the Little Red Reviewer

Some thoughts on Star Trek: Discovery

Posted on: March 31, 2019

I’m late to Discovery, and I’m fine with that.  After watching the first season, i have a lot (holy shit a lot!) of thoughts.  I wasn’t sure how to get them all down, so I cheated, and interviewed myself about my experience.  This is not a review or a critique, it is a ramble.   Cuz I got thoughts, and what is the internet good for, if not rambling?

 

Yeah, so this blog post is less about ST: Discovery and more about how I react to things.  But I finally watched the first season, and I Have Thoughts.

 

Very minor spoilers ahead.

 

This showed on CBS All Access like a year ago. Why did it take you this long to finally watch it?

 

Biggest reason: I don’t find CBS All Access to be worth what they are charging for it. There isn’t enough there there.    I love subscription streaming services, when those services offer a lot of stuff I’m interested in watching. Netflix could double what they charge and I’d still be ripping them off.  CBS All Access was asking me to pay however much a month for one show. I still find that idea laughable. Discovery looked interesting, but this was a simple value equation: was the cost of CBS All Access a value match for what I was buying? Nope.

 

A friend bought the 1st season on Blu-ray and offered to let me borrow it. So that’s how I ended up finally watching Discovery.

 

What did you think of the overall design of the show?

 

I love the artwork of the opening credits. I’m a sucker for anything architecture-y.  I liked the interiors of the Klingon ships. The color schemes for the Discovery sere darker than I’m used to for a Star Trek story,  it was more Deep Space Nine (a station that wasn’t designed by the Federation), everything was more Battlestar Galactica than I was expecting.

 

Battlestar Galactica? What makes you compare this show to BSG?

 

Design. Color scheme. Dark plot elements. Tension.  The focus on non-verbal communication and body language. Even how it was filmed.

 

I’m used to Star Trek sets being of neutral color schemes, I’m used to the camera angles being more “old school”, so that one set, one hallway, could be made to look like many.  The set designs, camera angles, and filming style felt more Battlestar Galactica or even Firefly to me. Grungier sets, more sharp edges and fewer softened edges, more hallways that looked like actual hallways.  I grew up on Next Gen and Voyager. Those scripts were written almost “cozy mystery” style, where you knew from the first minute of the episode that everything would be neatly wrapped up and sanitized in 42 minutes with minimal tension, no anger or arguments, no issues with integrity,  plenty of diplomacy, and that in a few weeks the characters would forget everything that happened in this episode. Deep Space Nine left that episodic-ness behind somewhat, which was nice.

 

Discovery didn’t feel sanitized. It didn’t feel like anything was going to be wrapped up in one or two episodes. The character’s non-verbal communication added a ton of tension and suspicion. I didn’t feel like the characters would forget what happened in a few episodes. It felt like a scifi soap opera. It felt like Battlestar Galactica. I mean that as a compliment to both shows.

 

You posted on twitter that you’re afraid of Jason Isaacs. What the hell?

 

He’s a really great actor.  Has a metric fuckton of presence.  He walks into the room and your eyes are on him (ok, maybe that’s just me?).  I saw him in a Netflix original tv show called The O.A., which I highly recommend if you haven’t seen it.  Isaacs plays the villain, and boy is he sociopathically villainous. I left the first season of The O.A. scared shitless of him.  The 2nd season of The O.A. comes out soon, and in the promo, it looks like the characters are now friends with him? What the fuck! Why aren’t you running away from him as fast as your legs will take you? He’s the bad guy!!!

 

So when he showed up on Discovery, a loud voice in the back of my head was screaming “RUN”.   It wasn’t the words that were coming out of his mouth that made me nervous, it was all his non-verbal mannerisms, that he looked away from people while talking, the angle of his shoulders, his not quite smile when things were going the way he wanted.  Watching him on screen was like noticing a big spider crawling down behind the sofa. I know it’s there, i just don’t know exactly where, or when it’s going to crawl out, or if it’s two centimeters from my shoulder, right this second. Oh, hai anxiety!

