Matt and Sean talk about making bold sacrifices, and letting go of a cute, monstrous pets. Star Trek Discovery has some surprising moments in this one.
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We’re also taking a look at the world at the time of original broadcast. So currently we are taking a look at Discovery. We’re still in season one, so we’re in 2017. And who are we? Well, I’m Sean Ferrell. I’m a writer. I’ve written some sci-fi. I’ve written some stuff for kids, including a soon-to-be released New adventure series.
Which starts off with the sinister Secrets of Sings, which will be coming out at the time of this broadcast just a couple weeks from now. It’ll be in the first week of June. I hope you’ll be interested in checking that out. And if you wanna know more about that, you can find out more at my website, sean Ferrell dot com.
And with me, as usual is my brother Matt. He’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. Matt, how are you doing today?
I’m doing good. I don’t have a book coming out, but I’m very excited for your book.
I can’t wait.
Well, I appreciate the interest. I’ve recently discovered that people in my life are surprisingly interested in supporting me in my efforts to get word of my book out. This John, in the form of starting to put together a reading here in New York City where I would be talking about and reading some of the new book and.
Thought, nothing of saying nothing to anybody in my life until my partner was like, you gotta tell the family, and suddenly all the family is coming. So are you gonna
share information about where that reading’s gonna be in case people want to go to it?
It will be in June. I will share more information as we get closer to then, but it will be in June and there’s going to be a reading in Manhattan around the 24th, and there will be another one on the 25th.
And as more information becomes available, I will certainly let people know. But before we get into today’s discussion around this week’s episode, Matt, I understand you’ve got some viewer comments you wanted to share from our previous one.
Yeah, there’s, I gotta say that the comments over the past few episodes have been fantastic.
It’s like the switch from enterprise into this has brought out some interesting conversation. There’s a couple comments that had me, uh, chuckling pretty hard, uh, one from Drew Lovely. That said, choose the pain of watching Lorca eat a full meal, or the pain of the Tardigrade fight scene.
This is from my request that people weigh in with, yeah.
What they think. The next episode, today’s episode, choose Your Pain would be About, and I said, wrong answers only. Yes, I love those.
Then there’s one from Dan Sims that says, choose your pain is all about hot peppers. Now remember that it’s not just about how hot it is going in, but also coming
out. That’s right.
It’s like a Worm hole, right, Dan?
No. Okay. All right. A very Bernie Worm hole. Yes. Okay, but then there were a couple comments. We have one from Pego 69. You know the show gets a lot better when you completely tune out all of the star Trek window dressing. These aren’t professional Starfleet personnel who are the best humanity has to offer.
This is a story about a rogue Starship fighting an authoritarian empire in the same vein as Andromeda. I don’t think that’s necessarily wrong cuz there’s an a aspect of this that is like Trek, we aren’t used to. Yeah, but it’s still Trek. Like it’s fun sci-fi. And if you kind of in your mind separate star Trek from this, you can have a lot of fun with the show, even if you don’t feel like it feels like a Trek.
I thought it was kind of fun comment. And then the last one was from Jason Dumb. The older Trek was able to develop characters more deliberately with much longer seasons. Discovery was handicapped by the shorter season length and the decision to focus more on fewer characters. Speaking of characters, Lieutenant Barkley is not my favorite and it feels like Start Trek Discovery has a lot of Barkleys.
That’s la I like that description. That’s great, Jason. Yes. I just love that said to share it Now for today’s episode, that noise in the background is of course the read alert, which can mean only one thing. It’s time for Matt to try and tackle the Wikipedia description, and I think you’ll notice, Matt, that there’s been a change in how the Wikipedia descriptions look and are formatted yet again, there’s been another evolution.
There’s a point where the episodes of discovery. Stop having their own pages in Wikipedia. Oh boy. I think it’s too recent to show and it went up to last week and I anticipated that like Enterprise, there would just be a Wikipedia page for each and every episode, not the case. So we’ve hit a point where what we have from Wikipedia is literally a summary page of each episode, but all on one page.
And whoever did this, I think did a fairly good job. So let’s see what you have to think about their summary of Choose Your Pain. Okay,
choose your pain. After a month of successful operations, Lorca is ordered to protect the spore drive until it can be replicated for other Starfleet ships as it returns to the discovery.
Lorca is taken captive by a group of Klingon led by L’Rell. Burnham has grown growing concern by the toll the drive has taken on Ripper, which is the Tardigrade, along with Stamets partner medical officer, Hugh Culbert. Burnham convinces Stamets to find an alternative to run the drive. Lorca is imprisoned with captured Starfleet.
Officer Ash Tyler and Human Criminal. Harry Mud. That’s a fun one from the old series. Mm-hmm. In the discussions, Lorca reveals that he killed his entire crew during an earlier battle to spare them from the Klingons torture, but escaped himself. Lorca is tortured by L’Rell who wants to learn the secret behind discoveries, new form of travel, but Lorca and Tyler escape before the Klingons can learn anything about it.
For the final jump needed to escape the Klingons with Lorca and Tyler on board, Stamets connects to the spore drive himself using ripper’s, d n a. Later Burnham frees ripper while Stamets reflection in a mirror does not walk away when he does. That is the weirdest description, Sean. It’s, it’s
bad. It’s all the points.
bad. It’s little weird for a description. Yeah.
