‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Finishes Its First Season Not With A Whimper But With A Chorus of Long, Uninterrupted Fart Noises

By the time I finished ‘Will You Take My Hand’ I was laughing.

How the hell do you make a season finale that is “simulaneously” filler and a rushed mess? That shouldn’t even be possible outside of a Star Wars prequel.

Nevertheless, ‘Discovery’ manages to drop the ball so comprehensively with its finale that I was equal parts amazed, appalled, amused and astounded.

It’s difficult to wrap my head around just how peculiar this episode was, but I’ll try.


The Catalogue of Stupid

  • Women talk to each other! A lot! This is great! We end up with three different leaders between Cornwell, L’Rell and Georgiou who are all women. Of course, L’Rell is a cannibalistic torturer, Georgiou is a genocidal xenophobe, and as of this episode Cornwell is a genocidal xenophobe, too, but still, women! Talking! To each other!
  • We open with the Klingon fleet approaching Earth. I say “fleet” – it’s like, five ships. But they’re approaching Earth. Which is tense. There’s a lot at stake. I really can’t wait to see the climactic final battle, even if it’s only five ships, who knows what will happen?
georgiouintense
*swoon*
  • Burnham puts a weird emphasis on the “she” part of her opening speech. Like she’s trying to make a point. “THIS SOLDIER WAS A WOMAN. HAH! GOT YOU! YOU THOUGHT SHE’D BE A MAN BUT SHE WAS ACTUALLY A WOMAN! TAKE THAT, MISOGYNISTS!” Meanwhile, Detmer, Owosekun and Airiam get eight words between them, four of which are either “Aye” or “sir”.
  • Saru’s all like “She does not embody Federation ideals. We’re supposed to follow her orders?” HEY SARU BUDDY, WHICH FEDERATION IDEAL INCLUDES BEATING UP YOUR SHIPMATES SO’S YOU CAN STAY ON HOLIDAY ON THE PEACE PLANET? WHICH FEDERATION IDEAL INCLUDES KILLING A TARDIGRADE SO THAT YOU CAN RESCUE YOUR CAPTAIN WHO KEEPS A ROOM FULL OF ILLEGAL WEAPONS? WHICH FEDERATION IDEAL INCLUDES BEING A DIPSHIT? EH? EHHHH?
  • Knowing that her freedom, and potentially her survival, relies on her successfully assuming the identity of her Prime Universe counterpart, Emperor Georgiou does literally nothing to try to blend in.
    • “Well, gee, we just came from a mirror universe full of evil clones of ourselves, and now, right after that, we’ve just had this legendary captain returned to us from the dead! Except she’s acting all mean and evil. Well, nothing to read into there! I best continue blindly following her orders.”
  • “Scared Kelpien makes tough Kelpien.” Which edgy fourteen-year-old on work experience in the writers’ room produced this calibre of dialogue? Whoever it is, they have a promising career ahead of them in the DC cinematic universe.
    • “Either way, I can tell you require seasoning.”
  • Burnham tries to catch Georgiou out by asking her which part of Malaysia she was born in. Except she’s from the Mirror Universe. They literally have identical names, ships, computer interfaces. Wouldn’t she just be from the same part of Malaysia? Only evil? Evilaysia?
    • Also, if Burnham wants to out her that badly, couldn’t she just point to Georgiou being a sadistic tyrant, and then tell everyone “She’s from the Mirror Universe. Y’know, that place we literally just came from about six hours ago.” Christ, Tilly figured it out in seconds, I’m sure the rest of them would get with the program pretty quickly.
  • Speaking of Tilly, her adorable little Nazi salute is the best part of this entire episode.
  • I lied, the best part is Georgiou in full Space Pirate getup. God damn.
  • God damn.
pirategeorgiou
More like Captain Phillipa Smokeshow, amirite?
  • But no, Tilly, no. You don’t get to be the “supportive best friend” now, stepping in between Burnham and Ash, when it was only twenty minutes ago that you were guilt-tripping your bestie into forgiving the impostor who had just tried to kill her.
  • This new brand of Star Trek is gritty and brutal enough to bring us throat-slittings, graphic burns, the word “fuck” (twice!), but can’t show a scene in a brothel without covering up all the female nipples. G-strings are apparently a-okay, however – we get quite a few close-ups of pert buttocks clad in nothing more than two pieces of wire. Then Georgiou throws a naked woman across a room but the wispy bit of gold cloth remains superglued just above the nipple. Of course, male nipples are fine. Because they’re on men. And men have nothing to be ashamed of in this universe. Definitely not their nipples.
  • Okay, so Admiral Cornwell (and Starfleet in general) is now implicated in a genocide conspiracy. Like, she tried to commit genocide, and tried to hide it. Genocide. Conspiracy. Burnham got a life imprisonment for turning on her captain and trying to start a war, so naturally the series bookends with Admiral Cornwell facing a trial of her own, and presumably a stricter punishment.
  • NAH JUST KIDDING, MEDALS FOR EVERYONE.
  • L’Rell has a data pad with some writing on it. The rest of the Klingons fall into line in fear of her blowing up her own planet by using said datapad. Christ, L’Rell, next time just get a big red button that’s not wired to anything. Or even better, try to sell them some volcano insurance. Or some snake oil.

