Friends. Readers. Trekkies.
Lend me your pointed novelty ears.
I come to bury this episode, not to praise it.
Look. I’ve had my quibbles with Discovery over the last few episodes, but I’ve kept them in my pocket… focusing my attention instead on the bright spots and surprising delights STD (yup, that’s what I’m calling it) has offered up thus far. Why have I done this? Well, for one: I love Star Trek and am excited to see it on TV again. Plus, it’s more fun to write about something I enjoy, than something that annoys me. But the real truth is: from the moment I first heard about STD, I assumed it would fail. Miserably, with great gouts of stink and garbage. The intro episodes weren’t bad. In fact, they had strains of genuine good glittering through them. I wanted to hold on to that. I wanted to hope. Ya know?
But this episode. O! This episode was a mess from snout to tail – rushed and errant plotting, characters making irrational choices in order to further the story, clunky writing, an action sequence straight out of Michael Bay… friends, my panic ganglia are out… and boy are they wigglin’.
Everybody makes mistakes. And sure, the first season of every TV show is rough. But if this is the Trek we’re on, buds… I wanna get off.
. . . . .
Harm, Sweet Harm
So, Burnham has started making herself at home.
Good for her.
We find her ordering up a snappy new uniform from the replicator – a process we actually witness, zooming through the quantum zwischenraum as fiber spires are coaxed together by fingers of nanolightning. It’s a trippy shot. And totally, disarmingly unnecessary. I don’t mean to whine out of the gate… but, comeon. Save the money. Hire another actor or something.
Enter: Sylvia Tilly, shuffling meekly into the room, sporting a polycarbon dufflebag containing Georgieu’s last will and testament. Burnham takes it, abouts face, and stuffs it under her bed tout suite. Tilly, meanwhile babbles incoherently before stretching her face into an agonized smile and breathing audibly through a trellis of clenched teeth.
Sidebar, regarding dear Sylvia: can we fast forward the relationship they’re building please? I don’t mean to sound like His Lordship the Earl of Crabbypants here, but good grief this storyline has already grown tedious. Please don’t get me wrong – I love watching friendships develop… especially friendships between two women who get to talk about something other than men. But this particular relationship is criminally underwritten, with very little sign of improvement. Each eminently capable actor is relegated to portray a one-dimensional foil for the other, and their impending closeness is so clearly telegraphed (Tilly will become more confident; Burnham will learn to be vulnerable), I feel like I’m reading a description of a show I’ve already seen.
Anyway. Lorca pops by to show Burnham to her new digs – a weapons depot/torture chamber where she can flay the day away, vivisecting the weapons-grade truth out of the giant tardigrade from last week’s episode – heretofore known as George the Tear Bear, as Ripper is both an unfair moniker AND super banal. George the Tear Bear at least captures a bit of his wobbly, roly-poly cuteness.
Burnham, meanwhile, hears the name Ripper, takes one soft-hearted gander at George’s drippy face (equal parts garbage disposal and prolapsed hemorrhoid, b t dubs) and begins identifying with it. That’s not a monster! You only think he’s a monster because he ate all those people! And then killed all those other people!! Maybe he was doing it to help his captain, or whatever. Context, you guys! Ya know… that thing that’s for kings?!?
. . . . .
The Trouble with Quibbles
But Lorca cares not for such fluffy nuance! Is Lorca your father’s Starfleet captain? I say nay! No quoting Shakespeare or long, discursive speeches for him! For he is Gabriel Lorca: Man of Action® – just you watch as he sends Security Chief and resident frump Commander Blandry Landry to keep things on schedule! Fast! Quick! Like a bunny! The schedule!
This schedule, mind you, is artificially and absurdly accelerated all episode long in order to generate something resembling tension – a manic-panic crescendo of dopey decisions and irrational acts which shriek to their preposterous conclusion when Landry finally opens George’s cage, blasts a phaser at him to cut his foot off, and is promptly eviscerated… all for no discernible reason whatsoever. It’s a shame. I like Rheka Sharma. And I like seeing women (especially women of color) get their just and all too delayed chance to play interesting people on TV. Redshirting Landry makes zero sense whatsoever. I’m not pleased.
Meanwhile, Lorca is putting the screws to Stammets, insisting he solve a career-spanning problem in about 47 minutes, plus commercials. As we learn in a tidy scene between Lorca and Admiral Cornwell (Jayne Brook – the vinegar-faced Carolyn from Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead… what’s up HBO at 4pm ca 1998), the Klingons have begun a bombing run on Corvan 2, a mining facility responsible for 40% of Starfleet’s fuel. For reasons completely beyond my (or the writers’) conception – this vital outpost was left completely without defense. The nearest starship is almost 90 hours away. Only the Discovery can save the outpost! Conflict! That’s what this episode is going to be about apparently!
