Star Trek: Discovery "Choose Your Pain"

Previously on Star Trek: Discovery: Michael Burnham, allegedly the first mutineer in Starfleet history, was invited by Captain Lorca to join the crew of the USS Discovery, the only starship outfitted with a super-spore-powered drive allowing the ship to instantly transport anywhere in the galaxy. Burnham was able to determine that Ripper, a deadly creature that’s basically a giant-sized tardigrade, was the missing element that would get the spore drive to work, and the Discovery was able to use its advanced propulsion system to get the jump on the Klingons. Meanwhile, First Officer Saru, formerly Burnham’s subordinate on the Shenzhou, saw her as someone to fear. On the Klingon side of things, Voq’s right hand woman L’Rell decided it was time to start strategizing. And finally, Burnham was the recipient of the late Captain Georgiou’s telescope.

Well, we’ve got a lot to cover here, including Harry Mudd, Starfleet gigolos, echoes of the worst-ever episode of Voyager, and Star Trek’s first ever F-bomb. Followed closely by its second ever F-bomb. No, for real. Let’s get to it!

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We start with shots of an empty ship and Burnham alone in Engineering and looking at the spore drive chamber, but instead of Ripper in the chamber, she sees herself in there. Burnham at the console flips a switch and Burnham in the chamber starts screaming in pain, and also Burnham at the console starts screaming in pain, and then… she wakes up. A dream sequence cold open? How refreshingly original. At least they didn’t have her sit bolt upright in bed screaming NOOOOOOOOO! Luckily, she didn’t wake Ensign Tilly, who’s peacefully snoring away in the bunk across the room.

Burnham goes to see Dr. Culber, a member of the ship’s medical staff who contrary to my previous assumption is not actually the Chief Medical Officer. She tells him that every time the Discovery makes a spore-powered jump, it’s harming Ripper. Though at first, it seems like Burnham is more concerned for the creature’s well-being than the fact that Starfleet’s indispensable secret weapon against the Klingons is on the verge of failing.

On a Starbase somewhere, Captain Lorca is meeting with a group of admirals and briefing them on how the Discovery has been kicking Klingon ass, not only at Corvan II, but also at Benzar (a planet previously mentioned on TNG and Deep Space Nine) as well as the Ophiuchus system (previously mentioned in the TOS episode “Mudd’s Women”, which as we’re about to see is no coincidence). Admiral Cornwell says they need to get the spore drive installed on other starships, but there’s one slight hitch: they only have the one tardigrade, Ripper, and they haven’t been able to locate any others. She also says Discovery needs to “dial back” their attacks, lest the Klingons start to catch on to the secret tech that Starfleet now possesses.

In Discovery’s mess hall, Tilly sits with Burnham, who kind of brushes off Tilly’s attempts to have a conversation. So Tilly sarcastically says that Burnham must have “made tons of friends by now”, I guess to remind Burnham that Tilly is her only friend on the ship, but this exchange just comes off as mean. Burnham admits to being stressed out about the tardigrade, and she doesn’t like feeling this way. Tilly replies, “Really? I love feeling feelings!” Wow, this whole conversation is just awful. Tilly had so much promise in her first appearance, but every episode she’s been in since then has been a drastic step down.

Cut to Lorca still on the Starbase, using some sort of EpiPen-like device on his eyes, to remind us of the battle injury he previously sustained that causes him to be sensitive to light, which will of course be important later. Admiral Cornwell enters and the two assume a friendly tone, but she takes issue with him allowing Starfleet’s first-ever mutineer to serve on his vessel, but he says he’s within his rights as a starship captain in a time of war to enlist anyone he wants. She asks why, and he simply says, “It’s my ship. My way.”

Lorca is then heading back to Discovery in a shuttlecraft, when a ginormous Klingon ship warps into view and locks its tractor beam on them. Klingons board the shuttle and Lorca and the pilot put up a fight, but eventually they kill the pilot and take Lorca hostage. And, oh no, they left his Eyeball EpiPen behind!

“I need that to live!”

Cut to Admiral Cornwell on holographic communicator to the Discovery, breaking the news to Saru, who’s now acting captain. She thinks Captain Lorca was specifically abducted because the Klingons found out about the Discovery’s spore drive, and he needs to be rescued before the Klingons torture the intel out of him. Then Saru’s threat ganglia come out again as Burnham arrives on the bridge. They’re soon in the ready room and Burnham warns him that Ripper is being harmed with every jump they do. But Saru brushes all this talk aside, saying they need the spore drive fully functional, because it’s the only way to save the captain.

Once she’s gone, Saru asks the computer to pull up a list of “Starfleet’s most decorated captains”, so that he, apparently, can find out how he might stack up against them. Hmm, a look back at Starfleet history can only mean one thing: Are you ready for some major Trekkie fanwank? Of course you are!

Yes, these are the “most decorated captains” in Starfleet history, and first there’s Robert April, who I think is being acknowledged in live-action canon for the first time ever. When Gene Roddenberry first pitched Star Trek to the network, the captain’s name was Robert April, and April later appeared in an episode of the animated series as the first captain of the Enterprise NCC-1701, so I assume the same is true here.

Next we have… oh, go fuck yourselves. Jonathan Archer? I can’t even comprehend how Star Trek’s writers would want to keep reminding us of that douchebag’s existence, let alone try to make us believe he was some sort of legendary figure.

Next we have Matthew Decker; he and his five o’ clock shadow are best known as the commander of the USS Constellation, which will later be destroyed prior to the TOS episode “The Doomsday Machine”.

