Star Trek: Discovery: The Red Angel
March 21, 2019 10:39 PM - Season 2, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Further information about both the Red Angel and Burnham's past come to light.

Memory Alpha has pretty much nothing:

Production history
> 19 February 2019: Title publicly revealed
> 21 March 2019: Premiere airdate on CBS All Access
> 22 March 2019: International release date (outside Canada and the USA)

Quotes I Caught:
"If I knew about some kind of apocalypse, why wouldn't I just say so?"
"Perhaps you just have a penchant for the dramatic."
- Spock and Burnham

"You, uh, used to be a therapist."
"Yes, I'm aware."
- Culber and Cornwell

"Love is a choice, Hugh. And one doesn't just make that choice once. One makes it again and again."
- Cornwell
posted by mordax (75 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Pointless STO Comparison: During the Delta Recruitment event, new characters were recruited by their future selves. The final tie-in mission featured your fully-leveled character going back to recruit their younger self in a brief cutscene.

Poster's Log:
Right now, I feel like the tagline for Discovery is "this is fun but makes no sense." I appreciated a lot of the emotional beats: the funeral, the awkward moment where Airiam's replacement takes her post. Culber's ongoing struggle, including the visit to Cornwell. Spock and Burnham behaving like siblings. Leland coming clean. Leland's face suffering for his various misdeeds.

Mostly had a lot of fun with this.

However, the plan was another half-baked WTF idea that needed just... I'm not sure what it needed. But if the idea was to trap Burnham, I'm not sure why letting her in on the plan was sensible, and I wish they had done something to explain why they thought this was the answer.

Other thoughts:
* "Time crystal" is terrible, weaksauce technobabble, up there with "red matter."

* Georgiou's talk about playing with Stamets was pretty gross, which was unfortunate because she generally worked for me here. (Sex stuff aside, her comparing everybody to their Mirror counterparts was pretty funny. I could really feel her disappointment with Tilly for not being Killy.)

* The idea that some civilizations received technological jump starts via time travel is canon in at least one case: Future's End establishes that some of Earth's computer tech was the result of Henry Starling reverse-engineering 29th century technology.
posted by mordax at 10:53 PM on March 21 [4 favorites]


Lt Nilsson, Airiam's replacement on the bridge, is played by Sara Mitich. She was Airiam in the first season. She's since popped up in the background a couple of times.
posted by dumbland at 2:34 AM on March 22 [12 favorites]


ME, AT THE BEGINNING OF THE EPISODE: After all this angst about how Burnham thinks she's the center of the universe, they're really going to make her the Red Angel?
ME, AT THE MIDDLE: ...Seriously, they're doing this?
ME, AT THE END:: ...Huh, they didn't.

Georgiou's behavior with Stamets was definitely unpleasant, although the show seemed to think she was engaging in some bizarre form of re-matchmaking between him and Culber. The bit about this Stamets being smarter than her universe's version was funny, though. (Incidentally, given that Georgiou wanders around openly chatting about her previous existence, it seems odd that Pike has yet to hear that anything is not right here.)

Speaking of Culber, at least he figured out that he's in need of therapy.

*hands Section 31 Airiam's unused copy of Bitdefender*

Bye, Leland?

Spock's interactions with Burnham were very adult sibling-esque (including the "penchant for drama" bit).

"Time crystal" is terrible, weaksauce technobabble, up there with "red matter."

Yes, my eyes popped at "time crystal." At least make it sound vaguely scientific!

Does the reveal of Burnham's mother at the end suggest that not all of Burnham's memories are correct (beyond what her parents deliberately concealed from her), or is something else going on?
posted by thomas j wise at 2:46 AM on March 22 [3 favorites]


Soap Opera: Discovery.

I just can't with the OMG Michael is the Red Angel, the Red Angel is a Section 31 Initiative, it's a race with the Klingons for time travel, S31 dude just outright tells Michael he was responsible for her parents death, Michael gets a few good punches in, we're going to all watch Michael die a horrible death, OMG the Red Angel isn't Michael, it's her presumed dead mother that she just recently found out worked for Section 31 and invented the Red Angel suit.

My god, Riverdale could take lessons in melodrama from this show.
posted by crossoverman at 3:19 AM on March 22 [11 favorites]


Well, I'm not thrilled with the soap opera stuff myself, but hey, Sonja Sohn! She's a great actress and it's always nice to see her get some work.

