Matt and Sean talk about boldly going into new territory for Star Trek. Discovery finally sets up the new characters and mystery box for the coming season. Does it hold up?
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We’ve leap forward to 2017, which is when discovery was being aired. So we’re talking about what was going on in the world at that time, and who are we? Well, I’m Sean Ferrell. I’m a writer. I write some stuff for kids. I write some sci-fi. In fact, I have a book coming up in June, which will be released, which is the Sinister Secrets of Singe, which is a middle grade adventure.
And with me is my brother Matt. He’s that Matt, who’s the guru and inquisitor behind the YouTube channel, undecided with Matt Ferrell, which takes a look at emerging tech and its impact on our lives. We appreciate you taking the time to jump into the conversation with us, and we invite you to remember that there are ways to support us, which include leaving comments, subscribing, sharing those with your friends.
You can go to Trek in Time dot show. Click the join button. The support button there allows you to not only throw some coins at our head, which we appreciate the welts, but it also immediately signs you up to be an ensen, which gives you access to our spinoff. Show out of time, and what do you get without of time?
Well, on a roughly monthly basis, Matt and I get together and talk about other things than star Trek, believe it or not. We watch a lot of different things. We watch some sci-fi, some tv, some horror, some fantasy, and if you sign up and support us in that way, you become a subscriber to out of time. And just a little bit, after recording this episode, we are gonna be talking to each other about some stuff like the last of us, and that will include both the video game and the TV show and some other fun stuff that we’re watching on other channels.
Matt, how are you doing today?
I’m doing very well. It’s a good
weekend. How about you? I’m doing well. It’s a lovely spring weekend here in New York City and I was happy to spend most of it outdoors yesterday and then at the end of the day realized, wow, Shauna’s exhausted. It has been a long time since Shawn has done anything that has been outdoorsy, so very pleasant.
Before we get into our conversation about episode three of season one of discovery context is for Kings, we’d like to share some comments from previous episodes. So Matt, what did you find in the comments for us today? Oh boy,
Sean. We started off with the brand new show, which has been pretty divisive and there’s been a pretty fun like comments coming in on both sides of, they like it, they hate it, they hate it, but they’re still enjoying going through it again, and you and I took very different points.
A view on like, I can’t stand the depiction of the new Klingons. Uh, the whole idea of how we have starships that are like crazy futuristic compared to what we just saw in enterprise, and it doesn’t fit in the timeline of what we know. Mm-hmm. You were more forgiving of that than I was and I thought it was really funny.
Not to say you were wrong, Sean, but uh, the comments kind of fall more in the camp over than me of like, this didn’t make sense, but. But there were comments on both sides of this that I thought were interesting in kinda a run through. And the first one, which I just have to share this cuz AJ Chan I, I love this one.
After Wikipedia gave us the Enterprise Registry of NX oh one for 98 episodes, I feel lost because Wiki didn’t give us the registry of either the discovery or the Shenzhou.
It’s true. It seems like Wiki Wikipedia’s entries for enterprise were written by a wildly different group of people. Yes. From the entries written for discovery.
But there were comments like from Jason Dumb where he said, I was so excited for the debut of, uh, discovery, but was very disappointed with the execution. But I am looking forward to the conversation Scooter saying I was very excited to be getting more Trek and so I really enjoyed the updated visuals and ships that felt like the plot was very thin.
And I’m not the biggest fan of the remake of Klingon and Burnham’s Logic for me was shaky at best. All that said, I still watched and was giddy for getting Trek again. I loved Yo and Georgiou and one, a series of her and the Shenzhou. Happy that you guys are here and I’m finally caught up. So welcome Scooter.
But there was a lot of comments along those lines. And then on the flip side, there was one from Technophile, one who said, sorry, Matt gonna have to take the opposite position on the Klingon. When I first watched Discovery, I saw it as a re-imagining, which is like what you said, Sean, rather than trying to fit into the existing timeline.
With that in mind, I liked the new look and the sound of Klingons and Discovery. It made them feel more alien. And the speech patterns, I guess, did seem a bit slow, but I kind of liked how they emphasized the pronunciation a bit more. And in contrast, the people speaking Klingon, the older movies or TV shows felt like actors reading a foreign language with their own bias on how to pronounce the language rather than how a native speaker would.
So I thought that was a in your camp comment, so I wanted to make sure I called that out, that it wasn’t just people saying Matt was right, even though. More people said Matt was Right.
Well, having said that, I appreciate all the comments and, and Matt and I don’t approach any of this with the expectation that he or I are right or wrong, but that all of it is my, my view of consumption of shows and movies and books and comics and all this stuff is, and I, and I say this as a creator myself, when I’m writing something, I view myself as only carrying half the weight.
The consumer of that product is consuming, is responsible for the other half. So if I’m writing something and they’re reading it, they’re doing as much work in it as I am. And yeah. So I feel like our conversations are, for me, planted in similar terrain of. If something is or is not working, it is going to come out in the conversation.
But that doesn’t mean a victory or a defeat for either of us in the camp. And the fact that the Klingons in this one, like we talked about last week, something about it hit me in a way that didn’t hit Matt. Mm-hmm. That’s not a problem from my perspective, and I appreciate all the commenters who are saying they wanted it to be more of the, the original Trek vein or they wanted, and by original Trek, I don’t just mean the original series.
I mean, going through Next Generation, we’ve, we are so familiar with Klingons that to see something that doesn’t look like Warf is jarring. There is that aspect to it to say like, what, how did this get to my screen? And I think that we’re gonna have more opportunities, especially as we talk about today’s episode when I talked at the top of the episode about chutzpah.
We’ll get into the definition of that in a bit. And it does sit with basically the Klingon issue. It’s similar to that. But as for that sound you’re hearing in the background, that of course is the read alert, which can mean only one thing. Matt, it’s time for you to jump in and try and tackle the Wikipedia description.
