Star Trek: Short Treks: Calypso
November 9, 2018 3:09 PM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

A marooned astronaut (played by Aldis Hodge) wakes up on a seemingly deserted starship (voiced by Annabelle Wallis).
posted by Mogur (26 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This one pretty well wrecked me. The themes of loss, futile longing, and grief - coming so soon as they do after my own loss - made it hard to review the episode as an episode.

Nevertheless, I want to try: it does feel like a tight piece of writing, and is probably the purest "bottle" episode I've seen on any show in a long time. Bottle episodes are notoriously all about cutting costs for an episode, but here the very limited cast and darkened set only add to the feeling of desolation that seems to fill every scene. It wouldn't have been nearly so effective with a larger cast or brighter sets.
posted by Mogur at 3:14 PM on November 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

That was tremendously enjoyable. These short treks are far better than I'd expected them to be.
I'm looking forward to the new season. Though I'd be pretty happy with just a bunch of short treks of equivalent running time.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:34 PM on November 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Where could I see this, should I want to? (I do, I just like proper form in questions.)
posted by Samizdata at 6:11 PM on November 9, 2018

I like this Craft guy. He's going to be a new character on the regular series, right? (And has Aldis Hodge bulked up? I don't recall seeing him look so built.)

Still not a fan of the DISCO shirts.

Two for two in excellence. These short episodes are a great idea.
posted by fuse theorem at 7:27 PM on November 9, 2018

Well, it's either STD or Disco. Which floats your boat?
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 8:53 PM on November 9, 2018

I like this Craft guy. He's going to be a new character on the regular series, right?

Time travel shenanigans would need to be involved, if he were. Discovery had been parked in that spot, waiting for her crew to return for a thousand years, according to the dialogue in the episode. This places it somewhere in the 33rd Century, two centuries later than the time period that Daniels from Star Trek: Enterprise's Temporal Cold War story line was born in. Daniels' future was previously the high water mark for furthest point in the future shown on screen in Trek, a record now held by this short episode.
posted by radwolf76 at 9:30 PM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Finally saw this, and yeah: that was unequivocally good. (Also reminds me how much I want a long term anthology show set in the Trek universe.)
posted by mordax at 11:23 PM on November 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Daniels' future was previously the high water mark for furthest point in the future shown on screen in Trek,

Not quite; Voyager's "Living Witness" takes place in the 31st century. And the final scene of "Living Witness" takes place an indeterminate amount of time (but at least six years) after the rest of the episode. Memory Alpha speculates that it could be as much as 700 years after the rest of the episode, which would place the final scene in the 38th century.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:12 AM on November 10, 2018 [5 favorites]

Well, it's either STD or Disco. Which floats your boat?

Neither. The producers knew STD would be a non-starter and Discovery was probably already trademarked because of the TV channel. So maybe the name Discovery wasn't a good choice to begin. However, now they're stuck trying to make "DISCO" seem clever even though it doesn't relate to science fiction or any of the previous Star Trek TV series at all. In many viewers it probably just generates an eye-rolling reaction.
posted by fuse theorem at 5:37 AM on November 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh: I've been calling it DSC in situations where DISCO would be unwelcome.

I mean, it's ENT, not STE. VOY, not STV, etc.
posted by mordax at 9:50 AM on November 10, 2018 [4 favorites]

This is, again, excellent if a little depressing. I like Aldis Hodge and remember him fondly from 'Leverage.'

Good point, mordax! But I'm still going to get a tickle calling it STD instead of ST:DSC.
posted by porpoise at 4:54 PM on November 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

This was a very interesting episode. It really didn't feel like Star Trek at all, more like something from a sci-fi anthology series that happened to be using the sets from Discovery. You could have, for instance, told me this was a backdoor pilot for a TV adaptation of Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch books and I would have totally bought it.

It's good. Honestly I've come to accept that the thing I like most about Discovery is how different it feels from previous Star Trek. How many episodes of Star Trek have been such an intimate portrayal of loss and hope? You couldn't do this in a normal episode at all because the traditional A plot/B plot formula would undermine it. This is a perfect use of this format and I am thankful for it.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:50 PM on November 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

I felt like it was a *little* cliche; feminine computer falls in love with a mysterious stranger feels like a thing that's been done a lot. But, it was well executed, and I did appreciate that it did not revert to the normal cliche of feminine computer gets jealous and traps the mysterious stranger, forcing him to escape.

I am more curious as to what circumstances would cause the ship to lie dormant for a thousand years. They've tied the writers' hands a bit here: They can't blow up the ship any more; we know that it survives for a thousand years (barring time travel nonsense). Which is interesting and good; the movies have gotten a little too into blowing up whichever Enterprise they have.
posted by JDHarper at 2:56 PM on November 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Unless it's the mirror universe Discovery.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:03 PM on November 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

This episode was lovely, much nicer than the last Short Trek. Much more tightly written with fewer things going on. Also only two characters, neither of which we knew before. (Which is a little strange; is Zora-the-ships-computer supposed to be a character we recognized? The voice actress Annabelle Wallis hasn't done any other Trek, so I guess not.

