Star Trek: Discovery: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
November 5, 2017 8:30 PM - Season 1, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Saru makes an unauthorized adjustment to mission parameters.

In this episode, Saru, Michael and Tyler are sent to the planet of Pahvo to attempt to use its unique properties to create a cloak detection system, but things go horribly awry.

* We open on the Starfleet vessel Gagarin under attack by half a dozen Klingon ships. Discovery joins the fight and tries to save them, even taking a torpedo hit for them, but are unable to save the ship. The cloaks are giving them too much trouble. The Gagarin is destroyed and the Discovery withdraws.

* In engineering, Stamets is now using the interface implants to navigate with Tilly working the spore replacement and jump console despite her rank. After the jump, Stamets is confused and irritable - he mistakes Tilly for a captain and is extremely unpleasant when she tries to figure out what's wrong.

* Lorca conferences with Terral about the situation. They know about how House Kor is handing out cloaks in exchange for political allegiance, that cloaks are an even bigger advantage than Discovery and that they have to do something about it soon. Lorca tells Terral that the mission on Pahvo started 18 hours ago.

* We cut to the planet, where Michael discusses the Treknobabble behind the plot: everything on the planet vibrates, creating a song. The sound is transmitted to space via a natural crystal spire which they're supposed to modify to use as a kind of radar to detect cloaked vessels. We also learn that the sound is driving Saru nuts, and that he's physically superhuman: his people can run at over 80 kph and detect predators at distances of up to 10 km. As they're discussing this, a blue energy field coalesces in front of them and beckons them to follow. It registers as an extension of the forest itself, rather than an independent lifeform. They go with it.

* Meanwhile on T'Kuvma's old death barge, L'Rell is trying to get in good with Kol, but he's not having it. When offered her allegiance, and that of House Mo'Kai, he wants more. L'Rell offers to interrogate his prisoner for him, and he agrees to let her try, though he's noncommittal about her prospects even if she's successful.

* Back on Pahvo, the team are taken to a weird dome structure, where Saru attempts communication. Tyler asks about General Order One, (the TOS term for the Prime Directive), and Michael explains that they're now bound by First Contact protocol instead: they can't use the transmitter unless the natives give their informed consent about the matter.

* L'Rell goes to interrogate Admiral Cornwell, but instead of getting to the cutting, wants Cornwell to scream. After Cornwell reluctantly obliged and convinces the guard outside he can go, L'Rell just wants to talk.

* Back on the planet, Michael and Tyler are waiting outside while Saru attempts to talk to the glowy energy field. They talk about postwar plans, where Tyler is wistful about going boating and fishing. Michael figures she'll just end up back in prison, so Tyler suggests bagging the mission so she can stay free and be with him. They kiss.

* Tilly confronts Stamets in the mess. Stamets reveals that his condition is worsening, but that he can't discuss it with Culber because it would put the good doctor in an impossible position: if Stamets' condition is officially logged, he's going to jail. If Culber knowingly covers for Stamets, that'll cost him his career. Tilly offers to help Stamets monitor his condition on the down low instead.

* L'Rell asks about how Klingon POWs are treated. Cornwell assures her that it's humane, no executions or enhanced interrogation, and that they'll be freed after any peace settlement. L'Rell reveals that she wants to defect because Kol's taken everything from her, including Voq. It's unclear how sincere she is though, because she specifically wants to end up on Discovery.

* Back on the planet, Saru discusses his progress with the energy field. It's some kind of Gaia-gestalt entity that Saru's impressed with, but he complains about how the constant noise is still driving him mad. They all turn in for the night, but he can't sleep. Instead, he gets up, begs the planet to make it stop. He and the field share some kind of mental communion, complete with glowing energy coming from his forehead. In the morning, he's chipper - the most cheerful he's ever been - and claims to have contacted Discovery to let Lorca know they'll be on Pahvo awhile. He then asks for Tyler and Michael's comms, which he breaks in his hands. Then he gives them a speech about how the planet has given him peace, and that they'll be drinking the Koolaid too. He leaves, and Tyler tells Michael that he's taking command, and that they're finishing the mission with or without permission now.

* L'Rell and Cornwall try to escape, but they run into Klingons in a corridor. L'Rell kills Cornwell, although it's pretty clear she regrets it - she tells the Admiral, 'at least you won't die in a cage.' L'Rell then offers an unconvincing argument that Cornwell got her knife and attempted to escape without help.

* Saru brings native food, but finds Tyler alone in the dome. Tyler claims he and Michael had a fight, and asks Saru about the whole new peace thing. Saru tries to sell him on it, and offers Tyler a green crystal that should help him understand. Tyler, (clearly never having seen a horror movie), goes ahead and touches it. Saru is able to tell that Tyler was lying to him, attempting to keep him busy so Michael could set up the transmitter.

