Star Trek: Discovery

"Rubicon"

3 stars

Air date: 2/17/2022
Written by Alan McElroy
Directed by Andi Armaganian

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Rubicon" talks a lot about "finding common ground," which is an admirable sentiment in our polarized, bifurcated times. But what does that actually mean for macro-level decision-making originating at the top of a chain of command and expected to be implemented by those at the bottom? There's a point in this episode where a shuttle mission is undertaken to bring in Booker and Tarka before they can complete their rogue mission to destroy the DMA, and Rhys grumbles his position of sympathy for Booker. Bryce argues the rogue mission is likely to end in a life sentence. Culber quells the matter by introducing a point of common ground between the officers. But the question that should've been pressed here (as Saru points out) is whether Rhys can carry out his duties and complete the mission while putting aside his personal feelings. Having an opinion is fine, but openly questioning your mission while you're in the middle of it is ... well, not. Common ground does not really apply to doing your job, so this sentiment feels slightly misplaced here.

Meanwhile, Burnham finds herself in the thorny position of having to be the one to bring in Book while she's also the one in love with him. It's a clear conflict of interest — so much that Admiral Vance brings in an objective outsider who is given the authority to enforce the mission's parameters in the event Burnham loses her objectivity and can't complete the mission. The stakes are seen here as too high to simply leave it to emotional error. The objective outsider turns out to be Commander Nhan (Rachael Ancheril), last seen in third season's "Die Trying," at the end of which she returned to her homeworld. The reunion here brings back a recurring character in a fairly satisfying and effective way.

On the whole, "Rubicon" is a well-executed series of cat-and-mouse games between Discovery and Booker/Tarka, with the suspense upped by the parameters of the personal stakes and the ticking clock. Book and Tarka are very close to being ready to deploy the isolytic weapon, and only Discovery now stands in their way. Burnham has to figure out how to stop them, starting with a hopeful, last-ditch appeal to reason before moving on to potentially deadly force (but first a lot of warning shots). Meanwhile, Stamets attempts to predict the rate of the DMA's consumption of raw materials in its current region of space, with the logic being the efficiency of the DMA will deplete all available resources before deciding to go somewhere else. If Stamets can provide that estimate, perhaps Burnham can use that information to convince Book to stand down while the first-contact plan is undertaken.

As a straightforward premise, this works well, and the episode manages to get most of the details right, with conflict aboard Discovery as Burnham tries to come to grips with the fact she may have to choose duty over personal feelings by firing on Book — and conflict aboard Booker's ship as Tarka continues to play the part of the wild card, making tactical moves that he hasn't bothered to clue Booker in on. The action plays out as classic tactical space combat, featuring some technobabble that lies on the engaging end of the spectrum.

With the title being "Rubicon," ending this without the isolytic detonation would probably play as false advertising. Still, there are some details here that could've been handled a little better. For starters, if the stakes really are as high as they're alleged to be, Burnham indulges Booker far too much in talk when she should instead be doing everything she can to simply disable or, yes, destroy his ship. And then, of course, once she does convince Book to stand down, Book's inability to secure his own ship's controls from Tarka allows Tarka to unilaterally deploy the weapon himself, out of his sole self-interest. (I wish the details of these failures didn't have to look so much like people dropping obvious balls.) On the other hand, making all this so personal creates character stakes that are more central and interesting. Even Tarka, the ostensible villain here, is a three-dimensional character with very personal and internally justifiable reasons for his actions. Turning the DMA into the catalyst for differing ideological approaches was a smart idea that continues to pay dramatic dividends.

But Tarka's efforts are all for naught. The isolytic burst collapses the DMA ... but within a matter of hours it comes right back as if nothing had happened, because its power source lies not at its core as Tarka had theorized, but on the other side of the wormhole that was constructed by Species 10-C. And now 10-C knows someone is tinkering with their mining dredge. So what will that mean for the first-contact mission, which may now be interpreted in a much more hostile light?

"The encounter could create a time paradox, the result of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the space-time continuum and destroy the entire universe!":

  • This episode had some of the better-visualized tactical space maneuvering on this series in a while, but I still think they throw too much colorful sparkly nonsense in what should be a more nuts-and-bolts "here's where the ships are" approach to visual composition.
  • T'Rina wants to have dinner with Saru, and Saru is terrified of the possibility of going out on a date. Culber tells him to stop being an idiot. This is mildly amusing as disposable subplots go.
  • After having watched this episode, last week's seems even more like a boilerplate two-star outing, so I'm revising down its star rating.

