Star Trek: Discovery: The War Without, The War Within
February 5, 2018 5:18 AM - Season 1, Episode 14 - Subscribe

Burnham and the crew are faced with the harsh reality of the war during their absence; Starfleet must use unconventional tactics and sources to take their next action against the Klingons.

Notes:

* No Starfleet vessel has visited Qo'noS since Captain Jonathan Archer did on the USS Enterprise NX-01, in "Broken Bow." More on that here.
* Sarek initiates a mind meld of Saru without his consent.
* We now know why the Mirror Universe was unknown during The Original Series -- Admiral Cornwell orders all evidence of it “classified and destroyed.”
* Burnham and Tyler now have similar story arcs. Both have lost their Starfleet commissions and are essentially outcasts. Only time will tell if Tyler's is a redemption arc or not.
posted by zarq (56 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
So I take it that we come full circle at the end of the season, and Burnham gets to conduct a righteous mutiny to stop the destruction of Qo'noS
posted by threecheesetrees at 5:34 AM on February 5, 2018 [12 favorites]


I’ve never been a huge fan of Tyler but damn, dude, it is beyond rude to strangle someone then ask them to still be your girlfriend so you can get better. It’s in full-on abusive territory. But the show didn’t paint it that way. I guess it’s not like he intended to be abusive, but I’m so fucking glad she noped out of there.

Tilly is right that how he’s treated now will affect his recovery. But she’s also right to include saying goodbye as a respectful option.
posted by harriet vane at 5:35 AM on February 5, 2018 [13 favorites]


Yeah, Tyler completely lost my sympathy when he went from "I'm sorry" to "you were just looking for an excuse to end things because they got Too Real for you"
posted by Vibrissa at 7:06 AM on February 5, 2018 [11 favorites]


I know what they are doing and why they are doing it but the unfortunate implications of the Tyler/Michael relationship make me suuuuuuuper uncomfortable.

The abusive relationship analogies dont appear to have been thoroughly thought throught *at all*
posted by Faintdreams at 7:26 AM on February 5, 2018 [4 favorites]


Also this has to be a schism from the canon universe that the Generations (and forward in time from that) exisit in right?

Because the Klingons ultimately joining the federation seems unlikely if the setup for the destruction of the Klingon homeworld comes to pass.

I am not overly knowldgeable about the wider canon so I might be wrong but Discovery's timeline placement is looking very wibbly wibbly to me.
posted by Faintdreams at 7:32 AM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm a bit confused about the thought the show didn't suggest there was some connection between the Tyler/Voq's treatment of Michael and her refusal to let that treatment pass. I thought the show actually did go a good way to making the abusive angle clear since Michael pretty much says just that and, while she and the rest of the crew allow for the unique nature of Tyler/Voq's circumstance, where he both is and isn't both Tyler and Voq, I didn't see them ignoring the issue so much as continuing to show how the same person can potentially behave in different ways depending on their circumstance.

That the character right now is considered "Tyler" doesn't mean he's done with dealing with also being Voq, which is what I took Michael's talk with him pointing to. Tyler has to accept his "inner Voq" and then overcome his hate before he can heal and that aligns with the Discovery needing to overcome their Terranside they brought back in Georgiou who is going to attempt to annihilate the Klingons with Starfleet's blessing, which is the first step towards becoming a new Terran Empire. Both the Tyler/Voq situation and Terra/Starfleet issues will have to be resolved together, with it being likely that Tyler/Voq finds a new role as a bridge between the Klingons and Starfleet with Michael's help, but not necessarily as romantic partners. I mean, heck, Tyler talked about retiring and fishing once this was all over, which, by trope, is as sure a sign as any that he'll never get to do that, so I'm not expecting a tidy romantic end to things, but I could be wrong and they will screw it up. Who knows?

My favorite bit of the episode had to be where Admiral Cornwell says from what they know of the Terran Empire there's no chance a lone Starfleet officer could have survived, so her Gabriel is dead. Yep. Write him off. There's absolutely no way that Lorca is ever going to show up now that they've made that clear. He's definitely dead.

Lot's of fine moments for the larger cast, Saru, Tilly, and Stamets all had some fine scenes and Sarek and Cornwell are really good characters that I'm always interested to see more of. I liked how they used Georgiou here much better than last episode, or rather how Georgiou used everyone else in a way that seemed much more suitable to her character than how events played out in the MU, where she and Lorca both seemed rather dim, which I guess I can write off due to the low light conditions over there now.

Beyond the Tyler and Michael encounter, there were other moments I found equally troubling were they to be taken on their face value, like L'Rell telling Cornwell the Klingons must be conquered for the war to end, which would be a vile attitude were the show to actually follow that line of thought given the clear parallels they've made to real world events. The same for Sarek accepting the notion of a total war solution to the fighting. These things simply cannot be done and still be Trek. Georgiou's vision of total war is the common enemy that must unite those Klingons and Starfleet crew who will point the way to the future by refusing those terms and finding some deeper understanding. That or the show will really have gone off the rails.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:39 AM on February 5, 2018 [7 favorites]


"How can we make terraforming appear sexier?" "Let's do it by repeatedly penetrating the planet's surface with things that inject white stringy stuff!"
posted by Zarkonnen at 9:07 AM on February 5, 2018 [11 favorites]


Gotta say, Tilly has become one of my favorite characters on this show. I don't quite know when that happened, either. When we were first introduced to her, I was convinced she was either going to become Discovery's Wesley Crusher or its comic relief. She's a little bit of both, but her portrayal is actually kind of wonderful. She's empathetic and honest, funny and positive. Smart and clever, and valued by her colleagues for it.

