Review: ‘Star Trek: Short Treks’ – “Ask Not”

Written by Kalinda Vazquez

Directed by Sanji Senaka

November’s Short Treks episode again features an exploration of Discovery-era Starfleet, but focuses on Cadet Thira Sidhu, a young woman whose dreams for her career seem to be going nowhere until her Starbase is attacked by Tholians and she is given charge of a prisoner who tempts her with seemingly impossible-to-resist possibilities. Will she follow her heart, or her training?

Before delving into spoilers in the rest of the review, “Ask Not” is a taut, spare drama pitting a fledgling cadet against a powerful influence. It is a clear product of the #MeToo era, a corrective to an emotion-driven brand of storytelling choices across current pop culture, and a great showcase for new talent. It’s not quite as satisfying as “Q&A,” but is more compact and economical. And I liked it better than “The Trouble with Edward,” an episode that I did, in the last analysis, also enjoy.

 

Spoilers below

 

There are two famous quotations that the title of this episode may be alluding to: the first is John Donne’s well-known poem, “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” which begins, “No man is an island / Entire of itself…” and concludes, “…send not to know / For whom the bell tolls, / It tolls for thee.” That last line is commonly misquoted as, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls…” If this is the episode’s reference, the title is a commentary on the interdependent nature of Starfleet, and how the regulations that govern an officer’s life help to keep everyone safer.

The second, more likely referent is probably the inaugural address given by John F. Kennedy, when he was sworn in as the 35th President of the United States, in 1961. This address is widely considered among the greatest Presidential speeches in American history. In the address, Kennedy talked about how “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans…” and issued the call to action, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” If this is the episode’s reference, the title underlines how Cadet Sidhu must choose to forsake the temptations of love or advancement of her career in favor of doing the right thing.

The episode opens with Cadet Sidhu on duty in Inventory 2 of Starbase 28, which is not the duty station that she had desired to fill. Cadet Sidhu had applied to work in the Engineering department of the USS Enterprise, as had her husband, and while he had been posted to the USS Bouman, she had been assigned to what Star Trek III’s “Mr. Adventure” might have referred to as, “the hind-end of space.” When Starbase 28 is attacked by Tholians, security officers deliver a hooded prisoner to Inventory 2 for Sidhu to guard, since the level that the brig was on had been damaged by the attack. The prisoner has been arrested for mutiny, and when his hood is removed, the prisoner is revealed to be Captain Christopher Pike, himself.

Once he is alone with Sidhu, Pike begins ordering her to release him and to give him access to communications. He applies personal pressure – playing on his status as one of Starfleet’s most decorated captains – emotional pressure – telling her that her husband’s ship is in danger – the pressure of ambition – he could make or break her Starfleet career, here before it’s even begun – and even moral pressure – reasoning with her that he was unfairly removed from his post, and that she has the power to right a wrong. He appeals to her sense of vengeance – she and her husband were the sole survivors of a Tholian attack a couple of years before. And the fact that he is the commander of the very ship she longed to serve on didn’t hurt either.

Cadet Sidhu holds her own with Pike.

Sidhu starts out shaky and insecure, but as she counters each of his appeals, she becomes more and more steadfast. Like Christ beating back the temptations of Satan in the wilderness with appeals to Deuteronomy, Sidhu refers confidently to Starfleet regulations, standing her ground, and even leveling a phaser at the captain. In the end, this is all revealed to be a test – including her supposed rejection from service aboard the Enterprise – and her rock-steady response to a pressure-filled situation convinces Captain Pike that she is perfect for his Engineering department.

It’s no accident that this episode features a young, pretty female cadet facing enormous pressure from a male authority figure who starts out seeming very fatherly and benevolent, but soon turns quite threatening. While none of Pike’s inducements or threats are sexual in nature, it’s difficult not to think of the allegations made against Harvey Weinstein, Les Moonves, Matt Lauer, and others, who have been accused of using relational and career pressure to get sexual favors for themselves.

And the theme of this story is a refreshing counterpoint to the many examples in today’s pop culture of characters willing to sacrifice the greater good in order to save the life of that one person that they love the most. Cadet Sidhu acknowledges that her husband knew the risks when he signed on to Starfleet. So often in popular culture, the message is that following your heart is more important than following the rules. The mutiny of Michael Burnham in Star Trek: Discovery‘s pilot episode also seems to follow the now-conventional approach, though the entire first season of Discovery works to underline how much of a mistake that was for her. This story swims against the conventional tide, affirming that the rules are there for a reason.

A valid complaint that I’ve read online about this episode is that the “test” seems unusually cruel. Commander Una (aka “Number One”) indicates that she is the one who designed the test, and Mr. Spock mentions that no one can expect mercy from Number One. All this combines to make Una look a bit like a sadist. It also seems somewhat farfetched and inefficient to run a test like this on every cadet seeking placement aboard a starship. At the very least, this test required the active participation of five Starfleet officers (Una, Pike, the two security guards, and Sidhu) and a fairly extensive simulation.

On the other hand, we have seen Starfleet utilizing extensive and elaborate simulations for the testing of cadets before – most famously with the Kobayashi Maru scenario seen in both Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and in 2009’s Star Trek movie, but also in TNG’s “Coming of Age,” in which Wesley Crusher and a number of other applicants for Starfleet Academy have to undergo a number of examinations, including the dreaded “psych test,” which in Wesley’s case meant choosing which of two trapped crewmen to rescue from an imminent explosion.

It is possible that it was Cadet Sidhu’s particular history – her surviving the Tholian attack on Berellium – which not only suggested the particular scenario for this test, but also necessitated its use. Perhaps the test was necessary for Sidhu’s sake, and not just for Starfleet’s.