* Michael reaches the crystal spire and sets up the transmitter. Saru rushes to stop her, using his established superior physical abilities.

* L'Rell disposes of poor Cornwell. When she arrives at what must be the Klingon ship's morgue, she finds a bunch of dead Klingons she knows, and she swears vengeance for them.

* Saru and Michael fight at the transmitter, which is a shockingly one-sided affair after watching her go toe-to-toe with Sarek. She ends up on the ground and goes for her phaser, but is reluctant to zap Saru. Meanwhile, Saru reveals just how upset he is that Michael keeps taking things from him. He doesn't want the mission to succeed because he thinks the Klingons will destroy Pahvo. The energy field brings Tyler in, and Michael and Saru both make their cases to the field: Michael wants its help to bring peace to the galaxy, while Saru wants it to opt out and remain safe. The field realigns the crystal spire, in apparent agreement with Michael. Saru is still begging when they're beamed out.

* The away team end up in sickbay, where Michael talks about it with Saru. Saru reveals that it's the first time he was ever at peace.

* L'Rell goes to see Kol. He pretends to accept her into his service, even going so far as to give her the face paint, before revealing that he knows she's a traitor. She's dragged away. As she is, they get a signal from Pahvo - an 'invitation.'

* On the bridge of the Discovery, we find out that the Pahvans adjusted Michael's signal: instead of anti-cloaking space radar, they sent out an invitation to the Klingons to try and get them all together to talk peace. The barge arrives, and they prep for the inevitable fight instead.
posted by mordax (45 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This was the first episode of the series where I was just engaged, watching it as dramatic entertainment as I once did TOS.

That said, I was necessarily reminded of a TOS episode (and a DS9 episode) featuring Kor. I'm watching the first instance now.
posted by mwhybark at 9:29 PM on November 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

posted by potrzebie at 10:05 PM on November 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

OK seriously though, I love Saru so much as a character. Speaking as a small, small woman, I feel that deep and unshakable fear SO hard. The idea of ending up on a planet of absolute, bone-deep certainty of safety - so amazing. So unimaginable. Of course he'd do anything it said, of course he'd be absolutely convinced of the goodness of the planet. It's amazing to have a tall, fast, strong, smart, male (at least I think Saru is male? I can't actually remember its pronouns coming up but I haven't been paying close attention; Saru presents pretty male) character putting these sentiments into words.

I just realized that both Stamets AND Culber were in Rent (Rapp as Mark in the original Broadway cast, Cruz as Angel later on - specifically, when I personally saw the show on Broadway as an obsessed teenager, which is why his name kept pinging my memory every time I saw it in the credits but I never figured out where I knew it from till this week). I can't believe this hasn't come up in these threads before but I didn't see it if it did. Please PLEASE Star Trek guys please let them find an excuse to sing together sometime.

Is it 100% certain that Cornwall is dead? I thought I saw her head twitch when she was dragged into the room-full-o'-corpses.

Next week's installment seems very exciting. I didn't dig the time loop (in fact in general I feel very hostile toward the entire concept of a time loop episode) and it was nice to have an episode that was less zany and more Trek-y. I would be happy never to see Harry Mudd again, real talk.

I have grown annoyingly fond of L'Rell and had a moment of mad hope that she would join Discovery's crew as their own cantankerous Worf occasionally spouting off about honor. Some sweet day, L'Rell.
posted by potrzebie at 10:56 PM on November 5, 2017 [15 favorites]

This episode makes a point of the Federation not having death sentences, but it also goes out of its way to remind us that they do have life imprisonment. Do the writers no realize that that's counter to the ideals of the Federation too?
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:25 AM on November 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

Whew. Finally something I can complain about. That Saru running effect? Not good. Looked like an outtake from The Inhumans got spliced in to this otherwise excellent looking show. For shame.

Other than that though, it was another enjoyable episode. Getting to know more about the main characters and getting some hints we might learn something about other bridge members as well. Lieutenant Commander Airiam Daftpunk is high in the pecking order for the captaincy should Lorca and Saru both decide to retire or become otherwise unable to serve, and Lieutenant Rhys takes being snapped at by Lorca in stride while targeting Klingon vessels. It ain't much I admit, but it's a start anyway, building on last episode's revelation of Kayla Detmer making good use of the party for some relationship building. Now we just need to get a little more info on Lieutenant junior grade Joann Owosekun and "Random Communications officer" R.A. Bryce and we'll have a full compliment of bridgecrew members they will hopefully continue to fill out more next season.

