Star Trek: Discovery: Will You Take My Hand
February 11, 2018 10:55 PM - Season 1, Episode 15 - Subscribe

With Georgiou at the helm of the plan to end the Klingon war once and for all, the U.S.S. Discovery crew struggles to fathom and tolerate her hostile tactics. Memories of past hardships are rekindled within Burnham.
posted by Uncle (163 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
That was a very Clint Howard episode.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:49 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


Aside from the sort of hamfisted “hand-off” at the very end, this was a pretty good episode! Lots of thematic full-circle stuff, like another mutiny (but for good!).

Overall, we quite liked it. It’s not really Star Trek but it’s not bad, by any means. It’s like the idea behind Rogue One, where a new thing in a different style takes place in an existing world. We’re both looking forward to the next season and being shocked by the reveal that Prime!Lorca is still alive.

Also, it’s “bowline” like the bow of a ship, not like a bow and arrow uggghhh (although I thought it was being implied that he was tying a noose)
posted by DoctorFedora at 1:08 AM on February 12


I screamed and started clapping like a seal at the ending. I know it was complete fan pandering and I have no qualms about enjoying this pander!
posted by liquorice at 1:20 AM on February 12 [10 favorites]


So me and my husband disagreed on this episode, he didn’t enjoy it while I really appreciated it. It really felt like the most Trek episode of the season to me. There was no big climactic action piece or fighting, just logical and reasonable discussions between parties.

Burnham convincing Cornwell. Burnham talking to Georgiou. Burnham talking to L’Rell. Voq convincing L’Rell.

That Starfleet was willing to breach their own values is not surprising, the admirals have always been shown to be kind of cold and slightly nefarious in previous shows. Having the crew being the one to take the stand (literally) and convince them to adhere to Federation principles is consistent and well-considered.

Tilly and her scenes continue to steal the show. She manages to be funny and strong at the same time. I loved that little moment when she slipped in between Burnham and Ash, just to help Burnham have some space.

I’m glad Ash has left, I don’t think I could stomach Burnham and him being back together so soon. As usual, they kind of fast forwarded some character development and I’m a little disappointed and how well-adjusted he already is after the last episode. That’s probably my main complaint about the whole season, they tried to cram too much in.

L’Rell being the badass who united the Klingon houses is amazing and nicely ties in with the beginning of the show. She really was the one with all the ideas and deserves to “wear the crown”.

Letting the Emperor go (given she is MASSIVELY EVIL) was dumb but I’ll allow it because this is a tv show and I imagine she will get to play a fun role in later seasons.

Also the scene at the Federation may have been corny as, but it would be weird to be a Trek fan and not appreciate some corniness.

I remain very disappointed that nothing was tied up with Culber after all their promises. I still think that death was pointless and shock driven and I held out hope it would be addressed by season’s end. I know he’s not gone forever but give us something soon!

Here’s hoping for some exploring and discovering of new civilisations in the next season! (And who is going to be her Captain!)
posted by liquorice at 1:30 AM on February 12 [9 favorites]


Oh my god yes Tilly is just so good

Like, by all rights she should have been kind of an annoying throwaway joke character but instead they made her just really decent and human and fun.
posted by DoctorFedora at 1:47 AM on February 12 [8 favorites]


This was awful and I'd be breaking up with this show and having the Enterprise turn up at the end is fucking horseshit, but I know that'll bring me back for Season 2 because I'm Trek trash. But this was a goddamn mess of an episode.
posted by crossoverman at 3:10 AM on February 12 [8 favorites]


I loved it. It took me a while to work out whether I liked this new incarnation of Trek but now I can safely say that I'm into Disco, very.
posted by h00py at 3:20 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


OTOH, I'll be back for season two, because I overall really liked this new incarnation of ST. OTOH, I also agree with crossoverman that the finale was a mess: they needed at least two hours to pull this off, especially the wrap-up to the war plotline. Burnham's reconciliation with Voqyler (Ashoq?) was very TNG in the worst sort of way. And just letting the Emperor wander around the universe is a good idea because...why? (That being said, the Emperor's "oh, the hell with it" realization that she couldn't kill this version of Michael was played in an amusingly low-key way.)
posted by thomas j wise at 3:59 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


what Liquorice said. oh and i LOVE that they used the OS theme song for closing credits - has that been done on Disco, before? (often the credits are not included in the versions that i can find online.) if this is the first time, it was a clever and fun end to the first season.

and seeing the Enterprise was fucking DELIGHTFUL.

this was the first episode that actually felt like Star Trek. the pacing, the plot resolution, even the preachy bits. totally old-school. icluding the randy Captain sexing up the locals! hah.

but i still haven't forgiven them for Culber. even when they bring him back - you know they will - it won't make up for the massive shittiness that was killing him, in the first place.

here's hoping Georgiou crosses paths with Mudd. that should be entertaining.
posted by lapolla at 4:16 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


This was the first time they've used the original series closing theme song over the credits.
posted by zarq at 4:18 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Oh yes, thomas j wise, it definitely should have been a 2 hour finale!
posted by h00py at 4:23 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


i find almost everything i watch - movies or tv - to be too damn long. the art of editing has dissipated. but this is one instance where i really do think more would have been better - just a little more time to resolve things. still, cramming all of that into an hour did feel very STOS.
posted by lapolla at 4:28 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


This season had its problems, but compared with season one of TNG (pre-beard Riker), it’s a damn fine start. My big question after the first two to four episodes was “why set this show in this time period” and I think they totally justified it. It’ll be interesting to see how they rejigger the cast next year. I have worries they’ll end up painting themselves into continuity corners as the show progresses, but they seem to have a plan. I’ll ride along happily!
posted by rikschell at 5:22 AM on February 12 [6 favorites]


I'm really happy to see that all the griping about, "This isn't the Trek **I** know" is at least known and addressed by the whole season itself. Yes, it's a different Trek, because it's before your Trek, and they're learning to be the Federation you love. This episode did seem quite rushed toward the ending, but I'm happy with it, and I'm glad we get to have more Michelle Yeoh in the future, hopefully in a badass cape, because she sure does know how to walk around triumphantly in a cape.
posted by xingcat at 5:57 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]


The "Previously on Star Trek Discovery" was said by L'Rell in Klingon. That and her "Either way, I can tell you require seasoning" to Georgiou was kind of awesome.

Seen on the map of Qo'nos: (I spotted Martok's "Ketha Province" and had to write down everything I saw.)
- Kang's Summit
- Caves of Kahless
- Nekro'Vak region
- Skaal River
- Ketha Province
- Central Plains Area
- Ben Sim-dahl
- Tar' Kl'val
- L'hess Tall Dax City
- Har Kling City
- B'thel Krang Cru
- U'Char Tem City
- Lake of Lusor
- Qo'nos Pop Center
- Bar'or Uness City
- LynK'nor Tak City
- First City
- Vort Kling Tak
- B'ror Tulvac
- Br'bettik

Mintaka III and Betazoids are name checked by Georgiou when she speaks with Tilly.

Those animals being cooked in a pan when they first arrive at Qo'nos look suspiciously like the Ceti eels from Wrath of Khan. (Mature, ridged momma versions. Not the little baby ones that crawl into the ears of Chekov and Captain Terrell.)

Gormagander is apparently delicious. :)
posted by zarq at 6:43 AM on February 12 [6 favorites]


I thought the episode was rushed and had other pacing issues -- I think I can see the seams where they decided to change direction and wrap certain plotlines up in a hurry.

I loved the embassy town. I loved that Qo'nos isn't a planet of hats, where uniform Klingons do uniformly Klingon things. A town full of alien immigrants and shady Klingons makes the worldbuilding feel more real. I loved it so much that it offset a lot of the choppiness of the plot for me -- the use of an interesting location tied it all together more.

I'm glad that nobody died. Solving problems (both in-character problems and meta story-level problems) through means other than killing off inconvenient people is totally my jam. I hope that we see Ash, Mirror Georgiou and L'Rell again.

I'm ambivalent about the Enterprise -- I'm not super excited about bringing in such an iconic piece of established canon so early, before the show has had more of a chance to do its own thing. But I don't feel that strongly about it --I didn't like a lot of the elements of the series on paper (another prequel; more MU stuff; marketed as focusing on a single character), and I ended up loving the series. The implementation is always far more important to me than the idea, and I will wait to see what the writers actually do with this plot thread.

We may embark on a Search for Culber in the next season if the writers are doing a 180 in response to fan criticism, and while I don't think fandom should feel entitled to have this happen whenever they dislike a character death in this case I'm totally OK with it.

In summary, while this episode undoubtedly has structural problems, I was grinning most of the way through it and I am satisfied with the way it has left things before the next season. And of course in comparison to the first season of TNG this is Shakespeare.
posted by confluency at 6:53 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


It was good, but not great, and definitely could have used more time.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:54 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Qo'nos Pop Center

I know this is a "population" center, but I bet Klingon Pop music is surprisingly bouncy.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 7:04 AM on February 12 [6 favorites]


That was far more delightful to see than it had any right to, considering the hot mess the plot line wrap-up was. Don't care though, I agree it felt like old-school Trek in how they worked it all out. And that look Sarek and Michael shared at the end was a priceless piece of undersell…they know who's first officer under Pike.

The updated look of the Enterprise worked really well too, I thought, with this incarnation's take on Star Trek ship designs. Glad to see they're not going to try to slavishly re-create the look of 1960's television special effects. As amusing as it's been to revisit the old sets here and there, I think it was a mistake in retrospect since people now think of the old sets as something set in stone. I'd rather just see it reinterpreted like any other stage dressing and move onwards.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 7:10 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]


Admiral: Thanks to Tilly, who is now the Ensign Kim of the show instead of the Wesley Crusher.
Me: Yes, good.
Admiral: Thanks to Culber, who is dead but people clearly care about him.
Me: Sure, sure.
Admiral: Thanks to Saru, the first of his cowardly race to do something admirable.
Me: Go on.
Admiral: That's it.
Me: That's everyone on stage?
Admiral: Yep.
Me: Everyone with a medal?
Admiral: Yep.
Me: What about those bridge crew members? You know, the ones that are exclusively women and/or people of color? The ones who are also on stage with medals?
Admiral: Oh... them?
Me: Yes.
Admiral: ...Look! It's the Enterprise!
Me: *sigh*
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:11 AM on February 12 [21 favorites]


Nice to see L'Rell step up and take charge of unifying the Klingon houses. Hopefully someone has her back.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:29 AM on February 12


Emperor Georgiou's outfit for the Qu'onos expedition was fierce -- loved it. Agreed with everyone that this needed more time to breathe. L'Rell's takeover of the Empire seemed particularly rushed and unconvincing. I was actually expecting her to blow up the planet to force reunification, so at least that was surprising.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:33 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


Star Trek: Discovery Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman on That Epic Finale Surprise - Debbie Day, Rotten Tomatoes:
Debbie Day for Rotten Tomatoes: The Enterprise showing up at the end of the finale — was that the plan all along?

Alex Kurtzman: Yes, it was. The whole season was reverse-engineered from an ending that we had when we broke the season. When you’re breaking a season of television, along the way, you hit a certain point where you realize that you need to start thinking about what’s going to happen in season 2. Having the Enterprise show up in season 2, was the result of a lot of things. Obviously, the fans have a lot of questions about how we tie into canon, how Burnham and her half-brother’s relationship will play out, and those are all questions that we know an answer to.
Interesting way to write a season.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:34 AM on February 12


We may embark on a Search for Culber in the next season if the writers are doing a 180 in response to fan criticism, and while I don't think fandom should feel entitled to have this happen whenever they dislike a character death in this case I'm totally OK with it.

I may be wrong, but I don't think it will be a reversal in response to fandom. The showrunners have been really emphatic that his death was the "first chapter" in Stamets and Culber's relationship and that the mycelial network will play a role in bringing Culber back to the show. I'm guessing that between that and them getting to have GLAAD issue a statement, they had already planned for him to come back as more than just a magical mushroom vision in Season 2.
posted by zarq at 7:35 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


Also, from the same interview with Alex Kurtzman:
RT: I was wondering if we could talk a little bit about the fandom, specifically the toxic fandom that we’re seeing nowadays. As a creator, how do you view what’s going on in the fan world. Or are they fans at all? Are we just seeing campaigns by trolls?

Kurtzman: As I get older, I’ve come to accept that there are certain things I can control and certain things I can’t control. I have accepted that not everybody will like me. I have accepted that not everybody will like the work I do. I have accepted that not everybody will like the work that other people do. I have accepted that the internet has given everybody a voice, which is both wonderful and terrible, because obviously you want everybody to express their opinions, and when those opinions hurt other people, often with impunity, it’s very painful.

That being said, I think Sonequa really said it best when she said, “Our show is fundamentally about looking at the human race, and understanding what our strengths are, what are challenges are, what are flaws are, and reckoning with that, in order to become our best selves.” I think that is at the core of what Roddenberry’s vision of optimism is really all about.

