I was just finishing your Podcast on What's Past is Prologue and though I still need to finish out the pod season (highly enjoying, even with many disagreements. lol) and felt the need to address Lorca heartbreak.
I think in a way, Lorca heartbreak was exactly the point. I agree perhaps some aspects could have been written better perhaps, though I was not bothered at all as much as our hosts. Some of that is clearly "we have 13 episodes to tell this" (I count the first two as a prologue), but honestly, some of it is microscopic examination of the impossible expectations we all have of "what is Star Trek and how should it be presented".
I feel that Discovery constantly examined second chances throughout. Right down to literally piecing together a solution from a repetitive loop and series of choices in Magic to Make the Sanest Man go Mad. Burnham was finished. She destroyed the thing most dear to her and a false captain brought her a second chance to be who she could be even though that was never his intention. She was constantly resetting and fighting certain aspects of her instincts as well as her training. It drove her to act on feelings and motivations I don't believe she totally understood (do any of us understand all of our motivations though.)
Sarek had a second chance to be the father he could be and though we haven't seen it at the point of the series at end of WPIP, he will ultimately even manage to be a father of comfort, and of demonstration in the scene outside the transporter room with Burnham. And she gave him that chance by not writing him off in anger (her determination as she left sick bay in Lethe and specific use of "Father" as an address tells us this), and because she understood he was shamed by that choice he made even as it angered her and hurt her. How much more certain was she because she literally saw into his mind that he was tortured by that choice that led to neither outcome he had envisioned. Shame requires atonement and regret which was why it was brilliant to me to use one word which is shaded by so many emotions. It was the emotionally economical way Sarek could respond. It is up to him to capitalize on the second chance she will be willing to give him.
In many ways Mirror Universe Lorca was offered a second chance. He ultimately did not consolidate the gains he made in the prime universe but throughout his time there, it was not like he rampaged as MU Lorca would have in his own universe. He was callous, he was destructive in ways BUT he *did* train a crew to razor sharp good decision making for their time, which no one in Starfleet was good at or prepared for. He *did* cut a swath of rescuing throughout their time in the war fighting FOR the Federation even if he did not use the universal law version. As L’Rell says, THAT is war. He did give good advice. Even in his more questionable moments as when he refused to buck the system as usual and told Saru no rescue would be mounted for the admiral because it could put them in the same position of being trapped. He wasn’t a good person but he wasn’t really wrong about that. Ultimately however, his own selfish goals were realized and he paid for it. He could have made use of his second chance and actually gained respect and a certain amount of power but he threw it away. His failing wasn't IMO cardboard or hollow, it was obsession that he could not overcome or rechannel into being the hero of the prime universe. He was obsessed with the need for a complete domination of the world he knew and he was not ever in love with Mirror Burnham, he was obsessed. He was patient for sure, but he was obsessed. He is the contrast to pretty much every other character arch presented.The cautionary tale. I believe Georgiou will be the success that Lorca was not. Maybe not in the accepted normal "Federation way" but in adjusting her nature and personality to the cards she is handed in a second life.
L’Rell got a second chance at achieving an understanding of the larger picture of the Federation. She learned that things were not as she was taught. Her exposure to Cornwall I think sincerely turned a little bit of a light on that maybe T'kuvma really did not know the enemy. She learned to think on at least a deeper level about Klingon roles in uniting the empire. She shifted and used every tactic and every bit of information she had each time a new situation presented itself and changed her tactics and actions to fit the new situation. She did what Lorca did in that way but she didn’t throw it away at the end. She adapted. And she reformed her world view a little bit each time. She is a bridge builder in a way wider way than she originally considered being.
And Tyler/Voq, the most complex character (IMO) , literally gets a second chance at everything. And again as he spends time, like Lorca did, fighting for the very thing he (as Voq) thought was what he hated most, he gained more and more of an understanding, even if it was subliminal to Voq through Tyler. It was not just his falling for Burnham that got in the way of shedding his Tyler personality as L’Rell intended I don’t think. It was the friendship of the crew, the bonds they formed, his overlay of Tyler’s personality as well as learning to love Burnham. In all fairness, if he had died when L'Rell went to release Voq (and I think that was a possibility) it would most likely have been the "just" end. Instead, he becomes someone new, neither completely Ash or Voq. It gives Tyler yet another chance to literally live even if it is all in the conscience of Tyler in a manufactured Tyler body. By the end of the season, even when he is rebuffed by Burnham, he resolves to find a way to claim the new person he is. We still do not know where that will lead or how successful it will be but he is not throwing it away.
