Others have already expressed all my disappointments with this episode more eloquently than I could, save one... And no, it has nothing to do with Adira's pronouns; her and Stamets are carrying this whole series on their backs lately and I wish the writers would lean into it more.
My massive gripe is with the borderline-criminal level apathy on display this season by the makeup and prosthetics team, and the nadir (or zenith, take your pick) it's reached in the form of the Orion characters this season. On a show with such polished VFX and striking aesthetic choices to turn out alien characters from a well-known race yet look that unconvincing, even by TOS standards, feels like a coup de grâce of sorts.
I've been a Trekkie for far too long to even feign having reached my limit with this one to the point of not watching it anymore, but damn, sometimes it feeling like they're seriously daring me to do just that.
@triseult I feel much the same way and this decision to so quickly take the ship back to Earth further reinforces my sense that the writing team has far too little awareness of the size of bite the showrunners are expecting them to chew. The first two episodes worked because we had zero expectations for what we were being shown. Sure there were a few familiar touchstones to remind us that we were still in the same universe, but mostly we were flying blind in a way that hadn't really been felt since TOS and the first three seasons of TNG. I, for one, was enjoying that and cautiously optimistic that the series had turned a corner and had learned from its earlier missteps.
In this episode they chose to take us to the very place where we have very legitimate rights to a myriad of expectations and very predictably failed to meet almost all of them. Whether you were hoping for the latent spirit of the Federation to reassert itself (even just a little) in response to the earnest idealism of their unexpected guests or to show signs of the abrupt socio-economic regression we've seen so clearly at our first two stops on this journey, I have little doubt that you were equally disappointed. Instead we saw what appeared to be a fairly stable society with ample resources whose response to a widespread crisis seemed to be little more than building a big wall around itself, hanging "No Vacancy," "No Services," and "No Loitering" signs on it in every direction, and turning an intentionally deaf ear to any who dared knock on the door anyway with barely any interest in first learning their intentions for doing so. If that's what I was after I would've just turned on any U.S. TV news channel or picked up a newspaper.
Lastly I want to voice some mounting frustration over the fact that they continue to miss such obvious plot details and apparently think we all must be too dumb to notice. The one stuck in my craw here is from their arrival in the Terran solar system, where we see Discovery re-emerge into normal space at a point that appeared to be just beyond the orbit of Saturn. Earlier in the episode a point of agreement seemed to be reached that in order to attract as little attention as possible they would jump to a point that was outside the range of planetary sensors, which I anticipated would mean somewhere so far past the Oort Cloud that they'd need to use magnification on the viewscreen just to visualize the solar system. Instead we see that it's a spot that's just a few minutes away from Earth on impulse, and to sell that further the captain of the Border Patrol appears completely ignorant of major events that have occurred on a colony located on one of Saturn's moons.
I won't detail how ridiculous that all is to believe for the 23rd century Earth they just left, or even our own primitive capabilities, let alone for a 32ND CENTURY planet with over a millenia of FTL space exploration under its belt. That level of sloppiness would greatly irritate me for a show delivered under the old network television model they was served by a cable/satellite aggregator, but it leaves me just short of incensed for one that now expects cash up front for just its own (currently underwhelming) slate of content. All of this is compounded by things like a protagonist that suddenly seems at best ambivalent towards her participation in the ship's mission and a complete whiff on the chance to build on the curiosity they managed to spark in Episode 1 regarding the Booker character. Instead they went to great lengths to highlight the fact that Burnam has become quite attached to and comfortable around him to a greater extent than we may have ever seen her do so with the crew of Discovery, complete with tactical shorthand for maneuvers they'd done when they were on his ship together to the fact that they made barely a token feint at modesty before changing clothes in front of each other.
The fact that I as a viewer was completely ambivalent about whether she stayed aboard as first officer or left with Booker is ultimately what feels like the biggest failure on display. Even though it would've been unforgivably out of character, I was silently hoping that when she told Saru that she was genuinely (paraphrasing) feeling unmoored relative to their pre-time travel solidarity that he would react by saying "Well, if that's how you really feel, then as Discovery's new captain I'm rescinding my offer and strongly advising you to kick rocks. My crew is having a hard enough time holding themselves together and the last thing they need is a first officer who half wishes she was off doing something (or someone, perhaps?) else. Goodbye and thanks for all the fish."
Son of a b****, it's like watching Voyager for the first time all over again! FML.
Directed by none other than Garak, guest starring Virginia Madsen, and still we're left with this ruined orgasm of an episode? It's like the more you give these writers to work with, the less they seem to care about constructing a cohesive and relatable narrative! Granted the deck was stacked against them playing her opposite Chakotay, but there were hints of real chemistry there, it could've worked...
