Podcast: All Access Star Trek Debates The Merits Of “Memento Mori” From ‘Strange New Worlds’

All Access Star Trek podcast episode 93 - TrekMovie

[Strange New Worlds news and review start at 10:24]

Tony and Laurie start with the latest updates from Terry Matalas on season three of Star Trek: Picard, along with the news of a comic book that will bridge seasons two and three. They also discuss Denise Crosby’s TrekMovie interview about the 25th anniversary of Trekkies and her thoughts on leaving TNG. Plus, they give a quick reminder that The Orville’s third season premieres on Hulu on June 3 and Tony’s cast and crew interviews will arrive on TrekMovie in the coming week.

Then, they quickly discuss comments from Rebecca Romijn and Strange New Worlds writers about how Number One’s big secret will play out through season two before they take a deep dive for their review of the newest episode, “Memento Mori”—which they have very different opinions on.

They wrap up with a look at how Bloomington, Indiana celebrated Kathryn Janeway’s birthday (with help from some of the Voyager cast) and look back at Orson Welles’ narration of Star Trek: The Motion Picture teaser trailers.

Links:

Terry Matalas Teases ‘Star Trek: Picard’ Season 3 Villain, Confirms TNG Cast Will Be Together

‘Stargazer’ Comic Mini-Series To Bridge The Gap Between Seasons 2 And 3 Of ‘Star Trek: Picard’

Interview: Kirsten Beyer And Mike Johnson Talk Canon And Inspiration For ‘Star Trek: Picard: No Man’s Land’

Interview: Denise Crosby On ‘Trekkies’ At 25 And Looking Back At ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’

Rebecca Romijn Says There’s A Lot More Coming For Una’s Big Secret On ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’

Run Silent, Run Deep

Anson Mount tweets about “Memento Mori” being his favorite episode

Chekhov’s Gun

Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s “Disaster” (La Forge and Crusher in the cargo bay)

Crimson Tide

Das Boot

The Enemy Below

Crew members remember the clicking sounds in “Schisms” (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

Challenge coins

Strange New Worlds exhibit at the Paley Center in NYC

Trekbits:

Tony: Voyager stars wish a Janeway happy birthday and Bloomington school inducts Janeway into hall of fame

Laurie: Recalling Orson Welles’ work on ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’ trailer and the trailer itself

Let us know what you think of the episode in the comments, and should you be so inclined, please review us on Apple.


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I suspect a negative review of what seems to be an almost universally acclaimed episode will in itself spark controversy, but it shouldn’t. People have differing reactions to things, and that’s fine.

Thank you, Laurie! Completely agree with you.

I agree with Laurie about submarine movies; as far as Canon goes… Didn’t Enterprise set before SNW have the Gorn be shown on screen?

Never Mind. I listened again and heard Tony mention Enterprise.

But that was in the mirror universe, with the mirror characters, not prime timeline characters.

This podcast ep was a bit frustrating as it was mostly just Laurie repeating that she doesn’t like submarine movies. We get it! Whereas Anthony was actually trying to review the episode.

So far SNW is sufficiently respectful of canon. Canon minutiae shouldn’t stand in the way of crafting entertaining stories

Wasn’t minutiae for me, but to each their own. I definitely did repeat myself, but we also talked about the scenes we both liked and other aspects of the episode that went beyond genre.

It is by definition, minutiae. It’s a minor part of a 50 year old episode mentioned in passing, that has had no real impact until today. And that impact even in “Memento Mori” is exceptionally minimal. These are the objective facts.

Sure, it can bother you more than it might someone like me — that’s perfectly valid — if you are the OCD type of fan that obsesses over minutiae instead of being able to appreciate the story and characters, it is what it is… but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s minutiae.

Ha, no. That’s not the definition. James R. Kirk on a tombstone is minutiae. A species Spock has extensive experience with that he never mentions to anyone is in a whole other category. The dots don’t connect. You can decide you don’t care, which is fine, but that doesn’t make it minutiae.

I’m Team Laurie on this. Unless they are calling the series a reboot, they really shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this sort of tampering. It just doesn’t work, end of story.

But I’m Team Anthony in terms of having loved the episode, and so far the series. So I decided after episode #1 that I was just going to say to myself that this IS a reboot and not worry about that sort of thing. That’s just a thing happening in my head, though, and it doesn’t excuse the producers for doing some awfully sloppy things that they need not have done. Zero reason for this to be the Gorn other than their wanting to exploit TOS’s legacy. Zero reason for this to be Spock, or Chapel, or Uhura, etc. other than same reason. It’s bulls–t, and they deserve to be called out for it.

And yet, I loved this episode.

“Unless they are calling the series a reboot, they really shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this sort of tampering.”

So, what, call the FBI? Interpol? Round up a posse?

I just rewatched Arena – I think this jibes okay with it. The colonists don’t know who attacked them. So Spock should chime in with ‘it could be the Gorn” with no evidence? Maybe. For whatever reason. he didn’t. Maybe some of this was classified and not to be discussed on the bridge. Who knows?

Arena doesn’t actually say it’s first contact with the Gorn or even, I’d argue, significantly imply it. An attack on the colony/outpost could also have been carried out by several other alien races, including ones that we hadn’t seen by Episode 18 of TOS, including the Klingons. Yes, I’m getting into the weeds here.

I sure wish we’d tone down the language here — “exploit, bulls-t.” Good grief. This is why we can’t have nice things.

“Zero reason for this to be the Gorn other than their wanting to exploit TOS’s legacy. Zero reason for this to be Spock, or Chapel, or Uhura, etc. other than same reason. It’s bulls–t, and they deserve to be called out for it.”

Telling fun, interesting, compelling stories for more general audience seems like a heck of a good reason. None of this is real.

I’m also all for making the Gorn an interesting antagonist and not just a guy in a rubber suit and Ted Cassidy grunting.

