Matt and Sean talk about getting some fantasy in our sci-fi. Star Trek Strange New Worlds has gone medieval, which feels very much like The Original Series … but does it work?
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And we’re also taking a look at how our world was At the time of original broadcast. So we’re currently looking at Star Trek, Strange New Worlds, which means we’re also taking a look at 2022, not all that long ago, but it’s not going to be too many months before we suddenly run out of strange new worlds and find ourselves flashing back.
To the late sixties and visiting the original series. And who are we? Well, I’m Sean Ferrell. I’m a published author. I’ve written some sci fi and I’ve written some stuff for kids like my most recent, The Sinister Secrets of Singe, which is a middle grade adventure and its sequel will be coming out in June of 2024.
I’ll share more information about that as I have, as I have more to share and 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. Matt, how are you doing today? Doing pretty well. It’s uh,
I’m enjoying the days slowly getting longer, Sean.
Yes. December 21st is the best day of the calendar. You know, on the December 21st, thankfully all the days are now getting longer. And as I sit here and it’s. It’s almost five o’clock and the sun is still relatively up in the back. I’m thrilled to say it’s, uh, noticeable in my end. Before we get into our discussion about the most recent episode that we’re going to talk about, which is the Elysian Kingdom, we always like to revisit the mailbag and see what you’ve all said about our previous episode.
So Matt, what did you find for us today? It’s a mixed bag here,
Sean. Uh, so on the last episode, which was 128, the Serene Squall, which is the episode with the pirates, a little goofy, a little fun, um, had a variety of comments. One from Wayouts123, loved this episode, loved the way they present the social topics of Angel, but I really wanted a Marvel style after credits shot of Pike, Una, and La’an explaining to HQ it was so easy to take the ship, why it was so easy to
take the ship.
Yeah. Um. That would have been funny. That would have been good. Yeah. That would have fit in. Yeah.
Then there was one from, uh, there was actually two from AJ Chan I want to read. The first one said, kudos to whoever manages the captions in this video T’Pring, T, you know, apostrophe Pring, showed up with the correct spelling.
Not sure if that’s you guys or YouTube knows Vulcan now, but either way, thanks. It’s definitely not Google and it’s, it’s my team. So hats off to my team for double checking spellings. Uh, they’re
good at this. Any idea what T’Pring was showing up as?
Uh, I don’t remember what it was showing up before, but like in, I remember in Enterprise, it was constantly having to, my team was constantly having to correct the spellings of some of the names that were coming up on that show.
I can imagine.
Yeah. The other one from AJ Chan was the part where Pike, number one, and the crew inspires, in quotes, the pirate crew to Mutiny reminds me of Galaxy Quest. And the reason I highlighted this comment was because. There’s this goofy factor of this episode and a previous one, which seems to be kind of polarizing people about Strange New Worlds because there were several comments that are like negative on these episodes, like very negative.
One from PaleGhost69 said, this episode was a little disappointing. I was liking Dr. Aspen and was hoping they would stick around. It’s hard to believe that they are the same people because I didn’t like the way Captain Angel justifies their nonsense. So there’s a little bit of like complaints around the logic of how characters behave.
Um, and I, there’s a longer response. I didn’t call it out in here, but there’s a longer response I read that was, went in deep as to why this episode stanks and the previous episode stank and like, How the show has just had kind of a series of just kind of like stinkers, but at the high level, it seems to be.
The sentiment is you’re either along for the ride with the goofiness, which has a bit of a, for me, an original series vibe, it’s a little playful, a little more fun. Even some next generation episodes were like this. So I’m on board with it, but then there’s a lot of people that seem to not like that tone and want more of that.
I was very serious, but a little more logic based, a little more making sense, a little less playful.
Interesting. And I’m sure it’s going to be a subject we’re going to visit in this conversation because this episode lends itself very much to that. So everybody who weighed in on previous episodes, thank you so much for your comments.
And I look forward to your thoughts about this conversation because I think we’re going to wade into territory that’s going to seem very familiar to this previous. The previous comments, but before we get into that, that noise you hear in the background is as always the read alert. It means it’s time for Matt to try and tackle the Wikipedia description.
Good luck Matt .
The enterprise is surveying a nebula when its Warp drive fails, causing the crew to black out M’Benga Awakens to find the enterprise’s interior dressed as a high fantasy setting of Rukiya’s favorite book, and the crew unknowingly portraying its characters. Chief Engineer Hemmer is the only other member of the crew aware of the situation.
Thanks to his telepathic abilities, and they discover that the Nebula has its own consciousness comparable to Boltzmann, to a Boltzmann brain. They find Rukiya and learn that the Nebula has detected her loneliness and created the fantasy to entertain her. It also cured her disease, but this will not last as if they leave the Nebula.