tillygorgeous

  • The mean, evil Klingon fleet of five ships is pretty much in lower Earth orbit. And just decides to float away as soon as L’Rell gives her speech. This was the point that I started pissing myself with laughter. All of the build-up and tension, and it culminates in a pretty five-second special effects shot. That’s it! That’s the end of the war! No daring ploys, no chase sequences, no fleet engagements, no difficult decisions. Just a data pad, and a room full of stupid Klingons.
    • I also just want to take this moment to talk about the plan. So, Starfleet’s plan is to blow up Qo’Nos, right? But last episode, they establish that the Klingons aren’t currently united. And yet, with a Klingon fleet spitting distance from Earth and facing no defending ships, Starfleet decides to blow up the Klingon homeworld? Jesus, well, it’s a good thing Klingons aren’t known for grudges, vengeance or retaliation, otherwise I’d be worried that you might just be encouraging them to do something rash.
  • Sarek also admits to conspiracy to genocide. Burnham lets him off with “you were having a bad day.” BURNHAM, OF A SPECIES OF EMOTIONLESS ETHICS NUTS, HE IS FAMOUS FOR BEING ONE OF THE MOST DISCIPLINED. BEING “DESPERATE” IS NOT SUFFICIENT EXCUSE FOR GENOCIDE.

genocide

  • We get a schmaltzy medal ceremony, in the best traditions of Star Wars, only this time the wookiee would totally have had a medal because this is Starfleet, hence equality.
    • So, Burnham’s giving a speech. To, I dunno, to the room? Except she’s facing the panel of commanders, with Cornwell, Sarek, etc. And she’s giving a speech about them keeping their principles. To the people she just called out for trying to commit genocide. And they’re the ones giving out the medals. That’s like stopping Hitler, and then getting a medal from Hitler for stopping Hitler, and then giving a speech about why Hitler’s wrong and having Hitler applaud you for it. What the hell was going through the writer’s head when they put this scene together?
  • I love how the only people present at the ceremony are the actors they’d already paid to appear in the last episode. The Andorian’s there, and the Tellarite, and Cornwell, and a couple of the other captains from the holobriefing, and then all of the bridge crew who at some point got a name, even if they didn’t get any lines.
  • “Oh, yeah, no, Bryce or Rhys or whoever, they definitely deserve a medal equivalent in merit to Stamets’. I mean, they gave such good status reports. And they put up with Lorca AND Saru. All Stamets did was risk his life to save his Captain, and then risk his life again to crack the Klingon cloak, and then risk his life again to get them all back from a parallel universe, oh and he also lost his husband. That’s about the same as giving some status reports.
tillysalute
I’d probably be a lot less liberal if the Third Reich had been this adorable.
  • We never got a funeral for Culber. Just a weird mushroom-ghost thing and then Stamets being passive-aggressive with VoqAsh. Tarrah, Culber! And thanks for all the medical exposition.
  • Fine, I was wrong, they didn’t time travel their way out of the plot holes. Which amazes me. Also no return of the Largeigrade. I was wrong. D’you hear!? I was wrong!
  • For some reason, they end with the Original Series theme song. Don’t get me wrong, it’s ten times better than ‘Discovery’s theme song. It’s just weird. I thought we were all above that cheap 1960s TV stuff:


Loose Threads

This episode was exhausting in its absurdity, so rather than further analysis, here’s some more bullet points on unanswered questions and narrative dead ends from throughout the series.

