Apr 27

Wrap up thoughts

82 comments

Edited: Apr 27

Notes Lower Decks Wrap up Episode:

 

To me the overarching theme was disconnection and finding ourselves and others, and how we have to reach out to resolve that, at least in part. Having spent a large part of the season with my first time ever almost complete disconnection to myself, maybe that’s why it resonated with me. Though....I don’t think I’ve managed the reach out part in my own life yet. Maybe a little. And they are probably right. But it’s easier said than done.

 

Of course I’m the person you refer to that hands down was all about the Spock Burnham. Lol. Maybe not. I haven’t been on the Patreon boards. Just the forum.

 

Wow. You guys just really didn’t like Discovery, either season lol. I sure hope it comes around for you.

 

Agree fight scene one of the best of the season. It super worked. It added to both characters. If we didn’t have to bolt through a main story and got two or three episodes to explore, I really think they would have had more of a story.

 

My takeaway with the writers were when they were allowed free reign they were great and when they were expected to fill in the blank to get HERE they fumbled. I know there was more about religion planned, reportedly there is even a photo somewhere of Pike wearing a cross that caused a hue and cry before the season. That was apparently removed. I wish they were allowed to just go for things but I suspect they are crossed by hierarchy a lot.

 

Omg. I love bearded Spock. I’m sure I’ll love clean young Spock too but I love bearded Spock. However, only with the leather coat. Would be awful with the uniform.

 

I loved the Bowie scene. My favorite thing was how it supplanted Stamets saying to Tilly “I love you”. Because he’s just not that kind of guy but he wanted to. And you know Tilly loves him. “Tell his wife he loved her very much” “She knows”.

 

Hard in the extreme to pick best scene... tie between Spock/Burnham Gym, Vulcan salute in bay, or final “I love you”. Okay. All Spock Burnham scenes and definitely that Spock Stamets scene. I’ll tag you on Instagram of a mashup I did between that and Journey to Babel that was just....I mean Young Spock totally won me over at that moment Because I completely flashed back to Journey to Babel.

 

Yes. 👎🏻for Yum Yum. And she seemed uncomfortable with it as well.

 

Well at least we all felt the same way about Spock and Pike. :( I felt Michael actually made a huge stride, in that she recognized what Spock recognized long ago and what he was really angry about and couldn’t communicate with her because of. (I really can write better than this if I take time. I promise. Sorry). Her obsessive need to burden herself , not not just with responsibility but ownership and responsibility of things she does NOT have control over. And not grasping that SHE does not always cause “the bad things” and therefore HAVE to fix them ALL by herself. It goes back to the child S & B scene and how he kept trying to get her to include them. “OUR family.“ “OUR home”. And I do hope next season we see her relax because of this.

 

I will pick one point. Maybe in the past there was not any inherent tension or hostility between religion and science. But we see it daily now and in fact experience it daily in our own lives. Like day in and day out. There *shouldn’t* be. Astronauts are a great example as those who often have their experience grow their faith. But I can tell you that seems to have suffered mightily the last decade or two and the writers probably grew up in that time (they all seem pretty young). I am sad to say, I’m not sure how to get around that. I know I am daily disheartened by the fact that absolutely there is at least a huge tension and yes, even hostility, between science and religion in modern Christianity. I mean I literally am reminded of that each day in the real world and with people I know personally. You literally cannot talk about science with people or they lose their minds. And the odd thing is they use it! I mean it’s like if it’s useful to them personally right now, it’s fine. Otherwise whoa Nelly, do you get the stink eye. And if you bring up data, you get the eye roll if not outright “those are lies”. So I don’t know. Maybe that’s a regional thing and you don’t experience it. But I sure do. There are two sides to that story and maybe there is an issue with the writers and they need to bring on a couple of people who remember a time you could have both. I don’t know.

