Review: ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Gets To The Heart Of It In “Su’Kal”


Star Trek: Discovery Season 3, Episode 11– Debuted Thursday, December 24, 2020
Written by: Anne Cofell Saunders
Directed by: Norma Bailey


With a renewed focus on the main arcs, Discovery moves into the final episodes of season three strong. With a good mix of plot progression, character development, and weird science, “Su’Kal” has a classic Star Trek feel.

There is Kelpien in that nebula



WARNING: Spoilers below!

“We may have just found the source of The Burn”

After some distractions and delays, we finally arrive at the highly radioactive Verubin Nebula with news that there is someone alive on the Kelpien ship that crashed there right before The Burn—which happens to also originate from the nebula, but that’s just a coincidence, right? Oh and Saru drops a new Kelpien Fact, Dr. Issa was pregnant in that distress recording. So this episode is all about the rescue of a Kelpien child, alone for over 100 years, and nothing—and I mean nothing—is going to get in the way of Saru seeing it through, starting with diving the ship right in and almost cooking the whole crew until Book volunteers to search for the crashed ship on his own.

Book and Grudge return only slightly crispy from their scout of the location of the crash landing, which turns out to be on a planet made of dilithium, the essential element that has been almost entirely used up since The Burn. So, score! The single-minded Saru assigns himself to the rescue team with Michael and Hugh, which garners some skepticism from Admiral Vance. He’s not quite sold on the idea of Ensign (and yet First Officer) Tilly in command of the fleet’s most important ship that’s also being hunted by the annoying Osryaa. Michael, whose own distractions resulted in her being removed as XO, seems to be the only one on board who sees that the Captain has gone a bit Kelpien-crazy.

I bet Baby Yoda doesn’t have to deal with dangerous radiation exposure.

“Beloved gift”

The rescue mission kicks off with a bit of a snag. All their equipment (including radiation meds) is gone, Michael is now a Trill, Culber is a Bajoran, and Saru is Human. WTF? After encountering a glitching hologram, everyone gets what’s going on here. Welcome to the first holodeck malfunction episode of Star Trek: Discovery, and it is only going to get wonderfully weirder. This trippy training simulation takes them from a creepy forest into an MC Escher ruin where they finally meet the sole resident of this crashed ship, a skittish Kelpien who freaks out at the concept of anything “outside.” Oh, and he has manifested a scary monster too… which their arrival provokes. This is not going to be a simple rescue operation. While Michael deals with the monster, Culber and Saru go off to find some exposition holograms to explain what the hell is going on.

Turns out Dr. Issa (of the distress call from a few episodes back) created the training program to keep her child (the eponymous Su’Kal) safe while awaiting rescue, but no one expected it would take this long and the radiation has degraded things. The away team’s physical appearance has been altered to be more consistent with the program, and not just to give Doug Jones a week off from the makeup trailer. Michael finds Su’Kal and uses her xenoanthropology degree in a fun touching scene where she  connects with him by pretending to be a hologram, which is all he really can understand. (This man-child is going to need some serious therapy if they ever get out of this crazy program.) But the radiation has them on a four-hour ticking clock and it appears the only way out of the nightmare is for Su’Kal to face his fears—specifically, the monster he has created.

I’m not sure about the nose, but I’m keeping the earring.

“You belong in that chair, Tilly”

Before leaving, Michael gave her roomie a pep talk and some command tips to stave off any impending panic attacks from Tilly taking the conn. And it’s a good thing, too, as ship got real on the USS Discovery. The nebula has fritzed the shield generators and they can’t go back in to beat that ticking radiation clock until they’re fixed, which is driving poor Paul crazy as he frets over Hugh, reverting to season one Sour Stamets mode. But what’s this? A Federation starship is approaching, here in the middle of the galactic nowhere? Captain Tilly senses a green fish, confirmed through some smart scanning of smelly neutrino emissions. That’s no friendly ship.

Sure enough, Osyraa and her big scary ship show up. Tilly orders the Discovery to cloak. Wait, what? The Emerald Chain ship cloaks too. Cloaking is not just for Romulans and Klingons anymore; in 3189 it’s quite the trend. The Emerald Chain can track the Disco, so why didn’t Ryn or Book mention this before? Instead of firing all weapons, Osyraa tries to Mean Girl the acting captain into capitulating, but Tilly fights back with her own A-level debate-nerd banter, helped by a bit of Freud. Bottom line, the greenie meanie wants the Discovery. Tilly politely declines the opportunity to become a hostage, buoyed by a supportive crew and a totem to give her strength in the form of a secret flaw in the captain’s chair.

I could get used to this.

“This isn’t over”

Back in the amazingly realized holo-hellscape, Su’Kal has retreated to his fortress of solitude to build more totems for warding off the kelp monster of his own making. Upping the weird factor even more, as he is overwhelmed with fear, his screams are amplified in waves that ripple from the planet all the way to the ships outside the nebula, disabling both of their cloaks. Something freaky is happening to all the dilithium on board and Reno barely has time to stop the damage. Wait, Reno is in this episode? No time for her to make any fun quips as Book is now sent in to retrieve the away team on his ship, while Grudge presumably smartly stays behind this time. Perhaps she’s still in Sickbay getting her front paw looked at. Mrow.

The only thing calming the child is the humanified Saru, who comes in strong singing a Kelpien lullaby. But all this craziness has finally answered the big question and they are staring at it: Su’Kal is the source of The Burn. Culber has some brief technobabble explanation of how Su’Kal adapted to the radiation and dilithium planet in utero, but something big must have triggered that first outburst that became The Burn a century before. With time running out and Book there to pull them out so they can help with the whole Osryraa situation, Michael convinces Saru to be the one to stay behind, as he is “emotionally compromised” and the only one who knows Kelpien lullabies. Dr. Culber stays too, as he was reborn for this exact kind of thing. “I know what it’s like to be all alone,” he tells Michael. In another touching goodbye for this season, Michael beams out… and Adira sneaks onto Book’s ship and beams down (with some meds), telling a surprised Book, “I’m not asking for permission.” Teenagers!

In the post-cloak chaos and after Tilly’s tried some posturing and threatening to self-destruct the Discovery, Osyraa makes her move by ensnaring the ship with tentacles. She has tentacle tech? Come on Ryn, you are falling down on the intel job here. Orions and Andorians board the ship and quickly take over. Well, that was easy. Couldn’t one redshirt have at least futilely tried to fight them off? Next, a couple of scary Daft Punk guys capture Stamets with some sort of mind-control headwear. “What you want is irrelevant,” they tell him. That sounds familiar. Finally filling out her role as the big bad of the season, the Orion sashays onto the Discovery bridge as if she has always owned the place. Michael and Book stare in bewilderment as they escape the nebula only to watch the Disco and Viridian jump away to Federation HQ. Cliffhanger!

Dammit, I was just getting used to this.


Now we are getting to it

After a diverting two-parter with one great and one not-so-great episode, Discovery bounces back with a deep dive into the season’s main arc. “Su’Kal” put The Burn front and center with an excellent mix of action, trippy sci-fi weirdness, and emotional character development. Discovery’s first holodeck malfunction episode relished in the conventions of the subgenre but was still able to add some twists, notably the cross-species surprise. Doug Jones was especially impressive, taking on the challenge to solve a Kelpien mystery devoid of his Kelpien makeup for the first time.

Writer Anne Cofell Saunders is new to Disco for season three but shows a deep understanding of the characters as each tests their limits and culminates arcs that have been building all season long. There are even callbacks to past seasons, such as Saru’s life on Kaminar, Michael’s stint as the first officer of the Shenzou, and Culber’s time in the mycelial network. Adira’s story also takes an interesting turn as they finally come out of their shell and jump into the action, perhaps buoyed by the return of their hype man Gray. But his ghost boyfriend routine is getting a bit old so maybe some crazy sci-fi magic will resolve that issue on the weird dilithium planet.

Yeah, we know we look cool.

All the actors were on top of their game, but Anthony Rapp was especially heartbreaking as he tried to fix the ship with Hugh’s uncertain fate weighing him down. However—and through no fault of Rapp’s—there is again confusion about who is really in charge of engineering, as Stamets is a scientist while Reno is an actual engineer. Why Tig Notaro was so criminally underused in this episode is a mystery as her single line could have been delivered by any random background actor. The episode is also lifted by strong performances from guest actors, especially Bill Irwin, playing the very challenging role of Su’Kal himself. And Janet Kidder’s Osyraa finally feels like the season villain she is supposed to be.

This excellent episode also benefited from impressive work by the production design team creating Su’Kal’s holographic training world, especially the visual effects team who turned the location into something much larger and scarier, complete with a kelp monster. We also got some new interesting costumes, including yet another set of Starfleet uniforms from an earlier century.

The Kelp monster thinks he is the hero of this story.

Burning Man

The mystery of “What is The Burn?” has been going since before the season began. After bits and pieces and numerous hints, we finally have an apparent answer: It was Su’Kal, a Kelpien child born on a dilithium planet in a radioactive nebula whose emotional outbursts destabilize dilithium. The bigger the outburst, the bigger the radius. The trigger for the original outburst remains a mystery, although the death of his mother Dr. Issa is a good candidate. While we had Kelpiens high on our list of suspects for The Burn, we really didn’t see this weirdness coming. This answer was certainly creative. Hopefully, there is a bit more to it, especially in the resolution to reversing or mitigating The Burn in the final two episodes.

The episode did provide a lot of satisfying world-building for Kaminar and the Kelpiens, a key race in Discovery mythos. Through exploring the ship and discussions of the elder, we now know that after the USS Discovery forced an end to “The Great Balance,” the Kelpiens and Ba’ul were able to form a new alliance. We even saw this illustrated in the child’s storybook: a Kelpien and (dripping) Ba’ul hand in hand, with the added touch of the formerly ominous Watchful Eyes now becoming a totem of protection. Apparently, the Emerald Chain is threatening Kaminar, so perhaps we will return to Saru’s homeworld and see how much it has changed since the gang left the 23rd century.

I didn’t mean to destroy the Federation, honest!

Only two more to go

“Su’Kal” was one of those episodes that kept you on the edge of your seat, not knowing who or what strange thing would pop up next. Director Norma Bailey kept the pacing just right, so before you knew it, the episode was over, leaving so many things to be resolved in the final two. And that’s okay. It looks like season three is wrapping up as strongly as it started.

Nine centuries of tech upgrades and still with the sparks and the steam.

