Matt and Sean talk about Saru starting a revolution, Dr. Culber questioning his own existence, and what a space encyclopedia and a space-angel have in common. Does this episode of Star Trek Discovery feel more like classic Trek?
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Welcome to Trek in Time everybody, where we’re talking about Star Trek in chronological order while also taking a look at the context at the time of original broadcast. So currently we’re talking about things going on in 2019 and we’re also talking about season two of Discovery. And who are we? Well, I’m Sean Ferrell.
I’m a writer. I write some sci fi. I write some stuff for kids. And with me is my brother, Matt. He’s the guru and inquisitor behind the YouTube channel Undecided with Matt Ferrell, which takes a look at emerging tech and its impact on our lives. Matt, how are you today? I’m good.
And calling our listeners nutjobs.
That’s where I like to start off.
I’m just a guy with this weird haircut right now. So maybe I’m trying to… You got that little baby,
duck. Yeah, I got, like, it’s a total, like, if you zoom in on it, it looks like a, it looks like a little bit of grass growing on top of a hill. Like a little bit of wheat. Um, yeah, it’s, it’s the pot calling the kettle black, I guess.
Before we get into our discussion about the most recent episode, Matt and I like to share comments from previous episodes. Matt, what have you found in the mailbag for us?
Uh, from a previous episode, we, we’ve been creating, uh, YouTube shorts out of some clips from our episodes. And on one of those shorts, we were discussing Uh, section 31 and what people think of section number 31.
And we had a comment on that video, uh, from Zondervan. I have no idea if I said that right or Zondervan. Me too. I’ve always been interested to see how much they actually do. He’s talking about section 31, how far off the path Starfleet actually is. And by Starfleet, I mean Section 31. I’ve also been really interested in a sort of time series, a Starfleet time cop series, if you would, where they would track down temporal incursions and significant points in time and fix them.
Get some Voyager moments, some Enterprise moments from the Temporal Integrity Commission from the 29th century and the Federal Temporal Commission. That could be cool. I thought that was interesting because it’s like we’ve seen that in Enterprise, you know, with what was his name? What was the character’s name that kept showing up?
Convenient. Yeah. Whatever his name was. Yeah. I can’t remember what I’m talking about. Yeah, I do. Daniels. Who’s Daniels? There we go. Daniels and his quarters. Yes. Like if you
had a show about the Danielses of the, like this crew that was basically just going through time.
Do you want me to jump into what, I don’t even know how to frame this.
Is it off base for us to talk about stuff going on in other series that we haven’t gotten to and won’t get to for a really long time? I think that’s fair game. Because we’re literally talking about, if I don’t talk about it now, we’re talking about waiting years for it. So do you want me to just jump off into what I have to talk
Jump off. Jump off.
In the original series, there was an episode about Gary Seven. Gary, it was a, it was an episode that stood out as a strange kind of, you weren’t watching the Star Trek crew, you weren’t watching the Enterprise crew, you were watching this guy, this enigmatic guy, who In a instance where something has to happen in 20th century Earth, he goes back and is involved in this time loop story with the Enterprise.
And he’s walking around with this pet cat of his, and he’s doing all these enigmatic things. And it turns out he is effectively a time cop. He is a guy doing exactly what this Commenter suggested would be a good terrain for a story. So he goes to inflection points. He makes sure that things happen the way they’re supposed to so that the timeline continues forward in the way that Starfleet hopes it will.
In that episode, he makes references to his. Boss, effectively, under a title. I can’t remember the name of it, but he refers to himself by one title and refers to his boss by another title. It was effectively what we’ve talked about before, an attempt at a spinoff. It was, it was the original series pitching an idea and putting a secret pilot into, into the series in an attempt to get the network to be interested in doing that show The network obviously never did.
Now we move forward literally decades. And in Picard, Season 2, they reintroduce Wesley Crusher, and Wesley, of course, famously in The Next Generation, had experiences with the Traveler, had experiences where he had this innate… Understanding of quantum physics and the ability to effectively, at a certain point, when Wesley was written out of the show, he was literally written out as stopping time and walking out, and he just became something other, heading off with the Traveler.
Now in Picard season two, they reintroduce him by bringing him in contact with one of the characters from Picard and saying I run an organization that does this. They effectively in that episode of Picard made him the boss that Gary Seven referred to in the original series. So Time Cop series, Inflection Point series, Time Traveling series, there have basically been two secret pilots pitched within Star Trek properties.
Gary Seven in the original series and Wesley Crusher in Picard. Series 2. So is there the potential for something involving time travel in just that way? I think there’s a very strong possibility, especially given they have had so many different stories in which time travel connects various series.
They’ve shown that they have a real strong ability. To plant characters into old episodes, the potential for them to have a series that not only is about a Star Trek time travel, but a Star Trek time travel within Star Trek is very, very possible. Well, it’s like in
Simon, the faux pilots, it’s like Enterprise with Daniels.
There’s a huge plot point for that entire series. And even in Strange New Worlds, the time cops have shown up, um, in that series. So it’s like. It’s something that keeps, they, they keep revisiting. They keep going back to that well again and again and again. So at some point it feels like why not? It could be a lot of fun, especially from just a viewer point of view.