Honestly the part that really killed me was the exchange between Harry and Seven in the Astrometrics Lab about the purpose and potential rewards of pairing emotional intimacy with physical intimacy. Seven right now is a total sponge, eager to soak up and assimilate whatever she can about the human condition. The rather tangible but still very nebulous connection between them could've benefitted a great deal by Harry taking that opportunity to share with her some of his own experiences and the ways it's led him to want to manifest intimacies in his own life. But noooo, God forbid they even try to pull that off, easier to just keep everybody in their two-dimensional little boxes and go home early.
Voyager is the perfect example of why I detest almost all comedies, and they won't even try to be funny! How is it that every attempt at Star Trek after DS9 is so abysmal? And why do they suck so f'ing badly at casting them? I have this sneaking suspicion that if the right combination of executives at Paramount/CBS/Viacom boarded some flight that serendipitously crashed into the ocean we'd have another TNG or DS9-calibre show in production fairly quick. It's not a particularly complex formula needed for making good Star Trek, mostly it's just looking for the parts of life we tend to screw up most and not being afraid to examine why and what it'd take to start to do it better.
Haha, I suppose I was about due for a random Patrick Fabian guest appearance. The guy is like the Nicolas Cage of television: he doesn't seem too worried about what kinds of roles they are or whether the writing is good, just that the cameras are rolling. Come to think of it, it's somewhat surprising he didn't end up cast as one of the regulars on Voyager with those standards, LOL.
What a remarkable job Netflix has done turning this show around. During the first two seasons the storytelling was so erratic and every episode seemed to be under an implicit requirement to induce a minimum number of eye rolls--whereas both of these first two episodes of season 3 have been captivating, advancing several threads of a rich and nuanced plot with ease. It's like they tasted a stew that wasn't very good but could see that the issue wasn't a bad recipe, only a bad chef, and resolved to execute the advertised dish properly rather than cook up something brand new.
Whoever they gave it to was very judicious in the changes they made. A pinch of The West Wing here...a dash of House of Cards there...garnish with Anthony Edwards (Goose!) and voila! I could easily see this going at least three more seasons now and being a perennial winner for them.
I can't quite tell if this show has turned the corner or just officially jumped the shark. On the one hand, it really feels as though the narrative presentation has become less chaotic and more nuanced, though I'll stipulate to that largely being the result of them resolving the marital crisis between Grace and Ben (hooray, I can actually tolerate Grace's screentime again, not because I especially like her character but because they weren't going to just write her out, so something had to give for me to keep watching new episodes) and the introduction of the Zeke character, who so far appears to be a much-needed check on the story's mythos getting completely lost in an inward-looking death spiral. However on the other hand, the writing staff seems to have absolutely no ability to advance the plot in a logical, measured manner without resorting to the kind of over-the-top gimmicks that we were treated to in the closing sequence of this episode.
I really want to like this show, it fills a gaping hole in my preference for stories that revolve around an "Unsolved Mysteries" plot device that has existed since Fringe was canceled. I have no problem with the suspension of disbelief when I get invested in a show, provided that the writers can deliver on interesting characters and an internally consistent universe in which to place them. The characters so far on this one are just barely passing muster, and I wouldn't have even given them that much credit if they hadn't introduced Zeke in the last couple episodes. Here's to hoping that the tacky pivot to a new zombie-esque quality to the phenomenon behind the time travel and the callings that we saw at the end of this episode isn't as bad of a sign as I suspect it is.
I just watched the 60 Minutes episode featuring this documentary, and I was awestruck by the wisdom on display by Pope Francis as well as beauty of the very thoughtful way in which he offered his thoughts and opinions. I was raised Catholic but renounced any connection to them over ten years ago after slowly realizing that my own personal values bore almost no resemblance to their stated positions on topics ranging from marriage to objective morality to gender equality. I expected to be reminded of all those things and more when they started showing excerpts from it, and instead was delighted to hear not one thing I objected to.
I'm not so naïve as to think that the entire organization has made an about face and is pointed in the right direction, but it appears that the man in charge of it very well might be. If he were the priest at my local church, I don't know that I'd start attending again, but I'd definitely be sneaking in after the reading of the Gospel from time to time just to hear him speak. There was a goodness that radiated from his face and a light in his eyes that was impossible to ignore, and I can't wait to watch this documentary in its entirety.
