Ben: Welcome to re:Discovery – a Star Trek: Discovery recap podcast made with love and logic. I’m one of your hosts, Science Officer Ben McKenzie, and of course I’m here with my fearless Captain, Carla Donnelly. How you doing Carla?
Carla: I’m great. How are you?
Ben: I’m well too. I’m excited! It’s still a week before the start of Star Trek: Discovery season two, which starts dropping on Netflix for those of us outside the U.S. from February 17 – or February 18 if you’re in Australia and live in the future… [Editor note: the actual premiere date is January 17 in the US and most countries, and January 18 in Australia.]
Carla: I was going to say “if you’re in the future”…
Ben: But that just means we have one episode to remind ourselves of the amazingness that was Discovery season one!
Carla: How are we going to do like a whole…? We’re going to have to compress it. I think we’re going to have to focus on one or two things that we want to deep dive into.
Ben: Yeah I think we’ll do that. You know I have, I have prepared you know a little summary of the whole season.
Carla: Oh yes yes.
Ben: And of course major spoiler alerts for everyone for whole of season one.
Ben: Obviously. And for each episode as we go. I mean this is a, it’s a recap podcast we’re gonna tell you what happens, so if you haven’t seen it, you might want to watch it first and wait. But anyway, here we go: here’s what happened in Star Trek: Discovery season one…
Carla: I’m sitting up straight.
Ben: Star Trek: Discovery is set ten years before the original Star Trek series, and a century after Star Trek: Enterprise. Commander Michael Burnham, a human raised by the Vulcan Ambassador Sarek, serves as first officer aboard the starship Shenzhou under Captain Phillipia Georgiou. They encounter a rebel sect of Klingons and Michael tries to persuade Georgiou to fire first, as Klingons only respect strength, but her mutiny fails, and she is court-martialled, and the Klingons begin a war with the Federation, killing Georgiou. Six months later Michael is brought aboard the starship Discovery, captained by Gabriel Lorca and crewed by many of her old shipmates, and enlisted to help him in the fight against the Klingons. Thanks to scientist Paul Stamets, Discovery gets an experimental “spore drive” which allows travel through an inter-dimensional mycelial network, giving it an edge in the war. But it turns out Lorca is evil and using them all to travel to a parallel universe, which he is originally from!
Carla: Dun dun dah!
Ben: When the Discovery returns – minus evil Lorca but with the mirror universe version of Georgiou in tow – they find they have missed nine months of the war. They sort it all out with the help of Michael’s almost boyfriend Tyler…but he turns out to have been a Klingon in disguise all along!
Carla: Dun dun dah!
Ben: The war is ended, Michael is forgiven, and the Discovery needs a new captain. But that’ll have to wait – because another ship has come to visit… Obviously that’s a, that’s a real short re-telling. (Carla laughs) I’ve missed a lot of details in there, but it’s quite a ride.
Carla: That was excellent, well done.
Ben: But what, what are some of the things that you most loved about season one?
Carla: Oh look general overview: I love that it’s…just…it feels like a fully-realised version of the Star Trek universe.
Carla: In terms of the confluence of technology. I think like in the last episode we talked about Voyager, and I do agree with you that Next Gen was a slightly better show, but Voyager had that technology of being able to sort of realise quite a lot of other sort of more complex timelines and it to look a little bit less crap.
Carla: This is…outstanding.
Ben: Oh yes like several levels beyond that.
Carla: And it feels like they can just really let rip in, in the full extent of their imagination. How about you?
Ben: Well yeah I feel much the same. I mean you know look I’m a, and I said I wasn’t going to mention this every episode, but I am an old school Doctor Who fan, so you know my ability to suspend my disbelief is pretty advanced.
Carla: Okay great. (laughs)
Ben: But yeah I do like that it feels to me…some people complain about how the technology looks so much more advanced in Discovery than it does in the original series when it’s ten years earlier in the timeline and I’m like, this is…
Carla: Who wants that?! (laughs)
Ben: If you were making Star Trek now this is what it would have looked like, like… (Carla laughs) Like they still pressed actual physical buttons in the original and you…like that’s not how you’d build a starship in 200 years time now, like we can all imagine touchscreens and projections and all kinds of crazy stuff. And so yeah I like that too. I like that it looks, it feels like it’s in the future. It’s very difficult to watch the original series and feel like it’s in the future and even, you know, Deep Space Nine, Next Gen era, it’s a little like it… It does feel a bit futuristic because they got lucky with a few of their predictions…
Ben: But you know when the thing that we use after an iPad comes out it’s going to feel real dated (both laugh), whereas this feels yeah this feels like it’s futuristic.
