Star Trek: Discovery: The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry
October 8, 2017 7:53 PM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

The Discovery fires up their new drive for the first time.

And we're off to the races.

Brief recap:
We get a very fancy CGI shot of Michael's uniform being generated. She's temporarily assigned to the science department, but with no rank. While she was in the shower, Tilly brought her mail: her inheritance from the late Captain Georgiou, which Michael has neither the time nor the heart to open.

She's called to the bridge. Along the way, we learn that Saru wasn't even informed she'd be staying, and we learn that Saru has something called 'threat ganglia,' which react quite strongly to Michael's continued presence on the ship.

On the bridge, Lorca is conducting battle drills. The crew fails to fend off a couple of Klingon Birds of Prey. We learn that the spore drive is at least partially functional already, allowing them to go literally anywhere... but without backup.

After this, Lorca takes Michael to his personal weapons lab, home to 'some of the deadliest weapons known.' He says he wants to learn from the best, and assigns Michael to weaponize the tardigrade-monster from last week. Landry's put to work with Michael, and wants to dub the creature 'Ripper.'

Meanwhile, T'Kuvma's ship has fallen on hard times. It's been six months, and Voq refuses to repair the ship because doing so would require salvaging the Shenzou, which he considers blasphemous. This is another departure from earlier depictions of Klingons: most Klingons are into looting and raiding in prior shows, but Voq is adamant about refusing to assimilate/integrate Federation technology onto a holy ship. His second persuades him. We also learn that she is from House Mokai, 'the weavers of lies,' and that while she was a part of T'Kuvma's cause, she never really gave that up either. The two of them go to the Shenzou and find both mutual respect and a needed dilithium device. Vol also returns, wanting their cloaked ship back in the fight.

We also learn the Klingons eat other sapients in this continuity: Voq and his people apparently ate Georgiou.

Back on the Discovery, Landry is assigned to help Michael. They disagree about the creature: Landry thinks it's a murder machine, probably with 'rage glands.' Michael thinks it's unwise to judge the creature 'by its appearance, and one incident in its past.' She clearly identifies with it a bit. Landry gets impatient, tries to sedate the creature to sever one of its limbs for Michael to study. The creature isn't impressed with the sedatives, the phaser or Landry generally, and tosses her around like a rag doll. Michael is able to get the creature back into containment by raising the lights to maximum, but Landry dies of her wounds.

Meanwhile, one of the Federation's most important dilithium mining colonies is under Klingon attack, and up to 40% of Starfleet's dilithium production is at risk. The nearest ship is '84 hours away,' making Discovery the only ship able to get there in time. Lorca tells the Admiral they can make the jump. Stamets tells Lorca they don't have the processing power.

They try the jump anyway, and nearly jump directly into a star. Lacking metaphasic shields, they're forced to make a hasty retreat. However, Ripper reacts to the jump before it even happens, leading Michael to believe it's able to perceive the fungal transwarp space. She tests whether it's actually dangerous by luring Saru there. He calls her out on being a horrible person and storms off, but it's enough to convince her to bring Stamets in.

They discover that the creature is a natural spore-space navigator, and the device from the Glenn was an interface to use it as such. Unfortunately - and Michael is the only one who seems to care - the device is incredibly painful to Ripper.

Discovery's second jump is successful, and they're able to both defeat the Klingons and get away without being identified by the colonists, preserving their cover. Michael offers Ripper a treat and an apology. She also opens Georgiou's package, and finds a telescope and an inspirational speech.

Meanwhile, Vol has taken Voq's ship, largely by feeding his starving crew. Vol wants to kill Voq, but Voq's second gets him tossed to the derelict Shenzou instead, where she joins him and offers him a chance to go to the Matriarchs of House Mokai and learn what he needs to know. She warns him it will cost him 'everything.'

Poster's Log:
* I was wrong about the transwarp.

Guess the fairy paths may be how Section 31 gets around, as posited by others last time. The Discovery's drive works fine, but at a price Starfleet would never render mainstream.

* Michael - and the show - are maybe less grimndark than advertised.

Landry's attempt to use force is portrayed as literally suicidal, whereas Michael's attempt to understand and communicate with Ripper is successful. It does indeed appear that the show is leaning more toward DS9 than BSG, at least from tonight's episode.

* The Klingons eat people this time.

I mentioned it above, but it's worth mentioning again: ewww.

* Michael's taken a huge risk every single episode.

This is the only time it wasn't a jump, but she just stood there and let the creature out, this time with Tilly at her side. It was highly illogical: she should've beamed in, rather than risking allowing Ripper loose if she was wrong.
posted by mordax (80 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Meanwhile, Vol has taken Voq's ship, largely by feeding his starving crew.

Voq isn't the sharpest Bat'leth in the drawer, is he? Vol was literally the only guy against T'Kuvma, and now he's buddies? Also, why exactly aren't any of the other Houses helping out? They can't do a food run? Share a warp drive?

They discover that the creature is a natural spore-space navigator

The spores must flow!

She warns him it will cost him 'everything.'

Ridges? Is he gonna lose the ridges?

Alternatively, the ability to father children and create a house?
posted by leotrotsky at 8:05 PM on October 8 [9 favorites]


Did the Discovery just leave all those survivors at the mining colony? Assuming they arrived right at the end of the 6 hour window, the next ship is still ~80 hours away. That's 80 hours without food, water, medical care for their injured, and no guarantees the Klingons aren't sitting on a second wave. That, and the way the survivors seemed unsurprised that their saviors didn't stick around to help with the aftermath, was jarring.

Even though it was in character and her own damn fault, I'm bummed they killed off another WOC character.

Captain Georgiou's speech and Burnham's reaction were so moving; that scene was beautiful.

I think the "everything" Voq will lose will be his honor. Not just other Klingons' perception of his honor, but his ability to consider himself honorable by his own standards. He'll wind up like the Operative in described himself in Serenity, as someone who commits atrocities to create paradise and subsequently finds it barred against him. (Count me among the pleased if he turns out to be the albino who pops up in DS9.)

It's been mentioned before, but the more Klingon gets spoken, the more distractingly un-Klingon it sounds. I don't remember it sounding so...palatal? Is that the word? There seem to be fewer hard consonants and more zh-type sounds. It almost sounds like Klingon pig latin(um?).
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 10:31 PM on October 8 [6 favorites]


That was bad.

The actress playing a Klingon spoke the language more naturally. The Klingon scenes are laborious, otherwise.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:25 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]


Ivan, agreed re L'Rell's speech.

leotrotsky, the spores must flow indeed. We made jokes earlier about the fairy roads being an incarnation (insporification?) of the Infinite Improbability Drive, but the best-known prior "probabilistic" FTL in SFF is indeed that of the Dune books. It's hard to see the poor tardigrade bear as anything BUT a nod to the Navigators.

I actively scoffed at the telescope in its' prior appearence in Captain Giorgiou's quarters. I'm actually kind of quite surprised to see it here, unless the 'scope previously seen was a replicated version. If it's the actual same one, that implies that the Federation somehow sent a scavenging and recovery team to the Shenzou to retrieve it without scavenging the vessel for other useful things, such as, oh, I dunno, a dilithium converter whatsit. Or crew manifest iPads.

