Star Trek: Discovery: An Obol for Charon
February 8, 2019 1:24 AM - Season 2, Episode 4 - Subscribe

A mysterious sphere threatens the USS Discovery even as May, in her original form, implements a plan that puts Tilly's life in danger. Saru and Burnham's bond grows when Saru is forced to acknowledge a deeply unsettling Kelpien truth. Pike receives new intel on Spock from a loyal friend. (text from Memory Alpha )
posted by freethefeet (56 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I immediately picked up that Charon is the ferryman of the dead in Greek myth, and wow, death is a big thing! I loved the scenes with Saru and Michael. So good.

Also really good was when Stamets sings with Tilly.
posted by freethefeet at 2:47 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]


This show is freaking my melon, man. I just don't know what to think. I'll have to keep watching to find out how the hell things are going to work out. Touché, Discovery!
posted by h00py at 2:48 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


Tilly and Stamets sang "Space Oddity."

I...

I will defend this show to my last breath.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:32 AM on February 8 [11 favorites]


I thought this was much better, despite my initial skepticism about the Saru plot--I'm not a fan of "X is dying from unspecified disease" episodes when you know X will not be dying, but then we got to the end and I said "...now that's interesting." So the Baku harvest the Kelpiens not when they're ready to die, but when they're ready to revolt... This ties into the May/spore drive problem: on the one hand, Starfleet is perfectly happy with the Baku eating the Kelpiens (because hey, we don't interfere); on the other hand, Discovery has been cheerfully jumping around in the mycelial network (which, whoops, constitutes interference).
posted by thomas j wise at 4:43 AM on February 8 [9 favorites]


Ba'ul. The Ba'ku were the friendly, immortal, identical-to-humans aliens from Star Trek: Insurrection, not to be confused with their fellow hyphenatees, the Son'a.

Overall, the episode does tie together (or continues to tie together) a whole lot of threads which seem to be leading toward some sort of reckoning WRT ethics in the show and the franchise in general, and what's really justifiable in the long term, not just in emergencies such as the Klingon War. Last episode, we had the question over whether or not to hack into Spock's medical records, and Tyler not only helping to fake his own and his son's deaths (honestly, where's the honor in L'Rell lying to all the other Klingons? But is it justifiable in shutting down a potential civil war?) but also joining Section 31. Here, we have the revelation that the Kelpiens have been lied to since about forever about their mortality (and thus the justification for the Ba'ul harvesting sentient beings), and the possible reason for Starfleet's abandonment of the spore drive going forward, if May is telling the truth. Not to mention the question of whether or not to trust the big space thingy and drop their shields. Through a lot of roundabout and sometimes questionable plot maneuvers (e.g. Klingon baby head), they're getting to the central question of the franchise: how will boldly going out there change us, and how does that tie into and possibly answer the question of who we really are?

Plus, of course, Number One using habañero sauce like it's ketchup, and Stamets and Reno (Jett Reno, ladies and germs, my favorite name since Harry Mudd) tripping balls.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:50 AM on February 8 [10 favorites]


the Baku harvest the Kelpiens not when they're ready to die, but when they're ready to revolt.

Alternative-and-unlikely-to-be-true theory: the Ba'ul aren't eating the Kelpiens, they are the Kelpians who have gone through the same de-ganglia-ification that Saru just did; they aren't being transported away to be eaten, they're being inducted into Ba'ul society. Have we ever seen a Ba'ul? We have not. Has Saru ever seen a Ba'ul? He has not. The whole 'our planet is just all predator and prey' isn't true, it's just some weird cultural indoctrination. Counterpoint: the show has gone out of its way to say that Kelpiens are delicious, which would be a weird coincidence if the Ba'ul aren't eating them.

Liklier-to-be-true prediction: Saru is going home at some point this season or in a future season, and we're revisiting whether General Order 1 still applies.

Overall, this was a strong episode with a few weak moments -- it's certainly the episode I enjoyed the most this season, so far, and I'm glad they took a step back from the SUPER DRAMATIC CAMERAS of [camera zooms in on text] last episode.

The 'Saru is dying and everyone takes him at his word on that' plot was great thematically, and contrasting this back to the beginning of season one, it's a great showcase for the arc of Saru and Burnham's friendship, and it's a real payoff for the last season's Pavo episodes where we learn about how stressed Saru constantly is. Getting rid of that is an interesting path to take that character (VOTE SARU FOR CAPTAIN IN SEASON 3). But ..the repeated moments where different people ask Saru whether he's definitely really dying and whether anything can be done is so completely at odds with the shows prior depiction of (1) the Kelpiens being a pre-warp civilization that would not have access to the full suite of medical options that Starfleet has, and (2) every other time ever when someone says that something's impossible and everyone gets to work figuring out whether or not it's really true. Just stacking this up alongside everything happening with Tilly in this ep, or the last ep's 'use a magical beam gun to pull a ghost out of Tilly' is a contrast in narrative convenience. Not a huge complaint, but it felt like they missed a chance to have sickbay knocked offline -- 'if only we COULD help him' -- or have the bridge crew blocked from accessing medical care for the duration of the emergency or...something other than just not trying to help him?