And as we mentioned before, the Wikipedia descriptions for discovery have a different flavor and a different spin. So I’m kind of cobbling together some different things to make the Wikipedia description a little more informative, maybe not as reliant on plot summary as we’re used to from enterprise.
So Matt, why don’t you take it away?
All right, so Context is for Kings is the third episode of the American television series, star Trek Discovery, which is set roughly a decade before the events of the original star Trek series and explores the war between the Federation and the Klingons. The episode was written by showrunners Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts and Craig Sweeney from a story by series co-creator Brian Fuller Berg and Habers
I can see that it was directed by producer Akiva Goldsman Sonequa Martin-Green Stars as Michael Burnham, the first Starfleet Mutineer who began the war series, regulars Doug Jones, Anthony Rap, Mary Wiseman and Jason Isaacs also appear in the episode and the series. Writers consider this episode to be the show’s equivalent of a pilot, introducing the majority of its main cast, the titular star, Starship discovery, and the beginning of the season.
Long story. The episode reused the series Starship sets for both the Discovery and its sister ship. Glenn Context is for Kings was released on CBS All Access on October 1st, 2017. The episode’s release was believed to have caused record subscriptions for all access and received mostly positive reviews from critics for the new status quo established.
After the prologue of the previous two episodes, the new cast editions were also praised, particularly Isaac’s.
That’s right, and a little footnote to the end of that, the record for subscriptions for cbs. All Access had peaked the previous week when the first two episodes were aired. But another thing that had peaked the episode, the prologue episodes as they are calling them, were among the most.
Downloaded stolen streams. So wow. Various torrents were rife with star Trek for the first time in a long while, as Matt just mentioned. Episode number three, season one, directed by Akiva Goldman, who is also producer, which is I think is an interesting fact story by Brian Fuller. And the original air date of October 1st, 2017 included guest appearances that included Rekha Sharma as C B R Ellen Landry, and we saw for the first time beyond Sonequa, Martin-Green, we saw regular players who are becoming, who are gonna be main characters in the show.
We did not see them in the previous two episodes. The air date of October 1st, 2017. What was going on? Well, Matt, you will remember this more than most of us, you were dancing along to Bodak Yellow by Cardi B. That was the number one stream for that week. This, of course, is her biggest. Hit at that point.
It’s basically considered her debut hit and launched her very successful career up to this point. And at the movies, Kingsman was still the number one movie in theaters. It was getting another 16 million to add to its previous 30 plus million the week before. And as we mentioned last time, Kingsman, the Golden Circle is a spy action comedy based on the comic book by Mark Malar and Dave Gibbons.
And amongst the competitors on television, we are of course talking about streaming television. So it is impossible to really say, well, what was the schedule like when you’re talking about streaming? So we’re gonna be talking about what were the competing shows that were basically in an era of streaming, what does it mean to be successful?
Well, the Walking Dead was the second most successful. We learned last week that the number one was, of course, game of Thrones. Walking Dead was getting an average of 11.2 million. Streams per episode, and that’s in its seventh year. And in the news, things that were going on around October 1st, 2017 from the New York Times included the US admitted for the first time that the Trump administration was in direct contact with North Korea.
Those would be ongoing negotiations trying to calm issues on the peninsula as North Korea was in the process of testing, what they claimed were nuclear weapons and rocket launches. We were also just days away from the battering of Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria, which left behind a very devastated Puerto Rico.
In some ways, it is still in the process of recovering from that, and at the time, There was a lot of sparring between the mayor of Puerto Rico, a mayor in Puerto Rico, who was criticizing the Trump administration’s response. And of course, the Trump administration’s response at the time was sorely lacking in treating Puerto Rico as even a part of the United States.
Also, in the news were questions around, who is Carmen Yolan Cruz? She was the mayor that was getting into spars with Trump. Homeless advocates were looking at what was going on in Los Angeles and discovering that money was not enough of a solution to solve the problem. Monty Hall, the co-creator and host of Let’s Make a Deal, died at the age of 96 and in the N F L circles, people were praising Tony Romo as a play caller in Fox’s Sports Bureau because Tony Romo was demonstrating an incredible ability to protect what the next play would be if only he’d been able to do that as a player.
Oh, burn, roll, burn. Yeah.
I’m a longtime Buffalo Bills fan. I gotta, I gotta take the shots when I can against the Dallas Cowboys. Yeah, because we certainly can’t do it on the field. Oh, south Bills. Burn.
So here we are entering what I’m describing as a episode full of chutzpah. We are six months after the two prologue episodes. We are now six months into a federation, Klingon War, in the year 2256. And Michael Bur Burnham at this stage has already faced trial and is on route to a prison colony where she will be serving out her time.
She is unroot on a shuttle that is including three other prisoners and there’s a lot of. Very familiar. Uh, we’re in a prison transport chatter amongst the three other prisoners, but Burnham is staying incredibly silent. We are seeing Burnham at a stage where she is clearly, she does not care about her future.
She has shut down completely emotionally and looks not like she’s ex exercising. What we saw on the first two episodes, which looks like Vulcan Reserve, which would’ve been learned from years of having grown up on Vulcan and being raised by Sarek, but we’re seeing a woman who is just wallowing in depression at this stage.
Yeah. What did you think about the opening sequence here and the setup of her starting point in the actual storyline of the show? I’m gonna,
not to beat a dead horse, but like the last. Episode where I talked about how this doesn’t feel like star Trek because Star Trek’s this utopian ideal that we’re striving for, and all these people are like the best of us.
And here’s this woman that’s on a prison ship, and this is the main character to this show. So there’s an aspect of like, this is not star Trek I’m used to, but I loved this opening. I loved it because I loved how as everything’s happening, she’s just cold and calculated being like, like almost like a, well, this is not good.
