics).
Season 1 was mostly about the problems posed by the resurgence of right-wing politics in the US (but also across the world), firstly with the resurgent Klingon Empire, then more literally by going into the mirror universe. Added to that, there was the associated theme of right-wing fundamentalism, exceptionalism and isolationism, shown via the Klingon's drive toward racial purity, then with the mirror universe and the Terran's drive toward racial purity (e.g. mirror Lorca's speech in the main hall of the Charon). This mirrored the white's-only racial purity rhetoric in the US that was especially prominent during the 2010s. Starfleet ethics and its own view of its own political exceptionalism during wartime was also a theme that emerged during season 1.
Season 2 was very much the clash of science vs faith.
Season 3 had communication as an important theme (along with the need for connectedness), but the communication theme was a reflection on the political polarization in the modern-day (mainly US) world and how to move forward towards connectedness. Some fans complain about the focus on emotional awareness in the show, but, I see it as a strength because it is through emotional acts, such as developing empathy, walking a mile in another's shoes, that people can open themselves up to understanding, which would potentially lead to greater connectedness. This theme is carried over into season 4 with the new situation. The theme of communication in season 4 is big politics that can be applied to the modern world and calls back to the aforementioned 'Big P' global politics of a now-multipolar world, which was not really there during the 1990s.
Others have mentioned how Trek is also a workplace show. Discovery as a workplace has played an increasingly important political theme as the show continues. Both seasons 3 and 4 focus on this theme of the workplace, through the concept of mental health, showing how vital it is for workers/staff to be regarded more holistically and their issues are taken seriously. Mental health has become a very political issue because of its decline in (mainly) capitalist / corporate workplaces. To that end, this theme also serves as a critique of capitalist workplace practices.
The other big critique of capitalism was near the end of season 3, where the lack of utopian connectedness forced a Federation deep space station to revert to capitalist trade in order to survive (described but not shown). Ossira wanted that trade legitimised. It was a question of individual survival or collective thriving (of the space station). This critique was mirrored in Ossira's treaty proposal; individual survival vs collective thriving. And similarly, Ossira wanted her own past actions to be legitimised. I see this as a critique of late-stage capitalism repeatedly trying to justify its own actions even though a majority of people at the receiving end are continuing to suffer.
I also think that DIS tries to point at a way forward, which I very much appreciate. It's not just presenting the issues, it's trying to present ways in which we can reach that utopian future and that it will not come as a result of science and technology alone. It's showing that people need to remember how to care about people again and that people need to get socially or politically active to be able to make the (above) changes happen in society (and reach that utopian future without veering into Cyberpunk 2077!). It's pointing in a direction, taking a stance, and trying to be more than a comforting talking shop, more than comfort food. It's not just about everyone having and speaking their opinions and then forgetting and going about their business. As Cirroc Lofton stated in the DS9 Doc, in the 1990s black people were being beaten down by police on live TV. Jump to the 2010s, black people are being beaten down by police on live TV. In terms of human relations, there has not been that much advancement. So, I massively appreciate a Star Trek that is trying to do more.
Mon, Mar 28, 2022, 4:41am (UTC -5)
Also, the question of justice and what it would look like in an aspiring utopia is also a critique of modern-day practices. 'The Examples' was a good example of this, as was the fate of Booker. Future justice being portrayed as rehabilitative, instead of punitive, is a huge if subtle, political commentary, as was Rillak's comment that reasons do matter, which was a commentary on the failings of the notion of blind justice.
Mon, Mar 28, 2022, 7:42am (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 29, 2022, 12:29am (UTC -5)
Because the writers tossed the tough linguistics-building of the prior episode to give the team a universal translator for the finale, conversation was easy and Rillak’s storied diplomacy had already kicked in: “Big machine hurt Earth. Big machine hurt people. No make big machine run.” 10-C responds to both the words spoken and the emotions they observe pretty well. If she’d only added “Big machine tailpipe hurt us too,” she would have gotten all necessary points across.
So what’s Book’s special function? His speech doesn't track when you follow the actual words, which for me were a bunch of strung together platitudes that skim the ignorance of environmental destruction, COVID-19 topicality (you need to get out of your bubble), “interconnection,” and honor thy killed by not killing others. Of course Book and the show glide over his own culpability in the conflict so he can deliver the Important Lesson of the World Root.
