Trek In Time

Matt and Sean talk about techno-babble, and a rush to a conclusion. Star Trek Discovery is racing to wrap up a story about AI and family relationships. Does it hold together?

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Creators & Guests

Matt Ferrell
Host of Undecided with Matt Ferrell, Still TBD, and Trek in Time podcasts
Sean Ferrell 🐨
Co-host of Still TBD and Trek in Time Podcasts

What is Trek In Time?

Join Sean and Matt as they rewatch all of Star Trek in order and in historical context.

In this episode of Trek in Time, we're going to talk about mother. That's right. It's Star Trek Discovery season two, episodes 10 and 11. Hey, everybody. Remember when last week I said, yeah, in a few weeks we have a two parter coming up and Matt and I like to treat the two parters as one episode, so we'll revisit that when we get to the end of the season.

Well, both Matt and I were stunned to watch episode 10. The Red Angel, and just coincidentally, he and I watch them in two different cities, we do not live together, at the exact same time, and when Matt finished his watch of The Red Angel, he texted me and said, is it just me, or does this feel like it's actually the first of a two parter, and we should also watch Episode 11, Perpetual Infinity, and yes, I agreed, so here we are, to our listeners and viewers who were showing up thinking we were going to be talking about the Red Angel, we will be, but we're also going to be visiting Perpetual Infinity, so our apologies, we liked, I was so proud of myself, I'm giving them all a heads up about an episode that's weeks and weeks away, and then, boom, here we are, a two parter.

Buckle up, everybody. So that was a long preamble before I even got into the preamble. Who are we? Well, I'm Sean Ferrell. I'm a writer. I write some stuff for kids and I write some stuff for adults, including some sci fi stuff like The Sinister Secrets of Singe, which is out in bookstores now. And with me, as always, is my brother, Matt.

He's the guru and inquisitor behind the show Undecided with Matt Ferrell, which takes a look at emerging tech and its impact on our lives. And together, the two of us are Trek in Time, where we are re watching all of Star Trek in chronological order. We're also taking a look at the world that the...

Episodes dropped in history. So we're taking a look at what the world was like in 2019. And we're trying to make connections between the times that the shows were created and broadcast and what was in the shows themselves. Matt, how are you doing today? I'm still trying to

recover from your opening Danzig song for the episode.

And for those of you that don't know, because you wouldn't, uh, that's a running joke with Sean and I to sing that song. Oh boy.

It just seemed... To be too on the nose for me to avoid. So it's appropriate,

Sean. It's appropriate.

Well, before we, before we get into our discussion about these two episodes, we like to revisit the mailbag and see what all of you have been saying in the comments.

So Matt, what have you found for us today? Got a few good ones.

One from Richard Gould, Blue Raven. I must admit to being hesitant to partake in new Trek. I only started watching in order to follow the podcast, but I'm actually enjoying Discovery. After the Abrams movies, I'm shocked. So yes, Richard. Yes. I'm glad you were able to join us.

And these new shows I think have more to offer than people realize. And a lot of people I think passed on them because it was like Star Trek burnout, people not liking the direction of the movies. But if you give it a shot, there's some

good stuff here. Yeah, there's, and unfortunately it is a bit of a mixed bag and we'll talk about that a bit today.

I think at least I will. Um, but I am Richard, thank you for joining us. I'm glad you're enjoying it so far. And You're commenting now on our most recent completed episode. We are literally just a handful of episodes away from making the leap into the next series, which is even more well regarded, I think, than Discovery.

So if you... Have found discovery pleasing. I have high hopes that you will think even more of strange new worlds. So I'm looking forward to hearing from you more in the future.

We also have one from Value of Nothing from, it's referring to Project Daedalus, which was the last episode we talked about, where they killed Airiam off.

Now that I think about it, This episode about, is this episode even about AI? The AI just seems to be used as a MacGuffin to put our protagonists in danger. In The Ultimate Computer, the AI is used as a character development that shows arrogance and reliance on computers. This leads to Daystrom's tragic downfall.

It also shows us that Kirk may have become obsolete. In what are little girls made of? Kirby uses an AI to try to achieve immortality and love. By comparison, this episode doesn't really touch on any of this. Even if the character of Airiam had been developed all season long, what would be the point to have an evil intelligence take her over so you have to kill her?

It just seems so morbid and pointless. I thought it was a really interesting perspective on how they kind of shortchanged the whole AI part of it. And I do, I do agree that there is an element of MacGuffin ness to it at this point, but of course the episodes we're about to talk to about, you know, the AI becomes very in your face, uh, in this one.

Um, not necessarily, I don't know if it will answer that complaint, but, uh, I do agree that there was a little bit of a MacGuffin when it comes to the AI up until this

point. What do you think? Yeah, I completely, I completely agree as well. I think that the value of nothing hits a nail that I'm also aiming for, uh, right on the head.

And I. As I was prepping my notes for our discussion today, I was thinking about In What Little Girls Are Made Of, um, and the character of Kirby, and the use of the creation of artificial life forms, and what that all means, and what it all felt like, and In comparison to today's episodes, so I'm looking forward to getting to that discussion.