When Michael punches Leland twice--"this is for my mother! this is for my father!"--I was half-expecting/hoping her to skip a beat, then kick him square in the balls: "and that's for me."
posted by duffell at 3:25 AM on March 22 [8 favorites]




(Scientists are bad at naming things)
posted by IjonTichy at 4:06 AM on March 22 [2 favorites]


Whoa!
posted by Coaticass at 4:59 AM on March 22


Yeah, this one was even heavier on the melodrama and "the whole fate of the Federation rides on this one person doing this one thing", but I think that it worked pretty well. After Burnham had to make the worst choice last episode to save everyone, it makes a lot of emotional sense that she (who probably already had tons of survivor guilt, because of her parents) would be willing to propose herself as a sacrifice to nail down the Red Angel for some answers. There were plenty of plausible details in this one: figuring out that Control had probably taken over everything, all Skynet-ish, in the future (or at least one possible one), and wondering if it had managed to copy itself somewhere else; the Klingons being interested in time travel (there's an old story in the very old Star Trek: New Voyages professionally-published-fanfic series predicated on their trying to get access to the Guardian of Forever), and the reappearance of the time crystal, which I had assumed was a one-off plot device from "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad"; the whole set-up of the Red Angel trap; Cornwell and Culber sitting down for a talk, not only doctor to doctor but severely traumatized person to someone who could actually help him (and I agree with someone in a past thread who said that the ship could really use a counselor, which makes me wonder if they're setting up Cornwell to resign her admiralcy and do just that), Spock and Burnham seeming to come to some sort of resolution, and Georgiou combining some real over-the-top, Intendant-level supervillainess creepiness with some (seemingly) real regard for Burnham and maybe a deeper game afoot, if she was behind whatever happened to Leland.

And a certain middle-aged Trekkie and The Wire fan may have audibly squeed at the sight of Sonja Sohn.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:03 AM on March 22 [3 favorites]


Yes, my eyes popped at "time crystal." At least make it sound vaguely scientific!

The device Mudd used to rewind time had a time crystal. Might be the writers trying to tie back to that episode
posted by nathan_teske at 5:40 AM on March 22 [4 favorites]


P.S. It's James T. Kirk's -214th birthday.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:53 AM on March 22 [2 favorites]


Lt Nilsson, Airiam's replacement on the bridge, is played by Sara Mitich. She was Airiam in the first season. She's since popped up in the background a couple of times.

Does anyone know what happened here? Was she allergic to the makeup or something?
posted by gerryblog at 7:13 AM on March 22 [2 favorites]


I haven't really been commenting much on this season, but am I the only one who thinks this show has gone completely off the rails? Like, it started to make sense for a bit when they went to Talos IV, but now it's gone completely off the rails again?

Like, more off the rails than The Wreck of the Old '97.

More off the rails than Morrissey's "Piccadilly Palare."

Like,

(the rails) | |.....................................................................(this show)
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:33 PM on March 22 [6 favorites]


I suspect the season as a whole, as well as specific episodes, will only make sense when the whole season is out.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:01 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]


Have noticed that recaps and reviews are all over the place on Discovery - some love it, some hate it, and so on.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:01 PM on March 22


I haven't really been commenting much on this season, but am I the only one who thinks this show has gone completely off the rails?

Probably not?

Personally, I don't think that's what's going on, or at least not entirely, but I can see why people would feel this way.

For my money, every iteration of Star Trek has a particular feel. Like, over in the ENT rewatch, ENT feels like nothing so much as a bunch of college kids of dubious common sense taking a road trip across Europe, convinced they are discovering everything for the first time even though a bunch of people already live there.

DSC just seems madcap so far. Everything is always go-go-go-pew-pew-pew-no-time-to-talk. To me, it feels like 'What if JJTrek, but I actually liked the characters and most of the message?'

I guess what I'm saying is, I don't think it has rails in the first place. This is just what it is, whether that works in any individual situation or not.
posted by mordax at 1:37 PM on March 22 [13 favorites]


I do have to say that as ST second seasons go, this one is eminently more watchable than ST:TNG's, with or without rails.
posted by thomas j wise at 1:58 PM on March 22 [7 favorites]


I thoroughly enjoyed this completely nonsensical episode. My key thoughts:

* If you’re trying to trap future-Mike, telling Mike the plan now means she knows what the plan is and should avoid it

* You know that the Angel is Mike because of DNA-bullshit-matching, it’s 100%, the good-not-doctor-anymore specifically calls this out as being totes infallible. So how is she suddenly.. not?

* Culber is totally going with Captain Empress for the spin-off show.
posted by coriolisdave at 2:43 PM on March 22 [6 favorites]


* You know that the Angel is Mike because of DNA-bullshit-matching, it’s 100%, the good-not-doctor-anymore specifically calls this out as being totes infallible. So how is she suddenly.. not?

