Set your face to ugly cry (again) for Project Daedalus, where we inch so close to the mystery of the Red Angel we could mind meld with it. Discovery is on the run with an innocent Spock aboard. Admiral Cornwall secretly rendezvous with them and they join forces against a suspect Section 31. An away mission goes very, very bad. We lose a crew member we had only begun to know.
This is a transcript of our fourth season two recap, available here
Saru [From episode]: I’m most certainly not… dead.
re:Discovery theme plays.
Ben: Hello and welcome to re:Discovery. The Star Trek recap podcast whose favourite songs are considerably less than 288 years old. I’m one of your host Ben McKenzie and I’m joined as always by my fearless Captain Carla Donnelly. Greetings Captain.
Carla: Live long and prosper Ben.
Ben: So, let’s talk about “An Obol for Charon” an episode that combines the fun and hope of this season’s first couple of stories with some of the darkness and mystery of Season One. While the Spock thread is kept dangling in front of us and yanked away like yarn in front of a kitten. This episode progresses the “May” plotline, returns Tig No… I mean Jett Reno to us; finds great plot reasons to explore rich elements of the Star Trek mythos and gives us some big feels; and gets deep into Saru and his relationship with Michael. We kick off with a blast from the past, Captain Pike’s trusty Number One visits briefly to confirm Enterprise is still in space dock and to deliver a clue that will let Discovery chase after Spock. Pike argues with Burnham over her reluctance to get involved but while in pursuit of Spock stolen shuttle the ship is sharply pulled out of warp. A massive sphere, part biological in nature, has them in its grip and soon starts messing with a universal translator and other ship systems causing chaos. Saru’s mastery of languages comes in handy but soon he collapses. What he had hoped was just a cold is actually “vahari” the state Kelpians enter when they are about to die either at the hands of their predators or in madness.
Ben: In engineering standards until here watching over “May”, the fungal life form, when they are joined by Jet Reno sent to seal off the ship’s propulsion systems from the malfunctions happening elsewhere; and to trade sass with Stamets. When the power is shut off “May” escapes and latches onto Tilly dosing her with hallucinogens. Although whether to calm her or take her over is unclear. Burnham and Pike debate what the sphere wants, it could surely kill them if it wished, so why this slow attack through the computers? Burnham and Saru work to slow down the spheres virus like influence and share a tender moment. Their work done, Michael learns Spock’s trail will go cold if they don’t break free of the sphere soon and visits engineering where Stamets plan to talk to “May” through a neural interface inspires her. Heading back to Saru the two realize the sphere is trying to communicate and that this isn’t first contact but last. Saru’s “vahari” was triggered because the sphere is dying.
Carla: Saru and Michael convinces Pike to power down the Discovery to receive the spears message, believing it is the spheres attempt in its final moments to download its history for preservation before it dies. The spear pushes Discovery away to safety just as it implodes gifting the federation with 100,000 years’ worth of data from its vantage point. In Season 2 his first real tear-jerker, we cut to Saru instructing Burnham to sever his ganglion -euthanizing him before he descends into madness. Michael’s face contorts in pain as she cries desperately wondering whether this is truly inevitable. Both Saru and Michael are forced to accept what they have been indoctrinated, logic and biology. And this seems to be the main theme of this episode, the polarization between action and surrender. There is a lot in this episode for the Trek fan, the misfit who left home without looking back to find a place where they belonged; where they could be truly stimulated and perhaps people they could call kin. This for me was the source of my many tears shed over this episode. If we surrender to others ideas of who we are and what our potential is, that this is a form of death. But who are we without someone to remember us? Do we exist? Did we exist? But when we push we can discover an entire universe of ourselves but also the rage that is unleashed that comes with this knowing.
Carla: This is further characterized back in the lab with Stamets, Tilly and Reno. Dr Frankenstein, I mean Reno, has trepanned a neural interface into Tilly to talk to “May”. In a childhood that appears to be dotted with loneliness and isolation, May is a friend that Tilly had for only six months and is the fungi’s best bet at manipulating her kindness. The team are dosed by the entity until he disappears seemingly into the mycelial network just Stamets was going to close the door for good. This episode heavily explores the isolation drive and ambition of the highly intelligent. All crewman on Discovery are the best in their field but struggle heavily with their interpersonal relationships; most maintaining a persona that appears impenetrable. However, it is only through teamwork connecting with their fellow humanoid that they are able to achieve their goals and truly by letting others in allowing themselves to love platonically, it radicalises their world beyond anything that they have experienced. The yin yang of human’s fascination and aspiration with space exploration being represented in the microcosm of emotional experience, I feel is absolutely the essence of Star Trek. I adore this episode Ben, but do you think I’m projecting? (laughs).
