Star Trek: Discovery: Anomaly
November 25, 2021 9:12 PM - Season 4, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Discovery goes chasing after the anomaly that threatens entire planets and makes a disturbing, well, discovery.

I’m doing this post on a small tablet and realizing that I could probably use a keyboard for this sort of thing, so I’ll be brief (for me):

- The Memory Alpha entry is sparse at the moment (people of the future, it’s Thanksgiving in America):

- The episode shares a title with one from ENT.

- The “Soong Method” is the same one used in the last episode of PIC; Jean-Luc Picard is mentioned by name.

- OT but relevant, this was on Memory Alpha’s front page: “Following fan outrage regarding Star Trek: Discovery being pulled from Netflix in international markets days before the program's fourth season, CBS announces a deal to make the program available once more. For those markets which already have access to Paramount+, the first two episodes of the program will be released on 26 November, with the remaining episodes being released weekly. For those in which Paramount+ has not yet been launched, the program will be made available via the free streaming service Pluto TV following the same schedule. (Star Trek: Discovery Season Four Lands on Paramount+ & Pluto TV Internationally at, the official Star Trek website)”
posted by Halloween Jack (33 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It was really nice to see an episode of Trek that dealt with PTSD in a serious manner and not handwave it away. Looking at you, “Hard Time.”
posted by SansPoint at 9:19 PM on November 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

The DISCO ball of silence.
posted by dumbland at 1:29 AM on November 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Clickable MA episode link.

The episode shares a title with one from ENT.

Woops. Is that a franchise first? Pretty sure it is. The prior closest would have been TNG: "The Emissary" and DS9: "Emissary" IIRC.

The “Soong Method” is the same one used in the last episode of PIC; Jean-Luc Picard is mentioned by name.

Yeah, that scene kind of felt like one team of writers cleaning up the mess left by another. Or themselves?—I haven't yet really been tracking who writes what too closely in the Stream Trek era.

It was really nice to see an episode of Trek that dealt with PTSD in a serious manner and not handwave it away.

Agreed; this was a bit like Book's TNG: "Family." Someone on Reddit said that this season looks to be intended as a big pandemic metaphor.

And this script made me realize I care about most of these characters, earlier than I expected to (based on how I feel about the first couple seasons…).

I predict that the titular Anomaly is alive somehow.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:11 AM on November 26, 2021

Well there was First Contact, which was kind of a repeat within the same series.
posted by dumbland at 6:22 AM on November 26, 2021

The sparking/flaming effects in the bridge have been over the top, even for Star Trek, so far this season.
posted by jimw at 8:22 AM on November 26, 2021 [13 favorites]

Suru just said this, about 8 minutes in:

"this is precisely why we are all here. Openness, and a unified strategy, will be critical."

Yeah, I think I'm the target audience for this series. It's like "working together" porn. Collaboration, oh how wonderful.
posted by rebent at 10:49 AM on November 26, 2021 [5 favorites]

Hundreds of dead birds then Burnham does a chicken impression. Book, book, book, book, book. Poor taste.
posted by biffa at 2:06 PM on November 26, 2021 [7 favorites]

I'm not convinced there is a way back for Tilly, basically badly written since beginning of season 2.

Where was Bryce in ep 1?

Apply the 'technobabble' filter. A new technobabble frontier!
posted by biffa at 2:16 PM on November 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

This felt like Stamets had a totally different personality than in earlier seasons. This seems like something that has happened over and over with different characters over three and a bit seasons. The only thing that is constant is the unconvincing dialogue, that remains the same for the Burnham-Book relationship, the Adira-Gray Tal relationship and all the others.

The gravity wave thing was astonishingly weak.

I was up for a new season but watching the first two episodes just leaves me thinking that this is never going to deliver anything interesting.
posted by biffa at 3:03 PM on November 26, 2021 [7 favorites]

So I guess Book is one of those Foundation newtypes or something then

I think I have kind of made my peace with this show being dumb and exciting while also trying to be Very Important, with no subtlety at all, unless you count the ambiguity over whether this season is going to be an unsubtle allegory about the pandemic or an unsubtle allegory about climate change

At this point I must also say that it does feel kind of legitimately jarring to occasionally hear Sonequa Martin-Green allowed to use her normal real voice instead of the hushed important speech voice the script calls for 90% of the time, but I guess we’re suiting up for a third season in a row of Michael Burnham Saves the Universe 🙃
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:47 PM on November 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

I still laugh at the giant plumes of flame on the bridge, like what is even the conceivable value of having installed those in the dock you guys

who decided that the bridge of a spaceship should have Van Halen pyrotechnics

it feels frankly irresponsible
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:51 PM on November 26, 2021 [12 favorites]

Maybe it's left over from that impromptu metal concert they threw on the bridge, or did I dream that?