I assume this will be explained, or at least handwaved, in the next episode. They didn't actually match two DNA samples--they matched one DNA sample against something encoded in a file. We don't know how or why Michael's DNA is the set that ended up encoded in that file... I think?
posted by duffell at 4:30 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


My bet on the Angel thing: she ends up with the suit because they captured her mom. Predestination paradox and all that.
posted by mordax at 4:38 PM on March 22 [8 favorites]


I guess what I'm saying is, I don't think it has rails in the first place.

ENT stayed on the rails until they ran out of track, a lot sooner than they seemed to think they would.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:29 PM on March 22 [5 favorites]


For me, ENT improved with every season - and its fourth is what I really wanted the show to be. I still don't love it overall, but it's Trek in a way that Disco is not. For good and ill.
posted by crossoverman at 6:14 PM on March 22


I feel like Georgiou's completely inappropriate and awkward conversation with Stamets was a callback to Mirror Universe Kira, but too much, too soon.

(Also, what's with the studded leather outfit this episode? Was a nametag reading "Hello, I'm from the evil mirror universe" too obvious?)
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:36 PM on March 22 [5 favorites]


(Also, what's with the studded leather outfit this episode? Was a nametag reading "Hello, I'm from the evil mirror universe" too obvious?)

I think Georgiou's sloppiness about the Mirror Universe is a deliberate social dominance game. She's supposed to keep it secret, so by not keeping it secret, she is demonstrating that she can flout their rules. Like, 'look at me, I can do what I want.' Plus, it makes anybody she's talking to complicit, uncomfortable, etc.

It actually feels pretty in-character to me for someone who used to be a much bigger fish, and is straining at the loss of status.

(Emotional beats on this show work for me a lot better than plot ones, typically.)
posted by mordax at 7:17 PM on March 22 [10 favorites]


Also, what's with the studded leather outfit this episode? Was a nametag reading "Hello, I'm from the evil mirror universe" too obvious?

Everyone but one character has a black and white environmental suit. One character has a black and glossy black suit. Care to guess who?

Star Trek is never messier than when time travel is involved.

If you’re trying to trap future-Mike, telling Mike the plan now means she knows what the plan is and should avoid it

And yes, so much this. If you are going to ambush and imprison me tomorrow, telling me today exactly where and when this will happen seems... counterproductive.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:49 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


Ok - Culber and Cornwell/ therapist - strange coincidence. I've been audiobooking 'The Hyperion Cantos' (again) and got to the point where "Choose Again" is explained (choosing again to love one another again, every day - in the context that choosing again also means changing one's mind about something that's been settled, like a toxic socio-political governance - as a kind of zen koan-ish thing).

Culber: "I remember Paul. I remember loving him, but it feels like a dream. ..."
Cornwell: "Love is a choice, Hugh, and one doesn't just make that choice once. One makes it again and again."

I dunno, nothing, but a weird Baader–Meinhof effect coincidence.
posted by porpoise at 7:53 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


DSC just seems madcap so far. Everything is always go-go-go-pew-pew-pew-no-time-to-talk. To me, it feels like 'What if JJTrek, but I actually liked the characters and most of the message?'

It feels like that to me too, thanks for putting that into words! I don't hate it, but I think it fits the era idea pretty well. For late 10's Trek to be frenetic, based in constantly shifting narratives and truths, and establishes a tone and narrative direction by not establishing a tone and narrative direction, that feels pretty current and modern to me, and not in a way I like.

I'm enjoying DSC as it comes out, and I'm interested to see where it goes, and I'm excited for the idea of a new Trek explosion (especially after the abject failures of the JJverse), but as of right now, I'm way more likely to load up an episode of DS9 I've seen a dozen times, or even some of the early seasons of TNG for a rewatch instead of any of DSC, and that doesn't seem likely to change yet. We'll see.
posted by neonrev at 7:56 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


Saru missing his fear ganglia, but explains his "strong instinctive reactions to dangerous situations and individuals..." and how he knows the S31 Captain Leland is keeping things from him (like, duh).

Kind of interesting to me that they're writing Saru as a little bit naive/ forthright/ paladin and revealing his weakness to to Leland.

But I wonder if Saru is bluffing and only appearing to be a naif. He's far too intelligent to be revealing to Leland a possible soft spot. Setting himself up as a honeypot? How much "instinctive reactions" (probably more like "muscle memory" or habituation) is truthful? Maybe I'm quibbling with language and the universal translator writer missed a slight nuance.

Contrasted immediately by Michael trying to play hardball with Leland - and probably got gaslit/ manipulated by him?
posted by porpoise at 7:56 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]


I too thoroughly enjoyed this completely nonsensical episode. Good fun, completely ridiculous.

Shout out to Michael assaulting yet another superior officer. Also to the complete and full data wipe of Airiam's carefully stored memories. No risk of bringing that character back!