Ben: Look if you are then I am too. Did you cry Carla?. Because I sure did.
Carla: Oh my god! Are you kidding? Just not even for Saru dying because of course I love Saru but Michael, like Michael’s just beyond existential pain. It’s so multi-dimensional the things that she is having to accept and go through all in that one moment.
Ben: Well it’s her life, like you know, she’s made a new family of the Discovery but Saru is now like the last link to her old family from the Shenzhou. I mean yeah Detmer is there as well, but I don’t you never get the impression that the two of them were ever close. Not like she and Saru were and they’ve had this big bust up where you know Saru couldn’t agree with her methods and what she did. He’s forgiven her, they’ve repaired that friendship, they’ve become close again and now she’s going to lose him. It’s heartbreaking you know, and they have those, I’m tearing up now thinking about it, it was just it was wonderful and sad and I really I really thought he was going to die.
Carla: Me too.
Ben: I really did because I mean it’s a show that’s shown that it’s quite happy to kill people off and look you know in modern television, I think in this post Game of Thrones era we all think anyone could really die…
Carla: At any moment.
Ben: You know they’ll be in the episode when their name is in the titles. That’s as much as you can tell, and you don’t know if they’re going to be dead as a ghost or a flashback and they could die. And I really thought it was going to happen and I was so glad that it didn’t. Not just because you know I love the character of Saru but because I really like where it’s going to take his storyline, but I absolutely agree with you that it’s such an important theme in this episode that people have found their place in Starfleet aboard a spaceship and that the letting down of those barriers that they put up is so important for their success.
Ben: It was what I was talking about you know an episode or two ago about the characters trusting each other and telling each other what was going on which has been a continuing theme and they resist that at first, most of the time. But the thing that I like about Discovery is they let those walls down pretty quickly usually within the same episode or at least the episode after.
Ben: So, it’s never like oh finally you’ve told him about that say no. This only happened earlier this episode or last episode. So yeah I don’t think you’re projecting. I think that’s what it’s all about.
Carla: And also, I think like Michael and Saru are you know metaphorical or parables about science and religion. You know you’ve got one race that is entirely biologically fear driven and you’ve got one race that is highly logic driven and the whole arc of their relationship has been about trying to find that space between them that they share; and not only just getting along but also developing this deep relationship between each other. And that they need each other, they’re not single units you know that there is – together they are more than the sum of their parts. And that is you know it’s just such a beautiful message.
Ben: Absolutely. I think also there’s a great internal conflict in Michael, although it’s not a conflict anymore. I mean one of the things I loved most about…
Carla: She’s letting go.
Ben: She’s letting go. But also, she still has that Vulcan ability because you see it twice in this episode. And I like sat up straight when I saw her do it. She literally shrugs off her emotions like she’s when she’s so bereft and there’s so much pain on her face and she’s letting it out and saying what she really feels. And then she’s like “Well I’ve got to get on with this and do this for my friend” and she just sort of straightens up and the emotion leaves her face and she’s like “it’s time to get the Vulcan mindset on”. And I think that’s something that a human who’s trained can do, but Vulcans can’t do because there’s that whole backstory about their emotions are so overwhelming that’s why they have to train themselves to subsume them. And it’s something that Spock struggles with too being half human. But he sublimates his emotions most of the time whereas Michael can she’s learning to be able to use them when they’re necessary and put them away when they’re not.
Ben: Which like feels like a dream you know like I think we’ve all felt like we wished we could do that at some point.
Carla: And that’s where I find Pike such a compelling character and mostly the captain is, because a good captain and almost all the captains I can think of in Star Trek have modelled this behaviour where they are kind and compassionate people to their crewmen. But when it comes down to it they are they are completely solid in their ability. You know like Pike doesn’t even break a sweat when he’s like “eject the warp core” you know like his whole face does not change through that whole thing and it’s just like that is also such an immense level of training and meditation.