You could, your, your time is your canvas. So you could have old Westerns, you could have super advanced sci fi worlds they’re on. It’s like you could be jumping around all through history and having a lot of fun with it. Um, it could be kind of a cool series. Another comment was from, uh, episode 112, Obel for Charon.
I think that’s Charon. Charon. I always say that wrong. Yep. So, a comment from Scooteroo1701. This was my favorite episode of Disco Season 2 and I love the shortening of Star Trek Discovery to just… Disco. I really enjoy the ancient alien species computer wants to share what it knows with the Federation.
Trope and how it helps the history of the galaxy in the Trek universe. The mess up with the universal translator was really fun and a great way to show how intelligent and resourceful Saru is and can be. I know they refer to the sphere data in the future episodes and I was hoping that they would do a lot more with it once they, spoiler, traveled through time later on in the show.
Great episode as always. I do, I do think that I wish they had done more with this sphere stuff, um, cause there, I don’t want to give away what’s coming up, but there are more things that come up around this and the sphere data inside the computer core. They, they really, there was so much potential there.
They even laid the groundwork for it. And there was like, ah, screw it. And just walked away from it, which was really disappointing. No, but we’ll get to that later.
We are going to talk about that specific element of the sphere’s encyclopedic knowledge of the galaxy, uh, in this very, in this very episode, and we’ll, and we’ll be revisiting it again, of course, in future episodes.
But it is one of those things that To me, I do understand the desire, like, oh, it’d be so cool if they used that more, but they introduced it, I feel, like they created an entire episode around that sphere, just so they would have it for specific moments within this episode. Mhm. And then they were saddled with having, supposedly, encyclopedic knowledge of the galaxy.
So they had to just kind of like put it on a back shelf, because it’s one of those things, it’s Pandora’s box. They open it up as a solution, and now they’ve got all the solutions, and that’s a problem. So it’s like, it’s one of those things where, like, if that encyclopedic knowledge actually existed, it would change the dynamic of so much of not only…
So, this show, but all of Trek.
But also in this, we’re going to get to this, what I’m referring to about what they do with the Sphere data happens later, specifically with the computer. And that, if they had accelerated that and done that earlier, that could have been their solution. That this thing wouldn’t necessarily give them all the information they wanted when they wanted it.
Right. There could have been a whole thing they could have put around it to kind of put a lockbox on it if they
wanted to. So, before we get too much deeper into the conversation about this current episode, Matt, do you want to tackle the Wikipedia description? Okay. Best of luck. Strap yourself in. Ignore the alarm in the background, that’s just the read alert, but Matt, take it away.
Another of the mysterious signals leads Discovery to Saru’s homeworld of Kemenar, where the fearful Kelpians are preyed upon by predators called the Ba’ul, who demand that Pike surrender Saru to them since Starfleet has agreed to stay out of the conflict between the two species. Pike refuses, but Saru turns himself over to prevent a fight.
Tilly works with technologically augmented Lt. Commander Airiam. I’ve never, I’ve always heard it not as Airiam. Really? Seeing it in writing. Yeah. I thought it was Arian. No. Um, Airiam, to sift the sphere’s information on Kaminar. They learned that the fearless post vahar’ai Kelpians were once Kaminar’s dominant species and nearly eradicated by the Ba’ul.
The later were only able to survive by using their superior technology to cull Kelpians before they lose their threat ganglia. And become fearless. Pike uses the Ba’ul’s technology to trigger vahar’ai’s in all Kelpiens, hoping that the two species can instead work towards a peaceful solution once the Kelpiens are freed.
The Ba’ul retaliate against Starfleet’s actions by attempting genocide on the Kelpiens, but are stopped by the Red Angel. Whom Saru sees in a humanoid wearing an highly advanced suit. Man, sometimes these descriptions, they really get me.
That was of course the description for episode 6, The Sound of Thunder, directed by Douglas Aronikoski, and written by Bo Yeon Kim and Erika Lippoldt.
This episode aired on February 21st, 2019. Main cast, as usual, Sonequa Martin Green as Michael Burnham, Doug Jones as Saru, Anthony Rapp as Paul Stamets, Mary Weissman as Sylvia Tilly. And guest actors include Wilson Cruz as Hugh Culber, Anson Mount as Christopher Pike, Shehzad Lateef as Tyler, and Hannah Speer as Serana.
And what was going on on February. 21st, 2019, just one week after Valentine’s Day, well Matt was still singing along to Seven Rings by Ariana Grande. Matt, do you want to sing the closing? Very good. And at the box office, people were reluctantly, I would say, lining up to see Alita Battle Angel, which is a Robert Rodriguez film, which famously used CGI to affect the eyes of its lead actress to make her look just like the anime, a move that is unsettling to say the least.
This is on par with watching a CGI Scooby Doo look like an actual dog that can talk and has human eyes. It’s a little disturbing, uh, and the movie was the number one film for just that one week. And on television, we’ve been reviewing the most streamed shows of 2019. We’ve walked our way through Lucifer, Stranger Things, 13 Reasons Why, Money Heist, Orange is the New Black, and now here we are at a little program called The Handmaid’s Tale.
