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Zeke 09-27-2017 12:13 AM

Star Trek: Discovery Discussion (SPOILERS HERE ONLY)
It's here! Time to talk about it! This is the thread for reviews and comments as each episode comes out. Since discussion is much more fruitful when we can actually say stuff, unmarked spoilers up to the current episode are allowed in this thread -- and ONLY this thread. The "new Trek series" thread will remain a catch-all for news and such, but from now on any news about episodes that haven't aired has to be spoiler-tagged.

Warning: I will not put up with any member questioning whether any other member watched the show legally. That's nobody else's business.

So! The first two episodes, "The Vulcan Hello" and "Battle at the Binary Stars", have now aired. What did you think?

Flying Gremlin 09-27-2017 02:28 AM

I quite enjoyed it, actually.

My main takeaways:
  • Burnham seems to be a good character, though that whole psychic link with Sarek thing was cheesy. Also, a human doing a nerve pinch? Come on.
  • The Klingons did take some time to get used to, but the fact that they actually showed a white Klingon surprised me. Was he albino? The uniforms make sense now that we think of them being fanatics, though, since that was never really explained in the marketing materials. T'Kuvma being a cult leader means a lot of continuity things from the Klingon side could be forgiven... though throw us long-time Trek fans a bone, give us one with a smooth forehead, please?
  • I like that the uniforms are ENT-esque, though overdone with the blue and yeah, the department colors are wrong. Still takes some getting used to, but I guess there was a need to make sure sciences stands out against the coloring. But damn, did you really have to give the boots deltas too?!?
  • Michelle Yeoh should have been a series regular and not the "special guest star". My humble opinion.
  • What the Hell was an android doing on the bridge?
  • The bridge being on the bottom of the Shenzhou didn't bother me as much as I thought it might. It seemed... natural for the design of the ship.
  • Why no Constitutions at the battle? You have ample opportunity to give the Trek fans the homage they so much desire, but it was like they actively avoided it at every turn.

Can't wait to see the actual starship this is supposed to be based on.

Zeke 10-02-2017 05:46 AM

Here are a few observations on the first two before I watch tonight's ep. I always find it complicated to review things because I'm worried about stealing from the fiver, but what the heck -- I have no idea how long it'll take to finish that.

I was pleasantly surprised at first that I'd enjoyed the ep enough to make up for a lot of qualms. This was basically my experience with Into Darkness, so (to borrow my Facebook phrasing) I figured DSC was shaping up to be a six-and-a-half-hour Abrams movie. That seemed pretty good, considering! I'd gone in prepared for something much worse.

But I've noticed that most of my Trek friends were less impressed, and I've concluded that I was actually more pessimistic than the fandom at large. I saw all the bad signs Nate chronicled in the other thread and was preparing myself for not just bad Trek, but bad entertainment. That doesn't seem to be typical. Apparently, despite everything, nobody was actually expecting outright garbage. So my legendary easy-to-pleaseness took a new form this time: I lowered my own expectations too far and wound up happily surprised!

Moreover, this week has brought another unexpected realization. See, there are no good transcripts out there for recent Trek (or most TV -- transcript sites these days are laaaazy), so I really have to watch it again for the fiver. And I just keep putting it off. As much fun as I had at the time, there's also a lot here I really don't want to subject myself to again. Number one on the list: the "Klingons". These aren't the complex Klingons of TNG/DS9. They're not the cunning Klingons of TOS. Hell, they're not even the stock-villain Klingons of ENT. These are pure Into Darkness Klingons: a race of boring, savage idiots.

Number two on the list is pretty much anything to do with the main character, Michael Burnham, whose name I find it actually hurts to type. That name says it all about her, really -- they gave her the most traditionally male name they could think of for absolutely no reason. She's just special that way. (At least pretend you named her after Michael Piller, you idiots!) The general theme is that we're supposed to admire and like this person, both in and out of universe, not only without evidence but against the evidence. I was hanging in there for the first episode, remembering that Kirk and Archer had their unearned glories and this could still be going somewhere... but again, the fact that she does what she does at the end of episode 1 and is allowed on another important mission by the same people before the end of episode 2 just says it all. It's one thing to give your characters flaws, and shocking the audience is always fun, but there are limits -- and Burnham sped past them at warp. Somehow we're supposed to be fine with a main character who is basically one of TOS's single-episode "officer who went crazy" villains.