Random extra bits

  • The couriers have a network of transwarp conduits, but they are dangerous.
  • The away team was armed with a different 32nd-century phaser. Unlike the previously seen programmable matter pistol design, these were affixed to the belt and akin to 24th-century phasers.
  • The USS Discovery can now cloak, but can’t jump while cloaked.
  • Meeting with the Kelpien elder and hearing his lullaby triggered flashbacks for Saru, taken from the Short Treks episode “The Brightest Star.”
  • Robert Verlaque, who played the Kelpien Elder program, also played Saru’s father Aradar in “The Brightest Star.”
  • Why were there no Kelpiens or Ba’ul at the induction ceremony for Kaminar?
  • Osyraa approaching the USS Discovery using a Federation code had a vibe of Khan approaching the USS Enterprise in the USS Reliant in Star Trek II.
  • Stamets’ eyes going white was the same effect seen when he went into a coma in season one.
  • The headband controlling Stamets was reminiscent of the remote-control device used in “Spock’s Brain.”
  • Burnham declaring Captain Saru as “emotionally compromised” could be the trigger to some regulation, as it was in the 2009 Star Trek movie.
  • Even though the helmeted robot-sounding guys were evocative of the Borg, they are almost certainly not related to the Borg.
  • Bill Irwin (Su’Kal) is a Tony Award-winning actor and clown known for many roles, including Mr. Noodle from Sesame Street.
  • At some point, they should build an actual engineering/engine room set instead of using Stamets’ lab as a stand-in.
  • The holodeck program was shot on location at a former maximum security prison in Ontario.
  • Line of the week: “And get blood all over the chair?”

Defragmenting is not logical

More to come

Every Friday the new All Access Star Trek Podcast covers the latest news in the Star Trek Universe and discusses the latest episode. The podcast is available on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPocket CastsStitcher and is part of the TrekMovie Podcast Network.

New episodes of Star Trek: Discovery premiere on Thursdays on CBS All Access in the U.S. and on CTV Sci-Fi Channel in Canada, where it’s also available to stream on Crave. Episodes are available on Fridays internationally on Netflix.

Keep up with all the news and reviews from the new Star Trek Universe on TV at

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In the immortal word of Rom, “WOW!”


You’re funny.

Finally The Burn gets the attention it deserves.

That was a great episode.

Agreed. It’s always possible to nitpick this or that, but in terms of storytelling with surprises and suspense and a cliffhanger it was super entertaining.

So it is.

What a classic Star Trek storyline!

One of the things that really struck me is the disintegration of the Federation from the Burn not only prevented the remaining civilizations from coming together to find the source, but also to neutralize a continuing threat and to find an alternate source of dilithium.

The episode had great characterization, action and pacing. Kudos to Norma Bailey for keeping it meaningful while avoiding melodrama.

And I really wish that several people posting below would have actually watched it before criticizing it derisively.

classic storyline indeed – the bit of an abandoned baby living in a hologram world built by it’s mother…is pretty much the bit in TNG: Future Imperfect ;)

I haven’t seen the episode yet here in Europe but I had to read the SPOILERS about the Burn… My first reaction? No, just no…

We had our fair share of relatively bogus theories over the last couple of weeks: the Burn being related to BURNham trying to prevent it, causing it in the first place. My theory of Kelvin-Kirk sending “Sabotage” as a distress call from that Nebula was my favourite. All of these theories were sort of rubbish, but this? Really? A Kelpien child crying for help on a Dilithium planet?

So there really is no real bad guy behind it. Okay. That’s good. But it could have been some failed experiment, some sort of dangerous tech, some warning about being too careless with progress as the Vulcans believed. But a mere pseudo-scientifically explained accident?

The mysterious Lullaby being an actual Lullaby…it’s just lame. Maybe the finished product will be entertaining enough but this explanation is far inferior to last two seasons’ forced but exciting revelations. Cautiously disappointed…

But that’s the problem with arc driven seasons. No matter what the solution is, someone will always have to be disappointed…

I agree. I was starting to get somewhat invested in this season with this episode, only to learn the burn was caused by a child’s tantrum. Not the payoff I would hope for, and it already seems to blown off by this other plot with the the ship being taken over. Ok, this caused the burn….next.

I’ll watch the final two of course, but just very disappointed with all this, and please stop with 21st century slang. I cringe imagining any other character from any other series
saying something like “damn straight”.

The explanation to the Burn was fine in my book, I think the mistake was just building up the mystery of it so much.

Honestly, the burn and the cause of it holds ZERO fascination for me. I honestly don’t care that it happened nor do I care how it happened nor do I even care if the stop it from happening again. The concept was just too lame from the get go to invest anything in it. I’ve never seriously engaged in any fan theories or discussions because I really just don’t care. At least in season two as dumb as it was, I had a teeny tiny curiosity about Control. The Burn holds none.

With all due respect but, if you truly don’t care (as you keep pointing out), quit watching.

With all due respect, don’t go around telling people what they should or should not do. It’s arrogant. This thread is for opinions and discussion. That is what I’m doing.

And, this is a pet peeve. Fans generally don’t stop being fans because the franchise is doing badly at a given moment. I still watch my sports teams even though they continue to suck and with the current people in charge things don’t look like they will get any better soon. But fans still have hope and still engage. So please, stop with that stuff.

Most twists or revelations sound stupid out of context.

I will say the episode doesn’t definitively resolve what caused the Burn. We didn’t get a moment of where what actually happened is fully explained. They set the context for next week.

Personally I’m okay with it. Call it a lack of imagination but The Burn was always a plot device to establish the setting so I’m just happy it’s something unexpected and not cliche.

You haven’t seen it, so you’re speaking from a position of ignorance.

Well, not having seen it gives me the unique perspective of KNOWING the truth without any stylistic addenda. I cannot judge the episode as a piece of art, it may still be an entertaining, state-of-the-art masterpiece. But the ANSWER to this season’s question is out now and that I can judge. Ignorance implies not knowing that answer, which is most certainly not the case. So I’m not ignorant at all. That answer, per se, is a major disappointment, no matter how good or bad it may be presented. It is not what I wanted the Burn to be… No stylistic achievement can compensate for that.

Forgive me for saying this but, “It is not what I wanted the Burn to be” is such a copout. Unless you’re the writer for this (or any) show, what you want really and truly doesn’t matter. I, for one, accept what the writers are coming up with. I may not agree with them but, they’re telling the story…not me.

No…. you’re speaking from a position of ignorance. You have no idea what you’re talking about.

At least it isn’t Discovery/Burnham and the writers trying to be clever. Also, it doesn’t seem that the season finale will be a Kurtzman Trek classic with thousands of unrealistic ships going “pew, pew”.

The holodeck and the changes to the away team is an interesting concept. None of this is enough to pique my interest enough to actually waste my time watching this, but it seems somewhat of an improvement.

Yeah, finding out that the Burn was caused by a kid’s tantrum … they’re kidding, right?

I feel like we will never see a connection of that song and the issues the Vulcans had will never be heard from again. Which, again, is typical of how Secret Hideout puts their seasons together.

Well, even if you try to avoid spoilers by not reading them here, there is already a heavy spoiler on Netflix by using a certain scene as screenscap before the episode starts!!! Feelding spoiled was my first reaction. Thanks to that guy who was responsible for that… *angry*

I have noticed that Netflix seems to do this quite often: Spoiling episode surprises in preview images. I mean I knew about Burnham and Culber from last week’s ad but the other one hadn’t been revealed.

I already felt spoiled a bit by the preview of Burnham and Culber AFTER reading that in the comments and rewatching the preview at slow speed. At least that led to interesting speculations. But that image on Netflix totally ruined it. It was slowly built up in the episode buy not showing him immediately, but that moment was useless.
Usually it isn’t THAT spoiled, but I felt that too when the season 2 episode on Talos was aired and showed Talosians in the preview. Who the hell does that?

How about actually watching the episode before making such negative comments?

Is it really necessary to let yourself get spoiled to the point that you have such a deeply held prior view?

Think about some of the greatest classic episodes like Devil in the Dark or Amok Time.

How well would they stand up to your kind of negativity sight unseen?

I think it’s going to be an innocent mistake triggered by the birth of the child, not because the child was upset. It was an emotional response which triggered the shockwave this week, and whats more powerful a reaction that you cant control than being born

Rule # 12: Watch episode first, THEN post comments on threads.

I am one of the biggest Trek fans and love Discovery, but I hope there is more to “The Burn” than a child’s tantrum. This episode was a little too mystical for me, which is not very sci-fi-ey.
And the plot holes, which do not really worry me were really large in this one.
I was really disappointed with the episode and hope the last two episodes redeem the season arc.

If you think the cause of The Burn (TM) being a child’s tantrum is bad, wait until you find out the entire series is just the daydream of a boy staring at a snow globe.


Yeah it was naff. A waste of a buildup

Wasn’t that big of a build up. Much of the season contained side shows that had little to do with the burn mystery.

I think another classic TOS movie connection here is reborn young Spock’s genesis planet quaking Pon Farr. Re: The Search for Spock!

Spock’s pon farr didn’t cause the quakes. Protomatter did. You might want to watch the film again. There was no connection between the quakes and the pon farr other than both being caused by the protomatter.

They were linked. It explicitly says so in the script, at scene 146.

Saavik is ministering to the O.S. boy. We do not yet
                   see his face. We hear his SOFT SOUNDS, the aftermath
                   of cries which we heard earlier. CAMERA CONTINUES
                   MOVING as Saavik takes off her tunic and throws it as
                   an added cover on the O.S. figure. Then she stops,
                   looks at the boy in wonder, as CAMERA completes its arc
                   to reveal the BOY.

                   We are shocked to see the Boy has changed. He is now
                   unquestionably older, perhaps 13 or 14. He is breath-
                   ing heavily as the pain recedes.

                             (... Sleep)

                   She rises, and slowly steals out. HOLD on the Boy.

             147   EXT. GENESIS PROMONTORY - CLOSE - DAVID - NIGHT              147

                   Looking out over the darkened planet, lost in thought.
                   WIDEN to admit Saavik. She too looks outward. A dis-
                   tant, FAINT RUMBLE. No tremor felt. Then:

                                     (taking tricorder 
                             This planet is aging in surges.

                                     (nods; then)
                             And Spock with it. They are
                             joined together.

“And Spock with it” does not suggest to me that he’s causing anything, merely being taken along for the ride. His body just happened to be dropped on just the right unstable rapidly aging planet. I believe that’s what Rios is saying.

I love this show…. that said, this season is a disappointment as the last two seasons were much better. It just feels rambling and disconnected. Also, a little bummed that the older Starfleet uniforms the holos wore look way better than the ones that are current to the time period. From a design perspective, the costumes this season either fall into black civilian outfits that all look the same and look like they are trying to hard to be “edgy”, or the bland 32 century Starfleet uniforms with that undefined oval that has zero contrast to see the delta shield. Also, the badges’ projection for information readouts looks so uninspired and can basically be summed up as blue octagons with the protection beams visible. At zero point this season did I feel a sense of wonder and awe (minus the Guardian of Forever). It’s just all bland. Feels like watching dumb shows like Stargate. I watch al little but just am unimpressed. The biggest sin this season was returning to Vulcan only to hold the big “dramatic” ceremony in the cafeteria. Snooze-fest.

The biggest sin this season was returning to Vulcan only to hold the big “dramatic” ceremony in the cafeteria.