Previous episode: All In
Next episode: The Galactic Barrier

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30 comments on this post

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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Feb 17, 2022, 2:49am (UTC -5)
Good episode. Fun cat & mouse spaceship battle. Michael acts like a captain for once. She's even almost in control of her emotions. Saru gets an actual part. Culber gets to continue being the MVP of this cast, both character and actor.

. . .

BURNHAM: Can you crunch faster?
STAMETS: Is there any acceptable answer other than yes?
BURNHAM: . . . No.
STAMETS: Then yes.

Heh.

. . .

We get our entire recurring bridge crew, even Linus. Even the new guy . . . Christopher? And honestly, I would rather have these guys on my screen any day than Tilly, Adira, or Gray. If we have to choose (which, by budget, it seems we do, at the moment).

. . .

Can Nhan stay? Didn't realize how much I missed her. Also, the show could really use another alien main crew member.

. . .

This episode felt like it actually had stakes. The crew doesn't want to go against Book and Book doesn't want to go against the crew. But, circumstances. And everyone does their damn job anyway even though you can see by the acting they're pretty upset. And speaking of, David Ajala plays this really elegantly. He never lets Book come off as the bad guy, or irrational, or "too far gone." No maniacal sense of purpose or righteous zeal. Not even a hint. He makes it so you feel for him, every step of the way, even though you (as the viewer) probably think he's wrong.

And the show finds a way to get the DMA blown up (as we all thought it probably would be) without Book having to either actually do it or else concede that he was wrong and give up.

. . .

Do we think Nilsson is the second officer? It's always her in the chair when Burnham and Saru step out. Actually, once it was Rhys while she was present, I think. But usually it's her.

. . .

So Disco has a cloak. Sure, okay. I get it. They're just too tactically useful, and of course the Romulan Star Empire is no more and Romulans are in fact Federation members now. So no treaty banning their use. Still, it's a philosophical change for Starfleet. "We don't hide or go sneaking around the galaxy. We want you to see us and say hello." It was a philosophical choice as much as it was ever a constraint by treaty. Still. Way too tactically useful. I get it. It's realistic they would be used.

. . .

I'm wondering if this will be wrapped up by the end of the season. I'm thinking maybe not! Cliffhanger? I'd be okay with that. I don't want them to rush.

. . .

Alternatively, Disco might find itself in Tarka's universe? I don't really want another alternate universe plot. Been there, done that. But they're going somewhere with this. Instead of Chekov's gun, it's Chekov's paradise dimension. This isn't going to end with "oops, you never made it, now you're in jail!" or the like.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Feb 17, 2022, 7:31am (UTC -5)
Better than last week, but still, not Discovery's finest.

I'll start with the positive I guess. Once again, this is a cohesive episode which tells a simple story, and (aside from the little romantic subplot between Saru and T'Rina) there's really no fluff here to muddy things. The paring down of the core crew to Michael/Saru/Stamets/Culber makes this show feel might tighter. I suppose having Nhan come back is a good thing?

I liked the idea of using the tension between Michael's duty and her love for Book as a dramatic element in theory. However, in practice, it just doesn't work out. Part of it is how completely loving/accepting the two of them still are despite their differences. Relationships are boring without tension, and it really would make sense if one or the other of them was a little...I dunno...angry and resentful maybe? Keeping their overall commitment is fine, but there's not even a smidge of hurt feelings, or even irritation here. Real long-term relationships do not work that way. It would be vastly more interesting to see something like Miles and Keiko at loggerheads in a major crisis than this is.

But the worse aspect is the writing tells us Michael is right, even though she's clearly wrong. It is clearly a flaw if you cannot put your personal feelings aside when it comes to duty, but Michael continues to say "there must be a middle ground!" And the story almost gives it to her, until Tarka decides to take solo action. At that point it's clear the mission is a failure - Michael had the chance to kill Book clean, and couldn't do it, so now the Federation must suffer with the consequences of her sentimentality. Yet Nhan doesn't point this out to Michael, instead having a weird heart to heart, and implying that she made the right call in the end. WTF?!? I mean, we know as viewers that all is not lost here - that Species 10-C will not destroy the Federation - but why not let the episode end on a sour note and let Michael's actions have some negative consequences in the short term - even if it's just a dressing down and her standing falling in the eyes of Starfleet. This mission was a failure, so let it end on a sour note.