It’s a little weird. This episode, which originally aired on October 15th, 2017, was directed by Lee Rose from A story by Gretchen j Berg and Aaron Herbert’s and Kemp Powers with a teleplay by Kemp Powers and. Sonequa, Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Shazad Latif, Anthony Rap, Mary Wiseman, Jason Isaacs, Jane Brook, Mary Chieffo, Wilson Cruz, and Rainn Wilson are our main actors at the time of broadcast.
October 15th, 2017, what was going on in the world while Matt was dancing His Little Heart Out once again, tab Bodak Yellow by Cardi B. This song first appeared as the number one streaming song. A couple of weeks earlier, it was replaced for one week by Rockstar by Post Malone, and now she’s returned to the number one spot with a poultry 47.9 million downloads for the week and at the movies.
Well, Matt, I know that you’ve got the Blueray version of this movie. That’s right. It’s the Comedy Slasher Groundhog Day Scream Mashup, which was Happy Death Day. It earned 26 movie million. That was a movie. It was a movie.
I think you’re making that up. I feel like this is an alternate
reality directed by Christopher Landon, written by Scott Lobdell and starring Jessica Roth and Israel Broussard.
It is the story of somebody at a frat party who continues to re-experience their own grizzly death. Oh, now I remember. Okay. Yep. And on television. What else were we streaming? If we weren’t streaming discovery? Well, we’ve already gone through some of the top programs for 2017. Game of Thrones, number one, walking Dead.
Number two, pretty little liars on freeform at number three with 6.5 million. And at number four. Surprising entry. The fourth most streamed show in 2017 was the show Vikings on the History Channel, which would earn almost 6 million streams per episode. And in the news what was going on October 15th, 2017 from the New York Times.
The headline being promised the moon, easy for Trump. But now comes the reckoning on issues like healthcare and Iran. President Trump’s language has not been matched by action raising questions on whether his base will be satisfied by partial steps. There was also concern about hacking of voting machines with new equipment and security protocols being examined as a result of concerns about Russians meddling in the 2016 election.
And. On the world front on this day in 2017 was the beginning of the Battle of Kirkuk, part of the 2017 Iraqi Kurdish conflict. It was a military deployment by the Iraqi security forces to retake Kirkuk from the Pesh Murga. After the latter ignored, repeated warnings to withdraw, sparking clashes between the two forces, the advance began today on October 15th, 2017, with the city of Kirkuk being retaken the following day.
The International Coalition described the events as coordinated movements, not attacks with most of the Pesh Murga, withdrawing without fighting. So in this episode, we’re looking at a couple of different things. The end of what I would argue is the first third of. The storytelling for discovery in the form of a transition from the Tardigrade being the focal point of their drive system.
We also get our first glimpse of something from the original series being planted in as a character element in the series, in the form of Harry Mud, and we get a nice little callback. To enterprise and some deeper star Trek lore. When we see Saru, ask the computer to put together a list of the top five captains in Starfleet, and we see Jonathan’s, Jonathan Archer’s name pop in.
Yep. So right out of the gate, the episode begins with a conversation between the Starfleet admirals and Captain Lorca and Lorca being told. You’ve gotta protect this asset. And Lorca’s attitude being we should be using this asset in order to bring swifter victory to the Federation. And after this conversation takes place, Lorca, on route back to Discovery is captured by the Klingons.
As far as a setup for an episode, how did this opening strike you? I. Hated it.
Would that be the nicest way to put it? It made no sense to me. It’s like, why, how f how far did his shuttle have to go? Like, wh how far wa why did the discovery have to be that far away? Couldn’t the discovery have like, been right next to it and beamed him over?
Like, what, what, I don’t understand why, why it, it makes no sense as to why that was the choice they made to set this up of if the discovery is so important.
would’ve established a scenario where this could have even happened. I don’t get it.
I don’t get it. Yeah. I think this is a case of the show being captured by its own creative setup.
Mm-hmm. They’ve proposed a ship that has a warp drive that goes beyond anything we’ve ever seen. So the ship can literally go anywhere in the galaxy. Mm-hmm. At any time. Mm-hmm. So why is the ship not there? Point number one. Point number two, as you mentioned, why are they not just beaming him to and from whatever meeting place this is?
So that’s point number two. Point number three. It’s all done for the convenience of allowing. Lorca, could it be captured? Yep. So it’s this kind of hodgepodge, like they could have done anything to indicate that. Well, Lorca had to go to this critical meeting, and discovery was meanwhile ferrying supplies to another part, space.
They could have suggested anything to give us a reason as to why this is all happening. But once Lorca is captured, the reasoning behind all of this becomes painfully obvious, and I found it a little jarring. It took me out of the episode a little bit of like, Come on. You gotta like, I understand that you want Lorca to be captured.
That’s the only reason you’ve done any of these things. So we get him in conversation with the admiralty and he is arguing his point. And then post this conversation, he has a one-on-one conversation with Cornwell who says that as his friend, she is encouraging him to be less. Combative to be less focused on the needs of him and his ship alone and take the big picture because he is harming himself.