Carla: And also, I think sometimes inherent in people to you know like he is what Michael should be looking up to. But she still desires to be Sarek. That’s my feeling you know.
Ben: That’s interesting I like that. Yeah I think it’s also interesting to compare Pike’s command style with what Tilly is like and to see how much of a because I think that’s what you said is actually true and that’s the thing that she’s got a journey to go on to get there because when she’s competent she’s great but she doesn’t believe in herself enough that she can get there easily or without the kind of encouragement of others at the moment. And I think that’s where she’s got to get to because Pike doesn’t need someone else to look to him and say, “what should we do”, he’s just “it’s my job to do that I’m onto it.”
Carla: Yeah but he’s also been taught by somebody to do that. And I think that that’s also like the huge message of this is that if we don’t share of ourselves with each other and if we don’t have; you know it’s like that you know “if you can’t see it you can’t be it”, you know so we can, and that’s what I love about Discovery the most is that there’s so many characters that are on so many different planes of their development and there truly is a character for everyone you know? And you can sort of see from a to b and how you know dotted along the landscape you’ll become X Y and Z on your way to there, you know, if you’re hopeful. But one thing I did love about this episode is that you forget how much of a dick Stamet’s is (laughs). And I felt like that was the first Stamet’s moment post Hugh, which I really liked.
Ben: Yeah he has had that sort of weird smugness about him which is which is an odd thing to say about someone who’s clearly still grieving. But he has had a bit of that like even when he’s talking about the opera. Just like “I know about opera and important things”, and I love when he’s trading barbs with Reno…
Carla: Which I call the “soft butch showdown”.
Ben: (laughs) Yes but I think I think one of the great things about that exchange is that they both are very reasonable in it, like they’re both being snarky to the other one, but whereas Reno’s like being – you know she’s got some sass she’s given him some sass. But it’s because she’s just been told yeah this spaceship flies on mushrooms and she’s like “that’s ridiculous, but okay I’ll do my job”, that’s kind of her attitude. And his attitude is like “don’t come in here and tell me how to do my job, this thing you don’t even understand”. And also, you know he’s got that real strong ecological kind of message. And they both they both right in their way. And I liked that I didn’t feel like that was imbalanced it was a nice sort of trade-off. And then they become friends!
Carla: Of course, because there’s no one right way.
Carla: And you know which we’re learning every day.
Carla: Especially Michael.
Carla: I really love that this. Like even though it was about Saru dying I really love that this focus so much on Michael this episode. Her development has been so amazing to watch.
Ben: Yeah, and you know she’s been, it feels a little bit like the last couple episodes she’s been a bit of the B plot even though she should be so tightly involved in the A plot. But the A plot like I said in the intro is being dangled in front of us and pawed along on a string you know -well the arc plot anyway about Spock and we’re not there yet. We haven’t found him yet. I mean you know I feel like we won’t find him for another five episodes yet.
Carla: Oh my God.
Ben: They’re going to string this out as far as possible.
Carla: And that there is a, there is an actor who is playing. So, we will see him at some point.
Ben: We’ve seen him, we know what he looks like. I mean you know he looks like he looks a bit like Spock I guess.
Ben: Yeah maybe. Do you think that’s why they made the actor grow a beard so that we wouldn’t…?
Carla: A little bit more sort of camouflage maybe a little bit. I really care about that anymore, do they? We’re supposed to kind of suspend belief, they just give them the same haircut, put them in the uniform and say, “There you go”.
Ben: Speaking of which Rebecca Romijn playing Number One.
Carla: Hooley dooley!
Ben: Amazing! I mean such a small scene but just establishes a presence immediately. I really enjoyed her in this role.
Carla: Hopefully to see more of her.
Ben: Well I mean you don’t cast Rebecca Romijn for like a 10 minute, not even 10 minutes, like if she’s on the screen for three minutes in this episode I think you’d be lucky. But she’s got that same level of sass as the original Number One, which I thought was great. She’s you know such a forgotten character. She’s only in that pilot. And yeah it’s lovely to see her back.
Carla: And is she in “The Menagerie” as well? Because I’ve only seen the pilot episode.
Ben: She is but not but it’s not much.
Carla: It’s whatever spliced from the pilot episode?
