Mar 15

Project Daedalus

52 comments

Well, that was like the saddest episode ever. It was really really good but wow was it sad.

That was a mostly terribly disappointing episode. They wanted to write the confrontation between Burnham and Spock and that was it. Everything else was cheap and lazy storytelling imo.

 

They gave Commander Ariam the briefest backstory and killed her off. What a waste of a great character potential. So much of this episode was a copout I can't even start.

Mar 18

Personally I think that the episode purpose was only partly the Burnham /Spock interaction. It sets up a lot of things for the rest of the episodes.

The Control computer is the antagonist going forward.

There is the possibility of improvement in the Stamets / Culber relationship.

There is an opportunity for appeasement between Burnham and Spock.

 

I must say that as a veteran the lack of basic military discipline is glaringly obvious and jarring in many situations even given Pike's relaxed leadership style.

Totally agreed about the military discipline, and I have no military experience whatsoever! It's one of my longrunning semi-gripes with Star Trek, but then of course this is how it's always been (except for the general storyline of the 80s movies).

Though Star Trek (TOS and TNG) was my main childhood initiation into TV sci-fi, in the Internet era, Bablyon 5 and the 2000s Battlestar Galactica series did a great job of portraying how an actual military would function in a sci-fi context. And both of those showrunners, JMS and Ron Moore, were prolific in interacting online with fans and explaining aspects of their shows, including these military issues.

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Having finished the podcast I have some thoughts on it.

 

I wish one of the writers was a history nerd instead of a literary nerd. When a senior officer interviews a murder suspect and states in private, Burnham doesn't get to just walk into the room because Burnham. That the Admiral did nothing about this was infuriating.

 

I miss Stamets. I would think that his current situation would make him incredibly more sarcastic as a protection mechanism not a super emphatic guy who talks to equipment. He needs psychological help.

 

Cmd. Nhan needs no redemption is this episode in my opinion. Reporting an officer with no evidence isn't going to get her far with Pike. Saru had a suspicion but didn't report it until he had proof in this episode. She saves the day, the ship and the future of the galaxy after everyone else just writes her off as dead. She is the hero here, not Burnham who can only put her own wants first.

 

There won't be any consequences for Burnham's failure here as usual.

 

That the sensors record multiple wavelengths and transmits it but it's not checked on until Saru does is a wtf? I would think verifying that it's not a hologram would be essential to certify an images authenticity, but I guess not.

 

Tilly was annoying at beginning of this episode. I get the need for humor but it was very unprofessional.

Airiam is a huge loss, and although I know that this is just something TV does, it's a real shame to suddenly develop an interesting character and then get rid of her.

 

And you're right about Nhan. It was just a funny choice to have her be watching over Airiam's shoulder while the ship is in a mine-field. Surely there's something else the security chief should be doing right now? Where's Odo when you need him?

Mar 18

@Glenn I really think that watching Ariam after she begins to be suspicious is exactly what a security officer should do and she follows this up by going on the away team to continue doing so and well she was right. As they were not being boarded or anything she should be free to follow her instincts.

Mar 18

@Glenn You guys said it correctly on the podcast. This character could have been a whole new angle for Trek storytelling and could have mined some real interesting territory RE: AI, augmented humans and the meaning of life. That potential is a big loss. I only see it as potential though. What we were actually given in relation to the character didn't amount to much. Now, we as viewers are expected to care as much as if they killed Sulu? If we're in for a whole military funeral and grieving shipmates, that makes me feel even worse for Pike's jerky science officer who was summarily killed and not mourned at all.

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I can’t speak to the other points as I just disagree and that is most likely a matter of personal taste but I don’t understand the reference to “Burnham’s failure” here? Her failure to shoot her friend out an airlock immediately? This does not seem like something that she failed at. It was a tremendous emoptional burden. She is, as was pointed out, a person who won’t admit to the Kobiashi Maru scenario, for good or bad. I would been equally conflicted, maybe more. She a saver. She wants to save everyone always. I guess one could count that as disqualifying for SF duty but then again is it great to have people who will shoot anyone they work with out an airlock at a blink? I think that’s awfully harsh.

Mar 17

On first viewing, I was totally bamboozled by first Pike and then Spock telling Burnham to do it. So much so that I thought the gloved hand pushing the button was hers. And that look of anguish on SM-G's face . . . none of the other actors could match it. Burnham, the character, is not one to give up, not when there's any hope at all still left. I love her for that. And I love how SM-G plays her.