  • What the fuck was up with those black badges? In the first episode there are Starfleet officers wearing black badges. We never see or hear of them ever again.
  • What happened to the Largeigrade? It fucked off into space and then never came back. I don’t blame it, I’d be hightailing it out of this fiasco as quickly as I could. But what was it, exactly? Where did it come from? Are there more of them? What do they do? WHAT’S UP WITH THE TARDIGRADE???
  • What happened to Prime Lorca? Is that really it? He died off screen? We don’t even hear how? What the shit? What happened with the Buran? Did Mirror Lorca just blow it up? What the shit? Was that all just so’s they could have the big reveal?
  • And I guess that was all we get for Captain Killy, too, who remains a debris cloud in the Prime Universe.
  • What happened to the Pahvans? Did the Klingons go back to wipe them out?
  • What happened to Lorca’s Tribble? No, really, what happened to Lorca’s Tribble? Is it okay? Is the Tribble okay? That Tribble better be okay. If it isn’t I’m going to shit.

‘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:

warwithoutbriefingroom

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:

starbase1

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.

‘Star Trek: Discovery’ is Shockingly Predictable with ‘The Wolf Inside’

This is a summary, rather than a full article, as there’s so much that I want to cover right now that if I were to fully explore my thoughts on ‘Discovery’ so far, I would be writing until I died from ice-cream-induced heart attack (so about three weeks).


