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Roshanara Rahman

Official Discovery Season 2 Discussion Thread (SPOILERS!)

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Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery kicks off January 17, 2019!

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We'll start this one thread for now to see how much discussion it generates and if we need to split into individual episode discussion threads, we can, but I think keeping it all in one thread should be manageable and easy for others to flag as filled with spoilers if they're worried about that.

So, let's begin...

RED ALERT! SPOILERS BELOW!

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

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Episode 2x01: "Brother"

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Thoughts:

The second season premiere is called "Brother," but it's really all about the man pictured above: Pike. As in Captain Christoper Pike, second captain of the original USS Enterprise and Kirk's immediate predecessor. Previously portrayed by Jeffrey Hunter in the first TOS pilot "The Cage" (and then Sean Kenney as the disfigured Pike in "The Menagerie") and then more recently by Bruce Greenwood in the Kelvin Timeline films, Discovery's iteration sees Anson Mount donning the captain's uniform, which as Pike notes, is of the "new" design that the Constitution class crews get first dibs on.

In a nutshell, Pike is the anti-Lorca. When Pike arrives aboard Discovery to take command because of an emergency, Acting Captain Saru informs him that a DNA test is necessary to confirm his identity, a new Starfleet security measure evidently in place because of Lorca's deception from last season. In doing so, Pike takes the time to explain to his new bridge crew who he is and takes the time to get to know them, which means for the audience, we actually get to feel like the rest of the bridge crew is more than just glorified extras, with an entire sequence just having them give their names to their new captain (and us as an audience for the first time).

Despite only being an hour long, the premiere takes time throughout the episode to give us these little moments that seem to acknowledge some of the criticisms of last season, and a conversation between Tilly and Stamets discussing his requested transfer off of Discovery is a hopeful sign that this second season won't be shy about focusing on quieter character moments among the crew in between the larger action set pieces.

Still, there will be action. The episode primarily deals with the Discovery crew trying to rescue survivors of a crashed Starfleet vessel found on an asteroid that's about to slam into a pulsar, and in a sequence reminiscent of the Kirk/Khan EVA jump in Into Darkness, Michael and Pike along with a couple of Enterprise officers need to get to the crashed ship from Discovery without the help of a transporter or shuttle. It's an exciting sequence with effects worthy of any big screen Trek feature and perhaps even a bit of a misdirection/nod to the 2009 film's similar skydiving sequence (as soon as you see the suit colors, you'll know what I'm talking about), although I have to admit it still felt I'd seen it before with the aforementioned Kelvin film sequences. Conversely, I thought the escape sequence from the asteroid was a bit more novel and sets up Michael's encounter with the mysterious "Red Angel."

The episode ultimately ends without an actual appearance by the (adult) Spock that the title refers to, but it sets the stage for his inevitable reunion with Michael. In this regard, I liked that the episode felt complete enough on its own even though it promises a larger serial story arc. My preference would be for this to be the model they go with so that more of Discovery's episodes can stand on their own like previous Treks rather than be just a mere chapter, which makes it more difficult to just put on for a rewatch.

Observations:

-We're teased with the Enterprise at the start of the episode, but the only part we see is Spock's quarters, which are in the style of the Discovery-era interior design. While there are elements of the TOS design in it along with a few familiar props, purists who were upset by Discovery's "visual reboot" are likely to still find issue with it. At this point, I think it's basically going to be one of those unsaid things like the makeup changes of aliens from TOS to TNG that fans will either accept or never reconcile with.

-And yet those same purists/canon watchdogs will also note that Enterprise's stated crew complement match that of her numbers during the Pike-era. #theydidtheresearch

-We learn "Random Communications Officer Man" (as Mudd called him last season) has a full name: Ronald Altman Bryce.

The season 2 trailer shown afterward shows some interesting developments in store:

-The spore drive will be back as Captain Pike is shown experiencing the apparently breathtaking jump for the first time.

-Although Pike changes to a Discovery-style uniform at the end of this episode, the trailer shows Michael in what looks to be a new TOS/Enterprise-style blue sciences uniform (complete with skirt and tall boots).