Carla: And that’s where I do think they actually, they did make a lot of concessions to the original series, and really the world. Like I’ve talked with you about this offline but there’s…I don’t even…why are they even using buttons? I don’t even think that…
Carla: You know. There’s so much about it that you could pick apart, but why would you? I did get all these like amazing little tingles and feels where, you know, they have all the original sounds in there of the technology, like (makes sound like “boooop”), you know? And I think they really did a great job of trying to sort of bridge that gap of the old show and this show. But speaking of it being in that era, that’s the thing that I actually love about this the most, is that they’ve used this opportunity to set the show ten years before the original show in this timeline. So in the canon of the shows that we have you know it sort of goes Enterprise, now this, then original, then TNG – and so they’ve used this opportunity to really insert the authority of women so much further back into the timeline so it kind of goes Archer, now Georgiou then Kirk. You know? And I thought that that was a really beautiful touch. I’m not sure if it was entirely intended but it gave me a lot of feels.
Ben: Yeah, no that’s that’s a really good point and it’s obviously not just women either, like there’s a lot of other representation in Discovery that’s been a long time coming to the Star Trek universe.
Carla: Do you want to talk specifically about Discovery itself?
Ben: About the show or about the ship?
Carla: (laughs) Well…
Ben: Because I do like the ship.
Carla: Oh yes we love the ship. Science, it’s a science vessel!
Ben: It is! I love that in that first episode – uh, well not the first episode, it’s the third episode – but the one where, you know, we first see the Discovery inside, and they identify it as a science vessel having, coming, you know just off the… It’s like a brand new one, it’s like one of the most advanced ships in the fleet. Um…which also explains why, you know, in some ways it seems more advanced than the Enterprise which is already in service at this point and so is clearly older than Discovery. But then they walk past a guard, and they’re like “Why would you see so many military dudes on a science vessel?” Like this is already interesting. I just really liked that from the get-go you’re not quite sure what the deal is.
Carla: And I think that’s actually really cool because this is where this show really pivots, and especially in placing it in the timeline as well, because we have a protagonist who is not a captain, we have a ship that’s not the flagship ship of the armada essentially… And also in all of the other shows, we hear about the science vessels, but they really seem kind of Dark Ops, Black Ops. It’s always to save them out of like really crazy situations…
Ben: They never show up unless like well the crew is dead because they’ve done something dumb.
Carla: Right. (laughs)
Ben: Which does happen also in Discovery, to be fair, I mean the Glenn has that fate doesn’t it?(laughter) So you know but but yeah we never see one as the main ship in this show.
Carla: We never we never get a peek of it unless it’s you know absolute. So you always kind of get this kind of classified air of these ships and they’re also supposed to be off-grid so that they’re not destroyed, or tailed by other alien races. So I love that it’s a science vessel.
Ben: Yeah, that is cool. That’s cool. And it’s awesome that there’s so many science staff aboard, in their fancy blue and silver uniforms. Which I do enjoy! (giggles) It’s interesting to see that, you know, they’re going to be seemingly phasing those out for uniforms that look a bit more like the original colours. We’ll see what happens with that I guess. But what else did you like about season one of the show?
Carla: Well queer representation is very important to me so obviously I loved Stamets and Culver but I also did not love that they suffered from, what is it? #killyourgays. Yeah. Which is you know whenever a gay character is introduced into a series they die pretty much straight away.
Ben: Doctor Who is notorious for this.
Carla: So…but we don’t – there’s kind of a question mark over that, because the new posters have Hugh in it!
Ben: Yeah he’s in there!
Carla: So we don’t know what’s going on there and also, obviously, Paul Stamets is still alive but..who knows.
Ben: Yeah, yeah.
Carla: So I love that. I love that being written into it, though I am disappointed that it has taken that trope as well. What about you?
Ben: Well there’s so many things I really liked that they decided to tell like sort of one long ongoing story, it’s quite different to what has been done in Star Trek before.
Carla: Wow, I never realised that! I, no, I realised that it was like one thing but I’m like, I’d never have thought about that in terms of… I guess Voyager was, the whole thing was that they were so far away, but it wasn’t an ongoing…
Ben: And, look, that’s strongest, and I think it’s one of the things I really like about the first two seasons of Voyager, is it feels much more like they don’t forget that. But after you get to about season three or four they kind of are just doing “adventure of the week”, except every now and then we remind you that we’re a long way from home and we don’t have many resources. But it’s still you know the adventure of the week: we make these guys, and meet those guys, and we carry on and there’s not really consequences for what we did.
Ben: Yeah, it was very much that. And then that’s what all the Star Trek shows have been like that. Which is great. Like it’s a wonderful format. I enjoy it. It means you can tell lots of different stories. I really like the way they, they meshed that kind of stuff into a really ongoing storyline. So you do get different kinds of stories, but they weave back into the main plot, and occasionally get one that’s more standalone like for example one of my favourite ones was the time travel episode, “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad”. I love that episode, ‘cos I love a good time travel episode.
Carla: Me too.
Ben: I think they do it really well in Discovery but at the same time even though it has, you know, it’s reasonably standalone, it works because of things that are also advancing the ongoing plot, like Stamets being able to tell what’s happening. That’s an advancement of the plot where he’s becoming more enmeshed with the mycelial network. The relationship between Michael and Tyler, which becomes so important, is really advanced in that episode. So there’s, they’re really doing a really great job of having an ongoing story, but at the same time putting those little extra bits in.
