Matt and Sean talk about returning to where it (truly) all started for Star Trek … TALOS IV. Do the revelations around Spock and his sister pay off for Star Trek Discovery?
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So we’re talking about Discovery Season 2, which means we’re also talking about early 2019, which feels like… It shouldn’t be that long ago and yet ages could be decades for all I know. And who are we? Well, I’m Sean Ferrell. I’m a published author. I’ve written some sci fi. I’ve written some stuff for kids, including my most recently released The Sinister Secrets of Singe.
And with me is my brother, Matt. He’s that Matt behind Undecided with Matt Ferrell, which takes a look at emerging tech and its impact on our lives. So between the two of us, we’ve got the fiction. We got the tech. Sounds like Star Trek to me. Matt, how are you doing today?
I’m doing good. I’ve lost complete track of time.
Speaking of time, I looked out the window over the weekend. It’s like the leaves are changing on the trees. It’s like, wait, what’s
happened to those
trees? Where, where is time going? I can’t believe the
year’s almost over. Uh, believe me. Uh, Turning the page and entering October the way we have, um, considering it was like 95 degrees right up until September 30th.
And then suddenly it’s like, Oh yeah, you got to put on a jacket and a hat. What are you, an idiot? I’m like, how, what I, huh? Before we get into our conversation on this most recent episode, we always like to take a look at previous episodes, comments. So Matt, what did you find in the mailbag?
So from episode 115, Light and Shadows, PaleGhost69 wrote, The thing that bugged me about the timey wimey bits was the doubling dialogue, the doubling dialogue.
How is Spock able to mind meld and see planets being destroyed, but not know who or what the thing was that was destroying them? If the Red Angel knows, he should know too, right? And to me that felt like a little bit of a mic drop comment. I was like… That’s a really good point that he raises. Mindmeld, he would know what, I don’t want to spoil it for people who don’t know, but he, we find out who and what the Red Angel is.
And it’s like, you would think Spock would actually know who that is. So why doesn’t he seem
to know? I would, and this is just me putting on my writer’s hat to come up with an explanation to allow the plot to exist the way it does, would say. Without them saying in as many words, uh, something about time travel, something about the shielding of the suit and the tech, something creating enough of a gap in the mind meld that the only thing that Spock can get is maybe something that the recipient of the mind meld is actively trying to get them to understand.
So when the red angel is present in front of Spock and the mind meld is on its way, that individual knowing I have, I can send no message, but images. Thinking about the ultimate destruction of all these planets. So, like, getting that across would be the only thing. I say all of that while also saying I had exactly the same response that PaleGhost did.
Like, wait a minute, why wouldn’t he pull away and say, like, Oh, it was Jerry, like, all this time. Yeah.
I think, I think what the show is, I think that what the show is trying to do is because of how broken Spock is, because that mind meld and that connection has destroyed him basically. I think that’s their shorthand for that’s why he, it’s like his mind is a mess.
So that’s why he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. Um, the other comment was from the previous one before that, 114, The Sound of Thunder, uh, from Scooteroo1701, uh, he wrote, It’s always nice to see aliens like the Ba’ul that are not your traditional human with forehead or face bumps in Trek. The subversion of them not actually being predators of the Kelpians, but rather the prey.
And they used their technology to stop the Kelpians. I also like that they talked about them in the future episodes and didn’t just let them fall by the wayside and ignore them. Culber’s side story about trying to come to terms with his post resurrection life is great deep Star Trek style story that could be a complete episode in itself in my opinion.
I also want to state that your disagreement on the episode felt exactly like I was talking to my brother. And it’s one of the reasons I love this channel.
Thank you, Scooter. Thank you, Scooteroo. Uh, but I thought that was a good comment. Um, and I agree on the Culber note. It feels, I don’t think they’re shortchanging it, but it feels like they could have done it in just an entire dedicated episode to Culber’s
quandary and his trying to find himself. We’re going to be touching upon that in today’s discussion as well.
But, but they’ve been splitting it up across multiple episodes, um, but I, I do really enjoy that storyline. It’s a really
compelling Star Trek. A lot of my notes on this are focused entirely on that, and that’s why I started off the episode saying we’re going to be talking about authenticity, like the idea of identity, the idea of are we what we remember or are we our bodies?
It’s It’s true. It’s true. It’s true. That is the thing he’s wrestling with. And it is very, very Trek. It is effectively the debate around whether data is a life form. It is the debate around it. And I think it’s an interesting tie in for this episode and I’ll get into this later. Uh, episode three or, uh, film three, the search for Spock, that is a new body that the original mindset of Spock is put back into.