 

I was so freaked out by him that I had a tough time paying attention to what was happening on the TV screen.    It made me feel a little better when some stuff is revealed about his character, i felt justified in my anxiety and unrelenting fear.

 

What about other actors and characters? Who did you like? Who didn’t you like?

 

I love Michelle Yeoh.  She makes everything better.  Every scene with her is my favorite scene. She looked like she had a TON of fun filming her scenes, and I just love everything about her and her character.

Doug Jones, always amazing.  As always, he needs more scenes.  Why isn’t he the main character??   If this show had been advertised as the Doug Jones – Michelle Yeoh show, I’d have been much more interested in it right away.

Tilly and Stamets – I didn’t like either of these characters at first. I’m sure they were written/directed/scripted that way on purpose?  Once Tilly got some scenes without Burnham, she grew on me pretty quickly. Same with Stammetts. Once he relaxed and let his brilliant science nerd flag fly, he became one of my favorite characters.  I don’t want to spoil anything about Tilly, but when she does those scenes where her hair is straightened, she has so much fun just letting loose!

 

Sarek – love him.  I’ve had a 20+ year relationship with thinking about how Sarek and Spock interact with humans, it is endlessly fascinating. I don’t know who plays Sarek, but I thought he was great.  I am not good at verbalizing my emotions, so people have accused me of not having any. Tilly would accuse me of not having any emotions. But if I was stuck in a room with her, I’d probably also have sensory overload, which would cause me to put up even more walls as a coping mechanism. I like her, so I’d want to be in a room with her, but I wouldn’t really know how to interact with her at her frenetic pace, and how do you ask her slow down without sounding like an asshole? (is that what being a Vulcan is all about? Everything gives you sensory overload and your verbal vocabulary doesn’t match what’s happening or the pace of how you are expected to express yourself, so as a coping mechanism you put up as many walls as you can?  Everything is still happening inside, but you lack the mechanisms to express it in a socially acceptable way???)

 

Michael Burnham – I can’t stand her.  I don’t know if it’s how Sonequa Martin-Green was directed, or if it’s how the character was written,or Burnham’s inescapable MarySue-ness, but I can’t stand her.  She’s been described as charismatic – I found her to be the opposite of charismatic. I had a tough time getting into the show because the first episodes are all Burnham, all the time, and the thought of 15-some episodes of all her, all the time, didn’t sound enjoyable. At all.  For everything Burnham has done, everything she’s been involved with, how is it possible for her to seem so flat, so uninteresting, and so annoying? Once other characters finally got some scenes that were Burnham free, I found myself enjoying the show more. If you like her, that’s awesome, I’m happy for you.  She didn’t work for me.

 

What did you think of the Spore Drive?

 

Science is fun!  And um, the Spore Drive doesn’t line up with Star Trek canon, so that was weird. The spore drive makes for an excellent plot device tho.   It allows Captain Lorca’s ego to grow out of control, and lets Stamets have some good screen time. It is a required set piece for the Mirror Universe plot line to happen,  and without that plotline, Burnham has no chance of redemption. In the recipe of this show, the spore drive is a required ingredient/plot device.

 

What did you think of the Klingons?

 

For about five minutes, I was like “who are these guys? They don’t match my internal definition of  what a Klingon should look or sound like. Maybe they are just generic bad guys?”

 

But after those five minutes I was like “I love everything about these Klingons, I feel like I can connect with them. this TV show better have a ton more of this!!”

 

I understand why they hate the Federation.  I understand why they view us as the bad guys, as a group who will force them to assimilate to our standards.    The Federation is the shitty colonizers, we are the Empire of Masks, bringing education and roads and technology and the like.  Sure, we’ll give you stuff we view as valuable (we don’t care if you think it’s valuable), and then we’ll absorb you. Resistance is futile.

