Star Trek: Discovery: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad
October 29, 2017 8:24 PM - Season 1, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Discovery experiences an unauthorized timeloop...

... as Harry Mudd attempts to Groundhog's Day his way into the captain's chair and sell Discovery to the Klingons, but Stamets' new mushroom powers enable him to mount a defense.

Events:
* We open on a montage of Michael going about her business on the ship, with her voiceover describing how she's settling in now that she's officially on the crew. We also learn that the Discovery has turned the tide of the entire war, which Starfleet is currently winning.

* There's a party, a scene we're going to see over and over. This loop takes the most time on it, with Tilly trying to get information about Michael's obvious crush on Tyler. On their way to the bridge, they bump into Culber and Stamets. Stamets is still bizarrely upbeat, and shows off a new cybernetic implant that Culber designed so that he can interface with the spore drive without being impaled on spikes. Culber apologizes for how weird Stamets has gotten.

* On the bridge, it turns out that Discovery has come across a Gormagander. Lorca wants to ignore it and move on, but Michael points out it's on the endangered species list, and they're legally obligated to take it to a refuge. She also offers a depressing talk about how they became endangered. She asks to head up the team looking after it in the cargo bay.

* They beam the creature aboard. It opens its mouth as they scanning it, and a man in full environmental armor with a helmet that looked a bit bunny-ish and whimsical steps out and begins killing people with a hand weapon. Michael eludes him and calls for backup.

* On the bridge, they coordinate an effort to trap the intruder, locking him down. He pulls off the helmet and reveals that he's Harry Mudd. He monologues in true supervillain style before letting the ship explode, with a particular emphasis on his star-crossed romance with Stella and how he's learned from this encounter. Discovery is destroyed.

* The loop resets at the party, with Michael and Tyler going to the bridge again. This time, they miss the collision with Stamets. Instead, he runs for them as they head to the turbolift, trying incoherently to explain the situation. He manages to warn them to look out for a Gormagander as they leave.

* On the bridge, Michael's creeped out enough by Stamets' warning that she doesn't ask to beam the creature aboard. However, Saru is familiar with the same protocols, and cites them when she doesn't. This time, Tyler comes with Michael to the cargo bay.

* In the cargo bay, they don't find Mudd, but they do get a transporter signature, right before the ship goes to black alert.

* On the bridge, Lorca can't reach Engineering. He sends Tyler and Michael to investigate.

* In Engineering, Mudd is trying to puzzle out the spore drive. Tyler wants to know how Mudd got loose, and Mudd spins a tale about a magic trick with Stewart's aid, but that the creature left after they got loose - 'bugs, no loyalty.' Mudd then proceeds to demand information about how to use the drive, complaining that they're running out of time. They attack, but Mudd's behind a containment field and reveals he has control of the main computer so they can't beam him out. Stamets shoots and kills him, then complains, "As days go, this is a weird one." He says he's been in the loop a bunch of times, but that he hasn't figured out a way to win yet. He turns away dramatically as the ship explodes.

* The loop resets, but this time Stamets goes to the party, and he shadows Michael to the cargo bay. He explains what's going on, including that the loop is precisely 30 minutes each time. Michael tries to tell him he's experiencing delusions from the DNA infusion, but he's able to parrot her words at the same time. He begs her to come with him, and she listens.

* On the bridge, Lorca gets a call ostensibly from sickbay. He takes the turbolift down, but it gets halted prematurely. The doors open, and a dead officer with a knife in his back falls into the lift, with Mudd behind him. Mudd takes Lorca hostage and demands to know how to use the drive again. Lorca refuses, so Mudd activates the self destruct.

* Back at Stamets and Michael, Stamets explains everything, and that it's only a matter of time before Mudd figures out that he's the missing piece to operating the drive. He says they're too short on time to fix it this loop, so begs her for a secret that he can use to shortcut convincing her in the next loop. She reluctantly whispers something in his ear, to which he says, "I'm sorry." Michael shrugs it off and asks where Mudd is now. Stamets explains that this is the part of the loop where he's usually killing the captain.

* Mudd and Lorca are in Lorca's private weapons lab. Lorca tells Mudd he'll be in unbelievable trouble he kills a Starfleet captain. Mudd asks if Lorca knows how many times he's done it already, and we cut to a montage of Mudd killing Lorca over and over again in different ways, finishing on him beaming Lorca into space with a wave of his hand while sitting in the captain's chair eating a sandwich. After the montage, Mudd reveals he's killed Lorca 53 times already, then tries a new gun and kills him again.

* Loop resets. Stamets crashes the party again, sooner this time. He sends Tilly off, then reveals that Michael's 'never been in love,' this being her secret. He explains the situation again, and that he needs Tyler to give them intel about Mudd to help him plan a way to stop this. Michael agrees to try, but chokes when Tyler shows up. Tyler goes to the bridge, without her this time. Stamets and Michael leave the party too, and she's upset that she couldn't get the information. Stamets is sympathetic, understanding that it's hard because she has a crush on the guy. He gets her to dance with him to learn how, and tells her how he got together with Culber. He gives her a pep talk about how she'll do better on the next loop, and they're together when the ship blows up again.

* The loop resets again, cutting to Michael yanking Tyler away to dance while Stamets looks on. She's super awkward, but game this time. As they dance, she immediately asks about Mudd. Tyler's offput, but she explains the time loops. He says that if time's just looping anyway, 'this won't matter,' and kisses her. Michael says she liked it, then asks him to ignore the call to the bridge. Tyler agrees, then explains that Mudd did talk about committing a break-in at a Betazoid bank. We get a montage of Mudd doing just that with Tyler's voiceover. Micheal wonders how this could happen, and Tyler says Mudd talked about a 'non-equilibrium matter state.' This leads Michael to conclude that Mudd has a 'time crystal,' a technology which must have been perfected by 'four-dimensional beings' because no known race has cracked it yet. They go with Stamets to try and find and stop Mudd.

* On the bridge, Lorca wonders where Tyler and Michael are at. Classical music begins to play, they realize they've lost control of the ship, and Mudd strolls in. The computer recognizes him as the captain. Mudd seems to be bored with this, because he says that he's gotten tired of gloating. Lorca protests, and Mudd beams him to the brig, then brandishes a purple crystal that's supposed to be 'weaponized dark matter,' and threatens to kill everyone with it if they don't tell him how to use the drive, including 'Random Communications Officer.' Tyler, Michael and Stamets storm the bridge, but Mudd has protected himself with another containment field. Mudd kills Tyler with the crystal and monologues again, threatening Saru. Stamets tells him the truth, and Mudd beams them both away.

* Michael goes to see Tilly in the cargo bay, where they discover Mudd's ship, but don't have time to figure it out - they realize the only solution to get Tyler back is to get Mudd to reset time again.

* Mudd's in Lorca's ready room, dictating a captain's log about how he's about to sell the ship. Michael comes in and offers Mudd *her.* She reveals who she is - he hadn't realized - claims the Klingons will pay more for her. Mudd's flabbergasted and wants to know what's in it for her. She says she wants Tyler back. Mudd says he's dead. Michael corrects him: 'not for long,' and eats a dark matter crystal, literally. She dies silently in front of him.

* We experience another reset, but this one has a montage of moves and countermoves. On the bridge, Tyler alters security protocols at the captain's chair. Meanwhile, Mudd literally yawns his way past security to get to the bridge.

* Mudd reaches the bridge, and Lorca cedes the captain's chair. The gang convince him that they've realized they can't beat him, so Lorca just wants to save his crew - he can't lose all hands again. Mudd's reluctant, but Stamets assures him that they figured this out with science and everything. Mudd eventually agrees. A ship arrives, and Mudd lets the time crystal arm thing dissolve. He takes Michael and Stamets to the transporter room at gunpoint.