They do need to keep her from becoming the Cadet Who Saves The Ship, which at this point could become a Star Trek trope. But a number of her scenes during this first season have been quiet, humane moments that feel like a touchstone of what Trek is supposed to be. The prayer she says over the tardigrade ( "May the sun and moon watch your comings and goings in the endless nights and days that are before you") in "Choose Your Pain."Gently kicking Burnham under the table to encourage her to be sociable to Tyler in "Lethe." Sitting next to an ostracized Tyler in this episode. Because she knows he's been through hell and back.

Tyler: "You don't have to do this. I'm OK."
Tilly: "How could that possibly be true?"

Mary Wiseman puts her heart into her character and it shows.

Also, it's so freakin' nice to see a character on Star Trek who has normal body measurements. And who isn't being exploited for fanservice.
posted by zarq at 10:48 AM on February 5, 2018 [25 favorites]


They quoted some distances this episode. Unless I misheard, they really messed those up. They described Starbase 1 as 100 AUs from earth and 1 ly from their current position. 100 AUs is at the edge of the solar system, about where the real-world Voyager probes are right now. (An AU is defined as the distance from the sun to the Earth, for reference.) One light-year from there, and you're still closer to Sol than you are to any other star. If this territory is as badly overrun by Klingons as they suggest, Earth is already lost.

Please. Run these numbers / units by your science advisor.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:12 AM on February 5, 2018 [19 favorites]


Quotes (episode spoilers below)

Emperor Georgiou: "Yesterday, you dined on the entrails of his brethren and today, you seek his favor?"
--
Admiral Cornwell: "How does this war end?"
L'Rell: "It doesn't. Klingons have tasted your blood. Conquer us, or we will never relent."
--
Sarek: "That Lorca was an imposter from an alternate universe was not the most... obvious conclusion."
--
Emperor Georgiou: "My daughter was a singular example of brilliance until one foolish choice doomed her world. Sound familiar?"
Sarek: "If I understand correctly, my ward saw through the man who brought down, not just your child, but your empire. Perhaps best not to make comparisons."
--
Tyler: "Stamets. I'm sorry. Words... words are not enough and I know that. But I am."
Stamets: "You killed a good man. A man that I loved. Do you remember that?
Tyler: "I do now."
Stamets: "And does it gut you? Does it sicken you? Good. Maybe you're still human after all."
--
Sarek: "There is irony here, of course. The man you fell in love with was a Klingon.
Burnham: "I don't know what he was."
Sarek: "There is also grace. For what greater source of peace exists than our ability to love our enemy."
Burnham: "I've made foolish choices. Emotional choices."
Sarek: "Well, you are human. As is your mother. There is no telling what any one of us may do where the heart is concerned. We are at war. Logic dictates that each farewell may be our last. Do not regret loving someone, Michael."
--
“Tyler. “
“Mr. Saru. Thanks for the save.”
“And Voq?”
"I can access his memories. There’s a disconnect. Like watching someone else’s life or something.”
“Do you remember what was done to you?”
Tyler: “The Mok’hai call it a Choq-ah. Species reassignment protocol. Specifically designed to infiltrate classified Starfleet intelligence.”
Voq: “Are there others?”
Tyler: “Voq was the test case. They flayed his skin. Cracked his bones open. Sawed his heart into pieces. You think that would be the worst of it, then they start shaving down the tips of your fingers. Voq was T’Kuvma’s torchbearer. He submitted to the torture willingly. At L’Rell’s behest. They were the only true believers left. Voq and L’Rell believed that taking this ship would bring followers back to T’Kuvma’s house. They were in love, you know.”
Saru: “I… Will you cooperate with us? Share everything you know?”
Tyler: “Of course. I would do anything to undo what I’ve done. Is she alive?
Saru: “Specialist Burnham has returned safely aboard Discovery
Tyler: “Thank god. Can I…”
Saru: “Focus on your recovery. You both survived a harrowing ordeal.”
Tyler: “Saru, I tried to kill her. I murdered…. Dr. Culber. I belong in the brig.”
Saru: “Voq is responsible for your crimes. But I see no semblance of him before me. Your privileges on discovery will be limited. But I will not take your freedom.”
--
Tyler: "You don't have to do this. I'm OK."
Tilly: "How could that possibly be true? Just eat. And talk if you want to. I'm here."
Detmer: "Welcome back."
--
Tilly: When we were in the Terran universe I was reminded how much a person is shaped by their environment. And I think the only way that w-we can stop ourselves from becoming them is to understand the darkness within us and fight it. Tyler needs you."
Burnham: "I'm told he's doing well."
Tilly: "That's not possible, not when you've lost the person you care about the most.:
Burnham: "He killed a Starfleet officer. And he... he tried to kill me."
Tilly: And those crimes are reprehensible. But Tyler is not the person who did that. At least, he's, he's not anymore. He's something other. Someone new. And what we do now, the way that we treat him, that is who he'll become. I know you still care about him."
Burnham: "I do. But that does not mean that I should."
Tilly: Michael, he's been stripped of his badge. He'll never fly for Starfleet again. He'll be lucky if he doesn't end up in a lab or a cell. What kind of future can he have? Say what you have to say, even if it's good-bye."
posted by zarq at 11:31 AM on February 5, 2018 [3 favorites]


Still loving this show. Bringing Georgiou back as Captain seems completely problematic and I can't imagine it lasts more than a couple of episodes. Especially since Ensign Marley there in the transporter room knows the Big Secret. I like seeing Admiral Cornewell back and taking charge though. Only... what happened to her ship? The one she was on when she commandeered the Discovery?