I don’t know if you’ve heard of that, Matt. It is an incredibly well received program and one of Hulu’s major hits. And in the news, there were various news stories going on, like the Washington Post reporting on American led intervention in the Syrian civil war. The U. S. involvement in the Syrian civil war was debated hotly as far as how much longer the U.
S. presence should be there. And at this point, on the 21st, the United States allies France and the United Kingdom said they would not keep their troops in Syria after the United States pulls out. Meanwhile, Reuters was reporting that Russian President Vladimir Putin was stating that Russia’s military was ready for a Cuban missile style crisis if the United States wants one in relation to a U.
S. missile deployment in Europe. And the framing of that, I think, is very interesting. Like, if you want a Cuban missile crisis, is that what, huh? It’s a strange framing. But also in Reuters, a report on Vietnam tightening security at its rail stations on the Chinese border ahead of a North Korean leader, Kim Jong un’s visit to Hanoi for a summit with U.
S. President Donald Trump. And The Guardian was reporting about a successful landing of a space probe from the Japanese space administration on asteroid 16217 through Raigyu. So lots of. events going on that were either about tensions between major powers, tensions between major powers using lesser powers by proxy, and ongoing exploration and technical technological advancements, which I think all kind of come together in what this episode is talking about.
This episode is talking about effectively, uh, uneasy truces, uneasy balance. And how ideology can be used to drive what is effectively unfair practices. But if you keep the populace uninformed enough, you can actually convince them of practically anything. This is an episode that has a really interesting resonance given the time that it aired 2019.
In looking at what does it mean to be informed? What does it mean to be misinformed? And what does that all do to how you conduct your life? This is right in the middle of the explosion of our current era, which is arguments around what does it mean to know a thing? We have coming out of the 2016 election and out of the 2020 election arguments of malfeasance.
arguments of, of the other side is cheating. And everybody is absolutely certain of their knowledge. Everybody is certain of their standing and what they are arguing. And yet there’s no reliance on actual factual data in some cases. And it is simply, I know what I know because I know it. And here we have that in play on a science fiction story about an entire culture that is willing to accept.
Effectively, euthanasia in order to achieve balance, and I think it’s a remarkable story from that perspective. There are elements of this episode that really work well for me. There are other elements that don’t work so well, but overall, I’m curious, Matt, how Trek did you feel this was on a scale of one to ten?
On a scale of one to ten, I’d probably put it as seven for how Trek it felt because it was for me, we’ve talked about this before, Trek dealing with ethical. moral questions and the struggles around those. I thought this one did a pretty good job with that ethical dilemma of knowing and not knowing when to step in and try to quote, make it right.
Um, and what, what does make it right even mean? Are you going to cause more problems by making it right than if you just left it the way it is? So it was this big ethical dilemma, which I enjoyed. It doesn’t mean I loved the entire episode. There are some problems I had with it, but I’d probably give it a 7
out of 10.
Let’s take a look at it from two perspectives. Uh, there’s the conceptual makeup of the show, and then there’s the plot. And I’d like to talk about the concepts before we get into the plot. What did you think of the ideas behind a reversal of Apex Predator and the dynamics of a planet with two sentient Apex Predators?
It’s, we haven’t really seen that done quite like this in Trek before.
No. It’s, we’ve seen, we’ve seen the whole two species on one planet thing. They did it on Enterprise, they’ve done it numerous times, but not like this. This is a very new, unique take. And this is where my problem with the show is, Sean, because here’s the, um, Ba’ul, who are so technologically superior to the Kaminar, I mean, to the, uh, Kelpians.
One, how did that help it happen without the Kelpians being able to kind of keep pace? . Two, if they’re that advanced and they have spaceships and they’re that afraid of the Kelpians, why didn’t they commit genocide years ago or just go somewhere else? Like, they literally have the technological superiority where they could have just wiped out the Kelpians and had the planet themselves.
That seems like that would be the natural evolution of a planet, that one species dominates and just wipes out the other one. Or they just pick up and leave. Take their ball and go home. Just go somewhere else. Because they can just fly through space to wherever they want to go. And those two aspects of the, the way that they set up this specific instance, I couldn’t let that go.
And that was a problem for me in the setup
of the exploration. Interesting. I didn’t have nearly the same response to any of that. I really like the mind games of what would that mean and what would it do.
Can I just, I enjoyed that. Like if, if, if I disconnected my problem with, if they’re that superior and can actually fly through space and do whatever they want like that, like Starfleet, if I took that and put that to the side.
I really enjoyed the exploration of the reversal of these two species and then one kind of keeping the other species in the dark long enough that they forgot the history. And I really enjoyed that aspect of it completely. But for me, there was just that nagging thing in the back of my head about that.
Why didn’t the Ba’ul just wipe them out or leave? It, there was a, that never got answered for me in the episode.
I think that for me, it does get answered because the Kelpians themselves refer to everything being in perfect, perfect balance. The, the planet operates on a level of incredibly delicate balance.
And. That they constantly work to maintain that balance. And if that is, I think it, for me, I read that as our circumstances help shape our ideology. And if there is a planet which is operating in such delicate balance. And a species incorporates that so intrinsically into its ideological makeup, that would include the Ba’ul also incorporating that into their makeup.