A minor niggle, but the way they shoehorned in Nhan also bothered me. We already weirdly have two captains on a single ship, and now a commander giving orders to a captain? The writers don't really care about rank at all do they?

Like some others, I'm tiring of the season arc. So little has been revealed about Species 10-C to date, which is because the writers are way more interested in the interpersonal dynamics between Michael and Book than they are the threat itself. I'm preparing myself to be underwhelmed - finding out it's some misunderstood humanoid species that had no idea they were hurting anyone. But I'm still hoping maybe they're dark matter aliens or something more interesting instead.
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Eric Jensen
Thu, Feb 17, 2022, 10:05am (UTC -5)
Much better than last week. Very tense, very suspenseful. They conveyed their motivations and actions very clearly. I get the sense that Book IS very reasonable. If only we knew more about 10C. Lack of information...
I very doubt they made first contact. It is like, the technology didn't work, let's put it back.
Nhan, very good character. We needed a foil.
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Peter G.
Thu, Feb 17, 2022, 10:42am (UTC -5)
Nhaaaaaaaan!!!!!
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Norvo
Thu, Feb 17, 2022, 3:24pm (UTC -5)
I'm glad we finally got some progress after 75 percent of the episode felt like we were spinning our wheels again. The writers even teased us with the whole "give us one week" before Tarka went and fired anyway. Nice bait 'n switch.

Michael letting Saru lead the away team for once was refreshing but *of course* no one can do anything right without her direct involvement so ultimately she had to be the one that convinced Book to stand down. Whispering your speech over the com in an empty shuttle...

Bryce and Rhys arguing in the shuttle like bickering children is so unbecoming of Starfleet officers it's embarrassing.

Culber might be the show's MVP, but how about Stamets crunching the numbers *and* working the spore drive at the same time?

Why is the DMA reappearing at the exact same spot proof they made first contact? That's jumping to conclusions, even without a sporedrive.

I guess we'll never going to actually meet the 10-C aliens, right? We'll go for the big, mysterious unseen threat that will get shut out of our galaxy eventually by means of pure, uncut technobabble. I so hope I'm wrong here.
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Harpohara
Thu, Feb 17, 2022, 3:46pm (UTC -5)
It was better than last week.

Enjoyed seeing a Nhan back but she should have fired on book.

The theme of middle grounds worked fine except it wasn’t realistic.

I just don’t look forward to DISCO episodes. I think maybe it tries too hard to hit the emotional notes and underwhelms with its season arcs. Last year case in point. This year I’m dreading the worst. If you don’t invest the time in species Ten C then there won’t be a satisfying pay off when they are finally revealed, short of brilliant acting, which DISCO lacks.

I did at least like the twist at the end where the DMA reappeared, they are back to square one and this time with a a disastrous first contact situation.

I hope they can do something good with this. Instead I fear we will get Mickey/bookey part one hundred and i don’t give a rats ass.

We are very far away from TNG and DS9 here in terms of story telling (and I want DISCO to succeed). Prodigy is far more original and engaging and hitting the right emotional notes.
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The Queen
Thu, Feb 17, 2022, 5:25pm (UTC -5)
I didn't actually think this was that much better than "All In." I still feel like I can predict everything that's going to happen, because Disco doesn't take risks. I mean, it wasn't a bad episode, but the supposed suspense never caught me. I never believed Book was in danger or would really set off the bomb. And when Burnham presented the "we've got a week" compromise and NOBODY acknowledged Tarka, I knew what would happen next.

I keep thinking there's more to Tarka than we've been shown, but I guess it's just the fine acting there, because the script isn't giving any clues. But if he turns out to be Lorca Revived, I wouldn't be shocked.

"Why is the DMA reappearing at the exact same spot proof they made first contact? " Good question, that did seem like a nonsequitur to me. My forecast: The boronite miner is automated, with an automatic reset, and the dark matter aliens aren't even monitoring it.

I sure hope the writers understand that "outside the galaxy" doesn't mean "in magic land."

My favorite parts were the argument between Rhys and - Pierce, is it? the other guy - the date invitation for Saru, and the nonappearance of the DMA controller. Least favorite part was the WHISPERING, AAGH.
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Colin Lindsly
Thu, Feb 17, 2022, 9:36pm (UTC -5)
The speed at which the DMA was replaced makes me think Species 10-C is monitoring the progress.