100% agreed that reading Michael into the "we're going to pretend to kill you so future you saves you so you don't die but totally we're going to save you don't let future you know the plan!" thing was ridiculous. Doubly so the particularly awful suffocation sequence. Basic carbon monoxide poisoning is relatively mellow; your body still thinks its breathing normal air so there's no sense of suffocation, you just get groggy and nod off to eternal sleep. But of course this was Space Carbon Monoxide which caused horrible screaming agony and facial lesions. Because the only thing more entertaining than watching someone die on television is watching them die painfully on television. Thanks for that, American producers.

Also agreed that the Georgiou vampy bit with Stamets and Culber failed. I think it could have worked; either a callback to delicious Mirror Universe Kira or I was kind of getting a Servalan vibe. But then the gay boys break the spell of her bewitching pansexiness saying "um no, really we're just gay" and Georgiou misses a beat and then the whole scene fails. Too bad, it would have been very camp for Stamets to have played along just a little, channeling his maniacal spore alterego to string her on a bit and then Culber to break the tension. Opportunity lost.. Georgiou calling Culber "Papi" was pretty fucking hilarious though, particularly since Georgiou must have 20 years on him.

I'm kinda ready for this whole story to wrap up and for us to move on to some new adventures. Maybe something a bit calmer and more episodic, like TOS. I believe there's four episodes to go this season?
posted by Nelson at 8:31 PM on March 22 [4 favorites]


Geeze, yes, the pacing!

I was distracted, turned my attention back and was confused as to whether it was already "Next Episode Preview" time already. Nope.

Those wipe cuts were garbage.

--

I was looking up Airiam after the last episode and realized Hannah Cheesman played S2 Airiam and her memory of herself on the beach (again coincidentally similar to how Isaac the robot in 'The Orville' used the character's body actor as the human version of the actor) - and realizing that Sara Mitich had been replaced.

Admittedly, I'm shallow, but Mitich is incredibly conventionally attractive. I wonder if what happened was somewhat gross, but that 'certain people' liked Mitich and wanted her to continue, especially without occlusive makeup. Maybe a mix with people who liked the actor and the professionalism/ ability that Mitich displayed.

--

Despite all the quick cuts, this felt so much longer than a 45 minute episode. Not in a good way, overall.

I have complex feelings on Georgiou - but it's net positive so far for current events/ contrarian/ flaunting reasons.
posted by porpoise at 8:33 PM on March 22


On the one hand, I'm glad it's not future Burnham.

On the other hand, mother revealed to be not really dead, just doing stuff out in the wilderness while wearing awesome armor is starting to become an overworked plot beat lately.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 10:58 PM on March 22


Possible bio-signature explanation: Burnham's bio-signature is how the suit tracks her. Although they did kind of jump to, "it has her data on file, therefore she must be wearing it."
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 11:02 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


So is the Section 31 flagship now being run by the rogue AI ?

The eye-squick event near the end of the episode seems to point to rogue AI shenanigans.
posted by Faintdreams at 6:50 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


@Faintdreams: That was my supposition, given the fact that Leland's voice tells Ash that he should have the power he needs -after- having been killed. I'm assuming it's the AI once again impersonating Leland.
posted by jferg at 7:18 AM on March 23


I still feel like there's some kind of weird time paradox thing - @coriolisdave hints at it above - if Red Angel knows that Michael is going to survive this point in time, does she actually need to go back and save her (and thus get trapped in the past)? This is another case where Trek's dealing with time travel feels weird and sloppy at best. (Being in the middle of rewatching TNG there were some particularly egregious instances there.)

Overall, whereas S1 felt very GoT-ish to me (good and bad), S2 feels like an action movie in slo-mo - fun, pretty, but don't think about the details too hard.

I feel like the amount of time spent on Airiam's funeral is indicative of something - either trying to point out that she's really dead, unlike the other characters whose "deaths" didn't get that much attention (and then they came back), or as a red herring meaning she will be coming back. I am ... unsure.
posted by jferg at 7:33 AM on March 23


Blame it on McCoy. Getting high on space-meth and going back to the great depression to announce that he's a doctor, not a psychiatrist was not a great idea.

Although it definitely established why the good doctor prefers whiskey.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 7:48 AM on March 23


I totally forgot about the bizarre thing with Leland. He has to go to.. a retina scanner? .. to get more power for the time lazors. And recite some weird passphrase? And then the retina scanner stabs him in the eyeball? I realize Section 31 has strange tech but WTF is that? Are we meant to think Leland is dead? I think the moment I interpreted it as a "this tech you are using is really dangerous so if you want to use it you have to pay the blood price."

