Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: Memento Mori
May 26, 2022 7:25 AM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

When the Enterprise investigates an attack on a Federation colony, La'an is na'anplussed to discover that the attackers are familiar to her.

Memory Alpha's mind to your mind:

• This is one of fifteen Star Trek episodes with titles derived from Latin, in this case meaning "remember you must die". The other episodes with Latin titles are "Dramatis Personae", "Sub Rosa", "Ex Post Facto", "Non Sequitur", "Alter Ego", "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges", "Terra Nova", "Vox Sola", "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum", "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 1", "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2", "Veritas", "Terra Firma, Part 1", and "Terra Firma, Part 2".

• The Gorn first appeared in TOS: "Arena," in which James Kirk survives a one-on-one fight with a Gorn. An earlier chronological appearance of a Gorn occurred in the mirror-universe Enterprise episodes "In a Mirror, Darkly" [FF previously --ed.].

"Like…how big of a black hole?"
"One problem at a time."
- Ortegas and Pike

"To them, humans are just walking feed bags of flesh and bone and jelly."
- La'an, on the Gorn

"Pacifism is not passivity."
- Hemmer

Poster's Log:
This is one of the coolest episodes of Trek in a very long time IMO—maybe since late Voyager. It's another classic submarine-thriller-outing—VOY did at least one of these, as did DS9 and I think ENT?—although this might be the most on-the-nose-ily that Trek has gone to this particular (gravity) well. But a fine balance of pacing and character drama.  Nhan  La'an made the Gorn scary—Pike even looked a little queasy after her big speech. And watching the 1701-Nil get so shredded? Evoked some genuine feels.

I noted and approved of many design choices here. The cargo ship's design evokes similar TOS-era ships we've seen previously (e.g. the remaster, TAS). And although the TRON torpedo was maybe a bit of a stylistic misfit, I still liked it. Strange, though, that La'an's quarters are nicer than Picard's on the -D.

The subtitles confirm that the line of dialogue La'an hears in Spock's mind during their meld was Burnham's voice.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
Pretty sure I saw a graphic of the Bussard collectors in action on a bridge station screen during the "we'll take the shuttle" scene. My understanding of how Bussard collectors work suggests that their use in this situation is quite fitting.

Pointless STO Comparison:
The Gorn have been part of Star Trek Online since launch (IIRC). They are a playable species in the Klingon faction. The design of their ships is quite dissimilar from what we see here.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (37 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It's another classic submarine-thriller-outing—VOY did at least one of these, as did DS9 and I think ENT?

TOS, "Balance of Terror"!

I liked this one a lot. I really like they way they're developing the Gorn, although I would have liked a line critiquing Singh's assertion that an entire species is "evil".

Still, show is 4 for 4 as far as I'm concerned.
posted by rhymedirective at 10:41 AM on May 26, 2022 [5 favorites]

One of the things that hit me early and hard about this ep was that it seemed like everybody was wearing a remembrance pin. Yeah, the first season of DIS had the Klingon war, but the Enterprise was deliberately taken out of that war... was it for, say, Katrina Cornwell, who died in DIS S2E14 saving the Enterprise? Or is space travel really that deadly? (I couldn't make out the names on anyone's pin but La'an's.) Presumably, Spock's wasn't for Michael, since it seems that her very existence is classified now. Or maybe some of the crew have blank pins, since Discovery may not be the only classified ship. Hmm.

Anyway, nice bits between La'an and Spock, and Hemmer and Uhura. (By the way, Hemmer's voice reminds me a lot of Jeffrey Combs'.) Also, funny comment about the Pike Maneuver, and for a second I was wondering if they were going where I thought they might be going with a slingshot around the black hole. Also too, kind of awesome that M'Benga was giving Una a transfusion while he worked, although if human blood is that directly compatible with her Illyrian blood, it makes me think that she missed being detected as Illyrian earlier because her genetic modifications make her effectively human.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:15 AM on May 26, 2022 [2 favorites]

Hey, just wanted to let you and Halloween Jack know I've been really appreciating your SNW posts and the added context and Poster's Logs you both provide! Also you made me chuckle with that " La'an is na'anplussed."
posted by yasaman at 11:15 AM on May 26, 2022 [16 favorites]

This show just keeps getting better and I am so far loving it.
posted by Faintdreams at 12:34 PM on May 26, 2022 [3 favorites]

The "the evil scary baddies communicate by flashing morse code at each other" bit was too silly for me, but the rest of it was good.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:20 PM on May 26, 2022 [5 favorites]

The "the evil scary baddies communicate by flashing morse code at each other" bit was too silly for me, but the rest of it was good.

