127: Star Trek Strange New Worlds Season 1, episode 6 “Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach”


Matt and Sean talk about a comedy of logical manners in this latest episode of Star Trek Strange New Worlds. Is this SNW’s first big misstep?

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In this episode of Trek in Time, we’re going to talk about justifying sacrifice. That’s right, we’re talking about strange new worlds. Season one, episode six, lift us where suffering cannot reach. Welcome everybody to Trek in Time, where we’re watching every episode of Star Trek in chronological stardate order.

We’re also taking a look at what our world was like at the time of original broadcast. So we’re currently looking at the middle of season one of Star Trek Strange New Worlds, a show title that should be easier for me to say, but things are as they are. Welcome to 2024. With me, as always, is my brother, Matt.

He’s That Matt of Undecided with Matt Ferrell, which takes a look at emerging tech and its impact on our lives. And I am Sean Ferrell, his older brother. I’m a writer. I read some sci fi. I read some stuff for kids. And Matt, how are you doing

today? I’m a little kind of blurry eyed still recovering from my trip to Las Vegas.

I was at CES for the first time. And Sean. Whoa, boy, 130, 000 people in the same place. It’s kind of terrifying.

Yeah. You say you’re a little blurry eyed from your trips. I’m blurry eyed just because, like, I don’t really. Have a good excuse. I, I received a Christmas present from my partner. She gave me a gift certificate to a local spa.

So yesterday I spent the day getting spa treatment, which included steam room, hot tub, sauna, just kind of like, yeah, going through a circuit of those things with some cool showers in between. And. I came home in a blissful state like I had imbibed something and was in that state for the rest of the day.

And as we were getting ready to go to bed, it was, I got into bed and we usually watch a show when we get into bed. And she turned to me and she’s like, so we’re going to watch something. And I’m like, I think I’m ready to go to sleep. And she said, it’s 10 o’clock. So

I’m having images of that Simpsons episode with Mr.

Burns when he, I can’t remember what happens, but his. He just floats around going, I bring you love. Yeah, he

ends up, yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s pretty much how I felt for most of the afternoon. I was watching some TV shows last night, some Doctor Who, and you want to talk about like hallucinations. I was so out of it and blissful in my relaxed state that a show like Doctor Who, which is all timey wimey is a little tricky to follow when you’re in that state.

But on we go to our current discussion about today’s episode, Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach. Before we get into the nitty gritty of the newest episode, we always like to revisit the mailbag and see what all of you have thought about our previous episodes. So Matt, what did you find for us today?

Uh, there’s a

long post from PaleGhost69 that I just wanted to read because it’s a very different point of view on the last episode we talked about, which was the Spockamock, which had that Freaky Friday, um, aspect to the show. He wrote, um, Oh boy, here we go. The episode, this episode upset me. The sci fi show should be putting more thought into a body swap than being another Freaky Friday.

If you only swap consciousness, you would still have physical memories, emotional memories, and knowledge. You aren’t swapping brains. You would just know how to do things without knowing it. Capable of performing the same job, you would experience the same emotions your partner would experience when you look at them in your body.

The bodies would also retain their individual reflexes and muscle memory. The inverse is also true, so no one outside of their own body would be able to fight Uh, aim or anything the new body doesn’t have experience in. There’s also going to be mobility issues at the beginning of the experience until you learn to operate the new meat vessel.

I would have been cool if it was just more R’ongovians and Enterprise bingo. I’m often described as quote, not fun. And I try to employ the concept of radical empathy in my daily life. I thought that was a very different perspective from what you and I had on the episode. Yeah. Um, so I just want to kind of share that one.

Yeah. That’s, that’s interesting. Uh, PaleGhost. It’s, as I read what you wrote, it made me, not everything is going to be everybody’s cup of tea. And like, and that’s absolutely fine. And I think it’s interesting, the radical empathy part. Uh, is the, the part that struck the deepest chord with you. And for me, I feel like I like Star Trek when it nudges deeper into, it’s, it’s not hard sci fi, first of all, like, Star Trek is, is, um, you know, a sci fantasy.

Not to the extreme of, of Star Wars, which is effectively sword and sorcery. Um, but it’s definitely a softer sci fi and I like it when it edges toward hard sci fi and I agree with you from a hard sci fi perspective, the mind swap is problematic, but to use a little bit of the Star Trek universe. Meta thinking to defend the episode, I would say we don’t fully understand Katra’s, and I think that that was played out in some of the stuff with Archer carrying the Katra of Sarek, or it wasn’t Sarek, it was um, I’m blanking on

his name, it was the Vulcan,

the Vulcan teacher that, that Archer carries around in with him.

It’s, I, I, I took it as more of a metaphor of in the moment. It’s locking each of them into extreme empathy with the other to the point where they are identifying as the other, but that they are not actually swapping bodies. So I took it as a little more within the Star Trek universe of, you know, their version of getting closer to the magic, like Star Wars of what the force is and how it works and how it changes everything.