And. It then is wrested with, in comedic ways, in the fourth movie, where Kirk and Spock are reestablishing, like, are we even friends anymore? What does this mean? So this is very, very Trek. The Culber storyline is very Trek, and I agree, uh, very interesting that they decided to break it up over multiple episodes as a B plot, as opposed to having a single episode focus entirely on it.
But before we get into all of that, that noise in the read alert, which can mean only one thing. It’s time for Matt to tackle the Wikipedia description, and this is an interesting one, Matt, because you gotta tackle two descriptions.
Yeah, okay. Okay, previously the Enterprise visited the planet Talos IV where Pike and Spock met the Talosians, beings that can create incredible illusions.
Pike fell in love with Vina an injured Federation crewman in the Talosians care, but she was unable to leave the planet. Due to the Talosians abilities keeping her alive, Pike chose to return to the Enterprise and Starfleet banned future visits to Talos IV. In the present, Burnham and Spock secretly travel to Talos IV, where the Talosians heal Spock’s mind in exchange for Burnham’s memories of emotionally scarring Spock, which they are interested in observing.
Yeah, that’s kind of… Sketchy, but anyway, Spock reveals that he mind melded with the Red Angel, a time traveler, trying to avert a galactic catastrophe in the future. Stamets attempts to reconnect with Culber, who is going through an identity crisis since his resurrection. Culber confronts Tyler, but realizes that the latter is going through a similar crisis.
You’re almost there. Discovery collects Spock.
The way this is written is funny to me. Discovery collects Spock, cause the word discovery doesn’t come across as a name to me, so it’s like, discovery collects? What does that mean? Discovery collects Spock and Burnham, and they escape while Section 31 is distracted by illusions created by the Telosians.
That’s right. So yes, that is two descriptions. This is episode number eight. Directed by T. J. Scott, who is, of course, our favorite stuntman turned director. Story by Dan Dworkin and Jay Beattie. This episode originally aired on March 7th, 2019. And the main cast, as always, is 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, Michelle Yeoh as Georgiou, Melissa George as Vina. Ethan Peck is making his first full episode appearance as Spock and Alan Van Sprang as Leland.
What was the world like at this time on March 7th, 2019? Well, Matt, you were still singing full throated to Seven Rings by Ariana Grande. I know you’re wondering, was there any other song in 2019? Apparently not! And at the box office, people lined up again to see How to Train Your Dragon, The Hidden World, which added 30 million to its 55 million from its first week.
And on television. We’ve been paying attention to the top streaming programs of 2019, trying to compare apples to apples here with Discovery being a streaming program. We’ve already looked at Lucifer, Stranger Things, 13 Reasons Why, Money Heist, Orange is the New Black, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Sex Education.
And number eight on the list is a show called Elite. Or Elite in Spanish, it’s a Spanish teen drama created for Netflix, and the series is set in a fictional elite high school and revolves around the relationships between three working class students enrolled at the school through a scholarship program and their wealthy classmates.
And in the news… Well, we have the ongoing slow motion catastrophe of the Venezuelan presidential crisis. This is a crisis that would continue until this year. It is about an election in which both sides were contesting the election and depending on their ideological leanings, different countries recognized different Candidates.
So both presidents continued to claim ownership of the win, and it would create strife for all of these years and create a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. And the trials of Paul Manafort. We’re coming to a close as former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was sentenced to 47 months in federal federal prison for eight counts, including tax fraud and bank fraud.
I highlight these stories because they are part of an ongoing 2019 and moving forward. argument in the news that people are distrustful of what their governments are telling them. There is a question about leadership being legitimate and an overarching narrative of this series Discovery in season two to me feels like it is doing something similar.
It is reflective of this attitude of leadership is not always to be trusted. We saw that in the first season with The war against the Klingons, including actions by an admiral that are not above board. And now here in season two, we are seeing more of section 31 pulling the strings, making the argument that these strings need to be pulled to keep the Federation safe.
And yet they seem to go counter to some of the very basic rules around what it means to be protective of your citizens. There is a certain amount of, well, you can sacrifice a few eggs in order to make an omelette. Or the good of the many outweighs the good of the few. And in this case, that statement, once again, leads right back to Spock.
We have a section 31 agenda, which means we got to get ahold of Spock and we got to rip his memories out of his head. And if that kills him, so be it. There’s a bigger picture at work. While Spock’s friends and colleagues aboard the Discovery, including Captain Pike, are more focused on proving him innocent of the.
argument that he’s murdered individuals in his escape from a mental hospital and that saving Spock and understanding what is happening big picture can both be achieved. So I think that we are seeing a real subtle reflection of the era in that Star Trek is making arguments at this point. Discovery is making arguments that the Starfleet and Federation that In the original series, are the paragon of trustworthiness are not always to be trusted.