* Tyler gets the drop on them in the hallway, Michael gets the weapon away from Mudd, and they reveal that they know he scammed Stella out of her dowry, and has been running from her. They also reveal that they wired the captain's chair to signal Stella, not the Klingons. They go to the transporter room, where Stella and her dad arrive. Mudd offers awkward, fumbling excuses, but Stella is forgiving. Her dad wants to know how he can repay Starfleet, and Tyler just wants Mudd out of their hair permanently.

* Tyler and Michael leave together and talk about this in the hall and turbolift. Michael says that her feelings are complicated and strange.' Tyler tells her that's okay, but that he's sad he missed their first kiss.

* We end on Michael's voiceover as she takes her post on the bridge.

Poster's Log:
This is the first mention of a Gormagander.
posted by mordax (93 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Party Tilly!

Stamets high af!

Lorca death montage!

Stella!

Gormagander sounds like a Harry Potter animal.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:28 PM on October 29 [6 favorites]


I thought all music in the future was Beastie Boys songs. Is that only in the other Star Trek timeline?
posted by peeedro at 8:30 PM on October 29 [3 favorites]


I really enjoyed this episode. The opening and closing were not super strong writing, but all the bits in between worked for me.

The TNG temporal loop episode... classic. I had to tape episodes at the time (my sister had dibs on the TV for 90210) and I was so furious because I thought my VCR had somehow looped one act of the episode. They played it a lot slower, lacking (I guess) a tripped-out engineer with Guinanesque time sense.

Waitaminute. Shouldn’t Guinan have figured out that loop?
posted by sixswitch at 8:34 PM on October 29


The TNG temporal loop episode... classic. I had to tape episodes at the time (my sister had dibs on the TV for 90210) and I was so furious because I thought my VCR had somehow looped one act of the episode. They played it a lot slower, lacking (I guess) a tripped-out Guinean engineer.

This definitely feels like an episode that assumes you've watched "Cause and Effect" at least as many times as the Enterprise rams into the Bozeman in that episode. I kind of love it for that.
posted by chrominance at 8:37 PM on October 29 [7 favorites]


Waitaminute. Shouldn’t Guinan have figured out that loop?

Guinan's abilities were never depicted as being this strong. I get the impression she only felt something because the timeline was significantly out of whack in Yesterday's Enterprise - the changes in Cause and Effect were a lot less severe.

Whatever Stamets is doing is... more.
posted by mordax at 8:48 PM on October 29


Whatever Stamets is doing is awesome.
posted by sixswitch at 8:53 PM on October 29 [7 favorites]


I really enjoyed this episode, but wow, this version of Mudd is a total sociopath, rather than "just" the disgusting sleazebag he was in TOS. (Also it seems like they let him leave with too much classified knowledge after they got the upper hand over him...trusting a shady arms dealer to keep him from being a future thorn in their side.)
posted by Pryde at 8:53 PM on October 29 [7 favorites]


Ahhh, this was terrific fun and I like how they went in assuming we've seen a million groundhog's day premises before rather than rehashing the old boring basics.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:17 PM on October 29 [16 favorites]


This episode demonstrates something that should be highlighted more: the directing is much better. Timeloop shows previously what were boring repeats with minor differences leading to a crucial breakpoint followed by an expository recapping of what we all fucking figured out immediately. I was pleasantly surprised to see them turbo-ing through the timeloop mechanics to make each loop different and interesting in its own way.

Discovery isn't doing that much differently, so much as its doing a lot that came before much more effectively. I'm a cynical sort, but I'm actually reaching the point of "Disco, please don't break my heart...."
posted by fatbird at 9:19 PM on October 29 [13 favorites]


Reasons why I love this show:
1. "DISCO" playing Staying Alive on a time loop episode that's all about, well, I don't have to say it.
2. Stamets and his meet cute with his husband.
3. Lorca: "I don't give a damn." "I still don't give a damn."
4. When Michael goes Vulcan in her speech and mannerisms.
5. Space whale!
6. Saru's attempt to explain that the creature isn't a space whale gets shot down.
7. Regardless of who Tyler turns out to be, his character is interesting.
8. Are Saru's legs really that long and skinny or is that editing?
9. Mudd: "There are so many ways to blow up this ship, it's almost a design flaw." Yes, that is such a thing with starships! LOL
10. Random Communications Officer Man DOES NOT GET KILLED.
Not so much:
1. Saru's threat ganglia should have shown up at least when Mudd was on the bridge. But, nothing. I need the rules for that thing.
2. Mudd. I was expecting him to return but not nearly so soon. He is annoying AND he still knows about the spore drive. He may not be able to sell the ship but he can still sell the knowledge he acquired.
3. Burnham sacrificing herself for the crew. Now that she knows about Lorca's actions with his previous ship, hopefully that's the model she follows in the future.
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 9:34 PM on October 29 [12 favorites]


I didn't actually like this one that much, it was the most episodic episode so far and I guess I'm finally kind of tired of Groundhog's Day stories. This seems like the kind of episode that you would run late into the season when the writers are out of ideas and just want to put in a scene with Michael and Lt Tallguy kissing.

Also, while I thought Rainn Wilson did a fantastic job playing Mudd (maybe it's an extraneous consonant thing), and I'm not like crazy attached to the TOS character, I didn't really like how Mudd now just cuts people down in cold blood. And the ending, where Mudd is doomed to live with a domineering wife who will suppress his louche, free-spirited ways, seems like it could have dropped right out of a wormhole to the late sixties.
posted by whir at 9:36 PM on October 29 [4 favorites]


fatbird, I'm with you. I'm already bracing myself for the Bad Thing from Discovery's writers. Maybe it will be forgiveable. They've done so much good. I mean simply choosing not to kill off a random black male character feels damn near groundbreaking.
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 9:38 PM on October 29 [4 favorites]


Well, I do think we can all agree that it is most common to find that Mudd requires Rainn.

Enh, I'm always a bit reluctant to embrace temporal loops in Trek. I won't go on and on. Time travel is an inherently problematic storytelling choice in Trek due to overuse. It certainly has been clear that it was likely we would get some time-travel based stories in Discovery, but I was kinda hoping that would flow from the drive itself. Oh well. Still fun enough.
posted by mwhybark at 11:36 PM on October 29 [3 favorites]


This episode was so much fun! There was lots of laughing and clapping in this household (I lie, that was just me watching Ash and Michael zing off each other).

It just felt like a really solid and entertaining way of telling a tale we are all familiar with, particularly in the Trek 'verse, but throwing in some interesting plot points.

I'm absolutely in LOVE with Michael and Ash, so am already heartbroken over the inevitable reveal that Ash is Voq and the subsequent breaking of Michael's heart. I'm more convinced now that not only is Ash Voq, but he currently has no memories of being Voq. Which fits in with the whole "you will have to lose everything" foreshadowing earlier in the series.

I felt like the only weird bit was the Disco party, which just felt too modern (as in 2017) that it stuck out, especially when contrasted to the great TOSesque outfits that Stella and her dad were wearing. It would have been great to see Tilly and some of the others at the party decked out in those outfits too! And maybe a lute.

I don't know why they wouldn't have just killed Mudd or locked him up forever, except I guess that we know he reappears in TOS, but maybe just throw him in the brig for a while? It seems way too risky to send him off with all the information that he does have.

WHAT ELSE. Oh, yes, as soon as Random Communications Officer appeared I yelled "oh god, he's going to die!" and I'm so glad he didn't because ugh. We've seen that too much.

Also, has anyone noticed that some of the uniforms have the paneling on the back of the uniform jacket? Does anyone know what that indicates?