 

Well I have no idea what they will do in season three. I do not believe Michael at least would ever return. I’m pretty sure no matter what they do there will be a big hue and cry of dismay. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Would it be so bad if they set the federation straight in its mission if it’s begun to list to the side?

 

Also .... why didn’t you call your drink....”Timehole”. Lol.

 

Well.. I guess I’m kind of sad. And I guess I am definitely a character driven viewer but I always have been I believe, since I was little. (And Spock was always my jam. Always. So....probably why I like this season although I had no expectations going into the season of how they would handle him and was suspicious.) I also have little faith Discovery will go beyond next season because there are simply too many variables in demand from fans. Which is too bad. I mean they seem to have to fight every decision they have made with one faction or another. I hope I am wrong. I simply need to be happy that so far I love the characters and their stories and maybe Jett will be there a lot more (knock on wood. Tig has time to clear out her schedule this time). I do hope/wish they’d slow the pace down because they won’t get 26 episodes so hopefully they will figure out a way to do say 10-12 with a more evenly spread story across characters. (But of course then there will be a lot of people who don’t like that. I was always amazed this year at reading and listening to how the same episode would be described as too “talky“ by one analyst (and they definitely meant character moments) and as “needs more quiet character moments” by another.) I’m just glad I’m not a writer. I can’t imagine the pressure.

 

I do hope that if nothing else they take advantage of what appears to be fairly universal love of Pike (and even surprisingly- I expected WAY more pushback) Spock. If Disco has done nothing else it birthed that possibility. And despite Pike being a white man it doesn’t mean it has to be a straight male dominated show. I don’t know. I’m kinda depressed now. Oh well. Lol.

Karen, even though I said otherwise on the show, I'm also glad I'm not writing for Star Trek because we fans are so demanding and fickle, and we're also so diverse in our interests. I can't imagine the pressure, either. And I think that pressure mounts when you have fewer episodes and a serialized format -- when you are essentially telling one story instead of giving us a short-story collection with iconic characters. This season to me seemed to lean too far away from the intellectualism that I really go to Trek for ... but if they'd given me that show, someone else would have accused the show of being slow and boring for sure. Pressure, indeed. (Also, who am I kidding, writing for Star Trek remains my dream job).

 

I try really hard not to know anything about what's going on with the show from a production standpoint, so I was unaware that the creative team wasn't able to tell the religious story they wanted to. I'm really interested in why and how that was squashed. Can you point me to a good article about this?

 

Like you, I am concerned that this next season will be Discovery's last and that the lasting legacy of this show will be that it was the springboard for Kurtzman's Trek TV franchise managing the spin-offs. I hope that's not true because I like our Discovery characters and I especially want to see more Tilly.

 

But we are at least getting that one more season and I'm excited for it. Like Valerie, I also would like a Trek show about humans at their best (Pike, please?), but unlike Valerie I am interested in the possibility of a show dealing with the disintegration of the Federation, which presumably will have been greatly expanded in the nearly nine centuries since the destruction of Romulus.

Apr 28Edited: Apr 28

I don’t know that there is an article on this. These are things I saw going on before it aired. But I am 100% still positive that the writers were not able to let loose where they wanted. I’m pretty sure too I did read something about the length of New Eden and cut material. I may be able to find that. I believe it because Burnham refers to the All Mother by name in the basement talking to Pike and we did not see them conversing in a way she would know that. I’m sure there is more with the people of Terralysium that was cut. I have several times this season found spots like that where I’m certain there’s a scene in the cutting room floor.

 

I don't necessarily want a completely destroyed federation but, it’s a loooong time in the future and much could have changed to take it away from what we know. It might be interesting to find yourself face to face with people so near the beginning of the process. I really can’t guess what they will do next season. But I am rather keen to see a baby Zora. The data has been close to an AI already bybdefending itself, it’s in the computer and so are Airiam‘s memories. To me that equals Zora. It would be interesting to have the beginning of that. To have moments where the computer takes benign initiative, maybe subtle enough to not register but then they realize there’s an intelligence arising. (That’s what I would pitch anyways if I were in the writing room. ) it would also give them a “Data like” character.

