Matt and Sean talk about breaking your mother’s hearts and spinning off new shows. Star Trek Discovery is kicking up the excitement, but does that come at a cost?
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So we’re taking a look at 2019, because we’re looking at Season 2 of Discovery. And who are we? Well, I’m Sean Ferrell. I’m a writer. I write some stuff for kids and I write some sci fi for adults, including the middle grade adventure that just released, The Sinister Secrets of Singe, which is available in bookstores now.
With me is my brother, Matt. He’s that Matt of Undecided with Matt Ferrell, which takes a look at emerging tech and its impact in our lives. And Matt, how are you doing today?
I’m doing great. And for the Trek in Time crew. We talked about this on our other podcast, but you may notice I’m in a very, I’m not on the bridge of the enterprise right now.
I might, I might end up back on the bridge at some point. You’re in underground bunker. Yes. I just moved into a new house and I’m setting up my new studio. And so it’s like, this is kind of like, doesn’t Sean keeps making fun of me. It is cobbled together. It may not look cobbled together, but it is kind of cobbled together.
And I’m still kind of working out the kinks of how I want the studio set up and how it’s going to be used. So I’m not on the bridge at the moment, but hopefully will be at some point again.
Well, my heart goes out to you, Matt, because I usually feel cobbled together because I’m in my fifties at this point.
So on to our discussion. Before we get into this week’s episode, which is Point of Light, we always like to revisit some comments from previous episodes. And Matt, what have you found in the comments for us today?
Yeah, so I got, I got three comments that are all of a theme. Cause in episode 110, New Eden, we’d asked them.
What feels like Star Trek to you? Like, what do you think is Star Trek? And so we have a few comments that I want to call out. One from Happy Flappy Farm. For me, True Trek shows an optimistic view of the future with equality between groups, ethnic, political, socioeconomic, gender, and so on. And it points towards injustice with the goal of social change, uplifts scientific progress without ridiculing faith, and inspires imagination.
I thought that was a great, like, if I was going to write something like that, it would probably be along those lines. Uh, but then we have one from
HappyFlappy, I got a little choked up as Matt was reading that. That was very moving. Yes.
Then there’s another one from Technophile one. What feels Trek, I guess I’d say exploration both literally and philosophically, while using lots of pseudo sciencey jargon.
All right. And the occasional fan service episode for Fans of Theater , which I love. I loved that for fans of theater, like there’s so many episodes of Next Generation, which feel like, oh, this is a. This is, you know, Picard on stage. Brent
Spiner wanted to, yeah, this is Brent Spiner being able to do a bunch of different voices.
I literally, I, Technophile, thank you for that. Uh, I have been in the background watching a lot of Next Gen 5th season, 6th season from Pluto TV. I put it on in the background while I’m doing things like cleaning the kitchen and stuff like that. And I’m, Hip deep in the episodes that do exactly this, where it’s just like, yeah, this makes no sense.
It is just the actors basically clamoring for like, I know how to tap dance. Can you let me tap dance?
I know the exact episode you’re talking about. I just watched
that episode. And it’s a good episode. Was it Crusher and Data doing the dancing it is Crusher and Data, and it is a good episode. It is a fun episode. But it is one where as you’re watching it, you’re just like, What am I watching? Is
this a sci fi? What is happening right now?
What is happening right now? The last comment I want to bring up is from Jason Dumb. He wrote, I wish Tilly could have started a fight club with her Tyler. Real Trek for me is science based, optimistic with regards to humanity, engages with philosophical, ethical problems, or human psychology. So you can see there’s a theme between all of these.
And so I think they all do a really good job summarizing what I would also consider Star Trek and that in a nutshell. Is it, um, and it kind of ties into what we’re going to be talking about over this episode and the next episode of Discovery. I have some complaints about how Discovery does some of its storytelling and character building.
And it, there’s aspects of it that just do not feel Star Trek to me because it’s not doing as good of a job at those points as some other
series have done. Yeah, I think we’ll definitely get into a lot of these points. And I think that the, this episode that we’re going to talk about today and the episode that we’re going to talk about next week.
I have mixed feelings about them because there are certain aspects of them that I actually really, really like. And then there are certain things that I think are indicative of the different generation we’re in as far as television and what television production looks like. And we’ve talked about this previously in comparison to Enterprise.
When you’re filling out 24 episodes and you get a bunch of clunkers. But then you get to those character arcs and you feel like you’ve earned various character arcs and here in this series, it feels like every episode kind of stands up as a defendable. Like, yeah, that was a story worth telling, but sometimes the character arcs suffer because we don’t have enough time to develop things.
And especially next week, we’re going to get into some moments next week where it feels like Wait, what? Um, yeah, yeah, but onto this, but onto this discussion, today’s episode point of light, that alert in the background is of course the read alert, which means only one thing. It’s time for Matt to jump into the Wikipedia description.
Matt, I shared this one with you. Without having read it myself. So good luck.
Okay. Get ready for a lot of stops and starts. Everybody, Amanda Grayson, Spock’s mother and Burnham’s adoptive mother learns that Spock has escaped the psychiatric unit and is wanted for murdering three doctors. She steals his medical records and takes them to discovery for decryption.