Rebecca Romijn as Number One was a delightful callback to canon, and it would be great to see her come back to the show -- we know she's doesn't stay on the Enterprise (and the offhand line about not being able to imagine a more committed chief engineer was also a nice callback/call forward to the Enterprise's most famous and committed chief engineer), so in principle she could end up permanently on Discovery. Similarly, Jet Reno's return: yes. Reno & Stamets feel very Bones & Spock in a twenty-first century way, and I hope that Tig Notaro gets a permanent slot on the show.

Not-so-delightful canon moment: Pike's offhand command to remove the holographic comm system from Enterprise. This is the kind of over-explaining attempt to tie together past and future episodes that's frustrating because it actually makes the difference harder to accept. If they just don't talk about it, it's pretty easy to chalk the change up to modern production values and techniques and styles -- there being holograms doesn't really impact all that much in terms of plot and it doesn't really require explaining (although, separately, the way they use holograms doesn't make a ton of sense within the context of the show -- viz, season one's holograms sitting on furniture in the room they aren't in). But now, to buy into the idea of 'no holograms because Pike said so,' we have to further assume: (1) Kirk didn't order them reinstalled, (2) they...fell out of favor? on every other ship between now and when we see other ships -- for example, the Enterprise-A in the The Motion Picture. (2) already had to be true, before this episode, if you want in-universe explanation; this is just adding (1) more thing to accept.

This had a lot of different stuff going on, but it felt a lot more cohesively tied together than last episode's Klingon B plot / Enterprise A plot combination.
posted by cjelli at 8:44 AM on February 8 [8 favorites]


The part at the beginning with the Universal Translator glitching out would have been better, IMO, if it'd just failed totally - revealing that the crew spoke a wide range of different languages, relying entirely on the UT to communicate with eachother. A technology so ubiquitous that only the most obsessive, like Sari, ended up prepared for its failure.
posted by entity447b at 9:41 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


Firstly, why was this labelled Season Finale in Netflix?

I thought this was pretty much the worst episode there has been so far for the first 30 minutes, worse than Voyager bad. It was all over the show and just felt like it didn't move very much forward. It didn't feel like there was any sense of danger even though the ship was supposedly under threat. At one point the ship is stuck, they don't know what the threat is, yet the captain and whatever Burnham is now seemed to be acting as relaxed triage nurses while the first officer was in bed.
posted by biffa at 3:20 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


Tilly and Stamets sang "Space Oddity."

Don't forget Jett Reno dreaming about playing drums for Prince.
posted by nathan_teske at 3:46 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


Before I go on a pedantic rant, I should say that I really enjoyed this episode and am enjoying the season so far, with many caveats regarding the premier. The second episode was fantastic. The third was pretty good, despite including many plot lines that I don't much like. This one was thoroughly engaging and enjoyable. I'm not entirely convinced Saru's dying words would include Spock, but everything else felt true and earned. Pike is a great character, and I'm excited that we've expanded the number of crew members who do things.

But. . . there is one line that really stuck in my craw: "We've got 100 Giga electron-volts surging through those relays." What the fucking fuck?

A GeV is a real unit of energy. And, it's really, really small. 100 GeV is roughly 1/500 as much as the kinetic energy of a falling snowflake. (See Fig. 8.) It's enough energy to power your digital watch for 2 milliseconds. (If a CR2016 battery lasts 5 years.) In this context, it's an absurd thing to say, and there's no reason to say it.

They could have said, "100 Gigajoules." That's 24 tons of TNT, or twice the energy of the largest conventional bomb ever used in warfare. It takes a third of second less time to say, and everyone who pays attention to units would have thought, "Damn. That's a bad thing to touch." They could have said it was 100 Terajoules, or a little more than the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki. We would have said, "Holy crap. That will destroy the ship!"

Or, they could have said it was "100 Gigapurcells." We would have said, "I don't know what a Purcell is, but that sounds like a lot!" (Which seems to be the writers' goal.) Or, they could have said, "enough energy to turn everything in this room into plasma."

