NEW YEAR, NEW SPOILERS
I know some of you have read my editorial criticism, either before or instead of looking at STAR TREK: DISCOUNT. This time I beg you to take my word for it. Don’t do it. Look at the episode first. And if you don’t normally watch Discovery or have specified viewing (and if you have access to it), just watch this episode. They didn’t have to watch the rest of the show or even the third season. This episode provides enough information to keep you from feeling lost.
It’s just a damn good TV story, exciting, fast, convincing, well done and above all very entertaining, full of surprises and twists. So, look… Just trust me. Just trust me.
In fact, the unexpected is a very suitable way to start this blog, because although I usually do my best to approach each new episode of Discovery with an open mind and without biased expectations, this time I was sure I knew what was going to happen! This will be the Discovery version of the Starship Mine episode. Tilly, who is still failing on her first mission, will need all the help and hugs she can get from her friends on the bridge team to carry out her plan to return to the ship. I even thought of mentioning this blog how Tilly found her groove again – until I saw this episode.
From the very first moment the episode captivated me in an unexpected way. The Discovery is used as a Trojan horse to penetrate Starfleet’s shield, it heats up, is fired upon by a battleship Osiraa, the connection is disrupted…. Brilliantly simple and simply brilliant! But when Book and Michael dived into the hangar bay at the last minute, I thought: Wait, what about the Discovery shields? They were under fire, why weren’t the shields up? And then I thought about writing another blog…. which is still popular on Facebook! (Actually, I’m being sarcastic.) My blog Guardian of Forever Wrong Time has been royally destroyed on Facebook).
But we came back after the credits for this little nugget …… this little nugget.
Reward the scorers for answering me so fast!
Well, with my zero position, I decided to sit back, enjoy the episode, and then blog – and that’s what I did. It was the seventh installment of the series and the third of this season led by Jonathan Frakes, and I must say that the man knows what he is doing. The episode is written by Executive Co-Producer KENNETH LIN. It is interesting to note that Lin wrote and Frakes filmed episode 8 of Sanctuary Squadron, in which the crew returns to Book’s home planet. Most fans thought this episode was rather mediocre (myself included), but this episode was the opposite and showed that you can’t let a writer and a director make an episode. Sometimes magic happens.
Let’s see how…
THE WHOLE STORY… NO FUCKING A, B, C OR D.
Usually on television (especially in Star Trek) there is story A, which is the main plot of the episode, story B, which is slightly less important, and sometimes story C, which is more insignificant, and perhaps story D. This time there was such an alphabet of stories that everything jumped out as potentially important. The episode didn’t make any sense when I thought about it: Oh, go back to the main conspiracy, because I don’t care about the conspiracy. I was interested in everything that was shown to me…. and always for different and very fascinating reasons:
- Will Admiral Vance walk into Osira’s trap? (Almost!)
- Will Michael and Book make it to Discovery on time? (Of course, but what a suspicion!)
- Zareh’s back and he’s targeting Tilly.
- Stemets and the Emerald Necklace Scholarship connect children to the opera!
- Michael Burnham as Bruce Willis in Die Hard. (Yippee-ki-yay!)
- Vance and Osiraa are negotiating a truce. Don’t do this, Chuck!
- The prisoners are preparing their escape. (We knew they would!)
- Osiraa is telling the truth! (But we don’t trust him anyway!).
- Zare has the advantage over Burnham! (Then Burnham changes the deal!)
- The prisoners have a plan to get the ship back! (Let’s go, team, let’s go!)
- Michael saves Stams. (Then he squeezes his neck and throws it out!)
- Osiraya shows her true colors. (He’s a Scorpio, boys!)
- Tilly’s new DOT robot army. (And that’s what I call a cliffhanger!)
So let’s get a bit of that ….. unpack it.
AND THE AWARD FOR BEST ADMIRAL GOES TO…
Let’s face it, there were admirals in Star Trek who were bad apples (and now we know what apples are made of!). So, in the back of my mind, and sometimes even in the foreground, I suspected that Vance might not be as noble as he seemed. But thank God, he’s actually fine !!!!.
Vance shows in this episode that he is indeed a good man who has the Federation’s interests at heart. Osiraa’s suggestion actually makes a lot of sense. And if the Emerald Necklace is willing (eventually, but soon) to give up slavery and really try to reform, then the combination of their trade with the compassion of the Federation might be good for the galaxy. Can there really be trade without greed, and doesn’t greed always lead to the haves and have-nots? Who cares about the Burn? Feel the Burn! !! I admit I’ve waited all season to make this political pun…. I just had to have the right attitude).
But if we put everything aside, we, the fans, know the truth – at least as far as the Federation is concerned. Jean Roddenberry has always dreamed of a future utopia without hunger and poverty, which means that there is no money (or at least not enough for everyone). So we know in our Trek heart that even though Osyraa is careful not to lie down in front of Eli, E-Lee’s detector, she’s up to something. It all sounds too good to be true. But then, even Admiral Vance seems to be slowly coming to his senses. Osyraa is as fascinating as only Orion women can be. Maybe this alliance is the right one, right?