Brief Bits:

  • This is the shortest Trek ever, at just under 10 minutes in length (which includes end credits and the preview for next month’s shorts).
  • “Ask Not” is ably directed by Sanji Senaka, whose IMDB directorial filmography lists a number of music videos over the last 25 years, including a Grammy nomination for best music video and a VMA nomination for Best Direction in a video, both for Lauryn Hill’s 1999 song, “Everything is Everything.” In “Ask Not,” Senaka stages a number of great shots, including an upside-down shot that emphasizes Sidhu’s disorientation, and the rotating pan that introduces Captain Pike.
  • Amrit Kaur does an excellent job playing Cadet Sidhu, opposite Anson Mount’s Captain Pike. Her character needs to go toe-to-toe with him in a stressful situation, and she rises to the occasion.
  • Writer Kalinda Vazquez has written for a number of high-profile TV shows, including Prison Break, Nikita, Once Upon a Time, and Fear the Walking Dead. This is her first Trek script.
  • Short Treks seems to be a great proving ground for introducing new talent into the Trek universe.
  • Composer Andrea Datzman worked with Michael Giacchino on all of his Star Trek movie scores, and is the second woman to ever score a Star Trek episode.
  • With the rapid-fire back-and-forth of Starfleet Regulations between Pike and Sidhu, this episode is a Memory Alpha fan’s dream. My favorite line in the episode is a reference to Starfleet’s reserve activation clause, which Leonard McCoy in Star Trek: The Motion Picture called “little-known” and “seldom-used.”
  • A graphic on the display screen in Inventory 2 shows two Constitution-class starships docked at Starbase 28.
  • For a show that loves math and science, I cannot understand the use of CGI portrayals of physically-impossible constructs. In this episode, it’s Pike’s hood, which disassembles and levitates in pieces into a container that’s too small to fit the parts. In Discovery, we saw a huge graviton “catcher’s mitt” deployed out of a tiny container to snag the dark matter asteroid in season two’s “Brother,” as well as lengthy evacuation corridors deployed from a small spot on the USS Discovery to the Enterprise in “Such Sweet Sorrow.” In all of these cases, nanotechnology builds structures seemingly out of nothing. To me, this breaks verisimilitude every time. I have the same problem with Iron Man’s nanotech armor in the Marvel movies, by the way.
  • We have another “impossibly huge” interior, like the turbolifts, what we see of the USS Enterprise’s main engineering is utterly massive.

The Disco-Enterprise’s massive engineering section.


Star Trek: Short Treks are available in the USA on CBS All Access. Season 2 is available in Canada via CTV Sci-Fi Channel (formerly known as Space) and Crave. Availability for the second season in other regions has not be announced.

Keep up with all the Short Treks news and reviews at TrekMovie.

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Neill Stringer

Not got access to episode yet but can I ask, the current Trek team do know that the Constitution Class is the equivalent of an Aircraft Carrier and much smaller than a Galaxy Class?

I mean with the turbolift shaft like a roller coaster and therefore showcasing too much wasted space inside and an engine room that seems bigger than the Enterprise D, they seem to imply its bigger, I mean do they understand scale?

Garth Lorca

“that seems bigger than the Enterprise D, they seem to imply its bigger, I mean do they understand scale?”

Well, the issue’s with the undersized scale of the Next Gen sets. That engineering set would have fit within the Defiant, not a huge Galaxy Class Starship… This only looks bigger than the D’s engineering because the D’s set was way too small…

Tiger2

I don’t really think it has anything to do with TNG, you can just compare it to the size of the original Constitution class ship TOS in which EVERYTHING felt massively smaller than what we see of this Enterprise. The engineering room in TOS was pretty small as well. I like the design of this engineering room but yes it looks massive to everything we seen before, ESPECIALLY TOS. You have to do double gymnastics in your head how this room could fit in both versions.

I just don’t understand why everything on this show has to be so MUCH bigger than what we seen before? But I don’t have an issue with the look of the room itself.

Discovery producers, sometimes less is more!

Max

Actually, the engineering set seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture is much larger than the TNG set; it’s decks high. Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean more advanced.

Cmd.Bremmon

I think they did a lot of that with matte paintings which is awesome. I loved how you could see the intermix chamber all the way down to the nacelles (complete with sensible blast doors).

Fred Javelina

The TMP engineering set was redressed and reused for TNG. The matte painting conduit down the length of the ship was replaced by two diagonally branching conduits off the core.

http://www.ex-astris-scientia.org/inconsistencies/reused_ship_interiors.htm

A34

Bigger is Better 😀

Right?!? Do we really want these production people making a new Pike-era Enterprise series? From what we’ve seen on Discovery and these Short Treks, the answer should be a clear and resounding “NO!”

Duncan MacLeod

I like it, it’s what I imagined when I was a kid and had no regular TV access and was just reading the books. Everybody likes different things. I embrace all trek. As long as the story is good, they can play around a bit with the visuals. If you can get Mount, Peck and Romijn to do a limited or even longer series, a little visual difference is not going to lessen the strength of these actors

dennycranium

Duncan MacLeod! I’d love to see Adrian Paul show up as a Starfleet Captain. I loved Highlander…

Christopher

I have always imagine McKenzie Calhoun played by Adrian Paul when I read the books

Kerry

Adrian Paul would look like Mac Calhoun – never considered him. I always imagined someone like Joe Flanigan.

New Frontier would have been a helluva series. Was hoping it would have been next after the books were published, but we got VOY instead, which turned out great too.

Alec Grimes

Agreed. Fans are fickle. We are finally getting cinematic quality and people want to gripe.

dennycranium

Respectfully, I disagree. Star Trek has to compete with a lot more genre TV and movies than TOS and TNG did. We now own 50-65″ 4K TV’s and visually, Star Trek needs to be striking.
Come to Ticonderoga NY and see the startrektour.com sets. Engineering is incredibly small in real life compared to what it looked like on a 20″ tv. Hey, Trek is back on TV, enjoy it.

A34

People keep forgetting that Trek is a TV show and not a historical drama.

Pick Hard

Yes, “we” do. (In other words, YOU might not want it, but it’s very obvious that the majority of fans do.)

