Trek In Time

Matt and Sean talk about faith versus science versus storytelling. Spoiler: we’re not too crazy at some of the storytelling with this one.

Show Notes

Matt and Sean talk about faith versus science versus storytelling. Spoiler: we’re not too crazy at some of the storytelling with this one. 

YouTube version of the podcast:

Audio version of the podcast:

Get in touch:

Follow us on Twitter: @byseanferrell @mattferrell or @undecidedmf
★ Support this podcast ★

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.

Hey, everybody in today's episode of track and time, we're gonna be talking about faith conflicting with science conflicting with storytelling. That's right. It's enterprise season three, episode 12, chosen round. Welcome to Trek in time where we're watching every episode of star Trek in chronological order.

And we're also putting it into context at the time of the original broadcast. So we're looking at things that were going on right now. Happy new year, Matt it's 2004, suddenly

happy new

year, Sean. So who are we? Oh, I'm Sean Ferrell. I'm a writer. I've written some sci-fi, I've written some stuff for kids.

And with me as my brother, Matt, Matt is the guru inquisitor behind the YouTube channel undecided with Matt fer. Which takes a look at emerging tech and its impact on our lives. Matt, how are you doing this weekend? Pretty good. Trying to relax. How about yourself doing the same? We're in the final days of summer and my son is currently upstairs pretending that he isn't gonna be starting his senior year of high school, this coming week.

And I won't let him pretend that any longer. So wake up time to go to. As usual, we like to start these episodes by sharing some conversations we're having with you, the listeners or viewers, and Matt, do you wanna share some comments from previous episodes? Sure. Uh,

from the last episode, which was about carpenter street, which was an episode, both of us were kind of.

Not happy with mm-hmm uh, pale goes 69 wrote we should start calling Daniels. Dr. Who? Because he's so full of time. Wimy stuff.

yeah. Sometimes the stuff that happens, Dr. Who. yeah, it doesn't bother me and they'll do the same thing over here. And it does because doctor, who's not trying to be hard sci-fi whereas this is it's fantasy.

Yeah. Yeah. So

doctor who's fantasy. Yeah. This is like hard sci-fi. The other comment was from AJ Chan who wrote star Trek has episodes where it's somewhat entertaining, but don't make sense with the logic of established of the established universe carpent street Voyager's threshold. And star Trek five all come to mind when he said star Trek five, he laughed because, oh boy, that movie, I, I

hate that.

Movie's the worst one. It is the worst one, but there's one, one element of it that I've ever love element. There is in the beginning of the movie, Kirk says I've always known I will die. And at the end of the movie, Kirk says, I thought we weren't gonna make it. And SP responses. That would be impossible because you were never alone.

And every time that moment happens, it gets me right in the heart. The Vulcan side of me melts, and I turn into a little blubbering quivering, massive jello. So. Other than that, the movie is terrible.

so on today's episode, Matt, do you hear that sound in the background? Is it just me or, oh my gosh. It's the read alert. That means it's time for you to read the Wikipedia summary of the episode. Get ready, everybody. If you blink, you will miss this. Okay.

chosen realm is the 12th episode from the third season of the science fiction television series, star Trek enterprise, the series 64th episode it first aired on January 14th, 2004.

Enterprise is taken over by a group of religious zealots called Trianon, and Archer must retake it before it's too late. Done done. That is short to the point. Thank you very much. Whoever wrote that slow collapser thank you very much.

Mm-hmm one third of that summary is actually summary. The rest of it is just the usual yeah.

Wikipedia song and dance of this is the show enterprise. Bababa. WikiEd

Wikipedia always strikes me as like a college term paper where it's like, this paper has to be 2000 words. Must pad description count.

right. How many thats can I add to this sentence? So as Matt just shared with us, this is season three, episode 12.

It was directed by Roxanne Dawson, who has become a favorite director of mine, not just in this show. I've. I spot her name on programs I'm watching now. And when I see it, I'm always very pleased because I really think she's great behind the camera. She was great on camera as well. I liked her as an actress, but the fact that she's transitioned to being such a capable director is, is terrific.

And I really felt like this episode written by Manny Coto. Didn't give her a lot of great stuff to work with, but I felt like no, she and the actors are doing the best they can with the material they've been given. We'll be talking about that in a bit more. The original air date was January 14th, 2004, and the guest appearances included Connor O Ferrell as prat T Vince grant, Lindsey Stoddard Taylor Sheridan, David use.