@Karen Chuplis Yes, I would love to foreground the development of a new sentient lifeform! TNG did an episode like this (I'm blanking on the title) and ultimately settled on not treating the Enterprise like a person. It would be great to have a counter. Plus, Zora was just awesome and I want more of her -- at least as a sequel to "Calypso," if we can't get her in Season 3.

 

You make a great point about the editing. I tend to think of the decisions resting on the shoulders of the writers, but that's certainly not always the case and I should be more charitable. If you do see something on the decision to drift away from the religious elements of this story, please do pass it on. I would love to compare that with DS9's decision to move away from stories about Bajoran religion during the second season because of fan complaints. (And I wonder if that will be in the documentary).

Apr 28Edited: Apr 28

@G.L. McDorman ugh. I absolutely can’t find anything concrete except a reference on a board to a fluff up on Facebook so I think we’ll have to consider it unfounded rumor. Sorry to have brought that rumor up. I will say they absolutely I think were trending that way in the first few episodes but i notice all even hints of the religious themes or arguments were dropped about episode 4 or there abouts. Which probably coincides with the beginning of the change over of show runners. Someday we’ll find out more about that whole thing. It’d be interesting if someone ever asks Kurtzman or Mount about that.

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A Big Thanks to @Valerie H. and @G.L. McDorman for another fantastic podcast season. Your positive take on every episode, despite any problems it has, and fun closing games makes this a podcast that goes to top of listening list when it comes out. I love your bonus Trek episodes and I am looking forward to more.

 

I am in 100% agreement with Glenn about what I want from Trek that isn't in this show. I also miss the sense of wonder that comes with encountering the unknown. That sense of discovery seems sadly absent from Discovery.

 

Another plot hole contender. They have a storyline and episode on how the sporedrive is literally destroying an alternate universe and then they just spore jump the rest of the season without comment.

 

About the religious aspect of this show. I don't think it was handled well and I don't think they were capable of handling it. I don't think there was a good way to handle that topic that wouldn't anger different groups. Nobody wants a 'discussion' about religion anymore. I actually think that Burnham's character wasn't as bad as it seemed in episode 2. That wasn't a ceremony it was more of a neighborhood meeting. The lady in charge was speaking directly to Disco crew so Burnham's questions were relevant and I didn't take her tone as scolding, myself.

 

Something I dont think I've seen in Star Trek is a main cast member who is happily married. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

 

The fact that a 'white man as series lead' is a problem is a sad state of affairs in our fiction. Star Trek has always done the best it could do to address social issues in casting its actors. They did what was possible given the limitations imposed upon them by networks, advertisers and us the audiences biases.

@Daniel Falch Thank you! And I can't believe we didn't notice that plot hole! You're so right - I can't believe I got so swept up I forgot to notice it.

 

Phlox is happily married!!

 

And...um...that alternative timeline where Tom Paris married Kes and then Harry Kim married their daughter?

I beg to differ a bit about the plot hole. I think it was pretty well established when retrieving Hugh that the destructive element was not the spore drive itself but the introduction of Hugh to the environment and him using that tree bark as protection. Now it is ENTIRELY up for argument about the strength of that whole plot, but it really did end up being that, not the use of the spore drive itself that was destructive.

 

Yeah, I'd say Tom and B'lanna were the only married couple I can think of. Certainly Stamets and Paul have been happy and I believe will be again.

 

I can only speak for myself when I say that for representation what matters to me, is no matter who sits in the captain chair, as long as the presentation of everyone is fair, and well used that is what matters. It matters that even though Pike was in the chair on Enterprise it was Cornwell and Number One that went to deal with the crisis. Or that Tilly was fixing the shield problem. That Reno was charging the crystal. That for once in ST history, you have at least as many women and minorities as presented as anyone else.