So looking at the Spock storyline, uh, right off the bat, let me just say this. I absolutely love the very beginning of this episode with. Previously on Star Trek and the recap for people who haven’t seen that. I making this effectively the second half of a two parter. I thought that that was so much fun and was such a, in a way, it’s a lovely little tip of the hat to the original series because they even go back to the original font.
They make it all feel very like you’ll of course, remember this and unleash all these nice moments from the original pilot. Um, how did you feel about the incorporation of all of that, tying it in as tightly as they did?
Oh, I loved it. And I also liked the way that they did the, the final shot of the original Pike, the close up of his face, and then it quickly cut to the close up of the new Pike and the camera pulled out.
It was a nice transition into previously on into today. So it’s like, it made it feel super seamless. And to tie even further into it, like when they go back to Talos IV. And they’re on the surface of the planet. They’re even using the background 60s sci fi sound effects in the background and those little singing plants.
Like they worked everything back in in a very clever, subtle way where it just felt very organic and very natural that, oh, this is, this is just. This is just a continuation of what we saw before. Yeah, that was really well done. There
were a couple of things about that that I really enjoyed, which included, um, they didn’t try to make those singing plants look like they did in the original series.
It’s almost like there was an ownership of, we are obviously making a TV series. That was a TV show. This is a TV show. They had 1960s production. We have, you know, 2023, 2020, you know, production values. So the plants that they create, there’s some CGI, there’s some movement, like the plants are, are different, but they’re the same plant.
So it’s this nice. Like, yeah, there’s been an evolution here, but it’s the same, because we’re all theater, we’re all telling a story, and at the same time, within that, the fact that Burnham’s response to these plants, I absolutely adored that her response was identical to Spock’s. That she touched it and she’s just caught up in the wonder of it and she smiles.
I thought, what a beautiful way to tie these two things, these two characters together. These two people who were raised as siblings from an early age have a similar response to the wonders of the galaxy. I thought, what a terrific, uh, sort of. Emotional link between the two of them, because that is the heart of what this episode is dealing with in Spock.
The Talosians effectively, as Matt pointed out, creepily, are like, Yeah, you want us to help him? You’re going to have to pay us. And what you’re going to have to pay us with is an emotionally traumatic memory.
Very, uh, kind of… Hand wavy as to why this is okay, or this is even expected. Um, there is, if I remember correctly, the briefest of attempts to explain it away as we need to understand the entirety of Spock and that includes this deep rooted memory, which you are tied into.
So for us to most effectively repair him, we need to know all of that context, including your side of it. And that’s very. Convenient, but it sounds very close to, I got a bunch of puppies in my van, do you want to come help me with these puppies? Like, mmm, this doesn’t sound like, Bad touch, bad touch. It sounds like a bunch of giant headed people are in the back going like.
Yeah. I really want to see some traumatic memories. How about you? Yeah, that sounds, that sounds really good. How about we do this? We can fix Spock, but I also want to know about the bad memory. Like it’s, and ultimately to me, And I want to say, I’m interested that if you agree on this, uh, it’s a little anticlimactic because I don’t need to see that memory in order to know what happened.
They’ve already told us. They’ve told us a number of different times that she did something to make sure that Spock would not follow. And an audience. Is smart enough to say, oh, one plus one equals two. So I walked into this episode saying like clearly as a child, she turned to the child Spock and said, I hate you.
You’re stupid. I don’t want you around me. Leave me alone. Leave me alone forever. They didn’t to see it, to know that that’s what happened. But
they tried to make it the climactic moment. ’cause this last thing that they show us of the show. Yeah. And they didn’t have to do that. They could have worked it in earlier, shown us glimpses from that moment.
They didn’t have to hold that back because we knew what it was. She has said, she never actually said to anybody exactly what she did, but you knew it was awful. So your brain can fill in
the blanks there. She said it enough to their mother in saying like, I pushed him away to protect everybody because I knew I was the target.
So I hurt him so he wouldn’t follow. Like, that’s all. Like, the therapy moment of that is really the entirety of it. That is what we knew. The details of it, the glimpses of the danger she was in in running through the Vulcan wilderness, being chased by that creature, which in my mind is the, uh, I forget the exact name.
It’s basically described as like a desert dragon that lives on Vulcan. This is. To me, it felt like that was the first depiction of a creature that had only ever been used in auditory background whenever we visited Vulcan on Enterprise. Um, the idea of, there are these things out here, the wilderness of Vulcan is depicted as extremely harsh and dangerous, uh, almost as bad as Australia.