It was pretty shaky as the right-side page of the notebook in the flashback made it clear the Gorn use the English alphabet for some reason, but the false flagging payoff somewhat redeemed it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:20 PM on May 26, 2022 [11 favorites]

This was my favourite of the first four - the return of the submarine episode was very welcome and the clever way the plot unfolded and the multiple reversals made for some excellent dramatic tension. This show knows how to make plot reveal character, rather than have the characters talk about their feelings in the middle of the action. And while the episode focused on La'aaaaaaaan, it's a real ensemble show and we know the characters well enough now that we can appreciate even the smallest moments with them. Chapel continues to be competent and quirky. Number One's backstory gave her medical situation some interesting tension (even if it did all work out okay in the end). Pike's previous episode assertion that "no one dies today" pays off in his real pain when he lost crew members this episode. I loved this episode and four episodes in and I think this proves that adventure of the week with ongoing character building was a smart choice; ie. doing what Trek did successfully four forty years.
posted by crossoverman at 4:05 PM on May 26, 2022 [6 favorites]

This felt like such a long episode in the best way. So much was happening and I’m here for it.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 8:51 PM on May 26, 2022 [8 favorites]

I am enjoying the show more than the other recent treks, and it's nice to just nitpick while enjoying it. I too found the morse code a hella stretch.

Also, I noticed this previously but it happened again this time. The fancy planet scan stats have a lot of info (why age?) but omits surface gravity, which after atmosphere and temperature, is kinda important.

(danger zone)
posted by Marticus at 12:12 AM on May 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

They should’ve incorporated Uhura into the Gorn communications storyline in some small way, right? After all, deciphering alien language is sorta her thing. It still would’ve been a handwave, but at least it wouldn’t have felt like the Gorn’s language was based on a cipher from Boys Life magazine.

I’m a little confused, I guess, by how the show has talked a lot about Hemmer’s blindness but hasn’t really shown us his blindness. He seems to be able to use a glass panel touchscreen without a problem, and he can also seem to read displays in some manner. I’m not saying I want him to be less capable than other crewmembers, not at all; but I would like to see how his capabilities differ from his sighted colleagues.

Ortegas would have been a lot more endearing in this episode if they’d cut back on her quippiness by about 30%. Like, maybe one out of every three replies could have been a simple “Yes, sir” instead of a strained extra-in-West-Side-Story wisecrack. I like her character a lot (I like ALL the characters a lot!) but in this episode she was getting perilously close to Xander territory, and nobody wants that.

I find La’an’s current characterization fairly unengaging but I do love the depiction of a young person aspiring to be a stoic hardass but not actually being very good at it because it’s not who really she is. That rings very true to life; I knew a lot of young people like that…hell, I *was* a young person like that. Oh, and I like the detail that her quarters were a little bit messy, a clue but she’s not the hyper-efficient machine she wants to be.

Okay, those nitpicks aside: oh my god, I love this! I love this episode, I love this show! I know this is gonna sound overwrought or twee, but Strange New Worlds has caused a small but noticeable bump in my mental health and wellbeing. It’s so nice to have Star Trek back in my life, to have a show that captures my imagination the way TNG and the syndicated TOS reruns did 35 years ago. Here’s to at least six more seasons.
posted by Ian A.T. at 1:31 AM on May 27, 2022 [15 favorites]

This show feels like how I would imagine it would feel to see a famous and favourite musician, who after spending years and years in the weeds performing weird broody stuff that no one asked for, finally says "fuck it" and goes back to playing the hits.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 3:12 AM on May 27, 2022 [13 favorites]

This is how you do an ensemble show. Every single character had something important to bring to the story, even Chief Kyle (who, at this point, might as well be a regular on the show). I feel like TNG never managed to do this in seven years, and here is the new kid doing it in Episode 4.