That was most likely a budget decision. At least in my opinion, you can definitely see that they went all out on some episodes and had to save on others. Of course, you can argue which episode they should have spent more on but I can accept that Discovery is still a production on a limited overall budget.

True but with so few episodes it just doesn’t seem like they ought to be skimping on budget.

I have a feeling the budget was cut for Season 3. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was further count for season 4 and maybe even cut down to 10 episodes as well.

Star Trek’s best episodes and movies do not usually correspond with their being allocated big budgets, IMO. Writers tend to do better work when they can’t just leave most of the innovation to the people in production and post production. Unification III works because it has solid courtroom drama-type scenes and decent character dynamics and shifts of power, on top of being a juicy story we all wanted to see developed. Had there been budget to explore Ni’Var, who knows how much of that substance might have been sacrificed for pretty but empty production gloss?

I love me some Way of the Warrior/Year of Hell/North Star/Star Trek 2009 fun (and the money lavished on this week’s episode yielded some phenomenal world building and visuals), but chances are you’ll get better work out of everyone when their backs are against the wall a bit and they have to think harder. That’s in great part where the Inner Lights, Duets and Wrath of Khans come from.

There is some truth to what you said. Except that episode you cited as an example of working wasn’t a very good example to use. I don’t consider that episode as being any good at all. There were a lot of real problems with it. All writing problems.

Fair enough, IMO it’s one of their better efforts even if it wouldn’t stand out even on Voyager or Enterprise. If you prefer, look at it this way: throwing more money at it wouldn’t have made it better.

I will agree with that. The issues with the show are not with the quality of the props sets and effects. (although their new look of the 23rd century was, and remains, an issue). The issues seem to be with the writers, the producers and directors. And to a lesser extent, the cast.

I found this episode very enjoyable. The malfunctioning holo-program had a Lord of the Rings vibe with all of the castles and fortresses and cliffs with steep drops.

The Kelpiens are becoming a very interesting species.

That said, it was hilarious to see Burnham accuse Saru of being emotionally compromised. That was a very big brick in an extremely brittle glass house that she threw.

The trio of Burnham, Saru, and Culber had a very welcome chemistry. Tilly being in command and the crew working with her had a good flow that this show rarely achieves.

Perhaps the show would work best if they send Burnham and Book (and the cat) off on swashbuckling adventures, send Saru back to Caminar to live happy ever after, and let Tilly and her crew take Discovery on planet of the week adventures with well-plotted narrative arcs (i.e., NO narrative interruptions to go back to the Mirror Universe).

I have a feeling we’ll be losing a major character this season.
He had to make a special motivation on separate occasions to both Stamets and Saru on why he needed to be on the planet; and how it gives him a purpose.
Adira took additional but limited meds to the planet.
Could we see some rationing of meds, and a crewman sacrificing themself in the upcoming episodes?

I have a feeling we’ll be losing a major character this season.

We just did last week.

I won’t go so far as calling Emperor Georgiou a major caracter.. more like an annoying side character that got too much screentime..

Love her or hate her, she was a pretty significant character.

Not really. She brought nothing to the table. She never advanced the plot. She wasn’t needed to aid other characters in anything. She was a complete waste of episode time.

You didn’t get tears while watching the heartfelt tributes by the crew?

I honestly can’t tell if this is a joke or a serious question!

That said, it was hilarious to see Burnham accuse Saru of being emotionally compromised.”

Yes. Had I been drinking something that line would have caused a spit take. The proper response should have been to pause, tilt his head a bit and utter, “wut? You said WUT?”

I laughed out loud when Burnham said that to Saru.

So the burn was created by an emotional outburst from a mutant Kelpien.

Lots of people to blame this episode:

  • Stamets did not follow orders to jump immediately, hence buying time for Osiris to board them.
  • Tilly for not moving as far away from Osiris as possible under cloak. Why even acknowledge her presence and communicate with Osiris, when there’s nothing to bargain for,
  • Saru and Vance for putting an ensign with 2 years experience in charge of the most valuable asset in the fleet.

And how did Osiris transport onto the recently upgraded Discovery? I’m guessing Zora the sphere AI will protect the crew (as has been mentioned in 2 episodes this season), in the upcoming ep?

And why do holograms not have some sort of auto-stabilization feature? Current day video chat has this buffer/auto-extrapolation feature, yet 1100 years from now they don’t? Vance’s transmission was quite distracting.

Nice bullet points. And I thought the same on them. Stammets delayed and delayed. His commander (as dumb as it is that it’s her) told him to jump. The situation was obviously grave. He needed to run to that chamber.

Tilly did indeed make a grave mistake even talking to the lady. When they said they were being hailed my first thought was “We’re cloaked. Ignore it!” Then I thought that some future tech might make it so they can detect a cloak. But then I figured the cloak was advanced too and seems a good gamble that cloaking tech would stay ahead of detecting tech. It would have to.

And yes. The fact that it was ENSIGN Tilly in that chair for this undercut every single bit of dramatic tension there might have been otherwise. It would be like Picard leaving and telling Crusher HE had the con with Romulan warbirds possible. The ludicrous situation ruined everything. It felt like something more appropriate for Lower Decks.

I was wondering how they beamed in, too. Weren’t their shields up? Or can transporters work through them in the 32nd century?

The reason the communication hologram was glitchy was likely just to show the audience he was a hologram. If he looked real we would think he was REALLY there.

Re: holograms, that makes sense. If you ever watched the series Earth 2 there was a similar technology of head-worn VR communicators that put the other person into the environment but there wasn’t anything to indicate they weren’t really there, and that made it confusing. This is just a little nod to the audience.

References to a planet made out of dilithium made me worry about the fate of the musical comedy planet from “How Much For Just The Planet?” But then I remembered that the dilithium went *inert*. It was the matter/antimatter reactions on ships that caused the explosions. Whew.

I need to re-read that book. I remember that my brain 20-years ago was thorougly confused by that one..

I paused the preview for next week’s episode a ton of times, and at one point, Osyrra appears to be reporting to a human male about the captured Spore Drive. He wore the same outfit as she did and while trailers often time things in a misleading fashion, I swear she appeared subservient to him.

Q ?

The origin of the burn is so lame…. I hoped Discover would improve in season 3 but it managed to get worse. This episode was abysmal

The concept of the Burn itself is lame. Why would its origin be any different?


How about classic Star Trek?

A well intended act by random chance turns into disaster, and only science can figure it out and only understanding and teamwork can resolve the profound threat.

In this case, the galaxy wide disaster did happen, but it’s the dissolution of galactic society and isolationism that prevented anyone from finding the cause of the problem and resolving it. Instead, there was 120 years of anarchy, organized crime and “I’m all right Jack, devil take the hindmost attitudes.”

To name a few classic episodes with a similar pretext:

V’Ger (and Nomad)

The miner/Horta conflict in the Devil in the Dark

Even the Federation’s misunderstanding of the Prophets and the Wormhole at the outset of DS9

Sorry, but V’ger and Nomad had their destinies shaped by a machine sentient intellect. Not the Kelpian boy’s temper tantrum.
The Horta was a indigenous species in the planet’s subsurface.
The “prophets”, as far as I was concerned at the time of DS9 airing, was horrible story writing to solve problems without having to think them through.

You picked two examples that don’t even apply, and one that was just as lousy as the kelpian kid’s tantrums.

“The USS Discovery can now cloak, but can’t jump while cloaked.”
I don’t get why i couldn’t jump cloaked does the ionized particle traces
interfere with the mycelial network? I don’t get it but yes i know its star trek and its all technobabble. still thinking logical

This was classic “alien planet of the week with a ticking clock” trek. Outstanding!

Was that a flying orchid?

Yeah, that didn’t work for me. The big reveal of the season missed the landing.

Not what I expected or wanted but fine.

‘Fine’ pretty much nails it.

“Nice. Nice. Not THRILLING but nice.”

Yep… ‘Fine’ is what Discovery is good at.

I don’t quite get the Escher reference, as at no point does anything twist in on itself or in any way match Escher’s style.

What reference are you referring to?

The staircases going endlessly no where, in the early holosimulation had an Escher quality.

Yeah, I saw the Escher staircases in that too. Relativity by M.C. Escher.
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I think it was showing the holo simulation degrading and coming together odd.

Positive: All good fun, and Bill Irwin. And Bill Irwin and SMG. Finally, a scene where Michael thinks on her feet and does what she trained for. More of this please!

Neg: So the paranoid Federation doesn’t put a decent security team on Discovery. Not even “holos” – The takeover should have resulted in a bloodbath.

Also, I am fully in support of any tantrum, and if that’s the real reason behind The Burn I am all for it. Su’Kal kind of reminds me of The Squire of Gothos.

I also wonder a bit – it seems they should be well aware that the old “beaming through shields does not work” mantra was no longer true in the new time they are in.. and even in modern ships, if there is even a hint of a chance that a boarding operation could happen, crew usually arms themselves to their battlestations. They shouldn’t have been taken by surprise THAT much..

That’s a good point. They really should have been aware had they knew their shields would not stop anyone beaming in. The argument I guess is that along with all the nifty new weapons she magically got a hold of she also got the new transporter that was capable of beaming through shields. But then, they ought to have been briefed that such tech existed. A failure of NOT having a liaison on board.

That was a great episode. The Burn was caused by a temper tantrum… okay but I expected something more!

The American Burn was caused by Trump’s temper tantrum. Eerie.

Bring back Lorca!

Tilley as Captain was pretty silly, the “Damn Straight” was embarrassing. The whole idea of Ensign as Captain is bizarre, and really makes it seem as though Tilly is the pet character of a writer. One of Red Squad folks from DS9 would probably be a better Captain.

Also are Saru and Doctor leaving the show? They are the remaining actors with the most gravitas, so having them leave would be a blow. Not to mention if Saru is gone now, does that mean Tilly is now the Captain? 🤦‍♂️

I don’t think they’re gone or dead DataLore.

It just shows that the direction, pacing and acting are successfully making the stakes seem real. To me, this is a sign of improvement where the major beats are feeling earned and landing more firmly.

(The actors are tweeting that they’re in Toronto working on season 4.)

Well, I should have seen this coming. The answer to the Burn! Of course no one could have seen THAT answer coming but the disappointment lies within the very nature of that freakin’ arc-based storytelling. It almost NEVER EVER works.

Apart from some satisfying season finales in the heydays of NuWho (Tennant era), these series arcs and season arcs never pay off most of the viewers. The presumably best shows ever have never ended in a way that satisfied the majority of viewers. Lost, NuBSG, GoT, all great shows up until the point when they had to deliver the ultimate answers… And they all failed miserably. Same with PIC S1 or more or less the first two seasons of DSC.

It cannot work. The mystery is always more exciting than its puny little solution. It is in the very nature of things. Everybody creates his very own inner fanon solution and that most certainly results in a major disappointment.