Carla: But that’s also kind of…you know that’s a Matrix level employment there as well, because it’s a Harry Mudd episode.
Carla: As well. So it’s kind of putting all of its tendrils out into the rest of the Star Trek universe.
Ben: And that you know that also… I just think they’re so clever because that also serves the purpose of reminding us of…
Carla: The timeline…
Ben: …where Tyler came from, where they met him.
Ben: Yeah well also the timeline, tying it back into the original series, but also, you know… Because that’s where they originally meet him, and that’s why he wants revenge, because they leave him with the Klingons. It reminds us of where Tyler came from and reinforces his backstory which then makes the reveal all the more like delicious, when it happens. SO GOOD. Yeah. And actually speaking of Klingons, I also really love the Klingons in this.
Carla: Yes I do too. Oh okay, so we can pepper all of this with our little facts that we know each other…er, about it. Did you know that you can watch it with Klingon subtitles on Netflix?
Ben: What! No I did not know that. Are they Klingon characters?
Carla: No no, they’re anglicised.
Ben: Yeah, okay. That’s all right though, because I don’t know how to read Klingon characters.
Ben: That’s cool!
Carla: Isn’t that cool?
Ben: And now I can learn how to speak Klingon watching Discovery. That’s amazing.
Carla: Yeah. I don’t know like I feel like… I feel they’re very “coneheady”. They kind of freak me out with the size of their alien heads, it sort of feels more Alien-alien, you know what I mean?
Ben: Oh yeah, I know what you mean. Yeah.
Carla: And also I’m always like, where’s the prog rock, you know, hair Klingons?
Ben: Well, let’s see. I mean it’s interesting because someone was saying that Gene Roddenberry had an explanation for that, because in Star Trek: The Motion Picture there’s some Klingons, fairly briefly, involved in the film, and they look quite different from the ones from the TV show, and he explained saying well you know, not all humans look alike.
Ben: Like they come from different places they have different ethnic backgrounds, so do Klingons, and they look different. Clearly it’s a bit more wildly different, for Klingons.
Ben: But I think that could be part of it. I actually was thinking about that when I was re-watching the first couple of episodes and when you see the representatives of the twelve houses there’s actually quite a bit of variation in what the Klingons look like. And I’m I’m not 100 percent sure, I’d have to go back and have another look, but I think at least one of them did have something that was like hair, so I’m not really sure.
Carla: I was very much had my beady eye on that whole scene. But they had the holograms of the 24 houses who’d all turned up.
Carla: But really you can only kind of see six of them. So yeah you kind of extend your imagination to there’s maybe like three houses who choose to rock hair, or maybe they can go hair and just grow it at a different period of time, it becomes the fashion.
Carla: You know I thought about this way too much (laughs).
Ben: Oh look, I mean you know when you get up to stuff like the “Trials and Tribble-ations” episode of Deep Space Nine, where the Deep Space Nine crew including Worf go back in time, to the original tribbles episode – which is about a Klingon disguised as a human being, by the way, it’s a large part of the plot – but they’re looking at the other Klingons who are basically just sort of… Well they’re rather distressingly kind of people in brown-face with big moustaches, it’s not…the original Klingon makeup was not very great. But when you look at them and you look at like Worf, the Next Generation idea of a Klingon, he kind of says we don’t talk about it, this. And there’s a whole backstory as to what happened there. There’s like in Enterprise, they go into it a bit where they kind of explain there’s this sort of genetic thing or…I cant remember the exact explanation, but that… Klingon, the way Klingons look, has changed over time. So again it’d probably be quite interesting to go back to the first two episodes of Enterprise reminding myself what they look like in Enterprise, because they look a bit different in Enterprise as well. Klingons maybe are just really into evolution.
Carla: Hey. (laughs)
Ben: They just like to change it up every century or so. (laughs)
Carla: Sure, sure.
Ben: We’re going to really look like this now.
Carla: Maybe that. Well apparently, this is really off track or maybe it’s not, I was researching the history of body hair and apparently like men used to be like very clean shaved, clean shaved, shaved heads so they wouldn’t have anything to grab on in battle. So maybe like those Klingons have just gotten soft. There’s not enough battle happening in the United Houses (laughing) Klingon Empire.
Ben: Oh wow.
Carla: So many hair theories for Klingons, write us if you have any of your own? (laughs)
Ben: We’ll do a spin off podcast just called Klingon fashion tips. (Carla laughs) Anything else you want to talk about about the first season? I mean there’s so much… What about characters, who’re your favourite characters in Discovery?
Carla: …good or evil?
Ben: Ooooh…well…let’s start with evil.
Carla: Evil…oh, the Emperor, obviously.
Ben: Well yes.
Carla: Yeah. What about you?
Ben: Well I do like, I love the Emperor; Voq I love Voq. But also: evil Lorca. I mean he just treads such a thin line, like re-watching it particularly, I was talking about this with a friend the other day…
Carla: Oh, beautifully acted.