And so. The depiction of that creature I thought was fantastic, and I really appreciated that moment of running and the saving from above of the Vulcan craft coming in, and you know that’s going to be Sarek and Amanda coming in to rescue her, but, uh, Ultimately, the heart of that moment is supposed to be the emotional trauma of telling Spock to leave her alone.
And the scene as depicted works, but I felt like, like you said, that scene kind of needed to be shared earlier. In the moment when she talks to Amanda would have been the appropriate time to have a flashback there. Yep. And, and then save this moment. You could still have the effectively emotional blackmail of, if you want to help your brother, you got to give us that moment.
Give us that blackmail moment, but make it. Only in the present, showing the Talosians taking it from her and show her emotional response and Spock’s emotional response there on Talos IV and make it about that, not make it about the drama of the action and I say that only as I hear myself saying all of that and understand, like, that is really the nitpickiest of complaints for me.
Because for me, this episode felt like, top to bottom, really great Trek, great storytelling. I really liked, I think this depiction of Spock works for me. In a way that I was, I remember upon first watching, really being surprised at how on board I was with this depiction of Spock and really thinking like, you know, Leonard Nimoy is always going to be the man.
He’s always going to be the guy that like, when you think of Spock, you think of Nimoy. But if you’re going to bring this character back, this depiction is really, really Wonderful. He does a really great job with it.
Well, the J. J. Abrams movies were trying to emulate Nimoy’s performance of Spock as best they could.
And they did a decent job of that. This is not trying to emulate Nimoy’s depiction of Spock. It’s a totally new depiction of Spock that does dovetail nicely with what Nimoy did. Yes. And to me, looking at this episode, it looks like the writers and the filmmakers knew how to pay homage. To what came before without being uh, tied down by it.
Where, some of the J. J. Abrams stuff felt a little, you know, handcuffed. And they put themselves into a box they didn’t need to be in. Where this one, I, I’m with you. The first time I saw this episode, I really enjoyed it. I was surprised how much I enjoyed his depiction of Spock. And how they wrote him in the series and it felt very natural to me.
Didn’t feel like, didn’t make me angry, didn’t make me disappointed. Um, I really like how they portrayed it. Uh, and I gotta, oh man, Sean, the, the sibling… The sibling rivalry of these two is so perfectly captured on that shuttle in that it’s the fastest dialogue happens in like 30 seconds. It’s just a bam, bam, bam, back and forth with, with, um, her making fun of his beard.
It’s like, what, what, what is this? He’s passive aggressive. He’s passive aggressive. And she says, can we have a better cut? Can we have a better version of this conversation? They’re constantly going back and forth at each other and they’re, it’s in a very, It’s funny because it’s kind of like, um, how the mother battles with Sarek.
There’s logic in the argument, in the back and forth, but there’s this little bit of undercutting of emotion coming in from Amanda, and it’s the same thing here. She’s going toe to toe with him in this back and forth, in a logical back and forth fight, but she’s also got these nice, like, little… Emotional digs that are coming in and because we know who Spock is, he’s part human as much as he wants to deny that, you know, those emotional digs are probably prodding him just a little bit.
She, she being a sibling, she knows how to tweak him just to get him a little off edge. And I liked, I liked that conversation. It was a great way to establish who these two are super fast. Yeah.
The writing in that scene stood out as one of the best moments in the show. For me, pulling back a little bit from just Discovery, it really does, you mentioned this yourself, uh, it feels like the writers were looking for ways to tie into the bigger picture.
And this does feel to me like a proto original series Spock. This feels like they figured out what would Spock be at an earlier stage. This is a Spock who has left Vulcan under contentious circumstances. There is a In the original series, the first time we meet Sarek and his wife, Amanda refers to the number of years it has been since Sarek and Spock spoke.
That period of years actually goes back to before the appearance of this Spock. And somebody pointed out So, Sarek and Spock, when they are on scene together in a previous episode here in Discovery, do not actually talk because Spock is out of his mind. So, we are looking at a Spock who has been separated from his family.
He does not have any kind of relationship with his father at this stage. He does not have a captain who is also arguably a best friend in Jim Kirk. He has a captain he looks up to and admires greatly in Captain Pike. And he has a sibling. That he has this kind of sibling rivalry relationship with, with deep wounds and the kind of bickering back and forth that they do, which again, as Matt pointed out, models what they see their parents doing.
I am logic. I have some emotion and I’m going to use it to kind of like break you out of being a jerk. And he is fully planted in, I’m going to be a jerk. And what stood out to me beautifully was this is the dynamic of him with a sibling. And who does it look like? It looks like his dynamic with McCoy.
Yeah. This is his relationship with McCoy. He and Jim Kirk are best friends and there’s no question about that. And Kirk knows he can depend on Spock and Spock knows he can trust Kirk. What does he have with McCoy? He has the person who is going to prod him and push him with emotionality. He has the person who’s going to be like, you’re being cold blooded here, Spock.