And then we have one from Kay Collette, uh, who wrote, With regards to on the nose AI names, with like, the name of control in this episode, the champ has to be Tyranna Killikus from Lower Decks. What I like, what I like about this is, they're both Star Trek shows, one did the joke almost Unintentionally, and the other one was very intentional, and yet they're both in the same realm of each other.

I thought that was a great reference

to Lower Decks. That is a good reference. And I, given the timeline, 2019 is when this series was airing, it wouldn't surprise me if one of the writers on Lower Decks was like, control? Really? And then went off and wrote this episode. Thank you so much for those comments, everybody.

Your comments really do feed some good perspectives to us as we discuss these episodes. So, that noise in the background, that of course is the read alert. That can only mean one thing. It's time for Matt to tackle the Wikipedia description. And Matt, as... Oh boy. I said at the top, none of us knew that a two parter was on its way, let alone you, let alone Wikipedia.

So, good luck.

I have to apologize to everybody because my reading abilities today are even worse than normal. So, here we go. While preparing for Airiam's funeral, her system is purged of the control virus along with all the other control systems around Starfleet. And while doing this, Tilly discovers a bio neural scan of the Red Angel in Airiam's code that matches Burnham.

Leland reveals that Section 31 built the Red Angel time travel suit 20 years ago in a temporal arms race with the Klingons and that Burnham's biological parents had been part of the program. Leland's carelessness at the time led to their deaths. The crew now plan to use Burnham as bait for the Red Angel.

Discovery travels to Essof IV where there's enough... Energy to produce their trap. Burnham is left out in the planet's unbreathable atmosphere until the red angel appears Leland's. Section 31 ship can close the wormhole behind the red angel to stop the future version of control from following her through.

Though Leland is attacked by the present day version of control, which is still active within his ship, the red angel is caught in the trap and revives the momentarily dead Burnham, who recognizes the figure as her. Mother, as Sean already said at the beginning of the episode. Here we go. And when the Burnham's laboratory was attacked by the Klingons years ago, Michael's mother donned the experimental time travel suit to go back in time an hour and warn them of the coming attack.

She instead arrived 950 years into the future to find all sentient life destroyed by control. Whoops! Now, tethering herself to a nearby planet, Dr. Burnham made over 840 attempts to change the future, including moving humans to her new planet, Terralysium, to test how she can change history. Trying to stop control from gaining the sphere's data, Dr.

Burnham was responsible for directing the sphere to cross paths with Discovery. Now the Discovery crew plans to upload the SPHERE data into the suit and send it to the future, where Control cannot access it while keeping Dr. Burnham in the present. But a Control possessed Leland intercepts their upload, and Georgiou and Tyler confront Leland with Tyler gravely injured but able to warn Discovery.

The crew is forced to cut the transmission short and release Dr. Burnham back to the future. I don't know about Michael J. Fox, but anyway. With the suit now damaged, Control Leland escapes with half of the sphere data. This was... It's just the rapid fire plot point breakdown of this was very confusing.

There have been weeks though where it felt like some of the plot points were so out of order with one another that it became very... Whiplashy, and I actually think these two, although plot point heavy, are in the right order, so you can actually follow the progression of the story, I think. But, but it

doesn't, but when I got very confused when I was talking about the, the using Burnham as bait for the Red Angel, they never established why she bait.

They never said her mother keeps trying to protect her over her life, so they're using her as bait to get, they never even bring that up, it's just like using Burnham as bait. Why is Burnham bait? I don't understand. Burnham

bait. Burnham bait. These are episodes number 10 and 11, Red Angel and Perpetual Infinity.

And Red Angel was directed by Hanelle Culpepper. And she is a person we've seen directing episodes previously. And as a reminder to people, she is the director who helms the first three episodes of the series Picard. So she is... Within the Trek directorial universe, she's somebody that they feel they can trust with contemporary Trek.

This episode was written by Chris Silvestri and Anthony Maronville and originally broadcast on March 21st, 2019. And episode 11, Perpetual Infinity, was directed by Maja Vrvilo and... was written by Alan McElroy and Brandon Schultz. It originally aired on March 28th, 2019. Both these episodes featured the usual main cast, Sonequa Martin Green as Michael Burnham, Doug Jones as Saru, Anthony Rapp as Paul Stamets, Mary Weissman as Sylvia Tilly, and also the usual cast of now supporting actors who have become Effectively regulars on the show, Anson Mount as Christopher Pike, Jane Brook as Admiral Cornwell, Ethan Peck as Spock, Rachel Anchoril as Commander Nhan, and also joining them are the return of Alan VanSprang as Leland, Shazad Latif as Tyler, Wilson Cruz as Hugh Culber, and we of course have Captain Georgiou back in the mix as well.

So what was the world like between March 21st and March 28th, 2019? Well, Matt, you'll remember that I broke the sad news to you that Seven Rings by Ariana Grande was no longer going to be the number one song, and maybe that made you a sucker for believing me, but the number one song on March 21st? was Sucker by the Jonas Brothers.

But oh Matt, nobody was more excited than Matt Ferrell when the following week Seven Rings returned to the number one spot. That's right Matt, Ariana Grande was back and you were dancing your little heart out still to that song. I don't think you ever really bought into the Sucker as number one.