The Pahvians are a nice addition, very much in line with previous Trek encounters, with the added bonus of being even more Federation-valued than the Federation itself. Harmony and balance as their central quest, pulling in Discovery and the Klingons to seemingly "solve" their differences, much like Trek captains of yore tried to do with less enlightened alien species they encountered. It's a nice little twist. Saru, aside from the running thing, was put to really good use here, sad as it also was in its way. Doug Jones is really great in the role. He finds some unexpected choices in expressing Saru's emotions that really work to make the character more singular, befitting his unusual backstory. This episode provides more depth to the character and why a sense of seeking a personal equilibrium has seemed so central to his character. That he loses his equilibrium so completely once he's actually found harmony rather than enacting it is quite sad in its way, but also somewhat telling in the quick shift it creates from peace and love to violence when threatened.

After Captain Georgiou's fate, seeing Admiral Cornwell's apparent death should perhaps feel more certain than it does, but I want to hold out hope that she and L'Rell manage to plan for this eventuality given their final exchange, but I am satisfied in the uncertainty of events since that itself is a welcome enough change from many shows. I'm quite enjoying not entirely knowing what's to come from the way they dramatize events, while they also aren't going out of their way to be shocking for its own sake or kill crazy either. L'Rell and Cornwell are both too enjoyable to lose, and while I assume L'Rell isn't yet going anywhere, she's far too crafty and significant for that, I just hope the same is true of Cornwell.

The meeting between Tilly and Stamets was also really nice to see since it developed the relationship between their characters without involving Burnham or Lorca and showed Tilly as more purposely forceful in finding out and helping Stamets and showed Stamets concern for Culber and gave reason for why he's not being more forthright about the effects he's feeling from the spore drive. That he discounts his own deception as being yet another way that he could hurt Culber, on a more personal level, is also revealing in its way and could cause further problems for them.

After so many years of seeing tedious ship battles on the various Trek shows it's really gratifying to finally have a show where the battles themselves actually seem exciting rather than just sci-fi window dressing.

Oh, and Tyler and Burnham were good too, but as much for being out of the main focus and just adding some relationship elements than anything else. Good to have them take more of a backseat and let other characters drive the story for awhile.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:41 AM on November 6, 2017 [5 favorites]

This was a good callback to the Lotos-Eater planets we've seen before (e.g., "This Side of Paradise"), except that our wonderfully harmonious beings wind up introducing disharmony among others. I particularly liked the ending, in which the Pahvans, having assessed the Discovery's mission, interpret its plight through their own cultural lens instead of the Federation's. Anyway, being out of harmony was the evening's theme: Stamets and Culber; Stamets and time itself (we knew this wasn't going to go well); Saru and the other away team members; L'Rell and Kol. Interesting parallel between L'Rell and Saru this time around (complete with the body drags in their respective fight scenes), with both as jailers of a sort playing the other characters in order to liberate themselves--and not succeeding.

I join gusottertrout in being a little skeptical that Cornwell is dead, but will go either way.

This evening's "is he/isn't he?" moment for the audience about Tyler: the glowing green stone bit, which reveals that he's concealing his true intentions. ("Ah, but which intentions?" asks the audience.)
posted by thomas j wise at 2:44 AM on November 6, 2017 [7 favorites]

Oh, I almost forgot the fan nod with the "Needs of the many/Needs of the one" moment between Michael and Ash. It's a moment that would have bugged me a little just for being such a blatant swipe, but in the manner only prequels can provide, it does a nifty job of retroactively foreshadowing the Kirk/Spock moment and, given the context here, proudly calls attention to the slash between their names. If you're gonna do fan service, may as well do it in service of the most famous fanfic pairing out there.
posted by gusottertrout at 5:03 AM on November 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

I am currently placing my bet that Cornwall is not dead. I think somebody might plastic-surgery her into a Klingon body, though!
posted by brainwane at 5:50 AM on November 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

Not that we are likely to see confirmation of this any time soon, but my guess is that Stamets calls Tilly "Captain" because, due to his weird relationship with the timestream, he is somehow aware that at some point in her life, she is a captain.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:21 AM on November 6, 2017 [42 favorites]

Oh yeah, that's exactly how I read that, too -- or that in an alternate universe she is already a captain. Confused like Worf in "Parallels" (Season 7 TNG).
posted by brainwane at 6:47 AM on November 6, 2017 [7 favorites]

This wasn't my episode at all. Saru just doesn't interest me enough. If you've always felt fear, it shouldn't seem like a burden since you've known nothing else. That would only make sense if you've known both states. Blah.

I was interested in how the aliens communicated but we only saw a bit of that. It seems odd that Tyler wouldn't know basic Starfleet tenets.
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 7:09 AM on November 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Knowing that there is another way to exist (that isn't the sub-optimal one you've existed in your entire life) is possible. Imagine the mind blowing relief Saru must have felt on planet Pahvo.

