I dunno y'all. This latest episode, Light and Shadows, completely threw me out of the show. Just when I thought they were about to reel off a bunch of consecutive good episodes, they drop a stinker like this.
From the jump, there's another ridiculous Burnham monologue filled with portentous words meaning very little. Making it worse, she fills us in on conclusions we never saw the characters reach, which made me feel like I must have somehow missed a crucial episode. Nope. To save even more time, they decided not to include the usual scene where characters immediately lurch toward whatever conclusion the writers need. Instead, they just informed us of the new plot points by narration. I'll say this, it's economical, but most video games have better writing.
I'm already fatigued explaining this single issue with the episode. I won't bloat this post wondering why Amanda and Sarek act like completely different people each time we see them or why Burnham can say things like, "Do this thing for me. You *have* to!" and any character will immediately abandon their own strongly held beliefs.
I'll not detail how the show continues to avoid the merest display of military formality or even workplace professionalism, preferring to focus on characters making proclamations about how cool their job is or how rad "math" is. These continued exclamations on the show seem indicative of writers who have a bee in their bonnet to educate us all about the virtues of STEM careers at every turn, while failing often at getting even the most basic scientific principles right.
The soap opera rivalries being introduced don't fare much better. Neither Tyler nor Cannibal Georgiou come off as anything other than cartoons. When Pike and Ash reach a level of grudging respect, none of it lands emotionally. If I don't buy the setup, they can't earn the payoff. Does anyone know why Pike went from arguing with Tyler to taking him on the shuttle mission? Don't even get me started on the badge flip. I can't conceive of any context a human with a working brain would decide this is a good idea.
I promised not to go long and even just scratching the surface, the issues could fill pages. Why does Spock suddenly get better after being rescued? The magic awesomeness of Burnham? Why would Section 31 plan on lobotomizing Spock when there are tons of other options? Why could Georgiou blackmail her captain based on his fear of Burnham not liking him? Why would he care? Why did characters continue to talk about finding Spock's shuttle after (I think) it was revealed that Georgiou was flying it? Why does Stamets serve as nothing more than a widget they can plug into any self-created plot hole?
There are many things to like about the show, but the writing showcases one unforced error after another. I don't complain about new uniforms or Klingon makeup or high-tech holograms and ships. Canon violations mean next to nothing to me. I just want the story to be good and for some sort of recognizable spirit of Trek to come through. By way of trying to suggest an idea for improvement, could the astounding inconsistency in characters, story, tone and quality be due to the merry-go-round of writers and directors the show employs while still attempting a serialized format?
Whatever's going on, I don't see how the show can sustain this level of inconsistency much longer. Can anybody talk me off the ledge?
I'm still playing catchup with season 2 but I can already see some of the points being made in this post. S2 is an improvement imo because they are doing Star Trek exploring type stuff. The writers have demonstrated a very weak grasp of writing political conflict and klingons in particular. The writers also seem to be hangfiring on the wheres Spock thing. Its dragging out to long.
Burnham is actually improved as a character this season imo. I have a higher opinion of her conduct in ep 2 with the beta quadrant humans than the hosts did during the podcast. I am a little tired of characters seeing people/visions and trying to conceal that fact. They live in a universe of unexplored sentient energy interactions, seeing a manifestation shouldn't automatically be concealed as a mental illness. Even if it is an illness, I would have hoped that stigma wouldn't exist in the Star Trek future anymore.
"Inconsistency" is a great word for it, Greg. I know that the internet thinks season two is an improvement on season one, but I disagree. I do think that the highs of this season are higher, but the lows have been far lower as well -- and the up-and-down is really disorienting.
I think you are right to point to the mechanics of the writers' room as the source of the problem -- it doesn't feel like anyone is smoothing out the inconsistencies the way that a show-runner is supposed to and it's frustrating.