You’re not being human. I know you’re not claiming to be human, but you can’t deny who you are. And Spock, reluctantly, letting that emotional debate prod him forward in different scenarios. And for me, seeing that depicted here with his sister is the perfect way of incorporating all of that. It’s, it’s, I thought, beautifully rendered in this scene and I really, really liked it.
And like I said earlier in this recording, part of what’s on display here is a question of legitimacy and authenticity. And this is a Spock who is A proto original series, Spock, and we who know this Star Trek universe as well as we do know what will happen to Spock and we know the undoing of Spock through the Wrath of Khan and the search for Spock.
We know all the events that will be ahead of this character. Including in the first motion picture, a depiction of Spock who is on the path to wipe all emotionality from himself. He is on a pilgrimage on Vulcan to remove the last vestiges of humanity. So this is a character here who is wrestling with it in a kind of denial.
He doesn’t want to be hurt by his . Background with Burnham, but he is, and it is the driving force of this episode to say, that is a cornerstone of who you are. He doesn’t want to admit it, but the Talosians are like, that is a cornerstone of your being. And if we are to repair you, that is a part of what we need to know.
So I found all of this to be a remarkable through line of, I felt constantly reminded of. The future of Spock, the Nimoy of Spock throughout this episode, which really made me feel like, yeah, this is working in a really great way. Uh, just absolutely. On board with, with this depiction, the flip side of this episode being the Culber storyline in some ways is more immediately within this episode, emotionally resonant than the Spock.
Oh yeah. The Spock, the Spock aspect feels like it’s echoing through. Every iteration of Spock’s character through the original series and on into the movies. So it has a kind of epicness to it and it’s tied into very clearly they’re talking about like something happens in the future that potentially destroys and the depictions without them putting names to the planets they are showing Earth, Vulcan, Andoria and, uh, Teleria being destroyed.
So, like, this is the cornerstones of the Federation. Something’s destroying the cornerstones of the Federation. And we see Admirals. In holographic display in conversation with section 31. So, representatives of each of these planets involved in those conversations. So, there are hints here, very nicely, subtly rendered without too much hand holding for the audience of saying, The future of the Federation is at stake.
What is the cornerstone of the Federation? It’s these four planets. Okay, these four planets are in danger. Here are people within the Federation. Actively working against their own self interest without knowing it. Section 31 thinks they know what’s happening. Think they know what to do. And we see a Captain Georgiou who is figuring out that not everybody on the inside is actually as smart as they think they are, and she’s figuring out ways to use that to her own advantage.
So we have all of that going on. We have a kind of slightly mustache twirling Captain . of the Section 31 ship. A little too heavy on the, um, I’m gonna, I’m gonna lie to you, and I’m gonna do what I want to Pike. I don’t quite think that all of that was necessary. His goals could be what they are, but he could still come across as a little more idealistic than he does in this depiction.
He comes across as
evil at times, which doesn’t make sense, because he’s not evil. He’s working for the Federation. He’s doing what he thinks is right, but it came across as a little much just trolling to me too.
All of that is of a piece. The Section 31 is very clearly like tied deeply into the Spock of it all, because they are, for lack of a better phrase, in search of Spock.
And they think we have to get what’s in him and rip it out. And Pike and Burnham are of course, well, we can help heal Spock and then understand better what’s happening. And we begin to see all of those things revealed, which again, we knew, we knew about the hurt, uh, from Burnham to Spock. We knew that section 31 must’ve manufactured the story that Spock murdered people to get out of the hospital.
Those things. are all connecting dots that for, to a certain degree we already knew, but we’re seeing the final formation of, okay, what are we working against? We’re working about, we’re working against something from the future coming back. We know a probe from the discovery went forward in time, and when it came back, it had been changed into a robotic nightmare that is part of what the vision included.
We see the vision of the destruction of the planets, including something that looks very similar to those probes coming back and blowing up all of those planets. Epic scale. And then the flip side is, we have the deeply personal story of Stamets and Culber. And Culber in particular, going through, effectively, as a human, what Spock goes through between motion picture number three and motion picture number four.
An entirely new reconstituted body with all of the intellect. An emotional history put into it. This is Culber. We are told over and over again, this is Culber. And Stamets is looking forward to the opportunity of bringing him home. And the moment he is home, Culber’s response is, I rationally know that this is my favorite food, or that is my favorite song, but I don’t feel Anything.
So, there is this disconnect inside Culber that is causing him to withdraw and lash out at the same time. A self protective response to everything that’s going on to him. And for me, this is where the epic storyline is one of sheer enjoyment and it brings in with the Spock character. So much nostalgia that I really responded positively to.