So while this isn’t the writers’ fault, it certainly is the format’s fault. Modern TV becomes a waste of time because investing tens or hundreds of hours in a mystery that comes down to one disappointing solution is simply not worth it. Serialized TV has to go… far, far away. I want my mystery of the week back, because 45 minutes are never a waste, even if the solution falls flat of personal expectations. Episodic TV is also much better for rewatchjng…
I hope my tantrum about that doesn’t cause any Havoc on a global scale (such as mutating the Covid RNA into an even more dangerous contagion or rendering the Bitcoin blockchain inert), but yes, I feel angry… not about that solution in particular but about a day and age that demands for such a miserable format, with viewers only to be disappointed time and again…

I disagree. There are a number of short season shows that have had decent wrap ups to seasons. There are even more traditional longer season shows that had decent or good wrap ups. Enterprise season 3 is one of them. I felt it worked fine, apart from the silly cliffhanger. But I don’t really count setting up the next season as a part of the story from the previous season unless the story arc was intended to span more than one season.

Coming up with a serialized TV season story arc should be no more problematic than writing a movie or a book, at least at the outline stage.

You can take three books by the same author, adapt the last two of them as movies (the first gets directed by David Fincher), but the first book gets made instead into an eight-part HBO TV series. So it’s a more longform version of the story, but it’s basically an eight hour, ten hour or in the case of ST a thirteen hour TV movie.

But you have to treat the series with no less respect than you would a movie or (better yet) a book.

I agree that this whole mystery thing becomes a real problem of modern TV. It never really worked.
But you don’t have to have a mystery for serialized TV.
But you’re whole story arc has to be ready and written on episode 1 if you want to make a serialized TV. You can’t just develop it while filming.

There is one example that made it all right from the 90s: Babylon 5.
Serialized, even a little bit of mystery, the whole arc planned from the start: Still one of the best shows ever written.

Buffy did it much better in my opinion, especially if you’re looking for a really good model for a traditionally episodic franchise like ST to follow.

B5 kicked serious ass next to most of Berman Trek (in some regards that’s not saying much, and it was mostly after B5 began transitioning into payoff mode), but it still tripped over itself on a number of occasions.

B5 was weak in the stand alone episodes. And special effects are a joke. But the story arc is superior and with so many facets. Only thing that went wrong is that you can see that Sinclair was supposed to get Sheridans destiny.

B5 had more hiccups than that. Andrea Thompson’s character development ended up being wasted when she left the show. The XO from the pilot was similarly wasted. Trying to shoehorn the pilot into B5’s story arc was problematic anyway, but JMS still tried and couldn’t backpedal on it. The absence of Claudia Christian seriously weakened S5, as did B5’s impending cancellation following S4. Early attempts at building the Psi-Corps/Clark conspiracies on Earth were jettisoned because some rather uninspired copyrighted names had been used.

JMS couldn’t resist transposing one cancelled character’s eccentricities/partial backstory onto another character, even though he didn’t like fans speculating into the inner workings of his damage control in keeping the story on track. He’d engage in endless arguments on usenet where a simple “that is partially true but also not very accurate” would have sufficed. And to my knowledge he’s never been forthcoming as to how much of Babylon Squared got retconned into the 2nd half of War Without End (I think it’s obvious Michael O’Hare’s aged appearance is retconned, whereas JMS has implied he was always meaning to pull a “gotcha” on that one).

For serialized television, I can’t count how many episodes were too simple or convenient in their resolution. How many stories closed with something like “well this is obviously serious, and they’ve technically got us by the balls, but they won’t dare expose us because [insert convenient legal/conspiratorial gobbledygook consequences here]. And not just the non-arc eps are guilty of this. When they finally decide their backs are to the wall in Severed Dreams you almost don’t buy it.

B5’s ultimate failing though is in its long-winded setup, compounded with the uneven quality of the writing, acting and production values. The setup/payoff ratio from season to season is something like 90/10, 70/30, 50/50, 25/75, 60/40. JMS’s high-minded novel-for-television “kids don’t read enough these days” attitude does not help the show, nor does fans’ flat-footed insistence that you MUST watch everything sequentially to avoid spoilers that most new viewers wouldn’t remember anyway.

Regretfully, I’ve never been able to get more than two people through this beast without them giving up very early on.

Me and my nerdy friends all watched B5 and enjoyed it for the most part. By contrast, I shared STD’s first season with two others and both bailed out of sharing CBSAA for the next season. Nor were they interested in Picard. Honestly I don’t blame them and didn’t try very hard to get them to give the show another shot. It sure didn’t help when I told them about season 2.

I agree with this, but I’ve gotta say even after slogging through season 1 and getting to the more rewarding material, so many of the actors and the dialogue of B5 just did not work for me.

Even though it’s 90s Trek stylized, I’ll take DS9’s brand of storytelling any day over a B5 rewatch. That it has such better production values does not hurt, but it was never a deciding factor.

At the risk of stepping on an anthill:

So while this isn’t the writers’ fault, it certainly is the format’s fault. Modern TV becomes a waste of time because investing tens or hundreds of hours in a mystery that comes down to one disappointing solution is simply not worth it. Serialized TV has to go… far, far away. 

So, from the SOPRANOS onwards, modern TV is a “waste of time.” Gotcha.

As for telling it to “go away”…enjoy your reruns of KNIGHT RIDER with its guest-star-of-the-week parade of divorcees and simple plots that get resolved (with everything re-set) in 45 minutes. You can even get an echo of it with trash like HAWAII FIVE-0 (at least the original McGarrett wore good suits…)

Apart from some satisfying season finales in the heydays of NuWho (Tennant era), these series arcs and season arcs never pay off most of the viewers. The presumably best shows ever have never ended in a way that satisfied the majority of viewers. Lost, NuBSG, GoT, all great shows…

I humbly suggest broadening your experience beyond sci-fi before delivering this mantra from on high. To name a few series from the new, current golden age of television that would never have worked in an episodic format: MY BRILLIANT FRIEND, 13 REASONS WHY, OCCUPIED.

Get out of your mother’s basement. It’ll do you some good.

(This is, of course, before we get to sci-fi series like INTO THE NIGHT or 3%…)

An atrocious episode AND regarding ‘the burn’ – what a boring, uninspired reveal. Acting Captain Tilly in a Captain’s Chair surrounded by more competent and capable bridge officers!?!? The EASIEST take over of Starship EVER in Trek history! Shame! And a Starfleet crew of ‘professional’ officers who constantly hug and kiss each other! ENOUGH already – this show may be designated ‘Star Trek’ though ‘Star Trek’ it is not!

Sadly, I must agree with your assessment of the show. I get that the characters have an emotional attachment to each other. But the non-stop hugging and crying is much. Stamets (one of the more unlikeable main Trek characters ever) did not follow orders, delayed the escape of Discovery, and ultimately was responsible, in part, for it’s a takeover.

Wow, it’s almost as if…a military scientist might make a mistake if thrust into an actual combat situation.

They seemed to do well with the Klingon war in Season 1 with Lorca in command.

I am trying my hardest to like this show. I am a lifelong Star Trek fan. Every Trek show has had it share of bad episodes, but that was excusable because each series was filled with mostly great stories.

This is week 3 of pure garbage for Discovery. Last week, the writers took a great concept from TOS, “The Guardian of Forever” and destroyed it. The use of the Guardian was frivolous, did nothing for the story, and other than the voice and the shape of the Guardian was a completely different “character.” The main characters canonized a murderous slave master after she was gone. A redemption story for a character that makes Adolf Hitler seem like an okay guy is not something I’m interested in seeing either. Emperor Georgiou is not a character anyone should be encouraged to like. She is the murderer of million and has enslaved millions more. It stinks they are going to have a whole series with her as the lead character. 

The Mirror Universe is overused, and bringing it back for two episodes was pointless. I was not happy with the direction DS9 went with the Mirror Universe, but they told some good stories with their episodes.

This week the story takes a wild turn that is pure garbage. “The Burn,” already a stupid plotline, was caused by a crying child struck in a holodeck on a crashed ship on a dilithium planet.
I’m all for unexpected plot twists, but this is just not a good story twist. A mutant baby cried the Federation almost completely out of existence. That’s the story?  I’m hoping there is more to this, but right not it does not seem like there is.

This premise of season 3 sounded great – take the crew into the far future. So many great stories could have been told, but instead, we get another season-long mystery quest.

The acting this season has been great for the most part; that is what makes it even more annoying that the story has not been all that great. Doug Jones is great, May Weisman has been excellent, and Wilson Cruz is at the top of his game.  Sonequa Martin-Green is so-so. Her character is not likable. She is a know-it-all who stickers her nose into everything, can’t follow orders, and is disrespectful to her superiors. She speaks in whispered tones all the time. People don’t drop down into whispers mid-conversation almost every time they speak. That’s acting chose, and it’s horrible. 

While I’ll keep watching in hopes that the show gets better, but I’m not convinced it will. Last season got “control” as the big bad. Horrible. This season we get a crying mutant manchild.  

I agree with you completely. Half of the time I can’t even understand what Georgiou is saying due to her accent being very hard to understand…then Michael is basically whispering or slurring her speech half the time…

I also agree on Georgiou. You just can’t redeem space Hitler. Especially not to a “we all toast her” level. I also don’t understand why they wrote Michael like they did. SMG is a very good and likeable actress, I loved her in TWD, so I’m heartbroken that Trek basically made me dread everytime she is on screen or opens her mouth. Which is even more infuriating because the supporting cast is SO good – I love Doug Jones as Saru, I identify with Tilly more than I’d like, and even Stamets and Culber have something good going on – Stamets is not a likeable character either, but at least he has some redeeming qualities (like not being Space Hitler..). I also love every time Jett Reno shows up as Tig Notaro is just one of the best actresses for her kind of dry humor period – and I have a feeling they gave her input in writing her role.

S2 had the exceptional Anson Mount / Pike going for it, even though I was not a fan of the story.
Then S3 happened, and I was enthusiastic for the new scenario they will find themselves in the future. And the story started off..well, okay. Not a fan of the Burn per se, but that was the basically only way they could make Discovery even a bit relevant 900 years in the future (by having the spore drive). If the Burn didn’t happen, there would have been no reason to not just scrap discovery about 2 seconds after arriving at Federation Headquarters.

(Compare it to .. lets say there’s an alternate history where there’s currently a war between the US and China in 2020, and for some reason the Battleship USS Texas (1892) drops out of a time vortex and sails into harbor. You wouldn’t refit that ship for war, you wouldn’t even try sending it out as is – the best you could do would to be to take the sailors from her, give them some training on the most basic things, and then let them lose on some supporting roles where their skills are still relevant).

I have never seen SMG before this. But my assessment of her based on this badly written part is that she is at best a so-so actor handicapped by bad writing to a bad actor flat out at worst. I honestly don’t know. Before this show I felt Scott Bakula was the worst cast lead in Trek. Now I think that honor falls to SMG.