So they would not view it as, we need to exterminate our enemy. As much as we need to create the balance that allows us to operate and be safe from our enemy, but also allows our enemy to play their role in what it means to be a part of this planet, and they depict it as effectively, the episode doesn’t go very heavy into Labeling, like, here’s this and this, and we’re giving them names and pointing out to you the view of what they are.
It does a lot of stuff very subtly, and I think that one of the things that’s most subtly depicted is the Ba’ul seem to be waterborne only, and the Kelpians are on the, on the land. And I wonder how much of this is born of the Ba’ul, or like, the Kelpians. Foster balance on the terrain. That’s their role.
If we exterminate them, something bad will happen to the planet. So we need them to manage that. But we also, they hunt us. So we need to keep them from being able to do that. And to me, the kind of, why didn’t they just wipe them out earlier? The kind of technological advancement that you’re talking about.
They don’t say what that technological advancement looked like 2000 years ago. It doesn’t mean spaceships, but you’re,
you’re, you’re hitting on the problem I’m having, you’re reading between the lines of the text. It’s not in the text of the show. None of that’s in the text of the show. They never, I think it is.
I think it is. No, no, it’s not. They never, they never once make it even a hint that the it’s the Kelpians on the land that they fostered the land in the way that the, that the Ba’ul can’t, and it’s like, it’s that symbiotic, the ecology of the system. They’re both. helping the system, they they never ever go into detail on that.
I think that they do in
slightest. They do, they do? They do Show me a Ba’ul on land, the Ba’ul comes out of the lake, that comes out of the
water? No, no, no but they but it doesn’t explain like what are the Kelpians doing on the land that benefits, you know what I mean, like, if we wipe out the Kelpians they’re doing something on the the land in the planet that actually benefits the Ba’ul to leave them there.
That’s when they first get there. When they first get there, Saru says to her, we work in harmony to balance We make sure that everything in the environment remains balanced. He makes statements about that,
but what does that mean? It’s a general statement he’s making, and there’s never a specific example given ever in the show.
It’s all these generalized hand wavy comments about the balance, but there’s never an explanation as to what that actually means. And that’s the problem I’m having. I, I,
I don’t, I, I disagree with you. I think that it’s, I think that there is enough there to say, okay, if the Kelpians are working to maintain balance and that would, you see them doing things like harvesting things from the water.
You see them setting up gardens and things like that. It didn’t take a lot of effort on my part to see like, okay, they’re talking about environmental balance. They are not a technologically advanced species. They live in agrarian harvesting. Sort of lifestyle, that means they’re fostering balance in their environment.
That’s, I don’t think it was a big leap for me to say that. And then when you see the, the Ba’ul rise out of the water, I’m looking at it from the perspective of, okay, if they are completely isolating themselves, their entire communities live underwater. This is their origin space. This is where they’re from.
And I think that the show uses imagery. to convey a lot in a way that worked for me. And it didn’t make me feel like there were gaps in the storytelling. And when they say, this has been going on for 2000 years, the balance has been going on for 2000 years, and it’s because of the technological advancements of the Ba’ul.
2000 years ago, the Ba’ul didn’t have lasers and spaceships and all that stuff. They merely had tools that allowed them to win. So that’s That’s precisely my point.
Because it’s like, visually, the storytelling visually is like, They’re rising out of the water in this massive spaceship, and they’ve got these spaceships in space.
It’s like, it doesn’t matter what it was 2, 000 years ago, it matters what it is now. So why, the show, the climax of the show is the Ba’ul getting ready to wipe the Kelpians out. Yes. So why is it okay to wipe them out now, but it wasn’t
500 years ago? Because they’d never had Saru happen before. They had never had…
No, but you’re, you’re,
you’re missing my point. You’re a Kelpian. You’re, you’re making me, you’re missing my point of if it’s important to have the balance because the Kelpians help the ecology in some fashion where it’s like that symbiotic relationship between the two on the planet makes the planet work well.
Yes. Then they would never be willing to wipe them out. But yet, at the end of the show, they were willing to wipe them out. And if what you’re saying is true, they’d be screwing themselves over by wiping the Kelpians out. But that was never explicitly explored in this actual text of the show. It was only implied in what you’re talking about.
And that’s the problem I had. It was, everything was implied. There was never anything explored. I, again,
I don’t think it was. I think that it was, you’re talking about brinksmanship. You’re talking about a species that has, has dominated the planet for 2, 000 years under the idea of balance. The Ba’ul in this are depicted in a very monstrous way.
I think that it doesn’t take a big leap to say the depiction visually of them is in order to create a certain kind of shuddery response in the Kelpien and in us, the viewer, that when you look through it. A lot of their decision making has been driven by fear. They were almost driven to extinction. The Ba’ul as a species rule this planet with an understanding of 2000 years ago, we almost got wiped out.
So for them, the achievement of balance, the maintaining of balance and a healthy planet. It works for as long as they can maintain that balance. What Starfleet is doing in this moment, what Saru is driving, Saru being the first Kelpien to leave and then come back and infect the species and change the entire balance that the Ba’ul had created, leads them to a place of being willing to exterminate the Kelpien.