-This episode didn't show us the Klingon characters or Emperor Georgiou from last season, but the trailer promises they'll be back. I'm more or less ambivalent about seeing their return, but I'll hold judgment until I see how they are affected by the new tone and direction Discovery has promised both off camera and on (when Pike tells Michael they'll have "fun" along the way, you can't help but feel that's the writers also promising that to the audience).

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Quick thoughts: 

If, like me, you find Tilly and Burnham incredibly annoying, you won't like this episode. I'm reserving judgement as to whether or not this will tell across the entire season.

The 'previously on' was OK, the 3 minutes of flashback story could.. have been compressed. There is such a thing as overpromising, and I felt this was a thing. I bring this up because this is a reoccurring problem in the episode, and after a while, I wanted to scream 'I GET IT. CAN WE MOVE ON?'.

The obvious foil being killed was too on the nose. The storyline I feel presages a fairly obvious spore drive twist, but let's see if they do that. Several explanations were ... well.. shoehorning, but whatever, first episode.

Personally, I think that trailer was a mistake, but what do I know about grabbing people's attention?

That is to say: I feel this episode is a resounding meh. Still enough for me to want to see if season 2 is better than 1.

 

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Them killing the snooty Science Officer instead of the SUPER COOL LOOKING Augmented Red Shirt absolutely killed me. 

I also just bloody loved it. I loved new Pike. I loved that the WHOLE bridge crew felt like an ensemble finally. I loved TIG! I loved it all. That was the best possible note to start the season on. 

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42 minutes ago, Quentin Collins III said:

 loved TIG!

My partner and I were both going "TIG!" when we saw her, and what a neat character she seems to have too. I hope we see more of her.

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6 minutes ago, Brell said:

My partner and I were both going "TIG!" when we saw her, and what a neat character she seems to have too. I hope we see more of her.

"What a RELIEF! I thought we were all gonna DIE..."

 

i had COMPLETELY forgotten that she had been cast in this season and when she showed up i audibly yelped. 

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Reno was great and I really do hope we see her again! 

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I wasn't keen on season one it seemed very poor even in comparison to other season 1's of other star trek series.  This episode I really enjoyed.  I hope it continues to get even better. Tilly is awesome, Burnham is still really annoying. 

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This really was a great season-opener! It was action-packed (which is good for a season opener, but I hope it calms down over the episodes), and story-driven. I love the new Pike (he's kinda like Lorca, but hopefully a "good guy), and I loved Tig too. 😆 I was glad they killed the science officer, he was too snug. The engineer of the trio seems interesting though. I really hoped Pike would keep his yellow and new uniform, but that's a nitpick. At least, I'm glad that they explained the difference in uniforms (at least on-screen) now. One last thing, I really hoped they would turn down the holograms this season, because it just doesn't fit in the TOS-era, I was dissappointed. However, I am really positive about what will happen in season two! 🖖

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I really really wish they hadn't killed the science officer. He was too smug on purpose, so you'd want him killed. It was a waste of good character tension. (They *literally* telegraphed from his appearance that he was dead.)

Tilly.. I still don't get her. Probably because I don't.. really like this character type very much. At all. Burnham was tolerable, but they need to stop writing her as 'always right, always wise'. The vulnerabilities she shown helped but..

Eh. It's meh. The plot line is OK, but not terrible, and the Enterprise not being used in an all out war was laughably silly. So was the 'emergency protocols' - but that's Trek for you, and clearly a plot element. 

That said, I look forward to E2. This was terrible, yes, but they're relaunching, so I'll give it another shot. 

Edited by Tiria Hamasaki
cut off
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My first review from work. I'm gonna be covering it all through S2.

http://www.roguesportal.com/tv-review-star-trek-discovery-s2-episode-1-brother/

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13 hours ago, Theo Whittaker said:

Reno was great and I really do hope we see her again! 

She's gonna be a regular! She had to stop touring for a bit to do it. 

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On 1/18/2019 at 7:24 PM, Quentin Collins III said:

SUPER COOL LOOKING Augmented Red Shirt

Fun fact, that Red Shirt (Commander Nhan) is actually a Barzan, a race introduced in TNG.