How did you take that conversation between him and Cornwell as far as her saying, I am your friend, and what that does for our understanding of him as a captain and what’s going on with the larger story? So, Taking
my, how much I hated the whole setup of the plot device. I did like this conversation. I did like this scene because it gave a little more of a behind the scenes of.
What is, what is Lorca? What are some of his motivations? Why is he doing this? Oh, he actually has friends. He’s not an out. He is kind of an outsider and here’s a friend trying to help him. There’s also, part of that conversation was around Burnham, around why did you choose her? Because she is a symbol of what we are against, and by having her.
You’re sending the wrong message. Yeah. And people are kind of railing at that, so I like that. That was brought up. So from a kind of character discussion, I like the scene a lot.
I agree. I think that what they’re doing very well in this moment is they’re focusing this episode on Lorca in a way they haven’t done before in the previous episodes.
We’ve seen him. Not as a mustache twirling villain, but we’ve seen him as the reclusive mad scientist. Mm-hmm. Right down to the laboratory filled with nefarious looking devices and the skeletons and remnants of alien species and technologies that we don’t understand. So he’s been played up to this point very much as the.
He’s got machinations and he’s got plans within plans and he’s keeping everything very close to the vest. And this one, they don’t reveal what the ultimate plan is, but they do humanize him more and it creates more depth for the character and it’s two key elements. I think it’s a nice balance to the episode that at the one side it’s this argument of I will do whatever I have to.
To ensure the war ends, and that’s the conversation he has with the admiral. Basically saying, your concern is nice, but I don’t have to share in that in order for us to remain friends or even for me to do my job. The flip side. And it’s a nice balance. Is that toward the end of the episode, we hear the history of what?
Yeah, the cost Lorca, his original captain seed, which was the destruction of his, of his ship, and the loss of his crew and his decision to blow his sh ship up himself and sacrifice them rather than let them be captured by the Klingon. And he sees this. He’s had to, he frames it as, he has to view that as the humane decision to make as the captain.
Mm-hmm. That killing his own crew was preferable to letting them fall into the hands of the Klingons. It is a strange and unusual perspective on a Starfleet captain. We haven’t seen, and we talked about this a couple of episodes ago, things in Discovery that we haven’t seen in Star Trek before. Yep. The captain who is dishonored by his own actions is not something that we’ve truly seen to this scale.
The closest I can think of is Cisco from Deep Space nine. Mm-hmm. Who’s introduced originally as being given a command on a station to basically end a dead end career. He’ll never be a captain. Because of personal choices he’s made, and it ends up with him in a position where he’s, he’s basically being put somewhere and that the start of DS nine includes a scene with Picard basically saying, I don’t know if you’re the right person for this job because this is.
A delicate scenario where you’re gonna be dealing with Bejo and the contentious relationship with the Kardashians. And I don’t know if you’re up to this job, that’s the closest we’ve had really Jane Way, right from the beginning. The big element of of Voyager is of course she’s dealing with half of her crew being former freedom fighters.
That’s the big element there. And Picard, when we start. In Next Generation and the original series, when we start those series, we see some of the most well respected. Captains in Starfleet already. Mm-hmm. In, you know, well into their career. So it’s a different scenario to say, here’s a captain who looks like he should be the age where he is, got good experience and he should have the respect of the admirals.
And he does to a certain degree, but there’s some black cloud hanging over him. And it seems both historical in the form of. The events that led to this. It also seems to just be personality type and Yes. Without going into, you know, like I know what we’re headed toward, if anybody, and, and I’m less inclined to give spoilers now than I am when we did Enterprise, enterprise a 20 year old show.
Yes. So when we said, oh, well, as we all know, the third season is where it gets good. That to me doesn’t seem all that uncomfortable to say because it’s a 20 year old program. Discovery might be different. Some of our viewers and listeners might not have originally watched it in 2017. That’s only six years ago.
So I’m less inclined to say like, oh, as we all know, blah, blah, blah. But. Without giving anything away. What do you take away from this episode as far as what they’re doing with Lorca? Do you agree that this is a unique take on a captain, or did it, do you find it distracting in a way that goes back to some of the comments we’ve seen where it doesn’t quite feel like star Trek?
Quite at this point in the storyline for him, it doesn’t quite feel like Star Trek to me. It still feels like it’s a little outside, especially when it’s dropped that he basically blew up his previous ship. It’s like that feels so not star Trek. It feels like that guy would’ve been drummed outta Starfleet.
So there’s a question as to like. Okay, we need more facts about that story because why the hell is he even still in charge if that’s what he did? Cuz it seems like a, a line that would be inappropriate to cross. So for me it does feel a little outta star Trek, but without giving anything away, there is stuff that Lorca does and, and the rest of this season and next season, that suddenly all this kind of starts to sort of make sense.
And I say sort of because again, it still feels outta Starfleet. But at least we now have a really firm grasp as to what the hell is going on with this character. So the long view, I like what they did here. In the short view, I still think it’s highly problematic. Does that make sense? I’m trying to dance around the whole, I’m trying to dance around everything.
