"Star Trek: Discovery" Season 4 Talkback (Spoilers)

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Star Trek Discovery Season 4

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Captain Burnham and the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery face a threat unlike any they’ve ever encountered. With Federation and non-Federation worlds alike feeling the impact, they must confront the unknown and work together to ensure a hopeful future for all.

Episode 43 (4x1) "Kobayashi Maru"

After months spent reconnecting the Federation with distant worlds, Captain Michael Burnham and the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery are sent to assist a damaged space station – a seemingly routine mission that reveals the existence of a terrifying new threat.

Related Threads
-CBS All Access Official Site
-News & Discussion Thread
-Season 1 Talkback
-Season 2 Talkback
-Season 3 Talkback
-Shorts Treks Talkback
 

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Episode 44 (4x2) "Anomaly"
Saru returns to help the U.S.S. Discovery uncover the mystery of an unusually destructive new force. As Burnham leads the crew, she must also find a way to help Book cope with an unimaginable loss.
 

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Episode 45 (4x3) "Choose to Live"
Burnham and Tilly hunt the killer of a Starfleet officer as Stamets and the science team race against the clock to prevent the anomaly from killing anyone else.
 

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Episode 46 (4x4) "All Is Possible"
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.
 

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Episode 45 (4x5) "The Examples"
Burnham and Book race to evacuate a group of stranded colonists in the anomaly’s path as one of the Federation’s brightest scientists comes aboard the U.S.S. Discovery to do high-stakes research with Saru and Stamets.
 

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Episode 46 (4x6) "Stormy Weather"
Seeking answers, the U.S.S. Discovery ventures into a subspace rift created by the Dark Matter Anomaly. Meanwhile, Book faces a strange visitor from his past.
 

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Episode 47 (4x7) "...But To Connect"
Tensions rise as representatives from across the galaxy gather to confront the threat of the Dark Matter Anomaly. Zora’s new sentience raises difficult questions.
 

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Episode 48 (4x8) "All In"
Following a hunch, Captain Burnham tracks Book to an old haunt from their courier days and gets drawn into a high-stakes competition for a powerful weapon.
 

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Episode 49 (4x9) "Rubicon"
Captain Burnham and the U.S.S. Discovery race to stop Book and Ruon Tarka from launching a rogue plan that could inadvertently endanger the galaxy.
 

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Episode 50 (4x10) "The Galactic Barrier"
Captain Burnham and her crew must go where few have gone before: beyond the Galactic Barrier. Meanwhile, Book learns the truth of what drives Ruon Tarka.
 

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Episode 51 (4x11) "Rosetta"
While Captain Burnham leads an away mission to a planet that was once home to the aliens responsible for the DMA, Book and Tarka secretly infiltrate the U.S.S. Discovery
 

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Episode 52 (4x12) "Species 10-C"
As the DMA approaches Earth and Ni’Var, Captain Burnham and the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery attempt to make First Contact with the powerful species responsible before it’s too late.
 

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Star Trek: Discovery "Kobayashi Maru"

I didn't like it much. Mostly because I can't stand the Federation President. I would very much liked to have heard Burnham tell her to stay in her lane. She was acting very unprofessional in front of Burnham's crew.

She seems to have some Bajoran in her bloodline as well as Cardassian, which is interesting. She was showing her Cardassian side all throughout the episode.

And the ending was too tragic. It actually annoyed me.

It's interesting that in the hundreds of years since Discovery vanished, the Kelpians have made peace with their tormenters on Canamar. That's one of the cool things about the flashforward.

This episode was sort of working on my nerves by the end. I should by all rights LIKE the episode in which Starfleet Academy is relaunched. But I don't. **1/2.

Star Trek: Discovery "Anomaly"

I didn't care for last week but I liked this one. It dealt with the kind of character stuff I like.

We get some tantalizing hints about the Picard android with nothing actually being revealed. Neat trick.

I love how Book and Stamets are getting closer, and I like how Michael got Book to get it together on the private channel.