I really did enjoy the show. I just hope there's some real Star Trek in the episodes to come, because so far this is just an entertaining but shallow fanfic with a really big budget.

Huh. Weird -- now that I've got this out of my system, I do kinda feel like watching it again.

Flying Gremlin 11-16-2017 05:53 PM


Originally Posted by Zeke (Post 81056)
Here are a few observations on the first two before I watch tonight's ep. I always find it complicated to review things because I'm worried about stealing from the fiver, but what the heck -- I have no idea how long it'll take to finish that.

Only if you ever respond to my draft email, Zeke. :)

Now that the mid-season break is here, I should take a moment to say that I really enjoy this show. Perhaps it's my attitude that got me there - I try to let optimism reign, but I also prepare for the worst - and I found this was somewhere pleasantly in the middle.

My impressions from the first two episodes were that the pilot two were weaker than the rest of the series. It actually took until "Choose Your Pain" for me to get excited to see this show every week at 5 PM on Monday - CraveTV in Canada has a 24 hour delay for posting their episodes. My notes from earlier still hold true, and my like for Burnham I can address later on.

There are characters I like better than others. On the like list, besides the aforementioned Burnham, are Saru, Staments and Tyler. On the other side, Tilly needs a lot more fleshing out before I can say I like her mostly because she's so damned annoying. I also am not a fan of Dr. Culber, and that redhead on helm whom Burnham served with on the Shenzhou, I can't even remember her name and I want her to reconcile with Burnham to ease each of their's conscience...

Special mentions:

Rainn Wilson makes a fantastic Harry Mudd. And actually seeing Stella before she "drove him to the stars"... that was a treat.

L'Rell. Oh God, L'Rell. First off, she's actually a lot like a TOS Klingon and gives me some hope that they link the portrayals of Klingons through her - the descended through spies touch was nice. Second, does anyone want to talk about the massive plot hole of L'Rell/Tyler and how if he endured seven months of torture, L'Rell was only around for a month and we don't know what he did to survive those first six months?

I miss Voq.

And I think the Discovery herself is fugly. Yes, I know, she's based off of the sketches from Planet of the Titans, but it's bad. Like, Starfleet designers went to work drunk bad. I loved every other design of main ship, but the Discovery could be scrapped tomorrow and I would not shed a tear.

Wowbagger 11-18-2017 10:14 AM

Do you know how Saru feels in the forests of Pahven early on, when he's desperate to get off the planet, can't appreciate what it has to offer, and can't even sleep because of the infernal, constant noise, tormenting him every second?

That's how I feel about Discovery every week. It is offering something. I can tell it's offering something. There's good in it, and I can occasionally establish enough objective distance from it to identify the good -- although never enough to actually judge whether the good justifies the bad. But, every time I try to just relax and enjoy the show, Discovery resumes its infernal, constant noise of hideous design and shattering continuity.

I watched Enterprise kick over some of Trek's canon idols and made my peace with it, even fell in love. I watched the Abrams movies, which was not as easy, and wrote Eleven Is Prime as a testament to how I forced myself to make peace with it. (I did not fall in love, but that was Into Darkness's own fault for being bad, not mine for being closed-minded.) But it's as though the past twenty years of Star Trek have been all about gradually ramping up the pressure on continuity buffs.

Discovery isn't just determined to ignore canon; if they wanted to do that, they would have just set the darned thing in the 25th century with no problem. No, Discovery has set out to deliberately touch bits of canon and then throw them back in our faces, shouting "nyah nyah look what I can do to your precious TOS!" I can't stop thinking about Discovery's canonical recklessness because every time I try to bracket it they throw some new retcon at me like "Harry Mudd is a mass murderer" or "Sarek is a damned liar" or "these 23rd-century communicators make 24th-century noises because our sound library is garbage." (Seriously, as an audio producer, the sound design of this show makes me want to throat-punch everyone.)