Did I mention that I love Ash and Michael? BECAUSE I DO.
posted by liquorice at 2:14 AM on October 30 [7 favorites]


Also, the episode starting off with "Personal Log" made me all happy and squee-worthy inside.
posted by liquorice at 2:17 AM on October 30 [4 favorites]


Well, that was fun. A bit silly of course, as the time loop thing always is, but not in a bad way. I always enjoy Trek's little jaunts into temporal anomaly stuff, even as they obviously can't entirely make sense, so this episode works just fine for me.

The crux of the story is in getting Burnham and Tyler hooked up, via Stamets playing cupid, through as many repeats are needed to break through the difficulties they'd face taking matters more slowly with Burnham's inhibitions and lack of experience otherwise hampering the possibility.

The episode always, once again, gives opportunity for Lorca to suggest Michael's outsized importance to him, for reasons that aren't yet clear, but may have something to do with her being of greater value to the Klingons than Discovery itself. So that's another important ongoing plot point as is Stamets' condition, which is manifesting some far ranging effects. The rest of the episode is more, well, episodic, with the events being entertaining without much ongoing significance likely coming from them other than Mudd surely having more opportunities to return. Very nice of them to let Mudd off so easily in the end, perhaps too nice especially after he's been given the run down of the entirety of the ship and crew, but still pleasingly non-grim. That it relies on "trapping" Mudd with his ever-loving Stella is indeed a bit old school in some questionable ways, but adds a wrinkle to the main story line regarding romance between Michael and Ash, who may or may not be what he seems either.

Many of the best highlights have already been covered, drunk Tilly, drunk Tilly helping Michael scan the gormagander, which the crew never tries to destroy even knowing Mudd's ship is inside, Stamets shooting Mudd and giving the see you soon speech, Stamets' casual reference to his partner and ballroom dance talk with Burnham, Saru's "actually" bit, Michael chowing down on the dark matter, the So many ways to blow up a starship and random communications officer easter egg like lines from Mudd, and more.

The episode starts off with Mudd seeming psychopathic, but since he's going to repeat the situation over and over again, he's as much playing the role as being it since he gets as many do overs as he wants. In the penultimate run he beams Lorca to the brig rather than kill him, though he does still kill Tyler. Nonetheless, when you can treat violence as one might in a video game, then it isn't quite the same as it is "for real" in some perspectives, so all that Mudd does and then undoes isn't really done at all in the end even if we've seen it. It makes for an interesting perspective on shows, games and violence in a way. Still though, yeah, Mudd's definitely a bit of a psychopath here, just not necessarily a completely unhinged killer, if one can parse out such details in this sort of fantasyworld.

Anyway, enough for now. Glad to see the show hasn't disappointed me yet. Feels like Trek but still something new. If they can keep this up, I'll keep tuning in.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:31 AM on October 30 [8 favorites]


I love Stamets. I love that he was just grumpy guy and now he's got personality- but I'm so worried for him.

Ash as Voq- I'm not seeing any of that this episode? Except that he is so TALL especially when Michael dances with him.
posted by freethefeet at 2:31 AM on October 30 [2 favorites]


I don't think there was anything pointing to him being Voq in this episode except that I imagine the writers don't have a happy ending in store for the two of them, and him turning out to be Voq would be the cruelest twist.
posted by liquorice at 2:43 AM on October 30 [2 favorites]


My favourite episode so far. This felt like Trek to me.
posted by Faintdreams at 3:16 AM on October 30 [7 favorites]


There was one maybe-Voq bit I caught: everything is all wrapped up, Burnham and Tyler are in the elevator headed to the bridge and he gives her a very, very small look, she asks him what's wrong and he says he's sorry to have missed their first kiss.

It's something. Maybe. But, really, unless this turns into Troy and Riker (blech), Tyler has to die now. Romances just don't survive for main characters and does Burnham even need this?
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 3:35 AM on October 30


Yes, definitely a very Trek-y episode. Having two people aware of the time loop and each trying to turn it to their own advantage is a new wrinkle on the time loop concept, at least in Trek — more Edge of Tomorrow than Groundhog Day, except in EoT the enemy was too alien to be knowable, while here we have a human with clear motivations as the enemy.

Considering only Stamets and Mudd retain memories from loop to loop, and for everyone else it's the "first time" every time, for Burnham to be sufficiently convinced within 30 minutes that they were in a time loop, and overcome any self-preservation instinct and eat the crystal... well, that requires a Vulcan-level dedication to logic. Few other humans could do that.

A minor bit that bugged me: when Burnham knows she needs to get info on Mudd from Tyler but fails to do so, Stamets tells her she'll do better next time...but she won't remember that. Presumably Stamets tells her something different after the reset which encourages her to be more direct with Tyler about Mudd, but we don't see that. I would have liked to have seen maybe just one line from Stamets there. Still, I liked the episode a lot.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:37 AM on October 30 [6 favorites]


This was my favourite of the series so far too. I enjoyed the tone a lot, the characterisation, and loved that they skipped the filler.

I find myself hoping Ash isn't Voq, but it makes too much sense.
posted by smoke at 4:10 AM on October 30 [1 favorite]


"DISCO" playing Staying Alive on a time loop episode

Didn’t they also play Disco Inferno at one point?
posted by cardboard at 4:11 AM on October 30 [1 favorite]


Oh, and robbing a Betazoid bank? In addition to all the conventional security measures Mudd mentioned, how hard must it be to rob a bank guarded by telepaths?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:33 AM on October 30 [8 favorites]


how hard must it be to rob a bank guarded by telepaths?

Empaths. They read feelings, not thoughts.
posted by leotrotsky at 4:43 AM on October 30 [1 favorite]


Empaths. They read feelings, not thoughts.

No, that's just Troi, who is half-human; Lwaxana and the other Betazoids are full telepaths, natural Ferengi resistance aside.

This was intended to be the Trekkest episode that ever Trekked, and it mostly did quite a good job at it. Cracked up at the "Random Communications Guy" meta, and was amused by the allusion to ST IV (Whale! Time travel!). That being said, I also agree that I cringed at the "schlep Mudd off to the domineering girlfriend and her over-protective papa, ha ha" resolution to the whole thing.

"If they're setting up Tyler and Burnham, then of course he's Voq," was my response. But hey, they could be faking us out there. Still. (Once again, the "be honest" Moral of the Day seemed pretty pointed.) I like liquorice's suggestion that Tyler doesn't remember being Voq right now, in which case there may be an implanted trigger that could go off at a really inconvenient moment for all concerned.
posted by thomas j wise at 4:54 AM on October 30 [7 favorites]


Well, at the same time Stamets did mention trying to go directly to Tyler with the problem but Tyler wasn't interested in it. So they're hinting a bit Tyler's only interested in Burnham and Lorca at least to the extent of maintaining his place on the crew, so he may know full well what he's doing if he is indeed Voq.

I'm actually enjoying the is he or isn't he thing with Tyler and all the associated stuff, like Mudd being imprisoned and escaping in manners that they intentionally sort of handwave off. They're at least attempting to keep some opacity in what different parties interests and knowledge may be, which makes all the action more open to interpretation.