  • Well, it turns out the real Klingon was inside of Ash all along.
  • Who.
  • Would.
  • Have.
  • Guessed.
  • Certainly not me.
  • Okay, maybe I guessed a little. I think my suspicions started when, at the end of Episode Four we saw L’Rell telling Voq that he was “about to go through some changes”, and in Episode Five we see L’Rell with some rando human sex slave on her prison ship. And then we didn’t see Voq for the entire rest of the series.
  • Still though, WHAT A TWIST.
  • For a “faceless” leader renowned for her anonymity, Emperor Georgiou really likes to micromanage.
  • But it is nice to see Michelle Yeoh back
  • Even if it’s not surprising.
  • “We still live and die by Federation law,” says Saru, in full knowledge of the fact that Lorca has been tortured for seventy-two hours straight whilst Burnham and Ash make bumpies with their pelvises and sleep in silk sheets.
  • And, they’re going to take Ash to a tribunal. Except he’s either A) Been brainwashed, so get him to a medical facility, or B) he’s literally a Klingon spy in disguise. Those are the only options, there is no “He suddenly decided to turn traitor on his shipmates, learn fluent Klingon and dedicate himself to a foreign religion in the space of a day” option.
  • I will concede, I was really, really glad to finally see Tilly being plot-relevant after a painfully long period of her barely counting as comic relief.
  • Sarek’s goatee was a cheap means of winning over the fans. It also totally worked, I loved it.
beardsarek
Your loins are no match for sexiness of this magnitude.
  • Burnham poses as the captain of the Shenzhou so she can get the files on the Defiant. Except that the files are encrypted. Even though she’s the highest-ranked officer on the ship. So if nobody is to read the files, why are they even on the ship? Or if the captain is meant to have access to them, why doesn’t she? If she can’t remember (never knew) any of the access codes, how would she even be able to do anything on the ship at all?
  • Burnham and Tyler intentionally beam down to the hostile planet five hundred metres away from the rebel stronghold. Into open terrain. And then act surprised when they get ambushed.
  • Probably the most boring “I-was-an-evil-agent-all-along” reveal scene I’ve ever witnessed. Just two people in a room, talking. So much of ‘Discovery’ features two (occasionally three) people just stood around talking about something that the audience hasn’t even seen. There are so many more interesting ways Tyler could have revealed himself to Burnham, instead he just monologues awkwardly at her for five minutes then tries to strangle her. Thrilling.
  • Apparently ‘The Expanse’ isn’t enough, they now also need to steal execution methods from ‘Battlestar Galactica’. (Okay, now I’m just whinging.)
  • No, wait, the whole Tyler arc is just Boomer’s from BSG. Jesus Christ.
  • HOLY CRAP, AND THE WHOLE POINT WAS THEM HAVING A PLAN WHEN THEY REALLY DIDN’T ALL ALONG. I mean, seriously, what exactly was Voq supposed to do? All he did was shag Burnham and be an incredibly suspicious liability. What the hell was the point of him turning into Tyler at all? Besides to have a “big surprising twist reveal”?
  • As outraged as I am, I am still happy to meme the shit out of it for internet points:
  • TYLON
  • The Andorians get yet another overhaul in aesthetic. As do the Tellarites. At this point, it’s only humans and pointy-eared humans who have not been hit with the update stick. But we can’t be more than one or two reboots away from seeing bumpy-headed Vulcans.
  • Seriously, three days. He was getting tortured for THREE. DAYS. Here’s what Burnham got up to during those three days:
    • Was bathed by an actual body slave.
    • Spectated on some good old fashioned capital punishment.
    • Shagged her boyfriend.
    • Slept.
    • Gave moody monologues.
    • Downloaded some data onto a USB stick.
  • Mirror Mind-Stamets appears. Because the one thing we need right now, between the Klingon spy, his imprisoned Klingon mate, the probable Mirror Lorca, Burnham meeting all her dead friends, and also some other bullshit, is yet another weird and metaphysical plot thread.
  • How come we still haven’t seen the tardigrade? Oh, right, he’s going to come back and Tardigrade Machina them back home, isn’t he?
  • Detmer and Burnham finally, finally, have an actual conversation. They talk about Burnham’s (presumably ex-) boyfriend. This is the eleventh episode in which these two bridge officers have both appeared in the same room.
  • There are still four more episodes. I’m not sure how well I will hold up.
  • Probably not well.

A Mirror Lorca, a Human Voq: ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Twists, Spoilers and Fan Theories

Just a quick one tonight, ahead of the next episode of ‘Star Trek: What Could Have Been’. I want to cover some of the possible plot threads we face for the show, based on the past six episodes. I’ve done something like this previously, but that was a broader view of the direction the show itself might take. Suffice to say, I did not predict the show becoming the specific problem child it has turned into.

But enough of the past, let’s look to the future.


Ash the Human, Voq the Klingon

So, it’s more-or-less confirmed at this point that Ash Tyler, played by the British actor Clem Fandango, is in fact Voq in disguise. From the fact that Voq’s listed actor literally doesn’t exist, to the fact that Voq’s competent lampshade L’Rell, three weeks after joining Voq in exile, is suddenly now the captain of the battlecruiser on which Ash Tyler is kept. Or the fact that everyone keeps saying that Ash the Human fought like a Klingon. Or the fact that-

Look, whatever, let’s just talk about the trouble the creators went to so they could disguise this TOTALLY UNTELEGRAPHED MASSIVE PLOT TWIST OH WOWIE.

Because as soon as we see L’Rell without Voq, there’s a good chance that means Voq’s up to something, given L’Rell told him literally in the very last episode that her matriarchal House of Spies And Deceivers (Oh? Really? The women get to be in charge of lying and treachery? Nice one, that’s a progressive change of pace) would totally help him out or whatever.

So why bother with the out-of-universe subterfuge for such an obvious revelation? Especially if we’re going to have it teased in the dialogue throughout? If you’re not going to particularly try to hide the twist, what’s the point in even having a twist?

What’s worse is that Voq attempting to integrate into a human ship, disguised as a human, would actually be an amazing long-running character arc. You could ramp up the tension with every scene, you could have awkward little moments, you could do all sorts of things to explore the human condition in an intellectually engaging manner.

