Join Sean and Matt as they rewatch all of Star Trek in order and in historical context.
In this episode, we're going to talk about embracing the sometimes difficult truths. That's right, we're talking about Star Trek Discovery Season 2, Episode 12, Through the Valley of Shadows. Hey, everybody. Welcome to Trek in Time, where we're watching every episode of Star Trek in chronological order.
We're also taking a look at the world at time of original broadcast. So we're trying to keep context in mind. Where are we? Well, we're currently watching Discovery, the second season, which, spoiler alert, It ends on a pretty big cliffhanger change. So we're almost technically done with Discovery at this point.
And we're also talking about 2019. And who are we? Well, I'm Sean Ferrell. I'm a writer. I write some sci fi. I write some stuff for kids, including the most recently released The Sinister Secrets of Singe, a sci fi adventure for younger readers. And with me as always is my brother, Matt. He's that Matt of Undecided with Matt Ferrell, which takes a look at emerging tech and its impact on our lives.
Matt, how are you doing today? I'm doing
good. I'm trying to enjoy the, uh, brief fall that we seem to be having. I know we talked about this in the last podcast, but how you've basically blinked and missed it. Uh, I'm at least getting to enjoy parts of fall.
We seem to be ping ponging here in New York city between it's cold and rainy.
Or it's 85 degrees and hot, and then it's back to cold and rainy. So yesterday it was 85 degrees, I was outside, regretting forgetting to put on my sunscreen. And today it is rainy and cold, and I do not want to leave the apartment. So, that's what fall looks like now. In NYC. Before we head off into our discussion on Through the Valley of Shadows, we always like to revisit comments that you've left on previous episodes.
So Matt, what have you found in the mailbag for us this week?
There was some fun back and forth in the comments this last week on episode 118 from a lot of our regulars. So like Jason Dumb, Value of Nothing, PaleGhost69, they're like, there was some fun conversation in there. Um, And there's some themes I think are important to touch on.
One was from Jason Dumb saying, I am feeling this discussion so much. Great Danzig.
How could they spend so much on the production of Star Trek Discovery and have so much slapdash writing? The whole network was depending on this show to be good and the product was utterly disappointing. The family drama themes are consistent on New Trek and I hate it. Feels like a directive from the execs at CBS slash Paramount where much of their content has the most old fashioned morality.
I, I agree with that to a certain extent. I, I don't know if it would necessarily be, um, like an edict that was put down. I have a feeling what they're just trying to do. Um, watching all these new series is that they're trying to find their way. It's like Star Trek is dated and they're trying to modernize it and try to hit a modern audience and trying to find that sweet spot.
And you can see the growing pains in discovery. Like, yeah, because like each season they're making massive shifts and how they're approaching it because what they tried the first season didn't quite work. So they shifted again and now they're trying something else in season two and it's kind of working better, but it's still not quite working.
Season three. I think they really started to find a really interesting rhythm in season three, but it's going to be a long time before Sean and I get to season three, which I won't get to why, but, uh, regardless, uh, I think the shows are finding their footing in this newest batch, um, which we'll be talking about when we get to, uh, Strange new worlds.
But it's, you can kind of see what's going on, uh, in my opinion. Uh, give me your thoughts on that.
Yeah. I would love to, to just share. I think that we are in a very interesting era of television. And as we move forward in time, we will always be in the newest era of television. And I think the lessons that executives And not just executives, writers, producers, directors, actors, what they see as interesting, what they see as challenging, what they see working, what they see not working, adjusts with every generation.
And so what works in the 1970s may not work in the 80s, but what works in the 90s may look like the 70s. So you end up with these like swinging pendulum back and forth. You think of a cop show like Law and Order. At one point, it didn't look like anything else on television. No other cop drama looked like it because other cop dramas spent so much time, NYPD Blue was about the lives of the cops.
You saw their home lives. You saw their sex lives. You saw them wrestling with moral conundrums. Law and Order, you didn't know anything about their home life. You saw them going and doing the job. That's all you ever saw. You would pick up snippets of dialogue. You go forward through 20 years of Law and Order.
Law and Order now looks like a lot of other stuff on television because a lot of other stuff on television either Copied Law and Order, or Law and Order has shifted to meet some of the other stuff, so time changes what we expect to see. And I think for Star Trek in particular, uh, I, Jason, I completely agree on the whole with what you're saying about, like, they put a lot of money into this, but they put the money into one area and they let another area suffer, and the family drama stuff feels Cumbersome at times in the newest Trek and in this Trek and Discovery that we're talking about, it feels cumbersome, but why did they keep doubling down on it so much?
And I think it's because Star Trek as a whole learned from the original series. There were specific episodes where family was referenced. You have an episode where Kirk's brother. is shown only as having just died. So we get to see Kirk wrestling with the death of his brother and his nephew being ill.
We see an episode around Spock's family. One episode, but these are some of the key moments for those characters and they resonated with fans. Move forward in time to Next Generation. Worf's family became a major plotline for the entire series and for the entirety of Trek because that would resurface not only in Next Generation but in Deep Space Nine.
Yep, I think the writers and producers and creators of Trek were paying attention and saying like, Oh, family storyline, making these things personal, pulling out a Shakespearean thread really resonates with audiences. We started seeing more family in Next Generation than we ever saw in the original series.
We met. Riker's father, we see Troi's mother, we meet Picard's brother, they constantly bring in Data's brother and his father. These things became more of the norm as we moved forward. Then you move into Deep Space Nine, a family element built right into the show. Sisko has a son, Crusher had a son, but we forget that because Wesley became a primary character for a good part of it.
But on Deep Space Nine you had a son who was not the savant, he was literally there as a son. We see Quark and his brother and his nephew, like so we start to see family built into it more and more. Now we jump forward. To Discovery, and I think what we are seeing is them trying to figure out which family unit do people care about, and they are struggling to figure out which family unit they're, it goes back, I think, to a bit of the, they have so few episodes.