I enjoyed the episode and there was lots of nice character moments. There is a boatload of foreshadowing that things between Ash and Burnham Will. Not. End. Well.

My guess is one will have to sacrifice the other in exchange for something else they want more - (Freedom? To win the war? Save another life? Save a large number of other lives? Save their own?)

I hope the writers don't lean too much harder on the romance subplot from here onwards.

I would like to know more about the rest of the bridge crew (the ones we usually see). Eight episodes in and the show is feeling a little restrictive character wise. I am liking the growth of current characters but want the rest of the active crew to be more than just sexy lamps who push buttons and occasionally repeat the Captains orders back at him.
posted by Faintdreams at 7:36 AM on November 6, 2017 [9 favorites]

This episode really didn't do it for me. At times it felt borderline incoherent; the show's tendency to gloss over important bits of exposition in the interests of maintaining momentum really hurt here, because there are a bunch of things that don't make any sense to me and a bunch more that I only pieced together at the end of the episode in a way that felt clunky and inelegant.

First, Saru. It was really weird to go through pretty much the entire episode wondering what on earth was going on with him and the planet, and then to have to hear Saru tell us in sick bay that the reason he got all aggro, threatened to kill Tyler, attacked another crew member, and sabotaged a Starfleet mission was because he got addicted to not being scared.

That's a pretty neat character moment that, aside from one whisper of "I'm scared" during his weird merging with the planet, has essentially zero support in the rest of the episode. I know some of this is intentional because the writers want us to think the planet has malevolent aims, but I think it backfired here. What are the planet's aims, and why is it apparently okay with Saru choking out Tyler in the name of harmony? How did Saru jump to the conclusion of "we must never leave this place" when the apparent actual goal was "the Klingons must never find this place"? This is starting to get to Burnham-mutiny levels of idiotic, and it feels at least in part like the concept was let down by the execution.

Meanwhile, on the Klingon ship, it's very hard for me to figure out a) if the super casual treatment of Cornwell's death is really obvious telegraphing that she's still alive, or just unfortunate writing, and b) what on earth is L'Rell trying to do here. There are multiple points of confusion here:

1) When Kol discovers L'Rell and Cornwell escaping, the two women quickly turn to each other and express surprise at each other's resourcefulness before trying to murder each other. What? I'm going to have to rewatch this clip because in the moment, I have no idea what they're talking about, if the two of them planned this all along in case they were discovered, why are they remarking on how surprising the other one is (surprised by what?), etc. The way that conversation is staged feels conspiratorial, but then it kind of seems like Cornwell is actually dead. So, um, what?

2) Then L'Rell disposes of her body in the same room they apparently use to send Klingon warriors to their final resting place on the hull of the ship. Which, one, that's a pretty weird place to take a human body, given that the Klingons don't give a shit about the honour of some dead human (also see: Captain Georgiou's body being eaten). But whatever, maybe she just needed to dump the body somewhere. She goes to that morgue room, discovers her dead comrades, and is super pissed. Okay; so what was she before? Was the whole talk of escaping a setup, but now she's actually pissed? What was the point of that scene, to tell us that Kol is actually really really bad?

3) She has a talk with Kol later where she gives him the intel and Kol says it's weak intel, and also you let the prisoner escape. Is Kol talking about the escape from the prison cell, or Cornwell somehow escaping the ship because it turned out she wasn't dead? L'Rell's response didn't seem to indicate either way what we're supposed to think, and no one ever clarifies. Then Kol makes her a member of the house, only to mark her as a traitor. What did Kol find out? Did he listen in on the conversation L'Rell had with Cornwell? Did he just find her explanation of the escape unsatisfying? Something else? What?

And then there's Tilly and Stamets, which was a nice character beat but didn't seem to fit with everything else. It feels like it should've been in another episode.

This episode really felt like it should've had more time to breathe and maybe some more explanations. It also feels like the first part of a two-parter, maybe an episode that was made into a two-parter halfway through production or something. But I think this is the episode I've liked the least since the pilot.
posted by chrominance at 9:18 AM on November 6, 2017 [9 favorites]

then there's Tilly and Stamets, which was a nice character beat but didn't seem to fit with everything else. It feels like it should've been in another episode.

Agree, yeah. One of the less talked about problems of serialized television is the way TV staffs are backing away from using B-stories as thematic mirrors or counterpoints to the A-story. Instead, they are often just several more minutes of stuff happening. I realize that they are intended to play as fragmented part of larger serialized arcs, but they still often feel out of place.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:33 AM on November 6, 2017 [6 favorites]

Wow some of the other bridge crew almost had some lines! Finally. "Yes Captain."

