You may be used to Star Trek having characters with complex and intriguing arcs, such as ‘Next Gen’s Data and his bid to become human, or ‘Voyager’s The Doctor as he tries to expand beyond his programming. Or maybe even the entire cast of ‘Deep Space Nine’, with their varied and complex backstories that formed the basis of a lot of drama.
But there’s none of that nonsense with ‘Discovery’. You don’t need to worry about caring about these people, as they will all manage to repel or bore you sufficiently that you can watch the show comfortably in the safety of a vague sense of detachment and emotional emptiness. Will Stamets survive this latest threat? Who cares! He only talks about mushrooms anyway. Concerned about Lorca’s descent into madness? Of course you aren’t! He never developed a personality beyond “war person” in the first place.
You may have noticed a growing trend over the last eighty years or so of movies and television shows conveying some of their meaning and significance without actually having a character state it openly. Sometimes, a silent look will suggest that a relationship is falling apart. Subtle changes in body language might imply that a character is behaving out of sorts.
Fortunately, you don’t need to keep track of these pointless details in ‘Star Trek: Discovery’. If you’re ever not sure of a character’s intentions, don’t stress, they’ll usually explain everything to another character in explicit terms later in the episode – or sometimes within the same scene! Gone are the days of having to tire your brain out by inferring ideas based on non-verbal cues – now you can have everything explained to you without the need for comprehension!
And if it isn’t explicitly explained, don’t worry. That just means there’s a DRAMATIC TWIST coming up soon, so stay tuned! It will completely surprise you, so long as you are incapable of independent thought.
3. Complex Ideas
If you’re looking for simple, straight-forward problems with equally straight-forward solutions, then you’ve come to the right place. If you struggle to follow the loops and turns of ethical dilemmas, if abstract concepts such as the conflict between duty and loyalty befuddle your head, and the very notion of a no-win scenarios leaves you confused and ashamed, then this is the show for you.
Sick space tardigrade? Just say a prayer and fire it out the airlock! Need a new navigator, ’cause you just fired your last one out the airlock? Simply inject yourself with magic DNA! Need to unite a fractured empire? Start a war! Don’t worry about the justification, just open fire, everyone else will join you!
4. Watching It With Your Kids
It’s possible that you, like me, grew up on Star Trek. Whether it’s ‘The Next Generation’, ‘Voyager’, or even ‘The Original Series’ if you’re reeeaaalllyyyy old. All the amazing technology, the weird aliens, the cool ships, the heroism, all filling you with a sense of wonder, a passion for space travel and the endless possibilities it presents.
Fortunately, your own children will be spared that tedium. There’s no room for kids here! Between the lacerations, the torture, the facial burns, the psychological trauma, the torture, the implied rape, the cannibalism, the torture, the bloody stabbings, the swearing, the animal abuse, and don’t forget the torture, there’s absolutely zero chance of a child making it through a single episode without long-lasting emotional damage!
The storylines and characterisation may all be adolescent, but don’t you worry, the content is all adult, allof the time.
Remember the vision of the future that Star Trek once gave us? A time of technological and social enlightenment, where diverse crews worked together to overcome adversity in the face of exotic danger?
Well there’s none of that horseshit here, bucko! We all know that nobody wants to see that dreary, dull, boring advanced society. We want dark, gritty warfare, with prisoners of war being murdered in their cells, widespread hunger, civilisations on the brink and a return to the kind of Nazi science that even now is considered to be barbaric. We want bombing runs on civilians, we want nefarious motives and deceitful captains. Throw out your moral fortitude – everything is a shade of grey. Forget the unification of humanity – give us criminals and murderers and racists. The future is bright – with the fire of War.
6. An Inspiring Theme Tune
Any Trekkie worth their salt with be able to hum at least one of the theme tunes from the previous shows – even ‘Enterprise’s ‘Faith of the Heart’. But you can say goodbye to those irritating ear worms – ‘Discovery’s theme is so anonymous, its own composer can’t even remember how it goes! Atonal and subdued, there’s zero chance that this soporific non-melody will leave you in anything approaching a positive frame of mind – just like the show itself! And also in keeping with the show, as soon as the theme tune’s over you can completely forget about it and go about your day – what a refreshing change of pace!
I was going to do a chapter dedicated to the characters of ‘Prometheus’, but then I realised that too big a proportion of it was dedicated to one single character, the epitome of stupid characterisation. The rest of the cast will follow in their own chapter, but Charlie gets his own, all to himself – he can rule his little Empire of Shit and be its only citizen all at the same time.