RIP Landry. We hardly knew ye.
posted by mwhybark at 12:09 AM on October 9 [5 favorites]


So, given that Lorca and Michael seem to be at cross-purposes, we're eventually going to see a "justified" mutiny later in the season? Interested to see Lorca getting fleshed out - he certainly seems to hold the crew in contempt as "polite" and "wide-eyed explorers" when he'd much rather have soldiers.

Also, did anyone else spit-take at the mention of Elon Musk alongside the Wright Brothers and Zefram Cochrane?
posted by Start with Dessert at 1:17 AM on October 9 [11 favorites]


That was probably my favourite episode of the four so far. It felt the most reminicisent of Star Trek as we know and I like seeing the crew a bit more, intereacting with others and not just Michael.

Some of the special effects had me oohing out loud.

I love the connection between Michael and the tardigrade. Moral dilemmas, ahoy!

I'm warming up to all the characters, although Lorca is as twisted as predicted.

Also, I know I'm in the minority but I'm a fan of the new Klingons. I'm already engaged in the relationship between Voq and L'rell, I found their eyes so expressive in their conversations with each other.
posted by liquorice at 1:54 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]


Other stray thoughts:

- I thought Captain Georgiou's speech to Michael was so touching and a fitting juxtaposition to all the events before that in the episode.

- I kind of ship Stamets and the Doctor? Am I imagining things?

- Michael saying "fascinating". Squee!

- Am all for the mural respect that is developing between Michael and Cadet Tilly, please don't kill her off/make her turn out to be a secret operative.
posted by liquorice at 1:58 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]


- I kind of ship Stamets and the Doctor? Am I imagining things?

You're not imagining things.
posted by crossoverman at 3:07 AM on October 9 [6 favorites]


I love that the Doctor is Rickie from My So-Called Life.
posted by dayintoday at 3:42 AM on October 9 [8 favorites]


The scriptwriting relies on structural parallels more than any other ST series I can think of at the moment. This time around, Voq & L'Rell's trip to the Shenzhou reversed Burnham's & Georgiou's trip to the Klingon ship, with almost equally disastrous results (although L'Rell managed to save her leader's life, at least), while food was key to both the tardigrade and Klingon loyalty plots. Similarly, both L'Rell and Burnham saved their respective superiors by following their own tactical and intellectual instincts, whereas Landry died because she insisted on adhering strictly to Lorca's priorities. The parallels do raise some potentially interesting questions about Lorca's future--is his own Kol going to show up?--as well as Burnham's.

Other thoughts:

Poor tardigrade. This plot reminded me of "Devil in the Dark," except that the ship is exploiting the Horta equivalent instead of co-existing with it. Burnham seems to be the only one who realizes that there's a problem here.

Voq is at least capable of recognizing that L'Rell has more brains than he does.

I liked that Burnham continued to be clueless (the bit with Saru) even when she was saving the day. That being said, the series also seems to be recalibrating ST's habit of celebrating human feeling over Vulcan logic, as Burnham's ability to negotiate between the two is what enables her to solve the tardigrade mystery in the first place.
posted by thomas j wise at 4:48 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]


ON THE KLINGON CALENDAR EVERY DAY IS CAPSLOCK DAY! QAPLA'!
posted by peeedro at 5:43 AM on October 9 [18 favorites]


The show is going from strength to strength so far, thoroughly enjoying it. Poor tardigrade!
posted by Coaticass at 5:56 AM on October 9


The scriptwriting relies on structural parallels

It seems there's also some parallels between Burnham and Voq being drawn:

* Voq, we learn, has been on a ship which has been adrift for the past six months. Burnham was metaphorically adrift for six months in prison. (Credit to Engage: The Official Star Trek Podcast for this observation.) Although, Voq is still adrift, just on a different ship, but it seems L'Rell has a plan.

* Voq is "son of none" where one's family carries a great deal of weight in Klingon culture; Burnham is assigned "rank: none" in Starfleet.

Also, Lorca has the only ship in Starfleet with basically teleportation capability; the Klingon who usurped Voq (and whose name I forget) has the only ship in the Empire with cloaking technology.

Aside: in TOS, only Romulans had cloaking technology; the first time a Klingon ship with a cloaking device was seen was STIII:TSFS. It's been assumed (and perhaps mentioned in non-canon works?) that the Romulans shared the technology with the Klingons at some point, but Discovery seems to be suggesting that the Klingons developed it independently of the Romulans. Which I'm totally fine with, independent invention is a thing in real life so I find that plausible.

On an unrelated note, I squee a little bit whenever they re-use some TOS sound effect: in this case, the medical monitors in sickbay.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:57 AM on October 9 [6 favorites]


So that's what happened to Rickie. And a doctor, too. Good for him!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:12 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]


I think the "everything" Voq will lose will be his honor. Not just other Klingons' perception of his honor, but his ability to consider himself honorable by his own standards.

In the 23rd century, the House of Mo'Kai was infamous for being composed of "watchers and deceivers" - employing tactics of espionage and subterfuge that other Great Houses considered dishonorable compared to a frontal assault.

Yeah, I think you're right on the money.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:26 AM on October 9 [6 favorites]


On an unrelated note, I squee a little bit whenever they re-use some TOS sound effect: in this case, the medical monitors in sickbay.

That actually made me grit my teeth. That sick bay sound was designed to mimic a heartbeat, showing the viewer that there was a scanner monitoring a person's health condition. That's good sound design, using sound to reinforce the action or location onscreen.

Discovery used it right before they told us Landry was dead. It was incongruous, a heartbeat-like sound in a death scene. That was putting fan service in front of storytelling.
posted by peeedro at 7:29 AM on October 9 [9 favorites]


What was the reasoning behind the abandoning of the Shenzhou? For that matter, why did the Federation leave the area at all? It's a disputed area, but didn't the battle end with the incapacitation of T'Kuvma's ship? The Shenzhou was heavily damaged, but why would you abandon a salvageable ship in a time of war?
posted by leotrotsky at 7:37 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]


Perhaps the amount of debris represents a navigation hazard?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:11 AM on October 9


Also, did anyone else spit-take at the mention of Elon Musk alongside the Wright Brothers and Zefram Cochrane?

I guess he's on there for SpaceX type stuff, but I didn't like it for two reasons. One, Musk isn't that great and two, I'm struggling to imagine what he'd be up to in a timeline where we're still reeling from the Eugenics Wars, and laying the groundwork for WWIII right now.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 8:32 AM on October 9 [9 favorites]


He just made ICBMs really cheap by giving them reusable first stage boosters?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:52 AM on October 9 [11 favorites]


It's been mentioned before, but the more Klingon gets spoken, the more distractingly un-Klingon it sounds. I don't remember it sounding so...palatal? Is that the word? There seem to be fewer hard consonants and more zh-type sounds. It almost sounds like Klingon pig latin(um?).

I told a friend after watching the first episode that it sounded like all the Klingons were talking like they had marshmallows in their mouths. I'm wondering if it's caused by the false teeth the actors have to wear.
posted by zsazsa at 8:59 AM on October 9 [5 favorites]


Is it just me, is is there way more teleporting around the ship in lieu of walking or turbolifts on this show than in other Treks?
posted by zsazsa at 9:02 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]


A bit of trivia which probably carries no further significance: this makes the second Star Trek series in which a female chief security officer is killed in the first season.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:21 AM on October 9 [10 favorites]


I'm struggling to imagine what he'd be up to in a timeline where we're still reeling from the Eugenics Wars, and laying the groundwork for WWIII right now.