Phenomenon of that one week, I know, I remember you calling me with excitement when Ariana returned to the number one spot. And at the box office, well, for one week, Captain Marvel held on to its number one spot. It had made a ton of money the first week, over 300 million, and then it made 70 million in its second week.

And of course is the Brie Larson film featuring Captain Marvel, which was effectively a Kind of prequel to most of the Marvel films, but in the following week, a movie replaced it at number one, making 70 million US the American psychological horror film written and directed by Jordan Peele, starring Lupita Nyong'o and Winston Duke, Elizabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker.

Took the number one spot. And it of course is the story of a group of doppelgangers who exist underneath the surface of the world and come to the surface to replace those that they have been living effectively in slavery. And on television, we've been following along with a list of 2019's most streamed series in order to compare apples to apples.

And so far we have seen Lucifer, Stranger Things, 13 Reasons Why, Money Heist, Orange is the New Black, The Handmaid's Tale, Sex Education, Elite, You, and now this week we see two new entries. We see The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. And the Umbrella Academy. These two programs are number 10 and 11 on the Most Dreamed series.

And the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a dark retelling of Sabrina the Teenage Witch of the Archie Comics universe. And this was available on Netflix. And then later in the year, Netflix would also release number 11, the Umbrella Academy. A dysfunctional family of adopted sibling superheroes who reunite to solve the mystery of their father's death and the threat of imminent collapse.

Also based on a comic book. So these were two comic properties, both of which were converted into new television properties and both received fairly well. And in the news. Well, this is a couple of weeks worth of news kind of wrapped up into one blurb. The Mueller Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.

According to Robert Mueller's report, it did not find Any US officials or Trump campaign members knowingly conspired with the government of Russia. I think knowingly is the key term there. Mueller drew no conclusions about whether Trump illegally obstructed justice, however. This is reported by Reuters and the New York Times.

Also in the news, Attorney General William Barr released the principles Conclusions of Mueller's investigation in a four page public letter to the Congress Judiciary Committee leadership, as reported by Fox News and the Washington Post. And I think these, this story, the Mueller investigation, the ongoing debate around what happened in the 2016 election, the echoing claims as reverberated into the future in the 2020 elections.

This episode of Discovery, of course, could not have been. inclusive of a mindset from the 2020 elections. But I think what we're seeing within this episode, these two episodes is a kind of in the zeitgeist questioning of, can you recognize your enemy when they are in front of you? Who are the villains in our midst?

And are we fighting with an individual or are we fighting symptoms? And are we fighting with somebody with a purpose? These are the questions I think that came out of the era of the 2016 elections, and I think they're on full display here for better or worse. And for me, one of the things that was evident was a kind of like a foregone conclusion that you will not recognize the enemy in your midst.

And you may not be able to even identify ever who that enemy is because I found myself watching this. And thinking, the writing is kind of devoid of an antagonist. And I don't feel like it serves it well. One of the commenters at the beginning of this episode that Matt shared was the one who raised the question of, is the AI just a MacGuffin?

And with these episodes, I continue to have that feeling. Like they're more involved in telling a story about characters reacting to each other based on deeper past relationships than they are with what is happening in front of them, which means they don't even know truly what is going on in the AI. Is the AI behaving the way it is because of a malfunction?

Is it behaving the way it is because of something nefarious? Ultimately, it's like that doesn't matter. What matters is that it's thrust these people into danger, and it's forced them to come to terms with hurts from their past. And I found myself thinking, Does this feel like Star Trek to me? Again and again.

What did you think about that question? Does this feel like Star Trek to you?

Oh, man. On the A. I. McGuffin aspect of, of that,

I'm torn because the AI up until this point really has no, don't take this literally, it doesn't have a face. It's not on screen. It's not talking to us, the viewer. So it is kind of a MacGuffin. This kind of goes back to college for me. Uh, in theater. It's kind of like when you have a character that is being talked about again and again and again by all the characters on stage for the first act, the second act, and they don't walk on stage until the third act, but all those things that have been said and all the things that those characters are doing and they're They're contorting themselves because they're concerned about character X you've never seen and, and you can see what the motive is causing different shifts and motivations of the characters you are watching.

And then by the time that character does come on screen, there's so much gravitas to them because so much has been established by the time they show up. I feel like that's what they were trying to do. in this with the AI being off screen like we're watching all of these machinations and contortions that everybody's trying to do to stay ahead of control because control is like this dangerous crazy AI that we've never actually seen or really heard yet.

Uh, and by the time that it shows up in the second part of this series we're talking about, I think it kind of short changes it. Um, it was, I don't think it's, it's a technique that's used all the time, but it was not well executed here. Um, so I do think that it kind of hurt the, the impact of what was happening.

Um, and because of that, it doesn't feel, didn't feel Star Trek to me. It didn't feel like there was the, the impact of what's happening in the universe and what the, the, they keep using that thing of like all sentient life is going to be erased. It feels like a hollow threat. Because we've never seen the AI yet.