If Book had dropped most of the speech and focused on empathically communicating his sense of loss to 10-C, I might have experienced that moment with more weight. (Btw I love David Ajala and his delivery here.) I don't think I missed the point, I just didn't buy the moment. If you truly got what you wrote from the Book/10-C exchange, I'm happy that it connected for you and accept that I may have missed out.
@Mosley: "Like, I hated most ferengi stories on DS9 and still do. But clearly, the makers looooved their ferengi. They loved the nephew of the bartender character more than DSC will ever care for 90% of its Bridge crew.”
YESSSSSSSS. I am not as anti-DS9-Ferengi as many are, but you’re so right, when DS9 doubles down on character, for better and sometimes worse, they are committed. They earn their character moments and make them memorable.
@N: "Michael in S3-4 is merely bad in the same kind of way that Janeway and Archer were bad. Believe it or not, that's progress.” LOL, love your character points and thoughts on ENT and ST history. I sadly agree about Tilly’s characterization getting worse over time and never liked Stamets. The “extras" were a bit better this season, but I did laugh whenever they so deliberately tried to make things a team effort. I’d say they used the mouths of the other cast to spread the one-note dialogue around more evenly as opposed to "developing" any of these characters.
@Jammer: I think you’re being super considerate and measured in your analysis. It’s easy to be a hater and I appreciate you sifting through the puddles of emotion hydrocarbons to give this show points for trying. I picture Discovery as the toddler bringing you a drawing of a rainbow and three unevenly shaped stick figures with an ear-to-ear grin of satisfaction. “Good job, Discovery! You kept your crayons on the paper and everything!”
Fri, Apr 1, 2022, 4:10am (UTC -5)
Some people seem stuck with Abrams' appearance, it's barely an after thought for me, had no impact on my enjoyment of the season or the finale. I am glad well-known figures are Trek fans and I am glad they make cameo appearances on Trek, makes no difference to me what their political affiliations are or what they have done to become celebrities. Bring them on, it increases exposure.
Looking back, I think some of the mid-season episodes that gave at first the impression of dragging the meeting with 10-C now seem to have some stand-out content. I rewatched the last five episodes and enjoyed it even more when seen back to back. Letting Tilly and Gray go also improved the show although I would not have guessed that prior to Tilly's departure. Sonequa Martin-Green's acting was much better as captain, I actually thought her acting during that momentary loss of Booker when his ship exploded in the finale and the way she expressed many emotions in a matter of several seconds and the way she got back to helming the ship was powerful and her best acting sequence in the season. President of the Federation and T'Rina are great guest characters and Vance needs to remain with DIsco for as long as it continues. Give him even more to do please.
Hoping season five reaches this season's quality, if not exceed it.
Sat, Apr 2, 2022, 4:50am (UTC -5)
Wed, Apr 13, 2022, 5:48pm (UTC -5)
He says he has a friend who works on Disco and has some interesting insights.
Sun, Apr 24, 2022, 11:52am (UTC -5)
Sat, Apr 30, 2022, 4:28pm (UTC -5)
10-C may be the most original alien species in Trek in several dozen years.
No idea how Book would be relevant if he is back in season 5.
Kudos to Michelle Paradise for the best season of Trek since the 90s. Making Michael captain at the end of season 3 was the best thing the showrunners could have done.
Ready for another good season, hopefully sooner than later.
Mon, May 2, 2022, 2:15pm (UTC -5)
“Michael mentions to Species 10-C how Tarka was driven by grief regarding his lost "friend" - before Book is shown to have survived. I might be missing something, but when did Book tell her this?”
You’re not mistaken. Michael had no way of knowing this. Just more lazy writing.
Thu, Jun 16, 2022, 10:00pm (UTC -5)
The huge leap they made in their translation tech to talk to 10-C was also not believable. Within a matter of hours they went from being only to convey simple words, to the main cast giving entire speeches to them. I was like, whaaaat???
The envisioning of 10-C was awesome. I felt totally immersed. Their realm felt believable and their way of communicating was very original! I just couldn't buy into what the humans were up to.
