Monday, October 16, 2017

Quick Thoughts on Star Trek Discovery Ep 5

Choose your pain
Spoilers beware...

Another episode where I felt not much did happen, but we did get a whole lot of throwbacking. I am definitely not the only one who will have noticed who was on that list of "notable captains". Christopher Pike and Jonathan Archer from The Original Series and Enterprise respectively. But speaking of that scene, I didn't see where that lead to? I guess it was to show Saru whether he had leader qualities or not but they never showed the results of the test (or did I just completely miss that?) so the point of it was kind of lost. And why would the computer talk back like that? Why does the questioner need to justify the question? If it's programmed that way I'd be really annoyed with it quickly. Just answer my dang question, will ya?

The more I look at those Klingons the uglier they get...

And also speaking of throwbacks, we got to meet Mudd, one of my least favorite characters from the TOS. When I rewatch that series I tend to skip the episodes he is in, except the Tribble one of course. He wasn't any more likable now, in fact he doesn't seem to have any redeeming qualities. If he was supposed to come off as street-smart, looking out for himself they mostly just managed to make him look like a huge d*ck.

It also seemed pretty clear the whole kidnapping business was just an excuse to unfold the story about the tardigrade because even though they establish that Lorca has been kidnapped because the Klingons want to know why his magic ship is so awesome, this isn't pre-developed with any kind of hint about this motivation. We don't see any Klingons screaming in frustration as yet another battle plan is foiled by the Discovery, nor any discussion about the kidnapping going to take place. Where did they get information on Lorcas whereabouts exactly when he was at his most vulnerable? Was it that easy for the Klingons to sneak in to what I am assuming is Federation space and kidnap one, if not the most, important captain in the fleet? Heck, they didn't even sneak, they just showed up.

Apparently they also know that Lorca has an eye condition and use that to torture him. Then they just let him leave the torture room when they get nothing out of him, and Lorca doesn't even seem particularly bothered by the torture! It's like the Klingon captain just gave up on the idea almost immediately or the Klingons are just very bad at it because they tend to rather kill their enemies in the battle field. I guess they didn't have the mind reading machines used in TOS ep 27 "Errand of Mercy" yet because that would've made that whole business quick and easy (that would've also made for an interesting throwback and possibly a more interesting plot development).

Errand of Mercy is one of many TOS episodes with omnipotent beings.

The fact that the kidnapping was thrown in there without any kind of build-up, and then quite badly developed, makes me think it's not supposed to be an important part of the plot but just an excuse for the whole tardigrade thing and for showing what a douche Mudd is.

The episode is named after a practice among the Klingons to let the prisoners choose who will get a beating, the prisoner himself or another prisoner. This is how we are first introduced to Mudd, by understanding that he has had another prisoner beaten to death in his stead. But how does this work really? If there are only two prisoners and they presumably name each other, do they both get a beating? Sort of defeats the object.

We get a tiny bit of character development for some characters in this episode. For instance we find out that Stamets and the Doctor are a couple. I thought that Stamets and that guy from the Glen were a couple though? Maybe I misunderstood that and besides, since a couple of months have passed since then I guess new relationships could've been established.

Will we get to know more about Airiam for instance?

We also find out that Lorca blew up his previous ship, with crew and all, rather than have them become prisoners of war to the Klingons. We already know he is ruthless and cares more about results than lives so I am not entirely sure what this was going to add to his character though.

So this felt like yet another episode that didn't accomplish very much until the very last second, with the eerie revelation that there is now something very, very wrong with Stamets. I really hope they go somewhere interesting with this.

I am still having fun watching STD, I just wish I cared more about the characters.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Quick Thoughts on Star Trek Discovery Ep 4

The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry
And yes, there will be spoilers.

I actually forgot to watch the episode yesterday and instead decided to finish out Fallout New Vegas. Not sure that is a good sign for STD. Yeah, I know it's a funny acronym.

I felt like not much happened in this episode and what did wasn't all that interesting to be honest. I also realized something that's bugging me but I'll get to that.

It opens up with an unintentionally funny scene when Michael walks into the elevator with Saru and tells the elevator to go straight to where she wants to go. What was Saru doing in the elevator then? Either he was going off on that floor and forgot or Michael just completely ignored that he might want to go somewhere else.

I'm suspecting more and more that the new look on the Klingons was because the producers, or whomever is in charge of those things, was worried that no one would be interested in something that has been around since literally the beginning of the series. With a whole new look and basically feel to the Klingons they can sort of be passed off as a new enemy. I'm not entirely sure what I think about it yet but I am still not all against it either.

They're pretty cute actually.

When they showed the "Ripper" (the name feels a bit like a metaphor for the series, simplistic and not all thought through) my immediate thought was "huh, that looks just like a tardigrade" and two seconds later they confirm that in fact it is a huge tardigrade. I was actually quite intrigued by the idea of turning a giant tardigrade into a weapon, considering they are the most sturdy animal we know of, even more so than cockroaches. Tardigrades are almost impossible to kill and can withstand insane amounts of temperature change and radiation. But no, apparently it is going to be tortured into being some sort of "navigator" or cog in the machinery. I would've preferred the weapon-path, but hopefully they'll go somewhere else with the tardigrade as well.