Next is Philippa Georgiou, who I’m sure you’re all familiar with. And rounding out the list is Christopher Pike, the captain of the Enterprise prior to Kirk, as seen in the TOS episode “The Menagerie” (and maybe a movie or two). So how lazy is it that we’ve heard of all of the people on this list? I mean, come on, at least throw in a Captain Joe Random or a Vulcan name to surprise us a little and add to the lore.

Saru wants the computer to monitor his performance compared to these captains, because of an “element” aboard the ship that makes him “second-guess” himself, referring to Burnham. It’s a weird scene and really contributes nothing to the episode other than the namedropping.

Cut to Lorca in a Klingon prison cell, being woken up by another prisoner, who’s not only this week’s special guest star Rainn Wilson, but he’s also playing Harcourt Fenton “Harry” Mudd, the swindler, con man, liar, and rogue seen on a couple of TOS episodes. Mudd, originally played by Roger C. Carmel, first appeared in “Mudd’s Women”, and then returned in “I, Mudd”, and then again in the animated episode “Mudd’s Passion”, and as I’m sure I’ve said before, I can’t fathom why of all the TOS guest stars, Mudd was the only one to appear in more than one live-action episode. I don’t know who was yearning for a return appearance by Harvey Mudd in 1967, and I sure don’t know who’s yearning for another in 2017.

But hey, he’s fine. Rainn Wilson is sufficiently Mudd-like that I don’t see any huge disconnect with his (chronologically) later appearances in this franchise. Lorca wonders why Mudd is on a Klingon prison vessel, and so Mudd launches into a long spiel about how he bought a moon to impress his girlfriend Stella (who later becomes the nagging wife we see in robot form in “I, Mudd”). But then his “creditors” came after him and chased him into Klingon territory and that’s how he was captured.

Then Lorca notices another Starfleet officer cowering in the corner of their cell. A couple of Klingons come in and one says, “Choose your pain,” and Mudd points to the Starfleet guy on his knees. The Klingons proceed to beat the crap out of the guy, and even stomp on his head, and then they drag his lifeless body out of the cell.

The strangest part is how Lorca just stands there and watches it happen. Granted, another Klingon is pointing a weapon at his head, but I can 100% guarantee you Kirk would have jumped in to try to save a fellow officer, being held at gunpoint or not.

Mudd explains the “choose your pain” thing, saying the Klingons routinely force the prisoners to decide if they want to receive a beating or pass it on to another guy. Lorca notes that Mudd is conspicuously free of bruises, and Mudd says it’s because he chooses “wisely”.

In Engineering, Burnham and Dr. Culber bring their concerns about the tardigrade to Lt. Stamets. Burnham reiterates that doing the jumps might be killing the creature, and Stamets says that using the tardigrade was Burnham’s idea in the first place, and he never wanted to use a living creature in their propulsion system. Burnham says she didn’t want to either, so Stamets replies—and this is a verbatim quote, people—“You say Portabella, I saw Portobello!” I… I just… what? Obviously this is how a mushroom-obsessed guy like Stamets would say “you say tomato, I say tomahto”, but… what? I really have no clue how some of this dialogue survived the first draft of the script. You know what? Let’s call the whole episode off.

Oh, but there’s more. Burnham’s lips start moving around and Stamets says, “What are you doing with your mouth?” To which Burnham replies, “I am swallowing the urge to set the record straight!” About what? Stamets seems to be correct as far as I can tell.

Back on the Klingon prison vessel, Lorca is wandering around his cell and he comes upon another Starfleet prisoner, who I guess was hiding behind the radiator the whole time or something. And I shall be calling this guy Lt. Boytoy for reasons that will become clear soon enough. Lt. Boytoy sees Lorca and goes, “Shit, you’re a captain?” And if you think that fulfills this episode’s quota for swearing, ho boy… just you wait.

He offers Lorca some kind of cracker and reveals that he was serving aboard the USS Yeager when he was captured. Lorca asks if he was at the “Battle of the Binaries” and Boytoy is surprised to learn they actually gave that battle a name, because he’s been held captive by the Klingons ever since.

Lorca wonders how he’s stayed alive for seven months, and Boytoy says that “the captain of this ship… she’s taken a liking to me.” Yes, it would seem Lt. Boytoy is being kept alive in exchange for sexual favors. And now you know the reason for the name.

Then it turns out Harvey Mudd has a CGI insect “pet” that grabs the cracker and brings it to Mudd. He says he doesn’t mind stealing bread from the mouths of decadents, because he blames Starfleet for his current predicament, and he claims he was an honest businessman until the war broke out. He’s bitter because Starfleet decided to “boldly go where no one had gone before” (it’s like they’re astronauts, on some sort of… star trek!), and now regular folks like Mudd are getting caught in the “crossfire” between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.

The Klingons return and don’t ask about choosing any pain this time, and simply grab Lorca by the throat and drag him away.

Back on the Discovery, Stamets and Burnham and Tully try to come up with alternatives to using the tardigrade to power their propulsion system. They talk about how the spores not only exist in normal space, but also in the “subspace domain” known as the “mycelial network”, which has “roots” that spread out all across the universe to form an “intergalactic freeway system”. And with this, the explanation for the spore drive only gets sillier, but I suppose it’s not any worse than anything we saw on Voyager, specifically the notion that going Warp 10 means you occupy all places at once and that turns you into a salamander.

Then they spout technobabble at each other, pretty obviously explaining things that all three of them already know. Eventually, they decide they need to find another species they can inject with tardigrade DNA to take the place of Ripper.

And then, pretty much out of nowhere, Tilly blurts out, “You guys, this is so fucking cool!”