I guess what I would say is that we want to talk about that. We want to speak to everybody, and if people don’t want to join us for that or accept that, then that’s entirely their right. They are entitled not to watch. It’s definitely not going to stop us from saying those things. That is our privilege, that is our right, and that is our joy. I can’t change the way people feel if they don’t like the color of someone’s skin, or if they don’t like the things that we believe in. We’re not telling people what to believe, but I certainly can’t stand by it, and I certainly won’t endorse it. I think they’re free to do what they want, but for those of us who recognize that the spirit of Star Trek is about inclusivity and togetherness and finding a way beyond our differences, then I hope you have really enjoyed the show, and I hope you feel that we’ve respected that idea.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:37 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


> they had already planned for him to come back as more than just a magical mushroom vision in Season 2

The writers been pretty coy about it so far, which is unsurprising -- at the very least, I don't think they intended to have to give the plot point away in advance, and hinting that it's going to happen is a response to the fan reaction. I'm sure that we'll get a blow-by-blow of when and how these decisions were made after the relevant episodes air.

Some of the fans who have been the most upset about the death and most critical of the writers are too mistrustful to take them at their word, and assume that this is all spin. Maybe some of that has rubbed off on me. I have no reason not to believe that they're being truthful, if understandably evasive.
posted by confluency at 8:11 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


I thought this show brought the season to a satisfying conclusion. I squee'd when I heard TOS music for the end credits. They're using the right broad strokes, and bringing fresh detail to the narrative world.

This would have been a lot hotter if CBS had better distribution.
posted by mikelieman at 8:14 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


I'm glad that nobody died.

!!

I didn't realize that. You're right!
posted by zarq at 8:15 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Interesting way to write a season. ( starting from the ending )

It explains for me why it all seemed to fit together SO WELL. They weren't just pulling the arc out of their ass.
posted by mikelieman at 8:17 AM on February 12


I enjoyed this whole season but boy was this episode a rushed mess. As was the previous one. I feel like the whole "we're back in the Prime universe with Mirror Georgiou vs the Klingons" story line should have been given a whole a season to breathe, or at least more than two hours. It's a testament to the writers that this episode played out effectively, with the characters acting believably. The moment when the whole crew on the Discovery stands up and says We Are Starfleet, that was great and felt totally natural. But the rest of it, what a rush.

It's really hard for me to believe L'Rell just unites the Klingon Empire like that. Random Klingon shows up in front of the 24 clans and says "I'm a crazy religious zealot! And this thing I have in my hand lets me blow up the whole world! Follow me and unite for greatness." And so.. they do? I mean her armor is awesome but.. really? Perhaps we'll learn it wasn't so simple in the next season.

I did kind of like Mirror Georgiou not giving a fuck about her cover. She blurts the secret out to pretty much everyone within hearing. And then going whoring at an Orion black market on the Klingon homeworld, she's not exactly keeping a low profile on her secret genocide mission. Hilarious good fun and a nice counterpart to all the earnestness of the usual Star Trek.

TBH I'm more upset about Ash/Voq being gone than Culber. I really liked that character and think they could have told some very interesting stories around him. The door's open to having him around, but I can't imagine he's going to fare very well inside the Klingon empire. He may be good at gambling and buddy punching but the moment he tries to have any real influence they'll carve his pretty human flesh up.
posted by Nelson at 8:20 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]


Qo'nos Pop Center

I know this is a "population" center, but I bet Klingon Pop music is surprisingly bouncy.
Disagree. Klingon pop music is entirely metal.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:17 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


I wrote: Seen on the map of Qo'nos: (I spotted Martok's "Ketha Province" and had to write down everything I saw.)

Some memory alpha links. :)

- Kang's Summit (first mentioned in DS9: In Purgatory's Shadow)
- Caves of Kahless (first mentioned in the Voyager episode Day of Honor)
- Mekro'Vak region (misspelled by me! First seen in DS9's Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places)
- Skral River (misspelled by me, apparently. Mentioned in DS9: "The Way of the Warrior" and VOY: "Barge of the Dead")
- Ketha Province (where Martok is from. The province is first mentioned in (DS9: Once More Unto the Breach and actually shown in the movie "Star Trek Into Darkness")
- Central Plains Area (first reference: TNG: Hollow Pursuits)
- Ben Sim-dahl
- Tar' Kl'val
- L'hess Taal Dax City
- Har Kling Jaa City
- B'thel Krang Cru
- U'Char Tem City
- Lake of Lusor (first mentioned in TNG: The Rightful Heir)
- Qo'nos Pop Center
- Bar'or Uness City
- Lyn'Knor Tak City
- Vort Kling Tak
- B'ror Tulvac
- Br'bettik
- First City (mentioned in: TNG: "Sins of the Father" (The House of Duras resided within the city), TNG: "Redemption" (The House of Kozak had its ancestral home within the city) and DS9's: The House of Quark ("I am Quark, son of Keldar! And I have come to answer the challenge of D'Ghor, son of... whatever.")

Things I missed!
- Caves of No'Mat (Referenced in: TNG: "Birthright, Part I", "Rightful Heir"; DS9: "The Sword of Kahless")
- V'hechess
- H'Vek Tar
- L'vln Lak Raal
- Kl'alath
- T'Val K'Rang
- Mor'em Cha
- L'chorta City
- Hamar Mountains (first mentioned in DS9: You Are Cordially Invited)
posted by zarq at 9:30 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure Discovery has referenced subtle things (either visually on camera or in dialogue) that have shown up in at least one prior star trek tv show or movie in every single episode.
posted by zarq at 9:50 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


It explains for me why it all seemed to fit together SO WELL. They weren't just pulling the arc out of their ass.

I will say that the show played their long game well, even though I mostly didn't care by the end. It was too reliant on twists and shock value for me to care. The idea that they reverse engineered the season based around the appearance of the Enterprise at the end, though, makes little sense. How has the rest of the season led to that point? How is that a dramatic moment a proper cap to the story they've been telling all season? To me it felt like another narrative twist that you could see coming a mile away. Was there one twist that fandom didn't guess five minutes after the seeds were planted? As soon as the distress signal came, I knew it would be Enterprise - because that's what this show does, leans heavily on Trek canon but uses it very badly to tell non-Trek stories.
posted by crossoverman at 11:30 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


That being said, I think Sonequa really said it best when she said, “Our show is fundamentally about looking at the human race, and understanding what our strengths are, what are challenges are, what are flaws are, and reckoning with that, in order to become our best selves.” I think that is at the core of what Roddenberry’s vision of optimism is really all about.

I guess what I would say is that we want to talk about that. We want to speak to everybody, and if people don’t want to join us for that or accept that, then that’s entirely their right. They are entitled not to watch. It’s definitely not going to stop us from saying those things.


As someone who's been really down on the last few episodes (including the finale), I feel like this comment from Alex Kurtzman is addressed in part to me.

And the thing is, I WANT Discovery to be about these things too. I'm not some awful alt-right asshole who hates the diverse representation on the show, and I'm not some Trek purist who can't get over all the monitors looking way better than the 1960s TOS sets. I WANT Discovery to be good. I want it to do justice by that spirit of optimism, and I like when it flirts with darkness to better illustrate the light.

My problem is that so far, Discovery is doing a bad job of this goal. If the idea is to show how the Federation truly came to embrace its principles as opposed to giving them lip service, this is a poor way to do it. The central ethical conundrum should have been to weigh the very existence of the Federation against the importance of its principles, to ask whether the moral cost of destroying a planet's ecosystem and murdering millions of Klingons was worth not having those same Klingons attempt to do the same to you.

This isn't actually what happens on Discovery. We're told that these are the stakes, but the show utterly fails at selling it. I think Burnham takes all of three seconds to acknowledge that not destroying Qonos would be hard on the Federation before the show moves on to the inevitable conclusion that no planet will be nuked from the inside today. Cornwell puts up a token fight about the Federation being desperate before relenting. It is the least consequential debate about the use of weapons of mass destruction ever, and it finishes with the bridge crew re-enacting the climactic scene of Spartacus.

Not to mention that the weight on one's soul you might expect from potentially signing your own people's death warrant never materializes because Burnham Has A Plan. The plan is colossally stupid: give control of the WMD to the last surviving member of a Klingon house, who you've held in a brig for weeks and as far as you know still might want to destroy your people, and then have her demand the loyalty of all the other houses on threat of suicide bombing the whole planet. First, no time is given to what might be behind L'Rell's change of heart regarding the war. Second, very little time is given to the Klingon High Council deciding that this random person waving a tablet around wields any kind of power, let alone a sword of Damocles hanging over all of Qonos. Third, no time is given to the idea that an invasion fleet about to fire on the human homeworld MIGHT not take kindly to a bunch of house leaders saying "actually hold up on winning that huge war we've been prosecuting in order to protect Klingon identity, we're actually going to order pizza and stay in tonight." And let's not even get into the morality of playing kingmaker by essentially selling arms to one of the Klingon factions, which in itself might be seen as just realpolitik if it's part of a Federation plot to destabilize the Klingon empire, but feels much less so when it's Burnham thinking up the plan practically on the spot.

I am 100% on board with exploring the Federation trying to find its way to the light. But the journey has to be plausible. All we got here was a bunch of big speeches from Burnham about doing the right thing even though it is hard, without any real sense that the decision was actually hard at all as opposed to a plot inevitability.
posted by chrominance at 12:30 PM on February 12 [26 favorites]


I am ... almost completely dissatisfied by this episode. What the hell? Who gives someone a grenade with the pin already pulled, a grenade that can blow up a world, and thinks "now, this -- this! This is a really great way to sow peace among the disparate warring tribes"? People tra-la-la'ing off into the sunset, everybody's character development wrapped up with a tidy little knot. Burnham leading a second mutiny had zero weight... the gambling scene had more emotional intensity to it. I guess Starfleet really does have a hell of a PTSD treatment program. It must be called Tabula Rasa.

The only saving grace was Tilly. And Saru, for that "unpalatable" rejoinder.
posted by sldownard at 12:35 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


I reject the notion, seen both here and in other internet fora, that a plot twist must come as a surprise to the viewer to have narrative value.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:54 PM on February 12 [8 favorites]


I'm still processing this whole season. I never entirely know how to feel about Star Trek until like ten years after the fact.

Right now, here's what I've got:
* Discovery is real Star Trek.

My bar is basically 'do they want to talk, or do they want to fight?' Whatever else is going on, Discovery at least wants to glorify diplomacy and reason over violence, even if the execution is lackluster in some spots. So this is a real part of my internal fanon now, in a way the Kelvin timeline isn't.

* Discovery is extremely choppy.

A lot of my individual complaints surrounding Discovery - notably Burnham's initial mutiny in the pilot, Culber's death and the end of the Klingon war - all seem to boil down to the same thing: for me, the problem isn't that the plot is twisty, it's that they never take the time to justify these twists ahead of time, give them the necessary emotional weight. When I was much younger, and doing tabletop RP instead of writing, a more experienced DM advised me: 'establish the normal.' He meant that I should not make changes to a fresh new genre world until everybody understood how it worked in the first place. Discovery is very concerned with whiz-bang-shiny-move-move-move over just... spending some time letting us get comfortable with the status quo.

I feel like setting it in a prequel era was meant to circumvent that, but that it wasn't enough. Getting more specific:

- Burnham's mutiny was maybe a mid-season finale move, not the way we should meet her character.

- Culber's death... if they plan to fix that, it shouldn't have been left across seasons. This isn't a well they should've gone to at all, and certainly not in the first season.

- The war needed at least a two-parter to resolve, like a lot of you have already said.

I hope that later seasons slow down and breathe a little bit versus being so gimmicky.

* Tilly is my favorite, and that's something.

I didn't like Tilly when she was introduced. She felt like a quirky sitcom character, and now she's the heart of the show for me. (On a similar note, I now really appreciate Saru, and I considered him Officer Buzzkill when he was introduced.)

These positive notes are why I will be looking forward to S2 even though I don't really feel like this is exactly what I wanted. I see potential, and I hope they're successful in realizing it more fully.
posted by mordax at 1:02 PM on February 12 [9 favorites]


I also thought the episode was far too rushed, and the resolution almost completely unsatisfying. Also, HOW IS NO ONE REALIZING THAT CAPTAIN GEORGIOU IS ACTUALLY EMPEROR GEORGIOU? Like, we literally just did this the other way around, and also could she have been more conspicuous on the bridge? Like what did the rest of the crew say when she and Burnham left the bridge? "Why are our mommies fighting?"

That being said, the episode is redeemed for me by being part of a fun, smart, and exciting Trek series. Other things that helped during this episode:

-Saru's Kelpian shade
-The Orion "embassy"
-Michelle Yeoh. Chews. All. The. Scenery.
-The team's "undercover" looks
-Tilly's hair (asymmetric haircuts for asymmetric warfare!)
-Tilly when she realizes it's the wrong Georgiou
-Tilly in general
-CLINT HOWARD!
-Orion slave girls & boys really upping their eye makeup game
-NCC-1701
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:04 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


After Trek clips:

Discovery, by the numbers. (youtube video)
Includes the number of alien planets visited, ganglia sightings, characters killed in both universes, hairstyles sported by Tilly, mind melds performed and more.

