Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

"The Elysian Kingdom"

2 stars

Air date: 6/23/2022
Written by Akela Cooper & Onitra Johnson
Directed by Amanda Row

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"The Elysian Kingdom" is exceptionally odd, in that it's such a plodding, boring, test-pattern of a fantasy episode for its first three acts before then becoming really interesting and moving and Trekky in its last act of impossible choices. This was well on its way to being the worst episode of the season before it redeemed itself at the eleventh hour.

That redemption brings it up a few notches, but I still can't endorse this. I want to throw away the first 40 minutes entirely, in which the Enterprise, trapped in a nebula by a mysterious force, turns into a fantasy world where the crew have their minds hijacked and unwittingly play out the parts in the fantasy book that M'Benga frequently reads to his daughter Rukiya (Sage Arrindell). M'Benga and Hemmer are the only ones who retain their personalities and know they aren't the characters in the book.

I can't bring myself to care about or describe any of the plot within the fantasy realm. Suffice it to say everyone has a role to play, and little of it matters except to fill time. It's a rather pointless dress-up adventure. Oh, sure, the cast is game, but they're trapped in a meaningless low-octane "adventure" that takes far too long to get to a point, and yet it dispenses fantasy plot developments as if we care. Pike plays the part of the opportunistic coward. Ortegas is a bloodthirsty ass-kicker. Spock is a roguish prince. Chapel is a fortune teller. Una is a heroic archer. (What about the people who get shot with her arrows? Are they okay?) Uhura is the evil queen, looking for the mysterious, all-powerful Mercury Stone.

This is Role Playing 101, with not a scrap of interest to be found. It's a mystifying mash-up of "Qpid," "Dramatis Personae," and "Heroes and Demons," and probably half a dozen TOS episodes. The comic notes here mostly just fall flat — with the notable exception of Hemmer hamming up the part of the wizard, which is worth a laugh because it's the curmudgeonly Hemmer gamely playing the part on his own conscious accord.

There's a place in Star Trek for this, but it needs to be executed with the right touches of humor and whimsy, and this ain't it. It's especially troubling that, with only 10 episodes to play with this season, SNW has spent three now trying to mine lightweight pseudo-comedy but has yet to find the right formula for doing so. It's about time to go back to playing things straight.

It actually does so in the final act, which manages to be affecting because it agonizingly forces M'Benga to decide no less than the fate of his daughter's cosmic soul. The mysterious entity causing the fantasy elements, you see, is a lonely alien superbeing within the nebula, and it has found Rukiya's presence within the transporter pattern buffer and released her from it, and the two have created this fantasy play realm from the storybook. The entity has also figured out how to cure her terminal illness. The catch is that if she leaves, her illness will return. So the entity gives M'Benga the choice of whether to let Rukiya stay here with it, or return to a very likely death sentence.

Staying here essentially means the end of her humanity as she and her father understand it, by transforming into something else entirely. I found it touching that M'Benga gives this choice to Rukiya to let her decide her own fate, even though it's guaranteed to be a heartbreak for him. And the realization that she lives decades of her life in seconds, returning to her father as an adult to give him a goodbye message (with a dose of maybe-see-you-again), is one of those sci-fi twists that works because it forces you to imagine and empathize with the fantastically hypothetical. There's also something to be said for a child wanting to "change the ending" of a story, when her own life has an ending that perhaps she senses has already been (tragically) written. If it seems like this whole father-daughter illness storyline played out quickly this season — well, I guess that's what happens when you have 10 (episodic) shows to work through an arc.

But, unfortunately, this last act — strong as it is — is too little, too late in an episode that does nothing worthwhile for its first 40 interminable minutes. I'm glad we had that last act, but nothing else here was worth the time spent watching.

Previous episode: The Serene Squall

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99 comments on this post

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Maq
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 6:17am (UTC -5)
Sometimes we get what we ask for but it is perhaps still not want we wanted. A stand alone quirky costume drama appeared. We have seen them and they was not always good. At the end I really liked this episode. It did solve a to me irritating component of Strange New World.

It did bring a lot of new touches to costume dramas and still it connected to trek tradition. Acting mostly quite adequate.

Watch and enjoy.
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Tim C
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 7:13am (UTC -5)
I strongly feel like I shouldn't have enjoyed this episode as much as I did, and yet...

What made it work? As M'Benga's showcase this season, it's not a particularly effective character study. He just spends most of it being gently befuddled or bemused by what's happening around him. It's bookended by two well-acted, emotional scenes from Babs Olusanmokun that feel like they were pasted in from a completely different script. And on a plot level, it's not exactly edge-of-your-seat stuff, although that's been mostly par for the course for SNW's debut season.

But I still had fun! Anson Mount as the completely shameless coward made me genuinely laugh on multiple occasions, and the rest of the cast were all clearly enjoying themselves hamming it up so much that I just found myself letting go of my critical faculties and smiling along with them.

Ordinarily I'd say season one of any show is too early to go for a "actors play different characters" story. Part of the effectiveness of such conceits comes from familiarity with how these people are *meant* to act, so that we get a kick out of seeing them do something else. But that's been a differentiating factor about SNW from the first episode: all these characters, even the new ones, feel lived-in in a way that other Trek shows never managed out of the gate.

I have billions of logical nitpicks, and I think M'Benga's decision to let his daughter go would have had more weight if we'd given that storyline more focus in the episodes leading up to this one. But overall I came away entertained, and sometimes that's all I need from my TV.
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The Queen
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 7:17am (UTC -5)
Well, this was fun, and well done. Anson Mount as usual showed everybody how it's done, and the others were very good too. For some reason, Ethan Peck seemed uncomfortable to me. I was glad to see Hemmer so involved, and I loved his paeans to "Science." MBenga would have been better if he hadn't listened to whatever Discovery producer told him to whisper. In the scenes where he spoke normally, he was great.

The actors were obviously having a great time hamming it up, and the thing is, that was entirely appropriate for a children's story! I didn't feel like anyone went over the line.

However - the plot was sadly predictable. The moment it became clear that they were acting out Rukiya's book, her connection was all but certain; and the same for the connection with the nebula entity. I don't like being so far ahead of the characters on what's going to happen. And with the ending, I just didn't think Rukiya would leave her father no matter how lonely she was. It certainly took care of her storyline, but I wish they had found another way.

And now for the one thing that I actually thought was dumb. At the beginning, Una tells MBenga he needs to do his duty about clearing the landing party on their return. He apologizes and says he'll get right to it. Then Una immediately says, Oh no, rest first! IMHO that's not how an effective first officer behaves.

It was fun and it was funny, but I hope we're done with humor for a while.
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Karl Zimmerman
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 7:36am (UTC -5)
New
On vacation this week, so I'll make it brief.

After two somewhat underwhelming episodes (compared to the strong opening run of the series) I felt this was something of a return to form. I thought this was excellent use of camp (as opposed to last week), enjoyed seeing many members of the cast able to flex their acting chops with a different character, and liked that it had a coherent character arc for M'Benga. I am let down that the issue with his daughter was resolved so early in the season (and after the tease about a possible treatment two episodes back) but this show seems to be committed to make up for its short season runs by doing a DS9 speedrun, so I'm onboard with it I guess. Not a perfect episode, but an entertaining one which contained both elements of comedy (well, "lightheartedness") and surprising pathos.

My major quibble with the story - what the hell happened to the mooks that Una shot with an arrow? It was jarring, particularly because soon thereafter M'Benga made a comment about having to fix things "before anyone gets hurt." I hate hate hate the "disposable extra" trope in Trek. Just because we don't know the names of the random crewmen doesn't mean their lives do not matter to the named characters.
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Mal
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 8:12am (UTC -5)
Lord knows I’ve been SNW’s biggest fan. But even I have this fantasy that this 1 1/2 star episode is as low as we go.

Was it enjoyable overall? Maybe in a “well at least it is way better than the exact same episode The Orville did last week” way.

But two episodes in a row with Pike behind bars is lazy.

And while this episode is by no means as bad as Michael/Alice-in-Wonderland, or even TNG with the boy’s dead mom coming back (“The Bonding” and Marla Aster as the Boltzmann brain of the week), I’m way over the whole “let’s play fantasy with lipstick lesbians”.

I will give credit to La’an. Holy fuck was she hilarious!

The show is already a fiction people. No need for a fiction within a fiction.

Hard pass.
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AMA
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 8:19am (UTC -5)
The closing act of the episode was incredibly strong, and perhaps the best few minutes that Strange New Worlds has offered to date. Although I'm not a parent, I could appreciate the decision that M'Benga was presented with, and was touched by the outcome. The episode is not at the level of Deep Space Nine's 'The Visitor,' but it did offer a tender portrayal of a relationship between parent and child.

Where the episode fell short for me was the premise: I believed that the being could alter the perceptions and health of the crew, but was a bit more confounded as to how they could redress the physical inside of the ship. I can also appreciate the related challenge that would have been presented to the director, set designers, etc.: the crew needs to be in a storybook, but they can't be taken off the ship, there is no holodeck, and the being doesn't have the powers of Q.

In short, I like the idea of M'Benga and his daughter playing out the story he reads to her, and the emotional resolution to their relationship, but I'm not certain the writers quite figured out how to best present as much. Nevertheless, another very good outing.
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Marc
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 8:22am (UTC -5)
Certainly better than the pirate episode last week. I think it’s a testament to how good the show is that even an episode like this (I usually groan when I get to holodeck or similar episodes) can be enjoyable.

The show always does a good job of making the emotional beats of the story feel earned. I’d contrast that to Discovery, which will try to make us feel sad when a character dies or leaves the crew. Once, I had to Google the character’s name while the show attempted to do some dramatic farewell. In SNW, everyone contributes in every episode. I feel more attachment in 8 episodes to this crew than 55 episodes of Discovery. We’ve seen M’Benga enough times with his daughter. We’ve seen him risk the crew to protect her. His choice at the end here has weight.

