Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

"Children of the Comet"

3.5 stars

Air date: 5/12/2022
Written by Henry Alonso Myers & Sarah Tarkoff
Directed by Maja Vrvilo

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Children of the Comet" might be the purest, truest episodic Star Trek experience since CBS/Paramount started rolling out new Trek series in 2017. That's not to say this is amazing or groundbreaking, because, again, like the pilot, it traffics in things that have been done on Trek plenty of times in the past 50-plus years. But it does them well, with showmanship and class and a minimum of fuss.

I don't want to overpraise a show for not falling into all the traps of Discovery and Picard, but I also want to give credit where it's due, and this is due its credit for being solid sci-fi (and very good Trek), and very balanced in the way it handles plot and character. This tells a story. We're only two episodes into this series, but my optimism is running high.

The episode is a showcase for Cadet Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding, getting lots to do after her lower-key introduction last week), a linguistic expert with some tragedy in her past. She gets mildly hazed by Lt. Ortegas (Melissa Navia), who tricks her into wearing her dress uniform to a casual staff dinner in the captain's quarters. The captain's dinner is a great venue for the series to break the ice among all the characters, including chief engineer Hemmer (Bruce Horak), a blind Aenar who appears to have a chip on his shoulder the size of "Melora," but which may be a joke.

When the captain asks Uhura where she wants to be in 10 years, she answers that she's not sure, and she's not even sure she wants to be in Starfleet. She had other plans before her parents and brother were killed in a shuttle accident, and Starfleet — despite her linguistic brilliance and capability — was her escape from the proximity of tragedy rather than her passion. (Spock, still developing his not-so-great bedside manner, suggests that if she doesn't have the passion for Starfleet, that perhaps she should make room for someone who does.)

The plot involves a comet on a collision course with a nearby inhabited pre-industrial planet, which is nothing we haven't heard before. The Enterprise attempts to deflect the comet, only to learn it's actually an alien device with shields. Pike, in an acknowledgment of General Order 1 that also takes an alternative position to the one seen in TNG's "Homeward," says, "The Federation doesn't interfere in the development of species, but we also don't just let them die." The away team, including Uhura on her first mission, beams over to find a strange cave with an egg-shaped alien structure in the center. George Kirk is critically injured when he gets too close and is zapped (in what's not the brightest move, I must say), and the away team becomes stranded and unable to beam back.

Things get more complicated when some aliens show up and announce they are the "Shepherds" for this comet, which they call the M'hanit, a centuries-old divine-like entity that travels through the galaxy and, they say, brings about life. The aliens come across a bit like religious zealots, and they threaten to attack the Enterprise if Pike interferes with whatever the M'hanit is doing, even if its will is to crash into a planet. This edges up to the line of Hard-Headed Aliens of the Week without quite crossing it, because even though their position is not unassailable, the aliens make a solid enough case from their point of view. Pike attempts to respect their views and defuse the tensions while also trying to protect his people and save the planet.

Pike continues to be great. He's just a pleasure to watch. Anson Mount manages to keep everything ... light. Easygoing with a slight touch of playful sarcasm, and yet always professional. That sensibility infects the whole show, and the tone is pretty much perfect. This has the Trek bonafides without ever coming across as self-important, and finding low-key humor in the margins. (Spock: "Nurse Chapel is not my girlfriend.") Crucially, the episode keeps the character mix balanced, giving everyone enough to do. Everyone feels like a person. Spock is young Spock, which is to say he has a mild grumpiness beneath all his emotional neutrality. He's trying to be better, as when giving Uhura pep talks when he thinks she needs it. The first one isn't great; the second one is better.

As sci-fi goes, this is pretty solid. The production design of the alien cave is excellent. Uhura discovers that the cave responds to music, and needs some help communicating, so Uhura and Spock do a duet. I love how La'an is having none of it.

Meanwhile, Pike has to deal with the aliens, which give us our requisite Trekkian space battle. There's a nice sequence where the Enterprise dodges torpedo fire by flying through the comet's debris field (and a later one where Spock does the same with a shuttle), and the episode shows off its visual effects, which have more weight and dimension than the ship sequences on, say, Discovery. It helps that the ship is the OG-1701 (a melding of TOS and feature film versions), and is so nice to look at.

The resolution proves interesting. The comet bypasses the planet after Spock makes a shuttle maneuver to coax it far enough off course. As it passes, it seeds the planet in a way that changes the climate and will enhance the capability of life. But data analysis shows that the comet knew and communicated in detail what would happen before it actually did. Spock's actions were necessary to save the planet, but for the comet, they were part of the larger, original plan. I was reminded of DS9's "Destiny," which also involved a comet and a sequence of events that involved alien observations that lay outside of time and allowed events to be seemingly preordained. (Incidentally, our first view of the comet here strongly evokes the comet from the DS9 title sequence.)

The plot ties very nicely into the personal stories for both Pike and Uhura. For Uhura, it gives her a first mission that allows her to use her unique skills and realize her value in Starfleet. For Pike, the idea of a preordained destiny hits close to home. The thing about Pike's disastrous future is that even if he were to try stopping it, doing so might cost the lives of several officers he's supposed to save but hasn't even met yet. And, in the best detail, he knows exactly who they are, even their names. He looks up their Federation records and we see they are all still children.

It's quite the burden. Pike could probably escape his destiny, but does he have the right? "Turns out, knowing your future takes the fun out of imagining it," he notes. But as Number One tells him, the future isn't written, and maybe he could find a way to save the kids and himself. It's an intriguing conundrum: cause, effect, fate, destiny. What to do about them if you're so sure of how it all plays out?

I must say: I enjoyed the hell out of this. Old Trek saws felt new. This is a universe, starship, and crew I already enjoy spending time with, because the tone, design, and characters are so spot-on. Just how long can Strange New Worlds retain that fresh starship smell?

Previous episode: Strange New Worlds

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178 comments on this post

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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, May 12, 2022, 2:40am (UTC -5)
This episode got everything right. Literally everything.

Whoever cast Celia Rose Gooding as Uhura deserves a standing ovation.

This episode shows that not only is Strange New Worlds going to be episodic like classic Trek, it is also going to be ensemble-focused like classic Trek (post-TOS, anyway).

The setup here was straight out of TOS. The Enterprise and her crew feel small in a universe of wondrous things both ancient and far beyond them. Even TNG largely ditched that feeling after season one in favor of the Enterprise-D being the flagship of a bustling interstellar civilization. This felt like pure "we barely know what's out there but let's throw ourselves at it" Star Trek.

And Pike's dealing with the alien Shepherds--the words he chose and his attitude--were also much more TOS-era than TNG. He was diplomatic and friendly, but also no-nonsense and short with their arguments that the comet should be allowed to hit the planet "if that's what it wants to do." He recognized that it would be futile to try to persuade them otherwise (you aren't going to argue them out of their religion in an hour) and didn't waste time trying beyond a perfunctory effort. Instead he immediately went for trying to solve the problem around them rather than through them (either diplomatically or militarily). Personally, I really appreciated this choice. It didn't feel exactly like what Kirk would have done, but it did feel more like what a Kirk-era captain would have done than a Picard-era captain, if that makes sense.

Spock on the away team and his two pep-talks to Uhura were awesome and perfectly in character, especially for where he is supposed to be in his life at this point in time. Shades of The Galileo Seven without retreading the same ground. Plus the actual second speech I thought was downright awesome. I can't help it--I'm floored, because these lines as written sounded EXACTLY like Spock to me.

The art direction continues to astound. The musical score in the episode . . . and I don't just mean the music itself, but how the music was used, like, when it was prominent and when it wasn't . . . felt like an excellent cross between a throwback to an older style of television and a minor one. And the little touches, like hinting at the Star Trek fanfare as they're standing on the transporter to beam down. I just loved every second of that.

We finally get some backstory on Uhura after nearly 60 years. We learn where she's from and something of her family. The writers remember that the real Uhura (sorry, Zoe Saldana) loves music and singing. Everything from her attitude and demeanor to relaxed body language and the way she delivers her lines--the earrings they chose for her--it's all exactly as I would imagine a Uhura who's allowed to do more than say "hailing frequencies open, captain" and be more central to the plots would be portrayed.

Speaking of the dinner party--can you imagine Kirk doing that? No, he would never. The burden of command, and all that. The remove of authority. The only people he can really talk to are the ship's surgeon and Spock, his second in command. Even Picard was the same (of course he loosened up over the years leading to that card game in All Good Things). Not Pike. This was perfectly in keeping with the Pike we know from Discovery, and shows that you can be both friendly and approachable and firmly in command. I love this about his character. Archer tried it, but never pulled it off convincingly, in my opinion. Whether the writing or the actor, it's hard to say in that case.

It's not a four-star episode by the standards of the best of classic Trek. It's better than any episode of Enterprise, though. Seriously. Better than every single episode Enterprise ever put out. I'm mentioning Enterprise because that show tried an approach similar in spirit (not plot) to this in the episodes immediately following its pilot, and utterly failed. Whereas this episode did it completely right.

If you've ever liked Star Trek, you owe it to yourself to watch this episode, or you're cheating yourself out of something you'd certainly enjoy if you can put aside all the baggage and just let yourself.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, May 12, 2022, 2:57am (UTC -5)
Oh! I almost forgot. The relief bridge officer at the conn for Number One (who moved around stations all over the bridge), the redhead, he looks suspiciously like Lt. Jose Tyler from The Cage, doesn't he? They didn't name him in the episode, I don't think, but I wonder if he was meant to be him.

One of the interesting things about this show is, we're starting our time with these characters long into their relationships with one another, for some of them. It's 2259 and The Cage was 2254. It's generally believed Pike took command of the Enterprise in 2250, so that's nine years' tenure as captain of the Enterprise already once we join his adventures (give or take one year as captain of Discovery). Number One presumably has been on the ship with him that whole time, and Spock since 2254 (per the Short Trek Q&A). That's a long time for the main trio to have developed a comfortably, friendly working relationship that anticipates what the others will do. I think that's believably being shown on screen. It's also kind of a new setup for a Star Trek show, which generally begin right at the start of the voyage and the crew's association with one another. I like the vibe,
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Daniel
Thu, May 12, 2022, 3:46am (UTC -5)
If the supposedly greenlit Kelvin timeline Trek movie doesn't lift off, I could totally see a Star Trek movie with this crew. Anson Mount has incredible screen presence and charisma and seems really comfortable in his role as Pike.

Keeping my fingers crossed that this series will break the mold and be the rare live-action Trek series that has an excellent first season.
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Jaxon
Thu, May 12, 2022, 3:58am (UTC -5)
Another 3 star nuTrek episode...who knew?
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AMA
Thu, May 12, 2022, 5:07am (UTC -5)
A very enjoyable outing, highlighted by Celia Rose Gooding's performance as Uhura. I appreciated that the writers leaned into what little backstory was available for the character, made her the hero, and ably used music to to construct a fairly unique first contact scenario. The episode was perhaps the most meaningful for the character since The Animated Series' 'The Lorelei Signal.' That's not saying much, but it was great to see Uhura be given such attention. Can only hope, similar to Hoshi Sato in Enterprise, that the writers steadily build on the character over time.

The episodic format was refreshing. And, unlike Discovery, I found that the design choices are facilitating the series' place within canon. Perhaps most notably in this regard, the shuttle craft Spock manned seemed like the perfect modernization of what was seen in The Original Series more than 50 years ago. Nice touch.

Finally, I'm hoping that not every episode addresses Pike's fate. Although it's certainly central to the character, I can see the story thread becoming a bit tedious.

Looking forward to next week's episode, and, even if it's not so great, can leave it behind and look forward to the next one. Good start so far.
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Tim C
Thu, May 12, 2022, 5:58am (UTC -5)
Solidly enjoyable and well-constructed on all fronts. Like the pilot, it's not groundbreaking material plot-wise. The tropes we've all seen a million times are present, but they're presented with gusto and a slick production that prevents them from feeling completely worn-out. I do wonder how long that will remain the case.

The heart of any Star Trek episode, though, is the characters, and the episode delivered solidly on every front. Nobody here feels like a bland, placeholder cipher like Disco's bridge crew, or for that matter, ENT or VOY. From Ortegas' cockiness, to La'an's militancy, to Number One's heartfelt concern for Pike, all the supporting players in this story got some nice stuff to work with.

The main players of Uhura, Pike and Spock also got some solid character work in. Anson Mount continues to just knock it out of the park as the seasoned space veteran. Ethan Peck's delivery of Spock's first "pep talk" made me laugh out loud. And Celia Rose Gooding is giving us a wonderful portrayal of someone with the youthful combination of confidence that comes with knowing they've got talent, but uncertainty about their place in the world.

Special mention also needs to go to the VFX sequences, which finally, *finally*, showed us that NuTrek can get it right. The ships in the space battle felt like the large cruisers they are, rather than nimble dogfighters, and the camera work was slow and wide enough that I always felt like I knew where they were and what was happening. Just great stuff all around and I hope it continues through the rest of the series. (I also very much appreciated the phasers being beams rather than bolts, and the TOS sound effects).

It's too early to gush over this show, but so far it's really good. Please keep it up.
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Chris Lopes
Thu, May 12, 2022, 8:12am (UTC -5)
Overall I can't really complain. The stuff with Spock's pep talk was funny. The solution to the main problem was very Trekian.
I also like the fact that Pike doesn't feel the need to go on every single away mission.

The only little problem I have is the fact that the Captain's cabin looks like it's the size of a banquet hall and was decorated by someone who read the lifestyle section of a 1970's issue of Playboy. It's got a fireplace, a bar, and a working kitchen. Something tells me Pike's got a water bed in there somewhere.
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Dom
Thu, May 12, 2022, 8:20am (UTC -5)
It’s like the writers dared themselves to put some Star Trek in their Star Trek. And it worked! Really good episode. Not up there with the best of TNG or DS9, but still really solid
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StarMan
Thu, May 12, 2022, 8:36am (UTC -5)
Celia Rose Gooding is charming enough. More trauma plot / backstory was a given though, unfortunately. Don't really get why this is necessary. Those darn shuttlecraft accidents, huh?

I find the mention of Kirk already irritating - it yanks me out of it. YMMV.

The story didn't particularly grab me. I would say it was okay. The okay-ness of it is enough to *consider* going to yellow alert if the okay-ness doesn't start picking up and cruising into good. I see the head writer's name was attached to the credits; a bit of a nondescript debut, IMO.

The volume of quippy dialogue is concerning and already a touch off-putting. Light, breezy ... and vacuous? Not what I'd hoped for. I can only hope this stylised approach gives way to something more genuine from the writers' room.

** 1/2 out of ****
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JS
Thu, May 12, 2022, 8:52am (UTC -5)
NGL, this is definitely an improvement over Picard and Discovery, but JFC, hire a science consultant or sth.

La'an: "what are harmonics, I skipped music"

"Harmonics" is a widely used PHYSICS term. How are you even in Starfleet? What do you think those "phaser HARMONICS" are that you just mentioned eleven minutes ago in the same episode? Sigh.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, May 12, 2022, 9:02am (UTC -5)
What a simply lovely episode. It hits so many of the right notes, and is (IMHO) a slight step up from the pilot. I credit this to being primarily written by Henry Alonso Myers rather than Akiva Goldsman. As I've said before, I am a huge fan of The Magicians, which had some of best character writing (and an amazing mixture of humor and pathos) and I looked forward to seeing what he could do in the Trekverse. My anticipation, it turns out, was not without cause. The dialogue here just comes across as more mature, more naturalistic, and...more human...than in the pilot.

Otherwise, the two episodes are pretty similar. We have a stock TOS trope - in this case, investigate a mysterious artifact of an elder race. In a very real way, the core of the plot here is also analogous to Discovery Season 4 (must make first contact with a race with a weird language in order to save millions) though the stakes are much more appropriate to an hour of episodic TV, and everything is edited down to the minimum needed in order to tell the story (I appreciate the lack of plot bloat). I also appreciate that not everything is answered at the end of the episode - one of my favorite elements of TOS which the later series somehow forgot about was the air of mystery - that there was a big galaxy filled with weird and inexplicable events. This felt like a taste of that returning.

Of course, as with the pilot, the plot is secondary, because this is really about character - in this case, Uhura, in her first real focus since TAS's The Loralei Signal. I am grateful they chose to focus on one of the supporting cast rather than doing the obvious thing and following up a Pike pilot with a Spock or Una episode. She has a coherent arc, from someone with deep misgivings about her role in Starfleet - and deep insecurity about her lack of experience as a cadet - into someone much more confident regarding her skills and her future. I love Celia Rose Gooding's portrayal of Uhura - she absolutely nails the TOS character (unlike Zoe Saldana, who honestly just came across as an attractive black woman playing another role). Honestly though this story is a bit heartbreaking considering we know Uhura is going to be stuck in essentially her current role for 34 years (thankfully PIC established she finally gets a captaincy some time after TUC, but still). The story also made use of both Uhura's facility for languages and her love of music (it also helps that Celia Rose Gooding actually had a background in musicals, meaning she's an excellent singer herself).

There are secondary threads through this episode as well, and all of them were well done. We get a little bit of a continuing arc regarding Pike's trauma at the foreknowledge of his death. I like the level of close friendship without any sexual tension between Pike and Una, and I love she's a good enough friend to him to try and convince him to consider other options. The last shot of the episode, with Pike looking at the cadets (currently children) whose lives he will save in 10 years came damn close to making be bawl. Spock acting as Uhura's sounding board gave him the opportunity to give several well-written speeches, of varying levels of effectiveness within the episode, but all of them showcasing Spock's earnestness combined with his own still-growing nature. He got a little bit of an arc when it came to understanding humor, which was...cute. We also get a little introduction to Hemmer in the first act, and Ortegas gets a tiny bit more to do here.

I did have a handful of nits to pick with this episode however. One of them was the use of La'an - or rather the lack of use. Look, she got heavy focus last week - I was not expecting her to be prominent this time around. But she went on the away mission with Spock, Uhura, and Sam Kirk and did...nothing. She did absolutely nothing. She made a couple of technobabble comments, and noted she couldn't sing. They should have just left her on the bridge TBH - three people is enough for an away mission, and I found her hanging staring at them just weirdly distracting. The other issue is that I think the third-act solution that Spock came up with seemed to come out of nowhere, and partially undercut the story's focus on Uhura. I suppose it's not realistic that a cadet would save everyone alone, but I was hoping that there would actually be communication between the comet and the Enterprise. Ahh well.