Gregory wag. Naski Matt, hun and Kim Fitzgerald. And what was the world like? January 14th, 2004. We've just entered 2004 for the first time. And it's gonna be a big and busy year for all of us. Matt spoiler alert, things happen. but it all started right here with the number one song this week. This is one I actually remember.

You do enjoyed and still enjoy. Hey. Yeah, by outcast was the number one song and we'll be the number one song for a couple more weeks. It's just that good. And at the movies, we were lining up to see a little film called the Lord of the rings, the return of the king. It only made 14 million this week, but this is its fourth week making it the first movie since the fellowship of the ring to hold the top spot for that many weeks in a row and on television.

What were we watching on January 14th, 2004, Matt, get ready? Mm. We were watching my wife and kids and it's all relative 9 million and almost 8 million relatively on CBS cold case was getting 12 million viewers on Fox, that 70 show and the simple life we're both getting close to 10 million. And on the WB Smallville was beating enterprise.

It was getting 5 million. Compared to enterprises, just south of 4 million. But the big one I wanted to share a little show called the apprentice premiered this week. And it was its pilot was reir this evening, earning 8.8 million viewers. And if nobody's aware of what the apprentice is, You've been living under a rock.

You've been living under a rock and you're still living under a rock because we're still dealing with the fallout. That's right. Yeah. That we will tap dance around the political issues that I am referring to.

And in the news, I wanted to talk about this issue, that this opinion article from the New York times discusses, because I think it ties into the creation of this episode. I think it underlies the motivations of the episode. Mm-hmm IA BMI of the international Herald Tribune wrote an opinion piece in the New York times and January.

Religious freedom. Muslims in Europe face widespread abuse. She talked about the us state department doing research into curtailing of religious freedom. And after the September 11th attack, one of the things that the Bush administration repeatedly hammered on was that our war on terror was not a war against.

And president Bush repeated that several times in major public addresses. We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with extremism, the nuts and bolts of that. What that looks like you can debate whether or not we were successful in framing or actually carrying out that. But the reality was that anti-Muslim violence increas.

In this country and around the world, post nine 11. Yeah. So this opinion piece from the times on January 8th includes these statements, the state department's fifth annual report on international religious freedom released on December 18th shows a frightening increase in anti-Muslim attitudes in several European countries, including some of America's strongest, all.

The report sites, the growth of Europe's Muslim immigrant population as the most common reason for anti-Muslim tensions in that particular region in Britain, where 1.6 million Muslims live London based Islamic human rights group reported 344 incidents of anti-Muslim violence against Muslims in the year after September 11th, 2001, including the stabbing of a Muslim woman since June, 2002.

British Muslims have reported assaults, acts of vandalism and attacks on mocks mosques, some motivated by negative and irresponsible media coverage. In 2003, for example, anti-Muslim remarks were drawn on walls at the Birmingham's central mosques shortly after the airing of a fi fictional BBC television program, showing the recruitment of suicide bombers in a Birmingham Moss.

It included also this statement, the United States has also expressed its concern that some governments may use the war on terrorism to restrain religious freedom. Hanford warned that nations have targeted religious believers, even under the guise of anti-terrorism campaigns and driven some toward radical radicalism and violence.

I wanted to share that as context, I thought it was incredibly timely that this opinion piece dropped on January 14th, just a less than a week before this episode would air because from my viewing this episode, Takes a staunch anti-religious stance. It seems to play yes, two sides against each other, the rationalist versus the fundamentalist.

And it's constantly punching down at the fundamentalist. It doesn't give any kind of credence to people of. And from scene to scene, it goes out of its way to depict those with faith as conniving and nefarious and dangerous, to a sense of reality. And I say all of that with a complete understanding that.

That can be true. An individual can have faith that drives them to acts of violence and acts of extremism. But for the purposes of this episode, it felt like it was stacking the deck against them and promoting an agenda toward the audience that didn't feel like this was the best storytelling. This was really kind of framing.

We gotta be wary of those who are driven by faith because they can't be trusted as a result. I'm watching the episode and I'm like, this is well made, but it's effectively propaganda. It just didn't strike the right notes for me at all. It did not feel by the end of it like star. because at the end of it, Archer is literally rubbing the noses of the fundamentalists in the results of their faith.

And I'm like, yeah, I can't remember an episode where Kirk was just like, I fucking told you and then I'm out. I don't remember anything like that coming out of star Trek.

Yeah. Just to kinda give my high level opinion of this episode. I didn't like it, but I would give it like. On scale of one to 10, like a five mm-hmm and part of the reason I would put it right in the middle is directing was good.