I speak as I feel, and need no lessons from you.

then she must hate ‘balance of terror’ or ‘wrath/khan’.

Hi! I love both of those. They both have intriguing, complex enemies you can see and hear. Characters!

A really interesting discussion this week, folks, so thanks! I think you’re both right on the topics you disagreed about. :-)

One question for Laurie about Spock not saying anything about the Gorn during “Arena.” I saw “Arena” at first run (that dates me!) and some number of times since, and, like Anthony, minor canon issues don’t bother me. So I am not going to bother to confirm my memory, but I have to wonder what information about the Gorn that Spock has that would have made any difference in “Arena.” That they’re relentless, wily, vicious, without redeeming features, etc.? Is there some vital factoid that Spock had that he should have contributed later to Kirk? I admit the general impression given in “Arena” is that Kirk and company know nothing about the Gorn, but how much more about them has really been learned in SNW? That the Gorn eat their enemies or use corpses for “egg sacks” or something (sounds unhygienic!) ?

Also (again it doesn’t bother me enough to go rewatch “Errand of Mercy”), but weren’t the Klingons introduced as relentless, vicious, savage, without redeeming features, etc. only to later to be made more palatable (no pun intended)?

I’d like give the episode sci-fi kudos for using time dilation around black holes in an interesting way, though the dilation should, I think, have been for far, far longer from the relative point of view of the Enterprise and the jettisoned exploding coolant unit than the few seconds on the screen. The crew might have felt that years had transpired. But who knows?

Thanks, again!

Hi! For me, it wasn’t just that Spock had to tell KIRK. The minute he found out it was the Gorn, he should’ve told his shipmates what he knew about them… it was totally illogical to withhold that he had encountered them before, that he knew they treated humans as food, that they were sadistic and cruel, etc. How could you NOT tell anyone that if it were the case? I don’t think there is a reasonable case for him keeping it to himself, although Tony completely disagrees. (We argued more about it but cut some of it out because… enough, already.)

As for Klingons, even in “Errand of Mercy” they were able to have a conversation at the end (and Kor and Kirk were both annoyed by smilng Organians), and then in “Day of the Dove” they were able to get past their differences and unite against a common enemy. In “The Trouble With Tribbles” they were able to sit in the same space as Starfleet officers, even if they did pick a fight. That’s a big difference between just relentlessly killing everyone and using them for food and ripping them open for egg sacs and whatnot, or setting the last survivor free as some sort of game. So I see a difference there and the case for evolution makes more sense.

I could buy the evolution of the Gorn, but I still think it’s a really odd choice to want to call back to an episode about understanding your enemy by making that very same enemy into a vicious monster. Why?

Perhaps you should try to recognize a good story and then find ways to reconcile your problems with canon in it, rather than using your problems with canon to dismiss and dislike a good story.

Because canonistas like you take TOS way too literally, and its sadly inhibiting your ability to enjoy good new Trek. It’s sad really. TOS is not the holy bible. If you need some kind of head canon, use it, so you can just sit back and enjoy a good new episode.

Let me help. Here’s your head canon: Spock mentioned to Kirk off-screen that he’s encountered them before, but it wasn’t important enough to make the episode. Because it’s just not important.

Additionally, as far as the Gorn goes, critics like you are now feeling like “Mori” negates the message of “Arena,” when I would posit the opposite: “Mori” actually makes “Arena” all that more profound now.

The problem is, critics are acting like the Gorn are pure evil as La’An says, simply because she says it. When in fact, she is the classic unreliable narrator, shaped by trauma. The Gorn are an inhuman species, yes, they slaughter humanoids for food, but all that says is that they are vastly different than we are, not that they are evil. But La’An sees them as evil, so you see them as evil, and thus feel it negates Arena.

Do better.

Alpha. Talking about taking things too seriously remember this is supposed to be for friendly discussions so please be civil, and that includes other commenters and of course the contributors to this site

Also, hello, we’ve both been enjoying new Trek; our podcast is over a year old and filled with many positive reviews. Maybe this is the first episode of our podcast you’ve heard? And maybe you skipped all the parts where we talked about the scenes we both liked?

Thanks for the reply, Laurie! I see I didn’t make it clear that if it is true that Spock really didn’t have any significant info to impart to Kirk in “Arena,” then there really wasn’t much of a canon violation from the perspective of viewers across the series. To me, the minor infringement on canon is worth developing this species more, that’s all.

Re my comparison with the Klingons: everything you say about the TOS appearances of the Klingons (including “A Private Little War”) is true, not to mention the movies and all the TNG and DS9 ones and the entire story of Worf! However, all we’ve seen of the Gorn to date are two episodes, not counting skeletons and mirror universes. It seems like their (re)introduction in SNW is just setting them up to be more sympathetically treated in the future, one beyond “Arena” obviously. I don’t think we ever learned in DS9 with all its mentions of Cestus III how exactly the relations between the Gorn and the Federation had developed. There was a Federation colony there that liked baseball, so perhaps some sort of détente had been established and they weren’t considered vicious monsters anymore by the UFP.

I suspect we’re only at the start of this “species arc.” Thanks!

Yeah, that’s what Tony was saying as well, that there is more to come on this and they will connect the dots. I do think the info is significant, that’s all! But I get that there can be some evolution there. (I’d just rather see a new species.)

Sorry, I won’t go on and on, but I recalled a saying of Spock’s in some episode of TOS: “A difference that makes no difference IS no difference” (apparently this was “borrowed” from William James. Maybe this axiom could work in canon controversies: a difference that doesn’t affect how an earlier Trek episode would have unfolded can be considered an “excusable” or “permissible” departure from canon. I’ll test it out on other canon questions. Thanks!