Ben: Yeah because really it’s Spock’s retelling of the bits that are really most relevant. So, there’s a lot of the normal framing stuff you’d have is not there. I mean they do use a lot like the majority of the footage from “The Cage” in “The Menagerie” but from memory, and it’s been a little while since I last watch it, I don’t think she’s in “The Menagerie” nearly as much as she is in “The Cage”.
Carla: So, we’ve got 100,000 years of data. We’re back on Spock’s trail.
Ben: Yeah, can I talk about 100000 years of data.
Ben: Because I have a theory.
Ben: I hope this is a setup to link Discovery in to the Picard series because they say that it will take centuries for them to study all this information. And by the time we get to the Picard, new Picard show era that’s like about one hundred and forty, well I’m guessing here but it’s like at least one hundred and thirty years later. So, I – and his hobby is archaeology. Right. So, I’m hoping that he studies this information or that there’s some link between the two, just like it doesn’t have to be a major link. I just think that would be a nice thing for them to have said.
Ben: I would be very cool.
Carla: And it also you know there’s a couple of things that is very exposition-y to kind of link to canon, create canon, so there’s that. So that’s how we sort of get most of the data for the voyages that come like later “go and explore this go and explore that”. You’ve also got Pike explaining about you know how he thinks it’s the “damn hologram infrastructure” on the Enterprise so he’s like “rip it out”. So that creates the exposition that’s the reason why the Discovery has holograms and Enterprise has screens. And then presumably they have screens for the rest of the fleet because he becomes a flight captain later. So, there’s you know there’s little point of exposition there that I think the fans are really loving as well or hating apparently.
Ben: Look you know if course people have their own opinions, but I don’t really want to hear about the hating. We’ve got to talk a bit more about the emotional business between Saru and Michael.
Carla: What do we, what have we got to say?
Ben: I just like the things that we find out about his backstory or his feelings about being in Starfleet. I just I really like to have touched on themes of refugees and how he is a refugee you know and that makes total sense. But the things that happen in this episode make you know when we talked about the Short Treks back in our second bonus episode before we started the season I was a bit like this doesn’t make sense it doesn’t quite gel with what we’ve already found out about Saru but now I’m like oh now it does kind of make sense. There’s this whole like biological thing that happens to them where they think that means they must go and get culled now. But he talks about it like, I still think there’s a big disconnect between the way he talks about it knowing what happens and the way that his society seems to view it. But now it’s starting to make more sense. And it’s clear to me there’s going to be an episode or two that explores that in a great more detail. And we find out who the Ba’ul are what the deal is. So yeah I’m still confused that they you know, the Ba’ul clearly have like post-war era technology. So why the Federation can’t make contact with them and say stop eating these people I don’t know? And I’m also a little bit confused about just get on back on the Prime Directive track a little more a little confused about how Saru’s journal suddenly means his species isn’t applicable under a General Order One anymore.
Carla: Oh no, that the he, they can’t they won’t be able to give them that information until they become a post warp…
Ben: Oh, I see.
Ben: Yeah I misunderstood that. I thought he was saying that if she documents it then they won’t see them anymore.
Carla: No. He is just working, he’s just like log it and then when they’re… Yeah.
Ben: Gotcha. Okay that makes much more sense. And also, it’s even sadder because it’s like…
Carla: Oh, that’s what I mean. It’s so heartbreaking.
Ben: His people aren’t even going to see this until who knows how long.
Ben: But now it’s different, now it’s different. I also I really hope that like Saru get some kind of superpowers now that he doesn’t have his ganglia. It just dropped out and it’s like an evolutionary stage for Kelpians.
Carla: Well he’d have so much processing power. If you’re not spending all that energy on you know being anxious.
Ben: And he’s already immediately like “I’m not afraid anymore” and I’m like “oh what are you going to do Saru? are you going to kick some ass?”
Carla: I wonder if “shirtless Saru” as a hashtag already.
Ben: Oh probably. Did you think that’s what you looked like under the shirt?
Ben: I really liked the how much they use the universal translator, in this episode. Because it’s such a it’s kind of like such a background thing in Star Trek but I’ve never seen it used as such a plot device before and it’s just a really nice way to remind us that yeah all these folks on the bridge they don’t all speak the same language. They’re being translated constantly, anyway, and whenever this comes up I always think “but why did their mouth movements match the language that we’re hearing? How does that work exactly?.