The acting was good. There was some good action in it. There was some interesting dialogue between characters. I thought it in general it was entertaining, but it felt like somebody playing a song on a piano and hitting a wrong key. Yeah. You know, every measure or two, they were hitting a wrong key. Yeah.

And it didn't quite jive because as you're pointing out and I agree with you completely on this, it did feel very lopsided. And if it was, if it was star Trek, its finest, it would've been having a very interesting debate. Wrestling with faith between like, I don't know how to phrase it, like middle of the road, faith, like, like somebody who's has faith, but doesn't take it to the extremes.

Right. Versus somebody who's taking it to an extreme and this was purely it's all extreme. Yeah. And it was non-faith against extremists. Yeah. And there was missing that middle ground. Yeah. Made the entire episode. Really odd and preachy. And just like, like you said, propaganda, it was at the end of the episode, my wife was sitting on the couch with me watching it and I said, wow, that was preachy.

Was the thing I said, when it was all done. And she was like, yeah, that was kind of rough. Yeah. So it's like, yes, it wasn't just me. My wife felt the same way after watching

it. Yeah. And I couldn't help it feel like the entire thing with the depiction of how the. The aliens were depicted. It felt like it was very well.

The thinly veiled representations of middle Eastern garb. Um, it felt like the final scene and, and we haven't really given a summary of the episode other than the, the, this intensely brief. Summary from Wikipedia this week, the enterprise crosses paths with an alien ship that appears to be stuck in an anomaly in the expanse and in an attempt to help then docks with the ship and then the aliens, while they're being helped connive to take over the enterprise.

Another classic star Trek story of it takes aliens about 15 minutes to come up with a plan to successfully take over the ship. Which includes suicide bombings. So there's your first very thinly veiled mm-hmm connection with the extremism of the early. Of the early part of this century after September 11th, where everybody was like suicide bombing is what they do.

Suicide. Booming is bombing is how they carry out their, their agenda. So that's taking place, they take over the ship and then it becomes. Debate between the leader of this cult who forces Archer to pick a crewman, to die, to demonstrate to your crew that we are serious and Archer chooses himself and chooses the method of execution as using the transporter.

This was an element that was just like, this was, you know, this was, this was actually right out of original star Trek. This kind of idea. Yeah. Like if I have to die, can I choose a painless method? Can I choose this? They transport him to a different part of the ship where now he can carry out the attempt to take the ship back.

So as Matt said, I agree there are action sequences in here that are, that are well done. There are some moments of tension where one of the suicide bombers, when they first blow themselves up a crewman walking through the ship stops. Yeah. And she's watching him and it's really difficult to watch because you know, she's going to die, but she's confused by what is happening.

And then you see the exterior of the ship, you see that part of the ship just blow out. So, you know, she is dead at least, and it, they refer to a number of crewmen have been lost. So this is. At turns dramatic, but it's followed up by these moments of somebody gets up on a soapbox and invariably it's Archer again and again, and again, getting up in front of this religious zealot.

And as Matt said, there's no middle ground. And there were moments where I anticipated. We would get that middle ground response. When we see the couple times

they, I think that they it's a very weak attempt, but they did

try a couple times. Yeah. I think they thought they were trying harder than they actually did because they don't actually give a lot of credence to any of them.

Nobody with the religious aspect to their motivations is given time to develop the enterprise. Taken over by this group of zealots who then are going back to their home world, where they are going to end the war that's been going on for a hundred years. They meet some of the ships from the group that they've been at war with.

We are never given any kind of sense of the context. Of this group is, are these representatives of a government? Are these simply other cultists? We do not know. So that's one knock against it. We're not given a sense of, okay. Are these now representatives of a larger group of this planet or are they no different from this cult?

So they then cross paths with this group, from the coming to them from the home world. and the zealots take the enterprise into battle and are easily knocking these other ships out, blowing them up left and right. So any voices that might, that have come out of that group are now being wiped. Literally out of the show, the only conversation we get around, what is the cause of the war is literally dissolved down to.

Like a sentence, an almost punchline sentence that felt like it was either from the original series episode where you had the gentleman with the blackface Whiteface, Whiteface, blackface, the simplicity of their war, which was well, his black side is on the wrong side and his white side is on the wrong side.

The silliness of that in the original series could be written away as like, oh, it's late sixties, early seventies. They. they were being a little too on the nose. They doing the same thing. This did exactly the same thing. Yep. Where, what is the cause of your religious differences? And it was, they believe that the spheres created the universe in nine days and we believe that it was created in 10.