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I think the red shirt thing was a way for them to shock and surprise us – every Star Trek fan was going "OH HO HO, look who's going to die on this away mission!" and then the smug jerk eats it. 

I'm confused and annoyed by the whole uniform thing (seems like fan service but poorly done) but otherwise I thought it was better than last season's early stuff. 

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Since the first episodes of season one, I have enjoyed Discovery in parts and been disappointed with it in others. I still can't reconcile that all of the sudden Spock has a foster sister, I just don't know why they had to do that, to suddenly introduce this new element to the life of one of the most beloved Trek characters. I am also not a fan of the spore drive, I know season one basically couldn't have happened without it, but it just feels too advanced for a pre-TOS Trek.

Despite not being happy about her being Spock's foster sister, I actually quite like Burnham's character. Tilly, however, is super annoying and off-putting for me.

I was really excited about Pike and so far I like his portrayal. I'm intrigued to see how the season evolves. I hope there are more stand-alone episodes this season.

I also found it hard to swallow that the Enterprise wasn't called back for the war effort.

Overall, I'm still not sure why this period was chosen for a new Trek series. I personally feel that there are a lot of other options that could have been explored and would certainly have been less controversial. However, now it's here, I'm trying to make the best of it. I don't think it's terrible, but there are a lot of things I would have done differently.

Just my feelings and opinions. :D

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I've enjoyed Discovery from the get go, and particularly enjoyed the season 2 premiere (did anybody else get chills at the end of season one when the Enterprise appeared?). I also really like the new aesthetics and technology they've implemented. I understand it seems more advanced that what we've seen on screen previously, but look how far technology has come since then (I read recently The US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has unveiled a computer capable of handling 200,000 trillion calculations per second, whereas Data stated he worked at 60 trillion operations per second. Admittedly his brain is much smaller than the supercomputer, but still). That and we have smart phones/tablets etc, all inspired by Trek.

I was a little confused at first, when Pike beamed aboard the Discovery. It gave me odd vibes, and the officers with him were, to me at least, acting strange, for example the smug science officer. I did wonder if they were going to be Klingons or similar. Thankfully that was not the case.

I'm also looking forward to seeing how the Burnham/Sarek/Spock plot will come together - especially as it will mark the second time we've been introduced to one of Spock's never before seen siblings (the first being Sybok - seriously, Sarek gets around!).

To me it made sense that the Enterprise wasn't around for the war, it only lasted a year and as they stated it wasn't 'logical' to call it back from it's five-year mission as it would have taken too long. The Enterprise-E also had very little involvement in the Dominion War, at least not that we saw on screen (I believe First Contact and Insurrection took place whilst the Dominion War was going on.)

I am also a fan of the Enterprise uniforms, although I think the Discovery uniforms make Starfleet look more like explorers than a military (as much as I love the DS9 era uniforms, they do look a little 'militaristic'). And there are plenty of examples of two different uniform styles being in service at the same time, both on Trek and in real life militaries .)

I also cannot wait to see Georgiou, I thought Michelle Yeoh absolutely nailed it. I'm just sad we likely won't see her this season :(

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Episode 2x02: "New Eden"

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 Thoughts:

The second episode of Discovery's second season continues to show a new direction for the series as a whole, in this case towards a more familiar style of Star Trek storytelling.

If last week's opener was still a bit too action-heavy of a blockbuster, then "New Eden" marks a return to the classic Trek "planet of the week," in this case a settlement of humans on a distant planet that wouldn't feel out of place as the starting point for one of Kirk's adventures in TOS. From mentions of Starfleet General Order 1 (aka the Prime Directive) and an away team sent incognito to learn what's going on among the locals, it's both comforting to see these familiar tropes yet also still feel we're watching something new by learning more about Captain Pike's style of command and how the rest of the crew handle the challenges thrown at them.

For those left on Discovery, we get a return to the A/B story type format, or in this case, perhaps the surface vs space sides of the same overall plot dealing with the human settlement. On the surface, operations officer Joann Owosekun is recommended to join the away team by Michael. We're told she was raised in a Luddite collective so she'd be good for this mission, and while she does get a small moment to shine in helping the away team out of a locked cellar, it's a shame she's still basically treated the same as an extra. While Discovery was envisioned with Michael taking on the central role, if the show is trying to change into a more ensemble-driven series, then an easy way to have developed Owosekun further would have been to let her become a voice for the humans on New Eden rather than keeping it mainly still focused on Pike and Burnham's different views on how to handle the settlement (namely, whether the prime directive still applies).