Still, damn near close to perfect.
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Jammer
Thu, May 12, 2022, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
Review now posted.
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Peter G.
Thu, May 12, 2022, 1:13pm (UTC -5)
Jammer, it's really refreshing to read a review where you're not burdened with trying to come up with positive critique while otherwise restraining yourself on the negative aspects. It's like night and day.

I have to say I would like to give this series a shot. The only downside is I may have to go back and watch DISC S2 for backstory.
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nacho Picard
Thu, May 12, 2022, 1:21pm (UTC -5)
Delightful.

All I really want from Star Trek is for it to be a show that's about things. I want a show that dares to ask questions, to make me---the viewer---pause and think "how would I handle this situation?" At the heart of Star Trek is a show unafraid to pose an ethical dilemma, and while the crisis at the heart of this one is hardly the most ponderous (the proper ethical choice is pretty quickly understood), I appreciate that the show still took the time to ask "how do we make the right choice without wrong consequences."

Overall, the episode offered a nice blend of TOS' sci-fi short story writing and TNG's emphasis on the characters. If it keeps that up it'll be a Star Trek show unlike any other. The Berman-produced shows all had a particular feel, even DS9 (the odd duck of the bunch) followed the same plot/character balance as TNG, VOY, and ENT. In those shows, plot and character were usually divided on a 70-30 basis, with extra attention given to the character at the center of the plot. Episodes like Yesterdays Enterprise were rare exceptions. On the other hand, TOS was a completely different production, and it emphasized plot over character in a big way. Episodes like The Galileo Seven were rare exceptions.

SNW seems to be striving for an even 50-50 split. There is a clear and easily-summarized plot at work here, but the episode isn't really about the comet, it's about Uhura and Pike. Both of these characters are the focus, with the former going through an arc where she decides Star Fleet is more than just a place to run away to but is, instead, a place to belong. In the case of Pike, there is more exploration of his inner conflict regarding the foreknowledge of his death. He wrestles with the notion of fate, an idea which comes full circle at the end of the episode when we learn whoever sent the comet possessed some means to know the future and plan accordingly.

And even THAT is set-up in the beginning of the episode with the Aenar-Andorian chief engineer who possesses telepathic and mild precognitive abilities.

This is maybe the tightest, best put-together episode of Star Trek I've seen since the fifth season of Voyager. No wasted moments, most of the humor landed, great special effects, a solid sci-fi story that kept me guessing how it would end, and good development of the characters.

Speaking of: Pike, Una, Spock, La'an, Ortegas, Uhura, Chapel - that's seven members of the senior staff/billed cast that I can name. I might've spelled one or two wrong but I know their names. The chief doctor's name I can't yet recall, and the chief engineer I don't yet know. That's it. I know seven of nine (heh). The point? If you put a gun to my head and asked me to name the Discovery crew...

Michael, Tilly, Stamets, uh...robo lady? I got nothing.

I know this cast and crew. I can describe their personalities. I can anticipate who they would respond to a situation. I know them after just TWO episodes. That used to be expected with Star Trek, and now, finally, it is again.

9/10 - Children of the Comet is a well made hour of science fiction and a darn good episode of Star Trek.Delightful.

All I really want from Star Trek is for it to be a show that's about things. I want a show that dares to ask questions, to make me---the viewer---pause and think "how would I handle this situation?" At the heart of Star Trek is a show unafraid to pose an ethical dilemma, and while the crisis at the heart of this one is hardly the most ponderous (the proper ethical choice is pretty quickly understood), I appreciate that the show still took the time to ask "how do we make the right choice without wrong consequences."

Overall, the episode offered a nice blend of TOS' sci-fi short story writing and TNG's emphasis on the characters. If it keeps that up it'll be a Star Trek show unlike any other. The Berman-produced shows all had a particular feel, even DS9 (the odd duck of the bunch) followed the same plot/character balance as TNG, VOY, and ENT. In those shows, plot and character were usually divided on a 70-30 basis, with extra attention given to the character at the center of the plot. Episodes like Yesterdays Enterprise were rare exceptions. On the other hand, TOS was a completely different production, and it emphasized plot over character in a big way. Episodes like The Galileo Seven were rare exceptions.

SNW seems to be striving for an even 50-50 split. There is a clear and easily-summarized plot at work here, but the episode isn't really about the comet, it's about Uhura and Pike. Both of these characters are the focus, with the former going through an arc where she decides Star Fleet is more than just a place to run away to but is, instead, a place to belong. In the case of Pike, there is more exploration of his inner conflict regarding the foreknowledge of his death. He wrestles with the notion of fate, an idea which comes full circle at the end of the episode when we learn whoever sent the comet possessed some means to know the future and plan accordingly.

And even THAT is set-up in the beginning of the episode with the Aenar-Andorian chief engineer who possesses telepathic and mild precognitive abilities.

This is maybe the tightest, best put-together episode of Star Trek I've seen since the fifth season of Voyager. No wasted moments, most of the humor landed, great special effects, a solid sci-fi story that kept me guessing how it would end, and good development of the characters.

Speaking of: Pike, Una, Spock, La'an, Ortegas, Uhura, Chapel - that's seven members of the senior staff/billed cast that I can name. I might've spelled one or two wrong but I know their names. The chief doctor's name I can't yet recall, and the chief engineer I don't yet know. That's it. I know seven of nine (heh). The point? If you put a gun to my head and asked me to name the Discovery crew...

Michael, Saru, Tilly, Stamets, uh...robo lady? I got nothing.

I know this cast and crew. I can describe their personalities. I can anticipate who they would respond to a situation. I know them after just TWO episodes. That used to be expected with Star Trek, and now, finally, it is again.

9/10 - Children of the Comet is a well-made hour of science fiction and a darn good episode of Star Trek.
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nacho Picard
Thu, May 12, 2022, 1:21pm (UTC -5)
sorry about the double post
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Jammer
Thu, May 12, 2022, 1:25pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G., you absolutely do not have to go back and watch DISC S2. Everything you need to know or have refreshed is explained and shown in the SNW pilot. Really, the only thing that really matters from DISC is that Pike knows his destiny, which you can get from the dialogue itself because they re-explain it.
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Jarcher
Thu, May 12, 2022, 1:32pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G - No you don't. Just watch this. Discovery will depress you in comparison. :-)
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, May 12, 2022, 1:36pm (UTC -5)
What are the odds the producers see the tremendous response to this show and we get an episodic Discovery season 5?
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, May 12, 2022, 1:41pm (UTC -5)
I will say that given Episode 1 focused on Pike and Episode 2 focused on Uhura I do now have an expectation that every single episode will serve as an "introduction" of sorts to the main cast.

Indeed, we know that the press have seen the first five episodes, and have confirmed that episode 5 is a Spock episode, and that there's a Una episode in there as well (I believe it's next week). So I'm hoping we also get episodes for Ortegas/Chapel/M'Benga/La'an/Hemmer.

Certainly with nine main cast members and 10 episodes, they have time to give each character an extended introduction if they so desire. We will see.
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AMA
Thu, May 12, 2022, 1:47pm (UTC -5)
Solid point from @StarMan, one I omitted from my own response: there is a lot of childhood / young adult trauma / backstory in Trek. Not just in recent Trek either: Jack Crusher, Ian Andrew Troi, Kestra Troi, Mogh, Betty Riker, Tasha Yar's parents, K'Ehleyr, Jennifer Sisko, Sarah Sisko . . . A crutch for writers, though, in this episode, it did not seem to be needed.

Finally, and not to make too large a point, but I did find the hazing to be a bit out of place. I realize it was very tame and lighthearted, but I suppose I would hope in the idealized future of Star Trek that individuals would have outgrown as much. At least Finnegan isn't a member of the crew.
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Andrew Taylor-Cairns
Thu, May 12, 2022, 1:52pm (UTC -5)
This was a bit a better story than last week's, so 3.5 out of 4 Jamme Scale.

Uhura was great to watch, going from nervous about whether she even belonged in Starfleet, to confident when she realized she had something in common with the way technology communicated. Also, using music to talk was a very unique alien feel.

Spock was also good fun to watch, and I look forward to seeing if Hemmer continues to channel McCoy.
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karatasiospa
Thu, May 12, 2022, 1:55pm (UTC -5)
at last!
a good respectable star trek series true to the original conception of this show. Unlike the absurd mess of discovery which must be cancelled ( and
unfortunately the second season of picard, i really liked the first season and i hope that the 3d will come back to form) thiw is a good show .Ok it's only 2 episodes but it shows great premise
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Norvo
Thu, May 12, 2022, 2:04pm (UTC -5)
Now this, this is Star Trek.

Cadet Uhura's self doubt mirrors Hoshi Sato's similar insecurities from Enterprise's first season. Spock and Uhura harmonizing almost made me want to yell "ALLAMARAINE!" But shap it: this is solid, entertaining and actually thought provoking. Our heroes aren't automatically right because their names are in the credits. They succeed in spite of themselves, it's wonderful to see.

There's so much to love about the Enterprise design. The ship looks both colorful and appropriately moody, the vessel looks lived in, not as clean, sterile and empty as Discovery so often appears.

Ortega seems destined to deliver the Tom Paris style quips and La'an Noonien-Singh appears to be pretty much invulnerable to pain? No wonder she survived the Gorn. Fascinating to see how this continues. Onward!
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TheRealTrent
Thu, May 12, 2022, 2:21pm (UTC -5)
Wow, almost 4 stars from Jammer. I've seen lots of people critical of Picard/Disco praising this episode elsewhere as well.
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TheRealTrent
Thu, May 12, 2022, 2:34pm (UTC -5)
Sorry for the double post.

I always thought the TOS Andorians were extremely creepy:

https://static.wikia.nocookie.net/memoryalpha/images/5/5b/Shras.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20130219172918&path-prefix=en

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/c/c4/JourneyBabel.jpg/220px-JourneyBabel.jpg

They had a waxy, sickly, sinister quality which I liked, and the shade of blue used on them was almost nauseating.

The promotional material for this episode advertises an Andorian/Aenar redesign:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/E-zvUZCXMAIDNHD.jpg

I think it works well. The production designers seem to have emphasized that demonic quality seen in TOS.
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Gorn With the Wind
Thu, May 12, 2022, 2:43pm (UTC -5)
Excited for Str Trek to be fun again. Leaving aside all other criticisms, neither DSC not PIC were ever anything close to being “fun”.
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Eric Jensen
Thu, May 12, 2022, 2:50pm (UTC -5)
This is how you do Trek!
A problem
Dilemma
Solutions
Thinking
Tension
Resolution
With an unknown
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Skylar
Thu, May 12, 2022, 2:50pm (UTC -5)
This is the long-overdue first real episode of Star Trek we've been waiting for since it returned to television in 2017. Bravo.
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Daya
Thu, May 12, 2022, 3:00pm (UTC -5)
So "Oh, on the Starship Enterprise" wasn't their first musical collaboration. Fascinating.
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Jaxon
Thu, May 12, 2022, 3:13pm (UTC -5)
Jeffrey's Tube:

"What are the odds the producers see the tremendous response to this show and we get an episodic Discovery season 5? "

That would be as redundant as if TNG and VOY had run concurrently.
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Mal
Thu, May 12, 2022, 3:58pm (UTC -5)
Wow, just as good as last week! What a wonderful show :)

@Peter G., you absolutely can watch this without watching any Discovery, as @Jammer says.

Don’t miss it - SNW is the Trek we’ve been waiting 20 years to see!
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lizzzi
Thu, May 12, 2022, 4:29pm (UTC -5)
Like most others, and for all the reasons given upthread, I loved this episode. I am in the process of re-watching Season 2 of Discovery, just to watch Pike again. No need to re-hash how toe-curlingly cringeworthy much of Disco is, but I am holding my nose and getting through it, just to see Anson Mount's performances. I thought I was the only one who thought he was the best Star Trek captain to come down the pike (haha) in a long time. Fortunately, many others thought so, too!

I still think Saru would make a far better captain than (erggggg) Michael Burnham, but that's for another discussion.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, May 12, 2022, 4:39pm (UTC -5)
@ Jaxon

Oh, I dunno. The setting is different enough. Disco is a magic ship that can jump anywhere, maybe even another galaxy (sure, they said the mycelial network is only galactic, but they can handwave that like they do tons of other stuff). I do see your point in that even if they do, it would be the same sorts of stories being told on the whole, just in a different locale. But might the setting being different make the stories different enough? Plus, a 13-episode Disco season + a 10-episode SNW season = 23 episodes, or still less than a TNG/VOY season of 26 episodes.

I feel like the episodes of Disco season 4 we responded to the best were closest to being self-contained. I also feel like the "big" serialized arcs of the last two seasons (the Burn, the DMA) ultimately slightly disappointed in the payoff department. I'm not so sure trying a different approach for one season would be a bad thing. I also think the added dimension it would be sure to provide the characters would help us care all the more about any high-stakes serialized story they tried to tell afterward.

If you want to collapse floors on a building for high-stakes dramatic effect, you have to make sure you build floors on a building first in between collapsing them, or all you have is a pile of rubble sitting where a foundation is supposed to be. Or something. I don't know, that's a bad metaphor and I can't be bothered to make it better. But you get what I mean anyway. DS9's serialization was so effective because it took time to breathe and make us give a damn about the people going through the story. Disco could take some time to tell some stories about its characters in episodes like this episode of SNW before the next evil universe that wants to eat our universe shows up, or whatever. That way we actually care a bit before Michael Burnham eventually leads every sentient being in our universe in giving a massive hug to the evil universe, causing it to see the error of its ways and break off to eat something else, you know?
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Jaxon
Thu, May 12, 2022, 4:51pm (UTC -5)
Jeffrey's Tube said:

" DS9's serialization was so effective because it took time to breathe and make us give a damn about the people going through the story."

This is why I miss the era where a seasosn was 20-26 episodes instead of 8-13.

DS9 could do a "One Little Ship" or a "Chimera" detour in the middle of the Dominion War because there were spare episodes to play with.
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Dreubarik
Thu, May 12, 2022, 5:33pm (UTC -5)
I should preface by saying I liked this episode. As Jammer says, this is retreading familiar ground, but it is finally done well. I can't quite believe it but I am looking forward to next week's Star Trek episode.

That being said, it has become very apparent that, even in good episodes, NuTrek writers neither understand nor like the Prime Directive. In this installment we see a contradiction with how this directive is interpreted in TNG. The real big issue, though, has to do with the first episode. It feels like the writers sourced their understanding of the PD from popular culture rather than actual Star Trek, and fall into the popular trope of believing it is an order that applies to "prewarp societies" only.

In fact, the PD broadly seeks to enshrine maximum respect for national (in this case, planetary) self-determination in order to reign in the colonialist and imperialist tendencies that follow from exploration. Its application to prewarp societies is particularly stringent because it is accepted practice that avoiding contact is the only possible way to respect these societies' natural development, but the PD is binding in all other scenarios as well. There are countless examples of this, such as the Federation's inability to interfere in the Klingon Civil War in "Redemption." This isn't about pesky continuity issues (which bother me only relatively) but goes to the heart of the matter: What Pike does in "Strange New Worlds," which is interfere in a foreign political matter by saying "I have the bigger gun" simply runs counter to everything that the Federation is supposed to represent. Meddling into foreign affairs with "our politics" is just as bad as revealing to a prewarp society that aliens exist. And yes, I know Pike gets away with it by finding a loophole, but these writers don't seem to understand that the actions he takes in that episode run counter to what people who have sworn to protect the PD would consider ethical.

Part of the reason they don't understand it, I think, is because they find the ideology behind the Roddemberrian Prime Directive repulsive. I believe we are very unlikely to see any NuTrek episodes in which the PD is upheld or seriously considered, rather than bypassed or reinterpreted (or applied in cases in which there is no moral ambiguity, such as bad aliens threatening peaceful aliens). This reflects how Western liberal sensibilities have shifted since the 60s, likely due to neoliberalism and greter distance from the decolonization processes: Today's liberals find the idea of NOT imposing their progressive values on others (say, uncontacted nations who are sexist homophobes) despicable. Which is an issue when you are writing within the inherited Star Trek universe.
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Jaxon
Thu, May 12, 2022, 5:51pm (UTC -5)
I wonder what nuTrek sensibilities would think if it stumbled upon Angel One.

Wold they find it repugnant in a reverse sense, or would they find it as karma for Earth history.
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SlackerInc
Thu, May 12, 2022, 5:51pm (UTC -5)
Quick review from Jammer!

Good, solid episode of Star Trek. Three stars (I'm very mildly the opposite of jammer in that I rated the previous episode 3.5 stars). I love the episodic format, with a slight tinge of serialization being threaded through it.

Jammer wrote: "The captain's dinner is a great venue for the series to break the ice among all the characters, including chief engineer Hemmer (Bruce Horak), a blind Aenar who appears to have a chip on his shoulder the size of 'Melora,' but which may be a joke."

Jammer, your writing is usually so clean, clear, and precise (which I love) but I wonder if you left a word out here or something? I don't understand what you mean, or even the grammar of this sentence. What exactly may be a joke?

One little complaint. As on FOR ALL MANKIND, I do wish they would make some attempt to actually portray the lower gravity on the comet when they are walking around. Instead they just lampshaded it.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, May 12, 2022, 6:14pm (UTC -5)
@ Dreubarik

It never made much moral sense that the Federation would let an entire species of sentient beings go extinct in "Homeward" rather than negatively impact their civilization through assisting them. The complete extinction of a species is, of course, an "absolute" case rather than a relative one ("is it any better morally to only let half the species go extinct?"), which the Prime Directive is clear we must avoid no matter what as a somewhat cold, impersonal way of letting things take their natural course in service to the bigger picture.

But even then, TNG is 100 years in the future. Case law and philosophical thought evolved during that time. What is the prevailing opinion in the TNG era--what is the law--is not necessarily what is the law in Kirk's era. I'm reminded of the TOS episode where an asteroid is going to hit a planet full of Native American-like beings. There is no discussion of the Prime Directive and if Kirk is going to activate the machine that diverts the asteroid and stops them from going extinct. He is going to.

Pike's actions and solution in last week's episode is functionally no different from Kirk's solution in A Piece of the Action. Contamination has already occurred. The only way to minimize the disruption and upheaval is to double down. It isn't the first approach Pike tried to fix things, after all, and nor was it Kirk's.