Well, that stuff was on the outside. It’s gonna do this and this and this. And she’s like, well, the pilot’s going out there to fix it. Yeah, well if they can fix it in time. And then you see the body go by and it’s like the whole calculated,
not three, they’re free. The tether. Yeah. They’re freaking
out and trying to get loose, and she’s not even trying.
And it’s like, because she knows what’s happening and she can tell that there’s something happening outside, she knows that when the tractor ream hits, she’s like, it’s clear that she’s just. On. She knows everything that’s happening. She’s on top of it, but she just doesn’t seem to care because she’s so, like you said, she’s depressed and I thought this was a really good, really good opening to like kind of really, yeah.
Set the stage for the stakes and that the fact that she’s depressed and that she’s basically flogging herself and thinks she deserves this. So it’s, I thought it was a great setup. What about you?
Yeah, the, the chutzpah I’m talking about one of the, one of the moments of chutzpah on display is the fact that, as you mentioned, star Trek is supposed to be about a utopia and there was an unwritten rule in Roddenberry’s vision, which was Starfleet doesn’t go against Starfleet.
Like these are the best of us. We’ve never seen a star Trek that gave us a main character who was already demonstrably. We know she is what they claim she is, she is a mutineer. We know this so. We’re starting off with a mutineer, a traitor already who was trying to live to her ideals as opposed to living by the written rule around her, and we’ve never really seen that on display in this way.
We also start off with this group of people around her who without a whole lot of information, the writing and directing is really strong because you get the sense like these guys are kind of scumbags. Like, and
they’re, they’re bad people. Like it’s clear
they’re bad people. These three other people are just like, they probably aren’t the nicest people.
And we see that on display a little bit later after they get a board discovery. When one of them decides, I’m gonna, I’m gonna attack you. Like the time that they’re on the shuttle craft with this individual could arguably have attacked her without any sort of problem for himself, would’ve been on the shuttle craft.
The danger to the shuttle craft keeps him from doing that. Once he’s in safe terrain, he decides now is when I’m gonna like pick this fight. So yeah, this, we see her in the midst of an element where she is supposed to be, we’re supposed to feel empathy for the fact that she’s around dirt bags, but she doesn’t feel that empathy for herself.
She feels deserving of where she is. And I actually feel like there’s an element of, oh, maybe dying wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen to me today. When she’s talking about yes, what’s going on outside, yes. But the things that are on the outside of the ship, they’re gonna sap the energy until they’re just drifting dead in space.
There’s a part of her that’s kind of like, wouldn’t that be a nice ending to this terrible six month period of my life? Yeah. So we see the shuttle. Yeah.
The other thing I wanna know is, go ahead. The, the, to me, when they’re in the, the dining hall and the fight happens, that’s kind of an extension of that opening sequence to me, cuz it’s like it’s, once again, it’s kind of establishing who she is.
Like she is cold and calculated from that first scene. She’s clearly depressed. That next scene, which shows she’s a badass, you like, Don’t mess with Burnham. I I just love that whole sequence in the dining hall. And I also really enjoyed that again and again. As she’s walking through the ship and people are looking at her, people are looking at her with disdain because she’s the Yeah.
And like when she walks off the shuttle, the first thing that said to her is the first and only mutineer in Starfleet. It’s like, that’s what somebody says to her. And it’s like, it’s just driving home that this is not the ideal. You are not the ideal. You screwed up. Yeah. Nobody’s done this before. So it’s like, I, I do like that.
The fact that they kept driving that home, cuz that’s me as a viewer, that’s what we know of Star Trek. It’s that utopian ideal and everybody was driving that home of you are not living up to the standard
we all expect.
Mm-hmm. So to me it’s like, as the show kept going, it started to feel a little more star treky to me, even though we’re seeing a side of star Trek that we’re not used to.
So I, I really like the way they were setting it up. Again. Good writing. I thought it was really good writing. Yeah. And
the introduction of the cast of characters that we’re going to. Come to know as the regulators on the show, I think is really nicely done. It doesn’t feel like what it literally is. We are literally given moments of, and now this person will be given a scene to depict who they are, and then this person will be given a scene to depict who they are.
It doesn’t feel like we’re being given these playing cards in that way. It feels very organic. So we see, mm-hmm. Among the characters that we meet, we meet Gabriel Lorca, the captain of the Discovery, and he’s depicted as he’s kind of a weirdo. I mean like right out of the gate. He’s bizarre and he’s depicted as an odd gentleman and it gets darker as the episode goes on, which I really like.
We also see Tilly, who is initially set up as a roommate, and she’s kind of the inverse of. Lorca where he starts off in a weird place and gets darker. She starts off in an unusual place. She’s depicted as almost neuro atypical where she has some, some allergies and personality traits where she very openly just lays these things out like, this is who I am and this is how I am, and I’m working on negotiating all of this because what I want to be as a captain.
She says that right out of the gate. It’s a very interesting way to reveal a character in Star Trek where we haven’t really seen that kind of of personality on display and it’s very easy. I’m curious about your response to this. It first blushed, did you think, okay, this is going to be a comedic character?
Oh yeah. And were you, did you think that that was maintained throughout, or like me, did you say, okay, this is gonna be the comedic character, and then in the inverse of Lorca, she gets more competent and you feel she’s stronger as the episode goes on?
She was always comic relief. Like when she’s first introduced, it’s clear she’s there for comic relief from the very first scene.
And so it’s like, and she’s, she’s endearing and charming in her quirkiness, so you immediately start to kinda like glom onto her a little bit. Uh, but yes, over the course of the episode, it was that comic relief never went away. But that second layer worked its way in of like, she deserves to be here.
She’s really smart and she’s clearly talented, but she’s quirky. So the, the
purpose of the ship is clearly yes, unique and her role on that ship, you need to answer why is she there? If she’s yes, kind of just a weirdo. And she’s not just a weirdo. She is not, and she’s, I would even argue that she’s not played for broad laughs of let’s make fun of this character.