But was that supposed to be a Ferengi? This show has the worst Star Trek make-up jobs. I sincerely hope that wasn't a Ferengi. Sincerely.

Star Trek now has the budget to make the ship lose its artificial gravity. It's kind of a neat problem and you see how awful it is when it's suddenly restored. People are probably suffering internal injuries here if that woman's bloody mouth is any indication.

Speaking of which, something I like about this show is that oftentimes a minor bridge crew member comes up with a plan to save the day and the whole crew, captain included, cheers them at the end. That's realistic, and empowering, and it's really kind of pathetic something like that never happened during the Roddenberry or Berman eras. Anytime a no-name crew member pulled through (see TNG's "Descent, Part II". Or don't. It's awful) it's because it's a skeleton crew, and the rest of the bridge crew is unavailable for some dumb reason. I like that Discovery doesn't really care where the victories come from, and doesn't care who gets the credit. I still don't know the names of all the crew members on the bridge who aren't series regulars besides Detmer, but they are all given a lot more stuff to do than any of the ones on the Enterprise ever were allowed to. I recognize and like them all even if I'm terrible with names.

Good week. The drama landed properly. And the ending, suggesting the anomaly couldn't be predicted or stopped, was genuinely unsettling. ****.

Star Trek: Discovery "Choose To Live"

I like Book's stuff and how he wasn't exactly getting closure from the Navar, but peace and clarity instead.

I have to agree with Burnham that Navar was getting far too much leeway in the episode. I agree the Federation needs them, and I agree the lady had her reasons, but that doesn't mean consequences for that shouldn't exist. If her path was righteous the Navar should let her accept the consequences for her actions.

I like the admiral's allegory about the politics of the situation being a lot like a symphony. I hope his faith in the President is not misplaced. I have my doubts.

I like that Stamets is uncomfortable on Navar and especially uncomfortable as what Book might need to do to help him. It's very in-character for him.

I'm glad about Gray, but it WAS kind of a foregone conclusion. Therefore I felt jerked around a little bit with all the drama surrounding it.

The idea that the cocoon species was being attacked because their bodies were filled with Latinum is a good one. I like when the show uses different aspects of the canon in an unusual way.

Good, but not great. ***1/2.

Star Trek: Discovery "All Is Possible"

One thing I think I need to address about the Kurtzman era of the show. And I don't think the current stuff gets enough credit for it. But the way the characters deal with things like grief and conflict are far healthier and more realistic than they were during the Roddenberry and Berman eras. For the Roddenberry era in particular, I think a lot of ideas about psychology on The Next Generation were outright harmful. Star Trek was envisioned to be about conflict resolution. And I think that for much of its tenure, most of the characters resolved their problems the wrong way. The notable exception being Deep Space Nine. But even I don't think the characters there are quite as emotionally healthy and self-aware as the characters on Star Trek: Discovery, and weirdly Star Trek: Picard, which takes place only a couple of decades later.

I was not digging the Starfleet Academy mission, until Adira reveals the Orion kid's dad was a civil rights activist, and stood up for people like the alien guy with the grievance. That put the entire thing in a different perspective, which I like. You can say it's unrealistic that the Orion kid coincidentally has a historic amazing father to give him that kind of credibility. It's unrealistic for us, sure. For Star Trek? Starfleet Academy is supposed to be for the best and brightest. That specific martyr's kid gaining acceptance as a legacy is totally on-brand for it, especially since Starfleet is sort of currently in the business of rehabilitating its tattered image. The Orion grouses that Orions have to do everything twice as good just to be accepted. And that's probably the only reason he's in the Academy to begin with.