Even in those rare moments when I'm able to get away from wondering where the devil all the TOS Klingons without ridges are hiding or why Kirk was so surprised about cloaking devices in "Balance of Terror" when the KLINGONS had the technology ten years earlier... I then find myself thinking, "Boy, isn't it a shame that the ship, uniform, computer designs, and camera work all look so offensively bad?" People used to joke about the Abramsprise bridge looking like an Apple Store, but I hate the appearance of the bridge so much I would much prefer the bridge be an actual Apple Store.
And... I can't get past it. I just watched "Si Vis Pacis, Para Bellum," and I don't know whether it was good! I suspect it wasn't. For a Saru character episode, we got way too little time with Saru setting the stage, dealing with his crisis, or cleaning up the aftermath, and as a result Saru just seemed mercurial and untrustworthy. Presumably those scenes were all cut to make room for More Klingon Nonsense, in a subplot where I genuinely do not know what happened. Is the Admiral dead? Alive? Escaped? Still jailed? Find out next week, because this week didn't bother telling us!

But I'm too busy sitting here looking at the Gagarin bridge and asking whether there are any ships in the fleet besides the Enterprise that actually look like the Enterprise right now. (The Gagarin has, like, the fourth hideously ugly Starfleet bridge in a row.) Did CBS writers read Eleven Is Prime? Or am I just supposed to accept this?

Call it rigidity, but I cannot convince myself to enjoy this show, although I keep trying every week.

Flying Gremlin 11-18-2017 07:55 PM


Originally Posted by Wowbagger (Post 81111)
Is the Admiral dead? Alive? Escaped? Still jailed?

They do answer that one. Discovery seems to follow the annoying tendency of modern storytelling structure of coming back to plot threads several episodes later - this one is addressed in "Into The Forest I Go".

I'd reveal more, but...

Wowbagger 11-19-2017 07:51 AM

Yeah, sorry, that post came across as raining on your parade. Not fair, because I really do like Stamets more every week, I did like Saru until this week (I am now undecided), and, honestly, I like Lorca. He's a bad guy who obviously deserves the harshest karmic punishment... but that's true of half the cast, and Jason Isaacs just has so darned much charisma that it seems to balance out nicely for me.

So there are good spots here, and I don't begrudge those who are enjoying themselves. I hated the haters back during Enterprise and now here I am, become the hater. I don't want to try to ruin it the way the ENT haters did back in the day.

(Oh, and I hasten to add as I always do that Sonequa Martin-Green is fantastic. Burnham is being destroyed by writers who are determined to get her Mary Sue Score over 100 points and who insist on making her the center of every episode, but Martin-Green just keeps doing the lines and making them convincing. That slight edge to her voice when she goes to Vulcan Mode is just great.)

evay 11-20-2017 02:47 PM

I really like Stamets. Once he got past Random Jerkass stage and moved to Interesting Fuckup stage, which includes moments of Jerkass, he became extremely appealing.

Honestly I like everybody. I like that they're huge messes. I like that Tilly is competent at her job and a total doofus personally. I like that Lorca is a charismatic paranoid obsessive. I like the human-Vulcan tension in Burnham. (The Burnham-Tyler romance seems slightly forced, but whatevs.)

And as far as continuity... I don't care. I absolutely do. not. care. I am a Trekkie and I can argue continuity and the combination of Kirk's safe and makeup-vs-virus with the best of Get-A-Lifers. I just don't care. It simply doesn't bother me enough to get in the way.

Maybe because the show is so obviously just not pretending to care? The show itself is having fun putting the past in a blender and rebooting and rejiggering and rewriting? I mean, really, really, would anyone want to see sets which looked like they were built out of styrofoam and cardboard because "this is pre-Kirk and that's how Kirk's ship looked"?

This is Trek by way of BSG2K dipping into the Abramsverse and coming out as its own thing. And that's fine. If I don't like it, my DVDs are right over there on the shelf. TOS streams on Amazon Prime, which is how we're watching it with my kid. There's just so much other bullshit in the world right now which requires me to expend my energy and gin up my outrage that I just don't have any to spare for worrying about this. Besides, after the utter character assassination of T'Pol over the course of ENT, and the complete hatchet job of The Abomination, there's pretty much nothing Trek can do which is going to tick me off any more. It's all been done. The sacred sehlats have been slaughtered.