No, this is not an embellishment on my part. She actually yells out that this technobabble discussion is “so fucking cool.” She apologizes for the outburst, but then Stamets replies, “No, Cadet. It is fucking cool.” What is, I mean… am I really hearing this? Is this real life?

After all the times I’ve said “fuck” in recaps (including this one), I really have no problem with the word being used on this show, but if you’re going to use it on Star Trek for the first time, for fuck’s sake, make it mean something! Here we have characters dropping F bombs and it has nothing to do with anything. I mean, at the bare minimum, they could have had Lorca getting tortured by the Klingons for info and responding to one of their queries with “Fuck you!” or some variation thereof. Which wouldn’t have been that great, but it would have been orders of magnitude better than this. Dammit, this could have been a really memorable moment for the franchise and they… well, they fucked it up.

Speaking of Lorca getting tortured, he’s strapped into a chair and being interrogated by the Klingon captain, who turns out to be L’Rell. I wonder if Voq knows about her human sidepiece? It seems she’s well aware that his ship is the one that’s been able to attack the Klingons and disappear without a trace, and she wants to know how. Lorca just taunts her for starting up a sexual liaison with Lt. Boytoy, adding, “We don’t even have the right number of organs for ya!” What… what does that even mean? Do Klingons have two dicks?

And then Lorca even calls her “hard up”. In response, she pries his eyes open Ludovico style, and blasts them full of light to cause maximum pain.

On the bridge of the Discovery, Saru is getting a report about Lorca’s possible location, and on a screen, we see a map of Klingon territory that includes the prison planet Rura Penthe (seen in Star Trek VI, as well as a few episodes), the Morska system (also mentioned in VI), the Mempa system (mentioned on TNG), and even Deep Space K-7, the setting of “The Trouble with Tribbles”. He gives the order to jump there now, but then gets word that the spore drive has been shut down.

Down in Engineering, they’re trying to find a species that’s a match for the tardigrade, but Saru orders them to get the tardigrade back in the chamber so they can rescue the captain. Burnham suggests injecting a human with the tardigrade DNA, explaining that the whole propulsion system is fungus-based, and homo sapiens still shares a lot of DNA with mushrooms, so it should work. And as far as I can tell, humans sharing a lot of DNA with mushrooms is entirely accurate, and yet it still comes off as painfully stupid.

Saru says they can’t do that, because “eugenics experiments are forbidden!” He then loses it, telling Burnham she’s a “proven predator” and dumb ideas like this are what got Captain Georgiou killed. He orders Stamets to get the ship ready to jump and also orders Burnham confined to quarters.

On the Klingon ship, Lorca is returned to his cell post-torture (though not really looking the worse for wear), and he’s figured out that Mudd’s insect “pet” is carrying a device that’s transmitting everything they say to the Klingons. And in fact, Lorca was deliberately doling out “conversational nuggets” in his cell to see who he could trust, and he now knows that Mudd has been ratting him out to the Klingons this whole time.

Mudd responds by bringing up the previous ship that Lorca commanded. Somehow, Mudd knows all about the USS Buran, which was boarded by Klingons, and Lorca was the only survivor.

Lorca confesses that the only reason his entire crew died is that “I blew them up”, meaning that he… holy shit… actually killed all of them, just so they wouldn’t have to suffer the pain and torture of being taken captive by Klingons. You know, I’m all for ethically conflicted captains (Deep Space Nine’s “In the Pale Moonlight” is one of my favorite episodes), but this is a perfect case of taking the anti-hero trope and running to the extremes with it. So I’d say that so far, Star Trek: Discovery is a lot like five poorly written “In the Pale Moonlight”s in a row.

Back on the Discovery, Saru calls for another Black Alert, and Ripper gets beamed into the spore chamber. The ship jumps into Klingon space, and that’s when Ripper decides to literally shrivel up and die. The tardigrade shrinks and water pours out of him, and Dr. Culber says they may not be able to revive the creature. He thinks that Ripper might in fact be a sentient species and refuses to be a party to its suffering. So Saru addresses Stamets instead, who says he’ll do whatever it takes to get the spore drive up and running again, and Culber looks horrified.

Back on the Klingon prison ship, it’s “Choose Your Pain” time again, and Lt. Boytoy volunteers to be the one who gets beaten. But Boytoy and Lorca quickly turn the tables and fight back, grabbing the Klingons’ weapons and making a break for it. Mudd speaks for many of us when he says, “Where the hell did that come from?”

Lorca and Boytoy break out of the cell but force Mudd to stay behind, but I have a feeling this won’t be the last we see of him. Primarily because he takes the opportunity to yell, “You haven’t seen the last of Harcourt Fenton Mudd!” C’mon, guys, was that line really necessary? It’s pretty obvious that Mudd’s only purpose here is to set up future appearances.

Lorca and Boytoy stalk through the corridors of the Klingon ship, vaporizing any Klingon they come across. But then Boytoy endures some sort of injury, so he tells Lorca to go on without him. Lorca promises to come back for him, and continues on.

A moment later, L’Rell suddenly appears in the corridor, asking, “Did you really think you could leave me? After all we’ve been through?” Hell hath no fury like a Klingoness scorned, it seems. They have a big fight scene that lasts until Lorca reappears to shoot L’Rell, which somehow doesn’t kill her, but only leaves what I assume will be disfiguring burns on one side of her face. Surely this won’t come back to haunt anybody later on.

Cut to Lorca and Boytoy on a not very Klingon-looking shuttle as they escape from the prison vessel. On the Discovery, Saru sees the shuttle being chased by other Klingon ships, and is able to draw upon the predator/prey nature of his species to intuit that the captain is on the ship that’s being pursued. He has them beamed aboard moments before the shuttle is destroyed.