I like the stuff with Culber and Book. I especially like that Culber acknowledges that he really shouldn't be talking about his past with Book, as it's unprofessional. But the truth is, what was truly unprofessional was the Enterprise bridge crew having therapy sessions with Troi and hanging out with her outside of office hours. Culber acknowledges that it's not ideal to have a therapist you know in your outside life. But there need to be allowances on a starship. I don't necessarily agree with that logic, but it beats the Roddenberry issue, because the conflict is brought up instead of crazily ignored as if it weren't an actual issue. Regardless of whatever nonsense Gene Roddenberry believed, society and how people interact with each other can change. People themselves cannot. And I want a future where I can recognize myself in the characters who have got their crap together and live in a nice Universe. I find the humans on four of the first five Star Trek series far more alien than most of the aliens the producers used as surrogates for other groups of people.

Speaking of which, I like the idea that Bajor, Earth, and Cardassia are all at peace with other. Those alien features on the President's face told me good things had happened between Star Trek: Picard and this, and it's good to learn those specific conflicts were totally squashed. Particularly rewarding as a Deep Space Nine fan.

I like that the Navar President likes Saru. Is she actually into him? I would prefer not, because I think it would be refreshing if the reason she is taken with him is because she senses and appreciates the serenity he gives off. The character was a bit nervous and frayed in the first two seasons. It's sort of cool how he's evolved into The Sage of the ship. And possibly now the Federation.

Where did I stand on the conflict between Navar and the Federation? I thought the Federation's position was unfair. But what got me was that it wasn't just Navar it was unfair to. And Burnham and Saru's solution of setting up a bipartisan council to make the Federation accountable to ALL its members, not just Navar, was great. Navar's demand is not unreasonable under the circumstances. It was a good thing and rejected because other worlds would want it. That meant the idea was actually sound, and the solution was making something like it available for everyone, not just Navar. Now it's not an exception. It's the way they do business going forward.

I hope Mary Wiseman hasn't left the show. Discovery is VERY based around Starfleet Headquarters so I very much hope Tilly is still a series regular. But I think the thing I appreciated about her being offered to teach at the Academy was what the Starfleet guy played by David Cronenberg told her. That specific character, introduced last season, was interesting, because frankly, I never trusted him. He was far too close to the Section 31 drama, and he never seemed to like or warm up to our crew. When he describes here that he and most of Starfleet distrusted the crew of Discovery because they seemed to believe a better future was possible, that made me like him. The specific words he said about that were, "It stung." And frankly, I have never heard that idea or anything like it verbalized that way on the first five Star Trek series. And it makes the characters recognizable, relatable, and yes, human. And that's what Star Trek should be.

Do I blame Gene Roddenberry for failing his ideals about how people in the future should interact with each other and make friends with new species? No. For the most part (and I don't count the first season of Next Gen which was terrible) they were sound for the era they were created in (the 1960's). The reason Star Trek became stagnant and less relevant is because when humanity itself made real-world progress on psychology and bigotry, Star Trek refused to course correct and stuck to Roddenderry's old ideas and opinions, even if they were completely dated. With the possible exception of Garak on Deep Space Nine (who was never actually outed, and in fact placed in an awkward doomed romance with a female character) there was not a single gay character on the first five Star Trek series. And Enterprise ended in 2005. Think about that. As late as 2005, gay people had zero representation in Star Trek. So you can badmouth me for talking smack about Roddenberry's ideals, but that fact means that Kurtzman's course-correcting there with gay and transgender characters in the new stuff means the humans in Star Trek now have full representation. And I think that's a very good thing.

It was a very talky week. But it's Star Trek. Talky episodes are best. ****.

Star Trek: Discovery "The Examples"

That. Was. INTERESTING. My highest compliment I can ever give a work of fiction.

I understand why this show has the detractors it does. It's not exactly Star Trek. But it's damn good television either way.

But there was a LOT of Star Trek in the episode. We got references to the Nacine, the Iconians, and the Metrons. Even more intriguing is the idea that the Federation has not had contact with the Q Continuum for six centuries. What turned the Q off humanity? Or did something big happen to the Q that we don't know about? Tarkia ruled out the Nacine, the Iconicans, and the Metrons as the creators of the anomaly. But I noticed he didn't rule out the Q. I hope it's not the Q. It seems far more destructive and cruel than even the worst of that race has ever been shown to be. Unless it's Trelane behind the rest of the Q's back, and then all bets are off.