If Tyler is Voq, then the end with Mudd could be foreshadowing a dilemma Burnham will face over whether she'll stand by her man heart when Tyler's deception is revealed. If Tyler is Voq and he and Burnham have a relationship, then how they'll resolve that relationship and their respective roles on Discovery, the Klingon empire, as outcasts, outlaws, and lovers will be interesting to see.
posted by gusottertrout at 5:21 AM on October 30 [2 favorites]


Saru’s death boners don’t really seem to work very well, do they

I think you guys have disregarded the very real possibility that Ash will just die when Voq has more to do onscreen, since then the actor will have that other role to keep him occupied. The “I’ll be here forever” was as two-weeks-from-retirement a line as they could have possibly put in there

All told, this was a fun episode and unlike most Star Trek time loop episodes, employed the dramatic device known as Tension
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:40 AM on October 30 [11 favorites]


This was the episode where I paused it and turned to my spouse and said "OK, I will pronounce something now............... [cautiously and precisely] I like this show."

Faintdreams said: "My favourite episode so far. This felt like Trek to me." Right there with you!

Very little Lorca and only offscreen Klingons. Lots of character. Wacky Stamets and so much cuteness around his story of meeting his partner. Timeloop done well. Mudd as basically the kind of looter that the Ferengi would envy (and, as my spouse pointed out, the ending, and the careening between wackiness and horror, is very TOS).

I wish this show had weirder future parties that don't look as much like our parties, but that is a little quibble. Also the voiceover at the end bookends the personal log stuff at the start but I was like "what is this, Doogie Howser, M.D."?

I think the "hey why are the light filaments cutting out and coming back?" at the start of the party scene(s) is a hint that Mudd is time-jumping in right then.

I loved the canon about how physically hard it'd be to rob a Betazoid bank! Very OF COURSE.
posted by brainwane at 5:55 AM on October 30 [3 favorites]


I felt like the only weird bit was the Disco party, which just felt too modern (as in 2017) that it stuck out, especially when contrasted to the great TOSesque outfits that Stella and her dad were wearing. It would have been great to see Tilly and some of the others at the party decked out in those outfits too! And maybe a lute.

I can forgive Discovery for not having the technology look like the cheap sets and props of TOS trek, but I don't think I can forgive it for abandoning Original Trek's weird 60s concept of the future. Who knows how society will change when scarcity is a thing of the past? And why can't it involve dashing shoulder capes and trippy music and lutes? Basically, what's the point of saying your story is set contemporaneous to original Trek if you're not going to make more than the palest attempts to connect to it?

Also "You stole all our secrets and threatened (but technically never killed) our crew so you get the worst punishment imaginable: TAKEN INTO CUSTODY BY YOUR GIRLFRIEND" doesn't really work. They already have ample evidence that Mudd knows too much but Captain "I do what I want" Lorca just lets him go off to write If I Did It: Confessions of a Hijacker. This would have been a perfect ending on Kirk's Enterprise but the Enterprise isn't the federation's greatest secret weapon. The Next Generation would have at least had Dr. Crusher perform a highly unethical memory modifying procedure on him before letting him go.

I'd be way more into Ash and Michael (Ashael?) if it wasn't an obvious setup to make his inevitable betrayal/death more emotionally impacting.

I guess "splicing yourself with Tardigrade DNA" is the future's microdosing. It was weird having the character who knows it's repeating not be the focus of a time loop story, but it still works and is one of the Trekiest episodes thus far.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:01 AM on October 30 [1 favorite]


I really started reading Fanfare while my spouse and I were watching Steven Universe; often I read the threads and tell my spouse about people's insights.

Last night I said: "Do you want to hear about some Fanfare people's theory that Ash Tyler is Voq?"

Pause.

"Yes, but only if I can tell you my theory that Ash is Pink Diamond."
posted by brainwane at 7:02 AM on October 30 [7 favorites]


I think you guys have disregarded the very real possibility that Ash will just die when Voq has more to do onscreen, since then the actor will have that other role to keep him occupied.

No reason why they can't appear in the same episode, though. And they never have. Voq disappeared exactly when Ash appeared.

...unless there's an in-universe reason.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:06 AM on October 30 [3 favorites]


I don't think I can forgive it for abandoning Original Trek's weird 60s concept of the future. Who knows how society will change when scarcity is a thing of the past? And why can't it involve dashing shoulder capes and trippy music and lutes?

I have to admit, even though I don't care as much about the connection to TOS in itself, the "currentness" of some of the cultural comment and artifacts like the music at the party does disappoint me. Having a little of that thrown in on occasion might be fine, but, yeah, I'd much prefer there was some attempt made to suggest popular culture had changed a lot more than they show given the distance in time involved.

Crazy lute synth mixes, machine noise music, more world music influences, heck, even some good old fashioned theremin sounding stuff would be an improvement over making it sound like stuff from today. With all the money they're spending on these episodes, they should ask some experimental composers to go nuts and give 'em some incidental tracks just for these kinds of occasions. We'll all be dead by the time this future is supposed to arrive so we won't know if they're off the mark or not, just make it different.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:26 AM on October 30 [8 favorites]


I figured the party scene's "ripped from last Tuesday" feel has more to do with limiting the amount of weird stuff the audience has to deal with at once for the sake of narrative simplicity. Devising ways to make the party seem futuristic and bizarre probably places more focus on "hey this party is futuristic and bizarre!" and less focus where it matters: on Burnham and Tyler's high school courtship scenes and, later, on the unfolding time chaos.

I'm not saying that's necessarily the right choice, or even that my theory is right; maybe avoiding future-party is not giving enough credit to the viewers, or maybe the choice to avoid future-party is actually just a lack of imagination and/or budget. Hell, for all I know Discovery's writing room just wanted to avoid making a worse party scene than The Matrix Reloaded, who knows.
posted by chrominance at 7:52 AM on October 30 [7 favorites]


> Mudd is doomed to live with a domineering wife who will suppress his louche, free-spirited ways

No doubt they'll drag him out at least once a season to harass and annoy Lorca and crew. This ending is an echo of the "I, Mudd" ending from TOS.

> Staying Alive

...which is apparently timeless music, since it appears a millennium in the future in "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets."

> Having two people aware of the time loop and each trying to turn it to their own advantage is a new wrinkle on the time loop concept, at least in Trek — more Edge of Tomorrow than Groundhog Day

This episode is set apart because, for the most part, the POV characters are not the ones aware of the loopiness of time, except by being told-- we only ride on Stambets' shoulder for a couple of minutes, plus Mudd's excellent murder montage (I bet that was a fun bit to write). I found myself slightly surprised that Bernham was not "storing info" in Stamets when it seemed important to do so, but I think the writers decided to just have him around witnessing a few key things, and having us figure on the tabs being inserted into slots as appropriate. Also, assuming the power-sag during the party was the start of the loop, Stamets was accomplishing his first task, gaining the trust of Bernham and telling her about the loop, faster and faster as the loops progressed.

EoT had two characters who were are that time was looping, but one lost the ability before the other gained it. In the book, Rita and Cage had to fight each other to end the looping.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:15 AM on October 30 [2 favorites]


> Romances just don't survive for main characters

X-Files with ran 7 years of will-they-won't-they before Mulder left the show. It's can be done.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:21 AM on October 30 [2 favorites]


For the first time, this series produced an episode that felt like familiar Star Trek. I loved 95% of this episode. (The ending was infuriating.) All the intricate little details adding up to what was a satisfying payoff. I loved Staying Alive playing at the party when the time loop reset.

But most of all, I loved that they took an existing, brand spankin' new scientific discovery and incorporated it into the plot line!
Earlier this year, physicists had put together a blueprint for how to make and measure time crystals - a bizarre state of matter with an atomic structure that repeats not just in space, but in time, allowing them to maintain constant oscillation without energy.

Two separate research teams managed to create what looked an awful lot like time crystals back in January, and now both experiments have successfully passed peer-review for the first time, putting the 'impossible' phenomenon squarely in the realm of reality.

"We've taken these theoretical ideas that we've been poking around for the last couple of years and actually built it in the laboratory," says one of the researchers, Andrew Potter from Texas University at Austin.

