Star Trek: Discovery
Air date: 11/18/2021
Written by Michelle Paradise & Jenny Lumet & Alex Kurtzman
Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Discovery's fourth season begins five months after the events of last season's finale, and opens with a self-aggrandizing gesture on the part of the crew on behalf of the Federation, with Burnham and Booker delivering dilithium to a former Federation world not contacted since before the Burn. These mistrustful "Butterfly People" don't want to have anything to do with the Federation, but Captain Burnham is here, and she won't take no for an answer because, well, We're the Federation and We're Here to Help. (I dunno, maybe start with people who have asked for or even want your help? I'm sure they're out there.) This isolated curtain-raiser is played for some light comedy with its alien contact gone awry and misinterpretations over Book's pet cat (at least this show isn't taking itself excessively seriously), but it also features some interminable shoot-em-up action that feels really rote and obligatory and requires the Butterfly People to be conveniently awful shots (not to mention pointlessly hard-headed). And after this endless barrage, they stop firing because ... why?
Overall, "Kobayashi Maru" is fine, with things about it that are good, even. The plot is a straightforward if overdone peril-and-rescue scenario in which the crew must come to the aid of a Federation space station that's spiraling out of control for mysterious reasons. This plot, naturally, makes use of the convenient device of excessive interference that renders the transporters useless (still a problem in the 32nd century!) and therefore requires a much more protracted and dangerous operation. The rescue must be attempted by boarding the space station after flying through a violent debris field while Discovery's shields are endlessly buffeted and weakened and the ticking clock counts down. As these sort of Trek staples go, with the camera shaking and the sparks exploding, it's reasonably well executed, with a certain effective intensity. But little stands out here for good or ill — which is a big improvement over much of last season's closing episodes.
On the margins, the writers do some world building as we see efforts to re-establish Starfleet Academy, bring additional member worlds into the Federation, and spread the gift of dilithium (mined from Su'Kal's dilithium-rich planet) to worlds who have been cut off from each other for centuries. Yes, the Burn and its cause last season ended with that disastrously disappointing thud of an explanation, but at least the writers appear to be using its primary effect — the collapse of the Federation — to mine some stories about what we're going to do now to try to rebuild it.
The story also introduces the new president of the Federation, Laira Rillak (Chelah Horsdal), a character who seems suspicious of and antagonistic to Burnham's leadership methods. At first she comes across as a thorn in the side, but at the end she has a good exchange with Burnham where she points out Burnham's compulsive need to save everyone. She invokes the lesson of the Kobayashi Maru as a leadership reality check. I would commend this willingness to challenge Burnham's savior complex, except I don't expect anything resembling a would-be character flaw to stick to this character. (This is the same Burnham, after all, who last season was demoted for being untrustworthy, then contemplated leaving Starfleet, but was then elevated to captain because her unorthodox methods ultimately paid off. Unfortunately, this was not so much a character arc as simply the writers just picking random stopping points off a map and then calling it a journey.)
There are also a few scenes where we catch up with Saru on Kaminar, which seem to be setting up his imminent return to Starfleet. Su'Kal assures Saru he no longer needs to remain on Kaminar to watch after him now that he has a home among Kelpiens (even if some on that home are still suspicious of him for having caused the Burn). These scenes are functional and didn't do a ton for me — and I'm wondering why the writers bothered to send Saru to Kaminar in the first place if they were simply going to immediately bring him back (yeah, I know; they needed to provide an excuse to give Burnham the captain's chair) — but they serve their purpose and get Doug Jones into the episode.
Meanwhile, Book heads to his homeworld of Kwejian where he visits his brother and nephew and they enjoy the beauty of their world. This ends in cataclysmic tragedy (and sets up what I presume is the season's big sci-fi mystery and universe-ending threat, as this episode ends on its cliffhanger), when a catastrophe of unknown origin rips through the solar system. The final shot is of Kwejian utterly destroyed, including the presumed death of Booker's brother and nephew. Just when you thought the stakes were getting less galaxy-threatening, they go and blow up a planet.
Some quick additional thoughts:
- This episode seems to do a better job of spreading the wealth among the supporting bridge players, which is nice.
- Burnham to Booker, when the Butterfly People seem poised to attack: "Do your empathy thing."
- President Rillak's makeup design is basically that of a smoothed-out non-gray Cardassian, which I guess hints at some distant Cardassian ancestry? If so, I liked the subtle approach of how this is not remarked upon within the dialogue at all. I wonder where the Cardassians are within the current affairs of the quadrant.
- Olatunde Osunsanmi and his director of photography seem to look for any excuse to turn the camera upside down, in this case because of the issues with the space station's gravity, resulting in everyone walking on the ceiling.
- I expect this season's reviews (and, indeed, likely all future reviews) will be shorter than in years past. With all the new Trek seasons airing over the next year (Discovery, Prodigy, Picard, Strange New Worlds) and my hope — repeat, hope — to review all of them, I'm going to have to sacrifice detail and dial back the length if I hope to maintain any sort of pace and/or sanity.
Previous episode: That Hope Is You, Part 2
Next episode: Anomaly
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84 comments on this post
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 2:35am (UTC -5)
Someone important is going to die before the end of the season. The President laid out Burnham's arc leading up to it. I wonder who?
This show is so far from its mean-spirited first season and I am HERE for it. Imagine this was the first-ever episode of Discovery. You'd be excited, yes? All lessons finally learnt by the team in charge, maybe?
. . . Is this Discovery's Way of the Warrior?
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 6:48am (UTC -5)
I entered this premiere with the least enthusiasm I've had yet for this show, after season three's finale` left me ice cold. Which was ironic, because the whole season had felt so low-stakes that I thought there was no way the last episode would seriously alter my feelings about the show one way or another.
So, I was sort-of-pleasantly surprised that I encountered a watchable episode of television. Not a high bar to clear mind you, but still I didn't leave with negative thoughts about the upcoming season, which is what you want from a premiere.
Things did not look good initially. That entire opening scene was *extremely* Kelvin-Trek disposable right down to the forced banter, and felt like it existed purely because some writer or producer said "we need to open with a BANG!" rather than having a story in mind. I think back to "Brother", the season two premiere. That (good!) episode saved its biggest action set piece for the midway point of the episode, and thus got way more mileage out of it, because it felt like the stakes were escalating and we were watching it with context.
Whereas here... well... I can think of a million better ways you could answer the question "So how's that rebuilding of the Federation going?" than this video game cutscene trash. And then once we were back on the ship, everyone's reactions just felt completely unjustifiably smug with cheesy grins and Burnham-worship all round, and I was almost ready to just switch off and call it a day on Disco.
But I stuck around, and found some things to like. Tilly had finally been promoted (as she should have been last year) and some of those bridge members who were completely unknown actually got some lines and characterisation. We got more Oded Fehr playing just the best admiral ever, which is always welcome. And we finally met the Federation president, who was curiously missing last year.
The rescue mission storyline of the episode wasn't exactly pulse-pounding. Frankly, Disco has gone to this well too often. There was a genuine novelty and excitement in the show's go-for-broke production and writing, and willingness to turn up the action and VFX up to 11, in the early seasons. But in season four, we're way past the point of novelty. We've had four (!) new Star Trek shows now, and whilst I respect Disco's clear desire to be "Action Trek" (or "Kelvin Trek, the TV series" if you like), the execution has been far too wobbly for far too long. Good action (like in the aforementioned "Brother") needs to be short, sharp, in context, and with a sense of stakes, and I was struggling to care too much about anything that was going on with the wayward space station.
But the high point of the episode, and its redemption, I think, was the Federation President's final critique of Burnham's style. It was a well-acted and well-written scene, and is hopefully the beginning of a character arc for Burnham that will make her more tolerable. I like SMG's performance as a whole and think she's a more than worthy actress to carry the show. But the endless worship of the character by other characters *must end* because frankly it's just annoying to the audience. (BTW, what happened between her and Stamets between season 3 and 4? Because at the end of season 3 he seemed to have serious and justified beef with her, and I didn't really see any sign of it here.)
2.5 stars for "Kobayashi Maru". I still don't have high hopes for the season, but wouldn't it be great if I was wrong!
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 7:39am (UTC -5)
The opener before the title was great. Sort of a Trek episode in miniature, with the crisis identified and the crew working collaboratively to overcome the problem. It sort of reminded me of the beginning of STID (which was the most enjoyable portion of that movie). However...it didn't really have anything to do with the remainder of the story - except perhaps re-establishing that Michael is unable to cut her losses and just keeps rolling the dice to see if she gets sixes.
