Star Trek: Discovery: All Is Possible
December 9, 2021 9:47 AM - Season 4, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Tilly and Adira lead a team of Starfleet Academy cadets on a training mission that takes a dangerous turn. Meanwhile, Burnham is pulled into tense negotiations on Ni'Var.

Memory Alpha thought that it would be a three-hour tour:

- This is apparently the last appearance of Sylvia Tilly as a member of Discovery's crew, at least for the foreseeable future; she had been on the ship since S1E3, "Context is for Kings."

- With the readmittance of Ni'Var into the Federation, the Romulans are officially part of it for the first time. (Still no word on the Klingons...)

- The training crew consists of a human, a Tellarite, and an Orion.

- The phasers seem a bit underpowered; unless the attacking ice-spider-critters are somehow immune to phaser fire, the cadets and officers may be deliberately modulating their phasers so as not to kill them.

"I hunted down a nun." - Tilly
posted by Halloween Jack (25 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This was a strange episode, even though I liked all the different story threads, they didn't really coalesce into a satisfying hour of television. I did love Michael being a diplomat for once, that story worked really well. Book's therapy scenes were nice; and a little bit of personal reflection for Culber, too. I'm not really buying this Tilly arc, even though her explanation makes sense - I was trying to impress my mother and now she's long dead. That's an interesting story but the random "outside her comfort zone" stories have felt a bit shallow, even though this adventure was fun.

And this false drama of saying goodbye to Tilly. Is she leaving the show? Apparently not. Is she going to teach at Starfleet Academy? Does this mean she's going to have subplots that aren't connected to the main drama? Last time we got rid of a crew member (Saru), he was back two episodes later.
posted by crossoverman at 1:58 PM on December 9, 2021

I liked this episode a lot more than the others in this season, but I'm also not really sure if Tilly's arc is good characterisation or just writers who don't know what to do with her character throwing yet another idea at the wall to see if it will stick. I've been frustrated with how Tilly has been written for a while now -- she seemed to become a parody of herself, with her quirkiest characteristics turned up to eleven. I'm happy that at least during this episode she was allowed to be competent. And I hope that she isn't actually permanently being written out.

It's a small thing, but I liked seeing Gray's new look -- it really underscored that he's a separate person now.
posted by confluency at 2:17 PM on December 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Gray's new look really threw us - did the new body have all that hair last episode? Has a large enough period of time passed since the last episode for it to grow to that length, or is it new fancy positronic body tricks, or was some sort of future hair extension technology employed? Programmable matter, maybe?
posted by jordemort at 9:35 PM on December 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Feelings Trek. To boldly explore emotions and hug it out where no one has hugged it out before.

Look, I love the emotional stuff. I'm glad to see American society embrace anxiety and fear and self-doubt and social discord as psychological themes and overcome them. But good lord, this was A Lot. I mean Disco has two Deanna Trois now? That is a lot of Trois.

So much silliness. Starting with the A Plot. OMG the ensign training mission goes awry putting the children in Mortal Peril. Ensign whats-his-name even died, I guess to convince us of the high stakes. The main story was OK but there sure was a lot of "let's work out our feelings". Also really unimpressed with the idea that the dark skinned guy with the broad nose is also the one that bears a racial grudge for centuries of mistreatment by slavers. And he shows it by acting unreasonably aggressive and violent, down to pulling a gun out on the deck of the spaceship ready to shoot out the windshield. Really? But OK, maybe the invocation of racist tropes was just an accident. The final thing that broke me was that they spent all this time setting up the idea that it'd take 60 seconds to get a transporter lock to beam them out. Then they establish comms and poof! Immediate beam out. Which is it, writers?

The B Plot, the diplomatic stuff, was the strongest IMHO. Mostly because the actors for Michael and Saru are both so good. I'm also really liking the new character of the President T'Rina, she is a strong character. So they carried the show. Still can't help but note that the conclusion was that Michael, once again, saves the day. Not only does she have until-now-unknown skills at diplomatic subtletly, but she's both a citizen of the Federation and the Ni'Var and thus uniquely able to be the diplomatic bridge. I gotta wonder if the Vulcan purists are really OK with this human from nine centuries ago representing their viewpoint.

