Feb 9, 2018

the war without, the war within


Edited: Feb 9, 2018




Loved the episode, though. And, as always, Lower Decks nailed its discussion! I’ll really miss listening to you guys during the long hiatus.


Okay… Ash.

Or actually, “Ash.”

Because he isn’t Ash Tyler, as much as this individual claims/wants to identify as Ash Tyler. Truthfully, this is a physically altered, severely brain damaged, and psychologically traumatized Voq - who is clinging to a xerox copy of the real Ash Tyler’s memories (either out of said trauma or out of fear; we don’t know yet). The real Ash Tyler apparently died from the Matriarchs’ procedure, and tbh, if I may speak on behalf of his family and friends, it is pretty insulting to his memory that this Klingon experiment with some of Ash’s memories is now walking around and calling himself Ash Tyler - and it’s also insulting that the Disco crew is letting him! And so weird to me that they’d trust him to roam around this ship! It’s the main reason why that mess hall scene did not work for me. It seemed forced, too soon, and a bit unbelievable.


My real problem here, obviously, is with the writers. Imho, they did not do a good enough job of explaining exactly what this person is - and more importantly, why we should trust it. First came L’Rell’s unnecessarily confusing account of the Matriarch’s surgical procedure - then came that scene of her massaging his head in Sickbay, which we’re supposed to believe exorcized Voq’s consciousness from Voq’s body, leaving this fake Ash identity in charge of the remaining consciousness? - and lastly, we don’t even see one scene of L’Rell mourning for the Voq she so faithfully loved and believed in, let alone the plan she busted her Klingon ass to make happen. Just that one formal death cry… and then it’s like she was fine moving on with her life of meditation and prison visits. As a result of all this, I couldn’t fully invest in the “Ash”/Burnham breakup scene; I still didn’t fully understand or trust what “Ash” was. I wish we’d seen just ONE beat of L’Rell (with no one else around) mourning Voq and their rigorous, meticulous, long drawn-out plan… or something like that, just to convince me as a viewer that I can move on and truly feel for this new “Ash.”


But whatevs, that’s just one quibble, right? Lol


I did love what Valerie said about L’Rell - how through her dialogue, we can hear the terrorist perspective of our real world’s violent cultural/religious clashes. And I did love, as you guys noted, L’Rell’s use of the word “assimilation” - a word which sends chills down the spine of any Trekkie - and this idea that the Federation is to Klingons what the Borg is to the Federation.


And I also love Glenn’s “Ash/Phoenix” read of the name! I did not for one second think of that - or of Glenn’s other comment about the Christianity of Sarek’s speech, and what Roddenberry would’ve thought of that. (I did pause at Cornwell’s use of the word “souls” to describe those lost at that starbase.)


And now: Captain Emperor Georgiou!

I dunno where they go with this, but daddy likes.

As Valerie said, it’s a lot of fun watching Michelle Yeoh play this character. Yes it’s a stretch to believe this crew would see her as Prime Georgiou (especially after their recent romp in the Mirror Universe) but I don’t think we’ll be asked to stretch for long; I don’t think Yeoh will be with us much longer. Glenn wanted predictions? That’s my (sad) prediction!


And now: continuity.

Yes, Starfleet could force the Disco crew to sign NDAs about the Mirror Universe - and they can even sign NDAs about the spore drive (though how can Starfleet keep Prime Klingons and Mirror Terrans from talking about it? Lol). But like Glenn brought up, I’m worried that the severity of this Klingon/Federation conflict (even in simply calling it “a war”) does not seem to mesh with how Kirk et al reference Klingons only 8-9 years later. On a mildly related note, I’ve been clashing with some anti-Disco Trekkies on a YouTube thread concerning how the xenophobia of Disco’s Terran Empire was portrayed; specifically, how Disco’s Mirror Vulcans are seen as militant rebels against the Empire, when only 8-9 years later, we see Spock is First Officer aboard the ISS Enterprise. I defended Disco - using the T’Pol precedent from “Enterprise’s” Mirror story, plus Disco writer Jordon Nardino’s Emperor Georgiou title framing Vulcans as the Empire’s pets, plus the fact that Spock is at least half-human - but I admit, the difference does seem too jarring for under 10 years. I hope I’ll be able to sleep, with all that on my mind.