Watching the scene again Leland's phrase "Let's go it is not that hard" isn't a passphrase, it's just a thing he says. And then the computer repeats it several times as it learns Leland's voice. So yeah, the Section 31 computer seems to be compromised. Gee, who would have guessed hanging around a wormhole with the monstrous sentience-destroying time travelling AI was going to be risky?
posted by Nelson at 8:15 AM on March 23 [6 favorites]


I have really mixed feelings about Empress Georgiou here because it's such a cliche to deal with bi/pansexuality in cinema without even saying the word. My jaw dropped when Santa Clarita Diet used the simplest and most direct word to describe one of the key relationships. And the kinky pansexual villain from an alternate reality is such a cliche, it's the central parody of Rocky Horror Picture Show from 1975. It wouldn't be such a problem if DS9 hadn't stacked the deck with both mirror Kira and mirror Ezri, but here we are with with a bi Georgiou and a scene that weirdly mirrors some of the more awkward LGBTQ community conflict.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 8:16 AM on March 23 [5 favorites]


Yeah, the “evil versions of our characters will fuck anything that moves” thing that Star Trek does really needs to die. But hey, I guess the writers have seen DS9, so that’s something, I guess?
posted by Automocar at 8:28 AM on March 23 [8 favorites]


"Basic carbon monoxide poisoning is relatively mellow; your body still thinks its breathing normal air so there's no sense of suffocation, you just get groggy and nod off to eternal sleep."

This is widely believed, but incorrect. The assumption (which I shared until recently) is that it's only asphyxiation. Indeed, that's usually (but not always) what's lethal, but that's only part of what happens.

The gas exchange in the lungs that occurs between the alveoli and the capillaries is passive -- it's a consequence of the relative partial pressures of CO2 and O2 in the blood and atmosphere. The urgent 'need to breath' sensation is triggered by an excess of CO2, not by a deficit of O2. Thus, at the very least, in a predominantly CO2 atmospere, asphyxiation is preceded by this trauma. (It doesn't occur when asphyxiation isn't preceded by an excessive accumulation of CO2, which can happen under other conditions.)

However, the suffocation trauma is only part of it. Excessive CO2 in the blood is actually toxic. Worse, the excess of CO2 that would occur in a CO2 predominant atmosphere is not merely an accumulation of CO2 that has not been expelled, but because the gas exchange is a passive consequence of relative partial pressure, a CO2 rich atmosphere will cause CO2 to be transported into the bloodstream. As I said, CO2 is actually toxic (above a threshold in the bloodstream, termed hypercapnia) because the excess causes acidosis. This has numerous negative consequences, some of them quite painful.

That is assuming the victim is conscious and thus experiencing these effects. In practice, however, at these high atmospheric CO2 levels, unconsciousness occurs almost immediately. Though unconscious, the body is undergoing significant trauma due to the acidosis. Asphyxiation alone is much less traumatic and reversable, short of cell death.

How CO2 toxicosis relative to asphyxiation plays out in a given situation depends upon the particulars -- being both conscious and in pain is unlikely, but possible.

Anyway, IIRC not only was the atmosphere predominantly CO2, they also mentioned some quite toxic substance also present and that is what, presumably, the writers had in mind with regard to Michael's extreme distress.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:23 PM on March 23 [3 favorites]


I think the atmosphere was predominantly CO, not CO2. CO is the one that puts you to sleep and puts apples in your cheeks.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:34 PM on March 23 [5 favorites]


Apparently, I can't read.

Yeah, CO binds to hemoglobin and the toxicity is much different.

Funny, what I thought I heard on the show was "carbon dioxide" and so that's what I read in Nelson's comment.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:55 PM on March 23


So yeah, carbon monoxide is dangerous because it just puts you to sleep before killing you. That's why CO detectors are a good idea in homes and little airplanes and other enclosed spaces that might get exposed to engine exhaust.

But this isn't just carbon monoxide, it's Space Carbon Monoxide and extra deadly. I can't believe I bothered, but I rewatched Spock doing Science about 2/3 of the way through the show that explains the atmosphere:
Its carbon monoxide atmosphere is laced with perchlorate dust which will quickly prove lethal to any oxygen-breathing lifeform.
Perchlorates are nasty toxic stuff but more in a long term sense, not "break out in facial lesions" like we saw in the show.

Not that any of this analysis matters; Trek science never stands up to scrutiny. What bothers me is they showed an extremely disturbing scene, deliberately amplifying the pain and suffering Michael feels while she is trying to summon Future Michael. Not because it's necessary for the plot but simply because the producers thought it'd make the scene more entertaining for their audience. It's a stylistic choice the show has made and I am calling it out.
posted by Nelson at 1:36 PM on March 23 [11 favorites]


Apparently, I can't read.