Also, Discovery's props master, Mario Moreira, noted that the Discovery cast is mostly vegetarians and vegans, and so creating the gormagander meat that Tilly and Burnham noshed on during the finale provided a unique challenge.
posted by zarq at 1:10 PM on February 12


Per Memory Alpha:
Clint Howard has previously appeared as Balok in TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver", Grady in DS9: "Past Tense, Part II" and Muk in ENT: "Acquisition". Howard has the distinction of being the actor whose appearances span the longest time interval (51 years) in the franchise, having filmed "The Corbomite Maneuver" in early-June 1966 and "Will You Take My Hand?" in October 2017.

Quotes
Georgiou: "And what's so bad about desperation?"
--
Georgiou: "What's wrong? Are you scared, Number One? Where I'm from, there's a saying, 'Scared Kelpien makes for tough Kelpien.' Have you gotten tough since we served together on the Shenzhou, Mr. Saru?"
*pause*
Saru: "Affirmative, Captain. Very tough. So much so that many find me simply unpalatable."
--
Tilly gives a half-hearted Terran salute to Georgiou.
Burnham: "Don't do that."
--
Burnham: "A year ago, I stood alone. I believed that our survival was more important than our principles. I was wrong. Do we need a mutiny today to prove who we are?"
--
Burnham: "We have to be torch-bearers, casting the light so that we may see our path to lasting peace."
--
Burnham: "The only way to defeat fear is to tell it 'No.' No, we will not take shortcuts on the path to righteousness. No, we will not break the rules that protect us from our basest instincts. No, we will not allow desperation to destroy moral authority"
--
L'Rell, to Georgiou: "I can tell you require seasoning."
--
Admiral Cornwell: “We do not have the luxury of principles!”
Burnham: “That is all we have, admiral.”
--
Burnham: "On the eve of battle, on a cold and windless night, an old general turned to a young soldier. 'Tomorrow,' said the master, 'you will know Fear.'
The young soldier, who had not yet experienced the agony of war, looked at the general with quizzical eyes. 'How will I know Fear if I do not know what it looks like?'
The general replied, 'You will know Fear because it speaks very fast and it speaks very loud.'
'If that is how Fear acts, recognizing it is easy.'
But as the young soldier considered the general's advice, she asked the question facing us now,
'Once I know Fear, how do I defeat it?'"
posted by zarq at 1:35 PM on February 12 [5 favorites]


I liked how this show's version of Q'onos felt like the same place as TNG's. This show is weird, because you can judge it on its own merits, but you have to forget about Star Trek to do so. Or you can judge it as a Star Trek series, in which case its particular merits matter less than how it fits in and/or measures up.

I think a plot-of-the-week episodic format would feel weak and stale as TV, even though it would feel MUCH more Star Trekky. They were going to have to make a compromise between "reset the world after every episode" and "single plot told over 15 weeks." For me, they nailed the sweet spot. The twists were nice but not necessary, and interesting even when they got potentially spoiled.

In this "golden age of TV" the riskiest move is being seen as cheesy or sentimental or old-fashioned, and again, I think they played it right. There was plenty of darkness, but it was never gratuitous grimdark. Saru and Tilly and Hugh were there to add balance with plenty of traditional Star Trek goodness.

I'm not sure where they go from here; they could turn more toward the traditional Star Trek format, but that would seem like a cop-out. I didn't think they were going to stick with the spores after Season 1, but it looks like they're going to, which means we get to keep Stamets. Isn't Tilly supposed to go to the officer training program? Lorca and Ash are gone. It could get better, like TNG, or it could crumble after they finish using up all of Bryan Fuller's ideas. We'll see.
posted by rikschell at 2:03 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Who gives someone a grenade with the pin already pulled, a grenade that can blow up a world, and thinks "now, this -- this! This is a really great way to sow peace among the disparate warring tribes"?

We're talking about Klingons here, right ? Because that would totally work on Klingons, as the episode showed us.
posted by Pendragon at 2:15 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]


They were going to have to make a compromise between "reset the world after every episode" and "single plot told over 15 weeks."
A structure I would very much like to see is variable-length plots interleaved with a seasonal arc -- which is kind of what we got this season, but I consider the first 5-6 episodes to be a sort of extended prologue. I felt as if they were setting everything up for the series proper. It only really got going for me in Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad.

I liked that there were a few storylines spread over pairs of episodes, an extended MU arc taking up four episodes, and a handful of mostly standalone episodes. There were definitely some pacing issues, particularly at the end (I would have liked for them to double the length of the finale, and make it a four-episode arc as well), but the idea is sound: some stories can fit in an episode, and others need more room, and it's nice for the duration of each arc and therefore its resolution to be a bit unpredictable.
posted by confluency at 2:19 PM on February 12


We're talking about Klingons here, right ? Because that would totally work on Klingons, as the episode showed us.

Yeah, it would take a "your entire homeworld can blow up and I'm the only one preventing that from happening" to make them unite. Begrudging peace.
posted by liquorice at 2:21 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


I definitely agree with the comments that the overall season felt rushed. There was lots going on, and I especially felt the MU episodes could have been the entire second half of the season, them scrambling to figure out how to "fix the war" could have been another 6 episode arc and so on. Ideally this should have been a 22 episode season like previous Trek shows with smatterings of stand alone episodes thrown in to satisfy our nostalgia for previous Trek.

There was a lot to balance here and while I do think Discovery got most of it right, I do hope they can slow it down in the next season.
posted by liquorice at 2:24 PM on February 12


How was the Empress planning to get off Qonos after/before setting off the bomb if not via Discovery, which would seem likely to be ruled out if it turned out she was blowing up Qonos rather than doing drone surveillance?

I largely enjoyed season 1, especially the second half of it. Would have liked longer arcs leading up to Ash being revealed as Voq, the whole Voq conversion thing was interesting but didn't really take flight for me.

Nice to see somewhere other than San Francisco on Earth.

I was happy with Enterprise rocking up, it just seemed like a starting point for season 2 rather than anything specific to the development of season 1. Is Discovery using the same software as me? It took ages to read the Enterprise's transponder code - letter by letter? Really?

I still want to know more about Lt Cmdr Daft Punk. At least give the poor woman a decent line for god's sake, it must be a pain in the arse getting ready each morning.
posted by biffa at 2:39 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


> I felt as if they were setting everything up for the series proper.

The title of e13 should be taken literally, What's Past Is Prologue.
posted by nathan_teske at 2:49 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]


I felt that this season's resolution was rushed and anticlimactic. That said, it was rushed and anticlimactic in a pretty Star Treky way, so I was fine with it.

My partner and I have a silly hypothesis that Season 2 begins with a re-cut of The Cage as a recent flashback. In our minds, this episode is called "The Zoo".
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 5:00 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Disagree. Klingon pop music is entirely metal.

If they're listening to hoo-man music at all, I could imagine them listening to that particular kind of sad old country music that's kinda the blues but for honkies. Sitting around drinking too much blood wine... "His children were many and hungry, and their crops were going to waste, but yet she abandoned him! LUCILLE HAS NO HONOR!"

...unless outsiders are watching. Then, yeah, it's all metal all the time.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 5:02 PM on February 12 [14 favorites]


How was the Empress planning to get off Qonos after/before setting off the bomb if not via Discovery, which would seem likely to be ruled out if it turned out she was blowing up Qonos rather than doing drone surveillance?
The Emperor's actions were sanctioned by Starfleet -- I think she had every intention of leaving via the Discovery, possibly after shooting a bunch of mutineers complaining that genocide is bad, or whatever. It seems unlikely that she would have been left behind even if the mutineers won -- the Starfleet way is to put war criminals on trial.

If that fell through, I don't doubt that she would have been able to hijack a ship somewhere in the Hive of Scum and Villainy. It's unclear how quickly she would have needed to arrange that -- the simulation showed the planet blowing up pretty quickly, but it could have been sped up.
posted by confluency at 5:48 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


I do wonder if the Empress brought a copy of the Defiant data banks into the Prime Universe. Could come in handy, some day.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:08 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Yup, the theme music at the end made me cheer as well. And when Burnham was giving her speech, she nearly recited the entire song. Ahh, Enterprise. As Scotty would say, "N C C One Seven Zero One. No bloody A, B, C, or D."

Pander away writers, I love it.
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 6:15 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


I reject the notion, seen both here and in other internet fora, that a plot twist must come as a surprise to the viewer to have narrative value.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:54 PM on February 12


I have to agree but that may be a lost battle with the way people seem to lose all sense of reason if they catch a glimpse of a "spoiler." It is madness. FFS, there's even research that shows a spoiler actually enhances enjoyment of show. People are weird.
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 6:22 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


>Also, it’s “bowline” like the bow of a ship, not like a bow and arrow uggghhh

I winced, too. But to be fair, the scene in question takes place about a century and a half from now. There are a few words that have changed pronunciation since, oh, 1870.

>Also the scene at the Federation may have been corny as,

For the edification of people in southern Ontario, or mefites who watched the beta release of President 45, I am 95% sure that scene was shot in a lightly redressed and digitally enhanced Toronto City Hall's Council Chamber. Where Rob Ford once stood and bellowed about subways, Michael Burnham later orated about the ideals of Starfleet.

>they know who's first officer under Pike.

We sure do! Or do you mean the science officer? In a way, I find it kind of funny that if they hew to continuity, some long-forgotten Star Trek characters like Colt and Boyce might have more dialogue and characterization in the 21st-century than they ever got in the rejected first pilot. Of course, there was a Tyler on the bridge, too, but a skittish network made Roddenberry change the character name from Ortegas because, as I noted once before on the blue, I Love Lucy was still in syndication and the network suits were keenly aware that audiences of the day would be baffled by having two different Latinx characters on television.

>These positive notes are why I will be looking forward to S2 even though I don't really feel like this is exactly what I wanted.

I will be looking forward precisely because this is what I didn't know I wanted. It would have been far too easy to do another generic spaceship show with a couple of Star Trek name drops and call it done. Indeed, that was what happened with seasons 1-3 of Enterprise.

>I still want to know more about Lt Cmdr Daft Punk.

This Daft Punk? That was (apparently) Narwani on the Shenzhou, last seen being helped off the bridge during the Battle at the Binary Stars. You may be confusing female quasi-cyborged bridge officers --did you mean Airiam? As hinted earlier, I myself am from southern Ontario, and I am tickled to death that Airiam is portrayed by Sara Mitich from my ancestral homeland of Hamilton. If TOS had the performer of some minor character (Kyle, say, or Leslie) was an actor from my city, I would have been amazed and likely would have brought it up in every conversation I had from ages 7 to 13.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:27 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]


I will be looking forward precisely because this is what I didn't know I wanted. It would have been far too easy to do another generic spaceship show with a couple of Star Trek name drops and call it done. Indeed, that was what happened with seasons 1-3 of Enterprise.

This is a fair perspective, and while I obviously have issues with Discovery, I admit this is a pretty strong showing for the franchise in general:

- S1 TNG: actually a franchise low point, IMO. This is probably the Trek content I'm least likely to ever voluntarily watch again.
- S1 ENT: I've seen the entire run, and I still couldn't tell you much about what even happened here. I don't remember ENT making me mad as much as some of the other shows, but only because it failed to make much of an impression on me at all. So... your point well taken.
- S1 VOY: not as bad as TNG S1, but it still had some serious 'I will burst a blood vessel with rage' moments.
- S1 DS9: I enjoyed it better than Discovery, but not by as big a margin as I might have expected.
- JJ reboot: [furious comments about the desecration of my childhood go here].

I'm pickier with Discovery mostly because I'm pickier about television in general these days. They're clearly trying very hard to offer something cool here.
posted by mordax at 8:11 PM on February 12 [7 favorites]


We're talking about Klingons here, right ? Because that would totally work on Klingons, as the episode showed us.

Not buying it. What's stopping any one of those Klingons from killing L'Rell ASAP and stealing her iPad and declaring themselves the leader of all the houses based on being able to control a hypothetical bomb that no one has seen? Exactly nothing. The Klingons I know are not going to let a piece of technology grasped by a nobody stop them from brawling for dominance. It's a ludicrous bit of plotting that relies on the sudden docility of the Klingon Houses in the face of... the possibility of death by click, no questions asked.

Yeah, no.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:21 PM on February 12 [5 favorites]


I really appreciate the judicious use of Michelle Yeoh to maximum effect.

Jayne Brook as Adm. Cornwell was a strong part, but the complexity available in being both Philippa Georgiou and Emperor Georgiou was fantastic and I think that Yeoh made a hell of a lot of it.

Agreed - the Klingon Reunification was completely implausible (in the timeframe depicted). It had got to have been a shorthand for a lot of stuff that would have been boring because they involve characters and factions that we haven't even seen before.

Taken on face value, that's a bit of a slap on the face of ST canon - or a promise to show how the pre-OST Federation-Klingon war really went down on the Klingon side.
posted by porpoise at 8:53 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


That was...weird? But good?