And now: a question.

Do you think Disco/CBS is confident enough in this series’ own stories to tag its first season finale on them, thinking they alone can bring viewers back to CBS All Access this fall… or do you think CBS will rely on a stunt to leave all of Trekdom abuzz in the meantime? As I asked months ago, do you think this finale will in any way involve an appearance by Pike’s (or April’s) USS Enterprise?

Feb 9, 2018

Wow, amazing commentary and some awesome questions!


I want to start with Ash Tyler -- the real Ash Tyler. What does his mother know about what happened to him? Did she know that he was taken prisoner at the Binaries? Did "Ash" send her a message when he arrived on Discovery saying that he was alive and free and not coming home until the war is over? Or has she spent this entire time thinking that her son died at the Binaries? In any event, how would she react to seeing "Ash?" Would she be able to accept this "physically altered, severely brain damaged, and psychologically traumatized" Klingon as her son? That's the post-Locutus episode I want out of Discovery ... eventually ... if there's ever a pause in the action. All of this is to say that you raise important issues about how "Ash" is being handled and it would be nice to have the crew (and the writers) doing a little more with it. The mess scene really resonated with me, but there is a clear sense in which it is also a way of telling the audience that there's no need to worry about those questions because, you see, the crew isn't worried about them. I hope we get a Discovery version of "Sim" or "Dax" at some point because I think that this show's focus on character could tell a gripping story about these questions of identity and personhood.


Thinking about L'Rell's missing mourning scene, it occurs to me that with the exception of Burnham and Cornwell, Discovery is really avoiding grief. We never got that funeral for Landry. We haven't seen Stamets mourn for Culber. And nothing from L'Rell. Presumably this has much to do with the pacing, but it would be nice to pause and see some grieving.


I didn't think we saw anything in the Mirror Universe that contradicts what we know from TOS. The fact that Sarek is part of the rebellion doesn't mean that all or even most Vulcans are. Sarek may even be the only one, and his impetus for joining the rebellion may have something to do with his illicit romance with a human woman -- an act that made a criminal out of him and stole his son from him. And if the issue is about why Vulcans have positions of authority and power if the Terran Empire hates non-humans, I would point back to the historical model for the Terran Empire. The government of the early Roman Empire was managed largely by non-Roman slaves who comprised a professional bureaucracy because they had a better education than most Roman citizens and were regarded as being more clever than Romans even while also being regarded as morally inferior (in part because of their cleverness). I believe that there are Vulcans in important positions throughout the Terran Empire and I also believe that there are whole units of Andorian space marines -- even while those species are regarded as morally inferior and may be enslaved. I think I'm halfway to convincing myself to write a book about the Terran Empire.


Finally, what a great question. I suspect you are probably right to think that there will be a stunt of sorts, and while it may be handled really well, I'd prefer a finale that rests on the characters from this show. Do you think it's most likely to be The Enterprise? Or a Lt. Kirk?


Feb 9, 2018

As mentioned elsewhere I am highly skeptical of Voq being gone. There was no mourning by L'Rell because all she did was push Voq deeper and hide him. Ash is NOT the Ash Tyler who served in Starfleet, it's not his body and really isn't his real mind either. I too feel he should not be walking around the ship free as a bird but should be locked up right beside L'Rell.


I wonder if now we have seen that the drive can take us to anywhere and anywhen we get the Disco going backwards in the prime to a point at or not long after they left. Then they can have the fleet intact, the codes to the cloaking device and a chance to nip the war in its bud. This would make the conflict a less major event and preserve canon.


To be honest though I really don't give a damn about canon. Why should the show absolutely shackle themselves? They severely restrict themselves as to what they can do if they are intent on not contradicting all the previous ill thought out muck ups by previous shows.


As to the empire, perhaps they are not as monolithic and xenophobic as they might seem, perhaps that was why Lorca was so incensed by things he would plot a coup.

Feb 10, 2018

You are awesome Glenn, I am going to use all of that info about the Romans to annihilate my enemies on this YouTube thread!!!

Feb 11, 2018

@BionicDave - You’re too kind to us! We miss engaging with you guys over the break. Any chance you’re also an architect? We could use the break to draw up some B&B plans.