Half of the time I can’t even understand what Georgiou is saying due to her accent being very hard to understand…then Michael is basically whispering or slurring her speech half the time…

Gimme a break. You’re OK with Jimmy Doohan doing a bastardized Scottish accent, or Walter Koenig doing Boris and Natasha, but God forbid we have a real-life actress who doesn’t speak the Queen’s English (except that she does, by southeast Asian standards…)

Have to take exception to calling out Michelle Yeoh’s accent. Unnecessary – we should be applauding the show for finally casting a non-American or European main character.

And SMG – I have never once had an issue with understanding her performances. I wouldn’t have even noticed the whispering if it wasn’t for the incessant drumbeat of a few people on these boards.

She is the murderer of million and has enslaved millions more. It stinks they are going to have a whole series with her as the lead character. 

I’m not a fan of the overused Mirror Universe. But could you take a deep breath and acknowledge that this is — wait for it — fiction?

Or take a second deep breath and realize that rehabilitating rather atrocious leaders happens ALL THE TIME in real-life international relations? I mean, folks in the US actually called Stalin “Uncle Joe” during the war, despite the gulag archipelago. (Even at the wake scene, no one quite called her “Auntie Georgiou.”) If it had been Stalin, rather than Roosevelt, that died during the war, I can very easily envision people in London toasting his memory during the Blitz. (And yes, I’ve read Anne Applebaum’s books; be under no illusions: the whole damn USSR in the 1950s was a gulag economy.)

Now, suppose an alternate British leader had declined to appease Hitler at Munich, and we had then had 40 years of cold war with Germany, rather than a hot war, at which point some reformist figure (call him “von Gorbatshow”) rose to power in Berlin and democratized the country. Do you think that figure would have been pure as the driven snow in his youth?

I mean, you do realize that the real Gorbachev, widely admired in the West if not at home, deployed OMON troops in Baku and the Baltics as late as 1990?

Do you realize that F.W. de Klerk served as a minister in the government of Pik Botha (OB Trek: I nearly wrote “Pike Botha”) and that no one expected him to dismantle apartheid in the least when he became president?

Hell, even King Juan Carlos — without whom Spain would have looked very different for another decade at least — sullied himself with shady business deals in Saudi Arabia. I don’t know how future historians will assess Juan Carlos, but my inkling is that they’ll remember the end of Franco more than Saudi Arabia.

The “reformer with an iron hand” is a very real figure in democratic transitions.

Then there are civil conflicts. As Yitzhak Rabin once famously said, you don’t make peace with friends; you make peace with enemies. Nearly every negotiated end to civil conflicts that I can think of involves finding some leader with revolutionary credentials who is nonetheless moderate enough to make peace and sell that peace to the hardliners. Think Gerry Adams or Nelson Mandela; Yasir Arafat came very close to playing that role in 2000.

I agree that Michelle Yeoh hammed it up too much, with the hissing and what not. And perhaps we might have seen the writers portray her re-thinking the mirror universe more gradually than they did. And yes, “Terra Firma” felt like a bit of a detour from the main plot of the Burn. But the fundamental idea, of an authoritarian leader deciding to change course, is realistic. And do you think that Mirror Spock (who leads a rebellion in STAR TREK CONTINUES’ direct sequel to “Mirror Mirror”) was anything less than henchman to a “Space Hitler”?

Except… This person is essentially from opposite land. All the examples of redemption of any kind from this side of the mirror do not apply.

I don’t think such a thoughtful and well-meaning post deserves a pithy write-off. Regardless of how it was bungled in execution, the fundamental point of Georgiou is that anyone raised in a culture of violence and oppression can still choose to break the cycle and change for the better, especially if given the opportunity to be away from that environment. Leave a kid to be raised by wolves and he’ll be a wolf. But he doesn’t have to be.

I think you are wrong. The post was lengthy but flawed. The argument only works if one accepts a certain condition first. However that condition is false. Which completely destroys the argument. It seems, Ian, that you are subscribing to that false pretense in your response to me. The fact is, any human from the MU is opposite in behavior of their prime counterpart. Prime Georgeau was principled and kind. Which means her MU doppelganger would be by her very nature unprincipled and cruel. No amount of living on the other side of the mirror can change that. So long as prime Georgeau would be kind (yes I know she’s dead but the concept remains), MU Georgeau would be evil. Period.

Once again… Scorpion and the Frog.

But that’s not how every Mirror character worked, which is a fact. It is not binary in practice. By the time you get to DS9 it becomes a question of nurture rather than nature – none of the Terrans in DS9 are portrayed as evil, merely trying to survive. When given a chance to break the wheel, MU O’Brien and Jennifer do some shady things, but they don’t behave like mirror opposites of their counterparts. Nor does Rom. Add in the Mirror Vulcan characters all being portrayed as reasonable/changeable, and I don’t think the condition you cite as fact actually is, therefore MU Georgiou is not automatically evil by nature, merely by nurture, and is thus changeable, even redeemable.

I actually do not recall much from the DS9 trips there. I do recall Enterprise’s two parter. While I’m not a fan of the MU that was the only new visit that seemed to get the concept right. I recall the humans being pretty immoral in the DS9 version. Even if they were subjugated.

I still do not see ANY being from the MU as “redeemable”. To them it would be turning evil. And if they did that, it follows that their prime doppelganger would turn as well. That is the “mirror” part of the mirror universe. It’s a reverse.

But again, the point of “Mirror, Mirror” was that it was possible for them to change when exposed to Prime values. Spock did it, and DS9 expounded on that by saying he successfully instituted massive reforms (and he could not have done that all by sheer force), but the Empire’s enemies took advantage of it.

O’Brien’s speech in Crossover laid bare that not everyone is opposite from their Prime counterparts – he just wants freedom and opportunity, not wealth and plunder and to go on a killing spree for glory. The humans and Ferengi of the 24th century MU (and Vulcans of the 22nd century) certainly just seem to be victims of circumstance. Being good was never described as being evil, merely as being weak and exposing oneself to attack. The universe is brutal so people toughened up to survive. The humans in Shattered Mirror kidnap the Siskos in an act of desperation, not to be evil.

I still think the raised by wolves analogy applies. Swap a Prime kid with her Mirror Universe counterpart and in 20 years they would turn out the way their universe’s values nurtured them. If it’s nurture and not nature, then redemption is possible.

My comment is not about this week’s episode.

Question: has anyone given this item any thought? Before Spock’s father died in TNG, he did a mind-meld with Picard. Which means everything Sarek knew about Michael, the USS DISCO, etc, could have been accessible to Picard.

If the writers were really on their game as they retconned ST canon to make DISCO and Michael fit into the series, this fact alone could have taken STD and PICARD in some cool directions.

I don’t recall if the mind-meld took place before or after Picard was assimilated by the Borg. If it was before assimilation, then the Borg would have assimilated Picard’s knowledge and could also know about the DISCO. Imagine if the Borg learned about a ship with a super-sentient A.I. that defeated Control.

I am not saying STD needs Borg drama. It most certainly does not. As a plot device, the Borg have been sufficiently explored and vetted.

But this makes me wonder what other great story telling nuggets have not been exploited so that we can instead marvel at temper tantrums that reshape the Federation.

Note: I found an article on this issue on another site today and it has provided some interesting “what ifs”.

Different show. This thread is for the 11th episode of the 3rd season of Discovery.

Not everything has to tie back to the Borg.

And if you need an in-universe explanation, we’ve seen Vulcans telepathically wipe memories on several occasions: Flint in “Requiem for Methuselah,” Sybok in TFF, for instance. Sarek was a Syrannite and surely knew telepathic healers who could have wiped his memory of the spore drive, at least.

I think Mary Weisman has done a great job with the character of Ensign Tilly/ She’s a quirky, fun character. A little out of place from what we have seen from Starfleet Officers, but she pulls it off and the character has grown.

As for the weight, Mary is who she is. Being overweight is not healthy and should not be portrayed as a good thing, but there is no reason to beat her up over it. IF she wants to slim down and get into shape, she will.

As for the Trek angle. I find it hard to believe that any Starfleet officer can be fat. Give the replicated food, and how the food is prepared with nutrition in mind, it would stand to reason that the computer would prepare foods appropriate for each person based on their dietary needs. Basically, the computer would not allow them to get fat. Add in the physical fitness regiments it appears are required, it seems even more impossible.  

She’s hardly fat.

+1. This is idiotic. She’s not a waif, but she’s not fat.

In fairness, I think some of this is coming from the fact that the DISCO uniforms, like TNG season 1-2 uniforms, aren’t particularly flattering on anyone other than lanky actors (and the series leads, Doug Jones and SMG, fit that description).

“whose emotional outbursts destabilize dilithium.” …. Seriously?

This series is embarrassing. Hire a new showrunner and a team of writers that know what they’re doing

This entire season has been “Spock’s Brain” level of writing. A major galactic altering event that nearly destroys warp travel and the Federation was caused by an abandoned kelpian mutant having a tantrum.

I like the comment. Imagine of the writers of Spock’s Brain wrote every episode of every season of TOS. I doubt it would have gotten past the first season. That is what STD is. Yet, like the Mercury astronauts, they had an unscrewable pooch.

Ugh… I could only shake my head when the burn was revealed to be caused by an alien having a temper tantrum. I really do hope they “reset button” that.

I loved seeing Doug Jones’ real face! He does a great job under all of the silicone that makes him Saru, but it was fun getting to see his actual face for a change.

I thought the idea of a child who grew up INSIDE a holodeck and didn’t quite understand that reality even existed was very cool. Osyraa, on the other hand, just makes me annoyed: I could do without her entirely

Doug Jones has a handsome face. Not covered in makeup and prosthetics. Osyraa is the worst mustache twirling villain imaginable.

Correction. 3rd worst. Georgeau and Lorca have her beat by a long shot.

I disagree.

I felt that Osyraa was much more credible this episode.

As I said following the episode Sanctuary, I don’t find Frakes to be the best director of female villains, he makes them too over-the-top.

Janet Kidder’s performance was much more menacing and credibly vicious in this one.

Agreed. She toned down the mustache-twirling considerably.

I admittedly found the horror/surrealist aspects of this episode on the planet a tad dull. But I thoroughly enjoyed the scenes on Discovery.

The Borg Queen is perhaps Star Trek’s most memorable and best-received female villain. Granted, Alice Krige is an acting legend, but credit has to be given to her director, Jonathan Frakes.

Well that one started off with such great potential and the first half of the story was pretty compelling and creative. Unfortunately IMO, the writers ran out of gas leading up to the cliffhanger ending of the episode and the predictable takeover of the Discovery.
I should have stayed with Patrick Stewart’s version of A Christmas Carol, which I am now going to finish watching. I trust next week’s show will be better.
Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate and happy holidays to all!

This series is a joke, and not a good one. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such a persistent squandering of acting talent and technical prowess as “Star Trek: Discovery.” I thought it had turned a corner earlier in the season, but man oh man, this reveal was dreadful.

The Mandorian goes from strength to strength while this gets predictably worse.