He built the prototype spaceframe for what became the Botany Bay?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:27 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]


I liked that Saru called out the similarities between Michael and Lorca. There's a lot of interesting dynamics at play and I'm really getting into this series.
posted by slimepuppy at 11:27 AM on October 9 [2 favorites]


It was good seeing a bit of traditional Starfleet values actually saving the day, in Burnham's curiosity about the tardi-beasty, and also her obvious concern at its distress. Both bode well, I hope, for where they're taking this.

The hologram communications still startle me a bit, but I've adopted the same attitude towards Star Trek now that I'd take for various productions of Shakespeare's plays. I don't bat an eye at the idea of Hamlet staged in 1920s speakeasy New York, and so I figure if I just look at any given Star Trek series as just another production, I can simply let anachronisms go as part of the staging.

Saru's turning out to be an interesting character, in my mind. I rolled my eyes at the concept of his species when it was announced, but as usual, Doug Jones is doing a stellar job underneath all that makeup, and really sells the character. That man does not get enough credit, in my mind. I think what he does is even more impressive than what Andy Serkis pulls off, though I certainly don't want to sell him short either. Jones consistently has to emote under heavy makeup and prosthetics.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 1:12 PM on October 9 [11 favorites]


I'm already engaged in the relationship between Voq and L'rell, I found their eyes so expressive in their conversations with each other.

It's impressive how much texture their dynamic has in spite of the awkwardness of the makeup and the weirdness of the language. I can't be the only one who heard "Shall we uncouple?" launch a thousand fanfics.

Another parallel between Burnham and Voq: Both are struggling to reconcile their self-perceptions with their mentors' faith in them. Voq, dogged by the shame of failing T'Kuvma, is already willing to do absolutely anything to redeem T'Kuvma's death, even if it means losing himself. But Burnham will be carried forward by the grace of Georgiou's profound but clear-eyed affection. The faith she expresses in Burnham in her final message will give her something to live up to, and I think will be the rock she stands on for Federation values when Lorca inevitably goes (to borrow my partner's phrase) "31 flavors of Section 31."

I'm still bummed the show killed off Landry, but on reflection it was probably to open up opportunities for tensions between Lorca, Burnham, and Saru. It will be interesting to see that develop.

Anachronism nitpick: They have interstellar holograms but are still using handheld flip-top communicators?
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 1:16 PM on October 9 [4 favorites]


(last night I flashed on the fact this this is the first time I have Trekked out, as it were, with you people on a first-run Trek in real time. happy to be aboard.)
posted by mwhybark at 1:20 PM on October 9 [11 favorites]


The communicators and hand phasers are 100% fanservice, and they seem very out of place with the rest of the aesthetic of the show, especially. I'm mostly at peace with my desire for a TOS-era show to stick closer to the 60's low budget retro future stylings. Now my biggest complaint is what has obliquely been brought up over and over again in this thread: Several people have posted how there are obvious parallels between characters and I think that's true and good, but the show seems like a series of scripted sequences rather than an organic story.

They've done little to try to make me interested in any of the characters other than Michael (Stamets and his "I don't want to be here I'm just in it for the research" attitude is the only other character I want to know more about). I can't imagine another Trek where we don't know at least the names of all the bridge crew by the fourth episode, it's OK if they're not important to the story but why in space are they still the most visually interesting characters on the series?

The Shenzou had Lt. Daft Punk and now the Discovery has Lt. Silver Slug Temple and Lt. (Cy)Borg. Star Trek fully embracing cyberpunk transhumanism and all we know about them is they're bad at simulated Klingon encounters but OK at real Klingon encounters as long as they Trust the Fungus? The Next Generation had lots of also-ran bridge crew but they were smart enough to not include a Lt. Figwit on the watchbill. Like, imagine watching the first few episodes of The Next Generation and seeing this random pale gold dude over and over wondering what his deal was.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:53 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


The communicators and hand phasers are 100% fanservice, and they seem very out of place with the rest of the aesthetic of the show, especially.

I'm hoping that if the show stays on, they slowly introduce more and more bits and pieces of the TOS aesthetic, and by the time we're in the 5th or so season, it'll be 100% cardboard sets, papier-mache rocks, and sewn-on insignia.
posted by zsazsa at 2:03 PM on October 9 [23 favorites]


Loving this series so far. It's growing on me with every episode.

Picking up the parallels point: this isn't the first time we've seen the life of a sentient being in a glass containment room being risked/lost to repair a drive system in order to save lives.

"Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

"Or the one."
posted by garius at 3:14 PM on October 9 [6 favorites]


The only distracting thing for me was the very handsome extra on the bridge that they cut to a few times?! Hello, Commander Model-face!
posted by liquorice at 3:19 PM on October 9 [3 favorites]


I'm still peeved at the whole magic mushroom stuff. That and the instantaneous communication across light years is just flat-out jarring in a universe where they also spout "They hit a Hawkin-radiation firewall". You know where you get those? At a frickin' black hole's frickin' event horizon. And you know why we have black holes? Because we don't have frickin' causality-rupturing cosmic thrush. Also, if there had been a black hole in ep 3, I missed it.

I like my preposterous pseudoscience decently clothed, thank you very much.

+1 on the Horta reference, though. It's a shame they don't have an actual Vulcan on board who can mind-meld with the giant space tardigrade, 'cos then they could put it out to grass and a happy retirement under the trees, having unpicked how it does the super-duper-computer star mapping malarky.

The Klingon language stuff is tiresome, and unnecessary. I think it's one of those production decisions which seems like a good idea when you start and rapidly outstays its welcome - like Zaphod's extra head on the TV Hitch Hiker, which was based on a throw-away line by Ford in the radio series but just klunktified everything thereafter. Steal the Babelfish already.
posted by Devonian at 4:03 PM on October 9 [7 favorites]


Musk isn't that great

True, but he's EXACTLY the sort of guy Lorca would idolize.
posted by speicus at 4:20 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


I recently got sucked down a YouTube rabbit hole of links—as you do—and realized the Klingons sound amazingly, both in delivery and phonemes, like that specific type of slavic man who shows up in the ubiquitous dash-cam videos. A close call will occur, and if you hear a voice commenting, it's inevitably a man somehow sounding surprised, nonchalant, and irritated at the same time, all delivered in a remarkably deliberate manner.

They've somehow managed to create an alien language that sounds eerily like a Russian man watching a car crash unfold in front of him.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 4:20 PM on October 9 [11 favorites]


'cos then they could put it out to grass and a happy retirement under the trees,

Ferdinand the Tardibear

Once upon a time in Space
there was a tardibear and his
name was Ferdinand.
All the other tardibears he
lived with would run and jump
space-time together,
but not Ferdinand.
He liked to sit just quietly and
smell the myceliae.
He had a favorite spot out in
a gaseous anomaly under a cometary cloud.
It was his favorite anomaly and he
would sit in its glow all day
and smell the sporofites.

posted by mwhybark at 4:32 PM on October 9 [6 favorites]


(see also)
posted by mwhybark at 4:39 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


The only distracting thing for me was the very handsome extra on the bridge that they cut to a few times?! Hello, Commander Model-face!

Oh, that must be Lt. Figwit.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:39 PM on October 9 [4 favorites]


The Next Generation had lots of also-ran bridge crew but they were smart enough to not include a Lt. Figwit on the watchbill.