Ben: Every episode, you think he’s like maybe, he’s a bit evil and you don’t know he’s from the mirror universe yet, but you’re like maybe he’s a bit evil and then he turns it around. Like when he’s first explaining to Burnham what’s happening on the Discovery and she’s like, “You’re making a weapon, it’s not really cool” and he goes “Let me show you what I’m actually doing. I’m making a new propulsion system. When the war’s over we can use it for exploration.” And you’re like…
Ben: Okay, maybe he’s all right… But he’s just, he’s… He’s always ruthless but he sort of turns it around as if he’s ruthless for the right reasons. And he just keeps that pretence up so long. It’s, it’s beautiful. And also I just could watch Jason Isaacs all day, I think he’s just such a great actor. So he’s a probably favourite evil character.
Carla: I think like can we talk about the Terran mirror universe because this is the thing that I have so many questions about.
Carla: And then I think it would kind of cover off a lot of characters. So I’ve written a lot of notes… So with with the Terran Empire, Terran universe, right. Everybody seems to be accounted for in terms of major characters in there, pretty much living their lives in exactly the same way. So while we didn’t see Katrina Cornwell the Admiral in there, but, you know, we knew that there was an evil Lorca. We knew that there was an evil Michael whose death is mysterious, is presumed dead, though Michael says to the Emperor at the end you know, will you what, you can’t just bear to watch another daughter die. So what happened there? Did she kill her? So let’s just go on the idea… I can’t understand this, and I can’t, I feel like everything is very specifically laid in there. So it has to mean something. So right at the end the Admiral is like “But we saw the Discovery explode,” and they were like “Oh no, that was the Terran Discovery, because when we went to the universe they came here”. And so then she says “Well then when bad Lorca came here then good Lorca I must’ve swapped there”. So I don’t really understand she’s like “Well, a Starfleet officer on his own couldn’t survive in that world.” So I think there’s a huge question mark over… good…
Ben: They go out of their way to say he’s definitely dead which I hope means he’s definitely coming back.
Carla: And also with, and also like with evil Michael maybe.
Ben: Yeah. Could be. Could be. I mean I feel like they spent so much time on the mirror universe, like way more than most of the Trek shows have, that they probably won’t make it a major plot point in the second season. But you could bring a character from there. You wouldn’t have to explain it much because we’ve already spent so much time there. So I’m really hoping for a return of good Lorca. But yeah, the mirror universe…it has that standard kind of narrative drive, which is the parallel universe is completely different from our universe, or it’s a reverse of our universe in some way…except for the fact that all the same characters are in the same place so they could meet, because then we could just use all the same cast.
Carla: Are you thinking I’m thinking it too deeply?
Ben: No I think, I think that you’re right, and that they’ve made a lot of these decisions on purpose. But I also think that the whole point of having that kind of mirror universe is to show the same characters in that light. So – and it’s always been the way with the mirror universe episodes – is that they always feature versions of the main cast, although it’s often not the entire main cast, just as it is in this. It’s like…we never see both versions of Lorca, we never see both versions of Michael, we never see both versions of Saru or Tyler you know like there’s lots of people we don’t see both versions of…well we actually that’s not true. I guess we do see both versions of Voq, don’t we.
Carla: Yeah. See this is where the mechanics doesn’t work for me because Saru is there and then quote-unquote “evil” Saru is still there on the Shenzhou.
Ben: Oh yeah that’s right, he is there. Yeah.
Carla: And so then I’m thinking: what does “Killy” get swapped out into? So I think… I’m thinking about the mechanics too much, so let’s leave it at that, but let’s just say that there’s a huge question mark over a couple of these missing people and perhaps, Hugh – don’t know. But they weren’t married in that universe.
Ben: Well. And I don’t think we ever meet the mirror Hugh. Do we?
Ben: So yeah. That…Maybe he’s there.
Carla: That’s all I have to say I think about this section, because there’s quite a bit that I probably want to move to the “coming soon” section – what do we think is going to happen in the second season. Do you have anything else?
Ben: Um…No I don’t think so. I mean I just love…
Carla: You love Tilly.
Ben: …everyone on the show. I do love Tilly. I do love Tilly. Re-watching her, I’d forgotten that right the end of her first sort of major episode is when she tells Michael: “Here’s something people don’t know about me: I’m going to be a captain someday” and I’m just like… yeah you are! Like, shit yeah, this is awesome. Like, when you see a character who’s depicted as a bit, you know, clumsy, or um, nervous or anxious, often that’s it and they’re just a joke. But Tilly’s not that – like she has that aspect of her personality but when she’s on that first away mission, to the Glenn, she’s the one who points her phaser into the darkness and says “Show yourself” and she’s totally confident in that moment. Like she is super competent as a Starfleet officer, but she’s also a real human being who has foibles and anxieties. And I love that about her. But I love everybody on the ship.
Carla: Me too.
Ben: I’m really interested to see if we’ll find out any more about the characters who are still around on the ship, we see them fairly often but we don’t really know who they are yet. Like particularly the people who also served on the Shenzhou so like, oh I’ve forgotten her name, Kayla I think her name is, the bridge officer…
Carla: The first officer.