So, and at that point, it's just like a sad trombone could be heard playing in the background because like give us. Anything, give more else, give us anything else other than a simple punchline. Well, you know, those religious people, they're all believing in gobbly cook and none of it really matters because none of it's real, it

is well, they could have, they could have very easily given a depth in that conversation.

Basically, there's one person that's bored of the enterprise is husband and wife. They're having doubts about what they're doing. Yes. And so. Archer basically leans into those people that are having doubts. They could have expanded on those conversations between him and Archer. Absolutely. To give a little more depth and context to what's going on to not make it this paintbrush, but paint by numbers, black and white, good or bad that there needs to be a gray area that they're exploring.

Yes. And it could have been as simple as like. Him describing. Yeah. Okay. It's like, we thought it was eight days and they thought it was nine days and then Archer could have said, but that, that, that means killing. And he could say, well, the other side doesn't believe in that. Yeah. And he could have said something along the lines of, you know, what we were taught is the, the text actually says, blah, blah, which could just be misinterpreted to be yes.

Going to an extreme of it means killing somebody or you interpret it a different way. It means you just. You shun them or something like that. Right. It's like they could have done something where it could have been where you have a deeper explanation as to like how things are being interpreted by one side versus the other and why one went violent and one didn't.

Yeah, the problem I have with all of this though, is that the end of the episode, it's like a Twilight zone episode. Like, you know, where the guy ends up alone on the planet and he

wakes longer. He's

like, yeah. It's like, it was basically that where they get back the planet and the planets basically. So many problems with that, which were okay.

So that basically means both sides of this war were zealots and there was no, but yeah, nobody in the middle millions of people, nobody was trying to be rational about this. That doesn't make any sense. That would never play out that way. Uh, it would also means that like the, the, the people that had abducted the enterprise were probably as equivalent to numbers as the other side.

Mm-hmm how, how many times do you think political discussions actually boiling down to two sides? Cleanly like that? They don't. Yeah. And, and on top of that, the, the fact that at that moment, Their entire civilization has been destroyed. So why were these scrappy little ships at the end of the other side, rushing out, attacking the enterprise?

Yeah. Yeah. It's like, we are down to our last thousands number of people that have survived and we're gonna take on this giant ship that made no sense. You think they would come to the enterprise going, we need your help. Don't we need your help or don't hurt us. You know, we're whatever. But the fact that that all played out that way for that twisty turned ending, it just did not jive at all.

Yeah. Didn't make any logical sense. Yeah.

It was also a missed opportunity because they did one of the things about this episode that made me feel conflicted was. they're trying to tie it into the larger Xindi storyline and they're doing a better job than they have, like last week's episode where it just felt like, like the storyline was completely disconnected from anything to do with what's been going on this season and this time it's a, okay, here's a religious group that is connected to the spheres.

These things in the expands that are creating the expands. And it could have been an opportunity for them to add to the mythology of the spheres. Instead of doing what they did, which was the religious zealots view, actually getting to the sphere or standing on the sphere or going into the sphere as heresy raises an interesting question.

How do they actually know about the spheres at all then? So that would've been an interesting avenue to explore. How do you know about the thing? If you don't actually, if you haven't actually experienced it at some point in the past, did this species come in contact with these things? Another element was the zealot believes there are thousands of these and to Paul's like, no, there's like 59.

She has an exact number based on math and science. It is put in there to depict. like crazy zealots they're based on just magical thinking. It doesn't have any bearing on reality. Wouldn't it have been more interesting if he had had not only the correct number that exists, but maybe even referred to yes, but at one time there were X number, like some element of it that was all faith based for him, but was also real.

That could have been an interesting component and it could have an opportunity between these characters where he's just like your science is blah, blah, blah. And this is something we see. Playing out today in pandemic responses, in questions around what should schools be teaching? Like we're seeing it all play out today.

Well, here in the us, and here here's my, my final comment about this. Have a moment where the characters have a discussion around, well, you are making claims about what science does, and yet you use science when it fits your purposes. You're out here in a space. How did that come to be, if not through science, like having a discussion about what, where do you draw lines?

Where do you, where do you see the, the, the wall that you're no longer willing to look at the usefulness of a certain mode of thinking that conversation never takes place, but that's,

that's precisely what we're talking about is this episode was clearly had an agenda, an extra grind against. Religion.

Yeah. Which I will clearly state is the wrong approach for this episode. And what you're describing the actual theme could have been the discussion between faith and science. Yes. And it could have been, like you said, if it was, they knew exactly how the spheres there were and they could have, they actually discussed at one point between Archer.