We really haven't seen it rear its ugly face yet. It's just kind of like, is it really a problem? Is the future? You know, immutable, like, like what, it just kind of comes across like a limp noodle. It's like, it doesn't quite have the impact I think they were hoping for. And they were using it as a kind of cheat card, uh, for the storytelling.

And it felt very, I don't want to say this has felt like a JJ Abrams, uh, episodes, but it was so plot heavy and so much on the action to me, like with the sequences are incredible that happen. With strapping Burnham to the chair and the whole visuals, it's, it's, there's a lot of visceral kind of visuals in these two episodes and a lot of action, and it felt like there was, they should have focused more on the, I don't want to say, the Star Trek people sitting around a table talking, but they should have spent more time on the more intellectual side of this episode than focusing on the action because it ended up calling, kind of falling flat, um, a little bit for me.

What about

you? I kept saying to myself, this feels like something by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich. This felt like Independence Day to me. It's a lot of fun to, like, strap in with a big bucket of popcorn and watch everything go boom. Yep. But ultimately, the cause of the dilemmas, the cause of the explosions doesn't really matter.

You are there simply to watch, like, oh, of course the kid was at the school when the moon started to crash into the planet, and they had to go to the school to get the kid, and then the moon is too close, and now gravity is freaky, and any number of those movies from the That world of thinking, that kind of action y sci fi adventure, um, is what this felt like to me.

There were a number of things that stood out as, like, are you, I had a couple of moments of are you kidding regarding some of the leaps of logic and the leaps of technobabble. The moment they say time crystal, like what? And you, they might as well have called it a MacGuffin crystal. It was so much magic in this episode of, yes, and then they discovered, the Klingons discovered, we'd stolen their time crystal, like, hmm, you couldn't have just said that Klingons were on the verge of a major discovery and we stole their tech.

You couldn't have just said that. It had to be a time crystal. You had to call it that. That to me felt like somebody put it in as a placeholder and nobody actually remembered to remove it. And that just seemed silly. There's, for me, I was just gonna say, like, for me, you mentioned, like, um, the idea of sitting around and having some conversations, like, what is the greater thing here?

I think, for me, biggest thing that's missing is any sense of motivation behind the AI as to... Why is it making this kind of leap into eradicating all life? And I kept going back to, as was mentioned in the comments, some of the older, uh, episodes which examine what do AI do? Why do they do it? One, you know, Kirby developing...

Androids because he's seeking love and I wanted there to be something to hold on to for the motivation of the creation of control and the motivation of control itself. And I had a flashback to the first motion picture where V'ger shows up and V'ger is this all consuming, all swallowing need to know.

That is literally just a manifestation of humanity's desire to understand more put into the programming of a deep space satellite, that when it comes back, having been changed. By some alien technology is now no longer just taking in sensor data, but is actually actively destroying things and creating digital versions of all of those things contained within itself.

It is a manifestation of humans desire to know gone amok. I don't know what this version of AI gone amok is amok from. There it has, they haven't earned this malevolent AI yet. They haven't done anything to demonstrate why it would be like this and they could have done it. I keep thinking they had the set piece of, they go to that space station, the now defunct, they said at one point it was originally a prison colony and it was converted into Section 31's headquarters with control inside.

And they find all of the dead Staff who had been at that site, the control has killed. And I found myself thinking at the beginning of this episode, couldn't they have given us a one minute. Like, one year ago, flashback to that Vulcan head of that department in conversation with Control and have her realize that Control has established, based on various parameters, a conclusion that the only way to ensure security is to remove the variable of lifeforms.

Yes. Give us something like that. Give us, give us a Admiral who is described as a logic extremist within the storytelling. She's described as like, she is a logic extremist. She is one who is willing to pull the levers used by a computer simply because the computer is perfectly logical. You've already established that.

Give us a scene in which that. Logic extremist has give us a Vulcan having a emotional reaction to the shock of realizing this computer is about to kill me and give us something like that to say like, Oh, this was a computer in part built by logic extremists and the logical conclusion that it reaches.

Is that there are variables which make for chaos, which means for instability, and therefore remove the variables. Remove sentient life. That could be a hard calculation that I could take as a motivator, but at this point, like, so

we haven't seen any of that. My reaction to you is that is way better, way better than what they did.

I think, I mean, going back to the comment. The AI really is a MacGuffin. It's like, clearly the show and the writers did not care what the real motivations of it were. It was just a thing to get the plot moving and get the characters to do what they wanted them to do. But they did seem to try to kind of allude to the, like, a Borg mentality.

It's trying to advance itself. It's trying to become the next iteration of itself. And that's why it wants the control data so badly. And they kind of like threw that out there as like, Oh, that's good enough. And this kind of moved on. It's like, no, that's not good enough. That's the, that's the Borg. We've already seen that.

Can you do something a little more interesting than the Borg? Could you give it a little more motivation? What you just did would have been pitch perfect because it would have been played into these why control was written. Like, why was the AI created? It was created to control, and okay, it's going to take that to its next logical step.

Humans suck. All life sucks. The reason there's chaos is because of life, so let me just wipe out all life. It's logically makes perfect sense, and the fact that it even tries is kind of disappointing, but that also goes into something else I wanted to bring up about the logic problems of just these episodes in general.