@pauladz @Karen Chuplis I forgot to mention this while recording Perpetual Infinity tonight, but Burnham is tested again when asked to let down the containment field and send her mother back to the future. How do you think she handles it for the second time?

@Valerie H. She does it this time. But also this isn't certain death. and....there wasn’t much choice.

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Everyone wanted Airiam to live including Airiam. Airiam knew that wasn't going to happen and sacrificed herself to save everyone else. She physically couldn't kill herself, but I believe she would have. Pike took on the moral authority and responsibility for her death when he ordered Burnham to eject Airiam into space. This was Pike doing his job leading people into hazardous conditions and is one reason he is a great commander. When Pike gives her an order Burnham role was to carry it out to save more people. I wouldn't expect any SF personnel to kill their own people at a drop of the hat. In this situation Burnham didn't have time to wrestle with this. Burnham decided that her conflict was greater than orders given to her by Pike that is her failure as a subordinate in a hierarchical structure. She has done this repeatedly now.

 

I just think you are removing a whole lot of actual humanity in the equation. Meanwhile, none of the people, Pike, Nhan, or even Spock, had any of the same kind of relationship. I'm not saying they didn't care. I don't know. We will just have to agree to disagree on this one that Burnham was at fault here.

Guys.... look at the little sigh Spock gives here. It’s like Stamets unlocks him just a little. And that’s also why he gives his revealing little observation that’s as much about him and Michael as it is about Culber and Stamets. I just super enjoyed these exchanges.

I also love that it may seem like a non-sequiter except because he does appear to be possibly talking about his anger he’s presenting it in a disassociated way by replying in terms that also apply to Culber.

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Mar 18

I was trying to work out why the death of Ariam was so saddening considering the fact that we have basically only seen her in the background before and that for her sacrifice to have a meaning we have to be invested in the character. I have concluded that the writers did something quite clever here, they make us like her by association. By showing us her interacting with characters we love in a favourable way they attach the affection we feel for the other characters to Ariam allowing us to become invested in a very short time and hence creating the empathy required for the scene .

I agree. It was IMO extremely effective.

Yeah, I was gutted. This weekend was our first anniversary, so my wife and I just held each other for a long time after the episode, and it took a lot of work for me to speak about these scenes without breaking down. It's quite an accomplishment, really, because I almost always have a real contrarian attitude when TV writers give us back story in Act One just so they can kill that character in Act Three. But even knowing I was being manipulated, I didn't mind. I just regret that we've lost a character who could have helped us explore personhood and humanity.

Mar 18

There were some good things in the episode, but I can't emotionally connect with this character's death. And now it looks like we're gonna have to endure the full funeral treatment and mourning next episode. Ugh. More Sonequa Martin Green facial contortions and wails of anguish incoming!

Wow. I am just so opposite of everyone! And SMG's "facial contortions" is what broke me down.

Mar 18

@Karen Chuplis It's great that it worked for you! I sure try to psych myself into feeling the same, but something always pulls me out of the moment. Not giving up though!

Mar 19

@Karen Chuplis For sure, not everyone, Karen. All the horror of what happened is reflected in B's face - that is the one image from the scene that I can't get out of my mind.

 

Airiam was able to interact rationally with the others right up to the end. That in itself made it difficult to understand what exactly was going on with her, and the decision to immediately space her. Frankly, we still don't know much about her and how she was augmented. She must have had a brain, but? she could also? store data digitally. She had a human personality which Control could squelch, and a body that could be controlled, too, but only under certain time and distance constraints. So much remains a mystery about her the emotional impact of her death is related to us by the other characters.

 

 

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I am surprised at what a polarizing episode this seems to be. And not only that, people I expected to love it, are not thrilled and those who usually dislike eps pretty much seem to to like. Not at all an absolute, but this just seems like something I have been seeing a little more since Thursday. Very puzzling. I do know that there are people who are interested in Spock/Burnham (Me) and those who simply consider that background noise. That may have something to do with it. I consider it adding detail and depth. It colors the whole thing for me. I am more puzzled than ever what people want.

 

One thing that really struck me in this ep was young Peck's performance. I just really think he is a treasure and I honestly hope there is a Pike spin off so we can get more of this amazing pair. I am attaching a little mash up I made of Spock and how I right away thought of these two scenes together. Maybe it is just me, but it is seriously like seeing Spock a decade apart to me.