Saru then orders Stamets to make another jump, and the ship is soon out of Klingon territory. Then someone on the bridge notices that Stamets’ vital signs are “in distress”, so Saru runs down there, and to no one’s surprise, Stamets injected himself with the tardigrade DNA to use himself to make the spore drive work. Saru thinks he’s dead, but Stamets awakens with a gasp and starts giggling like a mad man.

Burnham gets a visit from Saru in her quarters. Saru says he’s not actually afraid of her, but rather angry, because Burnham was able to serve under Georgiou for so long and get all that sweet inside knowledge about being a great captain, which is an opportunity Saru will never get. In response, Burnham takes out Georgiou’s telescope and hands it over to him. It’s possible we just saw her regift the thing, because really, who needs this big piece of junk taking up valuable space in your quarters?

Saru then lets Burnham out of her quarters to go save the life of the tardigrade. She goes back down to Engineering and sprinkles some spores over the creature like fairy dust, and then Tully presses a button that releases the thing into space. The tardigrade returns to life, and perceives what must be the galactic mycelial network all around it, and goes transporting away.

“You guys, this is so fucking cool.”

There’s a brief scene of Saru telling the computer to stop measuring his performance to see if he lives up to the likes of Captain Archer (snicker), because he feels like he’s in control now.

Cut to Stamets and Culber who, as implied in the previous episode, are indeed a gay couple, though not actually Trek’s first gay couple, because who could forget Sulu’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-him partner from Star Trek Beyond? They’re brushing their teeth together (using some odd, bristle-less brushes), and Stamets talks about how the tardigrade DNA allowed him to see the entire universe, and it was incredible. Culber leaves (conspicuously not giving Stamets a goodnight kiss) and Stamets stares at himself in the mirror for a while.

He turns and walks away from the mirror… and his reflection somehow continues to stand there. Which can only be seen as the truly baffling result of getting exposed to tardigrade DNA and seeing the entire universe, which somehow makes another version of him exist in mirror-space.

Repeat after me: at least he’s not a salamander, at least he’s not salamander…

This was better than last week’s episode, but still pretty flawed. I’m still not quite sure what to make of this show, but if I had to guess, I think it’s going for an ensemble of morally compromised anti-heroes, much like other cult shows of recent years, including The Sopranos and Dexter and Breaking Bad and Mad Men. But there’s a fine line to walk here, in that main characters can’t be shown as so morally bankrupt that they’re unredeemable, which is a line that they’ve maybe already crossed when it comes to Lorca.

And while I’m glad the show is taking risks and not allowing Discovery to be a ship full of hunky-dory best buds who never argue with each other like Voyager or Enterprise or even The Next Generation most of the time, they’ve gone too far in the opposite direction, which is probably why a lot of devoted Trek fans are turned off to the show. And the often clumsy writing is not helping; that “Portobello/Portabella” line is something that would make me cringe if I heard it on a low-rent CW superhero show; it hardly befits a show that’s supposedly a broadcast TV network’s attempt to save itself by shifting to streaming content. And the less said about this show’s use of the F bomb, the better. But I still think all the elements are here for a pretty good TV series, and it’s not too late for Discovery to pull off a course correction.

TV Show: Star Trek: Discovery

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  • Kenneth Morgan

    Still haven’t seen the actual show. I’m just wondering how they manage to erase all traces of the spore/subspace/instantaneous drive so completely that, more than a century later, no one even suspects that it ever existed. Unless they’re going to do some retconning here and there.

    • Kradeiz

      I realized a few episodes ago that if I was going to have any hope of enjoying this show I would have to pretend it’s separate from TOS and TNG’s continuity. Which sucks, and is another reason why making another prequel Trek show might’ve been a bad idea, but it’s one of the few things keeping me from dropping Discovery.

    • midnightz

      Many possibilities but one is that the entire mycelial network gets destroyed by the Klingons in an attempt to nullify the Federation’s technology

  • Kradeiz

    Ok, maybe I’m just dumb (or racist against Klingons) but I had no clue the Klingon captain/torturer was L’Rell. Between the make-up that makes them all look and sound so similar and the fact that she had only spoken Klingon before this episode, I honestly didn’t know. And I’m unsure whether that’s on me or the show.

    Also, yeah, I had to bite back a scoff when Archer’s name appeared on the list of most decorated captains.

    • midnightz

      Archer only saved the Earth from destruction…

      • Kradeiz

        True, I guess Star Fleet would’ve looked like dicks if they hadn’t commended him for that.

      • Steven5812

        AND end the Temporal Cold War; AND prevent a war with the Klingons; AND build the alliance that would one day become the Federation.

        • ppi23

          AND stood by for the Valakian genocide even though it took his crew only a day to find a cure for the disease that was set to wipe out their species.

  • William Wehrs

    This episode had three major problems that completely undermined it beyond the consistently clunky writing. One was the sheer number of contrivances to set the plot in motion. For some reason in the middle of a war, rather than just discussing matters with Lorca through subspace, an in person meeting is held. Why? Also, for some reason Lorca decides to take a shuttle when surely the Discovery could have just taken him to the base instantly. Then, a man who we are told blew up his own crew rather than have them captured, fails to kill himself when the Klingons board. Did he really think that he and one security officer would be able to take them all on?

    Another major problem is the absolute fumbling of the moral dilemma. The creature seems to have the intelligence of a cow. Well, if it comes between saving a cow and one of the most important captains in the fleet, then I am sacrificing the cow.

