This is a transcript of our fifth season two recap, available here
Leland [From episode] : There are always lives at stake. That’s what keeps us employed. See we do what we do, so you can do what you.
re:Discovery theme plays.
Carla: Hello and welcome to re:Discovery. The Star Trek recap podcast that knows burying your gays and bringing them back to life is a trick reserved for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And even then, they never did it.
Carla: I’m joined by my Science Officer Ben. You’ll have a lot of work to do this episode. Ben are you prepared?
Ben: Aye captain as much as possible.
Carla: You better be. In “Saints of Imperfection” Discovery comes full circle with closing most open-ended story lines from Season 1 and Season 2. We immediately pick up where we left off from the previous episode – rescuing Tilly from the mycelial network and chasing Spock’s stolen shuttle. The shuttle is finally locked onto but in another cliff-hanger it is not Spock inside but Phillipa Georgiou. She has recovered the craft without Spock in it, it seems everyone is looking for Michael’s brother. This gives Captain Pike his first run in with Section 31 and it’s mononymous Captain, Leland. They appear to be old friends or are they? But the tension is high immediately. Who is this organization and why are they hunting Spock? With Georgiou’s arrival on Discovery, and the reaction this creates, Pike is suspicious to the extreme. When escorting Michael to speak with the “Section 31 liaison”, arrived to free Georgiou, Pike sees Michael’s face fall into shock and agony when she realizes it’s Tyler. This is enough for Pike to demand answers, fearing for the safety of his crew and presumably being very unbalanced by the existence of these black ops. Cut to the mission to recover Tilly, Airiam and Stamets manoeuvre Discovery to be half inside the mycelium network and half in the plane of reality. May has finally managed to spit out exactly what is happening. There is some kind of toxin overtaking the network that she believes is a malevolent force. This toxin was weaponized when Discovery started jumping through the network, so May believes they are responsible for it and responsible for killing it.
Ben: Stamets and Michael cross into the mycelial plane and find Tilly and May who have tracked May’s monster into Discovery. Following its trail, they find a dishevelled bearded Doctor Hugh Culber. May screams at the others to kill it as Hugh runs off with Stamets in pursuit. Burnham fills Pike in on this complication as the ship starts to be torn apart. Tyler uses his Section 31 comm badge to call for help and Leland ship de-cloaks and holds Discovery steady with a tractor beam. Pike is not impressed at this subterfuge. Stamets reconnects with Hugh just as the others arrive. May takes Tilly’s phaser rifle but till he talks her down from using it as Burnham explains Hugh wasn’t attacking them just using the deadly toxin from the mycelial plane as armour to protect himself from the spores. Stamets works out that his energy was transferred to the network through him when he held Hugh’s dying body and he was reconstituted by the JahSepp microbes. But when they returned to the interface between planes Culber’s mycelium matter can’t pass through. He’s willing to let himself be reclaimed by the JahSepp spores so Stamets will return to safety, but Tilly asks May to try transporting him back with the pods used to kidnap her. May doesn’t know if it will work but promises to try. The Emperor blackmails Leland to buy Discovery just enough extra time for Michael and the others to return and the ship jumps back into normal space. In engineering Hughes naked body appears as the mycelial pod disintegrates. He’s back, but the last link to the mycelial plane is gone. Pike visits Leland ship to find Vice Admiral Cornwell who informs both captains that analysis of the Red Bursts has detected tachyons and forces them to make up so they can work together to find Spock. The only proper lead they have.
Ben: Carla. You know normally I said there was so much going on in this episode, but I actually feel like this one had a pretty straightforward plot and spent a lot of time on it. How did you feel about this episode?
Carla: What do you think the straightforward plot was. I’m curious to hear that?
Ben: Well it was it was pretty much entirely a rescue mission to get Tilly back from the mycelial plane and we got a couple of surprises there. But it wasn’t – like a couple of the other episodes so far this season I feel like have had three or four things going on maybe, with the exception of the Q’onoS episode which was mostly about the Q’onoS plotline. But I felt like this one sort of had one main thing going on and really focused on it which I liked you know. I mean it had the subplot of “oh here’s Pike’s old mate who’s running Section 31” but you know that not much happened with that apart from that were dicks.