And there’s the rub. “Intellectually engaging.” My guess is, the show’s writers decided that having a big, dramatic reveal would be more commercially successful than introducing a complex scenario that would actually tax the brains of the viewers. Because then everyone would run to twitter with the hashtag #didntseethatcoming and #wowwhatagreattwist and #ifklingonsarentrealthenhowarepeoplereal. And y’know what? They’re probably right. A big GOTCHA twist is much more likely to “trend” or “go viral” or whatever than anything remotely interesting.

Of course, I could be wrong, and it could be that once he was captured, it was actually Lorca who was replaced by / brainwashed to be a spy for the Klingons. Maybe it will turn out that all this messing around with Voq is a huge double-bluff, and that actually the REAL SPY WAS TILLY ALL ALONG or something stupid. And this could be okay, but it’s sort-of just the same thing as above – it’s a slightly more complex twist that nevertheless derives its value from being a A TOTALLY UNPREDICTABLE AND SHOCKING DEVELOPMENT.

Of course, if Ash Tyler the Human really is Voq the Klingon, then it raises the question of how he managed, in the space of three weeks, to not only alter his voice but also gain enough proficiency with the human language of English to be able to speak it with a North American accent, including idioms, inflections, etc. etc. I mean, I can buy there being some advanced technology to radically alter his physical attributes in a small space of time, maybe even some kind of rapid memory implantation, but an entire new way of speaking? An entire new way of thinking? In three weeks?

And how does L’Rell feel about getting half of her face disruptored off? Was her merely getting wounded part of the plan? Did they know that Lorca would suffer a sudden accuracy failure after vaporising two other Klingons with no difficulty just moments earlier? I mean, she personally interrupted Ash and Lorca’s escape attempt, which wasn’t even necessary: she could have merely been elsewhere on the ship during the escape. Intervening herself makes it 100% necessary for her to be violently incapacitated (and, as a reminder, SADISTICALLY FUCKING MUTILATED) in order for Voq’s plan to work.

Maybe it’ll be explained with the usual amount of detail and care that the series devotes to all of its other topics, i.e. none at all. We’ll see.


Mirror Mirror On The Wall, Who Is The Worst Captain Of Them All

(JUST KIDDING, OBVIOUSLY IT IS LORCA)

Lorca’s now pretty much the most evil Starfleet character we’ve ever seen. Even Sloan, of Section 31, could at least argue he was acting to preserve the Federation, regardless of how ruthless and unacceptable his methods were.

Lorca, on the other hand, has now been revealed to be motivated entirely by self-interest, attempting to sexually manipulate the otherwise-fantastic Admiral Cornwell into ignoring his obvious and plentiful personality disorders and later abandoning her to become at best a hostage of the Klingons and at worst, just another torture victim, which, bear in mind, just one week earlier was a fate he himself had endured. So, that’s pretty much unforgivable. Hell, the sex thing was unforgivable in its own right. Hell, everything else Lorca has done has been almost entirely unsympathetic and abominable.

narrowlorca

Given all the forced mirror imagery, the presence of Stavros’ mirror ghost (which, by the way, is absolutely not how mirrors work in any capacity), Lorca’s status as the lone survivor of a disaster, his awkwardness with former lover Cornwell, and the fact that at this point, it’s about the only explanation for Lorca’s behaviour that even comes close to being satisfying, it seems almost guaranteed that Lorca is a Mirror Universe version of himself. He even has an Evil Laboratory, full of Evil Weapons and Skulls in Display Cases, which is about as Mirror Universe as you can get.

Which, again, whatever, okay, fine, so he’s from the Mirror Universe. But there’s a problem.

The Mirror Universe makes no sense.

I mean, I know that most of the stuff in Star Trek makes little sense, but the Mirror Universe really makes no sense, even just from an in-Universe perspective.

Now don’t get me wrong, because I love the Mirror Universe episodes. They’re silly fun, and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. They’re a brilliant chance for the regular cast to have a lot of fun twisting their usual roles around, and we, the audience, get to have fun with them. There’s nothing wrong with that, and the isolated MU episodes we get are great little diversions. They’re high-camp and brilliant.