Nope, TNG just had random, rarely-reused extraneous bridge crew, like this guy who was in "Encounter at Farpoint" then only one other episode the first season.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:54 PM on October 9 [6 favorites]


Count me among the pleased if he turns out to be the albino who pops up in DS9.

Voq has a pretty good reason for revenge on the House of Kor -- they did just steal his position as de facto unifier of the Klingon empire not to mention the holy ship given to him by T'kumva. Sounds like a good reason to infect your enemy's first born with a degenerative virus that kills slowly.
posted by nathan_teske at 7:47 PM on October 9 [3 favorites]


Also, Lt. Silver Slug Temple was a crewmember on the Shenzou, where she was wounded during the Battle of the Binary Stars/Battle of Manassas.

I presume that is where she acquired the metal bits and EDM haircut. However, it seems that she is bad at both real and simulated Klingon encounters.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:49 PM on October 9 [2 favorites]


I wanted the handicam operator to take a damn diazepam in the first Landry/Michael scene - a little handheld fludity is OK, but when it's shaking so much that I feel like they're in a minor earthquake, not so much.

I'm surprised nobody has commented on the contra-rotating spinning saucer section. Whaaa?

Otherwise, yeah, I've mostly come to terms that Trek's production values are fundamentally a reflection of the times - even the movie Treks weren't the same low-budget plasterboard & paint production as the TV show, and they weren't all that distant from TOS. And I'm willing to give actively-at-war Starfleet a bit of a pass compared to Space Trucker Kirk (at least a good _third_ of TOS episodes were the Enterprise truckin' Space Wheat to some starving colony, I swear) and Space Diplomat Picard.

I liked what they did with the lighting when. uh. Albino Klingon and his second were nicking the dilithium wozzit. Very purple and teal, taking advantage of the facial ridge to make a super clean split.
posted by Kyol at 7:55 PM on October 9 [4 favorites]


A few things:

- Elon Musk may be included in there because the history taught in schools in centuries hence may emphasize different people than we'd imagine they would today. When TOS would mention significant people in one field or another, they'd drop in names of people that hadn't been born yet. (I was a little disappointed that Lorca didn't mention Henry Archer, actually, especially since we saw an NX-class ship in S1E2.)

- Starfleet probably left the Shenzou behind because they were too busy scrambling to get on a war footing to risk towing a dead ship (not really "salvageable", unless you're talking about cutting it apart for scrap) in the face of a possible invasion.

- The difference in how the Klingons are talking may be down to having different dental prosthetics--the fangs have a distinctive shape that's different from the TNG-era Klingons. Dental prosthetics also affected the way that the Ferengi talked.

- "Lt. Silver Slug Temple" is Keyla Detmer. She recognized Burnham when she came on board, but didn't say anything to her. That will be an interesting conversation, if it happens. And we didn't get names for the majority of bridge crew in TOS and TNG, unless they were named in scripts. Even the conn and navigation/ops officers weren't always named.

- DAE make a particular note of the House of Kor? Makes me wonder if we'll see him, or Koloth, Kang, Kruge, or Chang done up nu-Klingon style. (I'd love to see Chang show up with that bolted-on eyepatch as an emissary from the Empire. "What is the Chancellor's response, General?" "Scorn and defiance; slight regard, contempt, and any thing that may not misbecome the mighty sender.")

- Love the parallels that people have pointed out between Burnham and Voq.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:13 PM on October 9 [7 favorites]


- Starfleet probably left the Shenzou behind because they were too busy scrambling to get on a war footing to risk towing a dead ship (not really "salvageable", unless you're talking about cutting it apart for scrap) in the face of a possible invasion.

but wubbout her tellyscope?
posted by mwhybark at 10:18 PM on October 9 [3 favorites]


The Klingon language stuff is tiresome, and unnecessary. I think it's one of those production decisions which seems like a good idea when you start and rapidly outstays its welcome

I think it's thematically necessary insofar as the show wants to draw parallels between the Klingons and the Federation at the individual (Burnham and Voq) and cultural levels, and to make the Klingons more sympathetic antagonists. Discovery seems to want to show us conflicting types of empire-building, one based on violent conquest and the other on shared values.* It's a darker incarnation of the root beer riff. I'm interested in exploring a defiantly unassimilated culture's POV on the Federation's ethos of benevolent assimilation, and in these differing expressions of ostensibly military hierarchies -- one courtly and feudal, and the other acting (at least theoretically) in service to an interplanetary democracy.

What frustrates me about the Klingon stuff isn't how tedious it is, but that it doesn't need to be. A toothsome nugget of world building is trapped beneath rigid makeup and weird armor-doublets. Either they should have reduced the makeup to give the actors access to a wider range of facial expressions, or they should have made the costumes more flexible to allow for more body language. The space-Elizabethan aesthetic is neat but everyone looks trapped in a neck brace. The idea hasn't overstayed its welcome so much as it's been too poorly executed to find it.

*Section 31 would complicate this juxtaposition beautifully.

Voq has a pretty good reason for revenge on the House of Kor

I totally missed that Kol belonged to the House of Kor! Details like that are why I love these threads. I wish I could buy each and every one of you a raktajino.
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 11:04 PM on October 9 [6 favorites]


The scriptwriting relies on structural parallels more than any other ST series I can think of at the moment.

Yeah, it definitely does, which is great in providing depth while saving screentime, but is complicated by their use of shifting or layered parallels, where more than one connection can be made to Michael's situation, or from Michael's situation to another. The parallel between Burnham and Voq, for example, in this episode is complicated by L'Oreal L'Rell also gaining some parallels of her own with Michael. She is, evidently quite intelligent and serves a leader determined in his beliefs, who she must counsel for the betterment of the situation, even as her advice may run counter to his beliefs. She too abets a mutiny like Michael in order to save the life of her leader, but in contrast to Michael, her betrayal is only a surface one that does save Voq's life.

Her role with Kol may then be even more like that of Michael's role with Lorca if she is acting on her own accord for what she believes best for the Klingon's/Voq even if it goes against Kol's desires. In this too there may be some likeness in Seska's L'Rell's being the power behind the throne and in having her beliefs on the relationship of humans to Klingons either become more open or, in contrast perhaps, become less welcoming over time which could tilt the balance towards or away from mutual understanding in the same way one might expect of Michael's actions on the other side.

Her influence on Voq seems to be leading more towards a fundamentalist model of warfare, which would fit with Voq's ideals of purity and a general analogy to our own times possibly. This, though, is still more than a bit concerning given how little they've done to really develop the Klingons yet. They've relied heavily on signaling and analogy, but not always in a way that shows a depth of knowledge or concern over how those analogies come across. The mention here of eating Captain Georgiou, for example, is really pushing the line in that regard, suggesting as it does something of a idea of headhunters or cannibals in racist fiction. That they may want to confront that idea and purposefully drew the analogy is certainly possible, but I'm not convinced they've fully got a hold of their subject yet in a way that will be able to resolve the tensions adequately. They might, but I'll have to see something more before getting comfortable with their handling.

They really need to develop the Klingon's more, which I assume they will be doing in the upcoming episodes as that will not only potentially alleviate some of the concerns about the Klingons, but also about the Federation should/will deal with them. Just making the Federation grimmer isn't enough, they have to show the same kind of balance on the Klingon side and provide them more breadth of belief and emotion as their Federation counterparts. The L'Rell/Voq relationship shows hints of doing that, but if its matched with a no honor terrorism style of military offensive that may not be enough. Things could go in any number of other directions too, but that seems the likely course at the moment with L'Rell's warning about losing all to Voq as she sends him off to the Bene Gesserits Mo'Kai Matriarchy.