Carla: I wouldn’t think too deep into it really. (laughs)
Ben: I only ever think it for about five seconds mainly because it’s fun to think of reasons why that works. Like is the universal translator just hearing audio and then speaking another language like real translators that we have in our real world right now? Or is it you know is it something deeper? Is it like a babel fish? Like it translates it in your brain before you speak? You know so.
Carla: That’s interesting.
Ben: I love it anyway. It’s great and I like that Saru knows 94 languages because just imagine the discipline it takes to learn 94 different languages from another you from other cultures and other species. When there’s a device that exists that means you can just speak to them automatically anyway.
Ben: You know.
Carla: My thing of that is when they’re talking with people back on Earth I’m like that would literally take years. Like how are they? Are they warp speeding these transitions like transmissions? Like I can’t. That’s the thing that I think about the most. It’s literally real time and..
Ben: They’re subspace transmission.
Carla: Oh, that’s right.
Ben: Yeah. I mean they never explain how it works. The idea is that they’re sending these signals somehow not through normal space.
Carla: Yeah its but it’s going, it’s looping around.
Ben: Yeah. It means they hardly ever get I mean until unless you’re on Voyager. You hardly ever get the plot device of “we can’t talk to people because we’re so far away”. Like even in this is something about you know we’re both watching Enterprise now. I think one of the things that I find the weirdest about it is that it’s not so it’s really not that different from another Star Trek. Like is it they play up as the premise. You know it’s before the Federation that’s before they had shields it’s before they had proper transporters.
Carla: I so I disagree with you.
Ben: But they have all this stuff already like they can they can just talk to home anytime they want. They can. Yeah I don’t know.
Carla: It’s a conversation for another.
Ben: It is maybe that maybe it’s a bonus episode we talk about how we feel about Enterprise.
Carla: Do you want to move onto Short Chats?
Ben: Yeah let’s do it.
Carla: Okay. Now it’s time for re:Discovery Short Chats where we talk news trivia, and anything related to Discovery and also any questions you have for us. Follow our socials and get in touch and we do have a question this week don’t we Carla.
Carla: Yeah we do. We have a question from Josh Wright. Thanks Josh.
Ben: Thanks Josh.
Carla: He got in touch via Facebook and he is puzzled by the whole Enterprise business. He has lots of questions. What happened to Enterprise? Why is it so heavily damaged? What happened to the hundreds of souls on the ship? Are they okay with that or their senior officers? And why isn’t Pike going back? Is Enterprise a Manus Island level of intergalactic ignorance and forgetfulness? Have I missed something? Or is there background from the original Star Trek series that I needed?
Ben: Well look I thought I’d go back and look at this because if you remember a few episodes ago I was a bit confused about this.
Carla: Yeah I think it’s really confusing. I don’t think you’re the only one Josh.
Ben: They’ve left little hints for us. They’ve kind of described what’s happened but there’s not really any concrete information about why. I mean in this episode. Well let’s go back to the start. So, in “Brother” Enterprise is described as being “completely off line except for life support”. And they also say that only something catastrophic could do that Enterprise because it’s you know one of the major ships in the fleet, it’s built to last you know. And Pike also says they suffered multiple catastrophic systems failures while heading on their way to the first Red Burst. But you know this doesn’t quite make sense because they’d mentioned all this in passing but what happens in the episode is that the Enterprise seems to be on its way to meet up with Discovery so that Pike can get on board but actually they’re sending out a distress call because they’re stuck they can’t get anywhere and it just happens that Discovery is passing by.
Carla: No. But I also think that that ties into this where it’s like when there’s a ship that is going to go into space dock for a long time that needs extensive repairs usually they just keep the repair crew on, and they repatriate the rest of the officers either into other missions or they give them shore leave. So, I think it was like marrying, I mean these guys were investigating the “Red Bursts” so was that so was the Enterprise. And so, they just repatriated Pike straight onto the Discovery.
Ben: Yeah. Put him in charge of it.
Carla: To continue his mission.