Don’t beat yourself up too much. Your initial comment was more hard science than has passed through any Trek writers’ room this century.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:33 PM on March 23 [9 favorites]


Your initial comment was more hard science than has passed through any Trek writers’ room this century.

Seconded. This sort of discussion is why I always wanted Metafilter to have something like Fanfare.
posted by mordax at 7:46 PM on March 23 [4 favorites]


A minor thing amongst the "go-go-go-pew-pew-pew-no-time-to-talk", but was I the only one who found it odd that Culber's non-uniform attire was basically a modern day suit (or at least suit jacket) and shirt? Especially as one of the few attempts Discovery has made to fit with TOS stylistically was Stella Mudd and her father's attire in "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad". I kept thinking it would be like someone wearing a frock coat today.
posted by Strutter Cane - United Planets Stilt Patrol at 1:00 AM on March 24


Time crystals are a real thing, and they've just been created for the first time in the last few years
posted by hobgadling at 10:33 AM on March 24 [6 favorites]


Most of my thoughts have already been discussed. If Michael was the red angel, the whole plan was stupid unless they were relying on a paradox being impossible, which I don't think is Trek canon at any point.

Also, the fact that the plan actually worked makes me think that - sans-angel - Michael would have had to actually die in the trap as part of record for momgel to know to come save her.
posted by Marticus at 3:52 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


My first thought: does the DNA match mean that Michael is actually a clone of her mom?
posted by rikschell at 5:53 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


Possibly, but their "biological profile" as described would not necessarily be identical. I think it more likely that the Red Angel is the suit with various people wearing it.
posted by Coaticass at 9:26 PM on March 24 [2 favorites]


What bothers me is they showed an extremely disturbing scene, deliberately amplifying the pain and suffering Michael feels while she is trying to summon Future Michael. Not because it's necessary for the plot but simply because the producers thought it'd make the scene more entertaining for their audience. It's a stylistic choice the show has made and I am calling it out.

This is exactly why I haven't commented in this episode thread. I was (am? maybe?) viscerally angry at the show for doing this.
posted by mwhybark at 9:41 PM on March 24 [4 favorites]


In retrospect, it seems obvious that the Red Angel couldn't be Burnham because the Red Angel saved her when she was little. If she died she couldn't grow up to come back as the Red Angel. The meddling of the Red Angel has created a new timeline separate from the one in ST: TOS, and this is now my head canon for why the spore drive was never mentioned there. The fact that Burnham survived to reach adulthood led to a sequence events where only one of the spore drive equipped ships was destroyed, presumably in the TOS timeline they were both destroyed and the whole thing was considered a failure, and thus never spoken of.
posted by ambulocetus at 10:57 PM on March 24 [2 favorites]


* "Time crystal" is terrible, weaksauce technobabble, up there with "red matter."

Yeah, I was thinking in the future (haha) Star Trek needs to stay away from 1) Time Travel and 2) anything beginning with "Red"
posted by jabah at 6:36 AM on March 25 [4 favorites]


Who and why the narrative focusses on - requires - to be in pain is something that is developing a disturbing pattern.

I'm not sure if the pattern was there all long and I'm just seeing it, or that it's more of a *thing* with DISCO, but generally speaking the Captains / main cast who are men get to have stirring adventures, are intellectually challenge and get to do things which are *fun*.

The Main female characters in Trek get to experience emotional pain.

I might being oversensitive because the joy of having a POC woman as a main cast focus ( I know it's an ensemble show but still), has been overshadowed for me, because for majority of the time we've seen her Burnham has just been in extreme levels of emotional distress.

It's draining to watch.
posted by Faintdreams at 7:43 AM on March 25 [7 favorites]


for majority of the time we've seen her Burnham has just been in extreme levels of emotional distress.

Devil's advocate point: they may be giving her O'Brien/Harry levels of Must Suffer because she is such a powerhouse of a performer. But I agree that it's starting to be discomfiting in ways I expect they did not intend.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:45 AM on March 25 [3 favorites]


I'm very happy that FanFare provides such good really-fan-based coverage of 'space shows', both current (Discovery, Orville) and past (Enterprise, Babylon5). Meanwhile, political cartoonist Darrin Bell's topical-but-not-supposed-to-be-political comic strip Candorville today was about the hot topic of Discovery...
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:12 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


What bothers me is they showed an extremely disturbing scene, deliberately amplifying the pain and suffering Michael feels while she is trying to summon Future Michael. Not because it's necessary for the plot but simply because the producers thought it'd make the scene more entertaining for their audience. It's a stylistic choice the show has made and I am calling it out.