“Charlie Holloway” – Chief of the Shitlords
Something special happens when you take a character who is arrogant, selfish and narcissistic, and then also make them stupid, ignorant, abusive, paranoid and generally irrational. You end up with a “perfect storm” of annoyance. “Charlie”, as his friends call him, or “Dickhead”, as I prefer to refer to him, is intent on meeting his creators – on getting answers about why they made humanity in the first place. And based on Dickhead’s propensity for being an obnoxious arsehole to every conscious being in proximity to him, I can only assume that he in particular was made as some sort of cruel joke – maybe even a Biblical punishment.
After the ship arrives in orbit, Ms. Vickers decides to pull Dickhead and Dickhead’s Girlfriend into her own little bar-equipped escape pod to brief them on the mission. She tells them that, should they encounter alien life, they’re to do nothing except report back to her. Makes sense – new species, no guaranteed means of communication, who knows what could happen if you try to say hello, right?
Except Dr. Ballsack decides that she must be up to something, asking her if she has another agenda. I dunno, Dickhead, maybe she wants to enslave the alien species and force them to build monuments to her glorious image – or maybe she just wants to avoid a Total Party Kill when an attempt at a handshake turns into a Viking holiday in a North English monastery.
He really cranks up the stupid when they begin their descent. Pointing out a road on the ground, he exclaims “Right there! God doesn’t build in straight lines.” And that’s certainly true, unless God’s building certain trees, for example, or several types of rock formation, or sedimentary layers of stone, but whatever, I guess the fact that it’s a straight road means it’s artificial. I’m not about to disagree, although he doesn’t seem too concerned that this might be a planet full of Space Romans.
As they discover an enormous walled structure at the end of this artificial road, he asks them to scan it, to figure out whether or not it’s artificial. So he’s obviously thorough. Except, it’s an enormous fucking dome surrounded by a concentric, vertical wall on otherwise flat ground – and it’s at the end of a road he’s just claimed for certain is artificial.
So far, so stupid. But, as soon as they set foot inside this enormous building and establish that the air is breathable, Captain Brainbleed decides to remove his helmet. Because the air’s clean, apparently. There aren’t any microbes. Alright. So, you just decide to remove your helmet and start gulping down huge lung-fulls of alien atmosphere. I mean, what if the small scanners on your space suits couldn’t pick up a pathogen that would never before have been seen on Earth? What if you wander into a part of the structure that isn’t habitable? They’d just established that all the air outside would kill a human after two minutes of exposure – what if this clearly ancient structure contains pockets of that deadly stuff?
Here’s another consideration – you’re the first humans to ever set foot on this planet. What if you’re bringing something with you that affects the environment around you? You’re here to study and discover – how do you know that the microbes that exist inside your own body, that you’re now breathing out casually, won’t irreparably damage the surroundings? Are you a total fucking idiot? And was that a rhetorical question?
Later, after the team has explored the caverns and brought back a souvenir in the form of an over-sized head which they electrocute until it explodes in a Mengele-inspired bit of biological experimentation, Admiral Arsebucket spirals into a self-destructive alcohol binge as he whines about the fact he didn’t get to meet his alien creators, being a twat to just about everybody in proximity to him.
This is the point where we discover that he is not only stupid, but also incredibly childish, defeatist, petty and, in essence, a coward. Because the fact is they’ve just discovered the body of an ancient precursor race of space travellers. Given that mankind has never encountered another intelligent alien species at this point, that’s a huge discovery – even if it is dead. Further, they’ve been on the planet for about half a day, and it’s a whole PLANET. Planets are, by all counts, RATHER FUCKING LARGE, who knows what else might be out there?
And even if he can conclusively say that there is nothing else on this planet – a tough task, given the Prometheans’ DEMONSTRABLE TENDENCY to build things underground – they still haven’t explored the entirety of the structure in which they found the dead body. For all Corporal Cuntfeatures knows, there could be still-living Prometheans elsewhere in the structure. And I feel confident saying that because IT’S EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS IN THE FUCKING MOVIE.
So, why is Lord Loosebutt so absolutely sure that he’s missed his chance to meet his creators? Why is everything now lost, despite the fact that he’s just been standing on an alien world looking at the creations of a lost civilisation? He’s a FUCKING ARCHEOLOGIST, this should be, like, orgasm-central for someone who’s spent his career on dig sites, trying to piece together remnants of ancient cultures. Instead, he just turns into an angry, bitter arsehole.
David, the lovably creepy android, poisons Shitheap McShitstain with some weird alien goo he found in the caves. We never find out why, but it should be clear by now: chemical and biological weaponry is the only ethical way to treat such a suppurating sack of bile-ridden faeces. Regardless, he contaminates a drink in about the most obvious way possible, but because Hotdog Burgerpants is so blithely moronic he doesn’t even notice.