I agree with Ian A.T.'s observation that the writers are making Ortegas a little too quippy. We need an episode to explore her character to get away from that glib characterization. I think that character has great potential, and I like Melissa Navia's performance.

This is the second time that Spock has taken the shuttle out for a ride to save the ship from an overpowered opponent. Let's give that a rest for a while.
posted by briank at 5:19 AM on May 27, 2022 [1 favorite]

I was entertained but phew this show is shameless about reusing clichés... The submarine noises. The punchy pilot with one too many wisecracks. The advanced enemy that uses an old Boy Scout code for comms. Running out of medical supplies and the heroic officer insisting others are treated first...

OTOH these were all put together into an entertaining and well produced hour of TV and I'm on board with it. But at the risk of repeating myself... episodic shows like this are remembered for their best written episodes. And for every Trouble with Tribbles or Space Seed or City on the Edge of Forever there's also a Way to Eden or Catspaw or Spectre of the Gun, those episodes we skip over on our fourth rewatch binge. These past couple of episodes have been B or C tier for me, hoping for some A tier writing to come.

Mostly though I want to shout out to Number One's amazing fingernail polish. What a neat little costume detail!
posted by Nelson at 6:45 AM on May 27, 2022 [3 favorites]

Where did all of the ancient and historical medical supplies in sick bay come from? They couldn't materialize them. Do they just have this stuff sitting around and taking up space in the medical stores?

Sure, I can see a need for having the designs for older-style equipment in the databanks, on the off chance they have to interact with some pre-warp civilization somewhere that doesn't have advanced medical technology, but wouldn't that stuff be created as the need arises and not just stored indefinitely?

I still can't get over how large sick bay is compared with its TOS counterpart, where two beds was typically the maximum you'd ever see and you'd only see that after (IIRC) walking through Bones' outer office.
posted by sardonyx at 7:22 AM on May 27, 2022

Where did all of the ancient and historical medical supplies in sick bay come from? They couldn't materialize them. Do they just have this stuff sitting around and taking up space in the medical stores?

I would guess that's exactly the kind of stuff they'd be sure to have sitting around - because they're only going to need it in circumstances where they can't just press buttons and wave magic lightbulbs.

I am just loving this show, it's one of the highlights of my week right now. And I also wanted to chime in with sheer joy at Una's shiny gold nail polish!!
posted by invincible summer at 8:28 AM on May 27, 2022 [3 favorites]

I adored this episode, and it hit me right in the feels with La'an's arc about trauma, PTSD, repressed memories, and healing. It's something I've been dealing with a lot in therapy. Increasingly, what I've come to love about Star Trek isn't the sci-fi plotting, it's the stories they're telling with the characters. It's what I loved about the last season of Disco, it's what I've been liking in Picard. That SNW is balancing telling amazing episodic sci-fi stories with deep character stories is giving me everything I love about Star Trek in a gorgeous, retro-futurist package.
posted by SansPoint at 9:00 AM on May 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

I definitely enjoyed it, but I admit that I continue to be baffled at the production-design decision to just ignore all the space constraints of ST:TOS and make every space on board four time the size of the original. This ship is not supposed to be anywhere near that big!

Make the spaces shinier, but why so big?
posted by suelac at 9:00 AM on May 27, 2022 [8 favorites]

it's a real ensemble show and we know the characters well enough now that we can appreciate even the smallest moments with them.

I definitely feel like I already know this bridge crew better than I do the Discovery crew.

Although the English-language Morse-code thing was terrible for several reasons, this was by far the strongest SNW so far, and I loved it most of the time. More like this, please!
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:02 AM on May 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

And for every Trouble with Tribbles or Space Seed or City on the Edge of Forever there's also a Way to Eden or Catspaw or Spectre of the Gun, those episodes we skip over on our fourth rewatch binge.

Yeah, but even they've got some good moments: Charles Napier as a space hippie jamming with Spock, the aliens turning the Enterprise into a pendant and dangling it over a candle flame, DeForest Kelley redoing the OK Corral, after having co-starred in the 1957 film with Burt Lancaster. There are some TOS episodes that I had a harder time remembering because of a lack of those memorable moments, and I skip those too.

Make the spaces shinier, but why so big?