On the ship, Ensign Tilly gets to be the hero seemingly once again, and while I personally find her an endearing enough character, again, the writers should be willing to let the other bridge crew step up and contribute to the overall plan. Rather than have Tilly explain for instance what Detmer the helmswoman would need to do, it would have been just as easy to have Detmer understand what she needed to do on her own and likewise have the rest of the bridge crew figuring out what else they needed to do rather than being one step behind Tilly.

Still, these are just a few criticisms in what is overall an enjoyable episode and an encouraging sign that Discovery is getting its footing. That said, I suspect next week's episode revisiting the Klingons will really be the test of whether Discovery can avoid some of its less successful tendencies from last season.

Observations:

-We get our first glimpse of World War III with a soldier's helmet cam from 2053. Apparently, an entire church was transported away to the planet in the Beta Quadrant.

-Besides Christianity, the church also had a mix of beliefs from Judaism, Islam, Wicca, Shinto, among others. It's a bit odd that there'd be such a mix from just one church, but perhaps the Red Angels rescued a larger slice of a town (or from multiple sites). Why though remains a mystery, presumably to be revealed later in the season.

-Pike wasn't kidding about needing a new ready room, which apparently isn't even the same room off of the bridge that Lorca was using. The set is gorgeous, and the lighting really highlighted the high production values of Discovery.

 

-With Tilly now having seen a dead classmate and Stamets' previous experience with seeing Culber, one wonders if why we might not hear about the spore drive in the future is the strange connection it seems to have with the dearly departed.

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I really enjoyed this episode. I'm loving Captain Pike and his character was the one I was most worried about going into this season.

I totally agree that they need to give some of the other officers a bigger share of the limelight (and less to Tilly - controversial, I know 🙈), it's good to see that they're making a bit of an effort to do so, but an opportunity was definitely missed here to develop Owosekun's character a bit more.

Does anyone else find watching Pike in action tinged with sadness in the knowledge of the fate that will eventually befall him?

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21 hours ago, Roshanara Rahman said:

-Besides Christianity, the church also had a mix of beliefs from Judaism, Islam, Wicca, Shinto, among others. It's a bit odd that there'd be such a mix from just one church, but perhaps the Red Angels rescued a larger slice of a town (or from multiple sites). Why though remains a mystery, presumably to be revealed later in the season.

I could be wrong, but I think what I heard them say was that there was a mix of people with different religions who took cover in the church. It was a Christian church, though. 

The stained-glass windows were "retrofitted" to represent all the different faiths after, as we can also see that they include some scenes from the moment of transport. 

21 hours ago, Roshanara Rahman said:

-Pike wasn't kidding about needing a new ready room, which apparently isn't even the same room off of the bridge that Lorca was using. The set is gorgeous, and the lighting really highlighted the high production values of Discovery.

While watching we were really trying to understand if this is just a conference room or it's actually the ready room. It doesn't seem to match the window designs of the lower decks, so it is apparently close to the bridge but unclear if it's in the same position as Lorca's ready room. I'm guessing we'll have to wait for a clearer shot of people entering the room to see what's behind them before we can determine exactly where it is?

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13 hours ago, FltAdml. Wolf said:

While watching we were really trying to understand if this is just a conference room or it's actually the ready room. It doesn't seem to match the window designs of the lower decks, so it is apparently close to the bridge but unclear if it's in the same position as Lorca's ready room. I'm guessing we'll have to wait for a clearer shot of people entering the room to see what's behind them before we can determine exactly where it is?

When summoned to the bridge at the start of the episode by Saru, Pike and Burnham clearly arrive there via the turbo lift. I’d wager that the ready room/conference room is on Deck 2 or 3.