The Nebula offers to preserve Rukiya by converting her into an energy being. Within the Nebula, which M’Benga reluctantly agrees to, he then sees a vision of Rukiya as a grown woman having experienced a life of adventures with the Nebula, whom she calls Debra after her mother. Debra releases the Enterprise, restoring its warp drive and interior design.
It’s an important one to Yeah.
Kind of clear that up. It put the throw pillows back where they belonged. That’s right.
No one other than M’Benga can remember the fantasy reality. He tells number one about Rukiya’s
fate. Here we go with episode eight, The Elysian Kingdom, written, directed by Amanda Rowe, written by Akela Cooper and Onitra Johnson and originally released on June 23rd, 2023.
This one is pretty much a bottle episode. We have one guest star playing Rukiya as an adult. We have one guest star playing Rukiya as a child. But the rest of the cast is our normal group. So we see Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, Christina Chong, Melissa Navia, Rebecca Romijn, Jess Bush, Celia Rose Gooding, and Babs Olusanmokun
we see a lot of Babs Olusanmokun in this one as the The show effectively follows Dr M’Benga from start to finish practically. There’s a couple of scenes where we see a few other people, but for the most part, this is Dr M’Benga’s story. And what was the world like on June 23rd, 2022? Well, Matt, I don’t have to tell you what you were listening to.
Do you remember? That’s right, Running Up That Hill, A Deal With God by Kate Bush. This is an interesting one. Running Up That Hill was a song that was released in the 80s. It didn’t go into hit territory. Until it was used in one of the episodes of Stranger Things in the premiere in 2022 for that season.
The song captivated the audience of Stranger Things and they propelled it to number one As a result of that, so in our new streaming era, the number one song being measured by downloads and streaming numbers, we no longer have a confine of time. It doesn’t mean you have to release and then hope to become a hit soon.
It could be 30 years later. 30 years later. So, following the Stranger Things premiere, Spotify revealed that streams of the song had increased by 9, 900%. Oh my gosh. And on June 22nd, 2023, it reached 1 billion total streams on the POT platform. In response, Bush wrote, I have an image of a river that suddenly floods and becomes many, many tributaries, a billion streams on their way to the sea.
Each one of these streams is one of you. Thank you so much for sending this song on such an impossibly astonishing journey. I’m blown away. On September 1st of 2022, Running Up That Hill was issued on a CD single for the first time using its original vinyl artwork and including a b side under the ivy.
The song ultimately sold more than a million units in the UK in 2022. It is a song that I loved when it originally was released in the mid 80s. This was very much a, if you were a fan of like Peter Gabriel. You were familiar with Kate Bush, and this was a song that you were familiar with. It got a lot of play on college radio stations, and so its return in this way was really, in a strange way, overdue and perfect.
It was, it was a neat, it was a neat turn of events. At the box office, people were lining up for the second week in a row to see Jurassic World, making it the number one film for the second week in a row, adding 60, almost 60 million, to the 145 million made the previous week. And on television, we’ve been discussing streaming shows, and up to this point, it’s all Netflix all the way down.
So we have Stranger Things. Ozark, Wednesday, Cobra Kai, Bridgerton, Virgin River, Dahmer. And this week at number eight, we’re going to talk about Love is Blind. This is a Netflix reality series created by Chris Colin and produced by Kinetic Content, content premiering on February 13th of 2020. The show follows a social experiment where a single men and women look for love and get engaged all before meeting in person.
That sounds fantastic.
in the news Welcome to Trashy TV, everybody. And in the news on this day in June of 2022, the top news stories were about President Biden pushing Congress for a three month tax Gas holiday to alleviate pressures of people having to fill up the pump. There was also a gun bill moving through Congress that was getting fragile GOP support given all the shootings that have happened in recent years.
It was a time for Republicans and Democrats to come together and try and put some controls around gun ownership. There was also an opinion article in the New York Times about who stops a bad guy with a gun. And also an article about the MTA vowing to make subways in New York City 95 percent accessible, which is great news.
The bad news, it’s going to take 33 years.
That’ll be good news for me because in 33 years, I’ll be in my 80s. I will, you and I will almost be done with this podcast and I will probably need to be able to take an elevator to the subways. And I will be able to do that 95 percent of the, uh, the subway system here in New York. So that’s nice. Before we get into our discussion, I wanted to share a little bit of information about something that the episode throws out there and then says, Hey, did you ever hear about this?
Well, here’s the thing. And now let’s go have our adventure. The The Boltzmann brain. Boltzmann brain. Exactly. . What is a Boltzmann brain? Well, the idea is named after the physicist Ludwig Boltzmann, who lived from 1844 to 1906, who in 1896 published a theory that tried to account for the facts that the universe is not as chaotic as the budding film field of thermodynamics seemed to predict there were models of how the universe should work.