Tig Notaro finally getting billed in the main credits. Jett Reno is indespensible to the show, so I'm glad to see her promotion to the main cast.

Jett was was delightful addition in the earlier seasons. I think this year's MVP might wind up being Kovich. His cruel scene with Culber is so brutal because he's almost certainly right. Essentially Culber's entire problem is that he believes he's more special than he is. It's got to be a bit humbling and infuriating for a person practicing psychiatry to hear that all of their fears and worries are down to vanity and narcissism. And I don't like thinking that about Hugh. But Kovich is almost certainly right because it would explain Culber's specific drive in a way nothing else does.

I don't like Tarkia. Him getting Saru to scream wasn't cathartic. It struck me as a way of his asserting dominance in a situation where he had no real power. A d-word move in other words (as amused as it made Jett). I will say that I find him being Risan very interesting. We almost never see that specific species, and never off their homeworld before, but I like that Tarkia's chip on his shoulder involves the fact that he comes from a species known for being lazy and stupid (not to mention horny). The characters on the first four Star Trek sequel series have nothing but good things to say about Risa and the friendly people there. Tarkia tells me Riker has been misreading the value of these shmucks the entire time. Which would be totally on-brand for Riker.

With the mark on his forehead I thought he might be Risan. It's cool I was right.

Janeway has a ship named after her. Good synergy with Star Trek: Prodigy.

I was impressed with the fact that the show actually made Felix's crime legit horrible. Star Trek is infamous for walking back truly heinous behavior, especially for characters we like. We love Garak and are supposed to simply overlook that he was a torturer, just like we're supposed to overlook that Kira was a terrorist. Felix describing his guilt and shame was a rare example of this franchise showing a character owning their bad behavior. The fact that unlike Garak or Kira he appeared to be human makes it even more awesome.

I like Burnham throwing the Magistrate's newfound powerlessness in his face like that. He's now a refugee, a Federation citizen, and has no say in what happens to that planet's former prisoners. I like Burnham coolly wishing him to be able to find and live in a society far fairer than the one he was personally responsible for setting up. That was a great observation. It's also one I don't agree with. I think that specific guy deserves to be jailed to make the actual example.

I was riveted by every inch of that. Was it great Star Trek? Not really. Was it great television (or at least great sci-fi)? Yes to both. *****.

Star Trek: Discovery "Stormy Weather"

Decent week. I love that both Gray and Burnham seem to be really rooting for Zora. I am too. I loved her singing "Stormy Weather" during that balls-out crisis. It was a memorable moment.

I like the revelation that Book's father was on his mind because it was his birthday.

The Ba'ku are mentioned here.

It's interesting Saru confesses rage at the Ba'ul. Honestly, I'm not sure that the right message for Star Trek. On the other hand, it's a human reaction, which is something I always talk smack about Star Trek for neglecting. I probably would be more on-board with it if Saru were human himself.

Good episode. ***1/2.

Star Trek: Discovery "...But To Connect"

That was talky. Good Star Trek is often talky. And that was good Star Trek. But it definitely wasn't GREAT Star Trek. It felt very much like we were in a holding pattern. I don't think this was designed to be the mid-season finale and it certainly doesn't feel like it. Although that coming trailer was pretty impressive.

I greatly dislike Tarka. I don't believe his motives or story. If they were true, his demeanor and reactions would be different. He'd be taking this seriously instead of showing off. I think he's manipulating Booker with that sob story of a friend searching for an alternate Universe. Seriously, a RISAN of all people, a guy whose homeworld is a literal paradise expects me to believe that's what he's searching for is in an alternate Universe. I don't buy it for a second. I think less of Book because he does.

The stuff with Zora was interesting, sort of Star Trekky, and not really relevant to anything else. It's interesting to learn Kovich was far more sympathetic to Zora than either the viewer or Stamets expected, and that it was really Stamets who was treading on thin ice.

