LET’S END THE YEAR WITH… SPOILER!
I often (often!) wondered if STAR TRACK was going to happen: DISCOVERY would be like the Star Trek classic I grew up with, TOS and even TNG. I’m not talking about a full homage as in Orville (where the devil is the same ????), but just some elements of the story, structure, interactions and development of the characters, and only the general impression of the good old days.
For what looked like the only time in Discovery’s three seasons, this episode was like Star Trek. But what does it mean to feel like Star Trek? It seems so subjective and ambiguous that every Trek fan probably sees things differently.
So, let me tell you why I personally thought that episode 11 of the third season of Sukal was more like the real Star Trek than the usual Discovery. And along the way I’ll try to decide whether it was a good or a bad episode…. Or both! (Knowing me, this will probably have some aspects of a bone, as I’m having a hard time falling in love or hating episodes this season).
Okay, let’s start…
SHIFT TO MORE MODERATE AMOUNTS OF MICHAEL
Fans couldn’t help noticing that Discovery resembled The Michael Burnham Show for almost three seasons, with Michael Burnham in the role of Michael Burnham. Michael seems to be present in almost every scene, usually in the limelight, and she saves the day regularly.
One of the reasons why previous versions of Star Trek worked so well is that they had to deal with different characters in different episodes. Not all TOS stories were about Kirk, not all TNG’s were about Picard, not all DS9’s were about Sisko or Voyager were about Janeway. There have been episodes with Spock and McCoy, episodes with Data and Worf and Crusher, episodes with Kirk and Odo and Bashir, episodes with Tuvok and Paris and B’Elanna, episodes with T’Pol and Malcolm and Phlox…… You’ve got the idea. And the fact that one of the characters appears in the story doesn’t mean that we won’t see the rest of the team. Riker’s episode will also include the rest of the team. Mix and match! These shows had great actors and the captain didn’t have to be in every scene.
This episode of Discovery was the first time in a long time that Michael was in the center of attention almost all the time. The excitement also took place on the ship, and as the landing crew split up, Michael is only part of the story on the planet. Michael certainly has a lot to do, but Sarah and Culber give each of their characters also…. a little breather. On the boat we see great moments for Stamet, Tilly and Adira (and a line from Reno… really?).
Anyway, my friends, there was balance in that episode. It wasn’t just Michael the whole time… or most of the time. Cheers!
Well, now that Michael broke up that conversation with the book, I found myself going on WTF and laughing….
Pot, meet the teapot. Michael, when it comes to not being objective, Michael Burnham could write a thesis!
But I stray (a lot!)….
THE FIRST OPENING EPISODE OF THE HOLODECK
It happens in every episode of Star Trek (okay, no TOS… although there was an animated episode): Jokerpraktijk) : The writers have a really cool idea for a holodeck that either collapses or behaves unexpectedly. Sometimes the program claims itself or threatens the ship. Maybe a hologram will open a nightclub in Las Vegas, and forget the crew inside who they really are. Maybe you use a holodeck (or holoship) to rescue and transport pre-war aliens from a doomed planet without violating the First Directive. There may be a planet whose inhabitants are all holograms! Maybe there’s an intelligent medical hologram or alien predators are turning the entire ship into a holodeck to attack the crew. The possibilities are seemingly endless – so much so that fans wonder if there are any original holodeck ideas!
Well, the authors of Discovery found one. Of course some elements seemed to have a feeling of déjà vu, like holograms that perish after long use or a whole ship that is a holodeck. But there were also some new and inspiring ideas, such as using the holodeck to raise, educate and keep a child alive until help comes… and the need to pretend to be a hologram to gain the trust of the only survivor living in the simulation.
For a holodeck story to work, there has to be something the audience says: That’s really cool! That episode was like this.
However, this episode was also marked by errors of negligence. They didn’t ruin the episode for me (they were just boring), but they all came from the fact that the writers had a great job to do: DOUG JONES from Saru’s makeup for the episode. And I applaud that. It was, more than any other episode of Discovery so far, an episode of Saru. And Doug Jones is such a great actor (certainly one of the best, if not the best, of the show) that it is almost criminal to see him give such an intense and dramatic episode through this huge latex head. So let’s make Sarah a man for an episode and really show off his acting talent…. and God knows he did! Look at this short scene and admire the incredible expressions on Doug Jones’ face…..