Not sorry to see Landry go. She wasn't really a Star Trek character in any meaningful sense, more like she wandered out of Riddick with her attitude. When she said she was going to go in a get a piece of Tardibear claw I actually hoped for a moment that I'd hear the Tardibear respond in Vin Diesel's voice telling her it would be a big mistake. This and Tasha Yar's death just goes to show that being a hardcore security chief gets you killed on Trek, which is probably why most of them are so incompetent.

The show continues to look great. Some really lovely effects add a lot to the episodes, fitting in with the general tendency to rely as much or more on what is seen than what is said. This makes the show continue to feel worth watching, even as they certainly could benefit from some added exposition at times since some of the situations are borderline inexplicable and they haven't developed a strong feeling of location, distance, or relational cause and effect yet. Everything seems a bit rushed still as well, which also adds a slight feeling of dislocation to events.

The wreck of the Shenzou and T'Kuvma's disabled Klingon ship both still existing in the debris field where the battle was fought is hard to accept. Either the Federation or the Klingon's must have claimed that space somehow in the aftermath of the events, which would make one or the other of the two ships and what we know became of their crews seen hard to explain. That they don't really even try is, I guess, one way out, but it isn't entirely satisfying. Trek's never done all that well with things like scale, distance, and the like, but I'd expect a bit more this time especially given how much they're relying on visuals to carry the story. Nothing feels quite as connected as it should, even the interiors to the ships, which look great, don't have the same sense of connection to the other parts since they aren't using as many corridor shots or establishing where one thing meets another as they did in the previous shows. Once you get outside the ships, it gets even worse, though, again, looks nice.

Lorca, Saru, Tilly, and Stamets all get a little more time and continue to develop; Lorca and Saru most notably this time. That's welcome and I hope it builds to more of the crew as we go since those characters are all interesting and welcome even with not much screen time so far. The writers and actors have done good work in making the most of the little time they've had in building some personality traits that are singular, have some conflict and purpose to them, and aren't too easily defined in simple character sheet like traits as in some previous Treks at first. Some complexity is, for the most part, suggested at the start rather than waiting to be added later. Hopefully that will continue to develop and grow as the show goes on and we perhaps will see things from their perspectives rather than predominantly Michael's alone.

The Horta was a good example for the Tardibear situation, but I also think of Voyager's Equinox two parter where using nucleogenic beings to increase warp propulsion didn't work out so well for anyone involved.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:13 AM on October 10 [8 favorites]


the Enterprise truckin' Space Wheat to some starving colony

Yeah, about that. As Chekhov (not that one, THAT one) said: "If in the first act you have put a Tribble on the captain's desk, then in the following one it should be fed." Or perhaps it was the other Chekhov after all.

So: my ST Fanserve Drinking Bingo Card most certainly has a quadrotriticale square.
posted by Devonian at 3:31 AM on October 10 [4 favorites]


Semi-random comment: A friend on Facebook just referred to the Discovery as the USS Fidgetspinner, which I have to say fits its method of propulsion perfectly.
posted by garius at 5:17 AM on October 10 [8 favorites]


Yeah I heard "Bene Gesserit" in that matriarchy line too.

Who here loves Steven Universe and has thought about Steven taming the green-and-black gem monster with love and potato chips?

Also when Stamets complains about the probabilistic spore-drive navigation, I wondered whether there's a Starslip-esque twist coming (which itself was sort of a response to the Infinite Improbability Drive from Hitchhiker's Guide) -- which would also help explain how this set of events and transportation technologies feels an uncomfortable fit with known canon.

Hey Discovery, GO BACK AND EVACUATE THOSE MINERS arrrghghghghhh. "Who saved us?" "Uh maybe 'saved' is premature."
posted by brainwane at 7:07 AM on October 10 [4 favorites]


I go back and forth on whether pilot/premiere/etc episodes should do a big ol' "now that the gang is all here, let's sit down and introduce ourselves!" exposition-heavy momentum killer, or if I like that characterization dribbles out more naturally over the first half season or so. I mean, I'm casting only a little side-eye at the folks who are grumbling that they still don't know anything about Junior Office Third Grade Engineering Secondary who we saw passing in the corridors twice by the 4th episode. You know who you are.
posted by Kyol at 8:26 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]


I think that it's fine that we don't get the easy, convenient one-character-beat-per-regular-actor intros that were par for the course for the previous series. One of the most intriguing things for me in watching DSC is just to see how far they go in changing the way that they do things structurally, and one of those is to shake up those expectations, that if a particular character shows up more than once, we'll find out what their family background is and their hobbies and blah blah blah. Killing off what we assumed would be a major character this early on isn't that original of a plot device--the X-Men reboot of some forty-odd years ago did the same thing with the original Thunderbird--but it's an important signifier that this isn't Trek-as-usual.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:06 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]


- Starfleet probably left the Shenzou behind because they were too busy scrambling to get on a war footing to risk towing a dead ship (not really "salvageable", unless you're talking about cutting it apart for scrap) in the face of a possible invasion.

This makes total sense to me. The battle took place at the edge of Federation space. The ship was obviously salvaged of personal belongings, crew and bodies. The Shenzhou bridge and other rooms we saw were missing consoles and furniture, which would seem to indicate the Federation cleared out what they could and left the husk of the ship behind. Also, the USS Shenzhou was considered older with obsolete technology when the show premiered. They can deal with it later.

Here on Earth, older, obsolete ships are often stripped, decommissioned and either abandoned or reused. In American history, we have the National Defense Reserve Fleet, which is colloquially known as the Mothball Fleet. Immediately following WWII, the US had over 2200 ships of varying sizes held in reserve which could be brought on line within 1 to 4 months for emergency use. Over time, the fleet has diminished as ships became too old or difficult to maintain. Hundreds of ships have been decommissioned and recycled. The fleet of retained vessels now numbers around 100.
posted by zarq at 9:07 AM on October 10


Also, did anyone else spit-take at the mention of Elon Musk alongside the Wright Brothers and Zefram Cochrane?

Yes. And also: all dudes.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:15 AM on October 10 [6 favorites]


Lorca faking Michael's death via shuttle explosion would certainly be one way of getting her off the books

Given the telescope delivery, my prediction from last episode was wrong (or else the show is straining the bounds of reasonableness).

Things that bugged me:
- 'radiation firewall'
- 'This monster has skin that can't be hurt by a phaser, which we need to get a sample of! Here, let me take a phaser into its cage in case it charges at me.' Landry's death was just dumb, and could have been prevented by literally turning on a light to check if Ripper was sedated. There were other ways to write that scene (what if it was sedated but then immediately woke up when she started cutting into it?) that would have made more sense and been less dumb, so I'm not willing to give it a pass.
- Elon Musk was a weird choice to include, if only because it runs the risk of not aging well
- 'Let's not shoot at the birds of prey, and instead hope that they all get REALLY CLOSE, all at the same time, and then drop a bomb and warp away' -- there are so many ways that could have gone wrong? I can kind of accept warping away if there's a goal of keeping the drive a secret.
- If these mines were so vital to the war, why weren't there Federation ships guarding the mine? Were there ships that were destroyed? Did I miss a line there? Is the Federation just really bad at logistics? Wouldn't evacuating the miners still cost the Federation the mine?
- Seriously though: six months doing repairs in the middle of an asteroid field without (1) a warp core delivery, or (2) food delivery? Is everyone terrible at logistics?
- 'EVERYTHING' -- okay, that's not really how people talk though. Seriously, what am I going to sacrifice? Honor? An eye? 1/10th of my future income? I like the relationship, but the actual dialogue is a mess (exception: 'uncoupling' as a euphemism for 'coupling' was nicely done.)