This was the best way I could figure to get it to you. Thought I could insert but I guess not! It does incorporate the sigh I was obsessing over up above, but it shows you WHY I obsessed about it. I always just love this entire scene, but I have clipped it down for showing the two in tandem. https://www.instagram.com/p/BvPHQ6Jld7A/

Mar 20

Part of my issue is the Burnham character herself. It seems since the beginning, the showrunners (both new and old) toggle between making her superpowered and using her as a super punching bag. There was never any breathing room allowed for her to grow on us, so many of us have latched onto supporting characters, whose arcs have tended to be less... frenetic. I'm speaking as one who doesn't mind retconning or canon violations. I thought her war-orphan origin story was neat and don't mind additions to Spock's backstory. However, as she is presented, her depressing narrations/monologues and occasional flailing make her unrelatable to many of us. I long for a little more of the considered and restrained demeanors of Sisco or Picard or Janeway. When those characters got mad or desperate, it really meant something because they were so steady the rest of the time.

@Greg I guess I relate to her because I am a socially awkward WYSIWYG person. She has answers, she gives them. She's not a "smoother". Throw in a family relationship (and honestly, I totally buy their relationship), and then you go into even different territory. Two people with two different expectations. I don't know. I really really cannot pin the Burnham dislike. I absolutely cannot see the difference between her and say Data or Geordi who always seemed to "be right" and have an answer. What made that better? Or Dax on DS9, or Seven. Why don't people like Burnham for the same qualities people totally accepted from these characters?

Mar 20

@Karen Chuplis Taking your question at face value, I'll make an attempt to explain and maybe figure out my own feelings in the process. I'm afraid the writers haven't done the character any favors. They started with her as the competent second in command, with an interesting backstory and a cool mentor. Sign me up! However, right out of the gate they have her trying to incapacitate her commanding officer because she had it on good authority that shooting the Klingons before even being provoked was a good idea. Nobody on the bridge agreed, so she *had* to mutiny. As a viewer, we see the disastrous chain of events unfold, but it doesn't connect because nobody's actions make sense. Was there not enough time to consider at least some other options beyond shooting a mysterious and powerful looking spaceship? *That's* the best ya got? It was like the show was on rails and the writers had Burnham driving the train. Similarly, when Burnham broke out of the brig, she next came up with the hare brained idea to beam over to the Klingon ship (just she and the captain, mind you) and to kidnap someone. The captain amazingly agrees with the person who just tried to knock her out and gets herself killed for her efforts. As a viewer, you're left scratching your head. In the universe of possible ideas, why would that one get any traction? Could the show at least spare a few seconds to shoot down a couple of other options before choosing that insane one? The illusion is broken for the viewer and it comes into clear focus that characters are just making decisions to get us to the next plot point the writers want to be at. Even worse, it becomes clear that Burnham is the avatar of the writers and whatever she says, no matter how nonsensical, will be given godlike weight by the rest of the show's characters. That's still happening today, as we repeatedly through season two have seen her making moves deserving of military reprimand, but suffering no repercussions. We see her repeatedly telling characters to change their minds and do things her way because, they "Have To!" Even in the absence of a logical argument, characters will just change their strongly held beliefs for her and do what she says. Per your example, I don't remember Geordi (or anyone else really) wielding similar rhetorical powers. So, if that wasn't bad enough, the writers also have made sure their show remains dark enough that they can claim credibility in this day of HBO and Netflix long-form drama. Whether it was the stripping of rank, forced cannibalism in the mirror universe, relationship betrayal, childhood/adolescent rage, condemnation of religious beliefs or (now) grieving for a (heretofore unknown) friend, the history of this character has been almost uninterrupted misery. Her sad inner monologues reinforce this and aren't exactly fun. (More of that incoming, in tomorrow's episode, BTW.) It's my belief when so many people say this "isn't Trek," they aren't talking about Klingon makeup or the shape of nacelles or holograms or uniforms. They're longing for a show where an ensemble of upbeat professionals serving in a space navy boldly push the frontier of what is believed possible. There's a sunny optimism to that, which is sorely lacking in Discovery. That failure in tone is personified by the self-flagellating martyr that is Burnham.

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Live-commenting the podcast here, just want to credit @Valerie H. for saying "BOILER ALERT" about tri-d chess scene.

My favorite little moment in this episode was the "high-five for cybernetics!" between Kayla and Airiam. Though I'm a little worried for Kayla (and VISORed transporter room guy!)… this could be a little foreshadowing, that anyone with cybernetic implants could get infected by Control. And maybe a little more retconning for why we don't see heavily modified people like this in TOS.

Mar 23Edited: Apr 1

So. How did it only occur to me today that the entire Airiam and Burnham scene took place on Opposite sides of the glass like WoK. Did anyone bring this up and I only just heard it in my brain today?

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