That's me personally. If the uniforms and TECH really chafe your ass, you are welcome to be as annoyed as you like. I deny no one the right to nitpick and bitch. :)

Wowbagger 11-20-2017 09:53 PM


Originally Posted by evay (Post 81116)
Maybe because the show is so obviously just not pretending to care?

That's not it. Star Trek has spent quite a long time not even pretending to care about Star Trek continuity. That's sort of its default condition. Gene Roddenberry made it clear loudly and often that he didn't give a damn what somebody said in Episode 2x06 if it got in the way of a story he wanted to tell ten years later. Both TOS and TNG followed that convention, with Roddenberry going so far as explicitly decanonizing stuff (especially TAS) that got in his way. TMP retconned a TON of TOS stuff, particularly visually... and then, when Roddenberry got bumped out, Nick Meyer came in and retconned a whole bunch more! The movies from TWOK onward have a very different look and feel from TOS. But they just decided to not call attention to this, tell good stories, and move on.

VOY was a unique show in that it didn't only not care about the larger universe with which it co-existed, but didn't even care about its own continuity, as the endless recountings of VOY's shuttles and torpedoes and crew size made pretty clear. But they, too, just tried to tell good stories so nobody paid any attention to the continuity details. With middling success.

And ENT pretty clearly didn't care for most of its run. Berman & Braga rather infamously didn't know butt about TOS and it showed... for instance, in their Romulan episodes, which really only make sense if you pretend "Balance of Terror" never happened. The Abramsverse movies, which I embraced as best I could, probably cared about continuity more than most of their predecessors.

So I'm used to Trek not caring about its continuity. That's the order of things. The writer's inadvertently mess something up; some novel or forum post or fan consensus comes and cleans it up. How many explanations have been offered now for how Khan remembered Chekov in TWOK?

But Discovery doesn't just not care about continuity. It doesn't just inadvertently mess things up. Discovery puts forth active effort to break things. I try to turn off the continuity part of my brain, like I do with all the other series, but then Discovery throws it right back in my face. Over and over and over again. Say what you will about VOY's gradual erosion of the once-fearsome Q character into comic relief; they never went back to a major beloved recurring character from two previous series and the movie franchise and said, "Hey, this guy? He's actually a garbage person. And we're going to make an entire episode about his garbageness so you literally cannot stop thinking about how incompatible this is for a single minute of the entire episode. And his utterly immoral action is a betrayal of the core personality and relationships established for him in previous outings."

It's an escalation of hostility toward canon that could have been totally avoided with zero injury to the story they are trying to tell by just doing what every other series did and setting it in a more remote time period. But, no, Discovery wants to have its cake and eat it, too: they want all the benefits that come from being closely associated with pre-existing canon (ready-made stories and characters that viewers are pre-invested in, such as Sarek and Mudd and the Klingons) but with none of the costs that come from being closely associated with pre-existing canon (you have to be consistent!).

It's a self-contradiction at the heart of their show. And it's not fair to say, "Just let it go," because the show itself is making its connection to canon a central part of its premise. The writers made a very clear, deliberate, and unnecessary decision to force us to see "Journey to Babel" and "Mudd's Women" in a new light. If we don't consider what Discovery does to prior canon, we're not really watching the Star Trek Discovery -- a bold move by the writers, and a failed one (IMO).

No, I long for the days when Star Trek simply didn't care about its continuity. Discovery is so much worse than that.


I mean, really, really, would anyone want to see sets which looked like they were built out of styrofoam and cardboard because "this is pre-Kirk and that's how Kirk's ship looked"?
I would want to see sets which looked like "The Cage" sets because they were much more aesthetically pleasing than the mindlessly busy, gunmetal-BSG-holoscreen noise of the Discovery universe. Matt Jefferies did a better job designing the look and feel of Star Trek than the Discovery team. That they turned away from the original look for something inferior (and would be inferior regardless of date or canon-compliance) simply because it was old is a profound failure of creative and artistic judgment.