Grayson recognizes a drawing in the records from Spock’s childhood art. The Red Angel, Burnham admits to emotionally hurting Spock when they were young to protect him from Vulcan’s logic extremists. On Qo’nos, Klingon House Leader Kol-Sha Did I say that right? Kol-Sha? Yes. He threatens to kill Starfleet officer Ash Tyler, formerly Klingon Voq, and the Klingon Emperor’s leader L’Rell for having a secret child together.
The pair kill Kol-Sha with the help of Philippa Georgiou, the Empress of the Mirror Universe’s Terran Empire. who is now an agent of Starfleet’s secretive Section 31. In a ruse to consolidate power, L’Rell convinces the Klingon High Council that Tyler and the baby are dead. Georgiou delivers the baby to a monastery and recruits Tyler to Section 31.
Burnham and engineer Paul Stamets used dark matter to remove a parasite from Tilly that caused her hallucination of
May. Once again, Wikipedia, thank you for the lovely summary, and thank you for taking some subplots and turning them into an afterthought sentence way at the back of the description.
Episode number three, Point of Light, directed by Ola Tunde Osanmi, sorry, let me try that again, directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi. We’ve seen Olatunde as a director on Discovery before. Very, very good director. I really like their work. Written by Andrew Colville. Aired on January 31st, 2019. Main cast, of course, includes Sonequa Martin Green as Michael Burnham, Doug Jones as Saru, Anthony Rapp as Paul Stamets, Mary Weissman as Sylvia Tilly.
Guest actors include Wilson Cruz as… Hugh Culber, Anson Mount as Christopher Pike, Michelle Yao is back as Captain Georgiou or Empress Georgiou in this, in this case, Mary Kirshner, Mia Kirshner is Amanda, Spock’s mother, Mary Chieffo is L’Rell, Shazad Latif is back as Tyler, and Bahia Watson as May, and co stars include Hannah Cheesman as Lieutenant Commander Airiam, Emily Coutts as Detmer, Patrick Kwok-Choon as Rhys Oyin Oladejo as Lt.
Joann Owosekun, Ronnie Rowe as Bryce, and Raven Dada as Dr. Pollard, and it’s nice to see that we continue the path of the secondary characters becoming more More and more evident in the storytelling. They get more lines, they get a presence on the bridge, and they are involved in a lot more of the action. I also wanted to share a recent discovery that I made of Shazad Latif as a side character on a show from England, from the UK, called Toast of London.
Which is a Matt Berry show from, I think, about 10 or 12 years ago. It is a comedy, and Shazad Latif plays a commercial producer, who… The main character, played by Matt Berry, it is a absurdist UK comedy. We really don’t have anything quite the same here in the US, which plays with… Other than maybe a show like The Simpsons, where a joke set up is so absurd in what is happening that the characters just ride through it as if it’s normal.
But in the setup of the show, Matt Barry is recording voiceovers for commercials. Shazad Latif plays one of the producers of these commercials and does. A lot of terrific deadpan comedic work. And when he first appeared on screen, I immediately yelled out, Ash Tyler. And my partner was like, what?
So what was the world like at the time of the original dropping of this episode on January 31st, 2019? Well, Matt, you will remember, of course, that you were singing Your Little Heart Out to Sunflower by Post Malone and Sway Lee. And at the movies, for the second week in a row, Glass by M. Night Shyamalan was the number one film in the theaters.
In its first week, it made 40 million. It dropped down to about 20 million for its second week, but it still held the number one spot. January, of course, being kind of a quiet zone for films. So, a movie like this was able to hold the top spot. And on television, we’ve been going over the most streamed series of 2019.
We’ve already talked about Lucifer, Stranger Things, and this time we’re going to be talking about 13 Reasons Why. It’s a difficult show to kind of talk about because it is a Netflix program which is a, it’s based on a book and it is about a character’s committing suicide. And Journals are left for another character.
So the story is told in a series of contemporary and flashback as far as why did this person commit suicide? Suicide amongst teens is a huge problem globally. It is a huge problem here in the U. S. And it, the show, had the difficult… It had to walk a razor’s edge in the form of how do you talk about something without triggering people and potentially even inspiring people.
That was a major concern as this show was going into production and heading toward air. So a show like this had to walk very difficult terrain. And a lot of people found it did it well, but there were also people who criticized putting something like this on the air at all, because for some people, even talking about suicide can lead toward attempts.
And in the news, January 31st, 2019, according to the New York Times, the U. S. economy had grown at an annual rate of 2. 6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, slower than the 3. 4 percent growth in the previous quarter. The BBC was also reporting that Parliament in UK had voted in favour of an amendment that seeked to replace the controversial Irish backstop arrangement for the Brexit deal.
Brexit of course was the self inflicted wound of the United Kingdom and it continues to, yes, it continues to be an issue of debate as the UK tried to figure out what do you do when part of Ireland will remain in the EU and part will not, and that becomes a pretty tremendous doorway for things to come across the border without any kind of tariffing.
