Review: ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Senses The Coming Of Death In “An Obol For Charon”

“An Obol for Charon”

Star Trek: Discovery Season 2, Episode 4 – Debuted Thursday, February 7th
Teleplay by Alan McElroy & Andrew Colville;  Story by Jordon Nardino & Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts
Directed by Lee Rose

SPOILER-FREE REVIEW

Returning to some classic Star Trek storytelling, “An Obol for Charon” mixes mystery, emotion and a bit of fun. While some of the storylines for the season are addressed, the episode does an adequate job of focusing on the new science fiction element of the week, as well as delivering a lot of character development, especially for Saru and Michael Burnham. Top-notch performances from the cast, especially with touching paired moments played by Sonequa Martin-Green and Doug Jones as well as Anthony Rapp and Mary Wiseman. The fourth episode swings thing back up after a more mixed third entry and continues the general improvements seen in Discovery’s second season.

“An Obol For Charon” — Ep #204 – Pictured (l-r): Oyin Oladejo as Joann Owosekun; Doug Jones as Saru; Anson Mount as Captain Pike; Emily Coutts as Keyla Detmer; Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham (CBS)

[SPOILERS BELOW]

RECAP

Welcome aboard, Number One

The episode opens with the anticipated series debut of Rebecca Romijn beaming in as Number One, Pike’s first officer from the USS Enterprise and a role originally played in TOS’ “The Cage” by Majel Barrett. She is there to give him a briefing on the damaged ship which is in spacedock and doesn’t appear in the episode. More importantly, she is also there to give Pike a more clandestine briefing on her inquiries into what’s up with Spock, who we learned was accused of murder in the last episode, when he escaped a Starfleet psych clinic on Starbase 5.

Romijn and Mount show good chemistry in the brief sequence, with this Number One much more cordial than the more rigid and logical version seen in “The Cage.” This Number One orders food in the mess like it’s a Shake Shack, and shows she has some kind of connection with Pike as she warns of intrigue with Spock’s case and how Starfleet is handling it. They both smell something fishy going on and she implores him to “be careful.” My money is still on Section 31 setting Spock up, but all of that will have to wait for another episode as Number One has to leave to make room for the rest of the plot.

Number One’s big contribution to the main events of the episode is to deliver Spock’s course away from Starbase 5, which becomes the chase for the episode. The search for Spock is back on, but Michael Burnham is concerned she is not the right person for the job, still weighed down by guilt over the thing they haven’t yet told us she did to him when they were kids. Michael thinks Pike is the one to save her brother, saying, “He is lost captain. You are better suited to help him.”

Fine, I admit it. I miss my old uniform. Happy?

Saru and the Big Red One

The Red Angel plot arc of the season makes a brief appearance early on in a classic Trek conference table scene, which included rare off-bridge sightings of Rhys, Owosekun and Detmer. Burnham continues to show her side of the science versus faith argument, talking about how she is trying to link the angel figures to known alien species with avian characteristics, but so far there are no matches.

Also at the table is Linus, the Saurian used for snotty comic relief in the season opener, who is mainly there as expositional foreshadowing, talking about his “lingual clicks and pops” which the universal translator struggles with. This time the snotty character is Saru, who should definitely be taking a sick day. Linus can empathize, hitting the “Season Two Contemporary Dialogue” option on the universal translator to tell us all how his cold “sucked.”

Your unbridled youthful enthusiasm is giving me a headache

With just a dollop of Red Angel, the real plot of the episode kicks in as the ship is pulled out of warp by a big giant glowing red sphere thing. It’s a good old-fashioned space anomaly, which has pulled them into a “multiphasic stasis field” which is run through Pike’s homespun analogy machine to reveal they are trapped “like a damn fly in a web,” and he hates spiders.

The sphere is emitting something that is wreaking havoc, specifically on the universal translator, which Linus already showed us can be touchy. Now the ship becomes a Tower of Babel, with everyone speaking different languages that are either not being translated or being mistranslated. It’s a bit of fun hearing the team trying to solve the problem and talking over each other in Klingon, Arabic, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish, French, and many others. Luckily the crew has someone on board who knows more than 90 of them. Saru – now fully channeling his inner crotchety old man – chides the crew for not learning any languages.

After Saru gets a temporary fix for the universal translator, his condition worsens and he admits it is no cold. He is suffering from a terminal Kelpien condition called the “vaharai,” which he thinks has been triggered by the sphere. Saru is going through the final stages of life–the ones that traditionally lead to Kelpiens being readied to be culled for slaughter by the Ba’ul, the predator species on his homeworld of Kaminar. His inflamed ganglia are the big clue to the condition, which are causing him great pain and he sees no hope for himself, saying “I am a slave to my biology.” Oddly when he proclaims “death is inevitable” Dr. Pollard has nothing to say, leaving it to Michael Burnham to argue there must be options. (Where’s Dr. McCoy when you need him? Or Phlox, Crusher, Pulaski, Bashir, or the EMH, none of whom would have accepted the fatal self-diagnosis quite so easily.)

Saru is having a seriously bad ganglia day

The nature of the sphere sparks another debate with Pike and Burnham. They speculate it is some kind of mix of technology and a space-borne lifeform, but the captain is pragmatic, seeing the virus it sent over as an attack. Burnham relies on her Vulcan logic to deduce the damage may not be intentional. On his literal deathbed, Saru breaks the tie, suggesting a solution. With a stiff upper lip that would garner him a commission in Her Majesty’s Navy, Saru limps off to solve the problem using “digital antibodies.”

We get some nice quiet scenes with Martin-Green and Doug Jones, as Saru opens up in a way we have not seen before on the show. He shows embarrassment for the nature of Kelpiens to “submit” and admits he has feared revealing his true self. As a dying wish, he wants Burnham to catalog his personal logs to be shared with the Kelpiens once the Federation lifts the General Order One restrictions on contact with his people.

Inspired by Stamets’ solution to the weirdness going on in his lab (more on that later) Burnham sparks the notion that the sphere is actually trying to communicate, which is confirmed by Saru who realizes the ultraviolet light being broadcast is the sphere’s way of saying hello. And it needs help because, like Saru, it is dying. In a time-honored Star Trek twist, we can now empathize with the threat. With shades of  V’Ger, Tin Man, and the Whale Probe, the sphere was just being misunderstood.

What is it with all the scary red things this season?

The trick now is to get Pike to buy into the theory. All he sees is a big dangerous glowing orb damaging the ship and risking the pursuit of Spock, whose trail is going cold. The captain is ready to photon torpedo his way out of the problem when Saru and Michael burst onto the bridge dramatically, which seems to happen a lot on the USS Discovery. Saru’s theory is that the sphere just wants to be remembered if only they would let it talk. In a dynamic that is getting repeated in each episode – and wearing a bit thin – it is up to Michael Burnham to sway Pike from the book and, ironically, take a leap of faith by dropping the shields and making a connection with the scary red sphere.

Of course, Saru’s plan works. The ship is flooded with information up to the moment the sphere explodes, and in its final act, it protects the Discovery by reversing the polarity of the stasis field. Yes, it actually reversed the polarity. Classic. Burnham is astonished, declaring “its final act was to save us, so we can tell its story,” just as Saru wants her to do with his story. And in even more good news, the sphere’s data download also included telemetry on where Spock is going, so they didn’t miss their window after all. It’s a good bet the 100,000-year-old sphere’s communications dump contains all sorts of useful stuff that will be called up later in the season and maybe even beyond.

Hey guys, you know you are all facing the wrong way right?

Even though the crisis has been averted, Saru’s condition has not changed. There’s a moving moment when the crew comes to attention as he leaves the bridge for what looks to be his last time. Things now get even more intense with Saru and Michael as he readies himself for death in his quarters, which are a botanical tribute to his homeworld of Kaminar. Saru asks Michael to sever his painful swollen threat ganglia, ending his suffering. The scene is fraught with emotion, with the usually cool Michael breaking down into tears. The season’s theme of family returns as these often bickering rivals, both of whom have been separated from their true sibling, admit they have become surrogate brother and sister to each other. While the writing was a bit forced and perhaps overly sentimental for the dynamic that has been established between these two characters, Martin-Green and Jones sold it.

After Saru convinces Burnham to mend the rift with Spock, she readies herself to end Saru’s pain. Turns out it she doesn’t have to, as his ganglia unexpectedly fall off and suddenly Saru is back in tip-top shape. In fact, he seems better than ever, explaining the fear that had been the governing principle of his life is gone and he feels a new sense of “power.” Once again Dr. Pollard seems unfazed by all these odd goings-on with Saru’s transforming condition and she declares him ready for duty. The Kelpien is now filled with a new purpose, to expose the lie of the “Great Balance” of Kaminar, the only problem being his homeworld is protected by General Order One. Solving that dilemma is left for a future episode.

I’m all verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves.

Meanwhile, in engineering

“An Obol for Charon” was focused mostly on the big threat to the ship and what it was doing to poor Saru, but there was a three-character mini-drama going on in Stamets’ lab – or four if you count the fungus blob. Stamets believes the fungus entity they pulled out of Tilly in the previous episode is sentient, coming from the mycelial network which he considers to be an “incubator” for life. Tilly is convinced it doesn’t mean anyone harm. And then Tig Notaro’s Jett Reno jumps in, adding her acerbic wit to this philosophical debate, as she is just freaked out by it.

Stamets and Reno are just academic oil and working-class water as they clash in an epic gruff-off, with Anthony Rapp tapping into the curmudgeon side of Stamets we haven’t seen much of since season one and Tig Notaro just amazingly being Tig Notaro. She jokes about a greenhouse flying the ship, and he calls her grease monkey. Fun stuff. The core of their argument is Stamets’ vision for the future of space travel, proclaiming Reno’s beloved antimatter and dilithium-driven warp drives as slow environmental scourges compared to the amazing spore drive. Jett is undeterred, declaring “I am uninsultable, especially by a guy that thinks he can run a ship on mushrooms that I pick off my pizza.” They could have done a whole episode with these two.

Stop touching my stuff

After things heat up with the big red sphere outside, Tilly, Stamets, and Reno are trapped in the lab which is threatening to cook them alive, so they must work together to science and engineer their way out of the problem. As expected, Reno and Stamets slowly come to at least see some value in each other’s ability, with lines like, “That’s actually not a stupid idea.” However, things get worse when the “May” blob escapes from its chamber and latches on to Tilly, secreting psilocybin that gets her as wasted as she was in that Orion strip club on Qo’noS in the season one finale.

While Stamets searches for a solution, Reno has helpful suggestions like, “I could cut it off, she wouldn’t even lose a freckle.” Stamets eventually decides to try to talk to the May blob (which was the insight that gave Burnham her “eureka” moment to talk to the red sphere). However, making a connection involves literally drilling a hole in Tilly’s head–yes, with an actual drill–for a neural interface. To calm Tilly down, there is a moment beautifully played by Wiseman and Rapp where they sing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Unlike some of the emotion of Burnham and Saru scenes, this all rang true and felt fully earned.

This is definitely going to hurt you more than it’s going to hurt me

Things take a decidedly creepy turn when “May” the blob starts speaking through Tilly, Exorcist-style. She reveals she is a lifeform from a species called the JahSepp that “lived harmoniously” until someone started randomly intruding on their realm and ravaging their ecosystem. In an ironic twist following his lecturing about the clean, renewable miracle of tapping into the mycelial network, Stamets realizes she is talking about the USS Discovery’s spore drive, the result of his life’s work. He asks for forgiveness, saying he will do “whatever it takes” to fix the problem. But the entity refuses to release Tilly, saying it has “other plans.”

Soon enough Tilly gets entirely engulfed by the alien goo thing, which wraps her into a cocoon. They have to cut her out, and she spills onto the deck like a Louisiana license plate pouring out of a gutted shark. Stamets starts working on closing the door to the mycelial network forever, but May is not having it. She again releases psilocybin, which sends Stamets and Reno into a trip straight out of a Hunter S. Thompson movie. Once they even themselves out with some of the good stuff from a hypospray, Tilly is gone, sucked into a mycelial goo gateway of a cliffhanger.

Dude like have you ever thought about subspace, like really thought about it

ANALYSIS

Saru 2.0?

One welcome element of this episode is how it dedicates so much attention to a single character, in this case, Saru. It was a turning point for The Next Generation when the show started to do more character-focused stories, something that carried through to subsequent Trek series. While Discovery has to support multiple storylines in each episode with a lot of attention given to the central character of Michael Burnham, giving other characters a special additional focus is always welcome and hopefully carries on through in more episodes.

When the titles for the early second season episodes were first revealed, we noted that “An Obol for Charon” implied death as it was a reference to the coin placed on the dead in Greek and Roman mythology so they could gain entry into the underworld. While no one actually died in the episode (unlike last week’s bloodier entry) there was a sort of death: The character of Saru that we have come to know has gone through what may be a radical change. He makes it clear that the fear, which has always been the driving principle of his nature, no longer dominates him, infusing him with a new purpose and sense of power. The book on Saru is titled Fear Itself, but apparently, now he is a new Kelpien.

Saru’s entire belief system, and that of his homeworld, have been entirely shattered and he is ready to return and spread the truth to his people. This is certainly an intriguing development, but also a bit ominous, especially if we remember how Saru acted the last time he felt unburdened by his fear in the season one episode “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum.” But is this change for Saru another item on the producers’ to-do list of things to “fix” for the second season? Is dumping Saru’s ganglia akin to the lighter tone, hair for Klingons, and other course corrections for the series? If so, is this fix necessary?

True, the notion of “sensing the coming of death” was a bit silly. However, Saru’s arc of working through his fear has been one of the more satisfying ones for the series. We have seen him rise up to the challenge, especially in the way he was able to take command after Lorca went full-on evil in the Mirror Universe. Saru’s fear and his ganglia have been there all along, but he has been able to grow and was not entirely defined by them. Now his ganglia have been sloughed off and he has gone through some kind of Kelpien menopause, becoming something new. The question remains: did he need to go through this chrysalis to put his old self behind? Only time will tell.

You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry

Spockus interuptus

We are now four episodes in and Spock remains a central character for the second season, and yet short of some flashbacks, he has yet to actually appear in the series. CBS made Spock a big part of their promotion for this season, including featuring him exclusively in a Super Bowl spot. We know that Ethan Peck will show up by the seventh episode, which may well be his Discovery debut as Spock. That means were are probably in for a few more Spock-less episodes, but this Spock teasing is getting a bit tiring. Hopefully, until he actually shows up, they can tone down all the talking about Spock, anguishing about Spock, searching for Spock, and generally being obsessed with Star Trek’s most famous Vulcan.

The search for the search for the search for Spock continues

Worth paying the obol

Like the second episode of the season, “An Obol for Charon” was a nice return to a classic Star Trek scenario, in this case a ship face-to-face with a mysterious space anomaly. As we get deeper into the season, some of the problems with juggling too many storylines are creeping in. However, this episode was able to fight past those darker impulses for the most part, whereas last week’s struggled to keep all the plates spinning. And even though the notions of life or death hung over everything, there was still time to find some humor that worked organically with the story and didn’t stand out as comic-relief diversions.