Tyler's super-creepy "but what about me?" line was awful, but I think the show writers understood that entirely. Michael sure reacted appropriately enough to it. I think it was a sign of just how deeply broken he is. And that despite folks willing to be lunchroom pals with him, he's a long long way from being back to normal. Which in TV time means, oh, three episodes. He'll be back in uniform and on the bridge by S02E02.
posted by Nelson at 12:05 PM on February 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


They described Starbase 1 as 100 AUs from earth and 1 ly from their current position. 100 AUs is at the edge of the solar system, about where the real-world Voyager probes are right now. (An AU is defined as the distance from the sun to the Earth, for reference.) One light-year from there, and you're still closer to Sol than you are to any other star. If this territory is as badly overrun by Klingons as they suggest, Earth is already lost.

I endorse this critique wholeheartedly.

The Tyler-Voq plastic surgery thing... they have to be angling to tie it into the ridgehead/non-ridgehead thing, I think. Tyler is going to reintegrate with Voq and bust out on Kronos with L'Rell or something.

she and Lorca both seemed rather dim, which I guess I can write off due to the low light conditions over there now.

Ha ha, nice one, gus
posted by mwhybark at 1:37 PM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


What with talk of "species reassignment protocol", was it me or were they trying quite hard to say "trans humans are humans" without actually saying it?
posted by danhon at 2:43 PM on February 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


BURNHAM: So, uh, yeah, let's see if I can get Georgiou out of here before she says anything awk--
GEORGIOU: We ate Kelpian for dinner last night!
BURNHAM: Scratch that, let's see if I can get Georgiou out of here before Saru notices the plural pronoun...

While I hardly think Tyler's encounter with Burnham was a shout-out to Jane Eyre, his attempt to make her "save" him via The Power of Love duplicated Rochester's attempt to manipulate Jane into the same thing--and had the same result (i.e., the woman calling the guy out on his behavior and taking a hike).

The danger of offering (and expecting to receive) absolute, unqualified devotion seems to be one of the season's themes: Burnham has been bitten by this so many times that it's a wonder she doesn't leak like a sieve, but it's also what drives L'Rell's and ex-Voq's allegiance to T'Kuvma ("a fool," as Cornwell tartly puts it).

Sarek seems to have reconciled himself to being Burnham's father again, although I presume that nearly a year of thinking she was dead had something to do with it.

Speaking of which, so much for any potential havoc wrought by Captain Tilly. But hey, we've just handed over command to the Emperor! What could go wrong?
posted by thomas j wise at 2:57 PM on February 5, 2018 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I'm sort of confused by the comments that the show did the wrong thing with Ash/Burnham in that scene. Burnham turned him down, explicitly, and told him in no uncertain terms that he needs to save himself, he needs to work on himself, he needs to face what has happened. Love from her isn't going to save him, it will just drown them both.

I thought that scene was brilliant, to be honest - I was a little bit afraid that she would break down and take him back - and I hope this doesn't happen anytime soon.

It also felt like a real blurring of the lines between Burnham and Sonequa Martin-Green. I follow SMG on her Instagram and that whole speech seemed to echo her own personal ethos really closely.
posted by liquorice at 3:12 PM on February 5, 2018 [8 favorites]


This episode was a good build-up to the finale. I'm still not sure where this is going to go. When the episode began I was sure that they were going to end up with a time jump, resetting everything that has happened (and getting Culber back to boot!) but now I'm not so convinced.

I loved all the little personal scenes that took place throughout this episode, something that I do think the show was overall lacking. Tilly had a number of these scenes, but so did Saru. Letting the rest of the ensemble breathe like this is a good thing.

I also didn't miss Lorca at all. This finally felt like a Starfleet ship, a ship I could get behind with all officers working together for the common good. I know he will be back in some form, but I hope that doesn't happen for a while.
posted by liquorice at 3:15 PM on February 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


They described Starbase 1 as 100 AUs from earth and 1 ly from their current position. 100 AUs is at the edge of the solar system, about where the real-world Voyager probes are right now. (An AU is defined as the distance from the sun to the Earth, for reference.) One light-year from there, and you're still closer to Sol than you are to any other star. If this territory is as badly overrun by Klingons as they suggest, Earth is already lost.

And Starbase 1 is seemingly orbiting Earth. It is... pretty unlikely that you would find another planet with liquid water at 100 AUs. In the same sense that it is pretty unlikely the there is a hitherto unnoticed second Empire State Building in Manhattan.