Back to TNG, in Homeward the planet of the species was actually dying. In this episode a comet was about to hit the planet. In TNG they couldn't stop the planet from dying, even if they revealed themselves to the inhabitants, so maybe they thought the only morally "right" thing to do was to let it and take the inhabitants with it. In this episode, and in the TOS episode, Starfleet has the ability to divert the comet/asteroid and the inhabitants will never even know. I'm not agreeing with the TNG point of view, and maybe it's a difference without a distinction. But it seems to me there might be some distinction in that difference, at least enough to be worth talking out.

I think Pike did the right thing last week, because that society had already been severely impacted by Starfleet. Walking away like nothing had happened and as if they weren't responsible was the wrong call. His solution wasn't perfect--even he knows that--but it was better. I also think he did the right thing this week, and that his actions are in line with what TOS-era thought was concerning the Prime Directive (or General Order One, heh), which is different from how it eventually evolves into TNG-era thought.

. . .

This isn't Kirk showing the Enterprise to a pre-warp society because he doesn't want Spock to die in a volcano in the shitty Abrams movies. Your same criticisms can be fairly leveled at that, I feel.

. . .

Lastly, in the previous episode, Pike didn't say "I have the bigger stick so both sides in this conflict, you'd better put down your sticks or I will smack you with mine." Pike said, "You think you have a big stick, but I have a much bigger stick, so let me tell you all about having big sticks. And let me tell you what happens when you use them. And let me show you, by example, that you don't actually have to use them." Never did he threaten violence against that society if they didn't stop their war and dismantled the warp bomb. That's not imposing the Federation's will or cultural values on them, imperialistically. That's only showing them and letting them decide what to do with the information all on their own.

. . .

On a side note: it's Federation policy not to meddle in the affairs of other civilizations like with the Klingon Civil War in Redemption. But I don't recall them ever saying that policy falls under the Prime Directive. Did they?
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Chris Lopes
Thu, May 12, 2022, 6:30pm (UTC -5)
"And yes, I know Pike gets away with it by finding a loophole, but these writers don't seem to understand that the actions he takes in that episode run counter to what people who have sworn to protect the PD would consider ethical."

Pike did what Kirk would have done. They are people of a different era. The Next Gen era folks interpret the PD a bit more strictly because experience (presumably) has taught them the folly of not doing so. As Janeway said, the people of Kirk's era would be brought up on charges (she said something about them being hauled away in irons) in her day.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, May 12, 2022, 6:32pm (UTC -5)
Also Starfleet had already contacted them during Una's mission. They did have warp, after all, regardless how they got it. If things had gone according to plan, Una's mission surely would have included some cultural exchange, no? True enough, Starfleet didn't know the true situation on the planet at the time, and this is more of a "letter of the law" defense rather than a moral argument for what Pike did. But it feels like an oversight not to mention anything about it.
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Leif
Thu, May 12, 2022, 6:34pm (UTC -5)
It was good better than last week with an ACTUAL STRANGE NEW ALIEN LIFE FORM AND PHENOMENON but wasn't ANYNE ELSE DISAPPOINTED WE LEARNED NOTHING ABOUT THE SHEPHERDS or the aliens on Persephone..about their nature or physiology or culture or customs..we didn't EXPLORE the new aliens on the new world..didnt anyone else want that and was disappointed we didn't get that??
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Leif
Thu, May 12, 2022, 6:42pm (UTC -5)
However the idea of a LIVING MUSICAL COMET that is Semi sentient and seeds a planet is VERY ORIGINAL AND CREATIVE SCI FI wouldn't youbsay Jammer? So isn't it fair to say this episode is much more original sci fi in that respect and not just classic Trek retold? What does everyone think

And WHERE ARE THE PREVIEWS FOR NEXT WEEKS EPISODE..WHYBDID PARAMOUNT REMOVE THOSE IM PISSED
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modulum
Thu, May 12, 2022, 6:48pm (UTC -5)
genuinely refreshing to have a comments section that debates the actual sci-fi issues in the episode's plot. haven't watched this one yet but that really says so much.
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C.T Phipps
Thu, May 12, 2022, 6:50pm (UTC -5)
[[That being said, it has become very apparent that, even in good episodes, NuTrek writers neither understand nor like the Prime Directive. In this installment we see a contradiction with how this directive is interpreted in TNG. The real big issue, though, has to do with the first episode. It feels like the writers sourced their understanding of the PD from popular culture rather than actual Star Trek, and fall into the popular trope of believing it is an order that applies to "prewarp societies" only.]]

A reminder the Prime Directive was created not as a actual good idea but, like the transporters, as a conceit of television. It was created by Gene Roddenberry and the writers to provide Captain Kirk something that he had to push back on and angst over breaking.
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MajorMayhem
Thu, May 12, 2022, 7:08pm (UTC -5)
I was very surprised by the episode. It was very good. and I was very pleased after the mess that was Picard. I hope it continues on this path.

My only complaint with the series is the Singh character. She is coming off TOO much like the Drummer character from The Expanse. Hell, she even looks like her.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, May 12, 2022, 7:11pm (UTC -5)
@ C.T. Phipps

True enough, on one level. But I would say, whatever they establish the rules of the transporter as, they should follow those rules. Same with the Prime Directive.

On another level, the Prime Directive as a philosophical concept has grown to take on an importance far beyond that. It's known outside of Star Trek and debated for its merits. It's the subject of many of Star Trek's most important and memorable episodes. An episode of a show calling itself "Star Trek" should treat it with the importance it has acquired, and should be able to tell stories that engage with the concept "in good faith," however exactly one cares to define that.

Which I, personally, judge this show has done. But it's certainly open for debate.
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Mike Lindell
Thu, May 12, 2022, 7:20pm (UTC -5)
Pretty good. Creative premise/concept with the comet. Great production values. I liked the dinner in Pike's quarters.
This show needs to make sure it doesn't get too Disco sappy though. This ep has me worried on that front, even though I thought it was as good as last week's.
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Descent
Thu, May 12, 2022, 7:40pm (UTC -5)
The Prime Directive was absolutely homicidal in TNG - Pen Pals and Homeward being the standout examples. I like that Pike didn't even have to think twice about initially rushing to save the planet from the comet impact. The TNG crew's "what if we're playing god, we'd better let everyone die" stuff from Pen Pals was always absolutely demented. A comet's en route to a planet, millions will die if we don't act, let's move the comet without the people of the planet ever knowing any different. Don't even have to think about it.

Of course, then we get into the situation with the Shepherds, who treat the comet as a religious entity. This obviously makes things a little more complex on the Prime Directive front, but all Pike's actions were justified IMO:
- They didn't forbid him from remaining nearby while the away team were trapped on the comet. The Enterprise was allowed to remain where it was and attempt to contact the away team. The Shepherds didn't care, for they were certain the away team would die. So, Pike's done nothing wrong at this stage.

- The Shepherds initiated hostilities after Uhura managed to shut down the forcefields (which she was obviously justified in doing). In the interests of preserving peace, Pike fled without even returning fire (I think?), even though they'd presumably have been allowed, by every Starfleet protocol we know of, to retaliate with non-lethal defensive fire. The Prime Directive is being obeyed at this stage.

- Flying the Enterprise in front of the comet was a reasonable way to save their lives and force a ceasefire with the Shepherds. At this point, he surrendered. No PD breach yet. However, the comet is still on course with the planet.

- After this point, obeying the PD any further (by leaving the area or simply surrendering to the Shepherds without any deception) would have led to the lives of an entire species being violently lost. So Pike has a decision - surrender and abandon millions to their fate, or attempt a deception that has a good chance of peacefully resolving the Enterprise's dispute with the Shepherds and also saving the planet.

Is he unjustified in choosing the latter? What are the consequences if the plan goes wrong? Presumably, the Shepherds destroy or capture the Enterprise - a small price to pay for the chance of saving millions on the planet - and end up in a tense diplomatic situation with the Federation (who's only interests will be in maintaining peace).

The TOS (and early TNG) Prime Directive is presented a guideline, not a dogma. The crew aren't mandated to sit there and watch as firey explosions consume a planet full of people. And so we get the Spock shuttle plan, which is the only point at which Pike directly ignored the wishes of the Shepherds. But as he said, they didn't *touch* the comet, as promised...

(And of course, ultimately the comet itself requested the plan, although nobody knew that at the time. Which is a bit of good luck, because if the Shepherds ever did suspect any tampering after the fact, that evidence would surely put Starfleet in the clear.)

I think you can definitely debate Pike's "screw general order one" stuff in the previous episode, and his rather extreme decision to reveal himself and the Enterprise, which is one hell of a gambit and an outright breach of the PD (the kind of which, let's remember, Kirk was well-known for). But in this episode? I really don't see Pike breaching the PD, either in the spirit of the law or the letter of the law.
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Troy G
Thu, May 12, 2022, 7:54pm (UTC -5)
Yes. This is what I want to see

I agree with Jammer: the best Trek since 2017
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, May 12, 2022, 8:16pm (UTC -5)
I think part of the reason this series is working where Discovery has not is because Discovery is pretty steadfast in not only having SMG as the lead, but virtually every episode written and shot as if Michael is the focus character. Other characters get scenes with real character now, but the episodes are almost never told from their frame of reference. It's notable that when standout episodes do occur it's often those rare situations where Burnham takes a back seat. Imagine how much more limiting DS9 would have been if we had nothing but Sisko episodes. I'm grateful it seems everyone will get their place in the sun on SNW.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, May 12, 2022, 8:30pm (UTC -5)
If Discovery were a different (better?) show, Burnham and co. showing up in the 32nd century and saying "Wait, the Prime Directive means WHAT to you now, are you even serious?!" is the kind of thing that could have made for very entertaining television. Exploring differences like that, in little or big ways, I mean. Instead, they've pretty much entirely glossed over any cultural shifts or changes or need to readjust one's mindset in order to integrate into a modern Starfleet. Very little sense of alienation experienced by the crew, either . . . although, they're future humans and they're Starfleet, so I would expect them to be handle that a bit better psychologically than a present-day human thrust 1000 years into the future would cope with the strange society they would find.

Like what if in the 32nd century Klingons look like butterflies and are all pacifists and it's a major cultural faux pas and insult to mention that they ever had forehead ridges and were a warrior species? Obviously that's a ridiculous scenario, but still. The writers haven't even seemed to consider doing anything like this, and cultural changes that would seem thoroughly strange or preposterous to the crew of Discovery would surely have happened over A THOUSAND YEARS of intervening time. We haven't come across a single one, I don't think. The closest we've come is the crew discovering Romulans are a Vulcan subspecies and Romulan reunification with Vulcan actually happened.
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Ensign Deathbound
Thu, May 12, 2022, 8:31pm (UTC -5)
Holey moley. What an episode. I wager 400 Quatloos on the newcomer.

Probably this has been pointed out in the 50+ comments above, but:

-Rock-solid episode. I'm actually kinda stunned at how much they packed into it.

-Basic (beloved) Trekian tropes: weird alien civ on a comet, a pre-Warp planet in jeopardy, the landing party getting into trouble even as the ship has to deal with complications of its own... noice.

-Cadet Uhura gets to shine -- intro, backstory, but it ties into Pike's own ongoing dilemma about his own future, which was a clever touch.

-The musical enigma on the comet, which involves everyone trying to pitch in (pun intended). A well executed bit, with some great set work. I bet the TOS production crew wished they had that kind of FX/expertise and budget.

-Great scenes in space above, with Pike trying to reason with the Sheperds, but being able to work around it and improvise as needed. Not to repeat myself, but yeah, I bet the TOS production crew wished they had that kind of FX/expertise and budget.

-The Spock/Uhura scenes; being a hardcore TOS fan, I worried about how they might handle canonical characters, but I'm enjoying everything I see so far. Makes sense, fits, works.

-Pike, giving Ortegas a little bit of a nudge... "time to step up" as they need to get closer to the comet... nice. That's what great captains do -- get the best out of their crew. Maybe all it takes to be a great captain (beyond, you know, knowing how to do everything) is acing the pep talk test. Interesting (if very brief) echo to the Spock/Uhura scene.

-Liking how this crew is gelling together so far. Pike, Number One, Spock, Uhura, Ortegas... even the genetic Superwoman (though she didn't get to shine as much). It's coming along nicely.

And an interesting/enigmatic ending, which brings us back to Pike's future, and the uncertainty (?) behind it. I felt that the fact he remembers the name of the cadets whose lives he saves was an especially touching element.
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C.T Phipps
Thu, May 12, 2022, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
Unlike Jammer, I generally like PICARD and DISCO with most of the episodes being about 3 stars for me and a couple of four stars (and a few terrible ones). I absolutely LOVE Lower Decks and think it might be my favorite Star Trek thing ever. Generally, I'm okay with this series and am very happy with it.

I also agree the biggest issue with DISCO is the fact that it seems desperate for us to want to love Michael. It's kind of ridciulous too because I actually LIKE Michael but she works best as part of an ensemble. I watched the show for Tilly and Saru primarily and felt Michael was a great charcter when playing off someone.

But the show wants us to LOVE Michael and I'm not sure why. STRANGE NEW WORLDS has a much better grasp on the use of the other characters as an ensemble and giving the protagonist(s) realistic flaws. This is also an episode already devoted to a side character that I felt Disco could have benefited from.
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Quinton
Thu, May 12, 2022, 9:16pm (UTC -5)
It feels good both enjoying modern Trek and seeing you feel the same, Jammer.

I've liked Discovery somewhat more than you overall and liked Picard a fair bit more (by virtue of liking it with 18 asterisks, mind you). But I'm right there with you on Strange New Worlds. I really hope it doesn't hit that weird thing that's happened to both seasons of Picard. You know the one. We'll find out next week. :P
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Dahj's Digital Ghost
Thu, May 12, 2022, 9:33pm (UTC -5)
St. M'hanit Brings Gifts to the Children of Persephone III, but the crew of the Enterprise fears he'll tumble down the chimney and burn the house down, while they tussle with Rudolf.

Two observations to get out of the way, right away: 1. M'hanit, Mahomet. 2. The Shepherd captain had a cross on his face. And once you see it, you can't un-see it. Not too subtle there.

Anyway, this was an enjoyable episode. Three stars.

One of the things I liked best about it was that the species native to Persephone III was depicted from a god's-eye POV. The crew of the Enterprise never saw them, as we did, and the Shepherds simply weren't interested in them, beyond what happened as a result of the comet doing it's thing. We, the audience, however get to see them, see their tribal culture, family relations, and their wonder (or fear) regarding the comet. Their make-up was beautiful, especially their textured hands.

I, like Leif, would have liked to know more about the Shepherds. How did they come to know about this "arbiters"? How did they come to decide that they were the guardians of these comets? How did their religion form? Alas, the episode was 52 minutes long.

Re: The Prime Directive — Both the Federation and the Shepherds here have the same Prime Directive, non-interference. The Federation, at this point in its development, has a Prime Directive that doesn't allow it to involve itself in the progress of alien societies (particularly pre-warp civilizations), while the Shepherds do not allow others to interfere in the progress of M'hanit and its kin.
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Shannon
Thu, May 12, 2022, 9:54pm (UTC -5)
Outstanding!!! This is what Star Trek is all about!
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Rahul
Thu, May 12, 2022, 10:21pm (UTC -5)
Again SNW feels like classic Trek and especially its ethos feels different from PIC, DSC in that it comes across as benevolent (for lack of a better word) instead of brutal or dark or woke. I think this was a good Trekkian tale that used a lot of familiar elements although they didn't feel like the usual Trekkian cliches. The ending is heart-warming with the rain falling on the natives and the whole aspect of a comet creating life. I liked the slower pacing and giving time to absorb the new characters, their differences as well as some of the excellent visuals.

The episode for Uhura is very much like ENT's "Fight of Flight" for Hoshi -- both are a bit uncertain of the Star Fleet careers and we get some nice backstory for Uhura. They both have to deliver on their language skills and Uhura eventually does -- the way it happens feels reasonable. Communicating with the comet brought some good sci-fi and it really reminded me of DSC S4 communicating with Species 10-C.

Spock had some good comments for Uhura, sort of taking her under his wing on the away mission -- the unique perspective gained from the confrontation with one's morality pep talk and Uhura also helps him to understand the human condition (laughing when things go so bad).

If I have one minor complaint, it's that the dialog for the junior officers (Uhura, Chapel, Ortegas) can be too colloquial and as if it's 21st century speak ("screwed", "pissed off"). But at least these 2ndary characters are already way ahead of where they would be on DSC and, more importantly, they seem to have their own personalities -- they're not all emotional wrecks.

One other thing that I had to wonder about is why Sam Kirk had to act like such an idiot on the comet and then getting zapped. He seemed to be saying sensible things to Uhura, albeit from a perspective of greater seniority/superiority.

There's some plot mechanics, a bit of subterfuge, etc. which wasn't anything spectacular. These shepherds were pretty much hard-headed aliens of the week, until the end. Their mission is interesting as was the comet's -- which also made me think of "For the World Is Hollow..." Got some scenes with the shuttlecraft and ship flying through asteroids -- that did nothing for me.

There's the ongoing theme of Pike's future and No. 1 now trying to see if he can change it. Looks like this will be revisited every episode, but not sure what more they can keep saying about it -- guess we'll see.

3 stars for "Children of the Comet" -- competently executed good Trek story that covered a lot of ground and that didn't have some of the holes that the 1st episode did. It's rare to get decent sci-fi on Trek anymore but we got some here, even if it felt like what DSC S4 spend more time building up. Good character episode for Uhura especially, which is nice to see so early in the series' run. SNW is off to a great start.
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Gorn With the Wind
Thu, May 12, 2022, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
If DISCO fees like a kid who’s gone off their meds and cornered you at a party with a wildly inappropriate emotional overshare,

And PIC is your poor beloved granddad doing his best to tell you a story that only barely makes sense,

Then SNW feels like an adult in full command of their faculties with plenty of interesting things to say.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, May 12, 2022, 10:40pm (UTC -5)
@ Rahul

George Samuel Kirk isn't in Starfleet when he dies in TOS's Operation: Annihilate! He's a civilian scientist. So either he voluntarily resigned . . . or he washed out because he couldn't cut it. And even if he resigns, maybe it's because he can't cut it. I wasn't surprised by how he performed on the away team in this mission, because from the moment he was introduced last episode and knowing his fate, I figured they might go this route with him. We'll see.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, May 12, 2022, 11:52pm (UTC -5)
@Jeffrey's Tube
"Whoever cast Celia Rose Gooding as Uhura deserves a standing ovation."