    Finally, there is the matter of Lorca’s backstory which absolutely botches the powerful idea of a captain blowing up his own crew. First of all, show us making the decision, rather than telling us. These writers consistently seem to never have heard of the concept, show don’t tell. Also, this would have cleared up what Lorca was doing when he had to blow up his own crew. Why was he the only one off the ship? That made little sense.

    • Kradeiz

      “Well, if it comes between saving a cow and one of the most important captains in the fleet, then I am sacrificing the cow.”

      Sadly, with how little we’ve been given for engaging characters so far, I was more invested in the well-being of the cow than the captain and crew.

      • William Wehrs

        Well, since Jason Issacs is the main reason I am still watching the show, I was invested in his being saved. If we just had to follow annoying cadet, stuffy engineer, and glowering “hero,” then the show would go from bad to completely insufferable.

        • Kradeiz

          Agreed. I’ll admit I was actually interested in Lorca’s situation (and yes, Jason Isaacs is a big part of that; I completely buy him as a captain), to the point that every time it switched back to Burnham and the Discovery crew I felt let down. Which is too bad because the moral dilemma of the tardigrade actually felt more like old Trek than what we’ve gotten so far, but it was too clumsily done and enacted with characters I don’t care about, so it didn’t really work for me.

    • NameWithheldByRequest

      For some reason in the middle of a war, rather than just discussing matters with Lorca through subspace, an in person meeting is held. Why?

      I got the impression that Starfleet didn’t want to discuss the spore drive over subspace for fear that the signal could be intercepted by the Klingons. Considering the Klingon warship warped in right on top of Lorca’s shuttle, it suggests this may be a well-grounded fear on Starfleet’s part. That level of precision suggests that the Klingon’s have got some pretty good intel.

      Also, for some reason Lorca decides to take a shuttle when surely the Discovery could have just taken him to the base instantly.

      Probably for similar reasons as above. If the meeting was secret, Starfleet may have wanted to keep the location as secret as possible too. If the Klingons are tracking the Discovery it kinda doesn’t make sense to park it above the super-duper secret meeting place. Better to take a small (and harder to track) shuttle than a big starship. Since the Klingons found Lorca’s shuttle anyway, obviously Starfleet’s got some issues with keeping things secret.

      Then, a man who we are told blew up his own crew rather than have them captured, fails to kill himself when the Klingons board.

      Yeah, this really bugged me too. I thought they should have at least shown him putting the gun to his head or something and then getting tackled by the Klingons before he could shoot himself rather than not doing any such thing. On the other hand, I guess we’re supposed to conclude that he’s OK with killing his crew to keep them from being captured, but he thinks he’s too valuable to die. Not exactly very inspiring leadership, I have to admit.

      • William Wehrs

        For your first rebuttal I think that is a good point, but this has never been mentioned as an issue before. You would think if that were the case, the Admiral would not have told the Discovery so explicitly what their mission was in the last episode, as well as explicitly mentioning their work on the spore drive.

        For your second rebuttal, again you might be right, but there is no indication in the actual show that they are worried about Klingons tracking the Discovery. Even if they were concerned, the Klingons are clearly not, as the Discovery warps into Klingon space no problem, as it doesn’t even get a scratch on it.

        • NameWithheldByRequest

          Oh, sure, of course. I don’t recall anyone in the episode making these points. That was just the impression I got from what was shown. It could be that future episodes will completely contradict what I’m surmising here. I seriously hope they actually address these issues somewhere down the line. I have a military background, so it could just as likely be the case that I’m reading way too much into it, and maybe the writers don’t have the foggiest idea what they’re doing.

          • William Wehrs

            Well, kudos to you for putting more thought into the show than I think the writers are doing!

    • midnightz

      “show don’t tell”

      They spent an entire two episodes showing Michael’s backstory and people complained about that no end…

      • William Wehrs

        If people were actually complaining that the show was showing a character’s backstory, then that is ridiculous.
        I would argue, however, flashbacks are always more affecting than just telling the viewer. Take Breaking Bad where we see Gus Fring as a young man witness the brutal murder of his partner. This scene stays in the viewers’ memory and tells us all we need to know about why Gus wants revenge on the Cartel. Yet, the scene is only around five minutes long. A scene like this with Lorca would have really strengthened not only the episode, but the series.

  • Chris Swanson

    This is a bit of a spoilery thing, but take a look at the actor who plays Lt Boytoy and compare him with someone else we’ve seen on the series (someone with literally only one acting entry in IMDB). This bodes ill, plot-wise.

  • Michael Weyer

    It says a lot that Seth McFarlane’s “The Orville” is far more in the spirit of “Trek” than this is.

    • Kradeiz

      The feedback from both shows is fascinating, in that they’re pretty much the opposite of each other: Orville has been panned by critics but praised by the general audience, while Discovery has been praised by critics and panned by the general audience. Go figure.

  • NameWithheldByRequest

    …but this exchange just comes off as mean.

    Actually, it came off as kinda needy.

    Tilly had so much promise in her first appearance, but every episode she’s been in since then has been a drastic step down.

    Um, no. She’s been consistent from episode three. I think she may have even calmed down a bit since then.

    So how lazy is it that we’ve heard of all of the people on this list? I mean, come on, …

    Now you’re just nit-picking. But seriously, I was a little miffed they didn’t mention Garth of Izar, he’s such an obvious choice to be on the list.

    I really have no clue how some of this dialogue survived the first draft of the script. You know what? Let’s call the whole episode off.

    If we all did this, nobody would ever have gotten past the first couple minutes of Encounter at Farpoint or any other episode of the first season of any post-TOS Trek series. It’s such a minor thing that I’m amazed anybody makes such a huge deal about it.