About half the crew as were supposed to be on the ship in Kirk's day.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:24 AM on May 27, 2022 [3 favorites]

Where did all of the ancient and historical medical supplies in sick bay come from? They couldn't materialize them. Do they just have this stuff sitting around and taking up space in the medical stores?

To the contrary, I had the opposite reaction. Having someone trained in ye olde snip snip sew sew medicine in case something takes out the power should be required, but it was implied that it was just an elective. The US Navy briefly scrapped sextant training but brought it back.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:03 AM on May 27, 2022 [10 favorites]

Chekov's A350 Atmosphere Regulator
posted by Mogur at 3:46 AM on May 28, 2022 [4 favorites]

If Pike comes to the fate we already know, and that he has foreseen, he will be unable to communicate except by simply activating a light – something like the Morse code type speech of the Gorn. No idea if this link was intended by the writers, but it's a possibility.
posted by zadcat at 7:36 AM on May 28, 2022 [8 favorites]

It still would’ve been a handwave, but at least it wouldn’t have felt like the Gorn’s language was based on a cipher from Boys Life magazine.

The secret Gorn message turns out to be: "BE SURE TO DRINK YOUR OVALTINE"
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:33 AM on May 28, 2022 [14 favorites]

Sneak Peek at next week's episode 5.
posted by fairmettle at 11:47 PM on May 28, 2022

This show continues to deliver! The Morse code thing was goofy but goofy within TOS parameters so I give it a pass. So far, episodic story-of-the-week episodes with serialized characterization is pretty much literally what I hoped we’d get out of the third and fourth seasons of Discovery.

Heck of a thing to think that the bridge crew already has more recognizable personal traits after four episodes than the bridge crew of Discovery dies after four seasons, though.
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:18 AM on May 29, 2022 [5 favorites]

I do continue to find it interesting that we are watching a prequel series that stars a character who knows it’s a prequel series — he seemingly banks on his awareness of his own date as a reminder that he, at least, survives this encounter, which is weird but fascinating to consider
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:37 PM on May 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

I'm enjoying SNW more than Picard and much more than Disco. The main thing in it's way is the prequel nature. I just don't see any benefit to setting it pre TOS at all.
You could tell pretty much exactly the same stories with a post voyager trek.
Maybe a ship on a 5 year mission to explore the Gamma Quadrant after the Dominion war?

You could more or less tell the same stories in the same ways without worrying about how Kirk had never heard of the Gorn, or whatever.

Still, a minor gripe. I'm enjoying it so far. Best new live action trek by far.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:08 AM on May 30, 2022 [6 favorites]

A few things I noticed about this episode (which, once again, I really enjoyed):
  • This is the first episode we've seen any of the Enterprise's weapon systems, and even then we don't see the explosion from the depth charge photon torpedo; we just hear about it after the fact. Our crew explored the planet with phasers drawn, but we still haven't seen them fire. It's interesting that, even as the crew has to fight the Gorn, the show is not at all interested in showing us cool space shoot-outs.
  • Everyone here has their bit of TOS canon they are vaguely stuck on; mine is the idea that every ship in TOS had its own insignia and the classic Star Trek chevron only belonged to the Enterprise.* Remembrance Day, and the ship-specific badges for both Starfleet and civilian ships, is a pretty good retcon that I can accept--and ties in well to the actual history of spaceflight mission badges today.
  • Anson Mount just fucking nails those reaction shots.
  • A blind chief engineer is able to make use of other senses to compensate--or more than compensate--for his lack of sight in helping someone repair a critical piece of equipment. Where have we seen that before?
*In my headcanon, the chevron becomes the symbol of Starfleet only after the Enterprise is the first Constitution-class ship to complete its four five-year exploration missions intact. Space exploration is dangerous, and I'm glad to see this series embrace that without overdoing it.
posted by thecaddy at 6:03 PM on May 31, 2022

Anson Mount delivers a "Today we are canceling the apocalypse" speech with the best of them! I really enjoyed his version of Pike back on Discovery and he continues to impress.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:33 PM on June 3, 2022 [4 favorites]

"That brown dwarf, it's pretty much a gas giant, right?"