I feel like the opening of this episode, in which Burnham is immediately brought to Lorca's weapons research room and tasked with developing weapons and shown the not-necessarily-a-monster, severely undercuts the ending of the last one: the framing of the last episode was Burnham accusing Lorca of developing weapons, and Lorca telling her she was wrong...and then we get a glimpse of his weapon room, as if it's a secret. Which it (apparently) is not. And Lorca immediately pulls Burnham away from working on the specific project she signed on for (travel) and puts her onto the one she explicitly did not (weapons), with nary a protest.

Gripes aside: this did settle my fears about where the show was going tonally. Burnham's repeated efforts to under and empathize with the 'monster,' Tilly's joy at their ability to communicate with it, Stamet's reluctant to weaponize his research -- it feels like they're drawing a line between the traditional positive Star Trek values and Lorca's compromised version of them, and I'm okay with that. I want to see all of these characters -- and the doctor! -- more developed, but I'm also okay with focusing on Burnham for now because she's quite compelling by herself.

Voq is less so, but only because the Klingon situation feels kind of arbitrary -- it feels a bit like they wanted him to parallel Burnham so they stranded him in the asteroid field for six months, even though it doesn't make sense for that to happen. And: so many questions. Was this the first visit from another ship? Did no one visit in the last six months? Who is actually running this war -- is it just the many houses 'united,' but fighting separately? Did they really wait six months before asking if they could borrow the cloaking device? There are so many unanswered questions about what Voq's situation actually is, and so many of the answers so far are head-scratchers, that it undercuts the personal drama. That might change as we learn more -- and I'm excited to learn more -- but right now I'm slightly annoyed that the parallelism seems to be undercutting the show's realism.

An aside: I'm skeptical of where the show is taking the Klingon situation, not because of anything within the show, but rather because of what Alex Kurtzman has been saying to audiences outside the show --
Executive producer Alex Kurtzman said he wanted to address the Klingons, speaking for a long time. “At the heart of Star Trek is the idea that what we think of the other is a mirror to ourselves,” he started. The core of Kirtzman’s argument was that the Klingons will be shown in a multidimensional way and would not simply be othered or villains. It was important, he said, that “we represented both sides of the war in a way that is understandable and relatable.”

“We needed to know what it was like for them to go through this too,” he continued. “We wanted to shift everyone’s perspective of what the Klingons are because they’ve often been relegated to just being the bad guy.” He added that the show would show lots of Klingons, that “were all created around the central premise of what Klingons are.” But the goal was to “for lack of a better word, humanize them.” To explain what they want and why they want it. If they didn’t explore this, Kurtzman said, “This wouldn’t be Star Trek.”

It's laudable to want to show the Klingons as real people, but...the Klingons haven't been relegated to 'just being the bad guy' since somewhere in the '80s. The TOS movies addressed this. TNG addressed this. DS9 addressed this. VOY addressed this. ENT addressed this a little bit. Literally every Star Trek franchise in the last thirty or forty years has addressed this, often as a near-central premise in casting (ie, Worf, Dax, Torres). That Kurtzman sees the Klingons as unexplored, or needing to be 'humanized' -- that worries me in terms of the show's direction, because I'm concerned we'll just explore already-explored ground, rather than boldly going to seek out civilizations.

That, though, is meta-textual: the actual show seems more personally focused on Burnham/Voq than on the Federation/Klingons, so far. And that is a bold departure from previous Treks, which I'm more than okay with. I'm really digging this as a character-driven show -- Burnham's willingness to confront her fears in all situations (confronting Lorca in the last episode, confronting the 'monster' in this one) that aren't to do with her emotions, except until the very end, when she finally opens the will -- that was a great arc and a great moment. I'm fine with someone having salvaged the telescope; the weird part is that Voq is still there and needs a warp core, not that the Shenzou is there and still has one.

...

I feel like I just wrote a bunch of criticisms, but: I really did enjoy this! I critique because I enjoyed this. On balance, this built on the better parts of the first 'real' episode, moving from strength to strength. It wasn't perfect, but we're still solidly in the beginning of the season and there's not a lot for the writers to build on yet -- it feels like we're stilling seeing the foundations of the show's themes and arcs going up on all sides.

I stand by my prediction in the Fanfare thread for the last episode that there will be a future episode where someone contemplates a mutiny; my only question, at this point, is who -- whether it's Burnham (and others agreeing or disagreeing), or Saru/Samets/someone else (and Burnham having to make a choice).
posted by cjelli at 9:15 AM on October 10 [7 favorites]


I'm tempering my Klingon screen-time annoyance by remembering that all the fussy annoying Klingon Cultural Exposition episodes of TNG and DS9 that were oh god so boring jeez old Klingons are old and dull at the time, but in the end they told some really interesting stories and possibly did a better job of explaining the Klingons in primary sources than we got about Starfleet / UFP.

Still, I miss the lyrical mellifluous Klingonese. I dunno if it's the limitations of the dental prosthetics or they just picked a guy who can't quite manage to swing it but it just ain't quite there.
posted by Kyol at 9:50 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]


(I mean, don't get me wrong - the set of actors who can tolerate multiple hours of full-head prosthetic application, dental prosthetics, and a completely made up language with no natural speakers for vocal training and who can still act convincingly through all three of those setbacks is not an infinite set...)
posted by Kyol at 10:08 AM on October 10 [3 favorites]


speaking of the telescope... overnight I realized that it appears to be a spotting scope, used for birding, but also for sniper teams.
posted by mwhybark at 11:59 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]


Couldn't help myself, please forgive me.
posted by mwhybark at 6:25 PM on October 10 [5 favorites]


I love the Klingon language in this show. It's spoken with such clarity and such devoted attention to pronunciation that I'm relearning Klingon words I knew as a teenager 15 years ago (when I was a bigger nerd about this stuff) and long ago forgot, which is pretty magical. (This episode I picked up mu'mey, "words".) It's very true that many of the recitations lack fluidity, whether due to prosthetics or unfamiliarity with the language or deliberately for clarity, but I admire the effort that went into it and the audacity of the choice to put a crapton of conlang into the show and to do it properly, and I think the result is pretty spectacular and makes the Klingons feel more like aliens and less like costumed humans. IndieWire has a nice article on the show's use of Klingon and the translator, Robyn Stewart aka Qov ("the best Klingon speaker in Canada").
posted by Syllepsis at 8:46 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]


Bleah, not a fan of this episode. The Big Story is that a water bear is their Guild Navigator? That spore drive is all sorts of plot trouble. "We can teleport anywhere in the universe.. instantly" is ridiculously stupid powerful. And so it's tempered with "Sometimes it's a bit unpredictable and we feel bad because it gives our tardigrade a headache". JFC do something smart and interesting, that's lame as hell.