And it didn’t mesh with the reality that we were seeing. So there was this, okay, what is going on here? He offered several explanations, one of them being that the universe, even after it had progressed to its own most likely spread out and featureless state of thermal equilibrium as a state of entropy, would spontaneously fluctuate to a more ordered or low entropy state, such as the universe in which we find ourselves.
Boltzmann brains were first proposed As an, as a reductio ad absurdum response to this explanation by Boltzmann for the low entropy state of our universe. What that effectively means is critics of his idea took his premise and said, if that was in fact true, and you take this premise to its most absurd.
end then what his model could do is to say a universe could create within it a human like intelligence spontaneously just in the atoms of molecules existing in space. There wouldn’t have to be a body. You could end up just spontaneously having a mind. Manifest. The Boltzmann brain gained new relevance around 2002, when some cosmologists started to become concerned that, in many theories about the universe, human brains are vastly more likely to arise from random fluctuations.
This leads to the conclusion that statistically Humans are likely to be wrong about their memories of the past, and in fact, be Boltzmann brains. When applied to more recent theories about the multiverse, Boltzmann brain arguments are part of the unsolved measure problem of cosmology. So it is a model, it is a theory, proposed In criticism of his model of what might be happening, of the universe having these fluctuations back toward low entropy instead of everything evening out, it revolves around theories about how old the universe is, how organized it was at the time of creation, and Whether or not it in fact has a starting point.
So it’s all these theories wrapped up into one great big ball of the, of existence and his theory being taken as a criticism blown up to this end of the Boltzmann brain. Now has been applied to this story. So we end up with a story which revolves completely around an entity with these, this ability, it’s consciousness.
It’s knowing of what’s going on inside the various characters or the individuals on the ship and utilizing the loneliness of one of them in connection to itself to create this artificial reality, this fairytale adventure, this hits. In a lot of different ways, and I invite you, Matt, to, to pick how you want to approach your thoughts about this.
It occurred to me that this felt very reminiscent of original series. This was largely more of a fantasy episode than it was a sci fi episode. It was focused entirely on M’Benga and it was also a bottle episode. So these are just like some kind of like big picture ideas about ways into our discussion.
I invite you or if you have your own to jump in. I’d want
to start by discussing the original series-ness of this. Absolutely. Like I said in the very beginning, there’s a TOS and TNG vibe to some of these episodes. Um, and this one for me just like smacked of the original series. Yeah. And I know some people are not going to like the goofiness of this and the kind of like Premise.
But it’s like, how many episodes of the original series were they like an omniscient being suddenly makes them all look like they’re in the Roman empire and they’re being forced to do things they don’t want to do. And it’s like, okay, that’s this same thing with the next generation. There were episodes just like this
where trapped in the holodeck goes nuts.
Yeah. And this goofy stuff. Oh, it’s Robin Hood, an entire episode of Robin Hood. Okay. Here we go. Strap yourself in. It’s going to be a lighthearted bottle episode. Um, that’s what this was. And I have. Zero problem with those episodes. I really do believe you need those lighthearted Bottle episodes to decompress between different aspects of things, um, the shortness of the seasons for these streaming shows does kind of raise the question of, are they doing this a little too much?
Because you have like 12 episodes and you’ve just like burned two or three of them doing this kind of thing.
Yeah. Is that too much? If 4 percent of your season is made up of this. Right. in 1989, but in 2022 10 percent yeah, 10 percent or 20 percent of your season is made up of, of this. It has it, it weighs differently.
And, yeah. So, I completely agree. It, this one, we do have a long history in Star Trek of the blurring of genres, the use of a sci fi, uh, trope to say, oh, the sci fi trope is activating our fantasy. So, you end up with the holodeck, the sciency holodeck is creating a Robin Hood environment. Or, the. Any of the ones where Picard would go in and want to conduct a private eye investigation.
So it looked like 1940s, you know, like sherlock holmes sort of deal. Yeah, exactly. This one, I, I think has a whiff that is far much more of the original series than Next Generation, because in Next Generation far more often involved The tech either going wrong or an omniscient being who effectively was a character.
I’m thinking of Q here, where what would be happening that wasn’t real was knowingly like manifested as a part of a character. But the original series was far more comfortable with doing this kind of story where it was the omniscient thing wasn’t even really revealed completely until the final act, the closing scene and the fantasy.
of this looks far more original series than what Next Generation would do. The changing of the ship itself, the depiction of the fantasy characters. There are episodes, there’s an episode of the original series in which everything is Full blown fantasy like this, where this is very close to that. I found myself though, in a strange place with the episode, and I’m just gonna kind of flatly put it out there.
