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Star Trek Discovery

Star Trek Discovery – Season 3

So, how to solve the problem of “Discovery feels too advanced” and solve the problem of, “The writers want to make Star Trek but mostly ignore most established Trek canon concepts.”

What if you just… Catapult the plot 930 years into the future.

I am not entirely against the time travel angle of the plot.

I am a bit against the “930 years” part.

For one, now there is the opposite problem, where everything doesn’t feel advanced ENOUGH. Like seriously, did society just plateau? This is literally the equivalent of being a medieval knight to our present day. Even if English were the primary language, there would be a communications barrier. And in general, the tech feels like it has not changed much, like it should. The Spore Drive should be long past useless in favor of some sort of folded space transwarp nonsense.

Granted, there is the main plot problem of “The Burn”. Which vaguely explains why everything is not as advanced as it could be. But also, why were they still on Dilithium 800 some years in the future?

So, let’s dig a bit more into the details here.

The first episode follows Burnham alone, who emerges alone, in her special time suit. She runs into a courier named Book, who has a cat named Grudge, who is the best character introduced for Season 3, as infrequently as she appears. Also, Book is like, 1000x better than fucking Ash Tyler, while he essentially is replacing.

Discovery and the screw shows up in the second episode. One year after Burnham arrived. Time shenanigans. During that year Burnham has basically shrugged off all of her logical Vulcan ways and loosened up quite a bit. A lot of underlying theme for Burnham and the crew this season is, “find your place.” Everyone has been uprooted from everything they know. Also during all of this, we learn a bit about “The Burn”. Basically, roughly 100 years prior, an event happened which screwed up all of the Dilithium in the galaxy, which caused a lot of ships to self destruct all at once, and effectively ended warp travel.

Warp is still possible, but Dilithium is scarce enough that it’s much less laissez-faire than it once was. Burnham, for example, has not returned to Earth during that year, because she did not have the fuel to make the trip.

Book tags along with Discovery, and they Spore Jump to Earth, to rejoin the Federation. Which seems really crazy, like they could just show up 1000 years later and just, continue on doing Federation things. The arrival on Earth leads to one of, in my opinion, the most interesting parts of this whole “Future” experience. Earth, is not part of the Federation, which itself is barely a thing anymore. The entire Earth episode is basically like any other, “visit a random alien world and solve a problem” episodes that Trek is known for. Which is kind of a fun and neat twist.

The trip does lead them to someone who knows where the Federation is, a young woman named Adira who has been bonded with a Trill Symbiote, and is the first of their kind. It was done as an emergency when their boyfriend, Gray Tal, a Trill who had recently become a host, was injured and needed emergency treatment.

They also ask to use they/them pronouns. Which is actually kind of clever of the writers, because it gives them a way use the “present day” pronouns topic, but also, being a Trill, with memories of several lifetimes, they basically ARE a they. The Human/Trill angle also kind of feels like an excuse to downplay the Trill’s ability to access old experiences and memory, because Adira doesn’t come off much like say, Dax, who was super buddy buddy with Cisco due to her previous experiences as Kirzon Dax. Beyond recalling the location of the Federation HQ, it doesn’t show up much.

In general, Adira feels like an alright addition, though like everyone on Discovery, they are a bit of a know it all in their field.

Eventually, Discovery does meet up with the Federation remnants, who are, less than receptive, which is to be expected. Especially since Spock went and basically wiped out Discovery from history. They do eventually prove themselves, but even then, the Federation now, isn’t exactly the same Federation that dominated the galaxy on a mission of exploration. They are essentially just survivors.

The new Admiral isn’t super keen on sharing information about The Burn either, which at this point the crew still doesn’t actually know what it was.

There is also mention that time travel has been outlawed after some sort of Temporal Wars that happened during the 930 year time jump. I suppose that had to be done because at the end of the day, Time Travel is pretty common in Star Trek. The crew got Discovery away from Control, but they seem iffy on the time travel now that they are there. There really isn’t any reason they couldn’t do some sort of slingshot maneuver like in Star Trek IV, to return home, even if it was in another ship, to keep Discovery away from Control.

Though Control was killed by Georgiou. They could just, take Discovery back.

So we get some more running around the galaxy, learning more about an Orion/Andorian alliance called The Emerald Chain, who are essentially the main antagonists of the season. We also learn that Romans and Vulcans have sort of, rejoined as a species and now call themselves the Ni’var.