For the record, Data was an AI who dreamed. They used the qualifier that unless the AI was programmed for it, but still Zora is not unique there. Soong-type Androids specifically dream. Hell, I bet Gray does too.

When they were talking about meeting species from all Quadrants I had been hoping to get glimpses of the Vorta, Changelings, Kazon, or Vaadwaur. But for some reason I think this show is still having trouble with the licenses for some of the species' likenesses. There is no good reason we can't see a proper Klingon now, especially since Lower Decks is allowed them. But Discovery seems to be operating as if the licensing problem is still in effect for it which is something I don't understand at all.

Good Star Trek. But not GREAT Star Trek. Not by a longshot. ***1/2.

Star Trek: Discovery "All In"

That was fine. The poker game was fun, as was learning Michael set up a secondary plan because she predicted she'd lose the pot to Book. Their flirtations in the game were cute, especially them working together to shut out the Orion Syndicate terrorists.

I thought Owosekun's boxing hustle was great, but to be honest, I knew that's what it was as it was going on. The odds being raised that much that quickly said she was faking sucking at boxing. For the record, Burnham played her part in the hustle perfectly. She seemed genuinely distraught that this was going on, which only made the odds go up higher. What a sneak.

Here's what I don't get. Owosekun's opponent and his manager arrive to try and take her winnings because she supposedly hustled them. Does gambling work differently a thousand years from now? If you hustle someone, their money is yours. Sucks to be them. They don't get to claim it by realizing they were a sap in hindsight.

The Changeling reveal was a great surprise (as was his morphing into a Tribble) but I gotta say if the Founders of the Dominion are now down to cheating at casinos, making peace with the Federation was probably the absolute worst thing they could have done back in the day. They used to be Gods and are now the 30th Century's Ferengi. How the mighty have fallen.

I think partly the reason Vance went to Burnham with the secret mission is that he was so freaking embarrassed in front of the Federation President. That was a pretty public dressing down. This is Tuesday for somebody like Burnham, but I think he felt closer to her and a sense of solidarity with her because of it.

Tarka continues to unimpress me. It amazes me everyone thinks he's hot poop. I think Joanna got a brief, accurate measure of the guy and he couldn't take it.

Stamets' and Hugh's stuff was kinda bland this week, although it's interesting to learn Hugh has OCD. Previous Star Trek series didn't allow for things like that, which is something I believe made them weaker. Discovery and Picard have been polarizing, but I recognize the people in them as credible in a way I didn't any previous series but Deep Space Nine.

They are gonna stop Book and Tarka, because the ending proves Book and Tarka don't remotely have a shot. If they did, there would be a great Star Trek ethical dilemma attached. Instead Tarka and Book are gonna get their fool selves and the entire Federation killed unless they are stopped hard and fast. I look forward to next week for that reason.

Enjoyable episode. ****.

Star Trek: Discovery "Rubicon"

Am I in a bad mood? I don't feel like I'm in a bad mood. But I felt something VERY different after watching that that I didn't feel in the previous weeks this season. The episode wasn't worse (or better) than previous episodes this year, but I think it hit me badly because that fact tells me I'm not going to like the season. I tried giving it a shot. Honestly, the thousand year jump is probably the most exciting Star Trek development since Deep Space Nine was on the air doing all those amazing twists and turns. Doing that specific thing meant the show could explore all of our favorite and familiar alien worlds as if they were new again, and give us updates of how various cultures we saw on the first five Star Trek series wound up over the long-term course of the past thousand years. That was the selling point of the time jump. We could see savage Vulcans or gentle Klingons. In such a huge space of time anything is possible.

I don't feel like last year exactly did the big premise justice either, but in fairness, it JUST set it up, and that season needed to be about reestablishing the Federation before any other consideration. And after that's what's actually happened, this season gives us this boring doomsday weapon plotline featuring aliens we haven't even met or talked to that could have easily been done in the first two seasons' timeframe with zero adjustments made to the premise. Star Trek Discovery blew up the Star Trek Universe, and promised to boldly go, back to worlds that were old, but might now seem strange and new again. And there's been NONE of that this season. And the thing that pisses me off most about that is there is no good reason the show isn't giving us the fangasms we want and deserve. Nobody wanted the plotline to this season. We wanted updates on the Klingons, Cardassians, and Ferengi. How dumb are the producers that they don't get that about us? How dumb are they and how crappy of Star Trek fans are they that they don't even seem to want that for themselves?