TOS mostly had the good graces to be non-specific about distances. Occasionally we would hear about how the nearest starbase was two weeks away at maximum warp, so that signaled that the Enterprise was on her own. This is fine, and much better than suggesting showing us there is another blue planet with white clouds twice as far out as Pluto.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:12 PM on February 5, 2018 [5 favorites]


Because the Klingons ultimately joining the federation seems unlikely if the setup for the destruction of the Klingon homeworld comes to pass.

For what it's worth, the way I heard the plan was that they were just going to target all of the planet's military installations. Even with the Klingons, that's gotta leave what, at least 5% of the landmass that won't need a phaser bombardment, right? Ok, maybe 2%?

On an unrelated note, my housemate spent all afternoon working on Discovery Valentines and they were too good for me not to share.
posted by radwolf76 at 8:06 PM on February 5, 2018 [14 favorites]


Radwolf76, please let her know i am not stalking her on tumblr just snorting with laughter at the memes.

The poor transporter dude. That has to be the job though that they screen you for secrecy with away mission screw ups the most.

I feel like Saru's tentacles are not showing often enough given the danger he is constantly in, and the situations they're evading. The rules around his awareness of death make their appearance more irritating than spooky for me now. Shouldn't they have shown when the Emperor appeared? She eats his people, and is essentially the apex predator.

I can't see the plot ending on genocide, there has to be something more. Note that Michael walked in on her reading a book. She would have very swiftly figured out a moral argument that could make her own secret ends palatable enough for the Starfleet command and even at the cost of endless war, complete deliberate planetary genocide seems a leap too far. Especially with Sarek involved because he has to agree.

I got teary at the canteen scene, and loved Michael's refusal to stay with him. Both moral and loving acts and Michael being brave to herself and clear eyed.

Oh! And there were some beautiful scenes of Saru walking also be and I'd not noticed before but his hands just waved side to side like a sort of fish glide and it's a little piece of body acting that sells his whole alien body loose joints. Doug Jones is so damn good.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 9:06 PM on February 5, 2018 [8 favorites]


the way I heard the plan was that they were just going to target all of the planet's military installations. Even with the Klingons
Yes, that's the Official Plan.

The Official Plan that is totally official and absolutely why they subsequently put a total psychopath in charge of the Official Plan.

There is definitely no way that Cap'n Killypants is going to go off and slaughter everyone nossir
posted by coriolisdave at 9:25 PM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


Gotta say, Tilly has become one of my favorite characters on this show. I don't quite know when that happened, either. When we were first introduced to her, I was convinced she was either going to become Discovery's Wesley Crusher or its comic relief.

Tilly isn't Wesley, I'm convinced Tilly is Sonya Gomez, the engineering ensign they added in TNG Season 2 as a potential love interest for LaForge, but introduced her by having her spill hot chocolate on Picard.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:26 PM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


The Official Plan that is totally official and absolutely why they subsequently put a total psychopath in charge of the Official Plan.

There is definitely no way that Cap'n Killypants is going to go off and slaughter everyone nossir


Not even go off and do it so much as make the attempt with Starfleet's blessing. Defeat the Klingons at any cost might sound reasonable to the admiralty, but even so giving Georgiou the most advanced ship in the fleet even when it was at its full strength is a questionable idea even aside from the goal, but doing so under the guise of pretending this is Captain Georgiou is just asking for trouble. I mean it's hard to believe the crew of Discovery which has been to the mirror universe would buy Cornwell's claim, but not telling the crew more so they could act as security against Georgiou going rogue is really putting a lot of eggs in Mama Nero's basket.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:09 AM on February 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


What with talk of "species reassignment protocol", was it me or were they trying quite hard to say "trans humans are humans" without actually saying it?

It's a pretty heavy handed and hamfisted allusion to transgender people which I think is pretty offensive.
posted by crossoverman at 1:11 AM on February 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think that's a super long bow to draw (that it was some kind of allusion to trans people). Sometimes a cigar really is just a klingon operated into a human.
posted by smoke at 3:23 AM on February 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


hi admiral this is space hitler. she is an experienced genocider, despises us and our very civilization, and she would quite like to literally eat the captain

really?

yes!

GIVE HER OUR FANCIEST SHIP
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:34 AM on February 6, 2018 [35 favorites]


(I've just made an IRL post about WisCon in case any of y'all want to meet there in May and squee or grumble about Discovery in person. You have till Feb. 28 to nominate yourself or someone else for financial subsidy to go.)

You've heard of Red, Green, and Blue Mars? Welcome to Sparkle Mars! Or: oh look, the machinery from the Kindergarten in Steven Universe!

Yeah, Tyler completely lost my sympathy when he went from "I'm sorry" to "you were just looking for an excuse to end things because they got Too Real for you"

My spouse pointed out that the Ash-Michael conversation sort of harkens back to an awful conversation in TNG where LaForge is solemnly telling the real Leah Brahms, who is shocked and feels violated upon discovering LaForge's holodeck fantasy version of her, that the crime he's committed is opening up and being a human being. And the show seems to be on LaForge's side! Gross! But in Discovery, NOPE. The show is on her side in saying, right now, he needs to do that work himself and she has reached her absolute limit in the support she can provide him.

On a character level, I loved the conversation between Admiral Cornwall and L'Rell; "you're the human who convinced me humans could be brave and are not relentlessly worthless" is not a character note I often see given to women, and "sort out the philosophical differences and endgame in this epic clash of civilizations" too isn't often an all-women conversation, so that was neat.