    Yes, it would seem Lt. Boytoy is being kept alive in exchange for sexual favors. And now you know the reason for the name.

    If by “sexual favors” you mean “repeatedly raped and brutalized,” than I can see why you think it’s OK to make light of it. After all, I don’t see how anyone could possibly be offended by calling a woman who’s being raped over and over again a “girltoy” or something similar. Nope. Nobody at all.

    • William Wehrs

      ‘I really have no clue how some of this dialogue survived the first draft of the script. You know what? Let’s call the whole episode off.
      If we all did this, nobody would ever have gotten past the first couple minutes of Encounter at Farpoint or any other episode of the first season of any post-TOS Trek series. It’s such a minor thing that I’m amazed anybody makes such a huge deal about it.” I’m pretty sure he was just making a reference to the song with the lyrics about potato, potataho, and tomato and tomahto” and is titled and ends with “Let’s call the whole thing off.”

      I agree that Tilly has been consistent, in my view consistently annoying, since her first appearance.

      Also, thank you for the comments about the insensitivity of the writer using the nickname, Lt. Boytoy. That bothered me too though I am convinced that the character is actually the main Klingon villain.

      • NameWithheldByRequest

        Yeah, a lot of people are annoyed by Tilly. She’s… fine IMHO. Although I can see how she can be annoying.

        • William Wehrs

          I mean she’s no more annoying than characters like Neelix or Deanna Troi, so I can put up with her. I think the problem with the character is twofold though. If she is only a Cadet then how did she get on one of the most important ships in the fleet? Yes, I know there is a cursory mention of this, but it still strains belief. Secondly, she just seems too bubbly considering there is allegedly, though we never get to truly see it, a brutal war going on. As a result, she comes off as somewhat shallow.

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            I mean she’s no more annoying than characters like Neelix or Deanna Troi, so I can put up with her.

            No, no way is she as annoying as Neelix. I gotta disagree with you on that one. Neelix was absolutely unwatchable. Troi, yeah, I can see that, maybe.

            If she is only a Cadet then how did she get on one of the most important ships in the fleet?

            It could be that Starfleet is short of people to crew their ships and have had to use cadets. Same thing happened in Star Trek 2009, if I recall correctly.

            Yes, I know there is a cursory mention of this, …

            I don’t remember this. What was the reason given?

            …she just seems too bubbly considering there is allegedly, though we never get to truly see it, a brutal war going on. As a result, she comes off as somewhat shallow.

            And, yeah, she is “too bubbly,” but she also probably hasn’t seen the brutality first hand either. Being on a starship, probably serves to insulate the crew from the brutality that is common if you were a soldier on the ground. Think of it like being a drone pilot, in some base on the Continental US, and watching everything through a tv screen. It probably wouldn’t feel very real to you too. Heck, you’d probably go out afterward for some drinks with your buddies like nothing happened. That’s not exactly the same experience someone who’s actually on the ground has.

          • William Wehrs

            Well, personally I thought her scene with Burnham in the mess hall was eerily similar to a scene between Neelix and Tuvok. Let’s hope Burnham doesn’t end up dancing in the final episode.

            I think the reason provided was that she took advanced classes in spore engineering or some silly hand wave like that.

            As for your reason why it is ok that she is bubbly, I disagree. The rest of the crew seem to be highly drained from the war, as clearly the war has turned some, like Landry, into monsters. At least I think that is the intention. Also, it is important to remember that drone pilots suffer from Post Traumatic Stress too. I imagine this would be exacerbated on a ship like the Discovery where Lorca plays recordings of people in peril, and the general attitude seems to be tough or get left behind.

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            Well, personally I thought her scene with Burnham in the mess hall was eerily similar to a scene between Neelix and Tuvok.

            No, sorry, you’re never going to convince me that any character in Trek is as annoying as Neelix. The only other character in sci-fi who even comes close (or surpasses) Neelix would have to be Jar-Jar Binks.

            Also, it is important to remember that drone pilots suffer from Post Traumatic Stress too.

            Yes, of course, some drone pilots suffer from PTSD. How many have it, as far as I know, has not been revealed. The reasons I’ve seen given are due to the stress of long hours, the second-class status of drone pilots in the air force, and the psychological consequences of things like killing non-combatants. It’s suspected that all these factors working together are what’s producing PTSD among drone pilots. But, it should be stressed, that not all drone pilots suffer from PTSD, and the high turnover rate among pilots, I suspect, has more to do with the isolation, both within the air force and between the pilots, then anything else, at least from what I’ve seen. It could also be the case that Tilly’s “bubbliness” (is that a word?) is her coping mechanism. I’ve seen people (a very few, admittedly) react similarly in combat situations. And, in any case, most of the crew doesn’t seem all that stressed to me. This is something a lot of people have complained about: the lack of a realistic portrayal of the impact of combat on people. And there’s some truth to this criticism. On the other hand, this is true of almost every movie and tv show, so y’know, there’s that.

          • david

            It makes sense that cadets, especially ones with specific specialisations, may be assigned to ships in time of war to fill gaps. There are plenty of examples in history of officer training being sped up in war time and a lot of the less essential items being done away with.

            What doesn’t and never made sense is in the Star Trek film reboots when promising cadets are used to fill out the entire crew including captain’s position when short of crew. Especially when experienced higher ranking officers are available onboard. That more than anything else ruined the new star trek films for me.

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            Yeah. The ending of Trek 2009 made me groan. No way does it make sense to give a cadet command of a starship. I can see cadets filling specialist roles, though, that actually makes sense.