That they're not able to drop in one family story in a 22 episode season and see how it resonates with audiences. Instead, they are creating an arc of three episodes in which we're sealing Ash Tyler has a relationship with this Klingon Chancellor and it creates a son and oh, Do audiences like that?
Well, at the same time, they're going to be dealing with Burnham, who they made an adopted daughter of Sarek, so there's Spock. Do audiences like that? I think that they put so many things into the works with a fewer number of episodes, and it makes all of that family drama rise in percentage, while they aren't actually doing all that much different from what Deep Space Nine or Star Trek Next Generation did.
But on the whole, it feels like more because they have fewer episodes. So I think we're watching them realize in real time, Oh, we're using a lot of our bandwidth on stuff that the audience feels is nice as a B storyline, but when it's put to the forefront, it doesn't work as well. Star Trek is not a family drama.
Family drama in Star Trek is okay. On the whole, for me, I agree with you, Jason, family stuff is okay if it's incorporated as part of what Trek is. But when they lean on it too heavily or they oversaturate a 12 episode season with nothing but family drama, it starts to make you wonder, is this Trek? And we talked about that in our last episode where we talked about two episodes that by and large, I felt like didn't feel Trek enough to me.
So, that's, that's my, like, kind of like, thousand mile view of what do I think is happening when we see so much family stuff in modern Trek.
Yeah, I, I'd agree with that. The only thing I would add is it's, for me, it's melodrama. Versus family drama. Next generation never felt like melodrama. Some of the way that they're portraying the drama, this family dynamic in these newer seasons feels very melodramatic soap opera.
Acting and directing and people turning away from the person they're talking to and walking towards the camera and like the very melodramatic stuff. It's like, it's telenovela. Um, to me, that's the problem. It's not necessarily that they're having those moments. It's how they're. Portraying those moments, that's the biggest issue.
Yeah. There's a couple other quick threads I kind of want to run through. Uh, ValueofNothing wrote, These episodes were so bad that it gave me the negative impression of discovery that haunts me to this day. Very Halloween sentiment there. But that's unfair. I really like Sonja Sohn's acting. She has the gravitas and maturity that Green lacks.
And in response to that, PaleGhost69 wrote, The mother daughter conversation gave me whiplash, Sonya sucked me in, and Sonequa snapped me back to real life. I just, I like that one because I had the same impression. I think she's a good actress, but in these most recent episodes, there has been so much of her crying.
Yeah. Um. And it looks like they just put a camera on her and said, okay, Sonequa, cry, cry harder, cry harder. It's like, she's trying. It's like, it's just, it comes across very soap opera melodramatic over the top where it would be more impactful, I think, if she had tears in her eyes, but wasn't just sobbing.
Like if she was. Maybe trying to hold it together a little bit more and a little less just on the surface. Yeah. Um, then there's another thread from PaleGhost69 who wrote, this is really different for me. On one hand, I really enjoyed the episode. Uh, it felt like a great sci fi movie without the Star Trek paint.
On the other hand, why is everyone so effing stupid in these episodes? To which, to which Dan Sims wrote, and I love this, right? So many moments of what? Come on, really?
Yeah, guys, that's exactly where I was in my watch. I was just like, these are supposed to be smart people on a spaceship and they're acting as if they can't put two and two together.
Um, yeah, really, uh, a difficult transition. It's, it's wild to me. Like we talked about it last week, the two part nature of those two episodes that we discussed last week really kind of snuck up on me. I remember these episodes were going to be, okay, they're ramping up to a big finale of a two parter, but they did have these two episodes that felt so much of a piece and that they both together were, without going into too many fine details, dumb.
They were just like, Mm-Hmm. Dumbly. Done. And then here we have this episode that we're gonna get into right now, and that Noise in the background is the read alert, which means it's time for Matt to tackle the Wikipedia description. Matt,
have it. Have it. Have an attempt here. Have
at it. Yeah.
Hang on. Whoops.
Hang on. It just closed the document up. .
Well that's what Matt feels about the red alert. So the Red Alert Red alert is gonna be playing in the background. The entirety of that snafu. Yes it is. Get ready listeners.
Okay. All right, here we go. A new signal appears over Boreth a planet which is a sacred, which is sacred to Klingons and has a monastery where Klingon monks guard time crystals.
Sean's favorite thing, these are some of the, these are the same monks that Tyler and L'Rell left their son to be raised by. Pike visits the monastery to retrieve a time crystal and finds their son is now a fully grown adult named Tenavik. Tenavik explains that life on Boreth is affected by the crystals and that if Pike takes one, he will not be able to change the future that it shows him.
We can talk about that later. Pike sees a future where he is severely disabled in an accident, but chooses to take the crystal anyway to serve the greater good. Meanwhile, Burnham and Spock investigate a Section 31 ship that had checked That had checked in 10 minutes later than usual and find all the crew dead except for one Cameron Gant, an old colleague of Burnham's who has been possessed by control and attempts to transfer control into Burnham's body Spock is able to stop control with magnetism and they take
I love when he is right up That's
the funniest way to write that Spock is able to control him with magnetism His magnetic personality And they escape back to Discovery.
The Section 31 fleet soon arrives, forcing Pike to order Discovery be destroyed to keep the SPHERE
data away from control. Yeah, I love the idea that Spock's response to Control was like, so, have you seen any interesting movies lately?
Episode number 12, Through the Valley of Shadows, directed by Douglas Aarniokoski we've seen his work before in not only in Discovery, but in all the contemporary Trek. He's been working on Trek quite a bit. Bo Yeon Kim and Erika Lippoldt did the screenplay and this episode originally dropped on April 4th.