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I liked how at first Captain Pike was thinking this was all some sort of Divine intervention. As if God was the reason that led them there. Then once they were on the planet, seeing how affected everyone was by the religious cult was quite the ride once the religious lady actually saw the transporter beams and still had it in her mind that some omniscient being was still at play. I was hoping they'd recruit the guy towards the end, but instead traded for the camera.   

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I think Saru might be my spirit animal. Just saying.

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Episode 2x03: "Point of Light"

discovery-tyler-lrell-300x169.jpg I originally hadn't planned to wait until the fourth episode had also aired before writing my thoughts on Discovery's third episode in its sophomore season, but in many ways, "Point of Light" works better when viewed as just the first part in the longer story that continues into "An Obol for Charon," specifically regarding the Tilly/May plot.

The main story for "Point of Light" itself concerns the Klingons, which we see for the first time since last year. The episode's title refers to the point of light that Kahless promises to return to, which the Klingons later understood to be Boreth and built a monastery that Worf went to in the following century. In this episode, however, Boreth is only seen at the end as the location Tyler/Voq and L'Rell's baby is sent to for safekeeping. While the reveal of the child in this episode is sudden to the audience (and to Tyler), the point is to both force L'Rell to make yet another sacrifice and to give Tyler a new reason to rekindle whatever feelings he might have had with L'Rell. On the latter, I didn't feel it was as effective, but both Tyler's relationship with L'Rell and Burnham were never that convincing to me, a victim of the show's fast pace and shortened seasons compared to previous Treks. For L'Rell herself, I could see this as being another slight that will ultimately come back to bite the Federation and Section 31 in particular if L'Rell decides to rebel against her Section 31 masters.

discovery-d7-300x169.png If it weren't for the trailer reveal for the fifth episode coming up, I might have thought this episode overall was more of a backdoor pilot for the upcoming Section 31/Georgiou show, and some part of me would be fine with that honestly. While overall I found this episode's examination of Klingon politics more interesting than last season (and pretty on par with the kind of internal Klingon court intrigue we saw in TNG and DS9), Discovery has shown in these first few episodes of the second season that it doesn't really need the Klingons, which were where the most controversial creative decisions were made in the first season. This episode's attempt to walk back many of those decisions, from the retcon of the D7 identified by Lorca's shuttle computer to the overall bald look, are okay, but when the show has the characters explicitly reference these changes rather than just let them be seen and understood by the viewer, it feels like the show is writing too clearly towards the loudest critics on social media and YouTube.

Discovery-amanda-300x145.png The worst of fan fiction and even published Trek novels are those that try to explain everything too clearly and make all the connections explicit. While fans enjoy debating on forums for pages on the significance of a costuming change or an error by the art department (see discussions of Commander Chakotay's rank or the registry of the USS Yamato), giving all the answers actually makes the universe feel more artificial. When Pike tells Number One in the next episode to rip out all of the holocommunicators, we the audience know that the only reason that line is in there is because of the complaints from some fans over the lack of seeing holocommunicators in TOS (nevermind that someone from the 19th century might find it odd to learn that 21st century humans often send text communication akin to modern telegrams more frequently on their phones than make video calls).

The Klingon storyline for "Point of Light" is overall a pretty complete episode, even with the appearance of Georgiou and Section 31 at the end. The other two storylines, however, feel a bit too hollow. They both are clearly setting things up for subsequent episodes, but they could have used a bit more plot over exposition, particularly the Burnham/Amanda story.

Observations

  • Tyler/Voq states that the new D7 will not bear the design of a particular house but that of a united Klingon empire. This actually ties in with beta canon, including the Haynes Klingon Bird of Prey Manual written by veteran Star Trek art designer (and Voyager designer) Rick Sternbach, who revealed that Klingon ships are built and provided to the empire by individual houses, thus explaining the size differences and whatnot seen throughout the shows. If the D7 is the first "united" Klingon design, that could explain why it's seen in service for so long, being the first "basic" Klingon design all houses could share.
  • This episode suffered from too much "artistic" camera work. While one or maybe even two twists of the camera from an unusual shot to a more conventional framing might be effective at key points of an episode, its overuse in this episode drew too much attention to itself, distracting the viewer from the story.