I'm so pleased at Stamets's reaction to seeing Tyler. Super brutal but without anything so crude as a Battlestar Galactica-type shouting-and-punching sequence. (The shakycam and score in this ep reminded me of BSG a lot -- anyone else?)

Tilly's perfectly economical "How could that possibly be true? Just eat. And talk if you want to. I'm here." is such a fine demonstration of quiet kindness. She's learned so much from Michael, from pretending to be Captain Killy, from the whole past season. We don't have a "humans are SO WEIRD and my weirdness in relationship to y'all is key" viewpoint character on this show, no Spock/Data/Odo; we have Saru and then we have these alienated humans trying to learn how to be themselves, like Tilly....

My household's this-would-be-cool prediction: Saru kills Georgiou before she has a chance to commit genocide.
posted by brainwane at 5:38 AM on February 6, 2018 [13 favorites]


Remember when they said the main character on this show wasn't going to be the Captain?

So...
A pretty huge proportion of our named characters have in fact been Captain at this point right?

Georgiou: Captain of the USS Shenzou
Mirror Georgiou: Captain of USS Discovery
Burnham: Captain of ISS Shenzou
Lorca: Captain of USS Discovery
Saru: Captain of USS Discovery
Tilly: Captain of ISS Discovery
Cornwall: Basically Captain of USS Discovery (after taking over from Saru)
Danby Connor: Captain ISS Shenzou
Tyler / Voq: Captain of The Sarcophogus
Harry Mudd: Briefly Captain of the USS Discovery
Maddix: Captain of the ISS Charon

Maybe more?
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:39 AM on February 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm hoping they're just in the wrong universe, though I assume they're not.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:25 AM on February 6, 2018


[Couple comments deleted; info from the "next time on Star Trek" previews counts as spoilers, so please don't post them here. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:20 AM on February 6, 2018 [4 favorites]


L'Rell is sitting in the brig on the cusp of a change, Tyler/Voq is looking for redemption, and Burnham took a huge risk and lost getting the Gospel of Mirror Voq. Those feel like loose ends waiting to be tied off. I suspect they're going to do a classic, "we need to do something terrible, oh wait, no we don't."
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 7:54 AM on February 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


Although I'm disappointed that we didn't get a (MU) Scary Saru, I'm really liking Doug Jones' as a Kelpian Federation starship Captain - the tension between a fearful prey species and being a kickass Captain in a wartime setting.
posted by porpoise at 10:29 AM on February 6, 2018 [5 favorites]


brainwane: yep, I went to BSG too.

I had this thought yesterday after the Big Captain Georgiou Reveal: how can a show which so clearly telegraphs its plot twists that even I am not surprised (seriously y'all, I was the only person who walked out of the theatre amazed and wowed at the end of The Sixth Sense) so dang compelling? Like, I finish every episode and then I'm mad there isn't another one and I have to wait a whole week, it totally doesn't even matter that I was not caught up with surprise. I even started a rewatch of DS9, which I haven't watched since first run (pro tip: check out The Duffers Guide), because after the episode two weeks ago I was frustrated there was no more Star Trek for me. How do they do that?! It is magic.

I super want Saru to punch Mirror Georgiou and just, like, lay her out flat. Preferably in front of everyone. Then dust off his hands and make an inspirational speech.

And, if the flying dot of mycelial goodness that landed on Tilly's shoulder last week was Dr Culber, and Tilly was packing all those terraforming spore things where there's an opportunity for transfer, does that mean that maybe Culber is pulling a ST:III Spock down there on that moon somehow? (Yes, I am still carrying around my "RETURN CULBER" protest sign.)
posted by sldownard at 10:39 AM on February 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


how can a show which so clearly telegraphs its plot twists that even I am not surprised [be] so dang compelling?

With the caveat that I want the show to do a lot more with the extended crew -- who we are finally meeting at the end of the season -- Discovery has leaned heavily on how characters handle plot twists, beyond simply relying on plot twists; and while a lot of the twists are clear from miles away, the impact of those twists has been harder to predict. Ash/Voq being a Klingon-ish person: predicted! The cafeteria scene; his talk with Burnham; those parts are really the core of the show, and they aren't so clearly telegraphed.

On another note, I was really enjoying Captain Saru and having a few episodes of (a) actually seeing the extended crew, and (b) having them all work together. Having Evil Mirror Captain, Take Two is...a twist that's happening, I guess. I'm sad that it gets us right back to where we were a few episodes ago with a mirror universe captain that the audience is aware of, but the crew (mostly) is not. It should feel exciting; instead, it feels kind of...boring? And dark, at a moment where the show felt like it was turning over a new leaf. It would be unfair to judge the decision until the next episode, but it feels too heavily scripted; I liked Michael saving Georgiou. That was fine, and made sense (even if it was a terrible decision). But the show feels like it's setting up a situation in which Michael has to choose whether or not to mutiny against Georgiou a second time, calling back to the opening episodes -- except that this mutiny might be justified.