Yes! It's downright amazing how perfect she is for the part. I've never felt like this about any recast in any film or TV show. It's like some kind of sorcery.

*chef's kiss* Magnificato!
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Lodged Torpedo
Fri, May 13, 2022, 12:59am (UTC -5)
The whole stupid Sam decision scene on the comet seems like a shout out to the amazing Prometheus. The alien egg, the dark and foreboding setting, the line about there being a breathable atmosphere in that setting, and a supposedly smart scientist making a silly decision all hearken back to that film.
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Eric Jensen
Fri, May 13, 2022, 1:10am (UTC -5)
Preventing a comet from destroying a planet is different from interfering a warp capable species
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Eric Jensen
Fri, May 13, 2022, 1:10am (UTC -5)
Edit: Preventing a comet from destroying a planet is different from interfering a NON warp capable species
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Daya
Fri, May 13, 2022, 1:37am (UTC -5)
"God works in mysterious ways" is not an excuse for doing nothing. Because YOU may be the mysterious way God works in.

What an awesome, subtle and engaging story to weave around such an amazing core concept.
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SlackerInc
Fri, May 13, 2022, 1:52am (UTC -5)
@DDG: "Their make-up was beautiful, especially their textured hands."

Yeah. I also liked their costuming.

@Rahul: "If I have one minor complaint, it's that the dialog for the junior officers (Uhura, Chapel, Ortegas) can be too colloquial and as if it's 21st century speak ('screwed', 'pissed off')."

My fanwank is that we are essentially getting a universal translator version of dialogue, even in English (for that matter, why would we assume English is standard anyway?). Instead of giving us futuristic argot that might be hard to parse (like in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE), we just get today's equivalent.

I hope you're wrong that we're going to hear about Pike's fate on every episode.

@GWtW: Love your analogy with kid/grandpa/adult!

@Lodged Torpedo: I too thought of PROMETHEUS. A criminally underrated film, IMO: in fact, I'd call it the only really good one in that franchise other than the first ALIEN.
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dave
Fri, May 13, 2022, 2:18am (UTC -5)
I am still having to get used to all this positive energy about a modern Trek creation!

Great episode. It looks like each character will get an episode to flesh them out more. It took Discovery until SEASON 4 to even get us to remember the bridge crews names without looking them up FFS, and here we are already knowing and caring about several of the crew.

I also like the lighter tone than Discovery having everyone in mind crushing trauma and needing to share their feelings with a trauma team in order to feel valued and loved. There is a little more "suck it up buttercup" here and I like that. There is a balance between some old school football coach telling a puking concussed player to get back on the field versus the most minor of jokes sending someone into a 20 year long spiral of trauma. It seems they will find that a balance here whereas Disc was seriously overcompensating on the loving inclusive let's talk about our trauma dynamics.

Its also nice to see our long time friend Jammer giving good ratings two shows in a row as it must be really enjoyable for him to be able to do that!
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dave
Fri, May 13, 2022, 2:20am (UTC -5)
I also am getting a feeling Sam Kirk will annoy the viewers with a continued history of doing obviously stupid things like TOUCH AN ALIEN OBJECT , BEFORE ANY SERIOUS ANALYSIS, THAT CLEARLY HAS SIGNIFICANT POWER.
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ned the hyena
Fri, May 13, 2022, 2:26am (UTC -5)
Mmm... delicious ribs cooking in pike's cabin. Wish I were invited too. But why so many veggies?

Fake Kirk dead already and we just met him. Heart no good but maybe they can still save the mustache

Aliens have best job ever, they just escort sacred comets around the galaxy and tell people they better not mess their comets cuz they are sacred. That is the life.

Great space battles finally. Has never looked better. Alien ship looks big and scary but no reason to fear if it has no shields and enterprise shields never quit

Everyone talks like you just add water and great things happen. Not much water in Africa but does it not have "societal development" and also hyenas? Maybe this episode just too smart for dumb animals

Why comet need to tell Spock that it knew what he had to do if it was going to happen anyway even if he did not get the memo in time? Maybe some comets are really proud: "You may have saved the day Spock, but it was my idea first."

Uhura proves that she is best. Smartest secretary ever.

Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!
(3 whoops out of 4)


Hmm... I wonder what causality loops taste like
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PM
Fri, May 13, 2022, 3:21am (UTC -5)
"Children of the Comet" might be the purest, truest episodic Star Trek experience since CBS/Paramount started rolling out new Trek series in 2017."
Agreed
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Dreubarik
Fri, May 13, 2022, 5:15am (UTC -5)
The debate on the merits of the Prime Directive isn't simple, but the point is that this is the philosophy embraced by Star Trek's Federation and it shouldn't be constantly dismissed as it is in NuTrek. The pushback against the PD in this very forum, I believe, proves my point that modern liberal sensibilities are far less enthused by the concept of self determination.

Now, I also think that "Pen Pals" and "Homeward" take it to the extreme. And it is obvious that TOS played fast and loose with the PD, in great part because the Star Trek universe was still in the process of being defined by its own creators (Kirk also calls the Federation the "United Earth Probe Agency" but we've swept that under the rug now that the fictional universe is well defined). Yet this episode could have made some acknowledgment of how the philosophies referring to the application of the PD are evolving and debatable (as, by the way, "Pen Pals" and "Homeward" do). It just doesn't really want to engage with it.

As I mention it, this doesn't bother me too much when it comes to covertly saving a planet from an asteroid impact. It is simply confirmation of a pattern. The first episode went far beyond this, with Pike outright dictating the politics of a prewarp planet based on the fact that some trumpists broke into the U.S. Capitol in 2021 on Earth, and this being presented as an unquestioningly good thing. The writers didn't allow for any debate on the matter. The notion that it is better to let other societies solve their problems on their own is just not something that NuTrek writers believe in.
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Yanks
Fri, May 13, 2022, 5:16am (UTC -5)
@Jeffrey's Tube

"This episode got everything right. Literally everything.

Whoever cast Celia Rose Gooding as Uhura deserves a standing ovation."

Bingo on both counts. I wasn't familiar with CRG until now, but she is awesome. Beautiful voice as well.

Great review Jammer.

It's so enjoyable watching new Trek that doesn't seemingly go out of it's way to piss me off.

While waiting a week didn't really seem to matter to me for most of Discovery and Picard, I REALLY look forward to getting home from work on Thursdays so I can sit down and be inspired by some Star Trek. It's so refreshing.

2 for 2, and Jammer - I think the new car smell is going to last for a while and when it wears off we are going to like the smell of our new car.

4 stars from me.
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Alienatbar
Fri, May 13, 2022, 6:34am (UTC -5)
It did have that Alien quality and then it shifted to a Eurovision vibe. I was waiting for the egg to transform into an Israeli drag queen and hit some high Cs.
Thought Uhura was a lil smug but that might be part of her sass. Spock did correct her when she was discussing Chapel but thought he could have been more stern in keeping her focused. I thought maybe Uhurus family was torn apart by gorillas in a zoo enclosure but no… shuttle accident.
La’an was good. Someone mentioned she was under used but I think we’ll see her best come about.
Good episode. Basic message. Enjoyed it.
The bad news is when we find out the comet rain was acidic and destroys all life on Persephone. Hakuna matata motherf@$&ers!
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Alienatbar
Fri, May 13, 2022, 6:38am (UTC -5)
Samuel Kirk is giving of that serious Guy Fleegman vibe from Galaxy Quest. ‘I’m just some glorified extra Chris’.
Fuck off COVID. I want my body back.
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Heiko
Fri, May 13, 2022, 7:35am (UTC -5)
it seems nobody else mentioned it yet, but don‘t you find the way those ships (enterprise and the shuttle) move a bit unnatural? It looked like in a video game, with erratic/sudden changes of direction. I appreciate that the ships are more „dynamic“ than in e.g. TNG but these are still massive objects and should not move like a toy.
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KDalton_69
Fri, May 13, 2022, 8:24am (UTC -5)
I have watched this episode twice now. I have NEVER watched an episode of Picard or Discovery twice. I think I might watch it again.

Also, the fact that Spock knows Pike knows his fate all this time makes his actions for his former captain all the more poignant.
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KDalton_69
Fri, May 13, 2022, 8:42am (UTC -5)
RE: Prime Directive and the first episode. Arguably the Prime Directive was null and void when the non-warp race detected the warp signatures and the battle debris and used it to create the weapon. The contamination already had happened; Starfleet didn't know it yet.
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Gorn With the Wind
Fri, May 13, 2022, 9:34am (UTC -5)
@Heiko

I’m not an astrophysicist, but isn’t that how moving in space works? There’s no friction whatsoever, so as long as you have the necessary propulsion, you can do what ever insane acrobatic barrel rolls you want, no matter if you’re the size of a flea or a starship
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Extraneous
Fri, May 13, 2022, 9:42am (UTC -5)
@Alienatbar said:
" I thought maybe Uhurus family was torn apart by gorillas in a zoo enclosure but no… shuttle accident."

What the fuck is wrong with you?
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Descent
Fri, May 13, 2022, 10:02am (UTC -5)
@Dreubarik
The PD from Pen Pals onwards changes markedly from earlier on - not just from TOS, but from the first season of TNG. In "Angel One"* we get this:

"RIKER: It's not our position to interfere in the domestic affairs of other societies.
BEATA: But you can interact.
RIKER: Of course. Otherwise, how can we learn?"

I'm with you on Pike's conduct in the first episode being over-the-top, but at the same time, he didn't dictate anything or remove the planet's ability to resolve their own conflict. His major PD breach was in ordering the Enterprise to show itself in order to convince the government to release him, which was unquestionably a complete violation of the PD.

His subsequent speech isn't really a PD issue though. He didn't say "join or die", he didn't use threat of force to force them to submit, or anything like that. He had a discussion with them in which he warned them of Earth's history and showed them what may lie in their future. This isn't a violation of their right to self-determination, it's an open discussion between equals. If they'd just told him to leave and that they had no desire to know anything more about the Federation or ever see one of its representatives again, he would have done so.

*interestingly, Angel One also says that the PD doesn't apply to civilians, a topic that every other PD episode has refused to address. So even if Pike hadn't done his speech, you or I as hypothetical Federation citizens could have come along right afterwards, beamed down without Starfleet legally being able to do anything to stop us, and revealed ourselves as aliens. We could then join in with anti-government/anti-rebel protests, or argue with the local government, without breaking Federation law. You could argue that Pike was wrong to make his speech because he's a government representative and therefore his words are backed with authority, whereas a civilian doing the same thing would be genuinely just changing ideas with no cloud of potential imperialism hanging over them, but this is idealistic fiction so we as the audience are presumably meant to trust that Pike has no expansionist intent.
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Heiko
Fri, May 13, 2022, 11:00am (UTC -5)
@gorn with the wind: I am no expert either and yes, you might be right. But the Enterprise moves in SNW as if there is unlimited power for acceleration. It just feels off to me, size doesn‘t matter anymore (i.e. huge ships move like small objects). In old trek i had a „feeling“ about ships capabilities. For example the Defiant had a very powerful engine and could do quick evasive maneuvers. While a Galaxy class ship was more sluggish.
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Mal
Fri, May 13, 2022, 11:28am (UTC -5)
@Karl Zimmerman noted, "the use of La'an - or rather the lack of use. Look, she got heavy focus last week - I was not expecting her to be prominent this time around. But she went on the away mission with Spock, Uhura, and Sam Kirk and did…nothing.”

It is an interesting point.

La’an is a security chief, and this was her away mission. But in the end, she is only a Lieutenant, and there were two other Lieutenants on the away mission - Spock and Kirk. And at least one of those two has more experience and is also a bridge officer and department head - Spock. Tasha was also a Lieutenant and security chief and bridge officer, but I can’t imagine she’d be calling the shots on any away mission. Same with Odo. Same with Malcolm Reed.

The only exception is Tuvok, and let’s face it, he was superstar, and he had a Lieutenant Commander rank, same as Data.

So I imagine once La’an had secured the perimeter, and determined that there was no one else on the Comet, she really didn’t have anything else to do. When Kirk was hit, initially Spock took the lead to stabilize him, but once that was done, Spock turned to supervising Uhura, so La’an would have been in charge of keeping Kirk secure - and alive. That’s a pretty quiet job.

La’an may have been in command of the away mission, but it is the mark of a good leader to know when to get out of the away and let the specialists do their thing. Remember O’Brien teaching Worf this lesson?

@nacho Picard said, "This is maybe the tightest, best put-together episode of Star Trek I've seen since the fifth season of Voyager. No wasted moments, most of the humor landed, great special effects, a solid sci-fi story that kept me guessing how it would end, and good development of the characters.”

I totally agree. I’ve now seen the episode twice, and it is amazing how tight it is for 52 minutes.

@Karl Zimmerman said, "I'm hoping we also get episodes for Ortegas/Chapel/M'Benga/La'an/Hemmer”

I think the first episode counts as a La’an episode.

I don’t think we’ll get an M’Benga like Voyager Doctor episodes, and both Beverly and Julien episodes often fell flat. I think Enterprise is really the only show that managed to carry a good doctor episode (?!?). But it’ll be interesting to see.

If they skip anyone, I think it’ll be Ortegas. Paris didn’t get too many solo episodes till B'Elanna ("30 Days" was a good exception). And god knows they really dropped the ball on Mayweather.

I expect when they do a Chapel episode, it’ll be a hoot. And for sure we’ll see at least one for Number One, probably a lot more.

Man, this really is a fleshed out crew!

@Dreubarik, you make an interesting point: "the PD… application to prewarp societies is particularly stringent because it is accepted practice that avoiding contact is the only possible way to respect these societies' natural development, but the PD is binding in all other scenarios as well. There are countless examples of this, such as the Federation's inability to interfere in the Klingon Civil War in "Redemption.” “

@Dreubarik, I would have thought that those are two different rules. I would have thought that the Prime Directive applies to pre-warp civilizations. And the Federation then has a non-interference policy with respect to warp-capable civilizations. But you may be right. Here is “The Circle,”

SISKO: Admiral, we've just obtained evidence that the Circle's been receiving weapons from the Cardassians. If we withdraw, we'll be giving Bajor and the wormhole back to them.
CHEKOTE: Damn. That's a hell of a turn. How can these Bajorans get in bed with the Cardassians?
SISKO: They don't even know the Cardassians are involved.
CHEKOTE: Then you're saying it's a genuine political revolution internal to Bajor.
SISKO: Supported by the Cardassians.
CHEKOTE: But internal to Bajor. The Cardassians might involve themselves in other people's civil wars, but we don't. The Prime Directive applies, Ben.

So against my initial intuition, @Dreubarik, you make a very good point.

@Dreubarik said, "What Pike does in "Strange New Worlds," which is interfere in a foreign political matter by saying "I have the bigger gun" simply runs counter to everything that the Federation is supposed to represent.”

I don’t think it’s as clear as you make it out to be.

One faction of the aliens in the SNW pilot got a warp bomb because of the actions of StarFleet. That faction figured that now that they had the bigger stick, they don’t have tolerate the other faction any more. That’s what the leader tells Pike. Since that big stick - and the resultant misconceptions - is a direct result of StarFleet’s actions, it is on StarFleet to fix it.

Colin Powell used to have a corollary to the Prime Directive he called the Pottery Barn rule: you break it, you buy it.

You write that this episode is "a contradiction with how this directive is interpreted in TNG.” But I actually think the closest analogy to the SNW pilot is TNG’s "Who Watches The Watchers.” Here is the key part,

PICARD: Recommendations?
BARRON: The Mintakans wish to please the Overseer, but they can only guess what he wants. They need a sign.
PICARD: Are you suggesting?
BARRON: You must go down to Mintaka Three.
RIKER: Masquerading as a god?
PICARD: Absolutely out of the question. The Prime Directive
BARRON: Has already been violated. The damage is done. All we can do now is minimise it.
PICARD: By sanctioning their false beliefs?
BARRON: By giving them guidelines. Letting them know what the Overseer expects of them.
PICARD: Doctor Barron, I cannot, I will not, impose a set of commandments on these people. To do so violates the very essence of the Prime Directive.
BARRON: Like it or not, we have rekindled the Mintakans' belief in the Overseer.
RIKER: And are you saying that this belief will eventually become a religion?
BARRON: It's inevitable. And without guidance, that religion could degenerate into inquisitions, holy wars, chaos.
PICARD: Horrifying. Doctor Barron, your report describes how rational these people are. Millennia ago, they abandoned their belief in the supernatural. Now you are asking me to sabotage that achievement, to send them back into the Dark Ages of superstition and ignorance and fear? No! We will find some way to undo the damage we've caused. Number One, tell me about this group's leader.
RIKER: Nuria. Exceptionally clear-minded, sensible. The Mintakans trust her judgment. If we can convince her that you are not a god
PICARD: She might be able to persuade the others.
BARRON: And how do you propose to convince her?
PICARD: She believes the Picard is a magical figure. I'm going to show her how the magic works. I'm going to bring her aboard.

Even the uber PD aficionado Picard understood that if you are the reason a society has gone off the rails, PD or no PD, you have an obligation to fix it.

That’s what Picard did with the Mintakans. That’s what Pike did in the SNW pilot.

That’s obviously not the only possible answer - we see that people in Picard’s time strongly disagree with his interpretation of the PD - but it is a very fair interpretation of what is not even known as the PD in the SNW - it is still General Order 1.

@Jeffrey's Tube said, "I'm reminded of the TOS episode where an asteroid is going to hit a planet full of Native American-like beings. There is no discussion of the Prime Directive.”

Great point!

Which is why I really hope @Peter G. watches Strange New Worlds.

@Peter G. has a very useful way of analyzing the Prime Directive in a Babylon 5-Lumati versus Plox-Star Trek framework. You can find that discussed here,

https://www.jammersreviews.com/st-tng/s5/masterpiece.php#comment-83617

@Jaxon asked, "I wonder what nuTrek sensibilities would think if it stumbled upon Angel One.”

I think Number One’s onlyFans is called Angel One. So I expect the episode to play out exactly the same ;)

@SlackerInc asked, “ 'a blind Aenar who appears to have a chip on his shoulder the size of 'Melora,' but which may be a joke.' Jammer, your writing is usually so clean, clear, and precise (which I love) but I wonder if you left a word out here or something? I don't understand what you mean.”