Carla: I don’t know I feel like that there was a lot of subterfuge with everything but I agree with you in the way that – look I think that I mean this is a third of the way through this season and we’re just on the precipice of where the story line that Harbert’s and Gretchen Miller designs is about to end. And I think it did wrap up so many things that we already knew about.
Carla: So, there wasn’t a lot to kind of learn or keep track of.
Ben: Yeah it didn’t introduce a lot of new stuff. Yeah.
Ben: Well except for one big new thing.
Ben: Well it introduced Hugh back into the show.
Carla: Oh yes. But here’s an old thing to.
Ben: Well he is, he’s been recycled quite literally. Which is which was weird. (laughs)
Carla: Yes. (laughs)
Ben: So weird.
Carla: How did you feel about this episode?
Ben: Look I I really loved about the first half of it. I was really into it. I was on the edge of my seat during the intro sequence I thought it was one of the best intros we’ve had so far. I mean they’ve all been really good. Second episode was also amazing but just the action-packed sequence of chasing the shuttle and like you know doing this the Star Wars trick of like stopping so that the ship goes past. It was just cool it was a lot of fun and you know there’s lots of involvement from the bridge crew which is you know I always love. And then the great reveal where Spock is not on board. It’s bloody Emperor Georgiou which I was not expecting.
Carla: I love her theme song as well.
Ben: Oh yeah. Yeah she’s the best.
Carla: It’s Darth Vader she is Darth Vader.
Carla: Yeah well she’s the evil overlord totally. She even wears all black like she’s, she’s got it going on.
Ben: So yeah I really love…
Carla: Has problematic issues with her adopted daughter. (laughs)
Ben: (laughs) Yeah totally.
Carla: The analogy could go very far.
Ben: It could. It just means she just needs to have superpowers and she kind of does I guess.
Ben: And then also the first half of like the whole plan to go into the mycelial plane and rescue Tilly and the development of May revealing why she’s brought Tilly there, I thought was kind of awesome and interesting. But then I felt like the plot slowed right down and it was one of those episodes where “we’re trying to tell you it’s urgent it’s urgent like we’re all going to die it’s urgent it’s urgent” but then they take quite a lot of time to have these long dramatic moments, which kind of I felt took away a bit from the urgency of what was happening. But I mean you know I still enjoyed the second half. I have very mixed feelings about Hugh’s return.
Carla: It’s so problematic.
Ben: And I want to hear what you think about it because I know I know you’re not happy.
Carla: The first time I watched this episode I was just in shock, like I couldn’t actually believe what I was watching, and I couldn’t process it. And then the second time I watched all I did was cry like it’s such, I feel like actually, like it sounds so dramatic, but I feel betrayed by this franchise of what they have done. As a queer person all I have ever seen up until very recently is queer people die, be murdered, be abused, die of AIDS, be you know a point of journey for a straight person. Queer people and queer bodies have been used as a plot device to amp up drama right? And have been completely disposable.
Carla: Right. Once their use has gone, for the straight people or the white people, they are disposed of and that’s why the “bury your gays” trope is so potent and so for that to happen, it was disappointing but something that we’re used to. But now to use this gay man’s body as a plot device for this re-emergence, this emotional re-emergence is so awful. It’s like why would you put a queer character/couple on there in the first place to do that to them first of all? Then I have to understand that both of them have been tortured during this period of time of waiting or in between being reunited they’ve – one’s been dead and tortured by the network the other one’s been tortured because he’s lost his partner. It’s just so unnecessary and so manipulative and it just made me so upset you know especially we’ll talk about it in Short Chats, but you know these actors are iconic for the queer community. They’re – it’s so meaningful to have them together on this show. And it just, it feels really fucking cheap to me to be perfectly honest and I don’t understand what their thinking was behind it.
Ben: Do you think maybe they feel like they made a mistake in buying into the bury your gays trope and killing off Culber in the first place and now they in some way they kind of want to undo it feeling that that will undo that mistake.
Carla: I have no idea. It feels impregnated into the storyline like you know and there’s also as I said most of it feels wrapped up like you know the band’s back together again. Tyler’s been requested to be a liaison, ordered to be a liaison now, on the Discovery so everyone who is still alive from the first season is back on the Discovery in whatever capacity. But everything feels wrapped up and everything feels like it’s in its place. I do feel like it was purposeful but perhaps not to the point that he was going to come back. But I add, to this extent but I do feel like it was… and it’s just so offensive because sci-fi is so populated by queer people you know and it just it feels like such a disservice to the community and now I’m sure they’re probably going to try to cover it up by it being this romance story or even worse, it’s going to be like Hugh’s all messed up from what he’s gone through. I don’t know but I have massive stink face over this whole situation.