Then there is the long, slow period back in Federation HQ which is (IMHO) a bit too self-indulgent and kinda grinds things to a halt. There were some nice character moments peppered in here, but in the end there would have been much more economical ways in terms of run time to establish the current status quo and introduce the Federation President as a foil for Burnham (I'm so happy though this season has a foil rather than a villain).
The second "crisis" on the Deep Space station was straightforward enough - Trek bread and butter- and I thought it was executed well. The cutaways to Book and especially Saru really deprived the end run of the episode of momentum however - though at least we know the Book sections had a payoff. It feels like Saru was here just to let Doug Jones get paid for this episode, and they could have just shunted those scenes into a later episode.
So yeah, there were two great Trek plot staples which could have held up entire episodes, along with a lot of shaggy and largely unnecessary filler. I suppose the season must have tons of ideas for later on if they crammed so much in here, but...I just don't get why they felt this was the best structure for the season premier.
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 8:42am (UTC -5)
Hmm. Still, there was something kind of different about the vibe of this one. Kind of more tightly wound, more workmanlike, more...retro. The setting feels a lot more daily-life and bright than it was last time. I could easily see a patient, episodic Enterprise-like show about solving crises coming out of this.
You aren't in my good graces quite yet, Discovery, but this is the most potential you've had since episode 1.
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 9:29am (UTC -5)
Pacing - schizophrenic. SMG - still can't act. Burnham - still *wildly* unintelligent. Twists - still telegraphed far in advance. And it all still wants to have the stakes of the MCU or similar, so now we've got whole planets being wiped out of existence by a huge Negative Space Wedgie. Because exploring deep space, discovering new civilisations, that's boring. No, we've got to have galaxy-ending stakes or GTFO. Because [reasons].
There was some good. I liked the scenes on Kaminar with Saru and Su'Kal. Music cues (particularly the "Archer's Theme" redux when they show the new space dock) and VFX were great, as usual. Occasionally the dialogue strayed into being actually good rather than irritating. There was the odd cool touch from the director's chair.
Overall, a definite 'meh' out of 10. Not the worst episode of STD, but no "An Obol For Charon" either.
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 11:24am (UTC -5)
Genuinely glad it sounds like the overall feeling of the premier is positive.
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 11:55am (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
And then we get to the episode proper. It's been four seasons, so I've come to accept this will never be the Trek I liked in the 90s. So fine, we're still doing the perpetual goofy grinning. At least the new Federation president is there to talk some sense into Burnham and her savior complex.
Of course, this being Discovery... By the end of the season, Michael will undoubtedly be proven right all along. That's how this show works and I can accept that.
What I *do* find hard to swallow is the astonishingly unprofessional behavior of Dr. Culber. Entering an emergency situation and instead of performing triage and treat the wounded, he stops to call for and check on the people he knows. So much for doing your d*mn job.
The Federation preisdent
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
"wouldn’t it have been nice for the powers that be to have considered the fans who support the show a little more"
If they cared about actual Star Trek fans they would have made a very different show.
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
It had both action and characterization -- without leaning too much into maudlin areas. It really did feel like Star Trek.
Highlights for me were the banter between the President and Burnham; the Rescue; and, of course, the music from "Enterprise" when the "Archer" was mentioned.
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 2:29pm (UTC -5)
I thought the opening was fun, and I kind of wish that's what the show was. The USS Discovery traveling to former member worlds and trying to re-establish Federation relations. I hope that we see more of that in the future.
I wonder what will happen with the Federation President. I can't really tell if they're setting her up to be some wicked evil person like the Starfleet admirals from the old shows, or maybe she's got good intentions, but she's just kinda shady.
I feel like this show is going to benefit from making Burnham captain. Past seasons have had to bend over backwards to make the whole show about her, but sometimes it didn't really make sense because she was just the science officer of a ship. Since Discovery is Burnham's story, I feel making her captain will gel better with the writers' vision for the show.
I don't know. I'm mostly just rambling, I guess. I liked the episode. Excited for next week.
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 2:48pm (UTC -5)
The writers have a *vision*???
There's been precious little evidence of anything that you'd even charitably call a vision in three seasons so far. Just a bunch of stuff thrown at a wall and then the bits that stuck to that wall sort-of linked together with a whole lot of witless dialogue.
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 3:01pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 5:59pm (UTC -5)
Star Trek: Discovery season 4 episode 1
“There is no danger of another Burn. The Science is clear in that regard.”
2 1/2 stars (out of 4)
A relatively competent and remarkably spare start to the fourth season (budget cuts?). The episode has a comforting sprinkling of nostalgia, but it is clear we are going for the same annoying season-long arc that will resolve the next Big Mystery in probably the last few minutes of the season finale. Ho hum.
The good news is that we get a new character, President Rillak, played by Chelah Horsdal. I am a huge fan of her work in Man in the High Castle, and she brings so much of that grit and spunk to the role of President here. She is definitely a huge step up from Admiral Cornwell back in the first few seasons.
Speaking of Admirals, nice to see that they kept Vance around. He was one of the few bright spots last season, and its wonderful to have him back.
The episode begins with a clever dual homage to two of the Chris Pine Star Trek movies. It is not quite as fun as either the opening to Into Darkness, or Beyond, but it is pretty good. The Monarch Butterfly is hilarious. Which is huge, as we've seldom had any really good humor from this show.
The episode also brings back the wonderfully colored uniforms from The Original Series. So good to see some yellow on this show! The departments get the colors from TNG-era rather than TOS, but that’s cool, I suppose.
But then Discovery makes the same big mistake it has made ever since launch four seasons ago. They skip past all the good stuff.
When we left the crew at the end of Season 3, there were maybe 3 dozen worlds, and we had just got warp speed back. Skip ahead to this episode, and we’re at almost 5 dozen member planets. The Academy is reopened. All the wonderful interesting work on rebuilding the Federation and its institutions is skipped over. How cool would it have been to see the election for President, as we got with Baltar in nBSG?
What we get instead is Burnham Gives A Big Speech.
I get it, the show wants to be an adventure series, and I suppose the hard work of actual diplomacy, politics and world-building is too boring for the target demographic.
The next sprinkling of nostalgia comes on thick with Archer Space Dock, where new ships will be built to Seek out New Life and New Civilizations. We even get the Enterprise theme music as background. Man that was some terrible music. I’ve caught a few episode of DS9 and B5 recently. There was a time when TV actually had a great score. Alas those days are long gone.
The crux of the show is, as I said, fairly well done. We check in with a various crew members. Suru is still the most interesting person on the crew. He's back home, an honored elder among his people. Tilly is still fat and clueless, but sweet in her own way - endearing I think is the word. Tal talks to herself, or her dead boyfriend’s ghost. Stamets seems to be trending fast towards the inevitable Stamets-Stammers pun. We get cursory checkins with Owo, head-band pilot girl (what’s her name?), asian guy who gets to sit in captain’s chair sometimes (what’s his name), blond chic who hides behind a console on the bridge (wait, didn’t she used to be bionic girl - what’s her name?). Needless to say, the issues we had with giving characters their characteristics have not been fixed. Which is sad, cause they had started to get that worked out, especially with pilot girl’s PTSD.
Shit show. That’s Earth for bad.
What they do a fairly decent job on is the core mission, and especially the commander of the Deep Space station (why no DS9 nostalgia music!). The Commander reminded me a bit of that guy in nBSG, who took over the Pegasus after Admiral Cain was killed. Bumbling engineer not quite cut out for command. I liked it. Morn is on the station. I cracked a smile :-)
The crux of the season long arc is that the President doesn’t think Burnham has the experience needed for a bigger command. That, and some magical storm keeps wiping out things like the Deep Space station and Book’s home planet (whoops!). Obviously the crew of Discovery will solve the one Big Mystery by the end of the season. And by amazing coincidence, solving the Big Mystery will also convince the President that Burnham is qualified for the bigger command. But then Burnham will turn down the big new command because Discovery is her family.
If this all feels a bit paint-by-numbers, well that’s because it is.
That’s not to say it isn’t a decent hour of TV.
Lord knows the season 4 opener entertained me far more than any Foundation episode has (booooooring!). But there is nothing new here. What could have been new and interesting - the rebuilding of the Federation and the creation of its institutions - has been skipped over, much like Burnham’s time in jail, or the Klingon War (while our crew was off in some alternate universe).