Yeah. A little tap dance. So
I want to, I want to jump now to the last element having to do with Lorca and I, and then we can move on to what the storyline on Enterprise was during this episode in prison on the Klingon Klingon prison ship, which it’s unclear to me like. The elements of, of where they are.
They’re, they’re, they capture Lorca, the Klingon capture Lorca. It is clearly L’Rell right out of the gate when you first see Klingon storming the shuttle craft to grab Lorca. They quickly kill the, the pilot. And you see L’Rell in the crowd of Klingon coming in to capture him. And then he is in a prison.
And we see some sequences around. What prison aboard the this Klingon vessel looks like. And there are Klingons who come in and know just enough universal English to be able to say, choose your pain and. Then dispatch a beating onto whichever prisoner is selected by the prisoners. So you have a couple of prisoners and somebody says, take him or take me.
That individual then gets a beating, which culminates in it seems like the Klingons who are responsible for this have a certain move that they like to do. The whole, I’m gonna beat you up until you’re on the ground and then I’m gonna casually walk away. And then spin around and kick you in the head. Yes, and it’s the spinning kick that appears to kill an individual right in front of Lorca and Mud.
And we see Harry Mud is introduced now as a man who is. Not quite as old as he is in the original series. We of course, remember Harry Mud as the Grifter trader gentleman who’s responsible for, among my favorite episodes, creating a planet full of Androids that are all based on women that he wishes he could have sex with, and only one that is representative of his wife, Stella.
Here we see a younger Harry Mud who has recently married Stella. And we understand that as a result of marrying Stella, he’s gotten himself in massive debt because he tried to buy her a moon and it, well, eventually those loan sharks come. A calling, he fled into Klingon space, got captured and has now figured out the best way to protect himself in prison, which is to work as a pigeon, as a stool pigeon in the cell, and.
He plays a game with Lorca where he’s, he points out, you need to know when to take the beating and you need to need to know when to pass the beating off. He’s figured out how to survive. So in prison we see the introduction of Ash Tyler. We see Lorca meet another Starfleet person. He recognizes the uniform of course right away and then begins to feel out both Tyler and Mud and we will learn that Lorca.
Is playing kind of three dimensional chess. He’s dropping information separately to each of them to see what information comes back to him from the Klingon. He anticipates that somebody is going to be eavesdropping, and when he identifies that as mud, he quickly dispatches mud. Little mud’s, little insect friend.
So we see a prison sequence, which involves multiple beatings. We see the scramble for everything from food to just. Some sense of safety within this environment, and Lorca is. Playing this many moves ahead sort of strategy. We see a torture sequence with Lorca where his weakness with his eyes is used to the Klingon advantage by prying his eyes open, and then just using bright lights.
I believe there were four lights. I,
I was to make that joke.
What did you think about the whole sequence depicting what it’s like to be a prisoner of the Klingons? We’ve seen Klingon prisons before. We’ve seen them, yeah. Going way back in the movies. We’ve seen them in the story of the Star Trek, the motion picture number six. And we also have seen them in enterprise, but here we see this is taking it up a
It takes it up a notch, but at the same time, I was expecting it to be a little more brutal, like looking, but they did a good job of. Making it very clear here, these two guys, two thugs come in and beat the crap outta you, then drag you out. It was, I, I liked the whole depiction of how the Klingons treat their prisoners.
I enjoyed the, this sounds horrible to say. I enjoyed the torture scene. I liked the torture scene the way it was played out, especially the fact that they knew so much about Lorca to know, know how to take advantage of his Achilles heel. Yeah. And like when they revealed what they were doing to him, you could see on Lorcas face, uh oh, no.
Like, yeah, he realized what they were about to do to him. Um, so I, I, I really enjoyed how they played it out, and it made it a little more interesting than what we’ve seen in the past, because in the past the Klingon are just like brutes, you know, just like it’s all honor and like, I’m strong, I’m gonna beat you up.
This one it showed a little more of a intellectual Yeah. Playing with their food before they kill it, kind of a thing of like the whole. P pitting people against each other. The fact that Harry Mud is a stool pigeon, the fact that they’re trying to infiltrate to find out everything they can that way, the fact that they’re using his eyes against him.
All those things are things that we would’ve never seen in Klingon in the past, and I enjoyed that layer of the brutality was still there, but then there was this like intellectual kind of addition to it that kind of amped up a level to me.
Yeah, it played up on the idea of honor is in the eye of the beholder because the things that they’re doing are not ultimately honorable things to do from our perspective, but within the.
Confines of the Klingon logic. Everything they’re doing in order to win this war is perfectly honorable. So they know that there’s a weapon out there that can do things that they don’t understand and they wanna get their hands on it. So any ends will justify that, or any means will justify that. The performances here from Jason Isaacs as Lorca.
Mm-hmm. And from. Shazad Latif, who plays Ash Tyler, I think are terrific. The two of them having that kind of dance around each other when they first are introduced to each other, and you can tell Lorca is testing, Tyler’s testing, you can story. He is testing. You can testing. So dubious. He’s just like, he’s dubious about this individually.