2019. Main cast as always Sonequa Martin Green, Doug Jones, Anthony Rapp, Mary Weissman, Wilson Cruz, Shehzad Lateef, Anson Mount, Mia Kirshner, Mary Chieffo, and Ethan Peck as Spock. And what was the world like on April 4th, 2019? Well... Folks, I don't think any of you are going to be surprised to know that Matt was singing Seven Rings by Ariana Grande, the song he's sung through most of this season of Discovery.
And I can only hope that as we approach the end of this season, that Matt is able to hold on to the deep meaning that he found in Seven Rings by Ariana Grande as we move on to, I believe it's next week, will be... A new song, and we will not return to Seven Rings. And at the movies, people were lining up to watch Dumbo for 45 million worth of box office.
Dumbo is the 2019 American fantasy adventure film directed by Tim Burton from screenplay by Aaron Krueger. It's the live action adaptation part of Disney's ongoing. We can make every old animated film, a live action movie. And it's a re imagining of Disney's 1941 animated feature of the same name, which is based on a novel by Helen Eberson and Harold Pearl.
The film stars Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, and Alan Arkin, and follows a family that works at a failing traveling circus as they encounter a baby elephant with extremely large ears who is capable of flying. It's based on a true story. No, it's not. And on television, yeah, we've been watching, we've been watching the list of the top streaming series of 2019 with.
Trying to compare Discovery with other streaming programs, and so far we have seen shows that include Lucifer, Stranger Things, 13 Reasons Why, Money Heist, Orange is the New Black, The Handmaid's Tale, Sex Education, Elite, You, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The Umbrella Academy and at number 12, Black Mirror, which is of course the British anthology sci fi series on Netflix.
It's been there for, I believe it's now in its fourth season, maybe fifth. Um, I have seen some episodes. I have always enjoyed it, but I have never sat down to watch it from start to finish, but it is considered one of the better places for sci fi on television right now. And in current events from the New York Times, a brief revisit of some of the news that we shared in last week's episode on the Mueller report, because one of the top stories on this day in 2019, April 4th, Was some of Mueller's team say that the report was more damaging than Barr revealed.
And this would be the point where it was beginning, beginning to be revealed that the Mueller report that attorney general Barr released was redacted, removing some of the more damaging comments that tied Trump and his campaign more directly to Russian interference. There was also a headline, scientists thought they had measles cornered.
They were wrong. For me, this was a chilling headline to read given that it's a year before COVID 19 made its appearance in our lives. And it was a scary premonition of what would come in 2020. The article covers the failure of vaccination efforts. Sound familiar? Mm hmm. Mm hmm. And pockets of communities that refuse to get vaccinated, allowing measles to continue to break through the goal of herd immunity, a phrase that we are all overly familiar with.
There was also a continuing rise in the, can we trust government feelings in the news? The Mueller report being one thing, vaccination hesitancy, another, and there was also an article on the New York Times front page about an arrest around security at Mar a Lago, which of course, is where Trump lives. So.
In our discussion around this episode, Matt, strangely, I'm going to ask you to keep Dumbo in mind. Okay. All right. How
does that relate to Star Trek?
We will get there. Where I wanted to start was just on a general feeling of... Well, how did this episode feel? Did this feel better than the two parter we had just left behind?
I feel like I'm walking into a trap. Uh, if I take time crystals, time crystals, if I put those, the concept of a time crystal to the side, if I just take that and say, okay, let's put it over here, let that wash over me. I enjoyed this. This felt fun to me. I enjoyed where this was going. I enjoyed the more exploration of control.
I enjoyed the whole, you know, they have to go aboard the ship and the kind of like spooky monster aspect of it. There was an aspects of the show I really enjoyed. I liked it way better, like way better. Yeah. And the previous two part are dramatically better. Um, not a hard effort to get better than those two, but for me, this was kind of like, okay, we're getting back onto a better track again, um, with this one.
I'm wondering, did I just walk into
a trap? No, no, no, not at all. I think if you are grading things on a scale of 1 to 10, if you have a couple of episodes that feel like a 2, when you hit a 6, it feels like, oh, thank goodness, oh, that's better. And they're back on the right side of the track. They're back on the right side of the, of the scale.
And I would even say I'm more inclined to accept time crystals if they just called them anything else. As silly as that sounds, Technobabble is in Trek for a reason. To make what is effectively magic. Seem like it's based in something. So give us a reference to tachyons, give us a reference to wormholes, give us a reference to, like, use anything in reference to these crystals to give us the idea that this is believable, as opposed to what we've been given, which is a name that sounds ridiculous.
So, all they had to do was use the Klingon term. Yes. Yes.
It was all they needed to do. The Klingon planet, and the Klingons would have a name for this mineral, which would not be Time Crystal. They dropped it in this episode.
They referred to it. He's like, we call them blah, blah, blah. And I'm like, why haven't you been calling them blah, blah, blah?
Right. Come on. Exactly. It's writing 101. And it's like, uh, in the previous episodes, they could have said, well, the Klingons have a crystal that's called a such and such. And it has properties that do these wild things. Temporal mechanics don't work the same when the crystal is in proximity. And if you tap into the energy within the crystal by doing a thing the way we do it like in our engine with the lithium.
Like if you do that with a crystal, you create a field where time doesn't move in quite the right way. It moves in both directions at once, or it moves like, and I say all of that to say quantum mechanics, quantum physics, There are fascinating concepts within quantum mechanics that could easily tie in to this.
There is a concept within quantum mechanics about why time moves the direction it does, and it has to do with probability. The probability that it moves one direction is higher than the idea of it moving back, but it doesn't mean it can't move backward. It's just probability. So latch onto that, like, just like latch onto the idea, like, there's this crystal, it does this thing, we don't know what is happening, but we do know time doesn't move the same way in a field with these crystals involved.