I thought this was boring,
and I couldn’t figure out if this was time well spent as a fantasy episode. Or even as a M’Benga and his daughter story. And I found myself thinking. It kind of failed in both. The fantasy itself, I’m going to, I’m going to, I guess I’ll, I’ll address the fantasy itself first and get your thoughts on it.
And then we can talk about the M’Benga and his daughter side of it. As a fantasy, I found it to be missing the mark because what was more often done. In other stories that revolved around this kind of, Oh, something has happened, which is forcing the characters into a fantasy world. In those episodes, it felt more like it was those characters are known characters in the fantasy world, but this is overriding all of those.
Known characters with characters from a fantasy story that we don’t have access to. We’ve only seen M’Benga read this book to his daughter. We’re given very cursory information about it’s a fantasy setting. It’s about a kingdom that’s in danger. It’s about a king who’s trying to save his daughter and save the kingdom.
And he has to make a choice. That’s all we really have. And then we’re given motivations. And character names are not any of our known characters. And I found myself thinking, if you’re going to do that, then those new characters and motivations need to be far more compelling than what we’re actually given in this episode.
It felt to me so not even two dimensional that it was like watching a children’s play. Where you don’t have any children in the play, you’re just kind of there and it felt unnecessarily new from top to bottom to the point where I didn’t feel connected to any of the tension in the story. Even though we had M’Benga and Hemmer in there saying like, Oh, we have to get out.
We have to save the crew. I found myself thinking I didn’t feel any tension about it. I didn’t have any concerns about them being able to save the day and what they were going through with the duplicitous character who’s turning on them and the evil queen. And like, all of that just left me feeling like this doesn’t really Work for me and it just didn’t feel connected.
And I say that as somebody who I feel like if it, if you’re going to utilize this structure, which we’ve seen before in Star Trek, I’ve seen it work. I just couldn’t help, but wonder, was there a genuine need for everybody else to be completely subsumed by this? Was there an explanation that made any sense as to why Hemmer and M’Benga weren’t completely subsumed by this?
And ultimately, let me just like say one more thing. Also if this is supposed to be this entity viewing the girl and saying this girl is so lonely and only I can save her from her loneliness, it didn’t feel like it was about the girl at all. It felt like it was about M’Benga. And it didn’t, again, make sense to me.
Like this isn’t about the girl just because she’s watching everything. Like, there, I felt like if this was going to be about his daughter, her direct involvement in more scenes in the story and playing a part in the story and him realizing she was an active and willing participant in the story, not taken over by something, but was actively just herself would have been far more on the nose for what they set it up as.
And I’ve got some thoughts about like what they could have done that would have fit more, but I’ll keep that to myself for right now. And let’s get your thoughts on what I’ve just said.
So this is the second time I’ve seen this episode. Like this is your first time. This is my second time. First time I saw it.
It kind of was a, eh, it was fine, kind of episode. This time I actually liked it more than the first time. I still don’t think this was a great episode, but I, I get where you’re coming from. But here’s why I, I had a completely different vibe with this. All of the characters, all of the, all of the Star Trek characters that are subsumed make sense because the entity is using them like puppets.
It’s just a puppet show and it made sense to me why M’Benga was the only one that wasn’t taken over because her, his daughter was one of the ones pulling the strings. It was rewriting. She was working with the entity to rewrite the story the way that she wanted. So, you can imagine she’s off in the room with her, her Nebula friend and they’re, they’re playing in there and she’s probably directing things.
We’re not seeing it and part of the reason we’re not seeing it is the show is trying to have that mystery box that they’re trying to unfold to keep us as viewers interested. So that, I would agree with you that that may have been a misfire in how they did this. It might have been better if they had shown , the daughter in the room.
Mm-Hmm. saying, I wish I could, you know, this should have happened and that should have happened. And then you’re flipping over to M’Benga like experiencing what his daughter is actively saying or something like that. Mm-Hmm. . But for me, it, it, I, it wasn’t boring. Because I was very engrossed in with M’Benga’s desire to, like, he’s trying to save his daughter, he’s also trying to save the crew, and what he’s doing as a father and the things he’s having to overcome in the episode, and come to terms with in the episode, I thought was compelling enough.
And the characters themselves, the Star Trek characters, are in danger. And that was for me something that kind of kept me on the edge of my seat a little bit of like, okay, it’s funny, there’s a lot of humor, but oh man, they’re having this sword fight, what happens if one of them actually like impales the other one?
Like they’re being used as puppets. Is it going to actually kill a character? Are these characters actually in danger? Are they going to potentially die? So because of that, I was very concerned during different scenes of like with the, the evil queen that’s trying to take everything over. It’s like, is she just going to like kill one of them off?
Like is something bad going to happen here to some of these characters? Um, that’s part of the reason for me, I was a little probably more engaged. With it, because I was, I had that sense of danger for some of these characters I’ve grown to like. Um, I’m really enjoying seeing how Mbenga is trying to grapple with his daughter’s sickness and the danger of the current situation of like, where the hell is my daughter?