He’s just like, so what? How did you get here? What happened? What, what brought you to this? This place? And Ash’s story is just as simple as like, I was captured at the Battle of Binary Stars. I, that was the beginning and in middle of that, and it, and it sounds brief, but also flushy enough and Lorca. Has a little bit of a back and forth and then a similar back and forth with with mud, and when his words are quoted back to him during the torturing scene with L’Rell, he immediately returns to the cell and reveals that mud has been eavesdropping and recording their conversation.
So he now knows. You know that he can’t trust him. It’s at this point that mud reveals that he knows who Lorca is and what Lorca has done in the past, and you get the sense that Lorca’s shame around. This is a major driving force in how he approaches being a captain. And you also get the sense that his shame of this, he didn’t want this coming out in front of Ash Tyler in the way it has.
So there’s kind of a soul bearing moment. And Ash Tyler moves past it with a plum. He’s got no problem with this. And there’s a sequence of choose your pain where the Klingon show up yet again to basically. Clean House and the two Starfleet personnel turned the tables on them to Harry Mud. Surprise, I guess the idea of actually trying to attack the guards.
Never other people ever did that. Like nobody else tried to do that. No, nobody ever came up with that plan. But Ash says, I knew escaping would take two people and I know you were the wrong person. Harry Mud, and they leave mud and this is again. Mm-hmm. This ain’t your, your parents. Captain of a Starfleet ship.
Lorca basically says, screw you, we’re going home And knocks yes mud back into the cell and closes the door on him to leave him as a prisoner of. A Klingon prison ship. Well, this back of one other captain who would’ve done anything close to that.
This ties right back to what PaleGhost 69 said. It’s like you have to kind of divorce yourself of like, oh, this isn’t star Trek.
It’s just fun sci-fi, right? As you look at it from that point of view, this whole sequence is great. But if you look at it from 30, 40 years of star Trek and you’re watching this, you’re like, what is happening right now? No Starfleet officer would do that. They would, even though he’s a bad guy, they would’ve tried to rescue him because we tried to save everybody’s life.
But here’s a captain who blew up his whole ship and crew, and yet is still captain somehow, and now he’s gonna leave this. It fits. For how they’re shaping Lorca up, but it doesn’t
It fits for star Trek. Yeah, and I think it fits, I think it does fit in star Trek in the sense of big, big, big picture. I think like, okay, once you know we move forward, I think big picture, it will fit in.
And for me, this episode is an interesting one because as much as what happens with Lorca and Lorca being such a distinct take on a captain and not quite fitting the Starfleet mold that we’ve seen up to this point, I feel like everything that happens aboard the discovery. Feels very Star Trek. Do you agree that the, that the discovery storyline feels like, okay, this is identifiable track.
It’s the star Trek story. The, the, the, the discovery storyline on the ship. I loved, I loved how, here’s Burnham recognizing the issue with the Tardigrade. She’s trying to save this creature’s life. It’s a sentient creature. We should not be doing this. And she’s trying her best to do it, but nobody will listen to her cuz she’s got no rank.
She’s this horrible person, nobody’ll to listen to her.
So I love how she has no rank. She technically doesn’t report to anybody. Right? I love how she apparently tries to go to Lorca’s pet.
Yeah, she tries to go to talk to Lorca, but Lorca’s not there. And Syrus just like, Nope, get outta here. And so then she starts going through the whole process of, let me get the doctor, let me have the doctor help me kind of prove that something’s happening at the Tardigrade.
And then let me go to, you know, Stamets and let me use that ammunition from. The doctor who happens to be Stamet’s husband, like partner. Let me see if I can convince him. If I can convince him, then I can get things rolling. So she’s using just logic, playing the situation as best she can. I, I love that. Yeah.
And the fact that all of these characters reluctantly came along and you could see how the doctor was kind of like reluctantly working with her, and then the doctor clicked in because the doctor was like, she’s right. Yeah, we shouldn’t be doing this. And then Stamets being like, get outta here. And then he has that epiphany of like, oh, she’s right.
So it was fun to see all the characters kind of clicking into Burnham’s point of view. Having this reminder of that Star Trek has a higher ideal for what we stand for. Mm-hmm. And all these characters kind of resonating and making that statement along the way was, I thought was great. I loved
it. Stamet’s approach to all of this initially.
I didn’t know which way his character would go, but then when he ultimately is like that, we can’t do this to this creature. Yeah. His, his pursuit of truth has a limit. He won’t do it to something else. He puts himself in that. Position actually. So as the first, as this traumatic twist at the, at the end of the episode, which I really liked, this is
the first episode where I’m like, I’m now on team Stamets.
Because like up until this point, he’s just come across as a persnickety. Yeah. Kind of nasty kind of character. And this is the first one where you get a glimpse of him, of like, He is definitely on board with doing the right thing and that he’s even willing to put himself at dire risk to do that right thing.
He sacrifices himself not knowing what’s gonna happen. He sacrifices himself
and it’s like, what? See is the giant water bear says so much about him. Yeah. What we see is the giant water bear is being tortured effectively every time that they use it. And Saru is given the unenviable mission. You have to go find your captain.
Because if he reveals the secrets of what the drive is, that will be a problem. So this is from Starfleet as much a, we gotta rescue our person as we. As it is, we can’t let our secrets fall into enemy hands, so they have to go find Lorca. And Saru has one major tool at his disposal, which is that spore drive.