I can't imagine how dozens of people whose full time job is thinking about space travel all signed off on the choice to pick a real unit that means something without spending half a minute asking whether or not their use of it makes any sense. (I'm also pissed about the use of "dark matter" throughout the season. . . but, that's a different rant.) Perhaps it's intentional, and a deliberate poke at either the audience or some member of the production staff. If it's a subtle and knowing wink at the numerate audience, it's too subtle for me.

But, otherwise, I enjoyed the show.

And, if anyone here is part of the production team, I can put you in touch with at least 20 really friendly professional physicists in the Toronto area who would volunteer for free as science advisors.
posted by eotvos at 9:06 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]


On reflection, I now know that the kinetic energy of a falling snowflake is enough to power your watch for one second. That's kind of neat and not obvious. Thanks, Disco!
posted by eotvos at 9:20 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]


Oh my god, what a hot mess this episode was. But what I really want to know is, why keep introducing extra characters onto the bridge while we still aren't getting to know the old ones at all? Give those people some lines!

Was glad to see Jet Reno again, could have done without the trepanation(?)... thanks, I hated it.
posted by Coaticass at 2:43 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]


I'm not a fan of "X is dying from unspecified disease" episodes when you know X will not be dying, but then we got to the end and I said "...now that's interesting."

Probably because Star Trek most frequently uses that as a problem for the crew to fix, rather than an opportunity to deal honestly with issues of grief. There might be an exception back there in DS9 or TNG, but it's not coming front of my brain right now.

Big-eyed Samets and Reno had me laughing, as did the lizard-person. I still don't think the interfaces are all that big of a retcon from TOS, but other things like "we can replicate human/klingon tissue at the level of deep scans," and "the universal translator is needed for everyone to communicate" have implications beyond just giving characters an opportunity to shout technobabble on cue.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 9:07 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]


This episode felt just so very Star Trek. Random medical crisis to bring two characters closer together emotionally. Not one but two big blobby aliens with inscrutable motivations where the main challenge was figuring out how to communicate. Hand-wavey engineering problems that results in a section of the ship being isolated and someone needs to fix it with tinkering (and literal chewing gum). It's all the goofy stuff from Star Trek going back all the way to TOS that fans like me both love and love to mock all at once.

What I liked best is it was done well. Jet Reno was absolutely perfect to insert into the scene with Stamets and Tilly. And Doug Jones can really act. I was worried he was cast just because of his expertise at wearing bizarre tall alien costumes but those scenes between Saru and Michael were genuinely moving. I felt like they earned that.

(OTOH, I cringe at the inevitable forthcoming episode where Saru 'roids out and overuses his new found sense of power and agency.)
posted by Nelson at 9:24 AM on February 9 [11 favorites]


things like "we can replicate human/klingon tissue at the level of deep scans," and "the universal translator is needed for everyone to communicate" have implications beyond just giving characters an opportunity to shout technobabble on cue.

I know this is precisely your point, but I would enjoy the notion that (a) all the characters in Star Trek are using the universal translator all the time — thus, in TNG, the Parisian Picard is speaking French, the Alaska-born Riker speaks in English, the Mogadishu-born LaForge speaks in Somali, etc. — and (b) the the universal translator is as crap as a circa-2000 closed captioning system and just throws in the technobabble when it cannot translate something well.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:41 AM on February 9 [10 favorites]


Probably because Star Trek most frequently uses that as a problem for the crew to fix, rather than an opportunity to deal honestly with issues of grief. There might be an exception back there in DS9 or TNG, but it's not coming front of my brain right now.

There is that episode of DS9 where Vedek Bareil dies, so like always, Deep Space 9 Did It First.

I do wonder if the Discovery writing staff has watched DS9, because it’s the show they’re trying to make, at least in the first season of Discovery.
posted by Automocar at 10:19 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


I really enjoyed this one on a lot of levels, despite a variety of thoughtful and valid complaints upthread.

In particular:
* I loved the universal translator malfunction.

It was one of those 'I can't believe this hasn't happened before' moments, although I guess it's arguable that DS9's aphasia episode also did it first. But this was sufficiently differentiated - my only real complaint is that the main computer should probably accept commands in something besides English.

* I love Number One.

I do not often have moments of fanboy squee, but seeing her was a delight. Of all the TOS callbacks they could've done, that's the one I didn't even know I needed.

* I'm happy that May has a valid complaint.

... creepy manipulative ghost-monster that she is. I do hope this is how they nerf the spore drive before I am forced to grind one in Star Trek Online.

* I liked watching Jett and Stamets snipe at each other.

