Star Trek: Short Treks: The Trouble with Edward
October 10, 2019 9:38 PM - Season 2, Episode 2 - Subscribe

The dreadful truth behind Star Trek's most beloved species is revealed.

Memory Alpha once had a tribble with a side of fava beans and a nice blood wine:

[there's not a whole lot there yet--the usual author is probably still in shock--so I'll fill a few things in.]

- Rosa Salazar has been in some stuff, you know, Alita: Battle Angel and that thing on Amazon Prime, Undone, that rotoscoping is wacky stuff.

- H. Jon Benjamin is also there, in the flesh--he's probably best known for Archer and Bob's Burgers.

- Pike is in it. Lookin' good.

- There's also a Trill; I wonder if it's a Dax symbiont, maybe Emony, who would be about the right age. (Emony met Leonard McCoy at Ole Miss, and remarked that "he had the hands of a surgeon", nudge nudge. This came from "Trials and Tribble-ations", so how cool would that be?)

"The conversation's over." -- Lynne Lucero, many times.

Poster's Log:

You know, usually I'm a bear for picking apart logical inconsistencies and problems with episodes, but to Gre'Thor with that. This was hilarious, and if it took continuity and put it on a Tilt-a-Whirl and then bribed the operator to lock open the controls and walk away, well, at least it gives a really, really, really good reason why the Federation doesn't allow genetic engineering involving humans.
posted by Halloween Jack (24 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
P.S. There's an ad after the credits, don't miss it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:52 PM on October 10, 2019 [4 favorites]


Be sure and read the fine print on the ad, too.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:36 PM on October 10, 2019 [3 favorites]


All right: fancasting Cyrano Jones. I'll start:
Eric Wareheim.

Be sure and read the fine print on the ad, too.

I'd love to, but All Access has to shrink the program that I'm trying to watch into a quarter of the screen so it can shill other things at me.

Really good Short Trek, and I'm not even seeing any big continuity problems (apart from the commercial, of course, but they were clearly just having some fun). Larkin was perfectly cast.

I like the design of the Cabot; interesting, but not flashy (as a research vessel should be), and respectful of canon ship designs. Moreover, it seems we've seen it before: a Magee-class ship was on DISCO—the U.S.S. Shran, in fact!

And top work on the tags, Jack!
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:43 AM on October 11, 2019 [5 favorites]


While I'd love for the trill in this to be Emony, she was primarily an Olympic-class gymnast. Not that there's anything keeping a gymnast from pursuing the sciences after their athletic career, but when she met Bones at Old Miss, she had been there judging a competition, which suggests to me that she kept the focus on her love of the sport.

And while trotting out "It was humans playing god with genetic engineering" as the origin story yet again could be tiring -- after all, they've used that now for everything from Khan's ego, to smooth-foreheaded TOS Klingons, to Dr. Bashir's pert little ass that you could bounce a slip of latinum off of, this can actually serve as a quite helpful addition to canon.

It explains how Captain Lorca could keep his pet tribble, Merkin, on his desk all season, right next to a tempting food source in the form of a bowl piled high with fortune cookies without it trying to eat even one, or spawning dozens of little Merkinlets. It also explains how, in the Kelvin timeline, we see a tribble being kept around Sickbay like a lab rat during the climax of Into Darkness, and no one even bats an eye over it. Those were tribbles from the original, unaltered strain.

What bothers me though, is that the exponential population growth of the tribbles in this short should have been stopped, at some point, by the food sources running out. Now one could argue that the USS Cabot was a research vessel looking for ways to help feed a starving planet, so they may have been conducting experiments with foodstuffs that were hyperdense with nutrients (much more so than, say, quadrotriticale). But unless there was a lab with a replicator preprogrammed to make the stuff, and the tribbles in that room just somehow piled high enough to keep some constantly pressed against the replicate button, there should have been no way for them to keep reproducing until the ship structurally failed trying to contain them.
posted by radwolf76 at 5:05 AM on October 11, 2019 [7 favorites]


The problem with "where did they get enough food to breed enough to crack open the ship"? was one of the continuity problems that I was hinting at. The other was that the crew in "The Trouble with Tribbles" seemed to know nothing about them, which is unlikely if they resulted in the destruction of a starship. It's possible, though, that Starfleet classified the incident in order to prevent another ecological catastrophe (which nearly happened anyway in TTwT). I also thought that Lucero seemed a bit young for a starship captain, but Kirk was canonically thirty-two when he took command of the Enterprise, and the Kelvin-timeline Kirk even younger. (Rosa Salazar is actually thirty-four.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:40 AM on October 11, 2019 [3 favorites]


Then there's the other other continuity problem that Dr. Phlox had tribbles on Star Trek: Enterprise. Tribbles which he described as breeding "quite prodigiously", a trait that made them ideal to use as food for his other pets. This would predate Edward's tampering by roughly a century. So the theory that they weren't explosive breeders until the events of this Short, while delightfully elegant, still doesn't explain everything.
posted by radwolf76 at 9:09 AM on October 11, 2019 [2 favorites]


This was great to watch high. H. Jon Benjamin ! Tribbles! The Tribbles ad post credits! what a rollercoaster! Best thing to come out of the DISCO franchise yet, imo.
posted by some loser at 9:28 AM on October 11, 2019 [2 favorites]


Edward researching tribbles as a consumable meat source makes me think this whole episode came from the writer's room spitballing ideas when an Arby's commercial came on.
posted by Fiberoptic Zebroid and The Hypnagogic Jerks at 7:56 PM on October 11, 2019 [3 favorites]


"The problem with 'where did they get enough food to breed enough to crack open the ship'? was one of the continuity problems that I was hinting at."

