‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Gets a Trailer for Season 2, And There’s Yet Another White Male Captain And No Surprises

Why am I even still writing about this stupid fucking show?

Nevermind. Let’s just get this over with.

THRILLING.

There’s a part of me that really, really hopes they made a point of putting that “Right, ladies?” line in the trailer because of this article I wrote last year. Like, I really, really doubt it. But I know that at least some of the writers saw it. So I can hope.


“We have always looked to the stars – to discover who we are. And hidden there was a message, made of space and time. Visible only to those open enough to receive it.”

Well gosh golly gee, that’s all very deep and provocative. And it’s accompanied by the image of what looks like some kind of sexy space spider lady in high heals. Is she delivering the message? Is she some kind of space courier? Cosmic FedEx?

sexyspacelady
When you watch the trailer, this figure walks like it’s in high heels. Because of course it does.

“I’m here to take command of the Discovery under Regulation 19, Section C.”

But at the end of Season 1 of ‘Discovery’, wasn’t the Enterprise broadcasting a “Priority One Distress Call”? Then the Enterprise appears and she doesn’t look distressed. And this trailer doesn’t make it look like Pike was leaving a distressed ship, he only brings two or three people with him. Can you really put out a distress call and then as soon as someone drops by to pick you up, just take command of their ship?

Pike invokes regulation 19, section C. And then Saru says “Your directive is only instituted when an imminent threat is detected.” So, wait, so Pike knew he was taking command of the Discovery? Then why was the Enterprise broadcasting a distress call? It’s almost as though the writers needed a cliffhanger and some Enterprise fan service at the end of the first season, so just wrote a scene with no idea of what was going on and then just picked up where they left off for the second season. But I’m sure the writers are smarter than that.


redbursts

“Federation sensors picked up seven red bursts, spread out across more than thirty thousand light-years.”

Hey, remember how in the 2009 J. J. Abrams reboot movie, they had “red matter”, and everyone thought it was the dumbest thing ever? I bring that up now for no reason.

Also, in space, I know they have “red shift” and that stars are classified by colour, but don’t scientists usually talk about stuff by its defining feature? Like, gamma-ray bursts, or neutron stars? When I’m ordering an ice slushy at the cinema I’ll ask for “the red one”, but if I was talking about a potentially life-threatening explosion in space I like to think a bunch of scientists in the future would be a bit more specific than just describing it by its colour.

“Sir, there’s an anomaly off the starboard bow!”
“Well, what is it, Data?”
“It’s red, sir! It’s red!”

Also, he mentions that these bursts are “spread out across more than thirty thousand light-years.” Which is between one third and one sixth the diameter of the Milky Way. Except that the CGI seems to show them across the whole Milky Way. Unless that’s not the Milky Way, but if it’s some kind of nebula or star system, it’d be way too big – an area of space with a diameter of thirty thousand light-years could contain as many as 30 billion stars. Ah, whatever.


“These mysterious signals are beyond anything we understand (except for colour theory). Is it a greeting? A declaration of malice? Let’s find out.”

Oh, okay, so that’s the mystery – what’s behind these weird signals? Except I’m guessing it’s whatever message Burnham was talking about in the opening of the trailer. So I guess that’s that mystery solved.


detmer
This isn’t from the show, this was just a candid photo of Emily Coutts as she realised she actually had some lines to deliver this season.

“Trust us. Discovery has you. Right, ladies?”

There’s more dialogue between Burnham, Detmer and Owosekun in this two-minute trailer than there was in the first twelve episodes of Season One put together.


“This is the power of math, people!”

I am completely fine with everyone getting a bit more scientific and rational on this show. But god damn it if that line and its delivery and the little high five doesn’t make me want to murder literally every single person on this wretched fucking planet.

highfive
“We’re quirky!”

Also, Commander Airiam doesn’t appear in the trailer at all except for this shot. Until I spotted her here, I honestly thought she’d just been dropped from the series and that nobody would mention her ever again. Also note how she’s the third-highest ranking officer on the ship (maybe fourth now that Burnham’s reinstated) but she’s still being bossed around by a lieutenant and a cadet.

Sara Mitich, if you’re reading this, you did a great job on ‘The Expanse’, nobody thinks any less of you because of ‘Discovery’.


“My foster-brother, Mister Spock.”

“He took leave. It’s as if he’d run into a question he couldn’t answer.”

“Spock is linked to these signals. And he needs help.”

Jesus, where to start.

First off, I never had a “canon” problem with Burnham being written as Spock’s foster-sister. After all, it’s not the first time Spock had a family member ret-conned into his backstory. The main issue with it is that it acts as a weight around Burnham’s narrative that just wasn’t required. You can have a human character with a Vulcan upbringing without making her a relative of the only Vulcan that anyone recognises from the franchise.

pike
“Relax, everybody. There’s still a man in charge.”

Now they’re bringing Spock in as a major plot point, and you just know it’s going to suck. He’ll be doing something stupid or out of character and unless they get Zachary Quinto in to revive his role, the whole thing will probably be garbage.

Fortunately, abusing an existing character doesn’t retroactively ruin that character. Watching Spock scream and roar as he beats Khan with a metal box in ‘Into Darkness’ doesn’t change how I view the character when I re-watch ‘Wrath of Khan’ for the ninetieth time – it’s possible to retain detachment.

The real problem, and the catastrophic misstep that ‘Discovery’ seems to be making, is of taking familiar, brand-reinforcing characters like Spock and putting them firmly in the centre of a story that ought to be about Discovery and its crew.

Trek has always had crossovers – from minor guest appearances in one-off episodes like TNG’s ‘Relics’ and Voyager’s ‘Life Line’, to full-on cast insertion with Worf joining the Deep Space Nine crew from season 4 onwards. But when it’s a single episode in a season of more than twenty, it’s relatively non-intrusive. And in the case of Worf, it was actually a boon, giving an existing character some much needed growth and adding an extra element to an ensemble cast of strong, compelling characters (and Jake).

discocast
Oh look, the cast of ‘Discovery’, plus three female extras who they let join in the photoshoot.

And for all of ‘Discovery’s woes, its characters were arguably its strongest point. Tilly was a new take on the bumbling rookie. Saru had an interesting background, as poorly explored as it was. Tyler was a great vehicle for Shazad Latif, and even Stamets ended up rounding out nicely to be a thoughtful, tragic personality, quite distinct from the high-energy enthusiasm of the likes of Scotty, La Forge and Torres.

And the show should be about them. They’re the cast. It’s their stories that we want to care about. But now, in this season, we have Christopher Pike as the (white, male) captain – Christopher Pike, the man who was originally deeply uncomfortable with having women on his bridge, and who later became Bruce Greenwood, the fire alarm of contemporary actors – functional, but only remarkable if something’s going wrong. (I mean, he’s great and all, but try describing Christopher Pike based on his performance in the reboot movies. Do it. Tell me what his character is. Tell me what was distinct about his personality. I’ll wait.)

Then, we get to Burnham. Burnham suffered from a bad case of Gimmick Personality. Burnham is essentially an armature, onto which was layered the various hashtaggable statements that the writers thought were necessary to make the show interesting. She’s a human who was raised by Vulcans. She’s an orphan. She’s Spock’s sister. She’s Starfleet’s first traitor. Everything distinctive about Burnham comes from things that happened to her, or things that are incidental to her character. She began the first season with a series of actions that were baffling to the audience, and after that point all she really did was respond to stuff that happened to her.

burnham1

Stamets strives for scientific understanding of the fabric of the universe. Tilly is driven by her command ambitions. Saru tries to correct his past failures. But Burnham? Burnham gets coerced into serving on the Discovery, responds to threats as they arrive, and by the end we are told she has redeemed herself. She never sets out to seek redemption. She never pushes to make herself better, or discover new things about herself. When she takes the captain’s chair of the I.S.S. Discovery in the Mirror Universe, she doesn’t have that moment of “Alright, this is it, this is where I prove what I’m capable of.” She just sort of wanders over to it in confusion. The one decision we ever see her make is to save Mirror Georgiou.

Now, it looks like she’s just going to be on a mission to rescue Spock. Or as she calls him, “Mister Spock”, which is neither his name nor his rank. Also she’s older than he is. Which leads to the hilarious scenario that she grew up with a younger foster-brother who she called “Mister Spock.”

burnham2

But let’s put this in the perspective of people who might be watching this show with absolutely no prior knowledge of Star Trek (i.e. nobody). Are they suddenly supposed to care deeply about the fate of some rando who’s been mentioned by name twice in the first season? ‘Stranger Things’ made us care about the fate of Will by having us invest in his mother and her frantic, desperate need to find him. But Burnham doesn’t really seem to be very close to Spock at all, and Sarek is an emotionless Vulcan. So basically, the threat to Spock is palpable only to people who are already familiar with the franchise and who, therefore, already know that he’s probably going to be fine.

Just let these dweebs be the centre of their own story, for Christ’s sakes.


We also need to talk about the fact that Captain Pike takes over. This’ll be brief, but my points are thusly:

  • There is no compulsion to have Pike in charge to fit Trek’s history or canon. As far as we knew he only ever captained the Enterprise.
  • You could totally have had a badass woman in charge, like that one who appears in the wreckage in the trailer with the really stupid line about the pulsar thingy.
  • Why did they need to put another white man in charge of the ship?

It’s just really annoying, because it’s not even like Pike is some iconic part of Trek, he was in the first of two pilot episodes that nobody really remembers, and he was also in the reboot movies as a bland mentor character. And they’re not even using the same actor. So what’s the point? Could they not think of anything else in terms of storyline? Or anyone else to take command of the ship? Dullllll.


The rest of the trailer is pretty standard teaser-trailer fair. You get a few dramatic / amusing one-liners, some plug-in pop-rock (depending on which version of the trailer you watch, you’ll either get Lenny Kravitz for the CBS All-Access one or some painfully generic thumpy beats for the Netflix one).

saurian

We also get a BONE-HURTINGLY FUNNY SCENE ABOUT SNOT at the very end, I think to try and convince the audience that this season won’t just be about torture, genocide and shouting, but honestly it comes across as cheap and dull. IT’S FUNNY BECAUSE THE SPACE PERSON HAS A COLD, HAHAHA, HUMANS GET COLDS TOO, HAHAHA, SUCH FUN.

What we’re left with is a lot of explosions and action, a lot of shots of white, male Christopher Pike in the captain’s chair (because what, do you expect a woman to do it? It’s the captain, of course he has to be white, and a man), and an overall feeling that this season will probably be less grim and dark than the first season, but not necessarily much smarter. I mean, the opening shots imply the secret to the universe will be delivered by a sexy space woman in high heals.

The really positive thing to come out of all of this is that there’s no mention of or reference to bloody Section 31. That being said, I wouldn’t put it past this collection of bumbling fuckwads to introduce it in some “SHOCKING CLIFFHANGER” at some point to surprise everyone. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

As an aside, try watching the Netflix version of the trailer and then watching the initial trailer for Justice League. The similarities in tone are disquieting, to say the least. Although that could just be because every trailer is the same these days.

‘Star Trek: Re/Discovery’ – Battle at the Binary Stars Part 7

The previous installment can be found here.


Aboard the Shenzhou, Saru strides onto the bridge, Detmer in tow. She hurries forwards to the helm station and relieves the stand-in. As she sits down, the navigation officer leans over to her. “Are you sure you should be flying the ship? Weren’t you unconscious ten minutes ago?”

