99: Lethe – Star Trek Discovery Season 1, Episode 6


Matt and Sean talk about Sarek’s backstory that explains SO MUCH about Spock, the Vulcans, and the rest of Star Trek. Is Star Trek Discovery starting to find its footing? 

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Hey everybody. In this episode of Trek in Time, we’re gonna be talking about what happens when parents and children both blame themselves for history’s mistakes. That’s right. We’re talking about star Trek discovery, season one, episode six, Lethe, and yes, I did look up the pronunciation. Is it lathe? Nope.

It’s Lethe. It is, and this will come into the context of our conversation on this episode. Lethe was a river in Hades whose waters caused drinkers to forget their past. And once I read that I was like, it makes sense. Oh wow. It all makes sense. So yes, look at the big brains on the writers of this episode that’s right here on Trek.

in Time, we talk about star Trek. We talk about it in chronological order, which means we started with enterprise, we’ve moved through enterprise, and now we’re into star Trek discovery. We also talk about what the world was like at the time, original broadcast. So during enterprise, we were talking about the early two thousands.

And now that we’re in the first season of discovery, we’re talking about the world as it was in 2017. And who are we? Well, I’m Sean Ferrell. I’m a published writer. Including some sci-fi, some stuff for kids, and the soon to be released, sinister Secrets of Singe, my new middle grade adventure series, which will be hitting bookshelves in the first week of June.

So if you’re hearing this after the first week of June in the year of our Lord 2023, run to your bookstore, look for it. Please. I would greatly appreciate it and with me, of course, as always, is my brother Matt. Matt, is that Matt of undecided with Matt Ferrell, which takes a look at emerging tech and its impact on our lives.

Matt, how you doing today?

I’m doing good. It’s very hot and steamy in the Boston area. I’m assuming it’s the same in your area this summer is here.

That’s for sure. Yes. Yeah. We spent a good portion of yesterday doing outdoor projects. I ret strung lights above the patio. We bought new patio furniture. We cleaned the, the patio area, which the entirety of our backyard is patio, so it was cleaning up a lot of weeds, sweeping stuff out, moving furniture around.

It was an all day event and last night I was sitting on the sofa and went to quickly go get a tissue out of the, the. Bathroom that’s near our living room. And when I stood up, I hobbled across the floor like a cowboy had been running a horse all day, which prompted my partner Sarah to say, what the hell is wrong with you?

And your response

was, I’m old. Yeah. My response was, I’m 50. As usual, we like to start off our episodes by talking about comments from all of you on our previous episodes. So Matt, what do you have from the comments for us? Well, from

episode 98, choose Your Pain. We have one from Technophile saying to you, Sean, Sean, I’m starting to doubt Matt was ever into any of these songs.

Probably wasn’t even singing along to over and over, over and over.

Mm. Those were heady days. Over and over,

over and over. The other comment I wanted to bring up is from Jason Dumb, who’s clearly not a fan of the new Trek he wrote. Does not make sense. Comes outta my mouth way too often with the new Trek and the Lorca backstory.

Just no, no way. Dumb. I’m sorry. Sacrificed his crew. Terrible writing choice, not star Trek. I would agree with him is this is very unlike Trek we’ve seen in the past. Yes. But I think it’s interesting that they were taking a different tactic and trying something new. Yeah. Whether it works or not, I think that’s the debatable subjective point of view and I, I kind of, I get his point.

I definitely get his point. Yeah,

we talked about this briefly last week about, yeah, it’s entirely possible that they were striking into new territory, and then once they saw the response, understood better where the modern border of star Trek actually lies. Because at this point, They were more than a decade away from the previous Trek, and when Next generation came out, they were more than a decade away from the original Trek, but there was already a massive footprint in the form of a proposed second original series.

There was a second series that was Coto that was being put together by Roddenberry at a time when Paramount was originally conceiving in the seventies of starting its own network. Star Trek would’ve been the the main centerpiece of a new Paramount network. And they were putting together a series. They put together a series Bible.

They were putting together character studies of who would be on the show, and it would’ve been based around Kirk as the captain. So you would’ve had a second series with Kirk as the centerpiece, but an entirely new crew around him. That series Bible wa, they even wrote scripts for some of these episodes.

That series Bible and some of those scripts became the footprint for next generation. So when you look at the gap in time between series, the gap in time between the original series and next generation is not actually as big as you would think because what happened was the pilot for the second series was converted and turned into Star Trek.

The motion picture in Star Trek, the motion picture, if you recall, the character of Ducker, who is the executive officer, that was the model for Riker. So they literally copied themselves in creating next generation on a 1970s vision based very closely around a Kirk show. So there’s a bigger gap between enterprise and discovery than there was between the original series and Next Generation.

So Next Generation stepped into the world. Already feeling like Trek because it was part of what Trek was at that time. The motion picture had happened. There had been sequels. People were accustomed to Trek still, and so that version of Trek felt Trek. Whereas I think the world shifting and the way television is produced, the expectations of an audience, I think the conception of discovery.

They planted a flag kind of outside the parameters of Trek. Yes. To see how far they could go, and maybe not even intentionally, maybe right. On a subconscious level. And then we all sort of responded with like, well, this is good sci-fi, but is it Trek? And that’s when they started pulling it back. So I don’t disagree.

What I will say, what

I will say though, is, Obviously no spoilers, but where this ends up going, especially with

this is my other, this is my other response.