I agree with JDHarper this felt a little cliche, specifically too much like the movie Her. And I wasn't wild about the whole Funny Face thing. But still a nicely poignant story, well told. Not positive what makes this Trek, it felt a bit more like Twilight Zone to me. Not that that's a bad thing.
posted by Nelson at 1:46 PM on November 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

Wow. Did not expect a Michael Chabon-penned Fred Astaire crossover episode. This really cements for me that DISCO is really up for trying things that are not traditional Star Trek.
posted by rikschell at 4:32 PM on November 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

I was primed to hate this because the last one was so bad but was pleasantly surprised. It was a bit of an aha moment when Chabon's name rolled in the end credits, so they hired some talent in the writing department.

This show still has the same problem with bad sound design that plagued all of season 1. Why do lights have to make so much noise every time they get turned? Do lights have to make noise in the future? If I lived in this universe, I would just walk around in the dark because the loud ascending sci-fy noises that every light on the ship makes is just too annoying. vvrrrrrRRRRRPP!

Also suffered from the same problem as previous episodes of using previous TOS sound fx at the wrong time: when Craft finds the bridge all the lights turn on (and make various light-turning-on noises) and then there's a modified version of the sonar ping sound. TOS used the sound to support the storytelling, a sensor is being used to visualize something outside of the ship on the view screen. It was good sound design because it was a sound modern viewer's brains identify as a sonar to support the action on screen. DISCO uses the sonar ping sound to say "this is the bridge of a ship in the Star Trek universe" which is fan service and dumb sound design.
posted by peeedro at 11:17 PM on December 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was more intrigued by the devolution of the Federation. First, why was Discovery abandoned for a thousand years? Second, what happened to the Federation where you have a war that Craft is fleeing? His reference to good, old times hints that there is bad, present times and third, human colonization has expanded within the thousand year sleep of Discovery. The ship being informed of this hints that she has not received any external information during sleep. When does the AI of Discovery venture out?
posted by jadepearl at 1:03 PM on January 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

Great to see Aldis Hodge's range, creepy to see the ship alone a thousand years in Discovery's future! And the "What's a Tuesday?" punchline was fun.
posted by brainwane at 7:16 AM on February 5, 2019

What some of you are taking for cliche, I took as allusion/adaptation. This little short is a version of the Odyssey, per the title. Discovery/Zora is Calypso, and Craft is Odysseus.

I found it quite moving to see such an old story adapted to such a far future time. Here's a new Odysseus, still trying to get home from the war, back to his wife and son. Here's a new Calypso, kinder than the original. It made me want to see the rest of Craft's Odyssey. Of course, I'm also wildly curious about why Discovery was abandoned. I wonder if that's an endpoint we'll ever get to, or if it'll just remain a dangling thread of a possible future.
posted by yasaman at 2:50 PM on February 6, 2019 [4 favorites]

I just rewatched this and it's still lovely. I need to find myself a man like beefy Aldis Hodge who will learn to dance like Fred Astaire for me.

It's also quite creepy, the subtle imprisonment theme. Most shows with this trope play it up strongly, there'd be scenes of Craft trying to plot an escape. Not here, he just accepts that the ship won't let him go on the shuttle, almost makes the most of his new comfortable prison.

Thanks to yasaman for pointing out the (obvious in retrospect) Odyssey connection.
posted by Nelson at 10:49 AM on April 9, 2019

Doesn't Odysseus go by "Craft" or "Clever" (metis?) or a similar punny name at some point? Maybe with the Cyclops, or when he arrives back at Ithaca?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:32 PM on April 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Well, with the latest episode of Disco this piece and all the shorts become very relevant. We now know why Disco is 1000 years ahead BUT how did the human civ. get into warfare and how long has Disco been marooned with the Sphere data? It has entered consciousness, does not wish to destroy sentient life but has stopped collecting data. Interesting.
posted by jadepearl at 8:04 PM on April 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

I wrote this comment on a different Fanfare thread: I really don't think this episode dovetails with the season 2 plot of the main Disco. At least not in a way that makes sense to me. I'm going to not say more in this thread though in an attempt to maintain spoiler-freedom in the continuity of airing order. It's possible people reading this haven't seen season 2 yet.
posted by Nelson at 10:06 PM on April 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

Just jammed all the Short Treks. This and “Q & A” were by far the standouts, thank you Mr. Chabon.

This was so wonderful, just a direct use of the medium to tell a retread classical-lit myth, so much like picking up an Analog or FS&F from the midfifties to the late sixties. I don’t feel as if I have successfully unpacked some of Chabon’s referents, but I don’t think it was that important. Zora is out there, and she waits for the man of twists and turns, and he will be happy with her, probably the happiest he will ever be, but he will not know that, and he will not allow himself to know it, because he is fundamentally unable to know himself. He is us.
posted by mwhybark at 10:25 PM on October 13, 2019

Current show runners (February 2021) are committed to making the Calypso story link up with the main plot of Star Trek Discovery.
posted by seasparrow at 7:57 AM on February 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

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