Finally, on CNN, it was reported that the U. S. Justice Department charged Chinese telecom giant Huawei with theft of trade secrets and fraud, which was. concerning because it could inflame tensions between the U. S. and China. Keep in mind, tensions between U. S. and China. People were talking about that in 2019.
Just you wait a year. Oh boy. Yep. Oh boy. It’s going to spread like a virus. So, on to today’s episode. As Matt’s summary covers, there is a lot in this episode. I do not expect us to hit every single plot point, but there are some major issues that are wrestled with in this episode. Matt, you’re shaking your head.
There is a lot. Are you shaking your head because there’s… Yeah, is there one thing that stood out to you as like the cherry on top that maybe it was a bit too much or did you feel like it was all kind of like, okay, I held it all together? Um,
oh, I don’t know how to answer that because it’s, it’s, I, there are elements of the show I really enjoyed.
But, one of my notes I wrote down was, this is part of why I hate about the J. J. Abramsification of Star Trek, this show is like, kinetic energy, just like, bottled up, and it’s just like, very kinetic filmmaking, lots of camera movements, and quick cuts, and just like, plot elements being thrown at you rapid fire, and at the end of it, you’re kind of like, wait, what kind of meal did I just eat?
Like, was there any meat there? There was. Like what, what actually happened? There’s like no, there’s very little character development. You talked at the beginning about like the, all the care, all of the secondary characters and how we’re actually having more bridge crew talk and be part of it. Problem is.
We still don’t know who they are. I would be hard pressed to name to you any of the bridge crew. And it’s because even though they’re talking and they’re interacting and they’re part of it, it could be random crew member five that’s saying that line. It’s like there’s no character behind it. It’s just exposition delivery.
So they’re there as exposition machines. They’re not there as characters. And because of this frantic filmmaking of trying to cram so much into one episode and not giving characters room to breathe, it just feels like, um, I’m at a fire hose of Star Trek storytelling in my face, and it’s, yeah, at the end of the episode it was kind of like, wow.
A lot just happened, but at the same time, nothing happened because I didn’t feel a connection to the majority of characters on the show.
I connected a little more deeply to all of it, I think, than you did. And I think that there’s, um, I say that without saying that I think you missed the point. It’s not, I don’t, I just think it’s a very subjective
I’m not talking about Tyler. I’m not talking about Burnham. I’m talking very specifically about the B characters, the characters of the
secondary ones. Yeah, I was just saying, like, overall, I felt like this episode did hold together for me in a way that was probably different than you. And I think that that’s not to say that you missed the point of the episode.
I think it’s just a subjective thing. If the thing, if a show hits you in the right way at the right moment, it can kind of, like. Two people can look at the same thing and have the same thoughts because I agree with everything you’re saying. I think one of the things that plays out in my mind when I’m thinking about the B characters is you have how many decades of history about like who Chekhov is.
When I think of Chekhov, I think of I remember Wrath of Khan. I remember him being on the Botany Bay and saying to the captain with him, like, Oh my God, we have to get out of here. Like, like you, you know him as a part of the bridge crew who works at the helm. He also backs up Spock and you, and you have that understanding of him, but that’s decades of understanding of a character.
If you go back to the original series, The first moments of Chekov filling in for Spock, he’s just a guy on the bridge who fills in for Spock. And he was brought in to look like a beetle or a monkey because that’s what was popular with the kids at that point. Sulu has lines occasionally in some of the first episodes.
Well, over time, over the three year span of the show, you get more and you understand, Oh, he’s into, he’s into fencing, he’s into botany. You get more of the background of the character over time. I think that I don’t disagree at all with the fact that the limited number of episodes and the Abramification of TV making for this show don’t lend itself to filling in details about these characters.
And I say that with there is an upcoming episode about one of the bridge crew in particular that does stand out in my memory of being a very good episode. Um, but I remember when it first aired, it felt like it came out of nowhere because of exactly what you’re talking about. We aren’t really given an opportunity to get to know them as people.
They very Infrequently are part of the exploration off ship for the first time a couple of episodes ago. In fact, last week, the last time we talked, one of the bridge crew finally went on an away mission. It was the first time that one of them had been a part of, of going off ship. So. I think that there are these elements of, are we getting the same kind of treatment of the secondary characters that we’re accustomed to?
How is it handled differently? And you think back to Next Generation, the very first episode of Next Generation went, uh, went character by character to say, This is Data. This is Tasha Yar. This is Commander Riker. Like, it went through all of it, so you knew who these people were, and you didn’t get that here, and I get the feeling, as I’m watching this show, it often feels to me like the primary actors, you mentioned Kinetic, it often feels like they have just run .
To get to the room where they’re going to have a discussion. It often feels like everybody is like, I got nine things to do, and this is just one of them. And that kind of energy comes through in the performances. Like, like this is the most important conversation I’ve ever had. And I’m going to tell you everything I have to say.
And then I’m going to get out of here because I got nine more just like it. And, and it’s a little exhausting at times. I
don’t know. This is going to date me. I’m. Sean and I are old. Uh, I grew up in the eighties, but our parents constantly were showing us movies from the fifties, sixties, and seventies. So I kind of grew up watching very old movies that have a very different pacing.