The actors clearly had a good time. Mount and Chong in particular were enjoying the ride. After the dark episode 4 (Memento Mori), three of the last four episodes have been comedic in nature (Spock/T’Pring body swap, pirate cooking/mutiny, and now fairytale dressup). I hope we ride out the rest of the season more in the vein of episodes 1-4.
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lizzzi
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 9:42am (UTC -5)
Entertaining and fun--really skillful ensemble acting. I liked the way Anson Mount wasn't too important to let himself be portrayed as a cowardly idiot. Hilarious. It was nice to see M'Benga play a major role, and to finally get to see more of Hemmer. Both were very good alone and together. The whole hokey fantasy-story plot with Uber-hammed up acting was making me worried that the episode was just going to be too-too silly. But then came the touching, very satisfying denouement--just perfect, I thought, and I was close to tears .I'm so glad they got that kid out of the pattern buffer and into a happy life. And then capped it with her return as a happy adult. Good stuff. Also, the costumes alone were worth the viewing time, and...just a personal note...I loved La'an's cute dog. I thought the scene where the little girl changed the story to include a relationship between Number One and Ortegas was the only clanker--would a child think to devise a same-sex romance? Well, I don't know, and don't really care, but it took me out of the story just a little. I enjoyed this episode a lot, and will be curious to see what Jammer thinks. (He and I disagreed about Serene Squall, and I will never forget his negative review of Carbon Creek in ENT--one of my favorite episodes in Trek. I told him he must have got out of the wrong side of the bed that morning, as I thought with Serene Squall, too. ) Anyway, I realize this wasn't highbrow stuff or as meaningful as The Visitor, The Inner Light, The City on the Edge of Forever...but I think that's OK. Every episode can't be transformational, and doesn't need to be. Sometimes we just want to skip the vegetables and sit on the sofa in front of the TV eating guilty chocolate...like The Elysian Kingdom.
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Colin Lindsly
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 10:35am (UTC -5)
What it's even cuter is that the dog belongs to the actress who plays La'an. I loved her reaction to being scanned. I rewatched that several times.

Up to the reveal, the episode was a slog to get through. There were times when I wanted to jump ship. I am glad that I stuck it through to the ending.
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Scott
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 10:47am (UTC -5)
Until the climax I thought this ep was subpar. I did like some of the acting as Uhura made a good evil queen. But overall a lot of the ep felt like fluff till the last act.

Not sure how I feel about how easy he let his daughter go or how she was just fine with it. Growing up to an adult in 10 seconds will also make it jarring if she returns in a later episode with the same actress at the same age because wouldn't she have to be really old next time? Granted they can probably do whatever they want so I guess it doesn't matter.
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Norvo
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 11:49am (UTC -5)
Sci fi fans will probably hate the over the top fantasy theme of the episode, but when you get down to it... The world of Star Trek is every bit as stylized and riddled with cliches as medieval realms with kings, evil queens and wizards.

As a showcase for M'Benga, this feels more like a soft reboot for the character. His main reason for serving on the Enterprise was meeting strange, new species with advanced medical technology to cure his daughter. Now that she's effectively off the show to go be a sentient nebula creature, why does he remain?

And don't you feel a little cheated that he so casually handed her over after spending multiple episodes worrying about her wellbeing. "At least she's alive", M'Benga says... Trapped in a nebula lightyears away. It might as well be another transporter buffer.

And why was there's no mention of the useful medical research he received from the Majalans? I'm not used to SNW hitting the Voyager reset button. All in all a decent episode which could have been a disaster, but only stands out as a curiosity that outstays its welcome after 30 minutes.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 12:29pm (UTC -5)
@ Karl

Una shot them in the shoulder and other non-threatening places. However, she maybe didn't actually physically shoot them at all. Because . . .

@ AMA

I'm not sure the nebula entity did redress the inside of the ship, or if it just convinced people it had. I'm basing this off the end scene where everything is back to normal between frames and M'Benga and Hemmer are wearing their uniforms again. We can point out that the cage on the transporter platform was presumably real since Hemmer had to cut it with a plasma torch and Hemmer was resistant to the what the nebula entity was doing, but the nebula entity might have directed some mind-controlled crew members to build the cage.

So also, Una may not have actually shot those crew members with actual arrows.

@ lizzzi

I certainly don't see why a child wouldn't think to devise a same-sex romance, especially a child of the future. But, I'd like to point out that Ortegas was playing a male character. If you go back to the bridge scene, that is explicitly stated, albeit briefly.

. . .

As for me, I really enjoyed it, but I don't feel it leaves me with much to discuss here.

Uhura's dress was truly inspired. Wow, give the costume department props for the design of that!

Did anyone else notice that the dog kept licking La'an's breasts? I got a good chuckle out of that. Me too, in your shoes, buddy. Me too.

Hemmer has a lot of potential as a character. The scene where he does "science magic" with the communicator and he builds up to it dramatically even though he knows there isn't any real point and he might as well just hit the button is one of my favorite in all of SNW so far.

Anson Mount was fantastic as always. I felt the show missed on opportunity to do some meta commentary on the count's awesome hair, though. If ever there was an opportunity!

I'm surprised the daughter plot got resolved so quickly, but I like that it did. Many shows would have milked that character hook and its dramatic potential dry over years. The resolution here is both heartbreaking and uplifting, and it's definitely one torturous outcome for a parent to have to live with. But then again, it was the only decision he could reasonably make.

. . .

I understand that episodes like this aren't what everyone would most like to see when sitting down to watch Star Trek. I certainly understand that. However, I might argue that episodes like this are a big part of what has been missing from serialized "nu-trek" (I hate that term, but it will serve). The texture of them, what they add to the franchise in aggregate is important but isn't always individually appreciated when singled out and focused upon. It's like the emulsifying agent in the cake. Everyone's favorite part, the part they most want to eat, the part they most remember and look back on fondly when reminiscing about the cake they've eaten, is the icing. Yet no one wants to eat a tube of icing. Ya know?

The fun and silly episodes are needed too. It's not like this is Spirit Folk or A Night in Sickbay . . . let's keep some perspective here.
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Maq
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 12:31pm (UTC -5)
@Norvo
To me the sick daughter thread/plot was a pain. It always put this subject in the center instead of M'Benga or something he has to cure or investigate. I hope they really have got this fixation away from his character now.

It was made in a very fine way, I was moved. I found it excellent to let the daughter be away for all these years in her time being able to get back to him some scondes later and say I am fine. It was right to let me go.
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karatasiospa
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
Although a little boring at the middle the episode marks the return of the show to good stories. But i would wish that the writers would stop copying tos and tng so much,
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lizzzi
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 1:06pm (UTC -5)
@ Jeffrey's tube

I was just thinking of my girls at that age: For instance, Cassie refused to ever get married because you had to kiss on the lips at the altar. They hated anything to do with romance...that's why I was thinking it seemed an odd storyline for Ruyika to make up. Something to do with fighting off bad guys or trying to escape evil monsters would have seemed more likely.

Agree that the same-sex angle was neither here nor there, especially for a series set in the future. I didn't realize Ortegas was a guy in this. Thanks for the heads up.
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Keith Dalton
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 1:11pm (UTC -5)
I honestly
Loved
This episode. I didn’t think I would, but it was campy and cute, up until it ripped the heart right out of this father. Doc made the only choice he could, and I doubt it’s the last we have seen of her.
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Jimmy
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 1:32pm (UTC -5)
I liked this one more than I expected, and I usually loathe holodeck episodes. My low expectations probably play a part. Not really a lot to dissect here.

The humor was hit and miss. I found M’Benga’s deadpan replies absolutely hilarious (“Could be anywhere, really”), having a vibe I can’t quite place - maybe a little bit Jeff Bridges from Big Lewbowski.

Pike and Ortegas were badly written, and often deflected attention from better jokes preceding theirs. La’an hit the mark a little better, and it was nice to see Christina Chong given some variety. She’s a good actor that has shined in other roles.
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Eric Jensen
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 1:44pm (UTC -5)
I cried during this episode. It was good.
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C.T Phipps
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 2:45pm (UTC -5)
Princess Runa as a main cast member or we riot.

Christina Chong also rocked the tacky Renaissance dress.

:)
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Fortyseven
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 3:38pm (UTC -5)
Oof.

If you aren't hooked by the "fantasy" storybook element of THE episode, there isn't really much to enjoy here, outside of the very end. And it very much didn't hook me: none of it seemed directly important to the plot. Just a self-indulgent opportunity for the cast to go over the top and really ham it up.

In fact, I was nearly compelled to skip through parts of it because I was not at all invested in it. Not even 'Picard' drove me to do that, if you can believe it. I just couldn't find an "in" that grabbed me.

But what further complicated things for me was that I somehow overlooked any mention of M'Benga's daughter being at the end of the road with medical treatments. So when the final scene happened, I was flabbergasted: dude was just giving up and handing over his daughter to a weirdo alien nebula?!

Of course, that wasn't the whole story.

Several fine folks over on /r/startrek pointed that out to me, after the fact. Once I had that bit of context, that changed the vibe of the ending entirely. Though, it still seemed not nearly enough time for M'Benga to consider the situation before letting his baby girl go.

Have to chalk that up to "TV pace", I guess.

But, regardless, 5 or 6 semi-decent minutes of an hour-long episode is not going to save it. Even Hemmer, finally deciding to show up for work this week, didn't save it. (Though his presence was certainly a welcome oasis.)

Otherwise? This week's (bottle) episode was a solid production from a technical/artistic perspective. It just did not work for me in practice, and I consider it the first real 'dud' of the season, even if nearly everyone else seems to have had a great time with it.

And I'm happy to see the actors seemed to be having a really great time with it, though. I just couldn't join them.

Other notes:

- Was M'Benga's science experiment blowing up in his face just a red herring? A rewatch (which is NOT going to happen) might clear that up.