It's weird because they essentially put a bow on the entire first-season arc, and it feels like they're setting up Season 2 to be a totally different show. They even (apparently) mothballed the spore drive, at least for now – which is fine, because "the protagonists have a magic get-out-of-jail-free card" is never good for narrative.

And it's good because, well...I liked Season 1 enough to watch 15 episodes of it, but GrimdarkTrek was getting old. I'm very glad to see glimmers of ClassicTrek's humanism asserting themselves. Cautiously optimistic?

P.S. I want to smoke weed with Tilly
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:23 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Also, it’s “bowline” like the bow of a ship, not like a bow and arrow uggghhh

I had to rewatch, but as far as I can tell, he said the "bow" part of bowline correctly (/boʊ/). Despite its etymology, it's not commonly pronounced like the bow of a ship. I did notice that he did pronounce the "-line" part as the less common /laɪn/ instead of the more common /lɪn/.
posted by zsazsa at 9:58 PM on February 12 [8 favorites]


and it feels like they're setting up Season 2 to be a totally different show

I've run across a couple of interviews where the original intent of the reboot was to experiment with a different era of Trek for every season that they got, but might not be able to get that.
posted by porpoise at 10:19 PM on February 12


I was disappointed with the finale for all the reasons repeatedly mentioned previously.

Overall, though, I'm happy. This is a good showing for a ST S1, and I really wanted something that (somehow) straddles the line between grimdark Trek and classic, optimistic Trek and also mostly serialized. And, progressive in its values. It would be churlish for me to complain. I (barely) remember watching TOS when it aired in the late 60s; the show means a great deal to me.

"We sure do! Or do you mean the science officer?"

Honestly, as much as I love Spock, I'm not so much interested in another iteration of him as I am of seeing more of Number One. They can sort of right an ancient wrong by giving us quite a bit more of that character.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:32 PM on February 12 [12 favorites]


What's stopping any one of those Klingons from killing L'Rell ASAP and stealing her iPad and declaring themselves the leader of all the houses based on being able to control a hypothetical bomb that no one has seen? Exactly nothing.

Exactly. I'm still not buying hydrobomb ex machina, no matter what handwaving is done about whatever happened off-screen. I feel like we can take it as read that having an explosive primed to blow up a planet is not a generally sustainable or desirable solution.

Also, upon later consideration, while everybody was up there getting their medals, what about Tyler in absentia? Kidnapped by the Klingons and tortured and later implanted into an enemy, dualing for consciousness, providing information on the enemy and generally doing his bit for the war effort, plus participating in the "oh no you don't, Georgiou," and he doesn't even rate a mention? He was still a Starfleet officer even if he later swanned off into the sunset. Speaking of which, what a dumb goodbye. An insider with material knowledge of Starfleet's most advanced capabilities, and Starfleet's cool with letting him go play sidekick to the leader of the until-recently mortal enemy's army? L'Rell I could buy just disappearing, it would be releasing a POW, but Tyler? And what a waste that Voq's otherness/outsiderness got one line to Burnham and done.

This episode was like four episodes crammed into one to the disservice of multiple storylines. That's what's I found so dissatisfying about it. And it's really a letdown because it's the first episode of the season that didn't leave me with "I want to rewatch this, immediately."
posted by sldownard at 10:35 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


and it feels like they're setting up Season 2 to be a totally different show

Yes, they might as well have called the season the Battle of the Binary Shows since the problem with it was there were two different visions in what the season was going to be and they didn't entirely compliment each other. While the season kept Fuller's more gothic framework and some of his interior design, they decorated it with Pop art, in a manner of speaking, which makes some of the key moments rather jarring for having a different manner and tone than much of the rest of the season. The end keeps much of the ideas that were present in the beginning, but it radically alters the method of payoff for those elements and it seems to untether more than few to allow them to float free into the second season rather than tying them as seemingly intended to the completion of this one.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:57 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


The good news for those who liked this episode and Past is Prologue, the conclusion of the Mirror Universe sub-plot, is that next season should provide more of the same kind of writing absent many of the so-called "grimtrek" elements, which were largely Fullers.

Fuller's Discovery was conceived as a dense set of interlocking allegories that would have resolved themselves more as story structure, without being made entirely explicit. Berg and Harberts went with detailing the ideas explicitly and emphasizing the more "fun" popular elements to the franchise, fitting the characters into more conventional trappings.

Next season will likely follow that "lighter" idea of Trek, more interested in playful use of archetypes than in more "serious" allegory and symbol. It'll likely be more of a piece than this season for not having to deal with Fuller's heavier elements, for good or bad though depends on what you liked or disliked about this season and how sturdy their new frame will prove.

Personally I was somewhat amused, but also disappointed by this episode since it doesn't entirely fit with most of what came before in ways that actively counter some of the significant values the show tries to espouse. It does so without seeming to realize it, so I'm sure it isn't seen that way by everyone, but there are a lot of smaller elements that don't align with the larger ones in ways that are dismaying, mostly around Tyler/Voq and the Klingons and the allegory built around them connected to a real world perspective.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:22 PM on February 12


I um a hummh

I

er I uh

hmmm.


AGAIN WITH THE SHIP REDESIGN AARGH

otherwise my thoughts are basically not coherent critiques yet, think because the episode was kind of a mess?
posted by mwhybark at 11:23 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


So what's Zachary Quinto up to?
posted by Start with Dessert at 12:16 AM on February 13 [4 favorites]


so, we weren't the only ones who noticed the Jetsons car noise as the camera zoomed on Paris, right

also I feel like the Federation sign outdoors (the one with the row of circles on it) reminds me of something from space exploration (the Arecibo message? Something to do with Voyager?) but I can't place it. Maybe it just looks like crop circles.
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:17 AM on February 13


What's stopping any one of those Klingons from killing L'Rell ASAP and stealing her iPad and declaring themselves the leader of all the houses based on being able to control a hypothetical bomb that no one has seen? Exactly nothing.

I thought it was pretty clear that only L'Rell could control the bomb. If you kill her, the bomb goes off. And you don't have to see the bomb, everybody can perform a scan of the core of the planet to find the bomb.
posted by Pendragon at 12:20 AM on February 13 [4 favorites]


I thought it was pretty clear that only L'Rell could control the bomb.

Yes, it was "coded to her bioprint". Burnham and Georgiou have a whole discussion about it and we see L'Rell touching the pad.

It's unclear whether this comes with a dead man switch, but at the very least nobody can set off the bomb except L'Rell, which makes the iPad worthless in anyone else's hands.

So the equation becomes "do I want L'Rell to have the power to blow up the planet, or do I want to kill L'Rell, make it impossible for anyone to blow up the planet, and restore the status quo"?

It may seem like a no-brainer that removing the threat to the planet would be a good thing. But the other Klingon houses may not like the status quo either -- each of them is trying to win out over the other houses, and it hasn't been working very well for them so far.

They may consider unification into a powerful empire under L'Rell a better second prize than going back to bickering and whittling each other down, even if nobody wants to admit it. This gives them a face-saving reason to stop fighting and rebuild their resources -- and who knows what's going to happen later?

The bomb is just an excuse for everyone to agree to stop fighting. It doesn't have to remain a threat indefinitely to be an effective path to unification.

I do think that the scene would have made more sense if after the leaders of the houses burst out laughing we saw them getting information whispered to them by aides, or looking at printouts on panels, or something. Because OK, she's waving a detonator around; so what? What is that? What's she threatening to blow up?
posted by confluency at 12:57 AM on February 13 [4 favorites]


On the one hand I think about what would happen if someone showed up today at the UN with an iPad claiming they would blow up the world unless everyone unites under them. I can't think of a way that resolves favorably for the pad holder, even assuming they can prove beyond any doubt that they are telling the truth. That is some James Bond villian shit and the entire world will turn against you to do whatever it takes to prevent the explosion of the world and also preserve the status quo.

On the other hand, it's entirely possible that the Klingons all secretly want to unify, but can't risk the loss of face involved in working with their rival houses. The war against the Federation was working since it's honorable to fight alongside your rivals against a common for, I guess maybe it's also honorable to roll over when someone threatens to blow up all your shit?

"T'rell unites the clans with the Sword of Damocles" is one of those plot points that sounds good on paper but absolutely doesn't hold up to the least amount of scrutiny.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:48 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


It also fails to explain why she doesn’t unify the houses AND crush the Federation, which has no more leverage over her the second they turn the pad over.
posted by gerryblog at 4:21 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


Everything about the episode felt like an attempt to sweep season 1 under a rug. Tyler is gone, Mirror Phillipa is gone, the klingon storyline is wrapped up in an unearned package. The pacing was all over the place in this season and this finale is definitely a symptom of that. Spending 30 minutes goofing around in generic sleazy alleyway zone then packing in everything else in at the end was an odd choice.

It was classic trek lawyering a problem away, but so many of the people in the scenario acted utterly without reason. Why does Phillipa just walk away and again, why do they let her just walk away. She's a damn planet level genocidal maniac. I was hoping for Michael to have to have to overcome her guilt from getting prime Phillipa and take her out to save Qu'oonos. That would have been a more satisfying end but it doesn't allow for her to come back once a season as a recurring threat/someone they need to work with on occasion.

Why does L'rell just go along with Burnham's plan, she was a true believer for a racial purity cult leader. I guess that's just forgotten now. How does L'rell walk out of the room alive? (a single line about a dead man's switch would have solved a lot of problems there) Again this is an issue of pacing, a little more time spent on L'rell putting the high council in it's place would have gone a long way, but I don't think the writers could make it work so they chose brevity.

If they only have 100 year old maps of qu'oonos that they got from vulcan spy ships, why does no one seem to care that there's a bunch of humans on the planet? Furthermore, why not buy some maps from the Orions? I'm sure they'd be willing to deal.

Finally the end felt cheap and fanservice-y. I don't even care about timeline issues, it was just pandering.

Stray thoughts:

-I thought Tilly was Wesley but with emotional understanding instead of magical tech powers, but I think they're steering her closer the Data mold, but using awkwardness instead of failure to understand emotion as room for comic relief. There wasn't much reason for her to be on the planet besides that function.

-Clint Howard cameo as weird dirtbag orion is fun and gives me hope that somehow we can get Jeffery Combs in the show somehow.

-The most important revelation of the episode: There's a klingon word for "Croupier"
posted by Ferreous at 4:51 AM on February 13 [4 favorites]


So many flaws, aaaah! Throughout I kept wondering when we were actually getting to the fireworks factory and then I learned that there wasn't one. It was a surprisingly talky ep for Disco, but not for Trek at large, and I think that's why I didn't like it so much. It was 18 episodes in one, wanting to rush past resolving everything to say "Season one is done and no arcs!" Hell, even the spore drive was taken care of with one line from Stamets. Come on! Come on. It was like a one-line expository plotfest in there. "New captain!" "War's over!" "No spore drive!" "Michael's a Commander!"

The build-up to Phillipa and the bomb was, for the most part, satisfying. I enjoyed seeing the undercover mission and felt the pacing and plot was enjoyable. But once the L'Rell thing happened it completely fell apart for me. And Phillipa is just going to... hang out? Sure, a blood-thirsty Terran in a different universe seems like a great idea (will Cornwell ever bear responsibility for that?) That said, it's consistent with Starfleet's not-great security we see in the future!

Appreciated the Bread and Circuses shoutout by Phillipa. No idea why the "last week on" was in Klingon; made me wonder if we were going to have a L'Rell POV for the whole ep.

If I think about the season, I feel it's above average — definitely above average for S1 Trek. I genuinely loved the now-gone (!) Lower Decks-like focus on Burnham, and the willingness to work with plot in a very different way than prior series did. The acting has been amazing throughout, and I really like the cast. But the same series that said "We're changing the Klingons entirely!" also is saying "Hey, look, it's the Enterprise!" (And yeah, a Tribble was thrown in, but it was... different.)

It challenges in some areas but rests on its laurels in others. My sincere hope is that the Enterprise distress call thing is, like, a one-episode plot or an arc setup and we move on from there. I started watching and enjoying this show because it felt unlike prior Treks, and I personally feel the all-around character development isn't strong enough yet for me to think, "Sure, I'll watch another alien of the week show with these folks."

Tilly is far and away my favorite character. I'm glad they're mostly finding a balance of a strong yet human and accessible character in her. Lastly, Still Mostly Unknown People on the Bridge (and whomever the CMO is) deserve more, I say.

Good show, and will see what S2 brings, but much more worried about it.
posted by hijinx at 5:26 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one who feels like Discovery (the ship) lacks the sense of place that past Trek ships have had?

Like, you got to know the bridges of the various Enterprises (and Voyager, and Deep Space 9) like the rooms in your own house. Same for the corridors, crew quarters, turbolifts, mess hall, Geoffrey's tubes, engineering... Each had a distinct layout, vibe, and purpose.

But the different areas of Discovery barely feel like places. It's all just gray backlit by blue neon. It feels flat – like a painted backdrop that the characters are standing in front of, not spaces that they're occupying and interacting with.