Detmer shrugs. “Well, I feel like I spent the night sleeping inside a warp coil, but the doc gave me a stimulant and cleared me. I’ll be fine.”

Saru steps up behind the captain’s chair and grips the back of it with both hands. “Status report, please.”

The ops officer responds. “Still no word from the captain, sir. We’ve detected some strange readings from the object, even through the scattering field. Tachyon emissions, building up over time.”

“Tachyon?” Saru queries, baffled. His threat-ganglia sprout from the sides of his head. “What could possibly-”

He’s interrupted as the bridge fills with blinding white light, and a painful shriek fills the air.


On the Klingon station, Burnham moves slowly into the main hall. It’s dark, lit only by the torches on the walls scattered between huge statues of Klingon warriors. On the main floor of the hall, there are piles of Starfleet torpedoes. Past them, at the far end of the hall beneath a great window into space, is a raised dais, and on it is T’Kuvma, with Georgiou on the floor beside him. Her hands are cuffed and her shoulder is still bandaged, but she is otherwise unharmed.

In front of T’Kuvma is a raised control panel. He cries out something in Klingon, and then he activates it. The hall fills with a dull hum, which gradually increases in pitch and volume. Burnham covers her ears, as does Georgiou, but T’Kuvma merely spreads his arms in triumph.

As the noise reaches its most deafening point, the entire hall disappears in a burst of white light. Burnham looks around, but she can barely make aything out beyond faint outlines. As her eyes adjust, other details slowly render into view, and the shape of the hall becomes apparent again – except now it is pure, brilliant white, with no refuge for the oppressive, murky shadows by which it was previously characterised.

Burnham, in her blue uniform, now appears as a glowing azurite idol in the brilliant light. Georgiou’s shoulder wound shines red and vivid, her uniform darkened by the blood. T’Kuvma, with his onyx Klingon skin and ornate, jet armour remains untouched by the light.

T’Kuvma stands facing the window, staring out at the darkness of space. The stars have vanished, unable to compete with the light from the station. The rocks and asteroids around the station, however, are bathed in the light, each one shining brighter than the full moon as they tumble and roll past the window.

Burnham takes the opportunity to move forwards, towards Georgiou and her captor. She advances up the middle of the hall, directly behind them both, darting from cover to cover.

As she reaches the half-way mark, the deafening shriek abates, followed immediately by a single loud, low, thudding pulse.

On the dais, T’Kuvma turns to Georgiou. “Time for the Galaxy to hear our truth,” he says.


On the bridge of the Shenzhou, the crew struggle to maintain their duties whilst blinded and deafened. Information and updates are shouted from one station to another, whilst Saru stands in the middle of it all, baffled. His ganglia stand proud on the sides of his head.

The noise abates whilst the light remains, and many of the bridge officers sag with relief at this respite. Saru doesn’t move, but stammers out a request. “Status report? Anybody?”

The ops officer volunteers an explanation. “A massive subspace disturbance, sir. That was a bang that the whole quadrant could hear.”

“What kind of a bang, lieutenant?”

“Single-frequency, massive amplitude. It…” The officer processes the data. “Wow.”

“’Wow’, lieutenant?” Saru’s expression is one of confusion and frustration.

“No, it’s, it’s one thousand, four hundred and twenty megahertz, sir. The Wow signal.”

Saru ponders for a second or two, before the comms officer chimes in. “Mister Saru, there’s an incoming transmission. From the station.”

Saru turns his head to her. “They’re hailing us now?”

“No, sir. They’re broadcasting everywhere. Putting it on screen.”

The image of T’Kuvma fades in on the main screen, stark against the brilliant white background. He holds his arms out before announcing himself. “Warriors of the Empire, and lesser nations across the stars, I am T’Kuvma. I am the appointed emmissary of Kah’less, Steward of His Holy Beacon, on which I now stand. Inheritor of ancient tradition, and guardian of the faith of my people.”


Aboard the Buran, Lorca, Tyler and crew watch the same transmission, silent and perplexed.

T’Kuvma continues, “A short time ago, this sacred shrine was assaulted by Starfleet soldiers. They sought to continue their campaign of cultural vandalism, by destroying this beacon and assassinating me.”

His image is replaced by footage from the internal sensors of the station’s hangar, as Burnham’s shuttle flies in and wipes out the squad of waiting Klingons. T’Kuvma speaks over the footage. “These operatives failed in their mission to erase yet more of our traditions, our way of life.”


Aboard a Klingon ship, a commander in vibrant armour decorated with gruesome trophies watches in outrage as the footage switches to Burnham, shooting the wounded Klingon and stepping over the body.

T’Kuvma’s voice continues. “Despite Starfleet’s brutality, my fellow warriors and I were able to counter this traitorous and dishonourable sneak attack, but the Empire must know – Starfleet means to end us. Klingon honour and Federation sensitivities cannot co-exist, and so they seek to pre-emptively gain supremacy.”


Back on the Shenzhou, Saru, Detmer and the others are still watching. T’Kuvma’s image returns to the screen. “I cannot abide such treachery!” he roars. “I am Klingon! We all are Klingon, and we cannot allow such trespasses against us!”

He reaches down and hauls Georgiou to her feet by her neck. “The Federation must pay for its transgressions! Starting with this one, this assassin and spy!” He shakes her. “Tell them! Tell them who you are! Tell them what you came here to do!”

Georgiou, visibly in pain, does her best to retain her composure. The harsh light amplifies the dirt on her face, and the wound on her shoulder. T’Kuvma’s hand chokes her, but she fights to speak audibly. “My name is Captain Phillipa Georgiou. We came here in a spirit of peace. We intend no harm to the Klingon Empire, we seek only-“

“FEDERATION LIES!” T’Kuvma roars, screams. He squeezes Georgiou’s neck tighter, and with his free hand draws a Klingon dagger. “In the name of the Empire!” he shouts, as he plunges the dagger into her chest, straight through her heart.

The crew of the Shenzhou gasp, and cry out. Saru staggers backward, aghast. Detmer shudders, her hands over her gaping mouth, her eyes wide in fright and shock.


In the main hall, behind T’Kuvma, Burnham watches as he releases his grip on Georgiou and lets her body drop limply to the floor.

Burnham doesn’t respond at first. She stays motionless, knelt behind cover. Her breathing grows deeper, and more ragged. She stares at Georgiou’s body. Silence pervades.

Burnham closes her eyes.


Saru is still stood up, but only in the strictest sense. His entire upper body hunches over, his head low and held in his hands. One of the officers weeps quietly. Detmer’s hands are still covering her face.

T’Kuvma starts talking again. “Such is the price of dishonour. My fellow Klingons, you already know the true face of the Federation. You are familiar with the beast that. To the rest of the galaxy I say this: the Federation has too long hidden its fangs behind the false nobility of its own enlightenment. At its heart, it is a crueller, more violent tyranny than even-“

He chokes, and then shudders. The centre of his chest glows, and then disintegrates. Red particles cascade across his body leaving grey dust in their wake. T’Kuvma’s body vaporises, vanishing to reveal behind it the figure of Michael Burnham, a phaser in her hand and her face twisted in anger and grief.


On the station, the blinding white light fades away, and the hall returns to its torch-lit murk. Burnham drops her phaser and sinks to her knees besides the body of Georgiou. She cradles her captain’s head in her lap and begins sobbing, overcome with everything that had come to pass so far.

Burnham gathers Georgiou’s body in her arms and awkwardly gets to her feet.


Aboard the unknown Klingon vessel, the Klingon commander, in her ornate armour covered in trophies, watches as the image of Burnham, phaser in hand, fades away. One of her subordinates approaches her. “Your orders, General L’Rell?”

L’Rell’s eyes narrow. “Set course for the binary star system.”


Let’s talk about the above events as they’re portrayed in the show.

Nothing that the crew does has any impact on what transpires. More specifically, none of Burnham’s actions change any of what happens. All of the drama around her mutiny is nullified, because she’s apprehended before she can actually do anything. The war is started because T’Kuvma gives the order to fire. That’s it.

In my version, T’Kuvma’s gambling. And the truth is, his plan may not have worked. In fact, it probably wouldn’t have worked at all. Until Burnham goes rogue – twice. First, by attacking the Klingon squad with the shuttle, and then sealing the deal by revenge-killing T’Kuvma. Now, there is clear, definitive evidence of Starfleet wrongdoing – even if it was all precipitated by T’Kuvma’s own violent actions, it casts the Federation, with its reputation for temperance, in a very new light.

Is this new version of the story perfect? No, absolutely not. But at least it ties things in together a little more. Now there is some justification for the crew’s hatred of Burnham – she may have avenged a beloved captain, but she has also bound them all into a war with the Klingons.

Also, L’Rell makes an appearance. It never made sense to me to have L’Rell as such a low ranking member of the Klingon Empire. It turns her into a bit of a spare wheel, and makes her arc of becoming leader of the whole Empire nonsensical. If she’d had her own ambitions, I’d buy it, but she spends all of her time in support of either T’Kuvma or Voq, which means that when she is simply handed leadership at the very end, it’s somewhat unsatisfying.

So now, she’s a General. It means she has much more scope to interact with the story around her, and in my mind, sets up much better any leadership arc upon which she may later find herself.

Also, L’Rell refers to “the binary star system,” as if there’s only one. Obviously, there are many binary star systems in the galaxy. But the Klingons certainly wouldn’t use an Earth designation for it, and using a different name means explaining somewhere in a story that’s already overly long just what the Klingons call the star system in question. Referring to it as The binary star system means that everyone, including the audience, understands exactly what she’s referring to, in the fewest possible number of words.

‘Star Trek: Re/Discovery’ – Battle at the Binary Stars Part 6

The previous installment can be found here.


On the bridge of the Shenzhou, Saru paces anxiously in front of the captain’s chair. He taps his fingers together in a variety of rhythmic patterns, a Kelpien stress behaviour. He addresses the Ops officer. “Mission elapsed time, lieutenant?”

“Forty-seven minutes, sir.”

Saru keeps pacing. “Any further data on that object? Have you pierced the scattering field?”

“Negative, sir, but- hang on. Mister Saru, I’m picking up two incoming objects, they’ve just left the field’s area of influence.”

Saru’s threat ganglia sprout from the side of his head in alarm. He gently presses them down, and does his best to maintain his composure. “What objects? What are they?” He strides over to his science station.

The Ops officer keeps studying her console. “Sir, they’re life pods, from the shuttle! Two human life signs, it’s…” The Ops officer looks up in shock. “It’s Detmer, sir, and Furlan.”

Saru taps away at his console. His mouth drops open as he reads the display. “Con… confirmed. I, I don’t, does that mean…”

“Sir, those pods have been beaten up pretty badly on their way out of the debris field. Permission to beam them aboard? Sir?” Saru is non-responsive for moment. “Sir? Mister Saru?”

Saru stirs. “Yes. Yes, beam them directly to sickbay. And…” He pauses. “I will meet them there.” He leaves the bridge without another word. The captain’s chair remains empty.


Saru enters sickbay to Detmer sat on a biobed, and Furlan prone on another. The ship’s surgeon attends Furlan, treating a blast wound to his chest.

Saru surveys the situation. “Detmer, what happened? Where is the captain? Where is Captain Georgiou?”