Ben: I think it would be so unsatisfying for it just to go back to the way it was because even though we might want that, you can’t imagine that possibly happening. Really.
Ben: Whatever he’s been through even if he is back to being normal Hugh and you know he’s psychologically he’s been through hell.
Carla: They both have.
Ben: Yeah. I mean because the Stamets also has been not just you know grieving the loss of his lover but also he was tortured by the network too. Like what Lorca put him through to get to the mirror universe nearly killed him and the state that he was in, which is referenced in this episode when Hugh died was not he was not okay you know he was linked into the network in a way that sort of fundamentally altered him and which is the catalyst for what happens in this episode.
Ben: So yeah I just I don’t know it’s I felt really weird about it. I mean also it’s not something – Star Trek does not have a long history of killing people and bringing them back, like usually when people die in Star Trek they stay dead.
Carla: Do you know literally the only one I can think of is Spock.
Ben: Yes, Spock the only one but you know and that’s like a full on – that’s like two films worth, well three films really.
Carla: Cried so much in that movie with that. Yeah.
Ben: But then when he comes back you know he’s not quite the same and he takes some time to readjust and he kind of, I don’t know I feel like they set that up really well. I mean the whole plot of the film in which he dies is about rebirth and genesis like the device is called “The Genesis Device”. So, it feels like they earned that. Whereas this does not feel like they planned to do this from the start. I think maybe they planned…
Carla: I think they wanted to be contrite there could have just been so many other ways to do it. You develop a lesbian relationship. Have other gay people on Discovery. Yeah you know it’s like, yes.
Ben: As always the problem of these things is not that you choose a particular storyline for a particular character, it’s that the same storyline keeps coming up for the only characters who are representative of certain sectors of the community on these shows. Like you always killing off one of the gay couple. That’s why it’s shit like it’s not because one gay person dies in one show. And yeah. And it’s yeah it is gross. I agree. And I think yeah. And look at also it’s just a weird thing. It was just a really weird thing to do.
Carla: So weird.
Ben: Just weird you know.
Carla: So weird.
Ben: And that like you know I also feel like from a techno babble perspective they really twisted themselves into knots to justify it and they didn’t set it up terribly well.
Carla: That’s why I said at the beginning like you better be ready to explain all of this shit.
Ben: I’m ready. I’m across what they said happened. And I’ll tell you why it’s nonsense. No, it’s actually I actually, it actually makes a surprising amount of sense, but it relies almost entirely on things that are explained or introduced in this episode. That’s what makes it feel kind of cheap to me and rushed and even though I suspect probably they were planning this the whole time they could have seeded it a bit more. Maybe it could have come in an episode or two later. They could have had a couple more things happen with the mycelial network that set it up a bit more clearly. I also look I also want to say like the mycelial plane itself I found quite disappointing.
Carla: What do you mean?
Ben: it just looks a lot like the mycelial spore garden on Discovery except under a black light. Like its trees and fronds that are in glowing blue and pink colours but otherwise seems to be a pretty normal just place. But also, like it’s a whole other plane of existence and they’re just standing on a plane, like a literal plane like full of like weird plants. I’m like guys “c’mon” like I know you’ve gone with a mycelial theme but also all of your representations of mycelium look like other kinds of plant life, they look like plant life for starters and fungus is not plants. It’s just weird and I was so hoping that seeing the actual mycelial network, because we never really seen it before was in the spores we’ve seen kind of glimpses of it but now we’re visiting it and it just seemed a bit odd when I was a little bit disappointed.
Carla: This may be where you and I differ in our life experience Ben, but the mycelial network very much that looks like what life looks like when you’re on mushrooms. (laughs)
Ben: (laughs) Oh okay. Oh well that’s completely changes my opinion. That’s genius.
Carla: So, I actually had that written down as a note in my notes I was like I really love that room I see the mycelial network looks like when you’re on hallucinogen and it really has that. Yeah. I mean I understand your point.