"Hopefully, this is just the first example of these, with many more to come."

Time crystals are one of the coolest things physics has dished up in recent months, because they point to a whole new world of 'non-equilibrium' phases that are entirely different from anything scientists have studied in the past.

For decades, we've been studying matter, such as metals and insulators, that's defined as being 'in equilibrium' - a state where all the atoms in a material have the same amount of heat.

Now it looks like time crystals are the first example of the hypothesised but unstudied 'non-equilibrium' state of matter, and they could revolutionise how we store and transfer information via quantum systems.

"It shows that the richness of the phases of matter is even broader [than we thought]," physicist Norman Yao from the University of California, Berkeley, who published the blueprint in January, told Gizmodo.

More: Scientists unveil new form of matter: time crystals
and
Scientists Finally Observed Time Crystals—But What the Hell Are They?
Also see: (Wikipedia)

The ending... arrrrgh. Terrorist hijacks a federation starship, learns Starfleet's biggest secret and they let him go??!?

Major character theme of this episode was love. Stamets and Culber. Ash and Burnham. Mudd and Tilly.....
posted by zarq at 8:33 AM on October 30 [19 favorites]


This is Stella Mudd from TOS, played by Kay Elliot. They did a nice job finding an actress (Katherine Barrell, Office Haught on Wynonna Earp) to play her who resembled Ms. Elliot.
posted by zarq at 8:51 AM on October 30 [4 favorites]


In general, I think the casting of TOS characters on this show has been very well done. Amanda from last week's episode was also spot-on.

And that William Ware Theiss-inspired hotness that Stella and her father were both wearing? Beautiful stuff.
posted by Automocar at 8:57 AM on October 30 [7 favorites]


I figured the party scene's "ripped from last Tuesday" feel has more to do with limiting the amount of weird stuff the audience has to deal with at once for the sake of narrative simplicity. Devising ways to make the party seem futuristic and bizarre...

I'd like to point out Jadzia's bachelorette party in DS9 "You Are Cordially Invited" as evidence that it's possible to depict a party on-screen which comes off as neither futuristic/bizarre nor dated by the use of present-day (to the viewer) elements.

"Staying Alive" at a party set hundreds of years in the future? Strains suspension of disbelief.

A fire dancer at a future party? I can totally buy that.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:14 AM on October 30 [6 favorites]


I, for one, find it extremely easy to believe that the Bee Gees will be remembered two centuries in our future. Especially on a ship called Disco.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:39 AM on October 30 [18 favorites]


Having two people aware of the time loop and each trying to turn it to their own advantage is a new wrinkle on the time loop concept, at least in Trek — more Edge of Tomorrow than Groundhog Day

I was actually tempted to compare it to ARQ, but didn't figure many people had seen that. (I haven't seen Edge of Tomorrow, though I suppose I really should.)
posted by mordax at 10:57 AM on October 30 [3 favorites]


It's funny how depictions of the future have stagnated exactly as culture itself has stagnated. Think of it: A time traveler from--oh--1987 would certainly find plenty of changes and surprises, but probably wouldn't have a hard time understanding and fitting in with current culture. But if they go back to 1957 or so, they'll see many more differences in technology and culture. Go back again to 1937 and the change is even more stark, far more than what we currently expect of 2047.

In 1966 culture and technology was changing so fast it was easy to believe in a future where people would dress and talk and behave in ways completely alien to the people of the day. Everything is changing so fast that future could look like anything, so why would anyone make it look like today? Even in 1987 when The Next Generation was being designed culture had radically shifted since 1966, so "The future will be very different" was still a fine thesis.

Now, however, it could be hard to tell a party from 1987 and a party from 2017 if you're not looking closely for clues. We're living in a year that sounded really futuristic in 1987 but very little of the future we were promised ever came to pass, so why expect tomorrow or 200 years from now to be so different? Heck, the most strange and futuristic aspect of the party we see in this episode is nobody is clutching a smartphone to take pictures or thumb through disinterestedly.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:09 PM on October 30 [10 favorites]


Now, however, it could be hard to tell a party from 1987 and a party from 2017 if you're not looking closely for clues.

Eh, the selfies alone would give it away.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:13 PM on October 30 [1 favorite]


I can totally believe 20th century songs showing up in the 23rd century, though. The Wild Rover is at least 400 years old and it's still sung in bars across the english-speaking world. How much longer can we expect songs to last now with recording technology?
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:19 PM on October 30 [7 favorites]


Crazy lute synth mixes, machine noise music, more world music influences, heck, even some good old fashioned theremin sounding stuff would be an improvement over making it sound like stuff from today.

It's funny how depictions of the future have stagnated exactly as culture itself has stagnated. Think of it: A time traveler from--oh--1987 would certainly find plenty of changes and surprises, but probably wouldn't have a hard time understanding and fitting in with current culture. But if they go back to 1957 or so, they'll see many more differences in technology and culture. Go back again to 1937 and the change is even more stark, far more than what we currently expect of 2047.

The Wild Rover is at least 400 years old and it's still sung in bars across the english-speaking world. How much longer can we expect songs to last now with recording technology?


There was a piece in... I want to say Vanity Fair, about six years back on how so much pop culture had decelerated. The article ran photos of cars, fashion, hair styles, architecture, and so forth in series of six: pictures from 1911, 1931, 1951, 1971, 1991, and 2011. Huge differences in each case, save for the last two photos, which were pretty much identical. I often ponder how hard it must be to do a recent period piece on film or video these days. American Graffiti came out in 1973, and depicted 1962 as instantly identifiable and hugely different. You make a movie set in 2006 now, and how do you signal it? iPods, but no iPhones? People watching Saddam Hussein's trial? Kvetching that the big movies are a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, a Mission Impossible movie, two or three superhero flicks and a handful of CGI animals-voiced-by-B-list-actors flicks?

Anyway, all this to say that my first impression is that this party scene is going to age poorly, but I may well be wrong.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:18 PM on October 30 [4 favorites]


This is related but not related - but I'm going to two themed parties in the next month - 80s and 90s, I walked into H&M and was able to buy outfits for both easily. All the clothes they had were interchangeable with stuff I wore back in the 90s and that I've seen were worn in the 80s. I agree that the way parties "look" is still pretty similar from the past couple of decades.
posted by liquorice at 7:43 PM on October 30


Also "You stole all our secrets and threatened (but technically never killed) our crew so you get the worst punishment imaginable: TAKEN INTO CUSTODY BY YOUR GIRLFRIEND" doesn't really work.

That was my beef too - I can't see either Michael or Tyler not immediately shooting Mudd after they disarmed him at the end. He's a murderer and a massive security risk. And Lorca at least should want to toss him out an airlock - he left him alive once, and look what happened.

Plus, you know, the attempted treason... Marriage to a loving, young, attractive and wealthy woman doesn't really seem like a punishment.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:53 PM on October 30 [3 favorites]


> I can totally believe 20th century songs showing up in the 23rd century, though.

From time to time, sure. But it's pretty clear that prewarp Earth (specifically, Europe and America) is massively overrepresented in 23rd- and 24th-century Federation culture.

It's like how 90% of recreational holoprograms are set in, like, a Sherlock Holmes mystery or a Las Vegas lounge or a 19th-century French café or a 19th-century Irish village or the workshop of Leonardo da Vinci. No one ever wants to spend their free time in early 22nd-century China or medieval Tellar Prime or pre-first-contact Betazed or even the steam pools of Risa. But they can't get enough of 19th-century European pubs, and never tire of listening to Vic Fontaine sing Sinatra.
posted by Syllepsis at 9:20 PM on October 30 [7 favorites]


"Marriage to a loving, young, attractive and wealthy woman doesn't really seem like a punishment."