In short, I could live with an update of the visual design if the new design weren't uglier than a Gorn in heat.

Let Alex Kurtzman's name ring out forever as the great villain of Star Trek producers. Berman & Braga on their worst day had nothin' on this guy.

Flying Gremlin 11-21-2017 07:32 PM

How exactly is Mudd a betrayal of a con man only out for himself? He's immoral, he's self-serving, he's got recognizable facial hair. He forced the Enterprise to either accept his demands or be destroyed in "Mudd's Women" and looked like he had no problem with it (it was framed nicer). "I, Mudd" had him try to strand the Enterprise crew on the android planet. In "Magic To Make The Sanest Man Go Mad" his main objective was to sell the ship to the Klingons.

I'll return to Sarek later, as I am late for work now.

Wowbagger 11-27-2017 09:26 AM


Originally Posted by Flying Gremlin (Post 81119)
In "Magic To Make The Sanest Man Go Mad" his main objective was to sell the ship to the Klingons.

He beamed Lorca into space and laughed as he asphyxiated.

He found one of the most sadistic methods for murder in the galaxy and used it casually on people who resisted him.

He was delighted to kill within the loop and we have every indication that he was delighted to kill outside it. Not threaten, not bargain, not leverage, not maroon, not even orchestrate something at a distance. Disco!Mudd enjoys looking the object of his hatred in the eye and watching it die in agony. Over and over and over again.

Harry Mudd was an immoral con-man who wants to make a buck. He makes his way scheming through the universe, but in the end he's too sentimental to kill even when it would be very, very convenient (as in "I, Mudd"). He is, basically, Quark -- if Quark didn't have the lobes for business.

Disco!Mudd's a psychopath.

I've caught up now with the finale, and appreciated the last episode for not kicking anyone's character in the teeth. ("Si Vis Pacem" didn't take any canon characters out to the woodshed, but really tore into Saru in a way that hardly seemed fair for Saru's first outing as main character. Or, should I say, Saru's first outing as official second fiddle to Burnham.) The finale ignored almost everything established about Lorca to date and cashed some checks it never wrote ("When I came aboard, you were a ship of scientists." Really? They were? Shame we never met them), but what was there was good and appropriately climactic and didn't try to make me feel Grim And Dark about Starfleet and its mission.

If the show stays on the course it set in "Into The Forest," it might just start growing on me at last.

evay 11-28-2017 02:08 AM


Originally Posted by Wowbagger (Post 81118)
Say what you will about VOY's gradual erosion of the once-fearsome Q character into comic relief; they never went back to a major beloved recurring character from two previous series and the movie franchise and said, "Hey, this guy? He's actually a garbage person. And we're going to make an entire episode about his garbageness so you literally cannot stop thinking about how incompatible this is for a single minute of the entire episode. And his utterly immoral action is a betrayal of the core personality and relationships established for him in previous outings."

I absolutely hear you. You make a lot of good points.

So maybe it's that I, personally, don't care because I, personally, can't possibly connect these characters to the originals. Maybe it's that I, personally, am not bothering in the slightest to try to connect psychopathic murderer Disco!Mudd to con man goofball TOS Mudd. It's so obviously not him that it's beyond chalk and cheese, it's chalk and jazz. The whole business with Sarek and Spock over Burnham is just... ridiculous. It's not even laughable. It's not even fanfic. It's just another thing, over here. I'm not even bothering to think that it's related to TOS. Like I said above, it's BSG2K via JJAbrams, and some of the names happen to match up. It's Discovery, but I'm honestly, personally not putting Star Trek in front of it. I don't hold it to that standard. I don't have those expectations. I have no expectations for it at all. I'm not indifferent, precisely, but I'm not in the least invested.

Trek is a particular and special thing. This is not that thing. It's a good thing in its own, different way. But it's not a Trek thing.

Flying Gremlin 11-28-2017 07:21 PM


Originally Posted by Wowbagger (Post 81127)
He beamed Lorca into space and laughed as he asphyxiated.

Who wouldn't?

*crickets chirp*

evay 01-09-2018 02:36 AM

I am very, very angry about Culber.