Episode 2x04: "An Obol for Charon"

obol-for-charon-300x125.png While I enjoyed Discovery's first season for the most part, my biggest personal misgiving about it was the move to total serialization. While I understand modern television has moved to that model of storytelling, it makes it harder to go back and rewatch Discovery if you can't commit to several hours or consecutive nights. As one friend put it, sometimes you just want to put on an hour of Trek for a bit. In this regard, I'm liking the approach of the second season where there is an overall arc for the season--the Red Angels--but that each episode so far could be seen by itself on a rewatch. I can describe "New Eden" as "the one with the pre-warp humans" or "An Obol for Charon" as "the one with the dying organic library." Only a few such episodes like the Mudd episode from season one can similarly be described so distinctly.

stametstilly-300x129.jpg Much like "New Eden," "An Obol for Charon" reintroduces many familiar Trek tropes from previous Trek series. We get an actual briefing scene with the senior staff (and a clever introduction of the universal translator with Linus the Saurian before the subsequent novel scene on the bridge where we see it malfunctioning completely). There's a bit of "Disaster" (TNG) and other "the ship has been disabled" tropes as well with the Stamets/Reno/Tilly scenes, and they really work here now that we know more about these characters to care. Also, Reno needs to be made chief engineer of Discovery, so we can enjoy more Reno/Stamets banter.

In contrast to last season's overall grim tone from the war with the Klingons that culminates in an unearned speech in the finale that attempts to recast the season's message as one of ironically not taking shortcuts on the path to righteousness, stories like "An Obol for Charon," where Captain Pike must show faith in the beliefs and values he swore to uphold (as well as show faith in his officers' assessment that the unknown out there means no harm), do far more to illustrate Star Trek's overall message of hope and faith in our ability to overcome our fears and baser instincts. In other words, "show, don't tell," and this last episode shows it quite well.

Observations

  • No new name is revealed for Number One, but we learn she likes her hot sauce.
  • Although some have interpreted the universal translator scene to mean that everyone is normally speaking other languages, we know Michael does not speak Klingon and Pike likely doesn't speak French, German, and Hebrew natively as well (probably). I interpreted the scene as the UT was actively translating the speech of people who normally just spoke "Earth English"  into other languages rather than staying off. I'd imagine the UT isn't usually in use aboard Starfleet ships except for those that need it on a regular basis like Linus.
  • Likewise, although Saru chides the crew for not learning another language, I wouldn't take that line to literally mean that no one else knows a second language. I might know a little Spanish, but that doesn't mean I know Arabic or Andorian...
  • Can someone close the shuttle bay door already? They're lucky that giant forcefield apparently held in the midst of all the systems failures.
Edited by Roshanara Rahman
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On 2/12/2019 at 12:29 PM, Roshanara Rahman said:

(nevermind that someone from the 19th century might find it odd to learn that 21st century humans often send text communication akin to modern telegrams more frequently on their phones than make video calls). 

I love this point! Something that bothers me about the too much technology in Discovery argument other than it was the same argument thrown around in Enterprises' time, is that TOS was Sci-Fi dreamed up in the 60's with a 1960's outlook on what would be futuristic. The same with TNG it is very much a product of late 80/early 90's hopeful idealism and expected future tech, DS9 and VOY  are both similar in they aired and used sci-fi possibilities popular in the 90's. Those three shows got away with being more different than TOS because in universe TOS was decades and decades ago.  Enterprise and Discovery suffer from not being set later, but are still Sci-Fi stories being told from early 2000's and late 2010's perspectives. Holotech is somewhat real now, so we have hard time not picturing it in regular use well over a hundred years from now, in the 80's the idea was newer and so holodeck was a new tech in season one of TNG and yet by late VOY the characters spoke about how they had favorite holo characters as kids. So trek has always changed to represent the time it's in idea of whats the future might hold.  Just like the comment that someone from the 19th century might find texting odd, we could be totally wrong about holo-tech being everywhere one day, but right now it seems it will be and that is generally what our current sci-fi shows. 

 

More on topic - Had a little catch up fest last night and really enjoyed 3,4,5 Watching them in row felt right as they all did feel a bit more connected than the first few episodes did. Looking forward to Rahman's review of the fifth episode too!

Edited by Brell
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