The punishment comes later.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 9:31 PM on October 30 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed the episode despite getting a bad taste from all of Mudd's time-travelling antics ultimately leading him back to the 1960's... "take my wife". Eurgh. And I want to know what happened to the space whale! Was it okay?

Pity they couldn't wipe Mudd's memory while they were at it.
posted by Coaticass at 10:17 PM on October 30 [1 favorite]


He's a murderer and a massive security risk

Security risk, yes. Prosecutable in-canon this-franchise prime-timeline murderer? That would have to be under the legal auspices of the Department of Temporal Investigations or some related or similar body, who do apparently have execution power over living entities who will may have committed injurious crimes. But as far as we see on-screen, and very definitely as we hear in spoken dialog, the people Mudd kills in the time loop are not dead after they exit the branches. IANAL, not even a Space or Temporal one, but if no one's been killed in a demonstrable manner, where is the murder?
posted by mwhybark at 10:57 PM on October 30 [2 favorites]


Also I really loved that Mudd's classical music selection was from Lohengrin- an opera in which the titular hero first appears riding on the back of an enormous swan.
posted by Coaticass at 11:05 PM on October 30 [11 favorites]


What the continued references to cultural products, places, and concepts familiar to us tells me about the future as told by Star Trek is that culture died somewhere in the 21st century. Young people don't make anything new anymore, only sift through the past grabbing on to whatever was deemed popular in earlier eras. Even in that sifting they only glom on to the most obvious remnants of the times. They don't dig up something people of the time may have initially passed by or look outside the most popular products, they just take what was liked as their own.

The same too goes for the narrow and banal visions of home or holodeck play time, verdant rural areas, little cafes, beaches, or pubs favoring a very narrow sensibility accommodating to bourgeoisie values. Little that's very singular, modern, dynamic, much less alien in its perspective. We seek out strange new worlds, new civilizations only to proselytize for the bucolic imagined past of earth. We learn little and gain nothing from the galaxy we explore, we travel to spread the enlightened gospel of middle class 20th century liberal values.

There's occasional mention of something other of course, this episode had Stamets mentioning Culber humming a Kasseelian opera when they met. That's the kind of thing we actually need to actually see instead of rewarding viewer prejudice over our obvious superior current tastes. It may seem like a small thing, something I'm completely blowing out of proportion, but, to me, not showing changes and influences developing over time suggests the culture of the Trek universe is static. TOS made a point of not going that route because the necessity of showing cultural change is so important in suggesting what the greater purpose or meaning of seeking out the new is. To grow as a culture you have to change as a culture, to do otherwise is to suggest we are beyond improvement, that this moment, at its narrow best, provides all the answers we will ever need and the rest is just sightseeing.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:22 PM on October 30 [2 favorites]


you think this show is bad, you should see what Futurama says about American culture a thousand years into the future
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:39 AM on October 31 [7 favorites]


You make a movie set in 2006 now, and how do you signal it? iPods, but no iPhones?

What usually does it for me is CRT monitors and non-smart phones.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:35 AM on October 31 [2 favorites]


But as far as we see on-screen, and very definitely as we hear in spoken dialog, the people Mudd kills in the time loop are not dead after they exit the branches. IANAL, not even a Space or Temporal one, but if no one's been killed in a demonstrable manner, where is the murder?

Well, Stamets witnessed several of them. But, really, I can't see Lorca giving a shit about the technicalities of it all. He left Mudd to die in a Klingon prison for the most trivial of slights. It just seems like his reaction to the invasion of his ship with exotic technology would spur him to vicious retribution.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:09 AM on October 31 [3 favorites]


I don't agree with Lorca abandoning Mudd on the Klingon ship but to call the reason slight is an.. understatement?

Lorca left Mudd for being a traitor in a POW situation, a traitor to the entire Human race.

For short term personal gain.
posted by Faintdreams at 4:18 AM on October 31 [2 favorites]


Lorca left Mudd for being a traitor in a POW situation, a traitor to the entire Human race.

I take your point, but Mudd could reasonably argue that he was doing what he had to in order to survive. He steals a bit of food, and he's a dick about it. He spies a bit, but they're in a cell and have no expectation of privacy anyway. But Lorca essentially leaves him to die.

But in this episode he's goes for full blown treason, and he gets to walk. It seems like an underreaction.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:29 AM on October 31 [3 favorites]


One explanation my household bandies about for the "human culture stopped in the 20th/21st century for some long period" part of Star Trek is: digital dark age because of DRM.
posted by brainwane at 5:46 AM on October 31 [14 favorites]


Stamets has some lines in this episode that resonate rather bizarrely with what Anthony Rapp is going through right now, enough to make me wonder if his announcement was specifically timed. For example, his first line: "Why would you apologize for a random act of physical interaction?" as he pulls Burnham into a more-or-less nonconsensual hug...
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 6:14 AM on October 31 [3 favorites]


also: "What I need is for all you placid people to finally start LISTENING!" Throughout the middle of the episode, he has something really important to say, about something that's been happening time and time again, and his big problem is how to get people to not doubt him. It's all too familiar.
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 6:19 AM on October 31 [4 favorites]


pictures from 1911, 1931, 1951, 1971, 1991, and 2011. Huge differences in each case, save for the last two photos, which were pretty much identical.

I expect that they were trying to make this point and could easily have chosen photos that made 1911, 1931, 1951, and 1971 all look very similar as well. There's that photo of the construction workers having lunch on the girder from the late 20s or early 30s -- except maybe for their hats, they wouldn't have looked out of place in 1950 or 1980 or 2015. Hell, there are photos of gold-rush miners in (what appear to be, in b/w) jeans, boots, and flannel shirts who wouldn't look out of place in a rural setting today.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:26 AM on October 31 [3 favorites]


I think the thing this episode made me realise is that everything in this show has to happen with Burnham or Lorca in the room. I wish that it could have been an episode from Stamet's PoV but that doesn't really seem to be allowed in this show.

Other things that stuck out to me, the ending was dumb and really incongruous with the tone of the rest of the episode. The tonal shift from "murder murder murder murder murder" > "WOMEN AM I RIGHT GUYS?" was clumsy as all fuck.

Tilly: Is she supposed to be developing as a character in terms of outgoingness or is she basically whatever the story needs her to be. She's awkward and weird and over talkative but now is great at parties and such and social and sometimes basically ship's counselor. Since we don't get that much of secondary character's inner lives it doesn't entirely feel earned.

I am happy with the fact that this ep showed that we can do mostly self contained eps within the framework of Discovery. I really do wish though we saw Lorca being convinced because he seems like of anyone on the ship getting him to relinquish control would be the hardest get, but it just happens off screen!
posted by Ferreous at 9:18 AM on October 31 [6 favorites]


I worked hard to fanwank Tilly's behavior at the party. The best I could do is note that some people are maladroit in one kind of a social context but not another . . . and alcohol. Mostly alcohol. (At the earliest point in time, we see her playing beer pong.)

I was motivated to work at this because I found this version of Tilly charming, too.

I thought this was a terrific episode and am willing to forgive the problems with the ending because, I dunno, it felt so much like TOS. Which, I mean, the episode is Mudd.

I thought the actor was terrific. Although playing that kind of villainy seems to always be so fun for actors that they're usually pretty good at it.