And I love movies that have a slower pacing. So you have a more of a slow burn in the beginning. And then by the time you get to the end, that crescendo of action at the end is really intense because of the way it’s been built up. And movies and TV shows today start at the crescendo and then try to go from there.
And so for me, this is kind of a complaint of oftentimes it’s coming out like a fire hose in the beginning. It’s like, where do you go from here? You’re already at 11 and now you’re having to amp it up even more. And it just, it becomes very chaotic and you’re short changing a lot of the storytelling by doing that.
Enterprise, which we just talked about, you know, at the start of the show they spend we’ve complained about how they did nothing with Mayweather.
And yet there were probably three or four episodes that were purely about Mayweather. We got to learn about him and his backstory. None of the bridge crew. It’s like we just learned their names for the first time in season two. Like, you know what I mean? It’s like they went an entire season without even giving some of these people names.
It’s like, what kind of what? That’s kind of what I’m complaining about. They should have had names from the beginning that were clear as day to us, and then there should have been episodes where they have B plot lines where each of these characters are given a moment in a B plot line where we can learn a little bit about their backstory, learn more about their emotional connection to other crew members, because what ends up happening in this episode and the one we’re going to be talking about next, there’s short changing is happening where…
They’ll have these what are supposed to be emotional moments between one bridge crew member and the rest of the bridge crew and yet it’s like They haven’t earned it because we don’t know these people as well as we should. And yet it’s like I’m not emotional right now because I barely know you guys.
Like what, what are you, what are you doing right now? It’s like, it doesn’t make sense because they’ve short changed themselves. It’s it’s just a overarching complaint but… We can get to the conversation about the actual points of some of the episode that we’re talking about. I, I did enjoy it. Like I really liked the Tyler and Burnham storylines.
I liked, I really liked seeing Tyler again and the whole Klingon, uh, like the machinations of what’s going on with L’Rell and how they’re, people are trying to subvert her and the, the baby that they had with Tyler. Like that whole plot line I thought was, was great. Cause like the, even going back to Next Generation, the Klingon backstories.
It’s always like, um, it’s always like some kind of Shakespearean drama and it’s like, and that felt like that was there. It was like, this is awesome. Like, this is a Shakespearean drama of like, you know, they’re trying to overthrow their emperor. And like, it was really exciting and I liked it and I thought they did a good job with that.
I love the fact that the Klingon empire is depicted as they use definitions of what it means to be Klingon. While their own passion, which is part of their Klingon nature, their own passion works completely at odds with the facade that they put out front. It is honor. It is. You know, a Klingon will tell you, if I have a problem with you, I will walk up to your face and I will tell you I have a problem with you.
In reality, there’s nefarious backroom deals that secrets are kept, bodies are buried. Here we’re presented with the Klingon Empire that is effectively, we are seeing the formation of the Klingon Empire in this, that will be the Klingon Empire that Kirk is pushing up against in the original series. And that.
In the era of Picard, Worf is helping to hold together by allowing dishonor to be put upon his house in order to hold everything together. And we see that the seeds of all those nefarious backroom deals and the kind of… Stuff that like, how come they say honor all the time, but they don’t seem honorable.
We see that in action here. I really loved the storytelling here. I felt like something had happened with L’Rell’s makeup. She was a little more expressive than I remember her being in previous episodes. So I’m not sure if they limited some of that. They also, it’s unclear to me how much time has passed.
It does not feel like a lot of time has passed. I know that Discovery had a nine month… Time Warp coming back from the parallel universe, so I think we’re within a year of the previous time we’ve seen the Klingons. Apparently Klingon hair grows very quickly, because they reintroduce hair, and long hair, and make a point of saying, Oh, it looks like you guys have started growing your hair again, and I thought, this felt to me, this episode in particular, felt like a lot of, of, uh, reset button pushing.
Because it was, let’s tie up the Klingon storyline, let’s tie up Tyler, let’s figure out how to put a bow on all of that so we can walk away from it and not have to return to it. It also, the machinations of the various houses, the potential of civil war, the, like, as mentioned, as Matt mentioned, the Shakespearean aspect to all of this, I loved the conclusion to that.
I loved L’Rell holding up what is obviously an artificially constructed head. of Tyler of claiming he was a federation spy of bringing all the houses together with a lie about how the head of the house that was trying to exert power from her, protected her. Mm-hmm. and even holding up the fake head of a baby and basically like the theater of all.
That was fantastic. Yeah. And then you see Tyler with Empress Georgiou who is trying to entice him into Section 31 with the .
We’re actually taking the baby to a monastery. The monastery will keep him safe and he can never leave. He’ll live a life and he’ll never know his mother or his father. And Tyler having to deal with that, Georgiou having a certain aspect of she clearly also has a facade. And it is the facade of the Empress.
There are aspects to Georgiou’s performance that I thought were fantastic. She’s winking at the baby. She’s making faces, cuckoo faces at the baby. And then when people look at her, she quickly gets that child off my bridge. Becomes
the hard that sort of attitude. Becomes the hard woman.