          • david

            A few years ago in Aberdeen during one of the oil booms, some of the oil companies were going to university students who hadn’t graduates to offer them jobs. They were that desperate for staff they were putting them on their graduate scheme before they graduated. What they did not do was drop them into senior posts.

            The new star trek films always seemed like they’d made a cartoon for kids and to make it more relatable made them school age and put them in charge of a spaceship.

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            Yeah, you hit the nail right on the head. The two Abrams films were juvenile. In fairness, all of Abrams’ movies have the same problem: they’re shallow, brainless, action schlock (not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just that’s not what Trek’s about). I get the feeling all these movies are assembled by marketing people to appeal to certain demographics. And, unfortunately, it worked! They made a ton of money, which is pretty much the only thing that matters. The problem, however, is that they’re really, really dumb and, ultimately, utterly forgettable.

          • david

            As you say nothing wrong with a brainless film. But taking a franchise famed for not being that and changing it. To that just smacks of looking for free marketing. Unfortunately I feel discovery is going down the brainless action route. And pretty boring action at that.

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            Well, yeah. Look, I’m hoping it doesn’t devolve into mindless action schlock too, but I can see that happening. The problem is IMHO that the “explore strange new worlds” thing is probably a little stale, especially after TNG, VOY and ENT all pretty much did the same thing. That’s the major problem I have with The Orville (don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine show, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before). So I kinda get why STD would want to take the new show in a different direction. The problem is that, like Orville, we’ve seen all this before (not as much mind you, but nothing here is particularly new). As with both shows, I get it’s only their first season, and as with all first seasons, it’s usually not the best of the bunch. But both shows really need to be more innovative and creative to keep my interest. Of the two, I like Discovery more, but Orville has a charm all its own. Unlike a lot of other fanboys, I’m hoping both shows stay on the air, because so far they’ve kept me interested enough to want to see where they’re going to go.

          • david

            I’m sticking with discovery as likewise it like to see it have the chance to develop. I haven’t seen any of Orville yet but plan to.

            I think the biggest problem with discovery so far though is that I just don’t really care about any of the characters. I’m happy to see Jason Isaacs with a good role as I consider him a very good, but very underused actor. How even there I haven’t quite bought the character. But the rest just really don’t interest me yet and that includes the antagonists.

            Even in voyager I was actually interested in most of the characters and wanted to see how they got on. But we are 5 episodes into a 9 episode run with a pretty significant break until the next 6. So they basically have 4 episodes to catch people’s interest or they have failed.

          • ppi23

            +David — Start with Orville ep.04 — It is a ST TNG episode in every possible way except the cast

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            Yeah, Jason Isaacs is always good. As to Orvillle, well, think of any average episode in, I don’t know, season three of TNG, and you’ll pretty much have a good idea of what to expect when you eventually see it. It’s… OK. It’s not awful, but it’s kinda boring, to be honest with you. I’ve described it as getting together with old friends you haven’t seen in a while, sitting on the back porch on a warm summer night, drinking beers and shooting the shit, and catching up. It’s a good time, don’t get me wrong, but eventually you’re all gonna want to go out to the club and dance your tits off, y’know?

          • William Wehrs

            Well I would argue Star Trek Beyond is much more brainless than the Abrams films.

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            Yeah, maybe. Though, from talking to other fans, I get the impression that’s a minority opinion. In any case, I think it’s no Wrath of Khan or Undiscovered Country (not even close), but it’s a notch above the Abrams’ films for the simple reason that IMHO it’s a little bit smarter (“smarter” relative to the previous two films) and the characters are less caricatures and closer to the originals than in either previous film. But the ending of Beyond is hot garbage and the story is meh (yet another villain seeking revenge *yawn*). Overall, I’ve never liked the reboot and I don’t care if they ever make another film, honestly.

          • William Wehrs

            Well, respectfully I thought the first two Abrams films were smarter. The first reboot dealt with Spock coming to grips with who he was, which I thought was quite compelling, and made up for the mishandling of Kirk’s character. With Into Darkness, I appreciated the commentary on the War on Terror, but hated everything from Kirk’s sacrifice until the end. I felt as if Beyond was merely interested in action set pieces than any interesting ideas.

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            Well, respectfully…

            Oh, no need. It’s great to have a conversation with someone on the internet that doesn’t immediately devolve into name-calling.

            As to the Abrams’ films, we’re not that far apart, actually. I agree with all the points you’re making here. I loved Leonard Nimoy’s performance in 2009 (no surprise there, he’s always good), and overall the rest of the cast was superb. I agree with you, Spock’s character development was the best part of the movie. But, overall, my problem with the movie was mainly the plot, specifically the plot conveniences (e.g., landing on Vulcan’s moon (!) within walking distance of where Spock was holding up, and meeting Scotty who just happened to be working on a long-range transporter, etc., etc.). And the antagonist was underwritten, his motivation was vague and confusing (I read the comic afterwards, and he made a lot more sense), and yet gain, another villain wanting revenge. Ugh, come on! Darkness had it’s moments too, but again with the confusing and nonsensical plot, the villain wanting revenge, etc., etc. But, like I said, I enjoyed Beyond more because the characters felt more like the characters I’d grown up with, which made it feel more like Trek rather than a Star Wars knock-off. As to the WOT commentary, I don’t know if you know this, but one of Orci or Kurtzman is a 911 Truther and the plot was actually lifted from that conspiracy theory. Which I don’t know whether to be bemused about or offended by.