One of my least favorite things about TNG was the Roddenberry mandated minimization of interpersonal conflict because... you know, people are snippy sometimes. Even evolved future people are going to disagree. Those two butting heads was pretty funny, and I hope they're paired more often. I also about died at their LSD trip. "Were you always a superior being?"

Anyway... yeah. This was sort of messy, but I enjoyed it, and am generally enjoying S2 more than S1, which is ever the hope with any show.
posted by mordax at 11:46 AM on February 9 [7 favorites]


Just a minor snark, in the TNG era they probably wouldn't have cast Notaro, and if they did, they probably would have made her wear some sort of corset to give her a conventional figure. So that's one area where the show has progressed.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 11:52 AM on February 9 [8 favorites]


the Parisian Picard is speaking French

You know, I saw at least one interview years ago that mentioned as an aside that Picard is, in fact, speaking French, but I can't put my finger on where.
posted by thomas j wise at 11:59 AM on February 9


Woof. This was a bad one y'all. I can't put my finger on exactly why. If I had to choose I'd lay it at the feet of the dialogue. I don't know if it was the words or how they were delivered but almost everything in the episode felt stilted and melodramatic. It lost all of the speed and snap of earlier episodes. It just really dragged for me. My least favorite episode of the season. Which is a shame, because I liked most of the actual plot elements. I like the ancient unknowable dying entity, bringing back plot from Saru's Short Trek, and the environmental destruction theme (shades of the last season of TNG?). It just did not all fit together for me.
posted by runcibleshaw at 4:09 PM on February 9


(1) I have always been aware that Tilly is a Mary Sue but until she started on “Space Oddity” I didn’t realize just how much she was *my* Mary Sue.

(2) while we’re on the topic of unit accuracy, there is no such thing as a “degree Kelvin”. It’s just Kelvin.
posted by olinerd at 7:22 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


Pike's offhand command to remove the holographic comm system from Enterprise. This is the kind of over-explaining attempt to tie together past and future episodes that's frustrating because it actually makes the difference harder to accept. ... they...fell out of favor? on every other ship between now and when we see other ships -- for example, the Enterprise-A in the The Motion Picture.

Agreed. Pedantry: the ship in STTMP was still the original Enterprise (no bloody A, B, C, or D), just refitted. We don't see NCC-1701-A until the end of STIV. But to your point, if they hadn't presumably fallen out of favor Starfleet-wide, they probably could have been reinstalled with the refit.

It was one of those 'I can't believe this hasn't happened before' moments, although I guess it's arguable that DS9's aphasia episode also did it first.

Also it was the source of a great gag in Galaxy Quest.

honestly, where's the honor in L'Rell lying to all the other Klingons?

Well, we are told she's of the House of Mo'Kai, which has a reputation as "deceivers" and "weavers of lies" and seems to be poorly thought of by other Klingons for that reason, so I feel like that's justified. (There was a great post recently on r/DaystromInstitute — a subreddit for what MeFites would call serious beanplating about Star Trek — suggesting that the Klingon approach we see in TOS, where they're more likely to operate through espionage and at arm's length than through direct attack, is a result of L'Rell's leadership of the Empire.)

Don't forget Jett Reno dreaming about playing drums for Prince.

I was annoyed with this line at first — does everyone in the 23rd century listen only to late-20th/early-21st century music? — but then the Tilly/Stamets "Space Oddity" duet made up for it and maybe I'm OK with that conceit now.

the lizard-person

I feel like "Linus" belongs on The Orville more than this show.

Firstly, why was this labelled Season Finale in Netflix?

Leftover glitch from the universal translator malfunction.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:47 PM on February 9 [7 favorites]


I don't know where they're going specifically with this story, but I know where I want them to take it.  Since Number 1 doesn't stay on the Enterprise, here's to hoping she takes over the Discovery as they wrap up this story line and Pike returns to the Enterprise.  Rebecca Romijn as Discovery's permanent captain, pretty please.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 12:05 AM on February 10 [8 favorites]


That would be a great idea, although I also dig the idea of a Trek show with an alien captain in the big chair.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:27 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


Once again I appear to be the odd almost-but-not-quite-one out. I thought this episode was bad. Unwatchably bad. Like, if the next episode is this bad, I'm probably giving up completely on this show that at one point I quite liked.

So many things happening at once that none of it had any impact. Emotional scenes thrown in so suddenly and melodramatically that they felt unearned even when by all rights they should have easily earnable. Things that should have been built up over the course of many episodes suddenly getting dumped out in a mass of poorly-written exposition by an obviously-not-actually-dying character. Nonsensical and unresearched technobabble batted around in place of plot. The one interesting idea (the translator malfunction) inconsistently applied and then immediately dropped. The premise of the central episode plotline left basically unexplored. Bad science, bad plotting, bad dialogue, bad pacing, bad character work.