There are so many. In this episode we’re about to talk about, there are so many seeds that are dropped in this episode, specifically around him and where his character goes.

I didn’t, of course, This is the first time I’ve rewatched this series. Yeah. First time. And I did not pick up on any of these little seeds. They were dropping of course. Cause it was the first time I had watched it before. This time I’m pick, it’s like rewatching 6 sense. It’s like I’m, I’m like, oh. Oh. They were really dropping like tons of clues.

Yeah. All along the way about him. Yeah. And it really does explain why. He is that guy Yeah. That is doing this horrible stuff and getting away with it. They, they explain

all of it, so it’s like, Jason, I really appreciate. Yeah, yeah. I was gonna say, Jason, I really appreciate your comments and I hope you continue to jump in episode by episode and let us know if you continue to feel the way you do as they reveal things as Matt is pointing out, because the, where this series ends up does a lot of explaining.

And I’m also curious,

Jason, have you seen this all before or are you watching it for the first time? Yeah. Or did you like tap out after the first few episodes originally because it just wasn’t for you? Yeah. I’m curious to know if you’ve seen it all dropped out early, whatever, because a lot of your concerns are addressed.

Yeah, but it was, it happened so late. Yeah, in the cycle. Yeah. It may have lost a lot of

viewers. And even being addressed, and I will say this, there are subtle hints as Matt pointed out, not only about Lorca, but about lots of elements in the show. Yeah. And a lot. And they are all within the first season explained they’re brought together.

And if you rewatch it the way we’re doing it now, they do stand out in a different way now. And I will say, while they all do. Tie things together. I don’t agree with all of the choices made, even though there are explanations, so Yes. Yes. Jason. We’re not calling you out to say like, oh, Jason, you don’t know because you haven’t watched the whole thing.

I’m just saying like, there are explanations. Yeah, and for me, some of the explanations that are on the way, I don’t like, I, you know, like I still remember what they are and there’s certain elements that I’m just like, that’s just really sort of not. Well done. Like so yeah, we’ll have those conversations in the future.

Yeah. But for right now, we’re gonna be focused on Lethe. Which, as I mentioned, is a river in Hades That removes your memory and we’ll see if this Wikipedia description does the same thing to Matt. Okay. On his

way to broker or peace deal with the Renegade Klingon houses. Sarek is injured when a logic extremist attempts to assassinate him.

Burnham senses this through the Her telepathic link with Sarek and Lorca agrees to rescue him. Admiral Catrina Cornwell questions this decision and others that Lorca has been making Burnham searches for Sarek in the shuttle with Tyler and her roommate, cadet Sylvia Tilley. Burnham attempts to connect with Sarek’s mind and finds him remembering the time that her application to the Vulcan, to the Vulcan Expeditionary Group was rejected.

She learns that the V E G would only admit one of Sarek’s children, and he chose Spock, his half human son. I’m glad that’s in the description because anybody who doesn’t know Spock has been living under rock. Spock ultimately chose to join Starfleet rendering Sarek’s decision. Futile Burnham helps him to regain consciousness and activates a location.

Beacon. Lorca and Cornwell have sex. So this description,

this is just like, I love that it’s activates the location beat can. Which leads to them having sex. Yeah. Laura and

Cornwell have sex. Yeah. But she’s concerned by his paranoid behavior and plans to remove him from command of discovery with Sarek. Unable to meet with the Klingons.

Cornwell takes his place. However, the peace talks are actually a trap and she is taken captive. It’s accurate. It

is accurate. It is a blow by blow account of the episode. Some of these summaries, they’re a little wordier than the ones we were accustomed to for Enterprise, but the ones for Enterprise also had the weirdest preambles and trying to include everything about it being a US television show about a Starship NX oh one Enterprise, like.

Fitting everything into one sentences that, yeah, these are a little blow by blow, and they kind of ramble a bit, but I do think that they hit the high points so we can rely on them pretty well To guide our discussion. This episode originally aired on October 22nd, 2017. It was directed by Douglas Aarniokoski and it was written by Joe Manosky and Ted Suliban. Our regular stars include Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham, Doug Jones as Saru Shaza Latif as Ash Tyler Anthony, rap as Paul Stamets. Mary Wiseman as Sylvia Tilly, Jason Isaacs as Captain Gabriel Lorca and Jane Brook as Admiral Cornwell. What was the world like on October 22nd, 2017?

Well, despite what our commenters may feel. I do remember Matt calling me up occasionally cuz at this point we were both living in very different places far away. But Matt would call me up occasionally and just hum the first few bars of Rockstar by Post Malone featuring 21 Savage. He liked to do that like 3:00 AM 4:00 AM He was never drunk or anything.

It was just something he liked to do. Him and 49 million other people who were streaming the song. And at the movies, boo two. Madea Halloween was the number one movie earning 21 million. Madea is of course Tyler Perry’s grandmotherly character, a comic character, a comic parody of a of a grandmother. And BTU is the Get this Mat 10th film.

In the Madea universe of films, the Madea verse. Okay, if you will. And on television, we’ve been talking not necessarily about numbers of network broadcasts, but we’ve been talking about streaming shows as discovery itself as a streaming show, so com, trying to compare apples to apples. And we’ve talked about top four shows so far, which were Game of Thrones, walking Dead, pretty Little Liars and Vikings.