If I had one critique of Discovery, it would be that it needed to give its cast time to breathe -- it's finally starting to do that. If I had two critiques, though, it would be that it keeps shoehorning character decisions and narrative events into parallels that feel unearned: that's a subjective opinion, certainly. But it keeps feeling like the show is starting with a parallel and then working backwards to dialogue and character, rather than highlighting parallels that arise naturally out of the course of the narrative. I mention this to explain why I find the Georgiou twist disappointing: because setting her up as captain of the ship doesn't make a lot of sense. And that not making sense casts a light back on some of the plot holes in the last few episodes -- everyone just sides with Lorca suddenly? Georgiou just...decides to fight to the death rather than escape, despite having already chosen escape over fighting multiple times? Georgiou enables Michael to destroy the seat of her power? -- that, in retrospect, collectively look like they were plotted in order to get Georgiou here to the prime universe, in order to set up the current situation.

I know that kind of intentional, thematically-resonant writing really works for some people: it doesn't work for me.

I say this despite really loving how this show is going, on the whole; I'm just hoping that it follows the well-trod path of prior Treks and improves a lot in Season 2.
posted by cjelli at 11:01 AM on February 6, 2018 [7 favorites]


Nitpicking ahead, feel free to ignore.

So the problem I'm having right now is that this Klingon war, which we had never heard of before Discovery, has become a giant horrorshow with casualties (at least) in the hundreds of thousands as well as the capture of Starbase 1 and the destruction of a significant portion of Starfleet. Kinda straining plausibility that this massive war that happened 10 years earlier was never mentioned on Star Trek or any other subsequent show.

(Also Klingons don't look like that.)

(Also the reason why Kirk & Co. don't know about the MU is stupid. Maybe they just classified the entire war! That would explain why no other show mentioned it!)
posted by Gaz Errant at 1:31 PM on February 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


The Tyler-Voq plastic surgery thing... they have to be angling to tie it into the ridgehead/non-ridgehead thing, I think. Tyler is going to reintegrate with Voq and bust out on Kronos with L'Rell or something.

Yes, I am with you... I think Tyler/Voq is going to somehow connect to/"explain" some of the Klingon phenotypic differences we've seen between series (much as I wish they would just let it be).

My other prediction is that the Admiral is also a Klingon double agent, although based on her conversation with L'Rell she doesn't seem to be aware of it.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 1:37 PM on February 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


As noted upthread being 100 AU and 1 light year from earth means that they are about 1 light year from Earth. It took me right out of the episode, and I've been trying to figure out why I found it so jarring. AU and lightyears are the simplest of space facts, and even if you don't know the values in meters, anyone older than a middleschooler should at least know that an AU is the distance between the Earth and the Sun, and that there are a bit more than 3 light years to the nearest star. Certainly someone writing for or directing Star Trek should know that. The fact that they evidently don't, and don't care to look it up, shows a remarkable contempt for the audience and the material. Why I am bothering to watch a show written by people who don't care?

It would be different if it was a parody. I don't worry how the guy on MST3K eats and breathes and other science facts. It would be different if it used even slightly more obscure units; I'd totally let something like "eight million ells to Earth" slide. Heck, it'd be different if the character work or plotting was better. I feel almost sorry for the actors who play the bridge crew but never get any lines. The scene where Tilly sits with Ash, I thought "finally! we are going to hear from Detmer! She only ever gets reaction shots" but no. The conversation immediately fades and the camera pulls back.

RE: Ash. It's not exactly a new thing for someone on Star Trek to have their mind taken over by aliens and then be forced to kill a bunch of the crew or whatever. The Vulcans, one of the founding races of the Federation, have the power to do exactly that. How can Starfleet not have a standard protocol for dealing with the aftermath of that kind of situation? I'd be surprised if the protocol was like: no therapy, and also lots of unsupervised one-on-ones with the people you tried to murder. Yes, Ash acted like a crazy abusive asshole, and yes Michael was right to shut him down, but why was that meeting allowed to happen at all?
posted by surlyben at 2:36 PM on February 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


So the problem I'm having right now is that this Klingon war, which we had never heard of before Discovery, has become a giant horrorshow with casualties (at least) in the hundreds of thousands as well as the capture of Starbase 1 and the destruction of a significant portion of Starfleet. Kinda straining plausibility that this massive war that happened 10 years earlier was never mentioned on Star Trek or any other subsequent show.

I agree that never mentioning it explicitly is a reach, but the idea that the Federation had very recently been involved in a catastrophic war that decimated its ranks is a pretty good retcon for why Kirk's era was so bizarre, from the cowboy antics of its captains to the totally incompetent upper leadership...
posted by gerryblog at 3:54 PM on February 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm sure they do mention past Klingon wars in TOS, but without more info it's impossible to know just how far outside the realm of possibility a war this devastating could be.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:08 PM on February 6, 2018


I'm watching TOS this year, and it's not exactly the best test case for maintaining strong continuity across 50 years of work by different creative teams. (Like that time Spock and Kirk figured out that antimatter was very bad stuff during a conversation in the conference room.)
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 4:19 PM on February 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


I think Tyler/Voq is going to somehow connect to/"explain" some of the Klingon phenotypic differences we've seen between series (much as I wish they would just let it be)

Yes, this exactly. it is as tiresome as a new ship design for every fucking producer but somehow actually offensive. At least they (so far) haven't seen fit to echo the "crash the new ship" bullshit with regard to the novel phenotypes. Genocide is outside acceptable subtopics for monetization, I guess, which is a good thing, yes. Not seeing that this is a possible outcome of continually monkeying (see what I did there) with forehead makeup is a strong argument for the essential cluelessness of the production process chez the Farm.