I can’t promise not to go on and on. D’oh! But I think it DOES make a difference. Remember TNG’s “A Matter of Honor”? Mendon thought his info wasn’t important, but it was. I would think knowing a lot about a species you’re facing off against is pretty important; even if he couldn’t tell Kirk at that point, it is a very weird omission when it comes to the rest of the bridge crew. But there’s a strong argument to be made that it wouldn’t have affected the outcome, that’s for sure… I just think Spock didn’t know that. Let me just say that if they were filming “Arena” now, I 100% think they would’ve had Spock mention it and speculate on how the Gorn have evolved since his last encounter. How’s that?

Fwiw, I totally agree with your penultimate sentence, Laurie. 🙂

Could be classified.

Or maybe folks on the bridge already knew about the Gorn and so there was no need to say anything. They’re professionals and knowing that wouldn’t affect their performance, any more than if it were Klingons etc.

Or maybe there was some change between this episode and Arena of Starfleet’s understanding of the Gorn, as you’ve mentioned. Maybe the breeding sac thing is a myth? Who knows?

I get your point, but I think there’s enough wriggle room with what’s there. Also, how would Spock mentioning any of that help the specific situation, tactically? Drumming up fear wasn’t Spock’s style. They can’t contact Kirk and are stuck watching, aren’t they?

If Spock had a line like that, he would be saying something to let the audience know. Which isn’t necessary to the story, is it?

Note that in TWOK, there’s no scene where Kirk or Spock explains to all the cadets (and Sulu, who wasn’t in Space Seed, if memory serves, but could have been onboard, like Chekov apparently was) who Khan is and what he has done.

Trek is full of these kinds of things — would Kirk really not know that the Vulcan ambassador and his wife were Spock’s parents.It wouldn’t be in his file? Maybe? Who knows?

And we all have different levels of comfort with this sort of stuff. Yes, this is new. It doesn’t bother me, but I get that it bothers some.

BTW, I don’t like submarine episodes where we don’t see the perspective of who’s on the other side either.

There’s no pretense in TWOK that nobody knows who Khan is, though, or that there’s no history there. In fact, they all discuss the history of where they left him and then what happens. In fact, Khan explains it to Chekov!

Agree that Trek is full of those things, though. Even within TOS, canon itself was being established and changed along the way.

That’s not from an episode of TOS. It’s from the very first ST novel “Spock Must Die!”, written by SF author James Blish and published in the early Seventies.

Oh, I did read that novel years ago and perhaps that quote just stuck in my head. Many thanks, Michael!

Okay. I haven’t listened to the podcast yet (so maybe this was mentioned), and it’s been years since I watched “Arena,” but doesn’t the first mention of the species name “Gorn” come from the Metrons just before sending Kirk to the asteroid? So if that’s true, at what point would Spock have filled Kirk in on his inside knowledge? Up till that point, he had no more idea than anyone else what species they were dealing with.

Laurie, it’s clear to me throughout every appearance of Spock that he is synthesizing massive amounts of technical information into summary estimates, statistics and assessments for Kirk.

One can’t come up with a probability estimate on the fly without an AI in the tricorder or a mind that can process and integrate massive amounts of information like an AI.

Spock is taciturn, and more rarely offers up details that aren’t immediately material unless Kirk asks him for more.

So, if it isn’t material and there’s only the Metron’s report calling these the Gorn asserting that it is the same species, would that be something he would share?

Or is it possible, on the other hand, given Kirk’s log, that Spock had verbally shared that there had been experiences with a species with the same name. Wouldn’t that make sense of Kirk’s belief that the Federation was at risk. We can’t prove the negative.

By the way, I’m surprised and regret that you don’t enjoy submarine dramas. It’s a good reason though to have the two of you debating on the podcast.

I’ve found them some of the most suspenseful and great character studies since I saw the enemy below as a kid. I seem to be one among many that felt strongly that this kind of cat and mouse suspense was what was missing from other Secret Hideout Trek series. So, I’m one who is looking for more of these kinds of stories in the mix.

Then I’m glad you enjoyed it! As for Spock, I can’t imagine not thinking it was important to mention there was a whole history there, he had experience with the species, etc., especially if we’re going to see more of them on SNW.

But as I mentioned above, Spock had no way of knowing they were dealing with the Gorn until the Metrons announced it, just before transporting Kirk to the asteroid. (Unless I’m misremembering something; it’s been awhile since I screened the episode.) So when was Spock supposed to impart what he knew about them?

How about after Kirk was taken, to the other people on the bridge? Of course Kirk could’ve used the info, but so could McCoy, Scotty, etc. I would hope in any situation like that, information would be shared. Or as I put it in another comment, if they were filming Arena NOW, Spock would definitely mention it to McCoy as they were standing there freaking out about what was happening.

Just because TOS couldn’t afford to really show a Gorn ship doesn’t mean the sensors didn’t pick up a visual on the thing. Presumably that and/or the warp signature would reflect a particular world/nationality/operating system, and all that would be part of Spock report (or Uhura’s, since I assume the visual part of the record might be under her jurisdiction, unless records officer Finney is a lone wolf operation.) I assume they got a good look at the Gorn ships on SNW, since they were fighting them?

All good points. I don’t care all that much, frankly, because in a world as chockablok with real horrors as the one in Texas I just can’t get worked up over canon inconsistencies on a TV space opera, even one I’ve loved for a half-century. But I get that others feel differently.

Yeah …yeah. I find myself zoning out on Trek and Bond forums a lot in the last couple of days, even when I have stuff that really needs doing, just because I can’t turn on a radio or look anywhere without getting yet another piece of infuriating and therefore heartbreaking information about Texas. Even the kneejerk/defensive mind-posture of, ‘if you live in Texas, you deserve what you get,’ can’t be evoked here, as the kids didn’t choose.

I think I’ve long relied on certain films and the occasional TV show to offer a sense of accountability that is entirely absent from real life. Outside of a catchy theme song and the occasional interesting piece of casting, I don’t remember much special about the original MAGNUM PI’s I watched, except for one 2parter where, at the end, the villain, properly cornered, surrenders, only to be executed in cold-blood by our hero — and it is entirely the right thing to do.