And I was very surprised to see that the number five streaming show for 2017 was the resurgence of Prison Break. Prison Break, which had been a Fox network show from 2005 to 2009, came back for one season in 2017, it was earning 5.92 million views. Per episode, Fox decided after one season not to bring it back, and the numbers made me think, well, why those aren’t bad numbers for a streaming program to get 5 million, almost 6 million views.

Well, Wentworth Miller, the star of the show, decided after doing another season that he was right to have quit the show in the first place. He didn’t want to come back.

And in the news from the New York Times, the EPA was shifting. Definitions on toxic chemicals, and a scientist who worked for the chemical industry now shaped. The EPA policy. This was part of the Trump administration shift toward more business positive decision making. Spain was removing a catalonian leader escalation, escalating a secession crisis.

Mariano Rajoy in an unexpectedly forceful move said Madrid would take control of the independence minded region of Catalonia. Pushing out a separatist administration and Bill O’Reilly from Fox News settled a harassment lawsuit and then renewed his contract, but this would not last long. As years later, O’Reilly would be forced out.

Also in the news, Boko Haram was continuing its attacks on civilians in Nigeria and a suicide bomber had killed 13 people and injured five others. And according to police, 13, more civilians were injured in separate attacks. And in Israel, a Palestinian man in the occupied West Bank was arrested and questioned for several hours by Israeli police after Facebook mistranslated his Arabic language message, which said, good morning into attack them.

So, well, that’s a big oops. That’s a big oops. And just one of the many reasons why algorithms and ais, and. Other things in our internet lives don’t always provide a boon. Sometimes they cause a problem. So onto our conversation on this episode, we start off with Sarek on his way to some sort of unnamed meeting and his pilot who is questioning him about the destination.

They have a very nice little Vulcan conversation where, It’s, well, I’m asking questions. Well, I’m not gonna answer them, but nobody’s upset. There’s no tension. Yeah. In the room. Yeah. It is very just like, I would like to know where we were going. Well, I’m not going to tell you where we were going. Okay. We will go.

But then it doesn’t always work out that way, does it? So we see what starts off as looking like just a journey, but it turns into an assassination attempt. Matt, what did you think about this setup to the episode? And I’m curious, did it tie in like it did for me to some of the stuff we’d seen in Enterprise?

I thought that this was really for me, kind of like the first moment. I was like, yeah, some of the lingering tensions in the Vulcan community around what does it mean to spend time with humans? I’d completely,

completely forgotten about this. This whole scene that happened and when I watched it, it was just like a light bulb going off of like, oh, oh.

They did tie this back to Enterprise and they were tying it directly back to stuff we had seen happening in this quote time period of Star Trek. I love, I love the fact that they brought this back, that this extremist group is still kind of like their percolating. There’s still people that don’t agree with the direction of Vulcan and their Vulcan first kind of.

Logic at all costs kind of mentality. I thought it was really interesting that they went on this path and kind of left this door open. And also we’d never really seen this. Obviously this is trying to rec con a little bit of what happened before, but like the whole idea that Sarek, the choices he made in the original series, like whenever they showed Spock and his upbringing and all that kind of stuff, they never of course talked about this kind of stuff.

Yeah, but it was always looked, but it was un hinted at that Sarek was kind of a little bit of an outsider because yeah, he did marry a human and all that kind stuff. I like that. This is like showing that it wasn’t just like, oh, he’s a little bit of an outsider. It’s a, he really was on the fringe and they were, he probably upset a lot of alkins.

Yeah, and I like the fact that they tied this directly back to Burnham’s school being bombed. Because of what Sarek was doing with her and this attempt on his life because of what he had been doing with Spock and with Burnham. So I I, I love that. I love this whole opening.

Yeah. I think in the future as we move forward, uh, deeper into other Treks, we’re gonna be revisiting this episode.

I, I, as I was watching this episode, again, I’m just like, this episode becomes now for me, a linchpin to who Spock is and is really about the relationship between Spock and his father. They talk about, of course, it’s Burnham. And Sarek, who is of course her adoptive father, despite the fact that Sarek in this episode kind of throws back, we’re not biologically related.

So are, you know, I am not really your father. And she throws it back in his face to call him dad. It’s this like real, kind of like, you don’t get a choice here, you’re, you’re my father. But in the future we will be crossing the original series, an episode with Sarek, where Spock and he have a contentious relationship.

There’s an episode of Next Generation where Sarek and Picard are in. Mind meld with one another, and you get a sense of the grief and guilt that Sarek is carrying with him. That’s on display here. I think they did a great job, first of all with the acting. James Frain, who’s playing Sarek here, does a tremendous job.

With that kind of, I’ve gotta give response without giving response. I’ve gotta let all the stuff boil underneath. And he does a really great job with that. And the relationship between the decision making that Sarek has to make and what we know is coming in the future for Spock is like, I thought it was remarkable that they were able to mine this kind of.

Of new information, but it’s not new. They were able to build a moment that is a bridge between what came before and what’s coming later. And mm-hmm. And it makes sense. I really, really enjoyed it and this is one of those moments where I’m like, a prequel can, can work. A prequel Yes, can be great. And, and I think that it was a moment for me as I was watching this episode.

I was like, I wish Enterprise added more like this, where I was just like, mm-hmm. Ooh. Yeah. That’s the, that’s the kind of connection I’m looking for. I also like the fact that it’s logic terrorists, because it’s kind of highlighting something in our own world. Now, and we see it on display all the time talking about extremism.