My other prediction is that the Admiral is also a Klingon double agent, although based on her conversation with L'Rell she doesn't seem to be aware of it.

Well thought! There is no in-show reason to exempt the Admiral from Tylerization, and Starfleet (and Discovery) and the FUCKING WRITERS are fools not to have seen it. Captain Saru, just how infallible are your threat ganglia?
posted by mwhybark at 5:07 PM on February 6, 2018


Captain Saru, just how infallible are your threat ganglia?

I'm beginning to suspect that Saru's ganglia only "go off" in situations when he is already mentally primed to believe that someone or something is a threat--so, Burnham's return to the ship triggers them, even though he isn't consciously aware yet of her presence (because he has prior reason to associate her with death), but Lorca never sets them off (because Lorca is the captain, so why would he be a threat?). The same goes for the Starbase (he already knows that the Klingons have taken over 20% of Federation territory, so he's attuned to the possibility of that danger). Ditto Voq!Tyler (eh, poor guy was a Klingon prisoner, can't possibly be a problem). My theory doesn't undermine his speech in the Mirror universe, because at that point he would have every reason to believe in imminent danger, and he still doesn't sense death.
posted by thomas j wise at 6:12 PM on February 6, 2018


Yes, I am with you... I think Tyler/Voq is going to somehow connect to/"explain" some of the Klingon phenotypic differences we've seen between series (much as I wish they would just let it be).

I thought of that, too. I suppose the most painless route to that would have been showing us more variations in member of the fractious Great Houses early on. Viewers talk about the differences between eras, but even in a single movie (ST VI), Chang looks really nothing at all like any other Klingons. I guess if you are paying Christopher Plummer to be in your movie, you want him to be recognizable. (A position they had abandoned by the time they hired Idris Elba, I suppose.)

Incidentally, I just watched “The Trouble with Tribbles” today, which is the first time viewers ever saw a Klingon disguised as a human. Arne Darvin is a, let’s say, much less conflicted figure than Voq/Tyler. His reveal is kind of at the level of Scooby and the gang finding out the ghost was Old Man Witherspoon all along!!!
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:45 PM on February 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


While I generally join in on the mockery of the aliens with dots on their forehead, I think TOS should be viewed closer to stage and live TV drama than the attempted realism that would come a decade later. Classic stagecraft is a matter of giving the audience the right symbols to assist the performance of the actors. The aliens (including the Klingons and Vulcans IMO) debated were often stranger than their 1960s makeup, and the Enterprise more interactive than its blinking lights and projection screens.

I'm more interested in the philosophical differences between L'Rell and TOS Kor than the physical ones. Something changed to elevate the Federation from cattle to worthy challenge. As for the rest, you might as well explain why Klingons started drinking bloodwine from food-service measuring cups with a Klingon logo facing the camera.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 7:38 PM on February 6, 2018 [5 favorites]


I think that's a super long bow to draw (that it was some kind of allusion to trans people).

Look, the term "species reassignment" is pretty close to the (I think outdated now) phrase "gender reassignment". If it's not intentional, it's a bit bone-headed. (Pun intended.)
posted by crossoverman at 9:07 PM on February 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


Yes, I am with you... I think Tyler/Voq is going to somehow connect to/"explain" some of the Klingon phenotypic differences we've seen between series (much as I wish they would just let it be).

M'idichloH'rians!


Like that time Spock and Kirk figured out that antimatter was very bad stuff during a conversation in the conference room.

You know what antimatter is, right? It’s this thing called photon torpedos. And other things. Like lots of things are done with antimatter. Including some bad things. But nobody talks about that.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:18 PM on February 6, 2018 [5 favorites]


As far as I know, antimatter was first introduced in "The Alternative Factor" as a threat that could destroy entire universes (in spite of the fact that anti-matter dude was wandering around the Enterprise baffling the crew). It didn't become the series "nuclear" until later.

It's just one example of TOS playing fast and loose with both science and consistency between episodes.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 4:24 AM on February 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


I thought Burnham's response to Tyler was right on, but I just don't understand why the guy who murdered a crewmate is just turned loose into the same crew. But then I also can't understand installing a Terran over this crew after recently experiencing Terran Lorca's destructive antics. I don't like it when plots seemed designed to deliberately maximize chaos at the expense of anyone acting reasonably. Once again it seems like you can be a giant fuck up in this world and still rise through the ranks. Tilly, however, who has been fairly consistent and smart and hard working and not killed anyone, remains a cadet.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:43 PM on February 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


That Burnham/Tyler scene was a bit close to the bone, bordering on unwatchable. Very close to a common scenario in Domestic Violence situations... Show, this had better pay off or I'm going to have to break up with you!

Captain Emporer Georgiou? NO THANKYOU.

What is with their treatment of L'Rell, isn't solitary confinement in a straight-jacket sort of thing in a tiny cell against the Geneva Convention? You telling me there isn't an equivalent in our not-yet-Utopian Future?

New Squiddishly.net review is worth a read.
posted by Coaticass at 5:56 PM on February 7, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm more than happy with Discovery so far. I only wish that Burnham didn't have that court-martial on her record. I'm fine with her actions since if she had succeeded, the Klingons would have been defeated and she would have been a hero.