Detmer is rubbing the side of her neck, where Burnham gripped her. “I don’t know, sir. She’s on the station, I think. They both are.”

“Both?”

“Burnham wanted to go back for her. For the captain. She… she shot Furlan, and she, I don’t know, she must have taken the shuttle back, but the Klingons…”

“Klingons?” Saru’s ganglia sprout again. “That’s a Klingon station?”

Detmer nods awkwardly. “They attacked. They attacked the shuttle, we had to fly out of there. We beamed Burnham out, but it was a mistake, it was meant to be the captain.” She shakes her head, as if to clear it. “Saru, she said it was a trap. The captain said they want to start a war, that we can’t let them. She told us not to do anything, to keep the peace, she said. Keep the peace.”

Saru ponders this new information. “Wait, where is Burnham?”


Inside the Klingon station, Burnham moves slowly, silently, along a dark corridor. She has her phaser drawn and held in front of her, ready to fire. Her eyes dart about, watching every nook and cranny.

She can hear guttural voices from down one corridor. She peeks her head around the corner to see a group of Klingon silhouettes in the distance. Their rough, alien speech is incomprehensible, so Burnham pulls Georgiou’s slim-line communicator out.

“… really work?” one Klingon voice asks.

“We are a strong people,” another responds. “T’Kuvma will remind us how much stronger we can be united. And we will help him.”

A  third voice interjects. “The last of the explosives have been loaded, captain. They have been linked to the detonator.”

“Good! Then we are ready. Let us rejoin the fleet. I am tired of waiting, and of carrying things.” This silhouette produced some kind of instrument, and spoke into it. “This is the captain. We are ready. Energise.”

The whine of a transporter fills the corridor, and the Klingons disappear in glowing red flares of light. As they do, Burnham sees another, identical transporter beam, in the courtyard of a Federation settlement. She’s a child, and she watches from behind cover, watches as the Klingons open fire as soon as they materialise, indiscriminately murdering colonists. Outside the courtyard, explosions detonate, and flames fill the sky, as do screams and wails and angry roars of triumph.

As an adult, Burnham hyperventilates, her eyes wide in fright. She’s back in the corridor, now empty. The Klingons are gone, but she can still hear the screams, and her mother’s voice calling out to her.


In the main hall of the station, Georgiou sits on the floor with her hands cuffed in rigid metal clasps. There is no one else in the hall except T’Kuvma, who watches on a console display as Burnham flies the shuttle into the hangar and wipes out the Klingon soldiers waiting there. He zooms the feed in on her as she shoots the wounded warrior and steps over him. T’Kuvma laughs. “Your soldier is fierce, Captain.”

Georgiou is unimpressed. “She is no soldier, she’s a Starfleet officer.”

“We are all soldiers, Captain, in the great cultural war of our age. You should accept that fact, and embrace it.” He gestures at the image of Burnham. “She has. She moves with cold puprose, as though in the shadow of death.”

“The Federation is not at war with the Klingon Empire, cultural or otherwise. We seek only peaceful coexistence and cooperation.”

“THAT IS A WAR!” T’Kuvma roars, furious. “Cooperation,” he spits, “co-existence. These words mean one thing: assimilation. Tell me, Captain: were we to coexist and cooperate, would the Federation stand by whilst the Klingon Empire pursued our destiny of conquest? Would you sit idle whilst we took from weaker cultures what our strength entitles us to take?” he asks, clenching his fist. “No, you would step in, force us to lay down our weapons, and police the galaxy, as you do. The Federation are conquerors, worse than the Klingons, for whilst we conquer with ships and weapons, you, you, conquer with lies and manipulation, one hand outstretched, the other holding a chain of bondage.” He holds his arms out, as though addressing a crowd. “We Klingons are beings of conflict, and we must be allowed to seek conflict, or else we are nothing, just more Federation pawns like the Vulcans, the Andorians and the Tellarites.”

Georgiou remains defiant. “If this is a war of cultures, as you say, then you must be losing. You’re already speaking our language; you use it more than you use your own.”

T’Kuvma rounds on her and grabs her by the throat.  “I use your delicate, frivolous words because I must.” He releases her. “Many of my people honour Kahless as the greatest warrior who ever lived, but they are fools.” He walks up to an old bronze statue of a Klingon warrior and gazes up at it. “Kahless did not unite our people because he was the mightiest warrior, he united our people because he was the greatest communicator. His words carried such power and meaning to our ancestors that he was able to forge a new empire, the grandest empire this Galaxy will ever know.”

“And you think you can follow in his footsteps? Unite your people and lead them to victory?” Georgiou asks, incredulously.

“No,” T’Kuvma answers, turning to face her. “I will not lead my people, Captain, another will have to carry that burden. But I shall unite them. My name will burn for a thousand lifetimes in the hearts of my people – yours will not. Which is unfortunate, Captain, because you, and your soldier,” he says, nodding at the image of Burnham again, “will be making the same sacrifice as me.”

Georgiou shakes her head. “Michael is too smart to make a martyr out of the likes of you.”

“Maybe,” T’Kuvma concedes. He hits a button on a control panel, and dozens of metallic containers are beamed into the hall. He gestures at them. “My ships have been collecting Federation weapons for some time,” he says, “and now they deliver them here, to this holy sanctuary.” He taps one of the torpedoes with a fingernail. “Very simple to modify, for such advanced technology,” he says. “Rigged for proximity detonation.”

He strolls through the piles of torpedoes. “I believe that your soldier will come here to kill me,” he explains, “but even if she does not, it will not matter, because as soon as your ship approaches, we will all be destroyed. And when my people arrive to find the wreckage of their ancestral temple scattered in the shadow of a Federation warship, they will not hesitate to strike back, united in their outrage.”

A Klingon voice sounds over the comm system. T’Kuvma responds with a few guttural words. Georgiou can’t understand any of it, nor can she loosen the cuffs around her wrists, despite her best efforts.

The Klingonese conversation ends. T’Kuvma inhales deeply, exhales slowly. He salutes the statue he was previously regarding, before addressing Georgiou. “The preparations are complete. It is time to light the beacon.”


This segment was far longer than I intended it to be, and way more talky than I wanted it to be, but there’s a lot going on here that needs setting up before we get to the juicy bit.

Most importantly, we need to understand T’Kuvma’s plan. We’ve had a lot of T’Kuvma talking in these last two parts of the story, but this all hangs on his plans to start a war, so we need to clarify it as much as possible. In short, if the audience isn’t bought into what he plans to do, and if it isn’t all as clear as possible, then no matter how climactic and exciting the final stretch is, it’s going to ring empty.

We also need to understand T’Kuvma’s motives. He’s a complex character with complex beliefs, so I did the best I could to break it down: he sees friendship with the Federation as a trap, not an opportunity, and so war is the only option for him.

It’s also important for us to understand a little more of what’s going on in Burnham’s head. She clearly has some past trauma around Klingons, and that’s vital knowledge if you’re to understand why she reacts so violently to this new situation.

We start off this part of the story with a catch-up with Saru. Here, he represents the Shenzhou in general, and its detachment from what’s going on aboard the station. When he finally gets some news about what’s happened, he’s just as confused as he was before, if not more so.

Next up, we’re going to finally see the start of that battle that makes up the title of this story, by way of a little bit of murder and quite a lot of revenge. Exciting times.

‘Star Trek: Re/Discovery’ – Battle at the Binary Stars Part 5

The previous instalment can be found here.


Burnham awakes. Georgiou sits in front of her, cradling her arm, a bloody bandage wrapped around her shoulder. They’re both sat on the hard metal floor of a prison cell, formed out of the same dull bronze as the rest of the Klingon installation. On the other side of the bars there is a large hall, filled with burning torches and a whole host of Klingons.

“Philippa, your arm!”

Burnham struggles to get to her feet, but Georgiou raises her hand to stay her. “Sit down, Michael. You were concussed. I’m fine, the Klingons stapled the wound.”

“You’re not fine, Captain, you need medical treatment.” She groans and gently massages her head. “As do I, it seems. How long was I out?”

“About ten minutes. The same Klingon that treated me used some kind of device on your head. I think it was to treat your concussion.”

“It feels like they spun my brain around in a centrifuge.”

Georgiou smirks. “I imagine it would be more suited for Klingon brains.”

“They kept us alive,” Burnham ponders, “but they killed Tallman. What do they want with us?”

“That’s a good question. If you speak Klingon you could ask them.”

“Well, if I had a communicator,” Burnham says, “I could use the universal translator. Of course, if I had a communicator I could have contacted Detmer and gotten you out of here already.”

“Assuming Detmer is still able to receive. Besides,” Georgiou says, glancing at the Klingons near the cell door, “I’m sure the guards would confiscate any equipment. Which is why I’m waiting for them to get distracted.”

“Distracted? Why, do you have some way of getting out of here?”

“To paraphrase your father again,” Georgiou says, smiling, “I like to think that there are always possibilities.”

Burnham raises an eyebrow. “You know, it wasn’t actually my father who first said that.”


In the expansive Klingon hangar bay, Detmer sits on the boarding ramp of the shuttle, casually leaning against the side wall. Furlan stands on watch on the hangar floor, phaser in hand.

Detmer picks at a loose thread on her uniform. “It’s been twenty minutes. Do you think we should contact them, or…?”

Furlan keeps his gaze on the internal entrance to the hangar as he answers her. “They’ll contact us if they need to. Just stay alert.”

Behind them both, in front of the shuttle, a small hatch in the floor slides open silently. A lithe Klingon warrior slips out, followed by another, and then a third. They draw daggers, and slowly, quietly, creep towards the shuttle.

“Did you hear they’re developing a new BT-16?” Detmer asks. “They say it’s going to be quite the thing to see. I’ll bet that baby flies like a humming bird.”

Furlan roles his eyes. Behind him, the three Klingons continue to creep toward the shuttle. Ahead of him, in the corridor to the hangar, a full squad of Klingon warriors lurk out of sight, firearms in hand. The leader peeks out around the bulkhead, holds his hand out to steady the squad.

Detmer raps her fingers on the metal floor of the shuttle. “Have you ever flown the old version? It was great, you could turn that thing on the head of a pin, but the rear thrusters used to burn out all the time, it was a pain in the-”

As one of the Klingons behind her nears the shuttle, alarms sound, and the voice of the shuttle computer calls out “Proximity Warning! Proximity Warning!” Lights flash inside the shuttle.

Detmer starts, and tumbles back inside the craft, whilst Furlan spins on his heels. As he sees the three armed assailants heading towards him, he looses phaser bolts at them, dropping two. The third charges him, but he gets his phaser to bear and lands a shot in the centre of its chest.

Behind him, the squad of Klingons in the corridor flood into the hangar, loosing off energy blasts from their weapons. Furlan hunkers down and dashes into the shuttle. “Get her in the air!” he shouts, “get us out of here!” He hammers the door control, and the ramp swings up behind him. Klingon weapons fire strikes all over the shuttle.

Detmer hyperventilates as she hurries towards the controls. “Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap.” She makes it to the seat and starts tapping commands into the console. “Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap.” Klingon disruptor bolts scorch the window next to her. “Crapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrap,”

“Detmer!” Furlan shouts, “Breathe! And then get us the hell out of here already!”

Detmer glares back at him angrily, then activates the engines.

The shuttle lifts off the deck. Its engines flare and it rockets away from the advancing Klingons and out into space.