I’m through 5 episodes so far and it continues to be well done. Unlike certain Trek TV shows.

I’m more convinced than ever the main reason for the Trek named crap sandwich they are feeding us is because it’s being made by Secret Hideout. That organization needs to be dumbed. ASAP.

hmm… i was bored by the mandalorian. and the season finale just showed it is trying too Hard catchIng you with fan Service.

on the other hand.
the last Episode of the expanse was a masterpiece.

Agreed re: The Expanse. That show continues to be amazing.

This was a disappointing episode for several reasons, but it mostly centers on the unprofessional conduct of the Discovery leadership and crew, as well as the Burn being another excuse to convey the writers continued fixation on emotions as the key to everything: relationships, science, catastrophies, dilithium, etc. You name it, emotions are behind it all, and the key to fixing everything, including starships, is to understand the emotions of others and their mysterious tendril-like connections to the universe. A kid having a panic attack / temper tantrum as the cause of the deaths of millions of people and starships throughout the galaxy? Oh gawd.

The ship should have never been allowed to fall into the hands of the Emerald Chain. Ever. A good captain would not have wasted time trading insults. Tilly needed to jump the ship out of there immediately when they discovered the enemy was 2 minutes out. Stamets should have followed orders to jump out of there immediately. And short of that, destruction of the ship should have commenced. I can see no reason to keep this crew on Starfleet’s most precious asset. They all need to be re-assigned to lesser roles and replaced with a professional crew that understands discipline in the ranks and personal sacrifice for the mission.

Gawd, this is it for me. Discovery isn’t science fiction. It’s a therapy session with great sets and production values. I’m sick of that aspect. Do your therapy on your own time. Don’t use Star Trek as a personal venue for your own therapy (I am speaking to the writers and producers)

Riker never traded insults to buy time to get the shields up, or Janeway.

Oh come on!

This is a classic trope in Trek. Unfortunately for Tilly, her engineering division (whoever is in charge) didn’t get her shields restored fast enough.

So where I do agree with you, it that Discovery chooses not to show the tension of Reno, Nilsson and others working to fix the shields and not making it. Seeing how reliant Tilly’s success at the Con is on the others following her – basically she’s up in the chair counting on others – without seeing the others responding to her direction, or at least hearing a report – is startling, but NOT fundamentally different from things we have seen again and again.

Shields didn’t need to function for the ship to jump.

Seriously, everyone’s forgetting Patrick Stewart’s classic recitation of Shakespearean sonnets to a bunch of Ferengi in “Menage a Troi.”

Was that because the ship was disabled? I think not.

No, not to buy time with catty responses. No, he didn’t and neither did Kirk.
Discovery didn’t even know if they could go toe-to-toe with the Green whatever. They had standing orders to get out of there, and that’s what they should have done immediately!


First, the infamous CBSAA glitches are still there. About 5 or 6 of them in this episode. And no, it’s not on my end. CBS is the ONLY streaming service that has these issues. YouTube doesn’t have it. And I have subscribed to Disney for one month to get my Mandalorian fix. (also checking out their version of The Right Stuff while I’m at it.)And through 4 episodes each not one glitch. The problem is CBS.

Next, the episode did manage to put them in a scrape. 11 episodes in and this is the first ending that had me curious what was going to happen next. But that is the problem with this season. It feels like the ending of the first act when there are only two episodes left! It was VERY poorly put together.

I thought it odd that the Star Fleet guy didn’t question Saru’s judgement when he said ENSIGN Tilly was going to be at the com. If I was told that I’d want a hell of a lot more than just his word she was capable. He let it go without even a flinch. Reminded me a bit of that scene in Team America where Spottswood told the team why they should trust Gary. There was a pause from the absurdity of it and then, “OK” in the sense that they would just accept it and not question it. And then there was that idiot smile cut of the bridge crew seeming to be perfectly happy with how Tilly was handling the situation. Ugh! Reminded me of Airplane! when all the passengers were smiling at the River of Jordan song the stewardess was singing. Honestly the mere fact she was in charge ruined much of the dramatic tension it could have had. I mean, good grief at least promote her first!

But… Surprise surprise… The holographic environment they were in I thought was kinda neat, if not a little simplistic with the concept that all he needed to do was confront the holographic simulation of his fear. If they could somehow make it more real they could have had something there. Instead they removed the difficulty needed to get past the whole thing.

But back to the bad which always far outweighs the positives. The antagonist was someone we really aren’t caring much about. We’ve seen her ONCE in 10 episodes and then she turns out to give the heroes their biggest struggle… With fantastic new weapons suddenly at her disposal. Weird. But I’ve come to expect nonsense from Secret Hideout. It’s unfortunate because there honestly was potential for a decent foil for the crew had they decided to give us more about who this person was. I’d have much rather have two episodes where they reveal her entire back story rather than the garbage we got from the MU. There was really no reason whatsoever to waste TWO episodes on getting her off the show. It could have been done in less than half of one. But that’s what we got.

On to reading the comments to add some more.

Why does every galaxy-altering event have to somehow connect personally to the crew?

The reveal of what caused “The Burn” was disappointing and the writers just had to make the child a Kelpien as a way to give Saru an investment in the situation.

I’ve noticed this but over all three seasons the writers don’t trust the main characters are written deep enough in their characterizations to have clear motivations towards a plot point unless the story also involves either….

1) A family member
2) Someone from where they call home
3) Or someone they slept with is involved

It makes the “Star Trek” universe seem so small in scope and goes all the way back to the decision to make Michael the step-sister of Spock. Each point along the way, everything has been tied in some way to a member of the crew’s personal life, making the stories reflective reexaminations that dwell on past life choices, instead of having the characters meet new people, have new experiences and have character growth from them.

The Terran Emperor had to be Georgiou and be a mother-daughter thing to Michael. The Red Angel has to be Burnam’s mother. When they go to Vulcan/Ni’Var this season, they just had to wedge in Michael’s mom again out of nowhere and do family drama. The ship has to help out Book’s “brothers” on the planet threatened by the Emerald Chain. Even the Orion goon on the junk planet had to be Osyraa’s nephew.

And Saru’s situation is just a replay of what happened with Nhan finding out about the Barzan family on the seed ship earlier in the season.

1) A family member

2) Someone from where they call home

3) Or someone they slept with is involved

It’s almost as if…wait for it…they watched “Journey to Babel,” or any one of the TOS episodes about Kirk’s old flames.

Yes, they had connections like those from time to time. But Discovery uses it as a crutch. In TOS, they didn’t have to establish some personal ties for every story beat.

They didn’t have to make Matt Decker in “The Doomsday Machine” a relative of Kirk, or a childhood friend of Kirk from his hometown. The story in the episode was strong enough to carry the drama instead of having to add bs personal melodrama.

…but they did just that in “Operation: Annihilate!”

Last week I realized that Star Trek is just kinda weird when it doesn’t revolve around its Captain. Sometimes Michael is talking and I don’t know why she gets to do so much talking. If she were the Captain, I would get it. People turn to the Captain for leadership. But she’s just a part of the crew and yet she has intergalactic influence that goes well above her security clearance. I mean, every cataclysmic event in the universe seems to revolve around her. In real life, her colleagues would despise her — you know like Trekkies despise her…and I’m speaking about the vocal nerds. I’m not making a broad declaration. IDIC. I think Sonequa Martin Green is a treasure of a woman. She’s beautiful and charming and in every way wonderful. And yet I spend most of the show lying to myself and pretending that her character isn’t insufferable because I don’t want her advocates to tell me I hate strong women just because her character really is in many ways unlikable. She’s a mutineer. She’s objectively the worst Starfleet officer to wear the uniform in over 5 series and counting. Not even Ensign Mariner has a record like Burnhams and she has a reputation for being a TERRIBLE Starfleet officer. The only reason anyone would think otherwise is because half of the universe thinks she’s “the chosen one” because the show keeps reminding us of this. All of these things would make sense to me if she were the Captain. Simply, the Captain is the star of the show because the Captain has the most to do. When you start giving all of the biggest moments to some officer, it feels like the officer is punching above their station. But I thought tonight’s episode was her best performance. It made me hopeful that the writer’s are just taking the slow burn approach in order to make her journey into a sympathetic character feel more organic. To me this was the very first time that she felt like a part of a crew that was working together to accomplish something. It wasn’t Burnham and the burn. It was the Discovery Crew and the burn. I loved her scene with Su’kal when when she’s trying to convince him that she was a program. And on a more global scale, I thought this episode was beautiful. I’ve been feeling, since Episode 1 of this season in particular, that Star Trek is finally starting to realize its potential as peak TV. This world felt like a world that Gene Roddenberry envisioned in TOS but was never able to capture on television given the limitations of the day. I, like others, was disappointed (and confused???) by the reveal of the cause of the burn. I haven’t passed judgment because we don’t know the whole story yet or where they’re going with it, but the emotion I experienced when the twist twisted was unmistakably one of disappointment. However {comma} Su’kal was very much a character archetype from TOS. He’s mythical like Charlie X or Ron Howard’s little brother or the Roman God Alien that they shoot at. And if I look at it that way I’m actually tickled to the bone that the burn was caused not by a super baddie or a plot to overthrow the Federation or a really big ship. The burn was caused by a grieving child who is connected by {name your favorite plot device} to a planet of dilithium crystals (Nerdgasm! What even is that???) like Spock who was connected to Genesis, Stamets to the mycelial network, Picard to Q, Kirk to the Nexus, Seven to the collective, Sisko to the wormhole (or any number of other phenomenon that we have happily accepted over the years.) And if I look at this character as a classic Star Trek archetype then I find that my experience is not one of disappointment but of awe and wonder, and awe and wonder is just exactly what I want to be experience when I watch Star Trek!

I realized that Star Trek is just kinda weird when it doesn’t revolve around its Captain. Sometimes Michael is talking and I don’t know why she gets to do so much talking. If she were the Captain, I would get it. People turn to the Captain for leadership.

Well, finally someone has hit on a legitimate criticism of Discovery. Since 2016 or whenever I first read about the show, I never, for a moment, bought the idea that the captain could be a secondary character in any Star Trek show.

It’s rather like when the WEST WING writers thought Pres. Bartlet would make a cameo every couple of episodes…which lasted, what, five episodes into the first season?

Discovery works much better when we see a more ensemble cast.


Soooooooooooo disappointing!

I’m sorry, but this was easily the WORST episode of the season for me. I’m shocked so many people liked it. I can’t believe this was their solution to the Burn, something that basically crippled the entire galaxy for a century: A Kelpian having a hissy fit. I can not believe this is the direction they took it. I’m still trying to process of how its supposed to even work.

I don’t know, just can’t even begin to be excited about the idea. And then of course conveniently it happened by being on a planet full of dilithium which they can now mine for their fleet again.

The writing in general just felt very very off at times. Why is BURNHAM questioning Saru’s emotional state????Uh, OK, I guess. Tilly losing the ship on her fist command, is it too early for people to say “I told you so?” Pretty cool Discovery now has cloaking powers though!