Carla: And I always kind of wrap that up into the kind of “Q continuum” kind of stuff of like they can’t show us our true selves, their true selves because we can’t actually conceptualize it and if we’re within that plane they can only show us things that we can relate to in order to be able to move within that environment. So, I always kind of position it in that way but I do hear what you say and like I think they had so much more license to do it, but I don’t know much about, I mean Paul Stamets has written a book called “Mycelium Running”.
Ben: That’s the real Paul Stamets, just to get anyone is confused about time travel being involved.
Carla: The real mycologist.
Carla: I’m wondering it’d be something interesting to look into because I’m wondering whether he did any concept design with them about this kind of stuff and I hazard a guess that it would be based on mushroom hallucinations.
Ben: Quite possibly, quite possibly. I mean look you know it’s my innocence showing that I had no idea that was the case, it’s a boring existence in some ways. It’s been very exciting in an imaginative way. Maybe not so exciting you know in a seeing things that aren’t there kind of way.
Carla: Well speaking of being provincial, I do love Pikes, I do love Pike’s reaction to everything, and I say that because he says “call me provincial” in questioning everything that is quite obviously like a fart. There’s serious energy in those rooms and he’s picking it up.
Ben: Yeah. And again, you know there’s that issue of trust. And I was so worried Michael was just going to not tell him about you know Georgiou being from the Mirror Universe and she doesn’t but she does let on that “Yeah there is something I’m not telling you but I can’t tell you right now, I’ll tell you later” and he’s like he’s can you…
Carla: Yeah he’s “like don’t let me chase you”.
Ben: Yeah but I also like that when she asks him for that time he’s just like “done” you know he’s like “yes I’m trusting you” but you know come through for me.
Carla: I have such a leadership burner for this man, seriously.
Ben: Oh god it’s the best.
Carla: It’s that fine line of hard and soft you know I like that little sweet spot.
Carla: But also, I’ve written a note here that says he leads by instinct which I think is quite a common thread to all of the great captains that we see and also leaders I think. They have their protocol, they have their training but really they’re very led by instinct by what they feel is right and wrong and what is going on and that is quite apparent in this episode with him.
Ben: Yeah there is that juxtaposition of Section 31 and traditional Starfleet and Pike very much represents all the things very best.
Ben: You know he has that speech with his Starfleet is a promise, oh god I love that so much. Like probably some people thought it was hokey, but I was just like “No this is, he really means it” and that’s what sells it. And you know Anson Mounts doing a fantastic job of embodying this person who really believes in the mission and isn’t going to leave somebody behind, and he tells his whole crew that’s what we’re doing and everyone’s like “Yeah”. And also, you know he’s just such a good judge of character, like he’s met Tilly two or three times and he’s like “I know that she would give her life for any of us”. When she’s when he’s talking to Burnham, he says to her “I don’t know you that well, but I know you well enough.” And I’m like yeah that’s, you don’t know that well, but you do know her well enough like that is very clear. So yeah I’m loving him still. And his reaction to Leland who’s his old mate who’s running Section 31. He’s like “nup”.
Carla: Well he’s such a company man. And to not know that this exists really shits on everything that he believes in in this organization because black ops really is analogies to the CIA, right.
Carla: The CIA are out there you know rigging elections, assassinating world leaders, you know putting people into place and drugging people. So, to, he does seem provincial in that moment.
Carla: To be so upset by the existence of this organization but also their tech – like there was so me there was so many “whoa” moments for me in this like when they decode from being a rock.
Carla: And also, it took me the second watch to realize where he goes “what the hell kind of com is that?” and he’s using a badge.
Ben: He’s got a comm badge.
Carla: Yeah dude.
Ben: Which they I mean and they’re all wearing like they’ve got the little insignia and it is it’s like a comm badge, but nobody else’s has got any technology in it. And I think that’s really nice, it’s a nice explanation for us because when you look at…
Ben: When you look at Star Trek now like if we made the show, and some people complain about this and I don’t understand their position, because when you look at Star Trek now you look at the technology they have on the Enterprise in the Original Series and you like, I wouldn’t have that in my car today. That that is crap.