Alec Grimes

I disagree. Love what they have done with Discovery. As a long life Trek fan…I love seeing other production’s take on a series. I know it has pissed many off….maybe I am one of the few hardcore trekkers that dont mind something new on an old formula.

Cmd.Bremmon

I don’t understand why they think it is more exciting to have a giant wide open space (with nothing happening) than a closed in space filled with exciting equipment, computer screens, crew, etc. I assume Nicholas Meyer (who from what I remember from the various books I used to buy stressed he wanted the internal sets to be cramped like submarines and real life aircraft carriers) is no longer contributing?!?! I DO like the multi-level engineering concepts though.. even TOS made the engine room multi-level. Do they have a big control panel display??

Fred Javelina

Agreed, it’s distracting. (That and the smudgy lighting bloom everywhere, which doesn’t match, and often overpowers the on-set lighting).

The empty space looks to be at least hundreds of cubic meters in volume, and I have no idea where that space would fit within the spaceframe. It’s 10x the size of the Discovery shuttle bay.

Unless…. this is supposed to be some sort of “metaphorical” and not literal view of a turbolift moving inside the ship, where all the decks, Jefferies tubes, conduits, etc are magically removed for storytelling purposes, like the cutaway Enterprise model kits? :)

I mean if it’s *that* empty why not just pilot shuttles from floor to floor, or have free-flying turbolift capsules? Why even have “tracks” to begin with?

Engineering is also problematic, less for the size / scale issue – I mean it’s mostly just a blurry background plate, barely glimpsed – but more the over-bloomed glowing teal and orange details makes this seem like artwork for the latest instalment of an average cyberpunk-ish FPS console game. I’m all for updating and modernizing things, but it wasn’t quite clear what we were even looking at.

It’s hard to see shapes in the jumble of glowing lines – true as well for the Bridge, which I mostly love, but they seem to want to stuff LED accents into every edge and surface… or virtual glowing outlines done with CG, etc.

Rick Gold

We all need to write the Visual Effects Producer and beg him to stop this insanity! If it’s one think Trek fans love is accuracy… we love deck plans… and the turbo lifts and this engineering set don’t possibly fit deck plans…

Garth Lorca

The real problem is that most TNG sites simply looked way too small in scale for a ship of that size and progress. Even VOY’s two-deck engineering set was a lot more impressive that TNG’s main engineering.

TNG hasn’t aged that well when it comes to technological progress. Most of its updates from TOS have now already been outdated by recent contemporary tech: flatscreens, A.I. guidance systems… anything but warp drive and beaming is possible these days or in the near future, but those two items had already been invented for TOS…

TNG was an ambitioned rebirth of Trek back in the 80s, but from our POV, it is outdated. It’s only natural that even a re-imagined 23rd century visual reboot looks bigger and more impressive than the Enterprise-D if it wants to represent a credible future…

Duncan Macleod

The Defiant’s Engine room might have been bigger than the Enterprise’s

Luke Montgomery

Having been on the set of the Enterprise D before it was torn down just after Generations filmed, I can say that the sets are even smaller than they appear on screen. You could cross 10-Forward in 10 steps the long way and 4 steps from the bar to the windows. It was shockingly tiny.

Dwight Abernathy

I don’t if it was full scale or not, but I thought the exact same thing on the “D” bridge in the old las Vegas attraction.

Cmd.Bremmon

The problem with the D is that it made no sense. The bridge is half full of useless bland squares, the Captain can’t see any displays, that poor tactical officer doesn’t get a chair… ugh. Just ugh.
Any one else in the theatre mentally cheer for the 150 year old Bird of Prey taking that flying hotel down?

Priddis

The enterprise D was built during a long period of peace and exploration. It was supposed to be a diplomatic cruise liner, not a warship. By the time of Generations there were numerous upgrades made to keep with the times including more tactical stations, a raised captain’s chair, extra access corridors to engineering. After it was destroyed the Federation were building ships to defend against the Borg, hence the Defiant and Enterprise E with no families, no bars, massive open engineering section etc

A34

So true, TNG is outdated. It’s why I can’t re watch any episodes. The show just screams 80’s.

Jack

There’s no accuracy. None of this is real. Deck plans aren’t canon.

And, yes, the designers know what the TOS sets look like.

Yeah, not only does the Iron Man nanotech seem off, everyone also overlooks that it still has mass, regardless if it’s deployed or not. The other irritation is the suit still needs fuel, and where is all that ordnance hiding when IM or WM land and start blasting away with fairly conventional weapons?

I know. I’m no fun at superhero movies.

The River Temarc

Wasn’t the fuel that Thingamabob reactor embedded in Tony Stark’s heart?

Jeff

The way I look at it is, there’s science fiction. And then there’s comic book science fiction. Comic book science fiction doesn’t try to be believable, instead it’s all about “Does it look cool?” The Marvel movies have small nods towards believability in them, but just enough to keep the scene going to the next cool thing or big fight scene.

Tony Stark also designed flying aircraft carriers (Helicarriers) for S.H.I.E.L.D., and somehow a whole fleet of them was hidden under the Potomac in a giant underground chamber. When did they build that?! Hey, it looked cool!

It’s all fiction. Starks thingamabob is about as science as the warp drive.

Now, do we want to talk about suspension of disbelief?

Preddis

Google “Alcubierre drive”. It was known in the 60’s that warping space could bypass relativistic time dilation. In fact, in the pilot it was called “timewarp drive”.

Photon70

Only 1 person is wearing red in this particular standoff. Ahem, cough, cough.

Joe

“While none of Pike’s inducements or threats are sexual in nature, it’s difficult not to think of the allegations made against Harvey Weinstein, …”

Huh? So while nothing Pike did would remind you of those other men, it’s not difficult to think of them? I’m sorry, but that take on the scene is way off IMHO.

Apc0408

Yeah I’m with you here, I don’t get the #metoo reference the author threw in there? Also did they really need to bring “Christ” into the article?