Ben: Yeah that’s right. Yeah. And I mean when Number One shows up in this episode she does give us a bit more detail about what’s going on. She does answer a couple of your questions Josh because she confirms that the Enterprise has been towed to space dock and I think there might have been a brief mention about that in one of the earlier episodes as well. So, we know it’s in space dock and it’s being repaired, its current chief engineer is currently on board. His name is Louvier and they make a nice little reference to “I don’t think they’ll ever have an engineer on this ship who loves it as much as this guy”. Oh yes we will. But yeah I like that he sounds French. That’s nice but yeah. So, So it’s yeah. And they suspect the holographic comms system but it’s a cascading range of failures.
Ben: And I just want to reiterate my theory for the record that I think we’re going to discover Spock sabotaged the ship, in case it ever went after the Red Bursts. So, he’s somehow programmed the ship’s systems to shut down or put like a you know like a virus in there or something if they’re ever heading to one of the coordinates, he’s already identified as where one of the bursts are. So that’s my prediction. I have. I don’t. It’s just a gut feeling. I hope that is true because I think that would be really cool. But I don’t know if. Well I don’t know if that’ll be true.
Carla: Yeah. So, we can only assume that the Enterprise staff has been repatriated to other missions or they’re on shore leave if you want to go back – I’ve only watched the pilot episode for Star Trek which is you know basically most of Pike’s backstory. And then they recut as Ben said in the episode previous a couple of episodes previous. They very cut that episode into a double episode called “The Menagerie” which I’m just up to. And I think they’re really the only two episodes that you’ll get background on Pike. But it doesn’t really explain any of this. This is new to canon. This this incident so we’re about as in the dark as you are.
Ben: They very rarely if ever mentioned what the Enterprise got up to before Kirk took it over except for those episodes you just mentioned. So yeah.
Carla: Okay I want to recommend the Short Treks if you guys haven’t seen it yet. If you go to Netflix and you go to trailers you kind of have to dig around a bit. I don’t know why they buried them so much. But if you dig around in trailers you’ll be able to find the four short trek episodes. The one about Saru is particularly related to this episode so if you’re feeling a little bit lost as well that would be great. So, Commander Nhan was wearing a skirt this episode, did you see that?! So cool. Like a Discovery skirt.
Ben: That’s awesome.
Carla: Want one. And do you want to talk about Number One the history of Number One. Majel Barrett?
Ben: Yeah. Yeah. You’ve watched it more recently than me. What’s your impression of Number One?
Carla: Well I don’t know. I don’t necessarily want to talk about much about the character because you know she. Yeah. She’s like headstrong beautiful amazing. But you don’t really see her much in that episode. I just wanted to give everybody especially people who haven’t experienced or known much about Star Trek. So, Majel Barrett who was Number One in the pilot, she was also the voice of the computer for all of the Star Trek’s up until Voyager. She was also married to Gene Roddenberry. She’s considered the first lady of Star Trek. And she was Lwaxana Troi on Next Gen which I think is like this personally my favourite character in Star Trek of all time. She is fucking amazing. So, I’m like goals. Hashtag goals.
Carla: What else do you have to do you have anything else about Majel Barrett?
Ben: Look that continuity of having the same computer voice over a century or more. It’s just it’s just little lovely little. It’s a lovely little thing. And she’s great. She does such a great job of both. All of those characters yeah.
Carla: What do you have?
Ben: Well I want to…
Carla: Do you want to talk about aliens?
Ben: I always want to talk about aliens and I particularly want to talk about how great is that Linus, our favourite sneezing lizard man has now got dialogue.
Carla: And six nostrils. (laughs)
Ben: (laughs) And six nostrils. Ah he was great. I really like how they’re bringing that because they had that scene at the start of this episode where there’s all the bridge crew sitting around a table like you know.
Carla: Daily briefing.
Ben: Doing a daily briefing discussing the problem and then the captain comes in and Linus is just one of them and he’s just chatting about it. And later on, you know he’s also been researching this sphere and reporting what they’ve found alongside Michael. So, he’s clearly part of the science crew I guess. But yeah he’s I just really enjoyed that. And also, now Nhan is back.
Carla: Nana’s back.
Ben: In her skirt.
Carla: In her skirt she’s very cool.
Ben: Yeah she’s cool. So, it’s nice to see her around and that there’s we’ve got this great supporting cast of people who we’re now getting to know a little bit better and hopefully a couple more of them will get a bit more of a spotlight episode just like Owoshekun did.
Carla: Yeah. And that’s maybe also like directly related to Josh’s question like obviously Nhan has been moved over to the Discovery whilst the Enterprise is being repaired.