Ben: …the one with red hair. And a couple of the android characters. Like I’m interested to know a bit more about the expanded universe of Star Trek as represented in Discovery. I think Discovery’s like not the show for that in a lot of ways. But I’m interested to find out more about it and maybe we’ll see little snippets of it here and there.
Carla: I do have one more thing that I just thought about that was actually what I wanted to talk about the whole time is – I really, after watching this so many times, this really is a show about trauma and about post-traumatic stress disorder. Right, and this, and everybody has had these traumatic things happen to them and how it has kind of derailed their lives and it continues to derail their relationships in their lives. And there was this really amazing amazing moment with Tilly and Michael when they’re on the Klingon home world and she just pulls her aside and she’s like” I can see that this is going to be really hard for you and I just want you to know that you’ve got my back” and her face just like collapses because I’m like oh wow here’s this human person who was raised by Vulcans and this is probably the first time in her life that somebody has actually intuited her emotions and has showed her compassion. And I feel like that’s kind of like the foundation of the entire show. You know is feeling feelings.
Ben: Yeah. That’s right. Oh yeah I’d forgotten that moment. That’s so good. It’s also a central theme of the character of Michael Burnham is her repressing and expressing her emotions and learning when to do which because she’s had these two kind of, she’s got these two competing ideas in her head. You know she starts out very Vulcan but she becomes much more human like is one of the things that I kept coming back to is you know how much is she really to blame for all the things she blames herself for. And she does she does like in a moment of hotness.
Carla: or is it trauma?.
Ben: Or trauma, like she kills the, T’Kuvma, when she was the one who was like “it’s vital we don’t kill him we have to capture him or he’s going to be a martyr, and the Klingon cause is going to go on forever”, but as soon as he kills Georgiou, who she treats very much as a surrogate mother figure.
Carla: Mm hmm.
Ben: That’s it. Like she’s like nah let’s switch to kill he’s dead and then realizes you can see on her face that she almost immediately realizes what she’s done and that’s okay. And she blames herself for the war because of that I think. And that is one of many times throughout the show where you see that dichotomy. I think that’s exactly what’s coming back into that last scene you’re talking about.
Carla: And it may be what propels it into the future because it really is like it’s it is a show about mummy/daddy/children/ids, family issues and identity politics it’s essentially about identity politics because she struggles so much between her humanness and her Vulcan upbringing. And you know Tilly feels like she’s a cadet away from home for the first time just struggling to kind of put all these things she’s put into practice, Saru away from his home world one of only one of his kind. And they’re all, it’s about, and I guess it’s a really I feel like a homosexual experience. You know like you create your family but still at the same time you’re trying to unpack all of this shit that’s happened to you you know through all of your interactions with these people. So I really feel like the personal relationships in this show is the most complex and developed out of all of the Star Trek. And I think that’s even though it’s like it goes telenovela in terms of the crazy shit that happens this anchoring of the personal relationships is really what makes it so deep and rich and I think is becoming the best Star Trek ever made.
Ben: But no I got. Yep. I’d go with that. And I think it’s not a coincidence that we both love Voyager and now we love Discovery because while Voyager didn’t have as it didn’t have that element of the trauma it was so.
Carla: well it did! They were all well never going to go back and see their families.
Ben: Sure they had a shared trauma. That’s true that they it was a very much a show about a family because here’s all these people they starships their first mission and now they’ve been together and they they can’t leave they’re forced to live together. And it was less about choosing a family though because they didn’t have a choice but making a family out of who they had and the relationships that show are very familial which I love. It’s one of the things I love most about it and I think it’s yeah I think that carries into Discovery and it’s that aspect of it that I really like as well.
Carla: Well I feel like we’ll explore all these themes in the shorts, in the Short Treks. Which we’ll move onto now.
Ben: I think that’s a good plan because we were talking about Tilly and her competence and her desire to be captain and the first of the Short Trek episodes which if you’re not familiar with them these have shorter episodes they’re about 15 minutes long. They explore just various different ideas they dropped one of them a month in the lead up to the new season and the first one Runaway is all about. Tilly.
Carla: Lovely Tilly.
Ben: She just gets an adventure on her own.
Carla: She’s like..what is that cartoon movie, Brave?
Ben: Yes. She’s got the same hair.
Carla: She’s the lady from Brave.
Ben: Yeah she’s got the same hair as Merida. That’s true. It’s a beautiful story. She finds this alien who’s stowed away aboard the Discovery and helps her out.
Carla: Well and also has to, she’s coming from a life of rigidity in terms of Starfleet Academy and we see a first character development in terms of when to go against protocol and what is what is ethical. what is moral, which is actually really the basis the basis of a lot of sci-fi and Star Trek.
Carla: So seeing her sort of like, oh okay so she can do this, you know she’s not entirely by the books. I think that that’s setting her up as. A fully developed character now going into Season 2.
Ben: Yeah yeah. So that was that was great. And I think also it set the tone for the Short Treks where they’re primarily about a very small number of like usually two or three characters.
Carla: Oh I’m going to say they’re about character development it’s like what about the ship and the like well no that’s character development as well.