Director Lee Rose keeps up the pacing, but with a calmer hand that lets the quiet moments have the time needed for their emotional impact. As with the second episode, it would have been nice to learn more about the mystery of the week, but the character payoffs were worth it. Doug Jones ably carried the episode, even though some of the places Saru’s story went were quite melodramatic. With strong performances, fun Trek tech, plenty of lore, and a lot of the feels, the fourth episode returns the momentum built in the first two, creating even more anticipation as we head into the mid-season.

Mushroom monsters, very dangerous – you go first

Random thoughts, connections, easter eggs, and more

  • Instead of using Trek terminology, Discovery’s transporter chief oddly used the more generic sci-fi phrase “teleporter incoming” to notify Pike that Number One was beaming in.
  • Number One carries an electronic clipboard style PADD, akin to those seen on TOS.
  • Saurians have six nasal canals.
  • Saru salts his tea, something we learned he likes in season one.
  • Referring to Enterprise’s chief engineer Louvier, Pike jokes the ship will never have another chief engineer “more in love with his ship,” in a big wink to future chief engineer Montgomery Scott, who will be willing to fight over the ship’s honor.
  • Number One reveals that the USS Enterprise is the “only ship in the fleet” to have the cascade failure it suffered from as the season began, which Pike blames on the holographic display system — he quickly orders it removed from the Enterprise, another nod to how this season is trying to embrace more classic Trek.
  • Fans have been hoping that Number One will be given a first name in on-screen canon, but her appearance in this episode was too brief to make time for it. Maybe later in the season.
  • Detmer complains that her display is in Tau Cetian, referencing the Tau Ceti system, which is a real star system that has been mentioned many times in Trek lore.
  • Reno says she was ordered by the USS Discovery’s chief engineer to help in Stamets’ lab. We have yet to meet this mysterious character.
  • It has not been established clearly, but it continues to be implied that Dr. Pollard is the Chief Medical Officer. If not, the CMO does a good job of hiding.
  • Learning that the ship’s drive is causing environmental damage was reminiscent of the TNG episode “Force of Nature” and more importantly, will likely explain why the spore drive technology did not survive into the TOS era and beyond.
  • Commander Nhan (Rachael Ancheril) appears for the first time since the season opener, coming aboard with Number One and remaining behind, apparently now heading up security for the USS Discovery.
  • Nhan also wears a new skirt with pants variant of the standard Discovery Starfleet uniform.
  • Saru ability watch: he can see ultraviolet light.
  • At one point, life support was stated to be at 47%, a number commonly used in Star Trek.
  • Reno says she uses duct tape in some of her repairs, confirming the resilient adhesive survives into the 23rd century.
  • The episode contains several references to “The Brightest Star,” which remains the only Star Trek: Short Treks episode referenced in season two so far.
  • After Reno was knocked unconscious, she says she was dreaming about playing drums for Prince.
  • Mary Wiseman and Anthony Rapp also sang David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” on the episode of Carpool Karaoke, which was released last Friday .
  • After Saru was taken as a “refugee” from Kaminar, he was processed at Starbase 7.
  • How exactly the universal translator works was not entirely clear but it is implied that various members of the crew speak in their native tongues and rely on it to translate; in fact, it was revealed that some in the crew do not even speak Federation Standard (aka English).
  • Wilson Cruz does not appear in this episode. So far this season he has only appeared in a brief recording in the season premiere.

Number One’s PADD

Tau Cetian on bridge console displays

Lt. Cmdr. Nhan

Nhan’s skirt uniform variant


Star Trek: Discovery is available exclusively in the USA on CBS All Access. It airs in Canada on Space and streams on CraveTV. It is available on Netflix everywhere else. The second season debuted on All Access and Space on Thursday, January 17th, 2019, and on Netflix January 18, 2019.

Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.

406
Leave a Reply

43 Comment threads
363 Thread replies
4 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
88 Comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify me of
GQMF

I’m starting to get the feeling Kurtzman has a list of things he didn’t like about season one or seemed too much like canon errors and is trying to fix a couple of things each episode of season 2. Hopefully by the end of the season things will feel a lot better.

JonBuck

And/or it’s a response to fan complaints about the first season.

Afterburn

If they genuinely want to change things they don’t like, great, but cow-towing to fan criticism is such a terrible idea. Do what you think is right, whether fans love it or loathe it, and stick to your guns. Have some f&^%ing integrity.

Land O'Calrissian

Your point is moot, since this season is so much better than season one. What they’re doing works, so they should keep doing it.

Afterburn

I know it’s moot, but that’s how I feel about it. I’m with Ron Moore on this one. If this is genuinely what Kurtzman wants to do, as GQ said, then that’s fine. I guess we’ll never really know, and the results are all that matters.

Tiger2

I think we obviously know. Kutzman admitted a month ago the Klingons WERE changed due to the backlash and that was one of the biggest issues for some. Another was how out of place it looked to TOS. The last big one is that the tone was too dark and not enough actual Trek stories with some adventure, exploration or science. And everything about this season that has changed or improved on is literally all the stuff fans complained about all year. My guess is they would’ve changed some of it just being the second season and working out the kinks but to feel so dramatically different is clear they recognized the flaws and made the changes. And its a MUCH better show for it even if still far from perfect.

But obviously you’re right, all people care about are the actual results. In a few years (assuming the show goes that long) and many feel the show is up to the level of the others (I’m talking about the fans who hate it now) then no one will care at all. All they will care about is that they have another Trek show they can feel proud of.

Cody

The story behind the hairless Klingons came from canon (the Kahless story) & they said from day one the differences would be explained. So there’s that.

Also, I personally don’t understand why people were up in arms over the new Klingons to begin with. Was anybody here upset over the suddenly ridge-headed Klingons in TMP? I doubt it. The change from Worf to these Klingons is far less drastic than the change from the brown painted, goatee Klingons of the 60’s to the ones in TMP. Everybody accepted that change, they can get over this change.

Also, what they’re doing with the Klingons in Disco is amazing, when it comes to world-building. Far more depth & less of a cookie-cutout alien antagonist.

But maybe I just have the ability to not fix myself to my favorite Trek show (TOS btw) & to understand it’s a new generation of artists’ take on Trek. It’s modern filmmaking at its best, but applied to Trek. If you want the exact same Trek you love, they are all available on CBS All Access or Bluray.

Tiger2

Cody, they didn’t decide to actually change the Klingon hair until after the complaints. I don’t care what canon issue they used to explain it, the point is they came up with that explanation well after season 1 was done or they would’ve just said it IN season 1. They didn’t because it was never planned. And look, I don’t care, all I care is that they changed it. I don’t understand why people are bothered they simply changed things due to fan input? This isn’t exactly a new thing, especially in Star Trek. From TNG to Enterprise this has been done and in fact all the shows improved because of it.

As far as why people were upset with them, they simply thought the look sucked. Again, its not that they changed them its HOW they changed them that people had an issue with. You had no issues with it, that’s fine. But others did and clearly enough of them did. But yes, getting back to canon it was made clear hair was very important to the species and yet NONE had hair which went directly against Klingon culture. That was one of the bigger problems. If they simply showed some with hair and others bald it would’ve been less push back about it. Or just said their heads were shaved due to war in season 1, episode 3 and not season 2, episode 3, that would’ve also made the difference. But there was NO explanation then or they would’ve SAID it when they were literally at war!

And I said I’m liking second season more because the story telling has simply gotten better. I said all along if the show is just BETTER in time the look of the Klingons would matter less to people.

NiclovesTrek

Afterburn, I have forgotten what article, but on this site there was an interview by Kurtzman. I believe he addresses fans inputs. I maybe be wrong he seems understand that you have to make some adjustments but the direction of the show should be the choice of the producers.( and of course his bosses 😆)

kmart

seaQuest kept taking fan input into account, plus changing for the sake of doing weird stuff. It was like each new season was taking place in a different universe, so much stuff changed (nearly all for the worse, even though it wasn’t great to start with.) Funny thing was that 2nd season they had a showrunner from WISEGUY and he was the one who spearheaded the time traveling sub and other imbecilic shows that had Scheider publicly decrying it as childish (and rightly so.)

Tiger2

Wow SeaQuest, I remember watching that as a kid. I remembered it being considered Star Trek of the sea and partly why I watched it. I don’t think I got pass the first season though. So much promise squandered.

As far as fan input into Discovery, I agree no one should just listen to a small minority on the internet but majority of people seem to just want it to feel a little closer to what made Star Trek Star Trek! Notice they haven’t actually done anything super radical in season 2 other than making the stories a little closer to the other shows. Or trying to make its universe align with the PU a little more. What most fans seem to want are just the things they loved about Star Trek in the first place and why such a small but introspective story like New Eden got so much fanfare.

As I said before if that episode was just another episode on Voyager or TNG I don’t think everyone would’ve been that moved by it. Probably say it was a good episode overall but nothing more than that. But because it was the first one on this show to bring in elements fans have missed for a long time it created a response as if it was something grand or new. In reality it wasn’t, it was just the type of story people missed about Trek in the first place. This episode seems to be having the same response.

This season feels like its delivering actual Trek stories again and that’s partly due to the complaints first season just got too far away from what the franchise represented.

This was a case where fans were saying don’t try to fix something that isn’t broke and the producers heard it.

Marja

Well yeah, but.

1) Change the uniforms! Where are our candy-colored unis from TOS? DONE! [To which I say, why now? Unis were all blue in “Enterprise”; unis could have stayed blue until Kirk’s time. I like Gersha Phillips’ original design for Discovery.]

2) Hairless Klingons OMG! [Why not? New vision of Trek.]

3) Spore drive OMG! [Why not? Allows Discovery A LOT of flexibility, and the possibility of being a top-secret project. I hope they are not killing it.]

4) Holograms OMG! Holograms feck up all the systems on the Enterprise! Pike opts to go back to Grandma’s day! [Why?]

I just think it’s fan service and wish they had stuck with their original vision. That said, if they’re gonna give the Klingons hair, could it not look like straw? L’Rell looked dang good though. [Gersha Phillips strikes again!]

Jack

@Marja. Yeah, I’m not sure which bugs me more: that the changes were completely unnecessary, or that some fans will take credit for them (and just keep wanting more and more).

I’m actually starting to feel like there’s nothing in this show for me. I don’t want to see exactly what we’ve seen before.

ML31

1. This IS Kirk’s time. We’ve even seen what this time frame is supposed to look like.
2. Why make such radical Klingon changes? Why not change the Vulcans while they were at it if they wanted to put their own stamp on it?
3. If they are truly in the Prime U then we all know the Spore drive will go away. It’s pre-ordained. (Unless they want to change that up too) We know it wasn’t in use a mere 10 years later. So it fails for some reason.
4. Why go overboard with the holograms to begin with?

I personally have no problem changing up Trek. However if you want to keep it in the prime universe then they need to follow the established rules. Everything they have done has “reboot” written all over it. That’s not a repulsive thing. We can handle a reboot.

Tiger2

And I also felt it was just a business decision because I really do feel a lot of fans probably signed up initially but then dropped their subscriptions after a month or two when they weren’t feeling it on a site no one really wanted anyway. That probably gave CBS a heavy pause of what wasn’t working more so than the other shows got being on TV and really needing AA to succeed. If Discovery was on a network maybe it wouldn’t have gotten a radical change so quickly but that’s just my hunch.

Jack

@Tiger2 Total speculation. Any evidence for any of that?

slider

Nah, Season 1 wasn’t any different to Season 2 with the latter my favourite from what I remember.

Marja

Afterburn, I, too, feel like some of the changes are fan service, pure and simple.

Spiked Canon

yes because those that make Trek never listen to the fans…not. It’s one of the only artistic entities that do listen to us.

Mark Calcagno

And I wish they wouldn’t. Artists are allowed their own interpretations of art, and typically, fans say what they want without being capable of writing themselves. Fans should criticize, of course, but the artist is under no obligation to listen or change as a result.

As someone who has written under strict guidelines, like these writers are, I don’t envy their job at all.

Holden

Writers should follow what they feel to be the best narrative and thematic route in the story. They in theory have the most organic understanding of the material.

However, I think the fans are within their rights to defend a franchise they’ve been invested in, in most cases, for far longer than some contract-for-hire writer whose just trying to do their best under the circumstances.

And its pretty well established by now that DISC and other upcoming shows are the direct result of CBS recognizing a proven fanbase. So, there’s that too. If all the subscriptions ended tomorrow, who would still be willing to put food on the artist’s table?

Afterburn

The problem is that fans not only “don’t know what they want” but rarely agree with each other on anything. Take this site for example. Even with subgroups of “pro DSC” and “Anti-STD” there are wildly varying opinions on different things.

Lots of fans of the show still don’t like the Klingons, others do. Some who like the show really enjoy the tone and action, some don’t. Some who hate the show still like Pike and Saru, some don’t.

So in the end… who do you listen to, and to what lengths do you go to explain things they want explained? Do you write off season 1 as a dream? Even the reason for the bald Klingons (that they shave their heads in wartime) creates it’s own continuity issue, as they never did that before (in ENT or TOS) or since (in TNG or DS9).

Joe

I do no recall the Klingons fighting a war in Ent or TOS. By the time you do see them fighting a war like their civil war on TNG episode Redemption or the short war they had against the Federation on DS9, then you could use the argument Mary Chieffo came up with and that is what T’Kuvma feared (the humanization of the Klingon people) began in Star Trek VI in which case they might have lost a lot of their traditions.

Afterburn

I don’t know about TOS, but they are a race of warriors that always seems to be at war, so it makes zero sense. The truth is that Klingons were retconned to be bald, and then they realized fans hated it. I’d rather they just give them hair and not say why.

Tiger2

Agreed afterburn!

They retconned the retcon, which I think most fans seem pleased with. No one really cares why they changed it, just that they did. And of course the IRONY over this is if they simply threw that line in first season why the Klingons were actually bald I’m guessing most people would’ve been OK with it knowing that they did have hair, just shaved it.

And why I know this was never part of the original plan because they went on and on and on how we would learn more about the Klingons, their customs and etc in season one, but yet ignored one of the biggest changes about them and the ritual of shaving during war time. Why was something this big and influential just never mentioned when they were going on about the Klingon culture importance to fire, their burial rituals, different aesthetic looks for each house and so on but yet not one word about this. It would’ve been cool to have a scene of Klingons shedding their hair during the war and explaining the tradition then instead of just throwing in a off hand remark a season later.

There would’ve been far less push back from it but it was never said because they obviously didn’t come up with it until after the season was filmed.

Jack

@Tiger2 Seriously, unless you have access to fan polls, please stop speaking for “most fans.”

Tiger2

I’m talking about the ‘most fans’ who hated the new Klingons in the first place, not the entire fanbase. Chill.