I felt that Burnham had tunnel vision at the end. She had forgotten that Tarka was a wild card and did not anticipate any actions he might take.

The best couple for me in Star Trek franchise has been Tom and B'Elanna's one. It is the most natural, organic, of the many couples we have seen over the decades.
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Mal
Thu, Feb 17, 2022, 10:17pm (UTC -5)
Star Trek: Discovery season 4 episode 9

Mal’s review before Jammer’s

Rubicon


“We can argue semantics all we want, but I think we can both agree that Book is shooting at us.”

- Nhan


* * 1/2 (out of 4 stars)


Certainly an improvement over the decidedly sub-par “All In”, this week’s Rubicon brings us back to a certain mediocrity I had hoped we had left behind in season 3. Alas, I fear, we are quickly reverting to the mean. God I miss Prodigy.

The Rubicon is a river at the boarder of Italy. Roman troops who went out to war, would stand down and disarm before they crossed the Rubicon to come back home. When Julius Caesar brought his troops across the Rubicon, fully armed, it was a literal step towards a takeover over the Roman Republic. Civil war and the eventual end of the Republic followed. Ceasar became dictator for life. What was left was no longer a republic led by a consul. It was an empire, led by a dictatorial emperor.

Needless to say that this week’s “Rubicon” fails to live up to its name. TOS famously borrowed from Roman lore (see for example “Bread and Circuses”). They even named an entire race the Romulans, and wrote for them one of the all-time best Star Trek episodes “The Enterprise Incident.”

Speaking of “The Enterprise Incident”, Discovery now has a cloak. With a spore drive, a cloak, and Michael at the conn, how long till these people can take on the Q??? Jesus, writers, try and constrain yourselves. It makes for a more interesting story.

But alas, those days are long gone. As Queen Amidala once said, "So this is how Star Trek dies, with thunderous applause.”

I come not to praise Discovery, but to bury it.

First, as @Peter G. succinctly notes, we get Nhan back. The last we saw her on the seed-ship in "Die Trying” she was somewhat underused. That said, she is a welcome presence back on the show. To some extent in TOS, but even more often with TNG, we’d see super annoying representatives from the Federation (usually with some dark secret like Mark Jameson in "Too Short a Season”) come onboard to ensure the mission was actually carried out. Nice to have a friendly face with no ulterior motive for a change.

That said, there is a weird racial attitude that leads to Nhan's assignment. Here’s the key dialogue,

VANCE: She’s also a Barzan, and there’s a reason so many of her world serve in the security forces.

Nhan: Duty above all.

Really Vance? Tell me, Vance, is there some racist reason why we see so many humans serve in the Captain’s chair?

I remember a time when Star Trek would have only given such attitudes to a flaming racist. Take TNG’s “Redemption part 2,”

HOBSON: Frankly, sir, I don't believe in your ability to command this ship. You're a fellow officer and I respect that, but no one would suggest that a Klingon would make a good ship's counsellor or that a Berellian could be an engineer. They're just not suited for those positions. By the same token, I don't think an android is a good choice to be captain.

Data, to his credit, took the entire thing in his stride,

DATA: I understand your concerns. Request denied.

For Admiral Vance, the highest ranking Star Fleet officer, to appoint Nhan to the job because of her race is, well, really crossing the rubicon. This is not your daddy’s Star Trek. As one of Londo’s wives once told him, “you’ve devolved.”

The Barzans are an interesting addition to this storyline, given the similarity of the DMA to the Barzan wormhole. You’ll recall in TNG’s “The Price”, the that worm hole was fixed at the Barzan end, but randomly moved around at the other end. The DMA is fixed at the origin of species TenCent, and moves around at the other end looking for ore to mine.

The rest of the episode is a fairly entertaining cat-and-mouse game. Even the musical score just before Nhan says “cat and mouse” is really cool. At one point Tarka starts quoting from the game theory chapter of his economics text book. There’s also a fun the part where Michael knows Book’s moves from their run in with pirates in Breen space, but Book knows she knows, and comes up with a surprising twist - that’s the type of game theory in action I can get behind!