Dwight Abernathy

Also, if a review takes longer to read than the actual episode, maybe you’re trying too hard?

I’mPaul

I was thinking that as I stopped reading and scrolled to the comments! I was like “damn. The episode was 9 minutes long. How long is this review?” And I didn’t make any MeToo connections, thankfully. And the Jesus stuff was bizarre. Hate to be so critical of someone’s work, but this review was super weird. It wasn’t that fine of art. That was a whole lot of words that went into saying: “this short was, eh” And how about the fact that they began the exam by trying to kill her in an explosion….

Marja

Apc, I agree with both you and Joe, and I am a female with great sensitivity to issues of sexual harassment. I thought “??”

Sure, Pike is very senior, much admired, highly lauded, and he’s applying pressure. What does that remind me of? A well-known and charismatic person trying to get out of an undesirable situation, that is all.

As for the ep, the moment Pike was brought into the room I knew it was a training scenario. I’ve just seen this scenario in Trek and other shows.

Nano-objects in Trek: More believable than nano-objects in IronMan, even though Stark is a geeenius. In 300 years we may just have that kind of tech.

I did find it believable that they’d put her through such a scenario because of her past trauma; they’d want to be sure she was able to function in the face of a repeat. How the explosions were rigged so they didn’t injure the cadet is a question we’ll have to save for Number One, I guess.

And Jesus and Deuteronomy vs. Satan, hmmm … odd place for this ….

Anduinel

I’m inclined to agree. Young women do face pressure from authority figures, but #MeToo is specifically about sexual harassment/coercion; divorcing it from that context removes all meaning. The kind of pressures/threats/temptations Pike presents to Sidhu are the sort that any young subordinate could be pressured by, regardless of gender.

Dénes House

I agree that the narrative would have played out the same way regardless of the gender of the Cadet. But the fact that the Cadet was a young woman of color and Pike is a middle-aged White guy in a position of power certainly added subtext to the scene.

I also agree that #MeToo is primarily about sexual harassment and coercion. But I was connecting to the abuse of power aspect of it.

Pick Hard

Yeah, the Weinstein comparison was entirely nonsensical. This was one of the weakest and most rambling reviews I’ve read on this site in a while. TrekMovie is better than this.

Webguest

I believe the comparison was made because manipulative techniques employed in this episode were also employed by persons subject of the me-too-movement to exact sexual favours (e.g. threatening that they would end actresses’ careers), and manipulative behaviour such as “emotional blackmailing” is often employed in unhealthy, abusive relationships with coercive control of one partner over the other.

Pick Hard

There was NOTHING sexual about this episode, so the similarities are surface-only. It’s a bad comparison.

Webguest

You are right that there was nothing sexual in the episode, and actually I did not say so in my post. What I meant to say is that based on how I understand the metoo movement from the various sources I’ve read about it, metoo is not strictly only about sexual abuse – for the reason that sexual abuse often comes wrapped up in a variety of other manipulative or pressurizing techniques and misuse of power. I think this is where the parallels are between the episode and the metoo movement. When I saw Pike threatening to end the cadet’s career in the episode trailer, I did immediately think about similar threats made in the metoo movie industry. Plus Star Trek’s history of mirroring current topics, I don’t find the comparison too bad.

I’d like to add though that the movie industry is probably not the only place where one can observe people using their positions of power, career threats, pressuring techniques and a kind of brainwash to get away with breaking the rules. So the episode’s topic is a bit more universal than metoo such as holding your own and doing what you think is right in the face of personal attacks and pressure.

Hope that clears it up, cheers webguest

Penguin44

I came to say almost the same. I was reading this after just watching the episode. I was like huh? As a woman I saw nothing like that. What I saw was a cadet, put of her element. She drew on her training like most would, man or women. I think the review was trying to be all woke and fem, ended up looking like a man trying to say he was hip. Also the region? Please. So pretentious. If the review is longer than the episode, you are reaching.

Garth Lorca

“We have another “impossibly huge” interior, like the turbolifts, what we see of the USS Enterprise’s main engineering is utterly massive.”

But not as chaotic and incomprehensive as the Buderweiser engineering section in the KT…

The very existence of those graphics implies the notion that this is’t all we have seen of the Enterprise. Why would they go through the lenghts of creating those images for a 10-minute shortie?

I’m now more sure than ever that they will announce that Pike series shortly after the Picard premier. For now, they keep it under wrap in order not to take away from the Picard momentum…

That potential game plan provokes further questions. Yesterday it was announced that Nickelodeon has entered extensive cooperations with Netflix. That came off pretty strange to me as Nick is part of the CBS-Viacom company and could have contributed to CBS All Access…

Either they want to keep CBS-AA an adult-oriented platform OR these developments point towards an even greater cooperation between CBS-Viacom and Netflix…

With stiff competition such as Disney+, Amazon and HBO Max upon both of them, they might eventually join forces. CBS-AA still lacks an international foundation whereas Netflix lacks established franchises with inbuilt fanbases. Only together they could overthrow the Mouse House Emperor and rule the galaxy once more…

TG47

Garth Lorca, I agree that putting Nickelodeon content on Netflix – even if only outside North America – seems lousy strategy.

All the more strange given that CBSAA has already entered an agreement to put DHX children’s content library up starting this winter as a strategic move to hold a younger market than CBS broadcast television.

It also signals that the Viacom side of the new ViacomCBS is still not playing well in the sandbox with CBS : Putting Nickelodeon content on CBSAA was mentioned in the merger announcement.

This really has the air of Viacom senior executives jostling for position before the ViacomCBS merger is operative.

Steve

Star Trek: SJW. Next week, a starship manned entirely by gay Indian gender fluid people with red hair.

Garth Lorca

So you do have issues with people from different places on Earth, different races, different gender orientation serving ALONGSIDE straight white males (Pike!) aboard a United Planet’s Starship? Wow, just wow, you don’t get a grain of what Star Trek has always been about…

Denes House

Steve, I don’t see that in this short at all. Dealing with power relationships is drama, not activism.