Melora is dead serious about how much she is annoyed by people trying to treat her specially. Hemmer, the blind Aenar, is just fucking with Uhura, cause it is hilarious to fuck with good samaritans. The joke is on Uhura.

@SlackerInc said, “ 'can be too colloquial and as if it's 21st century speak ('screwed', 'pissed off’).' My fanwank is that we are essentially getting a universal translator version of dialogue, even in English”

I think it is fair that cadets like Uhura have pretty relaxed language. They aren’t officers yet. Plus, as we saw in The First Duty and Journey’s End, even a cadet brought up on a Star Fleet vessel has some pretty informal language.

Also, a staff will adopt the habits of a boss. Picard was very formal. Data, the second officer was basically robotic (lol). Worf was reserved because of Childhood Trauma (can we TM that now?!). So of course that crew needed an empath - they are the only crew we’ve ever seen that needed one.

Pike is a very different man from Picard. His crew will reflect that.

Kirk was a very different man from Picard. Scotty and Gary Mitchell had pretty casual attitudes with Kirk compared to similar people on TNG. Here is what I wrote in my review of "Where no Man has Gone Before,"

“Kirk runs a really chill ship in this one. A few key scenes flesh that out. When Gary Mitchell, Spock and Kirk are riding the turbo lift up to the bridge, Spock moves between them to the door, and is the first out of the lift - before the Captain. Then Gary shoulders Kirk out of the way, and also manages to get out of the lift before Kirk. Kirk is the Captain and he is still the last to make it out. Not very typical. It is subtle, but telling.

A few minutes later, when Kirk is taking readiness updates from all department heads, Scotty says almost sarcastically:

SCOTT: Engineering division ready, as always.

And Kirk smiles again. A really, really chill ship."

https://www.jammersreviews.com/st-tos/s1/noman.php#comment-77783

Which is a long way of saying I have no problem with the ways in which these kids (and there are many kids on SNW) talk.

On the other hand if Number One starts to be that lax while on duty, I would have a problem with it. As approachable as Riker was in 10-forward, he was still button-down when on duty. That’s what we expect of the best and the brightest.

And the Enterprise crew - TOS or TNG or SNW - are the best and the brightest.
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Dreubarik
Fri, May 13, 2022, 11:35am (UTC -5)
@KDalton_69 No, that is precisely my point: the notion that the PD is "void" because a society comes in contact with warp technology is unambiguously not what the PD is. The PD always applies as a principle (note that at least SNW doesn't upfront denies this, and instead relies on the odd idea that Pike could have gotten away with anything because the Discovery is "classified"). Minimum interference with other societies' development is the guiding principle. Even if this could somehow compel Pike to undo the damage caused by the introduction of warp technology, this isn't what we see in the first episode: From what we are told, these factions were already warring before due to ill-defined reasons. Pike then interferes with their politics assuming they should "all get along" with little knowledge of what drives these people just because of what happened on Earth centuries ago, and as far as we know they are left still in possession of warp weapons. This is simply not what someone who believes in any interpretation of the PD would do.

@Descent Ah yes, the classic "if you told us to leave we would". Unfortunately, not really a defense against imperialism, since there are many forms of foreign control that aren't based on deployment of troops. Pike knowingly or unknowingly threatens these people with the knowledge that aliens possess superior weaponry and then proceeds to insert himself in domestic politics (we are even given a hint of the Enterprise inspiring religions).

The ultimate point here is that it isn't a given that illuminating other societies with our values leads to better outcomes. Just as it can be argued that Pike's vision of peace will lead to a better world for the aliens, so it could be said that it will serve to subjugate a secessionist minority that had just motives, or that warp-based mass destruction weaponry would have done less damage on its own than knowledge of advanced alien species (after all, the MAD doctrine hasn't yet led to the destruction of Earth, but perhaps reduced large wars). This is all debatable, but the point is that Star Trek used to debate this with a bias towards non-interference, and I don't think we will see this again. An episode like "Cogenitor" would be denounced as hateful in today's political climate.
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Descent
Fri, May 13, 2022, 12:05pm (UTC -5)
@Dreubarik

I think I agree with most of what you're saying here. There's definitely a potential power imbalance introduced when Pike reveals the Enterprise, which is the stupidest thing he did in the whole episode, and stands out to me as the clear PD breach.

But I think there's a broader question of whether or not Federation law*, at least in the 23rd century, forbids Pike's subsequent actions in theory - that is to say, introducing himself and speaking to people as equals. TOS and early TNG seemed to think that it shouldn't, while later TNG explicitly thought that it should.

I put that massive "in theory" qualifier there because of course it's much, much more complex than that when you're doing this while simultaneously making interplanetary first contact, are a government representative rather than a private citizen, and have just demonstrated technological and military superiority. He may have already destroyed the chance to speak to them as equals with his ridiculous "i've got the bigger stick" routine when calling down the Enterprise. I absolutely agree that Pike's definitely on very shaky ground, to say the least.

*or just Starfleet law, given that we're told it doesn't apply to civilians

"The ultimate point here is that it isn't a given that illuminating other societies with our values leads to better outcomes. Just as it can be argued that Pike's vision of peace will lead to a better world for the aliens, so it could be said that it will serve to subjugate a secessionist minority that had just motives, or that warp-based mass destruction weaponry would have done less damage on its own than knowledge of advanced alien species (after all, the MAD doctrine hasn't yet led to the destruction of Earth, but perhaps reduced large wars)."

It might be argued that whatever happens in response to Pike's speech is a result of the planet's self-determination. Whether they embrace him, ignore him, half of them embrace him and half ignore him and they fight a massive war over it, or whatever else, that's the result of their collective decisions. This was the attitude taken by TOS quite a few times, the most obvious that I can think of being "A Taste of Armageddon" where Kirk introduces the potential for cataclysmic war to two planets by destroying their existing social model - literally destroying it, with a phaser. At the end he gives his reason as "they were already in a bad situation, a real war couldn't have made it any worse". This strikes me as a vastly more intense form of interference than just giving a speech and then bidding them farewell. There's plenty of evidence in TOS to suggest that the 23rd century PD was much more loose and far less restrictive than the latter-era TNG one, and that even something like Pike's actions in the first episode would be considered within the limits of the Prime Directive if his decision as a captain was that it was the best course of action available.
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Bryan
Fri, May 13, 2022, 12:30pm (UTC -5)
My thoughts on the Prime Directive is that it's typically meant as a precautionary principle and not as an absolute moral principle that must override all other considerations. Therefore, preventing a pre-warp planet from being destroyed is not a FU to the Prime Directive. But maybe this celebratory attitude of the planet being "better off" because it was radically altered from a unique desert habitat to a world that is more typically M-class is contrary to the whole spirit behind the Prime Directive. Granted, they didn't change the nature of the planet deliberately and it wasn't really Pike's "fault" anyway, but it's still nothing to get excited about since it would have been a clear violation of the PD if they had been deliberate about those changes. The PD would apply in that hypothetical scenario precisely for the reason that it's not up to them to judge that a unique desert world is inferior to lusher worlds. Especially if it is inhabited by intelligent life who owe their distinctiveness to that particular biome.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Fri, May 13, 2022, 12:31pm (UTC -5)
@ Dreubarik

"This is simply not what someone who believes in any interpretation of the PD would do."

You're in the chair instead of Pike. What would you do?
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Ilsat
Fri, May 13, 2022, 1:37pm (UTC -5)
What is the point of non-interference if the species ultimately dies? It matters where interference - or perhaps interaction alone - alters the trajectory of a species that has no immediate, discernible threat of annihilation. That's why interference to halt a genocide by one faction of another, one race of another, etc. is the most interesting. The species will persist regardless of the outcome. But can Starfleet really stand by and let it happen? Maybe it can, but it's a very tough call.
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Alienatbar
Fri, May 13, 2022, 1:41pm (UTC -5)
@Alienatbar said:
" I thought maybe Uhurus family was torn apart by gorillas in a zoo enclosure but no… shuttle accident."

What the fuck is wrong with you?

Just a nod to Team America and tragic back stories.

Gary - ‘We were all out at the zoo one day, I was doing some acting, walking on the railing of the gorilla exhibit. I fell in. Everyone screamed and Tommy jumped in after me, forgetting that he had blueberries in his front pocket. The gorillas just went wild. They jumped all over his body and threw him around like a rag doll to get to those blueberries. One gorilla would throw him to another gorilla who tossed him to another. Everyone panicked and cried out for somebody to help but it was too late. The gorillas beat him to death before the zookeepers could gas them all’.

I would’ve assumed with the selection process well into the thousands that , at least, No 1 would be aware of the history of their new recruits and would have briefed the Cap on something so sensitive.
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Alienatbar
Fri, May 13, 2022, 2:14pm (UTC -5)
I’ll need to re-watch but I did think the decision to change the comets path came about rather quickly and without much discussion on interference. We could have had a strong Kira like point of view from the likes of La’an (think she’s going to be good) around the PD and then on the religious connotations. Would have been good to see some debate. Maybe I’m just missing the Major.

Also, the Shepherds ship was pretty huge. Almost big enough to see from the surface especially shooting torpedoes. Do they have a PD? Did some of those torpedoes make it to the surface?
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Dreubarik
Fri, May 13, 2022, 2:27pm (UTC -5)
@Ilsat @Bryan I also find the TNG application of the PD extreme, but my main explanation of it has always been the impact that one civilization can eventually have on others once they become spacefaring. If you save a planet from a natural disaster, you may be condemning a neighbor (especially since you won't defend them from a military invasion). As I said, I wouldn't personally take it to that extreme, but it is at least a valid argument for a Federation forced to see issues in terms of galactic scale.

@Jeffrey's Tube Mostly, I'd like the episode to ponder this very issue. It's hard to put myself in Pike's shoes because the episode doesn't provide the necessary information (for example, do these factions already possess nuclear weapons? If so, maybe a warp bomb isn't enough of a game changer to justify interference). I certainly wouldn't meddle in their politics as overtly or imply they should fear my ship's guns.

@Descent There is no argument that "A Taste of Armageddon" (my favorite TOS episode) blatantly disregards the PD, but as I said the Star Trek universe is far more defined now than it was then, even if chronologically SNW comes first. If the PD is applied differently in this era we as an audience are owed an explanation and a debate around it.

One can of course always argue that self determination is guaranteed in any scenario in which you aren't literally killing the other guy, but the basis for something like the PD to exist is precisely taking the opposite side of this argument and pointing out that, where power imbalances exist, there are many other forms of subjugation (trade being an obvious one).

Again, I don't mind SNW depicting a different interpretation of the PD than in later eras, I just want it to be made explicit and part of the core of the show when appropriate. The fact it isn't suggests to me that the writers simply can't comprehend the philosophy behind it, but don't seek to disavow it either because they have inherited this well-defined universe from other creators
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Cynic
Fri, May 13, 2022, 2:55pm (UTC -5)
The "Prime Suggestion" means whatever the needs of a given plot dictate, much like how quickly/slowly warp drive (or the turbolift) can get someplace. Still it must be a good episode (and it was) to have sparked an actual Trekkian discussion as opposed to mean-spirited socio-political rants and writer-directed invective (however much they often deserve it). Does the PS apply to pre-warp civilizations only? Does it allow for "act of God" extinction events to be averted? Pick a side, pick an episode.

I didn't see anyone bring up TNG "First Contact" (the episode, not the film), with regard to last week's show either in that forum or this one. That strikes me as a closer analog to what happened last week than other episodes cited. Contact mission went pear-shaped, missing/captured personnel, warp-capable but sociologically immature society with riots, and where Krola (SP) is implied to represent a significant anti-space exploration minority. The Federation made another first contact mess (these missions seem to be the "shuttle crash" of diplomacy), and the crew has to fix it. Picard makes the decision to show himself to the natives (like Pike only admittedly not as dramatic). Was that a PS violation?

Picard tells the President something like "We're here to guide you into a new era." What would that have entailed, had the planet's president not told him to get lost? I'm guessing what we saw at the end of "Strange New Worlds": education and social development provided by the Federation (kids drawing warp nacelles, learning about Federation species, etc.). Probably gradually introducing tech (check out the replicator, yall!) Is that imperialism? Soft power? Both?
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Leif
Fri, May 13, 2022, 2:58pm (UTC -5)
JAMMER! Can you please expand on why you say this episode is very good or great but yet not amazkng..what's the difference between great and amazing? And isntthe comet like lifeforms and the Sbepherds worthy of being called more than "pretty solid " sci fi and maybe amazing and original sci fi?
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Jeffrey's Tube
Fri, May 13, 2022, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
@ Dreubarik

"Mostly, I'd like the episode to ponder this very issue. It's hard to put myself in Pike's shoes because the episode doesn't provide the necessary information (for example, do these factions already possess nuclear weapons? If so, maybe a warp bomb isn't enough of a game changer to justify interference)."

This is fair enough. You don't need to have a better answer to argue that the answer given isn't correct. I was just wondering if maybe you had one in mind.

"I certainly wouldn't meddle in their politics as overtly or imply they should fear my ship's guns."

We seem to have very different interpretations of what those scenes mean for what Pike did. It's the same for when you said earlier that "we are even given a hint of the Enterprise inspiring religions." I didn't take those scenes to be hinting at that at all. Not even in the slightest.

This has been an interesting exchange of perspectives. If you as a viewer interpret what Pike did this way, certainly a percentage of the people on the alien planet would see it that way as well. I personally don't think it would be mainstream, but it only has to be of a certain prevalence to cause new issues and fresh instabilities in their society.

. . .

The fact remains . . . unless Starfleet wants to sneak around the galaxy cloaked and never talking to anyone, everything they do is going to have some kind of impact on another society, their internal matters and culture, and their development. I feel like some of the points we've discussed (not just you and me, I mean the entire discussion) veer close to being nonsensical as far as what Starfleet should and shouldn't do. If anything, I think it's the depiction of the Prime Directive in The Circle that is wrong, not the depiction of it in these two episodes, for example.

We also shouldn't act like the writers have always been consistent with what the PD is and isn't and has always gotten it right in the past just because those episodes are older.

I don't see any evidence in these episodes that the writers "don't agree with" or "don't really care about" the Prime Directive and are only paying it lip service because it's a) too complex for their ability to write stories about, b) they're uninterested in it as a concept, or c) actively dislike it because they would rather tell interventionist stories that push some kind of "righthink" agenda, as some others have alleged.
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Yanks
Fri, May 13, 2022, 3:19pm (UTC -5)
Couple tid bits...

Could they have used the tractor beam to change the course of the "comet"?

I thought Spock's laugh at the end was pretty cheesy.

That is all.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Fri, May 13, 2022, 3:22pm (UTC -5)
@ Cynic

I didn't take those scenes at the end of last week's episode to mean the Federation is showing up and establishing a presence on that world, providing education, social development, and technology (i.e. exercising "soft power). I think it was pretty clear that the society wasn't ready for any of that yet and the Federation was leaving them and not coming back.

Pike's message was "We're out there. You can be too. We've shown you what's possible and what we overcame to do it. Come find us."

The scenes we then see is the society trying to do just that. Investing in science and education and social reform inspired by the Enterprise and what they were shown. Inspired to turn that warp bomb into a warp engine (through their own efforts), join interstellar society, and come say hello.
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TerakRall
Fri, May 13, 2022, 4:28pm (UTC -5)
@JS

"Harmonics" is a widely used PHYSICS term. How are you even in Starfleet? What do you think those "phaser HARMONICS" are that you just mentioned eleven minutes ago in the same episode? Sigh."

As a professional musician, I feel compelled to point out that harmonics are a musical concept as well, and most, if not all of the dialogue regarding the frequency of musical notes was accurate. Look up the harmonic series (or "overtone series"). I'm usually the first to nitpick poor musical content in a show but this was pretty spot on.
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Eric Jensen
Fri, May 13, 2022, 4:46pm (UTC -5)
For a vulcan or half vulcan, the laugh should have been "cheesy".
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Cynic
Fri, May 13, 2022, 5:21pm (UTC -5)
@Jeffrey's Tube

I don't know about that. Maybe it was to be metaphorical, but Pike explicitly invites them to "Join our Federation of Planets," like now, not 10, 20 years from now ... I took the last few scenes on Kiley (obviously time-shifted, regardless of how you or I interpret them) to mean that they were granted membership, or at least junior membership, and were being brought "up to speed" at some point in their not-distant future. Open to interpretation, but you'd have to assume the Federation does that kind of thing. Think about that species from the beginning of "Insurrection" (TNG era admittedly), whose leader Picard was supposed to dance with, who had gotten warp drive only a year before and were already joining the Federation. "We need all the members we can get these days," Picard says, but one hopes not just for cannon fodder in the Dominion War at the time.
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Derek
Fri, May 13, 2022, 6:49pm (UTC -5)
The fact that the solution was singing major chords, with Spock discussing music theory...this was a better Star Trek episode than anything CBS has put out since 2017. Keep it coming.
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Frank A. Booze
Fri, May 13, 2022, 9:54pm (UTC -5)
That was the best episode of Star Trek I have seen in a long, long, long time. Wow, what a difference compared to Discovery and Picard.
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Trek fan
Fri, May 13, 2022, 10:21pm (UTC -5)
Jammer seems to evaluate all the recent Star Trek series based on nostalgia, in comparison to the older ones: He likes the ones that feel like classic TOS and TNG-era Trek. That seems to lead him to give wildly exaggerated ratings to episodes this this routine, dull affair. Yes it’s more logical than the plots of Discovery and Picard; no it’s not very good or fresh.

I have a completely different standard for reviewing Star Trek: originality. This series so far has nothing we haven’t seen before; it’s all retread.

I suspect many Star Trek fans fall in love with the first series they see; their favorite is the first one they saw. That’s why TOS will always be my favorite, even though DS9 is probably the best. But others who saw Voyager or Discovery first may prefer them because the elements of the Trek universe were fresh to them. Etc.

