Monday, November 13, 2017

The Death of a Disco Dancer

A very nice Star Trek Discovery last night. It made absolutely no sense and yet it felt like the most coherent episode of the season. Maybe this is where Nicholas Meyer started exerting his influence after the previous episodes burned off the remains of Bryan Fuller's ideas because the excitement, action, and violation all put me in mind of Star Trek II.

Spoilers after the screenshot

So the Klingons are on their way to destroy that organic transmitter along with the whole blue will-o'-the-wisp civilisation from last week and Lorca (Jason Isaacs) does the heroic thing and disobeys Starfleet orders to stick around and save them. Lorca seems like an old fashioned Star Trek captain at this point, even Kirk seemed more Hawkish in Star Trek VI. Trillions of lives being at stake does seem like a good reason for Stamets (Anthony Rapp) to risk all those spore drive jumps, though it's weird the straw that broke the Stamets back was the one they apparently took for no reason at the end.

I saw on the io9 review that Stamets had to use the spore drive instead of just warping because there was some talk about a Klingon fleet following them back to Federation space if they just warped. But since the Federation and the Klingons are at war anyway wouldn't the Klingons be doing that regardless of whether the Discovery was around?

But I liked Lorca in this episode and I liked him before. Jason Isaacs hits it out of the park. I didn't mind the fact that Lorca had been gathering scientific data on the spore jumps and Stamets doesn't ask why it'd been a secret--not to mention it doesn't make sense that Stamets himself wouldn't be gathering the same data. But the relationship between Stamets and Culber (Wilson Cruz) is nice despite the fact that every beat of it made clear exactly what was going to happen. The actors pulled it off really well and the balancing of private life with professional life Stamets had set up in his confession to Tilly (Mary Wiseman) is a nicely handled thread on an otherwise inconsistent show. Though Tilly blurting out Stamets' secret seemed awkward and unnatural even by 80s daytime sitcom standards.

The final battle between Kol (Kenneth Mitchell) and Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) was nice though woodenly choreographed to allow for Kol's cumbersome costume, the actors' evident lack of training, and the fact that tiny Burnham looks ridiculously outmatched. But that Klingon bridge set is gorgeous.

The scene allowed Kol to reiterate the perplexing motive for the Klingon's going to war, something about the Federation robbing them of their identity. Maybe the Klingons in this are meant to be an allegory for anti-immigration rednecks or Brexiters or something but the circumstances are too vastly different for that to work. But if that was the idea it would explain the incoherence of it.

Voq (Shazad Latif) is still masquerading as human Starfleet officer Ash Tyler though incredibly this episode doesn't give us the "reveal". I mean, it's so damned obvious I don't even know why people are calling it speculation or a theory anymore. One guy accuses George Takei of sexual assault and we're supposed to believe it on no evidence but somehow Voq and Ash being the same person is just speculation. Maybe the more severe the theory, the more we're supposed to take it as true?

This episode dealt with sexual assault, sort of, with Voq remembering what he seems to think was essentially non-consensual sex with L'Rell (Mary Chieffo). I think it's in this episode they decided Voq in his Ash persona has had his memory manipulated so that he really believes he's human until he's presumably "activated" at some point. He always seemed really douchy before this episode, like he was well aware of a joke he was playing on the crew of Discovery, now he seems like he means what he says. I suspect his and Burnham's relationship is going to end up being something like the 1946 movie Black Angel. Which would be cool, it'd be the closest to noir that Star Trek's ever come and with the appearance of Klingon breasts in this episode, after the use of the word "fuck" in a few episodes previous, this is clearly not designed to be a family show. Though I guess the gruesomeness of Voq's surgery flashbacks are no worse than Khan putting those mind eating worms in people's ears.

I guess they figure there's no way kids would be into Star Trek now. I wonder if that comes from cynicism? There are some examples of children's literature that are way beyond most kids to-day, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, for example. And maybe instilling optimism in kids, something Star Trek was once known for, is kind of a bad idea since we're all very likely doomed. Still, maybe if we had some kind of hope we'd be more likely to think of solutions?

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