And it’s just like, I loved all that performance.
And to me, one of the things that stood out for me that I really did like about this was And I’m gonna make a reference now, the Kelly kids of it all, the Kelly’s kids of it all in the storyline here. And now I’m gonna wait for people to stop scratching their heads and ask, what the hell is Kelly’s kids?
Kelly’s kids is one of my favorite episodes of the Brady Bunch. Matt just mentioned that we grew up in the eighties. Uh, I was born in 1971, so I actually remember some of the seventies pretty clearly. And along with Star Trek, I enjoyed watching on a little black and white TV that was in my parents bedroom.
I enjoyed watching Star Trek on that, and I enjoyed watching the Brady Bunch. Both those shows would often begin with the in color screen, which would be like, hey, you’re watching this in color, and I convinced myself that even though I was watching it on a black and white television, I was in fact seeing color.
So, that tells you a little bit about where I’m coming from. I watched Star Trek on it, and I watched the Brady Bunch on it. They were often… On reruns all the time when I was, when I was little. And so I would watch these two programs and Kelly’s Kids was from the fifth season of the Brady Bunch and it was an attempt at a spinoff show and it’s, it was the actor, Ken Berry was to be the lead of the series.
And it was about a couple who are not able to have kids of their own adopting. Going to an adoption agency to adopt a child and they are going to adopt a kid who looks like he’s maybe seven years old and they’re adopting a kid who is a little white kid and his two best friends at the adoption home are a little black kid and a Chinese kid, and they end up adopting all three ’cause they can’t break up the three Musketeers.
Mm-hmm. . It was a very obvious attempt at a spinoff. And it was very 1970s, and if you were to propose a show like this today, it would be all kinds of like, what? That’s not, it reeks of like white savior. It’s not a good concept. But at the time this was this was going to be a show. Eventually the idea would turn into different strokes.
That’s effectively what it was. So I love that episode. Any time that episode was on, I was super excited. There was something about it because it started and ended with the Brady’s were involved at the very beginning and then you had this other family and this whole other storyline about where this could go and the speculation of that.
For me, the Georgiou, Section 31, the Tyler of it all, this is very clearly their backdoor pilot. argument for these characters. And Section 31 is a show that has been in production limbo for a long time. It is apparently still in the works. We are, of course, as of the recording of this, In the midst of a huge Hollywood strike, writers and actors all on strike, so nothing new is going to go out of production.
This kind of strike, if it continues, and for some of the streamers, like Paramount, this could be a problem, because if they can’t produce new content, it could… Effectively torpedo some of the weaker streaming apps, and Matt and I have talked about this before, Paramount is not doing well, so it is one of those things where could the lack of ability to produce new programming for the Paramount app be a problem?
Effectively torpedo the Paramount app. And then if that goes down, what happens to new Trek? Do we lose strange new worlds? Do we lose section 31? I actually think what could potentially happen if the Paramount app goes down? I think. Strange New Worlds would jump to CBS and I think that it would be the one Star Trek program that would still be available and still being made because I think that they would put it on main broadcast.
Section 31 could be on the bubble, but this episode makes a very good argument for they could do a lot of very interesting storytelling about effectively a Mission Impossible squad in the Star Trek universe. A group of people who go in and do things to make sure things happen the way that the Federation would like.
And they could do all sorts of storytelling that I just imagine what could they do with Romulans, Klingons, I potentially would love it if they would do more stuff with Cardassians, if they would do stuff with some of the species that we’ve seen in all the different iterations of Star Trek that we just haven’t seen a lot of.
I think it would especially help For some of those stories that come much later in the form of what happens in Next Generation, what if they plant some storylines to show some of the conflict that the Next Generation talks about but never showed? Put those into section 31 as a series. So for me, that side of this episode works really well.
How did you feel about, yeah,
I was going to say for the section 31 side, I’m really torn about it. And the fact that they’re making a show or trying to make a show, I have a concern because it doesn’t feel Star Trek, Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry’s vision of Star Trek was this utopian society. We’ve gotten past our conflicts and we’re exploring.
That’s the, it’s this optimistic view of the future. Section 31 feels very much of its time, like what we’re talking about, where it’s like, you know, the conflict, the political, everything is black and white. Everybody is the enemy of the other group. It’s very much in that gray area where they’re going to be breaking basically every single rule of Starfleet.
And, and Section 31, every time it’s come up in Star Trek from next generation to now, it’s always like the boogeyman. It’s always kind of the bad guy. And so to, to make a TV show or to really expand on that, there’s an aspect from storytelling, which it can be a lot of fun. But it also feels like it’s not going to feel like Star Trek to me, because it’s going to be every episode is going to be this, this group of people that are making these very highly questionable, highly ethically challenged questions.
And they’re going to be most of the time on the wrong side. Like the ends justifies the means is what section 31 is all about. And the whole thing about Star Trek is the ends doesn’t justify the means the means is as important as the end goal. And so it’s like, for me, it’s like, there’s this dissonance.