I think or hope that not only is Cornwell somehow still alive, so is her mission to find some Klingons who want to negotiate. Klingon prison cells seem to be conveniently free of electronic surveillance don't they?

Saru's interest in being free from fear makes perfect sense to me, similar to some descriptions of heroin or other addiction as self-medication.

Stamets is becoming unstuck in time like the protagonist of Slaughterhouse Five, or like someone suffering from Alzheimer's disease who gets lost in the past, except he has it in both directions (Both or many? Reminds me of the time I tried to tell my late father he was mistaken about what day it was and he hung up on me.) And Tilly may well make Captain one day!

What is with this sonar in space bulldust, we all know there's no sound in space. And how was their little Yurt-structure built? I guess if the aliens can transport Ash they can fabricate a building...

Ash keeps pulling rank doesn't he? Don't be a dick Ash. I guess that's the least of our worries, haha.
posted by Coaticass at 12:01 PM on November 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

What is with this sonar in space bulldust, we all know there's no sound in space. And how was their little Yurt-structure built? I guess if the aliens can transport Ash they can fabricate a building...

I assumed the whole "sonar in space" thing was more of an analogy than an actual description of how the sensor contraption would work. That said, yeah, the whole thing is weird and feels kind of handwave-y.

I also didn't get the point of the yurt, unless it's something the planet somehow built as a kind of welcome station for any sentient space-faring species that somehow managed to find it. That would actually be kind of awesome if true (this might just be the most adorable sentient planet ever, it just wants to be loved and made a welcome mat and everything!), but raises a bunch of questions. Like, how do they know about the existence of species with corporeal bodies that might need housing of that sort?
posted by chrominance at 12:39 PM on November 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

My figuring on the "space sonar" thing was in Burnham's mention of electromagnetic frequencies they were talking about some obviously vague form of sonification, where the unique sound and transmitting qualities of the planet would be adapted to be used like sonar to send out and receive electromagnetic signals capable of "bouncing off" the cloaked vessels in ways that exceeded the abilities of their current systems. How that would work or why is of course left to speculation, but that seemed the gist of the idea anyway.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:11 PM on November 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

> What was the point of that scene, to tell us that Kol is actually really really bad?

I think it was to allow L'Rell to see that Kol was killing people who worked for him but weren't in his house. I'm not exactly certain who the dead Klingons are, so I'm basing this on how I read this episode alone. I think it means that L'Rell could reasonably predict what happened to her after the fingerpainting scene.

> What is with this sonar in space bulldust,

Quite simply, cloaked Klingon ships are analogous to silent submarines hunting in wolfpacks, and Lorca wants to set up the space equivalent of SOSUS; sonar is the detector that defeats the subs. In the case of SOSUS, the ocean itself contains a natural background noise, but here, Lorca needs Pahvo to create a general background noise in which Klingon ships, and probably other ships, would create interference patterns which can be detected by, um, detectors, or maybe Starfleet ships themselves. Radar or Lidar or EMdar would also work; the -dar meaning "detection and ranging." SOSUS was very effective at locating soviet subs during the cold war, and made its bones by initially converting a few US Navy Admirals by very accurately identifying, to the minute, when the transited distant locations, turned their battle groups, and whatnot, something they could do in obscurity at the time.

This attempt makes total sense to me because it reminds me of being a kid with a fish-tank. The airpump had a constant hum, but if someone, e.g. mom, came into my room (while I lay still and pretended to be asleep), I could reliably tell where they were in the room because the hum changed. Different areas of the room were bouncing different sounds to my ears, and someone in one part of the room would block some but not others.
posted by Sunburnt at 6:31 PM on November 6, 2017 [8 favorites]

I found Saru's transformation to strong to match up with his reasons for it. Did his sense of peace and wellbeing remove his empathy, why couldn't he predict Burnham and Ash would act like that? Why wouldn't be try some subterfuge that could actually work? Why would be be so shit at explaining it? Why would he resort to violence so quickly?

I'm not saying there's no reasons for this, but they didn't sell it. You could have made a great case for Saru - in the absence of crippling fear - becoming the predator he so hates because of his power, but they didn't give it enough time or characterisation I felt. The whole thing felt forced and a bit arbitrary, because they wanted to move the plot along so x, y z happens.
posted by smoke at 8:30 PM on November 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

Hurrah for Tilly getting a ship in at least some other universe. This episode fell flat for me otherwise though. Time loop Burnham and Tyler really seemed to click, but now it seems like their relationship of has advanced to actual while somehow getting less chemistry.
posted by corb at 8:59 PM on November 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

> This evening's "is he/isn't he?" moment for the audience about Tyler: the glowing green stone bit, which reveals that he's concealing his true intentions.