There are just so many villains visible in most aspects of real life now, and occupying so many tiers — many on the alleged side of the angels, like the officers who according to reports my wife read, went in and pulled their own kids to safety before blockading non-cop parents from doing likewise — that you know there isn’t enough pain in their bodies to make for any kind of decent accounting. And it’s soul-deadening to realize that making a difference seems to require going extra-legal (as in outside the law), because there aren’t any Remo Williams types out there.

As I typed all this out, I flashed back about 15 or 20 years on how I spent quite awhile defending a disliked poster on the trekbbs site about his views on whether the refit Enterprise was Constitution-, Constittution II- or Enterprise-class. Boy do I feel stupid right now.

I agree completely with you Laurie. Trying to pretend this didn’t contradict canon is a bit ridiculous to me. There are really SO many reasons why it just makes no sense and what’s funny is the episode itself shows exactly how Spock (and Uhura, funny how she’s always forgotten lol) should’ve reacted in Arena just how La’an reacted in this episode. Granted La’an had first hand experience with them, but she was very vocal of why you should take the Gorn more seriously. That’s how Spock (and once again Uhura) should’ve reacted in Arena. They now know the enemy they are dealing with. But Spock almost act like he knows nothing about them. ;)

To me, while I’m not that bothered with them altering canon, it’s just odd to pretend that’s not what they did either. And of course the bigger problem is we know we will most likely see them again. They made that obvious once they tied La’an’s entire backstory to them. If this was really just a one-off, OK, I think you can shrug it off. But if they show up again…and then again, how can you rationalize it?

And I have made the point isn’t that WHY you make ship’s logs? Even if Spock and others wasn’t on the Enterprise wouldn’t you look up to see if another ship has encountered them before and their assessment of them?

To me, the problem is none of this just feels very organic. It just feels too forced. Yes you can argue that maybe Arena wasn’t the first time they ran into the Gorn, but it’s killing the entire spirit of what that episode was suppose to be about. They were dealing with an unknown force and it’s exactly why they DIDN’T know the colony was in Gorn territory because they didn’t know anything about the Gorn or how they operated. That was the point, neither side knew anything about each other and almost came to war over it.

You can headcanon that Uhura wasn’t on the bridge for the battle with the Gorn and doesn’t know La’an’s backstory, and as a cadet, she wouldn’t have been filled in, necessarily… unless at some point La’an tells her her backstory. There’s a bit of wiggle room in there maybe.

But this is my problem, the fact that we even HAVE to. It”s ridiculous. This is not how GOOD story telling should be. Now before people start writing and yelling, I know Star Trek does this stuff a lot. But we are only four episodes in and we already doing a LOT of head canon lol. I mean how many times are we going to have to say, ‘well so and so may not have remembered that’ or ‘so and so wasn’t in the same room with that character’ or ‘so and so didn’t mention this character/species by name’ and on and on.

Uhura is a member of the ship and part of the bridge crew. How is this just not discussed in the mess hall or in quarters with your roommates? I would imagine everyone would be talking about it for days if not weeks. It’s also her first major battle and where she could’ve died from it. That’s my issue, if we have to split hairs to justify how so many characters are completely ignorant to other events, characters or species a few years later, that’s just shows how forced a lot of this stuff feels.

None of this surprises me. I predicted this months ago. I think many did. Because It’s not doing ANYTHING differently than what Discovery did in the beginning. “Well, we can believe Spock had a sister in Starfleet because….” Or “It makes perfect sense Section 31 is a well known organization in this period because…” Or “We can argue Discovery was actually the first to visit the MU because…”

It gets tiring. I have no problem if you want to use previous canon to tell a new story with, but when its a PREQUEL then you have to find ways to incorporate some things a little better or just don’t bother. I just feel we’re going to have these discussions for literally years on end now. They already shot two seasons so my guess is it’s going to go this direction the whole way through.

It’s telling that this week both Star Trek and Star Wars are essentially stories with inciting incidents that are massacres. And neither franchise has had to pull their product.

I was at a preview screening for Django Unchained on the afternoon of the Newtown shooting – the story was breaking as I shut off my phone. By the end of the movie I was pretty sure Django would be held back from immediate release, and it was.

Not sure how off topic that is…. I guess I was considering the differences of your opinions in the podcast today, and the psychological root of what makes a “good” war movie versus a war movie that fewer people can relate to.

The difference between Obi Wan and Trek this week is that Obi Wan is surprisingly awful. Poor acting, bland story. Unexciting, visually uninteresting. Pretty much everything opposite of what makes classic Star Wars so great.

It’s pretty wild how with Ewan McGregor back, suddenly it looks and feels like the Prequels again: boring, bland, uninteresting, and unremarkable visuals. And I had very high hopes for it, too, from the previews.

TBH I haven’t seen it yet. But I read a review, and there is a clear narrative parallel – they both have in common the mass killing, and in the case of SW, definitely the killing of children.

The only review I read indicated that a young version of an existing SW character is a babyYoda level surprise on the show in early eps, but that they didn’t know if that actor would appear in the rest of the series or not. It seems this must have some of the nuBSG vibe of being a program about life after being on the losing side, so its probably good it is only 6 eps long.

Even though they seem as different talent-wise as Roger Moore and Sean Connery, I’ve somehow spent the last quarter-century confusing/conflating Ewan MacGregor and Jude Law (that is in spite of how I like Law in most things but don’t like MacGregor, outside of MOULIN ROUGE, and if he is actually even in it, TRAINSPOTTING), and now things are going to get worse, because now the latter is going to do a SW show. Does anybody else think SW is going to be suffering serious overexposure, or is the ability to keep delivering series in different timeframes enough to offset the by-now too-familiar looks of desert outposts and Imperial domains?

I watched two SW eps last night. There is a great child actor in them. Despite the implications of the opening scene (where young Jedi are trying to escape) there is certainly less outright horror than SNW.