I would argue that she is, the comedy comes more from herself, commentary. Than it does. Yeah. She self-deprecate at her. She
makes, yeah, she’s making, she’s making jokes and comments about herself, like she has no filter. So that kind of humor works extremely well. Cause you never feel like the show’s making fun of her.
She’s making fun of herself so you can kind of laugh along with her and not at her. So I, I, I thought, once again, I think the writing in this show is extremely smart because I never once felt like there was an exposition dump happening. I never felt like it was like, okay, here’s character three. Okay, now we’re onto character four, now we’re onto character five.
Mm-hmm. It felt very organic the way everything was worked in, and I didn’t remember that from my first watching. Yeah. And the rewatch I’m being, it’s that more critical high the second time through and I’m, I’m really impressed with how they were introducing all the characters on the ship.
Yeah. One of the things I appreciated about Tilly as well is the way that she demonstrates not only on the ship, but she has chosen to go on the away team when they find the sister ship.
Mm-hmm. Disabled in space. That demonstrates a certain amount of capability. And while there, she demonstrates her ability to quickly work in extremely stressful situations, identify problems, and come up with solutions and identify differences between the sister ship and her ship so that she’s able with her Commander Stamets to be able to quickly figure out what do we need to take with us before we have to get off this, this thing that, that actually raises.
Stamets. I will actually say the, where I think some of the writing for me didn’t work as well was Stamets cuz him fir his first introduction. I remember the first time I watched it and this time I watched it. I found him annoying. Like he comes across as just an arrogant asshole. No better way to say it.
He’s just an ass. And it’s like there was nothing super redeeming about him throughout the entire episode to me. But if you fast forward throughout the entire series, he kind of turns into comic relief himself and he becomes very endearing and he’s got this arrogance, which is deserved. But at the same time, humor comes out of that.
And his initial introduction, I think they ca, they dialed, I think they dialed up his antagonism a little too high. And there wasn’t enough of like where Tilly, there was the, the multilayer where you kind of like, you immediately kind of like wanna put her, your arm around her and like be her friend.
Almost immediately. With Stamets, it was the exact opposite. It was kind of like, I don’t wanna be with this guy. This guy comes across as being really crass and really arrogant and kind of talking down to everybody where you didn’t get a good glimmer from me, a good glimmer into like that second layer of his character, at least yet, I think this episode kind of
shortchanged him a little bit.
Yeah. I don’t think it’s anything about the performance. I agree with you. No, no, no. There’s a certain amount of, of limitations in the writing and I may, I think that that may actually be born of the scenarios that they had the opportunity in this episode to put them in. And that’s, I think that’s actually a sign of strong writing when they knew not to shoehorn something in simply to say, oh, sure he is an arrogant asshole, but he’s also got this thing about him.
They maybe a little more organically let those elements rise up in the following episodes. In this one, I agree with you. He comes across as arrogant. Mainly. There is a, one of the things I liked most was that you see him in personal conversation with an old friend. Yeah. That is the most humanizing moment for him.
And then later he has the argument where he says, I was doing brilliant work about finding truth, and it was taken away from me and turned into the potentiality for a weapon because of a war You started and there was this personal animosity between him and Burnham that she didn’t understand where it was coming from because he, right off the bat was just like, I don’t like you, and you don’t really understand why.
So by the time we finish the episode, I feel like I agree with you. There’s not as much depth as there is with Tilly where you kind of get a sense of like, okay, I kind of like see who this entire person is. We get a hint with him, but I don’t feel like we get as much. Yes. But I still think that it’s a, it’s a nice introduction.
I like the, the relationship between him and his, the sister ship. I like the fact that this sort of research competition, And not putting all your eggs in one basket aspect of it is an interesting facet to this, this starting point of the story. And the final character that we see more of in this, even though he does appear in the prologue episodes, is Saru.
And how did you feel about the introduction of Saru in this one? I don’t
think he was given. It’s kinda like, I think we’re kinda like where it’s like Tilly, I think they did a really good job off the bat, setting up this really kind of fun character. And I think Stamets was kind of like, he was still OneNote, he was like a still skin deep, not getting a really good sense of him.
I think Saru was like the one that was the most short-changed for me because he was basically there only to comment on others and it was, we didn’t really get a sense of him. As a person at all. Um, at least for me, it’s like, like he has a sick saru burn that he does on, on, uh, Burnham when he’s, she’s basically saying, I’m sorry.
And he says, one of the things he, final thing he said to her was, I’ll do a better job protecting my captain than you did yours. And it was just like, oops, that’s burn. So it’s like he was doing stuff like that in the episode, so he was kind of coming in and, and making comments that were kinda like commentary on what was going around everything.
But there was nothing about him other than like, yeah, saw his little things come out and then go away, shuttle away, which was kind of funny of like, it’s like, oh, she’s finally gone and it went away, but she wasn’t actually gone. So it’s like there were little elements like that, but. I think he was the one that was the most shortchange.
But again, it’s an entire series. It’s an entire show. I don’t fault them for doing that. There’s only so much kind of screen time you can give everybody. But for me, he, he didn’t, he felt the thinnest
of all of them. I agree with you in general about Saru. I think that one of the things about this episode that stands out is that it’s a little bit like a container of liquid where everything is kind of sloshing to one side.
They’re giving a lot more focus onto Burnham and the people that are closest in proximity to her. And then where there’s a little bit less and there’s a little bit more commentary toward her is where Saru is. Saru is going to become a more pivotal. Part of kind of Star Trek’s Mo is you create a set of characters who kind of comment on each other and build each other out as we move forward.
Saru is definitely gonna be a part of that with Burnham, but right now out of the gate, he spends a little bit more time talking about her and informing what the show’s vision of her is at the beginning. And I do like the fact that he throws in front of her the mantle of you were the favorite child with good reason, you were better than most and you threw it all away.