Every minute she’s out, she’s getting sicker. So it’s like there’s, you’re, you’re watching this father kind of like trying to rush through this because he’s trying to get to his daughter. So I was very, I was emotionally invested in it. It sounds like probably in a different way than you were. Yeah, where it may have just kind of like that, that probably just washed over you a bit.
And for me, it didn’t, it kind of, it kind of resonated with what I was feeling like when I was watching it.
I think to get to the stage where I would have connected in the same way, the story needed to do different things in order for that to happen. And for me, M’Benga actually saying something about like the physical danger of members of the crew have been taken over.
If he had said to Hemmer something along the lines of, like, This doesn’t seem to be an artificial fantasy. This seems to be real. And if somebody gets hurt, I’m afraid they’re going to be permanently hurt or killed. I also think they’ve got a very magical ending for the girl of her disease is cured. So, and the ship can be changed, so I would propose that why not just go full blown into the fantasy of it and say that this entity could allow members of the crew to die and then bring them back.
Why not do that? Cause then you have the opportunity for people to die and M’Benga and Hemmer to be running around saying like, we need to stop people from dying because this looks completely real to us. And then at the end, the hand wavy magic of it all, thank God they came back. You could have done something with a character, even a major character being killed.
That could have put a completely different tension and spin into it. Because what I ended up seeing, I saw the same things you did. I had the same question. There was a sword fight and I was like, I wonder if any of these characters will literally be hurt or killed as a result of this, given that most of them were non known people.
I didn’t feel any tension about it. I was left with like, oh no, nobody’s going to die. If that scene had ended with, let’s say, Ortegas being stabbed and dying, the episode would have taken a completely different, it would have like moved up a level. I also think that the lack of The daughter’s involvement is for it to be a show about her, and she is rewriting it, and I completely understood all of that.
But what if instead of being locked away as the prize, what if she had been the evil queen? What if the doctor, in looking for his daughter, and being terrified of him being captured and stopped in that by the queen, and confronts the queen and discovers his daughter is the queen? And that’s where he realizes she hasn’t even been taken over.
This is her actively changing the story from a power position. And she knows it’s a play. She knows it’s a game. So she’s having fun. And she’s saying things to him like, Come on, Daddy, let’s finish this. This is the way I want it to end. That could have been a very different spin on the Boltzmann brain of it all that could have like, how could the daughter be doing this?
What is manifesting all of this for her? How could this possibly be true? And then you, Unleashed than the second stage of it’s this Boltzmann brain. It’s this thing that is pulling the strings for her because it has befriended her. That would have felt different to me, but what I was left with. was far too little of actual stakes.
I never felt like everybody was fully in danger because it was too obviously a bottle episode. It felt to me like it kept reminding me that none of this was gonna end poorly for anybody. They also kind of self contradict in the fact that Hemmer is Wait, wait, wait.
Yeah, I gotta, I gotta challenge you on some I gotta challenge you on some of this.
A couple of times you’ve said, if it’s about the daughter, they should have done X, Y, and Z. It’s not about the daughter. The daughter is a MacGuffin. The daughter’s been a MacGuffin the entire time. But
that’s the other complaint I have about this episode. So go ahead and finish
what you’re going to say. I know, I know, I know.
But it’s one of those, this has always been about M’Benga it’s always been about him. Always. The entire series, it’s never been about the actual girl. It’s just It’s about him and how he’s struggling with what his daughter’s going through and having to come to terms with it. Him having to like basically let her go and this episode is him coming to terms with having to let her go over the entire episode because like he’s freaking out the entire episode of every minute she’s out she’s gonna get sicker and sicker and die.
Yeah. And so it was like, there’s this ticking clock and that’s the danger. So that’s, it’s, it’s, it’s focusing 100 percent on him for that. So every time you keep bringing up the daughter, it’s kind of like, I get why you’re saying that because you found the episode boring and you didn’t think that the M’Benga stuff by itself was pulling you in enough.
But from my perspective, it was, it pulled me in. And I was worried for him and worried for what he was doing, um, and what he was going through. That’s what kind of
pulled me through it. But for me, that’s too much of a Mary Sue. She’s only there. She’s not there as a full fledged character with her own ambitions and drives.
She is there completely at the service of M’Benga. And that’s a problem. For me, I have a difficult time with her being nothing more than the brass ring that he’s trying to reach for. It’s, and the fact that she starts the episode with wishes of her own. And then you missed out on an opportunity to see her actively engaging with any of that in the story, I think, is a big mistake in the writing.
I think it, you set up the prime mover of your story and then put them in a literally a locked room for the entirety of the episode. That’s not, that’s not good writing. That’s, to me, that just felt like, I completely understand what you’re saying about M’Benga is the point. I think M’Benga being the point is a problem to the episode.