And now you have an entire planet that has these crystals on it. And the Klingons have kept it closely guarded. I go back to something I said last week. Make this the planet with the time ring that is a feature of the original series. That would have been, like for me, the, uh, Star Trek geek that I am, I would have been like, ah, that's fantastic.
Like if the idea that the Klingons were originally involved in researching this stuff, but treated it as if it was a never to be disturbed Holy. And I think that that is an interesting concept that doesn't really get explored in this episode, unfortunately. The idea that the, oh, if Klingons got a hold of time travel technology, it would be devastating.
I love the idea that maybe not. I love the idea that what if the Klingons, in this case, recognized, yeah, we can't, we can't screw around with time. Like, the idea of them actually guarding this. I would have appreciated, and again, we've now run headlong into their only 12 or 13 episodes in the season. We've run headlong into that, so we didn't have time for there to be an episode of interesting that you Klingons Instead of using this as a tool, have tapped into some greater purpose and theological awakening for those of you who live here.
The fact that they meet Ash's and L'Rell's son, who is now a full grown adult, but he's not now a full grown adult. Time doesn't work the same there. So I'm like. I'm into the sci finess of it. I'm into the magical concept of it with some timey wimey technobabble to explain it away. And in this episode, I was willing to let them say Time Crystals a couple of times because they did also say, well, the Klingons call it this.
Give us that other name. Give us Pike's trip to the planet. I was much more on board for this side of it as opposed to the previous two episodes.
I love the fact that the Klingons are the ones that are in control of this and that it's playing against type. Like you would not expect Klingons to be a monastery, like a Vulcan monastery, protecting this stuff.
And in my head canon, I kind of Invented a conversation that didn't happen in this episode by which had of like, well, why haven't the Klingons used this to like, really kind of like do whatever they want? Oh, they tried at one point and realized, you know, like it didn't play out the way they thought it was going to play out.
Like just basically alluded to the fact of like. Shit went wrong when we tried this. And so it's like, this stuff is dangerous. And it's like, we have to be very cautious of this. And when we realized that, we realized we actually had to protect it to not screw up our timeline. Um, so it'd been interesting if they had just said that, but in my head, that's part of the reason why the Klingons are protecting it.
It's cause probably they did mess with it and pfft.
Just something went wrong. Yeah. Yeah. And they could have hinted at something going wrong that could have been, again, a reference to something that a Trek audience would have appreciated. Uh, everything all the way back to like, what if they were responsible for the death of Kalash?
Like, like, whoops, like we just, Oh boy, we just stepped in it. And so you get this kind of time Lord. element around, around all of that. And I, and I, I did find it interesting. I found it engaging and we see Pike's visit to this introduce the flashes to a future that Pike doesn't know is coming. We've already seen elements around Pike visiting elements of the original pilot where we've seen the His experience with the mind game trickery of the Talosians who are able to convince anybody of anything.
And now we are given the flash forward of what will happen to him. And we see the accident that creates the wheelchair bound Pike. We see the scarred Pike. It is presented very Um, I actually, uh, like, I kept having flashbacks to, it's presented almost like in the movie Event Horizon, but it's more grounded and more horrific because of that.
When you see him witnessing the blinking light of the wheelchair coming toward him, and his immediate recognition of his own face, the scarring, the debilitated nature of what his future holds, um, interesting that we've just had a whole And that's it for this episode around a character named Airiam who had a completely cybernetic body where her mind was still working and they had captured it in a cybernetic body and yet we're also in a world in which something similar happening to Pike leads him to being trapped permanently in a wheelchair and mute except for a blinking light that can only blink one for yes and two for no.
That's easy to explain away.
Like all of that? It's easy. Well, it's the fact that Airiam was hijacked by control and taken over and controlled. It's like, it's like, this stuff is too dangerous. You basically can hack a human being with this. So we're not going to do that anymore. So when he has the accident, that's no longer an option for him.
So like you could explain it away, right? Why it's not done that way. But I totally hear where you're coming from. Yeah. Can I, can I interject with one thing that bothered me with the whole Pike sequence? Yeah. I like the sequence itself. I like the flashbacks. I like the decision they make, give him of, if you take this time, Crystal.
You're locking in your fate. There's a writerly aspect. I'm like, I like that because it shows his willingness for self sacrifice for the greater good. Yes. Like, okay, that's interesting. Problem I have with that is how the hell does this lock in his fate by taking the stupid crystal from the thing? It's like, that doesn't make any sense to me.
It's like that, that, that whole concept is like banana stupid to me. Uh, but. I think they could have fixed it very easily by saying something along the lines of like when I said my headcanon, the Klingons screwed something up horribly and that's why they protect it. They could have basically just said, if you try to change your future, it will go poorly.
Like basically what you saw, you have to live with. And so it's like, this is going to haunt you, but you can't change it because if you change it, shit's going to go wrong. Believe us. We've tried. You don't want to do it. So it's like, it's one of those, it's kind of like a Schrodinger's cat, like, you know, by the act of observing the future.
Yes. I think that that is exactly what they're leaning into. And I think that, yeah, I think the explanation, like from a quantum sci fi writer perspective would be by witnessing the future, the crystal can only show you the future. Based upon your having touched the crystal. So by touching the crystal, you're witnessing what will be an unseen series of events that lead to these moments.
But the crystal is now incorporating itself into that chain of events that's leading to that thing. It can, it can tap into that chain of events, but if you never touched the crystal. You don't know. Mm-Hmm. . The reality is from the perspective of the monk, he might as as evil, as easily have said, if you touch the crystal, you'll be locked into that future, unable to change it.
It may also happen anyway, but you won't know. Right, right. So it's like the danger of knowing, and it goes back to the Schrodinger's cat idea. Would you rather know the cat is dead? or alive as opposed to simply not knowing. And I, one of the things that I like that his willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of the many, uh, beautifully incorporated, I think, in the shot of him rescuing the students in the accident, we, we know the details of what happens to him only from the original series.