Yes, everyone is a bit more chill, a bit less annoying. They take their time filming an Interstellar-docking like sequence. Which is nice. But the fundamental flaws in the show stem from the structure of the season-long-Mystery Box and Burnham-as-The-One. Jumping forward 1000 years hasn’t changed a thing.
If you want real change, check out Star Trek: Prodigy. Now that is a fun cartoon!
Oh yeah, one more sprinkling of nostalgia I forgot the mention. The title of the episode is Kobayashi Maru. Aside from 90 seconds of dialogue, it basically has nothing to do with the hour. Surprise, surprise.
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
a lot of things seem to have been - finally - corrected. an ensemble cast with lines. an attempt at actual universe building, by having everything play on a larger canvas. a noticeable urge to "be trek", somehow.
so, as far as all that is concerned: much appreciated.
but it becomes increasingly clear to me what my central problem with the show is:
i do not like michael burnam. and thats putting it mildly. now, i cant say how much of it is the actress and how much of it is the writing, so for the time being, out of respect i want to stay with the hypothesis that its just the writing.
i really dont know what theyre thinking. i do get that theres motives of encouragement, representation and all that behind it, and as far as that is concerned, i absolutely agree. that is a motive as trekkian as it gets.
but why oh why are they continuing to overdo it this way? for three seasons now, the character of michael burnam has come across as downright narcissistic. theres so much here, again, that feeds that dynamic, its just awful. that overly grandiose speech. always being right. always being the one who saves the day. always being the one who has to overcome some random authority that doesnt yet get that, drum roll, burnam knows best, and she knows that she knows best.
its so incredibly, unbearably annoying. i will continue watching because i love trek and am happy to "make myself like" any trek for something they do right. but boy oh boy, how much more would i like this, if they take their foot of that goddamn burnam knows best pedal.
why cant she make mistakes. why cant she be wrong sometimes. sisko was often wrong. janeway was often wrong. why cant she be conflicted and uncertain, why cant she put into positions where she has to rely on others to save the day? picard had to, all the time. picard wouldnt have to go "shuttle repair bot, i am piloting! because, didnt you know, I HAVE THE MOST EXPERTISE, if i may rub that in your face for a moment, mrs. president".
"oh, and btw, I SAVED THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE. oh, and btw, WHERE WOULD THE FEDERATION BE WITHOUT ME!"
they really make her say that kind of stuff. out loud! what the hell are they thinking? its bordering on hatewatching, thats how narcissistic this comes across at times. certainly, that can not be the goal.
so, 3 stars for the episode and the general development as a whole. but sorry: half a star at best for how they continue to write the character of michael burnam. the half star is for at least saving us another scene where she cries about her own, universe changing, limitless importance.
on the other end of the spectrum, btw: david ajala. that toned down moment where he realized his world was gone (again, discovery making the mistake of burning out mid way because of too high stakes from the get go, but whatever) - that quiet shock: top notch delivery. the unforced nature of his banter: nice. the switch to commited seriousness and heartfelt emotions during the scene with his nephew? not easy to pull off, perfectly executed.
so yeah, it can be done. write burnam more like that guy. or if its not just the writing, hold a trek internal ted talk about the appeal of showing some actual humility.
Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 9:35pm (UTC -5)
The opener, the first 10 minutes, laid out a theme for me, and I caught it easily. I have been re-watching Next Generation and in fact watched All Good Things today. The idea that Burnham is dead-set against using force even though they are being attacked, and trying to the utmost to find a purely diplomatic solution (and succeeding) makes a point: they seemed like they were setting up the "Next Next Generation," Burnham taking the role of "Diplomacy Starship Captain."
Indeed, the words Next Generation (and of all things, the orchestral Enterprise end credits theme) appear in this episode. This is typical easter egging for a show like this that is expected, but "Kobayashi Maru" sets its sights a bit higher, and (like 'Ardra' from "Devil's Due") dresses it up in lots of flair and theatrics. And honestly, it suits it.
The uniforms now being recognizable Star Trek colors but with the panache of the Wrath Of Khan treatment is a nice touch too. And when I first saw President Rinnak, I just assumed she'd be treated as the "Special Guest Jerk" that so many Star Trek episodes had used; she was not, and indeed proved to be far more of a character (and well acted too!) than I thought. And then it occurred to me;
They're riffing on tropes of the series, instead of just playing the tropes straight. And they're basically calling all cars, here; they're unifying all of Trek under this sort of "umbrella." This is a flagship series, now. It took some getting there, but if Season 3 didn't shake your inertial dampers, then Season 4 looks ready to dig in and say "This is Star Trek." I'm liking what I'm hearing and seeing. They are doing the right things.
I noticed something else too; this episode was not afraid to get long winded with me, and by the glory of all that is good and sacred, I can now hear the dialog for the first time since this series started. And this is a point in its favor too cuz there is a lot of talking in this episode but it's talking that *needs to be there.* ...I can't shake the feeling that they spent a long time rewriting this episode and to it's benefit; this comes off as crafted, polished writing compared to the first 3 season's haphazardness and mystery-boxiness. Add that to the fact that the long-winded scenes are punctuated by fast action scenes that don't overstay their welcome, along with sciencey stuff about doing repairs and whatnot... the episode just takes so many angles. It's like a Star Trek ep with the works, all the toppings. Delicious, I say.
... Someone on that staff spoke up. And good for them. This is actually very compelling writing and well acted by all involved. Well shot. Well lit. Well edited. Well scored.
If this isn't 3.5 then I can't say what it is about it that would drag its score down, for me. This is excellent. It is very very talky, but it's good talking, and I liked it. It also covers a lot of bases for a lot of characters in a short time (52 minutes).
Color me cautiously optimistic (again) that Disco has grown up. If Season 4 stays like this, I'll be a happy Trekkie.
Fri, Nov 19, 2021, 7:18am (UTC -5)
The events in Discovery just happen, one after the other, often at insane speeds, and the audience is expected to just passively take it all in. In TOS or TNG there was something for the intellect to engage with, the methodical, reasoned way the crew and ship functioned. The way that the Discovery crew operates might as well be at random, since we aren't given the information to be able to assess the problem or the solutions that are plucked out of thin air. They might as well be superheroes, and when they are constantly exchanging glances and smiles, and handed praise from nearly everyone they happen to meet, I gather we're supposed to idolize them almost like superheroes.
Fri, Nov 19, 2021, 8:11am (UTC -5)
At some point we're shown a big new ship which I think is supposed to be "Voyager". The ship was so shiny that I couldn't really make out its features, curves, and lines. I feel like every new ship is just going to be a giant flying lens flare.
I liked the rescue mission story and how they injected the Federation President into it. I didn't like the "WE'RE ALMOST GOING TO DIE" part of it, but that was needed in order to force the confrontation between Burnham and the President, so I can forgive it. They just have to be sure to not go to the whole "we were .5 seconds away from death" well every episode.
One thing that worries me is that the whole "Gravity Swirl" thing is going to be the thing for this season. It's a tired formula for Discovery. A mysterious threat slowly revealed throughout the season and ultimately resolved in the final episode. I don't want that again. Instead, tell the story of rebuilding the Federation. Show the struggle of implementing good in a world where many planets are still recovering from "The Burn". Show evil actors rushing to fill the void and butting heads with the Federation.
Overall, it was quite watchable and entertaining. It has me wanting to know what the next episode has in store.
Fri, Nov 19, 2021, 9:00am (UTC -5)
It's interesting that the president isn't a total pain in the ass like admirals tended to be on TOS/TNG. The Kobayashi Maru discussion was excellent -- FedPres tells MB she can be like a pendulum or a wrecking ball, that she has to accept what is beyond her control, that leadership is about balance, and that she was prepared to sacrifice the many for the few. MB says it all worked out, asks her to define "ready" -- MB gets defensive (as one would expect her to). DSC wants MB to be the hero we all come to respect like Picard, Kirk etc. but I think it knows that the way to go about it is to not just make MB over-the-top heroic, know-it-all, flawless.
The rest of the episode was mostly mechanical -- some gravitational distortion whatever seems to be bombarding planets, space stations with frozen methane. At this stage, DSC can have its cake and eat it -- it doesn't have to provide answers and can do whatever it wants with exposition. So these kinds of episodes fare better than later ones where some answers need to be provided (which usually end up being letdowns).