It is a moment of self reflexive… Uh, self preservation. They are reacting instinctively to like, we have just lost control of the situation. And their expectation is fully evolved and mature Kelpians are not going to sit down at the table and talk about maintaining balance. They’re just going to come and wipe us out.
So to me, none of what is driving the Kelpian or the Ba’ul responses. None of it feels like it’s, it’s hard to read. It’s, it feels all very there for me because they say things like the Kelpians maintain this. 2000 years ago, they almost got, they almost wiped out the Ba’ul, but the Ba’ul had technology.
They don’t say what it was. It doesn’t have to be spaceships. And what we’re seeing now is a species that’s had 2, 000 years to effectively do, like, 2, 000 years of evolution while keeping the other species completely agrarian. It doesn’t surprise me that they have what they have. It doesn’t, none of that strikes me as unexpected.
And they make the statement that the first time the Ba’ul were contacted was because they had finally developed warp technology. So it’s like, that’s a recent… development. This is a effectively a young warp species as opposed to this is not 2000 years of lasers and warp technology. This is 50 years. I know, but that doesn’t
change my point.
It’s like it doesn’t matter what happened 500 years ago or 2000 years ago. Imagine what is happening right now. They have this technology. They’ve had it for a little while. It’s like, why would you put up with the Kelpians if you don’t need them anymore? That’s kind of what I’m getting at. It’s like, it, it didn’t, it didn’t make complete sense to me what the Ba’ul are getting out of the relationship with the Kelpians at all.
Like they’re being treated basically as a slave race, but a slave race for what? And that’s never, it was only implied. That’s kind of what I took
away from it. That’s interesting. Cause I feel like it’s, it’s born of The Kelpian response to the balance, they are espousing the mindset that has been taught to them by the Ba’ul.
The Ba’ul would be espousing that saying, the balance is what makes this planet work. So the Ba’ul’s response to the idea of wiping out an entire species, it’s almost like the Ba’ul are just a couple of steps away from being okay. Except for the culling, like they almost like, if just a little bit more evolution on the Ba’ul side would have kept them from treating the Kelpiens as something that needed to be culled.
And it’s the Ba’ul ultimately aren’t villains. They’re just terrified. They’re responding from a fear place. And I think that talking about like what that means metaphorically for the era that this episode was created in, there’s two sides to this equation, both of whom are operating out of a fear response and Both of them are vilifying the other to the point where there’s no conversation and there’s no growth, there’s no, the Kelpians are literally being held back.
So it is a metaphor for multiple places around the world, large and small. Everything from ostracized communities in a specific city or uh, a specific country to conflict between countries or even ideological differences within one. region. Like we look at the, like I mentioned before, the Misinformation, information, social media debates that take place now, that this is about all of that, and I think it did a really good job of depicting two sides, and for lack of a better term, both sides ing it, and making its Me as a viewer recognize, okay, this creepy and monstrous looking Ba’ul at the end of it has a point of view, which is born of its own experience.
And I did appreciate the fact that the Ba’ul were more than just, you go back to the original series and it’s like, Oh, they’re villains because they’re villains. They’re bad guys because they’re bad guys. And this one felt like, okay, there’s a reason behind this. It has a different Tone to it and it worked for me in a way, obviously, that it didn’t work for you.
No, you’re, you’re misunderstanding what I’m saying. No, I don’t think,
I don’t think, I’m not, I’m not saying you’re I
loved, I loved, I loved that ethical dilemma. I love the two sidesing of it. I love that the Ba’ul had motivations and they weren’t just a mustache twirling villain. It’s like all that stuff I loved.
The immoral quandaries, all that kind of stuff, the ethical dilemmas, all of it, I thought was really well done. That’s why I said it’s 7 outta 10. But for me, there was just that niggling thing, and I don’t want to beat a dead horse with this. We don’t want to keep talking about it. But it was just the, it didn’t come through clearly in the text to me.
It came through as implied. And that was the problem I had, that it felt implied, not implicit. And it was like, that’s where I thought it, it kind of comes into the. I’ll take a little bit of a tangent. My big complaint about Discovery in general is that they fast track things. They take shortcuts all the time.
They’re taking it with the character development and the, oh, Saru and, uh, you know, Burnham are supposed to be these. Forever best friends and we’ve never seen this happen until the scene where you’re telling me that that happened at some point off camera that we never got to see. They do these shortcuts constantly in the show and it drives me nuts.
And to me, it was a little bit of that happening in this, the way that this was set up. It’s like, I just think it could have been a little stronger if they had just changed the way it was written a little bit. To make it a little, those connections a little clearer instead of having to kind of read between the lines as much as you did.
And on that note, in this episode specifically, there was something about the filmmaking that I
hated. The first 10 minutes was nauseating. Michael
Bay is probably one of the worst filmmakers ever. He does not know how to tell a coherent story.
And he has had a really amazing footprint on the industry.
It’s remarkable. Yes.
He is notorious for taking a scene that has no emotional stakes, nothing is happening, and then he uses kinetic filmmaking. to make something out of nothing. His, his films are just fluff. There is nothing ever there. And one of his most famous techniques that he uses is the 360 camera spinning technique.