Mark Calcagno

And here I thought Star Trek was supposed to be inclusive…

Sean1

I enjoyed this Short Trek. But I have one small problem with it. Size wise. The Discovery is bigger than the Enterprise. Yet has a small engine room. However. The Enterprise being a smaller ship in size. Has a engine room the size of Texas? Ummm. Does the Enterprise have subspace folds in it? (Bigger on the inside. Smaller on the outside. STO Kal Dano reference)

We haven’t seen engineering on the Discovery.

Daniel

Yeah, there’s probably a name for the room we have seen but we haven’t seen Main Engineering yet. Looking forward to it.

Duncan MacLeod

Memory Alpha calls it the Spore Drive Lab, but i think they referred to it as something else. We definitely haven’t seen main engineering.

Palizia

It’s the Sporatorium.

Marja

Palizia, Hee! I like that coinage

They say its an engineering lab in an early episode I believe. Although I may be thinking of the Glenn.

That’s correct. What we keep seeing is technically Engineering Test Bay Alpha. We have yet to see main engineering on the Discovery.
https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Engineering_test_bay_alpha

Cool little ep. I enjoyed it more the The Mandolorian. Is Ethan Peck out to beat Zach Quinto in the Vulcanian 5 o’clock shadow dept?

PS-

A book with Trek themes and Easter eggs:

CometheEventide.com

AdamB

I was a bit disappointed because I figured it out halfway through…

Pick Hard

I knew it was a test almost from the beginning. They telegraphed it, so it was obvious within seconds.

Gary 8.5

Years ago I had the great honor of directing the play “Night,Mother”,By Marsha Norman.
it is the riveting tale of a young woman who announces to her mother that before the night is over, she is going to kill herself.

Since it was my directorial debut I asked for a friend who was an experienced director to give creative insights to my actresses.
I will never forget what he told the actress playing the mother ” I have one word for you, “Tactics”. He wanted her to constantly shift her tactics in her continuing efforts to save her daughter, engage her in every possible way, even get her angry.

I NEVER thought that I would see such excellent advice reflected in one of my favorite Trek stories. of course, the lead character in Night, Mother, was struggling to make the only choice that she felt that she had left.
While Sidhu was trying not to let down those that she cared about most.
To all those involved, I say, WELL DONE!

“While none of Pike’s inducements or threats are sexual in nature, it’s difficult not to think of the allegations made against Harvey Weinstein, Les Moonves, Matt Lauer, and others, who have been accused of using relational and career pressure to get sexual favors for themselves.”

I found it effortless to not think of that. Never crossed my mind, and now that it’s been pointed out, I can’t say I see any evidence of it whatsoever.

What an odd way to view this episode.

Dwight Abernathy

If anything, this was a reverse #metoo, if you will. Sidhu was in control of the situation, she never forgot her duty to Starfleet above all else, never let Pike pull rank, and was prepared to use force to maintain chain of command.

Gary 8.5

I never thought of that angle either, until I read this review.

I just don’t see it, personally. I mean, one *could* view it through that lens, if one were so inclined; but that’s true of anything. I just don’t see any equivalency between those people and Pike. Plus, if you DO see that, then he’s 100% innocent of what he’s been accused of! More than that, he’s actually doing what he’s doing as part of a test of the cadet’s character. So if there WAS an equivalency, it would be that … Weinstein was testing actresses’ character and some of them failed the test?

I don’t think so. The analogy just doesn’t work.

Marja

Bryant, Gary, Et. Al., IMO, reviewer was straining to find contemporary relevance and could have used a much better analogy.

Thing is, I’d love it if new Trek DID tackle that topic in some meaningful way. That’s the sort of thing I wish Trek were doing right now, and boy is it doing anything but. Granted, season one of Discovery kind of got close to it with the Lorca character; but it did nothing meaningful or resonant with the concept. In my opinion, of course.

Amrit Kaur was great. I thought it was shameful that her credit was buried away from the rest of the main cast. I’m sure that was some sort of SAG thing, but still, shameful.

TG47

Bryant, I think you are right about the SAG thing.

Discovery and Short Treks are often using Canadian actors who are ACTRA members, as well as actors from other countries (UK, US, Aus) who are regularly working in Canada. This way they don’t need visas.

However, SAG and ACTRA don’t seem to have the same kind of reciprocity that the Director’s Guilds do. Since these actors don’t have as many credits in SAG governed productions, they are not credited in a way that reflects the role they play.

So, we see a consistent pattern of actors like Amrit Kaur, Harry Judge (Tellarite captain in Escape Artist) or Hannah Spear (Sirana), being relegated to back page other credits with actors who have a line or two.

Laurie Ulster

Agree. I didn’t know why her credit wasn’t up top. She was the star! She should’ve been right there with Anson Mount.

Gary 8.5

She was quite good. I wouldn’t mind seeing her again.

Sybik

Good: story and characters
[Utterly] Bad [again]: Some overly pompous design choices the mask and the engineering room. IMHO, they stand for no more than “showing off” the budget, often distracting from the overall story.

Christopher

engine room was pretty much 100% computer generated so I bet it didn’t cost much at all. I really like that whole HUGE parts they show in the ships. It’s kind of like the Tardis, small on the outside HUGE on the inside

Boze

Discovery doesn’t “love math and science”, Discovery loves *talking* about loving math and science. I blame Big Bang Theory for making math and science hip – now everybody’s trying to yap about it.

Anyway, I appreciate finally seeing an Indian. For such a populous country, you’d think Starfleet would have more of them, especially considering their high IQ averages and general proficiency in math and IT. It’s kinda ironic that there’s more Indians in 1960s A. C. Clarke’s books, than in a “current-year” TV show set in a globalized future.

kmart

You got it a thousand percent right (and yeah, I see the irony in saying that about this topic) on this show loving talking about math and science. But clearly they aren’t walking the walk to go with that.