Also good lord the Engineer and Doctor are faggy. I mean OK, they're the gay couple, and I'm kinda faggy myself on a good day. I'm all for Paul Lynde in space. But it felt seriously retro to bring back the American Gay Accent as the primary signifier of their sexuality. We better have a hot steamy man-on-man kiss very soon, or maybe a tender comforting scene. Because bitchy engineer + bitchy doctor is gonna get tiresome really fast.

Best part of the episode was the Cylon Security Officer getting fragged. That was hilarious. I kept waiting for them to bring her back somehow but, nope.

They need to totally rework the Klingon scenes. Sorry Syllepsis but the plodding, wooden Klingon language delivery is tedious and boring. I think the problem is they're trying to use the full actual Klingon artificial language, speaking it like it was German or something. Only no one knows how to speak it, so it just sounds slow and flat. I'm not a Klingon expert (I'm not that kind of nerd), but I think previous shows and movies have limited Klingon speech to occasional short sentences and exclamations. Here they're having long dull conversations about theology in a language we don't know, and whose English subtitles we read way faster than they can speak. It does not work.
posted by Nelson at 8:57 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]


One thing that frustrated me - they couldn't do big jumps because the calculations got too complex.

Seems like an obvious solution would be to do a bunch of smaller ones, no?
posted by coriolisdave at 10:39 PM on October 10 [4 favorites]


"Klingons ... been relegated to just being the bad guy."

I'm very much with cjelli here with the uhhh what?!
Klingons were the bad guys in TOS, and only in TOS.

TNG, DS9 and VOY all had a Klingon or half klingon crew member.
We learn more about Klingon food, culture, biology, politics and history than any other race bar none.


The other thing that so far I don't see much reasons for is why this is set in the TOS era.
It would take very little change to set this post VOY and would probably be stronger for it. That said there may well be some kind of twist planned that will change that, but as of what we've seen so far there's no need for it to be pre-TOS.

Either replace the Klingons with a new and interesting race to explore or have the Klingon empire fragment after the Dominion war and descend into inter house rivalry. Set it 10 years after VOY. Have the Klingons angry at federation for the way the Dominion war and subsequent mess went down. No more anachronism problems, probably a much better explanation of the Klingon political system.

I just don't see reason for the TOS time period except for wierd remakey nostalgia.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:29 AM on October 11 [5 favorites]


Harcourt Fenton Mudd is almost a reason.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:01 AM on October 11 [3 favorites]


I hope that they do a decently unvarnished look at Mudd. Back in the day, he used to be played up in fandom as some sort of lovable rogue, and it was something to revisit those TOS episodes as an adult and realize how flat-out sleazy he is--in "Mudd's Women", he's pretty much a pimp and a pusher, and in "I, Mudd" he almost unleashes hegemonic AIs on the galaxy because he wants to fuck some sexbots.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:27 AM on October 11 [5 favorites]


God damn I am tired of extended stretches of Klingon dialogue.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:38 AM on October 11 [4 favorites]


What frustrates me about the Klingon stuff isn't how tedious it is, but that it doesn't need to be. A toothsome nugget of world building is trapped beneath rigid makeup and weird armor-doublets. Either they should have reduced the makeup to give the actors access to a wider range of facial expressions, or they should have made the costumes more flexible to allow for more body language. The space-Elizabethan aesthetic is neat but everyone looks trapped in a neck brace. The idea hasn't overstayed its welcome so much as it's been too poorly executed to find it.

To expand upon this a little... Worf's makeup on DS9 and TNG became less rigid and more flexible as the show went on, while continuing to give the character and actor a consistent appearance. Michael Dorn appreciated it not only because it meant less time spent in makeup, but also because it allowed him a greater range of facial expressions. By the time DS9 really hit its stride with Klingon-centric arcs and stories, the makeup the actors were wearing was much lighter and less cumbersome. They could act. And not just... well, you know.

Klingon warriors can be big, loud, treacherous characters. They're supposed to be able to chew the scenery. I love the intricate makeup in Discovery, but that aspect of the Klingons seems lessened somehow.
posted by zarq at 7:47 AM on October 11 [9 favorites]


coriolisdave: "Seems like an obvious solution would be to do a bunch of smaller ones, no?"

I think they lampshaded that by suggesting that the inter-jump timing using the manual calculations would take too long. Or is that just in my head?
posted by Kyol at 8:04 AM on October 11


Either replace the Klingons with a new and interesting race to explore or have the Klingon empire fragment after the Dominion war and descend into inter house rivalry. Set it 10 years after VOY. Have the Klingons angry at federation for the way the Dominion war and subsequent mess went down. No more anachronism problems, probably a much better explanation of the Klingon political system.

I think it could be done with a new race, maybe not with the Klingons. At the end of DS9, Worf becomes Federation Ambassador to the Klingon Empire, and Martok is Chancellor. I think the producers, justifiably, wanted to avoid bringing in any regular characters or prominent recurring characters* from other series. It would be hard to do a 10-years-later story involving the Klingon Empire — even a fragmented one — without bringing in either Worf or Martok (or at least explaining their absence, likely in an unsatisfying way).

*Yes, yes, Sarek, but for all his significance he's had relatively few appearances in Trek. Martok appeared in 24** DS9 episodes, according to Memory Alpha.

**Includes two with the Martok changeling only. So 22 if you want to be picky.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:33 AM on October 11 [2 favorites]


Oh, did you notice the blunder where the saved little colony girl forgot to hold up her teddybear by one scrawny paw and say "we're safe now Mr Snuggles"?
posted by monocultured at 1:25 PM on October 11 [3 favorites]


We learn more about Klingon food, culture, biology, politics and history than any other race bar none.

This is actually one of my bones to pick with DS9: seven seasons with a story arc about an offworld but Bajoran messiah, with not one but TWO Bajoran religious leaders as supporting characters, and I feel that I know almost nothing about Bajoran religion by comparison with what I think I know about Klingon religion and spirituality. I mean, I have accumulated some knowledge about the Prophets and the Pah Wraiths, and I am certainly aware that Bajorans take their religion seriously, but I have a hard time pointing to instances where I recall a character, in their day-to-day life, making decisions that reflect the moral output of that religion, in part because I don't really know what the moral output of the religion is.

Whereas, Klingons, of, course, gnash their teeth and loudly announce their motivations in ways often intended by the writer to illuminate their culture and spirituality. Maybe I'm just not reading DS9 and Bajoran religion closely enough. I talked about this a bit in the DS9 threads, sorry for the derail here.
posted by mwhybark at 1:38 PM on October 11 [3 favorites]


Still, I miss the lyrical mellifluous Klingonese. I dunno if it's the limitations of the dental prosthetics or they just picked a guy who can't quite manage to swing it but it just ain't quite there.

The stream I watch has an option to adjust the speed. I find at about 1.25x the default puts a little more briskness into their speech and their scenes in general. I am just reading the subtitles anyway, so really I could crank it up to double and still be fine, but with heavy makeup and costumes, I realize the performers have to rely heavily on vocal inflections in their performances. No need to lose that as well.

God damn I am tired of extended stretches of Klingon dialogue.