- Also, I guess him illegally (?) storing a child in a transporter buffer wasn't the reason for his seeming demotion in TOS.

2/5
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C.T Phipps
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 4:09pm (UTC -5)
[[- Was M'Benga's science experiment blowing up in his face just a red herring? A rewatch (which is NOT going to happen) might clear that up.]]

I think it was just a sign that he wasn't any closer to a cure.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 4:16pm (UTC -5)
@ Fortyseven

"- Was M'Benga's science experiment blowing up in his face just a red herring? A rewatch (which is NOT going to happen) might clear that up."

Yes.
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Jammer
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 4:26pm (UTC -5)
Review now posted.
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Booming
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 4:33pm (UTC -5)
Another Jammer Hemmer!
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Matt B.
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 4:44pm (UTC -5)
The arrows in the crewmen was a big plot hole, but I was also wondering why M'Benga or Hemmer didn't just grab a phaser, set it to stun, and go to town. Then figure out what the problem was.
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Jermaine
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 5:47pm (UTC -5)
I literally fell asleep during this episode. Look, I was interested in M'Benga's daughter and how that storyline might go. But this was a huge let down. The only thing of note about this episode was that the captain played the role of a two timing gay man....hmmm...some would say this is problematic. That aint me. The episode was lacking and reminded me of those moments and episodes in TNG that made me ask, "Why did they waste space on such reductive storytelling?"
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Trek fan
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 6:14pm (UTC -5)
There’s nothing unusual about this episode to me, it’s just slightly more boring and lazily plotted than most episodes of this unoriginal show so far. Perhaps the solid characterizations, which of course are largely pilfered from TOS show Bible character sketches, distracted some viewers.

The problem is these characters are pale imitations of the original. Part of the fun of TOS fantasy episodes like Shore Leave is that we got to know the characters better as unique personalities. Not so here; the acting is shallow and this episode of SNW has all the depth and personality of a wet noodle.

I agree with Jammer that isn’t better than 2 stars, but I might go 1 1/2 stars due to the sleep-inducing filler. The episode bored me so much that I could barely rally at the end to notice some things moving. Cancel this show, please. :)
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The Chronek
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 6:28pm (UTC -5)
Largely agree with Jammer, with the exception that I think the ending is strong enough to redeem the entire episode.

Always fun to see Trek characters in costumes other than Starfleet uniforms. I like Anson Mount a lot. I wouldn't see Shatner taking a back seat to another actor in something like this.
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J.B.
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 6:45pm (UTC -5)
It's really disappointing how this season has collapsed. Even if it didn't, I'm not sure the show has what it takes to make episodes like TNG's "Sarek" or "The Defector."
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Ego
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 6:50pm (UTC -5)
Long time reader, first time commenter.

This was a rough one for me, the worst one so far. It seems like SNW is adept at mimicking the more serious TOS era episodes, but falls on its face when it comes to humor.

I found the episode to be extremely boring and few of the jokes landed for me (although, like Jammer, I appreciated Hemmer's flair for the dramatic. If the humor were more of that and less of Una singing etc., I probably would have been more on board).

It also might have been funny if M'Benga acted as a stand in for the audience by being fed up with the zany fantasy caricatures and resisting his role in the story. Something like that would also make the ending, where he draws parallels between the Mercury Stone and his daughter, more rewarding too. Him fighting the narrative mimics his "real life" denial.

I'm probably over thinking this. I'm always down for goofy Star Trek, but the episode also needs to be compelling within the goofiness. It needs to have stakes of some kind and forward momentum, even if it's just a smidgen. This missed the mark in that respect.
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Janeways Labrat
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 6:50pm (UTC -5)
I was expecting the nazis in space episode but instead we got the pre-Flotter episode. Yay. I still say there’s a nazi episode coming.
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Ego
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 6:53pm (UTC -5)
@Ego

Whoops, I meant La'an, not Una. My mistake.
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Janeways Labrat
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 7:03pm (UTC -5)
25 eps X 50 mins = 1250 minutes of old trek
10 X 55 = 550 minutes of nutrek

We’re not even getting half as much, so crappy episodes are a bigger piece of the pie. I think VOY did alternate cast roles the best. Evil Janeway is my favorite.
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Derek
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 7:41pm (UTC -5)
Everything Jammer didn't like about this one, I loved. I watched this whole thing with a big stupid grin and laughed out loud a lot. Then almost teared up at the end. I don't know what it is about this show, but as of this week I am now officially a Strange New Worlds apologist.

"The Swamp of Infinite Death."
"That's NOT a good swamp..."
SO STUPID BUT DAMN IT I LOVE THIS DUMB SHOW

3.5 stars
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Dirk
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 7:52pm (UTC -5)
This was really a surprise for me. I thought it looked competent from the preview. I have really loved this show, even in spite of last week's fairly horrid episode. But I have to call this a complete failure. I kept wondering when the story was going to start and then I realized that feeling that I, as an author myself, sometimes get, when I don't know where the story is going. It's a dreadful feeling and usually this is a sign to move on to something new...
There's no wonder to the narrative because the narrative is the book. For the most part I was thoroughly enjoying the story. I especially La'an (my favorite character, bit like Lt. Reed). She looks absolutely fantastic and her comedy had me laughing for a long time. Those facial expressions were pure gold.
Unfortunately, I felt like the entire episode took a terrible turn when it got to the child. I don't like to watch shows with dying children - and that's why I don't watch the lifetime channel. No thank you, I've had enough grief in my life without having to watch that.
I did not like the last part at all and I thought it was generally stupid - there were too many unanswered questions. Why did he take the aliens word for it that the daughter would revert to her sickened state? Wouldn't you want to check sick bay before letting her go forever out into a nebula presence? The doctor keeps saying that it's her choice, but she's far too young to make that kind of choice. It's just absurd to think otherwise. He is the adult and should choose the most likely choice for her health as he has always done.
And why should the girl not have the opportunity to live as a normal human? Why take her humanity away when you aren't sure whether or not you can find a cure for her? It all seemed a little rushed and did not tie up the story at all.
I'm really starting to worry now and really hope that they stop goofing around with these comedy scripts.

Alsø - I am finally glad to see a little more Una; and as usual I would greatly prefer to see little or no more of Ortega.
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SlackerInc
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 7:57pm (UTC -5)
Oof. That was truly atrocious. I know I defended a little silliness in the pirate episode, but there's a limit. And this one went way, WAY beyond that limit. And that wasn't even the half of the problem with this episode. I suppose it could be recency bias, but I'm strongly tempted to call this the worst episode of Trek I've ever seen and really, one of the worst episodes of anything I've seen all the way through.

I write the above without having looked at any comments. Curious to see if anyone will defend this turd.

Wow, now I see Jammer's already reviewed it! (I wrote my reaction in Notepad before even opening the site.) That was fast.

I'm not seeing the redemption Jammer does. The ending was...different...from what came before, not as slapstick-silly, but still not in any way good. It's the laziest kind of deus ex machina (in the service of writing out a character they apparently decided was a dead end in record time), without even making the effort to put any interesting sci-fi spin on it.

WTH, the first four comments are largely positive about the episode?!? WHAT IS HAPPENING??? Are you people punking me?

Okay, thank goodness @Mal comes in to point out the emperor has no clothes. At minimum, it's not just me. But the rest of you? Good lord, what on Earth are you thinking?

(And even Mal is way off in one respect: last week's Orville episode was awesome, four stars and probably my favorite of the series. Saying this was better than that is blasphemy.)

And then a bunch more positive comments! A couple people agree with me, but one of them doesn't count because they just hate every episode and the show in general.

I'm flabbergasted. Most of you should know better. This is just not what good TV looks like.
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modulum
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 8:04pm (UTC -5)
I just don't get why SNW is deciding that the template of Trek they wanna use now is campy screwball comedy and campy weird mystery. Who was asking for that? The show had a super strong start because it was mining serious, high-concept tropes like "two warring factions" and "does religion have a basis in truth?". And it was going great! And all of a sudden halfway through the season we're getting "Move Along Home" and "Gambit": The Series. It's as if the moment the new season of the Orville came out, all its bad comedy got transplanted via voodoo doll to this show.

Why did they decide to do this? Didn't they realize they had a winning formula?
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modulum
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 8:06pm (UTC -5)
I mean - as I've said before - at least it is, admittedly, faithful to the trashy past Star Trek tropes it's mimicking. The past few episodes all feel like TNG S1 episodes.
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SlackerInc
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 8:21pm (UTC -5)
I haven't seen 90 percent of TNG, so I guess that's why this is shockingly bad to me.
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Mullibok
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 8:23pm (UTC -5)
I was tuning out pretty hard a few minutes into the fantasy ship happening, just felt like I already knew all the plot beats and all the crew acting in zany new ways before they even happened. La'an's opening scene did manage to get some laughs out of me at least. The ending worked well enough for me and I'm happy to see that story arc concluded in a fairly satisfying manner. But yeah, wasn't looking for a corny alternate versions of the cast episode, and I hope the last couple episodes redeem the season.
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skyelord
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 8:55pm (UTC -5)
It's a shame the doctor get's his turn to have an episode and it's a silly "dress-up" one (with a touching ending). He put in a fine perforance but this is such a worn out sci-fi trope that you have to do it very well or make it genuinely funny or ideally both. Unfortunately it was neither.

The ending was a nice sc-fi/Star Trek concept and a good resolution to that story arc but I felt that should have been more of the focus of the show.

2 Episodes left. Ortegas hasn't had a full episode (hopefully she never does) and Una hasn't had a proper one imo. Although I'm quite happy if we get back to more Pike personally. I'm all for light sci-fi (being a big Stargate fan too) but SNW's version of light is a bit TOO light for me.

La'an (or rather the actress) was more believable as the princess than she is as a tough security officer which was vagugely amusing. Defintely Discount Drummer although I suspect Cara Gee can pull off a believable princess too.