Things were wrapped up a little too neatly. Book's resurrection on top of the victory of the day meant that there were no real consequences. The only moment when I thought, "Wow, here we go!" Was when Detmer volunteered to suicide into Book's ship. I was like, wow, are they really going to do this? That would have huge impact! But then no, the General from Earth who nobody really cares for volunteered. Then it felt like whatever.
There were simply no consequences. Just some subspace damage that 10-C is going to help cleanup now. Ok, Kwejian got destroyed, and that was a bummer, but it's not like we interacted meaningfully with so many people from there. Just Book, who survived in the end. So... no consequences makes for bad writing.
This was definitely the best season ending so far, but it was a long slog getting there. I agree with Jammer that if they're going to do serialized plots, then EVERY episode has to be as a rich as the finale. Otherwise it comes across as lazy and redundant.
Fri, Aug 12, 2022, 4:19pm (UTC -5)
And while they apparently got the memo it's more meaningful if MB doesn't cry routinely, now the writers need a memo to tell them character development can come out of the way the characters respond to situations, rather than pause crucial away missions with a character blurting out something about how they didn't get along with Mom or Dad, even as a familiar piano tinkle emerges. I counted this four times, and it may have happened earlier in the season before I really noticed and started counting. At least in the final episode, with Tilly, there's little left for the characters to do.
Fri, Sep 9, 2022, 10:02pm (UTC -5)
The biggest issue I have was the Kobayashi Maru talk Michael and the President had back in episode 1. I was really thinking it would pay off. The message was clear: someday Michael you will have to make the hard choice; you can’t save everyone. I thought maybe it would pay off back in the episode where Book and Tarka first destroyed the DMA, and instead of making the hard choice, she got in a shuttle and went for therapy time. Now that she didn’t make the hard choice, here is Book again being saved at the 11th hour. You have set this entire season up for the main character to learn a hard lesson, and it turns out there is no lesson. Never mind Michael, you CAN save everyone!
The other issue I have is of course the miraculous saving of Book, who when materialized, should have been sent directly to the brig. This man was responsible for theft, espionage, and nearly assisting with the death of billions not to mention the extinction of an advanced civilization on first contact. Granted, there were nuances here, but the Federation doesn’t know that! Not only is he not sent to the brig, he is allowed to communicate directly with the aliens. Excuse me, what? Because of your… credentials? What a stupid series of events.
I also didn’t like how neatly everything was tied up in a little bow. It just didn’t really land. I’m guessing if the series wasn’t renewed they’d add an extra 5 seconds of voiceover where Michael says “…and they all lived happily ever after. Because I made sure if it.” 1.5 stars from me. I can echo a lot of what Jammer liked and disliked, but those aspects really rubbed me the wrong way. We enjoy science fiction, we’re not idiots, don’t treat us like idiots.
Fri, Oct 14, 2022, 12:48am (UTC -5)
But why haven’t we had a holodeck episode, or time travel intrigue in so long? Do the writers not even CARE? I guess 900 years is enough for a while, and a mention of transporter buffer will have to do…
Sat, Feb 4, 2023, 1:40am (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 11, 2023, 2:45am (UTC -5)
And yes, by commanding Detmer to pilot a shuttlecraft to almost certain death, Michael Burnham does grow up. That they didn't rub it in our faces with lots of words does not mean it did not happen. That she was replaced by the United Earth General, who was further saved at the spur of the moment is immaterial. Burnham has no way of connecting the good outcomes back to her actions -- these outcomes were pure luck. Burnham was ready to sacrifice a crew member / friend, to save a galaxy. Burnham of the past three seasons would not have sent another person to their death to save others. What Troi learns in "Thine Own Self", Burnham learns in this season.
The clear parallel set up to Kirk and the acceptance that Burnham needed to change seems to revise the past three seasons as an expected part of growing up, attempting to exonerate all the "luck" (writer/plotting help) that Burnham received as a phenomenon that will occur in a large universe -- just by statistics, there will be outliers on the lucky side, outliers who will develop brash personalities like Kirk and Burnham, who will not be able to accept no-win scenarios, and will increase danger to themselves and their crew by believing that their lucky streak will continue.
These are discussions that have occurred repeatedly in Star Trek of course, and this season attempted to rewrite the entire series as a prolonged four-season entry in the franchise deliberating the same discussion. I think this is a very interesting and subtle way of accepting past narrative mistakes, weaving them into the story and turning around an extended storyline.
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