There is also a notable little interlude that allows Emperor Georgiou to leave the show. This felt, really abrupt honestly. I was kind of iffy on the idea of bringing her back via the Mirror Universe, especially since she was kind of playing the role of Space Hitler over there. But it worked out and was interesting. Also, Michelle Yeoh seemed to be having a good time in the role, or maybe she is just a good actress. But there was a small build up and then, “She is unstable in our universe so we have to send her back.” But not just back, they seemed to send her back in time or something as well, with the most random cameo, the Guardian of Forever from the GOS episode, City on the Edge of Forever.

It’s random because this “character” is literally a giant talking rock gate.

The send off was both good and bad though. Basically, Georgiou relives the moment that she was betrayed by Lorca and Mirror Burnham in the Mirror Universe. No cameo from Jason Isaacs annoyingly. It was an interesting story to tell, but I have a really hard time giving a shit about hallucinated alternate universe versions of characters. There is basically no stakes of anyone dies, which they do.

Anyway, I figure they also partly wrote her out of the show because Book kind of fills the role of “Outsider loose canon”, but he does so in a less OP way. Georgiou is extremely capable in almost every aspect, which made her a bit too useful as a Deus Ex tool to wrap up problems. She would have seen though everyone else’s bull shit in a lot of the later plots.

As Burnham tries to piece together what caused The Burn (because somehow science of 930 years in the future is garbage???), the crew of Discovery is lead to a mysterious Nebula. Inside they find a planet made of Dilithium, and on that planet a crashed ship, with a lone survivor, a Kelpian whom has been living there alone for 100 some years, since he was a young boy. He was born on this planet after the crash,and his mother left him inside an elaborate holo simulation to keep him alive and keep him company.

The Holo thing is… Weird. It’s an interesting concept at its core. But for not really explained reasons, when the Discovery Crew beams down, they are overlayed by the Holo system to look like random other races. Also, for some reason it makes Adira’s boyfriend corporeal. There has been a sort of subplot where he was showing up only to them. It kind of felt like just, a way to represent the Trill consciousness in a new way. Only Adira could see Gray. But suddenly, Gray is visible to everyone inside the hologram area. It was kind of weird.

They don’t really seem to gain any of those race’s traits. Like, Burnham, is a Trill, but she doesn’t suddenly have a hologram symbiote. It felt mostly like an excuse for Saru to be there, but not appear as a Kelpian (Saru shows as human). Due to the interference of the Dilithium and Holo program, they have to convince the stranded Kelpian to shut the system down first. There is also a timer of sorts from Dilithium poisoning.

Which is complicated because The Emerald Chain shows up and takes over Discovery, stranding half our important crew. The Emerald Chain tries to use Discovery to take out Star Fleet HQ, which goes badly because the Discovery Crew are resilient and spunky and can’t fail! The Spore Drive saves the day and they convince the Kelpian to shut things down so they can leave the planet.

There is also this rediculous fight on a turbo lift inside the shit. Of all the “Un-Trek” things in this series, the ship designs annoy me the most. The old Treks were not perfect, but they were pretty good about making ship sizes and layouts believable. In Discovery’s case, we kind of have an idea of how large it is from last season, when they evacuated the crew to The Enterprise before the final Control fight. There were these physical catwalks used, and we saw people in those catwalks so we know they are like, 10-15 feet tall, so you can get an rough estimate of the height and general size of these ships. As I have mentioned in a previous write up, the internals of Discovery seem to be completely filled with these huge open chasms of space. Not to mention the disks of the Saucer Section spin when using the Spore Drive.

WHERE IS ALL THIS SPACE??

Maybe it’s just a small hole int he middle right? Except the climax of this episode has this pretty drawn out hand to hand fight between Book and one of the bad guy leaders (whose name I forget), in an open Turbo Lift as is screams through the ship. At the speed it’s going, and the time fo the fight, it would imply the ship is literally miles long. The ship really isn’t that big. It might, MIGHT, if you really stretch, be a single mile long.

Why do they need him to leave so badly? Apparently, he has developed some sort of weird symbiotic relationship with Dilithium. And when his mother died, in his grief, he caused The Burn.

Feels a bit anti climactic, but it’s kind of an alright and less expected angle. Getting him off the Dilithium planet stops a second Burn.

Star Trek Discovery – Season 2

Ok, so, I will probably just go with being a lot more spoilers on this post. It’s an older show, chances are if you care you’ve watched it. I was a bit less spoilers in my Season 1 write-up, which functions a bit more as just a review.