ML31

Another way that would have had the nu-Klingons a bit more accepted was to throw in some TOS-like Klingons and post TMP Klingons among the many houses we saw last season. Giving the impression that many kinds of Klingons exist. That was a lost opportunity.

ML31

“I’d rather they just give them hair and not say why.”

We can agree on that one, AB. There is no reason to explain it. Just do it and move on. Let fan’s make up their own in universe reasons because it really doesn’t matter why.

ML31

Joe, the Klingons and Federation were all set to start their war in “Errand of Mercy” when the Oranians intervened. Kor was all set for it, too. He never cut his hair or was worried about the need to cut his hair. We both know, I think, that the “time of war” thing is just a lame excuse to bring the hair back to make the Klingons look a little bit more Klingons to appease some fans.

Lee

Ah yes, are you actually a Minister from the Dept of the Bleeding Obvious?

Vulcan Soul

I quite liked this particular episode as a solid outing of Star Trek, but to call what these writers have been producing, especially in season 1, “art”, is an insult to art and artists!

Tiger2

I would call what they tried to do in season 1 as a more edgier and modernized approach to Star Trek which probably sounded better on paper than execution.

Marja

I’m with you on this. I suspect the changes may have been a business decision as Tiger says, but I rather liked the reinterpretations I saw in Season One.

So help me god if they change the Discovery uniforms I’ll stop watching!

/jk, but seriously, I love the original Disco unis, not the TOS redux.

ML31

I liked their uni’s as well. They just don’t fit the time frame they are in. Now if Discovery was set perhaps 70 years after Enterprise, they would fit in just fine.

slider

If there were competent people in charge of this show fans wouldn’t be complaining.

ML31

I’m forced to agree with Afterburn. While it does not seem to be applying to Discovery, writers would do best by sticking with what THEY want and ignoring what fans want. More often than not fans do not know what they want. I say this as a fan, too. That said, in this case, listening to the fans was absolutely the right thing to do. It is rare, but this was one of those rare instances.

Denny C

I suspect that a lot on staff felt some of what was introduced either didn’t work or wasn’t working. Once it’s your show you can course correct.

DANNY KAISER

I remember reading somewhere during the first season that the show would slowly start looking like TOS

NiclovesTrek

Yes, they were always going to be in alinement with canon. Despite that there will continue to have visual changes that people will have to accept,complain or enjoy about Discovery.

Matt

Sometimes you run into certain situations on a production where you are locked into a particular story line or look on your sets because the person who was making those decisions used up a good portion of the budget. You can’t really go back to the studio at that point and say “Hey, those millions of dollars that were spent already? Yeah…we’re going to need more of those because we don’t like what this person did…” The studio accountants tend to frown on that. So, you make due with what you have for that season, hope the show gets picked up for another, and then make your pitch for additional funds then. If not, then you find the best way to utilize the funds that you are allocated for the new season and make changes where you can.

Sometimes, the direction you go in is based on what the fanbase wants. If you don’t give them a little of what they want along the way, people start tuning out. When they start tuning out, numbers drop as do the interests of investors and ad revenues. So, the challenge is to find the right balance between telling the story you want and the story the fans want to see/hear. You save telling the story that you want to tell and not caring what others think for your personal projects that you can then show on YouTube or Vimeo.

A34

Yeah, right on. The fans would have ran Trek into the ground if they had control.

kmart

Maybe that is why Nick Meyer fell afoul of TPTB, they don’t want to know from the idea that you have your concept and execute it so well that people like it and want it. He was very specific about not soliciting fan views.

Tiger2

Meyer also came from a different time when there was no internet or social media to speak of. It was easier to be locked in your own corner when all you got was fan mail and you can choose to read it or not. Today its just a different world. Writers know how fans feel about something less than an hour after something airs and they talk to them directly via internet. Its unrealistic to think listening and reading the comments to people you’re trying to entertain won’t have an effect on you when you are always interacting with them. Ask Bob Orci about that.

Marja

They need to find a balance between fan service and artistic integrity, and I think they’ve gone too far toward fan service. JMHO.

Tiger2

I don’t disagree but are you not liking this season that much Marja? Frankly all the changes has been a plus for me although I wasn’t bothered by all of them in the first place (I like the spore drive for example and want them to keep that until the show is done but I guess that may not happen now.)

But I can’t think of any changes that has been a real draw back for me and I’m not big on fan service just for fan service but even I’m really loving Pike on the show although he could’ve just been a new character and got the same response.

Jack

This season is becoming increasingly unwatchable. It’s like watching Trek mad libs.

Last season, at least until they went to the ridiculous mirror universe, was actually interesting, adult — and different than what we had seen before.

Now it’s just giving us a bunch of crap we recognize — for the sake of recognition.

ML31

They kinda did this to themselves, Jack. Last season was a terrible mistake. For me the show fell over the cliff once they went to the mirror universe as well. But I have to admit, there were still not a lot of positive signs in the show leading up to that moment. Had they not made their visual changes so amazingly jarring the aesthetic police would not be out in as much force as they were. But they still would have major problems with the show…

Tiger2

Agreed ML,

Its kind of their own faults. They talked up the Klingon war for literally a year and it was lame and boring with a weak ending so they went back to the tried and true. I mean what else were they going to do? Another war? More time in the MU?

At least people recognize this season as a Star Trek show again.

Jack

@Afterburn Agreed. Trying to placate fans has never led to good Trek. And I’ll be one fan who will be sorely disappointed if we end up getting stuff we’ve already seen countless times before. I’d argue that a big part of what didn’t work about season one wasn’t the darkness at all — it was trying to shoehorn in fanservice. I just want a good show and some good adult storytelling.

ML31

The only fan service they shoehorned into season one was Michael Burhman’s Spock relationship. Apart from that, for better or worse, they did try to be their own thing.

slider

I think the fans seem to know the show better than he does.

slider

Sure, we’ll get there, just have to wait till Season 7.

Alan

Watched this twice now. Enterprise using viewscreens on TOS because holograms causes systemwide shutdowns is dumb as anything DSC has put out yet.

JonBuck

Making the Enterprise the only ship with the problem was the eye-rolling part to me. I was hoping it’d be the start of fleetwide problems with the system, necessitating discontinuing it.

Olaf

That’s not ruled out yet. Maybe the Enterprise is the only ship affected, because it is the *first* ship to encounter the problems. Who knows…

NCC Lincoln 1785

Yelp

I don’t think that’s what caused the shutdowns. Pike just hates the holograms.

They still don’t know what caused the cascading failures. I still say the iconians.

It would make sense. Look what happened to the Yamato.

Locutus

Ohhhh good point.

FLB

And the Romulan ship.

ML31

And yet, EVERYONE in Kirk’s time communicates with viewscreens. This is just their way to admit what they did on Discovery was wrong and are trying to fix it. I’m glad they are but still bothered they created a mess they had to fix to begin with.

A34

They used holograms in Star Trek 5 or 6.

ML31

Not as communication platforms.

A34

Star Trek 6 used it when the Klingons talked to the Fed President.

Jack

@ML31 For Pete’s sake. Who cares? There was nothing to fix.

ML31

Apparently the producers of the show felt otherwise.

Marja

Jaysus I hope you’re right and it isn’t just the holograms. What a stupid explanation that was.

ML31

Yeah, it was kinda lame. But that is what you get when they did what they did and tried to sell it off as Prime Universe.

Yeah, if they feel the need to retcon–I mean “explain” every cosmetic change to the Enterprise/uniforms, etc. this is gonna be a LONG season…

ML31

Not necessarily. They fixed a couple of things with one line each thus far.

HubcapDave

Yeah, it’s not glaringly obvious, unless you’re looking to nitpick this kind of thing.

Captain_neill

It’s a step in the right direction, I hope it is revealed that it causes more problems which is why we revert back to viewscreen

Ad Astra Per Aspera

What a gripping episode that would be…..

A34

Hope not. Love the holograms.

SEM

When I saw the holograms, I was reminded more of Star Wars than I was of Star Trek. That took me further out of the Star Trek universe, so I am glad if they are making an effort to use view screens instead.

A34

They used holograms in ST 6.

ML31

Which was a good 35 years after the events of Discovery. And they weren’t NEARLY as advanced as what we are seeing on that ship.

A34

That’s only do to the budget and the tech. It’s a movie after all.

Jack

You folks are the reason we can’t have nice things.

A34

But…..

Proof that Holographic Communication Was Possible Before Deep Space 9

https://youtu.be/9P1z_PanQ-s

Land O'Calrissian

It’s not dumb at all. It makes complete sense and is a logical fix. Some people just look for things to complain about

Locutus

If they felt the need to “retcon” it in this way, they should not have introduced the holograms in the first place. Personally, it’s not a big deal if there is a little discontinuity, so I find this business of fixing these gaffes a waste of precious dialogue.

HubcapDave

I didn’t know such things were so precious and couldn’t be wasted……

Denny C

If you’re Kurtzman and you felt it wasn’t working you go in and say, “Let’s write this out of the show. It didn’t really make any sense.” His house now, his rules.

kmart

You just change to viewscreens and go on, you don’t put some inept rationalization in there to justify it. For once I’m going to invoke Rick Berman in a good way. When there was a question on FC about the Borg interior having all that open space in the torus area during the opening pullback, folks indicated that this was creating more questions for the fans. Rather than addressing it, he just said, ‘let them wonder.’

A34

Pike was talking about the Enterprise. Disco still has it’s Holo tech. Pick is just a temp anyway.

CmdrR

Plot maintenance, clumsily handled… along with de-glanding Saru. What’s Georghou going to nibble on now?

A34

Me?

JAGT

It really sounded more like that was Pike’s very own pretext to just get rid of the holo-communicator – after all, Number One only informs him about the way the systems failure occurred and doesn’t state any reasons. It’s Pike who jumps to the conclusion that the communications system is to blame and promptly proceeds to vent his disdain of holographic communication.
Who knows, maybe he has developed a true aversion to anything “illusory” due to his experiences on Talos IV…

ML31

Interesting. But it doesn’t explain why Kirk wouldn’t have them re-installed since, according to Discovery, that is how pretty much everyone communicates.

Spiked Canon

or why it wasn’t on the Enterprise B,C,D,E

HubcapDave

How do you know it wans’t on the B or C?

Denny C

We don’t see them on the A, D or E so why on the B or C?

Thorny

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

HubcapDave

Exactly

Levi 90028

They are indeed on the enterprise E, go rewatch Nemesis.
They are in use, just like they were in later seasons of DS9

The River Temarc

Personally, I think the answer is that the 1701-D is capable of holographic communication (how could it not be, given the much-more-sophisticated holodeck?). Indeed, we saw it in “The Last Outpost” and “Skin of Evil.” But commanding officers may choose not to use it, much as I’ve disabled my Zoom apps default setting to do video calls. (No need for conference call participants to see that I’ve just stepped out of the shower!)

Levi 90028

The holo communicators were on the enterprise E.

MysticalDigtial

The fraking viewscreen on the D is holographic, so was the E.

God forbid technology mirror real life. I mean, 3d movies and displays have come and gone half a dozen times since the 50s. But no, they toying with it is just too much, technology only moves in a straight uninterrupted line.

JAGT

That much is true! Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

HubcapDave

Could you explain WHY it was dumb?

Alan

There are a lot of problems with Discovery, but it not 100% visually connecting with TOS and beyond is not detracting the show.

Retconning holograms with a line of dialog just shows that these writers are distracted about which negative aspects of S1 they should improve and couldn’t come up with a more creative way of handling it other than throwing it away in a one liner. This and the equally convenient” this Klingon D7 you recognize post DSC comes from the houses banding together” all show the writers’ ineptitude. If they instead focus on giving the characters a better backstory and make me care for them, I’ll be more appreciative of this show.

This episode just highlights all of the writing staff’s inadequacies. It was a character driven episode, but I still don’t know anything about half of the characters other than their appearance and their job functions. Please make me care about Orville alien, the lady that randomly appeared from Enterprise, robot lady, or the lady with her face damaged by Michael Burnham!

So far, DSC is succeeding in making “Enterprise” look like “Citizen Kane”.

It also makes starfleet seem woefully incompetent if they’d install a holographic system that can systematically cripple a ship.

Ad Astra Per Aspera

The entire episode centered around Saru’s and his people’s backstory…. evidently you were not paying attention.

Alan

I never mentioned Saru, or Burnham for that matter, as they are the only two bridge characters we know anything about.

MysticalDigtial

Right, because the focus is not on the damn bridge crew, which is why we know like 4 science officers as the main cast (5 when Culber is back).

Vulcan Soul

Given that fact we have seen surprisingly few science episodes over the past season ;)

Lee

Why do you watch it?

ML31

Possibly because he’s a Star Trek fan?

Alan

Yeah. I love Star Trek. It inspired me as a 90s kid to study math and science. I was heartbroken when enterprise was cancelled. I’ll watch and pay for anything that bears the name.

Lee

Thanks for answering, it seems ML31 likes to bore us all with it’s views on what we think.

ML31

Then why did you ask the question if you did not want an answer?

And who are “we”? You only asked why ONE person (Lee) watches. I only theorized on why Alan possibly watches, which is what you asked. And for the record, it was a VERY obvious answer that Alan subsequently confirmed as correct.

Care to give a snarky response back to defend the poor behavior?

NiclovesTrek

They are developing those secondary characters. It takes time. This is a serial storyline so the their content is writing for main plot line of season. It will take time and patience for those secondary characters to be featured prominently in episode.

Vulcan Soul

It nicely illustrates though how limited serialized writing is compared to episodic one, where the show has an unlimited and diverse canvas to explore vastly different tones and issues every week.

The fad will fade.

MysticalDigtial

I hope not, the lack of continuity in episodic shows is so freaking annoying.

Vulcan Soul

MD, I don’t think this has to be an “either or”. That BermanTrek was notoriously bad at continuity had nothing to do with the fact that apart from DS9’s later seasons and Enterprise season 3 the narrative structure was just different.

The River Temarc

I don’t think so. It’s been here for 20 years now, and we’ve seen that audiences appreciate the more sophisticated and cinematic storytelling. By contrast, single episode procedurals like the new MacGyver are snooze-fests.

A-list Hollywood actors used to shun the small screen (even during TNG, Whoopi Goldberg was quite the coup de grace). No more.

The only real alternative model is what ENTERPRISE did in season 4: a series of trilogy episodes. Even that was not entirely devoid of serialization, though.

Vulcan Soul

Personally I think Enterprise season 4 is the sweet spot regarding enabling serialized stories all the while keeping the freedom of going on different tangents and tones, and also avoiding the discussed pitfalls of season-long serialization. So we may not be in as much disagreement here as you think.

Episodic television can be produced as “one hour movies” (or two/three hour movies, in Enterprise’s case), there is nothing “unsophisticated” about that and it has nothing to do with production values or cinematic storytelling. Or is anyone calling great standalone science fiction movies like Gravity or Arrival “unsophistocated” or “uncinematic”? They are each two hours long, not thirteen!

The River Temarc

Because two hours is not one hour. To channel Robert Frost, that makes all the difference.