That aside, I don’t come to Trek looking for comfortable familiarity: I come looking for new and thoughtful material. This episode wants to build the easy cast chemistry of TOS, but situates it in a formulaic plot. I’m sorry, but there’s no way in hell this is 3 1/2 stars. It’s 2 for me, just like the pilot.
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Ilsat
Fri, May 13, 2022, 11:26pm (UTC -5)
Trek Fan, when you're used to eating shit for dinner, a hanger steak tastes like A5 wagyu
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SlackerInc
Sat, May 14, 2022, 12:20am (UTC -5)
@GWtW: "I’m not an astrophysicist, but isn’t that how moving in space works? There’s no friction whatsoever, so as long as you have the necessary propulsion, you can do what ever insane acrobatic barrel rolls you want, no matter if you’re the size of a flea or a starship"

No friction, but you still have to account for mass, inertia, acceleration, momentum. This has been one of my issues with most of the Spider-Man movies, except for ASM. The others had him move like a weightless cartoon, but that one used stuntmen actually swinging on cables so there was real weight to it.

This will date me, but even as a kid I appreciated that the early video game Space War (a precursor to Asteroids) accounted for this as well. When you rotated the ship and started thrusting in a different direction, you didn't just immediately start going in that direction in a straight line. The momentum you had built up from going the other way still carried over, so you kind of swerved around in an arc.

@Mal: I love the forthright atheism in that TNG passage you quoted. I believe there was something like that in The Orville as well.

@Ilsat: "What is the point of non-interference if the species ultimately dies?"

I took that stance myself while watching the episode and early on in this debate here. But I always like to play devil's advocate wherever possible, so how about this. Imagine 65 million years ago a starship was flying by our solar system and saw that an asteroid was going to hit the Yucatán Peninsula and kill a whole lot of species, including most of the dinosaurs (some evolved to become birds). If they had nudged that asteroid away, I think it's safe to say we would not be here now talking about Star Trek. Maybe some other intelligent life form would be talking about some other show, but I think all of us prefer that it worked out this way.
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Booming
Sat, May 14, 2022, 1:04am (UTC -5)
@IIsat
"What is the point of non-interference if the species ultimately dies?"
All species ultimately die. It's not a question of if but when and maybe why.
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Andre Rhine-Davis
Sat, May 14, 2022, 2:08am (UTC -5)
@JS

"NGL, this is definitely an improvement over Picard and Discovery, but JFC, hire a science consultant or sth.

La'an: "what are harmonics, I skipped music"

"Harmonics" is a widely used PHYSICS term. How are you even in Starfleet? What do you think those "phaser HARMONICS" are that you just mentioned eleven minutes ago in the same episode? Sigh."

-----

@TerakRall

"As a professional musician, I feel compelled to point out that harmonics are a musical concept as well, and most, if not all of the dialogue regarding the frequency of musical notes was accurate. Look up the harmonic series (or "overtone series"). I'm usually the first to nitpick poor musical content in a show but this was pretty spot on."

-----

As someone who has studied mathematics, physics and music theory, I loved the discussion of harmonics in the episode. It's clear to me that they *did* get a science consultant or a music consultant or something, since everything that Spock said about harmonics was completely scientifically accurate.

Having said that, JS makes an excellent point. Harmonics in music are really just one manifestation of the concept of harmonics in physics, i.e. the modes of vibration of an oscillating system, the individual standing waves of different frequencies which oscillations are made up of. They're pretty ubiquitous in physics, showing up anywhere you're dealing with waves, such as in acoustics, mechanical dynamical systems, electrical dynamical systems, quantum mechanics, etc. There is *no way* you could be in Starfleet and not know what harmonics are. Hell, I first learnt about harmonics in *high school*. You might not know how they actually correspond to musical notes, i.e. that the 3rd harmonic corresponds to a perfect fifth in music and that the 5th harmonic corresponds to a major third in music, but you would definitely have an understanding of what harmonics *physically* are in terms of waves.

So yeah, I don't buy that La'an would be like "harmonics? lol I didn't do music" rather than "oh right, this is just the harmonics of sound waves. I don't actually know what they would sound like but I get the physics of what's going on". Like JS said, Star Trek literally talks about phaser harmonics and deflector harmonics and stuff all the time.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Sat, May 14, 2022, 2:48am (UTC -5)
Yes, I agree La'an's line was a lazy "the audience is dumb and we need to explain this to them" writer's crutch. It's actually one of my TV pet peeves. Like anytime the hero's "tech guy" has to do something, even though they've worked together for like a decade or whatever, the hero has to be all "explain it to me in English." Even though the hero would clearly understand that they need to insert the USB drive into the computer to take down the firewall without needing it explained, because they've done it like twenty different times in twenty different episodes already. Also because inserting a USB drive into a computer is really fucking routine and not complicated. The writers just think the audience is dumb so the hero has to ask a dumb question to tee up the tech guy's explanation.

Harmonics is not quantum entanglement or string theory. Jeez. Even if a person cannot define it precisely, they're familiar with the concept enough just from everyday life to follow what's going on.

I admit I cringed at that line. It's beneath Star Trek. And worth calling out. But I'd really hope no one let it ruin the episode for them.
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SlackerInc
Sat, May 14, 2022, 4:23am (UTC -5)
Vince Gilligan refers to this kind of expository dialogue between characters who would never actually need the explanation, purely for the viewers' benefit: "So, how long have we been brothers?" 😆

But in this case it didn't bother me.
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Top Hat
Sat, May 14, 2022, 5:48am (UTC -5)
In the Nitpicker's Guides, Phil Farrand used "cabbagehead" to describe when a character is suddenly implausibly stupid just to allow expository dialogue to explain something to the audience. A notorious example is "Disaster," where Troi doesn't know what a core breach is. Here La'an gets to be a cabbagehead.
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Data's Lawyer
Sat, May 14, 2022, 8:18am (UTC -5)
I think that there’s a plausible, if pedestrian, explanation for what La'an said about harmonics: even if *we* know that harmonics in physics and harmonics in music are more or less the same thing, *she* might not. She knows only what they mean in physics, and doesn’t know that they mean the same thing in music, because she doesn’t know much about music.
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Chrome
Sat, May 14, 2022, 8:49am (UTC -5)
Trek fan wrote:
"I suspect many Star Trek fans fall in love with the first series they see; their favorite is the first one they saw. That’s why TOS will always be my favorite, even though DS9 is probably the best. But others who saw Voyager or Discovery first may prefer them because the elements of the Trek universe were fresh to them. Etc.

That aside, I don’t come to Trek looking for comfortable familiarity: I come looking for new and thoughtful material. This episode wants to build the easy cast chemistry of TOS, but situates it in a formulaic plot. I’m sorry, but there’s no way in hell this is 3 1/2 stars. It’s 2 for me, just like the pilot."

Yeah, I'm in the same camp. I don't think any of this was bad or anything, and I am really glad people here enjoy it. But none of it strikes me as thought-provoking. You watch the episode, it has a simple message, you forget it the next day.

Picard wasn't very popular here, but one thing to its credit is that it tries to tackle complex issues and really challenge the viewer. Yes, it falls on its face many times, but somehow I still appreciate the effort in this direction. Star Trek is about going into new frontiers *boldly*, right?
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Peter G.
Sat, May 14, 2022, 9:39am (UTC -5)
"Star Trek is about going into new frontiers *boldly*, right?"

I think Star Trek is about the writers *telling* us something bold, rather than doing something arbitrarily messy in terms of story structure and calling that bold. TOS was bold because it repudiated the U.S. and the USSR both in the Cold War setting, suggested that people thought of as enemies will live in harmony one day, and that risk will be undertaken one day not for personal gain but for the betterment of our knowledge. TNG was bold because it said that this program will actually work and things will be ok one day. VOY was bold because it said that we can retain what we have gained even if we get lost at some point.

Just by way of contrast, it's not bold to offer a message that is at the forefront of the current popular culture and which is already crammed into lots of media. Bold would be opposing the current popular culture, or perhaps offering a different message altogether. I'm not talking about SNW since I haven't watched it yet (I will). But I think PIC's message is far from bold if we're counting bold as being something that opposes or offers an alternative to the current zeitgeist. It's more like a cafeteria offering up cheap versions of normal food.
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Chrome
Sat, May 14, 2022, 10:14am (UTC -5)
"I think PIC's message is far from bold if we're counting bold as being something that opposes or offers an alternative to the current zeitgeist. It's more like a cafeteria offering up cheap versions of normal food."

Well, now here's where we disagree. Just from the last season, I thought the material about understanding mental illness was daring and not often attempted in media. It's not attempted because people would rather forget that mental illness exists rather than television try to educate us on it.

Bringing it back to SNW and Trek Fan's point, I think about it as a simple metric. Would I rather spend an hour watching a classic episode of TOS/TNG or this show attempting to tell the same stories? The more I think about it, the more I lean towards the former. Something I often hear writers saying is that you should never try to remake a story when a perfectly good version exists. That thought keeps nagging at me as I watch this.

But that said, I do encourage you to watch this on your own and form your own opinion. And my own opinion isn't finalized either. :-)
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Ilsat
Sat, May 14, 2022, 10:25am (UTC -5)
Booming - "All species ultimately die. It's not a question of if but when and maybe why."

Not arguing with that. The point I'm making is that the PD is based on the assumption that ST interference is a net negative to certain species, particularly those who lack the technological and social development to deal with spacefaring civilizations and everything that comes with them.

In this context, the term "interference" is understood in a broader sense. Not just the literal interfering with their affairs but more subtle concerns: shifting the longer term balance of power, altering beliefs and mythologies, accelerating tech capability, and so on.

But these concerns presuppose a species that survives to experience these apparent pitfalls. Often, it also means some awareness of the source of the higher tech or underlying mythology. They realize something is "out there" even if they don't understand it.

Where ST interferes to prevent the total annihilation of a species, the question then becomes "is the interference a NET negative considering the alternative?" In scenarios where the species persists, the answer is likely yes. If it won't, I would argue it is not. In fact, in some cases they may not know any interference occurred. Or have some vague notion that something happened without really knowing what. So, I think it's clear you save them if you can.

There are residual existential questions re non-interference. Don't play God, the natural order requires the extinction of the species, and so on. But we "play God" any time we bring our tech to bear to alter the natural course of anything. And, if there is a God, why give us the means to save someone and the empathy to feel impelled to, if you want us minding our own business.

So, yeah, I have no problem saving a pre warp species from annihilation. I don't think a PD, at least not any thought out sane one, would either.
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Bok R'Mor
Sat, May 14, 2022, 10:38am (UTC -5)
Robust episode that provided distinctly Trekkian ideas, themes and solutions.

Uhura was really excellent here - I agree that the casting was well done. Pike and Number One continue to be utterly rock-solid and captivating, and Ethan Peck actually did well as Spock too - his performance seemed better this week.

Visually it was top-notch of course, with some impressive effects, and I too particularly liked the makeup on the aliens on the planet.

I did laugh that Ortegas' supposed evasive manoeuvres actually led to the ship getting hit even more.

Two good episodes so far for SNW.
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Booming
Sat, May 14, 2022, 10:40am (UTC -5)
@IIsat
"In this context, the term "interference" is understood in a broader sense. Not just the literal interfering with their affairs but more subtle concerns: shifting the longer term balance of power, altering beliefs and mythologies, accelerating tech capability, and so on."
Yes, I would maybe add that we cannot predict the future and therefore any interference could lead to disaster. That is the in universe reason but there is also another that is more closely connected to our times. It is non interference thought to the end. Empires always use nobles reasons to justify interference. The Russians fight Nazis in Ukraine, the US wanted to destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Saying that you never on principle interfere sets a hard lock on any argument slowly watering down non interference until the Federation would becomes like any other expanding empire.

I'm an atheist, so god doesn't factor into my views on the matter.

Personally, I'm a very empathetic person and would probably argue for helping/saving that species. As Sisko's father said:"The road to hell is paved with good intentions." So pass the stones please. :)
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Jason R.
Sat, May 14, 2022, 11:13am (UTC -5)
"Where ST interferes to prevent the total annihilation of a species, the question then becomes "is the interference a NET negative considering the alternative?" In scenarios where the species persists, the answer is likely yes. If it won't, I would argue it is not. In fact, in some cases they may not know any interference occurred. Or have some vague notion that something happened without really knowing what. So, I think it's clear you save them if you can."

What you are missing is that the Prime Directive isn't just about protecting less advanced races but also protecting the Federation and its citizens. Picard explained this in TNG Pen Pals. The PD exists to protect more advanced societies from a *moral danger* inherent to any situation where one group possesses (relatively) god like powers over another group. No matter how benign or laudable one's intentions, the situation is perilous.

In TOS we saw numerous examples of Federation citizens becoming corrupted by the absolute power coming from interacting with less advanced races. This occurred in episodes like The Omega Glory and Bread and Circuses. And also this theme plays out in episodes like Where no Man has Gone Before and Charlie X with super beings living among regular humans.

The idea being that absolute power corrupts absolutely and that where a society with phasers and starships interacts with a society that lives in straw huts the power differential is inherently dangerous and doomed to corrupt the more advanced group.

Remember these episodes were also written in the context of the 1960s and the Vietnam war and other events where big advanced powers exploited weaker less advanced societies claiming to do so for the good of those societies, but always with the specter of secondary motives.

So to summarize, one of the most important reasons the Federation doesn't interact with less advanced societies, even to save them from natural disasters is because such interaction is inherently dangerous (morally) to the Federation and its citizens. And yes, it also involves making decisions with ramifications that one cannot possibly predict or truly take responsibility for.
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Jason R.
Sat, May 14, 2022, 11:19am (UTC -5)
Just realized Booming addressed the point I made in her earlier post.
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Ilsat
Sat, May 14, 2022, 11:21am (UTC -5)
Well said, Booming. I'm a non-interference type person overall as well. People should read Frantz Fanon and Edward Said. The issue is more complex than empires subjugating other peoples. It's about the loss of the unique cultural voices and points of view. Of what it feels like to be Igbo, or a Berber, or a Chippewa before there was this western order and thought process imposed on them. Progress often means a loss of more primitive ways of being. But, that doesn't mean we need to strip the human species of some very unique ways of being.

Frankly, we may save our species of we redefine success, achievement and worth in terms more conducive to conservation, reclamation and balance with nature. I know of a few "backward" cultures that could help us do this. If we're willing to listen.
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Alienatbar
Sat, May 14, 2022, 11:31am (UTC -5)
Not sure if this has been mentioned but perhaps Pike’s decision making in the last 2 eps is down to the personal crisis he is facing and he has adopted a devil may care attitude regardless of the PD. The fact the Shepherds had a more superior armed and faster ship and with an Enterprise team on the surface of the comet, I assumed Pike would weigh the risk, apologise for the intrusion and note the team on the surface first, get the team back and try further diplomacy from there. Instead he immediately labelled them zealots and the craziness ensued. The risk to the whole crew seemed quite high. We might see this subside now he sees he has a function to save those other lives?
Then there was the risk with Spock and the comet. I mean he could have had a shuttle accident! You know, that shit happens!
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Ilsat
Sat, May 14, 2022, 11:43am (UTC -5)
Jason R. - "So to summarize, one of the most important reasons the Federation doesn't interact with less advanced societies, even to save them from natural disasters is because such interaction is inherently dangerous (morally) to the Federation and its citizens. And yes, it also involves making decisions with ramifications that one cannot possibly predict or truly take responsibility for."

I understand where you're coming from. Let's be more precise. Saving a species from some exterior force of annihilation is very different from stopping a species from destroying itself. You cited a "natural disaster" which is likely an external factor, though it could be the by-product of a speces' activities. E.g., fracking taken to the Nth degree. Regardless, the term natural disaster is notoriously vague, and it doesn't usually refer to a truly species-ending event. So, it doesn't fit with my point re an annihilationevent. It falls into the much more difficult and situation-dependent category.

Which gets us to the issue of moral ramifications on the intervening society. Yes, halting the annihilation of another species impacts the psychology of the Federation. But consider the alternative. Consider NOT taking action and watching whole intelligent species die out. What sort of message does that send children re the Federation's principles? Is deontological thinking two-tiered, especially if we exclude pre warp civilizations? If not, do we watch a lesser Federation (warp capable) species die because we don't want to exert our incremental superiority and risk gaining some vaguely-defined god-complex?

Now, if a species is hell bent on destroying itself, the situation is much more difficult. Non-interference is probably the right move. How do we know their wars and genocides will kill them off completely? We don't. It's also difficult to assess whether the species can properly advance without learning some hard lessons. Yet, there is a level of atrocity and butchery where we, as a reasonably moral and empathetic society, might feel obligated to intervene. It's a tough, tough call. The PD seems to extract that thoughtful, deliberative exercise from its leaders. "Don't do it, period. " That gives tremendous power to those who made the PD and prevents successive leaders and ST personnel from sitting in judgment of the very tradeoffs the PD creators were allowed to consider. Which is why the PD is periodically ignored by ST captains. And it seems those who do it repeatedly but with real thoughtfulness to the implications, like Picard, are well respected amongst the majority of their peers.
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Bryan
Sat, May 14, 2022, 11:49am (UTC -5)
"Get rid of them, Jammer :)"

And to more heavy-handed moderation, I say nay!

Not because I enjoy the offending discussion or am particularly keen on its continued existence -- I just skip over it, as you all can -- but because I believe in the principles of intellectual honesty, transparency and free speech. I don't know if everyone realizes how fortunate we are to have a place on the internet where we don't have to constantly second-guess ourselves about whether what we want to say falls within the arbitrary "community guidelines", partisan approval, or whims of the mods. In any case, when it comes to moderation a line must be drawn somewhere and it is often a blurry one. Not so when it comes to Jammer and his simple "no personal attacks" rule.

It has always been that many discussions that begin firmly rooted in Trek veer off into the Trek-tangential, which will inevitably have both its adherents and detractors who disagree on whether the posts should continue or cease. It is easy to be a detractor for all things that are not Trek enough until the day comes that they find themselves having to defend their premise or provide more evidence for their point and lo and behold, they are deep into one of those very tangents that they purport to stand against!
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Alienatbar
Sat, May 14, 2022, 11:54am (UTC -5)
The current comments on interference/non-interference is exactly what we missed in this episode. There doesn’t seem to be a character (a Kira) who could have elevated the episode by noting the principles that Booming and IIsat have noted. With La’an slowly cooking away I thought it might be her but she stayed regimented. Let’s hope we get some pricklier episodes soon.
Maybe that’s where the half star went to Jammer?
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Ilsat
Sat, May 14, 2022, 11:56am (UTC -5)
Bryan - "I don't know if everyone realizes how fortunate we are to have a place on the internet where we don't have to constantly second-guess ourselves about whether what we want to say falls within the arbitrary "community guidelines", partisan approval, or whims of the mod."