I am okay with it, but a buddy of mine wild more than agree with you: the feed he gets does not have the English subtitles.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:55 PM on October 11


All the emphasis on "remain Klingon" makes me hope that the Klingons won't remain Klingon at all. Like, maybe the story is about why the Klingons look so different over time. Maybe they take on the literal shape of cultures that defeat them, or maybe it was a Federation bioweapon.
posted by surlyben at 10:22 PM on October 11


Star Trek canon (from Enterprise) is that the Klingons took the human tech for genetic modification and tried to adapt it to use it on themselves, but fucked up. They accidentally created a gene-modifying virus that inserted human DNA into Klingon DNA, resulting in the very human-looking Klingons you see in TOS. From Wikipedia:
An earlier story arc featured the Augments, genetically-engineered humans left over from the Eugenics Wars of the late 20th century, and who were defeated by Captain Jonathan Archer and the Enterprise in Klingon space. The Klingon High Council fears that Starfleet was developing armies of Augments; after gaining access to genetic material from the Augments, the Klingons perform experiments to increase their own intellect and strength. The experiments turn disastrous when a flu strain mutates and becomes a deadly plague that spreads across the Empire, causing physical changes resulting in the afflicted bearing a TOS-era appearance. Dr. Phlox of the Enterprise formulates a cure for the virus, but the physical alterations remain in the populace and are inherited by offspring.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:44 AM on October 12 [3 favorites]


Aw man. Well that puts paid to my "klingons are secretly shapeshifters" theory. And it explains why they'd be so worried about remaining Klingon in the face of Federation "peace". Though it does mean that the federation already has a bioweapon that can turn the klingons human.
posted by surlyben at 9:01 AM on October 12


The Klingon Augment Virus is one of the weirdest and dumbest ret-cons in Star Trek history. IIRC on the canon TV shows it started as a sort of joke throwaway line in DS9 (Worf says "we don't discuss it with outsiders"). That got spun into a full two-parter in Enterprise which IMHO was a valiant effort but embarassingly stupid. But retcon's gonna retcon, what can you do?

So far I'm really not liking the Discovery Klingons. The language stuff just does not work. The masks / makeup are too cumbersome. The production design is nice, particularly the religious sets. But then the whole 24 warring tribes thing is, well, it doesn't leave a lot of room for a plausibly functioning society. They've turned the Klingons into the Iron Islanders of Star Trek.
posted by Nelson at 9:46 AM on October 12 [6 favorites]


It would be hard to do a 10-years-later story involving the Klingon Empire — even a fragmented one — without bringing in either Worf or Martok (or at least explaining their absence, likely in an unsatisfying way).

FWIW, Michael Dorn is so ready to reprise Worf that back around when Discovery was first announced he was involved with a whole #WeWantWorf Twitter/Social Media fan campaign (complete with T-Shirts) to do a whole show "Star Trek: The Worf Chronicles". Even if they weren't gonna give him his whole show, I'm pretty sure they could've persuaded him to come back for some episodes of Discovery.

Of course, "truth is stranger than fiction" has never been truer than these days, and so naturally when I looked him up I discovered that the actor who played Martok, J.G. Hertzler, is apparently busy running for Congress in character as Mark Twain, so despite his enthusiasm for the Worf show idea, I suppose they indeed would've had to make do without him. But on the other hand, if you live in New York State's district 23, you can vote for General Martok for Congress, and how often does an opportunity like that come along?
posted by mstokes650 at 10:14 PM on October 12 [8 favorites]


In all but one respect I think I'm the perfect audience for it because I'm a lifelong casual-by-nerdy-standards-serious-by-everyone-else's Trek fan so I'm invested but willing to wait out and see whether the details that don't line up yet are going to line up eventually. I like where Michael and Georgiou (sob), Saru, and Tilly's relationships are going (or...not going in one case, but y'know), I like all the new alien/cyborg/robot designs, I'm a bit "uhhhh" about the heavy prosthetics/awkward conlang-ing*/suspicious racial politics of the new Klingons but weirdly into this "shall we uncouple?" thing Voq and T'Rell have going on...overall, there's some teething issues but a lot of good stuff going on.

I gotta say, though, if you're going to make a big PR fuss about how important diversity is to your franchise, maybe don't keep killing off the women of color who aren't your protagonist? Georgiou's death stung, particularly since Yeoh played her as my platonic ideal of Trek captain, but I was at least braced for it since Yeoh was too good a casting coup to stick around. The reveal that she got eaten felt so edgelordy, though -- I expect that kind of thing from Game of Thrones, not Star Trek. Then having Landry go out the same episode in the most uninspired, plot-by-numbers way...ugh.
posted by bettafish at 2:13 AM on October 13 [1 favorite]


if you live in New York State's district 23, you can vote for General Martok for Congress

*looks into house prices in NY-23*
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:05 AM on October 13 [6 favorites]


the Klingons haven't been relegated to 'just being the bad guy' since somewhere in the '80s. The TOS movies addressed this. TNG addressed this. DS9 addressed this. VOY addressed this. ENT addressed this a little bit. Literally every Star Trek franchise in the last thirty or forty years has addressed this, often as a near-central premise in casting (ie, Worf, Dax, Torres). That Kurtzman sees the Klingons as unexplored, or needing to be 'humanized' -- that worries me in terms of the show's direction, because I'm concerned we'll just explore already-explored ground, rather than boldly going to seek out civilizations.

It worries me too, and makes me wonder about the extent to which this continuity-related reassurance from the show's creators might be overstated and/or B.S.

I mean, technical continuity w/r/t stuff like "seeing the Romulan homeworld but no Romulans" or whatever is one thing. The tonal/moral depiction of the second-most-well-known faction in the franchise is another, and much bigger, thing.

The J.J. films demonstrated that Kurtzman (and others, of course) weren't particularly familiar with Star Trek. To not understand that Klingons have, for the bulk of their total screen time, been explored as multidimensional betrays your level of investment in the franchise pretty clearly. That such persons should be chosen as showrunners for DSC is unfortunate, but maybe shouldn't surprise us, given the business side of things.

Anyway, this episode was OK, but like others here, I feel the show is introducing too many head-scratchers and moving too rapidly. Perhaps they hoped that a breakneck story pace would make it too difficult for us to focus on contradictions and implausibilities. He don't know me vewy well, do he?

I too noticed the parallels in the story arcs. They're too dense. I mean, I appreciate the thinking behind it, but it's laid on so thick and feels so forced that you wonder if somebody maybe needs to untether themselves from their TV Writing Theory textbook. If ANYbody in this show uses the phrase "We're not so different, you and I," I will throw my Decipher Narrator's Guide at my TV.

And the fact that Burnham feels sympathy for Uber-Tardigrade isn't quite enough to start making this feel like Star Trek. I'll concede that, as of now, there appear to be steps in the right direction. But in discussing this episode with Mrs. CoB, I found myself lumping it in with Voyager, Enterprise, and Nemesis in the category of "ambitious Trek experiments that from the beginning were doomed to fail due to the demands of the network/studio honchoes."

My new prediction is Lorca accidentally murders the entire galaxy-spanning Fungus-Pando entity, goes bonkers with guilt, and winds up at Elba II.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:21 AM on October 14 [4 favorites]


I like where Michael and Georgiou (sob), Saru, and Tilly's relationships are going

This is exactly its strength. In my view, Trekkies kvetching about JJTrek design schemes and Klingon makeup 4.0 is irrelevant. After almost a half-dozen episodes, I am prepared to trust that any given episode’s dilemma will not be resolved by configuring the main deflector to fire a modulated tachyon burst at the anomaly, but rather by characters arguing about the right thing to do.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:45 PM on October 17 [3 favorites]


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