2 stars again which makes 2 2s in a row for me - not great when you only have 10 episodes.

(still better than 95% of DSC though)
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Shannon
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 9:34pm (UTC -5)
I've complained in the past about nu-Trek not taking advantage of the streaming format to make longer episodes, but this is one that should definitely have been 40 minutes and not 53. Corny doesn't even begin to describe the first few acts, and it's a shame that it takes so agonizingly long to get to the heart of the story, which is actually quite moving and tugged at my heart strings... Anyway, this show is still better than PIC and DIS, and I truly hope the showrunners close out Season 1 with two episodes that get us excited for Season 2... I agree with the 2 star rating from Jammer.
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StarMan
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 9:39pm (UTC -5)
Is the panacea to Discovery and Picard's inability to sustain a serialised, season-long arc & overall rubbish writing this goofy, screwball approach? For a lot of Trek fans - the answer is yes.

For me - and it appears several others here - the answer is no.

It would seem as we approach the season's end, the lines of division are starting to come into focus.
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Token
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 9:57pm (UTC -5)
This was the worst episode so far.

The baffling decision by M'Benga to hide his daughter in the emergency medical transporter will never be addressed. What if someone used the transporter when he wasn't around? Why not keep his daughter at a starbase where Federation scientists could research her rare condition? This is the worst habit of modern trek--ostensibly intelligent characters making stupid, border-line insane decisions that clash with everything we know about the setting and their circumstances.

The humor fell completely flat. Comedy in modern trek is when grown adults stammer out one needlessly awkward sentence after another. It's funny because it's forced, get it? Then the person standing next to them will address the awkwardness which a cliche "Really?" Every. Single. Time. It's Star Trek you hacks, you're not writing Firefly, don't even try.

The Boltzmann Brain came out of nowhere. If this were TNG it would have been carefully foreshadowed in the opening act. But this is SNW, where stories feel rushed even when episodes are 50+ minutes long. As for the finale, it's hard to care about contrived, binary choices like this. Even though M'Benga's scan shows his daughter's physical body has been healed, if she leaves the nebula the disease will return, for *reasons*. So the options are kill your daughter, or leave her in space heaven. Hmm, tough call!

1/4
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Andy in VA
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 9:59pm (UTC -5)
Cute, silly story with a gut punch ending. OK, but I do agree there have been too many cute silly stories for a series with a 10 episode season.

Somewhere Gene L. Coon is smiling.

That said, I kind of think the resolution of the Rukiya subplot was a cheat.

M'Benga's struggles to find a cure for his daughter gave his character gravitas, an emotional anchor. Here was this kind man, a doctor, a healer, tormented by the reality he couldn't save the person he loved the most.

Even the potential cure from Majalis remained tantalizingly out of reach, forcing him to work to exhaustion to discover the cure by himself.

Only now, the daughter is magically all better, and grown, and gone.

Don't get me wrong, I wanted Rukiya to ultimately be OK. Who wouldn't?

But I think the better story, certainly the more dramatic "it's always darkest before the dawn" story would have had M'Benga and who or whatever else find a cure, one that would have been earned with blood, sweat and tears, rather than a tidy and instantaneous resolution stapled onto the end of an otherwise frivolous episode.
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Rahul
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 10:37pm (UTC -5)
The moment M'Benga steps off the turbolift and we realize we're reenacting the children's book, my shoulders just sunk -- we've seen this kind of thing enough on Trek. The premise truly sucks even if we know it's just supposed to be big, dumb fun. The episode was pretty boring until we decide how we like the ending -- there's plenty of mushy, emotional crap that would be best suited to DSC but the writers think they've found a way to have their cake and eat it too. But I disagree and overall, this is a 2nd straight turd for SNW.

The one actor who continues to knock it out of the park is Chong -- I love the range she has now shown with her usual character and now acting the role of princess. Even if she overdid it, I really liked it, especially initially. And she's hot. Pike as a spineless coward was fun to watch but having M'Benga and Hemmer be the 2 protagonists was an interesting choice. Hemmer was better than M'Benga. And Ortegas continues to suck -- she's a 1-trick pony and her getting more lines dragged the episode down. Going forward, the writers should use Hemmer more and give Ortegas the rest of the season off.

When I heard what the title of this episode was, I immediately thought of the TAS episode "The Time Trap" where they first used the Elysian race. Thought we might be revisiting that somehow -- which would have been a much better choice than this garbage.

Again, nothing really original here but the problem of M'Benga's daughter is resolved. What I didn't like is that Rukiya has to make the choice of going with the nebula entity or staying with her father -- how should a kid have the maturity to make such a choice?? This lets M'Benga off the hook of having to choose between Rukiya and his crewmates. And then Rukiya comes back as a grown woman? Like how would she have developed? This is pretty messy and then she spews some bullshit about M'Benga doing the right thing and that he has to create his own stories.

1 star for "The Elysian Kingdom" -- when the episodes that come to mind are: "The Royale", "Imaginary Friend", and "Masks" (all of which I rate 1 star) then we've got another bona fide turkey on our hands. I think for a 10-episode season, it would appear the writers are really struggling if they have to turn to these kinds of gimmicks without having anything of depth to say. They have to do much better. The great start SNW had is really a thing of the past and we've gone off the tracks now and it's starting to look like SNW was just a flash in the pan and that since it is nu-Trek, it must not be very good.
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bebop
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 11:14pm (UTC -5)
Oh boy, this season has been in steady decline recently. Hope they can salvage this in those final episodes. What a disappointment after a strong start.
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SlackerInc
Thu, Jun 23, 2022, 11:23pm (UTC -5)
It just occurred to me that you know it's pretty rough when you see Jammer give something two stars and you're like "Dude, how could you rate it that high?!?" LOL
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Booming
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 12:29am (UTC -5)
One wonders why the professional reviewers got the first five episodes beforehand.
J rating
ep1: 3
ep2: 3.5
ep3: 3
ep4: 3
ep5: 2.5

ep6: 2
ep7: 1.5
ep8: 2

It is an interesting coincidence. It almost seems like CBS knew that the first five were kind of good, and if you didn't know that they were old stories competently redone then you would perceive them as even better. From ep6 it starts to dive. I would assume that ep9 will be meh again and ep10 will be quite good so that viewers say:" ok, some weak episodes in the middle but overall still a promising start. Let's hope season 2 gets better." But what they don't understand is, shows do often get better in season 2 or 3 because the writing team really gets into writing for this specific show, problem is, the writing team is to no small part the same from DSC to Picard to this. In other words, this is probably as good as it gets.

ST SNW isn't available in most of Europe yet. They want to push their paramount+ channel, even though I doubt that many in Europe will get it just for NuTrek shows. They are also removing the old Trek shows from Netflix in September, probably hoping that some people will switch. No thank you. Luckily NuTrek damaged my relationship with Star Trek so severely that I can just walk away.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMuv1Z_kCUY
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Bryan
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 12:38am (UTC -5)
In which the crew partakes in a good ol' fashioned LARP. While not the worst episode of Star Trek ever made, it stretches credulity and tries the viewer's patience. As I watched this, I had a feeling that if Jammer didn't like the previous one, he's REALLY not gonna be too pleased with this.

On the plus side, however, we get to experience some of the actors' range and acting ability. Pike is the favorite stand-out as the fawning obsequious servant, a persona that, in his more spineless moments, serves a foil for the bold and selfless Captain, but ironically also as a parody of how much of a deferential flip-flopper he's been in any iteration.

Uhura also shines as a compelling cartoon villain that puts to shame Captain Angel from the last episode. Ortegas gets a little more meat to chew on, script-wise beyond one-liners this time, something that her fans will surely appreciate. Spock is more or less the same, as is Una who is mostly forgettable.

As for the completely disposable fantasy plot, I couldn't really care less and it barely held my attention. It has all the hallmarks of some of the worst holodeck episodes from Voyager except of course without the holodeck. I'm sure the showrunners are thanking their lucky stars that that technology doesn't exist yet because they didn't need to build a whole new set. Plus, they finally got to use up that old $100 gift card from Michael's Art & Craft Supply Store and deck the halls of the existing Enterprise set with all the knicknacks they managed to fit in their shopping cart.

But most importantly, we need to discuss the resolution which wraps up M'Benga's Dying Daughter plot thread with which we have been teased and manipulated throughout the whole season. I have to say that this was the right choice that we were probably all hoping for, at least on a thematic level. However, the execution leaves much to be desired. Not only is it much too rushed, especially for a subject matter so sensitive and emotionally fraught, but I find it distasteful just how sloppily handled it is. First, it completely robs M'Benga of his own agency in settling the matter. Of the little agency he retains, he relinquishes to his young child which may at first seem sensible, but is actually really reckless and stupid because she's not of an age to give informed consent and make responsible decisions for her own well-being. That responsibility defaults to M'Benga, the father.

Compounding this problem is the fact that this entity is poorly understood and the characters have only just met her. You wouldn't give away your child to a complete human stranger, so why would give away your child to an unknown alien no matter how remarkable. Isn't this precisely the premise of many sci-fi horror films? What's the cost? Does the alien understand human nature well enough to support the development of a child, especially if she believes that medieval fantasy tales are an accurate reflection of human reality, and also, btw, seems to get her jollies from using humans like puppets? Couldn't they have done some proper scientific analysis, or at least slept on it? Lucky for M'Benga, times fly in Boltzman Land so we get confirmation that he apparently made the right choice since "You see, Daddy, I grew up juuusut fine!" Just in case any of us with a brain had these, or other reservations about that decision. Thanks goodness for cheap writing shortcuts I guess.