Vulcan Soul

The point is, you don’t need THIRTEEN hours to tell a two hour story. I’m fine with two or three hour stories, if that is what it takes to compromise. But they now create tons of other Trek shows with differing tones and topics because they cannot do that anymore within one series as before.

ML31

It might. But season long story arcs have been around since the mid ’90’s. And with the rise of the shorter “mini-series” concept of 10-13 episode seasons it would seem that concept will still have legs for some time. My thing is, why can’t some shows be story arcs and others be episodic?

HubcapDave

I’d respond, but what you said doesn’t make a whole lot of sense….

kmart

And there isn’t a single engineer – chief or otherwise – in all of Starfleet who can’t debug the holo-projectors? Makes me think this is in an alt-timeline where the Scottish Miracle Worker doesn’t even exist.

Rich

47 is/was a JJ Abrams thing, which of course Alex was a big part of, going all the way back to Alias and references included in ST2009.

Sebi

Wrong, the reference to 47 goes way back to at least TNG… and is not limited to Trek….

Go to Memory-Alpha.org, search for 47…

JAGT

No it’s not a JJ Abrams thing. It was Joe Menosky who started it (for Trek), all the way back in the days of TNG.

Rich

OMG people … You know it can be a JJ Abrams and a Joe Menosky thing (and yes the 47 club) and I doubt JJ knew Joe when he started including it, and Alex did work for Bad Robot for years before going out on his own.
BUT it could all be just co-incidence too!

It almost certainly came from Bob Orci, who was always thought to be the biggest fan of that group.

Olaf

Or there could be something to the theory that 47 tends to show up more often (maybe 47%? ;-)) than other numbers. Then again, maybe not…

kmart

Then maybe you should have prefaced your earlier remark by including that ‘it could all be just coincidence,’ because it sure looks like you’re claiming it to be an Abrams thing when it has been so well documented to go back well before that time.

Olaf

Huh? Which earlier remark? And where did I claim it was a JJ thing? It’s well documented that Joe Menosky started it because of that 47 club (or what it was called) at college. Maybe JJ went to the same college or it was Kurtzman/Orci who brought it up, *or* it was just a coincidence, who knows?

kmart

I was responding to Rich, not to you.

Land O'Calrissian

Completely wrong, Rich. The 47 references go back to The Next Generation. It’s been part of Star Trek since LONG before Abrams.

Tiger2

Yeah it was a Star Trek thing long before Abrams showed up. And since Joe Menosky was also working on this show as well, I’m sure he made it his mission to bring it back for Discovery.

Allenburch

Didn’t James Cromwell quip about 47 space explorers when First Contact was released? The whole thing may have started with The Absent-minded Professor.

Marja

I think JJ’s thing was 7/13

FrostUK

That was a fantastic episode. Great performance by Doug Jones.

I’mPaul

This was the finest piece of Star Trek I’ve seen in decades.

I’mPaul

And the sphere being a LIFE FORM trying to live on after its extinction. Incredible. And so classically Star Trek.

Vulcan Soul

“a LIFE FORM trying to live on after its extinction” – so classically human! :)

Spiked Canon

nice

Denny C

It kind of reminded me of “Course: Oblivion” when Voyager’s crew comes to the realization that they’re copies of the original crew and then, after desperately attempting to survive, make a desperate attempt to be remembered. One of Voyager’s stronger episodes.

JonBuck

I thought it was going to be another Red Burst at first.

NCC Lincoln 1785

Could be could be

JAGT

“I had a cold last week – which SUCKED”

ML31

I enjoyed that line. A lot.

JAGT

Oh yes. It was stupid… but pretty friggin funny!

Denny C

“Decades” is a bit of a stretch but, yes, it was a good episode.

The River Temarc

Just so. “An Obol for Charon” was easily DISCO’s best episode, and the first that would be a nominee for inclusion in the top ten episodes of all of Star Trek. I’ll have to rewatch it and see if I have the same reaction, but for now: yup, I’m calling it a masterpiece.

slider

Like since 2006 right?

JonBuck

Well, to Stamets’ credit as soon as he learned his Spore Drive was causing harm he was going to seal it off…then they kidnapped Tilly. I wonder if it’s the “sporespace” aliens that are the threat to all sentient life in the galaxy and not the Red Angels.

Quarks pre-owned tribbles

Reno is just what this show needs, a lighting rod for all the rah, rah optimism:)

GarySeven

“All the rah-rah optimism” of Discovery?
Really?
If you think Discovery is like that, remind me not to hang out with you at parties!

the inner plight

I don’t think you’ll need anyone to remind you of that

slider

She seems so bored. That’s not optimism.

Ixley

I really enjoyed this episode. I was initially worried that this would be a convoluted mess, given that the teaser showed us a TON of elements. However, I was surprised by how cohesive this outing felt. Most things dovetailed nicely, and the few things that seemed disparate were held together by great character moments. Those moments of friendship and camaraderie were the “glue” holding a lot of this episode together.

While “Point of Light” also had a lot of balls in the air, I didn’t really care about L’Rell and Ash and the S31 stuff–and therein, the episode seemed like an exercise in exposition. “An Obol for Charon”, on the other hand, had so many characters that I was actually invested in. To the point that I could overlook some “meh” and “what the?” moments.

This seemed like a sharp, modern take on some of Star Trek’s key elements: friendship, exploration, weird science, and thoughtful approaches to things unknown.

I’ve got to say, I think the whole “standalone episode” structure of season two is highly unusual. Namely, none of these standalone adventures are truly self-contained. They’re actually packed with story elements and pieces of larger puzzles.

Some observations:

+ Number One’s entry music sounded strangely romantic to me. Anyone else? Is this her musical theme?
+ Linus! Reno! Talk about scene stealers.
+ The Space Oddity scene was poignant and beautiful.
+ The explanation behind the decision to pull holograms… bah… that was really CLUNKY.
+ I like that Saru’s 94 languages thing was referenced earlier in S2E2.

Andrij

It was the worst episode of the season.

Val Jean

Why?
Clearly last week’s was the worst episode all over the place and bringing back characters we don’t care about.

this was much more a “alien of the week” classic trek vibe….the only cringey part was Burnham saying ” is it really inevitable”(no one talks like that) but other than that it could have happened on TOS or TNG Story wise.

A34

OMG, do you guys ever listen to yourselves?

I think I’m going to take a Trek fan break. Trek is more enjoyable without the fans anyway.

Marja

That’s odd, because I’ve said “is it really inevitable?”

No one talks like that, in your hearing.

Afterburn

I don’t like thick blankets.

Land O'Calrissian

Not even remotely.

Spiked Canon

did you say that and start salivating on your monitor waiting for peoples reactions?

Danpaine

Last week’s episode holds that distinction. This one was a much stronger offering, imo.

Holden

I thought it was the weakest episode so far this season, but I wouldn’t call it bad. The “alien of the week” subplot felt really underdeveloped and/or rushed. I thought the Saru “death” scenes dragged out way too long for what little dramatic impact it gave us (the bonds between Saru and Michael have already been highlighted repeatedly). It could have been tighter and still impactful. At one point, I really thought they might be killing off Saru because they dragged out the drama far too long for it to just be misdirection.

Holden

Also, the Spock build-up is starting to drag a little as well. That’s my only major criticism of season two so far–the trailers collectively have given away quite a bit in terms of the larger arcs of at least the first half of the season. I feel a little like the show is running in place. I thought last week was moving us to the second act–this episode felt like a step back.

ML31

Curious… Last weeks episode did feel that at least things were moving forward some. Yet it was the episode that I cared the least about. Funny how that works…

ML31

I disagree. That is the only moment that was allowed to sink in. And I think it worked mostly because of Jones.

Holden

I hear you. Jones’ performance as always was excellent. But I do feel like the threat of death dragged out a bit–and I don’t just refer to the final scene, but also to the belabored explanations throughout the episode of what was happening to him. And the fact that it all turned out to be narrative misdirection, which was my initial assumption, after all that, was more frustrating than emotionally engaging.

Holden

Also, I think my annoyance by the end of the episode was based on the idea of “oh, after all this, so all this was just an elaborate reason for getting rid of Saru’s narratively problematic threat ganglia.”

ML31

Yes. There was that. Wasn’t a huge fan of him losing that. Felt it would have been better had it just returned to normal with the destruction of the alien entity. But I get your point and you are not wrong.

Marja

It was problematic only it that their deployment was not always consistent. But I thought their existence was rather silly, if the species’ *entire being* is designed to sense the coming of death.

HubcapDave

This is bait…..

Denny C

I have issues with Discovery but it was a strong episode. Fun, engrossing and smart.

Land O'Calrissian

I always enjoy this site’s reviews… but those goofy photo captions really don’t do the articles justice. I’m all for a clever joke, just like anyone else… but these captions just aren’t clever. They weaken the review.

Don’t read them.

Land O'Calrissian

Same goes for you and my posts.

kmart

You put the stuff out there same as the site does — that makes you fair game for comment.

Tiger2

I love them!

Land O'Calrissian

If they were actually clever, I’d love them, too. But they’re cheesy and weak jokes.

Marja

Maybe you should offer to write the jokes for TrekMovie

kmart

on the matter of funny captions.

It is probably heresy to admit this, but I have never gotten any pleasure out of a GHOSTBUSTERS movie — save for a STARLOG magazine caption that read: Sigourney Weaver is possessed and the Ghostbusters must repossess her.

I actually laughed out loud when reading that, but nothing in that movie or what I saw of the sequel was able to achieve that. Part of it is that outside of SNL, I’ve never liked Ackroyd in anything, and also that except for ED WOOD and LOST IN TRANSLATION, I think I’ve actively disliked Bill Murray in pretty much everything.

Every 15 years or so somebody talks me into giving GB another try, and my takeaway is always that Murray’s character is even more immense a jerk than I remembered and that it might have worked better for me played ‘straight’ with the humor strictly situational, instead of being so broad. And I’m not looking down my nose at silly or genre send-up comedy; THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN, PLAY IT AGAIN SAM and TOP SECRET! are probably the funniest movies I’ve seen in my life; I’ve seen SECRET at least 20 times and often can’t believe the volume of successful jokes in the film. In the case of GB, I seriously don’t get it.

Tiger2

To you! To me they are clever and fun. Man its a geek website not the NYT. The only suggestion is just to skip them. Most seem to be fine with them.

Marja

I do too.

slider

Well there is the other Trek site.

TrekMD

I really enjoyed the whole UT not working and hearing all the languages. This was actually done in the 80’s DC Comics for Star Trek once as well, though that was an intentional thing to confuse some invading aliens.

Marja

Wasn’t that funny and awesome all at once?

Though I’m with Saru, you’d think SF Academy students would learn some other languages besides Standard, if only to understand other races from a cultural linguistic point of view.

slider

Been done before.

Thomas W.

A big step in the right direction. Only Burnham sucks. She seems to know only three facial expressions: helpless, shocked and sad. And she seems totally incapable. What has she ever done for the ship except recognize the obvious? She reminds me of Troi.

I didn’t quite understand the universal translator thing. Do all members of the bridge crew speak different languages? I thought everyone spoke English or Federation Standard.

TBW

Little Green Men established that (at least by the 24th Century,) the translators are implanted and everyone’s speaking their native language. (This is occasionally complicated by people not understanding Klingon on screen in later DS9 episodes, of course.)

The River Temarc

I don’t think that’s true. Technology fails, as we saw in this episode and many others. And what happens when the Kazon strand the whole crew on an unstable planet and take away the communicators? (And VOY hinted the translators are part of combadges.) So I think Federation Standard is the lingua franca that all crew must speak, but the UTs re capable of translating all communications in real time.

The River Temarc

Also note that (according to closed captioning) Detmar was speaking Andorian. Clearly she’s not a native speaker of Andorian. (German, IIRC.) So the UT was mistranslating her.

MysticalDigtial

Say my phone has an auto translate on it to translate the screen to english, so any picture or any text is automatically translated to english. This is not impossible to do with today’s technology. Now, I’m pointing the phone at a chinese sign and it’s translating just fine. I walk back home, someone texts me and it’s coming through english. They send me a picture which has a virus in it. Now my phone doesn’t translate to english, it’s thinks I want the screen always translated to arabic.

That’s what happened. Even if my friend and I speak english to each other, my personal translator now thinks I want to know what they are saying in another language. That is what happened int he scene. them knowing the same language doesn’t matter. The individual translators (which likely all hook into the bridge computer) were all on the wonk until Saru deactivated the bridge translator.

Trek in a Cafe

I was having trouble truly connecting. I like Saru on his own but due to the plot of last season, I feel that his close and positive relationship with Michael was only really explained through the backstory in David Mack’s Desperate Measures. It would have been nice to see them “solve a problem together” before now. So when things started to go bad for Saru, I tried to see it through that lens: I didn’t want him to die, I kept thinking “they can’t kill him but this is Discovery” and then I thought it would have been a better story if he did pass away. Or at least Michael’s lesson might have been more interesting if he did. I also started to have flashes of Baby Groot from Guardians so when he died I thought they might regrow him from his ganglia. Within the entirety of the episode, maybe I cared more about Tilly’s situation (tripping & drills?!!), wondered if they would kill Jett? And also, is this ball just a bundle of knowledge? What else is it? Why no personality? How can it pull a ship out of warp but not communicate? Why not pull other ships? Why not just go to some computer? Why not to the Klingons? And here now, how come Pike is never frustrated, never telegraphing some of his fear for this crew, (even with a close up that only the audience sees)? The narrative possesses a very simple, powerful message, which I admire this morning, and it’s true to life: that one death can transform a person’s perception of the deaths of others. They embraced that theme, and gave stakes for the characters. But the scenes didn’t breathe because no one in this show takes time to think about what they are saying.… Read more »

ML31

Interesting. I didn’t think about it until you brought it up. This thing contained information from over 100,000 years of existence. Yet it did not understand the concept of a spoken or written language? Even V’ger did, albeit with modifications from Spock.

Burnham is nearing Don Draper level for me. But unlike others, that is not a good thing. Don Draper was a terrible character. Worse, he was a BORING terrible character. So much so that I abandoned the show after the first season. I just didn’t care about Don. But, Mad Men is not Star Trek. So I’m sticking with Discovery out of fandom.

Danpaine

IMO, this show is nowhere near Mad Men-level writing, not even on the same playing field. Interesting you said that about fandom, ML. My wife asked me last night, why are you paying $10 a month for a show you don’t really like? My answer, ‘Because…Star Trek.’

ML31

Mad Men had better writing but it was not so good that I was interested in the overall show. It’s an unpopular opinion but so be it. I watched season 1 of Mad Men and did not like it at all. There. I said it.

kmart

Comparing MM and DSC is like cheese and chalk, and I’m being generous when calling DSC chalk. MM is probably in the top half dozen of all shows this century, and Draper is one of the most compelling characterizations in that period of time as well. Normally I’d list a bunch of reasons, but if you watched a season, then anything I say will not convince you.