I also want to preface this a bit that, I watched Star Trek Strange New Worlds before watching this season. This is notable because this season is effectively a sort of, soft pitch/pilot for SNW. Captain Pike is captain of Discovery this round, replacing Lorca, who of course, got vaporized last season. Just when I was starting to really like the guy. Oh well, it was a nice twist that actually was not expected. And it was done well other than maybe even ONE reference to the bad eyesight thing could have happened during the Mirror Universe events. Maybe someone on the Shinzou comments about the lights in “Captain” Burnham’s quarters being a bit bright or something. Like a subtle hint, not a full-on give away. Another one, while he was held prisoner in the Mirror Universe, he should have grown a goatee (or even just a beard with Goatee influence). The big joke from TOS is Mirror Universe people all have Goatee. Giving him one during his prison stint, would have been a funny evolution into the true reveal.

I also like how it wrapped everything together, because the whole Mirror Universe arc initially just felt like a kind of weird, random nod to the idea at first.

With a bit more of a spoiler wrap-up for Season 1, the final was, ok, but it moved a bit into the “Non Trek” zone again. The Klingons have basically conquered Federation Space in a few months and then they all just decide to leave? And Tyler’s whole half Klingon half Human bit. It’s weird and handled weirdly. It’s a bit funny, for my part, because I have a character I use a lot for my own concepts, who has essentially the exact same “dual memory/identity” issue going on. In Ash Tyler’s case it seems badly done, or maybe just, kind of poorly explained. Did they skin Voq and put Ash Tyler’s skin on his body?

It’s weird.

Also we are seemed to be expected to just forgive him for what he did to Culber?

Speaking of that, I kind of feel like there could have been more done with that, especially since I am pretty sure Tyler is not coming back anytime soon if at all after this season. Stamets is a nice guy, but when Tyler shows up again, I really expected more of a reaction. Even more so when Culber comes back. Him exploding on Tyler in the commissary was great, but that seemed to be the end of that.

Also, I am a bit iffy on Culber returning. I really enjoyed Stamets and Culber as a couple, and Culber is getting more characterization now, but the way he returned really felt a lot like the showrunners getting backlash and then they sort of, used some “magic spore bull shit” to revive him. I feel like it was not originally in the cards. Watching Stamets grow and move on could have been an interesting plot line.

Speaking of more characterization. Captain Pike shows up to take command, and everyone does a round of introductions, because basically, we have no idea who most of the bridge crew is, at all, and I don’t think most of them even had names before this moment.

Also amusing for the bridge crew. The robot chick gets killed off only to be replaced by herself, minus the makeup, with a new name. I guess the actress got tired of the robot getup. Though at the time of her death, Airiam was being played by another actress than season 1 Airiam, who was the person who “returned”.

There was some real, “Two Beckys on Roseanne” energy going on there.

Just to keep up with cast members, as previously mentioned Pike takes over as special Captain this season. This is really really weird since I have already watched through what’s available of Strange New Worlds. This Pike feels like a bit more of a hard ass, but also still pretty likeable (Pike is probably my second favorite character on SNW). Discovery is a lot more serious of a show than SNW though. He is not the only SNW cast member though. Number One shows up a few times, and she doesn’t even have a name yet (she never had one in TOS).

Spock also shows up. The entire theme of the season is “What if The Search For Spock was a giant MacGuffin Hunt?”

Spock doesn’t really show until halfway through or so. And he has a ridiculous looking beard. Spock was driven a bit crazy by the mysterious “Red Angel” who turned out to be a time traveler version of Burnham’s mother (or maybe just Burnham). Basically, in a goofy causality loop, Burnham set in motion the events of the series so Discovery would chase after Spock and these special events. All of the events end up being relevant tools needed later to send what can only be described as this massive sentient data dump, to the future.

An evil AI system named Control wanted the dump somits could become sentient. The data could not simply be deleted and at one point, with The Enterprise, they even tried to just, blow it up.

The data dump plot line felt… Kind of weird. It’s not clear it would have been found in the first place had it not been for the events set in motion. At one point Control manages to steal like, half of it, but from what we can tell, it can’t just be copied, so was that data half in Control’s possession and Discovery only had half?

Also Control starts taking over people, but it seems like it only controls one person at a time, and only exists in that person, because when that person is finally killed, all of the ships under the control of Control, just sort of give up.

Once Control was killed, did they really still need to go ahead with their time travel plan?