And extremism is framed very much as a, the people who are extremists are either stupid, they’re mentally ill, or they’re ignorant and they just need things explained to them better. Like we can unex extreme somebody through just enough conversation and explanation, but in reality, The extremists that are on display here in this episode and in our own world, I think are people who have conceived with a logic all their own.

Mm-hmm. That the place they’re going to with their extremism makes sense. It doesn’t Yep. Come out of I’m ignorant or stupid or mentally ill alone, or even with any of those. In some cases, it very often can arrive out of just. A logic where two plus two can equal five, and that’s on display here. When you talk about Vulcan, Vulcan, extremism, logic, extremists, and it, at first you’re like, is that an oxymoron?

But really it shines a really nice light on what extremism is. Here’s a group of Vulcans who have decided interactions with humans is a problem. They’re contaminating our culture, and in order to defend that, we need to do things to break away from that. Here’s a Vulcan who is not only tainting what it means to be Vulcan by marrying and breeding with a human, but is doing things on behalf of humans when it is not official Vulcan policy.

That needs to be ended. So the assassination of Sarek in this case is a logically arrived at argument. And I also really like that it is a biological bomb. This individual, the special effects in this opening scene are harrowing. Yeah, because. The injection that he, the pilot gives himself and then the speech he gives while he’s waiting to explode.

I found all of that remarkable.

Yes, it was a very good scene and I also have enjoyed the tension of watching, like, why isn’t Sarek doing something? Why isn’t Sarek doing something? And it’s like he was doing something the way he stepped back and just went, the forcefield still came up. It’s like, I just liked how.

Like calm and collected. He was very Vulcan like during the entire sequence. Yeah. So yeah, it’s, it’s the fact that the one Vulcan who’s exploding, just matter of fact, you know, yeah, I’m currently blowing up, but this is why I’m doing this. Yes. Even giving him

in a very Vulcans way of like, like the Vulcan hand sign at the end there, which is live long and prosper.

But he is doing it with the, like, this is about. Vulcan culture, living long and prospering. Not about you. Yes. As an individual. And Vulcan first. Yeah, Vulcans first. And make, make Vulcan great again. Uh, so we end up with that attack leading to Burnham having a, a visceral reaction. This is during a, what looks like a lighthearted.

Meal scene with her. Mm-hmm. And Tillie and their recently joined New Crewman, Ash. Tyler and Ash, before we talk about the lunch scene, I wanted to talk about the scene between Tyler and Lorca, where the two of them are going through a hologram training session, and I like how they’re setting up Lorca’s Pursuit.

Of allies. He’s very selective. He, he’s plucking individuals from strange circumstances to be near him. He’s trying to build mm-hmm. That crew around him that you would say, well, Picard would do the same thing. He wants very specific. Tool set around him to be able to have a good crew. But Luca’s looking for damaged folks.

He’s already picked, he’s looking for

outsiders. He’s looking for people, outsiders injected in some fashion because then those people, when they become loyal to you, they’re more loyal because they’re outsiders and they feel like they finally found their family. It’s almost like a David Koresh, you know, kind of.

There’s, there’s a little bit of a, yeah, yeah. A cult, a cult building behind Lorca, the way he’s picking the people he picks, which is,

yeah. Disturbing to say at least. So he, he taps Ash to replace his recently deceased security officer, and we already know that the recently deceased security officer fit the same mold.

She was loyal to him, to the point of her own death. It was, she was doing things extremely questionable. She was very aggressive with everybody on the crew, and she was committed to Luca’s needs, which led directly to her passing. So now we see him tapping Ash and saying, it is your very experience as a survivor of a Klingon prison that makes you the best candidate for this job.

So Tyler accepts, and now we have a scene where Tyler is eating and Tilly convinces Burnham that they should join him because Tilly is like, this guy’s cute. The back and forth leads to Burnham and Tyler being introduced. Tyler knows who she is already. And doesn’t seem to hold any kind of grudge the way that other Starfleet personnel have toward her.

Based on her having started effectively the war and been committed for treason, he passes that off. As you’re here now, you have a job. I accept that as your current reality, and I’m happy to meet you. And then Burnham has a full reaction to Sarek’s dilemma. This is another element that ties back to me, back to Enterprise, the whole Katra connection, the relationship between an individual’s katra and what it can mean for somebody who shares in that katra.

And we had debates and conversations around the idea that. Is it really okay that Archer is walking around after having the katra and he’s more Vulcan than the Vulcans around him? This, I think, is a nice and sophisticated evolution of what the Katra means. Right In this, it is perhaps an unspoken explanation as to why is Burnham’s pursuit of Vulcan-ness so effective?

When we first met her in the very first episode, yes it is potentially because there is an echo of Sarek’s katra working through her, but they didn’t explain that at the time. They don’t. They don’t do any deeper explanation of it. This is really the first moment where Burnham herself says, I share with his katra because of our experience in the past, I was dead.

He brought me back. And because of that, we have a link. I. And it is deep and it is profound, and it is ultimately mysterious. It’s also

interesting because she has a tighter connection to Sarek than Spock does.

Yes. So it’s

like, I love that seed of just a, from a storytelling perspective, they dropped that seed of her tight connection to Sarek.