Although Lorca has a big profile on the show, this episode makes it clear that he's not the central protagonist that other captains have been. If he were, they would have gone right to him. (You would think Stamets would feel a duty to spend one loop consulting with Lirca about the strategy. But maybe he did.)
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:56 AM on October 31 [2 favorites]


I would have liked to have at least seen Stamet's get a secret from Lorca that he could reveal to him that would prove that it was in fact a time loop. A chance to build some background on him in an organic way that could either be more "DARK DAMAGED HISTORY" or something goofy like he was huge into something really nerdy or embarrassing in his past. Not much time to spend on it, but something to sell that a bit more.
posted by Ferreous at 10:04 AM on October 31


I didn't find Tilly's behaviour strange. I'm very awkward and but extroverted in normal settings (which finds me babbling and saying stupid stuff) but with a few drinks I behave exactly like Tilly especially around a friend. She remains awkward, just social. See: her unsubtle exit when Ash appears to talk to Michael.
posted by liquorice at 1:33 PM on October 31 [13 favorites]


pictures from 1911, 1931, 1951, 1971, 1991, and 2011. Huge differences in each case, save for the last two photos, which were pretty much identical.

But regional differences are massive. For the first 20 minutes of Jackie Brown I thought the film was set in the 70s. I remember being vividly shocked when I realized it was set at the time it was filmed, the 90s. Then I recalled the massive difference in climate between L.A. and Toronto and, at the time, living in a country that took infrastructure seriously, reminded myself that the elements and the strong culture of a place can appear straight from the past in certain areas.
posted by juiceCake at 7:45 PM on October 31 [1 favorite]


Honestly, Discovery has not really been clicking for me, but this episode did, very much. It’s the first one that I’ve seen that really looks like “Real Trek”. I loved every bit of it, and it went a long way towards making me like Burnham, which I really hadn’t previously.

The thing about the Mudd ending is it has to comply with the timeline of TOS, so they can’t really do anything but give him back to his wife. Anything long lasting would’ve prevented him from being the pain in the ass he was in the original series.
posted by corb at 9:10 PM on October 31 [4 favorites]


The thing about the Mudd ending is it has to comply with the timeline of TOS, so they can’t really do anything but give him back to his wife. Anything long lasting would’ve prevented him from being the pain in the ass he was in the original series.

That's a bar to outright vaporizing Mudd, sure, but they could simply have thrown him in the brig and left us to infer a prison break and reunion betwixt then and TOS. Continuity doesn't require that the crew unites him with his wife: it merely requires that they not do anything that would absolutely bar it from happening. And given that he's already made it out of one brig on the show so far...

It bugs me because it was a, frankly, bad ending to an other great episode. It's doesn't fix any of the problems the crew would seem to want fixed (he still has the information about Discovery to sell, and he's still presumably out for more revenge), and it's...almost too neat (see, he gets back together with his wife and then TOS happens! That's it, closed loop, we're done, no other Mudd adventures). And also Stella's ship showed up right away? Do they have a spore drive too? Or did I lose track of time there? Other than that ending, this was easily the episode I've enjoyed most -- it definitely felt the Trekkiest.

The one upside to the ending-as-it-exists is that the costumes were grand and the spaceboat they showed up on was delightfully weird.
posted by cjelli at 10:26 PM on October 31 [6 favorites]


The ending is prolematic, but I think I can fanwank it.

The DiscoCru need to resolve the immediate issue, which is that Mudd still has control of the most of the ship - they don't know how and they can't stop him. The timeloop is over, but they haven't actually defeated him. So maybe they just shoot him and work out what to do about the security breach later? But Stella's ship arrives within moments of receiving the co-ordinates, which indicates that it is pretty powerful, and that Stella and her dad are pretty motivated about finding Mudd, and will probably have some pointed questions if he is a corpse.

Yes, this plan leaves some loose ends that are pretty concerning, but their first priority is escape, and they can worry about Klingons learning about the secret mushroom drive later.

How'd I do?
posted by misfish at 11:30 PM on October 31 [4 favorites]


We could just go with Lorca experienced some guilt pangs after leaving Mudd behind on the Klingon ship and/or, after last episode, has momentarily resolved to take a lower key approach in order to keep off Starfleet's radar as a potential hazard.

Or maybe he just talked with soon to be Captain Kirk and asked him what he'd do in this situation since it is such a TOS answer to the problem.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:23 AM on November 1


I wish this show had weirder future parties that don't look as much like our parties

*I* wish this episode had future parties that didn't look so much like Space Mutiny parties.
…but wait, if Space Mutiny parties look like OUR parties, then…oh my god, Space Mutiny was the truly visionary franchise!

Earlier this year, physicists had put together a blueprint for how to make and measure time crystals - a bizarre state of matter with an atomic structure that repeats not just in space, but in time, allowing them to maintain constant oscillation without energy.

That is super cool. I never heard about this until now, and I was all prepared to roll my eyes at this flimsy fictitious device called "time crystals."

Yes, this plan leaves some loose ends that are pretty concerning, but their first priority is escape, and they can worry about Klingons learning about the secret mushroom drive later.

Ehhhh, I gotta think Burnham at minimum would've realized the extreme danger of letting Mudd go with that knowledge—if he escaped a Klingon prison ship, he can probably escape Baron Von Moneybags' clutches easily enough—and would've decided that the consequences of answering for a dead Mudd were minor by comparison with giving the Klingons that kind of tactical edge.

What might've fit nicely, though, would have been for Burnham to be ready to kill Mudd but for Tyler to stop her. Which Voq would totally do.

At any rate, I think maybe subsequent episodes will deal with this conundrum, since they so pointedly introduced and did not resolve the whole issue of Mudd's ship hidden inside the Gorgonzola.

TOS made a point of not going that route because the necessity of showing cultural change is so important in suggesting what the greater purpose or meaning of seeking out the new is.

Thanks for making this observation, gus, because it kind of hints at what continues to bug me about this show. We're seven episodes in and I still have no firm idea of what this series is trying to say. Even Enterprise, for all its many flaws, had a unifying meaning. Right now, if DISCO has anything at all to say, it seems to be pretty similar to what, say, The Blacklist has to say—that misunderstood and individualistic protagonists deserve a chance to prove themselves, or something? Which is not exactly at the Trek level.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:22 AM on November 1 [2 favorites]


The moment the first reset happened, I thought "well this is either a holodeck training simulation or a time loop but they already had a couple of training simulation scenes this season so..." and boom, called it. I liked Mudd's space-bunny armour.

His punishment was weak though. If he escaped from his wife once already surely he can do it again? And clearly there were any number of crimes you could have prosecuted him for, even if he could argue he didn't technically kill anyone.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:22 AM on November 1 [1 favorite]


That is super cool. I never heard about this until now, and I was all prepared to roll my eyes at this flimsy fictitious device called "time crystals."

I know! I literally gasped out loud when I heard it brought up in the episode. And they described it correctly as a kind of non-equilibrium matter!
posted by zarq at 7:41 AM on November 1


I liked Mudd's space-bunny armour.

Star Trek.com says it was Andorian.
posted by zarq at 7:44 AM on November 1 [4 favorites]


Some stats, observations and easter eggs from trekmovie.com's review of the episode:

* First Star Trek episode to skip opening teaser since TNG pilot “Encounter at Farpoint” in 1987
* First use of a “captain’s log” on Discovery comes from Captain Harcourt Fenton Mudd.
* Mudd claimed to have robbed a Betazoid Bank.
* Party scene featured disabled crewperson in a powered mobility chair.
* Funniest line of the episode (and slight 4th wall break) may be Mudd referring a bridge character as “random communications officer man.”
* Was Mudd’s line “Adieu, mon capitaine” an homage to Q? Will Mudd be Lorca’s Q?
* Also was “There really are so many ways to blow up this ship, it’s almost a design flaw” another bit of foreshadowing?
* Saru’s line “technically it’s not a fish…” felt very Data-like.
* The costumes for Stella and her father had a very old-school TOS style.
* Another shot of war map contained many known systems like Archanis, Qo’noS, Omega Leonis, Barolia, the Asure Nebula and more.
posted by zarq at 7:47 AM on November 1 [6 favorites]


... Mudd's ship hidden inside the Gorgonzola ...
posted by CheesesOfBrazil 17 hours ago [1 favorite +] [!]