So the Federation is trying to rebuild itself by giving out dilithium with no strings attached. This seems kind of hackneyed -- probably a ton more could be written about the diplomatic aspects of rebuilding the Federation. MB and Book nearly getting killed by the butterfly people was just to tick one of the many action scene boxes. The FedPres should be the one negotiating these things as she showed her diplomatic abilities in deterring Nalas from phasering Tilly/Adira. The FedPres must be the child of a human and Cardassian -- not unlike how Torres is the child of a Klingon and a human.
A few random observations: Ian Alexander's character is annoying -- couldn't they have ditched him and the issue Adira has? But I suppose DSC wanted to tick a box for the non-hetero fans. Who knows if it will have any plot significance. There was a side-view of Tilly when she was talking with MB and it looked like she's gotten even bigger. Is she pregnant?
Not sure what's going to happen with Saru on Kaminar -- Su'Kal says Saru doesn't have to stay with him any longer on Kaminar. Saru was always for me the most classic Trek-like character on DSC so I hope he continues to play a prominent role somehow.
3 stars for "Kobayashi Maru" -- something for everyone I think in this pretty good episode overall. Ends with a good cliffhanger as the planet Book was just on is getting destroyed. Nothing too significant to shake a stick at and the continuity from last season helps to make things feel a bit more familiar. So far so good for DSC S4.
Fri, Nov 19, 2021, 2:34pm (UTC -5)
The first half of the first episode of season 4 of Discovery was great. The Federation has started to rebuild itself, and we saw Burnham reach out to inhabitants to another planet (even when the action was rushed and Burnham and Book never get shot of course), and they reopen the Starfleet Academy.
But then there is yet another undefined super dangerous danger event (tm) out there that our valiant crew has to solve. Didn't we just go through the Burn already? I'm getting so tired of these big events larger than life. Why can't we concentrate on Federation and Starfleet building for a while. That is much more interesting and rewarding.
The final scene where the president critiques Burnham on taking too many risks and not find balance in commanding a starship was good. But I won't hold my breath that this will change anything in Burnham's behavior.
I'll still watch as the show is still entertaining. But it would be so much better if you didn't have to turn off your brain to enjoy this show.
Fri, Nov 19, 2021, 5:40pm (UTC -5)
Also, super excited that you hope to review Prodigy. It is a fun break from the ongoing Marvelification of scifi.
Fri, Nov 19, 2021, 5:45pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 19, 2021, 9:46pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 19, 2021, 9:47pm (UTC -5)
(Yes, I'm aware it can be a continual effort.)
Hopefully Strange New Worlds will be more like the show we want Discovery to be, and maybe then people will be more friendly to the idea of letting Discovery be Discovery and do its Discovery thing.
(Like imagine if DS9 had been the successor series to TOS instead of TNG. We'd all be pissing and moaning asking for TNG no matter how awesome DS9 did with the idea of being DS9! You follow, yes?)
. . .
Heads up, Discovery will be going to the Andromeda galaxy using "the Pathfinder drive" next season after whatever this gravity crisis thing is gets resolved. You heard it here first.
Fri, Nov 19, 2021, 11:51pm (UTC -5)
To quote Admiral Janeway, "I'm deeply concerned about what has just happened here."
Wait a minute.
Ok, so 1. This is a budget buster. Covid has sucked the coffers dry a bit here, and lots of things had to be scaled back. That's why we get one really good effects scene at the start and the rest of the ep depends more on practical effects.
2. They used that part of it to highlight something:
That speech President Rillak gives Burnham.
Isn't that what you all wanted someone to say to her? Did the producers of Discovery just not give you exactly what you all have been clamoring for since the start of the series? Someone to say "Michael, this sort of cowboy diplomacy will not easily be tolerated anymore."
So why are the same band of usual suspects still piling up on this point, that Michael Burnham is basically Captain Mary Sue of the USS IKickAss? This is a fanfiction joke that is as old as FanFiction, which is to say as old as Star Trek. Yeah I said it. Look it up.
(Fanfiction is probably older than startrek but the slang term originates in our fandom)
That speech that Rillak gives Burnham echoes a lot of what's been said around here about the character. So? You gonna give credit where credit is due, or just wrinkle your face and talk about how you think they're still gonna get it wrong?
Hm? An adrenal gland. Quite a troublesome thing. Consider having it removed.
Fri, Nov 19, 2021, 11:52pm (UTC -5)
So what's its raison d'etre? From what I can tell it's to be a sub-par action-adventure show with no interesting ideas of any kind. You want me to get behind that? What for?
If Discovery wanted to be BSG or B5 and succeeded even 10% in doing so, I'd be thrilled with that. Those are great shows with great, imaginative ideas and they aren't Trek. I don't need Discovery to be TOS or TNG or even Star Trek.
Sat, Nov 20, 2021, 12:18am (UTC -5)
i do. it wants to be a story arc show, with huge mysteries and high stakes.
it basically wants to be, as tom rightfully noted, BSG or B5.
the problem is that it horribly fails at both. its like a B5 with a too short attention span. imagine B5 going "ah, this ominous threat, the shadows! so important! ...oh wait, lets do a parallel universe episode for some shock value! ...oh, we still have that shadow war thing to clean up, ok, heres an two parter, done."
its as if BSG built up a story crescendo that finally resolves in "and it was all because of some kid that threw a temper tantrum. that doesnt really have anything to do with cylons, but you know, hey, science!"
but most importantly, neither B5 nor BSG had a lead that would almost break the fourth wall while yelling "I saved the universe!" or "where would the federation be without me" :-D
yes, that new president basically held the speech to burnam that we wanted to hear. the problem is that its played for the president being misguided. the show is basically doubling down on its leads narcissism. just you wait, burnam will show the president the error of her ways. they will tease a "could the president have been right after all?" moment, but eventually, The Burnam Superiority will prevail.
Sat, Nov 20, 2021, 3:01am (UTC -5)
Yeah, that's pretty much what I'd say it's raison d'etre is: one heavily serialized story per season, with lots of blowing stuff up, and a clear focus on a single main character rather than being a true ensemble show. It's fine to criticize Discovery for failing at doing that well, or simply not measuring up. It definitely doesn't measure up to either of the examples of BSG or B5 (very little does, let's be honest!).
It's specifically the comments lamenting about how "oh here we go again, chasing another mystery box, why can't they just--" that I noticed a lot of people above making, to which my comment is addressed. I don't see the point. You might as well be saying "oh here we go again, they're on that spaceship, why can't they just pick a planet and stay on it!", ya know? It makes about as much sense to complain about, the way I see it.
. . .
I don't think it's wrong to hold Star Trek: Discovery to the same high standards as BSG and B5. The first two words in the name of the show are Star Trek, after all.
. . .
Know how that aforementioned Pathfinder drive that's going to send Discovery to the Andromeda galaxy next season works? Michael Burnham goes outside the ship and gives it a push. Ha!
Sat, Nov 20, 2021, 3:51am (UTC -5)
By the way, some people wrote that they liked it that somebody called out Burnham for her Jesus complex. Did that not happen several times already? I believe Sarek and Saru said that in some form to her. Maybe others too.
Sat, Nov 20, 2021, 4:25am (UTC -5)
Sat, Nov 20, 2021, 7:18am (UTC -5)
As I've been rewatching, I've realize that the experience has soured me on Paramount+ Trek. I've been watching Disco and Picard out of a sense of obligation, hoping that they'd become great shows. I don't hate them, but the bad writing has prevented me from feeling invested in the stories or characters. As each season ends, I've been hoping for signs of improvement in the next. And while there's been some progress, the show is still lacking that magic spark that makes it compelling.
If anyone is enjoying this show, I'm happy for you. Clearly, some people are. But I get the overwhelming sense from the reviews and comments here that we're just accepting mediocrity because it's "Star Trek". I don't want Discovery to become just like "The Expanse", but I do hope the writers look to it for lessons on how to tell serialized stories.
Sat, Nov 20, 2021, 8:18am (UTC -5)
As for the episode more broadly, it seems like a "meh" one to me. It wasn't terrible, but I seldom find Discovery's season starts particularly terrible. It's only over time as the mystery box plot is revealed to be nonsensical, character growth is non-existant and contrivances need to show up on every corner to wrap loose ends that the show reaches its full potential. No interesting concepts were explored, and the central character conflict has been done before and we know how it ends (as a tip for writers, "you always want to save everyone!" should be retired as an alleged character flaw. Nobody's buying it).