In the cell, Burnham sits, defeated, with her back against the wall. “Go on then, Captain, what do you have up your sleeve?”

“Nothing up my sleeve,” Georgiou says, pulling her sleeve back to prove her point. “See?”

“Well, then how do we get out of here?” Burnham presses.

Georgiou shrugs, then grimaces at the pain in her shoulder. “Just wait.”

Outside the cell, in the main hall, there’s a disturbance. The Klingon squad leader from the hangar storms in, shouting in the incomprehensible Klingon language. The other Klingons, including the guards, turn to watch as the squad leader marches up to an impressive-looking Klingon male, adorned in regal, black armour armour.

“We didn’t have to wait too long,” Georgiou says. She slams the heel of her foot into the floor, hard, but the guards don’t notice. On the edge of the sole of her boot, a panel pops free. She hooks her finger into the gap and slides out a small, compact electronic unit.

Burnham watches with interest. “A communicator?”

“I modified it myself,” Georgiou explains. “Shorter range, had to remove one of the power packs, but it works.”

“Contact the shuttle,” Burnham insists, “we have to get out of here.”

“We have to remember our mission,” Georgiou says. “We need to figure out what’s going on here.” She adjusts some of the controls on the slimline communicator.

The Klingons start clamouring, shouting in protest at the black-armoured chieftan in the middle of the hall. He raises his arms to silence them, and begins speaking himself. As Georgiou adjusts her communicator, his guttural Klingonese resolves into English. Georgiou and Burnham look on as he speaks.

“- fly away if they wish, it matters not! One shuttlecraft cannot hinder our great, blessed work! And truly, we must be blessed,” he says, spreading his arms to address the whole hall, “for look at the gift Kahless has brought us! Not a lowly repair crew, but a Starfleet captain! And her first officer!” He gestures towards the captives, but the Klingons pay them no heed, and instead cheer their leader.

“Truly we are in his favour! Kahless, The Unforgettable, First King, Greatest Warrior of All Warriors!” Heavy boots stamp and raucous cheering echoes through the hall. “We shall unveil the Federation’s deceit! Expose their inner barbarism!”

There are more cheers, but one warrior steps forwards in challenge. “You speak as though our fate is decided, but what if they do nothing? What if the Federation simply turns and flees?”

The chieftan turns to the warrior. “Then, my sister, we shall have exposed them for the witless cowards that they truly are! And the Klingon Empire shall re-unite not under the banner of war but to the sound of the hunter’s horn! When the Galaxy sees them scatter and flee in the face of adversity, we will be there to carve up their territory and chase them across the cosmos!”

Cheering, stomping. The hall fills with noise. “But hear me now, proud warriors of the Empire. The Federation are nothing but beasts, wearing the hides of philosophers. They believe that their technological achievements elevate their culture above ours, but toys and contraptions cannot replace Honour, or Courage, or Pride. When they see their own slaughtered like the targs they are,” he gestures again at Georgiou and Burnham, “the Federation will lift the mask from its face to show the slathering maw of the animal within. And I, T’Kuvma, Bearer of the Torch of Kahless, last member of my house, will have brought the Great Houses of the Klingon Empire together once again, and united we shall slay the beast!”

Georgiou and Burnham lock eyes, and share a look of common understanding – and horror.

As the Klingons chant and clamour, Georgiou flips a switch on the communicator. “Georgiou to Detmer, Georgiou to Detmer, do you read?”

Detmer’s voice answers. “Captain! Captain, I read, I’ve been trying to contact you. Are you okay?”

“We’re fine. Detmer, status, where are you?”

“We’re in space,” Detmer answers from inside the shuttle, “near the station. We had to lift off, we were attacked. Why are you on this frequency?”

Georgiou ignores the question. “Detmer, listen, this is important. Head straight for Shenzhou, go straight there and warn Starfleet – the Klingons mean to bait us into a war. Go back, now, tell Saru and the others not to engage, don’t fire a single shot, no matter what happens. You hear me, Detmer? It’s a trap. Tell them to maintain the peace, that’s all that matters.”

“But what about-”

“Keep the peace, Detmer! At all costs. That’s an order, Detmer. Keep the peace.”

Without warning, Burnham lunges across the cell and snatches the communicator from Georgiou. She shouts into it. “Detmer! Beam the captain out now! Lock onto the Viridium signal and get her out! Now!”

Georgiou looks on, unsurprised, and a little sad. One of the guards hears Burnham shouting and turns to see what’s going on. Aboard the shuttle, Detmer taps the ‘Energise’ command on one of the consoles.

In the cell, the blue shimmering of the transporter engulfs Burnham. Her face twists in horror as she realises what’s happening.

“I’m sorry, Michael,” Georgiou says, as Klingons rush into the cell. “I will see you soon.” The Klingons grab her roughly. Some try to get hold of Burnham, but she has already dematerialised.

Georgiou is hoisted to her feet as T’Kuvma, the chieftan, strides into the cell. He growls at Georgiou, then turns away and speaks in Klingon. “This changes nothing! Get to your ships! I will prepare the beacon!”


Aboard the shuttle, Burnham materialises, the same look of horror on her face. She cries out as though in agony. She reaches over her shoulder and pulls a small, thin, dark patch of shiny fabric from her uniform. She examines it for a moment, then lets it fall to the floor.

Furlan rushes to her side. “Commander, are you alright? Where’s the captain? Commander Burnham, where is Captain Georgiou?”

Burnham seems stunned. She ignores Furlan and reaches up to an overhead locker, and takes a phaser from it. She moves forwards to Detmer. “Beam me back.”

“I can’t, Commander, there’s too much interference.”

“Beam me back!” Burnham shouts. “I have to get her, we have to save her!”

“I can’t! I can’t get an accurate fix, you could die!”

“Then turn the shuttle around! Take us back! That’s an order!”

Detmer doesn’t relent, even facing Burnham’s intensity. “That hangar bay was a Klingon murder party when we left, they’ll cut us to bits!”

Burnham’s tone goes flat. “Keyla, turn this fucking shuttle around and take us back to that station.”

Detmer’s face turns to shock, but Furlan steps forwards. “We can’t. You heard the captain, she gave us an order to get back to the Shenzhou and warn Starfleet. Now, calm down, take a moment, and-”

Burnham raises the phaser and shoots Furlan in the chest. He collapses in a heap. Detmer gasps, but Burnham grips the side of her neck and presses hard. Detmer quickly passes out.

Burnham sags, as though her strings had been cut. She stares at nothing for a few moments, trance-like. She slowly sits down in the co-pilot’s seat and sets a new course.


The shuttle banks back towards the station, as two small pods detach from its underside and ignite thrusters. As the shuttle drifts into the hangar, a group of armed Klingons rush in, aiming their weapons at the advancing craft. The shuttle’s phasers burst into life, blasts of amber energy sweeping across the deck, wiping out the warriors.

The shuttle settles on the hangar deck and the rear ramp opens. Burnham steps out. One of the Klingons on the floor groans, wounded, and reaches up with his disruptor. She fires her phaser at him, and he falls silent again.

Burnham steps over his body and heads for the main corridor into the rest of the station, phaser in hand.


On to Part 6.


There’s a lot going on with this story. The determined narrative for ‘Discovery’ is complex – a Starfleet officer mutinies, and starts a war with a politically unstable empire in the process. This is where I had to make the most radical changes from the show, which I’ll go through below.

First off, Burnham’s a career officer. She’s smart. She’s raised by Vulcans, who are a peaceful, highly rational culture. Which means that her mutiny has to have a hell of a lot of emotional drive behind it, and that means it has to be immediate. Burnham’s mutiny in the show is incredibly muted, emotionally. She just sort of reaches a conclusion based on a story told to her by Sarek, and I never felt like she reached the emotional peak that was necessary to humanise her actions. In essence, she acts like a weirdo, and so I found it really difficult to empathise with her as a character.

The other issue is that so much is made of her starting the war, but she doesn’t. At all. She gets stopped and thrown in the brig before she can fire on the Klingons, and they then start the war themselves when they choose to open fire. By the time she kills T’Kuvma, the battle is over and the war is in full swing.

Which is another issue, namely that the Klingons from the other houses turn up, T’Kuvma says “Let’s attack,” and they all just attack. Really, if this is going to be some massive interstellar war, I feel like you need a little more to it than that.

There’s one other problem, which only becomes a problem in hindsight, which is all of T’Kuvma’s backstory. It’s good for your villains to have motivations and complexity, but T’Kuvma will be dead by the end of the pilot episodes, and ultimately his most important aspect is that he wants to start a war that will unite the Klingon Empire. All of his tragic childhood ends up contributing very little to the actual story of ‘Discovery’.

So, how do we fix all these things?

Simple. We bring them all together.

  1. Here is T’Kuvma’s plan: lure a Federation ship out here by sabotaging a satellite.
  2. When they investigate what happened to the satellite, capture them.
  3. Use the beacon’s immense signalling power to broadcast the execution of the prisoners. Then, either:
    1. The Federation retaliates, precipitating full-blown war.
    2. The Federation refuses to act, proving their weakness
  4. Either way, Qa’plah! The Klingon Empire can all pull together, in war against a hypocritical enemy or in conquest of a weak empire.

That’s T’Kuvma’s plan. We can embellish it a little with some Klingon spirituality and mythos and whatnot, but that’s what it comes down to. Whatever happens, T’Kuvma succeeds in uniting the Empire.

Of course, it’s also important for him to cover his bases with a few tricks up his gauntlet, but we’ll get to that.

Then, we bring Georgiou, Burnham, and the Shenzhou into the mix.

We set Georgiou and Burnham up as having an unhealthy relationship. That’s the first thing. Michael’s idolisation of Philippa, her crippling fear of abandonment, and with Philippa’s unwitting indulgence of that insecurity, means that Michael will literally do or give anything to protect her maternal mentor.

Then, they get taken captive. This might not be too much of an issue for the Vulcan-raised Michael under other circumstances. But with Klingons in the mix, Michael’s childhood trauma is getting twisted in exactly the right way to send her off the rails.

Which finally happens when they get separated. Georgiou would never let one of her crew – especially Michael – suffer in her place, so she obviously swaps the Viridium patch. And so now Michael is separated from her mother-mentor, who she knows is going to be executed. And that’s not based on a story from two hundred years ago.

I even tried to fold in what would be Star Trek’s first “fuck” into this pivotal scene. It struck me as odd that they drop the f-bomb during a fairly standard conversation of Treknobabble, but never again throughout the series. They use it at one of the lowest points of emotion, and never at the highest. Here, it’s a sign that Burnham has finally cracked – her swearing like that shows us a Starfleet officer over the edge, falling apart – and about to do something really stupid.

So, now we have an evil plan to start a war that hangs around the fate of our beloved captain and first officer. The first officer is driven to betrayal of her crew mates to save her captain, currently being held by the evil warmonger.

And what’s more, here we have a chance for Burnham to save the day. If she can rescue Georgiou, she might just stop the war from ever starting.