 

There’s a scene in Voyager (I think first season?) where Tuvok has to “clean up the rabble”. He takes a few under performing crewmen, and enforces dress code and physical fitness expectations and the like.  The Bajoran is forced to remove their earring, because it doesn’t match Federation dress code. It’s a religious symbol, and Tuvok is given the shitty job of telling that person that they can’t have the one thing that allows them their religious identity. Is Star Trek ready to do that scene with a human who wears a hijab?

 

I’m also thinking about Worf in Next Gen.  How much of his own personality, of his own views, of everything that made him himself, did he have to bury deep, to be accepted by the crew of the Enterprise?  How many shitty jazz concerts did he have to sit through and pretend to like, as the price of being accepted?

 

So yeah, I get the anger of the ST:D Klingons.  I get their distaste. I also love their flagship, that the bridge looks (and sometimes acts) like a cathedral.  I wish the Klingons in previous series had been given this much depth.

 

Also, the whole L’Rell and Voq thing. Super fun storyline!

 

You’ve described Star Trek as a view of a hopeful, optimistic future. Do you still feel that way?

 

Not as much, and not as strongly. Maybe “more complex” is the right phrase? Thinking about things is fun. 🙂

 

Thanks to the St:D Klingons, I’m having a tough time reconciling my view of Star Trek as offering a hopeful, optimistic future.  Sure, it offers a hopeful and optimistic future for humans, it offers safety and optimism for the group who is making the rules and enforcing their view of society.  It offers safety for people who look and act just like me. But for others, I’m guessing not so much. And in my cocoon of safety, I don’t have to think about them, do I?

 

How many alien civilizations would view us the same way we view the Borg?  These are fun things for me to think about, because I can’t reconcile them.

 

I owe all my thinking about this to the ST:D Klingons.

 

In real life, i have curly red hair, that i can make curlier. It makes sense for me to cosplay Tilly.

 

I’d rather cosplay L’Rell. She’s far more interesting to me, and i LOVE her wardrobe (armor? Uniform? I have no idea, i love her look)

What did you think of the Mirror Mirror storyline?

 

This was the biggest plot device in the history of ever, but this plotline was more TV fun than I’ve had in a long time! So much of this plot is so over the top!  (so, does that make the Spore Drive the Macguffin, so the Mirror Mirror plot line can occur?) Tilly has so much fun, I loved her reactions to things. I appreciated the super dark turn their mission on Qo’nos took, I appreciated how the “secret mission” was a call back to the first conversation we observe between Burnham and Sarek, where she’s asking him “How did the Vulcans beat the Klingons”, and his response is something along the lines of “I’ll tell you, but it goes against what the Humans will deem acceptable”.

 

Do you consider yourself a Trekkie?

 

Nope.  I reserve that term for people who are part of Star Trek fandom, which I am not. I am a casual enjoyer and consumer of Star Trek TV shows, movies, and other tie-in fiction. I can’t tell you who guest starred in which episode, the specifics of different ships, or exactly how Deep Space Nine ended, or the plots of specific episodes.

 

Star Trek has always been a part of my life, and my life would be rather empty without it.  But when it comes to fandom, I fail all “quizzes of entry”

 

So, that’s where I’m at with Discovery.

 

The last few minutes of the last episode had a nicely unexpected twist.  I appreciated the musical choice made for the ending credits of that episode.

 

Trying to psych myself up to rewatch the first season of O.A., so that i’ve got it fresh in my head for the 2nd season.  Better make someone check behind the sofa for spiders first.

 

In the meantime, this photo made me very happy.

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4 Responses to "Some thoughts on Star Trek: Discovery"

Since I hate to do things out of order, I plan of watching Star Trek shows in chronological order, I’m about halfway through the original series (and I’m loving it!) but I don’t know when I’ll be able to watch Discovery! xD

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I’ve loved Discovery since the first season and the second season is even better! As for continuity, the second season finale fixes everything.

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