That is simultaneously heartening and really fucking depressing.
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Booming
Sat, May 14, 2022, 11:57am (UTC -5)
@IIsat
Ok, so we are saving the one species and many more on that planet from a comet. Fine. Do we stop there? What about a comet that hits a planet in 500 years, or what about a sun going supernova in a 1000 years? How about a comet really far away that we had to sent a ship on a decade long mission? Do we rescue the people there? If we start rescuing primitive civilizations, do we not immediately make it our responsibility to save as many as possible. How about a gigantic natural disaster likely wiping out 98% of the species. Do we rescue those 98%? Or do we only interfere if all die? Where is the line then? 90%? 50%? 5%?

I get the allure of absolute principles. Otherwise you are walking into a swamp. On the other hand, I couldn't let them die. I would always help. I guess I'm not starfleet material. :D
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Booming
Sat, May 14, 2022, 12:17pm (UTC -5)
And those are the easier cases. How about there is a far less developed warp capable civilization that controls a region in which a comet will soon wipe out a planet full of pre warp species, the warp civ can't do anything but still forbids us to enter their territory. Do we force our way in or let it happen?
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Latex Zebra
Sat, May 14, 2022, 1:07pm (UTC -5)
Fantastic episode. Agree, it's a not a classic. It's just a very well told, interesting story with great characters and actors playing them.

Two for two and I am well invested for more.
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Maq
Sat, May 14, 2022, 1:18pm (UTC -5)
I know, view the complete episode before you make the judgement. I wont, 21 minutes watched so far. wow!
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Ilsat
Sat, May 14, 2022, 1:36pm (UTC -5)
Booming, your points reinforce why an absolute and rigid rule is dangerous. This is precisely the dialogue we should have.

It's also important to consider that Star Trek itself makes a number of assumptions not currently born out in the real world. For example, the sheer improbability of running into a sentient species with an evolutionary status within even a few thousand years of our own is astonishingly remote. That's a ST conceit that is frankly nonsense. Just to find ANY sentient species anywhere near us would be a spectacular event. Our galaxy is billions of years old so the time tables just don't support ST logic.

Also, warp drive, transporters and so forth are pretty far fetched. That humanity could just swoop in and avert a disaster is pretty silly.

Why bring this up? Because the frequency of species saving decisions, and the manner in which we do it (if we do it), are relevant to the discussion of a PD.

It would be exceptionally rare to face the scenarios you propose in the real world. We just happen to run across some civilization requiring help only we can provide, we have a feasible way of providing help in the timeframe warranted, the nature of our help is deemed to interfere with more than the species' ability to survive -- good luck with this scenario.

If we plant ourselves in the Trek universe, your hypotheticals become interesting because they might happen with enough frequency to warrant the introspection you and Jason raise. But to do so means to make judgments about those people, not ours. To dwell in the fantasy long enough to deliberate on it. I agree it wouldn't be easy, but norms, ethical frameworks, and ways of reasoning would be fundamentally different from our own. Because the variables driving the evolution of those essential things would be different.

So, a serious discussion of the PD moves me only as an academic exercise. Real world intervention is about the U.S. averting genocide one place while extracting resources from another. It's a single planet with a single species, so very different from the reality in which the PD exists. Each nation's actions have ripple effects for every other nation on Earth. It's rare now to find any isolated tribe. If we went back in time, would we alter our colonizing ways, knowing what we know now? I'd like to think we would, but who knows.
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Booming
Sat, May 14, 2022, 1:59pm (UTC -5)
If we assume that the number of stars is around 250 billion and the Federation seems to control around 20% of the galaxy one could assume that they control around 50 billion star systems. Estimates of earth like planets are around 6 billion so that's maybe 1.2 billion earth like planets under Federation control. Let's say 1 in 1000 would be home to intelligent life. I would say many variations of my scenarios are quite likely to become a reality. That begs another question. How intelligent does a species have to be to deserve saving? Close to us?
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Maq
Sat, May 14, 2022, 1:59pm (UTC -5)
Still wow, very good and entertaining. A reall star trek episode.

Almost all good things has already been said.

But am I the only one who smiled when seeing Uhuras uniform at the end of the episode. Just great. They really managed that as well.
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SlackerInc
Sat, May 14, 2022, 2:32pm (UTC -5)
@Ilsat: I understand your argument, but I don't agree with this whole idea of not interfering with indigenous cultures. It strikes me as very patronizing. If I were living in a hunter-gatherer village deep in the Amazon and half my kids were dying from various bacterial infections, I would definitely want someone from the outside industrialized world to come in and give us penicillin. For that matter, I would not want to be "protected" from the corrupting influence of being able to watch Star Trek. 😉

BTW, Steven Pinker has shown that these supposedly "harmonious" hunter-gatherer societies engage in murder, warfare, and other violence at a rate that far outstrips the modern Western world, even during the two world wars.
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Ilsat
Sat, May 14, 2022, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
Booming, I like you but your math is way off. It doesn't account for about a thousand requirements, each of which must occur for a billion year evolutionary path to produce sentient life. You are also assuming Earth-like means inhabitable by sentient life at the present. It just doesn't. An astronomically small percentage of Earth like planets could sustain intelligent, developed life. The term is meant for the masses but has little in common with scientific reality.

Honestly, if we find 1 or 2 civilizations in our galaxy I would be impressed. The science just doesn't support Trek.
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Ilsat
Sat, May 14, 2022, 4:45pm (UTC -5)
SlackerInc, that example exists in a vacuum. Better question, would you rather the Native Americans were left alone or that they suffered 500 years of death, exploitation, dislocation and the obliteration of most of their original way of life. But they do get the penicillin. Because that's what's on the table when you consider humanity on this planet.

In an idealized future, maybe species level contact with a pre warp civilization could occur with less collateral damage. But that involves assumptions and variables not present in your hypothetical
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Jeffrey's Tube
Sat, May 14, 2022, 5:07pm (UTC -5)
@ Booming

"And those are the easier cases. How about there is a far less developed warp capable civilization that controls a region in which a comet will soon wipe out a planet full of pre warp species, the warp civ can't do anything but still forbids us to enter their territory. Do we force our way in or let it happen?"

That would be a great episode.
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Booming
Sat, May 14, 2022, 5:40pm (UTC -5)
@IIsat
I think you estimates are completely based on speculation. :)
In the end what do we really know about how common life is, how often it develops and under what circumstances? A tiny bit more than nothing and only about life on this planet. We know next to nothing about planets outside our solar system. There are billions of planets out there, earth-like and others. Maybe there are 2 or 3 inhabited planets in the galaxy, maybe there are 20 or 30 million. Maybe more.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMjQ3hA9mEA
;)

@Jeffrey's Tube
I'm ready to be hired but only if I can funnel half of my income to the vietcong? Are they still around??
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Jimmy
Sat, May 14, 2022, 7:21pm (UTC -5)
I really hate to be the piss in the proverbial tea, but I give this one a 2.5 /4, and much of that 2.5 was earned in the third act.

So let me start there to be positive. It was a really nice way to wrap things up, where everyone on the team has a role to play, even momentarily. And it even addresses one of my criticisms indirectly - something actually REQUIRED them to work together, it had gravitas and it was a threat. A thrill to see Pike’s poker-playing skills with the Shepherds, as I was beginning to think he was just the proverbial good-lookin white guy who sits in the center and points at everyone in sequence, saying “what do YOU think?”, “and what about THAT, you over there?”, “and I haven’t forgotten YOU, you rascally little cherub over there - what would YOUUUU do ?”. Ugh.

Also points given to the scenario. It was creative, and borrowed less from existing sci fi than it could have.

But the rest? Dreck. Utter, inescapable dreck. This crew seems to have nothing better to do than sit around and out-quip each other. The beginning party reminded me of the vapid “pretty people socializing” segment at the start of Age of Ultron, replete with “hey, lets reveal known things about characters using quips!” writing. The attention on Uhura at the party seemed very odd, especially in the otherwise lighter tone that social occasions are supposed to create.

About Uhura… actress is doing a fine job, but didn’t like the awkward shift from ensemble social event to the POV of an overwhelmed newbie. Heck, a slow-mo walkout Avengers style would have fit the mood better. I found Uhura and Spock playing Name that Tune with an alien egg to be profoundly silly, but accepted it for story development. The entire sequence lost its lustre, however, when Uhura literally SMILED when the egg opened. A strange alien object of unknown intent moves in response to your singing, and your reaction is a smile?! The proper reaction is a trained eye (and perhaps muzzle) on the alien object, wary and ready for anything. Say it with me: BE SERIOUS. You are an adult.

I’m already in love-hate or hate-love with the British twanged Drummer clone. She has this disgusted look on her face at all times, as if it to say “dear Lord why am I on this crew of vapid navel-gazers?”. I’m with you, kid. I’m with you. Someone needs to kick over a barrel of napalm on this crew to get them all serioused-up. :)

If I could tweak some of the tone knobs in the dialogue, I’d obvious put the quips way lower and the seriousness much higher. Also, I differ from many in that I want to see the Pike backstory re: his own death be more developed each week. It provides an anchor character (without going all Burnham on us), and can easily tie into events with the crew. Though I do agree it shouldn’t be repetitive, and setting it aside is preferable to him seeing a burned face every week.

Despite all this, I share the enthusiasm that many of you do. After all, the writing staff that put together this and ep #1 clearly found some elements for all to enjoy, so hopefully they can combine more of them in the future. But as with all things, people differ.
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Ilsat
Sat, May 14, 2022, 7:41pm (UTC -5)
Booming, I'm with you that life is probably fairly prevalent. Intelligent life, though, takes a very long time to evolve. Hundreds of millions of years from simple life. There's no shortcut to this. And an incredible number of variables need to play out just the right way so intelligence does actually evolve.

Even if it does, the odds that we run into this life during that incredibly short corridor where it's evolved to a point of civilization, capacity to communicate, etc. is also incredibly small. Thousands of years maybe? Tens of thousands? Out of a galaxy many billions of years old.

Even if thousands of advanced civilizations did exist in our galaxy, we probably wouldn't be alive when they were (or will be). The math just doesn't work in our favor.

Fermi has a point. It's pretty quiet out there so far. I'm hopeful we eventually find someone. But I'm not holding my breath for the Trek future.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Sat, May 14, 2022, 7:47pm (UTC -5)
I read an article once, a while ago, that made the following argument: since complex life forms take billions of years to evolve in an iterative process, that necessarily must mean certain conditions on a planet must endure for billions of years for life to progress to that stage. Those conditions include a magnetic field that prevents the atmosphere being stripped away by solar shear (and the bombardment of the surface by solar radiation) and a geologically active core to generate that magnetic field and spur a geologically active surface, which is also necessary for the evolution of life into complex organisms. The article argues that most planets that would have been suitable for the development of life while young lose the geologic core activity and correspondingly the magnetic field and surface activity necessary for life long before any life that might have evolved can reach the complex organism stage.

The reason it hasn't on Earth is that Earth was hit by a dense nickel and iron asteroid (the impact that created the moon), re-energizing its core so that it is still going long enough for life to both evolve and evolve into complex organisms, an "unnatural" event in the lifecycle of a planet. And an occurrence that would certainly be so rare as to be next to impossible to find repeated anywhere else, let alone nearby, even given the massive scale of numbers of planets and stars in the galaxy let alone the universe.

So if that impact by that asteroid of that composition is the only reason geological conditions on Earth favorable to life have persisted long enough for life to evolve to the point that it has complex sentient beings walking around its surface, whereas "the natural lifecycle of planets" otherwise makes that impossible, then yeah, Earth is a rare case indeed, and one we shouldn't expect to find repeated elsewhere.

I'm not a scientist. (Like many other commenters here, I'm a lawyer.) This may be bunk science and full of holes. Also, who says there's only one kind of "life," right? Vastly different kinds of life might be able to evolve under vastly different conditions, even if "Earth-like" organic life can only evolve under these next-to-impossible-to-find conditions. Everything about the article might have been complete trash vis-a-vis current scientific thought and research and with only a layman's understanding I wouldn't really know. But, at any rate, I found the suggestion very interesting.
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Jimmy
Sat, May 14, 2022, 7:56pm (UTC -5)
Let me follow-up my criticisms of the tone and quips with a recent example where I thought it was done surprisingly well: the Narissa character in Picard Season 1. Near the end, she descended into formulaic snarl, but I found the character a joy to watch for most of the season, especially because Peyton List appeared to be having a ball with it, keeping the character grounded enough to be a threat, yet flirting with camp when possible.
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Ilsat
Sat, May 14, 2022, 7:58pm (UTC -5)
Jeffrey, it's a really fascinating area. I hope we find civilizations as much as the next person. It's also possible some asshole Hitler Borg species with orange haired tentacles emerges and wipes every other competitor out. Sometimes I think we should keep SETI on inactive mode until we get ourselves a Dyson Sphere powered Death Star with inter-dimensional mustard gas.
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Bryan
Sat, May 14, 2022, 8:00pm (UTC -5)
I always thought that metallic planetary cores were the norm rather than some special exception.

Anyway, I just read an article supposing that the reason intelligent aliens apparently haven't found us yet is because they all went extinct -- that there's only a brief window between technological advancement and annihilation or self-annihilation. But surely there's a more obvious possibility. Humanity hasn't existed for very long, at least not to significant enough of a technological capacity to leave a footprint in the universe. Wouldn't it take a really long time for information about us to reach distant aliens? Especially if they happen to live in another galaxy.
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Jimmy
Sat, May 14, 2022, 8:01pm (UTC -5)
I guess I’ll see myself out. LOL
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Rich James
Sat, May 14, 2022, 8:03pm (UTC -5)
I’ve been thinking about this episode a lot since I watched it, usually DSC or Picard episodes don’t really occupy my thoughts afterwards but this one did. I think it comes down to a simple word; purity. It has a singular focus on a key idea that resonates to everything from decision making, plot developments to characters emotions - everything revolves around it, like the orbit of a planet. Too often recent Star Trek has got bogged down in attempting to tackle big ideas, then falling flat, or A and B plots that never mesh or characters acting against their personality. This episode captured what is great about Star Trek. It’s never the most ground breaking or in-depth science fiction out there - but it has this purity and simplicity to it that builds and expands on a pre existing world. This episode is as a close to Star Trek has come to what The Mandalorian did to the Star Wars. Keeping that focus narrow enough to tell a coherent story but being respectful to the wider universe. And best yet - no “big bad” season long arc to muddy the waters just yet.
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MidshipmanNorris
Sun, May 15, 2022, 1:45am (UTC -5)
Well well. SNW has come out swinging with a one-two combo of a season opener. None too soon either. Of all things how do you screw up having Patrick Freakin' Stewart as the lead of a show? I'm still sore about that, and this is a good salve on those wounds.

Now I want some more where that came from...
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Booming
Sun, May 15, 2022, 2:23am (UTC -5)
Man, there really seem to be quite a few lawyers here. Are there other scientists beside myself here? I have noticed over the years that people who didn't have a long scientific training have a hard time saying I don't know and really mean it.

Every time I read discussions about this I notice several problems.
- We don't know how life came into existence on this planet, which means we no basically nothing about how life comes or could come into existence.
- We only know how life developed on this planet and even that only to a degree. In general there is the problem of inductive reasoning. We only know cases of intelligent life on this planet and therefore think we know how intelligent life should develop. Maybe the timeframe in which intelligent life developed on this planet is the usual way, maybe it isn't.
- Why haven't we picked up signals from other species? As others pointed out time is one of the problems here, in numerous way. But there is also technology. Is using carrier waves like radio the only way to communicate over long distances? Do other species communicate in a way we would pick up on? If species use carrier waves, are they living in a way so that these waves actually leave the atmosphere. Radio waves cannot pass through water or metals.

To summarize, all the thinking about this has a gigantic inductive reasoning problem. You have one case of how intelligent life develops, with the important part of how it came into existence missing, and based on that make assumptions on how intelligent life has to develop. That might be fun, but it is not science. We just don't know enough to make any probabilistic estimation, in other words all this is the shakiest of inference. Furthermore, any hypothesis we make about life outside our solar system is not falsifiable.

But hey, let me be clear. It's fun to speculate. :)
We will probably not live long enough to get the answer to "how much life is out there" which means that any of you can just decide what is true, nobody can prove you wrong. I like the idea that there are many intelligent species out there and an even greater number was out there and even more than that will come into existence. Somewhere in this endless universe an intelligent species might come into existence right now. Isn't that wonderful. :)

@Bryan
"Wouldn't it take a really long time for information about us to reach distant aliens? Especially if they happen to live in another galaxy."
Most of our galaxy spans around 100.000 light years (30 kpc), but there is debate that it could actually be up to 200.000 light years, and we are using carrier waves for around a 100 years, meaning the earliest waves have traveled 100 light years.

The Pegasus galaxy, the other even bigger galaxy in our local cluster, is more than 3 million light years away. There are some dwarf galaxies that are close. The closest other galaxy is the Canis Major dwarf galaxy that is around 42.000 light years from the galactic core but it is slowly ripped apart by our galaxy while it circles the core and leaves behind stars and gas aka the Monoceros ring, even though that is also debated.
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Eric Jensen
Sun, May 15, 2022, 4:58am (UTC -5)
//You watch the episode, it has a simple message, you forget it the next day.//

Not really. No
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TheProfessor
Sun, May 15, 2022, 4:59am (UTC -5)
I'm remarkably surprised by the quality of these first two episodes.

I have found Discovery to be earnest, but mixed quality at best, and I felt Picard was, sadly, generally awful. So my expectations were not high for Strange New Worlds.

Yet, two episodes in, I'm really quite blown away by what I've seen.

Perhaps this new era of Trek has finally nailed down the balance between melding new sensibilities and styles of the time with what made Trek so great in the first place?

TNG, as we all know took 2-3 years to find its identity, blending the late 80s/90s attitudes against the qualities of TOS, a style that was then finalised with DS9, VOY, and to some extent, ENT.

Perhaps something similar has happened here with the first few seasons of DISC and Picard leading to Strange New Worlds hopefully being a great success.
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Ilsat
Sun, May 15, 2022, 10:49am (UTC -5)
Booming, they say space is cold yet it contains the hottest blood of all.
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grey cat
Sun, May 15, 2022, 11:03am (UTC -5)
Loving SNW so far.

Another 3 star episode for me. Maybe 3.5.

Really good sci-fi story. Nothing amazingly original but definitely decent sci-fi.