I think poster ‘Steve’ above might be fine with Indians appearing on TREK, so long as they are in their place, like Mr. Singh in an early TNG, who shows up just long enough to speak with Wesley and then die.

TechNoir

Right, previous Treks just did math and science. Why do we need the big neon Looney Tunes signs pointing out the MATH and SCIENCE in this show? Yeah, yeah, I love those topics too, Discovery. Now stop elbowing us in the ribs with how much you love it.

Thankfully this hasn’t carried over into other areas of the writing. “That’s the power of LOVE, people!” And… cue Huey Lewis.

TG47

kmart and TechNoir, your comments have been running in the back of my mind over the weekend.

I agree with you that the characters saying ‘I like math’ or ‘I like science’ is really ‘off’, but I’ve been trying to put a finger on what bugs me about it.

Here’s where I’ve landed:

1st – Trek IS about people who do like math and science, and believe that rational and ethical thinking and action lead to a better future.

But Trek has shown this not lectured this. Remarking on this diminishes it.

People of colour have said that Uhura was a role model just because she was there on the bridge in TOS, an officer, without it being remarkable.

The LGBTQ+ community has enthusiastically embraced the Stamets-Culber toothbrushing scene in Discovery, precisely because it made a gay couple’s homelife ordinary and relatable.

But instead, Discovery has made its characters step out of character to say goofy things like ‘I like science’. This is not in my experience what real working scientists do once they are beyond career discussions with high school guidance counselors.

2nd – because the people who live and work and science don’t say things like this, it makes theses scenes cringy for us.

I can happily enjoy Data and Geordi working through a problem in technobabble, or the techobabble-intense episodes of Voyager, but this artificial cheerleading without showing, just says to me that we’re being patronized by writers that don’t get science.

Let me say this again : As someone who has studied at science and tech institutions and worked in a scientific and evidence-based career, this kind of writing doesn’t make me feel represented, it makes me feel patronized.

A34

If you want to watch a science show then watch Nova on PBS. It’s called Science Fiction for a reason.

Daniel

Anson Mount is the best thing to happen in the Trek world in a long time. The guy just kills it every time.

At this point, he’s in my top five of Trek captains along with Kirk, Picard, Janeway, and the original Pike. And I don’t even like Discovery! THAT’S how great he is!

Mark

Loved this short. They keep giving us new characters that join Enterprise and we want to learn MORE about them. OMG give us a Pike series! They’re slowly building a family for the ship, one character at a time….. and now I miss this new family.

andj4ca

I was concerned, at first, by the fact that Pike wanted to use retaliation and violence to fix the situation … but when Sidhu started to counter him and speak like a true Starfleet officer would, I knew two things: 1) the writers seemed to remember what Trek was about and 2) I figured this had to be a simulation.

Easily the best Short Trek, IMO. Let’s go, Pike-show!

I did not find any parallels between this story and #metoo. I seem to remember Jean-Luc Picard giving Ensign Sito a pretty hard time (deliberately) in TNGs “Lower Decks” to judge her toughness for the upcoming mission to Cardassian space. It’s training. Excellent episode review but I think that link was a stretch.

Who cares

Need to get over your irrational nanotech problems. Not only has nanotech been in Trek since season 1 of TNG the various functions mentioned (including Iron Man’s armor) are exactly the kind of things predicted by the actual scientists researching nanotech.

ST:EXP

I often wonder if the Discovery producers/actors are fearful that when the Pike Enterprise series inevitably is announced, if they will be envious of how much more dramatically popular it will be.

This episode had a fantastic score and vibe of a classic Trek episode of decades past.

I’m left to wonder about the logistics of this extreme test. Does Pike have to vet every crew member of the Enterprise like this? Word would spread fast, no? Or was this a one-off scenario.

The thing that is also ironic is that every Enterprise captain has broken every rule they wanted to test this cadet on…. (wouldn’t it have seen very familiar if the cadet was like …”yeah… let’s rock n’ roll… I’m bustin’ you outta here)

The actress playing the cadet doesn’t even hold a candle to the gravitas and performance level of Anson Mount. So that was the only awkward thing in this ultra-short-Trek. Needed a more seasoned performer alongside someone who is at the level of Mount. I’m starting to notice that the local Toronto casting agency seems to hire from the same tiny pool of performers on a small grouping of shows.

TG47

ST:EXP there is a pretty large pool of talent in Toronto.

As noted above, they may not have enough SGA credits to get ‘guest star’ billing.

Given the reviews that Hannah Spear and Harry Judge received for their performances in Short Treks, I can’t see where the shade is coming from.

It’s also the pool that provides excellent actors for The Expanse, and some of them (e.g. Raven Dauda) have appeared on both.

ST:EXP

I apologize… let me clarify… I also live in the GTA. There is a massive talent pool here. I specifically mean if you imdb cross-reference the Discovery guest stars, they are appearing on the same 4 or 5 shows. So this is specifically due to the one casting agency involved. But I think we’re getting into the weeds here…

Harry Ballz

ST:EXP
I agree about the actor playing the cadet. She really stunk up the place with her amateurish antics. I live in Toronto and, believe me, there are a lot of other actors in this town who could go toe-to-toe with Mount. I guess she was probably a friend of the director. So sad.

You must have seen a different episode than the one I saw. She was excellent.

dennycranium

I thought the actress did an excellent job with the role. She gave some subtle facial reactions to some of Pikes excuses to break him out. It’s also show business. She may have been the best actress available AT THE TIME. Upon reflection, I think the DP made some poor choices in framing some of the shots. I understand the set was cramped but maybe a few too many closeups. The set may not have been finished, either.

TG47

I agree dennycranium.

I noted on a previous thread that the issues in this short seemed to be on the other side of the camera.

I’d have like some longer beats with expressions as the director, DP, and editor gave us in Q&A.