Ben: Yeah because the second one Calypso is probably my favourite of, of, the four although I like them all but it’s set, it’s just set in the future it’s written by Michael Chabon! who’s apparently I found out is actually in the writers room for Season 2 Disco.
Carla: Oh wow!
Ben: No he’s in the writers room for the new Picard show. That’s right.
Carla: Either or it doesn’t matter sounds great.
Ben: Yeah. I’m into it. And it’s yeah it’s set a thousand years in the future aboard the Discovery there’s nobody there except a computer that’s like running.
Ben: Zora. Yeah.
Carla: Who has become sentient.
Ben: And she just she rescues a guy in a life pod and wakes him up and it’s all about their relationship and it’s sort of told in these little slices you’re not quite sure how long he’s there but it’s clearly a bit of time and they develop this lovely relationship.
Carla: Well because she won’t technically release him.
Ben: She’s not she’s supposed.
Carla: supposed to
Ben: She was she was reticent to give him because he’s like one shuttle one shuttle that’s available but it’s it’s never been flown and she’s not sure if it’d make it all the way back to his home world so she’s not willing to let him risk it because he might die even though that’s clearly what he wants to do he wants to get back home is his fled he’s fled a war and his family is still back there and it’s just a really lovely exploration of just a really interesting I mean it gave me, reminded me of the film Her. Which I. I know you did not like.
Ben: But I did. But I think I think it maybe for you it was like a nice version of that film.
Carla: Yeah I guess. Yeah.
Ben: We don’t need to go into that. Calypso, I think, explores this relationship where this artificial intelligence Zora is a person, she’s a person. I don’t think you know the way.
Carla: She named herself. She’s named herself, she’s been out there for a thousand years developing her knowledge.
Ben: And she’s clearly feels feelings.
Carla: Yes absolutely.
Ben: And she’s feels he feels some feelings for dude.
Ben: And and what a pair of actors as well as so good in this for two actors who presumably are not in anything else who’ve just been brought in to do this one episode, one mini episode, they just nail it. They’re so good. I really love this episode.
Carla: I just love that it was so out there.
Carla: And I love. I do love seeing the ship as a person because the ship is a character. I mean it’s not so much it hasn’t been so much in this first season of Discovery but the ship is very omnipresent, particularly in Voyager, you know. So maybe that’s also coming as well because we haven’t really heard the ship’s voice much.
Ben: Yeah. And it’s sort of really personified although Zora seems to be separate like she always, she never seems to think of the ship as her. She sort of feels like she’s in charge of the ship which is a subtle difference because there’s there’s an episode of Next Gen and I forgot which one is where the Enterprise starts to become sentient and self aware. That’s interesting. I just I love it.
Carla: I also love what it potentially does to the timeline and when it went. Where were they abandoned. What is a thousand years into the future?
Ben: A thousand years from when as well, we don’t know? Like a thousand years from the end, of when Discovery ends, from sometime in the second season. Like what happens? We don’t know.
Carla: And is this is this something or is it is it nothing? Is it just going to be like a little dot on someone’s Star Trek timeline presumably in a bracket somewhere. So I love that.
Ben: It’s interesting that the first two episodes of the Short Treks feel like they could just have been ideas that somebody had for a story that could reuse the Discovery set. But the third and fourth ones feel like this might indicate something that’s happening in Season 2 because they’re using stuff that you wouldn’t just make for a 15 minute episode. Case in point The Brightest Star, the third episode.
Carla: Oh yes your favourite, the Kelpians.
Ben: Well you know what I love Saru, he’s one of my favourite characters but actually this is my least favourite of the Short Treks.
Carla: oh really?
Ben: I enjoyed him in it. I enjoyed, I enjoyed actually all the performances I really loved the bit at the end where he meets Georgiou and goes off like I thought that was lovely but I felt like for an episode where they’re like let’s explore Saru’s backstory and where he’s from and what his people are like it – just raised more questions than it answered for me. Like it didn’t.
Carla: Like what?
Ben: It didn’t feel entirely consistent with what we knew. Like Saru always has talked about how his species were a prey species evolved to detect the coming of death which kind of indicated that they were being constantly hunted down on their planet and he can run really fast as well.
Carla: He does say that like we were the equivalent of cattle.
Ben: Yeah yeah but it’s sort of like the way he speaks about it. Yeah it felt like they were being horribly subjugated and they hated it and it was awful. But then when we see his planet they’re all just like, “Yeah it’s part of the balance”, like they have this whole spiritual belief around it. And I mean you could argue that maybe this is what cows think when they’re in an abattoir. Well you know they’re waiting you know they’re like “Oh the great thing is coming to take us away” or whatever but they’re very calm about it. And it doesn’t quite gel with like their biology or the way that it’s been talked about before. And then there’s the technology level mismatch like Star Trek actually it has, has a weird habit of whenever someone’s a pre-warp civilization. They don’t show you like the equivalent of 20th century Earth..
Carla: Yeah it’s all sort of people in huts.