Also L'Rell's insistence on getting to Discovery specifically. To activate or reunite with Tyler, perhaps?

> That Saru running effect?

Reminded me of the Twilight movies, lol.

> Meanwhile, on the Klingon ship, it's very hard for me to figure out [everything]

Yep, I was super lost there. I'm having a really hard time constructing a theory in which everyone's actions make sense, especially the bit where L'Rell and Cornwell are discovered, turn to each other and have a friendly little conversation in view of the Klingons, then suddenly engage in a mutual deathmatch. That sequence of events makes no sense under any interpretation of the characters' motive or intent. Anyway, I hope Cornwell's not dead. I like the character, and it seems like her arc doesn't really make much sense as a whole if it ends here abruptly.
posted by Syllepsis at 10:29 PM on November 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

Yeah, it’s unclear what L’Rell’s actual intentions are. My speculation: L’Rell and Cornwell hatched some kind of plan during the “interrogation”, but to carry it out Cornwell needed to be free to move and assumed dead. So they wander the halls waiting for someone to walk by, they get into a staged scuffle, and L’Rell knocks out Cornwell and drags her off to the morgue.

I wasn’t sure whether her outrage at seeing the dead bodies of her pals was real or if that was for Cornwell’s benefit, but given that Kol decides she’s a traitor and Cornwell was presumably unconscious at the time, I’ll assume the former.

I’m guessing next episode Cornwell will pop up just in time to save L’Rell from Kol, and they’ll escape to Discovery while the ships battle.
posted by JDHarper at 11:17 PM on November 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

I was pretty tired at the time, but I got the impression that L'Rell was taking Cornwell to L'Rell's ship to escape, and that she found the dead bodies of her shipmates piled up in the ship, indicating that Kol was on to her scheming.
posted by cardboard at 6:55 AM on November 7, 2017 [5 favorites]

This episode makes a point of the Federation not having death sentences,

I muttered, "Except for visiting Talos Fo -- never mind."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:22 AM on November 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Not that we are likely to see confirmation of this any time soon, but my guess is that Stamets calls Tilly "Captain" because, due to his weird relationship with the timestream, he is somehow aware that at some point in her life, she is a captain.

That was one of two thoughts that came to me; the other (and I guess we can discard this if it does not happen by, say, the next episode) is that Stamets is experiencing more than one point on his personal timeline at once, much like Dr. Manhattan holding the same conversation with Laurie and Rorschach ninety seconds apart, delivering the same lines and going through the same motions. If the next time Stamets emerges from the spore drive chamber, Lorca is unexpectedly present, then this may be it; if not, Captain Tilly it is!
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:46 AM on November 7, 2017 [6 favorites]

I was confused about the L'Rell/Cornwell plot - was the defection a ruse to get her aboard the Discovery? Was it a ruse to get Cornwell to reveal more info and she would never leave the ship? Was the fight a ruse by Cornwell to hide the fact they were escaping? Did L'Rell really kill her or is she playing dead? What happened at the end when Kol pretended to be OK with L'Rell but then had her taken away?

All that feels a lot more like confusing/badly explained plotting than intentional "we're leaving it mysterious for you to find out later...".
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:24 AM on November 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

So I'm guessing that for Saru, there will be no court martial for disobeying orders, assaulting a fellow officer, and sabotaging a mission, putting the Discovery in danger. Or disciplinary hearing. Or punishment at all.
posted by happyroach at 11:48 AM on November 7, 2017 [10 favorites]

Saru will be properly admonished but will get off Scott free, with some wavyhandy version of "under the influence of previously unknown alien entity"
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 12:23 PM on November 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

They let mass-murdering Mudd go, why would they prosecute someone who barely injured anyone?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:36 PM on November 7, 2017 [6 favorites]

Historically, ST has always given an out to characters acting under the influence of alien spores.

That being said, Saru has lost a considerable amount of high-horse altitude when it comes to Burnham's behavior.
posted by thomas j wise at 1:31 PM on November 7, 2017 [12 favorites]

I'm pretty sure that if Burnham had pleaded "alien spores" at her trial she'd have her own command right now.
posted by bigge at 2:33 PM on November 7, 2017 [14 favorites]

Discovery's effects designers sure like their sparkly shit, don't they? It's funny that the only thing that doesn't involve swirling sparkles is the transporter effect.