Is it perfect? Absolutely not. Here are just a few plot holes in my own damn narrative:

  • Detmer just forgets to use the transporter. She should’ve done it as soon as the Klingons attacked the shuttle. My excuse? She was panicked. She’s not a coward, but she is green.
  • So, what happens if the Federation don’t investigate the creepy temple station that’s almost definitely a trap? Well, in my head T’Kuvma would just keep busting up satellites until they had no choice but to investigate, but his plan is flawed in relying on the Federation to behave a certain way.
  • His plan also relies on the other Klingon houses behaving in a certain way, but for me, that’s his test of his own people. If they can’t unite for war or conquest, then they probably aren’t worthy in the first place, and his cause is truly lost.
  • Scattering fields, how the shit do they work? Who knows? My theory: it’s kind of a chaos membrane – you can’t beam or communicate from outside into it, or vice versa, but if you’re inside of it, you can kinda beam around and communicate inside of it, with some limitations. It’s a plot device, okay? It’s a cruddy one, but it does what it needs to – walls all of this action off from the Shenzhou.

I wish I had a simpler set of plot points to aim for. But I don’t. If I’m doing this properly, I have to start from the same place as the show, and finish in the same place as the show, and roughly touch upon the major plot points along the way.

Also, can we have a quick lament for Furlan, whose fellow redshirt dies and for whom no one mourns? Furlan who keeps telling women to calm down, and gets phasered in the sternum for his trouble?

He had it coming, if you ask me.

‘Star Trek: Re/Discovery’ – Battle at the Binary Stars Part 3

The previous instalment can be found here.


The shuttle alights on the bronze, ornate landing deck of the alien station, dimly lit by yellow lights. As the shuttle comes to a halt its ramp descends, and Georgiou, Burnham and the two security officers disembark, phasers drawn, tricorders out, eyes narrowed and darting around for danger.

Georgiou turns to one of the bodyguards. “Furlan, stay here, guard the shuttle. Burnham, Tallman, with me.”

They move furtively towards a corridor and head down it. Burnham surveys the walls and their decoration. “Ornate detailing across every surface. Intricate patterns, carved into the metal by hand, judging by the uneven finish.” She runs her hand over one wall section, letting her fingers brush across each groove and ridge. “It’s cold, and solid. This entire structure might be a single piece of metal, sculpted into shape.”

Georgiou keeps her eyes forwards, checking every alcove and corner for potential threats. “Sounds like a slow way of building a station. You’ve told me what the scientist inside you can see: what does your anthropologist make of this?”

Burnham keeps her gaze on the structure around them. “Captain, this is ritualistic, ceremonial in design. I don’t think it’s a station, I think it’s a temple.”

They enter a circular room, with corridors leading off in multiple directions. At the centre of the room stands an obelisk, covered in arcane symbols. As Burnham examines the obelisk, one particular emblem catches her eye. She’s seen it before – an image of an armoured warrior flashes through her mind, the symbol engraved on his helmet, striding through flames towards her. Screams and explosions echo all around. The warrior holds a vicious blade in his hands, which he lifts over his head and then swings down towards her.

“Michael? Commander Burnham!” Georgiou shouts.

Michael keeps her gaze locked on that symbol. “Klingons,” she says. “This is a Klingon hieroglyph. A sign of one of their Great Houses. Captain, we have to leave.”

“Not without making contact. If this is a Klingon station then there’s a reason they put it here, and we need to know what that reason is.”

“Aye, captain,” Burnham concedes. She scans the room and the corridors leading away from it with her tricorder. “The solid mass of the structure is making it hard to get a topograhical reading. I have no idea of which way we should go.”

Georgiou walks up to one corridor entrance. “Down this one.”

“Why that one, captain? Do you know what’s down there?”

“We don’t know what’s down any of them. Sometimes, you just need to make a decision.” Georgiou starts down the corridor, Tallman following her. Burnham joins them, and they move steadily onwards.

They reach the next room, circular again, this time with vaulted alcoves all along the walls. Deep channels run from each alcove to a grate in the room’s centre.

Georgiou squats down to examine one of the channels, following it to the grate. “Analysis, Number One?”

Burnham surveys the chamber. “The grooves in the floor, clearly intended to carry fluid. Alcoves at the side, big enough to hold a single humanoid.”

“You think this was a shower room?” Georgiou asks with a smirk.

“Captain, I think this was a sacrifice chamber.”

Georgiou catches Burnham’s eye. They share a look, and then turn for the exit.

An armoured warrior drops into each alcove from above. They each dash forwards as they land, roaring. Georgiou and Tallman open fire, dropping a couple of them, as Burnham grabs her communicator and flips it open. Before she can speak into it, one of the warriors smashes it out of her hand and swings for her head. She ducks, and strikes him back with both hands clasped together.

The Starfleet officers are surrounded. Georgiou takes down one warrior with a flurry of high kicks and rapid punches. Tallman keeps firing his phaser, but is grabbed from behind thrown into a wall. Burnham fends off one of the armoured foes with steady, precise attacks, each blow delivered with Vulcan-like accuracy.

But they are outnumbered. Georgiou has to dodge the powerful sweeps of a Bat’leth, getting backed up against the wall as she does. Two warriors lay into Tallman, beating him to the ground, before they each produce vicious daggers which they plunge into his back. Burnham’s elegant poise meets its end as her adversary hunkers down and then charges forwards like a bull, grabbing her around the abdomen and then diving, plunging her backwards into the floor.

Burnham, dazed, looks across to see Georgiou stabbed through the shoulder. Burnham screams out. “Captain! Philippa!” she bellows, but it does no good, as Georgiou sinks to the floor. The last thing Burnham sees is an armoured gauntlet, striking her full in the face.


On to part 4.


Finally, some action! Narratively, this isn’t far off filler. It’s a means of getting the characters into the hands of their Klingon captors. We see a little Klingon culture along the way, but not a great deal.

And poor old Tallman – he gets no lines, just a couple of stab wounds to prove that these Klingons aren’t messing around.

I lack a great deal of imagination, so all of the side characters get names taken from actors. Furlan is named for Mira Furlan, of Babylon 5 fame, as is Tallman. Patricia Tallman is actually a Trek alumnus – most notably from ‘Starship Mine’, but has appeared in plenty of TNG, DS9 and Voyager episodes.

‘Star Trek: Re/Discovery’ – Battle at the Binary Stars Part 2

The previous instalment can be found here.


“Captain, I must once again register my severe objections to this course of action!” Saru insists as he strides down the corridor alongside Georgiou, Burnham and Detmer. “With the scattering field in place we will be unable to contact you or beam any of your back to the ship. And we still don’t know what the object is – it could be a Tholian web trap for all we know.”

Georgiou remains relaxed. “It might also be an entirely new species, Saru, a new civilisation. Would you really like to pass up a first contact opportunity?”

“Yes, absolutely, if it means putting my captain at risk.” Saru’s gestures become more frantic, his speech more hurried. “Captain, that object may not be a ship, but it remains a complete mystery to us.”

“And that is precisely why I want to go, Mr. Saru. I never could resist a good mystery.”

“Come on, Saru”, Burnham says, “you wouldn’t want to disappoint your captain, would you? Don’t worry,” she puts her hand on Georgiou’s shoulder in reassurance, “The captain will in in safe hands.”

They enter the shuttle bay and proceed up the boarding ramp of one of the Shenzhou‘s many shuttles. Detmer heads to the helm console at the front, whilst Georgiou and Burnham are joined by two security officers in tactical armour in the shuttle’s main hold. Georgiou turns to face Saru, who stands anxiously at the foot of the ramp. “Take good care of the ship, Mr Saru. And remember – take no unprompted action without consulting me or Starfleet Command. The last thing we want is to precipitate a conflict out here.”

Saru nods, and disappears from view as the shuttle’s ramp closes up. One of the security officers hands Georgiou a phaser as Burnham proceeds forwards to the front of the shuttle.

She leans down to Detmer. “Lieutenant, once we’re inside of the scattering field the shuttle’s transporter should be able to function. I just slapped a Viridium patch on the captain’s back – that will let you keep a lock on her. As soon as anything happens, you beam her back aboard and you set off for Shenzhou, do you understand? You don’t ask questions, you don’t hesitate, you just start flying.”

“Yes, Commander,” Detmer says, “but what about the rest of you?”

“The shuttle can only beam one person at a time,” Burnham explains, “and I don’t want you transporting the wrong person accidentally. We’ll be alright. Just keep her safe.”

Detmer looks back at the flight controls. “Well, now I feel a lot more worried.”

Burnham smiles. “You’ll do fine. I picked you for this mission specifically, Lieutenant. The captain asked me to fly at first, but it’s been two years since I last flew one of these things. We need someone who actually knows what she’s doing.”

“I won’t let you down, Commander.”

“Are we ready to launch yet?” Georgiou calls from the back of the shuttle, “or do you two need a little longer to conspire?”

“Ready, captain!” Detmer responds. “Course laid in. Just give me the word.”

“Lieutenant, the word is given – engage.”

The shuttle lifts off from the deck and drifts out of the shuttle bay. Once clear of the rear doors, Detmer brings it about and heads straight for the debris field, and the distant, mysterious object.


“Michael,” Georgiou says, as they sit opposite each other, “do you know why I’m here?”

Michael raises an eyebrow. “This is a critical situation. Normally, a captain’s place would be on her bridge. But with comms down, command decisions cannot be made remotely. If there are Klingons out here, you will need to be calling the shots.”

“And if there are Klingons out here, Michael, how would you feel about that?”

“If you’re referring to my childhood trauma, then you know I have it under control. Vulcan mindfulness techniques are a powerful tool. Philippa, I have your back. And I always will.”

Georgiou lays a gentle hand on Burnham’s shoulder. “Michael, in seven years together, the most important thing I’ve learned is that I will never regret putting my faith in you.”

“You talk as though this is a parting of ways.”

Georgiou shakes her head. “Not yet. But Michael, you are reaching the point where there isn’t much more I can teach you.” She waves her hand to quiet Burnham’s protestations. “If I could keep you as my XO for another twenty years, I would, but you are capable of so much more than that. You could end up as an admiral, or an ambassador, or even a regional governor – but the first step towards any of those things is getting your own command.”

Burnham looks down at the floor, hiding her face from her mentor. “I don’t think I’m ready for that yet.”

Georgiou grips Burnham’s shoulder tightly. “You are not ready yet. But very soon you will be, and when the time comes, you can’t hesitate, you can’t second-guess yourself. Do you know what the first duty of every Starfleet officer is, Michael?”

“Of course: to the truth.”

Georgiou laughs. “Nearly. That’s the slogan, but the correct answer is that it’s to your own truth. We must always remember who we really are, Michael. Always.” She gestures out of the window to the mystery structure, steadily growing closer. “If there are Klingons out there, and they do mean us harm, we can’t allow ourselves to get drawn into their game. We’re Starfleet: we fight when we need to, but always we must seek the peaceful solution. That is our truth, and that’s my truth. I have to believe that every encounter is a step towards friendship and co-operation, even with those who call themselves our enemies.”

Burnham looks up at her captain. “My father said that ten years ago, at Khitomer.”

“Your father is a profound individual.”

An alarm sounds from the flight console, and Detmer calls back “One minute to contact, Captain. I’ve found an entrance into the structure, looks to be pressurised, too.”

Georgiou stands and smooths out her uniform. “Take us in, Lieutenant. Let’s get to the bottom of this.”


On to part 3.


One thing that always struck me as odd was that Detmer and Burnham shared so much together, and yet never interacted. This seemed like a hugely wasted opportunity – Burnham and Saru get plenty of time to explore their relationship, but Burnham and Detmer never even have one.