The only positive I can say is it was fun to be back in a holodeck again. One of those fans who never had an issue with holodeck stories and enjoyed most of them. How it was done here was very creative. I liked the idea they gave him a set of holodeck characters to take care of and raise him. That’s very Star Trek. And this is our first real first holodeck story since Voyager. Wow!

But yeah, that’s the most positive I can be. This is feeling like the conclusion of the Red Angel story line all over again. At least it wasn’t any of Michael’s relatives stuck on that planet I guess.

I think people who liked it thought the CGI was cool, and liked to see Doug Jones.
They liked it at a surface level, and don’t question the character decisions made, nor whether the plot makes sense rationally

And I’m shocked to see you write that. :) My views have almost always aligned with your writings about DSC, PIC and LDS, but this is the first time I completely disagree with your thoughts.

I loved everything about this episode. I will go as far and say that this was DSC best original hour. Yes, even better then Lethe, If Memory Serves and Through the Valley of Shadows.

The whole episode kept me at the edge of the sit, and all plots/subplots were interesting. There was no wasted minute in this episode (which is really rare for DSC).

The whole hologram thing was THE BEST hologram twist Star Trek ever did. Everything about it made sense. A dying mother trying to make a future for her son. Both the premise and the execution was brilliant.

This was probably the first episode where DSC felt closest like Star Trek in terms of having an ensemble of crew. We’ve got 6-7 people of the main cast who were all important in the plot and both story A and B felt important with high stakes.

Every actor was superb, yes even SMG and Janet Kidder. Much better Osyraa then what we saw few episodes back.

Tilly… I can agree that putting Tilly as a First Officer was not the smart choice, but it would have been even dumber from the writers if she didn’t mess up when she was giving the command. So I applaud the writers for doing this to Tilly in this episode.

And finally the Burn… I can understand how some can be pissed off with the reveal. The problem with season long mysteries is that we make our theories in our head, and when the reveal doesn’t align with what we thought it would be, the disappointment is inevitable. That’s what happened for me in S2 and PIC. So I tried to give an open mind for this one and I’m happy with the revelation.

The fact that it is not a big baddy, but a tragic accident combined with an emotional and a really personal story is fine in my book. Is it stretching the science a bit? Probably, but we have seen all-powerful entities in Star Trek before.

The revelation felt similar to The Survivors of TNG. An angry super being intentionally wipes out an entire race of existence due to a personal tragedy. Same story, but the twist here is that it’s all unintentional. I love it!

This season, except for the Mirror episodes, has been great and I would have been perfectly fine if they closed the season yesterday. Unlike S1, S2 and PIC, there are not much plots hanging, not much questions to be answered and that is a major improvement from this team.

The holodeck and larger away mission contingent was great. I have no complaints with the structure of the episode and cinematography. Visual effects in Discovery have definitely been top-notch, and Burnham in her xenoantrophologist role with the Kelpien was nice.
Its the plot that’s the issue, which comes down to the writers and showrunners. Due to Covid, Season 3 filming began later and the producers said that this will give them extra time to edit the scripts.
If the USS Enterprise has Starfleet’s A-level crew, and Lower Decks has the 2nd-contact B-level crew where does this leave Discovery’s crew competency? A crew who has met with Starfleet HQ, is under the Admiral’s command, where other Senior officers are available.
With 2 episodes left in the season, I’m really disappointed. Can they not allow other bridge crew more screen time and senior roles? Why is their no Chief Engineer? Why is their no ready-room briefings with senior staff? Why is an Ensign in charge, and why did she not take any preventative actions? Why is the crew not compliant with the XO’s orders (I’m pointing at Stamets here) and why has Saru suddenly become emotionally compromised (it’s not a character trait that has been associated with him in the past)?

There are a lot of big problems with the shows structure. And the fact that none of our main characters (apart from the Captain) are department heads is a doozy. Even when the Captain has meetings he is NOT talking to the department heads. He’s talking to these people who I guess are BELOW the department heads. The Chief Engineer isn’t there to brief the Captain. Stammets is. The CMO isn’t there to offer opinions. Culber is! There is a very good reason why many felt Stammets was the Chief and Culber was the CMO. The show never gave us reason to think otherwise!

Exactly; they allowed her to *fail* (unlike Crusher and that random ensign in “Descent II”).

Tilly… I can agree that putting Tilly as a First Officer was not the smart choice, but it would have been even dumber from the writers if she didn’t mess up when she was giving the command. So I applaud the writers for doing this to Tilly in this episode.

I’m not a fan of the holodeck nor the overuse of holograms in general. But I’m forced to admit I did think this was probably the first decent and good use of holograms in ALL of nu-Trek. (nu-Trek being everything that came after TOS and it’s features).

I would say that even with all the faults this was easily the best episode of the season so far. But it is a far cry from Lethe. Which still is the one and only one really good episode in all of Discovery. Hell, all of Secret Hideout produced Trek!

ML31, I didn’t accidentally use the word ORIGINAL hour. Lethe can come up as a mediocre episode if you are not familiar with the family dynamics of Sarek’s (or whatever we want to call that family).

I stand by my statement. This last episode was the best DSC original hour because it didn’t rely or call upon the 50+ years of canon. No Sarek, no Spock, no Pike, no Talosians, no Borg, no legacy character or Enterprise X stranded in the nebula… It was a pure DSC plot and it worked pretty damn good.

A fair point. But since I am fully versed in the Sarek family dynamics Lethe worked for me.

Have to agree Tiger2, the Burn story had so much potential and the resolution seems like a big letdown. I guess one should credit the writers for realizing it was not a worthy season long story arc, so they at least gave us other more worthy side stories like Georgiou and the Guardian of Forever!
Also agree with your holodeck take, halfway through the episode I was fully engaged with the story, but those last 15 mins were disappointingly the worst of the season.
As for Tilly losing the ship, completely predictable. I felt like that condesending engineer who wanted to take over the bridge from Geordi in The Arsonal of Freedom, haha.
Well only a couple of episodes left – let’s see if the writers can salvage the season finale! We really need a boost to end a terrible 2020!

We really need a boost to end a terrible 2020!”

Very true. But I’m pretty sure we won’t be getting one from STD.

I have to disagree as well. Let me zero in on one detail. Several folks have mischaracterized Su’Kal’s trauma as a “hissy fit” or a “tantrum,” which are both reactions, usually transitory, to not getting one’s way or to frustration. This individual has never been in the presence of another living being since his mother’s painful death from radiation sickness when he was five. It’s the “butterfly effect” writ large. No banal evil baddies or sinister plots, but an individual’s solitary tragedy and torment and staleness for 100 years. It’s a wonder he has any vestige of sanity at all. To me, it’s a kind of parable that a single life is worth a universe.

Now viewers can of course feel disappointed that the STORY didn’t unfold as they might have desired or written it, but as others have said, I found it refreshingly original and creative and authentically Trek (plus the acting was superb).

Merry Christmas to all celebrating it today and to everyone a terrific and healthy 2021!

its 100% fine that the kelpien Child is pissed and Angry and of that. its just 100000% stupid that this has the effect of destroying ALL activ delithium….. seriously

Look, the whole Trek universe is premised on the “stupid” existence of a magical substance called dilithium that mysteriously regulates the mutual annihilation of matter and antimatter to create warp space that enables faster than light travel against all the known laws of physics. If the authors of Trek stories today want to posit that such a planet-sized concentration of dilithium somehow acts as a psychic amplifier for an alien species, that decision is no more “stupid” than time travel or personal teleportation devices. They set the rules of their own universe and should just maintain consistency.

The Kelpian child wasn’t “pissed and angry”; he was *feral*. Big difference.

Temarc, right on point there.

Trek has shown great compassion for children raised without support of their birth cultures, or appropriate parental care. How can fans who were so invested Spock, Data or Worf’s journey’s of identity be so callous towards a fragile, traumatized person who has been left to develop in seclusion – basically torture for a sentient being?

More, while we’re shown that Su’Kal has the emotional development level of a feral child, we still have no idea about what his biological age is.

Su’kal presents as an adult or youth, but he’s over 120 years old sidereal time. It doesn’t appear that he has experienced Vaha’rai. Are we seeing his body, or is that also a holorepresentation?

Is his real body in some kind of suspended animation? Is he biologically a young child, a youth, or very old.

My sense is that his the power of his mind to interact with his environment has grown as the natural channels for development of his body were denied. And I think that this is somewhat we’ve seen before in Trek is it not? Perhaps going right back to The Cage?

And being feral was and is a nonsense reason for destroying millions of lives and tens of thousands of starships.

It’s as if the writers are themselves “feral” and decided by “screaming” they could destroy and make Star Trek the way they want it.

Look Tiger, you’re one of the positive lights on here and one of the reasons I end up questioning my own thermonuclear hatred for this show and the abilities of the people in charge of it. “Is it just me? Am I being too hard on it?” But ultimately, each season we reach this point and even the people defending the show get ground down by the clueless, horrible writing which unfortunately negates everything that’s good about the show.

They’ve had three seasons now. Four if you count the Picard shitshow. It’s painfully clear the people in charge don’t understand good Star Trek, maybe don’t even understand good science-fiction, definitely don’t understand good writing. Watching this show shouldn’t be this much hard work. A great and game cast, beautiful fx and make-up work, a healthy budget and none of those things can be saved from the ineptitude of the people calling the shots. Even TNG had figured out their problems by now and guess what it took to do that? A change of creative control. It’s time.

You do, of course, have the near-magical solution of turning off the TV.

That won’t change the facts above. This is a forum which is intended to provoke discussion, no?

I was thinking it was time after watching Picard. But I agree. The deal with Secret Hideout needs to be ripped up and CBS ought to find better people to run this franchise. I think Krutzman has the right idea. Changing things up is a good thing. Having different genres of Trek out there is a good thing. Short Treks, while most have been misses, was still a very good idea. But when it comes to execution of those ideas, he has made some very grave mistakes. Among them is the incestuous overlap of writers and producers from show to show. How can they possibly have a different tone and feel if so many bts people are involved in all of them?

This is just me, and probably sounds a little conservative, but I feel like until they figure out how to successfully ground the franchise with one show that more-or-less follows and updates the basic ST template, all these spin-off shows aren’t going to be as effective as they could be.

I’m loathe to compare the franchises – although they were airing at the same time a day apart – but Disney+ got their approach to SW on TV just about right: one show, make sure it’s a concept people want to see, make sure it works, make sure it’s a hit and then start to slowly expand with other shows and yes, as you point out, with different creative teams to give each show its own voice.

I still feel the season-long arc format can work with Trek but it’s a harder slog than weekly self-contained stories to pull off properly and this writers room has proved less-than-capable of structuring it in a way that works to the potential strengths. What’s VERY clear is this focus on one character is just not working and SMG can’t do much with what she’s been given here to save the day. We get it: Burnham’s “special” but FFS. Give it a rest.