So I’m a little more. Comfortable with that story, but it does, I can understand when you’re given a show which talks about like the relationships with the R’ongovians and the Federation, and you’re seeing the Enterprise bingo, how one step too far for some people might be the full on body swap. And so I completely, uh, appreciate your feedback and, and I like to hear that perspective.

On the flip side. Dan Sims seems to be in the same vein as you and I because he wrote you need a silly episode like this from time to time. And even though the Freaky Friday thing is a trope, I think they did it pretty, did it pretty well. And I really enjoyed the bingo plot. So he seemed to polar opposite of just like, kind of like enjoyed it for me, that Freaky Friday thing was kind of a little bit of an eye roll and just kind of went with it.

Because it was fun what they were trying to say in that experience, I thought was interesting enough to make up for the, the kind of overused trope

of Freaky Friday. Yeah. And there was, there was one person I saw in the comments who actually said, I’m surprised your episode wasn’t titled Freaky Friday. I know.

Which we dropped these episodes on Friday, but like that would have been a great, that would have been a great, uh, episode title. But there was, um. This comment from Dan, thank you Dan for the comment, raises again its own point in today’s episode. The fact that the body swap episode is sandwiched between two fairly heavy topics is like clearly like the pacing of these episodes.

You could see how last week’s episode could literally be lifted out and put almost anywhere, anywhere. Like you could have that storyline taking place any, any point, but they clearly were like, okay, we, we, we’ve got a really heavy episode about sacrifice. And we’ve got a previous episode about almost dying and the nightmarish scenario of Gorn.

So we need a breather in between. And I appreciated that breather after watching this episode. And I can confirm after watching today’s episode. I have now not seen the rest, like this, this episode was brand new to me. So, uh, yeah, because when we were beginning our podcast journey and these shows were coming out, I was like, I’m going to get there eventually.

I said, I just, uh, for time’s sake, wasn’t watching them as they were being released. So it’s interesting for me because now we’ve hit totally new terrain and I have not seen these. So that noise in the background is of course the read alert, which means it’s time for Matt to focus in on the Wikipedia description and try.

To read it without stumbling over his words, the way I just did, over the word description.

Uh, stumble over my words, Sean, is my middle name. Well, en route to planet Majalis, the Enterprise receives a distress call from the shuttlecraft under attack from a warship. Enterprise destroys the warship and the shuttlecraft personnel are transported aboard.

A boy called the First Servant.

What? It’s a colon. You read it as if it was a period, but it was a colon. I know. That’s why I just got myself so confused. The shuttlecraft personnel are transported aboard, colon. A boy. It’s a list now. A

boy called the First Servant. His father and physician Gamal. Gamal? Is that right?

And Alora, a leader of Majelis, who is an old flame of Pike’s. Pike agrees to return to Majelis, Gamal attempts to fake his son’s death to keep him from returning to the planet, but is thwarted and the boy goes to Majelis with Pike and Alora for his ascension ceremony. Pike is allowed to witness the ceremony where the corpse of the previous First Servant is removed from a machine and the new First Servant is connected in his place.

Pike is horrified by this, but unable to stop it, and Alora explains Majalis can only remain a paradise like society if a child is sacrificed to the machine. Majalis rebellious colony objects to this practice, and Gamal has joined them to save his son. Gamal helps M’Benga work on the treatment for Rukiya’s condition, and then leaves Enterprise to join the colony.

Hoping to save future First Servants. I find that description really weird because they focused on basically the ending of the episode. Yep. Without discussing what happened in the episode.

There’s a lot that happens before, before the sacrifice, the procedure, and the closing scene. Yes. Which episode number six, Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach, was directed by Andi Armaganian, Robin Wasserman, and Bill Wolkoff were the writers, and this episode originally aired on June 9th, 2022. Our main cast stays in place, Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, Christina Chong, Melissa Navia, Rebecca Romijn, Jess Bush, Celia Rose Gooding, and Babs Olusanmokun, and joining them as guest stars in this episode, Alora, played by Lindy Booth, Dan Jeannotte, playing Lieutenant George Samuel Sam Kirk.

Ian Ho as the First Servant and Huse Madhavji as the Elder Gamal. And this episode aired originally on June 9th, 2022. And Matt, you want to just take a guess, what was the number one song at that time? That’s right, it was As It Was by Harry Styles. I knew you’d know that and at the box office for the second week in a row, Top Gun Maverick was in top position, earning another 90 million.

It had earned around 125 million in its first week. So this movie lived up to the expectations of the audience. Apparently a little side note, a fun fact, Matt, did you know that I’ve never seen Top Gun? The original? Yes.