I'm pretty sure it's the CGI. The space shots leave me feeling the same way – they just look like video-game cinematics.

A certain degree of visual stylization is to be expected in any show. It can even be good for the narrative – it helps us immediately tell a Federation ship from a Klingon ship, for example. But CGI has made it way too easy for art directors to stylize the fuck out of everything.

Like, is the entire Federation just a bunch of dark rooms with busy blue Tron accents? Do people in the future hate comfort and style? Are textiles and task lighting obsolete?
posted by escape from the potato planet at 5:58 AM on February 13 [9 favorites]


Lorca didn’t even have a chair in his ready room.
posted by hijinx at 6:05 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


Honestly, as much as I love Spock, I'm not so much interested in another iteration of him as I am of seeing more of Number One. They can sort of right an ancient wrong by giving us quite a bit more of that character.

Oh yeah. When Roddenberry was given a do-over on the series pilot (by Lucille Ball no less) he was forced by the network to choose the alien or the woman (Majel Barrett) for first officer. Hopefully we'll get more Number One, including a name.

I sort of saw the foreshadowing of L'Rell and Tyler into their current roles a few episodes back, and thought it was telegraphed once they introduced the Handwavium Genocide Maguffin last episode. The HGM is both clumsy as heck and classic Trek. Since it's a prequel, we know that some sort of government capable of controlling the houses will crystallize around Kahless. And they spent an entire episode on having Tyler witness the Gospel of Mirror Voq.

I'm undecided on the use of the evil bisexual beat here. Mirror Georgiou is a clear upgrade beyond the last use of that beat with Mirror Kira. On the other hand, it is cheap and lazy writing.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 6:13 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


I had to rewatch, but as far as I can tell, he said the "bow" part of bowline correctly (/boʊ/). Despite its etymology, it's not commonly pronounced like the bow of a ship. I did notice that he did pronounce the "-line" part as the less common /laɪn/ instead of the more common /lɪn/.

Yeah, it's always been pronounced "bolin" or "boline" around me, including by the former navy man who taught me the knot.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 6:28 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


Pronunciation drifts with time, as is apparent from reading Shakespeare's verse. Were Robert Louis Stevenson to see any adaptation of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde he might be surprised to hear a name he would have pronounced 'Jee-kull' be rendered as 'Jekel'.

(Discovery connection: Shazad Latif played Henry Jekyll in season 3 of Penny Dreadful, which was unique among adaptations of the story in not actually featuring Mr Hyde, save as the weakest of weaksauce references.)
posted by Major Clanger at 6:50 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


It feels flat – like a painted backdrop that the characters are standing in front of, not spaces that they're occupying and interacting with...I'm pretty sure it's the CGI.

For what it's worth, the interiors of Discovery are all actual sets; the windows are greenscreene, for CGI, but even the majority of the computer panels and displays are all actual, physical props. This is clear if you google (or Bing!, I guess) around for backstage photos. The show has a very different visual style than prior Treks, but on the production end of things they're still shooting in real, physical spaces and interacting with real chairs and real (well, real fake) computers.

It may still feel flat: apparently, it did for you. But if it does, it's not because they're leaning on CGI to fill in the world; it's because of choices in directing, or cinematography, or set design, &c. There was (for example) a lot of soft-focus shots in this particular episode, which isn't a traditional Trek staple -- during Burnham's speech, the camera lingers on her and the cadets in the background are reduced to a blurry splash of color. The camera has also been used a lot more dynamically -- tilted angles! panning shots! people running around! -- than in, say, TNG or TOS. It's a more cinematic Trek than we've had before.

I'm not exactly a fan of this -- I think they've been a bit over-reliant on camerawork to add drama to scenes that really needed better writing -- but that's definitely a subjective call. But on the CGI front, I've been thrilled by its relative restraint, and my hat is off to the set designers and the prop people.
posted by cjelli at 7:14 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


As a finale: I'd echo the idea that this really needed to be two hours, or else be a two-parter -- or else put off resolving some plot arcs into the next season entirely. I still found it an enjoyable mess, because the cast did a fantastic job at finding the fun in a largely nonsensical story.

We got the predicted mutiny to bookend the season...even though the show never really engaged with any of the ethical issues wrapped up in attempting genocide beyond 'this is bad.' Well, okay: that's not wrong, and I'm glad the season wasn't darker. But there are so many loose ends and issues unexplored -- letting the person who attempted genocide just walk away? Leaving the admiral who authorized the genocide...still in charge?

We got a resolution to the war, which felt exactly as unearned as the Federation's near-loss did a few episodes ago -- I don't think skipping ahead six months did the show any favors in that regard, and it feels, in retrospect, like they just wanted to wrap this up as fast as possible they could do a different Season 2. There might have been production-side reasons why that made sense, but as a viewer it undermines the whole rationale for setting this season during the war: we skipped the entire period where the crew would have had a chance to talk Trek-style about how the war was going and what to do about it, and shortcutted to a 24-style need to immediately fix a problem and damn the consequences. And then immediately, a mutiny, which felt like it was more for the mirroring of the original mutiny than something that made sense. I also can't help but think that the mutiny here would have been more meaningful had we spent time with the rest of the bridge crew (MU Detmer has still had more spoken lines than Prime Detmer!)

We got a resolution to the Evil Philipa plot that...happened, I guess? If putting her in command seemed like a violation of the Federation's principles, it feels like letting her walk away was also a violation of the Federation's principles: Actual Cannibal Phillipa Georgiou should really be in a brig somewhere, and letting her walk away was an expediency in service of an immediate need that is exactly the sort of thing that Burnham keeps saying Starfleet and the Federation are against (even though she keeps making the expedient choice herself, which I do like as a character note).

We didn't get any resolution to Culber's death, which still feels entirely gratuitous and unneeded. Even if he comes back because ~mushrooms~ I will be hard pressed to see killing him as anything but a huge mistake; it wasn't dramatically earned and it plays into some bad tropes. We barely got a chance to know him; and then, he didn't even really get much of a send-off.

We got the Enterprise, which was fun fan service but I had to roll my eyes at -- let Discovery be its own show! It clearly doesn't yet know what's it's supposed to be (a thematically deep show that relies on imagery over narrative? a serial narrative that shows the ethical issues inherent in war? a personal story, or the story of a group?) and closing the season with a callback to TOS felt exactly wrong, and if it's true that Kurtzman was building this season up to that shot, it really speaks to everything I find wrong with Kurtzman's approach to Star Trek. A seen-but-unmentioned Tribble is good fan service; Clint Howard as a sleazy Orion is good fan service; OH HEY LOOK THE SHIP'S CODE IS NCC WHY IS THIS CODE TRANSLATING SO SLOWLY OH IT'S A 1 AND OKAY HERE'S A 7 YEP YOU GUESSED IT HERE'S THE FUCKING ENTERPRISE EVERYBODY HEY YOU LIKE THE ENTERPRISE RIGHT LOOK AT HOW IMPRESSED EVERYONE ON THE BRIDGE IS AT IT BEING THE ENTERPRISE as the way to dramatically end the season is...exactly what I was afraid of when they announced that Discovery was going to be a prequel of sorts. I want this crew to be having their own stories; I wanted this season to end on them. And instead, we have the season ending on Pike's Enterprise, a dramatic moment in which the tension arises entirely out of the audience's 4-th-wall-breaking meta-knowledge of Star Trek as a television show and pop culture phenomenon.

That clearly landed for some people, and I don't want to dampen anyone's enjoyment of that, but to me it was like being at a concert where the last few pages of sheet music had been accidentally swapped in from a different piece, and suddenly we're at a crescendo that's not only not a continuation of what we've been listening to but is actually from a different composer entirely. Maybe it's nice music, but it's not what I came here for.

I'm still really looking forward to season 2, mostly on the strength of the cast, but I would also describe my expectations as 'tempered.' Looking at the highs of this season, it clearly has the potential to be great, and I'm hoping it does deliver. The growth of some characters that I started off disliking -- Saru, Tilly, Stamets -- into people who would I happily watch a whole episode of (and the continued strength of Sonequa Martin's Burnham) does bode well for where they're going.
posted by cjelli at 7:50 AM on February 13 [11 favorites]


I do wonder if Michelle Yeoh or Jason Issacs would have taken their roles if they didn't have the potential to be long-term/ongoing.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:26 AM on February 13


That's interesting about the sets and props, cjelli – thanks. I'm honestly surprised – many of the interior scenes feel very CGI-heavy to me.

I'm curious to see where the show goes from here. It took TNG a few seasons to really hit its stride; I'm willing to give Discovery some time to find its voice. I do hope they flesh out some of the neglected crew (such as Owosekun, Detmer, and Pollard). And while I appreciate the new emphasis on long arcs, I'd also like to see the occasional baddie-of-the-week or bottle episode to break up the Big Epic Drama. It's called Discovery, no? Let's see them discovering some stuff.

(Airiam annoys me every time she's onscreen, though. The Kelpians have grown on me, but I really don't like most of the non-human designs. I gave the new Klingons a chance, and I still dislike them. Trek has always tended toward a sterile, clean SF aesthetic – as opposed to the junky, grimy style of Star Wars or Blade Runner – but that shouldn't extend to humanoids or other organic stuff. Even the ridgey, lumpy Klingons just look like they're carved out of plasticine.)
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:27 AM on February 13


Oh yeah. When Roddenberry was given a do-over on the series pilot (by Lucille Ball no less) he was forced by the network to choose the alien or the woman (Majel Barrett) for first officer. Hopefully we'll get more Number One, including a name.

Wasn't there also a subtext of "Letting him cast his mistress in the show is a bad idea"? (see Inside Star Trek by Herbert Solow and Robert Justman)
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:27 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Oh, and: I'm thinking that Phillipa will become a recurring nemesis, sort of like Q in TNG (but, you know, more grimdark).
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:29 AM on February 13


And instead, we have the season ending on Pike's Enterprise, a dramatic moment in which the tension arises entirely out of the audience's 4-th-wall-breaking meta-knowledge of Star Trek as a television show and pop culture phenomenon.

To me, the season ended with the medal ceremony, and the Enterprise reveal was a cliffhanger to bring back viewers for season two. For all we know, the Enterprise may be only there to transfer a person or cargo to Discovery for delivery to Vulcan.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:31 AM on February 13


Anyone know where the episode title came from?
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:40 AM on February 13


Oh, one continuity / logic snafu:
"Have we cleared the Sol System?"
... asked while Neptune (?) is clearly visible ahead of the ship on the main viewscreen.
(And then answered with "Yes, we have" which is self-evidently not true.)
posted by cjelli at 8:52 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


Bowline: Rhymes with "rollin'"


You know- I bet Jadzia Dax probably got pretty good at whatever that game was that Ash was playing
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:57 AM on February 13 [5 favorites]


I reject the notion, seen both here and in other internet fora, that a plot twist must come as a surprise to the viewer to have narrative value.

I have to agree but that may be a lost battle with the way people seem to lose all sense of reason if they catch a glimpse of a "spoiler."


That's actually going a bit farther than I meant to go. I think surprise can be an enjoyable aspect to a plot twist, and therefore I try to be respectful of those who prefer to avoid spoilers, even though I tend not to mind spoilers for 95% of the media I consume.

I was objecting to the notion that a plot twist must be surprising in order to be good storytelling. I think a key example is classic Twilight Zone. Once you've seen a handful of episodes you can figure out that nearly every episode ends with a twist, and once you're primed to expect a twist, you can often predict what it will be as you're watching an episode you haven't seen before. But in my experience, predicting that twist makes it no less satisfying when it's revealed, if it's done well, as it often was in The Twilight Zone.

YMMV on whether the much-anticipated twists in Discovery were done well, but I don't condemn them solely on the fact that much of the fandom (at least those who follow internet discussion) expected them.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:01 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


Is it really a plot twist or is it development and foreshadowing? I think in multiple cases, the chess-pieces for the endgame were developed in plain sight.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 9:45 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


I'd also like to add that I dislike the Enterprise showing up for a similar reason I was immediately put off of Star Trek: Enterprise. By taking a ship that clearly wasn't originally going to be called Enterprise and changing the name they were trying to cash in on unearned pop culture appeal, essentially saying "The reason this show will be good is because it has a ship called Enterprise in it" after Deep Space Nine and Voyager each proved in their own way that Star Trek doesn't require an Enterprise.

Now here we are again, with the show saying "Season two will be good because it has THE Enterprise in it" and again trying to cash in on unearned pop culture credit. At least NuTrek was bold enough to say that this is both The Enterprise and a story you already know retold. Both this and STE tried to capitalize on the name Enterprise without committing to the actual Enterprise.

Now, I could be wrong, they could spin the Enterprise's appearance into something fun with a good story, but since this isn't The Adventures of Discovery and Enterprise it's not going to be the show going forward. Sure, it's fun to think about the implications of revisiting the original pilot's crew with Pike and Spock and Number One again, but wouldn't that time be better spent exploring Discovery's crew? I feel like this show has put way more effort into plot twists rather than fleshing out the crew with the little human moments that every previous Star Trek was good at. It makes the people seem as flat as the world.