Aside from all the regular nonsense, I get the anomaly is big, but for something not travelling at warp speed, how is it supposed to threaten more star systems?
"Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space."
posted by Marticus at 6:05 PM on November 26, 2021 [8 favorites]

giant plumes of flame on the bridge

It's taken 8 centuries for starfleet engineers to reduce impacts causing plasma burn explosions to just burns. Another millennium and a direct hit on the bridge will just mean a pleasantly warm shower for the bridge crew.
posted by biffa at 6:14 PM on November 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

900+ years after the TOS era, and still no seatbelts on Starfleet ships.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:07 PM on November 26, 2021 [10 favorites]

Lost in the Burn.
posted by biffa at 7:28 PM on November 26, 2021

Wow the comments here are negative. And I'm right alongside you. It's hard to sit with something this dumb.

From the silly simple things, like the solution is to use "Newtonian mechanics" to ride the relativistic gravitational wave out. You know, like a kite surfer. Not sure which is dumber; the Newtonian vs Relativistic thing or the gratuitous introduction of "kite surfing" in the "surfing the wave" metaphor. Kite surfing is powered by wind, not waves? So, um, is he riding a wave? Or is there Newtonian mechanical gravitational wind, too? OK OK, so I shouldn't hair-split about the tradition of Trek technobabble. But the Disco writers didn't seem to get the memo they shouldn't use words that actually mean things.

So let's move on to the root of the conflict. They need data. Book and holoStamets fly into the storm to get the data. Awesome! And there's a whole backup plan if something goes wrong, say, losing navigation. They have a tow rope they can pull on and reel the ship back in. Cool! So what's the first thing they do when the gravitational wind kicks up the shitstorm? They break the tether. What a great idea. And this all seems to be based on some premise that they need 5 minutes to get the data but only have 3. Also partial data is apparently useless? And we learn later that "oh, oops, despite this high resolution holographic data stream we aren't able to uplink any of the data home". It's all just stupid on top of stupid and I reject.

So we're in the weeds here this season. Not quite Under the Dome yet, but it's pretty rough going. The good thing is I really like the depth of characters on this show. I really like Michael. I like Book. I like Saru. I like Tilly. I care about what happens to these people in a way I don't about Boimler or whats-their-names on Lower Decks. Or Picard or whats-their-names on Picard. Something about this show has transformed a bunch of schlocky sci-fi trope episodic shows into a Family, people I care about. And that's the Trek magic going all the way back to TOS.

If it turns out the anomaly is being directed by the Greek god Apollo, I'm out.
posted by Nelson at 8:18 PM on November 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

I guess we’re suiting up for a third season in a row of Michael Burnham Saves the Universe 🙃

At our house it is referred to as: It's All About Michael
posted by fairmettle at 3:58 AM on November 27, 2021 [1 favorite]


flames on the side of my bridge
posted by sixswitch at 10:05 AM on November 27, 2021 [21 favorites]

I dug the first couple of seasons, the third was fine, but I just can't find anything to grasp as a hook to care about anything in this season.

I think, for me, it's the power creep that's caught up hard and despite a "dark age" I'm unconvinced that this is, "like, the future. Man."

In my theorycrafting of worldbuilding future societies, the inability of the author to imagine something like a smartphone to someone from the 12th century:fruits of fundamental tech from 3000 would be to us could be handwaved to "decadence" or "it was good enough, don't need to innovate more."

That far out, the tech is fundamentally less interesting than the social evolution/ implications of the tech.

Seeing more anno 3000 cellphones, and less anno 3000 society.
posted by porpoise at 10:45 AM on November 27, 2021

I dug the first couple of seasons, the third was fine, but I just can't find anything to grasp as a hook to care about anything in this season.

Was meh on season one, hated season two, enjoyed season three and think the first two eps of S4 are great set up but I need to see where this is going.
posted by crossoverman at 6:54 PM on November 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Yeah honestly I would love to sit through ten episodes of visiting moth planets and rebuilding Starfleet with actual personal moments instead of saving the entire galaxy once again
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:19 PM on November 27, 2021 [14 favorites]

I was feeling a lot more hopeful after season three, but I'm not sure I can do another season of Star Trauma. If there's going to be a big speech and lots of deck explosions and a female captain spending most of her time worried about a man's feelings (Book is my favorite character, yet) every episode, I don't think we've learned anything about making good Trek.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:13 PM on November 28, 2021

The nicest thing I have to say about the episode is I liked Culber on deck doing first aid while action goes on, always seemed silly they have magic healing wands but people always seem to have to drag their asses to sickbay. However, culber being on deck seems like something we shoulda seen in TNG/Voy/DS9. By Dsico future, what Culber is doing should be done automatically by the ship AI, so nobody has to stop or worry about bumping or holding still for a heal, the computer just detects and handles it automatically. They really don't think any of their tech through and really makes the future seem really outdated.

Otherwise this episode managed to be super sad and feel-bad while also cramming in a bunch of senseless action. Book's ship finally has a use case, shapeshifting to avoid space rocks n shit! Woo! Oh wait, just kidding, they only show the interior and apparently he doesnt shape shift his ship, just tanks hit after hit.... okay.