This is where it's like, I feel like that, the nerd, the classic nerd of, uh, it, the, in episode 42, it shot, the laser beams came out of the photon torpedo base. There was a element of the logic in this episode that was so profoundly stupid to me. I could not get past it. And it ruined a lot of my enjoyment.

Cause I do agree with you. These episodes are like Roland Emmerich, uh, Dean Devlin. This really is popcorn entertainment. There's, there's no brains behind most of what's happening. And from a purely visual and auditory action level, it's fun. And there are some good character moments in these episodes for sure.

But the thing I could not get over was, okay, this is Burnham from the future in the Red Angel suit. So we got to capture her. Let's have Burnham in every conversation about how to capture her from the future. If you're talking to Burnham and telling how we're going to capture you in the future, she in the future would know that this is a plan, so why would she even fall for it?

Why is Here's the most brilliant people in Starfleet in a ready room talking about this, and I'm sitting there as a viewer going, uh, why is Saru not bringing this up? Why is Burnham not bringing this up? She's supposed to be this brilliant scientist. Oh, Stamets is In conversations on some of this stuff, Stamets, he created the frickin fungus drive thing.

It's like, what the, how is nobody saying, uh, if this is future Burnham, she has to be kept out of that every conversation we have right now. Because if anything she knows. Future Red Angel knows, but the fact that they didn't give a shit about that is because it was the mom in the Red Angel suit and it was never her.

And so it's kind of like the,

the writers knew the answer, so they didn't worry about it.

Correct. But the problem is the characters don't know that. And the fact that the characters were too stupid to even ask that question, it just made me so angry. It's like every one of the characters in this room.

Every single one of them would have raised this question and me as a viewer, the fact that I'm asking it and you're not even addressing it. I was just like, this is unforgivable. This just shows a complete lack of. Care, and how this, these two episodes were put together, and it actually made me angry. I was getting angry at the producers and the writers of, you think, as a viewer, I am the dumbest person on the planet, that you're not even bringing this up, because you're basically saying, it doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter. And, and this is, I'm loathe to plug my own books. But


have a book called Man in the Empty Suit, which is about a time traveler who's potentially the only suspect in his own murder. And the only people available to investigate are multiple versions of himself.

So this is effectively a room filled with various versions of this time traveler from different points in his life. And one of them may have killed a future version of himself. So. The idea that, oh, if person X knows something, so do people Y, Z, and all the way back to the next iterations down the chain, was a key element of the plot.

And I had to figure out a way for an individual to know certain things and future versions not know and come up with a logic that would say, okay, there's a certain way of. Tethering and severing of the relationships and how do I, how do I do that safely so that it's not insulting the reader and it makes sense.

It has to all work. It has to be a perfect logic puzzle. They didn't even bother approaching that. And I think that. This goes back to what we've talked about again and again with Discovery versus Enterprise. They don't have enough episodes in a season to explore things to the depth that Matt and I continue to say, wouldn't it have been smarter for them to do this?

They needed another episode. They needed another episode. And I think this is another place where they reached this stage of the season. And as Matt and I said at the beginning of this episode, we were surprised to realize, oh, this is really a two parter. We need to talk about these two things together.

And it feels so rushed. It feels like they are moving so quickly, instead of giving anything time to gestate. The idea of, how do you trick a Burnham, when you think it's a Burnham in the suit, how do you trick that Burnham in the suit? Well, you keep your present Burnham out of the conversation, first.

Before you lie to that Burnham. Or you lie to that Burnham, but if you do that, you are now introducing a whole other set of elements that are going to take a lot of time to develop and you don't have time for that. So you go with the stupid solution. That's what it looks like to me. If you say, okay, the different characters are going to talk about, we need to put our Burnham in danger.

She is the one element. That if we put her in danger, the Red Angel will show up. You've got a very different ethical dilemma. Because what we have in this episode is Burnham being willing to sacrifice herself. That's a shorter conversation than a bunch of Starfleet officers saying, are we literally talking about attempted murder of one of our own in order to do this?

Do you then end up with Georgiou on one side of that conversation saying, yes, absolutely, we have to do that, or Leland making that argument? Like, who makes the pro argument for doing this? Do you end up rewriting the entire episode, which would be Leland has been infected by Control, Leland is now effectively Control, does Leland want to capture the Red Angel, so does Leland take her, kidnap her, And try to kill her knowing it will pull the Red Angel.

That, to me, would have made sense. Right. What they're doing, they have these timey wimey conversations that all feel built around. All we're trying to do is to get these two characters in a room together so they can cry at each other. Yep. We see it again and again. We see it on the small scale, which is, we see Stamets.

And Culber, having lots of across the room looks at each other. Stamets has a very harsh moment of this is not the time for that conversation. I don't know that there will ever be a time. So he is dealing with his hurt and his angst and his anger toward Culber, who has pulled away from him. So dramatically, we have Culber in what I think is actually a really, really nice scene going to Admiral Cornwell and saying, you were a therapist in your earlier career.

Can I talk to you? And effectively they have a fantastic conversation and I like Cornwell. I don't like her as an Admiral. I think she makes a great therapist. I think that there's a great argument for like, she's a pretty terrible Starfleet Admiral, but she really knows how to cut through the bowl because she starts off immediately saying to somebody like, you're a brand new person.