Saru got a second chance at command and he blossomed. He had learned very much from his failures in Choose your Pain. It may have been Trial by Fire, but between that experience and his shame of his behavior on Pahvo, in which I think he very much learned to understand more about Burnham's initial choices in the first two episodes, he seemed to understand maybe you can conquer fear outside of that false environment and that you can't do it alone. You have to let your crew support you and you do that by inclusion. (Am I reading too much into this? That is what I see.)
Heck even the tardigrade got a second chance.
I am looking forward to finishing your pods to see if any of what I saw came through to you as well. But I do think, Lorca was the lesson of throwing away a second chance. I wonder if that theme will show up in Season two.
I could write even more but I guess I feel that Star Trek in general and Discovery in specific addresses the struggle of how to take advantage of a second chance, to fight FOR that chance and to do better, be better, live and act better. One can only hope in our present climate we can find ways to do the same.
@Karen Chuplis, I agree with Daniel that I wish I'd had this in my mind while watching Season 1, and I think it's going to make rewatches all the more enjoyable. I also want to pause for a moment and appreciate your taking the time to dialogue with us about a more positive, thematic, and holistic interpretation of characters and plot points that Glenn and I were often frustrated by. It is greatly appreciated.
As I was reading Karen's comments and and Daniel's replies, I was struct by how very often I felt frustrated, confused, or let down while watching the show, and how very often I felt more positively after picking it apart, reflecting on it, and observing the nuanced depictions of broader themes. I wonder if others are at times having the same experience of a dichotomy between the emotional experience of watching Season 1 and the intellectual experience of looking back on it. As you said, Karen, I'm sure much of this has to do with my own biased expectations of what Star Trek is and how it should be presented, which has been heavily shaped by shows that people were pretty upset about when they first aired, as well.
Karen, you've also reminded me to look at DISCO's characters with the same patience that I'd bring to myself or to my clients, living by the rule that it's often one's second response, not their first, that really tells you something about who they are or where they are in their own journey. That being said, it's still sometimes fun to yell at the TV. :)
This is a great take on season 1. I didn't come to this conclusion when I watched season 1 but I would have enjoyed it more if I had.
For me the Burnham character fell completely flat. She had learned nothing at the end of the season, doing the same things she did at the beginning. I was astonished that she got to command rank with so little understanding of Starfleet values. Her being reduced to lowest level seemed nothing more than a slight inconvenience, but this was due to her being the main character. Nobody wants to watch the daily life of a janitor for 13 episodes. Consequently her raised status at the end felt unearned to me.
The Ash character was my biggest disappointment. I had hope that he would be a character that we would see deal with the psychological effects of war in a realistic manner. When he turned into a mind controlled puppet of his torturer I was greatly disappointed.
All in all the last half of the season went downhill compared to the first part. I have read that the showrunners were changed midseason and theses are the people doing season 2. This leaves me with low expectations for season 2, it doesn't seem worth the cost. Unfortunately I think many people may agree with me.
Karen, this is a fantastic insight. I'm wondering if we can even apply the theme of second chances to Stamets and Tilly in some way. Stamets clearly becomes more personable, perhaps because he's lost his partner and also perhaps because Lorca showed him that the choices he makes can seriously impact others.
I love your understanding of Lorca. I agree with you completely that Lorca saved the Federation -- without him, they would have lost the war. He could have continued to be both great and good, and I really wanted him to choose that. It hurt when he didn't, but seeing that as rejecting a second chance really works. All of his talk about destiny was really just a way of saying that he didn't want to let go of his obsession even when he had a chance at something better -- just a way of rejecting a second chance.
I also share your optimism for Mirror Georgiou, and Michelle Yeoh's presence in The Brightest Star suggests that we're going to continue to see her from time to time. I hope she makes the choices that Lorca didn't.
This overarching theme for most of our characters has me really excited to see them all again in the second season, and I look forward to your insights as the season progresses.