Like these, these ideas being put right at her feet in the couple of scenes she has with Saru, I think is to really plant a flag for what the show is trying to do. To show the idea of can is redemption a thing? Is it real? Right? We’ve never had to see a star Trek show around a character earn redemption.
In a professional capacity. We’ve seen redemption on personal levels and intimate levels, right, with various characters. But in Starfleet in particular, like the, the closest analogy I can think of is, is Worf a character who, as far as redemption goes, was willing to take on dishonor from a Klingon perspective.
And that had ripples through his professional career as a Starfleet officer. But that wasn’t about him as Starfleet. That was about him as a Klingon. Here we have as Starfleet, you threw it all away because of fear and not being able to do your duty in the face of adversity. And so when he puts that down in front of her, I think it’s a very strong moment.
And in the introduction of characters, the last one that we can talk about is Lorca, who, yeah. We’ve mentioned him being strange and being kind of dark. Yeah. We’ve never seen a captain like this. No. In the way that this is really new terrain.
This, this, yeah. This goes into my favorite things about like when you’re talking about plays or movies or TV shows about it.
It’s not just what a character does is about also what characters say about that other person. And he, before we ever really meet him, so much is said about him. There’s so much established, like Stamets says some damning things about him. Like he basically, he’s basically calling him a war monger. He only cares about turning this into a weapon.
He’s like, he’s setting him up as this, like boogeyman and other characters are saying kind of odd things about him as well. So they do a really good job laying this groundwork of, there’s something off about this captain and this ship. Like they’re setting up this whole thing. I’m like this, there’s something really weird here.
So by the time we get to him, we feel very like, We don’t have a good footing on this captain. So when we meet him and he’s got his little bowl of, of, of fortune cookies, and he’s in a dark room because there’s something about his eyes that have, like, there’s something wrong where he can’t adjust to light well.
And so he is in a dark room. Like there’s so much just weird stuff with this guy from the GetGo. Yeah. It really, this kind of leads into, I don’t wanna get there quite yet, but like the whole plot of this entire episode is a, it’s building a mystery box. It’s a very JJ Abrams, let’s build a mystery box that will slowly open over the course of a season.
Um, yeah. And he’s part of that mystery box. It’s like, it’s, it’s not just what is Discovery doing, it’s, what’s the deal with that guy? Yeah. He’s pretty much a part of it. So once again, typically in Star Trek, the captain of every series is the centerpiece of the show. It’s, it’s like here, But not here. Here it’s basically an ex-con, this is the centerpiece of the show, and who normally is the centerpiece of the show is a what’s up with that joker?
It’s like, yeah, not to give anything away. If, if you’re, if you’re listening with us and you haven’t seen this show yet, there’s stuff that comes up about Lorca later. That’s really, it’s they’re really doing a good job of setting up what’s to come and
like that’s part of the hook. That’s why I wanted talk about is that we, we’ve never seen journey do these things, right?
Yeah. The, the hero’s journey that we see Burnham go through over the course of the show and what Lorca’s doing the show, it’s like at cross purposes and it’s interconnected and it’s just, for me, I really enjoyed this, the mystery box ness of this entire series and I thought they did a really good, good job setting it
I think the director and producer, Akiva Goldsman did a masterful job with this episode, especially when you consider he’s leaning so heavily into the horror aspects of, that’s something I wanted bring up too. Yes. Of, of this storyline where it would be very easy to do an episode in which you have horror aspects when they board the Glen specifically.
But some of the things that they do, and Akiva Goldman does it masterfully, is it makes this look more like gothic horror. In, imagine a scenario where you had a prisoner on a wagon and they’re being transported through a dangerous part of a, of a wild terrain in a country on their way to their prison, and something happens to the wagon and they’re found by the soldiers who live in a little enclave where there’s a Baron and they go to that enclave and they go to meet the Baron.
And the Baron lives in a dark room where he’s eating candies all the time, and it turns out that he has his mysterious lab where he’s got skeletons of animals. This is basically that they present Lorca as not only this mysterious figure, but a nefarious figure. He has secrets within secrets, and we’ll get into the details of the biggest secret he ends the episode with.
Later on, but for right now, he’s got this ship. He is in charge of conducting research with the hope that it could end the war. But he is doing it all from this very dark room, and he tells Burnham, you don’t have to worry about Starfleet when it comes to where you have to be. I can have you if I want you.
Totally like what it’s, what is that all about?
Yeah. It’s coming out that he basically orchestrated getting Burnham on the ship in the first place. So it’s like, I kinda wanted to tie this back to the whole horror aspect you just brought up because this reminded me of season one of Enterprise, how season one of Enterprise really was leaning into horror a lot.
And it reminded me, this reminded me of the episode where Hoshi doesn’t want to, she’s scared of being in space and she doesn’t like going on missions. And the, one of the first missions they send her on in season one is on board a ship that’s basically like space vampires that like drain, drain the blood from these creatures in this room.
And it’s got this very like gothic horror vampire thing going on. And it’s really kind of creepy. And this episode made me feel the same way of like, they GoBoard the sister ship and it’s, it’s like out of the movie Aliens and it’s like dark and they’re going around corners and there’s something that’s swooping around behind doorways and a Klingon comes out and goes, shh, I think gets eaten up.
It’s like, it was, it was like crazy like well done horror movie that we were watching for most of the action of the episode. And I just kept having flashbacks the episode of Enterprise of like, wow. They, they. Like these are brand new creators of Star Trek. Yeah. Like that did not work on Enterprise. And yet it’s, once again, the everybody that seems to once get involved in Star Trek nowadays is like, let’s go to horror.
Which is not what the original series was, but I wrote, it was so well done. I loved
what they said out and doing it very smartly because in any horror storyline, you want to present something as a danger by saying, well, you take something that your viewer knows as capable, strong, able to defend itself, and you show that thing being taken out.