But to explain this, the authors decided that the reason would be that showing Michael and Hugh as people and Sarah as kelp could confuse or frighten the child. Why is that? Don’t forget: Sukal (the child) is Kelpin, and there’s Kelpin Sr. reading him fairy tales. So he’s seen Kelpens before.
As for turning Dr. Hugh into a Bajoran and Michael into a Trill because they’re human, does that mean they’re turning Sarah into a human? Why don’t you leave the human Michael or Hugh and turn Sarah into a Trill or a Bajoran and save the Holocaust? The whole explanation didn’t make sense. Besides, since I was just having fun, why did Saru say that his heels were smashed to the ground? A blue neck cannot change its anatomy, only its appearance to others. Sarah hadn’t felt her hooves yet, my friends.
But hey, let’s get changed. Points are always awarded for a cool holodeck idea.
We all knew it would happen someday – Tilly’s in the middle, so the only real question is: How did they (the authors) do it? My answer: It could have been worse, so I’m not gonna complain.
Okay, let’s get something straight. There is decent leadership once Tilly takes over, and that includes one of Michael Burnham’s patented pep talk and a supportive hug. I always thought there should be more hugging in Star Trek…… Well, no, I didn’t. But now the Discovery is a cuddle boat, and I’ve decided to deal with it. Remember when Michael came on board in the first season and everyone was so rude to her (and sometimes to each other)? I’m more of a hugger, I’m just a hugger.
Once on deck we were confronted with a situation we had seen several times before: Troy is the highest officer on the bridge during the shipwreck and doesn’t know what to do, or the JGS has to pretend to be an emergency command hologram and has trouble getting out of the trick. Now it’s up to Tilly to prove himself.
And of course it won’t go smoothly – she’ll have a hell of a win-win scenario (not the words Tilly would have used): will you wait and risk the ship being hijacked, or will you jump if you throw it off and the captain and landing party are in mortal danger?
Well, when the Kobaishi Maru starts to unfold, sometimes it goes a little like this. The split between Osira and Tilly is more like what we saw on Cobra Kai in a scene of crawling teenagers. Tilly tried to keep a cool head, but if you’re trying to say with Sigmund Freud: I’m rubber and you’re glue, everything you say bounces off me and sticks to your…. Then you’ve probably already lost. The fact that Osiraa even reacts to a counter-attack by Tilly may appeal to us viewers who love Tilly, but is it even plausible? Osiraa is the equivalent of a Mafia father, like Don Corleone or Tony Soprano (only green and female). You can’t be where Osyraja is and still be taunted by an underqualified first officer of a 1000 year old ship.
Of course I have to congratulate MARY WISEMAN for making the exchange so successful and making us all believe that Tilly is doing her best not to shit in her shiny blue pants while trying to look tough. It couldn’t be easy to master this scene convincingly, and Mary did it with her talent. And when she threatened to blow up the ship, I kind of believed her. I still don’t know if it was a bluff or not.
Talk about threats to blow up the ship: I always give bonus points if the authors cover a point in the plot that I need to think about. For example, as I thought: If it had been Kirk or Picard, he would probably have threatened to destroy the ship himself instead of having it captured. And here Tilly’s doing the same thing. By the way, I was wondering when Osiraa’s ship first approached: How the hell did they get here so fast? ?????. Starfleet takes weeks or months to get there, and they have dilithium. Then we hear there’s a transept tunnel nearby, but it’s very dangerous. That explains both how Osiraa got here so quickly and why Starfleet can’t do the same when sending a distress call. Well done, Schreiber. Well done.
Oh, and finally, does Discovery have a cloaking device? Handy, I guess… but not in the left field. But it is logical that camouflage devices have become commonplace now that a treaty with the Romans is no longer necessary. And hey, the only other way to hide would have been to go deeper into the fog storm, and that wouldn’t have worked.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD STAR DRAW VILLAIN?
I’m gonna get you, baby…. And your oversized cat too!
Since we’re talking about the wasp, I’ll say that unlike her first performance, this time she felt like a solid Star Trek villain, not that Star Trek always needs a villain, mind you.