So for me. Giving her more autonomy, giving her more action on screen would have been a way of building some sort of relationship between the two of them. Up to this point, he is so caretaker y of her that he doesn’t see her as a full person. You had the opportunity for him in the adventure. If he had to confront with a daughter, if you don’t come back with me, you will die.
And her willingness to say, no, this is more important to me than that. You missed that opportunity at, as being the pinnacle of the episode. Instead, she’s literally described as being the reward, she’s the prize, and when he finds her, he discovers, well, I’ve, now I’m in the choice of the king, like, it, it felt,
it felt too weak to me.
I don’t, I don’t disagree with you. I don’t disagree with you on your assessment of what, what would have made it stronger at all. But I’m just making the point of, it bothered you clearly way more than it bothered me, and I thought it was. entertaining and connecting with me enough to make it kind of a, it’s a fun episode.
It’s a write off. The part that I really did not like would have been answered by what you just described. And what I hated about this episode was the ending. It was just so pat and just like this instant, Oh, your daughter’s going to live forever in this cloud. Okay. Everything’s good now. Yeah. Yay. And with what you just described, it would have given more weight to that when it got to that point.
Yeah. So I do agree with you. It would, it, there was a better way to write it, but I was just coming, coming at it from a kind of a contrarian point of view, deliberately, to basically say, I didn’t find it boring, but it could have been better. So I still have that sense of, The humor, the, the fun aspect of this was enough to carry me through.
The writers could have done a better job fleshing it out more and avoiding that pat ending, which would have made it a great episode, not an okay
episode. I also think that there was more thought needed to go into what does puppet string pulling Mean for the players, if there had been opportunities in the same way, like a big part of this, I think if it had been more modeled in the way that children play would have worked better because then you could play with the idea of.
The Boltzmann brain, and this, again, to hearken back to the original series, do you remember the episode of the original series where they go to a planet where they meet a being who creates all this fanciful castle and swashbuckling, swashbuckling adventure? And it turns out that this all powerful entity is a child, that then the greater beings show up and say, like, You’ve been playing with other species again.
You know, you’re not supposed to do that. And they take him away and they apologize to the crew for everything that he’s done. And it’s been like retconned by more recent fans to say like, that was a baby Q. Like that’s. That’s effectively, like, the way that this is manifested before. If this had been done in a similar way, where it is a Boltzmann brain that effectively, in isolation, you could say, like, would it ever be mature?
Would it ever, would it just constantly kind of want to play? To be enacted around it. And now it comes across a child. The child and it bond in this way, and it’s about play. But the way a child plays is with a meta conversation very often on top of the action of the play itself. So you end up with, you’re making your action figures do a thing, but you’re also narrating it, either to yourself or to a playmate.
I think there were opportunities within this. To have, I kept thinking, what if in the masquerade of the adventure, the fantasy adventure, what if the people involved in the masquerade at different times came out of it and were aware that they were being used in this way and begging M’Benga to help them?
It might have added a level of tension to have the captain who is not acting like the captain at all and it’s clearly intended like this is supposed to be comedic and he has some terrific comedic performance but I kept hoping for a moment where he would snap out of it and say Hey! You’re not supposed to be doing that.
You’re, there’s a story here that is being told. You’re supposed to be doing a different thing. And M’Benga is saying like, who’s driving this? Why is this my daughter’s storybook? What is going on? Where’s my daughter? And him saying, you gotta get to her, but you, I can’t tell you. And then snapping back into the other.
Subservient, Toadie, who’s just like clearly angling for his way to get some power. A little bit more of how do children play would have solved some of the things, upped the stakes a little bit, and demonstrated things in a way that would have allowed them to not have to hand wave, Hemmer’s telepathy saved him, but Spock’s didn’t.
But yeah, you’ve presented the idea that on this entire crew, only one person on their own for no reason connected with relationship to the daughter is able to avoid being taken over. How would the entity allow that person to remain active when they can literally change the ship? If this entire thing is meant to be a complete masquerade, it doesn’t make sense that Hemmer would be allowed to walk around and do anything.
It then becomes, they’re too selective and inconsistent with what can happen and why. To pull it back the other direction and have the various play participants snapping in and out of saying like, Giving a little bit of guidance, because the way a child would do it to say like, No, you’ve got to go to the castle and rescue the princess now.
And then snap back into the play. Might have been a little more challenge and kept us, I found myself thinking, I don’t know who any of these, When Spock shows up in particular and he’s wearing a wig that makes him look like he’s part of a French noble family. And he’s not acting like Spock at all and he’s playing this nefarious, darker brother of the, of Hemmer’s character.