Who, who are you? Yeah. I’ve never, I’ve never seen. How did you escape seeing that movie? I’ve never seen the movie. The original came out when I was in college. I didn’t see a lot of movies in the theater when I was at school. I would see movies on breaks. I would see movies during the summer, but I wouldn’t see, and somehow I just never saw it.

I have seen scenes from it because I would walk in and out of. Rooms where the movie was playing and I would see a scene and I always thought so this movie is about volleyball What’s the big deal?

On television we’ve been comparing apples to apples So we’re comparing streaming shows to streaming shows instead of comparing streaming shows to broadcast television as a result We have talked about mainly Netflix and spoiler We are going to talk about nothing but Netflix because Netflix is the only The only network to have streaming shows at the top for the full episode run of Strange New Worlds.

So we’ve talked about Stranger Things, Ozark, Wednesday, Cobra Kai, and Bridgerton over the past five weeks. This week, we’re going to mention the number six most popular streaming program, which earned 13. 6 billion minutes viewed. Over its 42 episodes, Matt, I don’t know if you are looking at the notes, but could you take a guess if you aren’t?

As to what the name of this program is?

Oh, oh. I’m looking at the notes and I don’t even know what the show is. I watch a lot of Netflix and I’ve never seen

this. . Yes, I had exactly the same response. I looked at the list and I made this face , and then I looked up the show. It apparently at number six, most pop, more popular than shows like Dahmer and Love is Blind and the Crown.

And The Boys is a show titled Virgin River, and Virgin River is based on a series of novels. It is about a character named Melinda Monroe seeking a fresh start. Nurse practitioner Melinda Monroe moves from Los Angeles to a remote northern California town and is surprised by what and who she finds. It is based on a series of romance novels.

Great hats off to the series, to the creators, to the actors, to the author. Like good for them having a program with this much viewership, but what is going on with the algorithm when a show this popular is apparently completely flying under the radar with Netflix viewers. And I’m not a non Netflix guy.

I watch a lot of Netflix. I’m just shocked that this was never, ever something that came across my radar. And in the news, big news week for the UK as the news coverage at this time was focused almost entirely on the death of Queen Elizabeth and the transition of Prince Charles to being King Charles III, the impact on the UK society at large, culture, government, and what it would mean moving forward.

On now to our discussion about this. Episode. I found this episode a bit challenging emotionally. It was a, to me, it struck a kind of uneven chord and I’m not quite sure why, but it was an episode that was one of the first for this series where I felt like the show was kind of stumbling. over itself.

Being a little too aggressive in creating a scenario that I couldn’t quite wrap my head around as to why and how it would happen this way. Just so they could have the moments of what felt like moral superiority instead of there being more nuance to it. And I kept thinking back to like the idea of the Borg and the arguments.

That you could make pro Borg, I’m not suggesting that the Borg are good, but there is a perspective that you have to take when you’re writing an antagonist. Of the antagonist has to fully believe that they are the hero of the story in order for it to be compelling and ultimately realistic. The Borg view what they are doing.

From the perspective of this is a solution to difference. There is, when you remove the difference, you remove conflict, and then you can achieve higher and higher levels of accomplishment by removing difference. So the Borg perspective is one of, we are solving problems. We are moving, expanding through the galaxy and curing ails.

That otherwise will continue to fester. You could make that argument. You could have that boring story being there’s all these almost infection like cultures throughout the galaxy. And we’re trying to systemically wipe them out in order to perfect what it means to be alive and conscious. This episode, I think, sidesteps that in a weird way so that you have a culture demonstrating something that looks like it is on the face of it an evil act.

And there’s zero examination of what the benefits are to this culture for this long to be doing the things they’re doing. And what they’re doing is killing children. They’re making effectively a human sacrifice at a regular interval. And I found myself kind of enjoying the depiction of the episode, the acting, the moral quandary of the captain, the conflict, the moral conflict in the father with his son, the uneven treatment of the father to the son.

In some kind of self protective and also at the same time, parental protection, the conflict in him, the conflict in the child, the relationship between the child and the doctor. There’s a lot of stuff that happens in this episode, but I kept stumbling over the, but how could they have gotten there? And they’re not wrestling with the, why is it worth it?

I didn’t feel like there was enough why. Did you have a different experience to this than I did and you want to explore some of that a little bit? I did,

but I’m not, I wouldn’t say that it’s, I felt the same exact thing, but just in a much less obvious or overt, or I don’t know what word you want to fill in here, but like, um, I guess the best way to say it would be, this is my second viewing of this episode.

I agree. It’s a very uneven episode. My biggest complaints with it are, you did not need the love story between Pike and Alora at all. And they’ve dedicated a significant amount of time to the two of them when it would have been better spent just focusing on the kid and creating a bond between the kid and somebody on the crew.

That would have been far better. Um, and then you could have done more exploration around how the society is functioning in almost a utopian ideal. And there’s something with a computer system or something that there’s like it’s underlying network that makes our lives wonderful. There’s no disease anymore.