Planetary destruction is not something anyone can empathize with, nobody knows how to heal from, if you can heal from such a thing, it's completely bizarre the writers are trying to do a grief arc with that kind of event, frak off with that, you don't know what it's like to experience even a mild genocide, let alone all of Earth being destroyed and our human imagination are incapable of conceptualizing or writing it. Fool's errand!
posted by GoblinHoney at 10:44 AM on November 29, 2021

Over the last few weeks I just started watching ST:Disco and binged up to this most recent (as of posting) episode. I know a lot of Trek fans hate (or love-hate) Discovery, and I definitely get why. There are a lot of things about the show that don't quite work, and there's a lot of ways in which a lot of the time it doesn't really feel like Star Trek. And yet, at the same time, there are a lot of things that do work well, and there are a lot of ways in which it is very Star Trek. Heck, even some of its flaws that people complain about are very Star Trek flaws. (And a lot of the complaints are very reminiscent of what fans used to say about ST:DS9 back in the day, though Discovery is certainly no DS9, not yet anyway.) That said, I think the first two episodes of this season feel much more like Star Trek to me than almost anything in the first three seasons, and while I overall enjoyed the first three seasons, I'm optimistic that this might finally be the season where the show really finds its footing.

I strongly second DoctorFedora. I think if Discovery finds a way to balance its bigger story arcs with more focused, single-episode storylines, the way that the peak seasons of DS9 did, it'll be a much stronger, much more Star Trek-y show. The show needs to slow way down: give time for the crew of Discovery to encounter and solve some smaller problems in between the big, galaxy-affecting ones. And please, writers, let us see more of the bridge crew! They're such interesting-seeming people yet we barely get to know them. Discovery's message that the crew is an intentional family rings slightly hollow when it's The Michael Burnham Show 90% of the time, no matter how much I like the character. (And yes, I'm definitely salty about how they Tasha Yar'ed Airiam without hardly even giving her any lines prior to the episode that Control infected her.)
posted by biogeo at 6:11 PM on November 29, 2021 [5 favorites]

I want to like Discovery, but the show makes it difficult. The anomaly is such nonsense. The show continually lacks any sense of the scale of space. The stakes, and the losses so far, are too high to be meaningful. The flame-belching bridge effects are particularly dumb. Expendable automated probes should be plentiful and useful. A galaxy full of even Hubble-level space telescopes would have detected the gravitational lensing of anything that you could confuse for a pair of black holes 5 light years across (and given 1200 years of technological advancement, they should be affordable enough that any interested kid would get a hubble space telescope that one summer when they get interested in astronomy). Heck, at 500 light years distance something 5 light years in diameter would cover about as much area in the night sky as Earth's moon, you can't miss it.

I hesitate to speculate aloud about how you could rescue the idea of the anomaly because whatever we learn about it in future episodes will be dumb, dumb, dumb. Best case, they figure something out and dispose of it soon because setting it on a pace to kill a whole system full of people every 2 or 3 weeks all season is too much.

So, what's good? I think I appreciate what they are doing with Gray, though that's pending whatever happens in the next episodes. Right now, it looks like the show is literally unburying its queers, for a second time. I don't have any trouble believing that Culber can simultaneously be a REALLY ABRASIVE guy when working, and at the same time adore the heck out of Adira Tal & Gray and want to hug them and keep them safe from everything.. because, it me.

I also understand viewers who feel dismayed that apparently even in 2250s and 3190s Federation, being nonbinary or trans is weird enough that you have to take time to explain it, wait months to feel safe telling someone your pronouns, etc. OTOH, the mention of Gray's transition in this episode kinda just slipped in there and nobody missed a beat (admittedly, Gray was speaking to his doctor and his partner, both presumably aware of this already), so this time they did better than making Adira come out to Culber after being misgendered by everyone on Discovery for weeks and weeks, ever since they had come aboard.
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 8:35 AM on December 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

whatever we learn about it in future episodes will be dumb, dumb, dumb

Maybe the gravitational anomaly will turn out to be future-Burnham flying around in space with nothing but a Gundam suit, sending messages to herself.
posted by Nelson at 9:27 AM on December 1, 2021

Discovery's niche seems to be Space Mysteries and Feelings, and to be honest, I'm here for it.
posted by SansPoint at 1:33 PM on December 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

Woops. Is that a franchise first? Pretty sure it is. The prior closest would have been TNG: "The Emissary" and DS9: "Emissary" IIRC.

TAS: "The Eye of the Beholder" and TNG: "Eye of the Beholder", as well.
posted by hanov3r at 3:04 PM on December 2, 2021

I just want to know how you don’t trip over your furniture when you turn your quarters into a holo like Michael did. Is the furniture and all your possessions also a holo?
posted by rockindata at 8:50 AM on December 5, 2021

rockindata: Forcefield treadmills, mostly.
posted by SansPoint at 2:47 PM on December 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Reverse the polarity of the coffee table and reroute it through the primary buffer panel.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:23 PM on December 5, 2021 [3 favorites]

Star Trek is, and shall always be, a special mixture of smart and dumb.
posted by rikschell at 11:48 AM on December 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

I just want to know how you don’t trip over your furniture when you turn your quarters into a holo like Michael did. Is the furniture and all your possessions also a holo?
It's the same technology which moves chairs when a hologram sits in them
posted by fullerine at 6:49 AM on December 22, 2021

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