A lot of people have already articulated my thoughts, so I'll just summarize: T'Rell's motivations are completely inscrutable in this episode. Her house may specialize in subterfuge (how effective can it be if you're famous for being untrustworthy?) but she's spent so many times giving lip service and doubling back that I can't imagine anyone keeping track. Her "Uncoupling" scene with Voq seemed the most honest she's ever been, and here she says she's switching sides, tells Cornwell she wants to defect, then fights her to the death the instant they're noticed? Then she goes to the Room of Dismembered Bodies and has a moment that makes it seem like for the first time she has a real reason to hate the guy she already has a real reason to hate? Huh? The only sensible thing is when he has her dragged off to be killed. I would've done the same even if I did believe she meant to be loyal, because she was inept enough to murder their high-value hostage.

I liked the idea of Saru getting drunk on no-fear and acting stupid because of it, but that's about the only thing I liked on planet Pahvo. We have to assume a Federation survey team came by previously and noted in their report that everything on the planet sings in harmony and there's a huge "naturally occurring" antenna growing out of the ground and they just... completely missed the sentient race desperately trying to get noticed there? I can't blame them, everything on the planet looked like a Doctor Who episode that got rejected when they realized the effects budget wasn't going to be big enough. Everything about the situation reminds me of the TOS episode Errand of Mercy, where the Federation tries to protect the defenseless Organians from the Klingons, only to discover the Organians can handle their own shit and instead force the two sides to make peace. If that's the twist next episode, I will laugh, then be sad. Michael and Ash's relationship remains dumb because THEY know it will never work and WE know it will never work even though it's for two different reasons.

I liked the space battle intro, since we got to see more of the bridge crew and it led to the scene of Lorca pissed off about being the only Starfleet ship worth a damn. It would be fanservicey but it'd be nice to see the Enterprise (or even just another Constitution Class) in comparison to the Discovery. By my calculations the Discovery is more of a Frigate to the Enterprise's Heavy Cruiser, so it'd be fun for Discovery to spore-hop in to save the day only to be upstaged by the beefy cruiser that shows up via conventional warp a bit later. I also liked Tilly and Stamets scene, of course you'd try to get closer to the guy who might have just predicted your future captainhood. Maybe Tilly will be a captain by the time James "Turnabout Intruder" Kirk is in the chair himself.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:42 PM on November 7, 2017 [4 favorites]

Let's... just pretend "Turnabout Intruder" never happened, OK? OK.
posted by happyroach at 4:45 PM on November 7, 2017 [6 favorites]

Augh... Turnabout Intruder! Why did you have to remind us!
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:35 PM on November 7, 2017

"Janice Lester," people. And the episode, although third season, certainly perceives itself as progressive! Times do indeed change.

Upthread I will note it was not "Turnabout Intruder" I was thinking of.
posted by mwhybark at 5:43 PM on November 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

So Kol went through a very elaborate plan to kidnap a Vulcan ambassador, got a more valuable Starfleet Admiral instead, and then leaves her alone with someone he doesn't trust?

And L'Rell, who is known to be untrustworthy, sided with Kol's opponent, already made the decision to defect and acted upon it, and knows from the dead bodies that Kol recognizes her as an enemy, still thinks Kol will accept her claim of allegiance?

I'm not sure why the Federation is so concerned about this war... their opponents are incompetent.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 3:25 AM on November 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

I'm not sure why the Federation is so concerned about this war... their opponents are incompetent.

Incompetent people can be dangerous and destructive. *glances in the general direction of Washington, DC.*
posted by JDHarper at 8:06 AM on November 8, 2017 [8 favorites]

I'm assuming that L'Rell is juggling several mutually exclusive possible schemes at once, avoiding collapsing the waveform until the last possible minute, and that she was lying to everyone to some extent. I think that she genuinely hates Kol and wants to overthrow him, but is willing to play along with him and possibly give him genuine intelligence as long as it's useful. She also genuinely wants to get on the Discovery, and is willing to pretend to be a defector for as long as that is useful, possibly giving Starfleet genuine intelligence if that is required.

I don't think Cornwell is dead. That would be a massive anticlimax and make most of her subplot with L'Rell pointless. It's a well-worn trope that if the characters discuss their plan on-screen it will go terribly wrong, but if they don't discuss it on-screen and it seems to be going terribly wrong, everything is actually going according to the secret plan which they discussed off-screen. I'm hoping that's what's happening here. The subplot did seem to be oddly cut; it looks like the episode was cut for time and the resulting oddness has been left for next week's episode to resolve.

I like the Voq theory, but only if the twist is revealed mid-season and something interesting is done with the character afterwards. I'll be disappointed if the plotline is resolved as a sudden but inevitable betrayal in the season finale.
posted by confluency at 1:48 AM on November 9, 2017 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I've been loving this show so far, and this was the first episode that completely didn't land, for me.