That’s the thing I want to kind of like challenge you a little bit on because they do talk about all the benefits of their society. The problem is they’re telling us, not showing us. And they’re having to tell us because they don’t have time to show us because they’ve been showing us all this love story relationship.

When if they hadn’t done that, they could have spent the time showing us the utopia, showing us how nobody’s ill, showing us somebody going into some kind of sick bay and this machine just goes bloop and then fixes whatever’s wrong. And then you, by the end, you could basically say, Oh, that’s all powered by this kid.

We’re going to plug in the machine. It’s like, you know what I mean? It would have made it way more obvious and a little more. Um, I don’t know, give more weight to it, uh, for me, that was the biggest complaint that I’ve got is the, the love story. Even though the love story was well

depicted. Yeah. Yeah.

Everything in the episode I think is well depicted. Yeah. Yeah.

It just wasn’t, it wasn’t necessary. Um, so

it was a distraction. Yeah. Distraction is the, like when you were searching for a word before and you were like overt, maybe I don’t fill in the blank here. Distraction is the word I would have used to fill in that blank.

Here’s my pushback on what you just said. They make zero attempt to explain why the sacrifice, the ongoing sacrifice is necessary. You said it yourself, utopia. So they somehow achieved utopia by plugging a kid into a computer. And killing the child. If they’ve eradicated disease, why is ongoing sacrifice of children necessary?

If they have floating cities that float above a lava covered planet, why is ongoing sacrifice of those children necessary? They make zero attempt to explain why you need to continue to kill children when they have that utopia already.

Yeah, that’s my, that’s kind of my point. Um, if you go back to Star Trek Enterprise, there’s an episode of Enterprise that is essentially the same episode.

I don’t know if you remember one, this one, but it was the one where the Enterprise is so damaged and they come across that space station that will just magically fix whatever’s going on. And some of the crew are like, what’s going on here? And they find whatever the central processing unit is literally just people.

They’ve got people plugged in. That’s essentially what this episode is. Same thing. But the problem is they didn’t show us, like the Enterprise episode showed us, hey, this machine can literally fix any problem you’ve got. Hey, look at this. We’re fixing your ship. Look at this. This is amazing. How is such a small space station able to do this crazy stuff?

Let’s go find out. They could have done the same exact thing on this planet and they didn’t do that because they’re spending all this time on the love story and then they use dialogue to try to explain it away. Like in that final scene between Alora and Pike, she’s basically saying, we’ve been trying to find a way out of this, but we can’t.

She makes all these cases of like one child suffers while everybody else can. benefit where in your society you probably have thousands of children suffering and nobody’s doing anything about it. So there were some interesting arguments they were making but because they didn’t show it carried no weight because like he said it didn’t really give us all the benefits because they were trying to say like in the sick bay you know we have no I’m not sure if it’s kinda like, like you made the point.

If you had cured all those illnesses, why do you need the ongoing sacrifice? Yeah. Where I would assume it’s along the lines of the reason these cities float and all this stuff works is there’s probably an incredible amount of like processing that the biological brain, the neurons are able to process things in a way fast enough to keep those cities floating to keep all this machinery going to do all this stuff.

That would be, I would assume, would be the argument that they’re making. But they

just didn’t show us that. Yeah, and it goes back, there’s certain aspects of this that are bigger in scope than a single episode can be, and that I think is also a weakness of the show. Like, they say, these cities will come crashing down, and the surface of our planet is lava.

Like, what? How did this culture ever evolve? On this planet, like, like, and that’s a world building issue that is far too complicated to get into. Like, I’m on board with them having that kind of planet, that kind of structure, that kind of like setting for an episode. But if you’re going to. Do that. It really does beg for a deeper explanation that they never give.

And it feels a little bit like the, the setup you’ve described, and I completely see what you’re saying about how it’s set up about if there is a need for an ongoing thing, they needed to demonstrate that. And if they demonstrated the need for an ongoing sacrifice, then we would understand the logic behind that a little bit more.

Not that we would forgive it, but that we would understand it. But I feel like they’re doing a little bit of having their cake and eating it too, because To really set up what you’re describing, the dependence on that sacrifice should have outstripped anybody else’s ability on that planet to understand what was going on.

And what we see instead are things like, the father is a genius doctor. Why would the sacrifice of a child mean that that doctor who’s a genius would need continued sacrifice of children? It would have made more sense to me if it had been depicted by the argument between the captain and the leader of the planet.

If she had said, we no longer understand how our technology works. We live in this utopia, but we are effectively being taken care of by it. And we cannot understand it ourselves. It outstrips our own understanding. That would have been a way into the continued sacrifice, but instead they’re depicting it as they are morally and technologically looking down at the Federation, and that to me was the un, it was a massive tripping up point for me in, in buying all of that, if it instead had been them saying, we don’t, we don’t disagree, the sacrifice of these children is Awful for us.