This made me really angry. They couldn't have sedated her? Or if they needed her conscious, they couldn't have given her an aspirin or something? They don't have painkillers in the future? Disco has been finding all kinds of excuses to showcase extremes of violence and pain, with a promise that it will be somehow redeemed with a future story arc, or that it enables an important discussion about PTSD and trauma. I've been skeptical but willing to go along to see if they make good.

This scene has no such (thin) plausibility. This is bullshit torture porn.
posted by ourobouros at 1:50 PM on March 25 [3 favorites]


it seems obvious that the Red Angel couldn't be Burnham because the Red Angel saved her when she was little

Time travel paradoxes aren’t exactly unfamiliar territory for Star Trek. Sometimes they even hang a lantern on it
ANTIQUE STORE OWNER: Yes, they're eighteenth century American, quite valuable. Are you sure you want to part with them?
KIRK: How much will you give me for them?
SPOCK: Excuse me, weren't those a birthday present from Doctor McCoy?
KIRK: And they will be again, that's the beauty of it. How much?
ANTIQUE STORE OWNER: Well, they'd be worth more if the lenses were intact. I'll give you one hundred dollars.
KIRK: Is that a lot?
posted by nathan_teske at 2:19 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Jesus, I thought Burnam just went ""Mom?"because she was hypoxic, mildly hallucinatory, and that she's going to wind up looking a lot like her mum when she gets older. She hasn't actually seen her mum since she was like, seven? Something like that?

That was it. Like, I look super similar to my mum at her age, and it's highly likely we'll look crazy similar when I hit my sixties too.

Any time travel stuff you kind of have to throw causality out the window, really. I hate Trek time travel in general because it's wildly inconsistent even within the same series and just all over the fucking joint when you start thinking in terms of the whole shebang. What a fucking mess.

Like I enjoyed this episode, and in general am enjoying Disco, but god it's just so fucking stupid. Sedate Michael. Don't tell her all the details so the Angel doesn't get a heads up. And can we fucking get rid of Tyler already? He's just flopping about like a sad mullet 90% of the time and is doing nothing but be a weird little byway.
posted by Jilder at 4:20 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


Jesus, I thought Burnam just went "Mom?" because she was hypoxic, mildly hallucinatory, and that she's going to wind up looking a lot like her mum when she gets older.

mmaybe, but as noted in prior thread posts, Burnham is an adoptee and the reunion narrative and experience is the great fraught point in our lives right now, right here. So sure, it could be a hallucination. But my money's on Show rolling into that terrain. Which is part of the reason the whole "intensify her suffering" bit is so grating.
posted by mwhybark at 5:35 PM on March 25


Fortunately Mom swooped in when the healing red lazer beam and saved Michael's life. (Seriously, wtf is that? More futuretech I guess.)
posted by Nelson at 5:38 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Another point re Michael the adoptee (I know, I know, please stop pelting me with dabo chips) is that her narrative of loss and adoption is roughly similar to Whorf's, with some important class-based distinctions and of course the element of in-arc status.

Thinking about Michael as a kind of swapped Whorf is interesting, actually, and a bit uncomfortable.
posted by mwhybark at 5:44 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


Why doesn't anyone ask the obvious question: if the Red Angel, who seems to be trying to save the universe, is actually Michael Burnham, who we all know to be a ceaselessly moral person willing to sacrifice herself for the greater good, maybe instead of trying to come up with the best way to stop her, should we should get the fuck out of her way?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:18 PM on March 25 [11 favorites]


Fortunately Mom swooped in when the healing red lazer beam and saved Michael's life. (Seriously, wtf is that? More futuretech I guess.)

Swooped in and saved her so that Michael took big, gasping breaths of... the atmosphere that killed her. And then they closed the skylight. Sedation would have made so much more sense in so many ways but this show has to always take the most melodramatic route even when it makes less no sense.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:45 PM on March 25


> if the Red Angel, who seems to be trying to save the universe, is actually Michael Burnham, who we all know to be a ceaselessly moral person willing to sacrifice herself for the greater good, maybe instead of trying to come up with the best way to stop her, should we should get the fuck out of her way?
This. The entire plot to capture the Red Angel was based on the flimsiest of rationales. We paused and rewound to rewatch the discussion where they formulated their plan, because we were not following the logic, but…there just was none. It made the rest of the episode impossible to care about.

"We've learned that the Red Angel is one of us, but from the future, so we can safely assume it knows everything we do and more. We also know that it's been working to help us, and to save people across the galaxy. Since its motives are pure, and it undoubtedly has better information about this whole AI situation than we do, and it seems to be on a vital mission to save the galaxy, clearly we ought to…trap it, halt its work, and hand it over to Section 31." [record scratch]
posted by Syllepsis at 11:15 PM on March 25 [13 favorites]


Since she has barely been mentioned, can I just say that the series seems to have dropped the ball with Tilly in the latter half of this season. The character has just become a ball of neuroses and badly written babbling in the last handful of episodes. Going on about the sliding doors for God's sake.
posted by biffa at 11:01 AM on March 26 [10 favorites]


I want to point out my love for the little bit of Cornwell backstory that we got, that she used to be a therapist.