As someone with PTSD, I find Saru's constant-fear thing seems really badly done? I've definitely yelled at the screen a bunch that being scared all the time is NOT ADAPTIVE. And I want to like the plot device of how much it'd fuck him up to not feel scared for once, since I can relate to that! But it was just so clumsily and confusingly done.

I'm still really excited about the show, and I mean, yelling at the screen about hamfisted metaphors is a pretty important part of watching any series of Star Trek, imo.
posted by ITheCosmos at 8:08 AM on November 9, 2017 [9 favorites]

By the way, when we're lamenting that certain members of the bridge crew aren't allowed to do anything beyond be pretty and speak a handful of bland words, we could be talking about all kinds of people. But I have a feeling a lot of us are talking specifically about the lovely young black officer with the eye-catching braids/shaved sides 'do, the jaw-droppingly perfect skin, and the pensive face that seems to imply she could be interesting if ever given anything to do, right? Because that's who I'm talking about. I feel bad only discussing her in terms of looks, but they've given us not one other thing about her yet.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:19 AM on November 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

FWIW, her name is Oyin Oladejo and her character's name is Joann Owosekun. This seems to be her first major role.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:46 AM on November 9, 2017 [4 favorites]

By the way, when we're lamenting that certain members of the bridge crew aren't allowed to do anything beyond be pretty and speak a handful of bland words

I was just thinking about this and some of the complaints about the pacing of the show and have to wonder how much of this is due to it originally being pitched and planned as a single season story by Fuller, which was then expanded into an ongoing. They said they kept a lot of what Fuller had laid out for the series before he left, so character development surely wasn't a part of that given his interest in closing out the story in so few episodes.

It feels like they stuck closely to his plot development in the first few episodes, introducing us to Michael and her story, the Discovery and a few central characters, the major Klingons, and the crux of the dispute between them and Starfleet. That took up most of the first five shows at which point they started to slow the pace a bit and regain more of an episodic feel to the show, with storylines that are covered within the episode in addition to continuing the main arc set up at the start. I suspect the bridge crew wasn't meant to be known in Fuller's version, so they're only getting around to looking at them now to see how they want to develop them further.

As an example, there were some interesting quotes about Airiam, where different people behind the scenes were providing contradictory information about who she is. Some had her as an enhanced human, some an alien, and with various degrees of cybernetics involved. It seems like they're waiting for the break, now that they've been renewed to determine who the characters they want to/need to use are and how they'll develop them. Speculating on Fuller's condensed version is interesting in light of some of the complaints about the show as it is since a pared down single main story arc would have been even more stingy on detail and likely would have maintained that early breakneck pace.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:49 AM on November 9, 2017 [5 favorites]

L'Rell is my new favorite thing in the show. Structurally she plays a similar role to Burnham, the whole show hung on her. Only in this case she's the puppet master. Cornwall is absolutely not dead, there's some elaborate plan that's going to end with L'Rell taking over the Discovery with help from Ash/Voq. I'm sure of it.

I sorta liked the Saru spore-drunk scenes. I'm fascinated by the actor playing Saru and the weird emotional state he's constantly in. Sort of a fussy Data, but also over-empathetic and annoyingly timid. He's the kind of character that if they get three seasons, he'll be terrific.

I hope they figure out a way to bring back Ensign Daft Punk from the pilot.
posted by Nelson at 4:12 PM on November 9, 2017 [5 favorites]

I know I've argued against holding Trek to any kind of scientific credibility standard, and also it's common in everyday speech, but . . . "our losses will grow exponentially"?

And, good try at a fanwank, Sunburst, but I still think "sonar" was stupid. They chose that over "radar" just because of the planet's "sounds".

But, hey -- "astromycology", right? It's mushrooms all the way down.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:30 AM on November 10, 2017 [3 favorites]

And, good try at a fanwank, Sunburst, but I still think "sonar" was stupid. They chose that over "radar" just because of the planet's "sounds".

No, they chose it because the central metaphor of Federation vs Klingon ship combat has always been Destroyers vs Submarines. And sonar is how destroyers hunt submarines.

It was that way when WW2 veteran Gene Roddenberry and his writers in the 1960s specifically created it to be an easily grasped analogy for adult American viewers in their forties who were also WW2 veterans (and their families), and whose other pop culture media included straight up actual submarine hunting movies (and a host of imitators not nearly as well done).

So yes, "sonar" is the correct term here from a 2017 Discovery writers' room who is always very careful about how they reference past Trek shows, even if the etymology of the simile is not so immediately grasped in a 21st century nation where percentage of military veterans in the US population is less than 7%. They are trying pretty hard to be as much Trek as they can, and this is a part of it.
posted by seasparrow at 12:12 PM on June 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

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