Ugh.
posted by kyrademon at 11:33 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


Not-so-delightful canon moment: Pike's offhand command to remove the holographic comm system from Enterprise. This is the kind of over-explaining attempt to tie together past and future episodes that's frustrating because it actually makes the difference harder to accept.

I genuinely don't think they're even trying to tie it all together.  I just saw it as a throwaway in-joke, a tiny present for those who pick up on it.  Since there's no way in hell a 21st century production with modern special effects will ever look remotely like a 1960s version of the future, why not mine it for exactly those in-jokes?

I absolutely understand the desire for it all to hang together, because a giant future history like this is just plain fun when it does, but I don't think that's a realistic option when you're dealing with a visual medium like this, one dependent on imagined future technologies that 50 years of progress has completely rendered the earlier version wildly out of date.  It's a lot easier to hold a written future milieu to that standard, a special effects heavy visual version, not so much.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 11:40 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


Things that should have been built up over the course of many episodes suddenly getting dumped out in a mass of poorly-written exposition by an obviously-not-actually-dying character.

I actually did wonder for a minute if Doug Jones was leaving the series and they just hadn't told anyone, just because they dragged it on sooooo long (including a bunch of unnecessary touches, like the silent standing ovation on the bridge and then Burnham's breakdown). It helped that it was the heavy makeup character; so many of those characters get unceremoniously written out of a series because the actor turns out to be allergic to the makeup that it seemed like it could be happening. But then of course not.

This one was a step up for me from last week's nadir but it's definitely not great. They seem to be struggling to find anything like the right balance, and in the absence of last season's overarching mega-plot the entire season seems to be about unwinding the entire series: dumping the spore drive out of canon, getting Michael out of Spock's biography, bringing Wilson Cruz's character back...

I really thought they should have had the Discovery come back from the Mirror Universe after the end of Voyager (and the war just ended on its own, and that's why they stopped using the spore drive, etc) and nothing I've seen this season has convinced me otherwise.
posted by gerryblog at 12:29 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


There was another major shakeup in the writer's room around this time in production (I thought I'd heard it was during or after episode five) and you can see why.
posted by gerryblog at 12:34 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Part of the reason for the change in showrunners yet again was a blowout in budget of the season premiere. And you can see the money spent in that one - to no real effect. These showrunners were credited on this episode for story, but I do wonder what kind of retooling was done once Alex Kurtzman took over. Hopefully the series will calm down on trying to tell five stories an episode; this one was a full mess of trying to give everyone something to do but not enough time for anything to feel substantial. Even the Saru story which got lots of time didn't feel convincing to me.

Right now, the best I can say for DISCO is that it's definitely better than the first season - but for me that is a very low bar to hurdle. But I'm still being annoyed by it more than enjoying it.

I will probably stick with it, but I'm hoping for a real change after episode 6; though I don't necessarily think Kurtzman will fix all the problems I am having and will probably introduce some of his own.
posted by crossoverman at 1:11 PM on February 10


There was another major shakeup in the writer's room around this time in production (I thought I'd heard it was during or after episode five) and you can see why.

Indeed. In the course of four episodes we have had: a new captain (but not the assigned one); the most iconic Star Trek character (going all the way back to The Cage) being revealed as insane and a multiple murderer and now refugee from justice; a series of unexplained phenomena across the galaxy that our insane murderer refugee foresaw; one of the regulars (Stamets) seemingly about to leave Starfleet after seeing or not seeing something in mushroomspace; an angel who rescued a bunch of 21st century human from imminent death and transported them across the galaxy; the descendants of these abductees being left behind despite at least one of them knowing the real 411; a mess of Klingon intrigue; Section 31 working with a Mirror Universe emperor and an unwitting Klingon Manchurian Candidate agent in the Federation, a soap opera baby revealed and then whisked away to a monastery; a 100,000-year-old space anomaly trapping the ship and Inner-Lighting a hundred millennia of righteous wisdom into Discovery's main computer (no wonder it gets sentient later); Saru losing one of his defining traits; and Tilly being haunted by a ghost who turns out to be fungus and who later apparently absorbs Tilly. I am not even counting things like Saru's ailment, the autotranslation malfunctions, and so on.

I can see how that might take a toll on the writers, who may not have signed up for this.

I must say, for a show that has had billboards screaming TROUBLED PRODUCTION just about since the day it was announced, it is doing a better job than I thought of plastering over the cracks... but good lord, are there a lot of cracks. I am on record as having found Voyager and Enterprise kind of wanting, but neither of them ever tossed seventeen balls into the air like this.