-Regarding Ash - You know, @BionicDave, I had the same thought occur to me a few days after we recorded. DISCO completely ignores how *this* “Ash Tyler” affects or might affect the real Ash Tyler and those that served with and were close to him. Your comment provided some really helpful insight into why the mess hall scene was difficult for me to buy into as well.


-As for L’Rell mourning, I would have appreciated a scene like that, and it would have added depth to her character, especially because they were in love. I felt like the memory recap they did of Voq and L’Rell falling in love kind of filled that void for me, but it does make me wonder: Would L’Rell mourn? Or is mourning something weak and dishonorable when she believed Voq died for a worthy and honorable cause? Maybe she'd just write an opera about it?


-All these points about continuity in the canon have put the following thought on my mind: It seems that DISCO writers are crazy meticulous in their knowledge of Trek, based on the allusions that they make and the parallels that can so often be drawn between tiny bits of dialogue in DISCO and in other Trek episodes, just to name a few examples. There are, however, lots of good points to be made (here largely voiced by Glenn, BionicDave, and I dunno, *the internet*) about how this affects TOS in terms of continuity. Is it, then, that DISCO writers are incredibly respectful/referential/deferential to even the minutia of the Trek universe, while simultaneously being a bit disrespectful to (or perhaps careless about) canonical timeline?


While we’re on that topic, I think kev may’s comment about not caring about the timeline is really interesting. I think that when it comes to smaller points about continuities or lack thereof, I would agree that it isn’t something that bothers me too much. I do think, however, that preserving the timeline in some fashion allows us to create and follow a fully fleshed-out future in our minds. I love seeing how Trek can teach us about our own past, present, and future, and to do that, I think it does need, in some respects, to tell stories that fit into a consistent whole. What do you think, kev may?



Feb 12, 2018

Valerie, a few thoughts off the cuff (I will have to have a think)


I have only ever been a casual viewer of Trek. I served and as a result tended to miss large portions of TV series whilst deployed and this I think made it far less possible to become a real Trek fan. Same is true of many series. My civilian friends who were big fans of TNG and DS9 were all very disappointed in me and I was almost ostracized when I refused to watch Lost with them despite the reasonable point that I had missed more than half the first season and I consequently had not the slightest clue about what was going on.


As a result I have tended to watch these series, not in order but haphazardly an episode here and there which I think has left me less concerned with who did what and when. I was interested when the new films decided to run a new timeline because it gave them the opportunity to ignore any previous plots which might interfere with telling their story. They didn't need to obey canon. This series could have blazed it's own trail by putting itself in the future, post TNG and DS9 and so they would not have to tiptoe as much to not offend.


They have not done as well as some would wish, there are plenty out there howling for blood at this or that slight deviation from canon, this war is an example, it is far larger than there is any mention of in later timeline. This would have been mentioned in the huge number of later episodes.


This is what I do not like, when TOS was written and produced it was not expected to be a big hit, no one knew that there would be so many spinoffs and hype. They were writing for entertainment alone not having to consider that every tiny detail would become canon that later writers would have to respect, even if it made no sense. I think that the show runners should be able to stretch the limits of what is and isn't canon to give us a cogent and internally consistent show.


A lot has been said about the Terran Empire this series and there have been comments about this or that not being entirely correct. If there is one parallel universe there are infinite numbers and who is to say that this one is the same exact same one as in the other mirror episodes we have seen. There may be hundreds of mirrors with Terran Empires all slightly different.


Whilst I do think it is nice to have consistency I do believe that we should give new shows some leeway to find their own truth and we as viewers should be more accepting and less pedantic about it.

Feb 13, 2018

I now regret my treatment of Ash-Voq!

I legit cried during the season finale.

I was rude ever to speak of him in such a derogatory way.

Feb 13, 2018

Me too, BionicDave, me too!


Kev, I love your position on canon. I enjoy thinking about the canon and I especially enjoy reconciling discrepancies as a sort of puzzle (I mean, this is essentially what historians do), but the occasions when such a discrepancy has made me angry or hurt have been pretty few.


And your story mirrors mine. I watched most of Voyager while I was in the Army, but so completely out of order and often on horribly worn VHS tapes that we traded around our unit. I kind of miss watching it that way sometimes!

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