Could they make sure at least once person with some vague semblance of scientific knowledge gets to read these scripts before shooting?
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 12:05 AM on June 5, 2022

OK, I guess they mean a gas giant *planet*. Fair enough.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 12:07 AM on June 5, 2022

Make the spaces shinier, but why so big?

I feel like they're too big and too shiny.

If they made the bridge and corridors about 5% smaller, and the sickbay and officers' quarters about 30% smaller, it would seem more plausibly related to the TOS Enterprise.

But also, it's just too blinged out to my eyes. Fewer displays on the bridge, fewer shiny surfaces, and fewer built-in LED strips, please. Everything is visually a bit chaotic to me.

The maximalism extends to the space environments, which often seem overly packed with detail, to the detriment of clarity. (The title sequence is a good example of this, but there was plenty of it all over the place in this last episode). And the space maneuvers often have that unfortunately weightless, or should I say massless, quality that rushed CGI tends to have.

Overall, the show doesn't feel like it has a really good, strong, clear, unified aesthetic to me. Maybe they'll sharpen it up as they go along. We'll see.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 6:23 PM on June 5, 2022 [2 favorites]

"The defining differences between a very low-mass brown dwarf (which can have a mass as low as roughly 13 times that of Jupiter[4]) and a gas giant are debated.[5]" (wikipedia)

"In addition, many brown dwarfs undergo no fusion; even those at the high end of the mass range (over 60 MJ) cool quickly enough that after 10 million years they no longer undergo fusion. " (also wikipedia)

I actually thought the specific line was more grounded in science than a lot of the made up jargon.
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 12:34 AM on June 6, 2022 [5 favorites]

Chekov's A350 Atmosphere Regulator

Yeah, something about the ending confused me. They go to the trouble of establishing that when that regulator thing goes off, it's basically a nuke. And then they drop it in the path of the big Gorn ship along with some explanation of how the ship will appear to not be moving to an outside Gornish observer once it skims around the event horizon, complete with some weird crack about playing dead like some prey species might do. The whole thing was not so much foreshadowing using the regulator as a trap to lure in and blow up the Gorn mothership as shouting it through a megaphone.

But that's not what happened, right? It looked like the Gorn just kind of lost track of them when they did the Pike Manuever (everybody gets one), gave up, and went home. Do I have that right? If so that's an odd thing to do after they've gone to so much trouble setting up something else entirely.

(We don't see the first Gorn ship taken out either. Maybe they spent too much effects money imploding the second one.)
posted by Naberius at 8:06 AM on July 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

The enterprise dives towards the black hole, which to the Gorn looks like they are fixed in location due to the red shift. They then blow up the space the Gorn think they are in. In reality they kept moving forward and are no longer in that space. Gorn think they are dead so stop looking. They were never planning to blow up the big Gorn ship.
posted by biffa at 3:20 PM on July 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

Spock would never have said "phenomenons".
posted by zadcat at 2:00 PM on July 20, 2022 [8 favorites]

This was good, but I question the whole Gorn thing. On "Arena", the Gorn was a cranky ectotherm, but he was a captain of a spaceship just like Kirk, and they had been skirmishing the regular old way one does. Here, are you telling me that in the depths of space, Gorns are seeking out random spacecraft just to.... eat the crew? I can see raiding other beings for their technology, for the raw materials, for the nifty air filters, but I can't imagine beings sophisticated enough to have faster-than-light travel but wasting incredible amounts of time on this. [Well, and having Morse code]. What do they eat on the ship? Have they got herds of caribou that they lure into snares or off the edge of cliffs in the cargo hold? I mean, look at us. We domesticated animals so we didn't have to waste so many spears. These guys never got that far?

The writers should sit down with coffee and donuts and think for a few minutes on what would motivate a species to behave this way. Maybe they explore space, settle mining colonies, and if you accidently come near, they swarm out like hornets and defend their territory? Maybe they have some incredibly valuable air filter whose technology they don't want to share, so they destroy any ship that goes by? There are lots of more plausible things than this, and you could give the aliens a new name and let those of us who cherish "Arena" keep our memories intact.

On the whole, though, this was enjoyable and the science technobabble within safety limits.
posted by acrasis at 6:51 PM on April 14, 2023 [1 favorite]

« Older Movie: Star Trek Into Darkness...   |  Mystery Science Theater 3000: ... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments