139: Star Trek Strange New Worlds Season 2, episode 8 “Under the Cloak of War”


Matt and Sean talk about Space MASH! No, actually they talk about Star Trek Strange New Worlds tackling with PTSD and the ramifications of war, honor, and how it changes you. How well does this one hold up?

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In this episode of Trek in Time, we’re going to talk about stolen honor and doing what others shouldn’t know about. That’s right. We’re talking about Star Trek, Strange New Worlds, Season Two, Episode Eight, Under the Cloak of War. Welcome everybody to Trek in Time, where we’re watching every episode of Star Trek in chronological order, according to Stardate.

We’re also taking a look at the world at the time of original broadcast. So currently we’re talking about Strange New Worlds, which means we’re talking about 2023, which doesn’t seem that long ago and raises the question of what is the point of a historically based Star Trek podcast if you’re only talking about last year?

Well, that will change very soon. We are only two episodes from closing out on Strange New Worlds for now. We will return to it when a new season drops. But for now, we are about to close the door on Strange New Worlds and we will be going back to the original series, which means we will be jumping back in time to the 1960s, which at that point, the entire idea of this program will suddenly become clear and you can all stop complaining.

And who are we? Well, I’m Sean Ferrell. I’m a writer. I write some sci fi. I write some stuff for kids, including my next upcoming book, which is a middle grade book entitled The Sinister Secrets of the Fabulous Nothings, which is the second in a middle grade adventure series featuring robots and, you know, Pirates and all sorts of fun goodness.

So I hope you’ll be interested in checking that out. And with me as always is my brother, Matt. He is that Matt behind Undecided with Matt Ferrell, which takes a look at emerging tech and its impact on our lives. And Matt, how are you today?

I’m doing well. And every time you start the show, welcome to Trek in Time.

In my head, all I can hear is Huey Lewis. Singing, back in time, but yeah, Trek in time. Every time. It was every time I’m struggling not to laugh.

We picked the title of this podcast because a lot of the things that we were interested in calling it were either taken or upon second thought were too obscure.

And then we landed on this one and right from the get go, I knew. Huey Lewis would be in both our minds. Before we start our conversation about this week’s episode, we always like to take a look at what you’ve been sharing with us in the mailbag. So, Matt, what did you find for us today? Okay.

This was a, this was a big episode.

This is the number one performing episode on YouTube for the show, Sean, by, by a huge margin. We got a lot of feedback. Yeah. And it was overwhelmingly positive about the last episode, which was 138, These Old Scientists, which was the Star Trek, Strange New Worlds, Lower Decks crossover. And there were a couple people like, uh, ValueOfNothing dropped a comment.

He wasn’t in love with this, but a lot of people were. So there’s a few that I wanted to kind of highlight. One from HappyFlappyFarm. In my opinion, Lower Decks is made for hardcore Trek fans who can allow fun to be made of our precious Star Trek. Just saying. Lower Decks is not for everyone. You need to know all Trek to get the show.

My husband wasn’t excited about this episode, but he appreciated the willingness of the writers to explore new territory for Trek. I like Lower Decks and was giddy during the viewing. No spoilers, but there is an episode coming up that my husband Hates. I think it’s fun and I’m excited to see what you guys and our friends in the comments think about it.

With a little laughing emoji. I have been saying, saying this to you, Sean, for a while now, so don’t try to strap yourself in because I have a feeling I know what your opinion is going to be about it. It’s


to be, it’s very divisive. Um,

there’s another comment from, uh, looking forward to it. That’s it.

You should be looking forward to it. So there’s another comment from Kathy Astrom, uh, 315 that wrote, by the way, I love this episode, even not knowing anything about Lord Dax. I got what they were doing here immediately. I do enjoy the comedic elements of strange new worlds, the storybook episode, the pirates and the upcoming episode nine stand out in my mind.

So I like, even she’s referencing it. Because the actors all handle that style just as well as they do the action and the drama. That said, my favorite moments here are the more personal ones. The Orion captain’s reaction to being called a scientist, as stated below, and Una’s reaction to her being the recruitment avatar for the future Starfleet.

I agree with that completely. It’s like, there’s this nice dynamic of, Touching moments that are very genuine with the comedic. It’s like there’s this nice balance back and forth. Yeah, agree. And then there was, um, Ryerson Fitzpatrick. I hope I said that right. Uh, he wrote, I’m still hoping that you’ll make the animated series episode by episode.

As you mentioned, it has some extraordinarily well written sci-fi, and took advantage of animated graphics to introduce ships, species and tech that couldn’t be achieved on live action TV shows. I wanted to bring that one up because. Part of the reason why I advocated for not doing them individually as episodes on, on the podcast is it’s going to take us 500 years just to get through all of Star Trek.

And if we also do the animated Star Trek, which to me personally, I don’t see as It’s going to be bad. Sean’s going to hate this. I don’t see it as canon. It’s like, kind of like adjacent. I kind of look at Lower Decks the same way. It’s Star Trek, but it’s kind of Star Trek adjacent. So to me, it feels like if we were going to do Lower Decks, we’d be doing Lower Decks combined with Next Generation episodes.

Like we’d do a Next Generation episode, and then at the end of the show, we’d spend 15 minutes talking about a Lower Decks episode. It feels like that’s more appropriate for this, where we’d be kind of integrating it into the original series because the kind of, they happen concurrently. So let’s kind of do them kind of concurrently and then we can reduce the time scale of the podcast to get through all of Star Trek.

I mean, is your opinion to change to that, Sean?

Yeah. Oh, my opinion has not changed because my opinion was always we should do them individually, but like I can’t believe it or not, even as the older brother, I can’t force Matt to do something he doesn’t want to do. So, uh, having said that, I’m, I’m like, I’m open.

I would like to visit them. I would like to visit them. Like one of the ways that I think we could visit them is if there were episodes that stood out as not being worth revisiting, we could just skip over them or like we could do things like that or maybe do the opposite. If we went through the animated series and picked a handful that we would visit individually and not revisit the entirety and talk about specific episodes, but then maybe talk about the animated series in general, the successes that it did have.

In general. Um, so there are things we could do in that, in that vein. And maybe that’s something for Matt and I to think about. And maybe that’s something for you, the viewers, to weigh in on. If you’re familiar with the animated series, are there, let’s say three or four episodes that you think, yes, in isolation, these should be looked at as if they are canon and we should visit them individually.

And. Maybe we build out the list that way by, by figuring out, um, which ones kind of stand alone and are worth our, our, our time. I know there’s one in particular for me that is one of my favorite Star Trek stories of all time, which is the story about Spock going back in time and revisiting himself when he’s young.

I think that one by itself is worth talking about in detail. Um, yeah, I’m not, there are some that are very clearly Saturday morning kids cartoons. Yes. There’s There are some that are just

like, oh boy, this is

like chewing on old Star Trek cloth that has been chewed before and is not being chewed well now.

Jump to the comments, let us know, are there specific episodes of the animated series you do think are like, yeah, take a look at those. And uh, maybe Matt and I will build out a list.

I’d also want to know for people who aren’t familiar with the, the animated show, are you interested in that? Are you interested in watching it along with us for the first time?

It’s like that, that’s another thing I’d be interested to hear about. Um, but the last comments I’m going to bring up are your shout out for the next episode of the title. You know, wrong answers only. What’s it about? We have one from PaleGhost69 that wrote Under the Cloak of War, a simple short story about the Cloak of Worf and what he hides under it, which turns out to be thousands of Tribbles soaked in prune juice.

When asked why, Worf just gives a single word in response. Snacks. To which J. C. Egbert responded, Warrior Snacks. That was

great. Warrior Snack. Warrior Snack. That noise you hear in the background, as always, is the read alert, which means it is time for Matt to give his best shot at reading the Wikipedia description.

Matt, take it away.

The Enterprise hosts Ambassador Dak’Rah, a Klingon general who defected to the Federation and is said to have killed his own officers when he learned that they had ordered attacks on civilians while fighting on the moon of J’Gal. Veterans of the Federation Klingon War, including Ortegas, M’Benga, and Chappell, are uncomfortable with his presence.

Mbenga and Chappell served on a field hospital on J’Gal and witnessed the brutality of the Klingon forces under Dak’Rah’s command. Dak’Rah invites M’Benga to join his campaign for peace, citing the symbolic power of a partnership between the two men who were on opposing sides at J’Gal, and offers to help M’Benga find healing from the trauma he experienced.

M’Benga rejects Dak’Rah’s offer and eventually reveals that he knows it was Dak’Rah who ordered the attacks on civilians. It was M’Benga who killed the Klingon officers, whose deaths Dak’Rah is taking credit for. A fight breaks out and M’Benga kills Dak’Rah with the same dagger with which he killed his officers.

M’Benga tells Pike that he did not intend to kill Dak’Rah, but he does not regret it.

This episode under the Cloak of War, episode eight of Season Two, directed by Jeff W. Bird written by Davey Perez, originally broadcast on July 27th, 2023. As always, we have our usual cast, Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, Christina Chong, Melissa Navia, Rebecca Romijn, Jess Bush, Celia Rose Gooding, and Babs Olusanmokun, with a special tip of the hat to both Jess Bush and Babs Olusanmokun for their, uh, strong performances in this episode.

Guest stars were Robert Wisdom doing a terrific job as Ambassador Dak’Rah, and Clint Howard, Back in Star Trek as Commander Buck Martinez. I want to start our conversation talking about him, but we’ll get to that in a minute. What was the world like on July 27th, 2023? Well, Matt was still dancing along to Morgan Whelan’s Last Night.

We all know that. And at the movies, we were all lining up to see Barbie, yet again, which earned a cool 93 million, which seems like maybe not that much, but when you compare it to the 162 million it made in its first week, well, it seems like a bit more. And on television, streaming programs compared to Strange New Worlds, we’ve gone through Suits, Bluey, NCIS, Grey’s Anatomy, Cocomelon.

The Big Bang Theory and Gilmore Girls, and now a return of an old favorite, which is Friends, which had 243 episodes, earning 25 billion minutes viewed. And in the news on this day, there were articles in the New York Times about Judge questioning the trial that was being brought to bear against Hunter Biden, questioning the details around the plea deal that had been put together.

There was also an article about Governor Abbott of Texas, his border policies, putting, The state power argument into the spotlight and former New York City mayor, Mayor Giuliani conceded that he’d made false statements about Georgia election workers. This is, of course, still an ongoing investigation and trial in Georgia into election interference by Giuliani, Trump, and other partners.

So now on to our discussion about the episode. I want to start off with just, I had a very happy response to seeing Clint Howard appear on my television screen as the doctor in charge of the medical station on J’Gal, and This was one of the few times when I was watching this episode that my partner was in the room with me and she looked up and she went, is that Clint Howard?

And I said, it is. And she said, is he always on the show? I’m like, no, but he was in one of the very first episodes of Star Trek. So what a lovely, uh, way to bring him back. I was, I was very happy to see his face. So, Matt, this episode has, I felt like it was a bunch of different messages, all of which I thought were really compelling.

It wrestled with them all well. There was one thing in particular that I wanted to talk about first, which is this episode has a moment where it literally out loud and quietly. defines what Starfleet is. And I wanted to talk about that for a moment. There is the loud part, where it is M’Benga talking with a patient who has been saved as the result of a open chest heart massage done by Chapell while M’Benga is working to save the man’s life.

And the man is recovering. And thanks to the advanced medicine of the show, despite the he has just recently had this open heart. open chest heart massage. Uh, his recovery goes quickly and he is up and walking about and is complaining about what are we doing here? What is this war about? What are we fighting for?

It looks like the entire time we are on J’Gal, it looks like a place that nobody would want to be. It looks like a hard black rock, constant firing in the distance, explosions, nothing is ever shown of having inherent value on this this rock. But it is, of course, believed that this is of strategic importance, that M’Benga makes the argument that if we give up here Because this is not important to us, it doesn’t stop here.

It continues to come back and it comes back home. And so we are here doing the hard thing so that nobody at home has to do the hard thing. That is Starfleet. He says that as the definition. And It seems to me that M’Benga and Chappell are both exhibiting that as a, throughout the episode. They’re doing these impossible things and it’s clearly impacting them.

I really like the introduction of Chappell to this environment as the rookie. It reminded me of M. A. S. H. The stepping into the grinder.

And it’s funny that you mentioned that because my first note, Sean, that I wrote down was space mash.

Yeah, it’s, it is very mash. It feels like, and when I say it feels like MASH, it feels like the movie.

It doesn’t feel like this isn’t sitcom y. Correct. This is the movie. This is people in, uh, blood and guts up to their hips and they are just looking for any way to take a break. to catch their breath. You see the introduction of Chapel. She walks in thinking, I’m going to find the head nurse and report for duty.

And it’s notified she is the head nurse. She looks over and says, who’s that? And it’s M’Benga. And we see his bare feet and realize he he’s apparently just passed out unconscious, possibly entirely nude. Yeah. And it’s just like, sleeping because of exhaustion that that can’t even be measured. He’s Hawkeye.

So there is, yeah, so there is this Starfleet is the group of people who go do the hard things so the people at home don’t have to. And then the quiet part for me is in the depictions of not the scenes that take place in the current timeline aboard the Enterprise. For me, the quiet part still takes place in the war setting.

But it’s the visuals that I’ve really, really appreciated how the director managed the visuals of this episode with background characters preparing for combat who were Andorian, Vulcan, a mixture of different species. I feel like the show, this particular episode, did a very good job and it was reminiscent of something that happened a few episodes ago when we had the scene where Uhura introduces Kirk to Spock.

And then the camera doesn’t linger on them. It pulls away from them and highlights the idea that they are not the focus. They are not Starfleet. The entire room is Starfleet and it’s filled with all these different species from across the galaxy working together toward a common goal. And it has this very warming experience.

This is very similar to that in my mind. You see these people preparing for combat and you see an Andorian in command. And he is asking for the sacrifice of all these different humans, several Vulcans, all under his command. And they’re all preparing to go do this hard thing. And that Andorian made previously an impassioned plea for my men need an edge.

We need an edge to M’Benga. And he knows that M’Benga has, what do they call it? Protocol 12, which is the soldier, super soldier serum that we’ve seen in action before. So to me, the message of the loud and the quiet part about what Starfleet is is both the, we do the hard things that nobody else has to, and then the quiet part is we do it together.

So I thought it was a very nice pairing of vocal and visual messaging that really created a very powerful impacting episode for me. The two eras that are being shown, the current timeline of aboard the Enterprise and then the combat era during the Klingon war, I thought that the Klingon war It was more effective storytelling wise.

It was, it was, I found the current stuff not pointless, but just a little thinner, a little more on the nose with what was being done. There was more deftness I felt in the combat section. And I really like the messaging around what Starfleet is. I wonder how did this episode speak to you in those two parts, um, both from the loud part and the quiet part and from the two timelines?

How did you find the balance of all of these things working together?

I was actually gonna say I disagree with you on the current timeline stuff. I found that stuff just as effective, but it wasn’t, in my opinion, meant to resonate as strongly as the flashbacks because the flashbacks, of course, are the loud part.

It’s gonna kind of dominate. The current timeline was kind of like the echoes of what we were seeing. In the loud part, so it’s like that reverberation into current time and we’re seeing how that reverberation has happened. So to me, it was like, it was necessary to have that. And I thought they did it pretty well.

Um, for me, the, the, the quiet statement of Star Trek and the loud statement of like Starfleet and Star Trek, it was one of the reasons I love this episode. Um, when I wrote Space Mash. That was not me being like kind of deriding it or putting it down. No, it’s not. It’s not a flip comparison. It’s actually a compliment because what you’re, it’s, it’s a genius way to do this where you can show the horrors of war without being on the front line shooting guns.

You just see, it’s like a, it’s like a horror movie where you don’t see the monster. For the majority of the movie, but you are terrified because your imagination is filling in the gaps. So you’re seeing these people get beamed in that are just decimated. It’s like, Oh my God, what did they go through? It must be horrible.

And all you’re seeing in the background is explosions. So without actually showing us the violence, we understand the violence. And then when we’re seeing the reaction of people like Chappell and M’Benga, And one of the things I loved about the way they did this was M’Benga’s been there for a while and he’s kind of that grizzled veteran who’s kind of numb to what’s happening and Chapell is still very raw.

So you’re kind of seeing what’s going to happen over the course of time, like Chapel will end up becoming raw. So she’s kind of like seeing her future in M’Benga and all of that kind of stuff with here Starfleet, we’re meant to be explorers and that, that very on the nose conversation with that young man.

Where he, he, M’Benga asked him, why did you join Starfleet? To be explorer. He comes out and says it. That’s what Starfleet is. What are we doing here? But his impassioned speech about we do things here, you know, to protect what’s back home. That’s the thing that’s always said about every war for every person that served in that war.

That’s always the mantra. And so then that creates this ethical kind of like conundrum of like. How are you supposed to be an explorer, but you have to do this, these horrible things? And how does it change you? And M’Benga’s, the whole thing about Starfleet is like, you’re supposed to do the right thing.

You’re supposed to have ethics, even in the greatest adversity that you’re in, you’re supposed to make the right choices. And when he refuses to make that serum for the guy, because M’Benga it comes out, invented this stuff. And he says, you know, like this will basically shorten your life. And the guys.

response to him is, I’d rather, you know, survive today, Yeah. do that. It was a great, brief ethical kind of back and forth, where M’Benga’s standing by his guns, of like, I, I’m doin the right thing. This stuff is a shortcut. And it’s not a good shortcut. We should not be doing this. This is, there’s problems and ethical issues as a doc, and basically as a doctor, he’s like, I can’t do give you something that’s going to make your life worse in the long run.

I can’t stand by that. So it’s interesting to see him struggling with that as well as how the triage system works with that poor guy that they couldn’t help because they didn’t have the, um, the organ regenerator. Yeah. They put him in the buffer. And then it’s like later they have to eject the buffer and he reaches over and he helps Chapel by doing it instead of her.

He kind of purges the buffer because they have to get rid of him. Um, all of those things I thought did a wonderful job of just showing this constant tension between what Starfleet is meant to be and what they’re being forced to do and the ramifications of how it will. forever change you as a person having to do these things.

Yeah. M’Benga is struggling with that, the whole thing with the flashback back and forth and all that kind of stuff. I loved the ethical drama of how do you get back to who you were in the beginning? Is that even possible? Or are you changed forever? That whole theme was fantastic. I just liked how it was all played out.

Yeah. It’s not the first time that Star Trek has wrestled with, with these dilemmas. Um, and it’s not the first time that the show has been produced at a time when that dilemma is writ large in our culture. Star Trek, of course, originated in the late sixties, early seventies and Vietnam. was going on at the time.

During the 80s, when we had the first Iraq war was on the horizon, uh, there were questions at that point about how do we treat our veterans and the mainly veterans of Vietnam? How are they treated? And there’s that Star Trek Next Generation episode where they find a planet that has effectively imprisoned all of their veterans.

Because the war is over and all these men and women were physically altered to be better soldiers, but now we don’t know how to reintegrate them into society. So we haven’t even tried. We’ve just locked them up. Um, because that’s the kinder thing to do. And that’s, it’s an episode entirely focused on PTSD, similar to this.

Um, there is in, Deep Space Nine, the episodes that revolve around the Dominion War, and you see Quark’s nephew, who has enlisted in Starfleet, is serving in combat and serves alongside, um, Worf. And there are episodes where the two of them are back at the station, and nobody at the station can understand what it is that’s causing the dilemma for them of reintegrating into society.

So this is a recurring theme in our culture in our, in our lived experience. And I think it’s nicely depicted here in this episode in particular, and in those other episodes that I just mentioned. So I think it’s a, I agree with you entirely that the ethical dilemmas, no easy solution is presented at any moment.

There is nothing from the beginning to end, the idea of chapel shows up and still has the optimism of, we should help these people. And that drives the let’s use the pattern buffer step. And then later when they have to purge the buffer and she said, what did we just do? And he says, we saved lives.

There’s no wrong answer. That is what triage does. You are supposed to, in that moment, make the difficult call of given enough time and resources, we could save this person, but we have five more people right behind them. And if we spend our time doing this, we won’t be able to help five. So, the lives of the many outweighs the one.

So we end up with, again and again in this episode, ethical dilemmas right up to the end. Um, to get to that point of discussing the end of the episode, let’s talk about the concepts of Stolen Honor by Dak’Rah. For the ethical dilemma here, the question that is raised and is discussed directly by Pike and M’Benga toward the end of the episode, and I really like the discussion, when do you give?

The, the brass ring of forgiveness to somebody if justice has not been served, what is justice for? Who is it for? Who gets to make that decision? That is a merry go round of heavy truths that this episode is looking at, and not any one of them is answered. And I found myself really chewing on the episode to the point where I thought I’m going to rewatch this episode probably very soon.

I really thought it was handling these ethical dilemmas with such a deft touch. What did you think about Dak’Rah as a character? The pursuit that he was on. And again, I mentioned this before, I think he was brilliantly played by, by guest actor, Robert Wisdom, um, who is a character actor that has been in a number of TV shows.

And I, and I’m a fan of the show Supernatural and there’s a podcast for that show that I listened to. And he was a guest on there just a few weeks ago. So as I was watching this and heard his voice, my immediate response is like, Oh my God, is that who I think it is? Um, so much gravitas and presenting himself.

So there’s a moment where people in the room with him are like, he is doing nothing but trying to shine a light on himself as such a good guy. And it is, there is a moment where it, it begins to be repugnant. You start to really, really, I did anyway, respond to that character with a real kind of stomach twist.

And you want to see like, this isn’t real. Where’s the real Klingon in this? And it starts to come out in the hand to hand combat scene. So my question to you, Matt, is Where did you land on the questions that are asked at the end of the episode about who gets to call for justice? Who gets to decide if enough has been done to deserve forgiveness?

Where did you, like, I don’t mean on the issue itself, but in the episode. Yes. Did you think, is a, is a Klingon who has lied about what happened, but then has worked as hard as this Klingon arguably has, and they keep saying like, he has done legitimate things? To improve peace. Does that outweigh the Bad Axe?

And I will also point out there was an interesting bit of makeup on him. I don’t think that Robert Wisdom’s mustache naturally is colored the way it was in this episode. There was a kind of Hitler ish centerpiece. I

was gonna, I was gonna bring up that there’s echoes in here about like after World War II, how we brought German scientists over to work for us from the rocket program and things like that.

These were people that actively were working to exterminate Jews. And it’s like, and we’re like, that’s okay. Cause now you’re going to help us with our rockets and you’re going to help us with this technology.

Yeah. Cause now you’re going to help us fight the commies.

Right. So there is, I’m not going to weigh in on what I think about that, but it’s along the lines of, it’s such a quagmire that you, the arguments from kind of the both sides of it of like, that’s a good thing or that’s a bad thing.

I think they both have a lot of validity to both sides. Um, there’s an argument to be made of the ends kind of justify the means. It’s like, okay, this guy is a killer. He is an outright killer, ordering the slaughter of all the humans on that, that planet, women, children, everybody, didn’t matter if they were actual, uh, military people or not.

He should be punished for that, but at the same time, he has done incredibly good things. post the war to try to end the war and try to make up for that. And so for me at the end, this is the second time I’ve seen this episode. My opinion of him was very different from you the second viewing. First time I found him incredibly repugnant.

This time I didn’t. This time I sympathized with him. This time I saw him as a pathetic Sad man that is so riddled with regret for what he did in the war. He’s doing everything he can to make up for that because it’s going to make him feel better. It’s still a selfish motivation for him. But It’s more sympathetic because he recognizes what he did was horrible and he doesn’t want to be viewed as this horrible monster and he wants to be, to do something to make up for that because he wants to be remembered in a better light.

So it’s like, I can completely understand that and sympathize with it. But it does raise some of the best storytelling, it doesn’t matter what science fiction or not, is ones where it’s like, it’s raising these ethical dilemmas and it doesn’t give you a clear answer. And this episode does not give you a clear answer.

Um, we can get into it more, but it’s like the way, like the scene where he and M’Benga are fighting. I thought it was wonderful of like how the Klingon looked like he had the upper hand most of the fight, most of the fight. And then at the end M’Benga just like let loose and totally kind of owned the guy and would have taken him down, um, kind of put him in his place.

Um, and at the end of the episode, it’s one of those, did M’Benga just outright murder him or? Was it an accident in the throes of things? We can get into that more if you want to, but it’s, it’s the, the fact that the show and the writers left these open ended questions, it’s not only leaving this ethical dilemma around, Uh, The Klingon General, it’s leaving ethical dilemmas about M’Benga, which I found fascinating.

That’s going to echo for that character for the rest of the time we see him. He’s my favorite character and it’s like this episode leaves this cloud of, oh my god, did he just outright murder, dude. And, and is that okay? It’s like, maybe that guy deserved to die and needed justice, but why would it be up to him to make that decision?

That’s not, that’s not how justice is supposed to work. Um, and that’s definitely not Starfleet. You know what I mean? So for me, I loved How they kind of bore that Klingon character out and how they showed, um, him in one, like, as you said, you had that repugnant aspect towards him. And for me, the second viewing, I had more sympathy for him.

Um, not that I wanted to see him live or not, or not get away with it. Um, it was just a, I thought, I thought he was a very well rounded character and very well portrayed, very well written. Um, but you can totally understand why Ortegas and everybody else finds him just completely disgusting because they know what he did and they can never forgive that.

And, uh, again, so well written, deftly handled. I’m just, I keep saying this, I love this episode.

Yeah. The, I agree with you completely. The, um, not only the ethical dilemma arguments, but the depiction of an antagonist always Resonates the most when the antagonist has very good reasons for believing the right and this is that writ large.

This is a excellent, excellent example of you don’t have to like this character to understand that from his perspective, I am doing everything I possibly can. to earn redemption. He thinks he has done enough. He thinks he has learned important lessons that he has the audacity to say to veterans on the other side, let me help you.

Let me teach you so you can come to peace. And that’s, that’s a lot of chutzpah. That’s like, that’s a step too far. And then Pike putting to, putting voice to the question of who gets to make that call about justice. Who does that? M’Benga in this certainly appears to have done it, but as it is shown and as you point out, it is unclear.

Did M’Benga take an opportunity or did something literally happen in the struggle that the knife was pulled out and

I have a picture you could paint that leaves everybody looking better, which is Klingons as we know from Next Generation, that whole live with honor, die with honor. All that kind of stuff.

The fact that he had been lying and taking credit for this stuff. is going to disgrace him even further in the eyes of Klingons. So you could see an argument for he would want to die with honor. So when he saw the knife that M’Benga had opened up, he took the opportunity to try to basically fight, knowing that he was going to probably die to him, M’Benga was probably going to kill him, knowing this, he did it deliberately so that he could die with honor, protect his history.

And then M’Benga kind of gets the best of both worlds. The guy got justice. But he’ll keep it quiet as to the actual truth because the things he did were good. So let’s not, he can have his cake and eat it too. The guy got justice, he’s dead, but all the benefits he brought post war can still stand. So it’s like, you can see that is kind of what might have happened, but the fact that the way it was portrayed is kind of like, did it happen that way?

Or did M’Benga just take that knife out and just go at the guy?

Yeah. I really liked too, the M’Benga’s Scene in which he questions like, who amongst you did you really kill all your own men? Who fought the hardest, who was

the hardest to kill ?

And he knows the answer. He knows the answer. And yeah. Um, I love the twist of all of that.

It was so, it was so strong. And the. You mentioned the ends justifying the means that is depicted in the present day, it’s also depicted in the, the flashback sequences, because that’s what M’Benga goes through when he decides that he will go across enemy lines and, and take the fight directly to the general’s officers because he had made all the logical arguments of this stuff is not.