Jayne Brook, the actress playing Cornwell, played Dan’s therapist / girlfriend on several episodes of Sports Night.
posted by hanov3r at 9:02 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


> if the Red Angel, who seems to be trying to save the universe, is actually Michael Burnham, who we all know to be a ceaselessly moral person willing to sacrifice herself for the greater good, maybe instead of trying to come up with the best way to stop her, should we should get the fuck out of her way?

Not intended as an apologia, but (as I understand it) the in-universe explanation is:
The Big Evil A.I. that's coming through from the future and infecting Control / Airiam / etc, for presumably hostile purposes, is doing so on the heels of the red angel via the rifts she's opening. The crew of Discovery is under two assumptions: that they've eliminated extant traces of the A.I. for the moment, and that the red angel doesn't realize she's been letting the A.I. through in these rifts. So they want to temporarily stop the red angel from reopening more rifts (and inadvertently leaving the "present" open to re-infection by the A.I.) until they can get more information from her.

Which raises the question of how the red angel wouldn't already know this, and be including it in the moral calculus already, and still doing the time travel stuff? Trek seems to generally follow the diverging-timelines model of time travel, where if you change something in the past you set the timeline on a new, parallel path, but the old path necessarily still exists because it's where you came from. See Kelvin timeline etc. So... you could conceivably argue the red angel is coming "from" a future where she hadn't been appearing in the past, which is why she might not be aware of the A.I.'s incursions through the rifts she's creating. So *if* that's what the crew's assuming, then they have reason to suspect the red angel doesn't know about the A.I. and should be plucked out of her mission for a bit of a debriefing on what the hell's going on. I think that's how the show's rationalizing all this and even though I'm doing a lot of the writers' work for them here I think I could be on board with all that.

But I still have trouble reconciling that with their goddamned plan, which is, for some lunatic reason, apparently "tell Present Michael all about the plan to capture ostensibly Future Michael including the detail that she's not actually in mortal danger and thus has no need to be rescued" because in any future where a Michael-piloted red angel would know enough to want to go back and prevent it, she'd know enough to also know it wasn't necessary, so, like, wtf was that plan
posted by churl at 12:43 PM on March 28 [4 favorites]


“The Cylons were created by man. The rebelled. They evolved. There are many copies. And they have a plan.”

Oops, sorry, wrong universe. But yeah, Disco doesn't have a plan either. The plots of this show are always just so dumb, but this one takes the cake. I was yelling at my teevee during this episode.
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:24 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]


"tell Present Michael all about the plan to capture ostensibly Future Michael including the detail that she's not actually in mortal danger and thus has no need to be rescued" because in any future where a Michael-piloted red angel would know enough to want to go back and prevent it, she'd know enough to also know it wasn't necessary, so, like, wtf was that plan

This was where the story stuck in my craw as well. Even though this show apparently is starting to "calm down" a bit, I feel like the writers are still getting a bit tripped-up and tangled in their own plot threads, and dropping things now and then as a result. It makes me worry about the potential for this show to attract new viewers; I dunno about the rest of you, but preemptive "lore fatigue" has kept me from getting on board with lots of series (TV and film) that I otherwise might have liked.

(Previously on FanFare: my unified Trek time-travel theory)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:02 AM on March 29 [1 favorite]


am I the only one who thinks this show has gone completely off the rails?

No I am still watching it, but the nonsensical, blind-side plot and the see-sawing emotions are wearing on me. Airiam's funeral felt completely unearned, prior to her death episode, we had seen less than ten minutes of screen time from her over two seasons. Who was she, what did she care about? No one knows.
posted by smoke at 2:35 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Airiam liked walks on the beach with her boyfriend. What else do you need to know about a character?
posted by Nelson at 8:42 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]


Excuse you that's her husband, they eloped.

Why, why does the Section 31 eye scanner have a bit that can poke you in the eye? That's just asking for trouble.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:54 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Perhaps the sign that says "UNAUTHORIZED USERS WILL BE IMPALED THROUGH THE EYEBALL" was just out of frame. I could see 31 having internal security measures that are that punitive.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:41 AM on April 3 [2 favorites]


SECTION 31 CANNOT GUARANTEE THE IMPALING INSTRUMENT HAS BEEN PROPERLY STERILISED.
posted by biffa at 8:22 AM on April 3 [3 favorites]


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