So as, as much as I was enjoying, oh, Georgiou in section 31, that is really cool. She’s perfect for this. And there’s going to be kind of fun to see this kind of ragtag group. I’m with you. I enjoyed it, but I’m very torn. Like, I, it’s like, I’m a part of me is like, I don’t like what they’re doing with this.
And the other part is like, oh, that’s really cool. So it’s like, I, it doesn’t feel like Star Trek. And I like it for what it is, but at the same time, because it’s part of Star Trek, it makes me very uncomfortable.
I’m curious, I’m curious, I’m curious for, uh, listeners to jump into the comments and let us know if you agree with what I think may be a cause of that.
To go back to the title of this very podcast, Trek in Time, I think everything you’re describing is because of when Section 31 as a TV show might be being constructed. At the time in the late 60s, I think when… Roddenberry was pushing for the utopian vision. There was a certain amount of value just from presence.
You know, having Uhura and Sulu on the bridge was a visual signifier of a huge amount given what was going on in the U. S. civil rights And the, the ongoing conflicts around the world, especially in Vietnam, having people of different cultures and different races on the bridge, that alone spoke volumes.
That’s no longer enough. And in 2019, 2020, 21, 22, as a show like Section 31 is ostensibly being tooled and put together, we’re looking at an era where the incredible distrust of government is more of the focal point and the understanding that government does things that are problematic is more of the focal point.
So it’s no longer just the utopian vision, but it’s the utopian vision while also saying, yeah, but we have to talk about how the sausage gets made. And I think it’s replacing utopia with ideals and reality. Ideals and the actual factual, how did this happen? I think for this episode, it’s doing that in two ways.
Section 31, yes. Do they do what the Federation should be doing? No, absolutely not. Do they do what the Federation is going to benefit from? Maybe. Does that make it defendable? Not necessarily. And we’re seeing exactly the same thing happen within the Klingon Empire. And we know. From everything we’ve talked about before, in the future, the Klingon Empire is still pulling the same shenanigans.
It is a little bit like this episode is saying, yeah, you know, you want to know how the sausage gets made, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to actually fix how sausage gets made. And I think that’s a, it’s about a difference of era in when something is being produced. It’s no longer enough to say, There’s a future ahead of us where we might all get together and be able to live collectively and work collectively as a team.
There is still going to be that aspect that’s going to be, but somebody has to do the dirty work in the storytelling. And I think that is born of the era that we’re living in. So I found that, I completely understand what you’re saying about, is it Star Trek? I really don’t know. I don’t know. So I’m interested, everybody who wants to jump in the comments and talk to that, I’d really love to see your thoughts about that.
For me, moving on to another aspect of this episode, we have, I feel like we’ve got two other things to talk about. One is the, the Tilly experience. Um, what it means that May is presence in her perception and she has effectively a breakdown finally revealing I’ve been seeing a dead person and raising questions about what that might mean.
And on the other side, we also have the Amanda Burnham Spock conversations. Matt, which one of these do you want to jump onto first? Do you want to talk about Tilly or do you want to talk about Amanda? Let’s talk about the Tilly
experience. It sounds like it’s some kind of Vegas show that you’re talking about there.
The Tilly experience, uh, is a very cool one. Um, the whole, the way that this has devolved is a lot has been really well done. How it started with, like, it could be a hallucination. It’s this woman that seems to be trying to help her when she needs help. And then it turns a little ratcheted up to, okay, she’s becoming a little annoying and is kind of picking at things inappropriately and becoming kind of aggressive.
And then it becomes pure aggression. You will do what I need you to do this thing. You’re doing this thing. You’re doing this thing. And so it starts to very quickly become, this is not what it seems. It’s, it’s something that is aggressive. It’s not just some kind of like benign parasite. It’s not a hallucination.
It is something potentially dangerous. Um, I, I did like the way they ratcheted it up over the two or three episodes. Was it three? Yeah, I think it was three. It’s going to be three.
Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s happened over the previous episodes, but where we are right now, this storyline, and for any viewers who have been watching this podcast for a while, you know that we try, we’ve been trying to say, okay, if it’s a two parter, we’ll treat it as one episode.
We’ll talk about both at once. This is the only element of a series of episodes that is continued through, but we haven’t treated them as, as all one episode, because if we were to do that, we’d be talking about six episodes altogether. This is carried through into this episode from previous one, it carries on to the next one, and we’ll continue beyond that into the one after that, because this, this alien entity that Tilly is.
Experiencing communication with when this episode ends, it is the one storyline of this episode that doesn’t get concluded. So jumping into the heart of it, it is Tilly finally has a full blown breakdown. She is supposed to be doing exercise on the bridge in which she was going to work with Captain Pike in order to basically play test being a commander.
And in that moment, she is seeing May and begins to just converse with May and everybody in the bridge is witnessing this. She has effectively, it looks like a psychotic break. And she goes to the medical bay and finally reveals she’s been seeing this figure. Burnham is the one person who believes her.