A Kelpian having a hissy fit. 

Yet you accept a Husnack having a hissy fit in “The Survivors”? (A highly underrated TNG episode.) Annorak having a hissy fit in “Year of Hell”? Trelane having a hissy fit in “The Squire of Gothos”? The clown having a hissy fit in that episode of Voyager? That grasshopper-like alien having a hissy fit in “Future Imperfect” (which was almost like a prequel to this episode)?

Your interpretation of those other episodes does not jive with mine or others.

Funny… I really didn’t have too much a problem with this as the cause of the burn. But I have to say I never liked the concept of “the burn” to begin with as it made nearly no sense. So I was sorta expecting the cause to not be all that great either. Low expectations meant I wasn’t disappointed with what we got, story wise. My main annoyances had to do with execution and characters. Which permeates the entire show and hasn’t seemed to have changed much.

Finally some action and a plot which moves forward! They should have summed up the previous 10 episodes in 2 or 3 and gotten straight to that episode! After 10 episodes it feels as if the season has finally started!
Has anybody noticed some vibes of “the forbidden planet”?
Finally some REAL “strange new worlds” and an interesting mystery instead of a borefest…

Definitely DavdCGN, Forbidden Planet it is.

Thanks so much for making the point. And it really underscores how much of a deep cut to Roddenberry’s earliest concepts this is.

The Cage really drew a lot from Forbidden Planet, but the stakes weren’t at the level of the entire galactic civilization — but they could have been if the projected effect went beyond the planet.

So the cause of the Burn and it’s devastation have two fundamental axes:

1) a deep cut story of a lost child/youth, provided an illusory environment (like Forbidden Planet and The Cage), but with the unexpected power to impact the physical environment beyond their Cage/Citadel; and

2) a fragile society that fractures and is incapable of coming together to either find out the source of the problem or neutralize it.

Last thought, how can anyone who has lived through 2020 and the greatest pandemic in a century believe that societies will automatically just come together to figure out the source of a threat and bring it under control.

I agree. This feels like it should have been perhaps episode 3 or 4. Not episode 11. This group does not seem to know how to properly map out a 13 episode arc.

Michael is worried that Saru won’t be objective if he has to make a hard call. It’s as if the previous 2.5 seasons didnt exist.

Oh, the irony. I hate this show.

Michael can see it because she’s done it, and recognizes that she’s not ready for the big chair.

Saru has relied on rigid rule following in many cases, and seems to default to Kelpians herd following behaviour. He’s always looking for models for his behaviour.

But we saw in The Brightest Star that Saru also can be a challenger of conventional or received wisdom, and take risks even if it causes suffering for others (as Siranna told us later). He really went rogue when he built a transmitter and sent a message that reached Starfleet.

The real lesson here is about teamwork.

Nhan had to step up when Burnham was compromised in Project Daedulus. Likewise Spock stepped up in The Red Angel.

Burnham and Saru have to finally let go of their “I always know best – the other one is the problem” sibling-like competition. They need to be willing to hear others tell them to take a step back.

Likewise, Stamets has to stop taking such personal control of the spore drive and questioning orders. No matter how nice the “Say yes” scene, when it came to a critical decision with the ship under imminent threat, Stamets DID NOT FOLLOW Tilly.

It seems as though the bridge officers are the only ones who accept that in a crisis (red alert) the chain of command has to be respected, and officers who aren’t psychological up to making hard command decisions need to step out of the chair (or lead for an away team).

I keep thinking about how the creators of the two new seasons of Lost In Space really built their seasons; how the experience for the audience was one of joining in with the characters and their physical desperation. I think about how this was taken seriously in an almost BSG way but also was hopeful and still “family friendly”, building on the audience that would naturally seek out Lost In Space.

I really enjoyed “Su’Kal” except the first five minutes where Saru was acting like a teenager and that Vance wouldn’t arm up Discovery. Two crews would have been a great drama!

But I can’t get with the negativity at the message of this particular story as I understand it at present. It’s totally Star Trek to have a tantrum have a huge effect.

So looking at our responses, here, what the episode shows is that if there is some narrative point that is still up for grabs, like who or why The Burn happened, the producers are depending on you watching until the end instead of allowing characters to feel wonder and be unsure of the reality they perceive. The only thing I heard was Book surmise Su’Kal could cause another Burn. But I don’t think Su’Kal is the whole story here and I don’t think anyone rationally thinks that.

I appreciate the emotion of the main characters, but they could have upped the human stakes here and it would have been more unifying. If this was BSG – when Paul Stemmets gets his brain released, he also faces court martial and gets air locked. But I think the desire to see Discovery attain that level of serious drama will never be satisfied.

Is anyone suddenly having issues trying to stream the series from All Access? Since the 24th it keeps telling me the content is unavailable. I’m subscribed to CBS directly through the Apple TV App. Everything works fine except for Discovery….

I’ve been having issues with CBSAA since the 2nd episode of STD. (No problems with the first episode because it aired on the over-the-air CBS network.) It’s always been glitches where the picture freezes for a while then continues. From time to time the audio hasn’t lined up with the pic, too. But never what you are describing.

Another issue I am having with this episode is how Osyraa is able to not only track Discovery, but also knows how the spore drive operates and comes prepared knowing Stamets is the pilot for the drive and how he interfaces with the drive and where the pilot’s chair is located for the drive. Her stormtroopers made quick work of locating Stamets and sticking his fingers in the new interface jelly.

All of this is thanks to Book’s Emerald Chain macguffin finder they connected to the ship? If that is the case.. I am disappointed with the lazy reason. If Osyraa was so well prepared by a mole in Starfleet, then she would already know where the fleet was hiding. So it must have been that device and a big disappointment that Discovery’s computer systems have no intrusion detection or that the emergent AI is so very trusting of spyware.

I thought it was silly when Seska took over Voyager, but at least Seska had first hand knowledge about Voyager and Janeway’s command tactics when she was able to take over Voyager. What’s Osyraa’s secret to her swift and very unbelievable takeover of Discovery? I guess the plot just called for it.

Yes. I had a huge problem with the ease of her taking over. Weird that they went straight to Stammets. How did they know all this? How did they know where the control room was? Why didn’t she use that tentacle weapon in her first encounter? How did she know so much? I did find the situation a bit engaging (shocking, I know) but it just doesn’t hold up to the smallest bit of scrutiny.

The episode is definitely better than the some of its parts. Well written and performed character moments throughout, incredible visuals, and some badly needed excitement. The episode does prove to me that the cause of the burn was not known by the writers until this episode was tasked with figuring it out. There is no way “Temper tantrum from a stranded irradiated 120 year-old Kelpian Child” was in the masterplan this season. Unfortunately this was just another season-long thread that doesn’t pay off. The production team and actors did a remarkable job making this story work on screen however. But I can’t help but feel how much the writers strained to tell this story, it’s so creaky and certainly doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

There is a big difference between a “temper tantrum” and a traumatized and immature psyche being taken over by its amygdala (or primitive “flight or fight” back-brain).

Reducing the description of Su’Kal’s suffering to a “temper tantrum” seems disrespectful of mental disorders to me.

We’re talking about a sentient being that effectively experienced the torture of seclusion / isolation for more than a century with only the support of holographic simulations that were not sentient AIs.

It’s an extreme reaction anchored an almost incomprehensible psychological trauma. It absolutely does hold up to scrutiny, and we haven’t even seen what physical trauma Su’Kal has experienced. We have no idea what his physical form is like at this point.

I must have missed it but how is Su’kal alive after being exposed to 100 years of radiation?

There was an explanation indicating that he became immune or adjusted to the radiation when he still was in utero. (Maybe that would explains his mind powers??) That still leads to the question how his mother could have been alive to carry him out and raise him long enough.

I am genuinely shocked by such a positive review.

I actually thought this was, perhaps, the lowest point of the series so far. Remember when we all wanted the ‘Red Angel’ to be something Really Trek, but it turned out to be Michael’s mom? The disappointment here is ten times worse: a half-nuts Kelpian orphan living in a spaceship holodeck program. Not Organians, not Philippa signaling from the past, not Q or even a sentient dilithium planet pissed off at bipeds messing with it for fuel. The episode would have been fair if it took place as a “monster-of-the-week” thing, but it essentially makes the Burn (and everyone’s complacency/stupidity in the 32nd Century to sort it out) just a waste of time. And this after another extra-lengthy “mirror-universe” detour. 2 eps to go to dig us all out.

Bill Irwin!
is the only good thing about this episode. Well, and human Saru. And Tilly. And yes, you knew that that the most impossible situation would be piled on her while on her first command. And that bit on the captain’s chair, that was not a small manufacturing defect, it looks like someone installed that!
The cause of The Burn (TM) is as meh as The Burn (TM) itself. (Almost as meh as Carl, THE GUARDIAN OF FOREVERRRR!)

Right after “Star Trek: My Two Dads” (about Adira, Culber and Stamets and their day-to-day hijinks), this gave me an idea for yet another spin-off series.
This time it’s all about the old Kelpien and his wacky holos.
The show would be called My Su’Kal Life


I love Discovery, but found the enemy transporting onto discovery part of this episode ridiculous. Discovery was too easily overrun. An entire enemy crew was able to beam all over the ship without a single defence against them? No computer defence to protect against that? The ease with with discovery was completely overrun and taken over really ruined this episode for me, left me flat and disappointed… unlike previous episodes of discovery, I would say this was the biggest let down episode of the entire discovery Series so far. The writers lacked imagination. They simply resorted to an incredibly easy full take over of discovery by an enemy transporting in… something this future clearly has never figured out how to defend against. People could say… but shields blah blah blah… that’s all ridiculous excuses. This boils down to incredibly poor writing of this episode and total lack of imagination. Clearly taking over an entire star ship is incredibly easy…. let’s use that in every episode from now on and forget space battles. 

If taking over a star ship was that easy, why bother with all the space battles all the time? Simply all beam aboard and take over the enemy. Oh, that would get repetitively boring, but since it’s obvious it can be done, that would be the standard strategy. And Tilly’s threat to destroy discovery would be meaningless, since that would take a count down self destruct timer to be activated, by which time the enemy would have beamed aboard and taken over. 

Overall I like how Discovery has improved since midway through S1, but this episode was pretty weak.
Yeah I think you are definitely onto something… from a story credibility standpoint, I have no issue with a Federation Starship being taken over by a technologically superior foe like the Borg or by a physically and intellectually superior foe like the augments in Enterprise and TOS – but when relatively minor “space bullies” take over the upgraded Discovery, it reminds me of the time when the Kazon took over Voyager. Pretty weak story telling… and I guess one can say, well what did you expect when you put a “cadet just turned ensign” in command?
Of course we all know that Discovery and her crew will prevail. Let’s hope that part of the story at least makes more sense.

Season 3 started great, but the last 3 episodes have been very forgettable and have lost direction somewhat.