Yes. And you know, Spock doesn’t share that. And so later when Spock does come into the series and the next series and stuff after that, it’s, it’s a nice. Extra layer they’ve added onto existing star Trek lore that we already know that you can. I remember watching this for the first time going, okay. She’s almost like the, she’s the older child.

Yes. She’s the. Special child.

She got more, she’s attention. Yeah,

right. She got more attention. She, she was, the father’s like under his wing. They had a weird type connection and Spock would be this younger, why can’t I get my father’s attention? You know, kind of, he’s struggling with his humanity. It’s, it’s like it starts to kind of all kind of come together and it was like, God, it feels like this was like, From the original inception of Spock, but of course, yeah, nobody ever thought of this.

It would even be how well they

weaved us together. Yeah. It would even be for the half Vulcan, half human Spock looking at her and saying, well, any failing she has toward humanity, she is a hundred percent human. Whereas I don’t have that out any failing I have toward being human. Is in neglect of my Vulcan side.

So he, you can really see that this relationship as it’s constructed now, all I mean, decades after the creation of the character of Spock. Yeah. Really does heighten as opposed to rec con, it feels like for me it heightens, it’s Spock. It’s added as who It’s totally added. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So it didn’t feel this to me and.

Again, we love, uh, getting feedback in the comments. Jump into the comments and let us know. Do you agree or disagree with, with my analysis? But for me, this is so much fundamentally better than I. Star Trek five, where they introduce a brother that we did not know of that was like rec conning to a degree.

That was just like, what is, what is the thought process here? What are they doing? But this is rec conning that is, as Matt said, additive and it feels like, oh, this makes Spock even better. And it makes it even more explained than less explained. This doesn’t add confusion, it adds clarity. So I really enjoy that aspect.

So she has this visceral connection and she immediately is like, Sarek is in danger, Sarek is dying. These things are unquestionable and I need to find him. What can we do to find him? And Lorca agrees to go looking and rescue him. Meanwhile, Admiral Cornwell gives Lorca a call and Lorca initially is like, I don’t have time for that.

And Saru’s response as well, she’s here. So this isn’t just Cornwell is calling him up and saying like, I need a. Conversation. She’s shown up and she is questioning his decision making and is pushing for not even necessarily explanations. She’s clearly there at the precipice of things have to change because this ties into somewhat out of control.

This ties

into kinda what I think Jason Dumb was getting at in his comment of it doesn’t feel like star Trek. I think Admiral Cornwell’s, uh, everything she’s hitting on Lorca. It’s what we as viewers are going, what the hell is going on here? Because this does not feel so star Trek. He’s not behaving like a, a captain should behave and she’s basically calling out everything that we, we would, as viewers are thinking of like, What the hell’s going on with Burnham?

She’s the fir, she’s the only person that’s ever committed mutiny in Starfleet history. Why the hell did you get her? Why is Ash here? He’s like, yeah, he’s got post-traumatic expressive

a week. They, she describes him as a week out of a Klingon prison. Yeah. And you’ve now tapped him to be your security officer.


So there’s all these things that are just like, what the hell is going on? You’re not. Behaving well, and what I thought was interesting, that entire conversation was they’re friends, so she’s cutting him slack because of the friendship, but she’s still doing the admiral side of it, of like, you got some explaining to do here.

Yeah. But it’s also this friend reaching outta hand saying there’s something off and we need to address this. I did enjoy the fact that they were addressing kind of the elephant in the room of Lorca in this episode. Mm-hmm. And laying the groundwork for what’s to come down the line with him. Um, I don’t know if we wanna jump around the timeline, but there’s the, the two of them end up having sex, as we’ve already discussed in this, in the description.

And in the sex scene, she reaches over and touches him and it freaks him the hell out. And he jumps up and he gets on top of her, starts to choke

a PTSD responses a in a

phaser under the freaking pillow. And it’s like, I just love, there’s a aspect to Lorca’s Story that’s very like the heart of darkness. It’s like a leader that’s slowly losing his mind and going crazy.

It was great cuz that was the, the kinda straw that broke the Campbell’s back. And she’s like, I’m getting rid of you. You gotta, you’re no longer captain here. This is unacceptable. You have completely lost the thread. So I do like the fact that they did try to address that elephant in the room of trying to get rid of the question around why would Starfleet let a guy behave like this?

This is so Unstar fleet, and that comes up in this episode explicitly of like, no, he is acting erratic and they’re gonna get rid of him because he is erratic.

Yeah. I think what’s on display too is she’s, in our conversation with him, it’s revealed that she’s a doctor by trade and a psychotherapist. By trade.

Yeah. So he talks to her about, you saw the interviews of me after the destruction of my original ship, and you know that I came through it. Okay. And she questions the validity of his responses. She seems to be somewhat interrogating him and also offering support. In their initial conversation, and then he turns it into what is clearly a manipulative act by coming onto her, revealing a previous sexual relationship, leaning into that, and she shares information about their past that he seems to be unaware of.

At one point she says, like, you don’t even remember what I’m talking about, and then his P T S D like response. All of these things are demonstration of like, there’s something not right with this guy. He’s, and right up to the end of the, the romantic scene when she leaves and she’s like, this was all manipulation and this is the end of it.

You’re on your way out. When I get back, you’re gone. And she leaves. He even begs, literally begs her not to, which I interpreted as another manipulation. He’s using every tool in his arsenal to try to keep his captaincy leading. Right up to now, we’ll talk, jumping back to the other element of the story, which is of course the Sarek storyline.