Carla: Maybe in my car. (laughs)
Ben: (laughs) Well I don’t have a car so you know I’m theoretically I’m imagining a theoretical car, but you know I’ve sat in a Tesla like it’s more advanced than the old school Enterprise, it can drive itself for starters. It’s got better screens, got all the stuff and like you we’re all used to having these supercomputers going around and our pockets so the idea that you have to have your flip phone to talk to people 250 years’ time, however long it is, like ridiculous. And so, when you reimagine it for a modern audience having this thing where it’s difficult to do full on Star Trek style communication through subspace and miniaturizing it is quite a feat. So, showing a character going “How the hell do you do that?” that’s secret technology which will become mainstream and used you know, but that’s how the real world works too. You know like they were the technology that made say you know an iPad possible existed for decades before they made the iPad but it was very expensive to produce and so it wasn’t in the mainstream.
Carla: And of course, I absolutely believe that technology is gatekeeped, gatekeepered, by…
Carla: Powerful organizations whether it is you know a governmental organization that’s developed it or even a capitalistic organization you don’t want to let people know that they have that technology.
Ben: They want to hold onto it till they can exploit it properly.
Carla: And that actually makes that actually makes canon extremely interesting that they have cloaking technology and it never even makes it into fleet until a thousand years into the future until the time travellers and can we say hello! maybe I’m right again. We’ve got some tachyon particles.
Ben: We do have tachyon’s its true. But they could mean anything Carla.
Carla: Could it.
Ben: Yeah it could literally mean almost anything.
Carla: Really? (laughs)
Ben: Yeah. They don’t exist they’re not real.
Carla: I know but because they’re from the future.
Ben: Well you know where they’re from? You know this is fascinating.
Carla: I was hoping you. Yes, I was hoping you would explain.
Ben: It is, so tachyons are a theoretical particle. There’s no evidence that they actually exist. There’s a lot of theoretical writing about them and what they would be like if they did exist. But the guy who wrote about them and gave them their name, Gerald Feinberg coined the term in 1967 in a paper he wrote about a theoretical faster than light particle because this is the important thing about Tolkien’s is that they always travel faster than light which means that they could potentially go backwards in time if they existed. You could potentially build a tachyon anti-telephone, a device that you could use to send information backwards in time. So, you can’t travel physically backwards in time but if tachyons are real you could potentially by building now a device that could detect the tachyons and someone sending a signal in the future and you would detect them coming back in time and get information from the future which could change history and cause paradoxes. Right. So, they don’t exist as far as we know but the guy who wrote it he was inspired to write the paper about a potentially faster than light particle because he read a short story called “Beep” by a guy named James Blish. James Blish then went on to write the first ever Star Trek novel for adults which was called “Spock Must Die” which is, a lot of people think, the first ever use of the word tachyon in science fiction.
Ben: So, it’s like this sort of full circle like he was he inspired the idea a scientist gave it a name and theoretical framework and then he used it, and didn’t just use it in the sci-fi, he used it in Star Trek.
Carla: It’s academia at its best.
Ben: Yeah. So, it’s quite an interesting history. But yeah they don’t they don’t really exist. So, when I think Leland who suggests it could be time travel and then Pike says yep it could also be transporter stuff or this other thing. And the Admiral says “you’re both right or maybe none of you are” like I think they’re setting up that this is a clue but we’re not going to tell you what it means. And maybe it does mean time travel.
Carla: It’s like “you might think you know what it means”. But really it’s dead Hugh from the future.
Ben: No no no.
Carla: So right it’s trying to think of the worst thing that they could do.
Ben: There’s a lot of bad things they could do.
Carla: I have so many notes on this, mostly about Pike. His hair seems to be getting bigger.
Ben: And better.
Carla: And better.
Ben: Oh, he’s got such good hair.
Carla: His face is so expressive. You’re an actor and tell me all about it. How fucking hard would this be?
Ben: It would be interesting to contrast Anson Mount’s performance with Sonequa Martin-Green because she knows she’s playing a character who has mostly got her emotions under control. So, she is often portraying Michael with quite a flat affect. But then you know in emotional moments lets it out and she’s great, she’s amazing.
Carla: It’s so controlled.
Ben: And that is like that is super difficult but also just as difficult and just as wonderful is Anson Mounts performance because Pike wears his emotions on his sleeve. By which I don’t mean you know he’s overly emotional and.
Carla: And yeah you can read him like a book.
Ben: But here he shows what he means. And but he’s funny he is in control but he’s not in control by repressing those emotions he’s in control by channelling them. And so yeah he shows on his face and yeah it’s just wonderful. I mean I got say that I like so many of the cast members of the show.
Carla: Oh, they’re all wonderful.