Even character-wise, this isn't great either because M'Benga basically just did a complete 180 from "I must secretly and selfishly hide my daughter away and obsessively tend to her myself, periodically putting the ship and crew at risk cuz that's my top priority" to "Oh gee, my daughter never truly lived even in my keeping her alive so therefore I should give her over to someone else who knows better", and this pivotal character development happens in under two minutes without taking the audience on a believable or interesting journey to better explore this transition. This resolution also convenient sweeps under the rug M'Benga's illicit concealment of this daughter from the rest of the crew... It just seems like something that should have come with meaningful consequences, or at least some discussion.


- Didn't Oretags get a serious head injury right before the LARPing begins? Are we to pretend that had zero bearing on anything?

- LOL, I never would have guessed that this LARP was inspired by an 8 year old girl's naughty lesbian fantasies... It's not impossible exactly...but perhaps some veils into an author's soul are not meant to lifted....at least until they come of age?

- Okay, so if the fantasy world didn't come from M'Benga's head but his daughter's, then why wasn't M'Benga affected like the rest of the crew..?

- "She's fine. She's alive. She's safe." ...wouldn't she be long dead of old age by the end of the episode if time passes that quickly in Boltzman Land?


Una: "You know what happened in the missing 5 hours?! Sounds like a helleva story!"
M'Benga: "Hah, it is. Believe or not, you even murdered two crew members."


Yeeeah, two stars seems about right.
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SlackerInc
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 1:08am (UTC -5)
@Bryan, I do think you (like Jammer) are still too generous with that extra star,* but I really enjoyed a lot of the detailed criticisms you laid out. And I literally laughed out loud at your comment about the Michael's gift card. That's so funny because it's so piercingly accurate. Other episodes have looked like they have a decent budget; did they use up the money on those and have to cut corners here to make up for it, the way some shows do with bottle episodes?

*Now I'm actually wondering if I was too generous as well. Am I imagining this, or has Jammer on rare occasion given less than one star? Because if that's allowed, I would like to do it here. Zero stars!
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Janeways Labrat
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 1:35am (UTC -5)
“It is her body that is ill
But she can join with me”

The whole thing has a creepy grooming feel to it
Do we know ANYTHING about the predator in the nebula?
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Paul M.
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 1:39am (UTC -5)
Well, considering the talent behind SNW, it's not exactly surprising that the show is constantly devolving. I took the time to check out IMDB pages of everyone in the writers' room: it's almost 100% superhero and young adult fiction across the board. I couldn't find anyone with some experience in "classic" sci-fi, drama, or other genres. And frankly, it shows.
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Quincy
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 1:48am (UTC -5)
I lol when the writers so casually reached their arms up their anuses all the way to their shoulder blades just to pull out the Boltzmann brain thought experiment as an explanation. There was no preamble, no indication, no clue whatsoever that that was what we were dealing with. Hemmer just for no apparent reason other than that his sensors don't detect a body "deduces" this must be a Boltzmann brain!

In any case, that was the most interesting part of this episode. The entirety of the rest was nothing more than, as someone above put it, an excuse for the cast to ham it up. So really only the throwaway Boltzmann brain line and the ending were all that this episode had to offer.

I loved Anson Mount in Hell on Wheels, but they've been shitting on this character for awhile. His version of Pike was never Pike. I was annoyed in Discovery when his subordinates were always mouthing off at him and he would just sit there like no problem, nothing to address, when he should've given them a dressing down similar to what Data gave Worf in TNG. But now on his own damn show he's been the uber incompetent captain that somehow has everything work out just fine. The show is telling me he's this great captain without actually showing me he's this great captain.

And that ending they used to try and save this dog and pony show only could've worked if there was a large ambiguity in the end result. In the 80's reboot of The Twilight Zone, there's an episode where NASA brings back an alien changeling lifeform. It can shapeshift into anyone or anything, including a nuclear bomb, so far as the scientists are able to determine. It absorbs one of the scientists and as its escaping it offers the main character a chance to join it. This is everything the scientist has ever dreamed of. The knowledge of the universe, the freedom of FTL travel to anywhere anytime, the answers to all his questions, even immortality can all be his.

However, he has no way to verify its claims. It has already deceived them multiple times. It knows almost everything about anyone it comes into contact with, especially the man it absorbed, and so could easily be faking that he is still alive inside of it and not merely food digesting in whatever passes for the creature's stomach. He has no way to know and so declines the offer, but will be forever left to wonder "what if?"

This is the kind of dilemma M'Benga should've been left with, at least for the rest of the season. His daughter, who hasn't even had a chance to live yet, is dying a little everyday. He is almost out of time. He comes to the realization that he's not going to make it in time. He's not going to be able to save her. Out of the blue there's this Boltzmann entity that he barely knows anything about offering a solution right out of a fantasy. To the best of his ability to determine the offer is real.

But can he trust it. The creature has already deceived him multiple times. It has played with very perceptions of the entire crew like a child playing with pick up sticks. However, no one was harmed. No malicious intent revealed. It machinations are perhaps understandable as a being simply trying to understand something it encounters for the very first time. Or it could be something far more sinister... a search for entertainment or even food. But then why would it even need your permission?

What does a father do? What is M'Benga's responsibility here? Does he keep his daughter in the transporter under the accelerating unlikelihood she will ever make it out alive? Does he gamble on this unknown entity so that she would finally have a life? At least death is a known quantity. You exist. And then you cease to exist. But this is an entirely different animal.

Instead this episode asks none of the relevant questions. M'Benga just lets her go, just like that. And the little girl is even more thrilled to jettison her father and his stinking medical transporter. Not only that, the authors think it's wonderful to immediately dissipate any and all suspense by instantaneously revealing "Hey daddy! How you doing?!? I'm doing splendid and spectacular! Your little girl is all grown up now! You couldn't have made a better snap decision, if you'd knee jerked a Boltzmann solution directly out of your own colorectal cavity yourself!"

Really?!?
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Bryan
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 2:03am (UTC -5)
@SlackerInc

I believe that Jammer has on a few rare occasions given NO STARS. But for that to legitimately occur there would have to be nothing redeemable about episode. It seems that while I'm harder on this one than most, I don't rate it as lowly as some since I felt that the acting was illuminating and competent. And even if it bungles the resolution, it's still thematically satisfying in a poignant and bittersweet way so long as you turn your brain off.

Regarding the budget, I concur with Booming in that the showrunners seem to have front-loaded the season with their best episodes and allocated most of their budget there. Probably because they knew that it would get better reviews that way as critics tend to be biased toward how well the earlier episodes in a season perform. They have better things to do than watch entire seasons, after all, like churning out early reviews for other series that they've only watched three episodes of. It's all a bit cynical and sad, but we already knew that Kurtzman & co. were pretty cynical in their business model when it came to serialized Nu-Trek, so why wouldn't they claim every cynical advantage they could when it came to episodic Nu-Trek as well?
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Maq
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 3:15am (UTC -5)
As well as I can agree with all this nit-picking where every detail is scrutinised until its end. After Discovery and Picard many of us did want stand-alone trek episodes. This is one. I enjoy SF more than costume dramas, but it gives the actors the possibility to act more theatrically.

I loved Cristina Chong, not only listening to her wonderful articulation in the English language, her acting, her dog and last but non least her dress. Anson Mount who dears to step back being a fool. Jess Bush was also good. Melissa Navia showed her strength as reliable side-kick.

The very much background actor Rong Fu normally sitting next to Ortegas as Lt Mitchell on the bridge got more acting time here than normally the Bridge Crew on Disc. Yes, why do not use the actors available?

Bruce Horak appeared, and it was nice to see him. He did well with a very dry humour.

Babs Olusanmokun was the main character. His story and acting were quite normal. It did not irritate me and as he should play himself, he could not take out the turns to much. The scenes with her daughter were fine and moving.

What about the story in itself? What about Tin Man TNG? Or Wesley Crusher becoming a traveller? Or even the option for Hoshi in Enterprise Exile?

M’Bengas fixation of a terminally ill daughter, he can not let her go? Should he? I mean she is still alive or is it a life she is living? I saw very many interesting questions in this sub-plot, but it got to constructed. Perhaps they realised it themselves and decided to end it, in such case I congratulate them to a very good decision and beautiful ending of it.

Sage Arindell acting as Rukiya was cute and convincing but children in Trek is a complicated theme that seldom turn out well in the long run, except for Nog.
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Alienatbar
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 3:36am (UTC -5)
I haven’t watched this. I’m not going to regurgitate my thoughts on the M’Benga daughter thread suffice to say they took a good sci-fi premise and pissed on it from the moment it looked interesting. Good to see that people have noted where it could have gone but given to a muddle of twats it was just fodder. At least now M’Benga will have more time to indulge in his rod casting and his daughter had already listened to the book he was reading in Audible.
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Walding
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 3:59am (UTC -5)
@SlackerInc
Concerning Jammers zero star ratings:
- 1 in TOS, "The way to Eden", Hippies in Space ("Spocks Brain" gets 0.5)
- 1 TNG, "Shades of Grey" aka the "We spend the budget for 22 episodes on 21 episodes and the writers are on strike"-clipshow
- 2 in DS9, "Let he who ist without Sin" and "Profit and Lace"
- 1 in VOY, "Threshold", do I need to say more?
- 1 in ENT, "Precious Cargo"

He has given none in DIS or PIC, maybe the serialised plots give those epsisodes a a limit how low they can go as long they drive the main plot forward the same way it gives them an upper ceiling thats hard to breach. Also none in Lower Decks but IMHO that show hasn't produced anything even coming close to that level of bad.

Like many here I didn't care much for the fantasy parts, those could have been shorter for the few good moments it had. But its nowhere near the likes of "Threshold" and "Profit and Lace". A good 5th act may not redeem an entire episode but it can certainly prevent it leaving a "bad taste in your mouth" after you watched it.
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SlackerInc
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 4:53am (UTC -5)
@Walding, thanks. I fail to discern the redeeming value you and Jammer and others see in the final act of this episode. It's no longer silly cosplay nonsense with Michaels arts and crafts decoration, it's somber. But it's still really bad, brain-dead handwavy copout nonsense of a different kind that tonally clashes with the rest of the episode.