So for those. Viewers, if they exist of this podcast who don't know the original series, we're seeing Pike do something that is referenced in an episode of the original series when they reused elements of the original pilot to create a story in the original series. So that Pike in the original series.
is in this wheelchair. Now we're seeing the accident they referred to and when he rescues those students he ends up burnt and against A glass wall and puts his hand on the glass. I think that was all intentional references to Spock in The Wrath of Khan. I think that they know their audience and are going to have an audience response of like he's doing it for the good of the many as opposed to the good of the one.
And that is, for me, a nice tie in to his relationship to Spock. What Spock is understanding as the lessons learned from this. We see a Spock in the future in the original series who knows that this is what Pike did and then moving even further forward. Spock in the same opportunity does the same thing.
And I think that's a neat chain of similar links that happen in a completely different order than the way the context of the series plays out. Like we're seeing it constructed backwards, but that's some of the ways that. The most exciting writing can take place is that they, you can, Oh, I'm going to put this before that so that it's a reference that will build up over time and make it even stronger.
So I thought that that was really fun. So staying on Pike and what he does and his destiny effectively, what we're seeing in this moment is him witnessing his destiny. And we are told by this son of L'Rell and Ash, uh, the, the phrasing of. If you witness this, you cannot change it. It will happen. He takes the crystal.
He has a moment of panic, legitimately just absolutely just shutting down. Like, what the heck did I just do? And then saying, no, this is what you signed up for. He talks himself out of that. Moment to say, this is what you signed up for. You didn't sign up for this because it was safe. You said signed up for it because it was right.
And he embraces it. We know as viewers that we've seen these elements of this character play out from the original pilot. A man questioning his role in Starfleet, challenged, and it reaffirms his understanding. We see him go now into Discovery, where he is playing a part in reclaiming Spock as part of Starfleet, and Now we see this moment, which is kind of echoing the original pilot, where he has this moment of, Oh my God, now I see where this, this life is leading me.
It's leading me into this horrific future that I don't want for myself, but I have to embrace it if I'm going to do the job that I signed up to do. So we're seeing this major story arc of this character, who originally was presented in the original series. As simply, the man in the wheelchair, with a backstory of, oh, he was a great captain and he sacrificed himself to save people.
That's all that is presented in the original series. So here's where, Matt, I'm inviting you to weigh in on the Dumbo of it all. Oh boy,
here comes, here comes the connection, I'm strapping myself in.
Retconning versus finding spaces within a story to pump more air. And find more story. Where do you fall on that for this, for Pike as a character?
Does it feel, and we're going to have to ignore Strange New Worlds as a thing for right now, just within this moment, knowing what you knew as a, I've seen the original series, I know what they said about Pike, I've seen the original pilot and I've watched this series and I'm seeing them share this moment.
Ties. Did that feel like it was, it ties in Strange. Did in an interesting way it like where does re conning end and good storytelling start? Dumbo is effectively a re-imagining of the entire character of Dumbo. That is a classic animated film, and there were some people who were like, why do they keep remaking these animated films?
They're currently working on a Bambi. Live action movie. And it is getting criticized for a key plot point in that Bambi's mother in the animated film famously dies. That is the tragedy that sends Bambi onto life alone in the forest that requires the creation of a adopted family of friends. In the new live action, Disney has said, don't worry parents, Bambi's mother doesn't die in this one.
And there's a lot of questions, like, why would you do that what does that do to the story? Is that in fact the same story? So, here we have major changes to a character who is literally just a... Reclaim of a character on a never yet seen pilot back when the original series used the name Pike. And yet here we have incredibly complex storytelling building up around him.
And of course we know, at the time they did not know this when they were making this episode, that Strange New Worlds would in fact be a thing. They were probably hoping for it, tooling it together. They had the right guy to play Pike. But at this point, they were like, maybe, maybe. But where on the retcon scale of, oh no, this is just good storytelling.
Does this fall for you? I would say it
definitely falls on the good storytelling side, um, on that spectrum. It's not perfect, but it doesn't feel like retconning, like, in a negative connotation way to me, because it's not, it's not subverting what they originally said about that character when you saw him in the wheelchair in the original show, it's, it's just filling out the blanks.
The history that was there, um, and just adding the complexity of we're getting to know him for the first time based on that one thing that had been said about him. So it's like, to me, it didn't feel like it was a retcon to me. It's like, it's when it's undoing what we originally perceived of that thing to kind of morph it into something completely different.
And this doesn't feel that way to me. It feels like they're leaning into the original character, um, as thin as it was when they originally portrayed him. So I, it didn't feel like a retcon.
Yeah, to me, it feels, it's fascinating that the show, uh, seems to have one foot planted deeply in, we're going to retcon stuff.
And one foot planted in like, no, we know when not to, when we found fertile ground that just hasn't been explored yet. And the character of Pike, we know from the original series, would have been explored, was not. And then was changed to be reused within the original series. So, here is just an exploration of the character that has been left untouched.
As opposed to, this is the same series that has said, Oh yeah, Spock had an adopted sister. Yeah. That's a retcon. Big change. Yeah. Uh, this is the same series that has said, uh, Klingons, when they first were introduced, they're all these massively alien monstrous looking things. And for a lot of people, that was an immediate turn off because they expected to see the turtle shell heads, like they expected to see a bunch of Warfs walking around.
Didn't get that. Uh, and even within this season, they've retconned their own retcon by almost immediately after the war, the Klingons all start growing their hair out again. Oh, that's cool. What? Like, so, it feels like, to me, to go back to something we talked about earlier when I was talking about, like, family drama.
In the show, it feels like they are at this point, they have figured out the magic formula of when not to screw around with what audience knows. There's a bit of missteps still ahead, but. Ultimately, I'm like, yeah, they are trying to lean into better terrain for themselves than they accidentally stepped in earlier in the series.