But if we don’t do this, we don’t understand what we could do. We don’t have, we don’t understand how any of this stuff works anymore. So that would have been a path to that. And maybe a brief explanation of when our world started undergoing this seismic shift and changing, a brilliant scientist was able to figure out a way of saving people.

But unfortunately it requires this. Little things like that, that could have been breadcrumbs to maybe give a little bit of a sense of why the sacrifice was necessary, because from my perspective, as I was watching it, it seemed very much like it was as if 21st century evolved society. was just regularly taking a child and killing them and saying, this is just what we have to do.

And with no deeper relationship to the ongoing need or evolving circumstances, their society seemed to be so static. Okay. You’ve got flying cities. You can’t, you can’t. Figure out how to keep them afloat without sacrificing a child. How would that be necessary? How would any of the circumstances of the cities floating change as a result of a child not being sacrificed?

It was stuff like that that just felt like, okay, this is being done for the moralizing argument. This is being done for the opportunity to have that discussion at the end for her to say, and as you point out her line of you probably have suffering. In your society, and nobody does anything about it.

We’ve cured suffering of everybody except for that one child. And that is like, like you said, that’s a compelling argument to say to somebody right now, if we took a child, an eight year old child and killed them and it cured cancer, would it be worth it? That’s a philosophical, moral quandary that’s. It’s the kind of, of horrible, ethical puzzle that is talked about in schools and philosophy classes all the time.

What does it mean to be ethical? What does it mean to be good? And I have no problem with that being the point of the episode, but it felt like they took elements of their own world building and threw them out the window just so they could get to that moral argument. And that to me was a distraction. So to pull back from.

Like, my wrestling with any of this. To go back to something you mentioned before, the element of the program. You’ve already talked a little bit about the love story. You want to talk about M’Benga and his daughter and their relationship to each other and to this kid and his father. What was your thoughts about that storyline?

Well, this was actually my favorite storyline in the entire thing. Um, this is where it’s like, I wish they had focused this as the kind of a plot episode because M’Benga is a great character. The, the trauma of what’s going on with his child is just very compelling. And so it would have been really, it was, I really liked how they had this child from this planet.

Who is going to be sacrificed, we don’t know that yet, actually bonding with his daughter in that scene where they’re playing, and this kid is aware that the doctor is struggling trying to cure his own daughter, um, later in the episode when the father says, I can’t give you the cure, but I can walk you through some of the thinking to kind of help put you on a path, it’s like, All of that storyline is wonderful.

I loved how they played around in the episode with kind of dangling a magical cure in front of him. Like, yeah, like, we got it, but you can’t have it. But by the end, the whole kind of coming back around to, we’re not going to give you it, but you can figure this out. It was a great way to kind of evolve that character, that storyline and push it forward.

So for me, that was a big win. That was like, the win. There’s, there was the c plot line with Uhura . That’s just fun. Yeah. But this is the one I think they should have focused on. Yeah.

The, the depiction of Gamal, the parent of the first servant played by Huse Madhavji is. I think it’s a really terrific take on the, the quandary that the parent finds himself in.

Mm-Hmm. and through some kind of self-protection, he’s become emotional and cold in his caretaking of his child while actively working to try and rescue him. Almost like there’s an emotional severance taking place so that he can have the child taken and still remain behind. And it also would be what you would expect of a parent whose child is selected to be the first servant and is willing to let them be sacrificed.

So from the outside, it just looks like this Man has already dealt with emotional heartache and it’s turned him into this. And of course, at the beginning of the introduction, before we know that about the sacrifice, before we begin to piece that together, we just think of him as strange and emotionally distant.

And then we’ve started to think, Oh, he’s come to terms with the loss. And then it becomes he is actually hiding this tumultuous undercurrent. And I really liked his performance. I liked the depiction of the storyline, the relationship between the First Servant and M’Benga daughter, I thought was very sweet and it gave a nice opportunity.

There were a couple of nice moments in this between M’Benga and his daughter, where you get to see her knowing. Of what is happening to her. And that’s heartbreaking because she says at one point, how often are you putting me to s Into the transporter. She, she knows this is being done and she knows why. I really liked that.

The previous exposure we’ve had to this made it look almost like he was keeping her in an idyllic childhood bedtime setting. Mm-Hmm. like she was unaware of what was going on, but when she comes in and says, you’ve read this part twice before, why? Are we, what are the gaps? How long have you been experiencing things that I haven’t?

That’s a heartbreaking moment because he’s biting his tongue because he doesn’t want to say it’s been years. And that’s the impression I get that this has been something he’s been dragging around for a long time. And when the two children are playing together, there’s The heartbreak in Mbenga in recognizing like my daughter is not having her childhood.

And if I let her have her childhood, she won’t have anything more. So his performance in this, I really like, uh, the, the performance of Olusanmokun, who Olusanmokun, who brings such empathy to such a His concern and passion for medicine is outshone only by his empathy and his compassion for the people he cares about.