Yeah. That builds the horror of like, oh, if that thing is in danger, then what about my main character who’s weaker? So the use of the Klingon in this episode is perfect. You have these Klingon who have boarded, what they found was a ship dead in space and they board this ship and there’s something aborted that has killed them.
So they find. All these bodies of Klingons and they know that the Klingon did not die in the same thing that killed the Starfleet members because the Starfleet members horrifically were turned inside out. So it is both Alien and, and John Carpenter, the thing in one ship, they board the sister ship, which they’ve lost contact with.
And for, for me, just one last quick comment for me. This is one of the, the humanizing aspects of Stamets is that the person, we saw him in the, the old friend. Mm-hmm. He was in conversation with, this is his ship. That man is dead. And so we see Stamets find that person. And I think it’s a nice depiction of character that when he finds the body of his friend, he shows an emotional response, but he doesn’t break down.
Mm-hmm. And it is more anger. Than anything else, that there’s an aspect to both teams being so driven by circumstances of the war with the Klingons that they are cutting corners and taking dangerous leaps forward. Yes, there is a Coto in the conversation. His cohort says, we are doing maneuvers at hundreds of leaps where Stamets team is barely making any progress whatsoever.
All whatsoever. So Stamets makes the comment of, we are doing 12 leaps, and his partner is like, we’re doing hundreds. And the warning of like, that may not be safe, you likely aren’t ready for that. And all he says in response, the friend says, well, we have a secret weapon, we have a, we have a secret. This episode is about that secret.
Yep. So, and
it says how dangerous, it says how dangerous what they’re doing is, which is, again, at this point as a viewer, we don’t know what the hell they’re doing. But look what happens to the people that we’re experimenting with it, they’re turned inside out. It’s like, it’s, it’s, it’s horrific. So it’s like horrific.
It raises that mystery box of like, what the hell is the
discovery even doing? So Starfleet personnel have been turned inside out. The ship is dead in space. Klingon have boarded and all been slaughtered, and we see one of them come out, give the whisper hush maneuver, which interestingly, Klingons would have the exact same maneuver as humans.
Yeah. But regardless, he quickly disappears and we just hear destruction of, of that gentleman. And then there is the thing on the ship. And here we enter unusual terrain for star Trek in. A first episode introducing all the characters where the special effects of a thing in pursuit of them is so captivating that mm-hmm.
It changes the entire tone of the episode from being about star Trek. While staying star Trek. It really does become a full-blown horror chase and Yep. How do they get off this ship safely before this thing can hurt them? And this thing looks like, it’s like something we’ve never seen on screen in Star Trek.
What did you think about depiction of what they will call the tardigrade which is what these things actually are. Little water bears, which are an actual organism that can live the space live on a microscopic level. And here they are just depicted as being about the size of a hippopotamus.
Yeah, I was gonna say this is the space, hippo ramp, like rampaging through the ship.
It, I, I thought the depiction of that thing, cuz at this point they haven’t called it the tardigrade. Mm-hmm. The depiction of it I thought was really well done, how forceful it is. Like, nothing can stop this thing. Whatever it wants to do, it can do. And it was fun to see, again, a not surprise showing how Burnham thinks quick on her feet.
And she basically saves everybody by doing what she does and almost sacrificing herself to save the rest of the crew. So you can see like once again, why she was the golden child on the previous ship before her mutiny. So it’s like, I, I thought, I thought it was a good kind of juxtaposition of here’s great horror action suspense and at the same time they’re still doing character development from all of that.
It wasn’t just action for the sake of action.
And it gives her a great opportunity here to demonstrate a couple of different things. She’s quick on her feet. She is willing to sacrifice herself. She also wants to survive. Yes, the episode literally starts with her sitting on a prison ship, looking at the windows crystallizing and saying, oh, those are microscopic life forms that may actually suck all the energy out of the vessel killing us, so we will be dead in space.
And her response to all of that is just a placid blank look. Now as she is crawling through Jeffrey’s tubes trying to get away from the tardigrade that she lures in behind her so the rest of the away team can get a hold of the devices. And here again, is where I mentioned Tilly identifies, there’s a couple of different things here than we have aboard our ship.
They, they’ve been doing something differently than we’ve been doing. And Stamets quickly says, we take ’em with us and then we get outta here. So they’re on their way out. They’ve already lost their security personnel. The chief of security is the only person with them who’s effectively the muscle they are gonna go get on the shuttle craft.
But Burnham in the Jeffries tube now clearly wants to live. She’s trying to get away from this thing. This the, the acceptance of death at the opening is gone. And what has driven that is there’s been a carrot dangled in front of her. How could you, how would you like to actually play a role in helping things?
How would you like to help the war effort? How would you like to help these people? She’s a person for whom that is the driving force. Yep. Of survival. When she knows she’s going to be locked away, she is demonstrating what Saru says, which is what a waste. She feels that at some level of what a waste, if I don’t have an opportunity to help, what is my purpose here?
She’s given that opportunity. She jumps for it, so we see that. Another thing that is comes out in the sequence when she is in the Jeffrey tube, and this is very subtle, I really like it. Alice in Wonderland, she starts quoting from Alice in Wonderland, and we initially don’t quite know this until we hear it.
References like, Alice is doing this, the white rabbit is going down the tunnel, and we start to recognize, okay, I know what she’s talking about. Well, why would she do this? Obviously she’s in a tunnel and she’s trying to flee a monster, but what is the connection for the writers? It was a couple of very interesting references back to deeper star Trek on the surface level.
There’s one level of, Alice famously does some of the things she does in those stories with that assistance of mushrooms. It’s got that trippy mm-hmm. Carol aspect to it, which some people find a dangerous thing in a, in a book ostensibly for kids. But mushrooms are involved, mushrooms are involved in this episode, in what it is that the ship is researching.