Ben: Yeah. And we know Number One is hanging out in the space dock overseeing the repairs.
Ben: It’s like we’re not going to let someone else look after our ship. We’re going to keep an eye on it. And he’s asked her to do that, but it’s also given her some time to look into the whole Spock thing. So, it’s worked out quite well.
Carla: I will say one other thing that made me raise my eyebrows was when Pike and I don’t know the Doctor’s name I’m sorry. Pike, the doctor and Michael were in sickbay and they’re like holding down the bandages on that person who’s like bleeding to death but they’re still just like talking all about Saru I’m like “rude”.
Ben: I made a note about this. I’m like look I recently did a first aid course. This was not okay.
Carla: That would not be comforting the person who is bleeding to death.
Ben: No, I’m like “take your conversation outside, be here and present”. Pay attention.
Ben: It’s not. It’s either or guys either or.
Carla: That’s all I have.
Ben: Yeah I. Yeah. Well I look the other thing I do. We haven’t talked much about the engineering plotline and the mycelial network.
Carla: That’s true.
Ben: But I do want to say I thought I and I think you didn’t feel the same but I thought was a little bit weird that Jet Reno suddenly pops up and she’s been on the ship the whole time like she’d just been stranded on an asteroid for, what was it like five months or six?
Carla: But it’s not the Jet Reno show Ben.
Ben: I know that but I’m just saying surely they should have taken her home whereas the implication of her dialogue is that she’s been on the ship ever since. Like she didn’t take any time off she didn’t get rehabilitated or debriefed. She’s just gone.
Carla: We don’t know that. Maybe that’s what’s been happening the whole time and now she’s reporting for duty.
Ben: I guess maybe. But it sounds like when she talks it sounds like she’s been on the ship the whole time.
Carla: But also, like whatever her possibilities is that she could get transferred to space dock? That’s it. She’s so fucking far away like she would have to do this kind of domino effect of being transported.
Ben: But they’ve just been to within a stone’s throw of star of one of the space docks because Number One didn’t come out of nowhere.
Carla: That’s what I mean by that’s her option. Like I said they’re just going to ship it in like. Seems to be very into her work.
Ben: But surely they had to take the other survivors of her ship somewhere. They’re not still on the Discovery.
Carla: They probably are getting better.
Ben: I just thought it was weird that they never even. It was just one of those things where I just wanted to say what was happening because otherwise it was a bit weird when she turned up and there was no, I don’t know.
Carla: And they did all the work of the exposition of like who are you again? you know, like you had to say her title again. So yeah you know it’s like well “you rescued me from the Hiawatha”, but it was always my assumption that she was going to be taken up by the crew. But that was just because I figured you don’t get Tig Notaro to do one episode of your TV show.
Ben: Yeah well exactly. Yeah. I felt the same. But you’ve also got the start of your answer about what happens to the spore drive now as well because the mycelial organism reveals that the Discovery’s trips through the through the network are destabilizing and destroying its habitat. And so Stamets immediate reaction is “okay then shut down” and you’re like “yes this is why we like Stamets” because you can be a bit of an asshole, but you are ultimately wanting to do the right thing all the time. What’s going to happen to Tilly. Yeah well I don’t know. Where is she. Do you reckon did she think she’s in the mycelial network or is vanished somewhere else?
Carla: I think she’s in the network. Maybe she’ll see Hugh.
Ben: I don’t think she’s gone to the Mirror Universe.
Ben: But she’s definitely gone. Yeah. Well I guess we’ll find out. Like it’s surely the next episode is going to be about that.
Carla: Well I’ll be about rescuing her and racing to Spock.
Ben: Yeah well both so that could be. Maybe that’s our next plot. Who knows? Mm hmm. There’s one other thing I wanted to talk about and it’s also from the engineering section is the obsession of Starfleet crew not only in this era but 100, 150 years later with 20th century culture. Because till favourite song is “Space Oddity” by David Bowie. And to put that in context that is like your eye having our favourite song be from 288 years earlier.
Carla: I’m into it.
Ben: Which probably means it’s an opera. To be fair I mean this folk music from that time as well, but I tried looking it up and then Stamets knows it. So, there’s a canon of music. Like I, I mean I regularly work with kids who are you know seven to eleven years old and they don’t know any Beatles songs or even who the people are.