We have Sarek lost in space. He’s unconscious. If he does not regain consciousness and do something to signal where his ship is located, they’ll never find him because he’s lost in a radioactive nebula the place that he was going for this secretive. Meeting was in a secluded, hard to read section of space by design.

So he’s in a place where they won’t find him on sensors. So Ash is piloting the vessel. Tilly is there for moral support and to monitor. Burnham and Burnham is going through an artificial mind meld, which I like the fact that the artificial mind meld tech where the fingers would be on the, on the head.

So, and this is all designed by Stamets. We have one quick scene with Stamets. Which I think is worth mentioning. Oh, it’s

beautiful. He’s, I love how he’s like groovy. He’s like Soval, like completely different character. His personality completely different. Changed.

Yeah, he’s completely changed. And he is basically tripping on mushrooms, which they all are because the spore drive is what he is plugging himself into.

It is. Unlocking a cosmic understanding in him that is making him peaceful and weird in really unique ways. This is good writing when you need to show the drip, drip, drip character evolution over time, and you just give yourself a 90 second scene with a character as the past episode involved him walking away from a mirror and you see his reflection stays there.

Mm-hmm. Now you see this. And I’m like, okay, Stamets is changing. There’s big stuff happening with Stamets. We’re gonna come back to that. But not in this episode. We just see groovy man, let’s make this mine meld work cuz that’ll be fun. And then he goes off, builds this device and they then utilize this in order to activate the Mind.

Meld it is in the Mind meld that. Burnham experiences Sarek’s Dilemma. It’s the Sarek’s choice episode of ex, uh, effectively where she goes into the memory. She recognizes when it is, it is the moment when she was passed over for the Vulcan Expeditionary Group, and in that moment it’s her and her adoptive mother, Amanda, waiting for the results.

And Amanda, who is so proud of her, and of course is human embracing. The humanity by giving her the gift of Alison Wonderland and reminding her, no matter what you do in all your pursuits, if Vulcan lifestyle and Vulcan choices, don’t forget about humanity. It is literally the same thing that she would tell Spock.

Yep. You know, it’s, it’s, she’s raising two children biologically who are different, built differently biologically, but emotionally. She’s giving the same messaging to both of them. Don’t forget what, who you are, don’t forget. All the aspects of you don’t neglect part of yourself just because you feel like it’s a part that is weaker or less than.

So Sarek returns to provide the information that she has been passed over for the v e g and effectively we’ve revisited this, this moment again and again and again in the episode, but it boils down to in that moment, Burnham has a breakdown. She wants to escape from this very public moment so that she can retreat into her hurt.

Sarek acts as if he can’t comprehend where the dilemma is in this moment. Mm-hmm. But reading him, you can tell like it’s not genuine. His response is a little too cool, a little too logical in the moment. And Amanda is trying to build the bridge between all of them to kind of like. You either need to push harder to get her in or you need to understand her hurt, but you can’t act the way you are right now.

And then the projection, the mind meld projection of Burnham in the moment, as soon as Sarek sees it, it turns into physical in the, in the mind meld construction, right? It turns into a physical confrontation, but it is clearly a mental confrontation of him rejecting Burnham, understanding. She is there as an outside presence, as an outside mind and rejecting it entirely.

This is a memory. For him that is built around a lot of shame, a lot of anger, and he has protected it and buried it so deeply that at his essence, when Burnham nudges into it, his mind cannot allow her presence and pushes her out.

But what, to me, what’s interesting about this sequence that we see again and again is cuz from Burnham’s point of view, it’s a, it’s a nice, I like the writing of this cause it shows how we all perceive the world’s from our own viewpoint.

Yes. Because Burnham’s impression of this memory and why he pushed her out of the memory and out of the mind meld was because this is one of his biggest shames because she failed. Like she didn’t measure up and I enjoyed that. Right. The last time she actually does get through to him, it was Ash saying to her, reminding her, there’s a different perspective here.

You have to remember, yeah. What are the things that you remember most? Your biggest shames? And so it’s like it real, she realizes, oh, maybe he’s ashamed of something he did in that moment. And that’s what I did. Like the. Turning the tables of her looking at it from take your blinders off cuz it’s not always about us.

Sometimes it’s about the other.

And so when she did that and as saying, you know, we don’t think about the people we’re ashamed of, we think about the people we love at the moment of death. Yep. So the re the double reminder of like, it’s not all about you and it is about you, but it’s about you because of love is Yeah.

Is a really well done scene. I really like that the bouncing out of the mind meld her desire to get back in, but not knowing how to break through that barrier. And when she finally confronts him and understands the truth of what happened, which is Sarek in that position and, and. I like that it even ties back to the logic extremists.

Mm-hmm. Because the reason that Sarek has to hide, the real reason Burnham doesn’t get into the V E G is because the head of the V EEG says we can’t have too many Sareks in our program because it’s getting a little difficult to defend having that many Sareks when our culture seems to be shifting. So we can either have the half Vulcan.

Or we can have the human, but we can’t have both cuz that would be too much dilution of Vulcan culture. I thought that it was really a nice tieback to the extremism of the attack. It’s also

a great kind of building on Burnham. Because they mentioned several times how she graduated at the top of her class.