I really don't want to just rag on Discovery, I really do think it's interesting and a strong first season for a Star Trek, but it's missing the important human elements that are central to not just Star Trek, but every good Sci-Fi show.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 10:07 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


On reflection, I think running into the Enterprise would have been a potentially touching end to the series as a way to metaphorically pass the baton back to TOS...but as a season finale (or a season two preview) it's weird.
posted by cjelli at 10:20 AM on February 13 [4 favorites]


I'm willing to give Discovery some time to find its voice.

Most of the Treks have lower quality initial seasons. Given that this is 2017/18 my expectations have changed considerably in terms of television. Discovery is the only mainstream show I've watched in recent years and sadly it shows. I would have appreciated at least a slight effort to quality modern television instead of following the revised Doctor Who model of story which, if that continues into season 2, will turn me off completely but I'll give it a chance.

I was reminded of Our Man Bashir, most particularly Dr. Hippocrates Noah's Bond villian plan to laser various points deep in the Earth's mantle to apparently shrink the surface and flood it all except Mt. Everest. It was intentionally over the top and ridiculous of course, being set on a holodeck (without the safetys of course, are holodeck programmers not subject to QA?) and yet hear on Discovery a similar plot isn't supposed to be a joke.

For all we know, the Enterprise may be only there to transfer a person or cargo to Discovery for delivery to Vulcan.

Why would this require issuing a distress call?
posted by juiceCake at 10:52 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]


I figured that since Sarek and Mudd were both featured, that we'd see the Enterprise eventually. Nimoy the Enterprise herself were the only points of continuity between "The Menagerie" and the first TOS episodes aired, and I don't particularly mind as long as it's just a season cliffhanger and Pike is sent on his way.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 10:54 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Until the opening episode of Season 2 makes me face reality, I'm going to imagine that it was NCC-1764 and the USS Defiant, just before it headed off into Tholian space...

...Or it *was* the Enterprise but 'we have rescued your Captain Lorca'
posted by ewan at 12:07 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


James Whitbrook, io9: In Its First Season, Star Trek: Discovery Asked Hard Questions It Never Really Wanted the Answers to
Going into Star Trek: Discovery, fans were told to expect something new. It would be dark. It would be modern. It would push the boundaries of where Star Trek had boldly gone before. Now that we’re at the end of Discovery’s first season, we know it did take a few steps in those directions—but every time it did, it retreated back the minute things got too uncomfortable.
And under cover of the Mirror Universe, a lot of the promise of the first half was undone by the shallowness of the second half.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:24 PM on February 13


The other thing that made no sense was if the klingons had already resorted to asymmetrical warfare (cloaking and suicide bombing stations) why would blowing up their homeworld stop that sort of thing?
posted by Ferreous at 1:15 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


And under cover of the Mirror Universe, a lot of the promise of the first half was undone by the shallowness of the second half.

Yes! But, I'll counter that the premise of Lorca crossing universes (accidentally or not) to get Burnham in order to overtake Georgiou is a great one. It explains why things weren't from Lorca's point of view, as one would expect in a Trek series. It explains away a lot of the secrecy and structure in the first chapter of the show. But man, once he got back home it was resolved in basically one episode.

Time management is a huge problem with the S1 plot.

I'm still bitter about spore drive being explained away in one line, and so weakly.
posted by hijinx at 1:40 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


Am starting to rewatch Discovery, looking very specifically at Lorca's expressions, given what we learned about him.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:43 PM on February 13


I'm of the camp that the show would have been infinitely better if they never got into the mirror universe. I don't see any upside of them doing it besides lazy writing for providing black and white morals.
posted by Ferreous at 1:51 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


I don't see any upside

Killy, though.
posted by cjelli at 1:53 PM on February 13 [16 favorites]


As a side note, one of the slides in After Trek said that the writers had been considering making 525600 spore jumps as callout to Anthony Rapp's role in Rent. Not sure if that was serious or joking.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:54 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


I still find Tilly too Mary Sue-ish to really like that much. She's either the just so dang awkward or amazingly prescient emotional genius. Mary Wiseman plays it well, in fact almost everyone plays their roles well, but the writing isn't there yet.
posted by Ferreous at 2:00 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


For all we know, the Enterprise may be only there to transfer a person or cargo to Discovery for delivery to Vulcan.

Why would this require issuing a distress call?


This is another thing that bugged me. How much better would it have been if Discovery came up on an Enterprise badly crippled and in obvious distress? THAT would have been a season cliffhanger I could get behind. Floating up on Discovery majestically hardly seems like Priority One Distress Call worthy. Maybe the problem is their communications array is damaged in a way that scrambles their signal and causes their fleet identification number to transmit dramatically.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:14 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


I still find Tilly too Mary Sue-ish to really like that much. She's either the just so dang awkward or amazingly prescient emotional genius. Mary Wiseman plays it well, in fact almost everyone plays their roles well, but the writing isn't there yet.

... agreeing 100%, I'm going to throw this out as well... Tilly is a cadet. On a ship where there seem to be four-five members of senior staff... three or four recurring background officers of varying rank... but before commissioning, the cadet (one of many, as a few throwaway lines note) is trusted to:

- Be the primary backup/assistant to the Chief Engineer on a fleet-and-civilization-saving-brand-spanking-new-propulsion-system, providing seemingly-exclusive mission-critical information and support
- Drop all of that when ChEng goes comatose, instead of ... continuing her job and leaving medical tasks to the docs...
.... the list goes on before...
- She's given a snap-commission and placed on a command track. ... I get that it's a call back to earlier in the series, but, um, what?

(yes, since you ask, I also groused at Specialist Burnham calling the Admiral instead of the discussion being spearheaded, you know, the actual Captain of the ship...)
posted by Seeba at 2:29 PM on February 13 [3 favorites]


She's a much better version of Wesley, who was also a Mary-Sue.
posted by liquorice at 2:44 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


She's the emotional version of wesley's tech prodigy shit.
posted by Ferreous at 2:51 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


I bet Klingon Pop music is surprisingly bouncy

We got your K-Pop right here
posted by otherchaz at 4:04 PM on February 13 [4 favorites]


Two promotions in a single episode? Usually ST series budget somewhere around two promotions for the whole run of the series. What absurd display of verisimilitude is next? Frocking? People working on their quals? Inspections of ship and/or crew? Captain's Mast and Non-Judicial Punishment?
posted by Sunburnt at 5:04 PM on February 13 [4 favorites]


My favorite line of the night was when Tilly called Burnham and said something to the effect of "I'm pretty high right now but..."
Plot holes and the like never really bug me about Trek, it's the relationships among the members of the crew and the cool space visuals that I look forward too.
Yeah, this season could have been better for lots of reasons, but it was Trek, and it was on for 15 episodes. It had strong competent women, the love interests were persons of color, there was a same sex couple, and a sub-plot dealing with PTSD. It was funny at times and dark at times, exciting and cool. I liked it, and so did my teen-ager.
posted by OHenryPacey at 5:12 PM on February 13 [11 favorites]


I enjoy complex crew relationships too, but this show felt less like a web of relationships than Michael at the center and everyone's relationship to her. TBH, that's one of the biggest failings of the show, no trek has really had such a singular focus on just one character before and it's maintained the focus at the expense of developing other characters.

When you consider the fact that everyone is clamoring to see more of characters like Detmer or Owosekun even though we know next to nothing about them it says a lot about the dearth of actual character development.
posted by Ferreous at 5:24 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


Okay, so the very first season of a new series felt to you like everyone was cast in relation to Burnham, even though Culber barely interacts with her, L'Rell barely interacts with her, and Cornwell barely interacts with her until the end.
It was her story, it was the first season and not everyone is clamoring for any one thing.
I would have been less happy with a mission-of-the-week format with redshirts getting killed and silly contrived crises all over the quadrant just in service of introducing a myriad of bridge characters.
Saru is interesting; Tilly is great comic relief ; Stamets and (hopefully) Culber don't in any way rely on Burnham for relevance.

No Trek series has run less than 3 seasons, so there will be plenty of time to flesh out the rest of the bridge crew, and it's not as if the writers were in a position to say "holy cow people are clamoring for more Airiam lets quick write an Airiam episode to appease the masses. "
They told the story they wanted to tell and explored quite a few relationships, enough to keep me entertained anyway.
posted by OHenryPacey at 6:49 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


If they only have 100 year old maps of qu'oonos that they got from vulcan spy ships, why does no one seem to care that there's a bunch of humans on the planet? Furthermore, why not buy some maps from the Orions? I'm sure they'd be willing to deal.

This is the point that has stayed with me overnight. I mean, WTF? How many wildcat starshippy rootin tootin' Earther space buckaroos can there actually be out there outside of Federation space, citizenship, and control? The Maquis may have been inspired by both Corsican partisans and the hybrid culture known as the Metis, but a birch-bark canoe and some traps cost a hell of a lot less than a two-man warpship, I would think.
posted by mwhybark at 7:06 PM on February 13 [3 favorites]


ok, I LOVED IT

this was the best trek i could imagine

Today I learned:

There is no planet called "chronos".
posted by rebent at 7:48 PM on February 13 [3 favorites]


No Trek series has run less than 3 seasons

No Live-Action Trek anyway. Technically, the Animated Series did get two seasons, but with how few episodes the second one got, it should barely count as half of a season. (And when you total up the episodes for TAS, it's only a classic TV season's worth anyway.)
posted by radwolf76 at 8:47 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]


I think I'm enjoyed Discovery on the whole even though it's kind of a glorious mess-it's an ambitious glorious mess! Ironically my favorite plotlines were early on, the Mudd episode, the Vulcan dad pain flashback shit. And apparently those weren't originally going to be there, in Fuller's version, which was going to get us to the mirror universe right away. Meh?

I feel like this could really be trek in the spirit of the original with a modern spin, like looking a bit more deeply at identity and all of that. While I squeed and got goosebumps when the Enterprise showed up, what I'm really interested in is who the next Captain will be, and where the show will go next.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:52 PM on February 13 [3 favorites]


The Maquis may have been inspired by both Corsican partisans and the hybrid culture known as the Metis,

I suspect also by the Maquis.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:31 PM on February 13 [7 favorites]


For as weird, rushed, and over-dramatized as this episode was, one thing I really appreciated in it was that it revolved around several women who pass the Bechdel test more than once.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 10:21 AM on February 14 [10 favorites]


For as weird, rushed, and over-dramatized as this episode was, one thing I really appreciated in it was that it revolved around several women who pass the Bechdel test more than once.

Stuff like this really resonates with me, in a way I didn't realise it would. Something similiar happened at the beginning of one of the previous episodes, almost all the scenes before the credits contained no white people interacting or white men. It was so refreshing. And as much as others may say, it doesn't feel forced or tokenistic at all.
posted by liquorice at 2:07 PM on February 14 [5 favorites]


I think the last shot of the bridge contained three white guys - a Vulcan, a Kelpian and a gay human. Other than that, people of colour.
posted by crossoverman at 7:05 PM on February 14 [2 favorites]


There's an interestingly diverse range of opinion about Discovery (here, at least). I'm kind of curious if there's a link between how "into" Trek you are and how much you dislike Discovery, or if I'm just imagining that (it seems like the people who like it the least are mostly comparing it to previous Treks). For the record, I've never been much of a Trek guy and I'm enjoying Discovery.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:21 AM on February 15


I think is is possible, and to a degree probably intended. They salt the episodes with a bunch of canon-candy, so people like me will nerd out about if it's legit or canon abuse, but deliberately separate the canon elements from the heart of the story in order to maximize accessibility. This is definitely part of what the nuTrek movies are trying to do, mostly to my distress (sorry, Simon; good try but puhleeze a: less action, more talk b: don't fucking blow up or redesign the ship).

So if I'm bummed by shallow canon abuse and ANOTHER ship redesign while you are interested and intrigued, that would be mission accomplished, I think. I'll watch and argue with Trek probably until I die, so they don't feel like they will lose me as a viewer.
posted by mwhybark at 3:37 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]


I don't think there's a straightforward correlation between previous level of trekkishness and appreciation of Discovery. I've seen all kinds of reactions from both old and new fans. I think it matters a lot more how and why you enjoy the previous iterations of Trek.

I love Deep Space Nine. It was my first ever fandom of any kind. I obsessively got into it as a teen despite living in a country where only the first three seasons ever aired. I reconstructed the events of later seasons from online discussions and fanfiction, and I only got to see the whole thing as an adult.

I also like TNG, and recently watched the whole thing, but it never resonated with me in the same way. I haven't seen all of Voyager, and never found the concept very appealing, but I'll probably watch it someday. I'm ambivalent about TOS, and although I tried twice to give Enterprise a chance I thought it was awful.

My favourite things about Star Trek are the space opera politics, and the skill with which the actors embody believable characters and take the story completely seriously no matter what absurd technobabble the writers put in their mouths.

I like the new movies. I like them as their own thing. I don't think that their existence takes anything away from the previous canon, and I think it's possible to enjoy both of them.