This storyline felt like a five minute mini movie of Intense emotional impact that I really wish I had more of, but maybe I only feel I wanted more because it was so perfect in its flavor. Like maybe the five minutes really was enough to make me say, Oh my God, this character, it’s heartbreaking watching the two men sit on that couch and to watch Stamets slowly come to the realization, my husband is dead.
This man, who is my husband. is no longer mine. It’s, it’s,
it’s basically broken down into three key scenes. It’s the, it’s the Culber looking like… He wants to murder, uh, Tyler when he sees him in the hallway. Very foreboding performance where he, you, it looked menacing. It looked like Culper’s ready to murder a man.
And then the scene in the, where the two of them are like eating and the whole conversation of, I’m not connecting to anything. Yeah. And then the final one, which is the fight in the mess hall, uh, that kind of like, Culminates the entire story of Culber. I hadn’t thought of it that way before about, I feel like this could have been an entire episode, but am I just wishing that it was a full episode or is it actually the appropriate amount, appropriate amount, because what they did do.
was so impactful. Every time they came back, it was like a gut punch every time it came back to this. I didn’t, when they’re, sometimes when they’re flipping between A plot and B plot, sometimes you’re like, ah, just go back to the A plot. I don’t care about the B plot. I did not have that feeling. When it came back to the B plot, I was like on the edge of my seat.
Yeah. Like, oh, this is going to be awful. And watching it play out. So I was just as invested, but the small amount of it may have actually benefited that emotional punch. Because of the way they were pairing it with the Spock back and forth. Yeah. Of the plot lines. So maybe I’m wrong in wishing that this was a full episode.
Yeah, I’m beginning to feel that way about my own response to it. Yeah.
It was, it was so well done. And like the, the thing that really killed me was the scene where he’s saying, Maybe I should, shouldn’t be here. Uh. Stamets reaction is so basically gutted and you can tell that he’s just withdrawn and realizes that this is not the man who he lost and he just wants it to get back to normal.
And so you can tell he’s kind of resigned himself to, I got to let him do what he needs to do. And like, so when he’s like, I’m going to leave, he’s like, okay, like he doesn’t fight. It doesn’t turn into this. What do you mean you’re going to leave? It was just a. I’ve got to let him go. It’s like, this is not going to work like this.
He needs to find himself and we need to figure this out. And so it’s like, you can tell what’s going on in his head in that entire scene. And it is so heart wrenching.
It’s also heart wrenching from the perspective of Culber, who, when Stamets says something about like, like, I, You know, wish that I had known that I should spend more time with you sooner.
And Culber’s response is like, yeah, you were never around. And it’s this sudden like, Oh, this is a Culber who no longer is feeling that emotional connection. So he’s no longer hiding the fact that there was resentment. That he was an incredibly patient person who was putting up with a complete absentee partner.
And, yeah, you slept in your lab. You would not come home. That sucked. And I’m not the guy who put up with that.
The other thing that just hit me now is that these two characters have reversed roles. Yeah. Uh, because originally he was the caregiver and the person that was trying to gloss things over and Stamets was the prickly pear and now he’s the prickly pear and Stamets is the affectionate one that’s trying to gloss things over and bring things back together.
Yeah. It’s interesting how they’ve evolved both characters to kind of like be the opposite of each other.
Um, the way they did. Absolutely. And the other thing that occurred to me while we were talking is that this storyline, when he goes after, uh, Shazad Latif’s character in the dining hall, basically going after him as Voq.
It’s a moment for Shazad Latif to have a scene where for the first time, his dual life is actually rendered in a way that is heartbreaking for that character as well. There is a, yeah, there is a point in time in our previous discussions of this series where we’re, we’ve basically been saying things like, yeah, they almost got it there.
They almost got it there. And it happened again and again. Whenever it was Tyler, it was always like, yeah, it’s, it’s interesting, but they don’t quite get to the final, like, home run. They don’t quite knock it out of the park. But in that fight, it’s almost, I don’t think it was conscious. On their part, I think they were trying to have those homerun moments whenever they would have moments with Burnham because they were always making it about like, what does it mean to love a man who’s not the man you thought he was?
Yeah. And that’s not really what’s important. What’s more important is what does it mean to be a man who has killed but you are not the guilty party? And that moment now comes right into the brawl. It also gives us some absolutely brilliant two minute little scene where Pike gets to call Saru out for letting the fight go on.
Yeah, I wanted to bring
that up. That, that to me, like the whole, when the fight’s happening, like in my head, I’m like, why is nobody just stepping in? You’d think some You even
see Saru hold people
back. Yes. And it was like, why is Saru doing this? And I love that they addressed that directly of like, I don’t think you would have made this call.