And I have to say, I really liked Michael pulling up in a shuttle - window to window - with Book. I know this show over-does the whole emotional angle, but what can I say, it was just Valentine’s Day people :)

There are three beats worth mentioning in brief because if these writers are any good (I know, I know), they might want to build on them,

- Saru and the Vulcan/Romulan (aka, Nevar) president continue their wonderful romance. I have no doubt this is going somewhere. But where? Will they or won’t they? Tune in next week! Same bat time. Same bat channel.

- Rhys is sympathetic with the rebels, and his dissident attitude costs him his place at the conn. Instead Michael gives the conn to the cheerleader who is openly arguing with him in favor of what Tarka would call the party line. As I wrote in my review of “The Examples,”

https://www.jammersreviews.com/st-dsc/s4/examples.php#comment-89913

"Rhys lived through a hurricane as a kid, and that disaster led him to Starfleet, and to this point in time when he can make a difference in these peoples' lives. Anyone who lived in NYC on 9/11, or was in Asia for the 2005 Tsunami, or Japan during the Fukushima meltdown, will tell you how such events can completely change your view on life. Nice to see that someone used that pain to make something good and beneficial out of his life.”

Nice to see the writers take a risk and make Rhys’ rebel sympathies a key part of his character, even at the risk to his career. I almost got a Babylon 5 vibe out of the whole thing. The weird infighting on the shuttle mediated by Culber might have been super awkward, but I just take that as the writer-room’s inexperience with scripting dissident politics.

- Tarka. As @The Queen says, everyone is so emotionally invested in Book, they forget all about Tarka, and he takes their neglect as a chance to blow the whole fucking thing up. If there is a lesson in this episode, it is that Michael and Discovery (even literally the ship) are way too emotional. They need to put duty back at the top of how they do their work. In some ways Nhan is a symbol of that (“Duty above all”).

This late in the game, I don’t put a lot of hope in this crew becoming more professional. But man, if they do, it’ll go a long way towards improving the show.

@Karl Zimmerman asks why not let the episode actually acknowledge that all their emotionalism led to a failure of the mission? The one good thing about this season is that they haven’t held back on the President chewing out Michael. So...

The rest of this season can go one of two ways. (1) Towards greatness: Michael has finally crossed the Rubicon (as Vance says she has never failed him - well she did now!); Michael is relieved of command, and someone who puts duty higher than emotion gets the chair (like Suru - a non-human captain, that would be a nice change of pace).

Or (2) we keep marching towards mediocrity: Michael eventually saves the day with respect to species TenCent, and all is forgiven and forgotten.

Just like last week with the card-game loss actually, technically, not being a loss, since Michael snuck tracking into the unobtanium - once again this week, Michael’s loss is technically not a loss because the DMA is powered from the other side.

So no points for guessing which road (1 or 2) I think the writers will choose.
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Rahul
Thu, Feb 17, 2022, 10:38pm (UTC -5)
An excellent episode with an action-oriented plot that has greater gravitas due to overall arc that's been built up. Getting Nhan involved proved to add that extra edge to keep Burnham in check and I think she was more useful here than the sum total she did in all her prior appearances. Book and Tarka are a great deal of fun to watch and I'm really getting more and more impressed with Ajala's acting. Nice twist at the end with Tarka unable to find the power source and 1st contact with 10-C apparently advanced before the Federation is ready.

I thought it was a nice counterbalance to follow up with Saru and T'Rina and Culber is really becoming the "glue guy", if you will. I liked how he was direct with Saru about being an idiot regarding his possible feelings for T'Rina. Ship's counsellor indeed.

But as far as the main plot went, the cat-and-mouse between Discovery and Book's ship was well done. I liked how Nhan didn't take any shit from Burnham but the whole "shared goal" or "middle ground" theme was truly respected from both sides. At least Nhan had a last resort plan to force the issue.

Tarka's "expected utility" was nice to hear (as a math guy). So he justifies beaming the weapon into the controller and both ships then jump away. Tarka's brings that unpredictable element. Wonder if we'll get a sense of the damage resulting from the explosion...

Normally, I'm pretty critical of how the Burnham character is written but I liked how she was written here -- she respected Nhan but also proved to be an able commander like when she urged Stamets and Zora to figure out how long the DMA would be mining boronite. It made sense that Book should agree to holding off for a week if he knows the DMA won't jump anywhere for that time. But of course Tarka won't stand for that.

One other thing that DSC is continuing to do is give its bridge crew more facetime -- Rhys and Bryce go on the away mission and actually voice their strong opinions on Book. Good to see that they're not just warm bodies and that we're slowly getting a better sense for the bridge crew, although this should have been dealt with long ago.