On the other hand: Tig!
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:13 PM on February 10 [10 favorites]


I don't necessarily think Kurtzman will fix all the problems I am having and will probably introduce some of his own.

I see you are familiar with his work.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:14 PM on February 10 [9 favorites]


I'd be so down with Rebecca Romijn as the Discovery's captain.

Saru's external ganglia... falling off... er, eh? Just in time. A little unsatisfying.

Reno and Stamets tripping togather was fun - but specifically identifying as psilocybin? Weak. Just calling it a "selective serotinin agonist" makes a lot more sense than that some space fungus produces something molecularly analogous to psilocybin that the tricorder's sensors identifies as psilocybin is less believable.

I really like Tig Nataro but I really REALLY want the writers to do something Tig-atypical (but still within character).

The use of Reno/ Stamets to recapitulate the Spock/ Bones dynamic is brilliant by adding additional dimensions to the argument between Theory/ Practice. Reno is on the side of practice reinforces theory whereas Stamets is theory lends to experimental practice - so far. For some reason, I so want Reno to give in to theory and "lets try this out - I think it'll work. But it probably won't."
posted by porpoise at 7:10 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Hrm, if this mycelial network stretches everywhere... and the contents of it are actual recognizable fungus (they are using the term fungus, talking about spores, it's even called a mycelial network, not a mycelial analog network), perhaps what they've been trying to tell us is that every fungus everywhere is connected to this fungus space and it contains every known fungus and countless unknown fungi.

I like this show a lot. They are doing the most though. It's like they're afraid people will watch it and say 'nothing even happened', given that some of the older series could spend an entire episode examining a single playing card. This episode was pretty "space procedural" though.

Tilly's in the upside down, now?
posted by yonega at 5:49 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


See, Tilly disappearing is a bit weird, because when Stamets was in the network, his body was in a coma in sick bay. This is new for the network.

Also, with the jumps, presumably the Tardigrade's use of the network is sanctioned by May's society?
posted by freethefeet at 2:14 AM on February 12


I've just thought of something, not sure if the show is going to go anywhere with it but I think it's fascinating character depth even so.

Reno vs Stamets

Reno is a practical engineer and recently spent a number of years having to jerry-rigg devices to literally save her own and others lives. " I can fix that with duct tape" is a similar response to "I need to put this fire out NOW or I/We die, I'll deal the the aftermath after.. if there is an after"

Staments is a astrobiologist, with a specific niche speciality and also until recently in his career a lot of his science expertise was based on theoretical knowledge and not life or death situations. It makes their argument about fossil fuels vs other propulsion systems more interesting, because they aren't just disagreeing with each other they are approaching the problem (all problems) from fundamentally different viewpoints.

I liked the character interaction and hope to see more of it.
posted by Faintdreams at 3:03 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]


I pray to all the Gods and Qs and everything else that The Picard Show is VASTLY slower, quieter, and more focused on a handful of characters than this show is.

Because I like a lot of what DISCO is doing, but it needs to do it all about 50% slower.

Case in point: the Saru stuff here. Really, really good stuff, IMO: emotionally and philosophically involving, and it felt so very Trek in all the best ways. Except… I'm still right on the fence about whether it was truly earned. Other Trek characters who actually left the show got far weaker sendoffs after spending far more time onscreen. (Not to mention that the Saru stuff here would've lacked a lot of that heft for viewers who skipped his Short Trek, I imagine.)

This had a lot of different stuff going on, but it felt a lot more cohesively tied together than last episode's Klingon B plot / Enterprise A plot combination.

Well put. I actually said out loud during the previous episode, "Well, this show is now officially two different shows."

The Ba'ku were the friendly, immortal, identical-to-humans aliens from Star Trek: Insurrection, not to be confused with their fellow hyphenatees, the Son'a.

Apostrophetees.

…Apostrophenes? No, that's a name for a philosopher.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:45 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


Fluidic universe?
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 10:34 AM on February 12


100,000 years old is not particularly old by "orb floating in space" standards, but I thought this was a great episode
posted by vibratory manner of working at 2:51 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


I pray to all the Gods and Qs and everything else that The Picard Show is VASTLY slower, quieter, and more focused on a handful of characters than this show is.
Interesting. One of my complaints about Disco is that there are so few characters who seem to do *anything.* The entire ship seems to be operated by a cadet, a biologist, and three members of the bridge crew. They solve every problem, go on every mission, and even have to pitch in as medics. I'd guess there are fewer recurring speaking parts than even TOS. I'd love to spend more time with the other people on the ship. Many of them look really cool. . . but, they don't do anything. (The second ep at least made a gesture toward that.)