Also, whilst I have criticised ‘Discovery’ for resolving so much of its plot in the form of two people stood in a room talking to each other, early on in the show there’s a powerful need to set up the world, and the relationships, that will define the narrative. So whilst a scene between two people sat in a shuttle talking about philosophy isn’t the kind of high-octane action you’d expect of a Transformers movie, it’s important for adding additional significance to the events that do follow.

Georgiou contradicts Picard here on the subject of first duties, and that’s not something you want to do lightly. But whilst broad statements work well for delinquent cadets, command-level officers need to operate with a little more nuance than that.

Burnham’s backstory, as a human raised by Vulcans, and as an orphan as a result of a Klingon raid, is all perfectly fine. But that is exactly the kind of backstory that, I feel, can be revealed in small bites, rather than all at once. Hints to it are made in this conversation, but hints are all that is needed – who is her father, exactly? What happened in her childhood that might cause her to struggle with facing Klingons? Stay tuned in to find out!

Hey, and how about that Viridium patch and all the shoulder-touching? Don’t worry, that’s just background detail, it definitely won’t turn into a plot point or anything.

Six Things to Love About ‘Star Trek: Discovery’

Okay, in my relentless denigration of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’, I keep getting the same feedback from fans of the show:

“Why do you have to be so negatiiiive? If you don’t like it, don’t watch it! Real fans would be glad to see Star Trek back on TV! Why can’t you just be positive for a change?”

Well guess what, sperm-nozzles, I’m going to be positive. Maybe because I’m alone on Valentines’ Day, maybe because I’ve necked a bottle of wine and have impaired my judgement, maybe because I just want to shove it in the faces of all the fans of this awful, awful show, here’s some stuff I actually like about god damn ‘Star Trek: Discovery’.

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Source: ‘Veep’, by Armando Iannucci

1. Phillipa Georgiou

You may or may not have guessed that I love Phillipa Georgiou. Honestly, I was actually disappointed with Mirror Universe Emperor Georgiou, because as fun as it was to see Michelle Yeoh be evil and sadistic, Emperor Georgiou was ultimately quite a simplistic character – she’s evil, and she cares about Burnham, but she’s basically just evil.

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Captain Georgiou, on the other hand, was wonderfully complex. She had the easy confidence of James Kirk with the statesperson-like dignity of Jean Luc Picard. I loved the fact that she was playful, and smart, and thoughtful. One of my favourite moments from the series was one of the crew noting Burnham’s elevated heart-rate during a daring E.V.A. mission. Georgiou’s response? “She’s having fun.”

Needless to say, I was sad when she only lasted two episodes, and I was outright upset and offended when L’Rell started describing her cannibalisation. But Georgiou was a great character to start the series – bright, optimistic, but simultaneously grounded and sincere. If the entire show had just been a rehash of ‘Next Gen’ story lines but with Georgiou in command, I’d have been so happy.


2. The Rest of the Cast

Okay, I hate most of the characters in ‘Discovery’. But I really like most of the cast. Sonequa Martin-Green did a fantastic job as an emotional human with a Vulcan upbringing. Mary Wiseman was completely endearing as Cadet Tilly, with great comic timing. Jason Isaacs was sublime as the slimy Lorca, and Anthony Rapp was wonderfully earnest as the frustrated scientist-turned-human experiment. Shazad Latif was occasionally heart-breaking in his angst.

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Even the guest actors were great. Another favourite moment of mine is Admiral Cornwell, played by Jayne Brook, chastising Lorca and his self-inflicted suffering: “Why don’t you get your damn eyes fixed??” And let’s not forget James Frain: I actually think it’s a shame he was playing a Vulcan in ‘Discovery’, because he did a fine job, but he was so wonderful as the despicable Ferdinand in ‘Orphan Black’ that I really wish he’d had a greater emotional range to play with than is available to Vulcans.

However, I couldn’t really tell how good a job Mary Chieffo did as L’Rell, because one of the missteps of the series was covering the Klingons in such heavy prosthetics, and distorting their voices so completely, that it was difficult to gauge the performance of the actors beneath all the latex and behind the subtitles. The likes of Martok, Chang, the Duras Sisters, Gowron and and Kurn are great because there is still a great deal of humanity to them – they might be aliens, but they’re human enough for the actors’ talents to shine through.


3. Thirty-Nine Minutes And Fifteen Seconds

adored ‘Magic To Make The Sanest Man Go Mad’. I loved it. Right up until the finale. Thirty-nine minutes and fifteen seconds of what was almost some of the best Trek material ever made.

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I know that sounds like hyperbole, but there was so much that was great going on. The cheesy party (they’re space nerds, of course their parties are lame), the animal-friendly policy around space whales, the time-looping, the scenery-chewing by Rainn Wilson, the unrelenting sadism towards Lorca, Engineer Stamets’ transition from panic to realisation to calm resolution. This episode was delightful.

The ending ruined it. I mean, it really ruined it, from the “Here’s your punishment: a woman,” to the “You go right ahead and keep all those technical details about this advanced warship, don’t even worry about it,” the conclusion to the story was completely piss-poor. It was a waste. But until then, it was magical, and I would’ve paid foldin’ money for the entire show to be of this quality.


4. A Couple That Happened to be Gay

Stamets and Culber. Two people, in love. They’re weren’t really a gay couple – they were just a couple. I really liked the understated relationship they had – supportive, occasionally contradictory, but in general full of concern and love. That’s great. I liked that. It’s too easy to “play it gay” or to try to make a point about inclusiveness, but Sta/lber didn’t, they – well, they played it straight.

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That being said, I genuinely feel that the lack of physical affection between them was awful. We first see them as a couple when they’re in the quarters, brushing their teeth before bed. They brushed their teeth, for Christ’s sakes! They told each other how much they cared about each other! They were in private! Why wouldn’t they kiss?

This was a smudge on an otherwise really positive portrayal of a same-sex relationship: it felt for all the world like the creators just wanted to save “Trek’s First Gay Kiss” for their mid-season finale. I wish they hadn’t. But I’m glad they got the rest of it right.


5. Female Competency

Burnham is a competent, versatile officer. Her suspension-of-disbelief-breaking fuckup in the pilot episode notwithstanding, she’s portrayed as just being good at stuff, the way Kirk was good at stuff, and Picard, and Janeway.

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I love the remake of ‘Battlestar Galactica’ and I love Starbuck in it, but I didn’t half get pissed off when Starbuck was “The Best” at everything. The best pilot, the best sniper, a would-be professional space-football player, a great strategist, a great musician, an artist, an angel, and on and on and on.

Burnham doesn’t get that fanfare. Saru describes her as “the smartest officer” he’d ever known, but in general she’s just shown as being capable and adaptable and determined. This is good. It’s too easy to try to empower female characters by over-stating their abilities; Burnham was smart, but I never felt that she was better than everyone – she was just a good officer. Until she wasn’t.


6. Women in General

Look, ‘Discovery’ has issues with representation. We can’t escape that. But I will give it some, some, credit for having women actually in the show. Don’t get me wrong, I am appalled that so many women like Detmer, Owosekun and Airiam are included merely as set-dressing, but I am also glad that they’re there in the first place. And, as dreadful as the finale might have been, it was cool to see that all the most powerful people involved were women.

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There’s still a long way to go. And it’s important not to fall into the trap of thinking that ‘Discovery’ is doing better than other shows – there are many, many better examples of more proportional representation, even going all the way back to ‘Voyager’, ‘Farscape’ and ‘Babylon 5’. But I will grant that ‘Discovery’ is at least trying, even if it’s not trying hard or successfully enough, to make women a bigger part of the Star Trek canon.

(In fairness, the only reason I rake it over the coals so much in terms of female representation is because it’s putting itself on that path, just not well enough, and congratulating it for tokenism would be wrong.)


‘Discovery’ is more failure than triumph, but it does occasionally shine. Most of my gripes focus on its writing, the flaws in its narrative that prevent it from ever excelling. And that’s the real tragedy, because the story is the one thing you can get right before you ever get anyone else involved.

If one of your actors is piss-poor, or your director just doesn’t grasp the theme of the episode, or the sets look like Styrofoam and poster-paint, that can be a shame, but it doesn’t necessarily ruin a good story – for example, the aforementioned ‘Babylon 5′, which was plagued with terrible acting and embarrassing scenery but was still endearing because of the story it told.

So many small elements of DISCO were great, and they were wasted by an unfocused narrative that relied too heavily on twists and cliffhangers and plots, it actually breaks my heart a little, and all for the sake of a little more work in the writers’ room.

Such a shame.

‘Star Trek: Re/Discovery’ – Battle at the Binary Stars Part 1

“First officer’s log, stardate 1207.3. On Earth, it’s May 11, 2256, a Sunday. The crew of the USS Shenzhou has been called to the edge of Federation space to investigate damage done to one of our interstellar relays. Blast burns around the hole are inconclusive. Were they caused by an asteroid, or was it deliberately destroyed to limit Starfleet communications? And if so, by whom? Despite the mystery, I feel at ease. It’s hard not to in the face of such beauty – in this case, a binary star system. Around these two suns, ice, dust, and gasses collide to form planets future generations will call home. A humbling reminder that all life is born from chaos and destruction.”

“Analysis, Saru?”

“None forthcoming, Commander.” Saru taps away at his console. “There is no chemical residue, no ionic scoring indicative of a particle weapon, and the damage is too limited for any kind of explosive weapon.”

Michael Burnham stands at the front of the bridge, gazing into the image on the viewscreen as a worker bee clamps hold of the relay buoy and turns back for the Shenshou‘s shuttle bay.

Behind her, Captain Phillipa Georgiou enters, a beacon of calm confidence. “Status, Number One.”

Burnham turns to her captain. “Nothing yet to report, Captain. We found the buoy, and it has a large hole in it. Saru is struggling to produce an answer.”

“I am not struggling, Captain,” Saru protests. “I merely lack the data required for a satisfactory conclusion. As a trained scientist, I might have expected our First Officer to appreciate the value of an empirical approach.”

Burnham raises an eyebrow. The other bridge officers exchange glances. Georgiou raises a quieting hand. “Alright, you two, we all know you’re both smart. How about you put those brains to work and take a guess?”

Burnham gestures to Saru, inviting him to go first. He shakes his head. “Please, as our executive officer, Commander Burnham, your analysis must take precedence.”

Burnham nods curtly. “The buoy is of limited strategic value. It forms part of a relay network with layered redundancies, and the nullification of this unit has resulted in no detriment to our frontier monitoring capabilities. In short, Captain, if this is an act of sabotage, it was carried out by someone who had no strategic goal in mind. My deduction: this was a freak accident, a stray rock flung out from the stellar disc at an unfortunate trajectory.”

Georgiou considers this analysis. “Officer thinking, Commander. Always concerned with the bigger picture. Lieutenant Commander?” she asks, turning to Saru.

The Kelpien nods in acknowledgement. “Commander Burnham offers a succinct analysis, but one based on supposition and circumstance. The damage to the relay is comprehensive and precise, leaving no functionality whatsoever. To put it bluntly, you could not switched the relay off more permanently if you were trying, and space rocks are rarely so determined. This must have been a deliberate act.”

Georgiou now considers Saru’s analysis. “Two capable Starfleet officers, reaching opposite conclusions, based off the same data.” She strokes her chin, imitating a wizened, bearded old sage. “Lieutenant Detmer, what would you do in my situation? Who would you bet on?”