So, for me, I agree with you. It doesn't feel like a retcon, although it is. Deep changes to a character that incorporates one of the major characters of all of Trek, Spock. But you're now demonstrating a captain who has a relationship to him that is different than Kirk's. Because Kirk and Spock always came across as almost brother like.
Yeah. Whereas this is more, he's just the like really well regarded uncle. He's family, but he's not a brother. So it's, there's a different element there and they're exploring it in very interesting ways that I really like. Wanted to move now to an element that I think is an interesting, uh, facet of the context that the show is being made in.
We talked last week about some of the ongoing, like, can you trust your government sort of bubblings underneath. And I wanted to talk about the duality of our times, the kind of living through an era and in 2019, when this came out, it was. That's very much a part of the zeitgeist. Living in an era where your aspiration is for stability in home, stability in community, stability in government, having a sense of moving together in the same direction and working for a common good while also knowing that your own personal lives are taken care of.
And at the same time, not trusting that that is necessarily happening. And I think for me, and I'd like to hear your thoughts about this, Matt, I see that evidenced in this show in both a very conscious way in the way they construct the element of control and what control is aspiring to do and how it is set out as a problematic thing and section 31 being hotly debated of these are people doing things that you shouldn't be doing, they're nefarious and they're .
. Moving their, their plots forward without any genuine oversight or even relationship to the public good that they claim versus another element of the show that I think is subconscious. And I don't think the writers really understood that there was a kind of conflict that they were arguing, which argued that in some cases it's good that the government lies.
They seemed to put up this idea that. Oh no, Section 31 is out there doing these bad things, and look, Section 31 is responsible for control, and look, it's destroying everything, therefore, what if our governments are doing things that we can't trust? And yet at the same time, the show presents what about the Klingon Empire?
Thank goodness that the Klingon Empires lie, from the Chancellor. about what happened with Ash and her son. Thank goodness that lie was told and is still believed because it's the only thing holding the Klingon Empire together and keeping it from turning back into chaos, which will then turn into another war with the Federation.
that's part of the conflict though. That's part of, I actually think that's actually a good thing. Like in the whole point is, like, I think the big takeaway is supposed to be When you have a government that lives in the shadows,
easy for it to be perverted and misused. Um, I think that's kind of the big message they have, but it's also, it's, it's nuanced.
It's like we have the CIA here in the United States doing this crap all over the world where we're influencing other governments in ways that we're not even aware of, but it's being influenced in a way to help help us in the long run. And so it's like, there are times where that's actually been done for good, and of course, there are countless examples of it being done for ill, like where, where bad stuff has happened because these people are operating in the shadows.
So I think that's what they're doing, deliberately, showing an example of, here's something that worked out actually for the good, not just, not just for us, but it's actually helped the Klingons themselves, even though it's a lie. And then here's an example of where it's gone horribly wrong. So it's like, I, to me, I think that duality.
is intentional. I don't think it's an accident. I think, I think they had, it was very
deliberate. Interesting. Cause if to me, I was like, is this, is this something about the writing and the vision of, of how these things work, where there's an unintended blind spot around, around that. And you're saying like, no, you feel like it's, it's constructed to be intentionally like two different governments, both of whom are lying about things, but one is turning into a nightmare and one is turning into this.
Positive stability. Very interesting. Um, on the aspect of control, you've already talked about your feelings about the adventure y aspects of this. I wonder if the presentation of control in this one solves any of the problems that we've discussed in previous episodes where control seemed to be this nefarious, almost mustache twirly thing, as opposed to this episode, it feels almost like the producers withheld.
Elements in three episodes prior to this, so that they could drop them in this thinking these will be big reveals. It'll be exciting as opposed to understanding when you withhold something, you know, from the audience, simply so you can surprise them. It is nefarious from a production perspective. It feels like a gotcha.
And it's bad writing because the things in this episode that were like, finally they said it. Control finally talks about why it's decided to do what it did. I was asking for that two episodes ago. We finally get a sense of what's happening with like the time crystals being a thing that could be explained from a sci fi perspective as opposed to calling them time crystals and leaving it at that.
And to me, the control aspect. Where it got the opportunity to say, like, what I was asking for previous episodes. The living element introduces so much chaos. That's a problem. My goal is stability. I am trying to create stability. Do you think it works? As far as the motive behind... What it's doing and how it's all playing out.
And do you think that this was an okay time for them to drop it? Or do you think that it should have been like, I feel like it should have been episodes ago. Uh, not to pull
punches. I think it's crap the way they executed this. It's awful. Um, even the explanation was so like, matter of fact, delivered really quickly and they moved on, never talked about it again.
It felt very thin. Even though they finally did address it, I was like, thank you for finally, literally telling me what the motivation is, but at the same time, there's no buildup to it. There's no historical context to it. There's no examples of why Control is getting frustrated at the way things are playing out.
There's, there's no depth to the villain. So for me, Control is still a moustache twirling, I want to watch the world burn Joker. You know, to me, it's like there's, there's still nothing really there, um, even though they've had that explanation. So for me, holding it back was a huge mistake. They should have been teeing this up all along the way.
And even when they did explicitly come out and talk about it, as part of that conversation, there could have been examples given. You know, make us identify a little bit more with control to understand the point of view. And they're not doing that. They feel like, oh, we had two sentences that described why it's doing what it's doing.
We're good. And then moved on. It's like, no, that's not good enough. Um, the other, this is going to kind of, might be a tangent so we can kind of table if you want, but I don't like the portrayal and how they're building up control as. There seem to be strongly implying that this is the Borg. Yeah. I hate that.
Yeah. I despise that. Yeah. I can't stand it. And if that's what they're actually trying to do, that is a retcon that needs to die a horrible death right now. Because the whole idea of the Borg was we weren't supposed to have met them for X number of centuries. And it was Q that sent the Enterprise in and prematurely introduced us to the Borg.