          • William Wehrs

            That’s fair. The plot convenience involving Kirk just happening to land next to Spock didn’t really bother me, as that is a pretty standard science fiction contrivance. I mean Luke meeting Yoda in Empire Strikes Back hinges on the same contrivance. I completely agree with you on the villain, and I wish they had included the backstory provided to him in the comic book.

            As for Into Darkness, I get it has the problems you mentioned, but I just feel the hatred to it is overblown. I mean it was voted the worst Star Trek film ever made. I find that pretty silly when Star Trek V and Star Trek Insurrection out there. I do feel as if Into Darkness would have been much better if Kirk had had to work the Klingons at some point,as in the film they feel like disposable machine gun fodder which is irritating. To be fair though I feel the same way about Star Trek VI which also could have benefited from that. Instead, we really just have Gorkon who dies half way through.

            Yeah, I was aware of Orci being a 9/11 truther which is highly unfortunate, but I feel doesn’t take away from the message of Into Darkness, which is to be careful and not to give in to your worst impulses in the name of defense. It is a message very similar to one of my favorite TNG episodes, The Drumhead.

          • NameWithheldByRequest

            I mean Luke meeting Yoda in Empire Strikes Back hinges on the same contrivance.

            Yeah, but it makes sense in Star Wars because it’s essentially space fantasy. It’s about fate, destiny, etc., etc. I can accept it because it’s the “will of the force” or whatever. Trek is science fiction, and it doesn’t really make sense in its own universe.

            As for Into Darkness, I get it has the problems you mentioned, but I just feel the hatred to it is overblown. I mean it was voted the worst Star Trek film ever made. I find that pretty silly when Star Trek V and Star Trek Insurrection out there.

            I absolutely agree. It’s nowhere near as bad as these two.

            …but I feel doesn’t take away from the message of Into Darkness, which is to be careful and not to give in to your worst impulses in the name of defense.

            I got the impression the message was that a shadowy group within the deep-state is conspiring to manipulate events to create a fearful public in order to increase its control in the name of defense. I may be misremembering the plot though (seriously). I only saw it the one time.

          • ppi23

            +David — There was a cartoon where the children are given command of the Not_Enterprise. It was done in a Muppet Babies cartoon where the kids imagine what it would be like if they commanded the suspiciously-simular but not Starship Enterprise (I think they called it the Booger-prize or Boogie-Prize but it was 30 years ago, what do I remember)

        • Steven5812

          If only the Klingons had killed and eaten HER; she’d have probably lasted two days, she’s that plump.

  • Tyler Peterson

    So…how do they reconcile these folks’ language with the fact that by the time Star Trek IV rolls around, swearing is so rare that no one even knows how swear words are used?

    Because I don’t want to live in a world where Kirk never says “Hey! Double dumbass on you!”

    • William Wehrs

      Well, to be fair McCoy and Scotty never seem to have any problem swearing. Maybe Kirk has just hung around Spock too much.

  • Chris Hedrick

    Goddamn Archer. I can only believe he wound up on a list of “Most Decorated Captains” if they give medals for smug grins and burning bridges.

    • NameWithheldByRequest

      Well, he was officially the first starship captain, so I imagine he got a lot of participation medals and the like. Y’know, the first to do this, the first to do that. Plus, Starfleet probably showered him with medals to stay in business. After all, it’s not good PR to have your first ever captain be exposed as the bumbling moron he is. A lot of people at Starfleet Command would lose their jobs for gross negligence, and their funding would almost certainly get slashed. And then the Vulcans could say, “See, we told ya you guys weren’t ready to go into space.” And they would have been right…

      • it’s not good PR to have your first ever captain be exposed as the bumbling moron he is.

        That’s what I was thinking! Especially when you want to show up the Vulcans and when you’re trying to start an interstellar alliance based largely on his connections and reputation.

        Besides, Archer was way older than anyone else on that list. He could have gotten more awards just by having a career half a century longer than the others.

        • david

          It’s the captain archer one I don’t get. When he is captain of the enterprise it is ten years after discovery. So by the events of discovery he is already on of the most decorated captains in Starfleet. But ten years later he is still a ship’s captain.

          • If I understand the timeline correctly, it’s Captain Kirk in command of the Enterprise 10 years after this series. Archer’s time was some 90 years earlier?

          • david

            Sorry I meant captain pike. I blame it on typing at 2am while waiting for a flight.

          • That list does make it look like Starfleet had about 60 years of mediocre captains before they started handing out medals like candy.

          • midnightz

            Pike would be captain of the Enterprise at the time DSC is set. If he received his commission immediately after Robert April in 2250 then he would have been captain for around 5-6 years, so plenty of time to make a name for himself…

  • George

    I wouldn’t know anything about how shitty a captain Archer turned out to be as I gave up on that debacle 7 episodes in.

  • Kali

    Doing us a public service, guys. We are finding less and less reason to watch this series. Magic clearly exists in the fricking Kelvin universe, there’s nothing to convince us this ISN’T the fricking Kelvin universe, and there is NO way this can be a decade before Kirk and however-many-years after Archer. And I still do not accept Archer where the Star Trek timeline places him. But that’s okay: I never accepted Archer as a starfleet commander. I’m sure like many of us, we were just marking time for Enterprise to kick the bucket so Scott Bakula could get started on that Quantum Leap reunion.

    Please, Scott? So we can still have Dean Stockwell reprise his role too?

  • RandomAccount

    “And while I’m glad the show is taking risks”

    How is it taking risks if it’s doing what every television show has done for the last 15 years? The Orville is more of a “risky” show by comparison because it’s deliberately trying to go back to a different era of television, and has been spurned by critics because of such (though beloved by audiences for this same reason).