And the difficulty is everybody on the crew is slowly coming to the realization that the spore drive is not sustainable. Not only is it inhumane, but if they end up killing their. Engine or their navigator, effectively, there goes that tool. So while Saru turns says a flat no, he is also. Beginning to question himself.
There is a very nice sequence between him and Burnham. I love the sequence where he says, you make me question myself. You make me second guess myself. And that is a problem. And he sets the computer up to monitor his own behavior. I love the sequence when. He says to the computer, the reason I’m doing this is because there’s an obstacle in my way that keeps making me question myself.
And the computer says, what about removing the obstacle? And he’s like, that’s not possible. So it’s this, I’ve got this Burnham in front of me. How do I deal with a Burnham? I have to figure out if I know what I’m doing. So his story is extremely compelling and. Beautifully rendered very briefly. Yes. I’m really impressed.
In this episode, they managed to do multiple things. One is introduce the doctor. We’ve seen the doctor in a couple of scenes, but we’ve never seen the doctor hold a conversation in the way they do in this episode. Mm-hmm. And they reveal the doctor and Stamets are in a relationship. They let the doctor’s professionalism shine through in his ability to identify what is happening to the Tardigrade.
We’re able to see Burnham effectively coalesce a group in support of her argument. Mm-hmm. We see Stamets humanized. We see Saru struggling with the captaincy, and we see Tilly once again stepping into her own. Professionalism of she, there’s a reason why she’s there. She’s mm-hmm. Cast in the light of being comedic relief.
She does little things like when she sits down with Burnham at the lunchroom and jokingly makes comments that are effectively like, you don’t have a choice. You’re gonna talk to me about your problem so that I can help you fix them, because I just like not being the one in the room who’s causing the problem.
And that’s all funny. But then in the same episode, It shows Stamets and Burnham an Tilly problem solving the issue of how to get around the fact that the Tardigrade is going to be killed by the process they’re using. Okay. And you up with cut for a second. A very quotable moment for me. Well, it’s,
there’s the sequence with the three of them in engineering talking, and I don’t know if you had this.
The first 60 seconds of that entire scene, I wanted to throw something at the TV because it was some of the worst exposition. Oh, absolutely. It was like this, it was like a entire recap of, if you haven’t seen the first three episodes, here’s what’s happened on Star Trek Discovery. And they walk through the whole, like what the sport drive is and how it works and like, it’s like this is a streaming television show that people are binge watching.
What are you doing? This 60 seconds is completely unnecessary. Yeah, that it got me very frustrated. Yeah. But that scene after that,
I, I enjoyed. It, the scene turns the corner as soon as Tilly says, this is so fucking cool. Yes. For me it’s the, it’s that moment where she’s just like so jazzed by the fact that they’re doing stuff that nobody’s ever done before.
And I like that Stamets turns to her and calmly says, yes, this is like, this is the reason why he’s there. So how do you feel about
swearing on Star Trek now? This is the show. This head? Yeah. I know some people had problem with it. Yeah. But the way they used it, I thought was very effective because it was, it, it showed the exuberance.
And so like, just the unadulterated excitement she’s having. Yeah. And I did like that Stamets turns to her and kind of looks like a, she, like he’s about to chide her and put her down. Right. But he’s like, no, this is fucking cool. It’s like, I, I liked that little sequence right there. It was the perfect way to use.
Swearing. Yeah. To kind of add
emphasis. There’s a reason why and it, and it’s, this is one of the things I really love about this scene. There has to be a reason why somebody like Stamets would have somebody like Tilly in the room with him. Yep. Yep. Yep. And it’s not because she makes him laugh, it’s not because he thinks she’s charming.
It is because when he looks at her, he’s like, she nerds out as hard as I do. I like that as their connective tissue. That moment I thought was really nicely rendered, and I also liked the response that they have collectively. To the problem solving of, of spitballing. It’s terrible exposition in that first 60 seconds.
It stands out as it might as well have just frozen on the face of them. And then a scroll could have gone up. Yeah, describing how everything works and then gone back into the sequence. But them, the doctor, everybody touching base with each other and compiling information, really gathering information that Saru doesn’t have a choice but to ignore.
It creates this really strong, okay. Burnham is finding her place. She’s finding herself at the center as the hub with all these people on the the surrounding her. And yet ultimately it isn’t enough of an argument because Saru has a job to do and he has to balance. Actually destroying the spore drive that they have in order to complete the mission, and he makes hard choices and has hard conversations with Burnham and everybody involved.
One of my favorite scenes in this is when he looks like he’s talking to the doctor and says, There’s no choice. You have to do this thing. And the doctor says, I won’t be a part of this. And he says, I wasn’t talking to you. And it’s all about Stamets. And Stamets is finds himself probably, I don’t know how you felt about this, but I was like, Stamets was probably already headed this direction anyway.
Yes, plug himself in. When he
says in that, that scene, he goes, okay. The look on his face, it’s like completely like, all right, you asked for it. You could tell he was already had something in mind. But at the, as a viewer watching this for the first time, you’re kind of like, That’s kind of an odd reaction for him to have, just like in front of his partner and like you’d think he’d be fighting for it, but the fact he didn’t, he just kinda rolled over and took it as a viewer.