Yeah. Like the fact that she should have gotten in is unquestioned. It’s like she really, she was the best of her class A human outdid. All the Vulcans. Yes. So it kind of helps to establish her as a character on the show of she really is kind of the best of the best. So I, I enjoyed that too, but that this also Sophie’s choice that, that, that Sarek had, I, I thought was a really, really nice moment of, yeah, you can have your son or you can have your daughter.

You can’t have both. I thought it was a great little nod to the turmoil he’s creating by

his choices. Yes. And then for me, an element that leads to the tension with Spock in later episodes of the original series. Yep. Being he chose Spock, but Spock ends up rejecting the V e G. Yeah. Starfleet. The Starfleet.

And so Sarek has damaged one relationship with one child. And then the other child didn’t do the path that was selected for him either. And Sarek in the future we will know, will be standing there and saying Everything I thought I built to provide, for one, none of that happened. So he’s made mistake after mistake after mistake.

So, and ultimately, one of the mistakes he makes in this moment is the head of the v e G describes Burnham as. The experiment. The experiment to make a human as capable as a Vulcan and ultimately Sarek on the hospital bed rejects the idea that he is Burnham’s father and she won’t let him. That is another nice element of this.

He doesn’t correct the assumption of the leader of the v e g. He doesn’t say, no, she’s my daughter. And he won’t even let himself say that when he’s alone with her in the hospital. It is her requiring, like, you don’t get a

choice, but it sense, but it makes sense. Cause from a Vulcan’s point of view, a son or a daughter is a biological connection, right?

An adoptive father, an adoptive mother. That’s an emotional connection. And Vulcans don’t have emotions. So there, of course that’s, I’m not your father, right? There’s not an emotional thing here cuz we’re Vulcans. So it, it makes sense why he would have that viewpoint. Yeah, but again, a lot of the actors who play some of these kind of iconic Vulcans, his subtlety.

Showing just a subtle thing below the surface of him struggling with this, cuz he recognizes, you can tell he is battling with the emotions underneath, which I thought was a really good

performance on his part. Yeah. When he says, I’m not your father, you don’t believe it. No, you don’t buy it because you can see like, he’s been wrestling with this and he feels guilty about the past.

And so it shines through and I really like the ending of that, of that. Moment. And of course when she’s in the mind meld and breaks through to that reality, she’s able to wake him up so that he can signal where he is and they’re able to rescue him. He’s in the Med Bay and he is being treated for his injuries.

And he will, he will recover. And the upshot of all of this is of course, he cannot attend the peace conference. And here’s another element of Luca’s manipulation. He sees the opportunity to spin this to his advantage and sends Cornwell into a very dangerous situation. And as I read it, I think he looked at both sides of what could potentially happen, and both sides, he could spin to his advantage.

He’s sending her into a dangerous situation where if something terrible happens to her. She never reports back that she wants to replace him as captain, but if something good comes out of it, she can be the hero of ending the war and he will be able to use that to his advantage in convincing her. Look, I helped set you up with that.

Mm-hmm. You gotta leave me in the captain seat. So this is a situation where he’s playing chess at a whole other level and he sends her into the scenario and we see that the scenario ends up being a trap. It is originally con conveyed that there are two houses that the Kol, the leader of the Klingon at this point, it, it feels like what’s happening within the Klingon empire is the Klingon, how Kai Council is actually being put together.

Kol has established himself as chancellor and is putting a Coto, a council together and is kicking out houses that don’t align with him. Turns out those houses that weren’t aligned with him were getting some payback. They were actually acting like they’d been ousted, but if they could put together this trap and actually get a hold of a hostage for him, they would not only be brought in close, but they’d be given the cloaking technology.

This is how the cloaking technology is going to be planted throughout the Klingon Empire effectively as a buy-in tool by Kol to be able to bring all those houses in. And we see Cornwell is captured. The original hosts of the Peace Conference are assassinated and everybody but Cornwell is killed and a hologram of Kol basically says, well, I was hoping to get a high ranking Vulcan, but you’re so much better cuz you’re a Starfleet.

So now she is. She is trapped. And then we see Lorca’s continuing machinations at work as Saru arrives at his door and says, Cornwell’s been captured. And his response is to do what Cornwell had been suggesting wanted them to do. He had been doing all this time, yeah, well informed Starfleet and ask for orders.

So now he’s. I’m taking his foot off the gas and it’s clear. This is him manipulating the situation to his advantage. Again, I’m not gonna go running in with guns a blazing to rescue a woman who wants to replace me. I’m gonna give it time. I’m gonna let the so supposedly cooler heads within Starfleet who are very gun shy about sending this.

Single ship into dangerous situations. Like he knows that by doing this, he’s potentially killing her, but also delaying any unseating so that he has more time for whatever it is that he’s working on to come together. And that fi and that final shot with the the final show shot. The final shot is fantastic.

He’s carrying a weapon in his belt when he answers the door for his first officer. Okay,

so. We kind of covered the whole episode and I was hoping if you’re op for this, I would like to talk about a couple of spoilers. Mm-hmm. So I would want to kind of call it here and basically say anybody that hasn’t watched these episodes coming up that doesn’t wanna be spoiled to certain things.

Yeah. Jump ahead a few minutes or just stop right here because I do wanna bring up a couple things cuz we keep beating around the bush. I don’t wanna beat around the bush, I wanna just talk about it. Yeah.


So spoilers, the whole thing about Lorca, he see he’s from the other universe and he’s evil, and so this explains why he’s a conniving ass. He’s like really bad. So I love the fact that it explains why he’s doing what he’s doing and he’s working on the ship. Cause he’s basically trying to get back home, essentially.