Ben: Yeah yeah. It’s like we don’t, you don’t see that you know lacking in technology to not be a warp civilization because you know there’s this very advanced bit of technology, there’s a floating pillar that transports his people away to be presumably eaten although no one in the episode seems to know what happened so them they just know that they go. So maybe Saru only finds out after he leaves. Who can tell but he knows something’s up he doesn’t believe that it’s right. And so when a bit of technology falls off it he uses it to communicate with the outside universe and contacts Starfleet and in particular, Philippa Georgiou who at this point in her career is not a captain yet. So it’s set quite some time before Discovery and I like the basic storyline but I just felt like this is weird like it was written by someone who did not write any of the other bits of Saru talking about his background. So I enjoyed it but I felt it was a bit incongruous and I’ll be interested to see because I expect they did not make three other Kelpian like masks and.
Carla: Ah that’s your prediction.
Ben: Just for this. Like I think we probably are going to go back and visit the Kelpians in season two and I’m excited for that. I’ll be really interesting to see where that goes.
Carla: Well that’s where my big question mark kind of hangs over this and I’m sure someone or many people have written about it at length that I can go and research later but I just don’t see how this fits into the Prime Directive. So she says “yeah you can come with us but you can never come back”. So is it because he’s been able to communicate.
Ben: Yeah. She says that she has gotten special dispensation because he has demonstrated an understanding of post-warp level technology because the interstellar communication device that he’s using is clearly as sophisticated as the kind of technology you need to travel at warp speed. That’s what I gathered from what she said.
Carla: It still feels really very vague.
Carla: And kind of you know.
Ben: So I’m going to secretly come down and take you away.
Ben: But no one on your planet can ever know and we’re not sure. And also it feels super. The whole situation where clearly the people eating the Kelpians and I’ve forgotten what they called but they have a post-warp civilisation and.
Carla: The Ba’ul.
Ben: The Ba’ul yeah. So it feels to me like Starfleet should get bloody involved so they should be saying like you have post-warp we want to contact you and we want to also say can you maybe not eat these like sentient beings who live on the planet below. Like that’s not really okay.
Carla: I don’t think they’re allowed to interfere culturally.
Ben: Well if it’s a post-warp civilisation they can talk to them on that level. Star Trek characters do it all the time like every second civilization that Voyager meets. They’re like “what you’re doing is ridiculous”. (both laugh)
Carla: So yeah I don’t think that’s another wormhole. I just don’t really want to go down. I actually really enjoyed the episode. Hopefully there will be more Kelpians because as we saw in the Terran universe there were also slaves and food.
Ben: Eaten by Terrans.
Ben: That brings us to episode 4 of Short Treks though.
Carla: The Escape Artist.
Ben: AH! This was a lot of fun.
Carla: Oh my god Rainn Wilson.
Ben: Ugh Just nailing it!
Carla: Who knew?
Ben: He’s having the best time of his life.
Carla: Totally totally reinvented my idea of him as an actor.
Ben: Yeah yeah yeah. And he directed this one too.
Carla: Wow I didn’t know that.
Ben: So he knows what he’s doing. He didn’t write it but he directed it and I did not see the ending of this coming!
Carla: Me neither.
Ben: So it’s Harry Mudd like he’s clearly running a con and like you just waiting for the other shoe to drop. There’s 15 minutes to this. It can’t just be him trying to get out of being captured for 15 minutes and sure enough he is running a con and what a con it is. It’s so good. The payoff is so good.
Carla: He’s got he’s got an A.I. robot Harry Mudd farm going. He’s got a little little Harry Mud’s ready to go out on grifts left right and centre.
Ben: And they seem they seem quite sophisticated until they kind of get rumbled and that breaks their programming and they quickly become not very sophisticated.
Carla: This was actually my favourite one. It was really peppy. It was it it was it didn’t feel rushed but it still had like a lot of information in there. It had a great twist at the end. I felt like I really understood more of the character. And also there’s going to be this huge question mark every time we encounter Harry Mudd now from now on is like is he real?
Ben: Is the real one?
Ben: That’s great is that yeah I hadn’t thought about that but you’re right yeah. Oh yeah that was great. I really loved it.
Carla: Shall we discuss very briefly our thoughts for the next season. I feel like we’ve captured a lot of it in the rest of the discussion but.
Ben: Yeah let’s. What do you think is going to happen in season 2. What do you what do you hope.
Carla: Well actually have had a little bit of foreshadowing or actual information about this so there is the original trailer and now there’s the second trailer which leaks information that was leaked like a Comicon or something.
Ben: Oh yes that’s right.
Carla: This was scenes that were cut from the finale of the first season where Georgiou is recruited by this thing called “Black Ops”. We don’t know what it is. We don’t know what they do.
Ben: Is it Section 31? Yes because we did. And you know what they seed that in the very first episode, well not the very first, again the third episode because they’re walking along the corridor. The prisoners with Burnham and they see the guy with the black badge and you’re like that’s got be Section 31. Come on. Listeners, if you’re not familiar with Section 31 they crop up a lot in Voyager and Enterprise, particularly Enterprise. They’re like the yeah the black ops section of Starfleet.