The River Temarc

Interesting; I’ve always found MAD MEN the most overrated example of “new golden age” TV.

kmart

Well, there you go, point of divergence between us. For me, MAD MEN, THE WIRE, CARNIVALE, DEADWOOD and THE HOUR are all superb television that practically mandate repeat viewing. But I know people who would put HANNIBAL up there too; since I can’t get through a whole episode (have tried a dozen times at least), I’m going to remain in the dark on that. And I know that even though I’ve seen THE PRISONER straight through at least forty times, that other people just think of it as the show with the big ball and see it only as a hokey weird 60s show. So again it falls to taste.

But honestly, this is the first time I’ve been anywhere on the net where MAD MEN isn’t discussed with absolute reverence (my biggest complaint about the show only relates to latter seasons when they switched from film to digital and started using less light on-set, giving it a seriously crummier look that undermined visual cred.) As for storylines and performances, well I think of MM in terms I usually reserve for Fincher’s SE7EN — existing in a realm almost beyond criticism it is so good.

ML31

River, I too felt it was amazingly overrated. The only thing they did that was kinda neat was showing everyone smoking or the kids playing in the dry cleaners bags. Beyond the little bit of cultural touches like that, I just didn’t care. Don Draper was was a horrible character. And not “interesting” horrible. Boring AND horrible. I feel like a few highbrows wrote that Mad Men was great and everyone felt like they had to go along to make themselves appear to be highbrow too.

NiclovesTrek

Not to talk about Mad men, it had good writing but not every episode and many episodes were hard to view completely. It was tedious. Overall I did enjoyed the series.

Danpaine

Excellent points, Café. I have to see it again too at some point, but the feeling of being rushed in these episodes is palpable.

Spiked Canon

I thought they might regrow him from his ganglia. THAT was funny. I’d be curious to know if anyone watched all the 1st season episodes back to back and had a different take. Shows like this need to be taken as a whole for a season. As much as we want each episode to stand on it’s own they just can’t since the writers are looking toward the final outcome. That being said, the episodes have all felt rushed except last week when it couldn’t end soon enough. I liked your line But the scenes didn’t breathe because no one in this show takes time to think about what they are saying.That is spot on

Spiked Canon

and this comment…And the added pressure of making Pike’s decision so time-dependent on trailing Spock’s warp signature took me out of the place they were at.That is well thought out. I thought it at the time, but like every other scene in the episode it flew by “because no one in this show takes time to think about what they are saying”.

Holden

That would’ve been a clever idea, but the howls of GOTG ripoff would have been deafening.

I agree that this show, in an era of bingewatching, is not meant to be viewed one week at a time. I try to keep that larger narrative structure in mind as I watch each episode.

And, yeah, the era of narrative breathing on TV (i.e., let an idea, or a debate, *breathe*) is over. Not ideal for classic Trek, but DISC is doing OK under the circumstances.

Vulcan Soul

But their release plan makes us watch it one episode per week?! Of course reading a novel in chunks with huge breaks in between where we complain about the current state of affairs is not optimal, but that’s their release schedule not lining up with their narrative structure. It just shows one more disadvantage of serialization.

The River Temarc

It shows that they ought to release episodes at, say, a half-season at a time.

Marja

I enjoy the interval between episodes. Gives me time to discuss and consider and anticipate what’s next.

If I want to binge watch, I wait till the end of something and watch all at once.

Holden

Well said. Yes, this is how I felt. Neither Saru’s “death” nor the ball of knowledge felt like it was well handled. And, yes, I think part of the issue here is that Michael’s journey still hasn’t been articulated well, in part because too many narrative and emotional beats are put on her, which results in a difficult character to empathize with. Good main characters really follow two primary dramatic questions in the narrative (i.e., what do they want?), beyond that they become too hard to identify and just become an empty vessel for the audience (which works in videogames more than TV and movies). DISC really needs to embrace its full cast more in this respect.

NiclovesTrek

They are embracing the cast. They did some development in season 1 and is continuing to do so in this season as well giving development to secondary characters. I sure as the series continues it will give more development to cast and secondary characters may even be featured but Michael is and should be the lead.

The River Temarc

Good main characters really follow two primary dramatic questions in the narrative (i.e., what do they want?)

What does Burnham want? I mean, did you miss the entire way that Saru’s near-death completely changed Burnham’s perspective on whether to end her estrangement from Spock?

Jack

What bothers me about Burnham’s character is that, well, there isn’t one, other than being Spock’s foster sister/Sarek’s foster daughter.

There’s no there, there — despite a heck of an effort from the actor.

JAGT

How exactly the universal translator works was not entirely clear but it is implied that various members of the crew speak in their native tongues and rely on it to translate; in fact, it was revealed that some in the crew do not even speak Federation Standard (aka English).

I would presume they WERE speaking English, but the translator actively translated whatever they were saying to a random foreign language. After all, Burnham would hardly speak Klingon as a first language and Spanish as a second language.

Thomas W.

But that would’nt make sense. If everybody speaks English they don’t need a translator and would understand each other even if the translator was active. Or is the translator implanted in the brain?

JAGT

I guess that’s how it malfunctioned: The translation probably wouldn’t have kicked in normally, but it just went haywire. On the other hand, it’s stated in the episode that Linus the Saurian seems to rely on the translator. So maybe it’s ON at all times, but translates only when necessary.
It sure was a bit messy. But I still think my rationale is sound, since some crew members, like Burnham, suddenly speak in multiple languages. And I’d personally find it hard to believe that Pike, a native of Mojave, CA, would be a native French-speaker (and I think French isn’t the only language we hear him speak, but I’d need to rewatch that sequence to be sure). And didn’t some half-canon source state that Detmer was from Düsseldorf, Germany? She definitely didn’t speak German in that scene though.

The River Temarc

“On the other hand, it’s stated in the episode that Linus the Saurian seems to rely on the translator.”

I think that’s likely to be due to the fact that Saurians can’t replicate human vocalizations. Their language consists of clicks and hisses. I don’t think that’s true of the crew as a whole, though. Again, Detmer’s native language is German; it’s certainly not Andorian, which is what she spoke during the scene in question.

JAGT

Update: Just rewatched it and switched on closed captions. So, when Pike and Burnham enter the bridge, Detmer apparently speaks Andorian, Owosekun replies in Norwegian and Pike orders the alarm to be shut off in heavily accented German (after having wondered about Burnham speaking Klingon in French some seconds earlier). He then welcomes Saru to the “Tower of Babel” in Hebrew.
In short: Those definitely aren’t supposed to be their native languages!
Also, once Saru reactivates the UT on the bridge, he says: “Everyone who speaks Earth-English can communicate” – which would imply that English is indeed the lingua franca aboard the ship. I guess the whole idea was that the computer simply couldn’t figure out what language people were speaking anymore and therefore did a lot of translating where none would’ve been necessary.

NiclovesTrek

Yes I that’s how I understood too. It help that I had caption on already. So it showed the language spoken and the translation in English.🙂

Tiger2

Yes I always have the caption on so it definitely came in handy for that scene lol. I understood what was happening from the beginning.

ML31

I only use the CC for scenes where I didn’t exactly hear what was being said (which is a little more often than normal on this show) but it was off for that language thing. And I figured out exactly what was happening without it.

Jack

It’s an implant — hasn’t that been established previously?

JAGT

Only the Ferengi have been established to use translator implants. The first time a universal translator was mentioned in TOS was in “Arena”, where it looked suspiciously like a modified camera flash battery pack (basically the same type of item that would become the lightsabers of the Star Wars franchise). In later renditions it was stated to be part of the communicators/communications systems – we see Uhura using a Klingon dicitonary in STVI, since they think the use of the (communication systems’) UT would be recognisable and would hence raise suspicion; and in VOY “The 37’s” it was first stated on screen that every communicator badge contained a UT. We also see the communicators doubling as a UT on DISCO, namely in “Into the Forest I Go” (when Burnham talks to Kol).

Spiked Canon

on another thread I complained and the response was , sometimes in SciFi you just have to accept. That’s the only way I’m going to get by this one LOL

Thorny

If the Translator is always active, why did it not translate Linus’s comments in the turbolift in the season premiere?

JAGT

Perhaps he didn’t really say anything but simply groaned…

Jack

@Thorny. They covered that — he said the translator doesn’t always work with his species.

martin

So the engineer. The way this whole thing is going, I am starting to sense that the reveal may be that it is Scotty. And if it is, I hope they have Chris Doohan playing him.

Eric Cheung

The chief engineer on the USS Discovery? Because on the Enterprise, the current chief engineer is Louvier.

Thorny

I think Martin means the unseen/unnamed Chief Engineer on the Discovery. But I think Scotty would be too young at this point to be a Chief Engineer.

He’d (I think) be about the same age as Geordi was on TNG, so not at all.

Thorny

That always bugged me, too. Geordi was a Lieutenant j.g. in Season 1 and a full Lieutenant in Season 2, and he was Chief Engineer? His predecessors, MacDougle and Argyle, were Lieutenant Commanders. So was Scotty in TOS.

kmart

Don’t forget lt commander leland t. lynch, that cocky mess of a guy who kept speaking his whole name when reporting in during a late season ep, maybe SKIN OF EVIL.

Thorny

I always get him confused with the guy who wanted to take command from Geordi in “Arsenal of Freedom”.

Marja

Yet Chief O’Brien was a senior enlisted man and kept the whole of DS9 running, along with the Defiant and the shuttles.

[shrug]

ML31

I don’t know. It feels like Scotty might already be on Louvier’s staff. His love of the Enterprise might have been gleaned from his previous boss. I’ve often wondered how many of Pike’s staff Kirk opted to keep and how many Kirk brought with him. I’ve always imagined McCoy was someone Kirk brought with him but Scotty was already there.

Andrew SD

I actually hope the chief engineer is an alien. There have been enough human engineers on Star Trek (Voyager excluded). I’d love a short alien, maybe primate like. Or if not that Reno would be just fine if not great for the job.

ML31

Keesner?

Denny C

Scotty tells Picard in “Relics” that the Enterprise was the first ship he served on as Chief Engineer.

JAGT

Nah, man. That would be extraordinarily cheap.

Vulcan Soul

Well well well, it seems we do have our second Star Trek episode of Discovery here, and incredibly enough, it is a TNG episode! Or to be more precise, TWO TNG episodes. And I swear I’ve seen these plotpoints before: space travel causing damage (the above mentioned “Force of Nature”) as well as a mysterious alien trying to communicate and accidentally wrecking havoc on the ship and with the crew (“Night Terrors”, “Masks”, “Emergence”). I won’t hold this familiarity (or a bit of bad techno babble, another very TNG trait) against the episode though as some more Trek nostalgia, not the least by the Queen of Utopia, was entirely welcome after being (no pun intended) alienated by this series for every episode but the 2nd one of this season. What IS working against the episode though is that each of the two storylines should have deserved their own episode, as both the poignancy of spore drive hurting an alien species and Saru’s “death” and rebirth needed more room to breathe. Trying to cram 26 episodes of a traditional season into 13 feels more and more like a cop-out in that respect. I realize this show is produced for the Generation Information Overload (or Generation ADHD?) but sometimes LESS IS MORE.

So overall it is good to know that the writers are quite capable of writing material that is living up to the most successful and critically acclaimed Star Trek series ever created. After last weeks nonsensical outing and fallback to season 1 though, the question remains: are they willing to?

Spiked Canon

I wanted to disagree with you but your points are spot on. I guess the only difference for me is that those things you point at I will take as a positive. I don’t mind rehashing Trek story lines. It’s somewhat comforting. I don’t mind 2 episodes in 1. It keeps the story from dragging. But, overall, a very logical review.

Vulcan Soul

Actually I was not criticizing the rehash, on the contrary. At this point I’d prefer them rehashing old Star Trek (à la Enterprise season 4) to further indulging in this thoroughly Un-Trekkian entity that was season 1.

ML31

I would agree that both stories needed more time to breathe. I mentioned in my comments that many of the conversations went awfully fast. And yet the show still hovered in the 50 minute range. Why not use 10 more minutes to slow things down a bit and let the audience savor or contemplate a few things? Do they NOT want the audience to think too much?

NiclovesTrek

I don’t disagree with some moments slowing down but at the same time I enjoy the pace because I am kept entertained to the end of the episode. I think the nature of serial writing, the number of episodes per season and many storylines they are telling the pacing will continue to be “quick”.

ML31

Yes, that is an unfortunate side effect of having so few episodes. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t let the conversations breathe a little. Like I said, they are not limited by a clock so they could run the shows right up to the 60 minute mark or even a bit beyond if needed.

Danpaine

Yes, it is absolutely geared toward the ADHD generation, no doubt about it.

Marja

I have to re-watch to catch everything.

Marja

Almost every Trek show [excepting TOS] has had an “A” plot and a “B” plot in each episode.

Vulcan Soul

These were not A/B plots but two A plots. And FOUR in the previous episode which (predictably) utterly failed as a consequence.

Spiked Canon

-The Universal Translator scene, while well acted and entertaining, made no sense
-Mary Wise impressed me in this episode. Which is Ironic since I thought she was AAF in the last episode.
-Anson Mount has taken this show to it’s new level. Tig Notaro will take it to the next.
-Scenes with Linus make me think I’m watching The Orville.
-Is there a hotter couple on TV than Pike and Number One?
-The whole thing in engineering is leading to bringing back Culber, unfortunately.
-It’s as if they are going out of their way to not show a CMO or CE. hmm
-Classic Trek episode. Probably too late, but I hope they learned that the Klingon episodes bring this series down.

Vulcan Soul

My suggestion to Kurtzman: cancel the Space Hitler spin-off before it gets started and bring on The Adventures of Captain Pike, starring Number One and Chief Engineer Reno :)

Spiked Canon

I’m in!

Danpaine

Agreed.

Afterburn

Why not both?

PEB

Exactly, give me both. Section 31 show could be a lot of fun. It’s basically the spy/black ops show you didn’t know you wanted. Do it right and it would be a hell of a fun time.

Holden

I’m not a huge fan of the idea, but I also think that S31 and Georgiou’s respective arcs haven’t yet been articulated well enough this season for us to make any assumptions about where any possible spin-off may be headed.

Vulcan Soul

Mirror Georgiou being the Empress of the whole Terran Empire and responsible for the death of millions of people (not to mention cannibalism) wasn’t enough for you to make the assumption that putting her into Section 31 and centering a series on *this* particular character is a ridiculous idea? She is as one dimensional as mustache twirling villains go, utterly unredeemable. But if they do give her an redemption arc, it is kind of saying people like Hitler can and should be redeemed which I think a majority of people would vehemently disagree with.
So they are walking quite a minefield here if they go any deeper with this show than lets-not-think-about-it “Mission Impossible”.

ML31

Yes, I was thinking the same thing. They may as well go back in time, pluck Hitler out of the bunker and have him go to work at Section 31. And give him a redemption arc while they are at it.