Detmer, sat at the helm station, smiles. “My dad always taught me never to bet against Vulcan logic, Captain. But he also told me that when there’s trouble, follow the Kelpien, ’cause they know their way to safety. So, I don’t know. I’m sorry, Captain.”

“Don’t apologise, Lieutenant,” Georgiou insists, “your dad sounds like a smart man. Alright, let’s get to the bottom of this. Saru, run a tachyon sweep at low-band frequency, see if we can pick up any warp trails that have been masked by those stars.”

“Aye, Captain,” Saru answers. “Running sweep. Any warp trails will have to be recent, even just a few hours is enough time to…” He trails off. “Captain, I, there’s something out there. In the debris field.”

Burnham hurries over to Saru’s science station as Georgiou inquires further. “What’s out there, Saru? A ship?”

“Difficult to say, Captain, it’s-” Burnham cuts him off, shunting him out of the way and taking over the console. “It’s some kind of artificial construct, Captain,” she explains. “Roughly a hundred-and-twenty-thousand kilometres from our position. Symmetrical in shape, it seems to be around three hundred metres in size.”

Saru rolls his eyes. “I, too, can read data from a console,” he says, shunting Burnham away from the console, “and I can also deduce that the reason for First Officer Burnham’s ambiguity is the result of some kind of scattering field around the object. Whatever it is, Captain, it’s hiding from us.”

Georgiou’s eyes narrow. “Alright, both of you, my ready room, now.” She stands up and straightens her uniform. “Detmer, you have the conn.”


The beautiful brass telescope in the Captain’s ready room provides a better view of the object, but it remains obscured by asteroids. Whatever it is, it’s rendered in bronze, and is elegant, almost organic, in shape. Burnham squints through the eyepiece in frustration.

“I still can’t figure it out, Captain,” she says, adjusting the focus. She abandons the old astronomical device and stands straight. “Captain, Phillipa, what are we doing out here?”

Saru bristles at the familiarity, but Georgiou smiles. “Something bugging you, Michael?”

“Why are we here, investigating a broken antenna? And then we find this? It has to be more than coincidence.”

Georgiou’s smile widens. “So you think a little maintenance work is beneath us?”

Burnham remains severe. “Captain, this is a Walker-class exploratory vessel. Our long-standing mission is searching for imminent supernovas. Fixing busted satellites is…” She searches for the right words. “Is a waste of material.”

Georgiou moves to behind her desk and takes a seat. On shelves behind her is a collection of old navigation equipment – sextants, calipers, compasses, even one of the first subspace orientation devices from before the days of Starfleet. Georgiou leans back in her chair. “We are barely ten light-years from Klingon territory. This system is the last piece of Federation real estate before you hit neutral space.”

Saru nods. “This is one of the farthest reaches of the outer frontiers. Captain, are you saying that you suspect Klingon activity in this system?” His ganglia twitch, extruding slightly in alarm before retreating again.

“No,” Georgiou says, “not yet. Starfleet hasn’t recorded an encounter with a Klingon ship in twenty years. By all counts, the Empire is in disarray, focused on internal squabbles. But,” she says, cautiously, “there have been reports. Missing ships near the border. Sensor whispers all along the frontier. I recently spoke to Captain Nicholls – she was investigating a burst of neutron radiation near Betazed three weeks ago, and she swears she saw the stars dancing – dancing – in front of her eyes. She says the stars were dancing in the shape of an eagle, or a falcon, or some other bird of prey.”

Burnham’s mouth hangs open, and Saru’s ganglia stretch out behind his head. Georgiou stares out the window at the two suns, tearing at each other in a tug of war.

Burnham breaks the silence. “Captain, as your First Officer I should have been made aware that we would be heading into battle.”

Georgiou looks towards her. “Battle? We’re not going into battle. And I didn’t tell you about Starfleet’s suspicions precisely because of your history with the Klingons.” Georgiou leans forwards. “Michael, this isn’t a warzone, this is Federation space. You’re right, we’re not here to fix a satellite, but we’re not here to start a fight, either. Starfleet just wants to cover all its bases.” She stands, and moves over to the window. “Whatever’s out there, whatever broke our satellite, it wasn’t random. It’s sat out there, watching us, hiding in plain sight, fogging our sensors but holding our attention.”

“Captain Georgiou, this is clearly a dangerous situation and we must immediately call for backup,” Saru says frantically. “We are alone out here, and completely exposed. If there are Klingons in this system, we are entirely at their mercy.”

“I must concur with Science Officer Saru,” Burnham says. “At least send word to Starfleet. This is clearly a trap.”

Georgiou smiles again. “Have we fallen through a wormhole into a parallel universe? My first mate and my science officer, agreeing with one another?” She laughed. “When a troubled Kelpien and Vulcan logic align, who am I to argue?” She moves back to her desk and activated the comm-link. “Lieutenant McFadden, send word to Starfleet Sector Command, advise them of the situation and the unknown object, and request any available ships to rendezvous with Shenzhou at system JWST-86690.”

Burnham remains composed, but her eyes betray her anxiety. “What do we do until they arrive? The nearest ships will be hours away.”

“Well, Number One, when was the last time you piloted a shuttle?


On to part two.


As part of my analysis and break-down of ‘Discovery’, I feel it’s not enough to merely point out the problems – I ought to be offering solutions. As a result, this is the first installment of a personal project to re-write the series from the bottom up.

I’ve set myself a few rules – first, that most of the premises set up by the show are maintained. Specifically:

  • Burnham is a disgraced officer who threw away her career with some really poor judgement, precipitating a war with the Klingons.
  • The Discovery is a ship with an experimental spore drive.
  • Lorca is a mirror-universe impostor with a hidden, wicked agenda.
  • Ash Tyler is a sleeper agent, with Voq’s memories and personality suppressed.

I will also be keeping almost all of the same characters and settings, where possible, and will do my best to hit the same plot milestones as the show.

This is entirely self-indulgent, and I make no apologies. I certainly have no shame.

This first installment is to set the scene – to establish the same setting and the same characters as we meet in the show. I wanted to capture Georgiou’s same easy confidence and cool charisma, and the playful rivalry between Burnham and Saru. We’ll see how it all plays out.

Live long, and prosper.

‘Star Trek: Discovery: The War Without, The War Within’ Has Worse Sci-Fi Credentials Than Star Wars

The latest episode of ‘Star Trek Discovery’ is called “The War Without, The War Within”. I can only presume that title is missing the words “Consequences” and “All Expectations”, because nothing that happens seems to affect any of our characters, and nothing that happens seems in any way surprising.

Take the beautiful way the show handles the fate of two interesting, unseen characters: Mirror Tilly, and Non-Mirror Lorca.

  • Expecting that the Mirror Universe I.S.S. Discovery presumably arrived in the Prime Universe and started wrecking face, we instead find out that she got immediately annihilated by Klingons, along with Cadet Tilly’s more successful counterpart, Captain Killy. That was fun! A load of buildup for a character who lives and dies off screen.
  • We establish the status of Prime Lorca, the presumably non-evil version of the Lorca with which we’re familiar, with Admiral Cornwell stating of her former friend and lover: “There’s no way he survived over there, so I guess he’s dead.” And that’s it. That is literally all she spoke. It’s like a line out of ‘Garth Merenghi’s Dark Place’, I’m not even kidding:

Dagless: I just can’t believe the Temp is dead.
Reed: It’s alright Rick, we’ll get another one.

(Except that the Temp in the ‘Dark Place’ actually got more character progression and a more emotional death scene than anyone in ‘Discovery’. I even learned the difference between a principality and a dependent territory.)

Before I dig in, here are a few other stray observations:

  • Lots more women talk to other women this episode, which is good. I haven’t had chance to catalogue it yet, but I know we get Owosekun-Georgiou, Burnham-Georgiou, Burnham-Tilly, Burnham-Cornwell, Cornwell-Georgiou and Cornwell-L’Rell. Just in general women are talking and doing more this episode, and the men take much more of a backseat.
  • I love that the first priority on returning to the Prime Universe, now overrun with Klingons, is to change the “I” back to a “U” on the ship’s nameplate. Wouldn’t want anyone getting confused, would we?
  • Yet another Federation ship approaches Discovery without being seen. Does anyone else remember the days of neat little establishing shots of Excelsior-class ships cruising alongside the Enterprise-D? Now it all just happens off-screen. Which makes me wonder what happened to that massive budget the writers keep talking about.
  • Saru’s Ganglia shoot off when the ship is about to arrive at a ruined Starbase and not be attacked, but don’t even twitch when a bunch of armed aliens beam aboard the ship right in front of him and shove phasers in his face. Making them actually pointless. They really are good for nothing but eating.
The War Without, the War Within
Any excuse for a pic of Georgiou.
  • Saru decides not to throw Tyler in the brig. Because Tyler might be capable of redemption. Which I really like. Except, he’s also definitely still not right, and also definitely admitted to killing Doctor Culber whilst not in control of his actions. So, I dunno, Saru, do you maybe want to keep the potentially murderous enemy sleeper agent locked up for a bit until after you’ve saved the Federation? I mean, I’m not saying he deserves punishment, but if he does go all Smeagol again there’s a good chance that billions of Federation citizens might die, so you might want to take that into consideration.
    • On the subject of Ash’Voq the Hugon, it turns out that he’s a next-level dickhead. He insists that Burnham forgive him and accept him back so that he can “heal”, making no allowances for how she might feel about having unknowingly had sex with a Klingon agent, and then being strangled by that same agent. I was actually really, really glad when she decided to walk away – if she’d taken him back, I would have shat myself with rage.
    • What’s worse is Tilly, Burnham’s “best friend”, pressuring Burnham to talk to Ash’Voq in the first place. Yeah, Tilly, I’m sure he’s hurting too, but Burnham also just came back from a week-long stint of murdering people, being betrayed repeatedly and eating Kelpien, so maybe give her more than an hour to pull herself together, yeah? Or just fuck off?
    • Ash gets a big bunch of people standing around him and validating his existence. I guess nobody but Stamets had any kind of connection with Culber, whom Tyler murdered just over a week ago. I mean, Christ, if this was regular Trek I might buy into it, but this is the same crew that ostracised Burnham for a war that she didn’t start – and that, by all counts, is still ostracising her.
    • Jesus Fucking Christ, I’m actually feeling sorry for Burnham.
  • Burnham once again confirms that She Started The War. Like, that seems to be canon within the show. Except that SHE GOT ARRESTED BEFORE SHE COULD FUCKING DO ANYTHING. Why does everyone keep banging on about her starting this war? Even people who were there keep blaming her for it, even SHE keeps blaming herself for it, and yet she ultimately DID NOTHING. Did the writers not watch their own fucking show? Are they just those assholes who drop a nauseating fart at the exact moment they step off a crowded lift, spewing noxious filth that they know they won’t have to endure themselves? JESUS, GET YOUR FUCKING STORIES STRAIGHT.
  • Burnham observes of the Klingon war efforts, “There’s no pattern to these attacks, no logical progression to their targets.” Oh, sorry, Ms. Xeno-Anthropologist whose parents were killed in a “Terror Raid”, did you expect that a culture of warriors who steal all their clothes from Lordi and cover their ships in coffins would prosecute a logical, well-thought-out military campaign? Did you think the Klingons had, like, a Group Strategy Meeting at the beginning of the war, where they put a Powerpoint together highlighting the various pros and cons of igniting a planet’s atmosphere?
    • “Well, on the downside we’d lose the ability to use the planet as a base of our own, but on the plus-side, that’s a lot of pre-cooked meat, which is really going to reduce our charcoal costs for this quarter.”
  • I’m no longer feeling sorry for Burnham.
  • The writers of this show literally can’t get anything right.
  • Okay, here’s the doozy. Distances. Actually, no, fuck it, this gets its own fucking section:

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HOW NOT TO WRITE TECHNICAL DIALOGUE

I’m confident that ‘Discovery’s writers are now trying to troll me. Genuinely. There’s no other way to explain this next bit beyond them hating me personally, figuring out the one thing that would flip all of my nerd-rage switches, and then intentionally getting all the cast back together and re-shooting the briefing room scene just so I’d spend the entire rest of the week angry.