Six months ago. Yeah. Uh, the changes that you’ve gone through have affected you. Yeah. Don’t do that again. Don’t do that again.
Make it clear. I’m, I love it. Like, I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna do anything against anybody for this fight, but make it clear to everybody that this never happens again. And Saru’s just like, yes, Captain.
Like, like blithely, like, yeah, I think it was more important that they work shit out. What? Yeah. Literally what he, he said, like, I felt like it was more important that they work out their differences right then. Like, okay, like, he wasn’t, he wasn’t wrong. He wasn’t wrong. Uh, the fight ends with a kind of petering out with Tyler saying, like, like, I own that I killed you.
I’m not denying that, but I also can’t undo it. I can’t, like, I carry with me that reality. And on the flip side is Culber saying, like, I feel nothing about the life that I am now in. And both of them kind of reflecting each other in that moment was, I thought, really, really well rendered. And it ties into, like, It does tie back without it being very often in the A and the B plots.
We’ve had this happen so many times in these episodes that we’ve discussed where in the last five minutes, they try to say like, Oh, look, here’s how the two plots intersect. Because like right, that person’s boil turns out to be the solution for where are we gonna get to lithium crystals. Oh, thank goodness.
Now we’re able to like, solve both problems. Uh, they don’t do it that directly, but I think that the through line here goes back, it’s pretty clear. It goes back to the idea of. Uh, authenticity, legitimacy, again, in the Ship of Theseus paradox, that’s, that’s what’s on display here. And it’s happening to so many different characters and for, uh, I imagine most of our audience is going to be familiar with the Ship of Theseus.
Paradox, but it was basically a thought experiment that was introduced by Plutarch, which was if you have a ship and it takes, it’s going to take years for that ship to get to its destination and on route, it’s breaking down. So you begin to replace planks on the ship. By the time it gets to its destination, you’ve replaced every plank in that ship.
Is it the same ship that originally left the original port? That is the question. And it is a philosophical thought experiment that is constantly in play around us, the idea of something. Like the legitimacy of a government, the US government has. We’ve had this, this government running since the establishment with the US Constitution, but have we look at what it’s made up of, look at how it works and look what it’s evolved into.
Is it the same country that it always was? It’s on display here with Culver complete replacement of his physicality. His mentality is supposed to be the same, and yet he’s saying, I don’t have any emotional connection to this life. There’s nothing here that makes me feel anything. So, is it Culber? Is it not Culber?
Is Tyler Tyler? Is Tyler Voq? Are they both? Are they neither? Is Saru the same Saru? You wouldn’t have made that call six months ago. Don’t do it again. Okay. Is Pike Pike? Did Pike have a wound? Revealed or healed in his first experience on Talos IV because he comes back in contact with Vina in this episode.
I love the actress portraying her. There is something about her portrayal that is so reminiscent of the original actress. This is Melissa George. I think she does a great job. She physically looks like the original actress and she has a, a, uh, aspect to her performance, which is very reminiscent of the original Vina.
And when the two of them come in contact for the first time, Pike effectively says, yeah, I fell in love with you. And then he still left. That original series, original pilot was a pike who started the episode. He was bitter. He burned out. He was burnt out, and he was talking about, I’m thinking of giving it all up, and then the ship’s doctor who made him a martini was like, oh yeah, riding horses and going on picnics.
That sounds really exciting. There’s an element to the character who is displayed as he is. A angry captain and the entirety of that episode, they keep going back to that anger as the driving force, as opposed to the Kirk swagger, the Kirk walking into being like, Hey, have you got any problems or women? I can handle both.
This captain in the original series pilot was a captain who was just like. I will break what I have to, in order to keep my people safe. And here we see a Pike, who hasn’t quite said the same things. He’s brought levity to the captain’s chair. He is not like Georgiou. He’s not like Saru. He’s been a different tone.
But in this episode is the first time that you see him look at somebody and say, Maybe you changed me. And there’s a relationship there that was suddenly very clearly, like, reverberating in both directions, back to the original series, pilot, and forward to what we know will happen with this captain, if we’re familiar with the original series.
And again, like the Spock reverberations, it happens… In a very brief couple of scenes, it’s not the main focus of the episode. Spock is. I felt like this was, again, a Ship of Theseus moment of, is this Pike? It is Pike, but it is also not Pike. And we also know in the future, we will have another not Pike who will be Pike.
So, lots of stuff happening in this episode that I think works really, really well. And the through line of it, the thing that ties it all together, for me, again and again in all these storylines, is the question of authenticity. Are these people who they claim to be? And of course, you have the Talosians standing there saying, like, We know exactly who you are because we can look inside your mind.