And then the C Plot, Culber and Book. I feel terrible criticizing a story of a man's grief at his entire home and culture being destroyed in an eyeblink. But seriously... Culber? He's gone from being the medical intern to being dead to being in charge of medical on the whole Discovery but then also being a really great psychologist? It's awfully Mary Sue.

I dunno.. Discovery has always gotten criticism for being Grimdark Trek, too much negative drama. But now it seems to be Smarm Trek, in which every episode is a therapy session in which our beloved characters Resolve Their Feelings. Meanwhile there's a whole galaxy to rebuild. Not to mention an existential threat in the form of a gravitational wrecking ball demolishing whole worlds. It's just all pretty ridiculous.
posted by Nelson at 9:46 PM on December 9, 2021 [6 favorites]

Those were some definite weak ass-phasers.

I am counting down the episodes until Michael saves the day by feeling at the DMA.
posted by Marticus at 1:10 AM on December 10, 2021 [3 favorites]

Look, it's the 32nd century, they totally could have weaponized the Care Bear Stare by then.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:43 AM on December 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

The acting, dialogue, and everything else about Tilly and Adira’s adventure was painfully bad. Just awful. We were cheering for the monsters to eat Tilly and put us out of our misery.

The Michael and Saru diplomatic mission was okay, I guess. Funny that T’Rina has a thing for Saru. I think one problem I have with Discovery is that the Federation feels so small.

The Book and Culber parts were the most interesting. The “standing funeral” story was great.
posted by jimw at 9:18 AM on December 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

so you see, as a citizen of both ni’var and the federation, I have two conflicts of interest, which makes this plan make sense somehow
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:19 AM on December 11, 2021 [17 favorites]

at this point they’ve gone to 80% speeches so I’m looking forward to next week when they will surely have found a way to eliminate actual people-talking-style dialogue entirely

I did laugh out loud very hard at the “all is possible” on the snow globe though

man this show is hilariously dumb now though
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:22 AM on December 11, 2021

Couldn't help but wonder about the fact that we haven't seen Tal interact with anyone when Adira's not around...

I was definitely lost on the snow globe. Sometimes this season feels like it's disappeared up its own navel.

On the other hand, GO SARU
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:25 AM on December 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

I was definitely lost on the snow globe

That was the NX-01 Enterprise in the globe, right? I wasn’t just seeing things?
posted by Servo5678 at 7:17 AM on December 11, 2021


Seriously, is this Whisper Trek? It's definitely Therapy Trek.

(Though the scenes with Book and Culber were beautifully performed by the actors.)
posted by LooseFilter at 8:11 AM on December 11, 2021

That was the NX-01 Enterprise in the globe, right?

Someone heard about the ENT fan theory that the entire show, not just the last ep, was all on the holodeck, and cross-pollinated it with the St. Elsewhere thing.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:58 AM on December 11, 2021 [5 favorites]

It is nice to see some character development for once, rather than everyone be an Ensign Kim stuck in amber.
posted by thejoshu at 1:55 PM on December 11, 2021 [3 favorites]

What is it with Star Trek and red lobster monsters on snow worlds? I guess it makes sense, since you have your red polar bears, your red seals, your red rabbits, and your red penguins. /s
posted by jabah at 1:55 PM on December 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

posted by Marticus at 5:20 PM on December 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

Well, it has me appreciating Below Decks more. The "b" storyline was so predictable that I joked with the husband that there would be an ensign named either "Tex" or "Brooklyn" with this ragtag group of ensigns that need to become a TEAM. Whenever Tilly was questioning herself on whether she had what it took to be a command officer it made me yearn for the Terran version of Tilly, Captain Killy.
posted by jadepearl at 3:02 AM on December 12, 2021


Lobster was locusta to Horace and Virgil and those folks, so... locustation?