Ben: And I really liked that there was, is there are a few lines for the regular bridge crew this this time around, Reese gets a couple of lines.
Carla: Nhan got to have her resting bitch face on which was amazing.
Ben: She’s still wearing the skirt. I noticed that this episode.
Carla: Yeah! And it’s like I don’t know what’s underneath it is tights? Cause she’s got kneed high boots. I’m loving it. I want one!
Ben: Yeah but she’s like she’s wearing the skirt what she’s doing – now she’s Chief of Security.
Ben: She’s still in a skirt, you don’t need to wear pants to be Chief.
Carla: It’s probably easier.
Ben: Yeah yeah. Probably is actually, freeing to run around. That’s great.
Carla: Yeah. And like speaking of which like in the future we probably all have calorie-controlled diets by re.. what are they called again the reconstitutors?
Ben: Well they don’t the kind of don’t. Well they don’t have replicators yet, but they do have.
Carla: Well maybe that’s why there’s fatter bodies on Discovery.
Carla: Because that’s what I want to talk about.
Ben: Oh okay. Yeah.
Carla: Because I always thought in the future because they’ve got the replicators you can just have a completely calorie control diet and eat exactly what you want and never put on any weight so that’s why everyone’s thin in the future.
Carla: But this one I’ve noticed like there’s so many big butts walking around in the background in uniforms and it just and then like with Nhan and stuff it’s like oh “finally I can imagine a uniform that maybe my body will fit into”. It’s been really thrilling.
Ben: It’s good. And I think I mean everyone’s fit like they’re all running around chuckles all the time and.
Carla: Sure, you’re no slouch in you know the Federation.
Ben: You’re in Starfleet you can just you got shit to do like you got to get out there and do it. But yeah but they, yeah it’s good they’re showing a nice diverse range of bodies.
Carla: Of butts.
Ben: Of butts. Oh, hey look I got to admit I wasn’t looking at the butts as much but maybe I will now be noticing them now.
Carla: You won’t be able to stop looking in the background.
Ben: Well I mean I did notice Hugh’s butt of course. First nude butt on Star Trek was it?
Ben: Has there been one before?
Carla: I don’t know. That’s a good question. Message us plays with nude butts.
Ben: Yeah we want to know all about it.
Carla: Only from Star Trek.
Ben: Yeah just from Star Trek. Only Star Trek butts. I mean cause we’ve seen we’ve seen plenty of bare chests.
Carla: So many!
Ben: Starting with Sulu way back in the day.
Carla: Holy shit Enterprise is like just oh yeah gay porn.
Ben: Always getting their t shirts off getting around in their gear.
Carla: It’s actually like uncomfortable. Anyway, that’s a conversation another time. Shall we go to Short Chats?
Ben: I think we will.
Carla: Now it’s time for re:Discovery Short Chats where we talk news trivia, and anything related to Discovery. We will also be taking questions during this segment from you the listener. So please follow our socials to be in touch at @rediscoverypod. Ben what do you have to talk about today?
Ben: Well this episode gives me the perfect chance to talk about something I love talking about which is transporter technology.
Carla: Oh yeah, ok cool.
Ben: Because it’s such a big plot point in this episode.
Carla: I love this analogue version.
Ben: And they it’s nice they have the other pods like the organic transporter but really the thing that I want to talk about is that the way that it works in going between the two planes and the way that they talk about it really establishes that Star Trek transporters work in a way that as far as we can tell is impossible in the real world.
Ben: And if you’ve ever read anything listeners about the physics behind how mad a transmission might actually work; the way we’d have to work in the real world is you would be scanned, then your body would be destroyed and then precise information about you would be transmitted via whatever means and then you would be re constructed from raw materials at the other end.
Carla: It’s just like the replicator but for people.
Ben: Exactly. Yeah but that’s not how Star Trek transporters work.
Ben: No. Star Trek transporters use some weird process that doesn’t make any sense according to the laws of science that transmit forms your body into energy and then transmits that energy and then reconstitutes that energy into matter. So, it is you the whole way.