Jefferies Tuber

I think ‘Space Hitler’ gets thrown around by a lot of haters, directed at Georgiou. But if that’s the case, then Kirk empowering Mirror Spock with an assassination machine to rise through the Terran Empire is just as morally wrong and exponentially more risky (he does it with a single speech and no supervision).

Vulcan Soul

False equivalence. Mirror Spock was just an officer on one starship and a minor gear of the system, he wasn’t the frigging *head* of the empire and *already* responsible for the death of millions; in contrast Spock showed signs of morality and *that* made Kirk act that way (it was also confirmed in the DS9 mirror arc by the outcome of his rise). So are you calling critics of Hitler “haters” now? :)

A34

I think Kurtzman knows better than you.

Vulcan Soul

Did you get backstage tickets for Kurtzman already?

Mark Calcagno

The CE is totally Scotty, right?

Spiked Canon

That would be a huge shark jump. They would have to be very careful.

Danpaine

…seriously hoping they don’t go there.

Denny C

Scotty’s first gig as Chief Engineer was the Enterprise (which he tells Picard in “Relics”).

ML31

A huge mistake was telling the world Culber was coming back seconds after his “death” episode streamed. Dumb dumb dumb. Although fans would have put two and two together by this point anyway, I think.

And VS… I was against this idea at first but I am now fully on board with the concept of a Pike, 1 and Reno show set on the Enterprise. And what the hell. Bring on Spock, too.

Yep

“Probably too late”? How?

Spiked Canon

because they are done filming

DeanH

Another good and maybe even very good episode, may be the most TNG-style episode we have seen to date. Agree with most of the positives above. A few extra points of interest:
1. Loved the singing of David Bowie Space Oddity
2. Was worried that they had killed off Saru after some speculated that a character was killed off in episode 4. Very happy they did not do that as the character has really grown on me and Doug Jones is great.
3. More Reno Stammets banter please
4. A little more Number One please
4. After a couple of earlier episodes, I am always worried about the producers trying to squeeze too much into one episode, but they balanced this one pretty well.
Overall I’d give this one a 4 out of 5.
Regarding the next week trailer, more of the darker characters BUT the previews also hints at another classic-style Trek episode. Bring it on!!

Spiked Canon

Loved the singing as well, but I don’t particularly like all the references to the 20th century. In TOS, it was always thrilling when they did reference it because it was few and far between and always something big that would be remembered, Mobs of Chicago, Nazis. I love Prince but I doubt someone will be dreaming about him in the 24th Century

DeanH

Yeah understood although some cultural references surprisingly survive into today. I often marvel at the longevity of Beethoven or Mozart, of course Shakespeare but also Sun Tzu (from the 5th century) or even 80 year music like Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw – so you never know what is going to survive. That said, they should make up some 22nd century or non-earth references as well.

Vulcan Soul

For me the odd (or even odder) 20th century reference was Number One ordering a cheeseburger. Is this about the “1960s vibe” the actress was mentioning about her character? Do we still indulge in medieval food today, sweetened meat and all? Even in our times, with the rise of veganism etc., we can see the end of the line for junk food probably coming in this century already, so it seems like one of those things that will date the show quickly. To be fair, all of the later Berman Trek shows had this obsession with characters being 20th century fans (Tom Paris anyone?), probably to increase “relatibility” with the audience given perpetually falling ratings. To my mind, it is a lesser evil to the “grittiness” inserted for the same reason in all these shows.

Spiked Canon

Very Orville of them :-) That and Linus I literally thought Orville at the time

Vulcan Soul

Does it qualify as a “presentism” to introduce concepts from the present into the future, rather than the past? In any case, it always feels a bit like an anachronism that there doesn’t seem to be any cultural (let alone culinary) history between now and the 23rd/24th century! In fact, TOS with its “brightly colored cubes” for food may be more futuristic in this for once, in presenting us food that seems really crazy to us. Because isn’t that how a medieval knight would perceive a cheeseburger?

So if they truly want to present the future, they should at least make it a cube-burger :)

DeanH

Yeah I remember those colored cubes and spheres. I also remember Kirk trying to order a chicken sandwich and coffee but instead got two medium-sized tribbles haha. Whether its Disco or TNG I am glad real food exists in the Trek 23rd and 24th centuries. But you can get a protein pill as well for those who don’t really care to eat.

Spiked Canon

good point about the chicken sandwich

Phillip Thorne

In my head canon, the “Journey to Babel” colored cubes exist *because* it is a multispecies diplomatic reception; they’re a form of haute cuisine specifically designed to be edible and inoffensive to all involved — but they don’t represent the aesthetic capabilities of the era’s food synthesizers, nor are they what anybody would choose under other circumstances.

DeanH

Mmmm space burger!!

ML31

Kirk ordered a chicken sandwich and coffee and got a tribble sandwich and a tribble chaser instead once…

Afterburn

Yes, we do indulge in midieval food all the time: mutton chops, rack of lamb, meat pies, quiche, strawberry tarts, jelly candies, the list goes on.

Vulcan Soul

No, I don’t eat these foods regularly. Whole staples like potatoes and rice were not on the Western menu a few centuries ago. The idea that other than political developments, people and everyday life doesn’t change over the centuries is an age-old human fallacy (just look at medievals depicting Roman or Bible scenes with people in medieval clothes), but it is nevertheless incorrect.

Afterburn

I didn’t say you did, I said “we” do, as a human species. Many many people, cultures, and regions still eat medieval food. And just because some foods may not have been part of our diets a few hundred years ago does not preclude them from still being widely consumed a few hundred years from now. That’s just stupid logic.

kmart

Stupid logic?!!! What the hell constitutes stupid logic — and more importantly, how do you define it as logic at all if it is so stupid?

Vulcan Soul

I cited a few reasons why cheeseburgers are unlikely to still be “widely” consumed 250 years from now. Let alone at the end of this century. Even the assumption that they are now “widely” consumed by the “human species” is a pretty America-centric point of view.

Quincy

Tamales were made in 5000 BC. Pancakes created in 3300 BC. Curry, circa 2600 – 2200 BC. Cheesecake around 2000 BC. France ate 1.19 billion burgers last year. Australia consumed three times that much, even more than the good old US of A. The UK is eating 3 quarters of the amount of burgers America’s eating. But according to you, cheeseburgers, one of the most prolific foods of our time, are going to magically vanish, because of the health food movement. I’ll buy that for 63 cents, but not a penny more.

Kennelly

How can a cheeseburger be a “20th century reference” when we’re still eating them today in the (no longer that young) 21st century?

Besides, that episode is set “just” 238 years in the future and not like a millenium or sth., so a menu from George Washingston’s or Napoleon’s table would be the better point of reference.

Vulcan Soul

I was elaborating that the entire healthy food movement is working against junk food already, that with fast food chains putting salads etc. on the menu. And we did not eat anything like burgers 238 years ago. In fact they are very recent invention and only about a century old more or less.

Is it that unreasonable to expect some extrapolated future life developments into a science fiction show other than gee-wiz tech, rather than just making these characters appear as contemporaries to us (and thus, anachronistic to the future)? Like I said even the TOS cubes were more imaginative than that.

kmart

VS, I have a feeling just mentioning eating healthy lost you a lot of respect and/or consideration. TNG spent so long trying to walk back the ‘no longer enslave animals’ when that was about the only thing I found enlightened on the show, that you started getting references to real meat in several jeri taylor shows, like the fish eggs reference in 4th season. Nobody seems to want to think their own tastes are going bye-bye. Unfortunate but confirmed by a bulk of interaction with folks who took umbrage at my vegan diet decades back even when I didn’t advertise or discuss it. (I still get those ‘don’t you at least eat fish?’ people at work, after all these years of keeping my head down and not engaging over this kind of thing.)

The River Temarc

Thanks for the virtue-signalling post.

Obviously some culinary fashions change. We no longer eat roast swan, as the Elizabethans did, and are more likely to have Christmas turkey than Bob Cratchet’s goose. But yes, we still eat roast lamb. (In Tallinn’s old city, you can even enjoy a decent bowl of elk stew.) And people did eat potatoes centuries ago; it’s just that those people were in the new world, not Europe. The potato is indigenous to the new world.

So the short answer is that you have no idea whether hamburgers will survive 200 years from now. My guess is they will, because Russian kotlety and Lebanese kofta-kebabs. The idea of ground/tenderized meat appears in lots of cultures.

Oh, and methinks the TNG characters would be a lot less vegan if they couldn’t synthesize meat. (There is a startup in the Bay Area that claims to be able to synthesize meat at a molecular level now.) Indeed, we saw them eating fresh eggs in one of the season two episodes.

kmart

So you like the idea of TNG folk not being evolved ethically beyond our current state. Right.

Vulcan Soul

kmart, you may be on to something. Didn’t expect quite the vitriol for such a minor nitpick ;)

Marja

I think everything they eat is synthesized and tastes like the things they order. As in, no chicken had to die for Kirk’s chicken sandwich; it was synthesized protein. Or perhaps it was chicken flesh grown in a lab? I don’t know.

It seems ridiculous to take up freezers-full of space on a ship when you have synthesizer technology …

Couldn’t they have a “pattern” of the molecules and such that make up a cheeseburger that we call upon every time we request a chee-borger and no Coke, Pepsi in the mess hall?

Tamara

Yes, I remember Bashir saying that he could design any meal with a certain set of nutrients. No cows or pigs were harmed in the production of that cheeseburger. And there are also vegan cheeseburgers around today, which have probably improved a lot in 300 years. Why wouldn`t people eat anything they want if they can?

Vulcan Soul

That animal hurt aspect is a tangent. Vegan cheeseburgers still aren’t healthy food and one of my points was – tastes change over centuries!

Andrew SD

The song was beautiful and I could listen to Reno and Stammets go back and forth for hours.

Victorinox

The episode had a great classic Trek feeling. The sphere stopping the Discovery to transmit its legacy info felt like an homage to TNG’s “The Inner Light”.

Plus, we now have a canon explanation for why the spore drive and the holograms were not seen in future Trek shows. The haters are running out of things to complain about.

Spiked Canon

I thought Inner Light as well. And I’ve already seen the complaints about the hologram explanation above. Haters gonna hate.

ML31

Huh? You don’t think there was going to be a reason why the spore drive wasn’t around 10 years later? Really?

Spiked Canon

I think he was just pointing out that they gave the explanation why

CmdrR

On the whole, it’s fine… even good. The main plot is ‘Devil in the Dark,’ or maybe ‘Oprah in the Dark,’ considering the emoting — not bad, but a whole lot of it. My other minor quibble is that the two A plots (‘The Search for Spock’s Shuttle’ being a place saver so we NEVER forget we’ll see Spock eventually) don’t really join up. Tilly vs Mae is solid vamping. We get no ending in this episode, so why give it so much time now? I’d much rather gotten to know Number One better… or new girl with the retainer.

Obviously, some of us greatly prefer a ‘ship in danger/ bad alien is really good’ story to the soapy dreariness on ‘Point of Light.’

I wish they’d do more stand alone stories along with the **yawn** Red Angel/Spock’s a hurt-feelins 14-year-old girl season arc.

Spiked Canon

The Saru story was stand alone for the most part. Spock shuttle was just for continuity to the main story. And Tilly was just more means to an end for the return of Culber…

Danpaine

Spot on comments, CmdrR. “The Search for Millennial Spock’s Shuttle” indeed.

CmdrR

PS- I would totally buy a coffee table book of Trek Pics w/ captions by Anthony.

Marja

LOL Season Recap in pictures!

Anthony has a great sense of humor.

FlapsMcKenzie

Liked: – Saru’s character development. One of the worst things about the first episode was this “my species senses the coming of death” thing. It was a stupid conceit for a major character but for it to actually have been superstitious nonsense that he’d just been brainwashed by and, now having lost his ganglia, discovers to be a lie perpetrated against his people is brilliant, and so early on in his arc too. This is Bashir-level retconning of a character but it’s happening in Season 2. Very excited to see where he goes now. My ideal – he actually becomes almost villainous and the Kelpians are harvested by whatever their “predator” is for good reason. – Stamets, Reno and Tilly’s whole situation, as much because it gives us the canon get-out of the spore drive silliness we need as because of the scenes themselves, although they were fine too. Bit of Space Oddity in my Star Trek is never a bad thing. – Premise of the episode generally. Classic Trek stuff. – Number One. Sadly not enough screen-time but it gives me just a little bit of a nostalgic tingle to see Pike and Number One talking about Spock. That’s just a cool thing. Romijn seems good in the role too. Semi-channeling Majel without impersonating. Disliked: – The shoehorned in “accept refugees” stuff. The moral isn’t incorrect because obviously yes, it would be great to accept refugees if you lived in a post-scarcity universe where not all refugees are trying to get to one place and no one from that place is trying to get out. Due to the political climate of the day, it is tone-deaf to try to link this modern day issue with the Trek universe. – Michael aiding Saru in his assisted suicide. Remember the TNG… Read more »

Luke Montgomery

Loved the “accepting refugees” line. Core and classic Star Trek values. Very Roddenberry.

FlapsMcKenzie

Roddenberry would not be for the accepting of ALL “refugees”, particularly when they aren’t “refugees”. A refugee is a specific thing with a specific definition. Even Saru isn’t a “refugee” by the terms of the story, he’s a intellectual migrant.

Jefferies Tuber

Saru describes arriving as a refugee at Starbase 7.

FlapsMcKenzie

He was found by Georgeiou because he’d pieced together a communication device despite having zero awareness of alien life. She takes him specifically against the Prime Directive because of his abilities. He is not a “refugee” because the intention was not for him to have safe haven until he was able to return to his home planet, he was not expecting to ever return. That’s a migrant. The fact that the scriptwriters don’t understand what a refugee is doesn’t change reality.

Vulcan Soul

I loved the part where it was said he applied for refugee status on Starbase 7 and was processed and accepted there in accordance with the law.

I did not hear the lines where he willfully overstayed his Federation visa or was illegally smuggled over the Neutral Zone by Kelpian traffickers.

So everything as it should be, and not in line with contemporary anarchists :)

MysticalDigtial

… Does the method of them getting there make them less sentient and, for lack of a better term since we’re talking sci-fi, human?

Vulcan Soul

Yeah, intent and behaviour makes all the difference. A beggar asking for alms, an invited guest and a burglar are not one and the same.

FlapsMcKenzie

No one denied anyone’s humanity though. Humans don’t have the right to just go anywhere they want, we have laws that allow our societies to function.

Not to mention the inherent racist implication that it’s OK for South Americans and Africans to cross borders, stay illegally, work illegally because they “want a better life” but not Europeans or Asians. If I came to the US and tried to get work without a work visa I’d be deported and banned from returning so fast my head would spin. Why is that? Is it because, as a White American, you consider the brown skinned inherently beneath you and in need of your help, or that they’ll be happy to do badly paid, low-skilled work that you can’t be bothered to do yourself or pay a fellow American a fair wage to do? It’s really the most bizarre thing – white-supremacist-meets-white-guilt-meets-self-loathing? I can’t fathom it.