Sat, Nov 20, 2021, 10:32am (UTC -5)
Sat, Nov 20, 2021, 12:19pm (UTC -5)
IMO this indicates that the show hasn't been a streaming hit outside the US.
I bailed on season 3 once the crew returned to the Mirror Universe. I told myself I'd return if Jammer found some good episodes, but his ratings for the show have been low since then.
Sat, Nov 20, 2021, 3:04pm (UTC -5)
yes, i know what you mean. but yes, i also agree, that its not too much to ask to compare this to BSG or B5. this is star trek after all. as a showrunner, you wont get much more budget and temporary armor from cancellation than this. also, in todays world of serialized storytelling, the incredibly big, complex and nuanced universe of trek (that used to be considered a problem, back in the days of episodic storytelling with a "newbies need to be able to tune in at any point" directive) is a massive plus.
so much could be done with this. it just would have to be done right. when you think about how a show like game of thrones needed to spend essentially 2 and a half seasons, just to make the viewer aware of all the parties involved, where a trek show could basically just start telling its story, knowing that theres millions and millions of viewers around the world who know what a cardassian is, could tell you the name of the romulan secret service, and give you a detailed overview about at least half a dozen different houses i mean planets with their species (but also houses on the klingon world)...
it is such an incredible opportunity. and what do we get? the michael burnam show.
and @dreubarik, oh yes...i talked to my brother (another trekkie) yesterday, and i tried to hold on to my out-of-respect-hypothesis that its more the writing than the actor.
he says its the opposite, and after some argueing back and forth i must admit - hes probably right. shes just a really really really bad actress. a good actress will smooth things out, even if the writing is sloppy. if you step into one writing trap after another like she does, without correcting and adjusting the tone, at some point, the actress is to blame, i guess.
worse even, my brother thinks that this whole narcissism thing, thats her. his claim was that one can see it in her eyes, that she totally digs that whole burnam-is-the-best schtick. that she probably thinks that this is a good way of doing encouragement, representation and what have you.
which, again, in principle are goals that i could not agree with more. but thats just not how you do it. can someone *please* show them anything from ellen ripley to sarah connor to kathryn janeway as a showcase how you can do a "strong female" trope *without* turning that person into a marvel superhero caricature?
its really a shame, because its one of the things i always liked about scifi - that at least as far as strong female leads were concerned, you had a lot of them, sooner than in most other genres. but this is just...not how you do it.
ah well...i have made my peace with the fact that i will basically have to compartmentalize my DSC watching into one part "oh look, theyre really trying to get back to trek universe building now" and one part burnam-hatewatching and enjoy that through a layer of irony ;-)
but yeah, BSG or B5 (or the expanse, too) this aint. not even close.
maybe they should just hand the entire franchise to mr. moore. oh my, would he know what to paint on that canvas...
Sat, Nov 20, 2021, 4:06pm (UTC -5)
"that she probably thinks that this is a good way of doing encouragement, representation and what have you."
Let's not forget that she is an actor, not the director or one of the two dozen producers or the showrunner. If these people wanted it they easily could make her act differently.
Sat, Nov 20, 2021, 5:31pm (UTC -5)
So nice when I get to see my points instantly demonstrated before my eyes.
Here's a sci-fi premise for you. A group of space explorers meet humans for the first time and are shocked at how obsessive and emotional we are...
Oh yeah that's Star Trek
I'm really getting tired of being the only one on any forum about anything with anything nice to say. People whine too much.
Sat, Nov 20, 2021, 7:23pm (UTC -5)
"this whole narcissism thing, thats her. his claim was that one can see it in her eyes, that she totally digs that whole burnam-is-the-best schtick. that she probably thinks that this is a good way of doing encouragement, representation and what have you."
I noticed in the credits that she and another actress are now producers. Is this a new situation or did I just miss it before? It seems to explain a lot, considering what happened with Patrick Stewart when he started to get involved in Trek production aspects rather than simply acting.
Sat, Nov 20, 2021, 7:29pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Nov 20, 2021, 7:59pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Nov 20, 2021, 8:27pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Nov 20, 2021, 9:08pm (UTC -5)
Another character who pointed out Burnham's messianic complex was her boyfriend Booker.
Sun, Nov 21, 2021, 3:20am (UTC -5)
So imagine my surprise when I saw that there was a review for Discovery’s first episode of S4. I’d completely lost track of the show’s return.
At the end of S3, I’d decided I wouldn’t continue watching Discovery. It’s simply not my cup of tea, and there are so many shows out there that I enjoy a lot more.
That being said, I decided to read Jammer’s review and see what his response was, along with all the comments. On that basis, and not having watched the episode, it sounds like Discovery is Discovery and will continue to stay that way. So, for me, nothing has changed. I have no interest in S4. However, I’ll probably keep reading Jammer’s reviews since I enjoy them.
Also, wow! I hadn’t seen the news about Paramount+ and pulling Discovery from Netflix for viewers outside the US. IMHO that’s an awful move, at least so close to the new season’s release.
For those like me who aren’t watching the show anymore, it doesn’t make a difference. And I couldn’t care less about Paramount+. For everyone else (fans as well as those on the fence), I assume many won’t want to wait and will end up pirating the show since the wait seems pretty long (add in some righteous indignation because the show got pulled so close to the start of the new season). And once Paramount+ launches, asking for money, I wonder how many will actually end up doing that.
I’m kinda curious what this will mean for ST: Picard. Pulling it from Amazon and adding it to Paramount+ seems like the most likely move, assuming Amazon managed to secure a better deal than Netflix that wouldn’t let them pull the show at such short notice.
On a separate note, can’t wait for the launch of Witcher S2.
Sun, Nov 21, 2021, 4:35am (UTC -5)
But to me this first episode of season 4 showcases that she's also bad. She made every line far worse than it should have been. And it isn't about excentric delivery either (I'm actually quite fond of actors like Shatner and Brooks who just go different routes, for one because people in reality don't all speak like professional actors) it's just her cartoonish emoting and the lack of weight behind the words. It's not overacting, it's just wrong and meaningless, like secondary school acting. IMO this is a huge problem for a captain character.
@Booming I'm also very much in favor of using shows to promote diversity, but I think it's hard to deny that some of the pressure generated by the progressive commentariat is having negative effects on writers, who seem genuinely scared to write a diverse character with actual flaws for fear of being criticized. Of course, this is completely self defeating because flaws are essential for viewers to love a character (unless you are a 5 year old). As with the original Star Trek, these writers and commentators have heard of Gramsci but never bothered to understand any of it: If you strive for social improvement, your cultural framework needs to subtly permeate everything to become hegemonical, not be a performative flashy exercise rammed down people's throats. Of course, a lot of the people repulsed by the diversity on NuTrek were always racists, but I genuinely think some are being pushed way farther to the right than they were by how badly this whole thing is being handled.
Sun, Nov 21, 2021, 6:50am (UTC -5)
"I'm also very much in favor of using shows to promote diversity"
Let's keep in mind that for a long time Trek shows didn't even portray diversity as it was, far less promoting it. One could certainly argue though that considering the racism and sexism at the time putting even one black woman on the bridge is promoting diversity.
Neither TOS nor TNG portrayed the diversity of the USA at the time and even less the diversity of earth. With DS9 and Voyager it gets a little more accurate in portraying diversity (of the USA). Enterprise was again far less diverse. So one could make the argument that putting in several shades of LGBTQ people and more women than men is justified. What bothers me is that they are not doing anything interesting with their LGBTQ characters like finding a smart way to highlight specific trans or gay issues. Instead they played an awkward pronoun game and did the "kill one of the gays" trope then brought him back. Now we watch them being boring. Furthermore, as others pointed out Michael Burnham is not a strong female character. She often acts on emotion and the believe that she knows better than everybody and blunders her way to complete victory. Many mention Ripley who was a well balanced strong character. Clear headed but not cold-hearted who could get emotional but in situations that called for it.
"who seem genuinely scared to write a diverse character with actual flaws for fear of being criticized."
Burnham is a very flawed character. From disobeying orders, mutiny to starting a war. The show just decides that it doesn't matter. She goes from commander to dishonorably discharged to captain in three years. It's just stupid nonsense. Let's not try to find deeper meaning in nonsense. Her character makes no sense. Look at the stuff Kurtzman has written: Transformers 1,2 ; the Mummy; Amazing Spiderman 2; Star Trek into darkness. These are all terribly written nonsensical trope festivals and the transformers movies are really sexist and racist. Maybe they thought that there was an audience out there for their show of the tokens. Maybe there is?