And it’s a really nice depiction of, of a doctor in, in a show where we see very similar caretaking from McCoy. Which comes with also the harder edged personality. We see it with, uh, Gates McFadden as Crusher in Next Generation, but I’m finding myself thinking Dr M’Benga may be my favorite doctor. Like I’m finding myself really like, I wish I could find a doctor like that now.

We’ve done this in previous episodes where we kind of like wish,


the episode. This is the storyline that the whole thing should have been because then you would have had two fathers that are both trying to do the best for their children they can. One’s going to be sacrificed for the good of the many and the other one is technically kind of suffering like you just brought up like should she have her childhood?

intact, knowing that she’ll die? Or should you drag this out, basically destroying her childhood just for the hope that you might be able to cure her down the road? Like, what is, what is childhood suffering? What’s, what’s that moral quandary there? How do you handle this? It’s like, those are the two, that, that’s it.

That’s the episode. And why they decided to make the love story the focus. I’m still kind of at a loss to that when they had that wonderful pairing right there, right in front of them.

I, let’s talk about the love story about a bit like pull back from your own, uh, criticism of it and on its own. Do you have an idea of what they were trying to do there?

Do you, I, I think I have a sense of what they were trying to do, but I’m wondering, can you look at it in isolation and say like, I get what they were trying to do, but it still wasn’t working for ’em? No, I, I get what I get,

what they were trying to do. It was kind of having a, it’s the growth of the, it’s the growth of Pike.

It’s the growth of that character. Seeing where he was whenever they first met and seeing how he’s grown to where he is now and have, and having a relationship with this person that you thought you knew from back then, but they are not what you expected and having that growth of what you do in that scenario and how you handle that.

I, I thought that was a, It was a good storyline. It was, there’s nothing wrong with it. It was just wrong in this episode. So for me, it was, I got what they were doing. I had trouble trying to connect the dots between

this show has been really good

about their A plot, B plot, C plot, all having a theme. And so I was trying to think of like, what is the theme here that they’re trying to get at?

Because if M’Benga trying to cure his daughter, you have this father trying to save his son, and then you have this, you have Pike kind of coming to terms with this relationship with this person that he thought, like, probably in his head, was this person that he had idealized, and it’s not who he thought she was, and coming to terms with that.

It’s kind of um, each character is having Uh, to give up on something that they originally thought that they knew. So like M’Benga is being more open with his daughter by the end, and the doctor that’s trying to save his son is coming to terms with what he did and how he failed and what that meant for his role in that, and then you have Pike kind of realizing that his idealistic love interest isn’t what he thought it was.

But that’s such a thin gossamer thread between those three where usually this show is really good about making sure they’re all unified. Um, so I don’t get the point of what the writers were trying to do on this one because it was kind of a mixed bag.

I wonder, as you were talking about all that, like, what’s the recurring thread through all of it?

And I wonder if it’s, if it’s making assumptions, um, he’s, he’s approaching this person that he feels like he knows really well and had a deep, meaningful connection that’s echoed through his life up to this point. And as soon as he realizes it’s echoed through her life as well, and they quickly become romantically entangled.

It’s making assumptions about where each person stands, like the similarity between us. We, we seem to be a perfect fit. M’Benga’s assumptions about what another doctor is going to consider morally and ethically allowed. His surprise at the withholding of information with the Very, like, almost treated for comic relief.

Uhura storyline, her assumptions about what is going to be happening with her training, what her training actually looks like. The assumptions coming back the other way from Noonien Singh, who is making assumptions about what a cadet might expect and want, and it being surprised by the abilities of the cadet.

It feels like assumption is the underlying element that’s connecting all these things together. So as far as

the, that’s not super clear to me though, you know what

I mean? I don’t think, I think that the fact that you and I seem to be like grasping for that common thread is an indication that whatever it was may not have been highlighted enough and that’s.

That’s unfortunate because there’s really, I think across the board, and we’ve said this before in this very conversation, I like all the depictions. I like all the performances. I think that Anson Mount in this one does a range of work that he hasn’t yet had to do. Last week we talked about the very Das Boot.

Elements of, or the two weeks ago, we talked about the very Das Boot elements of that storyline and how he had to depict the captain who’s gritting his teeth through the turmoil of a situation. And that was a certain aspect of Pike we hadn’t really seen before. And this week he goes through sort of fumbling, uh, arousal.

Where the first moment he sees who it is that he’s beamed aboard his ship and he becomes very adolescent in his response to this woman he’s clearly attracted to. He’s just kind of like, and he moves from that through to, it’s almost like a fast forward lifespan because he goes through that to then romantic entanglement to then being upset at who the person actually is.