Ben: That is the way they talk about it. And look I mean it’s a bit confused in a lot of Star Trek like they’ve never really gone into a lot of detail about how transporters work there’s been techno babble about various things like Heisenberg compensators to measure accurately the position of atoms because that’s impossible to do at a quantum scale. So, they come up with some jargon to say no we can actually do it. And the way they talk about it in this episode is explicitly about transforming someone into energy and then transmitting them and then reconstituting them. And that energy somehow is them and that’s the whole story about how Hugh becomes a person in the mycelial network is that his energy was transmitted into the mycelial plain through Stamets, who at the time was still a conduit for it. And then the spores, the JahSepp on the other side, build a body according to his energy pattern.
Ben: Which made sense to them. And that’s also how their organic transporter works. I mean like I said earlier they kind of bend over themselves backwards to explain how this is possible, but I still think it doesn’t quite make sense but it’s but it’s pretty close.
Ben: But yeah I thought it is interesting how explicit they were about this sort of transformation into energy and then reconstitution into matter but how your still you and they never talk about it because Stamets talks about the conservation of matter or mass which is a real physical concept where the amount of mass in the universe cannot increase or decrease it just, well the universe expands just gets further away from itself but it’s been further expanded into the amount of mass and energy because you can convert one into the other it can’t be increased or decreased. And so, his whole thing about how if she was destroyed there’d be bits of her left but if there was none of her there then that could only be explained – because you can’t just destroy it like he could burn her but then there’d be bits of her DNA and like molecules left. But if she’d been transported then there would be no sign of her. So yeah interesting.
Carla: I thought it was kind of fun, metaphysical, meta-ness about death. Yeah you know but life and death and the spirit and our existence beyond physical plains. Because I think that’s kind of what people imagine dying to be like as well. I’m not sure but that’s certainly how I’ve thought about it in the past particularly about the decomposition of the body and how everything is made out of atoms and carbon and all the materials of life you know and that we return to where we once came from and will come back again from the same material.
Carla: Okay I think I’m finally ready to talk about the queer significance of this version of Star Trek. Okay so we have Tig Notaro which you’ve talked about in the past which is fabulous. Also, the actors who plays Paul Stamets and Hugh Culber are very dearly loved in the community. They were both in the original production of RENT, RENT is an AIDS musical essentially, that sounds horrible, from the 90s it’s very famous. I don’t know anything about it but lots of people are very falling over themselves about it. Also, Wilson Cruz has the honour of being the first gay person to play a gay character on TV.
Carla: In “My So-Called Life”.
Carla: Yeah. So, he is a trailblazer.
Ben: When was that?
Carla: I think it’s like 96?
Ben: That’s horrendously recent.
Carla: Right! and Anthony Rapp who plays Stamets kicked off the gay #metoo movement by accusing Kevin Spacey…
Ben: Oh wow.
Carla: Of sexually assaulting him when he was a 16-year-old actor in New York. So, Anthony Rapp has done an incredibly brave – because both of them at the time were one of a handful of actors who were out. He’s been out since he was a young teenager. He was a child actor and then he also has the unfortunate indignity of also being the first person to kick off the gay #metoo movement and bring light to Kevin Spacey behaviour. So, the two of them together are stalwarts and heroes of the Queer community. Who else do we have? We have Tig really like these oh and we have Mia Kirschner who plays Amanda. She played probably one of the most notorious queer characters in queer TV. She was Jenny on the L word and we sometimes see on the #queertrek hashtag people being like “what! Jenny’s in Star Trek now? my two worlds are colliding”. She’s not actually queer but the L Word was obviously such a huge show for queer people in the early 2000s. So really that’s kind of like most of the active iconic queer people are in this show. I can only think of really one more person that they should add that is in that stratosphere of queer icon is Jane Lynch. They need to bring in Jane Lynch.
Ben: She would be great.
Carla: Potentially Portia de Rossi.
Ben: Although I don’t know. Jane Lynch. What who would she play? I mean I feel like..
Carla: She could be another salty.
Ben: Yeah well these are…
Carla: Or gregarious.
Ben: Oh, you know she could be she could be Harry Mud’s mum. (both laugh) That would be incredible. Like it just turns up and like seem like she’s going to be like telling him off. But then no they’re totally planning a con together. Like how good with that.
Carla: That is awesome.
Ben: Okay. I mean there’s lots of other things you could play with that’s the one that immediately came to mind.
Carla: And we need to get Portia de Rossi in as like T’Pol, 7 of 9 type character.
Ben: She would kill that.