In the same way, I love Discovery. I have thoroughly enjoyed the first season despite its flaws. I love all the characters and I want to see more of them. I love being at ground zero of a brand new Trek fandom.

I find previous Watsonian efforts to reconcile various eras of set design and makeup decisions tiresome. I'm completely on board with new movies and series redesigning ships and aliens as they see fit instead of clinging to established visual continuity. I think the augment virus was a midichlorian-level mistake and I hope it never gets mentioned again.

I have realised that I 100% do not care if at some point in the future Discovery goes completely off-piste and becomes a full-blown reimagining rather than a canon-compliant prequel, whether the writers stick a Watsonian AU figleaf on it or not. If it means that they can tell a really good story which would not otherwise be possible, I'm all for it.
posted by confluency at 4:23 AM on February 15 [7 favorites]


Half of being a Trekkie is recognizing that the franchise fails as often as it succeeds. It's not a fun fandom to be in if you're cheese-intolerant, and we all have our own list of episodes and seasons that we just pretend didn't really happen, along with episodes that we enjoy because they're just so ridiculous. (My favorite on the latter list is one where Wesley Crusher comes back from vacation to face his deepest adolescent fear: all the adults around him enjoy sex.) Discovery hasn't hit either list yet.

I find previous Watsonian efforts to reconcile various eras of set design and makeup decisions tiresome. I'm completely on board with new movies and series redesigning ships and aliens as they see fit instead of clinging to established visual continuity. I think the augment virus was a midichlorian-level mistake and I hope it never gets mentioned again.

I take the somewhat heterodox view that TOS, the early movies, and TNG to a lesser extent should be better viewed as more like "theatre in space" rather than the "window to another time" vision that's come to dominate science fiction cinema later. The expository language about the props always involved more information than the props themselves. On the one hand, Spock's ability to infodump complex conclusions about biology or physics by staring into a featureless white light often was ridiculous. On the other hand, that exposition foreshadowed and inspired human-computer interface and portable computing innovations that took decades to implement. So if the props have progressed from wedge-shaped pads and blinking buttons through touch-screen mockups and now 3D gesture interfaces, I say bring it on.

The same is true for the aliens. The biggest flaw there is not the forehead makeup, it's that they're a bit too obviously participants in a Socratic dialogue from the screenwriter's decade.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 7:01 AM on February 15 [4 favorites]


As someone who likes what I consider the best of Trek, in more an anthology like way, where the good episodes can be quite good, but the bad ones pretty horrible, Discovery promised something more than it ultimately delivered, which was fixing some of the worst elements of "bad Trek", primarily in dealing with race/species.

Discovery started out by suggesting it was going to delve into these issues and had even pointed towards a meaningful resolution, but abandoned it for old school Trek hijinks in the end for seeming fear of losing viewer interest. Treating the Klingons as a serious concern involving racial dynamics that had some connection to clashes between the US and the Middle East was always going to be fraught with potential problems, but some of the initial ideas were strong in suggesting the similarities between some Western hegemonic/genocidal history and that of Muslim states, where the violence is shown as coming from inculcated values over the perception of the other, the values promoted in each society, and the history between the groups. Discovery's opening episodes set that as the course the show would follow, in the Mirror Universe part of the story they provided the balancing elements to further that subtext, but then they inserted storylines that veered from the idea and in the end almost set themselves directly against it through some crudeness of writing.

Imagine, for example, a person of mixed heritage who's adopted a new identity in some Western country after coming from a Muslim ruled country hearing the line "I only see (your Western persona" meant as a compliment. It's an ugly concept that works against the very ideas they claim to be fighting against in the very concept of the show. Michael selects a leader for the Klingons, in L'Rell, which too has echo in Western powers choosing leaders most suited to their needs. Ash/Voq is largely sidelined after being built up as a figure of great significance to the Klingons even to the point where they shunt him off with his sexual torturer, in the eyes of Ash, with Voq all but completely sublimated. That is no way to even remotely suggest cross cultural understanding, where for Ash to be good, Voq must be nothing more than a memory. That's all old Trek white liberalism coming back to not challenge the viewership by treating the different races/species as really equal. hell, they even managed to hat a new race like the Ferengi with the Orions, Clint Howard's character denying meaningful responsibility by using his race as excuse? Classy.

But, yeah, it's only a story, Klingons need to be monotyped to maintain their importance of place within Trek culture, the same as the Vulcans and all the other races. They all have to have cute little hats and it's Starfleet's job to make sure they're wearing them correctly. It's comforting that way since the viewer can more easily align themselves with the team that knows the right answer, Starfleet, as a stand in for our own certainty of beliefs without worry over too strenuous a challenge. That attitude has always been a problem for the series if you try to actually take anything they do seriously. They sometimes manage to make some good episodes despite that, but they can't seem to, or don't want to, really take their premises seriously enough to get away from it. Rewarding viewers storytelling prejudices certainly can lead to popularity, that's Hollywood all over, but it isn't a good way to reach a more meaningful end.

It's great that Discovery is taking surface representation more seriously, though Voyager wasn't all that bad on that front, with only two white guys in the main cast, but that was hard to notice given how white the show was in writing. Even better is that Discovery is the first Trek that really seems to care about women's perspectives, where even Voyager wasn't very good with that despite having Janeway as captain. It was only the actors themselves, Mulgrew, Lien, and Ryan and Lisa Klink and sometimes Jerri Taylor as writers that seemed to emphasize any difference from the older, more sexist Treks. Discovery actually does consistently deliver the goods in that area and that is something worth celebrating as is much of the craft involved in making the show and the general excellence of the cast. So too is Stamets and Culbers relationship, even as it seems apparent Culber was killed off only to give the writers some new avenue to draw viewer interest in later seasons as it led to nothing of much significance here.

As I mentioned above, the next season will be one from this team of writers, not complicated by coming from an entirely different perspective that Fuller was bringing to the show. I don't know exactly how Fuller's Discovery would have gone, but I can roughly see its outlines in what we do have and it provides a better arc than this season had. Fuller has had problems himself in the past, with some of his decisions over sexual identity and the politics of sexual difference being more than a little questionable at times, so what we ended up with here may be an improvement on what we would have had, but he also has shown a strong propensity and talent for paring down the essence of story to its core and finding a more fantastic, almost fable like truth within it.

The second season of Hannibal, for example, was brilliant in that way, even as it wasn't at all "realistic". By trying to "fix" Fuller's tendency in that direction, Discovery erred by making the show feint towards a more "realistic" vision, only to make it more incomprehensible in the end from any other than briefest analysis. They instead made a page turner story, looking to please audiences with ungrounded twists, callbacks to old Trek, and use of slightly revised tropes at key moments. I mean they had both a slow clap and a "Rudy" in the final few episodes, but at least in the end they proved a little adventurous by choosing a non-violent, minimal confrontation solution, even as it was a bit silly too.

The following seasons will be more aligned between story and writers, where the conflicts are of the same design as the writer's ideas and dialogue, so one can hope that proves a better design than this season, where there were many good elements that couldn't be fit together satisfactorily. But then, I'm only speaking from my perspective as a white guy, so even as my interests are in seeing better representation and handling of ideas on race, gender, sexuality and other issues, I can only see it through my own understanding of such things and others may certainly disagree with any of the points I've raised above and perhaps speak to it from a more meaningful background than my own.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:44 AM on February 15 [8 favorites]


I'm kind of curious if there's a link between how "into" Trek you are and how much you dislike Discovery

I've been a pretty hard-core Trek fan since I started watching TOS reruns as a kid in, probably the late 1970s, and I think Discovery has been great. To the point that, if it can keep up its quality for another 4+ seasons it might surpass DS9 as my favorite entry in the franchise.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:50 AM on February 15 [3 favorites]


Read a new-to-me take on fandom in a finale review ( Star Trek: Discovery ends the season with a bang (and a whimper) - Annalee Newitz , Ars Technica )
Coda: Formalism vs. Realism in fandom

I was careful to say "certain kinds of fans" because I think at this point that Star Trek fandom has divided into two groups. Really, this could apply to many highly elaborated fandoms, but we're talking about Trek here. To borrow from terms usually used in legal analysis, these two groups are formalist fans and realist fans.

Formalists view all of Star Trek as arising out of one, originary text: Star Trek: The Original Series. A few of the movies might be allowed to serve as originary texts too, depending on how orthodox the fan is. All other Star Trek properties, from books and movies to TV series and games, are judged based on whether they adhere to the rules laid out in ST: TOS. Formalists want to see characters, ideas, and places from the originary text. They often appeal to an idea of "real Star Trek" in their analyses, by which they mean "any Trek narrative which stays true to the originary text of ST:TOS."
...
Realist fans, on the other hand, like to reinvent and reinterpret the originary text. They want to apply the Trek rules to novel situations, with new kinds of characters and situations we've never seen before. Certainly a lot of TNG represents realist fandom, as do Deep Space Nine and Voyager. All three series took the show into the future, and reinvented a lot of the fundamental rules for the franchise. Replicators made the Federation a post-scarcity culture, and the Prime Directive became much more robust. We met radically different civilizations, our point-of-view characters became much more diverse. There were androids and shape-shifters, but also a black captain, a female captain, and a number of mixed-race or mixed-species characters.
In this framework, I think I'm more a realist than a formalist, though I can't say if that's what I am, or what I want to be.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:43 AM on February 15 [4 favorites]


Rapp and Cruz have an interview in this month's The Advocate. I thumbed through it, and they unfortunately don't address the "bury your gays" criticism at all, which is weird. Presumably the interview was conducted before that episode aired, but I would think there was time to go back for some clarifying statements...

OTOH, Rapp's closing remark is about passing through darkness to get through the light, which is similar to the other comments I've seen from the cast and crew about Cubler's death.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:59 AM on February 15


I don't know if that formalist/realist applies to me. My Trek touchstone is the TOS episode "The City on the Edge of Forever". That one episode is what I want from ST.

I feel like the divide is more between those who prefer TNG or DS9, with a few of us old people TOS fans to complicate things. TNG was too ... something ... for me, overall.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:33 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]


Hm, Annalee's framework is interesting, although she strawmans a bit by putting words into the mouth of her "formalist" construct. I'd quibble with her terms too, since formalist and formalism have a pretty well-established meaning in many criticisms, and that meaning has to do more with careful use of structure and structural elements than the content of the structure or structural elements.

I think she also misses the boat by drawing the wagons around just TOS. What about TAS, despite its limnality in canon? Same core cast, many of the same writers, some of the episodes were originally pitched for TOS. TNG, for me, is unquestionably the best Trek. For many others, it's DS9. And yet, many of the things I really eyeroll about - in this thread, it's been the redesign of NCC-1701 - do follow her description.

Like gus, though, I think about the entirety of Trek as theatricl, absolutely. So I'm not really bothered by Klingon makeup changes or uniform redesigns. I've been writing about Trek fan film for literally two decades now, and the core concept of many - not all - fan films was the breakthrough concept that these characters are mythic. Which is to say they can be recast. TOS and TNG episodes can be staged as plays, or new episodes with recast crew can be written as musicals, or obsessively mimetic new television-like episodes can be mounted as if it were the fourth season of TOS. Schematic gestures to set design and uniforms or super-mimetic recreation both work fantastically well and interest me, very often, more than the studio productions do even when they adapt fan film's biggest break through by recasting.

One of my favorite readaptations has been the no-budget plays that are mounted here and in Portland under variations of the name "Trek in the Park," by different and unrelated troupes. Here in Seattle, the core trio of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are played by female leads, as females. The uniforms are black jeans and single-color tee shirts. There is no bridge set, just chairs arranged in the familiar triad. Scotty is played by a profoundly body-challenged man in an articulating wheelchair, and my god, that casting note never fails to blow my mind, because it projects this character out of our time and into Trek time.