Star Trek: Discovery is one of the best written science fiction shows of the past few years. If it took place in a different continuity and in its own separate Universe I'd love it unreservedly, and have no complaints. But because it's Star Trek I notice the fact that the writers aren't actually interested in that specific canon. It's a great sci-fi show and a terrible Star Trek show at the exact same time. And it really shouldn't be.

Star Trek: Discovery SHOULD be the greatest Star Trek show ever made. The fact that it is middling and boring instead is unforgivable. Maybe I'm in a bad mood. Or maybe I realize I've played along with the nonsense this year long enough. But I am unhappy with this episode and this season in particular. They gave us the best idea Star Trek did in decades, and refuse to explore it like competent storytellers would. It's maddening, and it's starting to piss me off. *.

Star Trek: Discovery "The Galactic Barrier"

My complaints last week of this season being a waste of time and an utter waste of the best story turn Star Trek has done in decades stand. But this was still a pretty good episode.

It wasn't perfect. Burnham's idea to tell the crew what was going on back home was stupid. I hate that they framed it as a moral victory when she got her way. The crew was already a bit frazzled before the news. And now they are all an utter wreck and can't do anything about it. Wasn't this precise feeling of helplessness the very reason Book went off the deep end? Why does Burnham want to transfer that dangerous sensibility to the entire crew? If I were on that crew, tasked with doing that specific important job, where so many people were depending on me, I would NOT want to know that specific thing. I don't think ANYONE would. Who is Burnham kidding, and how can the producers explore the future of humanity if they have no idea how people actually work?

I'll tell you something good. Tarka's origin story makes him sympathetic, and me on his side for the first time ever. It might actually be a little late for that, but I'm glad it happened at all, even if we could have used this context more a couple of weeks ago.

Saru's romance is cute. These way he and the Vulcan President flirt is totally formal and out of a Merchant-Ivory film, which just makes it beyond adorable.

It amazes me that 1000 years in the future, people still make Gilligan's Island references. Something tells me Gene Roddenberry would not have approved of that specific joke.

I love the guy at the beginning laughing at Kovich's joke about the Universal Translators possessing confirmation bias. They probably do. They MUST translate the Klingon words for "What do you want?" as "Greetings!" Their entire function is to get species to communicate and function better with each other. You don't think the translator oftentimes softens rough language between species to ruffle fewer feathers? And I love that part of the episode for exploring an issue with the translators I hadn't considered, and that is actually utterly fascinating. A far as Universal translators go, the less you explain HOW they work, the better. But asking questions about what they are actually for, and who truly benefits from them is a damn interesting sci-fi thing to ponder, and a first for Star Trek. Unlike many things on this show, it's actually a GOOD Star Trek first.

Long story short. I don't like this season, and I don't like that this episode was essentially about the journey across the barrier without meeting or learning anything new about the aliens. But the episode itself was fairly sound. The fact that this series is utterly failing Star Trek is a different issue. ***1/2.

Star Trek: Discovery "Rosetta"

I opined two week ago that this season (and this series) have turned into an utter waste of time. I still thought that last week, but thought that episode itself was worth a good review. This? Was an utter waste of time. I don't really feel like going through it point by point.

I will say two things:

1. It feels very unusual and cool to watch two new one-hour Star Trek episodes from two different series one right after the other. First time that's happened me (in my syndication market TNG and DS9 aired on different nights and channels). Although I will say Star Trek: Picard is currently kicking this show's ass.

2. I was glad to see Tig Notaro as Jett Reno again. Her being Tarka's hostage means she is due a big role next week, which is great. She's one of the best characters on the show, and has been sorely underutilized this season. It's episode 11 and this is only her second appearance. Hopefully next week will remedy that.