And I found myself thinking, like, I don’t care about any of this. It’s, I don’t, I’m not connecting to it at all. I found myself thinking, if there were opportunities to see who we know these people are. And how they might be struggling if Spock at a moment of coming out of it and saying like I have to be I have to turn against you now and I’m fearful of what I might do if you fight back because I could hurt you and then going back into the but you’re you’re
also Changing the tone that they clearly wanted to go for.
They were just trying to make a lighthearted comedy. That’s all this episode was probably meant to be in their minds. So what you’re talking about would make it, would give it a undertone of like, Oh my God, kind of heavyweight to it. And that’s probably not
what they were going for. But again, that goes back to like that this felt stakeless.
It felt, it felt like there were no stakes at all, and I do agree, they were going for the comedy of it. And I think that all the performers did a great job. I don’t think that there was anything about the performance. There was some terrific performance out of the woman who, um, plays, who plays Noonien-Singh
uh, Christina is just like, she is so funny in this. And I was legitimately like, this, she’s carrying that little dog and it’s got this whole, like, the dog at one point is just looking at all these people in these costumes and you can see the actor dog thinking, what the heck are we doing? What is this?
Who’s this woman? At one point, the dog starts licking her, her, like, her chest and neck. And I was like, she must have makeup. That they’ve put on that the dog is like, Oh, this smells good. And just starts licking her neck. And it, the dog is, is adorable. And it’s, and it is funny. And I find myself thinking like, okay, like the performances here are terrific.
I just wish that they had given them a little bit more meat underneath. The fantasy. And I think you could still have a comedy. And I, and I hearken back to like the episodes of Next Generation with, um, Lieutenant Barkley. The humor of those episodes is fantastic. There are also stakes. There are moments where you’re like, okay, the ship is in danger.
They need to stop it from having this. Calamity. Barkley is involved in this, which adds the humorous tone and story to it. But you can be 90 percent humorous and 10 percent serious and give enough oomph to a thing. I found myself thinking like we didn’t have a literal ticking time bomb anywhere. And that would have felt like a trope.
But at least that would have helped of like, Oh, the warp core is breaking down. Nobody on the crew is doing their job. Nobody on the crew is actively taking care of the ship and have Hemmer say like, unless some of my engineering team snaps out of it, this is going to be a problem. Like nothing is put into the, the, nothing’s put into the wash that makes you feel like anything is going to come out different than what you anticipate.
So I found myself. Disappointed in that. I also found myself disappointed, and we’ve already talked for quite a bit already about my disappointment, but I have one more thing. I didn’t like this as the ending of M’Benga’s and his daughter’s story.
No, neither did I. That’s the part of this I hated the most.
It was like, this felt like such a sad trombone to that storyline they’ve been building up for so long, and it’s like, why? Especially after that planet where they were like, we could cure you. But we’re not going to give you that tech. And they’re like, well, let me give you a leg up. It’s like, oh, he’s got a path that he could try to figure it out.
And then this just like made all that pointless. And it was like, come on. This was just such a, I don’t know. I did not like the way they resolved this for that storyline
at all. Yeah. It just, it just, um, yeah. Sad trombone was the way it felt to me as well. And I say that while also feeling like if this is where you wanted to end up with this storyline, do it season two.
Give us more of him working to figure it out, let him reveal the existence of his daughter to a few other people, have, uh, I mean, in this episode in particular, if you had done more of what I was suggesting with characters actually moving in and out of the fantasy a little bit more, what if other members of the crew who had no idea his daughter was in a pattern buffer were suddenly like, who’s this kid?
What if you had that moment of, Oh, the queen is looking for you. And then the character snaps out of it and says, the queen is a child. We don’t even know who it is. Like, and having M’Benga suddenly like, Oh my God, what if it’s her? Like having a little bit more around. The character’s existence would have upped it even more for me.
And if you end with this as the storyline of he’s done everything he can, but he can’t make it work and she’s going to go off and have this life, I’m okay with that as an ending, but I don’t feel like they. Filled this ending with enough emotional resonance to make it really feel like something. It just felt like, oh, for some reason they didn’t want to have the daughter in the buffer anymore and they’re getting her out of the show.
That’s the way it felt to me too. It felt like we got to get this kid out of here because there’s other stuff we want to do. So let’s just, okay, let’s just write her off in this episode. Let’s get rid of her. Yeah. So it’s, it did feel, it felt like they were rushing it for some other reason. Yeah.
And I will say when you have a bottle episode.
Bottle episodes very often, you know, you can tell it’s a bottle episode. We had that with Enterprise in particular, where it’d be like, Oh, they can’t get out of this corridor. And like, Oh, clearly trying to cut down on costs by like, Everybody get in the corridor. Nobody leave this corridor. There are bottle episodes, and then there are bottle episodes.