So, yeah, just stick a spoon or something to a Cardassian's forehead and I'm good!
posted by mwhybark at 10:46 AM on February 15 [7 favorites]


misses the boat by drawing the wagons around

Great Scott, what have I written? Please forgive me. Loses the trail? Leaves the baggage to the raiders? Ah well
posted by mwhybark at 10:48 AM on February 15 [6 favorites]


About Tilly's hair, I wondered if she put on the murder wig to go down to the planet, but Mallory Ortberg researched it better for the Vulture recap:
I know what you’re going to say: “But Mallory, Tilly put her wig back on in this episode. That’s got to count for something, right?” And to that I say: “Did she?” Yes, Georgiou pulled at her hair, pronounced it “horrible,” and in the next shot Tilly was wearing her hair straight. But look again! The Mirrorverse wig was a sleek, blown-out strawberry blonde number that was at least a few inches shorter than her natural hair. I must have rewound the Mad Max Hallway Fashion Show scene four times, and I’m positive Tilly just ran a straightener through her own hair, threw in an over-the-ear braid, and called it a day.
Also: "Animals have homes, famously! Like, birds live in nests, and foxes live in dens, and everything! What are you talking about?"
posted by Pronoiac at 1:46 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]


I'm not a big fan of "real trekkies love/hate Discovery." The love/hate dichotomy is far to simplistic, and real trekkies can agree to disagree on just about any Trek production. Even that damned Enterprise theme.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 2:03 PM on February 15 [8 favorites]


So I've been having a hard time articulating this but one of the things that bothers me most about Discovery is that despite ostensibly being about federation values winning in the end it luxuriates in violence, torture, rape, murder, and genocide. It does this with a leering eye for the audience to enjoy. Yes, on paper it ends with federation triumph, but there was so much gratuitous violence for the sake of violence meant to titillate the audience it feels that the conclusion is less important than the path there. A comparable scenario is Law and Order SVU, the show revels in showing you rape and murder, but then says "no that stuff is bad, but lets watch it in excruciating detail"

The fact that the ending where morality prevails felt so extremely truncated compared to the bulk of the season furthers this point.
posted by Ferreous at 3:27 PM on February 15 [7 favorites]


I am a long time Trek fan and I don't think the length of my interest in the series or fandom really affects my core opinion of this show - that it's inconsistently (and sometimes plain badly) written. I could nitpick (or celebrate) continuity. I could complain that I'd prefer "planet of the week" exploration stories. But I think I tend more realist - that each series can be a different take on the universe. Even the JJ-verse movies can be their own thing and co-exist, even if I only like one of them.

I don't like unsupported twists in any narrative outside melodrama, to be honest. And that's not my favourite genre in any case. I'd prefer not to watch another series where anyone could die; I already have Game of Thrones for that. I wish I could believe these characters more, but I don't really understand what drives most of them.

As others have said, Trek fans are all different. We all have our own favourite series - and those are all different enough that you can't say people who love DS9 are more likely to like Discovery than people who like VOY.
posted by crossoverman at 9:33 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Ferreous: The worst example of that is possibly one of the better episodes of this season. Mudd was rather gratuitously upgraded from a comic misogynist-hustler-fool to the equivalent of Freddy Krueger.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 5:28 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


I don't know anything about FanFare, so this may be in the wrong place, but I have a general question about the series: can I watch it with a 7-year-old?

We watched episode 3 ("Michael boards the USS Discovery, and quotes Alice In Wonderland a whole lot.") and it didn't seem too too much for him -- he liked it a lot and he keeps asking when we can watch some more -- but maybe that was a milder episode?
posted by pracowity at 9:24 AM on February 16


I'd say no tbh. It leans into graphic violence (and sexual violence) pretty dang often.
posted by Ferreous at 9:32 AM on February 16 [2 favorites]


There's also swearing and, in the later episodes, some practically bare butts and implied three-way sexytimes.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:35 AM on February 16


I, as a seven-year-old, would probably have been morbidly delighted to watch something with this level of violence, gore and sex, but it would have been extremely awkward with my mum or dad right there next to me. So I'm going to go with no.

You could maybe pre-watch the episodes, and then fast-forward through the naughty/scary bits?
posted by confluency at 11:25 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


You know your kid, but this would be too scary for my 7-year-old.
posted by bq at 11:29 AM on February 16


Sexual violence? In Star Trek? I guess neither of us will be watching it.
posted by pracowity at 12:44 PM on February 16


Sexual violence? In Star Trek? I guess neither of us will be watching it.

I personally would not describe the show as heavily featuring sexual violence, but YMMV -- perhaps Ferreous can elaborate on what they were referring to, specifically.

I can think of three potentially problematic sexual encounters shown (briefly) on screen. One of those encounters is portrayed as non-consensual at the time. The other two can be considered non-consensual retroactively, for varying but similar reasons. Only one of them involves violence (maybe?) -- unless you count violence that happens shortly afterwards but is not directly related.
posted by confluency at 1:33 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


My kids (8 and 10) and I sat down together to watch the first episode because, new Star Trek! They noped out of it pretty quick. I would not watch any of this show with kids.

They do like The Orville, however...
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:37 PM on February 16


Journalist Russell Holly on Twitter to the official Star Trek CBS account: "do y'all talk about that one time Burnham was holding the phaser backwards and no one decided to re-shoot the scene or nah"
posted by zarq at 6:34 PM on February 16 [3 favorites]


I just binge-watched the entire season. Overall, I like it, but of course it is imperfect.

One thing that really stuck out was that the writers seem to have put themselves on a really short [TECH] allowance—like 30 seconds per episode (I haven't timed this, but that would be an interesting exercise). This seems related to a broader imperative: keep the story moving. I get that stopping the plot for a problem-solving diversion with lots of treknobabble will not appeal to everyone, but taking away the problem-solving feels less Trek-like (really, less TNG-and-after, I guess). The [TECH] does help put meat on the bones of the world that we're in for those of us paying attention. In Disco, they don't want to bother doing that, and what little technology they do throw in doesn't seem to be part of a cohesive world.

There are also ridiculous plot devices dropped in to keep the story moving. Lt. Stamets (aside: can they get Alan Tudyk on the show as his evil twin brother? With a goatee?) injects himself with DNA from a space-tardigrade so he can control cosmic mushrooms and navigate the ship. Hands are waved and somehow this Just Works, but also, somehow nobody is all that fazed by this, even his doctor SO until the process practically kills him, and even then after he recovers, he's plugging himself back into the glitterdome (Disco, indeed).

Starfleet taking morally dubious actions…I think I'm OK with. Disco predates TOS in the Trek timeline, and maybe we are watching Starfleet's moral stance evolve. Maybe. Maybe we are also watching it evolve a less cowboy approach to science and exploration, although still…come on. Space tardigrade DNA injections?

Known space seems to be crowded with people tortured by their difficult pasts in order to create dramatic conflict in a Trek-acceptable way. It seems laid on thick, but I do like that better than everyone on the ship being perfectly well-adjusted, which is not just dramatically boring, it's not human.

I have no idea WTF the Enterprise is doing at the end of Ep 15, and that seems like some ham-fisted fan-service. Arguably, so is setting half the season in the Mirrorverse, although it worked for me.

Random observations: Dialog is good as Trek goes. Saru gets the best lines, Burnham the worst. I love having Michelle Yeeeow (I believe that is the correct spelling) wandering around loose—I predict she will be this series' answer to Q. The ship is dumb-looking and the uniforms are awful, but I loved Babylon 5 and those uniforms were even worse, so whatever. I will tolerate the visual affront. I know on TNG they would go out of their way to avoid showing warp-trails through the windows because it was an expensive effect—it seems to have gotten a lot cheaper. I love the opening credits.

Verdict: works for me as part of the Trek canon. It feels like it's catering more to an adult audience, and not just because they dropped the F-bomb in one episode. It's definitely catering to binge-watchers, which is the world we live in today.
posted by adamrice at 9:35 PM on February 17


One thing that really stuck out was that the writers seem to have put themselves on a really short [TECH] allowance—like 30 seconds per episode

Yeah, I agree and as something I never ever thought I'd say, this Trek really needed more exposition. Excessive explanation was something I thought was built into the very DNA of Trek prior to Discovery.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:46 PM on February 17 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I dunno. As a finale this made no sense to me, both in terms of what actually happened and in terms of what they decided to spend their time on (to wit, comic relief in the Tatooine cantina with Blade Runner splashed on it). I'm still not buying the solution to the Klingon war in the slightest - for one thing, I'm not sure what motivation L'Rell would have to call off the attack on the Federation when her forces have conquered 80% of it already and she's literally just been tortured by them (well, mirror Georgiou) in her prison cell. Also, all-out war against the Federation for more than six months and nobody questions what a bunch of humans are doing on the Klingon homeworld asking questions?

Overall I thought this season was a promising start, but it really dropped the ball on some of the more interesting ideas it had. Lorca, especially, seemed like he was going to turn out to be a surprisingly interesting character until he was revealed to have a mustache-twirling Master Plan. I think the show wanted to say something interesting with the mirror universe stuff - the mirror universe has always contained an element of "there but for the grace of God go I" and it can serve as a way to interrogate the fundamental values of the Prime universe, and thus the show itself. I can imagine an episode where Lorca reveals to Burnham that he is Terran, but has been won over by their personal connection and how he's observed her and the rest of the crew handling problems and wants to stay on as captain, and then we slowly learn what the conditions are like in the MU that led to its current state and watch him struggle to integrate two separate sets of moral codes.

Instead, in a single episode they made Lorca into a revolting creeper and vaporized him. And then they tried to have their cake and eat it too by using Georgiou as the new version of "how far will the desperation of war push Starfleet ethics?" It just felt lazy to me, and I agree with the others on here that it all seemed terribly rushed.
posted by whir at 10:24 PM on February 17 [5 favorites]


One thing that really stuck out was that the writers seem to have put themselves on a really short [TECH] allowance—like 30 seconds per episode

Yeah, I agree and as something I never ever thought I'd say, this Trek really needed more exposition. Excessive explanation was something I thought was built into the very DNA of Trek prior to Discovery.


Hear, hear! "Black Alert" is poor replacement for "re-route power through the auxiliary buffer array!" or "reverse the polarity of the dilithium chamber!" If you want to walk the walk, you have to tech the tech.

Known space seems to be crowded with people tortured by their difficult pasts in order to create dramatic conflict in a Trek-acceptable way.

Known Space is crowded with Kzinti. It is known.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:11 AM on February 18 [4 favorites]


I can imagine an episode where Lorca reveals to Burnham that he is Terran, but has been won over by their personal connection.
Frankly, that would have been too triumphal for this show, but they did strike a glaringly discordant note with him: He was revealed as the xenophobe's xenophobe, but even then at the end, he spoke to the multi-everything crew of Disco and told them what a great crew they were and how he was tempted to ask them to come with him. Really? Does not compute. A lot of hints were dropped that he was not who he seemed to be, although some of that appeared at first like another example of PTSD-Trek.
posted by adamrice at 7:12 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


To me, Discovery and the final episode echo what I love about TOS, TNG and DS9 - the choice to do the right thing and not allow reactionary fear/hatred to guide the final actions. The speech is a big part of it to me. It's part of why I'll forgive the theatricality and the continuity mistakes and the hand-wavy magic tech, where in other SF I won't be as tolerant. Because to me Trek has always been about being your best self, regardless of universe and circumstance.

But then I also see this show as being a guiding light for IRL and anyone fighting for a nicer world - this season has been a big obvious reminder that just because a group say they follow certain principles doesn't mean that they actually do. A lot of organizations and people out there could use this reminder these days.
posted by A hidden well at 2:09 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


Speculation/Spoilers for Season 2.

Bonus Scene Confirms Major Fan Theory for Star Trek: Discovery, and Hints What's to Come.

An unused scene (from the end of the last episode) revealed at WonderCon . I know we don't do the, Next week on Star Trek teasers, but there isn't a next week and I thought some might find it interesting. Peruse at your own risk
posted by ActingTheGoat at 3:45 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Ugh.

from the article: "Bringing Mirror Georgiou into their organization doesn’t seem that bad of an idea"

you know what? it is THE WORST POSSIBLE IDEA, considered from an in-universe perspective. Sure let's bring our Eeeeevil Genocidal Imperatrix on board the unnamed plot device, itself also a terrible idea and one that is only topped by the terribility of the very concept of the Temporal Integrity Commission.

Oh, show. Don't be that show, show.
posted by mwhybark at 10:30 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Is it a worse idea than anything else Section 31 does, though?
posted by tobascodagama at 10:19 AM on March 26


Section 31 recruiting Mirror Georgiou makes perfect sense to me. Section 31 is the ruthless anti-Starfleet -- I have often speculated that some kind of Operation Paperclip-esque shenanigans featured in its founding.
posted by confluency at 11:32 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


When I saw the black Starfleet badge, my first thought was of Section 31.
posted by adamrice at 2:12 PM on March 26


Honestly, it would make a lot more sense if section 31 showed up and straight up assassinated/oublietted mirror Georgiou as a loose end but that wouldn't allow for recurring guest episodes.
posted by Ferreous at 3:51 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Mirror Georgiou is likely to have extensive intelligence about civilisations which were conquered by the Terran Empire, some of which is likely to be as invariant across universes as the cave systems of Qo'noS, and therefore relevant to Section 31's interests. I can see how the temptation of controlling such an asset would outweigh the more pragmatic option of removing her from the board entirely.

Edit: it's also entirely possible that assassination or detainment would have been plan B if she had said no.
posted by confluency at 4:26 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


Section 31 may be as canonical as the Temporal Integrity Commission, but they were terrible, misguided inclusions in the show from day one, er, initial appearances, er, what multiversal thread is this anyway? Each organization's mystical handwavy plot-time-space powers are literally godlike and also therefore definitively outside the realm of an open society, which the Federation was explicitly conceived as. Fuck Section 31, I will fight them in the streets. Or at least give up on a show dumb enough to make them crucial villians.
posted by mwhybark at 1:04 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]


Just saw The Death of Stalin last night. Jason Isaacs plays Marshal Zhukov, and he appears to have directed some of his sense of humor through Captain Lorca to portray the character.
posted by mwhybark at 2:27 PM on April 8 [1 favorite]






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