Why could they not simply Spore Jump to some place tens of thousands of light-years away, effectively hundreds of years at Warp into the “future”, then find a way to secure the data that does not require such a dramatic time travel plot.

It just all felt… Sloppy.

For the most part though, the season did feel a bit more Star Trek like, except for the final battle. Where suddenly Discovery and Enterprise produce some thousands of small shuttles and drones(????) that are all a match for the fleet of Section 31 ships, all of which are full on Star Ships?

Then it becomes a Star wars battle where the Enterprise and Discovery are taking a zillion hits and pods and shuttles are exploding everywhere and WTF is even going on here??? How many people are dying over this convoluted plot?

It just all felt very, “Not Star Trek.” Again.

Another iffy elements here, is the Time Crystals themselves. Time Travel is not a new concept for Trek at all, and it’s almost always very handwavey, but now we have this weird suit tech that creates time wormholes and it’s powered by these magic crystals that only Kings control, but it’s also special Klingons living alone on a special planet that guard them.

They also had that funky baby Klingon plot, which felt important, but then kind of just, went nowhere. The baby Klingon grew up super fast thanks to the Time Crystal Monks, that’s about it. It felt dramatic and went nowhere.

Anyway, at the end of the season, they took a wormhole 900 some years in the future. So now the show that feels too futuristic to be Trek, really in in the Future’s Future.

They also close out by clearing up a big annoying hole in the overall narrative in a really clingy way. The question being, why does Spock never mention his sister. Also, why does no one ever mention Discovery or the Spore Drive?

Spock, during the final debriefing about the climactic battle, makes a statement along the lines of “Discovery and the time travel technology is dangerous, and I propose that no one be permitted to mention it, or it’s crew, ever again, under penalty of treason.”

Basically, Spock suggests it becomes illegal.

Star Trek Discovery – Season 1

I have been mostly avoiding the newer Star Trek shows. One, I was under the mistaken impression that they were either part of the New Movies timeline, which I dislike, or they were yet ANOTHER new Timeline. It does not help that Discovery really, REALLY feels like they initially intended for it to be a new new timeline.

Everything about this show really feels way more advanced than other Trek shows, which is way weird because on the timeline of Trek Show continuity, it’s second after Star Trek Enterprise. It happens roughly 10-15 years before Star Trek TOS. I am sure the actual dates are out there, but like I said, roughly.

But we have holograms all over, and hologram displays on the bridge, and a ship that looks like a late TNG-era ship in Discovery.

USS Discovery

And the Klingons. The Klingons are really fucking weird. Spoilers (for a now quite old show), I think this was a big complaint and they do eventually fix it in a handwavey way I will probably mention when I get to Season 2. The excuse here is basically, these Klingons are kind of a cult for very old Klingon ways. They also have this big ship covered in coffins which vaguely resembles a Klingon Battle Cruiser in shape, but it’s bigger and looks nothing like a Klingon Battle Cruiser.

WTF is this nonsense???

There is also a core plot part of the show and the ship in the Spore Drive. Which is basically a Deus Ex Machina Warp Drive running on mushrooms and magic that transports the ship instantly. It does have some interesting limitations on its use, but it really feels like the show runners hate the usual time urgency that pops up in Trek shows a lot.

Star Trek isn’t the Expanse, where everything takes weeks to travel between places, but Warp still is “slow” in that it acknowledged the limitations of just how fuck huge space is.

Which kind of touches back on why I have been avoiding this. And not for trying. It took me three tries to actually stick with it. It really feels at times like the writers just don’t quite “get” Star Trek. I know, I probably sound like a big picky nerd, but all of the older shows just had this particular feel. They presented a perfect nice future with people who excel at what they do and the conflict was solving the problems of others. Sometimes the drama on this show feels like it’s a bit much.

Also the weird tech I consistency really bugs me. It’s gotten better as the series has gone on, but it would have been much better had they just gone another 100-200 years past TNG and made a “future, future” Trek show.

I mean, that’s kind of how TNG got away with a lot. Someone knew they could make things work better production-wise than a show made in the 60s and to not make it feel weird they just, aged up the timeline. Why can Enterprise D go to Warp 9 versus TOS basically maxing at Warp 6? Because it’s THE FUTURE! It’s the Future’s Future!

You ever wish you had a reason to feel bad for a ten foot tall micro-organism?