 

In fact, I was going to ask @Valerie H. and @G.L. McDorman if one thing we overlook for messages is just that fact. That we get a pretty darned full representation without comment on it, basically showing not telling, of a society where you DON'T have to talk about it. I mean....isn't that a message? And a big one that has always been talked about but not show in Star Trek (or not terribly well)? OK, so we aren't going as heavy as Wesley and his "I can't imagine why anyone would do drugs" and Tasha "I hope you never do". etc. But week in and week out we were shown what an equal and just society looks like. I think that counts for a lot.

@Karen Chuplis I thought it was stated that the spore drive was a problem and Hugh was just a worsening of it too the breaking point. Wasn't well explained I guess.

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Like Glenn, I also pay no attention to the back-room show info, mainly because I'm not interested but also to go in with no expectations.

 

If the network is truly making major changes to the show based on the rantings of online haters, that's really sad. Isn't it widely known that the active posters on any online forum are a tiny minority of the actual readers? And that's not even including the fact that most of any TV audience is going to be people who don't hang out on forums at all.

 

And on top of all that, I'm guessing there's a very large overlap between the groups who kvetch about the show and the people who refuse to pay for CBS in order to watch it. Why the showrunners give a flying fork about the complaining mystifies me. Perhaps this is the modern day version of the 1960s letter-writing campaign.

May 1Edited: May 1

Networks gauge viewer tastes in so many various ways, social media response being just one, along with overall ratings, demographic ratings, focus groups... and the list goes on. Here's another...

Last week, I went to go cancel my CBSAA subscription, because Star Trek was done for a while, and there's nothing else on that service which entices me to pay for it. I then got two offers from them before canceling: 1) would I like to stay on for another month for free?; and 2) would I like to take part in a Discovery survey questionnaire? I accepted both. And the survey wound up being quite lengthy - including questions like "which character on this list do you enjoy most, and why?" and "how would you describe Star Trek Discovery to people who've never seen it?" and "what do you think of the show?" and "how did you watch this season, weekly or mostly in one sitting, and how much of it did you watch?" and "how likely are you to watch season 3?" etc. They could easily see what kind of Trek fan you are. And like most detailed surveys, it also asked stuff like my age, income, race, marital status, etc. Anyway - I wound up giving them a very detailed account of what I liked and disliked about this season and series - and I bet a whole lot of other viewers did too.

@BionicDave Oh, that's really interesting. I still have a few days on my subscription, so I'll look forward to this and set aside some time for it.

@BionicDave A bunch of us got the survey even if we didn’t cancel. I’m kind of happy about it overall. Most “hate watchers“ are not paying CBS but using bit torrent. So I feel like at the least their survey should gather better info than some random board or socmed info they gather. There is also a feedback page some folks who didn’t get the survey used.

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I have a lot of the same feelings about the season and the show that Glenn and Valerie discussed in the wrap-up and throughout the season.

 

In a lot of ways, I find Discovery hits many of the same buttons in me as the latter half of Battlestar Galactica did a decade ago:

  • characters going in bizarre directions for no established reason

  • sudden additions of huge worldbuilding things late in the game

  • abandonment of in-universe rules or conventions that had been set up in the superb first two seasons

And yet, even though I say all those as negatives, I was always fully engaged by the show, and the characters, and looked forward to watching it every week. BSG did an amazing job of developing its many characters very quickly; I knew and cared more about more characters after about four episodes of BSG than I do after two seasons of Discovery. And my love for those characters, even as they changed over the years, sometimes in silly ways, carried me through the many twists and turns toward the end of the show.

 

I guess all this is a long way of saying: I'd be all in if Ron Moore came back to do more Trek.

This is all of us. Let's start that petition!

Well that’s unlikely I’m sorry to say. He’s pretty taken up with Outlander. OTOH I do hope the next season evens out without a show runner change. I think you can see a difference with the change that happened this year.