Only a few little jarring moments for me (a few too many people talking like they're from 2022 and I'm never keen on they crew being super unprofessional when they're supposed to be military).

Uhura was great. We didn't get much of her in ep1 but she was simlpy great in this.

I'm really liking this version of Spock. Number 1 was good with limited stuff to work with.

Angry girl is lame so far. A discount Drummer.

It's amazing it's taken them all this time to realise all they had to do was use the formula that had already worked so well since 1969 and just tell good interesting sci-fi stories.

I doubt many people watch sci-fi to have some "message" shoved down their throat or people crying.

For me this is Star Trek how it's supposed to be.
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Maq
Sun, May 15, 2022, 11:22am (UTC -5)
Homo Sapiens has been around for about 500.000 years and let’s say 15.000 generations we four generations ago cars and light bulbs appeared. It not enough to find a habitual planet we must also match he time. What if the asteroid had hit us 60 million years ago instead of 66 million years ago?
Earth has a quite large moon that has always stirred the organic soup. Does it have an impact on how fast life develops on a planet?

We must be very synchronised in time with another intelligent species in order to detect it or be detected.

Now back to second episode of strange new worlds. After reflecting a little bit more. It is amazing that so many of us consider a quite average episode to be very good and fantastic. Indeed, it was a quite classic Star Trek episode and really not something special, except that we waited for this since long.
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Morumtri Hexa
Sun, May 15, 2022, 11:54am (UTC -5)
I also enjoyed this and the previous one immensely, but I have a question: was it really established that the Prime Directive allows Starfleet to actually prevent pre-warp civilizations from being destroyed naturally? How isn’t that intervening in the development of a less advanced civilization? I can understand why Pike did it in the pilot (they had already inadvertently intervened by accidentally giving them warp tech) and I would also understand if they decided to move the comet after they discovered it had tech inside, but I don’t understand why they set to move the comet before that.
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SlackerInc
Sun, May 15, 2022, 1:34pm (UTC -5)
@Jeffrey's Tube: Super interesting hypothesis! I have always had a hunch that we might be the only intelligent life in the universe, or at least the galaxy, and what you describe only bolsters it.

@Maq: "After reflecting a little bit more. It is amazing that so many of us consider a quite average episode to be very good and fantastic. Indeed, it was a quite classic Star Trek episode and really not something special, except that we waited for this since long."

Yeah, I pretty much agree, hence my three star rating. But I will be more than satisfied if they just consistently churn out three star episodes, one after another.

@Morumtri Hexa: I agree that on some level it's certainly interference, but I think they mean something more like cultural contamination.
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Jason R.
Sun, May 15, 2022, 2:08pm (UTC -5)
"Man, there really seem to be quite a few lawyers here. Are there other scientists beside myself here?"

You claimed in a previous thread that lawyers were scientists.
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Peter G.
Sun, May 15, 2022, 2:28pm (UTC -5)
William B is in physics, not sure if I can name anyone else offhand. Omicron, didn't you mention at one point you're in a STEM field?
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Booming
Sun, May 15, 2022, 2:57pm (UTC -5)
@Jeffrey's Tube
I must say that I find that article you describe about how long life needs to develop and magnetic cores needing to be "reactivated" by a giant meteorite hitting planets to make life possible very unscientific. That's even more speculation than speculating how much life there is in the galaxy. That article is essentially speculating that life is rare (we don't know that) and then make up another unproven hypothesis (life needs an active core) and then comes up with a scenario that uses elements of the giant impact hypothesis (aka a small planet hitting earth and forming the moon) and that the composition of that small planet has somehow "activated" earth's core or kept it going long enough. That basing an unproven hypothesis on several more layers of unproven hypothesis. It's pure speculation based on even more pure speculation.

@Jason
"You claimed in a previous thread that lawyers were scientists."
Some are, most aren't. Comparative legal scholars for example could be called scientists and there are law departments who do social science but just studying the law itself is not a scientific education because it is normative. Lawyers have to accumulate some knowledge of social science or psychology but they are not learning a version of the scientific method aka empiricism.

Here a far better explanation from researchgate
"Law is not a science. The process of lawmaking, interpretation of legal rules, and so on, has nothing in common with science. The first one deals with normative sphere ('obligation') and the second one with descriptive sphere ('truth"). Law in this sense is a social practice."
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skyelord
Sun, May 15, 2022, 3:45pm (UTC -5)
So nice to have the comments section full of people talking about the episode and science/sci-fi stuff rather than some dull American politics or gender thing.

SNW must be doing something right (so far)
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Booming
Mon, May 16, 2022, 2:16am (UTC -5)
Oh and one more thing. Pinker was mentioned and his book "better angels". That book has been picked apart/proven to deeply flawed, especially by statisticians but also anthropologists and archeologists. His understanding of the democratic peace is also flawed. The praise it got came mostly from elite magazines and neo realist political scientists. Some like to call him the "scientist of the elites". I always wonder why people like Pinker, who did some good work in psychology ( I heard), start to wander into other areas and essentially start to write elevated pop science books. I also think that evolutionary psychology, for which he is a strong advocate, is a nonsense field because all it's hypothesis are impossible to test.
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Ilsat
Mon, May 16, 2022, 10:59am (UTC -5)
Kipping's Bayesian analysis of the probability of life / intelligent life on Earth is interesting. 9:1 ratio in favor of life considering its early emergence. About 1:1 for intelligent life considering its very late emergence.

Bear in mind this is a probability distribution based on the precise factors on Earth. But it means that if we were to "rewind" Earth's history, there is a good chance intelligent life would not emerge. And his analysis ignores the issue of evolutionary transition events, many of which involve chance occurrences as a trigger. This further reduces the likelihood of intelligent life developing here.

This is Earth mind you. Now imagine this plotted to an exoplanet. You need to find some planet with dozens of conditions fine tuned to something like Earth's, so that intelligent life even has a chance.

-- Protection from cosmic radiation
-- No runaway greenhouse
-- Atmosphere with some ratio of elements conducive to life
-- Stable orbit
-- Gas giants as gravity wells to pull the majority of asteroids and comets away from you
-- Stable star
-- Goldilocks location
-- Proper albedo
-- Presence of water
-- Probably need a moon for tidal requirements affecting the seas

There are many more but you get the idea.

Combine the above with Kipping's research and the chances of intelligent life are extremely rare. Based on the current science.
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Booming
Mon, May 16, 2022, 12:12pm (UTC -5)
@IIsat
"9:1 ratio in favor of life considering its early emergence. About 1:1 for intelligent life considering its very late emergence."
The numbers you are quoting are based on the four hypothesis in the study. Meaning they find it very likely that life is common (9:1) and a slightly higher chance (3:2) that intelligent life is rare vs intelligence is common. I don't know where you got the 1:1. it's not in the study as far as I can see.

Have your read the actual study? My statistical knowledge goes in a different direction so I cannot judge the math but here are a few quotes from the study.
https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.1921655117

"Despite having no observational data concerning nonterrestrial life, we are in possession of stronger constraints when it comes to life on Earth. Until this situation changes, inferences concerning the existence of life elsewhere in the Universe must unfortunately rely heavily on this single data point (13)."

"It is tempting to apply these numbers to potentially habitable exoplanets being discovered. However, we caution that our analysis purely concerns the Earth, treating abiogenesis as a stochastic process against a backdrop of events and conditions which might be plausibly unique to Earth."

"For intelligence evolution, it is found that a rare-intelligence scenario is slightly favored at 3:2 betting odds. Thus, if we reran Earth’s clock, one should statistically favor life to frequently reemerge, but intelligence may not be as inevitable."

"Overall, our work supports an optimistic outlook for future searches for biosignatures (4–7)."

As far as I can see the study argue that life is probably common in the universe and intelligent life might not happen all the time (3:2) but should overall still be something that happens quite frequently. It also points out the problems I named aka we only have one data point and inference based on one data point is always questionable. Still he argue that it's almost 50 to 50 that intelligent life is common. Well, this associate professor certainly knows how to get his name in the papers.

About the other points you name, again you are making the same mistake. You look at life on this planet (one specific data point) and based on that start to define conditions that need to exist to let life come into existence how it developed here but there is no reason to believe that the way life developed here is the only way. As an example there is a fungus living inside the Chernobyl reactor.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiotrophic_fungus

One could argue that higher exposure to radiation could actually speed up the development of life because it makes mutations more likely. There is bacteria that can survive 5000 grays, Humans for example cannot survive 10 grays.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deinococcus_radiodurans

There are life forms in the Mariana trench where pressure is about 15750psi.

Life could exist that goes beyond anything we could imagine. But hey, if you want to believe that you are part of the most special species in the universe, be my guest. That believe has a long tradition, especially in religion. As I said we really don't know. Maybe the Milky Way is full of life, maybe we are alone. Maybe the Pegasus Galaxy is the opposite of our galaxy, maybe not.
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Ilsat
Mon, May 16, 2022, 4:02pm (UTC -5)
Booming, the study in no way concludes that intelligent life is or should be frequent. You're missing the point. Obviously the study itself is limited to Earth; that's the point of a Bayesian analysis.

The other factors I mentioned are key to life - any life - emerging. Just what sort of proteins are going to produce life with cosmic radiation constantly bombarding them? What sort of life will persist with giant asteroids ramming into the planet? How is any life going to persist with 300 degree temperature deltas?

These are not speculative. These are integral to life existing, evolving over millions of years.
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Ilsat
Mon, May 16, 2022, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
Cosmic radiation is not going to speed up life. It's going to break it down and kill it.
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Marge
Mon, May 16, 2022, 4:39pm (UTC -5)
I thought this episode was awful, and I had high hopes after episode 1. Why does Uhura need a tragic backstory? They already have a security officer whose whole family was murdered by Gorn. Why does Uhura have to doubt her ability to succeed? Just like Renee Picard in Picard season 2…can’t we just have confident and competent young women? Why did Spock have to do a secret plan to heat up the ice when this was an Uhura centric episode? Why couldn’t she have just used her communication skills to talk with the comet? Here’s a trek way to do this episode: Uhura talks to the comet and discovers it has no special purpose and is just a probe sent by an ancient race. She is now able to control it and they turn it to miss the planet. The crew debates if they should tell the shepherds their god is a lie. Pike, because they established he was a man of faith in Discovery, ultimately makes a speech about the value of belief. Everyone goes on their way.
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Bryan
Mon, May 16, 2022, 6:53pm (UTC -5)
"Yes, Shepherds, there is a Comet Claus."
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SlackerInc
Tue, May 17, 2022, 2:28am (UTC -5)
@Booming, your vagueposting about Pinker's getting "refuted" by the usual suspects (those whose ox has been gored) isn't going to cut it. Pinker provides footnoted references for everything in his books, so let's see your citations. I'm predicting that if you provide links, these supposed refutations will in their own right turn out to be vague, petulant whining.
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Booming
Tue, May 17, 2022, 2:53am (UTC -5)
@IIsat
"Booming, the study in no way concludes that intelligent life is or should be frequent."
The entire study is about that question.

"The other factors I mentioned are key to life - any life - emerging."
I'm repeating myself but you are looking at life and how it exists here and based on that declare that this is the only way life could develop. It's a classical inductive fallacy. Karl Popper is not amused.
I have read estimates that there are at least 300 million potentially habitable planets and possibly up to 2 billion in our galaxy. Using the numbers from the study you provided that would mean around 40% probability of intelligent life. Even if we assume that of those 300m - 2 billion planets only 1 in 10 million is actually habitable that would mean between 12.000 and 80.000 intelligent life forms at some point in this galaxy and that would still ignore the possibility that life could develop in completely different ways than it developed here.
https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/11/06/1011784/half-milky-way-sun-like-stars-home-earth-like-planets-kepler-gaia-habitable-life/

The discussion has started to circle. You believe it is extremely rare, I believe we don't have enough information to make any kind of reliable estimate. If you want to restate your point, please do. Otherwise, let's leave it at that.
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Booming
Tue, May 17, 2022, 3:06am (UTC -5)
@SlackerInc
Here a few peer reviewed studies:
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2876315

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0022343319896843

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5834001/

https://www.academia.edu/3816994/Pinkers_List_Exaggerating_Prehistoric_War_Mortality

Sorry,just a quick search, have to work.
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SlackerInc
Tue, May 17, 2022, 3:08am (UTC -5)
@Marge: I liked the episode as is, but I actually agree that your notes would make it better.
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Bryan
Tue, May 17, 2022, 3:09am (UTC -5)
Sometimes the guy with the most footnotes is the most shameless cherry-picker.
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MarkG
Tue, May 17, 2022, 3:14am (UTC -5)
WOW, look at that! A captain that doesn't have all the answers, doesn't go to all the away missions and doesn't save the universe by themselves in every episode. What a refreshing concept! :D
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MarkG
Tue, May 17, 2022, 3:19am (UTC -5)
@grey cat
since this was a musical comet, I was worried "discount Drummer" would break into an old navy song or something :D
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Booming
Tue, May 17, 2022, 3:39am (UTC -5)
@IIsat
Sorry, I completely miscalculated the numbers. I'm dieting and feel a little woozy. It would actually be 180 to 800 planets with intelligent life if it was 1 in 10 million (which is my random choice)
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Booming
Tue, May 17, 2022, 3:51am (UTC -5)
Ok, still wrong...
Let's just say that I wrote 1 in 10.000, then the math checks out. :D
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Maq
Tue, May 17, 2022, 3:51am (UTC -5)
@Marge

Very adequate and clever objetions, thank you.
But as SlackerInc I also liked the episode.

I will now try defend the view of not letting Uhura shine to much.
She should not become a Tilly or Wesley or Adira.

I very much liked the part just before the beamed away to the comet. Uhura really came over as a newbee. The short pause in the corridore when she sort of put herself together. It was really beatuiful.

To let her do the A to Z would perhaps have been to much. She did still get a moment at the end to shine again.
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SlackerInc
Tue, May 17, 2022, 5:31am (UTC -5)
@Booming your links:

1. Says Pinker could be right; does not address hunter-gatherers but rather historical wars.
2. Same: only addresses wars between 1816-2007.
3. Same: 1823-2003.
4. Better, but still mainly about civilizational conflict. I was talking about the violence between small and very primitive villages of hunter-gatherers. That it lessens when you move to larger and more complex social organizations is kind of the point of civilization.
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Booming
Tue, May 17, 2022, 6:14am (UTC -5)
@SlackerInc
Oh, I thought you wanted studies that outline Pinker's shaky math. His hypothesis that there is less violence since 1800 is one side of the argument in the book aka hunter gatherers are more violent than modern societies. I can look for studies that deal with Hunter gatherers specifically later.
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zanki
Tue, May 17, 2022, 8:15am (UTC -5)
Great episode , I agree with Jammer it felt as if they took different concepts from previous trek episodes as a base line and then the story took off from there .

It also felt like a mulligan episode on xeno linguistics after that dreadful STD season 4 finale that was basically a rip off from Arrival .

Loved the back and forth between Spock and Uhrura , maybe it's the legacy character nostalgia kicking in, once again Anson Mount just has this charismatic gravitas as captain Pike.
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Sigh2000
Tue, May 17, 2022, 10:19am (UTC -5)
@Booming
Compelled to interject.
I can't think of a single study which represents hunter gatherers as being more "violent" than more complex societies.

Civilization made some amazing contributions but the widespread onset of peace was not one of them.

Can't see Pinker's thesis. :)
1800....oh yes peaceful...until June 14, when a mere 7000 people died or were maimed violently at Marengo. The 19th century was not peaceful and I feel that excluding the Napoleonic Wars is disingenuous on his part. Moreover, by 1821 the Greek War of Independence had broken out. Much of the eastern Mediterranean was affected by it. Massacre anyone?
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Booming
Tue, May 17, 2022, 3:01pm (UTC -5)
@SlackerInc
First of all. The very first link in my earlier post offers this sentence:"
This article is organized as follows. First we present the problems associated with historical analyses of violence. Second, we discuss the quantitative approaches since Richardson(1948) and present the statistical flaws and methodological errors in the widely held theories such as those in Pinker (2011)."

There are far less reactions from people who study hunter gatherer violence because there are far less people who do that than studying modern warfare and violence. All studies who look at Pinker's methodology and statistical analysis see it as flawed, sometimes deeply so. Sure maybe only his numbers for medieval and 1800 onward are completely off but it certainly looks bad. It looks like Pinker had a conclusion in mind an then produced data that confirmed it.

Apart from that do I not have any energy today.
Here is what i could find.
https://www.science.org/doi/full/10.1126/science.336.6083.829?casa_token=usTz-Roej9UAAAAA:wHpWgkmVN0y0Vk4DLjlttAPj4iKhUVvl1-UlcbMlE6sj4pxqpoph1MkYE1iVPjlJnh_gddhVzn0dSA

https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JACPR-06-2014-0127/full/pdf?title=myths-about-hunter-gatherers-redux-nomadic-forager-war-and-peace

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12110-019-09340-w#Sec5

https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev-anthro-102116-041448

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1467-954X.2012.02105.x (For this you probably need university access) Here a few quotes:
"he Better Angels of our Nature is a typical Pinker book. It is a clever student thesis writ very, very large. A typical Pinker book is framed around a big claim that is at once both attractive and counterintuitive – in this case, that our history exhibits overall moral progress, in that we are becoming a less violent species, at least with regard to violence towards fellow humans."

https://www.berghahnjournals.com/view/journals/historical-reflections/44/1/hrrh440112.xml

It critiques his usage of medieval numbers:" Pinker’s depiction of violence in medieval Europe, however, includes serious misrepresentations of the historical reality of this period; his handling of the scholarship on medieval Europe raises doubts about his treatment of other periods."
That's pretty rough for a scientific review. That a scientists way of calling somebody either incompetent or dishonest.

Personally, I always saw Pinker, at least for the last 15 years more like a public debater and less like a serious scientist. He is in showbiz now.
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Booming
Tue, May 17, 2022, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
@Sigh2000
"I can't think of a single study which represents hunter gatherers as being more "violent" than more complex societies."
My impression, and I'm certainly no expert, is that a pretty significant majority sees hunter gatherer as more peaceful. Even though there are spikes of violence.

" Can't see Pinker's thesis. :)"
It has very little significance in science and his numbers about modern times and medieval times are highly questionable which is probably the reason that in all my years I have never actually read one of his studies in a scientific context. Bill Gates called better angels one of the most important books he ever read. Do with that information what you want. :D

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