This was, I suppose, the best of the new season so far, in that it was the least unsatisfying*. The Galileo Seven shuttle down story at least had a recognizable structure, and the readmission of Ni’var to the Federation is a necessary step in both the offscreen recreation of the polity and an onscreen bit of synecdoche for reassembling the background. Book’s therapy was the least engaging of the three stories for me, but I grant that sf tv has a long and annoying history of people seeing their home world destroyed in front of them and shrugging like they had just discovered that the loaf of bread they were about to make sandwich with had spots of mold.

Star Trek has traditionally had a balance between large-scale and small-scale stories. The better episodes combine both: an unplanned excursion into the past has erased future history, and Kirk falls in love with someone whose death is necessary to restore their future. The Federation is in danger of falling to the Borg, and Picard himself has been assimilated.

Discovery has always struggled with the balance. The nine-century time jump to an era of a moribund Federation gives us a chance for a clear and entirely understandable large-scale goal: restore the government. It also gives us a chance to deal with the ramifications of realizing that essentially everyone you have ever met (except your crew mates) is dead centuries in the past and that seems more or less unaddressed. I cannot summon up any interest in Adira & Gray’s relationship drama while we ignore supporting characters who have been around since day one.

I suppose even back to TOS some of our nominally main characters get backgrounded. Sulu and Uhura were around since 1966, and we learned their first names in 1986 and, er, 2009 respectively. Maybe Detmer and Owosekun and Nilsson will get character development by the 2050s.

*We are on the fourth episode. I watched the second one fifteen days ago and could not for a million dollars tell you what happened in it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:30 AM on December 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

Well, it has me appreciating Below Decks more.

I find myself looking forward to Strange New Worlds.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:31 AM on December 12, 2021 [5 favorites]

Someone should probably put a bit more work into the entry exam for new cadet candidates. These ones sucked. Although I suppose we need to bear in mind that the main, maybe the only criterion for success, is doing a sincere voice, regardless of what you are saying. Which is good, since all the dialogue is shite.
posted by biffa at 1:09 PM on December 12, 2021 [4 favorites]

I'm genuinely wondering whether I might get more value out of hatewatching Andromeda then carrying on with this. And that's got Kevin Sorbo in.
posted by biffa at 4:09 PM on December 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

This was the first time I realized that Dr Culber has had zero backstory up until this point.
posted by schmod at 6:45 PM on December 12, 2021 [4 favorites]

The character moments in this (refreshingly low-stakes!) episode were great, if somewhat unearned.

The scene between Tilly and Michael was particularly wonderful, because we get to see both of them let their guard down, in a very believable way. Given that the actors are clearly more than capable, it frustrates me that we don't get more moments like this.

The main plots? Garbage.

Tilly's recruits don't actually seem to have figured out how to work with each other, and Racist Alien Dude only stops being racist because the Andorian happens to be the son of a civil rights leader.

Michael Burnham's solution to political strife? Put Michael Burnham in charge. (This is met with thunderous applause, and she is now regarded as a political genius)

I like Disco a lot, but gosh darn, this season is testing my limits.
posted by schmod at 6:46 PM on December 12, 2021 [6 favorites]

yeah Mrs. Fedora is actively upset with how bad the show has gotten this season, having only kind of meh-enjoyed it so far, and I really cannot begrudge her desire to just not watch any more of it. I'm still kind of enjoying the characters and deriving some sort of twisted enjoyment out of hatewatching it, but also this show is kind of entertaining in its stupid badness, somehow? I cannot clarify strongly enough that it isn't actually good
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:40 PM on December 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Ugh, this was a stinker. I wanted to like it, I wanted to see Tilly really step up and be the mentor the recruits clearly needed, but aside from that one moment where we had a Learning Opportunity™ about Orions, they didn't really show her doing much more than getting shouty and not "you guys, Starfleet is about X and Y and we need to work together to save ourselves and be prepared, and etc" like we see in older treks. Harumph.

I liked some of the little character moments, I guess - Saru and T'Rina, and Book and Culber, although I agree, they haven't figured out what they want to do with him? I think they're afraid of ending up with another Dr Crusher, and _clearly_ this ship needs a counsellor, so let's merge two roles together annnnnnd...
posted by Kyol at 1:12 PM on December 20, 2021

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