Alex R

I am increasingly just taking many of the interiors that are anything other than practical sets as sort of artistic representations. This over-large Engineering set, the ridiculous turboshaft imagery, and so forth just beg to be considered visual suggestions, but not rigorous in any way.

Pick Hard

“Like Christ beating back the temptations of Satan”

Oh, come ON.

Michael Sacal

“what we see of the USS Enterprise’s main engineering is utterly massive.”

When the Enterprise first appeared in Discovery there was much said about its size, with some saying it was 50% smaller than in the original series and others saying it was the same size. Given the size of the interior rooms we’ve seen so far (such as engineering, Spock’s quarters, and the bridge), however, I think the Enterprise must be at least 50% or 100% LARGER than it was in The Original Series in order to accommodate the larger spaces.

It would be great to get a legit answer to that someday.

Pick Hard

Why does it matter? It’s a TV show.

TechNoir

It doesn’t matter that much to me, but I imagine some fans have an interest in design and engineering and how things fit together. After all, this is one franchise that has inspired real engineers and scientists.

PaulB

It matters because TV shows should have internal consistency and basic logic. It matters because some fans enjoy knowing such details.

Seriously, it’s 2019 and you’re trolling with “It’s a TV show” nonsense?

Michael Sacal

Indeed.

A34

Really? I just like watching ships blow up and watching Klingons get it on.

Michael Sacal

Holy crap, William Shatner! (“GET A LIFE, will you people? I mean, for crying out loud, it’s just a TV show!”)

A34

LOL, so true.

Greenhagen

Anyone familiar with the military knows that a lot of time is spent on high fidelity drills. We’ve seen peaks of this in Star Trek previously but it must happen all of the time “off camera.”

Rock Dirty

I think we need to keep in mind that the Next-Gen Engineering section was just too small. Scotty’s main engineering in TOS was a FAR bigger set than the Next-Gen engineering set (can we get the ability to post pictures here one day?). Which makes no sense considering the size difference between the ships.

Pick Hard

I’m still amazed at how RIDICULOUS this whole paragraph is. Doesn’t TrekMovie have someone checking articles before approving them, or can the writers just post whatever they want? Some quality control is in order here, because this is absurd. I think it’s fairly certainly that ONLY the author of this article made the following correlation:

“It’s no accident that this episode features a young, pretty female cadet facing enormous pressure from a male authority figure who starts out seeming very fatherly and benevolent, but soon turns quite threatening. While none of Pike’s inducements or threats are sexual in nature, it’s difficult not to think of the allegations made against Harvey Weinstein, Les Moonves, Matt Lauer, and others, who have been accused of using relational and career pressure to get sexual favors for themselves.”

dennycranium

Instead of criticizing Trek Movie and the reviewer for her opinions, why don’t we ask her to elaborate on that thought? I didn’t see any correlation, either, but I’m open to hearing her thoughts on it.

New Guy

I didn’t immediately make a me too connection, but after reading the review, I can see it. An undertone, but there. I can dig it.

Just Another Salt Vampire

I think that the #MeToo movement is important, but agree that the comparison here is misplaced. The film shows a simulated crisis situation meant to test how a lower-ranking member of a power structure (regardless of gender) handles an authority figure challenging them when the lower-ranking one is clearly in the right.

Pick Hard

Oh, I agree that the #MeToo movement is important. It’s VERY important. But it doesn’t apply here. It’s an invalid comparison, and it’s crazy that the author compared the two.

A34

This is why I never read the reviews here. Plus I haven’t seen the episode yet.

Lee

Is it definitely confirmed as being the USS Bouman (and not Bowman)? Because if so, that’s pretty cool (presumably named for Katie Bouman, which will also annoy the kind of people who get annoyed by such things).

Dénes House

Bouman was the spelling in the subtitles on Amazon Prime, and is the spelling that Memory Alpha adopted.

Lee

Ah, of course, subtitles. Thanks!

dennycranium

From the reviewer:
“While none of Pike’s inducements or threats are sexual in nature, it’s difficult not to think of the allegations made against Harvey Weinstein, Les Moonves, Matt Lauer, and others, who have been accused of using relational and career pressure to get sexual favors for themselves.”

This never occurred to me, whatsoever, after several viewings. Perhaps, it’s the difference between male and female perceptions of a certain situation. Respectfully, I just don’t see any connection to the #meToo movement in this situation. I’m not discounting or dismissing Dene’s opinion of the episode. I hope she can weigh in and offer more thoughts on why she felt that way.

Here’s what I noticed: Pike was becoming uncomfortable with how dirty he had to play with Sidhu to try to win her over. Kudos to Anson Mount and the director, who gave us some nuanced performances. I liked how Sidhu went from weakness to strength in her position and how she was able to stand toe to toe with Pike. The scene where she placed her phaser on Pikes cuffs was perfect. Her facial expressions as Sidhu processed what Pike was trying to sell her showcases, this young actresses talent. “That’s not being silent,” is a standout line of dialogue, for me.

I live an hour west of Pinewood Studios, where DSC and Short Treks are filmed. Canada is well known for its diversity of people and cultures from all over the world. I was incredibly pleased at seeing a female South East Asian actress get this role. We also had an incredible job done by a director from the same area of the world. When we get a Pike series greenlit by CBS (c’mon, do it already!) I’d love to see more from Amrit Kaur as Sidhu and more episodes helmed by Sanji Senaka

This episode easily could have been between two white males and devolved into a dick measuring contest. Kudos to CBS for having a diverse cast in front of and behind the camera.

My only complaint with Ask Not was that it was a bit too short, even for a Short Trek.

More Please!

Dénes House

Any review is part evaluation of the artistic merit of an episode, and part a chronicle of what an episode raises for the reviewer. I am a white male whose day job is a position of trust and authority, and one thing I have always hated is abuse of authority – using one’s power to serve oneself, rather than to serve others. The #MeToo movement for me highlighted just how pervasive abuse of power is in this world, as I watched woman after woman that I know and love post that they, too, had been sexually harassed in some way. It woke me up to the reality that so many women have faced as they have tried to grow their careers, or even just make it in this world.