Burnham, in talking to her, says, There is There’s something about this thing you’re seeing that doesn’t sound like a hallucination because if it was a hallucination, it would know what you know, but this sounds like an actual outside entity because it doesn’t know what crying is and it it’s not dealing with you as if it understands you so burnham is the one who kind of opens the door of like i believe you that something outside is happening in further investigation it finally leads to an understanding of this is an infection there’s a life form in her which goes all the way back to I forget four episodes ago.
How many episodes ago was it when you see the little green light land on her shoulder? And at that moment, that’s when the alien entity goes in. May has been speaking about, I need to talk to the captain. The captain is the one I love that. Great scene, great scene where she’s arguing, but that’s not the
Yes, I love that. That’s not the captain I’m looking for. He’s much blonder and pale and he’s, she’s yelling that at her. And it’s, it’s like, who could she possibly be talking about? Oh, Stamets. She’s talking about Stamets. I love the fact that anybody, anybody that’s in charge is the captain. And so she’s looking at Stamets as the captain.
And so Stamets. In investigating this in the, uh, spore drive engineering section, they have a, a really nice conversation where he is, his heart is really on his sleeve a lot more than when they first introduced this character. It in a certain, at a certain point, I think they made a huge character revision to this, and I, and I wonder how much of it was born of the actor.
Uh, I wonder how much of it was born from the producers realizing like by creating an acerbic arrogant character at the beginning, it really kind of limited what they could do with it at this point. He is kind of heartwarming in his response to Tilly in, in these episodes where he’s, he communicates with her while still being arguably the smartest person in the room and being willing to jump into, I’m going to fix this brilliant moment where he says, this is probably going to hurt.
And then without giving her a moment to deal with that immediately begins. Just sucking the entity out of her. Saru is there and they pull this thing out of her and immediately get it into containment and it is completely other and they know it’s from the mycelial network. She effectively, as Stamets says, it is a fungal infection.
She is infected by the fungi network. So they pull this thing out of her and the experiences that she’s been having up to this point, which have, she’s been. basically bullheadedly kind of pushing herself through have all been born of this entity and it feels like as I wrap up that kind of synopsis of all of this there’s a part of me that wishes all of this Like some of the previous episodes and some of what’s to come could have been brought together a little bit more into just one or two episodes instead of being sprinkled throughout because it is a little bit of a drip, drip, drip with this Tilly experience.
I, and Weissman is doing such a great job in her performance in this. I wish it was more of an A storyline for her than it was kind of a C storyline, like in this episode. Yeah, I
agree with you. It’s, it, this felt like it should have been. Maybe one episode completely dedicated to this storyline instead of the small storytelling in the background of this taking place over the four, four or five episodes, whatever it’s going to take to do, um, but this episode, what feels like the, kind of the climax of, Her storyline here, it feels like we’re leading to the climax.
I feel like this is still on the runway, getting to the climax. I feel like the next episode is going to be the one where things really start to hit, um, as far as like what it is, but there, but I’m left with some of the details that Tilly shares about who May is, what the experience was like, what, what May knows about her, the initial.
depiction of May as being this charming, friendly thing, the, the flashback moment of her pulling up old correspondence from May and seeing a teenage May talking to Tilly and saying like, I’m going to miss you as you go off and do this new thing. There are so many details that because they’re spread out, they don’t link into an arc.
And it feels like they missed an opportunity to tell, to tell a very moving story in the vein of, I think about next generation. Where Picard has the completely alternate life experience and I feel like there was the potential for that here of telling a story about. Who Tilly was as a young woman, the kind of friend she needed, the kind of friend she wasn’t, and what that did to her as she was getting older and now as an adult having regret, and what do you do with that regret?
And how do you get past that regret? Do you just ignore it or do you push through it or do you own it? And what that could do with her experience with this alien entity. I think it could have been highlighted nicely in its own episode. Curious if you feel the same way about Those, those moments that ties back
to what I said in the beginning about how this is a very J.
J. Abrams plot driven storytelling, and it’s not character driven. So it’s like everything about her storyline, there’s, there are elements of character that we’re learning about her. We do care about her, but it’s not about her.
Where if you had flipped the script just a little bit you could have still had the action, but it could have been more about the character and less about the plot, but. This episode and the next episode are very heavily plot driven. And because of that, they’re taking s It’s kind of like, I don’t wanna get ahead to our conversation about the next one, but when stuff starts to hit the fan, and Stamets, even in this one, Stamets is very emotional about what’s happening to Tilly, but it’s about the emotion of being in the moment, and it’s not really, it’s not Building upon Stamets character, it’s not building upon Tilly’s character, it’s just because stuff’s happening to them and they’re emotional.
It’s not about the emotional baggage that they have and how they’re growing as characters or changing as characters. And to me, that’s one of the things that’s missing in this episode and the next one. But at the same time, it’s still, it’s exciting and it’s really cool. And the sciencey aspect of it, I really was enjoying.
So it’s, it’s take my complaint with a grain of salt. I’m not saying it’s awful. It’s just, it’s a choice. I are an artistic choice. I wouldn’t have made, I would have leaned more into the heart of the characters and less on the plot.