Again, I’m not trust sure of the relevance of my original post, but another poster here from TX has agreed it moved them as well – differently than I was thinking about.

I’m not quite as bothered about the Gorn here being depicted as vicious. “Arena” shows them to be quite vicious, too, going to the point of trying to trick the Enterprise and kill even more Federation citizens rather than making contact at that moment and simply saying their territory was being invaded. Even in war communication is possible. And at the point when the Gorn captain does finally say something to Kirk, it’s to tell him that he’s tired of stumbling around chasing him and would rather put Kirk out of his misery. Did I mention these folks are terrible at communicating?

The notion that they’re pure ‘evil’ comes only from La’an, who is biased to say the least. Pike and Spock in that scene seemed uncomfortable with what she was saying, though I suppose that’s open to interpretation with what precisely made them uncomfortable.

Maybe they’re showing us the process that eventually gets us to “Arena.” Maybe La’an will eventually learn to not hate the Gorn, much in the same way as Worf and the Romulans.

But if they continue making them be nothing more than vicious horror villains, I’ll agree with Laurie on this.

I forgot to say, thanks for the podcast! A good listen.

Glad you enjoyed. We will have to see where the show takes us, but Tony definitely shares your theory that La’an is delivering a biased account and that there is room for evolution. I think SNW does too.

Yeah, I can see them maybe someday doing an “I Borg” and putting La’an in a situation where she has to care for a young Gorn, understanding them better, yadda yadda…

We’ll see.

That’s a great idea.

I think you’d need to go beyond just the ‘seeing how the other side lives’ aspect to do this justice, because otherwise you’re just doing a rehash, looking through a familiar window with different window dressing.

If they go this route, then I’d hope they’d ring in a surprise or two, like the Gorn NOT doing the human thing at the end, or acting strictly out of its own nature, because short or brainwashing, you usually can’t successfully teach or instill new views in others, unless you’re the real James T. Kirk. Harlan Ellison’s SOLDIER ep of OUTER LIMITS might be a good model, though you could go more fully tragic, and have the Gorn kill a regular or semi-regular before it all resolves, leaving a question about the whole idea of even thinking that truly understanding an alien culture is possible, or even advisable.

(this may just be me this morning, but I don’t see how it is even possible to understand the current elected-Republican point of view regarding most things as anything other than overtly criminal, to say nothing of ethically bankrupt on what may well be a near-genocidal level.)

Well, they already did that too, in the episode where Odo tries to raise a young Jem’Hadar. Spoiler… it didn’t go well.

I found this podcast particularly entertaining. It’s very interesting to have Laurie present perfectly valid arguments on why she didn’t like this episode that much, and have Anthony present equally valid arguments why he did like the episode, and still have both disagreeing. And I found it funny when both were turning around the same issues over and over again, apparently hoping the other would concede… That’s what debating is all about. If my favorite colour is emerald green, you can present all the arguments in the world why you think magenta is a nicer color, I’ll never agree!

It was fulfilling to listen to both Laurie and Anthony to try to see it from their perspective…

So glad you enjoyed it. You’re right! It’s like arguing about a song… some people are going to like it and some people aren’t. My husband and I have very different musical taste and noticed that when we both like the same song, we are actually listening to different parts of it. IDIC!

Thank you for your feedback.

And obviously the correct answer is cobalt blue

Dude… it’s crimson.

Laurie, why does the Enterprise bridge look so futuristic as compared to Kirk’s bridge? Why does the ship itself have more detail than Kirk’s Enterprise? I noticed the shuttlecraft are far more sleek and modern. Why is Pike’s Enterprise shooting ‘phasers’ when they should be shooting ‘lasers’? Don’t even get me started about the communicators…

I appreciate what your concerns are regarding canon but I suggest sitting back and enjoying the show. I am in my 50’s and have watched Kirk and Spock fight the Gorn in ‘Arena’ a thousand times and I still don’t feel offended when I watch SNW and their interpretation. Every single movie, series, book, and DVD has offended canon in some way (Chekov didn’t meet Khan, Klingons have bumpy heads, the Enterprise is way more than 20 years old, Spock has a sister and a brother but didn’t tell Kirk, Traveling to the centre of the galaxy, why is Sulu freezing on a planet…send the Shuttlecraft!!…etc :)

“Canon is only important to certain people because they have to cling to their knowledge of the minutiae…Open your mind! Be a ‘Star Trek’ fan and open your mind and say, ‘Where does Star Trek want to take me now’.” Mr. Leonard Nimoy.

Who are we to argue with Mr. Nimoy?

Cheers.

Hi Trev! I’m also in my 50s and have been watching since I was a kid. I was not offended by anything and that’s not what stopped me from enjoying it. And you know me, I don’t pick on all those things. I just felt like this was a big one, not a small one. I don’t care if Kirk’s cabin number (or middle initial) changes, I wrote a whole editorial for TrekMovie about why Spock never mentioned a sister before as it made perfect sense to me. I also know that when they made TOS, they never thought in a million years there would be multiple series and movies 50 years later. I make a lot of allowances because I want to enjoy all the shows as much as I can.

At first I found Laurie’s position unreasonable, but I understand her big hang-up with the canon shortcuts. The only defense I can give it is that the show-runners still have a long story to tell and an opportunity to resolve this. So my head-cannon is simply deferred until the next Gorn episode, but I have my doubts. But I absolutely don’t understand how any part of this episode can be considered boring considering how many fantastic character beats there are throughout, never-mind all the action set pieces. To summarize this as nothing more than a submarine movie “and I don’t like that genre” sounds irrational or even intolerant.

Intolerant? Oh come on, some people just aren’t into military focused stories. That’s okay. Thankfully Trek is all about variety.

“To summarize this as nothing more than a submarine movie “and I don’t like that genre” sounds irrational or even intolerant.”