Good enough for 3.5 stars for "Rubicon" -- DSC is back after last week's aberration. By my count that's 5 of the last 6 episodes that have been good to exceptional. This is solid, purposeful nuts-and-bolts action adventure that isn't getting bogged down by DSC's typical shortcomings. The challenge now, I think, is to avoid having Species 10-C being some kind of farce.
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Trek fan
Thu, Feb 17, 2022, 10:44pm (UTC -5)
Another two star episode where nothing happens. This series is a real study in pacing contrasts: for much of its run, it crammed too many plot developments into each episode, rushing through them at breakneck speed. Now each episode moves at a snail’s pace whole almost nothing eventful happens on screen. It’s a real experience of whiplash.

I heard Paramount has renewed for a fifth season, but I think the sooner they cancel Discovery, the better. There are so many other Trek shows on right now to watch and I suppose Strange New Voyages is still going to crammed down our throat soon. Personally I wish that one wouldn’t happen either.
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Bryan
Thu, Feb 17, 2022, 10:49pm (UTC -5)
You can praise many of the little details:
- the action is well-paced, steady and holds the viewer's attention
- the acting is generally good, especially the portrayal of Book
- Tarka remains a morally ambiguous character that keeps us interested
- it's good to see Nahn again?
- Saru has a life now??

But it ultimately doesn't count for much if the storytelling isn't up to snuff. And it's getting pretty ridiculous now. Each episode has the writers doing mental acrobatics to justify or distract us from all the problems of having Burnham be at the Center of Everything all the time.

Audience: "Hm, if there are already two captains on the ship then why it be necessary to send a commander to--- wait, Nhan? Oh my god, Nhaaaan !! < 3"

And everything is just so tonally wacky. It makes zero sense for there to always be so much love and trust and good will on full display between Burnham and Book at this point, given the context and the stakes. They should practically be at each other's throats by now! Karl is right that the show has failed to demonstrably raise the emotional stakes in keeping with the galactic stakes. I wouldn't be surprised if next week they're still saying "i wub you" over encrypted coms after that colossal fail that nearly killed everyone.

Also yes, all the smiles and fond hugs after that is just jarring, like it's a high school reunion and not the end of the world. "Welp, at least we tried our best!" No, you didn't, you ninnies! Someone needs to bring in an adult to run things from now on because the hyper-emotional teenagers are ruining everything.

I give this episode 3 groans out of 4.
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Winde
Fri, Feb 18, 2022, 3:46am (UTC -5)
The idea that your primary commanding officer might be so emotionally unstable that you need to send along a minder strikes me as tactically absurd and unprofessional. And just for one mission that I feel like didn't actually end and then they're gone?

I can't say I ever held any special affinity for the Nahn character, but what I do remember is that I hated how Michael pushed her into staying on the seedship. That felt very wrong to me at the time and I half expected Nahn to pull some revenge move in this episode.
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Nick
Fri, Feb 18, 2022, 10:00am (UTC -5)
It was a good episode. Kept my interest and was reasonably well paced. They needed a reason to get Nhan involved and they came up with a pretty decent one.

One thing I really liked was how when they destroyed the DMA, a new one just popped up in its place shortly after. It's an interesting twist to all the discussions before about how if they destroy the DMA, species 10-C would take it as an act of war. Guess what, that's having an inflated sense of your own importance. 10-C doesn't give a crap about Starfleet and they don't seem to care why their DMA disappeared. They just took another DMA out of the tool shed and dropped it in.

One thing I didn't like, why would Book agree to wait the week on Discovery? That's giving up all your leverage. I suppose if you trust Starfleet's word it's fine, but it seemed like a little too much trust to me.
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Dreubarik
Fri, Feb 18, 2022, 11:47am (UTC -5)
I actually thought this was fine. Not very memorable but decent overall, barring the weird conceit of a ship with three captains. Despite all the gripes I voice here, this is in my opinion the best season of Discovery yet. Instead of being like a bad season of a CW show, this is now like a good season of a CW show.
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Yanks
Fri, Feb 18, 2022, 12:04pm (UTC -5)
Wonderful to see Nhan again... more please. Love the character and actress.

This was fun to watch until the ending.

Good call Mad'am President by putting someone next to (over) Burnham.