As much as I like Tilly and Stamets as characters, it's pretty weird that they make up the entire engineering department of this super-advanced experimental ship.
posted by eotvos at 3:52 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


I'd guess there are fewer recurring speaking parts than even TOS.

That would be a really interesting comparison to make, if you wanted to get down to the detail of counting lines. In TOS, you had Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scott, Sulu, Uhura, either Rand (S1) or Chekov (S2-3), and arguably Chapel, although she only appeared in a third of the episodes. (Majel Barrett, of course, was also Number One, Lwaxana Troi, and the voice of the computer through nearly every iteration except for this one.) Here, you've got the captain du jour (Georgiou, Lorca, Pike), Saru, Burnham, Tilly, Stamets, Culber (for a while, and probably again), Ash/Voq (ditto), and just a whole bunch of people in recurring roles (Sarek, Amanda, Admiral Cornwell, Mudd (who's already made as many appearances as he did in TOS, not counting the Short Trek), L'Rell, etc.). The rest of the bridge crew are slower in getting character development, or even any significant dialogue, but there's some hope there; Owosekun went on the away mission in "New Eden", Airiam is supposed to be getting some background in canon (can't find the link now), and I keep thinking that they're going to do something with Detmer, although that may be wishful thinking because I may have a leetle crush on her.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:46 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]


This episode was too overwhelming to write about for me last week, I guess because of all the crazy overplotting. I was totally blindsided by the not-death of Saru and emotionally affected by it, which turned to actual anger when they yanked the rug out from under the scene. In particular I was unhappy with the show putting Michael in this situation: she is an adoptee who killed her surrogate mother last season and here they are again, asking her to kill her surrogate father. It was actually painful for me to watch and I remain angered by it.

I was gleeful to see Number One and then more gleeful to learn she is being portrayed by Rebecca Romijn, whom I expect will take visible glee in her part as we get more of it.
posted by mwhybark at 1:40 PM on February 15


The Picard Show podcast

/Picard voice*

Tea. Earl Grey, Hot.

Today on The Picard Show I am pleased to have as my guest former Federation Archaeology Council member and celebrated Alpha Quadrant multisystem archaeologist Vash. Vash, as you know, is one of the quadrant's most audacious students of history and, if you'll permit, also one of history's most attractive persons.

SFX: uncomfortable chuckles, shifting and clunking sounds

(awkward pause)

Vash will tell us about her latest Kickstarter project and share anecdotes of her life as an indepenent research archaeologist.

SFX: bloop blip bloop sounds, mumbling

Our second guest tonight will be none other than my former Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Beverly Crusher, a woman with a certain intimate expertise with history --- in the form of ghosts, or so I have been told, not myself having been present at Caldos colony during the events that inspired her latest book. It's called Under the Rose: A Family's Interstellar Curse. Beverly and I have known each other for quite some time, and I hope to learn more of not only this fascinating book but of her son Wesley's life among the, ah the, well, his life since I last saw him.

We'll be right back after these messages from our sponsors.
posted by mwhybark at 4:50 PM on February 15 [4 favorites]


*best if read aloud in one's own Picard voice
posted by mwhybark at 4:51 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


cjelli said: Alternative-and-unlikely-to-be-true theory: the Ba'ul aren't eating the Kelpiens, they are the Kelpians who have gone through the same de-ganglia-ification that Saru just did; they aren't being transported away to be eaten, they're being inducted into Ba'ul society.

This is my hypothesis. (Just as Saru was dying, I hit pause and said basically, "I reeeeeally want it to turn out that he's not dying, he's just going to a next stage of his lifecycle.... but that's probably just me being wishful.")

In DS9 we sometimes see: how do the Bajorans cope, as a group, with suddenly actually having some power? And similarly I want to watch Saru struggle to keep his empathy and kindness when suddenly he isn't deeply affected by fear all the time and actually feels powerful.
posted by brainwane at 9:58 AM on February 17 [3 favorites]


The Ba'ku were the friendly, immortal, identical-to-humans aliens from Star Trek: Insurrection, not to be confused with their fellow hyphenatees, the Son'a.

Apostrophetees.

…Apostrophenes? No, that's a name for a philosopher.


Apostrolopithecines
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:09 PM on February 17 [3 favorites]


We'll be right back after these messages from our sponsors.