Lorca orders Stammets to crack the mushroom code and leap the ship from there all the way to the other there – despite the fact that it was precisely that, an untested leap of great distance, that corkscrewed the U.S.S. Glenn and its crew last week.
For you see, when the mushroom drive is activated, the ship literally twists and swirls and pirhouettes in space, as it slips into the mushroom plane. There is, of course, no discernible reason for why such a thing would happen – indeed, the whole concept behind such a technology could (if one were so inclined) be theoretically reverse-engineered back to some writer sitting on an overstuffed cushion somewhere in Culver City, mentioning how, ya know, neat it would be if the Discovery crew found a shipwreck where everyone was wrung to death like gore-soaked dishrags… but I digress.
Anyway – they figure it out (I’ve given up). Burnham notes how whenever the Discovery begins to do its truffle shuffle (killin’ it) George wigs out. From this she infers that he eats the spores? After which she sends him to the shroom room where he waddles around, drinking deep from their fungal cup. They wind up hooking George up to Discovery (in what will certainly amount to a moral debate in future episodes), the Discovery leaps to Corvan 2 (by way of falling into a star…), destroys the Klingons, and leaves in a flash without offering any medical assistance whatsoever. So… whatever.
. . . . .
Today Is a Good Day to Dine…
Before we start, please note that this section was nearly headlined “Coup de Gagh” but I felt it might be too deep a cut. Either way. I seem to have been born for culinary Klingon puns.
Interspersed through this episode were checkins with the remains of T’Kuvma’s acolytes, now led by the albino Klingon, Voq. I had to look that up. As it turns out, while the war they started has been tearing through the galaxy, cutting a bloody swath through the Federation, and claiming the lives of who knows how many Klingon warriors… they’ve all been floating right there – where the whole brouhaha started. For six months.
Six months!! Are you kidding?!
Supplies have grown low. Patience has waned. Voq and his crew have done their mightiest to reassemble their ship from the graveyard of parts twirling in the icy outside. In fact, there’s only one part left, it seems, sat humming and happy in the heart of the U.S.S. Shenzhou. But Voq refuses to harvest it. It would be a desecration to their holy ship, you see, to use a stolen Federation part in its repair.
Why such priggishness doesn’t extend to eating the captain of said ship remains a bewilderment to me.
Yeah. They ate Georgiou. Peeled the flesh from her skull. Nice, guys. Real nice.
Speaking of meals…
Voq’s lieutenant and would-be sweetie L’Rell convinces him to shuttle over to the Shenzhou and nab the part they need. They trade furtive flirtations (no broken bones or screaming though – lame), and return to the Sarcophagus Ship (does it have a name?) only to discover that Kol – a Klingon houseleader from the premiere episode (remember him? I kinda do!) has swayed the loyalties of Voq’s acolytes with the cunning use of… food. L’Rell feigns betrayal in order to spare Voq’s life, and as the episode comes to a close, we find the two alone, adrift in the frozen bowels of the Shenzhou.
Might the past come back to haunt Burnham? ONLY TIME SHALL TE—yes, of course it will. That’s obviously where this is going. Get with the program.
Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.
- I was super grumpy writing this. I don’t like writing bad reviews. Or recaps. Or whatever these are. But this was boring television. There were two kinds of plotlines this week – things I saw coming, and things no one could ever see coming because they made no sense. That’s not good writing.
- I can only review the show I see, not litigate over the show I want to see – but I wish the writers would spend more time on the ethical bramble in militarizing a scientific project. Rather than watching George tear Landry to ribbons, I’d rather see characters wrestling over his imprisonment. Yes, I know this Trek is a new Trek – a less talky Trek. That’s fine. But ideas, people. Ideas are our business here. Not cheap, random, dumb violence.
- The whole thing did introduce us to the ship’s Doctor, who seems like a pip. More of him, please?
- You will note that I’ve used the word “trekkies” rather than “trekkers.” This is intentional. I flatly refuse the term “trekker.” I have appropriated “trekkie” from those who would use it to diminish us.
- I left out the last will and testament of Philippa Georgiou. Honestly… it was pretty stilted. And of course was her telescope.
- Anyone else want a little more time spent on how the whole mushroom thing works?
- Elon Musk…
- They ate the captain. I can’t handle it.