Nice cat and mouse game... emotional tensions with Nhan's "final option" on the table. Michael reading Book and visa versa.

Once Ruon spazzed and launched the barrage at Discovery, Book should have locked him out of the controls. did he think he was going to show any restraint?

What is Ruon's 10yr whoa is me thingy here? .... it's starting to feel like Nero from ST09. (25 yr grudge)

So this mission is live or death critical because in no way can first contact with this thing be by force. Because of their obvious technological advantage, peaceful first contact MUST be attempted...

... then boom, Ruon launches the weapon.... destroys the thing ....

... and our brilliant scientist didn't think about it receiving power through the wormhole...

... and everything is OK... no one seems the worse for wear...

yikes...

It was funny when Saru was talking to Culber about the Vulcan President... "you're and idiot" ... lol

Like I said, I thought this was really good until it wasn't. Drama, drama, tension, tension ..... snore.

IMO they certainly didn't stick the landing on this one.

3 stars from me.
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Trek fan
Sat, Feb 19, 2022, 6:51am (UTC -5)
PS - I agree with the earlier comment that Discovery doesn’t take any chances in its storytelling anymore. It went from being a bonkers weekly thrill ride to being a early-season Voyager retread that conjures imaginary tech menaces and then dispels them with magical fixes. Meanwhile, as another person wrote here, this whole Burnham-Book thing is playing like an artificial relationship drama that doesn’t have anything resembling plausible emotional beats. Michael is understanding and soft beyond all point of reason when she should be jailing or vaporizing him; it’s like she’s willing to risk the end of the universe to make sure they don’t break up. This is hokey and lazy writing, albeit somewhat on-point for Disco’s excesses.

Meanwhile, the killing and departure of many earlier series regulars has really started to show in the lack of chemistry among the regulars and the hyper-focus on Burnham’s POV, as Jammer puts it. I almost miss Tilly, Georgiou and others, because the series hasn’t replaced their dead end character arcs with any new character arcs that are remotely interesting. There’s no sight this week of Reno or our young Trill host, who it seems has no story left with her boyfriend away and Stamets needing to focus on other things.

I do like seeing the minor bridge crew with more to do. One virtue of past Treks is they always focused on a core group of characters. This one has no core group; it makes admirals and presidents (minor characters in the past) into regulars who talk endlessly about dramatically inert topics rather than simply give a mission briefing and back off. And Saru is boring now that he’s simply Michael’s cheerleader; Burnham has completely lost the edge and fire that made her appealing as a maverick underdog. Making her captain and putting the Starfleet/Federation leaders against each other has really made things dull.

It all just feels like it’s not going anywhere right now.
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Jason R.
Sat, Feb 19, 2022, 7:10am (UTC -5)
Maybe Burnham should shoot the President of the Federation, go to jail, then by the next season become the new President. Tilly could be chief Justice of the Federation Supreme Court.
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Trek fan
Sat, Feb 19, 2022, 1:50pm (UTC -5)
@JasonR haha that would be a very Season 1 move. At this point I almost miss season 1.

I’m just tired of the way this show cycles through characters, introducing and tossing them aside. It’s like a different cast of recurring leads every season.
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Maq
Sat, Feb 19, 2022, 3:15pm (UTC -5)
Not worse than last week. Nahn should have blown up Book. Clean sweap and a new theme for the rest of the season would hve been nice.

The last episodes has been on not using the wapon on DMA and how very importat that was. And now .... what a shame ... shit happens.

As I am star trek fan I must watch even if it takes a hevy toll on my soul.
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mosley
Sat, Feb 19, 2022, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
burnam f***s up big time, and the show gives her a pat on the shoulder for it.

yeah, i mean the entire universe is at risk now (sound familiar?), but my, what you said earlier michael, that was so inspiring!

you cant make this stuff up anymore.

but hey, "tarka takes matters in his own hands" easily qualifies as the least surprising plot twist in a long long time, and against that much competition, thats quite an archievement.
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Gilad at Tinagra
Sun, Feb 20, 2022, 12:07am (UTC -5)
Terrific action-adventure hour of Trek, I was immersed in it from beginning to the end. Love the visuals. Nhan being back, the tension between her and Michael, and Tarka and Booker was well conveyed. Guest actors lived up to the billing with their performances, and it's nice to see the bridge crew's involvement and liveliness during dialogues too (probably the biggest improvement of DISCO in season 3, but more so in season 4). There were a few twists that worked well and did not feel forced. I love Nhan as a character but I agree with Michael in pushing for a middle ground, I also felt like Nhan wanted to use "the last resort" a bit too soon.