I remember watching this the first time, I was like, well, that’s a little off. And then when you see what happens, it’s like, oh, oh. He was planning to inject himself and become the, the spore
drive himself. Yes. So he becomes the Spore drive. He ends up saving the day because they’re able to, they’re able to follow what little trail they have to a location where they’re able to then find Lorca and Ash Tyler, who they haven’t met yet being chased in small Klingon fighter ships.
And they’re able to, to identify them because Saru is able to look at those ships and be able to say, when you have predators all swarming after one thing like that, that one thing is going to be. The, the one being pursued. And so this is not an attack vector. This is a, uh, flea and pursuit chase, and they’re able to identify Lorca beam, him and Tyler out and get them aboard the discovery and get out before they can be attacked by the Klingons.
So now the entire family is back together and everybody’s happy. Except for that poor Tardigrade, which has this breathtaking scene where it basically expels all the water from its body and shrinks down to the size of like a, A suitcase. Like Like a suitcase or a, yeah, I was gonna say something like a, uh, like a yoga ball.
It’s, it’s this kind of like super hard shell and it pulls in on itself and. It’s at this stage that everybody involved is looking at this thing and saying, well, we’re clearly killing this. There’s no debating this anymore. Mm-hmm. So we end the episode with Saru having given one final order to Burnham, which is find a solution for our Tardigrade problem, and her solution is to release it.
And we end up with what is a fine departure to a, what is effectively a McGuffin for the series. Yeah. Oh yeah. This thing that is the all-knowing navigator that’s plugged in the mycelium network that’s able to see all of the universe and take them anywhere just disappears in a blink of light and. It’s a fine departure and I think what’s interesting to me is originally in early conceptions of this show that Tardigrade was going to be a permanent member of the crew.
And it was going to have a name. It was not gonna be called Ripper. It was gonna be called something else. I believe it was gonna be Efram, and it was going to be a regular element of the series. And I think that there’s a part of me that can’t even express how relieved I am that they didn’t go that direction.
There was a show that already did that, Sean. It’s called Farscape. But, uh, glad they didn’t do that cuz by not doing that, it strengthens the whole argument of why did we not hear of this type of ship before in all of star Trek? They’ve just shown it. It’s like, well, we can’t find another Tardigrade and this Tardigrade is dying.
We have to. You know, find different method. And now it’s like, oh, well we can affect D n and we can put, there’s nobody else. This will affect, it has to be a higher end species, something that’s sentient that can take this, well, that’s only us. And it’s like, well, we can’t do that because that’s augments has, that’s augmenting D n A, which is now illegal.
So they’re setting all these things up for. This is why Discovery is a boutique ship. It’s, it’s one of a kind, and this is why we haven’t seen it before, and this is why we never see it again, because it’s so specialized and just unique that it can’t be replicated. This is where it starts to make sense.
If they kept the tardigrade around, I don’t know. To me it kind of like undercuts that a little bit because this is just like an, it’s just layering on all the reasons why we can’t keep doing this. Right. It’s like we can’t find Tardigrade. Oh. And it kills them. So it’s like, there’s like, by doing that, I think it strengthens the argument for why this is a unique situation.
And then post releasing of the Tardigrade, we get a, a. Getting ready for bed sequence where we see the doctor and we see Stamets brushing their teeth and having a heart to heart conversation. It’s a nice conversation between a couple that is mm-hmm. The first reveal that we’ve seen that the doctor and Stamets are in this kind of relationship, because every time we’ve seen them previously, the doctor seems really put out by Stamets.
Mm-hmm. And they seem to have some sort of history there. Now we’re seeing, okay, it’s not history, it’s current events. They’re in a relationship and what we’re seeing is the doctor basically looking at Stamets and saying, you’re either a dick all the time, or you do stupid shit. And stop it. Yeah. Yeah. And so here we have that moment of a loving partner say, you can’t do stuff like that to yourself.
And Stamets response, I knew you’d try and stop me, but I knew we didn’t have a choice. So this is an episode of a lot, again, like last week, a lot of people making choices between the lesser of two terribles. You know, I, I can either not get into that chamber. And then we all die because the Klingons will kill us or I get in and potentially really hurt myself.
So which is the better choice? And you know, Saru is in a position of like, I’m taking my ship into a place where everybody in my crew is telling me we can’t keep using this engine, but I have no choice. We have to go in and do this thing. So we end up with the two of them brushing their teeth and it’s a nice enough conversation.
It’s all fine, but the ultimate, the ending takeaway. Is something kind of, I’m gonna argue that the ending is not literal. It’s poetic for the viewer. Yes. Because what happens cannot happen. But what happens, I think we can also very quickly interpret as to what is happening. Yes. So what we see is, I loved it, Stamets brushing his teeth.
Yeah. His partner says, promise me you won’t do that again. He says, I promise. Puts down his toothbrush, leaves the room, and the camera reveals that in the mirror. Stamets is still standing there studying himself with a look on his face that says he’s kind of ruminating about what’s just happened, but he’s not there.