In the best Star Trek episodes, Kirk or Picard or Sisko or Janeway or Archer offer a deal that will cost them their souls – they bite the forbidden apple (hmmm, I wonder if that’s why they had an apple in that scene!) And their fight against temptation and the final decision help define them as characters and leaders. Kirk won’t give up his pain to Sybok. Janeway says there’s no way back to the Alpha Quadrant. And yet Sisko Garak accepts Garak’s help to convince the Romulans to form an alliance against the Dominion. Some will sell their souls, others won’t. What’s Vance gonna do?
In the end, Vance Osirei asks a single question she can’t get rid of, and the spell is suddenly broken. She won’t agree to be judged. Vance can be caught with Osira’s offer, but not for the price of a pass for his heinous crimes. Justice is too important to Vance and the Federation. And it’s on this principle that Star Trek was founded 54 years ago. The discovery, I think, was lost in the first two seasons, and it may have taken 930 years, but they have finally rediscovered what this program and this United Federation of Planets really is. Way to go!
A VERY GOOD VILLAIN.
Last week I talked about what a very good villain is, very effective (both in Star Trek and in general). Here’s what I said:
Intentions, superiority and arrogance – the (over)trust they can and will get, the enjoyment of the inevitability of their victory and above all the sorrow over their helpless opponent. Grace is not an option, and anything that could be offered would be suspicious anyway.
When Osyraja leaves the ship and tries to be as confident and sympathetic as possible (without being completely convincing, but as close as possible), the angry Osyraja from the previous episode must remain hidden. That said, we still need a villain – Hans Gruber, who takes on Burnham John McClane (a nod to Die Hard) – and thanks to the fact that no one ever dies in science fiction, we witness the return of the space mafia capo Zaire in the second episode of season 3, played with Al Pacino’s Al Pacino-like perfection by actor JACK WEBER.
Zareh meets all the criteria of a villain: sadistic intent and arrogance. He starts teasing Tilly and hitting her where it hurts….
And while he orders a group of criminals not to harm the hostages, his sadistic intentions are loud and clear, both below the belt of the book and some time later, when he plays cat and mouse with the marauder Michael….
Because Zarekh is so deliciously unpleasant (we hate him), it becomes even more entertaining when Michael surprises him and wins a pretty big victory when she sets up her clubs, then picks up a communicator and says: Hey, Zareh, you need more regulators. Mocking the mockingbird is one of the most enjoyable aspects of dealing with a jubilant villain. Remember memorable Star Trek moments like Han, I don’t care about superior intelligence…. or sorry for your crew, but as they say on Earth, this is life. Of course, the villains gloat, but as they begin to do so, the hero gives them a bitter taste of their own medicine.
By the way, tribute to the writers for Michael completing the mission barefoot. BRUCE WILLIS spent most of the ascent of this building without shoes. The authors therefore send a friendly greeting to those who have shown the way. Also congratulations on the very clever way Michael got out of an impossible situation by setting off a fire alarm…. extremely intriguing and brilliantly executed!
WHAT WORKS? GROUP!
As I said, I didn’t want to go into this episode in the expectation that it would be an episode with Tilly starting unhappy and gloomy and slowly building her confidence to lead her friends and teammates to victory. That didn’t happen at all. Tilly wore big girl pants from the first moment, although it can be said that she showed all the necessary willpower to prevent these pants from getting dirty. And a round of applause for Mary Wiseman, who makes Tilly’s fright so palpable while showing a fearless face.
Some critics have criticized this choice as a missed opportunity to develop Tilly’s character, because she was defeated and humiliated and then emerged from this emotional abyss. I couldn’t agree more. I think it was a real opportunity to develop the Tilly character. Faced with a reason to feel sorry for herself, Tilly doesn’t give in to temptation, but keeps her predetermined activity under control (see what I did there?). In other words: Saru was right to make Tilly his number one, because when things started to move, Tilly didn’t hesitate.
But the other aspect of the hostage-taking scene that I liked was that the whole deck crew had to shine in the crowd of supervisors. Rhys and Bryce started to get distracted, then the rest of the crew quickly learned the trick, and suddenly it was time for constipation. Of course Michael was a real commando, but in this episode she did not save the situation on her own.
And again, we’re glad the perpetrators have found a super smart way to mask the vital signs of the hostages as they attempt to recapture the ship. Although I was too busy at the time to continue searching for contradictions, when I tried to recapture the ship it seemed quite clear to me that the sensors could see where each body was located. So if you can’t disable the sensors, overload them with data from the last three months…. yes !!!!