Okay, listen up, here’s the thing. If you don’t understand what you’re talking about, YOU SHOULDN’T FUCKING TALK ABOUT IT.

Rich coming from me, I know, but it should be obvious to anyone with a fraction of a cerebral cortex left in their skull that as soon as you start making shit up, you massively amplify the exposure of your own incompetence. For reference, see literally anything I’ve ever written.

What this means is that when Stamets starts talking about the distance between objects in space, it is PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE for him to say:

“Starbase I is a long way from Earth, and it is an even longer way from our current position.”

That’s your first level of detail. Literally nobody has a map of Starfleet installations relative to Earth, so you can say whatever the fuck you like and nobody will give a shit.

The next level of charlatanism is to make shit up in a very non-specific way. So, if Stamets had said:

“Starbase I is dozens of light-years from Earth, and hundreds of light-years away from our current position.”

NOBODY can pick their way through that to find a fault. It’s still so generalised that it tells you nothing, but it adds a bit of space-flavour to this space-based show.

The next level is to add some actual numbers. This is tricky, but you can get around that by making the numbers BIG:

“Starbase I is forty-seven light-years from Earth, and six-hundred-and-twelve light-years away from our current position.”

Now, I’m a bit of a space nerd, but I have no idea of how I would start picking holes in that. Except, none of those versions of the line are used. Instead we get this:

“Well, [Starbase I] is, uh, 100 AUs from Earth, and over a light-year from our current position.”

Now, that may not mean much to you, and that’s fine, but let me make something clear: 1 AU is the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

Here’s another thing that’s pretty fucking common knowledge: The closest star to Earth (besides the Sun) is more than 4 light-years away.

Here’s Starbase I:

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D’you see that lush, terrestrial planet in the background? The one with clouds, and oceans, and continents? And see how it’s brightly illuminated by a nearby star?

Well, 100 AUs from Earth? That’s roughly three times the orbit of Pluto (or twice Pluto’s greatest distance from the Sun). On Pluto, the Sun is a dim star that nearly blends in with all the other stars in the sky. The next nearest star, Alpha Centauri? That’s more than 4 light-years away, or nearly 270,000 AUs.

All of which means that the writers of ‘Discovery’ created a new star with a new planet literally within the outer reaches of our solar system, just because they couldn’t be bothered spending one minute of their lives using Google.

Literally, one minute. Sixty seconds.

And I know that Trek is hardly ever scientifically accurate, but this is a rare example of Trek writers being MORE specific than they need to be just so’s they can shoot themselves in the foot.

It’s a bizarre display of dedicated self-destruction for absolutely no creative gain. Nothing, nothing, is added to the story of this episode by making up random numbers, and I’m baffled by their decision to do so. Just how little do you have to care about your work to not even put in a pedestrian level of research?

For reference, y’know the damn parsec thing in ‘Star Wars’? Here’s an actual excerpt from the original script (the one that’s still sub-titled “Journal of the Whills” i.e. before the cameras even started rolling) covering that precise moment:

HAN
Han Solo. I’m captain of the Millennium Falcon. Chewie here tells me you’re looking for passage to the Alderaan system.

BEN
Yes, indeed. If it’s a fast ship.

HAN
Fast ship? You’ve never heard of the Millennium Falcon?

BEN
Should I have?

HAN
It’s the ship that made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs!

Ben reacts to Solo’s stupid attempt to impress them with obvious misinformation.

And if you think that’s been retconned in after the fact, here’s Obi Wan’s expression as he remains singularly unimpressed by Solo’s rampant bullshit:

So here’s the thing: everyone harps on about ‘Star Wars’ getting something this basic so wrong, when it’s actually one character lying to another.

Which means that unless Stamets was, for some reason, lying to everyone (which we know he wasn’t because they make the journey), Star Trek is now worse at doing sci-fi than Star Wars.

Especially when you take into account Saru’s magic Ganglia, Stamets’ magic spore drive, a Mirror Universe which makes no fucking sense, and an enemy sleeper agent plotline that relies on every single doctor on a futuristic space ship being drunk or incompetent.

So essentially, the next time you try to claim that Trek is somehow “more sci-fi” than Wars, just remember the moment that Trek writers cared so little for their craft that they couldn’t be bothered googling what a “light-year” was.

A Lament for Tilly: The Biggest Waste of Material in ‘Star Trek: Discovery’

There are possibly as many as two thousand articles I could write about all the issues with ‘Star Trek: Discovery’, and as I slowly work my way up to that number, a new issue has arisen with the latest episode.

We discover that in the Mirror Universe, Cadet Tilly’s counterpart is captain of the Discovery, in a revelation that is painfully predictable based on previous lines of dialogue (predictable, but not in the sense of a story that follows a logical path but rather of a dangerously unimaginative narrative).

My worry is that the writers have mistaken this event in the story for character development for Tilly, when in actuality it is really just making fun of a social awkward young woman.

I always liked Tilly, because she felt like what Reg Barclay should have been – a more ordinary human being on a ship full of near-superhuman futuristic heroes. Sadly Reg Barclay ended up as a bit of a creepy neckbeard who seemed like a caricature of Trek’s own fandom. Tilly, on the other hand, felt to me like someone just entering adulthood and still figuring themselves out in a reasonably sympathetic manner.

There were specifically two elements of Tilly’s character that I really liked:

  • She is determined to be a captain one day.
  • She is theoretically the best engineer on the ship.
  • Nope, sorry, fucked that one up: she’s the best theoretical engineer on the ship.

Because of Tilly’s scientific ability, she was in fact fast-tracked through the Academy, to serve on the most advanced science and research vessel in Starfleet (an organisation made up almost exclusively of scientists and engineers); in short, on a vessel full of extremely clever people, she is the cleverest.

firstboardingparty
Pictured: a hapless loon and the most capable scientist in the fleet (the scientist is on the left).

And so, what tasks are befitting the best theoretical physicist on the ship, and probably in the entirety of Starfleet?

  • Boarding a ransacked vessel to retrieve a few hard drives.
  • Moving canisters of sparkly goo from one hole to another hole.
  • Dropping Trek’s first ever strategic F-bomb.
  • Sending Thoughts and Prayers to a dying space teddy-bear.
  • Providing moral support for her roommate (not even kidding, that’s literally what they say in the show).
  • Moving more canisters around.
  • Running.
  • Scanning a large space whale with a tricorder.
  • Counting down from 133, whilst moving canisters from one hole to another hole.
moralsupport
Well shit, the one mission for which Deanna Troi might literally have been qualified, but she won’t be born for another seventy years.

Now, I’m not specifically saying that any of these physical tasks are beneath a theoretical physicist. What I am saying is that they’re probably beneath the best theoretical physicist on the ship, particularly when that ship is literally propelled by an engine whose mechanisms exceed humanity’s understanding of the universe.

What I honestly hoped for after Tilly told us her credentials was that cool scene where they encounter an entirely new scientific problem, and so turn to the genius cadet to see if her younger, more open mind can reach a solution that they’d never consider. Y’know, that combination of expertise with a fresh perspective.

But that never happens. We get a hint of it when Tilly, Stamets and Burnham try to figure out an alternative to using the tardigrade in Episode Five, but Tilly’s role in that conversation is to just repeat information that everybody already knows and then say “fuck”.

For example, in Episode Ten, when they all arrive in the mirror universe, in an environment where every particle of matter behaves slightly differently and things that were previously thought to be impossible are now seen to be possible, you might think that would be an incredible opportunity for a young scientist to weigh in intellectually and offer some insight, particularly given that she’s just spent years of her life living in what is essentially a space university for super-nerds (Starfleet Academy being the Federation’s primary academic centre).

Instead we get a picture of her in boob-armour with straightened hair, playing for laughs the idea that her mirror counterpart might be someone who wields any degree of power or ambition. We then get a reasonably painful sequence of “Force The Nerdy Girl To Be Confident”, followed later by “Now The Nerdy Girl Has Sexy Hair She Is Both Confident And Sexy”.

sexyeviltilly
Guys, don’t worry, she has straight hair, it’s okay to be attracted to her now.

Now, way back in Episode Three, when Tilly announces her command ambitions, I honestly thought it was great, like, genuinely. And I was glad to see her and Burnham training for Tilly’s career in Episode Six, running around the ship looking like massive dorks in their DISCO t-shirts.

But we never saw anything else. We never saw Burnham trying to teach Tilly how to understand alien cultures (fittingly for a xenoanthropologist) or deal with difficult political and diplomatic situations, or even train in tactics and strategy, or any of the other things that a Starfleet Captain might be expected to understand. In fact, besides two scenes involving running, we never see any more of Tilly’s training.

Indeed, Tilly’s last major appearance in the first half of the season is in the 70s-themed DISCO party in Episode Seven. She staggers about drunkenly, gets hit on, tries to set her roommate up with a Kling 100% Human Being, and then scans a whale. In the final two episodes of the demi-season, she gets a total of about three scenes – one, talking to Stamets about his increasing reliance on hallucinogenic mushrooms, and a couple more scenes where she’s once again lugging canisters of galactic semen around a room.

But it’s not like Tilly is a minor character – Mary Wise is one-sixth of the main cast (plus Sonequa Martin-Green, Anthony Rapp, Shazad Latif, Doug Jones and Jason Isaacs) and one half of the main female cast (the other being Martin-Green). She should be up there getting arcs of her own, particularly given that this is a serialised narrative – it’s not a huge stretch to get a enough scenes over eight episodes to give a main character at least a little depth.

partytilly
You may think I have used too many pictures of Tilly in this article. You are definitely wrong.

Episode Ten shows us that there’s a little promise in Tilly’s future, that she may aspire to become more than just Burnham and Stamets’ dweeby sidekick. But I really, really hope she does that through positive character qualities, and not because she only just now discovered the existence of hair straighteners.

(As a side note, the “featured image” for this article, appearing at the top of this page, is notable for showing Tilly without the mole on her forehead. It’s a shot from within the show, but has visibly been airbrushed to be used for promotional purposes. It was taken from the CBS website, which as you can see here, features another screen capture, once again with that mole removed.

A curious reminder of this show’s “positive attitude” towards women. Just remember girls, there’s a place in the stars for you too – so long as your skin remains featureless and womanly.)


(As a further side note, I called the reveal of evil Tilly “painfully predictable,” but as one commenter correctly pointed out, I made no such prediction on this website. I did, however, make it on a time-stamped Facebook post on my personal profile about twelve hours before seeing the episode, which I have screen-shotted below:)

predictions