Right. Throwing it right in front of his lap and saying, like, you're dealing with these echoes of a past that you physically are not the embodiment of. So, of course, you're going through something nobody has ever gone through before. And effectively, it's like, you're fine to be hurting, he's fine to be hurting, you can only live your life.

That's the only solution here. A very nice, very Star Trek y moment. But it's lost in the midst of trying to set up Burnham to have this hard conversation with her mother, and I will just say, I felt like every word that the mother character said was so much writer bullcrap. It was just, those scenes between the two of them, where Burnham is just...

Burnham is Christ Sonequa Martin Green has so much mucus and saline on her face in most of these episodes as she is just hell bent breaking down every time these conversations happen and for good reason. But they are mad dash rushing. It feels like multiple episodes worth of breakthroughs are happening, one on top of another, to the point of emotional exhaustion, where when she's having confrontational conversations with her mother, I was left with, like, I don't care, I don't care, and I found myself thinking, they wrote themselves into multiple corners and didn't know how to get out, because they have the mother saying things that are effectively like, my perspective is bigger.

Then any of you can understand, because for me, all of this has just become the dustbin of history. To which, my response is, then everything you're doing as the Red Angel makes no sense. Because if you are looking at all of this as the dustbin of history, the solution... is to do anything else than what you're doing.

She effectively was making an argument that sounded like what she should have been doing is saying, how can I transplant myself back into the past? How can I like the, if the destruction of the future is a done deal for you, then. You simply put yourself a thousand years into the past, get out of the suit, figure out a way to anchor yourself on a different planet, and live there.

Like, live out a life. Oh, I know a thousand years from now, all life will be destroyed, but that's... That's the dustbin of history to me. She's making arguments to her daughter that make no sense. It makes no sense that she would be saying these things. And then, for no reason whatsoever, has a tremendous breakthrough at the end so that she and Burnham can reconnect and she can say, I love you, baby girl.

And I'm just like, I didn't get any, I didn't understand any of that. It didn't make any sense. There was,

there was a moment in one of those conversations when she said, I've seen you die a hundred times and I'll see you die again. It was like, this is why I don't care because I've seen you all die and I'm gonna, I'm trying to correct it.

And my thought was, why didn't they lean into that more and be like, I can't figure out a way out of this. Yeah. And then the way that Burnham convinces her mom to go along, it's like, clearly what you're doing isn't working. Yeah. Lean on us to try something different that hasn't been tried before. And her mom having that epiphany of like.

You might be right. You know, like having that, she's kind of caught in a rut thinking she's the only one that can solve the problem. Basically her mom is her, you know, like how they keep saying about Burnham. She takes the world on her shoulders and thinks she's the only one that can solve it. Basically show that her mom is the exact same way.

And they have to break through that to her mom and say, you're not the only one that can solve this. And clearly you're not because you haven't. The fact that you haven't means you can't. Lean on us and we can do something together and do something different. It's like that would have been really interesting to me if they had leaned into that.

And it was like right there, it was like right there in the middle of the conversation. I'm like, Oh, you, you got, Oh, you fumbled it. It went right through your fingers and you didn't use it. And it was like, it was just very disappointing to me. Um, but there was another scene I wanted to bring up. Because you talked about how like, She's weeping and full of mucus this entire episode.

There was another sequence. Was it in this one or the next one? Because I'm gonna kind of venture into the next one

potentially, where she, well, I mean, they're, they're all just like, yeah, one thing.

Yeah. She has that conversation with Leland, where Leland confesses that. Yeah. Secret. About. Yeah. It's my fault your parents are dead.

Yes. I don't know about you, but I felt like I was watching a Spanish soap opera in that sequence. Yeah. That's where they keep talking. He

brings up the time crystal in that conversation. I was just like, but it

was also like the, the, the soap opera directing of just like, Like the, he turns away from her and turns to the camera, and the camera's got her in the background, he's like talking to the camera because he can't even talk to her face.

It was just like, what is, what is happening here? This is not Leland. This is not Leland. He just blurted out to her face. It's like, this is, it was so wrought, overwrought, and just felt completely just hammy acting and hammy directing. And I don't blame the actors. I, I blame. I blame the directing and the writing.

It was like, it was just poorly conceived and blocked. And it just came across so ham fisted. And I was like, wow, what is this? Am I watching a daytime drama or am I watching Star Trek? Because Star Trek is not a daytime drama. It's an opera. Uh, so I was very disappointed in how some of these scenes were executed because there were some great character moments.

Like, you, you brought up the one with, um, I think there was a great character moments between Spock and Burnham in her, in her room when he's basically talking her, basically talking her down. And at the end of the episode when they play the three dimensional chess, it's like there were these great moments between the two of them, of them

coming together.

Callbacks to previous episodes. Yeah. Correct. And

they're in Spock building that bridge back to his sister and you can see them being siblings again and you can see that they're kind of bridging that gap and it was like really nice stuff. Stuff with Tilly in this episode, there's some really good stuff with her.