I wrote that late last night and forgot to finish my overall thought: Discovery triggers the same reaction in me as late-stage BSG in that I still love watching it and look forward to each episode, even though I can see the flaws and feel the frustration from them. Part of this is the general gorgeousness, high production values, the great acting. But I think most of the viewer goodwill that kept us tuning in to BSG toward the end was built up by the show itself. But in Discovery's case it's coasting on 50 years of goodwill built up by other Star Trek shows. I think it's telling that many of the things that made us the most bubbly in S2 were the Enterprise, Pike, even Number One, more so than most of Discovery's own contributions to the universe.

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OH! I keep forgetting to ask.....does anyone think having Po's magical recrystalizer on board will be useful???

Oooh yes! But boy if it's the only one, she's gonna be pissed later!

@chrissam42 Well, unless she smuggled it off into her stolen shuttle. But more likely it was a prototype or something.

So should we do a projections thread for Season 3 or keep it here?

New thread! Then I can not read it and go in clean… but will actually read it because I love you all :)

May 3

I finally finished the podcast and I want to thank Glenn and Valerie for their insightful and entertaining show.

 

The wrap-up got me thinking weighty thoughts about Discovery, some of which may be controversial. Nevertheless, it's on my heart to comment, so I'll do so in full knowledge it isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea.

 

"Yum yum" doesn't happen in a vacuum. It wasn't an isolated goof or overreach by the writers.

 

I'm gonna take this all the way back to the first episode of the season. I'm a victim of reading too much internet junk and I'm the first one to admit it, but I try to subscribe to a spectrum of ideas and follow the conventional wisdom in various sectors, even if I don't agree with what they have to say.

 

I was surprised when I found a certain sector of the 'net was highly interested in the takedown of barely known and not mourned science officer Connolly. He, they informed me, was an avatar of white maleness - complete with the associated arrogance and "mansplaining." I would never have made that connection on my own (I try not to group people into buckets of expected characteristics depending on race or gender), but it wasn't an uncommon conclusion among viewers.

 

As I considered this, a few things fell into place for me. If the writers did write the character to be intentionally unlikable and to look a certain way, what's wrong with that? It's done all the time, for better or worse.

 

Where they lose me is if they write the character to be unlikable and to look a certain way - and expect us to enjoy the bad things that ultimately happen to them. I do think that's the case in this episode. Linus notably blew snot on the guy and drew no apologetic reaction from his crewmates. In fact, it was played for yuks. Did that strike anyone else as weird? Then, of course, they smash him to atoms mid-tirade and as far as we can tell, nobody ever misses him. Hey, he wasn't walking around espousing "love" and "math" like our hero characters do, but who knows. Maybe he has highly functional Asperger's or something else. Maybe he had an inferiority complex and overcompensated as a result. We've seen characters of all kinds who had similar social difficulties in other Treks and they were never depicted as a joke or thematic punching bag . Yet, due purely to his less than enlightened behavior and his appearance, a subset of viewers *enjoyed* his demise.

 

Seriously, I gotta let that sink in for a second. Those people are out there, it happened and it's not good.

 

As another data point, we could look at the New Eden stuff that was discussed so brilliantly on Lower Decks. Here, we find out that the writers want us to understand that there is a dividing line between rational people who believe in science and crazy weirdos who do not. They're driving a wedge here and making a point, with Burnham as their avatar this time. They seem to be saying, "Our side owns science." If you're not with us, you're against us. I thought such binary thinking was eschewed by folks who espouse open-mindedness, but apparently not. No, instead of embracing IDIC, the show and Burnham go down the path of political groups who claim if you don't share their version of science, you're a scientific heretic and a "denier." Isn't that exactly the kind of dogmatic thinking Trek used to be against? Discovery seems to embrace diversity in identity groups, but to be downright hostile to it in the arena of ideas. That's a major fail and a significant break from other Treks. In no way do I believe they intended an arc of eventual understanding for Burnham here. She shot their faith down and we were supposed to enjoy the dressing down of the science non-believers.