There’s no hiding from us. And yet they are not, they’re barely on camera. I think it’s, it’s fascinating that this is all about like, yeah, we’re going to go to those people who call you out for your lies because they cannot be lied to. And yet it is about all the characters talking to each other. It’s not about the Talosians driving all of this.
The Talosians are just like, kind of like, yep, we’re here if you need us. You know what the fee is, but like,
tell us a painful childhood memory. Yeah, you got to show us that.
You got to share that juicy deep trauma. Yeah. Is there anything you wanted to say in response to any of that? Like any final wrap ups on this episode?
What you took from it? I,
I totally see where you’re coming from, from the, the ship of Theseus. And I would argue, Sean, you said you, you’re sure most people would know the ship of Theseus. Story, I would argue that’s not the case.
But regardless… Well, the reason I say that is because our audience, I’m, I, like, I just have a feeling like Trek geeks, sci fi geeks, like, we’re gonna know this.
But I would
say, it’s in the minority. The number of people who know that are probably in the minority. But I… What I was taking away from, I wasn’t looking at the whole Saru Pike aspect of all of it, because you’re right. It all fits in neatly. I was looking at it as like lost souls. It’s like people who are kind of lost and trying to find their way back to who they are.
Because that, that Spock, that is, that is, that’s even Saru to a certain extent, but not so much, but it was, it was the Culber and the Spock storyline just felt like they’re lost souls trying to find out. They’re way back home to who they were and who they are. Um,
if you just call it a lost soul, I would put Pike in there based on what we know from the original series pilot and what we see in this episode.
I would put Saru in there to a lesser degree, but still like, who am I? He has no model. Nobody from his species has a model for what it means to be post that event. Because they’ve lived a lie for a thousand years. So none of them know what it means to be a fully mature Kelpien. That’s right. Which like, there’s another lost soul, Burnham.
She’s a lost soul. You’ve got, uh, Tyler. Like, like, again and again and again. Discovery is the ship of misfit toys.
It is absolutely like, nobody wants a Stamets it in the box. It is just, again and again, all of them are just like, Oh yeah, I’m, I don’t know where I’m supposed to find safe haven. They’re all at sea.
And it, and it works beautifully. Like this for me, I feel like this is one of the best written episodes of Discovery. For me, as I hit this episode, I’m just like, wow, they really every, every single moment worked for me. And I left the episode saying like, that was, that was pitch perfect in so many ways. Um, and to do all of that and also manage the original series scenery and introduction of all those elements that would have to hit the perfect note for a Trek audience to accept it.
I think they were, they really managed a bit of magic in this episode. So yeah,
I think they thread that needle. They threaded that needle really, really well. This is my favorite episode of the series so far, for sure.
At this point, we’re moving forward now past if memory serves, we’re looking down the road to the next episode, which is Project Daedalus.
And I invite people to jump into the comments as always. Let us know what you think Project Daedalus is about. Wrong answers only. And… A little something to look forward to. I say this in all honesty, I’m always excited when I see Jonathan Frakes as a director. Me too. And he’s directing this upcoming episode.
So, and there have been some points where in his episodes, he’s done some things I haven’t been crazy about. He’s learning as he’s going. And Jonathan Frakes is one of the directors in a previous episode who introduced the idea of like, what if we got the camera spinning around these people while they talk?
Uh, so I’m looking, but I still like, he does know what he’s doing behind the camera. And I always appreciate, uh, when I see his name coming up. So I look forward to that in the meantime. If you have any thoughts about our conversation here, what did you think about, as Matt and I just wrapped it up, like, did you see with us, like, all the echoes of the same kind of, of Lost Soul storytime, storytelling?
Or did you think it didn’t work in quite the same way and it felt a little too disparate for you? Was there something about either the Spock or the Culber storyline that just didn’t ring true? Let us know in the comments. We look forward to reading your thoughts. Before we sign off, Matt, do you have anything you want to share with our audience?
What do you have coming up on the main channel? I’ve had a bunch of
videos about my new home build, but there’s an episode that should be out by the time this is out about a new technology that was an accidental discovery about. Turning humidity into electricity and basically a humidity battery.
Imagine having a device in your home the size of a washing machine that just makes power just from the humidity in the air. It’s a really neat kind of interesting, uh, discovery that was
made. That sounds fascinating. And if I had one of those machines in my basement this past summer, I could have powered the entire eastern seaboard.
As for me… Check out my website, seanferrell. com, or look for my books at your local bookseller or online, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, local bookstores, public library, all those places should have my books available there. And if you’d like to support the show, please consider reviewing us wherever it was you found this, whether it was YouTube, Google, Spotify, Apple, wherever it was, go back there, leave a review.
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