And what was the main character's name? I'm blanking on his name? The, uh,

the leader, the, I believe is his title. Yeah.

He and Archer had a kind of touched on it, but

keep on doing it.

Yeah, they, they touched on it, but they didn't really discuss it in depth. And it was the concept of both sides are admitting.

these things are changing space, right? We like the faith side. He said, we know it's changing space, it's preparing it for their return. And that's exactly what to Paul and the captain and the rest of the crew have discovered is this is changing space. Mm-hmm why is it changing space? They could had the discussion from the faith side of that, to the science side of that, basically to Paul and the science side saying this is gonna make it in inhabit.

For us and them saying, no, I have faith it's for those that believe that this change is happening. It's like that would've been more interesting because neither side would actually know what the correct answer is. Right. And so it would help explain why some people are going on faith and belief, and some people are trying to lead into the science.

And it would've been much more interesting to discussion between the two as to why the change was happening versus. There's thousands now there's 59 and you know, everybody's extremists and faith is stupid. It was, it, it kind of missed the mark for where they could have actually had a very interesting discussion with the exact same plot points.

Like you wouldn't had to change any of the plot. Like they take over the ship there bombing things that you could've done all the same stuff, but you just changed some of the discussion and it would've refocused it from anti-religion and Antifa to a much more nuanced. Interesting, ethical. Debate between the two sides.

Yeah. And I think that if you were gonna do that, you would also need to introduce more of the middle ground. Yes. The end of the story would need to be changed the meeting up of the ships from the planet on their way to, it needed to give a context to how large is this cult. They claim the war has been going on for a hundred years.

I would've, I, what I thought was going to be coming was when the enterprise finally connects with the larger planet, the larger planet's response would be, oh, these guys are a blip and they carry out stupid acts and kill people once every few years, but we largely have sequestered them. And the reason you found them alone in space is because we.

Kick them off the planet, like yep. Have something be like, like these. And there's an episode of the original series where it's a group of a rag tag group that are searching for the planet, Eden, where they're looking for the priority old planet that all life is supposedly come from. Well, when they find it, it is toxic to them.

They step off their ship and the grass burns their feet and everything is poison and they cannot live there. Like that felt at the time cartoonish in its depiction of religion. But compared to this, it actually gives them more of an opportunity to share thoughts because they have conversations with like Spock spends a lot of time with this group and it's kind of moved by their ideals.

Yep. And nothing like that takes place on this episode. It doesn't give it doesn't give any voice. A contemporary version of religion that says, oh yeah, we're about love and not hurting other people. We're not about yep. Forcing our thoughts on you. So it's unfortunate. I agree with you in your rating of the show saying like on a scale one to 10, about a five, I give it a five only because of the competence in the filmmaking.

But if I was to say to somebody like, oh, you're thinking of rewatching enterprise, I would say, this is a. I think you could skip right over this episode, which is interesting considering I would not recommend skipping last week's episode because I liked element, even though it was disconnected from what the season has been about.

I thought it was actually a better episode than this one, which is trying to be closer to the seasonal goal. So yeah. So listeners, viewers, what did you think, do you agree that this episode. Doesn't really feel like star Trek or do you disagree with us and think that we're missing the point. Let us know in the comments, you can jump into the comments.

As we shared earlier in this episode, the comments are a big part of this discussion and we look forward to hearing what you think. And next time we're gonna be talking about the episode, proving ground Matt, any expectations around what we'll be talking about, then

somebody is gonna prove

themselves, or maybe they're gonna prove that there is ground.

So, yeah, only time we'll tell, we'll find out next week before we sign off Matt, is there anything you wanna remind our listeners about?

Well, one thing would be out of time, if you like this show, you can subscribe to the show and help support us financially. And we put out a members only feed for out of time, and we're gonna be having an episode coming up on what are we talking about in the next episode?

Sure. We're gonna be talking about the movie dual. The movie dual and maybe a little bit of lower decks. I actually watched a little bit of that. It might be fun to talk about that a little bit too.

We'll do that too. Yep. As for me, you can check up my website, Sean Ferrell dot com, or you can go to your local bookstore and ask for my books there, or your local library.

You should be able to find them in all those different places. And as Matt said, if you wanna support the show, you can do it directly by becoming a supporter. And that makes you a. And when you become a cadet, you become automatically a recipient of out of time. You can also support us simply by reviewing us, go to apple podcast, Google, Spotify, wherever it was.

You found this show, go back there and say, I like the sounds of these guys' voices, even though their voices sound the same, all of that really does help support the show. Thank you so much for listening or watching, and we'll talk to you next time.