But they still make no sense. As stand-alone episodes (or as their own separate little continuity in ‘Deep Space Nine’) they can present us with a story of their own, and move on before we have to think about any of it too much.

But when they’re folded into a series-long narrative that seems to be one of the main stories / themes of an entire show, Mirror Universe arcs are just too problematic. Here’s why:

The Mirror Universe is established in ‘Enterprise’ to have stemmed from a key change in how Zefram Cochrane handled First Contact with the Vulcans, which makes sense – the radical cultural differences would require a historical change to come about.

But that was multiple generations before most of our characters were even born. So with the “Prime” Starfleet focusing on peaceful exploration, and the other focused on aggressive expansion, for many decades, there’s hardly any chance that the parents of our characters would even meet. And if they did, and if they also eventually hooked up, it’s almost impossible that they would end up matching the same egg with the same sperm to produce the same person that we see in the show.

And even if that happened, with such different cultures, those two babies, genetically identical, would surely not share the same names? With such a drastic cultural difference, wouldn’t names be different too? And hell, wouldn’t the uniforms be different? Like, radically different? Because they’re made for different purposes, right? And the ships, surely they’d differ more than in their paint jobs – I mean, one’s built for long-term exploration, the other for outright war. They’d be completely different.

And even if all of that was the same, as it’s presented in the show, there’s still no way that the same babies would grow up to be the same people holding the same positions on the same ship. How would Mirror Spock happen to be Mirror Kirk’s first officer? How could Mirror Sulu, who’s the head of Mirror Security, still be sat at the mirror helm of the mirror ship?

And all of that is fine for one-off episodes. Like, it doesn’t have to make sense, because it’s just one episode, and it’s all for fun anyway. The main message of the original, ‘Mirror Mirror’, was to show, in Spock’s words, that:

“It was far easier for you, as civilised men, to behave like barbarians, than it was for them, as barbarians, to behave like civilised men.”

– Spock, on being asked how he could spot the Mirror Universe interlopers so quickly.

That’s a nice, simple point to make, and the episode works perfectly to demonstrate it.

But let’s look at that possibility in ‘Discovery’, shall we?

If it’s true that Lorca is indeed from the Mirror Universe, then all of the problems listed above become narrative issues not just for a single episode of silly fun, but for the whole series. It means that Star Trek really does present a universe separate from our own, because it means that things like genetics, cultural development, even language, all of those things fail to function in the same way that they do in reality.

And, again, that’s been the case before. From Next Gen’s ‘Genesis’, to Voyager’s interminable ‘Threshold’, and everything in between, Star Trek’s science has been, at best, ropey. But that was all with stuff that was actually fairly complex and niche and, again, was all contained within individual episodes.

And, to put my storyteller hat on again for a moment, getting Lorca revealed as a Mirror Universe version of himself is all well and good, but again, wouldn’t the more interesting story have been to have that revealed from the beginning? Like with Voq, show his struggles with integrating into this new universe in which he finds himself. That’s exactly what ‘Mirror Mirror’ did, as did DS9’s various MU episodes. It’s the cross between the “fish out of water” story and the “false identity” story, which can provide a load of narrative possibilities.

It would also have been interesting to see Lorca as just the “broken man”, as Cornwell described him, someone psychologically wounded by his ordeals in war, now struggling to cope with the situation in which he finds himself. I mean, it would be problematic, as it would suggest that people with mental health issues should be viewed as villains, but it would at least be a chance to revisit a topic that Trek has already dealt with (rather beautifully) before.

Sadly, though, neither of those offer up a potentially viral SUPER TWIST REVEAL OH MY GOD, and so we find ourselves here.


Will I be right? Will I be wrong? Who knows with this fucking flaming train wreck of a series. I’m sure there’s a good probability that I will end up with egg on my face by tomorrow evening (after the episode airs, and presumably proves me wrong with some amazing in-depth story development; I won’t just be eating egg for no reason, I’m a fucking vegan).