Yeah, but tribbles bursting open a starship is worth it.

Also, correct use of "increasing exponentially" which deserves some credit given that elsewhere it's misused everywhere, always (it seems).

This was great. I'm starting to be a bit irked that Short Treks is so much better than DISCO.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:26 PM on October 11, 2019


Also, I looked up info on Rosa Salazar while watching Undone because I was so impressed with her. She was just as good here in a role that could easily have been flubbed. She had to get the tone of many of her lines just right. And she nailed it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:29 PM on October 11, 2019 [1 favorite]


My headcanon has always been that tribbles are a sort of macroscopic bacteria that reproduce asexually via binary fission or budding. Dr. McCoy's proclamation that they are "born pregnant" was either intentionally dumbing it down for Kirk's benefit or a legitimate misunderstanding.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:32 AM on October 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


OK that was great. It reminded me of the humorous tone of so many TOS episodes. Those haven't aged well, seem quite dopey now. (Doubly so the TNG light episodes). But as a brand new short this works great. Broken down laughing at Edward coming out in the hallway in his underpants. Middle aged dude in briefs; never fails to get a laugh.

Also liked how it poked fun at some Starfleet tropes. Of course sometimes emergencies catch people asleep, or in their jammies or underwear. How come we never see that? And of course Starfleet has some folks who aren't just socially awkward but are really, actually just not good at what they do. Like Barclay, but without redemption.

Now I'm looking forward even more to Lower Decks.
posted by Nelson at 6:16 PM on October 14, 2019 [2 favorites]


I loved this, but I was surprised that they mucked around with the origin of the Tribbles so much. It made me aware how strange it is going to be reconciling the comedic Star Trek shows with the rest of the continuity. Star Trek as a setting can happily handle all sorts of different genres, but it has also fetishized continuity and canon more that any other show or franchise. It's fine to give Tribbles a jokey origin story because they were always silly and comedic, but I wonder how the audience is going to respond if we start getting a ton of silly Rick-and-Morty-style stories about why Klingons have forehead ridges or how replicators work or whatever.

I don't put it past one of the animated shows to jokily reveal that the Enterprise's design was actually based on a pizza cutter. Would that kind of thing be cited as canon in Memory Alpha, or will people just start ignoring whatever is too goofy? I'm curious to see whether Lower Decks tempers the silliness or whether it always goes for the joke, Memory Alpha be damned.
posted by painquale at 5:08 AM on October 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'm curious to see whether Lower Decks tempers the silliness or whether it always goes for the joke, Memory Alpha be damned.

Well, if it wants to (A) last a few seasons and (B) not infuriate the fanbase, it'll base most of its humor on characterization, not sight gags and wanton absurdity.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:55 AM on October 16, 2019


…or animated renditions of celebrity guest stars >:[
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:56 AM on October 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


Star Trek is already has more than enough silly concepts in it, if the writers have to make things sillier for joke purposes they need better writers. There are plenty of concepts, especially in TNG, that could easily have been mined for comedy if they wanted to play it that way:
An omnipotent being that only wants to be left alone with his fake dead wife.
A con artist trying to convince you she's the literal devil.
A disease that makes everyone act drunk.
Aliens just made the dumbest guy on board super smart.
Your android crewmate keeps finding other androids that look like him and they all suck.
The computer creates an immortal supervillain because you made a poorly worded request.
Everyone on board turns into monsters for no good reason.
Your chief medical officer has an affair with a candle.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:18 PM on October 16, 2019 [8 favorites]


There are plenty of concepts, especially in TNG, that could easily have been mined for comedy if they wanted to play it that way:
[...]
A con artist trying to convince you she's the literal devil.


In fairness, they did play most of that episode for comedy—albeit drily. It's one of TNG's funniest, really.

Everyone on board turns into monsters for no good reason.

They had a very good reason! It was the last season and the writers were in a hurry!

Your chief medical officer has an affair with a candle.

…Yeah, that one? I got nothin'.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:18 AM on October 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


A con artist trying to convince you she's the literal devil.

Wait, what? Which one was this?
posted by Mogur at 9:25 AM on October 17, 2019


Devil's Due, TNG Season 4 Episode 13.
posted by radwolf76 at 10:44 AM on October 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


Dr. McCoy's proclamation that they are "born pregnant" was either intentionally dumbing it down for Kirk's benefit or a legitimate misunderstanding.

I’ll go with misunderstanding. Dude had to make do with saltshakers and kitchen implements as medical scanners. Still an impressive track record.
posted by mwhybark at 6:47 PM on October 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


"Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor not a biologist."
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:03 PM on October 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


“say, as long as I’m waving this saltshaker around, can I, um, just have a taste?”

There is a hidden, entirely accidental triple-bankshot reference to The Walrus and The Carpenter in here by way of “Shore Leave.”

They better keep Karl Urban for the role or I’ll kick the shell bucket over!
posted by mwhybark at 7:19 PM on October 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


Aliens just made the dumbest guy on board super smart.

Barkley's not DUMB. He may be socially awkward and incapable of speaking to people but he's not dumb.
posted by hanov3r at 10:06 AM on November 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


Federation-Klingon relations would be setback somewhat if it were discovered that a Federation scientist turned Tribbles into the menace that plagued the Klingon empire. It might be highly classified, and very restricted knowledge as a result.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:03 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]


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