Neither irrational nor intolerant, in any way. We like what we like. Argue against her points, sure, but insulting the reviewer is, well, irrational.

I strongly recommend you rewatch “Arena” without prejudice. It fits. Enterprise finds unknown configuration starship. Then the Metrons are the ones to say it is the Gorn. And we even get a close on Spock when the Gorn are mentioned, and you get a feeling he recognized the word.

And then Kirk says: “the creature the Metrons call a Gorn”. From that we take there’s no good picture or visual description of the Gorn going around Starfleet. Kirk doesn’t know how the Gorn look, and he decided not to take the Metron’s word at face value.

Last but not least, you’re taking La’an’s words, based on trauma, as Gospel. It’s okay to think the Gorn are pure evil in 2259 and find out maybe not in 2267.

And let’s face it: the Gorn WERE VERY MUCH EVIL in “Arena”. They prepared a embush for the Enterprise, much like here, and killed every man, woman and children on Cestus III, even when they tried to surrender. I don’t see how this is much better than here. If the Gorn are unforgivable for what they do here, they should be seen like that in “Arena” as well, and then Kirk was wrong. Also, I don’t think the Metrons would be very impressed with compassion for reasonable adversaries. The hard part for Kirk was to have compassion for a ruthless enemy.

When going into deep canon discussions, please, go back to the original reference before proclaiming violations…

Um… we both rewatched “Arena,” an episode we’ve seen many, many times. None of my issues have to do with them not having discussed the Gorn before the Metrons said who they were. I think the legit point here is that La’an’s info may not be completely reliable… but it’s a leap to assume Kirk thought the Metrons were wrong about it being the Gorn, and it was clear he’d never heard the term before.

Also, the big turnaround for Kirk (and Spock and McCoy) was that the Gorn thought the colonists were invaders. That was the moment when things shifted, when Kirk considered that maybe they thought they were defending themselves against an attack.

It’s a different ship! Unknown configuration! How could they know its a Gorn ship before the Metrons tell them? Or, framing it more properly, is someone required or expected to recognize the origin of an unknown ship just because they saw another ship from the same group about a decade earlier?

It is important to see old episodes without prejudice. The problem is EXACTLY that we saw those episodes many, many times before. We drew conclusions based on them alone that bring a bias. The exercise is to see how the new episodes (earlier in the timeline) INFORM the old ones, versus contradicting what we THOUGHT was firmly established.

I never suggested that Spock would have known it was the Gorn before the Metrons identified them.

So I really don’t get when Spock was supposed to say something in “Arena”… On the other hand, I can imagine his scientific curiosity was peaked by watching Kirk fight the Gorn, considering the small glimpses he had so far of the race in La’an’s mind.

I watched “Memento Mori” and ended it thinking “yup, they screwed up canon.” And then I watched “Arena” back to back and felt “they actually didn’t it.” Instead, what they screwed up was what I supposed I’d known based on “Arena”… And I found that exercise very illuminating, personally. It makes much more sense to watch “Arena” thinking there were previous contacts, but always assymetrical, since the Gorn knew much more about the Federation than the Federation about the Gorn back then.

But anyway, to each its own… I find “Memento Mori” improves my canon experience and my perception of “Arena”, not detracts from it.

It’s one thing to look at these shows with an open mind, but reading these posts of yours, it seems like you’re just acting as an apologist for the current showrunners at Trek. You probably ought to look up Dennis Bailey’s old posts about ENTERPRISE on trekbbs, you’ll find a similar mindset, one I think sounds suspect to the point of being disinformation.

I don’t even feel they need an apology, so I couldn’t be an apologist. They’re doing a TV show, not running a country or something. They have absolutely NO obligation to follow anything such as “canon.” This is something that they do or don’t based on what their artistic inclination is, not some edict or rule of law they could break and need an apologist for it.

It just so happens that I don’t think they have violated canon in this particular instance (next week will be a closer call, but still within reason, I think). You can differ. And let’s keep in mind they are part of canon by themselves. Canon is not equal to perfectly congruous. Or we couldn’t have cloaking devices in Enterprise, transwarp in Star Trek III, a Klingon ship that fires cloaked in Star Trek VI, and so on…

I’m firmly and increasingly in the group that views this take on the Gorn as a smart strategic decision to salvage one of the most memed episode in the franchise (after the TNG facepalms).

While I can accept that it’s very off putting for a subset of older fans, many or even most of us don’t have the head canon that many here are rigidly holding to.

I checked in with my spouse after we watched Memento Mori today. They got introduced to Star Trek through the TOS syndicated reruns in the early 70s, and my mum-in-law is a dedicated fan.

Interestingly, their reaction was that this episode finally began to make sense of the Gorn being a serious threat in Arena.

As my spouse hadn’t seen any of the reviews or social media, I explained the views represented by Laurie about it being a canon violation because it was a presented as First Contact scenario in Arena.

Beyond an immediate “but that makes no sense!” reaction to concerns about canon, my spouse was focused on how the strategic and tactical scenario in Arena only made sense if the Gorn were a well established threat about which there were significant gaps in intelligence.

So, taking Arena as an early episode in TOS that has its own internal inconsistencies between the subtext of dialogue and the evident strategic scenario, why not try to salvage it by filling in the backstory?

Thank you. I couldn’t have said it better.

Henry Alonso Myers has already copped to the intentional choices to remix canon when discussing T’Pring. He has said they watch the episodes and basically find clues or wiggle room in the original episodes to do what they want to do in the new episodes. Meaning, the people making SNW very much understood the intention of “Arena” — that this was Starfleet & the Enterprise crew’s first encounter with the Gorn — but found angles (as you mention in your comment that you did yourself) and omissions or dialogue that could be bent or utilized in the way they preferred to do it.