Georgiou is ruthless, I'm glad she has command and I can't wait to see how far the Federation is willing to go along that path. At the same time, I'm disappointed that Sarek allowed himself to go along with her scheme. I can see the admiral doing that, she's human. A Vulcan should have known better*.

Zarq, I have to second this exchange as one of the best from this episode:

Emperor Georgiou: "My daughter was a singular example of brilliance until one foolish choice doomed her world. Sound familiar?"
Sarek: "If I understand correctly, my ward saw through the man who brought down, not just your child, but your empire. Perhaps best not to make comparisons."

It's an almost unVulcan putdown.

*In my alternate universe, the Borg and Vulcans have merged and evolved to become a non-humanoid gestalt species that conquers the known universe and rules wisely.
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 7:56 PM on February 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


What is with their treatment of L'Rell, isn't solitary confinement in a straight-jacket sort of thing in a tiny cell against the Geneva Convention?

Well, who else are they going to confine her with? They don't have any other prisoners.

But fair point, they put Space Hitler in a very nice suite. Klingonists.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:05 PM on February 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


New Squiddishly.net review is worth a read.

I hadn't seen these. Thanks for linking to them. Her review for Vaulting Ambition includes a take on something that blew my mind:
Another shocking twist: Merkin the Tribble’s secret agenda

There have been a lot of jokes over the season about Lorca’s tribble — dubbed Merkin by Jason Isaacs, and anyone who thinks that’s canon needs to do some googling — being a secret weapon against the Klingons. Here’s a thread I enjoyed so much that I illustrated it.

But the thing is, Merkin did have a purpose. And it wasn’t being deployed against Klingons.

A tribble’s cooing, Spock told us way back in 1967, has a tranquilising effect on the human nervous system. It’s … soothing. It relaxes us.

Who was hanging out, cooing away to itself, the first time Michael met Lorca? Merkin the Tribble. While Lorca was persuading Michael that he was a good guy who could be trusted, Merkin was doing a number on her nervous system.

Amazing.

(I knew it was a bad sign that Lorca had a second tribble dissected in his lab! I knew it! What kind of monster dissects a tribble? The same kind of monster who thinks Kelpiens are appetisers, probably!)

posted by zarq at 9:21 AM on February 8, 2018 [8 favorites]


I googled. The tribble name is hilarious. IndieWire, from October:
Among Captain Lorca’s quirks is the fact that has a pet tribble on his desk — though Isaacs was not personally too excited about the iconic and adorable “Trek” creature.

“I wasn’t a fan of the silliest episodes of the original series, just because Shatner, particularly — well both of them, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy — managed to make the most absurd things seem epic, and serious, and high stakes,” he said. “But even they, with their gargantuan skill set, couldn’t make a bunch of merkins into something that felt dangerous.”

(This statement made IndieWire laugh pretty hard, even though Isaacs was worried people might not know what a merkin is, suggesting that we “might put a hyperlink in.”)

Lorca’s tribble, like much of what we see on screen in this newest iteration of “Star Trek,” wasn’t executed on the cheap. “I saw someone online saying a tribble is cheap set dressing. Not this one. It had a bunch of operators, and a bunch of muscles, and moved, and made a noise, a little cooing when you stroked it, and purred. It’s really something,” Isaacs said.

posted by zarq at 9:27 AM on February 8, 2018 [3 favorites]


Since it hasn't been mentioned yet, my bet is that Culber is going to be magicked back into the show via the terraforming spore inoculation the same way Spock came back in the movies, that little green spore on Tilly's shoulder surely got sent down to the dead planet. voila!
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:28 PM on February 8, 2018 [1 favorite]


I just finishing mainlining this entire series this weekend and I've found these FanFare threads so much fun particularly in filling in the knowledge gaps for this non-Trek viewer. All that stuff about Lorca's tribble, for instance? Never would have known any of that.

Also, I just wanted to add that to this South Asian it is huge to see a South Asian actor (well, he's mixed race, but still) as not comedy relief (I'm looking at you, Big Bang Theory) or as random background extra but as complex, vulnerable, flawed character and romantic lead on a big show like Star Trek. It means a lot, in ways I cannot even quite articulate.
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:21 AM on February 12, 2018 [13 favorites]


Ziggy500, yes, this is Star Trek. Making a difference. Changing the narrative. Opening up spaces. When people complain that Discovery isn't Star Trek I laugh at them and move on. They've missed the point (which is ok because it isn't for everyone).
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 6:34 PM on February 12, 2018 [4 favorites]


That Burnham/Tyler scene was a bit close to the bone, bordering on unwatchable.

I think honestly I am disappointed with how the Tyler thing has gone, deeply, because it feels like they’re making it simplistic when it could be gorgeous and complex. Like - I actually think it’s real that some of her feelings of betrayal are because the person she fell in love with was a Klingon “masquerading” as a human, even when he believed himself to be a human and didn’t mean to betray her. I actually think they went way too heavy handed in having Voq fully switch over and try to kill her - like, it’s much more interesting if it’s part Voq’s own mind that’s in love with Burnham for her fierceness.

But instead it’s just like a standard narrative of “you fucked up and won’t be a romantic lead anymore and get to recover solo.”
posted by corb at 1:25 AM on March 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


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