Travelling Monkey

Well, thats pretty much spot on. It’s perfectly fine to employ illegal immigrants to clean your toilets and care for your elderly, take care of your babies, pluck your strawberries, build your houses and cut your hedges, because they are way cheaper than any legal worker would be. That’s why you wear T-shirts made in China after all. It´s just that they should disappear once they are no longer useful to you and not bring their five children with them and expect them to go to school together with yours. And most of all they shouldn’t start and demand things. See, if you would work for next to nothing and be willing to survive on three jobs and no healthcare until you drop dead or disappear back to where you came from, I’m sure you would be perfectly welcome too. But my racist guess is you aren’t.

However, speaking of the future, racism is transient. A few decades ago it was perfectly fine to put Asians into camps, and sometime before that were the Italian and Irish. Plus, in most of Europe, Eastern European countries supply the cheap labor, so white people aren’t completely left out, don’t be sad.

One might hope that mankind might learn something in the next three hundered years if it actually manages to survive and develop into what is shown in Star Trek.

On the other hand, the universe will probably just provide a new other.

Vulcan Soul

Very well put! It is the “white man’s burden” kind of thinking that Kipling pointed out a century ago already.

kmart

One of my TNG pitches was about the ship picking up refugees escaping persecution at the fringe of their system. But the Federation decries that the ship can’t keep them because they weren’t in interstellar space yet, still within the borders of the homeworld’s territory. That pitch got shot down because it made our side look bad, so I don’t know how ‘roddenberry’ or classic values it was.

Vulcan Soul

Flaps, your points about scarcity (and post-scarcity) are spot-on. The basic philosophical difference is that some people among us understand that many issues in our reality are zero-sum, while others vehemently dispute that (totally not incidentally, these are either the benefactors of economic disruptions such as globalization, or of government hand-outs). Ironically, the latter faction does recognize zero-sum in environmental issues – we can extract fossil fuels only so much, and we can pollute the air only so much, before the cake is spoiled for all of us. However, the truth is that many other resources, even immaterial resources, are limited too and a mature developed society tries to balance these things rather than throwing their citizens and laws under the bus for the appearance of “sympathy”.

FlapsMcKenzie

Glad to see there’s at least one other person on here with some sense.

Travelling Monkey

I think if we ever get to that point depicted in Star Trek, historians will look back on us and that perceived ‘scarcity’ and shake their heads as much as about us wasting fossil ressources like we have a couple of other earths in reserve. It’s countries like the US and Europe that use up most of the ressources of our planet. Every citizen in those countries is using up the food and water and air of half a dozen other humans every single day. If we want to survive as a species, we will have to learn to get by with less and share. The refugees are not a problem, they are a consequence and thus a responsibility. At some point, we’ll have to wake up and see it.

Vulcan Soul

Actually it’s not as simple as introducing replicators and free energy to solve all material needs. Scarcity thinking is part of human psychology for obvious evolutionary reasons and that will be even harder to overcome than our energy restrictions. Think about it: even today we have the resources, energy and technology to have nobody starve yet we have vast economic inequality. Because there are many humans who want inequality. Take social networks: they is not material and there’s no laws of physics restricting yet algorithms are explicitly designed to be zero-sum: some posts win out by dubious means in the timelines at the expense of all others, the usual people are winners and the rest are losers. Yet the losers mistaken belief they can also win this lottery keeps the networks alive. The entire economic system is a giant ponzi scheme like this. We are not post-scarcity because we want it so.

MysticalDigtial

Worf had a chance to live and was in fact being selfish. Saru at that very point is on death’s door. HE IS DYING. If anything this is a stronger message about euthanasia.

We’re not killing someone who won’t have 100% mobility but can have a fulfilling life, we’re talking about someone, who for all their knowledge and all medical knowledge, is terminal and about to die.

That is a HUGE distinction many people are glossing over.

The fact he doesn’t die is an, as of yet, unexplained miracle. Fits with the theme of the season.

FlapsMcKenzie

He wasn’t though, that’s made clear by him, er, not dying. He just thinks he is. What if he’d requested lethal injection instead of cutting off his ganglia (and why did he think that would kill him and not just be extremely painful?) It’s not unexplained at all, it’s pretty obvious that all Kelpians, when they go through their “death process”, are actually just shedding the ganglia at the back of their heads. None of them survive the process because that’s when they’re “harvested” by their predator species.

Also, Worf didn’t want to live without mobility, so what right do you have to say that he has to live and he’s being “selfish” to want to die?

ML31

OK. Nice to get away from the season 1 flashback of last week and back to the more interesting version of Discovery. Forced to admit I liked the Reno-Stammets stuff. Of course, when Stamments suggesting talking to it I wanted to scream at my TV “WHY DIDN’T YOU DO THAT LAST WEEK? You know, when you DIDN’T have to drill a hole in Tilly’s head?” It feels like they are planning to drop in a line or two as we go to slowly show the Enterprise as we know it will be when Kirk gets it. Why it wasn’t what it was when we first saw Pike with it I guess will never get solved. ;) I liked the Saru stuff too. The scene with him and Burnham at the end worked very well. Mostly because of Jones. I’m starting to think that, like Yeoh, Martin-Green is just badly cast in the part. Either that or she’s not a very good actress (I’ve never seen her in anything else). I know she is the main character but I do agree that the show is spreading on her saving the day each time kinda thick. Regarding Saru, I also agree with the writer that it feels weird that his ganglia just drops off and he no longer lives in fear. He sure seemed to have mastered the skill last season when he took command. I guess we shall have to wait and see what is in store here. Hat they done this early last season to him I would have been fine with it. At this point we have seen a lot of Saru and it just feels like an odd development for him. Anyway, a nice enjoyable bridge to what is coming episode. Although in such a short season it… Read more »

Spiked Canon

yes good comments and it made me remember that I thought the spacing and dialog were strange as well. It moved so quick that when it did slow down I wondered why they weren’t hurrying the conversation along while all the other s%%t was going on. #ST:PIKE

Danpaine

Good points, ML. I thought it was a decent episode, thank you Doug Jones. Burnham isn’t doing it for me either as the show’s lead – I saw Martin-Green in The Walking Dead, she was better in that. The character of Super-Burnham just isn’t written well, imo. Next week, looks like the Klingons are back. I’m with you, let’s have a Pike show on the Enterprise.

NiclovesTrek

In what way is she not well written?

kmart

Going by 1st season and 1st ep s2, for me it’s that she doesn’t seem to be inhabiting the same universe as everybody else. That’d be fine if this were LEGION, but on TREK, that’s a problem. Some of it is writing, but a lot is that the actress, so fine on TWD, is just not doing it right. There’s something contemporary about her that suggests she is play-acting star trek (which was like a problem I had for awhile with Nana Visitor on DS9 too – her voice sounded wrong), plus I don’t get the feelng she is believing a lot of what she does. It’s kind of like we’re getting the 100% in reverse of Gillian Anderson, manifesting as an unwatchability that gets increasingly irksome. And if the writing in these later eps is as described by posters here, then I think my problem with the character is going to get more pronounced.

NiclovesTrek

Kmart, I not familiar with Legions so I have no point of reference for comparison, so your comment it’s not clearly understood. As for the acting, I fine with her acting as Michael. It might be because I understand the character despite what is perceived by some as poorly written character. I think the writing for all the characters on Discovery is generally the same but Sonquea being lead gets more focus. I don’t think she perfect actress but she is a strong one and she is to me more comfortable in role as Michael. Judging acting is bias. I generally try to be unbiased. When view scenes I tend look at body language, facial expressions or lack of, and voice modulation,pitch,tone,and volume. Also lightening, camera directions, and editing also inform my judgment. So generally I think she doing a good job playing Michael. Michael is complex character to play, being a child that lost her parents and was reared in Vulcan philosophy yet is human. Despite the some fandom obsession to tell people that she a Mary Sue, she is a flawed character. However her fallacies are not endearing or amusing or funny so some fine it hard to like her or the writing for her and just speculation on my part, this inform why some don’t like the actress performance.

NiclovesTrek

Really the scenes work mostly for because of Jones. The scene work because of Both actors. There’s nothing wrong with Sonquea acting. Please elaborate on what improvement or what acting choice would have like her to do in the scenes with Jones. I trying understand your critic of her acting. I usually try to be unbiased with critic when comes to acting. I didn’t see any poor performance from her. 🤷🏾‍♀️

ML31

She played the scene a little on the melodramatic side. It almost felt she decided she needed to to show a little bit of depth. This very well could have been just her taking direction. I realize the writing last season (and some of this season) has not been up to snuff which doesn’t help her case but she just feels like the wrong person for the part. Not as much as Michelle Yeoh was badly miscast. But I feel like there had to be another actress who would have been a better fit. And after some 19 episodes of her she just doesn’t have the charisma to play a lead character. It might be as simple as that.

FLB

From the review:

‘In a dynamic that is getting repeated in each episode – and wearing a bit thin – it is up to Michael Burnham to sway Pike from the book(…)’

Completely agreed. That’s the sort of thing that’s not helping to either as characters. And contributing to the argument (with which I’m starting to agree a little bit, unfortunately) that Burnham is a Mary Sue.

Danpaine

I am actively starting to dislike her character, which is a shame because some other parts of the show are coming together nicely.

Spiked Canon

Ditto

NiclovesTrek

Danpaine, I not trying to convince you to like the character but her doing her job as competent officer shouldn’t be a reason.

Ben Adams

Again, a complete misunderstanding of what “Mary Sue” means.

As far as the dynamic goes – Michael is the main character. Pike is not, as much as it seems many would like him to be.

NiclovesTrek

Yes, people are acting like they want her to be a secondary character. She is the lead. People need to stop acting like focus on her character is unrealistic. It what happens in most shows that have a lead.

Vulcan Soul

Being a main character is not about being always right, always correcting other, lesser characters and always getting to save the show.

That is what being a Wesley is about.

Ben Adams

Again, she’s not A main character. She is THE main character. The lead. The hero.

Vulcan Soul

That totally does not refute what I said. Bad characterization/writing remains such no matter who she is.

The River Temarc

“Again, she’s not A main character. She is THE main character. The lead. The hero.”

Eh. I think they’re clearly adjusting this plan somewhat and going a more ensemble route. (That said, those of you criticizing SMG’s acting as wooden need to remember that she is portraying a human who is culturally Vulcan.)

kmart

And traditionally, nearly everybody who plays a Vulcan or plays at being a Vulcan fails at it. I was never a big Nimoy fan, but as Spock, he hit many levels, not all good, but none of them would I characterize as wooden.

ML31

And that is an aspect of her character that is not played up nearly as much as one would have thought it would be.

NiclovesTrek

VS, Michael is not always right! However she is knowledgeable and has more opportunities to showcase this. Stamets, Saru, Tilly are all brilliant and knowledgeable and has opportunities to showcase their innovation and intelligence in the show as well just not as often. I think only secondary characters or bridge crew haven’t had those moments, but they do show them compete in their duties as officers.

NiclovesTrek

She is Not a Mary Sue. She is the LEAD and she thus gets focus. Also despite the review, it took Saru and Michael to convince the captain.

Joe

I have said before and I will say again. I think they are overdoing Pike’s by the book ways.

Vulcan Soul

The basic problem of these writers was and remains that they can only paint in black and white. That’s why a controversial guy like Lorca had to be a megalomanic mass murdering mirror cartoon rather than a multi layered complex guy. And Burnham or Tilly can’t do no wrong now. Pike must always be by the book. This is not realistic. Funny enough with Mirror Georgiou who suffers from the same issue as Lorca ie having been destroyed as a credible character, they have painted themselves into a corner now that they need to build a whole show around this cartoon.

The River Temarc

“Pike must always be by the book.”

That’s quite the example of cherry-picking what you want to see. Pike ordered Burnham to hack Spock’s medical records in the previous episode and basically condoned Number One’s doing something similar in this one.

Vulcan Soul

Is this evidence against it though or just inconsistent writing? They did explicitly mark out the “by the book” cases in both episodes after all. Anyway this was not my main example and no doubt Pike is still a more competently written character than Lorca. Maybe in season 2 we are improving but after 2 hits and 2 misses the proof is still out there :)

ML31

That is actually a good observation, VS. The season is approaching middle age but thus far Burnham has made better calls than the Captain has multiple times. I know she is the lead but to constantly be the go to character at this point I’m ready for Pike to just turn to Burnham and ask, “what should I do now?” at the next crisis.

Spiked Canon

Great comments in this thread but I have to point out the one above from Trek in a Cafe. Check out this profound statement, The narrative possesses a very simple, powerful message, which I admire this morning, and it’s true to life: that one death can transform a person’s perception of the deaths of others. They embraced that theme, and gave stakes for the characters. But the scenes didn’t breathe because no one in this show takes time to think about what they are saying. And the added pressure of making Pike’s decision so time-dependent on trailing Spock’s warp signature took me out of the place they were at

Trek in a Cafe

Thanks for noticing!

Yeshaya Kraus

Haven’t seen this stuff yet, but based on spoiler reviews I’m guessing ganglionic kelpians turn into their predator species (they haven’t been shown yet, right)? Who maintain the status quo for reasons? And Saru is the first post ganglionic to escape the cycle.

The River Temarc

Cool theory! And it explains the “sacrificial victims never seen again” theme in “The Brightest Star.”

The River Temarc

…and come to think of it, this also explains how Saru knew how to operate the comms equipment in “The Brightest Star.” I really, really like this idea. Well done!

Michael Kukielka

First off, fantastic review as always! So much to unpack in this episode but it did a far better job balancing the A/B/C story elements than last week’s episode which turned into “Tell me instead of show me” exposition tedium. Saru’s story made huge strides that managed to clarify some of the odd character conceits that never made sense, and places him on a new path forward that could be a new compelling character arc. There is something a little sinister about his “power” reference and I’m not sure if I’m misinterpreting the moment, but it really made me interested to see what happens next. Doug Jones played the character beautifully in every scene, although I hate to say that Sonequa Martin Green really struggled with some of the more melodramatic moments and it made me genuinely uncomfortable to watch and relieved when the scenes cut away. The drawn out Fake-Out at the end is something of a cliche and I would prefer if Star Trek didn’t fall back on some of it’s bad habits for the sake of striking a familiar tone. But the resolution and revelation was somewhat worth it. Stamets and Reno are an awesome pairing, that’s working out far better that I expected and it’s written well, although the modern language and references is something I’m having a hard time with on Discovery and this episode really lost track of the Star Trek vocabulary many times (Teleporter, Duct Tape, to name a few). I’ve always appreciated Star Trek’s consistency with language and how it’s used to keep some distance between NOW and THEN and it’s something I feared Discovery would lose and it appears to be happening more so this season. The A Plot is a pretty familiar Star Trek trope now, and many of the… Read more »

Andrew SD

I adore this episode. It’s the first time I’ve been moved to tears in this iteration of Star Trek. There’s so much I loved but what I loved the most was the chosen family dynamic between Burnham and Saru. And the end of life scenario they found themselves in. Having watched a loved one come to the end of their life and having to deal with watching them die slowly and painfully and in a way the robs them of their sanity and dignity. I loved that explored the assisted suicide question in such a hearteningly way.