And so it’s like this fast forward story arc about. The life of a relationship, you’re kind of awestruck, you’re gaga for the person, you become involved and think this is everything I hoped it would be. And then you find out, Oh, you’ve got elements to you that I don’t like at all. So he has to do a wide range of acting and I think he’s great in all of it, but at the end of it, I kept thinking like, but did it work?

Like, well,

that’s to add to this, Sean, I’ve been watching on the Blu ray and there’s a couple of deleted scenes on this episode that I

watched and

it, it kind of sheds a little light because clearly the focus of this episode was on Pike. It was meant to be Pike. It’s a Pike episode. It’s his character.

The complaints we have around the society, them not. depicting it well, that’s clearly background noise to the writers because they wanted to focus on Pike and his emotional journey. Because one of the deleted scenes was a flashback from, I can’t remember how, like 10 years earlier or whatever it was, where the two of them met.

They had a scene, they showed the scene where they met on the shuttle. They showed him saving her. And I am so glad they cut that scene. But there was some stuff in it that I thought was really funny. It’s like his hair. Gets taller every episode. And in this episode, you know, he has a huge pompadour of grayish silver fox kind of hair and the flashback, same hair, but it’s just dark brown.

And it was like, really, it was really funny just to see the same exact thing. But the scene was almost making it

more like Jeffrey Hunter. I’m sure that’s,

it made the, it made their love story trite. It like, The scene was like three minutes long, two minutes long, and it was him coming aboard the ship.

She’s about to go crashing into this red giant or whatever it was. He comes aboard. They immediately start going, giving each other googly eyes. And then they both reach in and to like change this thing and some like engineering, like, you know, Oh, we’re going to put this in and we’ll save us. The two of them are doing it together.

There was no reason for them to do it together. It was a small device that one person could do with one hand, but it took them all four hands to put it in together so they can bump into each other and give each other a little googly eyes. Then they got in the front of the seat. They go careening out of control.

I’m a test pilot. I’ll get us out of this. And he flies them out of it. And that was it. It was like the shortest scene. And by not including it, it allows us, the viewer, to, in our headcanon, to, like, imagine a much bigger or more drawn out thing, where if they had shown it to us, it’d have been like, really?

You’ve, you’ve felt, really? There’s this incredible love story spawned from that? So I’m glad they cut it. For that reason. And then at the end, the next deleted scene they showed was the alternate version of that final conversation they have. So in that final conversation, this is one of the things I really liked about the episode is like when she’s making the case and he pulls out his communicator and she basically is like pleading with him.

And he just was like, beam me up. Click. It was like, the most, like, powerful, like, just hang the phone up and walk away. It’s like, he didn’t even say anything. The deleted scene, he says stuff, Sean. And it was, you talk about moral superiority, if they had included this scene, You would have been rolling your eyes, man, because he, like, tells her off, and, like, in the most, like, cutting way, like, he is, like, Ah!

He’s, like, eviscerating her, and then goes, beam me up. It was, like, really obnoxious. So, it’s, like, I’m glad they cut it, because those two scenes would have, like, undercut the love story in the beginning, and then at the end, it was, like, that moral superiority was just dripping. So, it came across to me, like, if you look at it from that point of view, the writers and the showrunners clearly were focusing on, this is a Pike love story, and everything else is just kind

of like, background.

But, obviously,

for us, as the viewer, the end result they gave us was not that. We were taking the story away from. Well, what’s going on on this planet? We were focused on the background because it was so compelling and potentially interesting. And they were just like shanking the delivery. So I think that might help explain some of the unevenness that we were seeing.

And also kind of goes to the, what the hell was the thread here? Because like the M’Benga stuff and the kid’s stuff and the planet stuff really doesn’t link in strongly to the Pike love

story. Yeah. It’s interesting because as you talked, I was thinking about how, from a writer’s perspective, it’s frustrating when the things that you consider your, uh, background information, your throwaway information, the stuff that’s just supposed to fill in some gaps, takes on a better life.

Then the main focus of what you went into it doing and, and the writing of a television show like this, the way a writer’s room works in commercial television, it’s high pressure. It’s extremely difficult. You’re working to timelines. You’re trying to please a lot of different people, everybody from your direct producer to the network itself, to the actors, to the directors.

So you’re serving a lot of masters and I, and my, uh, greatest respect for. People who can make a living doing it. It’s extremely difficult, but I’ve been, I know exactly what it looks like. I, I years ago, I had a class, a writing class when I was in grad school, in which somebody shared a story and it was five pages of a character working on tree removal in somebody’s yard.

And they, the person who wrote this story, as I was reading it, I’m like, this is so knowledgeable. There’s so much information here that is clearly so accurate. And it was fascinating because it talked about the way trees grow and the way trees grow. They can, they have a strong side and a weak side, and you need to be able to look at the tree and understand where the strength in the tree is and where the weakness in the tree is so that you can take it down the direction you want to.