This is, this stuff is not the way, and then he uses it because it is the way in that moment. And it’s all, so much of this episode rests on context is key. And context is personal and it kind of highlights the gap that each of us is in, in judging anybody around us. And we do it in small ways all the time.

Oh, why is that person wearing that jacket? It’s a stupid color and it looks awful on them. That’s not going to harm anybody if I think bad about somebody. But you give a big enough ethical dilemma and that judgment starts to become problematic. And it goes back to the kind of courtroom drama episode that we had Ad Aspera Per Aspera, which is judging another for something that is beyond your ability to conceive of its entirety.

Um, the unfairness of that, and that was done in a courtroom drama. And here we have it in the war drama. And it is. So nicely handled and is so nicely not answered. And I absolutely loved the closing conversation between Pike and M’Benga where they don’t resolve anything, but do manage to say to each other, you and I will still remain friends.

They both kind of say that to the other. We can remain friends even though we will not agree on this. With M’Benga’s closing line of, I didn’t start the fight, but I’m not glad it happened. I’m not unhappy it happened. The opportunity for justice to occur in the way it did, as harsh as it is, um, left a real strong resonance to the episode.

I mean, to me, that’s part of the reason why I personally read it that way. Cause it’s like, it looks like M’Benga was setting the stage to allow that fight to happen, even though he wasn’t going to start it. So the fact he opened that thing, he pulled the knife out. He, he like set the stage to basically let this guy lose his crap at him.

And the two of them can go at it. He wanted the fight, but he wasn’t going to instigate it. Uh, but he’s still kind of guilty. Cause he kind of. Drop all the breadcrumbs out there for the guy to go after him. So he drops

all the breadcrumbs, but he also does the very, the lovely moment where he puts his hands together and he says, I am begging you to leave me alone.

Yes. He’s not standing next to the knife when he says that he is standing away from the knife. I am begging you to leave me alone. And if the Klingon turned and walked out of the room, exactly, it would have been the end of it. Like there is just like the tension of that moment, the tension of the end of that episode, I thought was fantastic.

Yeah. So I was going to say, you have the sneaky path. of having the blu rays. So you have the opportunity to say, like, I know stuff that you don’t know. So what do you know that we don’t know?

Well, it’s not that stuff I know that you don’t know. It’s more of a, sometimes when there’s scenes that are cut out of a show or a movie and you see them, you’re like, Oh, I get why those were cut.

Cause like it slowed things down. The pacing may have been off. It wasn’t necessary, but there were some scenes that were cut out of this episode that I thought should have been left in. And one of them was. That dinner scene where Ortegas loses her crap, calls the general out, and then storms out of the room.

And then you have Chappell taking it, taking the opportunity of like, oh, this is my way out. I’m going to go check on her. And then leaves. And then M’Benga is starting to lose his crap and Pike notices and leans over and goes, Hey, why don’t you go check out those two guys? I love that Pike picked up on that and was like, you need to get out of here and gave him an out.

Um, the scene was right after that and it was in the bar and you have, uh, Chapel and Ortegas there with drinks already. And then M’Benga comes walking in and he kind of looks at them with a stressed look on his face and lets out kind of a stressed laugh and goes, Ortegas, I have to thank you for giving me a way out of there.

And they all start to laugh about that. And then it gets very somber very quickly. And he pours himself a drink and it’s not just a little drink. He like pours a huge, what looks like a huge whiskey and Chapel and Ortegas kind of look at it and go, Oh my God. Cause like he was really doing it. And they kind of all kind of cheers in this very somber cheer.

And it’s. It was very poignant. And I thought, why the hell did they cut that? That was a great little scene that really kind of like drove it home. And it was like, it wasn’t over the top. It wasn’t too on the nose. It was just a really nice, these three people that are all veterans kind of bonding. And there was another scene that was, um, I dunno if you picked up ’cause it was, they kind of cut it down, but like the, uh, the Med Bay thing that, uh, the doctor was constantly repairing.

Mm-Hmm. in the episode. That was more of a story than what ended up in the final episode. ’cause there were some scenes that were cut of him working on the Med Bay and it was clearly some of the writer had a through line of the, the Med Bay that he was repairing was a metaphor for him of like, can you fix something that is so thoroughly broken, like this med bay keeps breaking and he keeps fixing it, and he has to tear it all apart to fix it, then it works for a little while then it breaks again, and at the end of the episode he’s basically saying, sometimes you just can’t fix anything and you have to replace it. And it’s a very like, heartbreaking thing, and some of the scenes they cut were him working on the medbay and the captain coming in and talking to him.