In this episode, Pike was play-acting as a mutineer, using every tactic he could think of – every kind of pressure – to get Sidhu to do what he wanted her to do, namely to set him free and give him access to Starbase systems. He used his personal status as the most decorated Captain in Starfleet, he used the fact that Sidhu wanted to be posted to Enterprise, he used her fear for her husband’s safety, he used his physical presence and size, and he used threats to her career in Starfleet. All to get her to violate her oaths and do an illegal thing. All of this was a test, it was play-acting, but the character he was playing was using his status, power, and authority to bully a young, vulnerable Cadet. In that regard, it reminded me of the sorts of pressure that abusers exercise against those they abuse.

And I have to say, I was delighted that Sidhu’s character fought her way through, found her own power, and stood up against the pressure that was levied against her. I loved it. I cheered.

I can see from the comments that my mind made connections that few others made – that’s fine with me. I’m not trying to tell anyone what they should see in an episode – I am telling them what I saw, and opening up a discussion.

Michael K

I feel this review is completely out of step with my thoughts, I’m so confused by the praise because I found it amateurish in almost every way and by far the weakest few minutes I’ve seen this series produce. It was obvious, poorly written and performed, and the cinematographer/director didn’t know what they were doing with the camera. I love Discovery and the Short Treks, but I was a little dumbfounded by how bad this one was. I certainly enjoy the special FX and the more ambitious design work for the Enterprise, but that’s the only thing people are taking issue with. 🤷‍♂️

Gary 8.5

Whatever the flaws the story had, I was sucked in. I REALLY enjoyed it

Jack

This is why there shouldn’t be a Pike series.

There’s simply not enough there. Just – “OMG it’s Pike and Spock and Number One and they’re on the Enterprise!” — isn’t enough. We know the fate of at least two key characters, which could, at least in the case of Spock, straightjacket the writers. And we’d have all the possible continuity issues that some have had trouble with during Discovery. What stories are there to tell?

Here, we basically had glorified cameos, even with Pike.

If there’s anything that 53 years of Trek have proven, it’s that the fans aren’t always right. Just because some fans want something doesn’t mean it will actually work.

TechNoir

Depends on what character or characters we follow. If some young ensign who’s just been assigned to the Enterprise is our main character, essentially the lower decks idea again, then it could work.

Personally I think it’s the angle they should’ve gone with from the beginning with Michael Burnham, but hindsight is 20/20.

Just Another Salt Vampire

“What stories are there to tell?”

All of the adventures and missions that Pike and his crew had on the Enterprise that we don’t know about, which is most of them. Your argument that there are no more stories to tell about them is silly.

Mark Calcagno

But what he’s saying is that the stories would never have any stakes. The Enterprise makes it. Pike and Spock will make it. The Federation and Starfleet will always be okay because we know they exist in TOS.

Part of the ride is the feeling of danger, and a cadet holding a phaser to Pike means nothing when you know he’ll be a Fleet Captain in 5 years.

TG47

Mark Calcagno, given that all the 90s series casts signed multi-year contracts, I don’t think that I ever believed that the Enterprise wouldn’t make it or that a principal character would die.

The Best of Both Worlds was the exception, but I don’t recall ever thinking that Picard or Riker would not be returning for a 4th season.

So true. This is why the Discovery episode “Lethe” just didn’t work for me. The entire story hangs on the notion that a dying Sarek might die! If they don’t find him in time, he will be dead! ….yeah, except for the fact that Kirk meets him 10 years later. We know Sarek doesn’t die until the 24th Century, therefore we know Michael Burnham would be successful in finding and reviving Sarek.

Agreed. PLEASE, no Pike series! These Short Treks are all we need. Bring on NEW starships and NEW crews!

A34

Leave the Enterprise for the movies.

Tiger2

I know, a bit off topic but Star Trek.com released a cool new timeline video with all the shows and films and just thought I share if you haven’t seen it yet:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N57_GEjri3I

I don’t know why but Discovery is not included for some reason. They even found a way to include the Kelvin movies. Maybe the second video will include Discovery being represented in the 32nd century? Anyway, stuff like this makes me so giddy as a fan! :)

A34

Look at Tiger getting Giddy with it. :)

Susan B. Anthony

The mention of Harvey Weinstein, Les Moonves, Matt Lauer cases as having any relevance to this story is such BS. Why bring that into this story? The reviewer is looking for something that just isn’t there. Sure they used an ethnic female for the cadet role, big deal. Why not focus on the story and not these sexual and political aspects? Remember when Trek was also about being entertained as well as enlightened?

Myrth

Much more of a Next Gen message in this than ToS. Again and again in ToS it was about doing what is right, not necessarily what is protocol. I can;t help but think the lesson would have been 180 degrees from this episode had this been made during the original series run and i don;t think that would necessarily be a bad thing.

odradek

That is true. Now we need a remake of Menagerie part I, in which Sidhu phasers down Spock as he tries to get control over the Enterprise. While Sidhu saying:”Mister Spock, you and Number One taught me better than this”

EJD1984

The new Engineering isn’t really as big as it appears. If you use to doors on either side of the warp core for scale, we see approximately 5 decks. Three above the balcony railing, and what appears to one (and a part of a second) deck below the balcony.

The TOS secondary hull had 10 decks. So it will easily fit. Just remember how big the open Cargo Deck and Hangar look in the TMP.

As for the TNG engineering set. The production had two major limitations – Limited budget and CGI.

Jonboc

More empty “filler” to string along subscribers in between seasons that are way too short. It was nice, however, to see good acting for a change.

Alec Grimes

Pretty good short. The Engine room looks sick….but isnt it suppose to be horizontal instead of vertical ? Unless they are taking a q from The refit enterprise.