He’s stranded here. He’s trying to get back home. Yeah. So what I loved about all the, the, the seas that they’re dropping, there’s a, a, a comment where he and, uh, the admiral having that conversation and at one point she says, you’re not the man I used to know. Yeah. And I was like, oh my God. It’s like watching this down the second time.

I’m like, wow. They just were coming right out and saying it. It’s

in that same, you’re not the conversation. No. It’s like, cuz it’s not, it’s. Yeah, it’s in that same conversation that I pointed out earlier that she says, well, it’s like the time you and I were at that place, and he kind of looks away and she’s like, you don’t even remember it, do you?

And he, and he is able to spin it, saying like, I’m just thinking about how young we were. And yeah, but it’s in that moment, she’s like, she’s referring to an experience she had with her Lorca. This Lorca doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Yes. So it’s, it’s little things like that. It’s the fact that the PTs D is not PTs d.

It is a lifestyle. It is the fact that you have to ignore orders. You do not, the chain of command doesn’t work the way it does in the mirror universe as it does in this one. It’s like all these little things. And I will also, it explains this predator room.

His trophy, predator, room. Yes. It explains all of that.

And the other spoiler I wanna bring up is Ash, because we all know if you watch Ash, which talk about too is actually a Klingon that’s been augmented to look like a human. And right in the opening scene, when it’s him and Ash doing the whole holographic thing and they’re out, they come out in the hallway and he says, the captain says to Ash, I saw you shoot, fight like a Klingon, V’Las, V’Las, V’Las, blah.

And I was like, oh my God. They just dropped it right there too. You fight like a Klingon. Yes, because he’s a Klingon. That’s why he fought like a Klingon. Yes. So I look, I love the fact that they were even dropping hints about him in this. If

you listen to every line that Ash says, yes, I, in hindsight, every line that Ash says is being said from the perspective of Volk.

It is all like at the moment of death, you do not think of the people you’re ashamed of. You think the people you love, like in his moment alone on the, uh, Shenzhou when he thought he was alone and about to die, he is thinking about who, yeah, he thought was his partner. He thought he had, uh, a partner in the woman who was helping him, and then she shows up to rescue him.

Like everything that. Comes out of Ashe’s. Mouth is a line from a Klingon perspective. And I, when

he’s, he’s where, where are you from? And he says, Seattle. And then later he says, I wouldn’t call that Seattle. That’s too far out. Yeah. And it’s like, because a Klingon wouldn’t know that. Yeah. So it’s like there’s all these like little hints that are in there.

Yeah. In the scene, in the dining hall when they’re gonna go join him the way that he is eating. He is eating with his head above the plate and he is shoveling food into his mouth. He is eating with his mouth kind of open, and he’s kind of like throwing food into himself. He’s eating very aggressively and it looks, I.

I mean, it’s fine. You see somebody eating like that, that’s fine. But knowing what we know about him in that moment, I was like, they directed him to eat like a Klingon. Like it’s little things like that that are on display. So very, yeah. I, I get, I get a lot of the same things that you’re talking about and seeing it now the second time and knowing what’s coming and, and seeing like, wow, they were really telegraphing a lot of stuff.

Yep. Like, well planted. Well planted. Ah.

So everybody, thank you for joining us on our conversation on Lethe. Little vague on exactly the right pronunciation. I listened to the pronunciation provided from Miriam Webster’s Dictionary, and it just doesn’t wanna stay in my brain. Lethe Lethe Lethe. So, jump into the comments and let us know what you thought about this episode.

Do you agree that it’s. A, a linchpin episode for Sarek and Spock, or do you think that this is just another, uh, also told story from a show that doesn’t quite feel like star Trek for you? I’m really curious about where it lands for everybody. Next time we’re gonna be talking about magic to make the sanest man go mad.

And once again, I invite everybody to jump in the comments and wrong answers only. What do you think that one’s gonna be about? Let us know what you think. Matt, before we sign off, is there anything you wanted to share with our viewers and listeners about what you have coming up on your main channel? I have a

episode coming up that’s about the how solar panels are costing people without solar panels.

More. There’s this cost shift fallacy around solar panels, as I have a whole deep dive into, is the cost shift real or not? And do residential solar panels actually benefit. Your neighbors in the grid. There’s a whole episode trying to dive into that. Cause it’s, it’s something that’s been bubbling up a lot in comments and other videos I’ve been seeing online.

So I thought it was time to kind of dive in deep and

address it. That’s interesting. And it sounds like it’s an argument that may be constructed by the side that doesn’t want solar panels. I mean, like, it’s interesting. Okay. Yep. As for me, you can check out my website, sean Ferrell dot com. You can also look for my books anywhere you buy your books.

That includes anything from Amazon all the way down to your local indie bookstore or your public library. And as I mentioned before, by the time this episode airs, I believe. My new series will be available on bookstores. I hope people are interested in checking it out. It is the sinister Secrets of Singe, and it has robots, it has smugglers, and it has people in danger from every angle.

So I hope people are interested in checking it out. If you’d like to support the show, please consider reviewing us on Apple, Spotify, Google, wherever it is, you listen to us. That includes YouTube. Go leave a review and don’t forget to subscribe and share it with your friends. And if you’d like to more directly support us, you can go to Trek in Time Show.

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