I feel like season two up to this point has been a lot of half measures in the fundamental storytelling, but thankfully there was no holding back with this episode. Here we had a perfectly discrete theme that was being examined, clearly defined protagonist and antagonists, an internally consistent story arc and deliciously archetypal characters to traverse it. I'm sure that some would be quick to counter with arguments that it was too cliché, but let me see if I can tease some nuance out of it here.
The opening scene in the classroom where we first meet Grace, immediately cast in a negative light as the teacher attempted to shame her for not appearing to have been paying attention to the lesson in progress, only to be met with her apt summation of the text they just reviewed and an honest admission of uncertainty as to how she might react in a similar circumstance is the perfect metaphor for everything that is to follow. The stuttering reaction of an authority figure confronted with having bit off more than they could chew is revisited often and each time to delicious dramatic effect, usually with her parents, but even the bank teller and the priest get in on the action! It would indeed be cliché but for the obvious growth on display by Grace as the story progresses, who quickly moves from petulance to purposefulness as she shrewdly peels the onion of hypocrisy around her.
Though mostly accomplished in the final scenes, it's really the journey that her parents take in the wake of her headlong dive into genuine Christian charity that we find the narrative heart of this story. I think that's where it retains the ring of truth for me, for as with most conversions of the heart Hemingway's description holds fast in that, "at first it happens slowly, and then all at once." What a joy it was to see that all three members of the family could embrace the ideals they all wrestled with as soon as circumstances conspired to divorce it from the dogma it had been attached to.
I intend to revisit this lovely vignette often and unapologetically when caught in the all-too-familiar vice of life where my mind begs for temperance while my heart cries for boldness. We could all use a Grace in our lives to remind us of how much we stand to gain if we can find the courage to examine the world around us so critically and abandon the inconsistencies found therein.
My entire career as a businessman was perfectly summed up by Quark in this episode when we see him in one of the quarantine rooms, unapologetically harassing a customer stricken by the ephasia virus with the immortal words: "YOU... GOLD... OWE... ME!!!"
On a more general note, for me this is the first episode of the series where we're treated to a glimpse of the producers' vision for Trek's first character-driven show, in contrast to the plot-driven nature of the first two iterations. There's a quaint candor to the reactions of the series regulars, a vulnerability that took TOS and TNG much longer to reveal owing to their greater reliance on classical military archetypes. If asked for a single episode to screen for a newcomer to the series interested in gauging its appeal to them, this is undoubtedly the one I'd select. It captures well the essence of what makes DS9 unique in the Trek pantheon before too many character-specific arcs take root and require familiarity with them to appreciate the dynamics in play.
I don't believe I've ever been so captivated by such a deeply flawed movie as I am with Arrival. What others have written about far more insightfully than I could, namely that the acting is hollow at best, that the plot is nothing so much as a severely frayed thread in danger of completely unraveling, and an utter waste of one of the most creative iterations of extra-terrestrial contact in cinematic history...is all too true. Yet despite all of these reasons to dismiss the lamentable execution of this piece of art, I can't help but admit that I love it.
When you strip away all of the trappings and examine this movie solely for the essential story being told, you are privy to something very profound and genuinely uplifting: a treatise on how humanity's manifold foibles might just be redeeming after all. Through the protagonist, Louise, we see the unfolding of a series of personal tragedies being tempered with unflinching dedication to the accomplishment of something worthwhile and therein given purpose. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I found in it elements of the best of Disney's heroes, Shakespeare's tragic rulers, and religious texts' unwavering commitment to showing that there is no such thing as a meaningless sacrifice. While I believe they all could've been done greater justice, I believe their mere coexistence here is cause to sit up and take note, eschewing any demands for a greater polish and fidelity to realism.
I came away with a greater knowledge of myself and a more forgiving opinion of our species as a whole, and for both of those I am grateful beyond measure. Perhaps in time I'll come to see that the imperfections in its presentation actually work to clarify some or all of these laudable aspects of the narrative,...or perhaps the magic will fade under the weight of familiarity and I'll be unable to defend it as I have here now. Either way, the two hours I devoted to watching this movie for the first time are ones that I won't ever regret, and perhaps that's the best praise any artistic work can receive, especially in light of this particular story.
Easily one of the most poignant and thought-provoking movies I've ever seen. It let me to examine myself in ways I never had before, and I hope someday to see the play it's adapted from.
Well I'll be a monkey's uncle...I thought I'd just watched the series finale! I couldn't imagine that they'd finish out the season, let alone order up another! The show has felt so disjointed throughout its run, splicing together some truly memorable and terrific storytelling with some meandering, lost-the-plot sequences of episodes. I'm glad I was wrong, though. Bjorn really did take over as the protagonist some time ago anyway, and I hope they give him plenty of screentime going forward.