"As with the original Star Trek, these writers and commentators have heard of Gramsci"
Kurtzman is a multi millionaire. Martin-Green as well and I'm sure that is true for many of the producers and actors. These are all rich people, living in a bubble. Why do rich bubble boys and bubble girls promote certain topics? So that they can justify their status, especially to themselves. What is really promoted here? Anti capitalism or any kind of economic commentary? No, it promotes respect and fair treatment for minorities or pro diversity, if you will. That is just liberalism.
"a lot of the people repulsed by the diversity on NuTrek were always racists, but I genuinely think some are being pushed way farther to the right than they were by how badly this whole thing is being handled."
Well, if a stupid sci fi show can push you towards racism then you are really just a leaf blown away by the slightest gust of wind. Meaning that if a show promoting diversity in an annoying way (and it is pretty annoying) makes you more racist then there is probably something else wrong with you or the country you live in.
Sun, Nov 21, 2021, 10:42am (UTC -5)
Sun, Nov 21, 2021, 11:31am (UTC -5)
Sun, Nov 21, 2021, 11:51am (UTC -5)
I have feeling Jammer would much appreciate the high concept story-telling in Foundation than this trite ST: Discovery, god awful show I can barely sit though and watch :/
Sun, Nov 21, 2021, 2:24pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Nov 21, 2021, 4:14pm (UTC -5)
I would have picked 3 or 3.5 stars for this solid entry for a season opener. It contained several Trekkian familiarities and was even well-executed in some of them. Rescue mission, annoying but not-so-wrong superior officer (President here) nagging the show's hero during crunch time, some worldbuilding to launch a new season, great dialogues between the crew for problem-solving (that scene of Burnham coordinating with the bridge crew through a state of emergency under the watchful eye of the President was a Trek-y as it gets for me.
Visuals remain great in the show, though I'd like the directors to take it easy on the upside down (this episode had way too much of this) and spinning-round shots - my dear Jonathan Frakes, that includes you too ! !
Last but not the least, with even Georgiou gone from the show, it's great to have just Discovery's bridge crew as the sole main cast without a bunch of extra cast taking up major time.
Sun, Nov 21, 2021, 10:08pm (UTC -5)
1. It’s a good thing I wasn’t feeling sick when watching, otherwise I may have puked. I don’t understand why it is necessary to move the camera around so fast.
2. I kept yelling at Burnham to sit in the damn captain’s chair. She is always standing in front of it. I was actually surprised she wasn’t initially on the away mission. For a moment I thought “Wow, she is actually going to allow the other members of the crew to solve a problem.” Then of course, she has to get involved and save the day. As soon as she was about to leave, I yelled at the screen “Your place as captain is on the bridge”. I appreciated that the president challenged her on this, but unlike when Troi pointed out it was inappropriate for Riker to lead the away team in BOBW Part 1, she left the bridge to save the day anyways.
3. As for Kobayashi Maru, this season to me is a failure if she does not truly experience the “no win scenario”. Kirk had to experience this in The Wrath of Khan (losing Spock), and then in the Search for Spock (losing David). If as everyone else has already predicted Burnham ends up right, and the president wrong, the show fails for me (moreso than it already is).
Mon, Nov 22, 2021, 12:04am (UTC -5)
"writers, who seem genuinely scared to write a diverse character with actual flaws for fear of being criticized"
This has really become a problem, and certainly not limited to DSC.
These days, if you see, say, a fight between a woman and a man, you can rest assured that the women is going to win. If you have a couple of diverse people and one white guy as suspects, guessing who it's going to be is about as hard as if you watched an 80s action movie and one of the suspects was a Russian :-D
Now, I don't have a problem with this on an "identity basis" - arguably, after having a free for all for all these decades, The White Man can certainly endure an appropriate amount of karma for quite a while. Consider it revenge for 3 decades of making women play damsel in distress 😄
But I do have a storytelling problem with it: It kills any suspense when you know how it's going to end or that character X can do no wrong because of attributes Y and Z.
So here's hoping that they realize asap that at least that kind of default plot armour needs to go. Actually, one could argue that allowing these people to not always having to be perfect superhumans with epic martial arts training and the smartest scientist brain in the quadrant, that would indicate actual equality much more than this constant, weird marvelization of them.
Mon, Nov 22, 2021, 6:47am (UTC -5)
Of course there are "ways" to watch it. But for the time being I won't bother.
Will keep visiting this nice place and if there are signs of a drastic improvement well.. I might... "sshhhhh" ;)
A drastic improvement of course would be to replace the lead character with a likable one and get some decent writing. One can only hope.
This is the first time I do not care to watch a ST series. I remember buying whole seasons of second hand videotapes for DS9 and VOY since no channel was showing them in Greece. Ok, truth to be told I wasn't caring much with Disco's previous seasons either, but they were available in Netflix so the Trekkie in me kept watching and hoping!
Mon, Nov 22, 2021, 3:19pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 22, 2021, 3:54pm (UTC -5)
DS9 has been aired in Greece in the late 90s. At least up to the third season.
Mon, Nov 22, 2021, 6:57pm (UTC -5)
And some early seasons of TNG.
But that was all.
At the beginning I bought only the TNG "movies" (the two parters) but it was really expensive to buy the whole thing.
Then I wanted to continue watching DS9 and discover VOY.
So I bought second hand official tapes from ebay, which I also shared with people at work "helping" 2 of them become ST fans.
As for TNG , I managed to watch the full series in Netflix just 2 years ago !!!
We are talking about a LOT of tapes, 14 seasons of them, that after having watched them I didn't know what to do with. I even tried to give them for free to some sci-fi shops but nobody really wanted them as the VhS era was pretty much dead.
It was even worse with X-Files, apart from 2 seasons most of the rest I watched in tapes recorded by friends from US and UK.
We can now watch (legally or not) whatever we want. Every damn show from the 400+ that are made each year is available on line. But back then in Greece it was tough to watch this shows.
Mon, Nov 22, 2021, 11:38pm (UTC -5)
So many shows now tell epic serialized stories so much better than Discovery does -- Watchmen, The Expanse, Foundation, heck, even WandaVision and Loki (two shows with franchise constraints).
Discovery squanders its talent, budget and freedom from broadcast/FCC limitations and stretches out humdrum mysteries of the week into entire seasons with no real character stakes. I hope this season is better.
Tue, Nov 23, 2021, 3:44am (UTC -5)
if you want to find the study
look for: Young and Pinsky "Narcissism and celebrity" (but it could be university access only)
Tue, Nov 23, 2021, 9:45am (UTC -5)
Tue, Nov 23, 2021, 4:40pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Nov 23, 2021, 5:36pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Nov 23, 2021, 10:53pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Nov 23, 2021, 11:57pm (UTC -5)
Season 2 was a bit of a story mess and the details are a little fuzzy in my mind.
Wed, Nov 24, 2021, 1:32am (UTC -5)
. . .
Discovery is in the future because if Section 31's AI, Control, that it uses to analyze intelligence to determine what operations to undertake, is able to assimilate the database of a hundred-thousand-year-old probe that has been wandering the galaxy and collecting data for all that time--the so-called sphere data--it will become sentient and nigh-omniscent, and decide to wipe out all life in the galaxy. Burnham's mother, experimenting with time travel, went into the future past the point where this had happened, and became anchored in the future, from where she made trips back in time, arranging circumstances in Michael's timeline so that she and Discovery would be in position to receive the sphere data instead. But the Control of the future found out about it, and decided to do what it could to attack Discovery in the past and get events back on track, although its ability to act without causing a bootstrap paradox is limited. When Discovery figured out what was happening, they tried to destroy the ship, but the sphere data protected itself and would not let Discovery be destroyed. With very little time, and gambling that with the sphere data's advanced knowledge the Enterprise wouldn't be able to destroy Discovery in a fight, the only option seemed to be to send Discovery and thus the the sphere data into the future past the crisis point, causing future Control to cease to exist, at which point present Control could be safely contained and dismantled, since its future self was not protecting it any longer.
. . . I think.