Some really good character development was happening among all this mess. So I still was enjoying it. But I was also angry at the same exact time with, like, the main A plot of what was happening. It was very frustrating.

I even found myself, you know, some of the stuff that was well shot, but didn't seem to fit within the confines of these episodes, like Airaim's funeral, I'm like, why wasn't that a part of the episode where Airiam died?

Those scenes would have... been better placed there and then you would have had that time to be able to expand some of these ideas a little bit on this side. I keep going back again and again to the lack of an actual antagonist. The antagonist in these episodes is effectively Burnham's mother. And just as a quick side note, I love that the whole, Oh, the doctor has looked at the data and it's clearly you in the suit.

But it's actually her mother and there's this very quick, well, there's a lot of similarity between mothers and daughters, like, like what, like that level of mistake just seems really dumbfounding to me, but the antagonist in the episode is effectively the mother and it doesn't really work and it goes back to my earlier statement about the era of when this was written, the idea of There being shadows behind shadows behind shadows, and an enemy that we can't easily identify, an enemy who might be one of our own, an enemy who might be one of our own working with others, and like these were the conversations post 2016 heading into 2020, where we continue to see them today.

Who's actually pulling the strings? Who's actually in charge? And that kind of . Muddy recognition of the agents of history feels like it infected the writing of this in that they felt like, well, the antagonist of the show can be the mother or an infected Leland without actually examining .

What are the motives of the antagonist? The mother's motives I've already described is feeling completely murky to me. Like I don't get her logic at all in saying things like, well, you've all died a thousand times. You'll die a thousand more. It doesn't matter to me. So I'm confused there. And then we've also talked about the computer reaching conclusions, which don't, we don't know how to weigh whether or not it's just a computer malevolently malfunctioning or whether there's a logic to its decision making.

We haven't examined any of that at all. But ultimately, both of those should have been rooted deeply in somebody's humanity. Somebody, somewhere, needed to have a prime motive to their character to generate these manifestations. The mother needs to have something readily available to us as an audience member to make us understand why she would be doing what she's doing.

They keep pointing it to Burnham. They keep saying, well, it's her daughter. It's her relationship to her daughter that's the driving force. But it's not working. It doesn't feel... Mm hmm. Like, her relationship to Burnham would make her be that dismissive of Burnham? Like, I don't get that. I don't understand the ultimate rejection of the person that she did come to save.

I will also just say... The suicide scene, the way it's constructed, the way they're doing it, that was the easiest way to kill Burnham. Like, expose her to that atmosphere, to open up the vents, the drama of all that. They couldn't have had Culber walk up and say like, I'm gonna give you a shot of this stuff.

It's gonna potentially kill you in three minutes. But if I come back with this other shot, I can save you. So you'll be okay. Like, this is how they do it? Exposing her to radiation that is literally burning the flesh off her skin as she's strapped into a chair?

Because clearly the only way to get the Red Angel to come forward is to literally...

Torture Burnham. Torture Burnham. It's not killing her. Yes. You have to torture her. And the only reason that she was being tortured was so you could have all the shots of her friends around the bridge going, Oh, I can barely watch this. And talk about

ethical dilemma. They are broadcasting a snuff film to the entire Discovery crew.

Everybody on that bridge is watching their colleague being fried alive. And they're all just like, well, this is pretty hard to watch. What

are we doing? What they should have done is when she was revived, they should immediately had a scene where it was just a line of every crewman waiting to have a session with the Admiral.


So what would you like to talk about? I just want, I just watched Burnham being fried alive.

Yeah, it just didn't, it just doesn't make any sense. There needed to be, there needs to be some link to humanity's need for a thing. Whatever that is. And if it's, if it's like, if you're trying to make parallels here, if it's about a sense of protection, if it's a sense of security, a sense of security that lasts forever, that could have been the need for security is so strong in control that it, it calculates the only logical way to get there is to remove all the variants of sentient life.

And on the other side, a mother's need for permanent control and security for her daughter drives her to do these things which defy anybody else's ability, but make her go, I mean, I would have appreciated a little bit more of a lunatic. Mother, like a character showing up who has been alone for so long and dealing with such epic scale.

She, she shouldn't have just been like, you don't understand. She comes across as, as like, I'm the only one who can do the job. None of you have the abilities. Now let me go do my work. And like, no, she should have been alone. She should be muttering to herself. She should have been like picking at things on her skin.

She should have been doing all these things and she should have been doing all of this while also understanding that everybody around her is real. But then she could have also said, I know you're all real, but part of me feels like you can't be because my work is not done. And until my work is done, you will never all truly be real because I've seen real versions of you die before.

And like making that kind of argument a destabilized argument, a individual who is effectively like in the movie Castaway, when Tom Hanks gets off that island, finally, he's not the same person who landed on the island, but this woman is presented almost like, Oh yeah, this is the same woman who in the flashback scene gets into the suit for the first time.

We don't see enough of any kind of transition, and the only way we can get that with a character who is being introduced for the very first time is to make the character in the present look completely unhinged, barely holding on, and maybe even debating whether or not to just give it all up. Like, have the mother show up to rescue Burnham, but have her when she shows up be like, I'm this close to saying, like, let her go.