It still won't change the fact that Star Trek is utterly wasting the freshest and best plot turn they've come up with in 25 years. It pisses me off a bit, to be honest. **.

Star Trek: Discovery "Species 10-C"

The cliffhanger was great, and Jett Reno continues to be amazing. But I believe this arc is outright bad and this was a lousy episode. In all honesty, it might be the single worst arc Star Trek has ever done. Maybe that's not SO bad, because the only previous series to explore arcs were Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, but even though Enterprise's third season largely sucked, I felt that mission worked better there. What's ironic is that mission was not TOO far outside of this one. But on Enterprise, there was a lot of action and controversy among the crew, even more so than here. But this specific thing feels all wrong for a multi-episode arc, much less an entire season. Why?

Let me briefly describe the arc of the past few weeks. Discovery finds a deadly, planet-destroying threat to Earth and the rest of the known galaxy. They spend weeks studying the problem and finally realize it was due to a supernaturally powerful sentient alien species no-one's ever heard of or made contact with. So they traverse the galaxy past the galactic barrier where they attempt to meet and communicate with the alien entities in question. Why am I ragging on that idea? That's a total Star Trek concept, after all.

It's because if TNG did that idea it would take a single episode, or a two-parter if they wanted to milk it. We are on episode 12, and things are moving so slow, and the complications feel so padded on, that I once more wonder if the writers of this show have actually SEEN any Star Trek. What kills me, is that generally speaking, Star Trek is the slow, boring, talky sci-fi franchise when in direct comparison to Star Wars. And Star Trek: Discovery, an action-based series, was sort of devised as an antidote to that, and making Star Trek more action-packed and exciting. And this is literally the slowest and most boring Gene Roddenberry sermon ever. I will argue that four of the five of the first Star Trek series (not counting Deep Space Nine) were routinely boring, specifically when they did this specific plot point for the umpteenth time. And suddenly the most fast-paced Star Trek show taking 12 episode to do the same damn thing as a mediocre episode of Voyager ever did for 50 minutes is a bit embarrassing and shameful in my mind. And another example of this entire season being a waste of the single greatest plot turn Star Trek has done in the past 25 years. It's galling actually.

Yes, the Xindi arc also took a long time to tell an episode Next Gen could tell in a two-parter. The difference there is we were allowed the perspective of seeing the different Xindi, and how they conflicted with each other, and how their political conflicts wound up helping and hurting the Enterprise and ultimately Earth. And that's interesting stuff to explore. Instead here we're cut off from any context, and forced to watch the characters be inexplicably excited over communicating over lights and math. Damn it, this is the reason people make FUN of Star Trek and Star Trek fans! It's needlessly complicated, and impossible to understand, and they don't even do us the courtesy of using a cheesy Star Trek metaphor to explain the technobabble. Apparently the audience is expected to be Stephen Hawking and understand the underlying elements of math languages and puzzles based upon air molocules. What the hell, man? Star Trek used to make science fun and easy to understand for laymen (and women). This is incomprehensible instead. I not only don't understand the plotline, I don't understand why the producers think it's interesting, or why they WANT to talk over all our heads.

I have noted in earlier reviews of other stuff that I like unanswered questions in my fiction, and being treated like an adult in coming to those answers on my own. That is fine if the story is questionable or ambiguous. Star Trek: Discovery isn't trying to confuse or confound me however. It actually expects me to keep up with and understand it. And that's not fair to someone who enjoyed the franchise previously because it used to be able to explain complex science so that someone like me, who didn't go to college, could understand and appreciate it. This episode is not just part of a bad arc, and the things it expects of the audience are not just unreasonable, I would strongly argue they are outright unfair too. It actually annoys me. I'm the guy who will claim to every single Star Trek hater who's never actually sat down and watched it that the series is far more accessible and enjoyable than they believe it is by its nerdish reputation. But this is completely insular and geared toward really high-end science and math geeks. And there are no adequate "like letting the air out of a balloon" metaphors to help those of us who don't speak the language understand what the characters are doing and going through. I don't think TV necessarily needs to be stupider and cater to the lowest-common denominator. But I believe Star Trek itself needs to be more accessible and easier to grasp than this was.