So there's a reason why Michael Burnham was oh-so-special (Spock's sister, etc) in the first two seasons of the show: her life had literally been arranged by her mother constantly revising her timeline. In fact, she'd intervened to save her life when she'd gotten herself killed by being stupid more than once. At the time, I actually thought this was a *really* clever, sci-fi way of accounting for the unlikeliness of the character and addressing the criticism of fans from the first season.
And then they just went ahead and wrote her exactly the same way in season three.
Discovery's crew evacuated to the Enterprise when they were going to blow the ship up to destroy the sphere data, and then originally only Michael was going to go, and Discovery was going to follow her on autopilot. But then a lot--not all--of Discovery's crew decided to go with her. This might seem unlikely . . . but, they're Starfleet. Boldly Going is what they do. They went into space to explore. They didn't go out there to avoid exploring because it means they wouldn't be going home. The future is a hell of an attractive thing to explore. Still, it isn't exactly said, but it's indicated in dialogue that a decent number of her crew elected to stay behind, and that some of the Enterprise's crew volunteered to go in addition to Nhan. So, while Culber definitely wasn't CMO in season one & two, and Reno definitely wasn't chief engineer, they might be ever since the jump to the future if those officers chose to stay behind?
Anyway. I've watched season two of Discovery twice, which is two times more than some of you and one time more than a lot of you, so I'm pretty sure I've got it right. But feel free to correct me or fill in gaps. :p
Wed, Nov 24, 2021, 3:34am (UTC -5)
For me, though, what is even worse is that the event that kicks the plot into gear is in itself inconsistent: It is by warning the past that Michael's mother creates the event that allows Control to step into the past to try to get control of the sphere. This is fine and dandy if you adhere to the "fixed timeline" interpretation of time travel (ie "The Arrow of Time") in which you can't change the future and attempting to do so only creates self-fulfilling prophecies.... but then Discovery manages to stop control and change the future! This follows the "multiverse theory" of time travel (ie "City on the Edge of Forever") by which changing the past creates alternate futures. But if so, then the future seen by Michael's mum would never have been one in which Control had taken over, since that alternate timeline is only created after she travels to the past.
And yes, Star Trek has always been inconsistent about the mechanics of time travel... but not within THE SAME STORY! The writers either forgot or thought they were being clever without having the gray matter to understand any of this (and almost for sure hadn't planned anything ahead) but the whole thing is just so incredibly dumb that it hurts to think about it.
Wed, Nov 24, 2021, 5:30am (UTC -5)
OMG. It's like putting your head into the microwave. Hahaha
The reason for this nonsensical storyline was probably this:
"Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg resigned as showrunners after production on the fifth episode, after the budget for the season premiere overran, and reports that they had become abusive towards the show's writers,  though in the latter case, independent corroboration from any "abusee" has, as of 2020, yet to materialize anywhere."
Wed, Nov 24, 2021, 12:21pm (UTC -5)
Any time travel story is full of plotholes. If you really think about the events postulated by any one of them, they don't make sense. They can't. It's a fun mental exercise to pick them apart anyway, and I enjoy doing so as much as anybody!
Georgiou destroyed the representation of future Control that was in the past. Presumably future Control still existed in the future. It's an AI, after all. It can be in two places at once.
Yes, Michael's mother's jaunts to the past allow future Control to step into the past. But without her jaunts, events unfold in their natural order, which leads to Control getting the sphere data, evolving and destroying all organic life. She didn't cause Control getting the sphere date by allowing future Control access to the past. That's what was going to happen. She's trying to prevent it, and future Control is trying to ensure things go as they were supposed to.
An argument could be made that a specific set of events don't have to be especially momentous or portentous as long as they're the specific set of events that lead to the desired outcome. Chaos theory, yes? The Kelpians are just a butterfly flapping their wings in the space battle, and yet it's those specific wing motions that move the wind in just the right way it needs to be moved for the battle to be won.
The New Eden people were saved by Michael's mother, seemingly not as part of the grand plan, but because she could. It is by learning this that Michael starts on the path to discovering the truth about her mother, which leads Discovery on this entire adventure that results in defeating Control. This is why future Michael sends her past self to New Eden. It isn't about anything the New Eden people can do, it's the fact of their existence that matters. (And yes, I realize that future Michael sending her past self anywhere to put herself into the position that allows her to send her past self anywhere is the bootstrap paradox, which Control has to avoid, but which Michael apparently doesn't for some reason. Perhaps because she's creating a time loop INSIDE a time loop . . . or perhaps because she's Michael Burnham and the laws of the universe don't apply to her.)
Wed, Nov 24, 2021, 3:51pm (UTC -5)
Discovery isn't even on Netflix anymore and I'm kinda thankful they spared me forcing myself through enough season of it out of some misguided loyalty to Star Trek. I'm certainly not paying for another streaming service to watch it (or risking pirating it) - It's simply not good enough and there are too many far better shows around.
Wed, Nov 24, 2021, 6:56pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Nov 24, 2021, 7:32pm (UTC -5)
Seems like the holier-than-thou attitude popping up again -- what are "actual Star Trek fans"?? Is it by definition that to be an actual Star Trek fan, one must loathe DSC? That's ridiculous.
I'd like to consider myself an actual Star Trek fan or just a Star Trek fan. I would not say I loathe DSC but simply recognize it is a different product from classic Trek. I think it has some serious fundamental problems on its own (I won't reiterate them here), but I would definitely say that DSC can still come up with a pretty good hour of television every now and then.
I guess I'm not interested in those who are just here to hate on DSC whether or not they watch it. I enjoy Jammer's reviews for taking an objective, unbiased approach (as I see it).
Wed, Nov 24, 2021, 7:35pm (UTC -5)
That post was being sarcastic, at least that's how it came across to me. And he/she has a point. Why are so many of us (myself included) still watching something we loathe, for the most part?
Wed, Nov 24, 2021, 8:56pm (UTC -5)
I came back out of curiosity to read how s4 was turning out since I won't be watching it (dropped by Netflix here etc). For me it's got steadily worse and I had pretty much given up on it.
I think expecting any dramatic changes by this point is unrealistic. I might the quality might go up a bit or down a bit but for me the quality was so low (with a few exceptions) that by this stage it's just not going to be anything I'd watch. I can't imagine they're going to suddenly change half the cast for some actors or fire the writers and get some writers - stuff like that.
I mean I'm not a fan of animation at all but I've actually given the Lower Decks a chance and it's not that bad really. Certainly less irritating that DSC.
Not long till Season 6 of The Expanse and unfortunately not long till that wonderful sci-fi series is finished. I was rewatching a few episodes the other day and wondered how a crew consisting of a freighter pilot, a lazy XO, a gangster and an engineer/minor terrorist can seem more competent and professional that the Starfleet Academy trained semi-military crew of DSC.
Thu, Nov 25, 2021, 4:11am (UTC -5)
Don't know where you're located but season 4 will now be on Pluto TV (free streaming app) from tomorrow in various places that don't have Paramount. Loads of ads though!
Thu, Nov 25, 2021, 6:56am (UTC -5)
Again, it was purely a response to the username "Star Trek fan", not some kind of effort by me to define the pure Star Trek fan. If he had posted a misleading comment about polar bears as "Polar Bear" I might have said "Actual polar bears ...". This is not because I am obsessed with a sacred definition of polar bears but because I would be responding to the name he used.
I don't lose any sleep over criticism of Star Trek fans, and I agree with STF that Discovery is terrible. But it just seems obviously inaccurate to say Star Trek fans are all mindlessly lapping up Discovery. That just isn't true.
Thu, Nov 25, 2021, 9:52am (UTC -5)
Got it. Thanks for the clarification.
Yes, DSC just isn't good Trek, as far as I'm concerned, but I'm sure there are those who are lapping it up. Good for them. They are Trek fans too.
Thu, Nov 25, 2021, 9:55pm (UTC -5)
(a) Everybody associated with Discovery in the past being ordered not to talk about Discovery. Why is this necessary? Wouldn't you want to acknowledge the sacrifice the crew made by leaving everything behind? And why wouldn't you share spore drive technology once Star Fleet was able to make contact with Voyager in the Delta Quadrant?
(b) How the window on the blast door of the Enterprise withstood a torpedo detonation.
I don't know why I continue to watch the show. I suppose it is so I can read Jammer's reviews, and listen to The Greatest Discovery podcast, and to vent with other people here on this website. I honestly think Michael Burnham is the worst main cast Star Trek character ever written (Yes, worse than Neelix). It's really tough to like a show when you despise the main character. The thing is I really like the rest of the cast (Saru, Stamets, Culber). I always have this false hope they will do more with supporting cast, but it never happens.