And so it was like they were making it more of a thing. And I thought the way that they cut it back was probably for pacing, but it undercut that metaphor. Um, so it didn’t come as cross as clearly as it could have if they had left those scenes in. So for me, I was, again, kind of disappointed they cut those scenes out.

Yeah. Those, those sound like they would flesh it out in a way that would make it almost more movie like. Yeah. Yeah. Which, yes, I’m all for, like, I’m all for in a streaming environment where, what is time concern? Yeah. I have myself thinking like,

why not make an

episode that’s an hour plus instead of 48 minutes?

It’s like, I’m, I’m on board with that. Um, I also wanted to say really quickly, I really liked that Ortegas had such a strong perspective on, on what was going on as well. And it is a nice. Uh, balance, because We’re seeing the on the ground stuff, but she was a pilot. And so she would have been at a distance for a lot of the war.

Her, her activity during the war was in the form of, uh, piloting ships in battle. And. Nice mention in the previous episode when we have Boimler show up and he walks onto the bridge for the first time and turns and looks at her and realizes who it is and he’s like, you’re a war hero. And just like, she’s like, okay.

And in that moment, it’s not a spoiler. She’s not a war hero from a future experience. She’s a war hero from the past. And, um, having her be the sort of firebrand. in the moment. I thought it was nice because it gave, it highlighted the one who can feel the tension and anger most on their sleeve is somebody maybe with the distance who had the ability to feel that anger and not have it shut them down in tragic circumstances.

Nurse Chapel and M’Benga, neither of them could let themselves feel because it would have shut them down in the circumstances where they needed to be able to act. So Ortegas hasn’t had to bury these things as deeply. I thought that that was a very nice demonstration of like the sedimentary layers of repression.

She’s closer to the surface because she didn’t have to push it down too far to begin with. She’s able to see this guy show up and be like, I’ve got a problem with this. Right off the bat, she’s not even out of control about it. She’s just, I’ve got reasons. They’re all good. And here they are. Blank, blank, blank, blank.

He happens to walk in behind her. She’s not apologetic. And when she gets called out for it, she stands at attention. She’s clearly being respectful of her commanding officers, but it’s a moment where it’s like, I’m not gonna. I’m not going to apologize for having very good and clear reasons for not liking this guy.

And I thought it was a terrific balance to the repression and hard to read surface responses from M’Benga and Chappell. Chappell’s response to all of this is to look, you can see she’s shutting down emotionally. The acting job there is terrific to the point where she bruises her relationship with Spock.

Because he is trying so hard to be helpful and she’s like, you’re just stepping all over it, but M’Benga is having anxiety attacks. He’s clutching his chest. He is looking like if you put coal in his mouth, diamonds would spit out and there is the levels of repression that are demonstrated in the acting of these three characters, especially in comparison to Pike sat out the war because they kept the Enterprise at a distance.

And Spock was not involved. And his response to all of this is, I’ve looked at it and statistically dot, dot, dot. And she shuts that down. She’s like, these aren’t statistics. This is not like none of what you’re about to say is going to be helpful. So. The kind of emotional, I wish I could have helped, but I wasn’t there, from Pike.

The logical, I’ve looked at the numbers, I understand the context, I understand the evaluation of all of this. That’s not helpful. It’s about lived experience, and we see it in the spectrum from Ortegas to M’Benga. And I thought that that was a very fair depiction of the entire thing. Me too. So let us know everybody who’s watching or listening along, what did you think about this one?

Jump into the comments and let us know, is there something about this that you think we skipped over that we should have revisited? We’d love to hear from you. And don’t forget, we’re going to be talking about season two, episode nine, Subspace Rhapsody next week. Jump into the comments, wrong answers only.

What do you think that episode is going to be about? Just based on the title. I think I know. And Matt, you’re not wrong about what my response to that will probably be. Before we sign off, Matt, is there anything you want to share about, uh, episodes you have coming up on your main channel?

Get your abacuses out because my next episode, Sean, is all about analog computers and how they’re making a comeback.

That’s right. Um, and why they’re making a comeback. It’s really interesting. Uh, so just check that one out.

I’m looking forward to that. I am a pretty big nerd that lives inside of me. That loves the idea of analog computers and what if they come back in a big way? So I’m looking forward to that. As for me, please check out my website, seanferrell.

com, or just go to wherever it is you buy your books or borrow them. If you borrow them from your local library, you can ask for my books anywhere books are sold or loaned and they’re available everywhere. If you’d like to support the show, please do consider leaving a review. Don’t forget to subscribe and please share it with your friends.

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We appreciate your support so very much. And Michelle, if you didn’t know this already, buckle up because you’re now an Ensign. That’s right. You’re automatically subscribed to our spinoff show, Out of Time, in which we talk about things that don’t fit within the confines of this program. We are about to record our episode for this month.

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