Carla: Totally. Ah so that’s my uh that’s my finalization of queer casting for Star Trek. But I just thought I’d give everybody the backstory on who these actors are and how we see them as the gravity that they have behind them when they are all together on one show. It’s obviously incredibly deliberate, cherry picking these people to put them on the show. So, when things like this happen it’s just like “What the fuck are you doing bros?” you know.
Ben: Yeah. It does seem weird. I mean of course there’s still a lot of representation that hasn’t happened in the show. We don’t have anybody who’s gender queer or non-binary. But I think that’s weird because it’s the one thing and this is something I’ve been thinking watching Enterprise. It’s the one thing that really dates it, makes it feel not like the future is how retro and traditionally hetero everything is.
Carla: Particularly Enterprise so much fist fighting.
Ben: Yeah. Because you’re just looking at it and also like just I mean one of the characters I thought I was going to really like, and then he just turns out to be such a bro in a lot of episodes is Malcolm the English character who’s a bit stiff and you expect that he’s going to like sort of relax a bit into the show but he’s just he’s just such a bro you know? Like what the episode where they go for shore leave on Risa and they’re just trying to get laid. And it’s just gross and he gets drunk with his mate and the way he talks about T’Pol. I mean I’ve learned a lot in the last decade. Right. And that was like the 2000s. Like surely I would hope that by the time of Enterprise things have only gotten better and more enlightened, but no it’s such a reflection of the time that it was made..
Ben: And then you look at things like there’s that episode of Next Gen where Riker falls in love with the alien where it’s taboo to have a gender. And he wanted them to cast a man so it would be more significant, but they cast a woman which was, and he’s on record in interviews saying I still think that was a mistake. We should have cast a man and I should have made more of a fuss about that and tried to make them do it because then you would have had like a non-hetero kiss on Star Trek the Next Generation which would have been amazing. But also, that episode kind of also is weird because now you watch it and you go that’s the future. And the only representation of people without traditional genders is an alien.
Ben: And so yeah it’s weird.
Carla: That’s funny I felt the same way about Enterprise about Trip. But I ended up loving him.
Ben: Trips like yeah he’s just there’s something less dickish about him somehow. I don’t know what it is.
Carla: He’s curious.
Carla: He’s open minded. Yeah.
Ben: Because he has that early episode where he gets together with the aliens. I mean he gets pregnant and he’s like and he’s not shy about the whole thing. And then he gets pregnant he’s understandably pissed off.
Ben: But you know that’s yeah I think that is a big difference.
Carla: Look the biggest thing that date’s Enterprise and it’s the thing that irritates me the most about that show is the blonde highlights that they put in Trips hair and Scott Bakula’s hair. That’s some serious “NSYNC” frosted tips there and they brush it into oblivion but it’s there.
Ben: Yeah fair.
Carla: I only have two more things go for it. Leland and Pike homo vibes?
Ben: Could be I mean they clearly were close and they’re still kind of chummy but I don’t – I mean you get the impression you know Pike hasn’t seen him for ages like last time he saw him he was wrestling crocodiles on some place which does sound like maybe that’s a euphemism for something (both laugh).
Carla: I was like “hmmm”.
Ben: Yeah I mean that would be a cool backstory I’d be into that.
Ben: I’d love it.
Ben: But clearly they’re not, they’re pissed off now although the way that they apologized to each other. I mean and I’m always in two minds about this like yeah I think having more queer storylines is great. I think also it’s so important to show good close friendships between straight folks, particularly between men, like this is something you see between women on TV a lot. It’s one of the reasons I always get a little bit annoyed with people. I understand why they want to ship Holmes and Watson for example in any version of Holmes and Watson. And sometimes I’ve done it as well, but I think also the value of the relationship they have as friends or any two male characters have as friends, where it’s not just that very bro-y thing like with Trip and Malcolm in Enterprise but where it’s a deeper more important friendship. I think it’s also really important in addressing issues of toxic masculinity. So, having said that I also just don’t think Leland is hot enough for Anson Mount, Pike’s too hot for him.
Carla: (laughs) Well maybe that’s what happened?
Ben: Pike just realized why am I with this idiot.
Carla: I’m too good for you.
Ben: You’re both hot-wise and morally.
Carla: You’ve been listening to re:Discovery. All links to creatives are in the show notes or on our website www.rediscoverypodcast.com. We’d love to connect with you, please add us on Twitter and Facebook at @rediscoverypod.
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