The next morning, after using his girlfriend’s insecurity about her infertility to manipulate her into sex – something he does so easily and casually I can only presume he’s done it many, many times before – he wakes up to see something squirming around in his eye. Of course, any normal person might consider running to the nearest physician and getting a completely invasive check-up. But apparently it’s just easier to ignore it and move on, and who can argue with that?
Again, let’s contextualise this – you’re on a remote planet, completely new to humans. You foolishly removed your helmet without being aware of the consequences, exposing yourself to whatever nasty stuff might be out there. Even if that didn’t expose you to infection, last night you witnessed the EXPLODING of a GIANT ALIEN HEAD which was judged by YOUR OWN GIRLFRIEND to have BEEN INFECTED WITH SOMETHING before EXPLODING.
Speaking of your own girlfriend, last night you engaged in carnal activities with her, presumably punctuated by you looking in the mirror at yourself, smelling your own socks and calling out your own name during climax. Let’s assume you care about this woman – obviously you don’t because you’re a narcissistic bag of shite with a larynx – but lets assume that you do, even a little.
Now, you wake up to see something squirming around in your eye. Maybe you’re just hungover. Maybe you’re tired. But why, in the name of ZEUS’ BUTTHOLE, would you not consider speaking to a doctor? If you are infected, which you are, you have almost definitely been in enough contact with your girlfriend to spread it to her – or you got it from her, but either way she’s infected. So even if you don’t give a shit about yourself, she’s at risk too. Why would you not alert anyone to your condition?
Don’t get me wrong, if I wake up and find a rash on my arm, I don’t immediately rush to the doctor with fears of meningitis. But I live on a quiet housing estate in rural Oxfordshire. I very specifically have never woken up with disease symptoms whilst on an alien planet – after having REMOVED MY HELMET for NO FUCKING REASON and exposed myself to ALL MANNER OF CONTAMINATION AND INFECTION.
At this point, High Pontiff Jizz Poop the Turd is endangering not only himself, not only the woman he pretends to love, but also the entire rest of the crew, all because he can’t keep himself together enough to perform even the most basic self-care. Fuck me, I mean, after he wakes up they agree to venture back to the fucking temple-thing, and people are asking him why he looks bad, and HE JUST PRETENDS IT’S FINE. HE LITERALLY GOES WITH THEM BACK TO THE PLACE WHERE HE MOST LIKELY GOT INFECTED AND DECIDES TO BE STOIC ABOUT IT INSTEAD OF WARNING THEM ABOUT THE EYE WORMS HE NOW HAS IN HIS EYES. WHAT A CUUUUUUUUUNT.
Shortly afterwards, Shittimus Prime inevitably and predictably gets liquefied from the inside out before the always-awesome Dr. Vickers administers the cure with her medical flamethrower. So ends a bloody awful character, sadly all too late in the film.
1500 words in and I’ve still not covered everything that’s hateful about this walking spit bucket of a character. Throughout his screen time he is invariably and very personally obnoxious and hurtful to David the Android for literally no reason. He makes snide comments about his lack of humanity, teases him about the inherent contradictions in his creation – even dismisses the very reason for his creation in the first place.
And, sure, David might not be someone who technically has feelings to hurt, but the level of cruelty Dick McHead displays towards the robot-person exceeds even that of Dr. Vickers, who arguably has much more deep-seated and personal reasons to hate David. It’s as though Bell McEnd has real reason to hate and diminish androids – but we get no exploration of that.
He’s just nasty and arrogant and hurtful to the one person who just spent two years making sure he didn’t die in his sleeping pod and piecing together an unknown language so that Commodore Crappy McCrapcrap can actually speak to his idolised creators. Talk about gratitude. I treat my microwave more humanely, and that things hits me with a static discharge every time I open it.
The terrible, unavoidable truth is that Holloway Ballsack serves absolutely no purpose in the story whatsoever. You could take him out entirely, and the only thing that changes is that Shaw doesn’t get impregnated with a snot monster. Really, that’s it, he does nothing else in the story that could not be achieved by Shaw herself. And he doesn’t add to the entertainment value, because… well, see above.
The worst bit of it all is that he’s meant to be a sympathetic character. When Vickers does the decent thing and puts an end to him once and for all, we get this last shot on his little goopy face with sad music playing, as though the filmmakers actually expect us to care. But I was practically cheering. I didn’t even feel badly for Shaw as she wept – the sad truth is that him getting annihilated is probably the best thing to happen to her in the whole movie.
So there you have it. One of our lead protagonists is pointless, unpleasant, annoying and hateful. Again, I could probably write more, but I have plenty more wheelbarrows full of shit through which I have to sift for the little crusty nuggets of concentrated wank that make up this movie. Next up – the entire rest of the fucking cast.