Mm-hmm. They’re using a fungal relationship between quantum connections, so there’s a tie in there. There is also a tie in to the fact that Alice in Wonderland was referenced in the animated series of the original show. The original series animated episodes includes a reference. There’s an episode built around Alice in Wonderland and they wanted also to use it as a tool to depict that, despite the fact that Burnham was raised on Vulcan, logic is not the only thing at play and.
Lewis Carrolls, Alice in Wonderland, and through the Looking Glass, famously he was a mathematician. So it’s an interesting depiction of logic at play. So the reference to Alice in Wonderland in this episode, I really, really like it because it depicts her connection to her own humanity. This is the story that was read to her by her adoptive mother who was human.
So it is a tie back to earth in that way. It is also about still mathematics and logic. And on a meta level, it is about the connection to the weird mystery of what this ship is researching, the strangeness of what the discovery is doing. I think it works on a lot of different levels in that way. Do I
have a question for you?
Like to tie it back to, at the time that this episode was made, which is the whole shtick of her show, um, to me it felt pretty. Clear that there’s some clear connection. We’ll be talking to the last one, how the Klingons are basically America first. It’s like the rise of right wing authoritarianism and just like conservatism and Klingon first, and that’s kinda the representation.
Representation there. I was getting kind of a vibe from the way that this was being set up as like kind of a statement on the US at this point in our history of like what we had done with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the ends justify the means and like calling, uh, Lorca war monger, willing to do whatever it takes to f to win this war.
It’s like there’s aspects of that that are bubbling up from the point of view of us as a society at that time in history. So it felt like this show is at a, at a metal level is grappling with what’s going on in the world at the time. I mean, did you get a sense
of that? Yeah. Absolutely. I think Enterprise, as we entered the, the latter seasons of enterprise, we were looking at episodes that clearly were pulling from the nine 11 attacks.
The Yeah, growing impact of the war in Iraq, our occupation of Afghanistan. Those stories were being told, but they were so close to that stage, the early days of those events that they were emotionally driven by the, well, we’ve gotta go do the hard thing. We’re now in episodes as Matt just pointed out, where it feels like the depiction is what if the hard thing is the wrong thing?
And that question is being asked now in discovery in a way that it wasn’t being asked previously. Everybody aboard. The discovery is, is shown as being like, we are here, we are researchers. Discovery was designed to allow for a intense level of research. What is it? The number that Saru gives more than a hundred.
Independent research studies could be conducted on discovery at one time, which was a record for Starfleet. It is now focused almost entirely on one line of research, and it’s for the war effort. Mm-hmm. And the question, the unspoken question throughout this is, are we doing a good thing? And when you go aboard the Glen and you see that this good thing has turned people inside out and there’s a monster on the loose, the monster is literally a metaphor for the show.
It is a metaphor. Mm-hmm. For where the show is going. Oh, you can do these magical things. And the truth that Stamets starts off with in his speech where he’s talking about his goal as he grew up of seeking truth and the beauty of that truth, that monster is the truth. He doesn’t know it yet in this episode, but that monster is that truth.
Mm-hmm. So it is a metaphor for the the war effort. It’s a metaphor for the research. It’s a metaphor for how they’re being used. It’s a metaphor for Lorcas goals. All of that is on display in this episode, and it is all questioning what if the hard thing that we are leaping to do is in fact the bad thing?
Mm-hmm. And I think that that’s a really key thing to point out. So I appreciate you bringing that up. So we see the escape from the Glen, and now we are back aboard Discovery. And Lorca makes the audacious offer to Burnham. You could join my crew. Don’t worry about Starfleet. You did a bad thing. But what I see here is somebody like me and we’re already seeing him as weird.
He’s dark, he’s mysterious, but he says, yeah, I see. I see myself in you. This is after the prologue in which we know that Captain Georgiou was saying to Burnham, I see myself in you. And Burnham, having been raised on Vulcan by adoptive parents, Serak and Amanda, they had to see themselves in her and she was young enough that her the impact of the death of her parents in the initial setup of the the research facility attacked by Klingons.
This is a character who does not know who she is at her core, feels a sense to help but does not know who she is, but is constantly being told by the adults around her. I see myself in you. It’s a really interesting echo for this character. I see myself in you. And who are you? I am Ambassador Serak. I am his loving wife, Amanda.
I am Captain Georgiou. I am this weirdo, Lorca. I am. Like, there’s this interesting like am I driven and dark? Am I optimistic and idealist? Am I like who am I? Is the beautiful setup for this character. Which again, to go back to the Alice Wonderland reference is the key focus on Alice as a character. Yep.
Lorca makes this offer, says very hand wavy, like, I’ve been given a lot of dispensation to do what I want, and he demonstrates it to her by revealing finally what the mission of discovery is. It is this drive that has been developed by Stamets and originally with his partner, who is the gentleman who died aboard the Glen.
Their research was into this. The quantum threads that connect all things everywhere, and they’re utilizing as a component into accessing that the spore of a fungus and this drive would have the ability, and here’s the final level of chutzpah that I wanted to talk about. They’re proposing that prior to the series that started at all the original series, prior to that, there was research into a drive and a functional ship that could literally go anywhere it wanted to go.
Yeah. And so they set up this moment where Burnham goes in and is exposed to the spores and through the device that’s connected to the engines is shown all the different worlds that they could go to. Instantly she’s able to see them, but she’s not able to go there. But the drive could theoretically take them there.
She witnesses Vulcan Andoria all the different worlds that she could go to. And Lorcas entire vision is. With the ability to do that, we could end the war in a day. And the potential, we don’t have to be, yeah, it doesn’t have to be depicted to us. We know the ability of even one ship to pop in over the capitol, city of the Vulcan, home of the Klingon home world, reigned down some photon.
Torpedoes and then disappear would be the beginning of like, you gotta kind of like stop this war because we could just. And everything. So that is where this, this, that series has now planted its biggest chutzpah flag of saying like, we are proposing a technology existed within Star Trek that nobody has talked about through any of the original series.