I think this does a good job of Masking the fact that it effectively is a bottle episode. The only special effects that you really have are around Shots when people look out the windows, like, oh yeah, there’s a huge,
there’s inconsistencies there. They’re near this
cloud. The fact that it changes color all the time and it’s never quite the same shape.
On the set, to save special effects money, some of the sets have, um, actual gigantic screens that are projected. Yeah. And like in the, I think it’s in the captain’s ready room or something like that. There’s like a star field moving and it was like literally the scene before there’s motionless in a nebula and then they go into this room and it looks like they’re in like impersonation drive kind of.
Right. It’s like, wait, what, what is going on here? It was like, cause that’s the only animation they had when they pushed the button or something. It’s right. It was a little weird.
Maybe it was supposed to be his screensaver.
But I think, I think for the most part with the, the changes to like the fantasy setting, meaning there were garlands everywhere and it made it, it did enough. I felt like, are they, they kind of make you forget that what they’re doing is probably. Building an episode around, like, nobody has to leave to go to another planet.
We don’t have to do any unseen stuff. We don’t need that many extra guest stars. We just have a woman at the end and this girl we’ve used before. So costumes became a big part of it. Like it hid the bottle episode nature of it in a way that I thought, like, you’ve put good thought into so many aspects of this.
And then for me, it just felt like it didn’t live up to even that. So it’s like you did all these amazing costumes and you got all these really good performances out of these people. I just wish it had hit a different note to actually resonate a little bit more. But as you’ve said, there’s a
good, I’m curious to see what, like, I know what’s coming in this series.
And there’s an episode that’s coming up that if anybody else who’s listening to us knows what episode I’m talking about, I’m not going to give anything away. There’s, it’s something like this where something happens to the entire ship, entire crew, and they have to do, they end up behaving in a very particular way.
And it creates a very unique episode that is, I know is very divisive. And I’m really curious to see. How you feel on that one. So there’s, it’s, it’s, this kind of thing is going to come up again in a discussion. So I’m really
curious. I’m also actively looking forward to beyond that certain episodes of the original series, where I think there are going to be some interesting conversations where we’re going to be like, how do we talk about this?
There are some, there are going to be some episodes and some bottle episodes of the original series where it’s really obvious that. Between seasons one and three, every time, every new season, the budget for Star Trek was cut in half. So, when they started, they were one of the most expensive shows being produced, and then they had half as much money the second season, and then half again as much the third season.
Which is why the third season is, well, they go to a planet where everybody looks like a Nazi, or they all look like Romans, or they all look like Native Americans. There’s going to be some episodes, like the Native American episode, they’re going to be wild to talk about because of, oh boy. D’Sunny Twelve.
Wild representation. So, but having said all of that, listeners or viewers, jump into the comments, let us know what you thought. Do you agree with Matt that this was an episode that reached just high enough to be able to be satisfying and watchable? Or do you agree with me that too many missed opportunities to make you feel like you’re watching something that really matters?
And do you agree or disagree with both of us that ultimately this story being the conclusion of M’Benga’s Story revolving around his daughter. Did it work for you? Did it seem like this was the right place for you? Or do you think that there was more that could have been done with all of that to, to really make.
An ending in their story resonate in a stronger way. Let us know in the comments. And if you want to jump into the comments, because comments do really help shows like this, but you can’t think of anything to say, you can just go down and just type in Boltzmann brain. Just drop that into the comments.
That’ll be a, that’ll be helpful to us. If you want to help us more directly, you can go to trekintime. show. And from there, you’ll be able to provide us with direct support when you support us directly, you’ll automatically be subscribed to our spinoff program, which is out of time, where we talk about things that don’t fit within the confines of this program.
You can also please review us wherever it was you found this, and if you subscribe and share us with your friends, all of those are great ways to support the channel before we sign off, just a quick reminder. If you’re interested in finding out more about my writing, you can go to seanferrell. com or you can just go wherever it is that you buy your books.
You can find my books pretty much everywhere, including your public library. And Matt, on your main channel, Undecided with Matt Ferrell, what do you have coming up that you want to remind the listeners or viewers about? Uh, there’s an
episode coming out the week I think of this episode’s coming out, uh, about China becoming, going from one of the biggest polluters in the world to potentially one of the largest renewable energy countries in the world.
So it’s, they’re kind of doing a 180 and kind of showing potentially all of us how it probably should be done. I thought it was a fun explore, uh, exploration of looking at. How China is evolving rapidly.
That sounds pretty remarkable. So next time, I hope you’ll all want to join us for the next episode, which is all those who wander and viewers, please feel free to jump in the comments and tell us what you think that episode is about.
Wrong answers only as always. We’re looking forward to talking about it and we’re looking forward to hearing from you about your thoughts and we’ll talk to you next time. Thanks so much everybody.