Fri, Nov 26, 2021, 3:12am (UTC -5)
a) The spore drive hurts the great space fungus!
b) The blast door is really really strong. It's so strong they could even put a window into it. That's how much faith they have in that blast door!
Sun, Nov 28, 2021, 3:05pm (UTC -5)
@ Frank A. Booze
"And why wouldn't you share spore drive technology once Star Fleet was able to make contact with Voyager in the Delta Quadrant?"
Could it be that this was writtens some years after Voyager ;-)
Sun, Nov 28, 2021, 10:15pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Nov 30, 2021, 8:41am (UTC -5)
I'm still wary of their tendency to try lean on convoluted action sequences that feel like the producers think they need to jingle keys in front of the viewers to keep them interested. Also, they gotta relax with the pyrotechnics on the bridge. I definitely remember explosions and sparks flying on some past shows but there's one set of flames that keep coming out like it's a monster truck show.
2,5/4 for me. Would have been 3 if it weren't for the butterfly alien chase.
Thu, Dec 2, 2021, 11:45am (UTC -5)
Again, Georgiou destroyed "future Control," not "past Control." Future Control had already destroyed all life in the galaxy before it went back in time, so destroying it did nothing. I suppose everyone could have said "All right, nevermind! Georgiou destroyed Future Control so it's not protecting Past Control anymore, we can just go kill Past Control now and forget this jumping to the future business!" but presumably Future Control could still send more copies of itself to the past to protect Past Control, and then they're back where they started. Remember they're already deep within a causal time loop at that point. Discovery going to the future is the only set of circumstances that prevents any party from making any revisions to the latest set of circumstances because it definitively breaks the entire loop. It's getting the dice to fall exactly the way you need after hundreds or thousands of attempts. then immediately smashing the gameboard so that final result is the only one that stands.
I know, I know. You can "But what about ____________ ?" forever when it comes to time travel stories, and not every single one can be answered. This is why I said no time travel stories make sense the more you think about them. Altering chains of cause and effect always makes logical reasoning fundamentally break down at some point.
To your other points . . .
1) It's really just the people who knew what was actually going on who were ordered not to talk about Discovery. That circle is smaller than you think: it's those Discovery crew members who stayed behind, the Enterprise bridge crew, and Ash Tyler. Admiral Cornwell is the only member of Command who knew what was going on, and she died. Tyler is the only member of Section 31 who knew what was truly going on who survived.
Remember that when we were first introduced to Discovery, it was a highly classified experimental research vessel. Everyone who signed on would have known they might never be able to talk about their work or even their posting there at all. They were prepared, and were screened, for that.
Pike never told Starfleet Command what really happened. He's the one who ordered the remaining people "in the know" to never speak of it. It was considered too great a risk--and there's precedent for cautious decisions like this in Star Trek. The idea is somewhat akin to the eventual Temporal Prime Directive. Pike instead reported Discovery lost in a catastrophic spore drive failure. That was the thus the second ship Starfleet had lost with all hands to the spore drive in two years. In response, Starfleet marked the spore drive project as "does not work" and discontinued it.
That strains credulity a bit, because over the past two years we'd seen that the spore drive DID work, and work WELL, and Discovery used it A LOT, and Starfleet (and the greater universe, or at least the Klingons) were well aware of it. It's a major piece of technology with incredible advantages for Starfleet. It doesn't seem like they'd abandon research into the field despite any number of setbacks given a proven proof of concept.
But, on the other hand, remember Discovery only ever got the spore drive working through an unlikely set of circumstances involving a space tardigrade and genetic engineering of humans, which is of course HIGHLY illegal in the Federation. Starfleet may have felt that Discovery's ability to get the spore drive working was near-impossible to replicate, and that it was pointless to try if it ultimately failed and destroyed Discovery anyway.
I'm still not quite sure I buy it. I think Starfleet would have continued parallel lines of research. But, that's the excuse the show is asking us to believe.
The Starfleet of the 23rd century recorded that there was a ship called Discovery, and that it was lost with all hands in the year 2259, with no other elaboration or any other details about any kind of spore drive or anything like that. Those details were buried in highly classified databases somewhere. And after The Burn, the Starfleet of the 31st century lost those databases (or at least access to them), and so did not know anything about it.
It still seems unlikely that "whispers of the Starfleet ship that could jump anywhere, and it was named Discovery" wouldn't proliferate out, especially among the Klingons, and find its way back to the Federation through tales, holodeck adventures, songs, etc. You know, culture. Tall tales, like vampires or Paul Bunyan. But Klingons like to exaggerate and tell tall tales, and it's a weird universe. There are probably hundreds or thousands of such tales. Think of all the stories told by sailors during the Age of Exploration--how many of them do you think have carried forward and remained in the public cultural consciousness? Far fewer than there were originally, probably.
2) I assume closing the blast doors completed a circuit that allowed a set of internal forcefields to spring into place. We saw this technology during the destruction of the Shen Zhou. So it isn't the blast doors themselves that withstood the power of the torpedo blast. They still lost a large section of the ship, but not the whole ship.
Tue, Jan 25, 2022, 3:54am (UTC -5)
I think I enjoyed the intro more when it was better known as the intros to ST:Into Darkness and ST:Beyond...it's almost been lifted beat by beat. They already borrowed the basic visual design, harried pacing and StarWarsian action though at least Discovery tries to push the envelope by treating us to not just one cliff jump, but two.
Thank God Saru seemingly isn't sticking around on Kaminar after wiping Su'Kal's butt for 5 months... it will be good to see him in action again even if not as Captain... all that BS about him surrendering his captaincy for THAT is a sore spot that I will try to shut up about from now on...but no promises.
It's also good to see they kept Admiral Vance around, and Book seems to be coming into his own as a new central character, and may even become the authentic emotional center of the entire series. I'm not missing Ash Tyler at all.
I don't believe there's such a thing as "too much" diversity, but it would be nice to see some decent straight while males with speaking roles. Because right now, they're an endangered species and you have squint really hard at the back row of the extras to spot one -- blink and you'll miss them! The one prominent SWM character so far is a pudgy unhinged dude who needs to rescued by all the women of Discovery, and who is so insecure that he needs to point a phaser at his rescuers to get his way. Did I mention that he's supposedly the guy in charge of the space station and all its crew...which makes this course of action all the more laughably absurd. He's definitely not a flattering tribute to his kind and it's almost a mercy that he is summarily squished by a falling bulkhead. But maybe this is intentional?
And look, I get it. SWMs have been unfairly hogging the limelight for too long and it was time for a change. But you'll sooner get them on board with the new regime with a marginal slice of representation and good will. Because otherwise you get accusations of being divisive and alienating old time Star Trek fans. To be fair, it's possible that what's happening here is that the show-runners are so incredibly woke that they're afraid to portray any characters belonging to a marginalized identity group (which just so happens to encompass the entire cast) with any irredeemable flaws such as being incompetent or evil lest it be perceived to be a statement on that whole identity. Therefore the only "safe" choice is to have SWMs fill those roles. Even so, I doubt a little balance would hurt.
SWMs Maligned or Killed So Far: 1 (both in this case)
Fri, Jan 28, 2022, 7:07pm (UTC -5)
New uniforms are confusing. Is Burnham the only red tunic on the ship? It’s like they don’t have a single other command officer. And is blue the new color of engineering? That’s all Stamets and the others there seem to wear and that can’t be right even for a science vessel if they’re just repeating TNG. It was red in TOS and gold in the 24th century shows. Fine by me if it’s blue now; seems more fitting that engineers would fall under the sciences division.
This was 2 stars for me. Very routine peril, boring scenarios, no deep character moments or connections, dumb shock disaster ending. Burnham has suddenly become dull as a captain.
The Federation president on the ship felt like one of the irritating Federation officials who used to ride along on TOS episodes. That made me smile for a second.
Also, not to seem regressive, but does every single authority figure now on this show (other than the admiral) need to be a woman? From Osyraa to the Fed prez. Maybe this Trek is marketed more to women than past shows, but it’s really noticeable this season and I miss the gender balance on shows like Voyager. There’s not a single straight white male in a major role on the ship. I also miss Saru‘s thoughtful male presence on the bridge!
Sat, Aug 27, 2022, 12:59am (UTC -5)
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