Zero stars it is!
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Descent
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 5:12am (UTC -5)
I think we've just had our equivalent of "Move Along Home" or "The Royale". Some will absolutely love it, more will hate it.

For what it's worth I liked it, bar the hasty resolution to the Rukiya plot.
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skyelord
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 5:21am (UTC -5)
Ahh "The Royale" that's the one it vaguely reminded me of. I know many loathe that one but I always kinda enjoyed it - more than this SNW episode anyway.

This was the first episode my wife was visibly bored in and wandered off to get something at one point. She isn't really a trek fan but as at least enjoyed the rest of the series so far so that's one pespective of a non Star Trek - really not a good sign.

("Move Along Home" is embarrassing though and I feel sorry for the Actors)
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Descent
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 6:09am (UTC -5)
I like "The Royale" too, it's genuinely one of my favourite episodes of TNG, easy top ten material. Only criticism I can make of it is that it doesn't quite fully lean into the inherent weirdness of the concept as much as it should do, but the premise is so strong that it shines through even with the slightly shaky execution.

"Move Along Home" is a bit of a mess but it's good fun, same for "The Elysian Kingdom", I suppose. It's an excuse to watch Uhura be evil and Pike crap himself and M'Benga look around saying "what the hell" every five seconds. I think part of the negative reaction people are having is its placement in the series - I'm with the people who think that the show has been floundering a little since the end of the excellent fourth episode, and getting a bunch of wacky comedy episodes one after the other (broken up, absurdly, by a dead-serious episode about child sacrifice) it's starting to grate in a way that it wouldn't if this was a standard 26-episode season where this kind of light, jokey episode could be easily buried in the mid-season mix.

Though the fact it's a wacky comedy just makes the tonal shift at the end all the more baffling. It'd be like if "Move Along Home" ended with a ten minute scene of Jake Sisko dying or something.
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Alienatbar
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 6:14am (UTC -5)
God this is awful. Babs has the acting range of a pot plant.
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Yanks
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 7:15am (UTC -5)
Jammer, I think you're a little hard on this one. I don't think the first 40 minutes were unneeded or bad, M'Benga has to figure out what was going on and then figure out how to fix it. We couldn't just jump into the final act. I'm guessing that you might have a different view of this had it been nestled in a 20-24 episode season. I liked the story premise.

I enjoyed it, although I'm with many that are ready for some more serious Trek like we got when the season started.

It seems everyone is loving Anson's performance here, I don't think he led the pack with his performance. Maybe I was expecting more of a Regent Milo Virini (BAB5) type performance. Christina Chong deserves the gold medal here. I was truly surprised at her acting chops as it's taking me many episodes to warm up to La'an. I also think they miscast 2 characters. Una HAD to be the evil queen and Uhura should have been the forest arrow person. This seems to be a trend I'm not liking. Una, aside from the one episode, isn't given enough meat in these episodes. Do the writers have something out for her, or does Uhura get more because she checks some SJW box? She's the second in command of the flag ship of Star Fleet for gods sake! ... and it's not like Rebecca Romain can't act... I have nothing against Celia Rose Gooding. I enjoy her acting, but Uhura is a cadet. I also have to say that while I really enjoy Ethan's performance as Spock, he was dreadful here.

Did anyone else think Ortagas' sword was too long for her shortness? …. lol

I too wondered what really happened to the two poor soles that received those arrows.

Nice to see Hemmer get some time, I'd almost forgot he was a member of the crew.

I didn't know what crew member was that played the dissenting blah blah that was directing the dragging of Hammer. IMDb says it was Jenna Mitchell???
I guess they ran out of the normal cast...

So, Spock wasn't able to "fight off" the effects of the nebula thingy? ... and Hemmer was?

The final act was pretty powerful and I for one am glad they wrapped up this plot line. Not sure we needed to see a teenage Rukiya. That reunion might have been better served for the character M'Benga in a later visit, maybe sometime during season 2.

I tip my cap to the costume/set folks. Well done.

Even though we only briefly have been watching our SNW cast, I enjoyed watching them ham it up and have some fun.

A step up from last week IMO (I probably graded that one too high). I'm gonna go 3 stars here.
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SC
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 7:26am (UTC -5)
Yikes, I'm watching at UK speed, but it sounds like this show has gone downhill fast, such a shame as Anson is great in the show.
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Descent
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 7:33am (UTC -5)
^
"Do the writers have something out for her, or does Uhura get more because she checks some SJW box? She's the second in command of the flag ship of Star Fleet for gods sake!"

Uhura doesn't get that much focus. She was completely absent from the space pirates episode entirely and she didn't have much to do in "Spock Amok" or "Where Suffering Cannot Reach". I think they used her shift rotations as a way to give her sideplots for a few reasons - firstly she's the inexperienced and unsure character who the audience are invited to project themselves onto, so she's a good lens to show us the other characters through. Her interactions with Hemmer in the Gorn episode and La'an in the other episode, for example.

But also she's a huge part of the Star Trek canon and an iconic character, and yet she's barely had any real character development since her introduction in 1966. It's great to take the opportunity to really flesh the character out, same as they're doing for Chapel, who had absolutely nothing to do in TOS and barely anything to do in TAS.

It does feel like they don't know what to do with Number One though. She's basically just filling the role of reasonable/sympathetic authority figure, which isn't a great role to have on a ship where *every* authority figure is reasonable. If Pike was a bit more harsh and formal in his command style, Una's more chilled-out command style would complement it, or vice-versa. But Pike and Una are basically the same and are both well-liked by the crew, so the writers can't seem to figure out what she's actually there for.
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Yanks
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 7:52am (UTC -5)
@Quincy

"I loved Anson Mount in Hell on Wheels, but they've been shitting on this character for awhile. His version of Pike was never Pike. I was annoyed in Discovery when his subordinates were always mouthing off at him and he would just sit there like no problem, nothing to address, when he should've given them a dressing down similar to what Data gave Worf in TNG. But now on his own damn show he's been the uber incompetent captain that somehow has everything work out just fine. The show is telling me he's this great captain without actually showing me he's this great captain."

I agree here. I wouldn't say incompetent, but he certainly can have a little more military bearing...
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Dirk
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 8:04am (UTC -5)
All of the doctor's lines in the script have the direction "whisper soulfully."
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Descent
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 8:26am (UTC -5)
re: Pike's competency

I feel like the intention is to show him as a captain who's command style will be relatable and enjoyable to a modern, anti-authoritarian audience. Hence the more collaborative approach he takes, inviting contributions and freedom of speech from all his bridge crew, compared to the essentially unilateral decision-making of Kirk. Picard, Janeway and Sisko all successfully employed more relaxed command styles, especially the latter two. Pike just feels like another logical progression of the same idea.

In theory this is great and there's no reason why his style can't suceed, but he does come across as pretty limp, not least because he's managed to lose the Enterprise and become trapped/incapacitated like four times so far. I don't think he needs to have more of a militaristic, disciplinarian edge, but he does need to not constantly fuck everything up and win on luck in the way that he has been doing.

I thought "Children of the Comet" and "Memento Mori" showed him as an impressive captain - inviting free contributions from his crew but firmly in command, and effortlessly earning the respect the crew have placed in him. He was consistently good in Discovery as well but the general incomprehensibility of the plot sort of robbed him of the opportunity to really show off his command skills.
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Yanks
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 8:34am (UTC -5)
@Dirk

"All of the doctor's lines in the script have the direction "whisper soulfully.""

I didn't comment on this in my review, but this was actually a distractor for me. He is so hard to understand.

(he still whispers better than SMG)
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AMA
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 8:42am (UTC -5)
@Jeffrey's Tube

I can accept that the episode largely transpired in the minds/imaginations of the crew, but, since Hemmer wasn't affected, I would have appreciated a line or two from his perspective indicating that that was the case. If his character had sight, it might have been apt, and funny, for example, to have a scene where Ortegas is fighting with an air sword, or the crew simply falls over after Una mimes shooting arrows. In short, I just would have appreciated a little clarification as to the mechanics of what was going on.
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Yanks
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 9:22am (UTC -5)
@Descent

"But also she's a huge part of the Star Trek canon and an iconic character, and yet she's barely had any real character development since her introduction in 1966. It's great to take the opportunity to really flesh the character out, same as they're doing for Chapel, who had absolutely nothing to do in TOS and barely anything to do in TAS."

Uhura is iconic without all this "fleshing out". I don't mind the backstory(s) but not at the expense of Una. That's the feeling I get. ADM April and Captain Pike are negotiating in one episode and a cadet is at the table? Where was #1? There are more examples.

"It does feel like they don't know what to do with Number One though. She's basically just filling the role of reasonable/sympathetic authority figure, which isn't a great role to have on a ship where *every* authority figure is reasonable. If Pike was a bit more harsh and formal in his command style, Una's more chilled-out command style would complement it, or vice-versa. But Pike and Una are basically the same and are both well-liked by the crew, so the writers can't seem to figure out what she's actually there for."

Agree. #1 was supposed to be "feared" and has turned out to be WAY too touchy-feely... She should be driving the military bearing side of the house and she's not. She's not driving much of anything.
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Yanks
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 9:33am (UTC -5)
@SC

"Yikes, I'm watching at UK speed, but it sounds like this show has gone downhill fast, such a shame as Anson is great in the show."

Don't worry, "bad" here doesn't even approach STD or PIC bad... all is well.
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theBgt
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 11:06am (UTC -5)
I give it -5 stars. Minus!
A whole episode having to listen to the torturing whispering voice of the Doctor.
Enough already with the #@%%@# whispering!
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RobSolf
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 11:43am (UTC -5)
Father loses his daughter while the Captain looks on, behaving like a dandy court jester. Oooohkay...