Better yet: "Now, before we continue, I'd like to engage your attention for a moment to discuss my number one subscription service, MeUndies. Oh, yes. Not only will they cradle your Ten Forward in luxuriously soft fabric, but their lively patterns make it so delightful to flex in front of the mirror. You'll be hotter than tea, Earl Grey. Now, back to our program."
posted by duffell at 8:23 PM on February 18 [6 favorites]


Anyway, this show is Extremely My Shit, and this episode even more so. I wouldn't mind it if they slowed down, or perhaps tried to tell just one story (with maybe a small B-plot) per episode... but honestly, I'm enjoying the hell out of this, so they can just keep doing what they're doing if they wanna. With the other Star Trek entries following soon, there will be opportunities to tell Trek stories in various ways and at different paces.

Additional observations:

Holy analogies, Batman--they kept 'em coming fast and furious this episode.

Saru's discovery of the deceit underpinning his society. Goddamn. This made me think of the Terrible Secret of the Trill Symbionts (though much more horrifying). What other examples are there in Trek? I'm sure there are others...

Oh, the ANTIBODIES FOR THE COMPUTER VIRUS thing was silly as hell, wtf.

Also, hey, it'd be really funny if the 100,000 years of historical data transmitted by the sphere were actually super-detailed historical fiction. Or maybe just the world's largest fanfic archive. (The chances of this are nil, obvs, but someone mentioned Galaxy Quest upthread and it made me chuckle.)
posted by duffell at 8:32 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


Yeah seriously, computer antibodies. Bah.

There's been sentiment about the show/ characters "not deserving" rare tv status, like, "getting" to use mirror universe as the premise of the whole first season or Saru/ Michael having a deep emotional bond. The show is really rushed, almost like Saru pre-ganglia dropping-off (yummm) scared of being cancelled before being able to finish telling a story.
posted by porpoise at 1:30 AM on February 19


The show is really rushed, almost...scared of being cancelled before being able to finish telling a story.

Given the show's turbulent production history, with significant shakeups in both production and showrunning in S1 and in S2, as well as repeated significant cost overruns, that's not implausible, although the ways in which the show is rushed this season feels more like a conscious stylistic choice than an exingency of circumstance -- a lot of the episodes have felt rushed internally, to me, across multiple eps, while in Season 1 the pacing felt uneven: you could practically see the seams between episodes where they decided to suddenly end the Federation-Klingon War, for example, rather than have that be a show-spanning arc.
posted by cjelli at 5:26 AM on February 19


Tilly and Stamets sang "Space Oddity."
>Don't forget Jett Reno dreaming about playing drums for Prince.


I don't like New Star Trek's (both Discovery and the reboot films) continued pop-culture references that date to, oh, between like 1960 and now. Funny that no-one ever sings music from 2030 or talks about "classic 2050s rock music" huh? It really takes me out of the moment.

Loved that Reno is back. Hope she's a regular character now.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:40 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


My spouse has a headcanon explanation:
...an explanation for why characters in science fiction set in the future make lots of references to 20th century and pre-20th century works, but almost no references to post-20th century works. Such works aren't part of the cultural canon because they are only available in archaic DRMed formats made by long-bankrupt companies. (This is just the "digital dark age" idea, but I recently realized that the digital dark age explains this nagging problem with Star Trek and other such science fiction.)
posted by brainwane at 2:25 AM on February 21 [9 favorites]


Maybe from 2020 onwards it's just dubstep for the next 400 years.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:28 AM on February 21 [8 favorites]


Don't forget about Kasseelian Opera! Which sounds exactly like 1950-2000 Earth opera except the soprano's aria always ends on a high E followed by a death rattle.

With their thing about the soprano committing suicide after her first performance, maybe there aren't many recordings to enjoy. Curious how that works. Maybe when she's in the studio making a recording and she hits the high note, she stabs herself but there's like a MedBay on hand to fix her up? Perhaps the actual suicide is reserved for live performance.

They must have a lot of nervous understudies in Kasseelian Opera.
posted by Nelson at 7:59 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


Making up headcanon for a Trek strikes me as a little silly, but my headcanon is that them singing Space Oddity or talking about Prince is like Romans speaking English to each other. They weren't, and what we saw and heard was a wee bit of cultural translation.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:22 PM on March 12 [5 favorites]


The whole Kelpien reveal reminded me of Kes and her supposed 7 year life span. Different but similar concept of controlling or subjugating a culture.
posted by polymodus at 3:39 PM on March 27


Number One using habañero sauce

Since we're being pedantic, there's no tilde in habanero, although it's often (mis)spelled that way. It's a kind of hyper-correction started by Anglo Americans who assumed that since it's a spicy pepper found in Mexican food, there should probably be an ñ like in jalapeño.

Apparently this misspelling and mispronunciation is the standard form by the time of Discovery, since Number One pronounces it with the tilde, just like how everyone calls naprons "aprons" now.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:54 AM on April 10 [3 favorites]


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