Carla: So that’s that’s really super exciting just to know that Michelle Yeoh is going to continue to be in it. She has just been phenomenal.
Ben: Yeah so good.
Carla: Phenomenal. The fight scenes the fight acting. What a babe.
Carla: The thing that I’m actually most looking forward to is getting to know Christopher Pike, Commander Christopher Pike. Captain Christopher Pike who was the original captain of the Star Trek Enterprise who we never really know knew anything about and Tig Notaro is in it!
Ben: Oh yeah I keep forgetting that I have no idea what her character’s going to be. It’s going to be great to find out.
Carla: So exciting.
Ben: I’m pretty excited to see what Spock is like. But a new Spock that’s pretty exciting. I don’t want to just get excited about the stuff that’s old Star Trek stuff coming back as in the original series is my is is a Star Trek I’m least familiar with you know, I’m mostly familiar with the movies right, so I’m I’m enjoying the idea that here is like another way into the origins of those characters and those situations. But also I, I think I haven’t seen the full second trailer but I’ve seen a bit of it and I’m pretty sure that Tyler is in it which means Tyler’s coming back.
Ben: I’m pretty sure I might have been imagining that but I thought he was.
Carla: That would be amazing. And didn’t you say that Spock is being called a hipster Spock now.
Ben: Because he’s got a beard yeah. (both laugh)Yeah. He’s got the beard.
Carla: I definitely want more gay love. Hopefully that is being heralded by Tig Notaro.
Ben: Well I kind of my when I first heard Spock was coming I was like Oh maybe, maybe Spock and Stamets will get it on and then I was like Spock’s not getting it on with anyone, he’s like Vulcan he’s just.
Carla: No the Vulcans have you know their seven year Pon Farr
Ben: Yeah and he’s not due for it which is actually it is only seven years?
Carla: I think it’s seven years. Yeah.
Ben: Wow. Okay well maybe he is due for it, it’s ten years before Star Trek. It could be fourteen years before it happens in the TV show. I don’t know.
Carla: One more thing that I’m sort of like question mark or that I would love to see because we’ve seen a lot of the aliens that we know some busted up robot people that we’ve never seen before (laughs). But also like a question mark over the Romulans, I don’t know where they come into Star Trek but I mean already there’s contact with Vulcan so they must be aware of the Romulan’s.
Ben: And when where Michael goes into the spore drive chamber one of the places that she sees is the council chambers on Romulus. So we know that the Romulans are around but I don’t know if there’s a neutral zone I don’t know what the deal is. I think from memory and my memory this is a bit hazy cause it’s what I’ve read about not seen in the original series. There’s kind of like a surprise reveal that these people aren’t Vulcans they’re Romulans.
Carla: Oooo! Yes I think that’s right.
Ben: So I think if there are any Romulan if there is any Romulan stuff in there it’ll be it’ll have to be sort of kept secret somehow.
Carla: I think we can definitely look forward to lots of body swap Freaky Friday shenanigans. Yeah.
Carla: And maybe like a bit more spice maybe some romance.
Carla: Fingers crossed.
Ben: You would hope so. I hope, I hope Michael finds some new romance. Hope Stamets finds some new romance. I can’t, I know we talked we talked about this again. I just don’t know what’s going to happen with Hugh. I mean see Hugh still exists as a sort of entity in his mind. Like made.
Carla: In the.
Ben: Real by the network.
Ben: But whether or not they’re still using the spore drive is going to be a bit of a question mark and what happens to the spore drive because there’s no mycelial network travel in like any of the other Star Trek series so clearly there’s some reason why they don’t use it anymore. It’ll be interesting to see if that comes in in this season or if they sort of push that off too later because I believe Kurtzman who’s now taken over the running of the show has said that it’s going to sort of merge more into what you what we know of Star Trek canon. I hope that I did that too much. I mean I think one of the great strengths of Discovery is a show is that it just went its own way.
Carla: I agree and they can explain it all away by it being a science vessel and you know it’s all kind of classified. I mean they even go to lengths to say at the end it’s like we’re all in agreement. This is completely classified. Nobody can ever know about the Terran universe you know. So I do think that that’s its strength.
Ben: Yeah totally. So yeah I’m interested to see that. But you know I as I I may have said before on the podcast I’m a I’m a continuity nerd I love that stuff and I can’t wait to see how the show explains it. I can’t wait to see how fans explain it and I just can’t wait to see what kind of crazy stuff they add into the Star Trek universe. Then we have to sort of figure out how does this fit. Because I love that. I mean that’s why I watch these shows. I love the creation of this mythology and the expansion of one that already exists and has so much in it. It’s just it’s great. It’s good fun.
Ben: Well that brings us to the end of this our second introductory episode of re:Discovery which means of course from next episode we’re going to be talking about new Discovery again.
Ben: Oh so exciting. We’re looking forward to it. We hope you are too and we hope you’ll join us then. But until then…live long…and prosper.
Ben: You’ve been listening to re:Discovery. All links to creatives are in the show notes or on our web site redicoverypodcast.com. We’d love to connect with you. Please add us on Twitter and Facebook @rediscoverpod.
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