Have loved the series so far, even the last couple that have been problematic for some people. But this one... a tonal mess. It's like a musical instrument wanting to be a piano and a banjo at the same time.
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TheProfessor
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 11:58am (UTC -5)
What a relief a 10 episode running order is for this disaster of a series.

The first two episodes were clearly a complete fluke.

The quicker this joke of a show is cancelled the better.
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Yanks
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 3:15pm (UTC -5)
@TheProfessor

"What a relief a 10 episode running order is for this disaster of a series.

The first two episodes were clearly a complete fluke.

The quicker this joke of a show is cancelled the better."

Now now... the worst here doesn't even come close to the worst of STD or STP.

Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Don't expect someone like D.C Fontana to show up in the writers' room.

I think everything will be fine. I'm still very much enjoying watching this series, even when it miss-steps a little.
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Paul M.
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 3:58pm (UTC -5)
Just noticed that that the book M'Benga reads to his daughter is written by Benny Russell, which is admittedly a nice little easter egg.
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AMA
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 6:14pm (UTC -5)
In partial defence of the first 40 minutes of the episode, we, the audience, are told that the actions of the crew are being guided by the imagination/thoughts of a child, one who, given her circumstances, would be well justified to want some lightness and frivolity. For me, that greatly excuses the silliness that plays out. Yes, there is a critique to be made about the clash that arises when said silliness runs up against the episode's serious ending, but I think to say the episode is simply going for laughs or something akin to as much fails then to fully appreciate the whole story. Just my added cent to the two I previously offered.
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Rahul
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 6:37pm (UTC -5)
"In partial defence of the first 40 minutes of the episode, we, the audience, are told that the actions of the crew are being guided by the imagination/thoughts of a child"

The problem is we aren't clued into this until well into the 1st 40 mins. So most of the episode, for me, was a massive bore-fest with the assumption that something from the nebula is messing with the ship for whatever reason like "Masks" or "Imaginary Friend".

But I think the ending could have been turned into somewhat of a tragedy along the lines of "Children of Time" or "The City on the Edge of Forever" even if that isn't keeping with the mostly fluffy episode. Nothing wrong with a spike in the tail.

If M'Benga actually had to make an impossible choice between his daughter and the rest of the crew and then continued to live with the secret (I guess Hemmer would also know), then that could have ended the episode in a more intriguing and challenging way. Instead, the ending plays out very disappointingly and conveniently. The writers would have had to take a risk but they're not at that level of competence.
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SlackerInc
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 8:38pm (UTC -5)
For the whole crew to be vulnerable to a random alien in a nebula going hardcore Professor X on someone...what if that's Legion instead of Xavier? This should be a major issue for M'Benga to take to his superior officers. But instead it's just all laughed off as "Oh well, everybody got to be marionettes for a day but don't remember what happened, but it's fine even though they all know they lost five hours". It's engineered to evaporate into mist, which saps the whole feel of the series in terms of it having any stakes, any substance, any reason for us to lean in on the edges of our seats. I defended the pirate episode because I thought they got the balance right. But if that was a slippery slope toward just making everything a lark? Then I'll retroactively lament it as a trend.

@Skyelord: I was feeling tense through a lot of the episode, thinking about how there's been a push among critics to urge people to check this show out even if they aren't big Trek fans. That it's episodic, so they can just flip it on whenever "like Law & Order". Anyone who did that this week has got to be like "WTH is this shite?"

@Yanks: "I also think they miscast 2 characters. Una HAD to be the evil queen and Uhura should have been the forest arrow person."

It wouldn't be enough to save the episode unless it were also completely rewritten, but I think you make a good case about this. I could see those women sink their teeth into both of those roles, more so than the way they did it.

"I also have to say that while I really enjoy Ethan's performance as Spock, he was dreadful here."

Yup. A lot of them came across like high school theatre style. Including Anson Mount btw.

This was all just so amateurish. Whatever incredibly meager amount of charm it possesses is predicated solely on a weird "I guess the cast just got drunk and improvised a weird thing with some fairytale costumes and cheap decorations, to put it on TikTok or something" vibe.

"Don't worry, 'bad' here doesn't even approach STD or PIC bad... all is well."

All will be well if they come back with at least a serviceably decent episode next week. But I disagree with you: to me, this was worse than any episode of Discovery or Picard that I saw (I did not see the most recent seasons of either). And I do NOT say that lightly. If you showed this comment from the future to the me that existed less than a week ago, I would have been gobsmacked, as I did not think it would be possible for this show to make (to release!) such a bad episode.
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Alienatbar
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 8:50pm (UTC -5)
@Yanks
‘even when it miss-steps a little’

Maybe full on ‘speed planking’ is a little closer to the truth. This show has the elements of both those other shows.
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Barristan
Fri, Jun 24, 2022, 8:51pm (UTC -5)
A Princess-Bride-esque comedic fantasy romp that lets the whole cast chew the scenery in spectacular costumes... and then delivers an impressively emotional bittersweet gut punch of an ending? Sign me up. I can't imagine how powerful those final scenes would be to anyone (or parents of anyone) struggling with a medical condition similar to Rukiya's.

Great sci-fi that's all about empathy and the human condition. AND... the author's name on the titular children's book was BENNY RUSSELL??? My kingdom for more DS9 easter eggs!!

With just a couple episodes to go, this is shaping up to be the strongest first season of any Star Trek show. 3 & 7 are the only weak episodes so far, and they're still perfectly watchable, just not as solid as the other six.

I love that each week, I have no idea what's going to happen or what kind of story the episode is going to tell. Looking forward to seeing how they bring it home in the final two episodes, and really glad a second season is already confirmed.
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Steinway
Sat, Jun 25, 2022, 5:57am (UTC -5)
The ending was completely objectionable to me - like some others have said, giving a child up to an alien entity they just met and who has been messing with their minds - this is stupid at best, and creepy at worst.

The episode was rather boring and I just can’t get past the ending. Captain Pike is getting weaker by the episode - be a strong captain! And no more Ortegas please. Too much “silly” on the show lately, and the characters are losing any gravitas quickly. Uhura was too over done and so was La’an. PS can we get La’an a new hairstyle for her? The severe two-braid thing just looks weird. Nurse Chapel looked lovely in this episode - her usual jumpsuit is weirdly designed and unflattering and distracts from the character herself.

Last thing - why are the women (including the fighter-extras) always so tough, badass, etc? It’s such an overcorrection that it becomes rather silly. I’m a woman myself and it’s fun to see a “strong” woman play a role, but it needs do be balanced out…the scene in “Lift is where suffering cannot reach” where Cpt Pike gets his butt kicked by a woman just looked so dumb. Overdoing the girl power makes things look fake, forced, and super woke. But I guess that’s how TV works now.
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lizzzi
Sat, Jun 25, 2022, 10:23am (UTC -5)
@ Barristan

We may be in the minority, but I couldn't agree more. I could have written your post.

I keep thinking about the time Paul McCartney was criticized for only writing "silly little love songs." His reply was something like, "What's wrong with silly little love songs?"
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F
Sat, Jun 25, 2022, 11:49am (UTC -5)
For me, this has the best of Star Trek: being launched in a weird situation, you don't know what's going on, what is causing it, nor how to solve it, and we're going to actually watch the characters figure things out. And it is a honest episode, it promises us a fairy tale like story and that's exactly what it delivers. Kind of a "The Princess Bride" vibe. Loved it, 4 stars.

Now, two things bothered me: first, those kind of "flashbacks" with pages of the book. That was dumb and over explanatory at first, then just boring. Second, and most importantly, the "ok, I'm gonna let my child go with this total alien being who I know absolutely nothing about" solution was kind of bizarre, if you REALLY stop to think about it...
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Lynos
Sat, Jun 25, 2022, 3:58pm (UTC -5)
This week's episode was a lot of trifle until a strong finish. I mean, the cast seems to be having fun, but this felt like carbon copy of many other and better Trek plots while not adding anything really new.

And the whole thing made no sense. Where are the other hundreds of crew people aboard the ship in all this? Locked in their rooms? Do they have any parts to play? A real headscrather, that one.
I find that Enterprise in SNW as a whole feels much less lived-in and occupied by an actual crew. It feels like a really big ship that flies about 10 people. I dunno, maybe it's because they only have 10 episodes and they can't really afford to flesh out anything on the margins, but still, it's really noticable.

As for the ending, it struck a chord and was moving, but I think in general the story would've more interesting if Rukiya herself sought out the entity to help her instead of the entity finding her by accident.

An ok epsode, not great, not terrible, just okay. I agree with Jammer that's it's time to go back to more serious fare, before this show Out-Orvilles the Orville.
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JSylvester
Sat, Jun 25, 2022, 5:34pm (UTC -5)
I didn't like it -- as in "hated it." I don't think these characters are well enough established to do an "alternate universe" portrayal that has much impact. But then I'm down on this show in general. I feel it's just an effort to once again "milk the franchise" with derivative stories and less than compelling execution.
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skyelord
Sat, Jun 25, 2022, 9:10pm (UTC -5)
@Lynos "I find that Enterprise in SNW as a whole feels much less lived-in and occupied by an actual crew. It feels like a really big ship that flies about 10 people. I dunno, maybe it's because they only have 10 episodes and they can't really afford to flesh out anything on the margins, but still, it's really noticable."

Very true, even TOS managed this with random extras in uniform wandering the halls or fiddling with control panels and they always had a shoestring budget.

It really does feel like a big empty ship most of the time. Actually I'm not even sure it feels that big, except sickbay which seems to be the size of DS9.

The definitely need to have more "walking and talking in the corridors" scenes and less in the turbolift.
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TH
Sat, Jun 25, 2022, 10:08pm (UTC -5)
I could not agree with you more on your breakdown of this episode right down the comparisons to previous Trekisodes.