I would love to report that Star Trek: Discovery has become the best Star Trek series of all time. Last season, I predicted that would wind up happening because of the time jump. I'm not the cynical YouTube critic railing against Social Justice Warriors and gleefully wanting the show to fail. I have been on its side this entire time, and it's at this point I'm saying enough. I used to say Star Trek: Discovery was a bad Star Trek show saved by the fact that it was a great sci-fi show. This season? It's not just bad Star Trek. It's bad sci-fi. And I don't like saying that, especially because I'm one of the show's last defenders. And really, it's become indefensible. And that fact saddens and even angers me.

What I take comfort in is that Star Trek: Picard is firing on all cylinders this season. Good and great Star Trek is still possible in the Kurtzman era. I'm just saddened that after I predicted this show would someday surpass Deep Space Nine in awesomeness, it's not only turned into a boring slog, but it refuses to remember it's a Star Trek show, and what the selling points of that franchise actually are. I'm beyond disgusted and disappointed. Tig Notaro makes me forgive a lot, but not THAT much. *.
 

Yojimbo

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Episode 53 (4x13) "Coming Home"
In the season four finale, the DMA approaches Earth and Ni’Var. With evacuations underway, Burnham and the team aboard the U.S.S. Discovery must find a way to communicate and connect with a species far different from their own before time runs out.
 

Fone Bone

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Star Trek: Discovery "Coming Home"

That was very, very good and very, very bad at the same time. I believe I will focus more on the good in this specific review. However, I don't believe it's fair for me to simply ignore the bad, and the way the show is failing the franchise. Unlike the past few weeks, I won't dwell on it. The episode was solid. But some of this needs to be said.

Regardless of whether or not the episode was solid, the show is failing Star Trek, and what the viewers want to see in Star Trek. Have they gotten the design licenses back from Paramount or not? Because that's the most messed-up looking Ferengi I've ever seen. Michael talks about exploring the galaxy, and we've done NONE of that for the past two seasons. The idea that Earth has rejoined the Federation at the end of the episode is one of the only updates we've gotten from that world all season. Where are the Cardassians? The Bajorans? The Klingons? The Ferengi? The Borg? The Dominion? Star Trek has a vast Universe it can reintroduce to the audience from a fresh perspective, that they can literally do ANYTHING with, and they're focused on THIS. It not only frustrates me, it angers me as a Star Trek fan. We are not getting the amazing Star Trek we deserve from this show. And it was sort of a promise of the show to get that with the time jump, and they've wasted two entire seasons NOT updating us on what was happening with all the major players. It's annoying.

Are we done with this week's gripe sesh? I hope so. Because regardless of whether or not I approve of the arc (and I don't) the finale emotionally resonated with me. Big time. Book's monologue to the aliens was powerful and moving, and my heart broke when Tarka confided that his friend would have already stopped him at this point. Book's heartfelt rage that merely moving to uninhabited worlds for the DMA wasn't good enough was something I loved because I didn't consider that, and he was actually right. And these far superior aliens ALSO knew he was right, and conceded the point. I mentioned I really liked the episode because of stuff like that.

And Stacey Abrams is the President of Earth merely because she damn well SHOULD be.

The episode delivered a lot of powerful moments that I cannot deny or dismiss just because the series is failing Star Trek. Because for this week at least, what they were not failing was drama. That's not good enough for me anymore on the whole, but for this week? The drama was good enough for me to be satisfied anyways. And part of me hates that I'll be be giving that a positive review. But David Ajala's performance meant that I definitely would. The guy amazed me. Frankly, I think it was one of the best performances delivered in this entire franchise. EVER. So of course the episode ultimately gets my stamp of approval, even if the show itself makes me unhappy. ****.
 

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