The whole attack on the dilithium-mining-outpost was just not well done... When the kid shouted "mummy, mummy wake up!" I was cringing at the bad writing. Add cliché yelling and crying children in the background. And then at the end they had the little kid who looked up into the sky and said "who saved us?". I was starting to wonder whether I was watching a 70's Superman movie. And why did Lorca need to endanger the entire ship with that "blow-the-Klingons-up-with-explosives"-scheme? It looked like the phasers were doing a pretty good job already so that entire tactic seemed really stupid.

Not that there is anything wrong with Superman.

In the meantime the Klingons can't agree on anything even when in full-scale war with the Federation. This doesn't surprise me, but that Kol (or whatever his name was) guy who comes and takes over everything from Voq says, and I paraphrase "well we won't stick together after the fighting anyway so we might as well not before the fighting". Yet again, seems like a bad tactic. Unless he is worried Voq will get too much power but we don't get to see the motivation behind what any character is doing besides Michael.

And here we come to my one biggest issue with this series so far. Every series of Star Trek so far has given many characters in the show the opportunity for some character development. There has been an overarching story, but also branching stories in which we learn more about someone else beside the main character. In Next Generation that was unfortunately characters I didn't care much about, like Troi or Crusher, but mostly this has worked really well and has made me care more about everything that happens to the crew. The Original Series probably does this the least but they still manage to give depth to more characters than just Kirk.

So far I see very little inclination that STD is going to give much character development to anyone but Michael, and when another character gets any development it is only to further the story around Michael. We get some exposition into Saru's species in the first episode, which comes in handy in this episode when Michael needs his "threat-ganglia". Tilly explains a bit of herself but that is only so that we will understand what a pain in the ass she will be for Michael. I didn't like every character of all the other series, but knowing more about them allowed me to make that choice! Now I don't even get to decide whether I like someone or not because they are barely even people to me, they're just dialogue-providers for Michael.

The biggest reason for this is obviously that STD so far is slated for way less episodes than any of the other series. Even Star Trek Enterprise, which I felt was short by Star Trek standards, is almost 100 episodes (TOS has 80, NG 176, VOY 170 and DSN 173)! Clearly they've either decided to go for a tight-knit, no excursions allowed, story-arch to test the waters for more episodes, or maybe this is it. I really hope this won't be it.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Quick Thoughts on ST Discovery Ep 3

Context is for kings.
Spoiler alert!

Episode 3 starts out a bit confusing but it gets evident fairly quickly that was the whole idea. At first I didn't really get why no one on U.S.S Discovery adressed the fact that the captain of the shuttle had just been killed seconds before they rescued them. And where did those little electricity mites go when the tractor beam was used? And why would the "goons" attack Burnham in a mess hall full of personell? And why say stuff like "have you ever seen a black insignia before?" when Burnham is literally wearing one? But like I said, some of it was explained by the fact that it all seems to have been planned by Lorca.

Nice tribble in his office btw. I don't think you could even see it in the first scene, but you could definitely hear it.

Not everyone likes Tribbles.

I immediately liked Tilly, but I can sense that she might be a divider - people will either adore her or get annoyed with her. She felt like a cliché and realistic at the same time to me, either way I liked her.

I thought about it already in the first two episodes but it really strikes me how much Lt Saru (Doug Jones) is like Abe in Hellboy. Makes sense since it's the same actor, they might even have wanted that vibe when they hired him. I don't mind really, I think Saru is a good character also and I hope he gets more character development as the show goes on, we got some hints as to his background in the first two episodes.

The funny thing about setting a show in between other parts of the series is that you know how this show can end. The whole thing about basically instant teleportation through spores (?) is an interesting one but anyone who has watched ST knows that this can't get very far into fruition since it's not present anywhere else in the timeline. Like, Voyager could've really used that technology...

Obviously this is an issue that has been pointed out before. Site to site teleportation on the Discovery? Do they even have that in the Original Series? They might (I can't remember off the top of my head) but it's a fact that Discovery which is set before the Original Series still has technology that looks a lot more advanced. Not to mention, like I already spoke about a bit in my previous post, about the changed Klingons. They did explain away the Klingons in the Original Series with them being a mutated strain, maybe that is a way to explain these as well? Doesn't really hold up if you ask me.

It used to be all in the moustache.

What was the reference to Alice in Wonderland about though? Was that only a way for them to be able to get a Spock reference in there? Of which I am sure there will be many more.

In fact, the whole ordeal on the U.S.S Glen seemed a bit odd to me. Fair enough that everything else that seemed a bit odd up until there had in fact been orchestrated by Lorca to test Burnham, but I doubt the murderous monster and Klingon corpses were part of that. Why did they not bring more security? Lorcas treatment of the monster afterwards, and the room it is in with a menagerie of monster-skeletons or whatever it is, insinuates that this is not the first time he has encountered creatures like that. You'd think they'd expect some weird shit to come out of an experiment that brutally kills the entire crew of a starship, and so send more than one person with some combat training. Lorca almost lost a whole lot of important people.

All in all there was a bit of silliness but that's basically every Star Trek episode ever. This took a fairly different turn all of a sudden, compared to the first two episodes, which I was hoping for and I am hoping they go more into the scientific route than the fighting route.