Carla: But year you’re talking about Starfleet. They probably have you know Starfleet 101 is like the history of the obsession with space in culture and culture.
Carla: In contemporary culture like you know it would be the space race and stuff. But Star Wars the missile thing not the actual maybe the old movie as well, you know because that was the start of…
Ben: I guess that’s true. But actually, I do have a theory about this, is that Starfleet like the original Star Trek era and the Next Gen era are both kind of a post scarcity sort of post capitalist society. So, there’s no wants. Like you’ve got, we don’t really have replicators yet in the Discovery era. But you will soon, and they certainly are able to produce food pretty easily. They do sometimes still talk about money. But certainly, by the time of the Next Generation they don’t have any money they can just replicate whatever they want. All they need is raw materials and they can have whatever they need. So, and people who serve in Starfleet right there their mission like they fulfil themselves by doing stuff by going out and doing things that they want to do not because they must feed themselves. And that’s what I mean. And what you see as a result is all these people are doing their job on a starship. But in their leisure time they don’t just sit around watching TV they all play music and sing and do theatre. So, there’s nobody whose job it seems is primarily to be an artist because everybody’s got enough leisure time to be an artist if that’s what they want to do.
Carla: Yeah and they’re also like doing heaps of stuff on the holodeck. They’re experiencing periods of time in different worlds and it’s visceral you know. So, they have the access to all of this information at their fingertips. So, you’re talking about, it’s essentially like a 100 percent self-actualized society. Yeah.
Ben: And so there’s a lot of people learning to play music to perform as an actor and they’re learning based on these classical texts and you’d see occasionally, you mostly see it in Voyager actually whether they introduced the concept to the holonovel although, that’s also in Next Gen they’re just gone, the don’t call it that. But there’s people writing these interactive scenarios and it’s just yeah. I don’t know. It’s cool. But I think that kind of maybe I thought about this way too much as is my want but I just thought maybe that’s why they’re all obsessed with 20th century culture because they are looking back to a time where there were people whose whole job, whose whole life was dedicated to the creation of art whereas now that’s pretty rare because everyone has enough time to do that in their spare time.
Carla: Do you think you’re overthinking it Ben. It’s like in the Star Trek movies when they like go to 20th century earth and eat a burger. Everybody’s screaming because they get to see a representation of their culture in this series. You know, if you wanted to do all the mental gymnastics of trying to understand how that could potentially be, sure. But I think that that’s literally what it is. (laughs)
Ben: Look I understand that’s the real-life reason. I just I just like to think about these things you know I’m…
Carla: Sure, there’s many a fan a fan theory out there as well.
Ben: I hope so. Yeah.
Ben: You’ve been listening to re:Discovery. You’ll find links to creatives on our Web site at www.rediscoverypodcast.com. We’d love to connect with you. Find us on Twitter and Facebook as @rediscoverypod.
Splendid Chaps: re:Discovery is brought to you by Splendid Chaps Productions. Find more entertainment for your ears at splendidchaps.com.
Set your face to ugly cry – in this week’s episode “An Obol for Charon”, Discovery’s most elegant soul, Saru, faces a fatal illness – the vahar’ai; the ship is held in place by a sentient orb which causes havoc to its systems; and Tilly is consumed by the fungal entity “May”. Team re:Discovery discuss the central theme of polarisation between action and surrender, whether we exist if there is no one to remember us, the “soft butch showdown” between Stamets and Reno, if shirtless Saru met our expectations and much much more. So grab a hanky and press play!Show Notes…
This is a transcript of our introductory season one recap episode, available here.
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 the 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.
Petra: re:Discovery is brought to you by Splendid Chaps Productions. Find more entertainment for your ears at splendidchaps.com.
Welcome to the second bonus episode of re:Discovery! We recap all of season one – a huge undertaking – and discuss it in depth. We talk Klingon hair (or lack thereof), the identity politics and trauma of the Shenzou and Discovery crews, ponder if Good Lorca still exists and much more. In the second part of the episode we cover the four Short Trek episodes and talk what it all may mean for season two. This episode contains spoilers! So please make sure you watch all covered content before listening. We’ll be back on Tuesday the 22nd of January for our first season two recap! (Which, despite Ben’s mistake, will be after the January 18th premiere, not February 18th. 😂)