Yeah. It’s a big ask of the audience.
Yeah. I don’t think it’s a big, it is a big as, but I thought it was so clever. It’s, I remember when I, my original Absolutely. Watch when it was brand new and this watch, I love it because it’s like, as a star Trek fan, you know, that didn’t exist. And then, then it comes to the question of, okay, show, show me why it never ended up existing.
And you know, as a viewer, we’re gonna be seeing exactly why this thing didn’t work out. Yeah. For me, I just love that it’s, it’s great. It’s such a wonderful little mystery box they set up for the
show. Yeah. It’s a big ask and I think it’s a, it’s, it earns the ask. Yes. Yes. It’s inviting the audience, just like you said, it’s inviting the audience to say, okay, why didn’t the later crews have this technology?
If they’re talking about this, why is that? And so it sets up a really fascinating aspect. It also gives us, if you are exhausted by the idea of revisiting the star Trek universe, it gives us a newness. Yeah. That we actually didn’t ever have in the first days of Enterprise, where when we started that show, we knew we were revisiting, okay, the, this is the past.
This is setting up how all of the Federation and Starfleet started. And then it just felt like it was walking through hip deep mud to get us there. Mm-hmm. And we as viewers for the first two seasons, were like, why doesn’t it feel better to be here and right out of the gate? Yeah. I think Discovery does a fantastic job of saying, here’s why you’re here.
Here’s why you’re here. There is all these elements. 80% of this is familiar terrain for you, but look at this part. You’d never seen this before. And so that for me was a big ask, and it had me, it hooked me immediately. I’m like, remember when I first watched this episode being blown away by the audacity of that?
Like, holy cow. Yeah. Introducing that as an idea within this show. Big, big, uh, bold leap forward. So I really like that. So we end the episode. To go back to something I mentioned before, the entire idea of the gothic horror element. We see a room that we haven’t seen before, which is full of skeletons, which one of them even looks like a gorn.
And we see the captain with his security officer, and he is thanking the security officer for having obtained something from the Glen before they blew it up. And it turns out he now has a pet monster. Yeah. In a hopefully well shielded system. Shielded screen. Yeah. And he taps on this. Force field and says Here, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, until the tardigrade marches forward to try and break free.
And he is unfazed by this in a way that just adds to the creepy aspect of who. Mm-hmm. Captain Lorca is the room full of skeletons, the room full of weapons, the room that looks like it is a museum to the dark of Star Trek. And this is our new captain. So the reviews at the time said that Jason Isaacs was a standout in this, and I completely agree with it.
He’s kind of steals the spotlight whenever he’s on screen. Another one that does that for me is Doug Jones as Saru. Yeah. Who he’s of course a thousand feet tall. But the depiction here by Jason Isaacs. And it’s interesting, he’s a British actor and he said he would not do a British accent in the show because that was Patrick Stewart’s.
So Patrick Stewart is the British Act. Is the British accent on the show. I’m not gonna do that. I’ll be compared to him. So he did his own thing. Uh, my last comment about his depiction, I loved the fortune cookies, but apparently he did not. Yes, because in shooting he had to eat. Oh yeah. Many dozens.
Apparently he had to eat more than a hundred fortune cookies while they were shooting. And he said he never wanted to do that again. And if anybody has ordered Chinese food recently and received from some fortune cookies with their meal, fortune cookies tend to be overly sweet. Not too delicious. They don’t really feel like cookies.
But if you have ever been to San Francisco or have the opportunity to go, oh yeah, look up some of the fortune cookie companies in Chinatown there. There are some just walk by fortune cookie companies that make legitimately good fortune cookies that I could smell several dozen of. Yes. The smell
that walk down the streets.
Yes. So it’s, it’s one of those little character traits where they throw it in and it seems on the page maybe as like a nice little weird idiosyncrasy that for the actor turned into a stomach ache. So listeners, I’m curious, how did you feel about this as arguably the first episode of the series? The prologue concept?
I don’t really like prologues and I didn’t view the previous episodes really as a prologue because they are telling us about Burnham’s story. We have to see if we were given a series which started with a woman on a prison transport, and all we heard was. The first officer of the Discovery saying, you were the best of us, but you threw it away.
I would feel cheated. Mm-hmm. I wouldn’t feel like that was authentic, but the way they depict it here, by giving us that prologue, those first two episodes, I think really is critical. So to my mind, prologue is not the best framing for what those were. Mm-hmm. But here we are in the third episode, we’re seeing the cast of characters we’re gonna get to know.
How do you all feel about that? Everybody let us know in the comments. As usual, we appreciate your time and your willingness to jump into the comments and let us know what you think. And so everybody please jump into the comments, let us know what you thought. And next time we’re gonna be talking about episode four.
That’s the Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lambs cry, which if you were trying to rank star Trek episode titles, I think would be right at the top. I love the long rambly titles. I love it when they, they get all poetic and this one. It’s up there. Before we sign off, Matt, is there anything you wanted to let your listeners about, let the listeners know about coming up on your main channel?
Yeah, I have a video. By the time this is out, there’ll be a video out about the future of the flow batteries. Basically saltwater batteries. Like why is saltwater gonna be the next big battery? And I mean, literally, Big. Why is it gonna be the next big thing that the
video kind of dives into? That kind of dives into saltwater?
Yeah. Yeah. Thank you for that. As for me, you can check out my website, sean Ferrell dot com, or if you’re just interested in jumping right to your bookseller, you can go to wherever it is you buy your books, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or even your public library, and ask about my upcoming book, including my upcoming book, sinister Secrets of Singe, which is coming out in June.
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And in just a few moments, Matt and I are gonna be recording a new episode in which we’re gonna be talking about, among other things, the last of us. So we may touch on both the game and the show. That is very likely considering Matt has experienced both, and I am a fan of the show. Thank you so much everybody, for your time in checking us out and listening and joining in the conversation, and we’ll talk to you next time.