Yeah. I think the one part of the show that does hit exactly the note that you’re talking about is the Amanda Burnham storyline.
Yes. Yes. And for me, it resonates. It’s a very deep and meaningful resonation. And quick summary of it is that Amanda has brought all this evidence to Burnham, basically to say, like, I’ve stolen Spock’s medical files. You need to crack this open so we can see what they think has happened to Spock. And everything points to, like, this is legally reprehensible.
And Captain Pike is also like, it’s morally reprehensible if we were to do that, but once they realized that Spock is being pursued for murder and his involvement tied so closely to the experiences of these lights in space that have been leading the discovery around the galaxy, trying to figure out what they mean.
These things supersede the legal and moral hesitation that Pike has. So they break into the file and they see the details around what has Spock been experiencing. It includes his depictions of the Red Angels and all of this unlocks deeper history. And this is where the real heart of the story lies in that Burnham has been carrying around the understanding, I intentionally hurt Spock so that he would back off from me.
and not be near me because I was a lightning rod for the logic extremists on Vulcan who hated me. So, we find out more about assassination attempts, we find out more about the idea that Burnham was a problem that Sarek and Amanda took under their wing. And Amanda reveals I love the fact that the episode, the storyline here, ends with Amanda basically saying you are pretty much a non entity for me now, like I can’t even look at you, Amanda walks away from this with a, with such hurt at what Burnham did to Spock, and yet at the same time Burnham
They never actually said what she did.
They don’t say what she did. For me that’s the part that I love. I love the fact that they’re letting this drag out of like, what the hell did Burnham do to Spock that was that bad? And the fact that she can’t even, she can’t even verbalize it to her stepmother. You know what I mean? It’s like the fact that she can’t even say it out loud.
It’s like, what the hell did she do to Spock to sever that tie to try to protect him? It’s like the emotional weight. of the storytelling of that storyline. It’s just profound. I’m loving it. I’m eating
it up. Yeah, it’s really good. And one of the things I love about it too is that Amanda, up to that point, is admitting.
Yeah. I had a son that I could not be close to. Because to be close to him would have been undermining the aspect of parenting that his father knew was best. So, in order to protect Spock as a child, Spock needed to be raised as a Vulcan. Because the human side would not be able to manage the turmoil of being both Vulcan and human.
As a result, Amanda could not be close. In a loving, human, motherly way, so she turned and poured all of that into Burnham, and both of them recognized in that home, Spock would pick up on the fact that Amanda was closer to this effectively stranger than she was to him. So Amanda comes to it saying like, I’m responsible.
I broke my son. I didn’t love him right. I didn’t love him enough. Yeah. And then Burnham’s like, oh you know what? It was really kind of me because I intentionally hurt him in order to protect the family. And it’s this mushroom cloud. Over the two of them in that scene, the discussions between the two of them and the acting from both these actresses is absolutely fantastic.
And I loved, loved, loved this storyline. I like the other storylines. But as you’ve pointed out so perfectly, the other storylines are filled with people reacting to the moment and not connecting with each other in deeper ways, whereas this is about the profound connection between two people. The other place where you do see a profound connection is in the conversation between Tyler and Burnham, which becomes part of the evidence that forces the Klingon Empire’s hands in saying Tyler was a spy, because Tyler’s communication with Burnham is all about him trying to share potential dark clouds on the horizon.
The Klingon Empire might be headed towards civil war. If that happens, it’s not going to be good for you guys. But that communication becomes a problem for everybody on the Klingon side. But that conversation also involves the, I wish I had a different circumstance that could keep me near you. And that’s coming through from both sides, and that is the entirety of the first series, the first season on display, and it is exactly the kind of character development, and that’s part of, you know, maybe Matt’s heartbreak and my heartbreak over the series is because of shorter seasons, because everything has to connect together in only 10, 12, 13 episodes, They only can really focus on a handful of characters, so you had an intense storyline told about Burnham and Tyler and Georgiou, and we don’t even know the names of the bridge crew, so that’s a byproduct of all that.
Anything else you wanted to talk about, Matt, before we wrap this one up? Now I think that covers it really well. Next time, we’re going to be talking about an obol for Charon, which viewers jump into the comments, predict what that episode’s about, wrong answers only. And before we sign off, Matt, is there anything you’d like to remind our listeners about?
What do you have coming up on your main channel?
Uh, I have a video coming up talking about solar’s meteoric rise to prominence, um, how it is now the cheapest form of energy generation on the planet. Even the most biggest proponent of the growth of solar got their predictions wrong. So, if you hated solar, your predictions were very wrong.
And if you loved solar, your predictions were still wrong. Solar’s growth has been very interesting and yet, shouldn’t be surprising, but it is. Uh, so that I have a whole video kind of exploring that.
Very interesting. Look forward to that. As for me, you can look for my books online or at your local bookstore, wherever your books are sold.
You can find them there. You can also go to seanferrell. com. Find out more about my books. If you’re just interested in finding out what they’re about, if you’d like to support the show, please consider reviewing us on Apple, Spotify, Google, wherever it was you picked up this episode, go back there, leave a review.
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