You can’t do that if you mistake which side is stronger. And so it’s this. This analysis of this tree and taking down the tree and the guy is doing this work and he reaches a point where the chainsaw jams in the tree and he realizes that this tree has done something which occasionally happens but isn’t often the case, which is the tree grow twisting so that the strong side as it appears at the trunk is not actually the strong side of the tree.

It’s actually, it’s twisted as it’s grown so that he’s effectively. Cut into it from the wrong side and it’s now pinching the blade and he can’t get the blade out. So he has to very quickly get in his truck and drive to get another blade. And when he comes back, the tree has collapsed it. He’s weakened the tree.

The tree has come down. And when he comes back, there is a tricycle under one of the main branches where a kid was dry, was playing in his driveway on a tricycle. And he sees the tricycle underneath this branch and the most compelling, the most gripping, the most like gasp inducing story I had read in grad school produced by somebody who was a peer in a class.

And I was so Impressed by it. And then the character gets into his truck to flee and drives into the city where he finds an abandoned subway tunnel, goes down in the subway tunnel and finds a portal into hell. What? And that was my point exactly. I said to him in class, I’m like, this took a turn that I felt like, where did any of this come from?

Because this doesn’t, this isn’t. Lining up for me, like you had these amazing pages and I wanted to see the turmoil of what would happen to this character as did the child in fact get hurt? Was the child even there? Like All of the scenarios that could play out from that. The child is dead. The guy is arrested.

The child is not dead, but he feels horrible and ends up, you know, drinking himself to illness that night. Like all the different paths that this story could take, but it was so steeped in expertise and knowledge at the beginning. And I felt so grounded. And so as a reader, really kind of like taking care of In the way you want good fiction to take care of you.

And then it just took this hard left turn and it was very, very like, like this is suddenly in Stephen King territory, but it didn’t get there in the way that Stephen King can get you there. Like what happened? And he said, well, the first five pages I just kind of threw together because I just needed to get into the portal.

I needed a reason for him to get to wanting to take this portal to hell. And everybody in the class was just like, dude,

five brilliant pages. That he viewed as a throwaway. And I feel like that can happen sometimes in television where, or even movies where we see something and we’re like, Oh, they really knocked it out of the park here, but they didn’t do it over there. I feel like that may have happened here where the emotional resonance of what’s happened to these children and their fathers and the parallelism between the fathers and the relationship between them and what’s going on really hit so many beautiful notes.

And while it was well done, the very Kirk like experience for Pike of, I came to this planet, I’m having sex with this woman, wait a minute, I don’t think I like this woman. That all, like, it just kind of, it, to me, not only did it do everything you described with the deleted scenes and all of that, I kept thinking, was this them simply writing a Kirk like storyline for Pike of, show up on this planet, I’m going to have sex with this woman, now I’m going to moralize, and then I’m going to leave.

So, listeners, viewers, what do you think about this episode? Do you agree that it kind of stumbles over its own feet a little bit, or do you think that it all worked really nice? Do you agree with Matt and me that the depiction of this, and the portrayal of all this, is really well done? From a directing and an acting perspective, or did you find something going on here that didn’t hit the right note with you from that perspective?

Let us know in the comments. Before we sign off, Matt, is there anything you want to share with our viewers? What do you have coming up on your main channel? Uh, nothing

specific because I took a few weeks off on the channel and we’re just now kind of getting back into the swing of things with episodes coming out, but we’ve got a whole lineup over the next few weeks planned around some interesting topics that I am fascinated by, like Wind turbine energy for your house and, uh, energy storage systems for your home and things like that.

So just check out the main channel that we’re going to be kicking back

into gear again. As for me, if you want to check out the covers to my books, they’re on my website, seanferrell. com. The newest book cover, which is book two of my Sinister Secrets series is now up there. It’s called the Sinister Secrets of the Fabulous Nothings.

There is also links on my page to bookshop. org, but you can go wherever it is you find your books. And I believe pre orders are now available for the paperback version of book one, The Sinister Secrets of Singe. The hardcover has been available since June, but the paperback should be coming out later this year, right around the same time as the release of the hardcover of The Fabulous Nothings.

So I hope you’ll be interested in taking a look at those. If you’d like to support the show, please consider reviewing us at wherever it was you found us, whether it’s Apple, Spotify, Google, YouTube. If you leave a review, if you subscribe, and if you share us with your friends, those are three great ways to support us.

And if you’d like to more directly support us, you can go to trekintime. show, click the become a supporter button. It allows you to throw some coins at our heads. We appreciate the bruises. And when we get down to the recording of the podcast, we also will share with you, our direct supporters, our out of time podcast in which we talk about things other than what we’ve talked about in this main program.

So we might talk about other sci fi, sometimes horror, sometimes fantasy, whatever is that is catching our eye. We hope you’ll be interested in checking that out. Thank you so much, everybody for taking the time to listen or watch. And we’ll talk to you next time.

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