And yet... Control looks like an early stage Borg, and so they're basically implying Starfleet created the Borg. Yeah. And to me... That's just like a, you've got to be freaking kidding me. Um, that is just an eye roll. What are you doing? Don't even go there. The whole Nanite thing. It's like your make, Oh my God.
And then like the way the Nanites take over people, it looks so painful. And it's like, well, clearly they haven't perfected how the Nanites work yet. Cause it shouldn't hurt that much. It's like, it's like everything about it. It just looks like baby Borg. And that's a problem to me. It's
I have the exact same reaction to some of the optics of how that's depicted.
And have the exact same feeling. So like, I hope that's not where they thought they could go. Um, that's lazy. I think that it's, there are also elements of this. And it's the way the show probably was put together, like this plot line and what was going to be happening was probably hatched shortly before production of this season.
And like, putting it together is like, okay, we're going to do all this stuff. But I, I found myself thinking like. The value of having a well written series Bible and envisioning all the different places you might go really would have served them well, and I've been thinking back to some stuff that I know from earlier series, Voyager in particular, like characters Story arcs mapped out for a much longer portion than just one season, like understanding where they wanted to go.
In some cases, screwing something up. They, in, in Voyager, they originally had the character of Kes. Uh, she was supposed to be an alien species that would only live a certain number of years, a brief lifespan, clearly intended to be like, Oh, it'll be a heartbreaking character I have in the series. As we reach the end of the series, she will be reaching maturity and then death.
That will be a fascinating storyline. The character did not resonate, the character did not fit in well. They removed the character and replaced her with Seven of Nine. Much better fit for Voyager. Now you had the sort of nascent, uh, immature adult because being a former Borg left her completely stripped of any maturity experience and aggressively leaning back on the only strengths she had, which were her Borg nature.
So Much more interesting character, much more fascinating character arc, leading to different types of storytelling than they had done prior. I think Discovery feels to me like they leaned heavily into, uh, Pike's storyline for this season. They really thought through, like, what can we do with this character.
Clearly ramping up to like, maybe there's a spinoff here. Maybe we can do a prequel to the original Trek. That's not this. Discovery never felt like a true prequel to original Trek. Strange New Worlds does. And so I feel like they were all kind of like, Oh, this is the piece that was missing. This is the element we should be focusing.
And this, we're learning these lessons from Discovery of what audiences aren't latching onto. But now that we know that we can bridge that gap into Strange New Worlds. But the place where I think they could have spent more time is in, well, how do you build bridges between not Pike and original series, but from Discovery to the original series?
I've already mentioned, what if the time crystals were related to the arch from the original series? Like elements like that, I think would have served the series well. And in this particular case, I think the element that would have been really interesting for Control would have been, what is the reason they built Control?
What was the reason for it? Originally, and to present that this is the offshoot of something that began to be built after first contact with the Vulcans. And it helped Earth recover. It helped Earth unify because control was able to feed them information, speculating based on the data it was fed of where hotspots were emerging.
Where problems were emerging so they could solve those problems and bring everybody on Earth up to the same level so Earth could unify in a new way. Make control part of the DNA of a unified earth, make it an historical reference, like control has been helping us for centuries. And if that had been planted as a single line in the first episode of the second season, and then built up over time, the reliance on control, the dependence on control, and the view of control as a tool that is so useful, and thank goodness we had it.
would have felt like it was now a turning point being matched of, oh, control is now outside our control. This is, we didn't expect this. But that goes
back to what we, we talked about in the beginning, which is the show has been, they've been trying to find the new formula for new Trek in this current day and age.
And so they've been, So, trying and adapting. Trying and adapting. Which means they couldn't have a Bible like that, um, because they weren't exactly sure what they needed to do. And so instead of trying to like figure out a five year arc of potential plot points, it was like, let's just try. Dive into the pool and see what happens is what it feels like.
Yeah. Season one, season two is, and this season, like you said, they realized they might have an offshoot for Pike. I would actually argue they realized we're doing this wrong , and they came up with an idea of we could potentially have a spinoff for Pike that would tap into that prequel to the original Star Trek show and probably hit all the sweet spots for all the fans.
And then if we. Do this other direction for Discovery for the next following season. We can put it in a place where it becomes more palatable and it can feel a little more fresh and original on its own. And so I think that's what they were trying to do in the second half of the season. It's just literally set the both shows up a potential spinoff and season three and beyond of Discovery for success because they had learned so much from season one and the first half of season two.
Probably. Um, that's what it feels like to me. Uh, and I don't blame them for that, uh, for not having a show bible, because they're just trying to figure out what works. But the problem is, as fans, we're watching this hot mess, kind of, we're kind of seeing how the sausage is getting made while they're making the sausage, and it's like, I don't want to see this.
I wish you guys could have figured this
out earlier. Yeah, and it's strange to feel like... I mean, you call it a hot mess and it's interesting. Like, is it a hot mess? I remember there being moments of enterprise where it really did feel like, Oh, you can see the exhaustion. You can see the exhaustion of the production.
And this doesn't feel like exhaustion. This feels like eight people ran into the room and said like, Hey gang, let's put on a show. And then they all started performing and four of them were doing a drama. Two of them were doing a musical, two were doing a comedy and. Like, Oh, we're not, why are we not on the same page?
And they're figuring it out. There's, it doesn't feel like, it's interesting to me that Enterprise at times felt tiring where this doesn't feel tiring, but it feels frenetic at times, but it doesn't feel tiring. Well, it comes from,
when we talk about, like, Next Generation is my jam. That's like my favorite series.
But when you're talking about Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, it's all made, Enterprise, it's all made by the same team, essentially. It's like, there's a DNA through it. It's like Pillar and Braga and all these guys that just work on all these shows all the time. And they, they, because they came into Next Generation, and if you ever remember, seasons one and two of Next Generation were awful.