The reflection remains until it also turns and walks away. So we have seen a mirror befor perform in a way that mirrors cannot perform. I remember watching this and in that moment, immediately concluding we’re looking at a mirror universe. So, so I take it as not a literal Stamet’s mirror was literally doing that.
I think it’s a wink to the audience that you guys know what’s coming. Yes,
I, I agree with you. I love this ending. I thought it was the perfect ending to this remember how in the last episode I talked about how the ending felt anti-climactic? It didn’t feel like it really wrapped up the heart of what the episode was about.
It just kind of felt like it kind of petered out, stopped. This is the kind of ending that I expect out of a streaming show nowadays. It’s like all the major plot lines of the episode that were set up. Are concluded, but there’s something, a thread that is continuing into the next episode that’s teased to make you want to hit the next episode button.
This ending grabs you, man. It’s like, it is so great with him going, I’m totally fine. I’m fine, I promise you. And they turn and go to bed together and then it turns around and then he’s just like got that blank stare in his face. And as a viewer you’re like,
oh no, it grabs you
so thoroughly. But it’s something new that.
Doesn’t feel like it’s cheated, the episode’s ending. So that’s kind of what this, I
think, is born entirely of the episode. Yes, it wouldn’t ha you know that this is the conclusion of Stamats having done this thing to himself. And he says, in describing his experience, I was able to see everything and it was beautiful and in that moment of rapture, then seeing the mirror reflection stay in the room tells you it wasn’t all beautiful.
Something has happened, something fundamental has happened. This entire thing is about the events of the, of the episode. There’s also another bow wrapped around another story element, which I also equally enjoyed, and it’s the conversation between Saru and Burnham, where Burnham has the telescope and gives it to Saru.
She gives it to him because he is the literal manifestation of Georgiou hopes that she Burnham. Did not fulfill. Mm-hmm. So she passes the mantle onto Saru and says to him, you did a good job. You did what a captain needs to do and you are ready for the role you have. And Saru reveals. As opposed to the previous episode where he basically used his role as first officer to burn, Burnham.
He said like, I’m gonna do a better job at this, at this than you did. Mm-hmm. In this episode, he says, I’m saddled with a captain who is not teaching me how to captain. You had Georgiou who was clearly. Grooming you to be a captain. And I first saw my path being filling your void when you would leave because it was clear you were gonna become a captain.
And that would be my opportunity to move up. And then you blew that all up by creating this war. Yeah. And now I’m left with a captain who is a mad man and I do not have the opportunity to learn. And she says, you already have, you were with Georgiou as well and you’ve learned and you clearly are ready for this role.
Yeah. So it’s a nice bridge building moment between those two characters and I really like that. It’s not a, we forgive each other or you forgive me for what happened in the past, but it is about, there’s a hard line behind us, which is history. And we can either keep turning around and facing that and looking at that, or we can turn away from it, understand that it’s there, and then move forward into the future.
And it feels like for both these characters, this is the moment where Burnham has been looking for this. She’s been looking for, I don’t know how to move forward. She kind of stumbles upon it in this episode of answering questions and building a team around her. Organically, but for Saru, it is a conscious choice.
I like that the two of them are both now facing forward, but one on instinct and it’s not him. They keep pointing out that he has the instinctive detection for danger, but he’s not the one operating on instinct in this. He’s operating from a place of having to internally say to himself, I can’t keep dragging her through the glass because she screwed things up.
I also need to recognize that there are things in her that I can learn from. So yep, it’s this kind of unofficial mentorship that’s going both directions. She needs a friend, she needs an ally who knows her. And he needs the experience and he needs the, the understanding of somebody who’s been in the similar role.
And there’s nobody else on the ship who can do that for, for him but her. So it’s the beginning of a nice pairing between the two of them. Every show has Yep. This, the pairing, there’s always the pairing there, there you and you have so much energy and strength comes from, from that, from the storytelling and.
I think on Enterprise T’Pol and Archer created that. I think that in this, we’re seeing the first hint that it’s not gonna be Lorca. Lorca is not that hinge for the pairing. It is these two, these two with a lot of history behind them, but now figuring out what does our future look like, if not what we expected.
And I really like that ending. Me too. So as we move forward, the next time we’re talking, we’re gonna talk about the episode leave and viewers, as before I invite you to jump into the comments and give us some wrong answers only as to what leave will be about. And we’ll try to incorporate those into next week’s episode.
And before we sign off, Matt, is there anything you wanted to share about what’s coming up on your main channel with our listeners? Well, the
episode coming up, that’s out actually at the time this episode comes out is about my new home and I’m having a geothermal or a ground source heat pump system put in.
And I have a video about the drilling of a 400 foot well and what it’s like going through that process that’s gonna be out there. It’s a, I found it fascinating. It was, it was really cool.
What sounds interesting about the drilling of that well is even if it goes poorly, it goes well as for me. You can check out my website, sean trail.com, look for my books there, or just go directly to whatever bookstore or public library you might want to and ask for them.
They’re available anywhere. And keep an eye out for my next book, the Sinister Secrets of Singe, which is coming out in the first week in June, 2023. And as I mentioned before, as I start having some events in public, I will drop information about them here. And if anybody’s interested, I’d love to see you swing by a bookstore where I might be doing a reading and or signing.
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