Over time, it does kind of feel like the writers realized this and rolled things back a bit. Also, the USS Discovery is supposed to be a super advanced prototype sort of ship, so you could sort of write off some of the inconsistency that way, except the first two episodes take place on the USS Shenzhou, which is just, a normal boring Federation starship.

The show also eschews its Trekisms in other ways. USS Discovery does not seem to have a Chief Medical Officer, or Chief Engineer, or Chief Science Officer. Or at least, they are not main characters. The crew complement and ship layout are also confusing. When doing Spore Jumps, the saucer parts of the ship start spinning, do people have quarters in these areas? Sometimes they do these weird internal Turbolift shots that also make the ship seem much more hollow than it actually is. The aft section seems to be like 90% shuttle Bay. It’s just, really not clear. Once again, not really sticking to the “grounded” parts of Star Trek sci-fi

The plot itself is alright, with some interesting twists at the end of the season that I will avoid for spoiler reasons. The whole thing is basically 3 acts with a two-episode setup front-ending it all. The set up 2 part episode takes place on the Shinzou and sets up Burnham’s history, this leads into some Klingon War stuff and a bit of an “episode of the week-ish” format. They also explore the Spore Drive quite a bit during this part. Then there is part teo, which is a visit to another far-off place, with a twist at the end that would have actually been more interesting if the surprise clue for it was not revealed the instant it happened. Then we return for the third act and Deus Ex wrap up the Klingon War, which has almost destroyed the Federation in Discovery’s absence.

If Burnham is a bit of a Mary Sue character, Discovery is definitely a Mary Sue ship.

Speaking of Burnham, is probably worth commenting on the characters a bit. There is another non-Trek thing going on here where there are only like, 5 crew members we care about and the rest of the bridge crew are literally just set pieces. It actually felt weird when they suddenly all started talking during the last few episodes of the season. They seem to be pushing some of the secondary non-federation/crewmember characters a bit more to make up for the smaller “main cast”.

The main character is Michael Burnham, who has no rank during this season but basically serves as Science Officer. She is also Spock’s adopted sister and is perfect in everyway! (/s). It’s really weird how much Ambassador Sarak shows up in this show and never shows up during Strange New Worlds where Spock’s is a main character. Anyway, she lost her parents at a young age and Sarak took her in to raise her as a Vulcan to strengthen human/Vulcan relations. This is all explored more in Season 2.

Saru and Lorca

Discovery’s 1st Officer is Saru, an alien from a planet that is driven by fear and survival. He often commends the Discovery and Shenzou when the captain is busy, as 1st officer. He doesn’t get a ton of background but he is one of the more interesting characters in the show. He also is very tall and has this goofy way of walking.

The spore drive is a bit part of the ship and plot and is controlled by Stamets, who essentially serves the role of Chief Engineer, but he isn’t and works with plants and spores and the space magic of the show. His characterization is a bit inconsistent, early on he feels very anal and strict, but over time he seems to just be, kind of worried but not so much, most of the time. He is also gay, we see his Doctor Boyfriend a few times, but for much of this season Doctor Boyfriend is kind of a non-character until we need to sympathize with this couple more for “plot reasons”. He is, an ok, character, I find him a little annoying at times.

Sylvia Tilly, a Cadet, or Ensign or low ranking officer who works under Stamets. She is also Burnham’s roommate and as such, more or less Burnham’s best friend, eventually. She is bubbly and insecure, and kind of feels like she exists to make Stamets come off as more likeable sometimes. Just kidding, she exists to be the Mary Sue character when the plot needs Burnham to suffer. I expected to like Tilly and maybe overtime, but for season 1, I found her to be a bit, really annoying.

Lorcam Tilly, Burnham

Lastly, the remaining important character , is Captain Lorca. Whom I disliked at first, but then is style of Captaining kind of grew on me and I found that I really liked him. Then I kind of really disliked him again. But that doesn’t really matter by Season 2.

Ash Tyler and Michael Burnham

Honorable mention I suppose to Ash Tyler. He has the most convoluted and weird story line going on, and he becomes Burnham’s love interest pretty quickly, and we are supposed to like him, I guess, but man, I sure don’t like him. Especially because of his participation in the previously mentioned “Doctor Boyfriend is kind of a non character until we need to sympathize with this couple more for plot reasons,” moment. Because unlike Stamets alone, Stamets+ Doctor Boyfriend was pretty good and interesting.

Anyway, that about sums up my general thoughts on Season 1 and my “before I really watched” impressions.