Making those types of choices are clearly going to be a problem for people who remember Star Trek a certain way — in a way that even the current show producers admit is the way that they read the old show, too. They just want to do their own thing. And I think the part where they admit the part that they know what the original intent was, they’re just choosing to discard it, is the key part of why it will be a problem for some or possibly even a great many TOS fans who bother to post online going forward.

(whispering) which is why we should all just consider this a reboot, no matter which side of their mouth the producers decide to talk out of to say it’s not.

“And I think the part where they admit the part that they know what the original intent was, they’re just choosing to discard it, is the key part of why it will be a problem for some or possibly even a great many TOS fans who bother to post online going forward.”

Exactly! You stated it perfectly with those two words: original intent. That’s why it doesn’t feel organic. They are basically changing canon but somehow suggesting this could’ve been the intent all along and I’m just not buying it. When Discovery tried to pull the same thing, they basically knew that wouldn’t fly a lot of times and why they just ‘classified’ stuff as an easy cop out. And maybe they will eventually do some of the same things here too. It’s super early so who knows.

A good example of changing original intent was when Una revealed she was Illyrian, that was fine because we know practically nothing of the character and while we met Illyrians on Enterprise, we learned nothing about them as well. So you have tons of breathing room to do whatever you want with both of them. Now I’m guessing she was always suppose to be human in the Cage, but since 80% of aliens look human on Star Trek, you can get away with it. And they even found a logical reason to explain why she looks more human since Illyrians use genetic engineering to fit into their environment. So you can buy that. Still a little far fetched, but it works.

But with the Gorn, it’s trickier because it’s obvious with anyone watching Arena, they knew nothing about the Gorn they supposedly encountered a few years ago. It just doesn’t ring true to what we saw in the episode. Just saying Spock didn’t mention the Gorn because Kirk can’t hear the guy is a ridiculous argument. I can only imagine how that would fly if the Borg showed up for the first time but the first officer had previous experience with them. So why wouldn’t he tell them who the Gorn are and what they are capable of? La’an certainly did.

But I just think this discussion is moving the goalpost to ridiculous level. If you are OK with the changes, again, fine. But to pretend they are not there is a different issue entirely.

I think this is where I net out as well. I can move on, I can enjoy the show (and I do, very much). But I don’t want to pretend they’re not breaking canon, even if I do enjoy the results most of the time.

This is getting like SCOTUS in terms of arguing pro/con what the original intent of something was, in a time when meaning might not be the same. It’ll be hard to go fully cold turkey again here, but maybe it is time for me to at least look in a lot less regularly.

I’m with you kmart.

Laurie, I am with you on the review of this episode and how it spits on “Arena” AND I am with you 100% on “Arena” not actually being a great episode of TOS, too.

Yeah I never thought Arena was a great episode either. Decent, but far from great. It’s another reason why I’m not too bothered canon was changed. And they were only in that one episode.

But the point still stands to me. To try and pretend like Arena wasn’t the first time they made first contact is just disingenuous to me. And what I mean is until now, I have never heard a single discussion anywhere that suggested it wasn’t. I have never heard a theory any place that they had ran into the Gorn previously. It was accepted it was their first run in for a reason, because the episode implied that. So you can argue it, on the internet you can argue anything, but it still disingenuous to suggest that’s not what the episode was stating.

To me, this is exactly what happened with Khan in STID. I remember being on IMDB at the time and for the people who liked Cumberbatch as Khan was now arguing how do we really know Khan was suppose to be from India? As if that’s been some big question mark for the last 40+ years. Even though it was stated officially on Star Trek.com as him being from India, written in countless novels and was never disputed by anyone who actually made the episode. But now, a movie comes along that is changing canon because the film makers were either too lazy or apathetic to just find a more appropriate actor. Now suddenly 40 years later the background of an iconic character is in question. I just rolled my eyes.

Now the difference is Khan is an iconic character. Even some people who don’t watch Star Trek knows who he is. Not the same with the Gorn. They are not ‘iconic’ and basically just been a background species up until now. It’s why I don’t have a huge problem with it. You want to retcon it, FINE! But I’m not going to just pretend it’s not being retcon either.

Watching now, Arena isn’t great at all, but it does allow you to imagine it’s greatness without giving you the urge to disparage it too much.

But it was great when we were 12!!

I actually think that SNW has a chance of redeeming Arena, and elevating it beyond joke meme status.

My posts get erased every time I point out that some of us don’t like the…..W..O..K..E…aspect of the episodes. For example, the way the junior officers sass the Captain. That would never happen in a military environment.

Pike doesn’t really come off like an military type. More like a cool dad as long as you obey the rules.

This is only a quasi-military environment, though, so your point is quasi-relevant at best.

Also true. They don’t call themselves soldiers, but explorers. On DS9, your favorite show, when the Dominion war broke out, you heard them call themselves solidiers a lot more but that was war time.

Very accurate observation Bryant, though reading that gave me a flashback to when the series QUARK was on TV in the late 70s. The episode titles were mostly all riffs on popular movies, and one of them was ALL THE EMPEROR’S QUASI-NORMS – Your post was funnier than the ep as I recall.

How is sassing the captain woke?

Young people working in an environment where there is rank to determine who is in command, then thinking that they can disregard it because it interferes with them wanting to shoot their mouth off during a critical moment. Their obvious disdain for the command structure weakens the very environment in the first place, thereby endangering everyone during a crisis.
Woke equals ignorant.

I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

Ha! Agreed.

I like your use of the line from Princess Bride.
Not to be too facetious, but a lot of people employ “woke” in demanding that the world adapt to what they want, compared to them adapting to the world.
Some causes might have merit, but many are just plain stupid. Grow up and take responsibility for yourself, and stop blaming the whole world for your shortcomings.

Uhm, here’s a counterpoint.

New military models of behaviour encourage independent thinking and leaders that accept and manage their soldiers emotions.

Armies under the new model of independent thinking and action by junior officers and NCOs, are more effective.

Imposing the expectations of a dated model to a military organization centuries from now doesn’t really scan.