Yeah. Nothing’s happening, but bad boys 2, they come out and they stand there and the camera’s swirling around these two guys. And all they’re doing is getting out of a freaking car. There’s like literally nothing happening. There’s no plot, no stakes, no nothing happening. It’s just crazy camera movements for the sake of a crazy camera movement.
In the first 10 minutes, there’s a sequence in the ready room where the camera is doing that 360 Michael Bay spin around these people for like, it was like for two minutes, non stop, and nothing was happening. There was no reason to create the excitement there. It’s like, they’re literally talking about an away mission and it’s like, why are you doing this?
Yeah. So it’s like, it, it, it, to me, this was some of the problem with this episode that struck me. It’s like from the first couple of minutes, the Michael Bay moves set me on the wrong tone. And then it was like the, the not being explicit, explicitly clear in some aspects of the storytelling. And it felt like they were taking shortcuts.
So for that’s kind of why I was kind of like probably a little more. Um, less receptive, maybe, than you were to it. Well, again, to
go back to, to go back to something you just said, you said I was mis, I was misunderstanding or I was misrepresenting or, or, or not. I
think you’re misrepresenting me, because when you were rephrasing what I was saying, it’s not what I was saying.
Well, what I was,
but what I was saying at that moment was it worked better for me than it did for you. And ultimately that’s true. Like that, I just want to go back to like, I was not saying you were wrong or misrepresenting what happened in the show. For me, the subtext was evident enough and one of the biggest things for me from a writing perspective, that I think really worked, there’s no way anybody on that ship or on the ground can know what the Ba’ul are thinking.
They cannot know that. And so for me, that element is what is driving the energy of the show. That’s what’s driving the brinksmanship of what’s happening. If anybody fully understood what the Ba’ul were thinking, And what the reason for their actions were, if it was text right there in front of them, the episode would have ended 20 minutes earlier because then you could have had, Oh, we’re going to talk about this.
We understand now they are reading tea leaf, tea leaves, excuse me, of a species that is hiding. Everything out of fear. And I think that that for me makes all the subtext text. It is, you are forced to read action and say, okay, they’ve never wiped out the Kelpians before. They must have a reason. They want to do it now.
What would that change be? Saru has driven a change in the entire species. So it’s like, for me, the subtext is present in a different way than. If you literally did have a full understanding of the Ba’ul, I do agree with you that the way that plays out in the setup, they spend so much time with fluff.
There’s about 15 minutes of this episode that if they’d pulled it out, you could have had… All of what we’ve been talking about the majority of our conversation so far could have been the beginning and middle of the episode. And you could have had more with the Ba’ul to wrap things up with a textual way that would have maybe brought some of the threads that you’re like, I don’t understand why they’re doing these things.
This doesn’t make sense to me. I’m, I’m being forced to read tea leaves. You maybe could have had a little bit more of an explicit conversation at the end. If you hadn’t had a swirling camera work in a scene that I swear to God, I started to get nauseous watching that camera spin around the people talking about the away mission.
And then there’s A distraction in this episode, which I understand you have to have these moments with this character, but I found myself wondering, why is it here? Why is it right now? What is this about? Culbers, and it goes back to something I think you, you just mentioned, Discovery fast forwarding things a little too much, putting the, the gas to the, the pedal to the metal a little too often because they only have so many episodes and they’re trying to do quite a bit.
One of the most Trek things in this episode is Culber’s debating of what am I, because physically he is informed. He is effectively brand new. Cognitively, he is Culber. So this goes back to what we talked about last week. What does it mean that Stamets was like a lightning rod and pulled the essence of Culber into the mycelial network?
We’re now finding out that that means like Something that they touched on last week, but never really fully concretized, and now they’re not really concretizing it here, but if we add two and two together, we say, okay, the mycelial network effectively is pulling in some aspects of the cognitive, the energy at work, and that is replicated as a thing, an entity in the mycelial network.
But it is not the physicality. So now here we have brand new physicality with old personality and him sitting there in the med bay, trying to figure out what does that make me? Am I me? This. is a element that could wrestle with, uh, transporter technology. There’s an old debate around transporter technology.
Is the person who lands on the planet the same as the one who left the ship and vice versa? How many times is somebody new? Um, what would that mean as far as Like, they sit in medbay and they share the fact that Culber doesn’t have a scar that he chose to keep when he was younger because it was so emblematic of who he would become and now that is gone.
And Stamets is there, apparently obtuse enough not to pick up on anything that Culber is throwing down. Culber looks upset, constantly, in this scene. And Stamets is just like, Hey buddy! Let’s like, let’s go home. And yeah, totally like not picking up on the vibe that, that Culber is, is exuding. Um, lots of heavy Trek.
What does it mean to be? What does it mean to be a body? What does it mean to be a person? What does it mean to be an idea? Like all of that stuff is so Trek and it is such a minor. Moment in this episode collectively, we don’t really revisit it. I know that we’re going to be dealing with this as a story element more in the future.
It feels like they’re trying to bread crumb us to getting there, but ultimately this felt out of place in this episode to me because it was such a big idea. That I left this episode thinking, like, I can’t believe we didn’t go back for more of that. And if we weren’t going to go back for that, couldn’t that time have been used better to explore some of the stuff around what does it mean to be a Kelpian?