Like they were, if you go back and re watch them, they did not age well. But season three and beyond of Next Generation is just like pure gold. Uh, so they figured it out. Yeah. And then they had that playbook that they could just keep going back and repeat and repeat and repeat. And that by the time it got to Enterprise, it was like, okay, this is tiring.
You're doing the same song over and over again. There's nothing original here anymore. And you guys are clearly burned out. Yeah. Where now we're watching a brand new fresh team come in and they're having to learn their own mistakes. And so we're watching seasons one and two of Discovery, just like seasons one and two of Next Generation sucked.
Seasons one and two of Discovery are kind of a mixed bag because they're trying to find the new playbook, the new, the new thing. And I think at Star Trek fans, we were kind of spoiled by 25 years of shows that were actually pretty good overall because they figured out the formula at the beginning. But enough gap had changed and television had changed enough.
Now we're trying to figure out a new playbook. And we're watching that playbook play out. So it's like, I think we need to kind of cut some slack. So when I called it a hot mess. Probably not a fair thing to say, uh, because there is some really good stuff in here, but we're watching the kind of growing pains in these first two seasons.
absolutely are. And that's why when I say things like a story of Bible and control planted earlier in the series, um, and, and having a, a, a sense of, of all that history built into it. I know that I'm asking the impossible. I'm asking for a retcon of reality, which is, you know, not possible in any, in any way, shape or form.
But I think what I am asking for that is possible are elements of slightly better explanations of these relationships. Like, if you're not going to be able to show us control as a positive tool being used, have a character say something realistic about control's history of good. Help having the one line that I can recall from the season where they talk about what control is used for saying all this information is put into control and the control spits out its recommendation of what we should do.
And then the humans make a decision incorporating controls advice. into their thinking. That's not enough. That's like, that's like saying, yes, we have a magic 8 ball and we ask it questions and then we don't have to follow its advice, but we incorporate its thinking. Like, that's not helpful to anything.
But if that one line had been, we've been using control and earlier versions of it, To help unify Earth and build bridges between us and other species. It was critical in building out the Universal Translator. It was a key element. Like, come up with a line that says, Control has been incredibly useful to us and we're not ready to just throw it away.
We can't. Give us that line. Give us a good line. Even if you can't build it in for good storytelling, there are different ways of explaining these things. And the same goes for some of the stuff around simple things. Like time crystals and like, you can build good things in a single episode. I fully believe that.
And we've seen it done. The original series did it literally every week. Next generation did it all the time. Deep Space Nine, Voyager, standalone episodes where something new would be introduced, but explained in such a way that we could say, yep, that makes sense to me, and it feels like all too often in this series, they say things where it feels like.
What they're saying, what the actors are literally saying feels at times like the writer said, I'll fill this in with more detail later. And then they never do, so it feels a little more vacant at times, and that's unfortunate. Listeners, viewers, do you feel the same way? We've seen some comments on previous episodes, uh, where you guys are also saying, yeah, this was, this is not the easiest thing for me to get through.
It doesn't feel like Trek to me. Does this one feel like, I feel like to me, this feels more Trek. This episode in particular, I especially like the stuff we didn't even talk about. Burnham and Spock's relationship in this one, the adventure that they have on the Section 31 ship. That stuff all to me, I really enjoyed.
Burnham and Spock being on different terrain. They have a holographic Conversation with their mother and she's like, I love you both. I love the fact that she says, I love you both. And it ends the call. It's like, here's a mother who knows one of her children never is going to say it back. And that the other one probably historically rarely said it back because she was being raised on Klingon or on Vulcan.
So it's like, yeah. So, it's this moment of, like, Amanda saying, like, I love you, peace out, and then gone, and the two siblings look at each other with a kind of, I expected there to be a moment where Burnham might say, I was going to say I love you too, like, like, I, I liked the dynamic that was on display, I liked picking up on earlier motifs, and the two of them, in this episode, it really did feel like they were, like, building the bridge that for episodes they were saying.
I don't know if we can ever get back across this gap. There's too much. We're seeing, we're seeing there's too much bad blood and now we're seeing it be filled by two people who are looking at each other and saying, I understand where I misstepped and I'm willing to forgive you yours if you do the same.
And they're both looking at each other as there's nobody else in the galaxy who's going to know me as well as you do. And. That's an interesting dynamic to see played out in this way, especially with this proto Spock that we're seeing. I love it. I love this relationship. Yeah. And he does a great job. I really, I will, I will stick to my belief that I really like Ethan Peck as, as a younger Spock.
Me too. So next time we're going to be talking about Such Sweet Sorrow Part 1 and Part 2. This is the season finale two parter that I thought I was generously warning everybody about weeks ago and then the next week we stumbled into an accidental two parter that we had to do last week. But this upcoming episode will be a two parter so please make sure you watch both if you're watching along with us.
And please jump into the comments right now if you have differing thoughts from what Matt and I have seen, or if you agree, or if you think there are other solutions to some of the problems than what Matt and I've talked about, please let us know what you think. Before we sign off, Matt, is there anything you'd like to share about your main channel?
What do you have coming up? Oh, I mean,
I, this week I have a video coming out about a hybrid battery that's kind of And tackling all the downsides of batteries for EVs in a very clever way that doesn't require some groundbreaking new chemistry. It's just applying chemistries we already understand in a unique new way that is like peanut butter and jelly.
It's really kind of clever.
So, check it out. Hint, hint, it's using gasoline. Nah, it's not.
As for me, if you're interested in finding out more about my books, you can go to seanferrell. com or you can just go to your local bookstore. They're available everywhere. Amazon, Barnes Noble, all the way down to your local bookstore, which I strongly support, or bookshop. org, which is a great option, which allows you to not only buy from a non profit Charity bookstore, but they will also allow you to buy books from your local bookstores very often.
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