Yes, except for one thing; In the heat of battle, during a critical moment, where there is only a split second to react, you want a leader’s orders to be followed instantly, not to be discussed or debated with wise ass remarks being made. Even in the future, when time is of the essence during a heated conflict, quick reaction to a tense situation will still play a critical role in coming out on top.
The smart ass comments can be enjoyed AFTER the battle, assuming you survive.

Laurie, you were just fine with the pablum / drivel spooned out during the past 8 episodes of Picard (and the last two seasons of Discovery) but you are up in arms over a few minor “violations” of canon in an episode of a series which is actually well-written and well-directed? Sorry, does not compute for me.

I think we spent most of ‘Picard” complaining (me more so than Tony, I think), and were quite vocal about Discovery’s flaws as well. And lol, I’m not “up in arms.” I talked about many aspects of the episode I liked, and said it was well made but not my genre, and objected to the idea that Spock had a battle with the Gorn he never mentioned years later when they encountered them again. Can I recommend you listen to the episode again? (Maybe all of them, lol.)

Well, the “complaining” of both you and Anthony P. was certainly couched in very diplomatic terms I would say. I prefer the more direct approach, as both of you took here (to popular acclaim).

I’ll be honest, I don’t think we discussed this any differently than any other episode. And your description (that I was up in arms, that we ignored the good directing and writing, that we were okay with the recent season of Picard) is inaccurate. But of course I hope you keep listening.

Tony and Laurie,

So I am going to address the Gorn controversy right away. You are both right.

Laurie: I re-watched Arena and it was implied it was first contact with the Gorn. Plus, I was waiting for Spock to say something about La’an and his experience with Pike. It never surfaced. So, yes, Memento Mori does violate canon with TOS. And yes, I agree they should have used a new species. Akiva and Alex just can’t help themselves, which is a problem because we are hoping for original ideas and aliens.

Tony: I enjoyed this episode so much, I am going to head canon like crazy to make it fit within canon. I want to enjoy this show so I will make it work. Maybe, I can convince myself there is a deleted scene of Arena inside the Paramount vault where he talks about his experience with Pike. Lol. Or it happens off screen.

Why I loved this episode. I have two reasons.

#1 I am trained in military history. I have a huge collection of WWII films, including the best submarine films. As a trekkie, Balance of Terror is my favorite TOS episode. DS9 is my favorite series. I loved how DS9 tackled war and its impact on people. I absolutely loved Lorca and the mirror universe in S1 of Disco. I loved this episode. Captain Pike nailed it as a tactician. My only complaint was sidelining Una for La’an. I want to see her command some more. She was a strategic planner in S2 of disco and I want to see more of her.

#2 I am a Texas educator and our state has recently suffered a tragedy. When these things happens, it sends my anxiety and mind into overdrive. Hearing Pike talking about not giving into fear, not backing down, and his message of hope to La’an was what I needed to hear. I needed someone to tell me that. I teared up hearing that. And that is what Star Trek does for me. This is my favorite episode so far.

I loved both of your viewpoints this week. I hope you two are still friends. Lets not let the Gorn be the Yoko Ono of the All Access Trek Podcast. lol.

LLAP!

Thanks for you thoughtful response. And I’m happy you enjoyed the episode! I think the vast majority of fans did too. I also liked Pike’s speeches and I think that was one of the main points of the episode. And hey, I’m a Yoko fan (again, I’m in the minority, sigh), but of course Tony & I always have a great time recording the podcast, whether we agree or not. I’ve described it as almost meditation-like, in the sense that while we record, I am 100% focused on what we’re doing and not distracted by anything else… a rarity for me for sure! Tony’s the best!

Thank you for your comments and POV. You can be sure that any debate we have over Star Trek is just part of the joy of our shared love of the franchise and nothing can impact our friendship and I can only hope that comes through on the pod

It does. I can tell you two have a great friendship. I think that’s what makes me come back every week to listen to you.

Next time you interview Akiva Goldsman or the other SNW producers can you please ask them about how they see their use of the Gorn fitting in with the TOS Gorn? Do you think that they have some explanation mapped out for how SNW Gorn connect with TOS Gorn?

Thanks for the great podcast. I always enjoy them but this one was particularly interesting as you both had such contrasting opinions and also very valid reasons as to why you enjoyed and why you didn’t. The fact that I’ve not seen this episode (or any SNW) and won’t until P+ is available here in the UK end of June, just adds to the intrigue!

You understandably mentioned “Arena” a lot. For me this episode is a text book example of what distinguishes Star Trek from the Sci-fi shows of that era. Namely, that in TOS peers, the monster (of the week) would have been killed by the Captain, whereas in Star Trek it showed that there was another path, one which was rewarded at the end of the episode when the Metron’s reveal themselves to “a most promising species”.

These arguments make sense IF we know the entire history between this episode and Arena. All that you need is a season 2 episode where the Gorn and Starfleet meet each other, they fight, Metrons or whoever erase their minds. Or it classified again.

While I did like the episode I found myself agreeing with Laurie’s points with regard to canon and the characters. I really wish the show runners had just put Discovery and Strange New Worlds 50 or 100 years after TNG then we wouldn’t have to worry about them crapping on continuity.

Discovery certainly! But SNW only exists because people wanted a Pike show, so that wouldn’t fly.

Its been a while since I’ve seen Arena, but was it ever explicitly stated that Kirk had never heard of the Gorn? Its possible that Spock and Uhura didn’t say anything because they knew that it was common knowledge that the Enterprise had gone up against the Gorn before.

I gotta say I’m so happy with SNW because now after watching Disco and Picard we no longer argue about bad writing and melodrama but instead the only thing we find wrong and tiny bits and pieces that don’t fit with canon of a show made 50 years ago. I love it.

This was a unrealistic episode. Too much talking during emergency situations. Actually during emergency situations training and duty comes into play. No emotions. Emotions come into play during lulls.