The ideology of being willing to view yourself as, I’m only allowed to be until a certain age. is not really deeply explored. And yet there’s this five minutes that could have helped lend some scenes between Saru and his sister or between a Kelpien and the Ba’ul or even just having some Ba’ul wrap up at the end.
Like these things could have helped, I think.
Now you hit the nail on the head when with my problem, there wasn’t enough of a Ba’ul wrap up that the exploration of what. Why they did what they did or what they were doing, they gave us just enough for us to understand they’re not mustache twirling.
There’s a reason why they’re doing what they’re doing, but it was not explicitly explored enough. And if they had just spent a little more time on that… I’d be fine, but they didn’t. On the scene you’re talking about, it didn’t bother me as much as I think it bothered you, um, because it is this telling a continuous story style of, uh, series that they’re creating for Star Trek in this.
It makes sense why they’re doing this breadcrumb, but they had that conversation with Saru talking to him saying, I know exactly what you’re going through. And they tried to. Connect it to the Kelpian thing. And it, the bridge was enough for me to go, okay, fine. That’s why that was there. But it wasn’t as strong as it could have been.
Um, and I agree they could have spent more time, uh, exploring the whole, what does it mean for a Kelpien to, what is a Kelpien after this change? And like, what does that mean for Saru? Is he, is he still Saru or is he a totally different Saru? They didn’t. Really spend enough time on that, but it didn’t bother me as much, uh, because it’s the style of storytelling, which not to kind of go off tangent again, but Strange New Worlds, I think has found the winning formula for what Star Trek needs to be in the new world order in the 21st century.
Where it’s got a little bit of that continuous storyline that sprinkles throughout, but it’s more episodic and it’s taking more time in an individual episode to be more in the moment. Where this feels like the Marvel movies, where it’s like you’re telling the storyline that’s the movie that you’re currently watching and there’s a 20 minute tangent that’s only meant to set up the next movie that’s going to be happening two years from now.
And it feels shoehorned in. That is a little bit of what we’re seeing here. It felt like that breadcrumb kind of shoehorned in because they needed it there to set up an episode that’s going to happen two episodes from now.
Just real quickly, we talked about this a little bit earlier, but I wanted to get your thoughts on Airiam and the investigations into the spheres information.
Uh, what did you think about Like I mentioned before, I feel like they created an entire episode around the sphere simply to have it available for this. I think they wanted to be able to say, we need to show the evolution of Saru’s species. It needs to be a long vision of the history between these two species on this planet.
How could we possibly have The crew have access to that kind of information. How would that even possibly possible? I feel like it kind of like reverse engineered that earlier episode to say like, Oh, they find this thing. This thing has a huge repository of information. So I’m curious about your feelings about how they’re breaking that egg open.
The sphere has all this stuff. They’re beginning to do it. And we see a little bit of Airiam. This is another instance. We see a couple of lines of dialogue with various. Bridge crew members where they get to say things. They get to share a little bit of information. We’re seeing them responding a little bit more.
We’re getting a lot more of shots of them responding to the threats that are around them. It’s not just, Oh, here’s Burnham being afraid, but here is, you know, like the navigator and the helmsman and like all of the different people on the bridge are getting their moments to, you know, respond, say things occasionally.
Airiam in this case, we’ve seen her in the background consistently. We know that she looks like a robot, but she has a name and we are left to, at this point, as old Trek fans, I remember sitting here and thinking, when are they going to let us know what that is? Because we know that Data is the first artificial life form in Starfleet.
So, we’re looking at this crewman, and we’re left to be like, who? How? What? What? Like, what is happening here? Can we never
find out, Sean? We never find out. Spoiler alert, they never talk about this. Don’t get me started on Airiam. I didn’t even know her name was Airiam with an M at the end. Completely meaningless.
Like, her dialogue. It was like, her turning around going, found it, and it was like, that was it. It was like, uh, really? That’s the character development for Airiam? Bravo, guys. That’s great. So glad she’s here. Um, I’m completely disappointed in how this show is handling the rest of the bridge crew. I mean, at least there are a couple characters on the bridge crew that they do more stuff with later.
Like, Airiam is the character I want to know the most about. What species? What’s her, what’s, what’s her deal? No idea. I,
to go, to, not to go into spoiler territory, but there is an episode about that. And I think it’s interesting you’ve forgotten it. Yeah, I’ve forgotten about it. There is
an upcoming episode about that very thing.
What season are we in?
I know, but that’s ultimately, like, I, I can’t, I keep flashing back to the very first episode of Next Generation. And I believe it’s mainly Riker who is used as the, I’m going to go around and meet everybody so that everybody gets their chance to be introduced to the audience. And it was very ham fisted.
It’s very, like, the dialogue is often not great. It’s mid 80s, 1980s TV. It was not a network show. It was being done as a syndicated program. So they, and they also had Gene Roddenberry sitting at the back of the room. And God bless Gene Roddenberry for creating Star Trek. But as far as How firmly his hand should have been on the rudder at Next Generation.