But what makes someone a good villain… dramatic, right? Here’s my list of Trek’s most convincing villains: Kor, Khan (in TV and film version), Laura, Kiwas Faho of Most of the Toys, Sela, Gul Dukat and Queen Borg. Now let’s see why they work so well….
In my opinion, a villain must have three things to really be hated: sadistic intentions, advantage and arrogance – the (over)confidence he can and wants to win, enjoying the inevitability of his victory, and above all, attacking his helpless opponent with malicious satisfaction. Mercy is not an option, and anything offered would always be suspicious. The best villains in a franchise – from Bond to Star Wars to Harry Potter – tend to have these inherent qualities.
That’s why Trek’s villains like Dr. Soran and Michael Eddington (not very bad), Ruafo of The Insurrection of Admiral Marcus of Into Darkness (not very gay), Nero (who doesn’t really appreciate his victory) and Shinzon (too weak to be really gay) don’t work so well.
And at his first performance Osiraa did not meet all the criteria of a good villain. But this time it did, and it did her good. I really don’t like her, and I want her to lose – that’s why winning the Discovery handle is a huge catch. Raise your hand if you think the catch was too easy. I can understand future carriers blasting through the shields, but Discovery doesn’t at least have an intrusion alarm! Any fears? And if not, do you expect us to believe that no one in engineering had the time to press the switch icon in time to warn the bridge about what was going on? Yes, I know Osiraa had to take the ship back quickly because the delivery was over, but it seemed easy. I don’t blame Tilly for being arrested by Discovery, but I do blame the perpetrators.
A GENERAL STRONG EPISODE WITH TWO SMALL DROP-OUTS…
All in all, I really enjoyed that episode. It was one of the highlights of the season, and the Canadian director NORMA BAILEY (for her first appearance on Discovery) did a great job on the structure, rhythm and overall look of the series and the lighting…… And also very high performance. This has not been easy, given the number of plot threads to be reunited in these last three (now two) episodes. Actually, back in Star Trek: Discovery only played a tape that is less than TWO MINUTES long and repeated everything that was necessary to remind us how we ended up in this episode. Juggling with so much intrigue while maintaining the rhythm and interest of the audience is usually a big challenge.
But there are two aspects of this VERY complete episode that make me less than satisfied. The first was Grey Ghost, who suddenly showed up after a few episodes of MIA and only talked: I was afraid to go out. Um… (Clears throat) Okay. Okay, okay. Although I love Adira and Gray as characters, I don’t care enough about Gray to feel her pain. I hope (and I think) that there will be others with Gray this season or next season. I want to take care of him more, but I don’t want to.
Oh, and there’s an unexpected problem with mentioning Adira as her. I understand and appreciate anything that’s not binary. I respect people who live gender-neutral lives. But because of Gray, every time I hear someone in the show say that he’s the one talking about Adir, I have to pause and try to find out if the pronoun only refers to Adir, or if Adir and Gray are together. I’m not sure if there’s a solution, but the more it happens, the more annoying it gets.
And finally, the burn was caused by a traumatized child…. First of all, I didn’t expect this, so accessories for the surprise…. And probably most of the other fans as well. But I think we just got another red matter tracking device. In Star Trek 2009, a small drop of red dust can cause a black hole, but it can also be extracted and transported. There is a lot of science that can be ignored and overlooked in the process. Of course, Star Trek does a lot of things that science doesn’t allow: Teleportation, faster than light travel, instant communication over hundreds of light years, artificial gravity. But red matter was important…. and Sukal, the man whose emotional cry could destabilize and destroy almost all dilithium in the galaxy (maybe even out there).
I fully understand the dramatic consequences of this situation. The man is innocent and doesn’t know he’s a living killing machine. Still, this is one of those tests where, if you can’t shut it down or stun it, or get it off the planet or neutralize its abilities, you have to set your phaser to vaporize and save the galaxy. But that’s not what nice people do. I get it, I get it, I get it. But I find it hard to accept that a child growing up on a dilithium planet surrounded by weird radiation would provide the perfect ingredients for something like Burn. It’s more suited to a superhero story than a respected science fiction tent like Star Trek. I mean, I think I have to accept it, but it seems a little underestimated and unenthusiastic.
Like at the end of this blog.
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