ABOUT THIS EMERALD
There has been a lot of talk about Discovery this season, in which two actors appear in unusual genres: BLU DEL BARRIO (who identifies himself neither as a man nor as a woman) and IAN ALEXANDER (who is transsexual). MICHELLE PARADISE, co-host of the showroom and executive producer, said in a recent interview : Star Trek has always fulfilled its mission to bring visibility to under-represented communities…. In this episode this visibility was extended to the actor in the wheelchair.
KENNETH MITCHELL has had a brilliant acting career for over twenty years. In fact, he’s had roles in both Star Trek: Discovery (the Klingon Col in season 1 and Kol-Sha and Tenavik in season 2), as well as the interpretation of certain characters in an episode of Veritas on the Lower Decks. But in 2018 Kenneth was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, the same disease that eventually forced Stefan Hacking to use a wheelchair after he was diagnosed at the age of 21 in 1963.
Since 2019, at the age of 45, Kenneth has been sitting in a motorized wheelchair. He has a loving wife and two children aged 13 and 8, and he is always vital and tries to get the best out of life. But Kenneth can’t walk anymore, which makes it difficult to hire him for an acting role outside the voice. So, let’s give it up for the Star Trek guys: A way to create a character for Kenneth that seems immutable: the scholar Aurellio of the Emerald Necklace, who seems to play an important role in Osiraa’s machinations and (perhaps) his defeat. Say all the negative things you want about this show, but at least give them some credit.
WHEN YOU HAVE TO SACRIFICE SOMEONE…
Ryan, we barely knew you! In fact, actor NOAH AVERBACH-KATZ is probably one of the biggest Trekkies in the cast, as he attended numerous Trekkie conventions with his mother as a child. He actually auditioned for the role of Spock in Discovery (a role that was eventually given to ETHAN PECK), but he managed to stay because he is married to Mary (Tilly) Wiseman. Noah is currently running a Dungeons & Dragons campaign for the cast members of Discovery, ANTHONY (Stamets) RAPP, EMILY (Detmer) COUTTS, as well as his wife Mary and children Blu and Ian. So now you know who the real nerds are.
What is frustrating in a strong story is that it usually takes some kind of heroic sacrifice to really earn the victory. At the end of Star Trek this happened with the death of Spock, the destruction of the Enterprise (twice), the death of Data, and (which is rather frustrating, because it was really clumsy done) Trip Tucker: Company. This time the hero of the sacrificial lamb was the Andorian rhyme, played by Noah. Given the importance of everyone else, I wasn’t surprised to see Ryne leave the game, although I liked the way his character developed. However, Noah also wore a lot of make-up, and let’s not forget that this series does not hesitate to let the same actor play different roles.
STAMMETS HAS HIS MOMENT TOO!
In an episode full of action, excitement, intrigue, deception and tension, it is almost impossible to believe that anything else could have been set up! But Anthony Rapp had more dramatic scenes and character development in this episode than he had in the whole season! And Anthony took the opportunity to give some masterly performances, mainly as a silent actor for Kenneth Mitchell, against whom Anthony played. As soon as Michael opened the handcuffs, Stamets went into action, and it was an intense sequence! I must say I didn’t see the neck crushed, and it was beautifully executed as a scene.
Well, I’ll also say I’m not entirely convinced Michael was right to take Stams off the ship. Like Paul, I’m not happy to see Sarah, Dr. Hugh and Adira die in a radioactive agony. But I think that’s what it was supposed to be. Will Michael choose the path of compassion or will he choose the needs of the many (by preventing the Emerald Necklace from receiving the argument and destroying the Federation) for the needs of the few (the landing) or the one (Paul)? It was a very uncomfortable and controversial scene, and it could have serious consequences for the relationship between Paul and Michael in the future.
TWO CLIFFHANGERS IN A ROW…
How much do you want to bet that the red-eyed robot won’t survive?
And while we’re on the subject, just as I was about to take a break to see how many minutes were left in the episode, we see DOT robots appearing in front of Tilly and her team. Now I realize that DOT’s are cute as hell and probably more suitable for a Disney/Pixar movie than Star Trek, but I really don’t care. I’ve been waiting half a season for the return of Zora – the segment bullet data calculator! I realize Scientology isn’t new, but they’re pretty rare in Star Trek… …and on spaceships, of course. So I’m excited about this new character.
But what really worked for me in the finals was the courage of the producers not to tackle the main theme – the Discovery is still under Osiraa’s control – and to move this script to the season finale. It was also courageous to completely exclude Sarah, Culber and Adira, given the seriousness of their situation. But with everything that’s going on, it would be totally inappropriate to put them in this episode.
Instead, we still have a real three-quarter year to go until the end of the third season. In total, it would take about two and a quarter hours of uninterrupted Star Trek history… the length of a feature film! There is no doubt that this season is their best work so far, but they are also finishing some of their best work so far. Let’s hope they can move on to another episode!
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