Jemini

I love Michael and Saru. Also yay for number one!
I don’t care about Spock, at all. Which is kinda weird for me to say since he’s my favorite character in general, lol. But discovery isn’t about him and shouldn’t be.

Tiger2

To be fair, we haven’t seen Spock yet (outside of him as a kid) so you may like him once he officially shows up. I agree obviously Discovery isn’t about him, but this season clearly is for better or for worse.

Tiger2

Another episode that is getting back to classic Trek!

Had all the elements so many of us was begging for in first season: Weird science stuff, discovering new life forms (two this time lol), moral and character dilemmas, ship in crisis and solving the problem through science and team work. I really like the fact that both of the anomalies, the blob and the space sphere were sentient life forms trying to communicate. That was a nice touch on the theme, especially mixing it in with the analogy of the universal translators going screwy and the crew trying to understand each other. I don’t know if that was done on purpose to highlight the issue with the aliens themselves but it worked on that level. And we saw Linus (who is ADORABLE) speaking for the first time highlighting the same issue at the beginning of the episode.

That said, I didn’t love this episode. Definitely liked it, but maybe it felt a bit too rushed? And I liked the Saru subplot although I admit I was a little confused what happened at the end and why he didn’t die. I knew he wasn’t obviously but this seems to be a different new arc for his character now and its clear he wants to help his people, so I’m really curious to see where all that is going.

But generally I liked it. It was nice seeing Number one who seems to fit the role perfectly. I thought the line about getting rid of the holographic communications on Enterprise was a stretch but they are obviously trying to fix all their mistakes so I’m more happy about that then how they do it. But season 2 is becoming a breath of fresh air.

Vulcan Soul

The crucial point about feeling too rushed (as with every episode this season so far) is it should have been two episodes, and in classic Trek, it most definitely were (I cited some similiar episodes above). The story implications of spore drive damaging the fungus space and hurting alien lifeforms should be huge but instead they get completely overshadowed by the Saru life and death story. That’s understandable, but entirely due to the narrative decisions of the writers. I’d really like a few more episodes each season so they do not have to cram storylines like this, to the detriment of all of them.

MysticalDigtial

Oh FFS, you’re going to get more on the spore drive in the next episode. It’s called a set up line. What is so hard to understand about that?

It’s like some of the haters lack plot permanence. Once the episode ends they forget about it until it crops up again, and then it’s like they are made aware of it the first time again.

Vulcan Soul

You are not gonna win many medals here by calling everybody who liked and preferred the previous 700 hours of EPISODIC Trek a “hater” :P

JonBuck

I had a thought regarding the Enterprise’s catastrophic system failure.

Fed starships in this era apparently had quite small crews for their size. 203 for the E, 173 for the Discovery. But by Kirk’s time that crew had grown to 430. There could be multiple reasons for that, but here’s my speculation.

Starships were heavily automated between ENT and TOS. They didn’t need huge crews. But perhaps something happened to make them step back and reconsider this. By 2266 they had cut back on the automation and thus needed bigger starship crews.

That tech still existed, though. Consider that Scotty could automate a damaged Enterprise in STIII so the ship could mostly be run from the Bridge, though combat overloaded those systems.

Thorny

Counterpoint is that the USS Kelvin twenty-ish years earlier had a crew of over 800, because Pike said George Kirk saved over 800 people, including Kirk.

Also, at some point around the time of the USS Kelvin is when Dr. Daystrom introduced the Duotronics revolution.

Jacek

It reminded me of an explanation for Sherlock Holmes I once heard. That’s not how smart people reason, it’s how the stupid people imagine smart people reason. And I got the same impression here. They were figuring out the mystery of the sphere, because the script dictated they would figure it out, but in reality they didn’t have the information needed to conclude what they concluded. They essentially guessed that the entity is trying to communicate, because it’s dying, that it’s benevolent, etc. There was the same problem with them figuring out what May is in the previous episode, and to some extent in this one too.
To me, “New Eden” stood out, because it was the opposite, the characters made sense and it seemed like they’re really doing their best operating on the knowledge they have. And that was proper sci-fi. Unfortunately, it looks like it was an exception.

Jacek

By the way, has anyone else noticed, how in “Brother” Pike was shown as the cool guy, who insisted they should have fun along the way, yet in both “New Eden” and “An Obol for Charon” (because we don’t see much of him in “Point of Light”) he’s the most cautious one, just a foil for characters like Burnham who have to convince him to take a risk?

Tiger2

I don’t think he meant having a little fun means breaking the Prime Directive or risk the ship being destroyed. He’s like Picard, curious but cautious. I don’t have an issue with that and from what we know about Burnham, she is alllll about taking risks. ;)

Ixley

Yeah, you absolutely have a point there. So far, DSC’s Pike isn’t really Mr. Fun.

I love Anson Mount’s Pike, but he’s remarkably rule-abiding and a stickler for protocol. Then again, he does have subtle flashes of humor, like the whole “Let’s marry some people, even if they’re not that into each other”, which does suggest the capacity for some lighthearted behavior.

In any case, that line about having some fun along the way seemed to be aimed squarely at us viewers.

Marja

If Pike were a stickler for protocol he would not have drawled, “Ranks don’t matter” in the first episode.

Ixley

I get what you’re saying, but there are a TON of Star Trek episodes that involve crew members guessing (or, if I’m being generous, intuiting) the nature of a problem and finding a solution. I think you’re holding the series to an impossible standard if you expect every episode to have pristine logic and decision making ;-)

What seemed very Trekkian was the whole “empathy is the solution to our problem” angle. Sometimes knowledge on it’s own is not enough to resolve a situation. Human empathy and a willingness to go out on a limb are some key hallmarks of Trek’s best moments. They often serve as mechanisms of investigation AND problem-solving.

Thorny

lxley… “there are a TON of Star Trek episodes that involve crew members guessing (or, if I’m being generous, intuiting) the nature of a problem”

Look no farther than Dr. Crusher’s notorious line, “If there’s nothing wrong with me, there must be something wrong with the universe.” in ‘Remember Me’.

kmart

That line made me think Crusher ought to be dating Q.

Marja

Jacek, They didn’t *guess* the sphere was trying to communicate. Burnham drew an implication from May in Engineering that was proven when Saru told them about the ultraviolet patterns he kept seeing … which was communication.

kmart

I hadn’t intended to buy all-access, but my wife somehow really like s2e1, so it looked like we were going to get it … except it is now not available to folks with a TV of our brand that is more than 2 years old! Kinda funny, because we only have this set because the ‘good one’ we bought died after about a year and Target only offered this as a replacement under the warranty. BERLIN STATION, which I adore, is also not available for us to order through Amazon or any other way, unless I want to only watch it on my computer monitor, which at 26″ or 27″ kinda defeats the purpose of having a big TV. Ticks me off that there so much techno feldercarb to wade through just to watch a show these days.

MysticalDigtial

If you have Amazon Prime you can just get CBS All Access through there and bypass the CBS All Access app itself.

Thorny

I pulled the plug on the Amazon Channels subscription to CBS All Access and went back to stand-alone. The Amazon Channels version worked fine for a while, but then in November/December every time I wanted to watch a Magnum PI or God Friended Me, Amazon kept telling me to pay $2.99 per episode. I subscribe, so it should be free. I online-chatted with Amazon and they had me reboot my FireTV and try again. That worked. Until the next time I wanted to watch GFM, then the same thing happened. So I canceled and went back to paying CBS directly.

kmart

That’s what we did for the free trial last year, but when my wife tried to sign up last week, the show actually comes up with ‘not available on your device’ or words to that effect. Apparently a few TVs that are more than 2 years old are starting to have this issue, though it varies brand to brand.

Thorny

Mine is a Fire TV Cube I bought last summer.

ML31

But what if you have no need for Amazon Prime? That is not a solution to the crap service of CBSAA.

The Recursion King

Loved how Pike has just got rid of the holographic displays on the Enterprise. Maybe this will all fit into the timeline like it should after all!

DeanH

The issue the audience will simply have to deal with is that 21st century current technology is surpassing fictional 23rd and 24th century technology that was initially depicted on TOS through DS9 and beyond. For example, transparent displays seen on the Discovery bridge are very similar to the transparent OLED displays being shown off at CES this year. I hope producers don’t try to come up with reasons why 21st century tech isn’t around in TOS or the other shows and movies. Because of the lasting longevity of the franchise, producers of the show will increasingly have to deal with reality surpassing fiction. Not a big issue for most. I don’t see fans freaking out about why a NASA civilian Saturn V was launching orbiting military nuclear platforms in the late 1960s on TOS or asking why Voyager 6 was seen in TMP when no such probe was ever launched. Btw for those interested, Voyager 2 just left the solar system and passed into interstellar space a few months ago.

For example, transparent displays seen on the Discovery bridge are very similar to the transparent OLED displays being shown off at CES this year.

That’s basically what they are. They got early product samples back in 2017 to use on the bridge :-)

ML31

It will take a lot more than just a throwaway line about the holographic displays to get Discovery to fit the prime timeline. They dug a huge hole for themselves.

DeanH

Btw, thanks Trekmovie.com for the info the other day about tonight’s Star Trek Discovery presentation by the Directors Guild of Canada down at the TIFF Lightbox in downtown Toronto. Fans in the GTA will hopefully get a chance to check it out. Unfortunately for me, I already have other commitments for tonight but it is at the home of the Toronto Film Festival and they are screening an episode (not sure which one), so it should be a cool thing to check out.

VZX

While Captain Picard will always be “my captain,” I am seriously crushing on this Captain Pike. Even though he is quick to make a decision with his ship and crew in mind, he will also allow for a crew member to give another opinion if they have enough conviction, and then he realized he made a mistake with his first choice! He really is like TOS Kirk and Picard rolled up into one, with a little Sisko thrown in.

Also, I love his ready room, although it, like all the Disco sets, is waaaay too big to be practical on a starship. I like the warm colors, the 60s-retro-future vibe to it, and the Southwestern flair like the cow skull, the pottery, and the painting of a desert sky.

DataMat

It looks too clean to me. The original series and the earlier films seemed to have a grittier look for this era. I know that this was largely because of budgets and production standards of the day but I still feel Discovery presents too clean an image in the same way that JJ’s trilogy does too. But it’s not exactly something a deal breaker, it’s just unfortunate.

Tiger2

Agreed about Pike. Captain Picard is my favorite captain too by far (but I generally like all of them) but I am loving Pike’s style too. He has the same strict standards of being a Starfleet officer like Picard, especially when it comes to the prime directive, but he really let his crew have their say and disagree with him, even having his mind changed. And unlike Picard (or I should say early Picard) he is pretty laid back and can joke around with everyone. I’m really loving how relaxed the bridge feels now as compared to Lorca as well which felt very serious and top down (although to be fair they were also at war and he was from the MU) but Pike is just so cool, pleasant and relaxed. I would say the last captain who was about as easy going as he was was probably captain Archer as well.

And in many ways, I’m kind of wishing they just made him another character completely now because then he would be able to stay on permanently. We know at some point he’s going to have to return back to Enterprise. I know a lot of people are thinking a Pike spin off show may happen but my guess is with five Trek shows in production now, that would be a long way off or until one of those shows are cancelled.

Marja

Frankly I wish they would do a “Pike’s Enterprise” instead the Sec 31 show which they have already begun scripting. Oh, well.

Vulcan Soul

Oh wonder, we do agree on something (see my same comment further up) :p

Marja

Heh — I’ve been saying that since they announced the casting for this year

VZX

I actually thought that there should have been a Pike’s Enterprise show after Star Trek Enterprise was cancelled back in 2005. And now with this new Pike, Number One, Spock, and Enterprise, why not make it happen now? Just recast the rest of the cast from The Cage and you’re all set! It makes me really upset that I know it won’t happen :(

ML31

I was against the idea of a Pike’s Enterprise show but seeing Mount as Pike and #1 I’ve changed my mind on it. Would love to see it now.

TonyD

I must admit that was probably the best episode of Discovery so far. The story was reminiscent of classic TOS Trek, albeit with a more comtemporary pace and presentation, the acting was uniformly good across the board (even Sonequa Martin Green was not as stiff as in other episodes) and Doug Jones’ performance was a standout.

One question (minor spoilers below): when Saru’s ganglia fall out and he is subsequently cured and feels better than ever, I assumed that this was a natural part of the Kelpian’s evolution and life cycle but he (and the rest of the Kelpians) never knew this because his people were culled before they outgrew the need for their ganglia. His speech to Burnham at the end where he talks about his peoples natural evolution and how General Order One applies would seem to confirm this. Am I correct here or did I miss something?

MysticalDigtial

As far as we know, you are correct.

Marja

That was my interpretation. Perhaps the Ba’oul [?] harvest the Kelpiens before a certain age so they won’t become powerful?

AtzeH

They are not speaking their native language, the UT just mistranslates them all since single persons speak different languages in that scene. I thought Pike saying something in Russian additional to French.

Alpha Quadrant

Has anyone noticed the Red Angel during the opening title sequence??? It has a Red Enterprise on one wing tip, and a Green Enterprise on the other tip.

Dirty Harry

So, for what it’s worth, here’s my theory…

The reason why Spock has never mentioned his sister is because he doesn’t know about her. Or, rather, he won’t know about her.

The hurt that Burnham causes Spock will turn out to be rejection. Her arrival changed Spock – we’ve already been told that – and I predict she awoke his human side. He wanted to play, laugh, and love. And Michael rejected him. This pushed him away, but left him emotionally compromised.

In Discovery, the only solution will be for someone to erase his memories of Burnham, meaning he forgets her and regains his emotional control.

This could be done by Sarek, T’Pau, or how about by L’Rell and her Klingon mothers? And the best bit of all – this means that Discovery not only respects canon but explains the earliest example of canon failure. We can now understand why Spock was emotional in The Cage and then not in Where No Man…

That’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it! :-)

Tamara

That would be awesome.

Ixley

Geez… I really like this idea.

It also would have a really poignant element to it, which would definitely fit in with the brooding tone that DSC sometimes evokes.

helenofpeel

The episode was weak tea, for the second week in a row. While I enjoyed parts of it, it was again disjointed and without clear purpose.

slider

My understanding is the show is all over the place with what it wants to be. Discovery now is going back and forth between plots that feel like Trek and ones that are the typical Discovery awfulness of the previous episode. The show just doesn’t know what it wants to be.

TonyD

Every show will have hits and misses. I do think Discovery would benefit by not trying to juggle so many subplots in each episode as some have had an “A”, “B” and even “C” plot all going at once.

Jerry D'Alessio

I’m not sure where, but I think someone said they saw the Veridian System on a map towards the end of the episode. We all know what happens there in about a 100 years. Coincidence, or just something the effects people did for some fun?