I don't care how DSC tries to fix this whether Mirror Culber joins the crew, or they go back in time, or Stamets falls in love with somebody else I will never forget that Culber was killed in the first place. That they went there. Trek proclaimed that one of the main characters was an openly gay person in a committed sexual and romantic same-sex relationship, and then they kill the guy's partner.

That is not groundbreaking. That is the fucking Bury Your Gays trope. You don't get to have it both ways. You don't get to proclaim openness and inclusiveness and progressiveness and then kill off the gay character in Season 1.5. That is BULLSHIT.

Wowbagger 01-16-2018 08:14 AM

Culber was one of the only uncomplicatedly decent people on Discovery. His too-rare appearances were generally a point of light in a sea of darkness. He occasionally reminded me that the show I'm watching is, at least theoretically, a Star Trek program.

Now I've got Tilly and no one.

Dr. Culber's death would have been a disaster even if he'd been straight. (Which, of course, he wasn't, and which makes this move weirdly tone-deaf in the current environment.)


Who wouldn't?
On the one hand, Lorca's evil. I mean, this isn't even a question anymore: in "The Wolf Inside," he unhesitatingly orders Burnham to exterminate hundreds of innocent rebels in order to preserve his/Discovery's cover. He represents nearly everything wrong with Discovery.

On the other hand, I kinda like him anyway? Maybe it's just Jason Isaacs' panache. Maybe I just love strong-chinned white males. Maybe I have hope there's still a shred of Anakin left inside his Darth Vader exterior.

I dunno. My feelings on Lorca are oddly complicated and I'm not sure why.

Imma try to watch the show without bothering to consider it Trek, as evay suggests.

evay 01-17-2018 07:33 PM

My sweetie thinks the Lorca we know is from the Mirror Universe and came over during the event which destroyed his ship. That would be entertaining, at least.

If DSC had actually been the anthology/Wheel of Trek which Fuller originally wanted, I would have loved to see a half-season where MU characters cross into our universe, and we have to deal with them here. We always see it the other way around. We just watched TOS's "Mirror, Mirror" with kiddo so she would understand what the MU means on DSC, and Spock notes that it's much easier for civilized people to pretend to be barbarians than vice versa. So show us the vice versa. Show us a scheming, backstabbing, unscrupulous bastard who finds this weird, peaceful, helpful, collaborative society and has to work his/her way to the top without getting stopped.

[Insert gratuitous joke about current American politics here]

Wowbagger 01-30-2018 08:01 AM


Originally Posted by evay (Post 81201)
My sweetie thinks the Lorca we know is from the Mirror Universe and came over during the event which destroyed his ship. That would be entertaining, at least.

Winner winner chicken dinner.

evay 01-30-2018 02:50 PM


Originally Posted by Wowbagger (Post 81218)
Winner winner chicken dinner.

yeah, he's a sharp one. :)

How are they going to bring Lorca back? I guess Discovery has to go back a bit more than nine months to restore both Lorca and Culber? but then they'll know it's Mirror Lorca.

It's not Trek necessarily, but damn, this is some amazing storytelling (with the "murder the gay guy" exception).

Nate the Great 04-06-2018 01:40 PM anyone still watching the show?


I lowered my own expectations too far and wound up happily surprised!
Could you clarify that statement for me, Zeke? "Too far?"

Nate the Great 04-15-2018 04:44 PM

If anyone saw the earlier version of the post, I apologize. I thought I had deleted it. I was going to bash Discovery again with another link pointing out how other people are having problems, too.

I will bring up one of the more reasonable points. One commenter was irked that a non-Trekkie was so dismissive of Trekkies being so obsessed with continuity, pointing out that such things in other fandoms are seemingly more acceptable. In particular, someone who cares about the details in a historical reenactment. I would expand this to other fandoms as well. Awhile back I linked to a blog about someone who cares whether or not the typography used in movies is accurate to the time period being depicted.

Movie studios spend billions of dollars every year making sure that the clothes are accurate, the weapons are accurate, the signage is accurate, the accents and vocabulary in the dialogue is accurate. To the ignorant who bash Trekkie passion, these things may seem like wastes of time. After all, isn't this a waste of money for things that the casual viewer won't notice? No, it's not.

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