It shouldn’t have been there for the first couple of years. And so it’s very hamfisted. It feels dated. It feels awkward to have Riker walk into a room where Data is and find Data trying to whistle. And for some reason, Data’s not able to whistle. And Have a conversation around like, yes, but I would do anything to be human, like, okay, like clunk, that’s not great dialogue, but we get all of that character set up very quickly, very roughly, so that the next episode, we’re not wondering, I wonder what data is.
And I completely agree to be this deep into season two and have a crewman, like Airiam, just like her name is just starting to get familiar to us. Her visual aspect being as unusual as it is, like, can’t we… Already have understood who and what she is like of all the
characters on the bridge crew of all the characters She’s the one that stands out close stands out like a sore thumb that you know, people are gonna be like, what’s her deal?
Yeah, like everybody else kind of looks human, you know hanging around Yeah, it’s like the one character that stands out they decided to do nothing with immediately. I just find that Absurd.
And from, and from the perspective of the actress playing Ariam, sitting down in a makeup chair to have them glue things to your face so that you look like you are made out of like some alloys.
So you look like a robotic body and putting in those contacts and like, and to do that on a daily basis so that you can stand in the background and not be fully examined as a character, uh, must’ve been frustrating at best. It’d be like a remarkable amount of time spent putting something in the background.
And I’m like, wow, it’s
an awful lot of time and money that went into creating that character to do nothing with her. Yeah. And
it, and it speaks. I mean, as far as creating atmosphere, hat tip, like you’re creating atmosphere, fantastic. But atmosphere alone doesn’t make for a character or a program. And so I find myself as befuddled, even though I do remember the episode that’s coming up, even though I do remember the episode that examines her character, uh, it’s just unfortunate that it’s not.
More evident already.
Airiam is the 360 camera spin of characters.
That is well said. One last thing I wanted to speak about, which was to get your thoughts about stood out to me. We’ve talked about like how Star Trek y did this episode feel? What were the Trekkiest moments and what were the least? Um, for me, one of the Trekkiest moments, and I really found myself like, In an episode where, on the whole, like you, I put this about a 7, 7.
5, I felt like I was engaged, I felt like I liked what I was seeing, I liked the, even Saru being as brusque as he was, and being as abrasive as he was with Pike and defensive, uh, Pike’s ability to de escalate. And keep like, Hey, I’m not questioning you as an officer. Like I trust you, like all of that stuff.
I enjoyed all of that. But where I suddenly found myself leaning forward and going, Oh yes. Was when the Ba’ul are clearly like, okay, we’re just going to commit genocide here. We’re just going to destroy all of these communities. And Pike steps forward and makes his speech about, okay, you got to make your next choice very carefully because we’re not going to stand by and let you exterminate anybody.
You will make an enemy out of Starfleet. And like that stance, that speech, that moment for me was suddenly like. Very Kirk. Oh boy, do I want this guy to have his own show. And at this point, when the show originally was airing, there was no whispers that he was going to get his own show. They were clearly test running this, but keeping their cards very close to the vest.
And at this point, we haven’t even seen Spock. So like in this moment, as I was watching this now on my rewatch and seeing that moment I’m thinking, oh yes. And then realizing. Oh, this is the turning point for this pike. Where we haven’t even seen Spock yet and the potential for what Strange New Worlds could be is like tantalizingly close.
So, yeah, this is,
yeah, that, that, I would, I would actually say that same scene for me, same scene was for me, I was just catnip eating it up. Yeah. And it was also that watching that scene was like, Pike is probably my favorite captain after. Picard. And yes, Picard’s my first choice, Kirk’s my second, and Pike is like right there, neck and neck with Kirk at this point.
Anson Mount’s portrayal of him, he’s so charismatic, and the character, the way he’s written, is fantastic. It’s just like, he is such a great Captain that it’s like, he’s the, he’s a superstar Turkey kind of captain that you want. And I’m so glad we have him. So God bless Anson Mount. That’s all I can say.
Yeah. It’s a scene that really stood out to me as like, okay, they just earned their Trek credit on this one. That one did it all for me. So we’ll see if next episode, we have similar moments that make us. Salivate onto our Trek bibs. We’ll be talking about the episode, Light and Shadows, and please jump into the comments and share your thoughts about what that will be about.
Wrong answers only. Before we sign off though, Matt, is there anything you want to share about what you have coming up on your main channel?
Sure. Yeah. Um, uh, the next episode that should be out around the time this episode’s out is why do American houses suck? Um, compared to other countries around the world.
And I talked to Matt Reisinger from, um, the YouTube channel, The Build Show about his experiences and what he thinks it is, um, why our building codes kind of suck here in the U. S. Um, had a lot of fun and I kind of was interested in that because I built my own house and I kind of want to understand why is my house.
Special in the U. S. and par for the
course everywhere else. As for me, you can check out the website SeanFerrell. com, you can look for my books there, you can also just go directly to your booksellers, Amazon, Barnes Noble, your local bookstore, or even your public library. My books are available everywhere, and when you’re doing that, keep in mind I have recently released The Sinister Secrets of Singe, which is a middle grade novel.
It’s a book full of smugglers and robots and ne’er do well… Mad geniuses. And so if you’re into that or your kids are into that, please check it out. If you’d like to support the show, please consider leaving a review wherever it was, you found this, go back there, leave a review. Don’t forget to subscribe and please do share it with your friends.
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