 

Given these examples, "yum yum" isn't that surprising. It's in keeping with the show's philosophy of taking the enemy down a peg and feeling glee in their humiliation. That was the approach of both Georgiou and Naan during the entire confrontation. It's telling that we never find out, apart from speculation, what makes Georgiou hate human Leland. It's supposed to be good enough for us that Leland is Leland. So, being a jerky boss and employing dastardly methods (that are pretty much included in his job description) make him a good candidate for mockery as he dies. Both Georgiou and Naan apparently thought so. This indicates to me the writers thought we would agree and I speculate it's partly because Leland is who he is - that torture is bad, unless it's used against certain people. Okay, maybe it's a stretch. However, when I ask myself if the writers would have written "yum yum" if Leland was played by (the excellent) Sonja Sohn, my gut tells me no. So, again, somebody's identity mattered more than the content of their character. As far as aspirations go, this approach is a far cry from the egalitarian ideals of past Treks. It's hypocritical and hateful.

 

These and other reasons are why I say that Discovery is less about embracing differences and more about settling scores. This contemporary approach I often hear has given up on stressing our commonality. The focus is now on what sets us apart, tallying points to right past wrongs and mocking anyone who doesn't believe. If that's the path embraced by Discovery and other future Trek shows, it flies in the face of actually seeking out the "other" and learning to appreciate their unique perspective, no matter how strange it may seem.

I suspect I am the only person who will disagree with most of this. In the largest sense of “Star Trek is a commentary on our times” in particular mansplainig treatment of women is a major one that has almost always, even in the case of our heroes, been allowed to happen and even if too harsh or contemporary, was long overdue for me. I’ll agree perhaps it should have been more subtle but as a person who has experienced all her life, (and worse as I age, youth yields some benefits if only “she’s cute so I’ll let her have her say”) yeah. It was satisfying. I don’t apologize for it.

 

Yum yum was simply bad in all aspects. I do not think it was the culmination of seeding although “women stop talking“ was. I am really surprised by all I read and listen to, however, while it is brought up as liked or not liked, the whole Leland scene is not much commented on except favorably and that really does surprise me. It is worthy of debate in the sense that Glenn brought up.

 

I still did not feel Burnham or the writers were attacking religion. I may have a block but I never once saw that and I felt Pike was very strong on challenging any of her arguments although yes they dropped the entire discussion part way through and that is a shame because I think it may contribute to that view. I think because the discussion didn’t much continue past that episode it may lend an air of incomplete “sides” or exploratIon.

May 3

@Karen Chuplis Thanks for that response. I always learn a lot from your perspective and this is no exception.

@Greg Thank you for your very thoughtful comment. I wish I'd connected the celebratory manner in which the death of a service-member in the line of duty is treated with the way that torture is cheerfully embraced. It's spot-on and it concerns me -- not for the show, but for us, for some cultural turn we seem to have made while I was busy reading fifty-year-old SF novels. My wife and I have been talking about this a lot in our capacity as teachers and we've been looking at some literature that indicates that people who have grown up with the Internet their whole lives (our current crop of students) have a significantly diminished capacity for empathy. I see that in the classroom, but it seems even clearer here on TV.

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You guys. I mean. Come on. This HAS to happen!

 

Here's a little retrospective of Pike I made. (Glenn, be prepared. :D)

 

@G.L. McDorman I thought it fit him really well. It's Charge of the Highland Cattle from Outlander. You can almost never go wrong with Bear McReary.

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  • I had missed some of the bonus content and am finally getting to your coverage of S1 ep1 Caretaker. I've really enjoyed it. I have seen the first 3 or 4 seasons back when they originally aired but haven't seen any since then. I can't say that Voyager stuck with me, it's my least favorite Trek. So my question for anyone is: What are the 5-10 best episodes of Voyager?
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