Oh don't you think I didn't notice this, Cheeses. Nooo.

But what you're saying here is that the Gormagander is Chekov's Cheese, or rather, Space Whale, or, um

Nerd thought: as implicitly noted in zarq's post, there were many clear shots of a 2d map of the UFP-Klingon ZOC front. I believe that we have seen similar maps in TOS and TNG and presumably ENT. Anybody tried to corral them and do comparisons so we can retcon the inevitable production improbabilities?
posted by mwhybark at 8:35 PM on November 1 [3 favorites]


Also

A gander is a goose. Gourm-, rather than Gorm-, might imply something about consumption and appetite. One notes that the Time Crystal had a blue LCD display. As LCD is a form of crystal, and a crystal is an organized from of matter that includes gemstones such as rubies, diamonds, quartz, emerald, and sapphire, one might well suspect a deliberate reference to the celebrated case of one Sherlock Holmes, the well-known "Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle", in which a goose is fed a purloined gem.

One wonders, Watson, what message the villain may be trying to convey.
posted by mwhybark at 8:40 PM on November 1 [5 favorites]


Mallory Ortberg's recap incorporating her thoughts about the real-life truth-telling of the actor playing Stamets is a thing of wonder. (Via No Award.)
posted by Coaticass at 12:03 AM on November 2 [7 favorites]


Anybody tried to corral them and do comparisons so we can retcon the inevitable production improbabilities?

If nobody else does, it will be Bernd Schneider's "Ex Astris Scientia" site.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:03 AM on November 2


A gander is a goose. Gourm-, rather than Gorm-, might imply something about consumption and appetite. One notes that the Time Crystal had a blue LCD display. As LCD is a form of crystal, and a crystal is an organized from of matter that includes gemstones such as rubies, diamonds, quartz, emerald, and sapphire, one might well suspect a deliberate reference to the celebrated case of one Sherlock Holmes, the well-known "Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle", in which a goose is fed a purloined gem.
Are you Ted Rogers?
posted by fullerine at 5:22 AM on November 2 [1 favorite]


>Anybody tried to corral them and do comparisons so we can retcon the inevitable production improbabilities?

If nobody else does, it will be Bernd Schneider's "Ex Astris Scientia" site.


Reddit: Comparing the star map in Discovery to the Star Trek Star Charts

The biggest notable change seems to be that they've moved where the line between the Alpha and Beta quadrant is -- compare the Alpha/Beta line on the left, from Discovery, where the dividing line runs through the Briar Patch nebula, with most prior maps -- here's one from Star Trek Online -- where it runs farther the galactic west. Either that or they moved some of the planets around, but that's basically the same difference.

Given how amazingly inconsistent the show(s) have been about terminology and placement, this is one element of canon I'm more than happy to shrug my shoulders at -- there's no way to actually reconcile every episode with every other episode.
posted by cjelli at 7:41 AM on November 2 [4 favorites]


80+ comments and no one has mentioned the snippet of Audio Two’s “Top Billin’“ at the party?
posted by dayintoday at 5:50 PM on November 2


Look, everyone, the reason why we heard disco music is because they were having a disco-themed party on the DISCO.

Also did anyone else think Michael bumping into a Stamets and making him drop anything was a high-five to one of the best time loop episodes ever, Stargate SG-1’s Window Of Opportunity?
posted by danhon at 9:35 AM on November 3 [6 favorites]


Hey this episode was fun. It felt like old TOS in that it was goofy and dumb without much effort played to being a Grand Show. Just some entertainment. The inconsistency that bugged me is Stamets' madness. He's presented as nearly crazy in the beginning, then each repeated loop he gets more and more sane. I hope they resolve whatever weirdo thing is going on with his personality soon because currently it's kinda dumb.

Also is this Mudd, or is it Q? I mean it's Mudd, OK. But between the god-like time powers and the obnoxious gloating the writing felt more like Q. I was not a fan of Q.
posted by Nelson at 2:58 PM on November 3 [2 favorites]


Oh I just realized that "Hourglass" is already nine years old and remembered that its vidder, Gianduja Kiss, pointed out that "Cause and Effect" predated Groundhog Day.
posted by brainwane at 6:11 AM on November 4 [1 favorite]


Watched the episode again yesterday with my kids. The song wasn't the original "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees but Wyclef Jean's remix "We Trying to Stay Alive"
posted by zarq at 6:51 AM on November 4 [1 favorite]


Star Trek Discovery's 'Magic To Make The Sanest Man Go Mad' Is A Masterpiece: Season 1 Episode 7 by astrophysicist and Treknology author Ethan Siegel.
posted by zarq at 7:00 AM on November 4 [1 favorite]


Inspired a little by this thread a solution to the problem of super fungus travel in the past.

Stamets keeps doing different DNA mods to himself and discovers the ability to travel the fungus network himself, without a ship. In the process, he becomes even paler, taller and gets weird hands.
He runs off on adventures leaving Starfleet without a way to fly their spore ships.

After 100 years or so of wandering (the fungus genetic mods also extend his life) he starts to miss humans.
So he goes back to the federation and tries to find someone that he can train up to travel with him as an adventure companion.
Naturally, he chooses Wesley Crusher.
Stamets (now going by the nickname, The Traveller) disappear off into the fungus network and have adventures.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 9:09 AM on November 4 [7 favorites]


Argh! Next episode please! Argh! I have the thoughts!
posted by mwhybark at 8:20 PM on November 5


I second everyone else who said this was a fun episode. I don't think I've seen a story before where we're on the outside of the loop, rather than following whoever is inside it (Stamets, Data, O'Neill and Teal'c, etc). The freedom it gave the writers to skip loops and let Stamets become increasingly knowledgeable and deranged worked brilliantly.

One thing I didn't understand, though: What happened to the time crystal? Mudd had used it before to rob a bank, so we know it's possible to exit a loop and hang onto it. And this time Mudd also exited the time loop voluntarily, expecting to escape with the approaching Klingons, so it'd be mad not to take whatever steps were necessary to preserve his access to this irreplaceable artefact that gives the bearer godlike powers. But this time his wrist mount evaporated from his wrist, and the crystal was just never mentioned again.

Did Mudd choose to let the crystal be destroyed, for some reason? Or does Discovery now have in their hold a device which, for example, lets them have unlimited retries at any given space battle?
posted by metaBugs at 8:14 AM on November 7 [2 favorites]


One thing I didn't understand, though: What happened to the time crystal? Mudd had used it before to rob a bank, so we know it's possible to exit a loop and hang onto it.

I read that as either 'he traded for / bought / stole a discrete number of crystals, which are all single-use' -- so he used up his last crystal on this job -- or that he got one crystal which was only good for a discrete number of loops (but an infinite number of iterations within each loop -- ie, the bank job was one loop; the Discovery was another. Each of those loops had many iterations). Or he used one crystal for the bank job, and then, later, obtained a second crystal for this job -- the job is done, so he lets the crystal dissolve because he wants to exit the loop.

That said: I don't think the show clearly stated what happened there, even on the level of 'did Mudd really use a time crystal for that prior job (and did he even really do that prior job or was that just bragging)?' It felt a bit hand-wavy, to be honest, but insofar as it's literally a crystal that lets you travel through time that's rather to be expected.
posted by cjelli at 9:48 AM on November 7 [3 favorites]


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