4 stars for "Rubicon"

There is some classic Trek storytelling here with characters and crew trying to solve what seems like impossible dilemma. Dialogues had a purpose and the action was entertaining as well as meaningful.
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Quincy
Sun, Feb 20, 2022, 1:02am (UTC -5)
Decent episode. Much better than last week. Still there were some glaring problems. There's no way Nhan wouldn't have fired on Book. In fact, they should've had Tarka and Nhan simultaneously pull that trigger, but Tarka being one step ahead caught the flaw in the spore drive, just like he added security to Book's ship, so that plan didn't work. Missed opportunity to really use that security officer character to add some tension to thicken the plot going forward.

As I've said in other places, nobody as smart as Tarka is could be that stupid. It occurred to I bet a lot of people the first time his plan was mentioned that the DMA could be powered on the other side. It also occurred to me that essentially the DMA is nothing more than a drill bit attached to a deep core drilling rig. All they did was manage to break a drill bit. They couldn't even blow the transmission and take out the DMA version of AJ from Armageddon! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOrLSiiKWzU

Good thing is that probably means the Ten-C (God, I hate that name.) still might not even know they exist or at least might not care all that much about them breaking a drill bit.
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dave
Mon, Feb 21, 2022, 2:33am (UTC -5)
Well, I thought it was a nifty swerve that blowing up what they thought was the power source was looked upon as just a broken part and replaced a few minutes later. This awe inspiring tech is just part to replace from the tool shed. Its a different twist than I expected so I liked it.

I am wondering if we never find out who they are. They are so indifferent to the whole operation and just running a machine without knowing what is happening around it. So this just kind of ends with them moving on. Although, no reveal would probably go over quite negatively with the fanbase.

I think this is their best season to date, by far. At least, it seems, they are not running to stop some doomsday device and trying to save the universe with a few seconds to spare like the past seasons. Which is a departure I like if it holds true. Maybe a more cerebral solution will be coming than the usual battle to the last second.
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dave
Mon, Feb 21, 2022, 2:34am (UTC -5)
Also, it would be nice if they explained why they chose 10C (as in, who is 10A or B and why did they not get their own number!!)
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AMA
Wed, Feb 23, 2022, 2:12am (UTC -5)
A little late to posting...

Echo the sentiments of many others in saying that I greatly enjoyed this episode. The cat-and-mouse chase was captivating, and Nhan was the best she has ever been in the series. My only qualm, and a minor one at that, was that the awkward tenor change that accompanied the Saru-T'Rina story line. That bit did not quite work for me, given that the rest of the episode was quite gripping and tense. A great outing nevertheless. Hoping the season wraps up well, which has been an issue in the past.
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Jammer
Thu, Feb 24, 2022, 1:57am (UTC -5)
Review now posted.
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Philadlj
Fri, Feb 25, 2022, 12:07pm (UTC -5)
Rhys and Bryce bickering would have been embarrassing if they were Red Squad cadets on the USS Valiant…but as a pair of lieutenant commanders it’s downright baffling.

Clearly a matter of the writers having to have them say *something* since they’re ostensibly senior officers…but still soooo bad that this is the extent of their characterization this week.
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Mesut
Fri, Feb 25, 2022, 2:58pm (UTC -5)
Very enjoyable to read your review Jammer. I, too, liked this episode a lot,like many other commenters above. Nhan, Tarka, Book, all great guest characters making this a strong entry into the books. My rating is 3 stars like Jammer, I felt like people getting blindsided by how volatile Tarka is about getting this mission done was a bit unrealistic. Otherwise, very good progress on the season.
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Armus
Sat, Feb 26, 2022, 12:30pm (UTC -5)
Ugh! Honestly, I'm just hate-watching this show right now. Why did they being Nhan to make sure that Book and Tarka didn't shoot the DMA, and then she fails at doing her only job?! Hahah wtf my eyes are constantly rolling while watching this show.

Also, I still don't know anything about any of bridge crew and we are almost done with season 4. We haven't had a single holodeck episode, the tiny bit of character development almost always happens when they are about to be blown up or something like that, why are they always grinding?! Where are the klingons? I know more about characters from the Cerritos than characters of Discovery.

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