As a father of a similar-aged child, I found the ending enough to actually move me to sadness. But a nagging part of me was bothered by the fact that M'Benga so quickly decides this is the best thing for his daughter. We're eight episodes in and he's already seen a few different opportunities for possible cures for his daughter (just two episode before, in "Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach", the crew met a people who had the technology to save her - they were not willing to share it, but he knows it is possible.

And now, two episodes later, he decides that letting her go with an alien life form they know nothing about (like, literally - other than the daughter saying that she has communicated with this life form, he knows NOTHING about what will happen to his daughter), he is prepared on effectively a whim to give her up.

That said, it was still a touching moment to witness. I personally found it a bit spoiled by the immediate reappearance of adult Rukiya. The reassurance that he did the right thing is a lovely moment for M'Benga, but it immediately takes away all the stakes of his decision - wondering whether he did the right thing is part of taking the risk that makes it a bold decision. Immediately finding out that "yep, I had a great life" means an important character point that could have influenced M'Benga in the future is immediately removed.

I'm also forced to wonder if Rukiya now lives outside of time like the prophets, or whether she lives an accelerated life like the planet in Blink of an Eye (VOY). If the latter, I query whether M'Benga will ever see his daughter again.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Sat, Jun 25, 2022, 11:10pm (UTC -5)
I think some of you are forgetting that the beginning of this episode established that time was essentially all but up for his daughter. It was this unknowable fate (joining with the nebula being) or the knowable fate of having only a cumulative few remaining hours to spend outside of the transporter before dying, albeit dying as she had lived: as a human with her father. The opening established that things had progressed to the point where the "third option" - wait in the transporter for a cure, then live as a human - was not quite, but essentially over.

The "last second miracle" he needed: here it is. It didn't come how he wanted it to come and it doesn't look like how he wanted it to look for the life he imagined his daughter would have following it, but this is it. This is what it is.

So yes, it's one hell of dilemma for a father: let your child die, or let your child be subjected to something unfathomable that will transform her in ways you cannot understand or predict and that you cannot even be sure you can trust. But you can at least be sure she will live some kind of existence, and at least as equally likely, IF you can indeed trust what you have seen, an extraordinary existence and a happy one. (Oh, and no matter how it should work out for her--happy or torturous--you can't be a part of that existence anymore, either.)

You have like one minute to decide. What do you do?

I think you do what M'Benga does: let the child decide. Even knowing that the child in no way is cognitively developed enough to grasp all the implications of the decision or weigh all the factors she should weigh . . . heck, even identify or comprehend all the factors she should weigh in such a decision . . . I think you still let the child decide, even then, because NOT letting the child decide somehow seems the greater wrong.

You can't know. Even afterward, when "she" appears to him as an adult several seconds later to say everything worked out wonderfully . . . he still can't really know. He just has to hope. He has to accept it on faith. It's an impossible decision and in the end it's really just a decision that can only be made on faith, and that's why he allowed her to decide for herself, because there was no other way to make it.

I'm not a parent. But I think I would have made the same decision M'Benga made in the moment--to let her decide--and then, to be fair, I'm not entirely sure I wouldn't go insane for some period of time (or always) afterward. Heh.
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Steinway
Sat, Jun 25, 2022, 11:49pm (UTC -5)
@Jeffrey’s Tube

That’s true that there was an immediacy of sorts presented in the episode.

But honestly, it’s hard for me to take it seriously because his daughter never actually looked sick. Sure, they told us she was, but she always looked smiling, vibrant, and adorable. M’Benga talks about her “wasting away”, but she looked perfectly healthy…so it was hard for me to enter into the drama of it. Granted, I don’t really want to see a child suffering, even if it’s just being acted, but it didn’t feel believable to me the way it was handled onscreen.
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SlackerInc
Sun, Jun 26, 2022, 12:46am (UTC -5)
@Steinway: Yes, this is how television and movies work now. I hope they get over it at some point.

@Jeffrey's Tube, they could have sold this a lot better with two simple tweaks:

1. Show her actually seeming sick.
2. Show him pulling her out of stasis for like three seconds at a time, and not being willing to continue further to read a story. A quick hug once a month.

[After I wrote the above, I saw Steinway's comment, which nails the same point.]
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Jeffrey's Tube
Sun, Jun 26, 2022, 1:28am (UTC -5)
@ Steinway

That's true too, that she never looked that sick. It did kind of bother me also.

I suppose 23rd century medicine must be good enough at relieving symptoms of this disease to the point where you can have a relatively normal quality of life, even up to the end. There wasn't ever a question presented of if she would suffer much before she died. Suffering also didn't seem to be a consideration in the choice M'Benga and his daughter faced.

But seeing her visibly very sick would have been shorthand conveying to the watcher of the episode that the time remaining was very very short indeed. Without it, a lot of people seem to have missed that, or at least it's at the back of their minds rather than at the forefront.

I think they wanted us to love the little kid, so they made her vibrant and precocious. It's an easy way to do it with short screen time for her. But they could have made us love her while presenting her as a lot sicker, too, in the same amount of screen time, I feel. Perhaps it would have been better to go that way.

. . .

We're 8/10 episodes in, so it might be a little early yet, but let me ask the following questions . . .

Is Season 1 of SNW better than Season 1 of TOS? No. (But then again, if Season 1 of TOS hadn't been one of the best seasons of Star Trek ever, we wouldn't have all the rest of Star Trek . . . )

Is Season 1 of SNW better than Season 1 of TAS? Duh.

Is Season 1 of SNW better than Season 1 of TNG? Abso-friggin'-lutely. (We might, however, argue that Season 1 of TNG has 2-3 episodes better than any SNW has yet produced . . . but they also had 26 chances vs. 10.)

Is Season 1 of SNW better than Season 1 of DS9? Hell yes. (SNW doesn't have a Duet or an Emissary so far, but again, 26 chances vs. 10, and let's not forget Duet was episode 24 or something like that and also that it required a lot of backstory to be laid in previous, less successful or outright bad episodes.)

Is Season 1 of SNW better than Season 1 of Voyager? By a country mile.

Is Season 1 of SNW better than Season 1 of Enterprise? Season 1 of Enterprise is a contender for worst season of Star Trek ever made, and its primary competition is Season 2 of Enterprise. It isn't even fit to lick the boots of Season 1 of SNW.

Is Season 1 of SNW better than Season 1 of Discovery? For my money: hell yes. What a weird non-Trek-like show Discovery was in Season 1, in retrospect.

Is Season 1 of SNW better than Season 1 of Picard? Vastly.

Is Season 1 of SNW better than Season 1 of Lower Decks? Hmmm . . .

Is Season 1 of SNW better than Season 1 of Prodigy? For my money, yes.

Now, a 1:1 comparison isn't all that necessarily apt. Different episode counts, different eras of television, and the simple reality that it isn't like no one has ever made a successful or amazing season of Star Trek before by the year 2022 that the people making the show can look to for guidance, are all factors that should be weighed. But still. I think some commenters here should look to this for some perspective. Heck, even be Season 4 of Enterprise, we all wanted to see Season 5 of Enterprise. If you think SNW doesn't show more promise right now than all of those shows (save TOS) did eight episodes into their run, I don't know what to say.
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Jeffrey's Tube
Sun, Jun 26, 2022, 1:30am (UTC -5)
*Even by Season 4 of Enterprise, we all wanted to see Season 5 of Enterprise.
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Ilsat
Sun, Jun 26, 2022, 2:41am (UTC -5)
Jeffrey's Tube - "Is Season 1 of SNW better than Season 1 of DS9? Hell yes."

Hell no. That's just crazy talk.
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Ilsat
Sun, Jun 26, 2022, 2:43am (UTC -5)
Jeffrey's Tube - "I suppose 23rd century medicine must be good enough at relieving symptoms of this disease to the point where you can have a relatively normal quality of life, even up to the end."

Or the showrunners are lazy hacks. Oh right, that's well established.
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dave
Sun, Jun 26, 2022, 2:46am (UTC -5)
Even when it is a 2 star middle of the road episode it generally is well done and fun. This is a really enjoyable series so far even when it is at it's "worst".

Best 1st season? TOS had some good stuff in season 1 and DS9 had Deut so I am not sure I can give it that title. This is certainly the most enjoyable Trek series in a long long time.
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Lynos
Sun, Jun 26, 2022, 3:11am (UTC -5)
@ Jeffrey's Tube

I think the 1st deason of SNW should only really be compatred to Discovery and Picard. I think comparison to past Trek shows is very difficult because of the huge difference in episode number. It's like two totally different beasts.

Now, regarding the final scene and M'Benga's choice:

I'm not sure how many people here have looked into the study and exploration of conciousness by scientists such as Tom Campbell or Dean Radin. But essentially, modern research of consciousness (of course, you have to start with the assumption that conciousness exists and that the physical world/body is just an echo of the real thing) seems to agree that conciousness is non-localyzed, and that it is what survives when the body dies, as the body is merely a vessel, an avatar, that is used by consciousness to experience the physical world, and each of us is a piece if consciousness, what some people would call a "soul".

I've been following the study of consciousness for a long time now and the theories people like Campbell came up with sound plausible and consistent to me. It just feels right.

So having said that, M'Benga's decision is basically to allow his daughter to die, only without her physical vessel actually decaying. From this perspective, what he managed to avoid is seeing her physical body/vessel/avatar actually die, he didn't have to deal with the husk left behind, even though, like some people mentioned here, the show doesn't really do a good job of portraying her as a sick girl. So we never actually felt any deterioration is her body.

So while the ending is moving, I don't see it as M'Benga ךetting his daughter become some magical entity, but simply letting her ascend and transition on her own terms. The fact she's coming back in grown-up פhysical body is weird, then, because she's not really physical anymore. But i just justified it to myself that she gave him a projection to see, not a real body.

Anyway, it was an interesting concept but a bit muddled by the writing. For a consistent framwork of how consciousness might work we need to look elsewhere.

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