Saturday, February 02, 2019

Star Trek: Recovery

Begun, this back-pedalling has. Thursday's new episode of Star Trek: Discovery dove into reversing several of the creative changes the first season made to the Star Trek universe, tossing in vague allusions to explain them or to hand wave them away. The show continues to have some nice visuals and a story that's tolerable enough, possibly a little too violent for some.

Spoilers after the screenshot

I'm pretty jaded so L'Rell (Mary Chieffo) waving around a baby's severed head didn't bother me but it certainly seemed gratuitous and was probably a nasty surprise for some viewers I probably would have advised avoiding. And I don't even believe in trigger warnings.

At the same time, the makers of the show seem busy trying to make concessions to Trekkies. The most obvious being that Klingons have hair again, their hairlessness last season sort of explained by an off-hand remark from Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) about their hair growing now that they're no longer at war. I can sort of buy that all the Klingons decided to ritualistically shave themselves before going into battle, less natural is the fact that they've all decided to speak Federation Standard (which Ash [Shazad Latif] confirms is really English) most of the time. I remember some people complained about the Klingons always speaking Klingon in season 1--it didn't bother me, but I watch a lot of foreign films so I'm pretty used to subtitles. But in the older series I always assumed when Klingons seemed to be speaking English to each other we were hearing a translation. Which may be what happens in the scene later in the episode where L'Rell switches languages mid-sentence. I'm not sure why the episode would do both things, though.

It's kind of like how Ash's concept has never quite been settled between Ash being Voq in the body of a human or Voq's body having been transformed. The explanation seems to differ slightly depending on who's writing the episode.

Then there's course correcting that's a little more abrupt. Amanda (Mia Kirshner), Spock's mother and Michael's adoptive mother, is the first character on Discovery to directly mention the Vulcan philosophy of emotional suppression. She does so in reference to Sarek insisting Spock be raised this way. Is this the same Sarek who broke down in tears talking to Michael about the power of love last season? Maybe Vulcans decided to have emotions just for the war with the Klingons.

In a review last season, I wrote:

I thought the Vulcans being portrayed as open with their emotions was a result of sloppy writing but now I think it was a conscious creative decision. I don't recall any mention of the Vulcan philosophy of emotional suppression, or of how strong emotions once tore Vulcan apart before they came up with this way of life. Maybe the creators felt this didn't look good in the face of the popular pseudo-scientific metric of "emotional intelligence".

And then, in Thursday's new episode, one of the psychiatrists who was caring for Spock directly mentioned measuring Spock's "Emotional Intelligence". Emotional Intelligence as a field of study seems to have yielded only a little concrete value and whole lot of pseudoscience. But I guess the people currently in charge of Star Trek have faith in it. I suppose they're entitled to their religious beliefs. I just hope Star Trek doesn't turn into Battlefield Earth.

Meanwhile, Tilly (Mary Wiseman) is less cutely neurotic this episode and is now seemingly having a nervous breakdown for seeing the ghost of one of her classmates. This didn't work for me because I didn't feel bad for Tilly. She needs to display some moxy before I'll be ready to root for her. Why does she even want to be a captain?

I'm still digging Pike's (Anson Mount) ready room (I think I misidentified it as his quarters last time).

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