Maybe you should just die. And maybe everybody should die. Maybe I should die. Like, what's the point? Have that moment, like, make it really look like I haven't been able to do what I've been trying to do, which is about your safety and security. And meanwhile, Control is on the other side saying like, don't worry everybody, this is about safety and security.

Once you're all dead, nothing bad will happen. And those can be the two elements of motivation that currently feel like the motivation here was about just wait till you see the special effects of this next scene. And that's not enough for me.

Obviously this is me putting I'm putting my idea of my own history of what happened on the making of this, but this episode feels a lot like Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen, and it also feels a little like they had come up with the thread of... Where they want it to go and they put themselves in a corner because there was no motivations for any of this and then they would just had this whole plot element figured out and they just had to kind of cram it all together to try to make something work, but they didn't really have the time or the effort or the will or whatever it is.

To actually come up with better ways to do this, like what we've been talking about. Um, so it feels a little like writing by committee and, uh, they're looking towards the finale and are just racing to get to the finale. And this is just a pit stop along the way. Yeah. Yeah. It's unfortunate because there've been some good episodes this season, but these two are not them.

Yeah. Yeah.

In my opinion. It feels, I agree with that. And it feels like there's a lot that could be like some of the stuff that works so well in Discovery. They've, they've created a set of characters that I'd be willing to pay attention to in their various adventures and permutations and where they might head.

Uh, and instead of relying on that, they've like, well, the plot is going to be doing this. So we need to get X, Y, and Z lined up for our plot. And that feels like. We're watching the fast forward version of the wheels falling off of a bus in the same way we saw the slow motion version in season two of Enterprise, where it was like, ka thunk, ka thunk, ka thunk.

And it was like, they don't know where they're going. They don't know why they're going there. They don't know what to do. And then they Figured out like, Oh, let's reset, let's hit a reset button. Let's figure out things a little differently. Let's move forward in a different direction. And they started to write that ship and it took them a little too long.

And then Enterprise, of course, ended after only four seasons. This to me feels like the fast forward version of that and like. They're hurtling towards something. I don't know that at this stage in watching it, I don't know that I feel like they actually know where it is other than one big element. And I will also say that I was pretty surprised to realize as I was watching the first of these two episodes, I think that that the Red Angel was the last episode of Discovery that I watched.

From this point on, yeah, I recalled not having finished the season and not having returned to it, not out of a sense of exhaustion or dislike, but just, life gets busy. I mean, when this came out, I had a son in high school who was... You know, all the difficulties of helping a teenager navigate, uh, high school years is one thing, but it would not be too long after this.

Just one year after this, if people recall a little thing called COVID 19, uh, during that period of time, I wasn't really consuming a lot of stuff like this. I was diving deep into anything that would distract me. in a humorous mode. So it was a lot of comedies. It was a lot of, it was a lot of. Reality TV of people baking things, like that kind of thing was what I leaned into heavily during the pandemic.

So I didn't go back to a show that felt like, yeah, watching people try to struggle to survive in isolation sounds a little too reminiscent of. So I didn't go back to the show. But as I was watching the Red Angel, I was suddenly like, Oh, I think this is it. I think this is the last episode I remember watching.

And then upon watching the second episode, I didn't recall. Much of the second episode. Um, so I do think that this was the point where I no longer watched and I'm looking forward to getting to the next three episodes that we have. And as I mentioned last week, uh, we were aware that Such Sweet Sorrow, which is coming, not this coming week, but two weeks from now, is a two parter.

But next week, we will be watching Through the Valley of Shadows, which is the penultimate, effectively, episode of this season. So we are not too far away from jumping into Strange New Worlds, given... I know, I'm excited about that. No spoilers, but... But things are going to happen that are going to take us to a completely different series.

So viewers, listeners, what do you think? Overall, for me, these two episodes, like I said, were a little bit like watching something like Independence Day, which if you go in wanting to see Independence Day can be great fun. It's fine. But if you go in wanting to see Star Trek. It's disappointing. I found myself tired by these episodes and not to put too many words into Matt's mouth, but MOTHER!

So let us know in the comments, what did you think? Did you agree with us that they really kind of missed the mark and it feels rushed? Or do you feel like these two episodes really, really work? I found myself not being too crazy about the mother and the motivations. Did you think she was the best part of these two episodes?

Let us know in the comments. Matt, before we sign off, is there anything you want to let our listeners and viewers know about that you have coming up on your main channel? Yeah.

I have a video coming out, uh, about this time that's all about the solar panel system I put in my house. Uh, this is the second time I've put solar on a house, and this one is...

Much bigger than the last one I put on my house. Uh, it's a kind of a crazy journey putting this on and, uh, I go into details about what I did, why I did it, and where I think things are going.

As for me, if you're interested in finding out more about my books, you can go to my website, seanferrell. com. You can also just go directly to wherever it is you buy your books, local bookstore, major chain, anywhere online.

My books are available everywhere, and I appreciate your interest in looking into those. And if you'd like to support the show, please consider leaving a review on Apple, Google, Spotify, here on YouTube, wherever it was you found this, go back there, leave a review, don't forget to subscribe, and please do share it with your friends, all of that really does help.

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