After last week, we weren’t expecting much from Star Trek: Discovery, so of course this week the show gives us “Lethe”, an amazing episode that gives us much-needed character development for both Captain Lorca and Michael Burnham. Plus! Where do we get a DISCO t-shirt?
It feels like in the broad scheme of things Discovery is attempting to tell a DS9 story in a VOY way, complete with some of the writing hangups. This episode seems to get it right, bringing it somewhat near to TNG levels of storytelling, but I’m a little worried (having seen the trailer for the next episode) that this may be a fluke.
I’m not sure where I fall on the side of serialized vs. episodic television, and I may be overdetermining Joe Menosky’s writing credit as Eric suggests, but I think that this episode should be read in the context of other Trek and seeing exactly what Menosky picks up from these shows. Going back to an earlier podcast episode, it really makes me agree with Eric that what makes Star Trek good in general is good storytelling, and the visual style is mostly window dressing. The story in this episode proceeds from character–which the last episode attempted to do but failed at, at least with the Lorca plot–and actually has something to say about the characters. Tying in the character drama to the crisis of the week is slightly more on the nose in a Joss Whedon-esque way (which, ultimately, is very much a late VOY trait), but I don’t think that Discovery up until now has been terribly subtle with how they play the main obstacle of each individual episode. But I could imagine this episode as a good episode of a past Trek show done in a different visual format. I can’t quite figure out if it blends the episodic and the serialized elements the way that DS9 did during the Dominion War, or if it’s more like VOY’s antics during its straight shot to the Alpha Quadrant, but maybe that’s just time talking.
I don’t get Cornwell as a character–perhaps we’re not supposed to–but exactly how does the admiralty work in the Federation? It feels like the top of the line for medical staff is head of Starfleet Medical, at least for hard medicine. I thought that being an Admiral meant that you had to be command track (though I remember a yellow shirt Admiral in DS9 somewhere). I guess she’s the admiral that we see the most, so she’s the one that does most of what we see in the series. Even Necheyev had some limitations.
I went back and listened to some back episodes where I hoped you guys might have discussed it, but I was wondering if you could discuss a bit more how you understand the differences of the TOS Federation and the TNG+ Federation? I sort of get a sense of it, but was hoping you’d articulate it a bit more in your discussion.
Thanks for your comments! I especially like the trying to tell a DS9 story in a VOY way, although I will admit I’m not fully sure what you mean by that. 🙂
As for what we see as the differences in the Federation in the TOS and TNG eras, that sounds like a fantastic idea for a patron special.
I think what I meant at the time was that—say what you will about fan theories regarding the “specific moment” Bryan Singer wanted to pull from TOS as the focal point for the show—but it’s clear that if Discovery takes a page or two from earlier Trek shows, it’s trying to tell a flashier version of the Dominion War from DS9. This seems to be complete with movement and questionable ethics on all levels, admirals who are more than characters behind a screen, focusing for a time on the “little man,” etc. That said, I feel the show is attempting to tell this story in a VOY way, which is to say that I think DS9 does a good job of linking together character development with the serialized arc; that is, the development of characters can happen while they’re doing things or the plot is doing things that service the Dominion War storyline. Discovery seems to only be able to write character development well by removing them from the Klingon storyline, and I think Lethe exemplifies that. It’s sort of like how after the first two seasons of Voyager, the journey to Earth ceased becoming the basis for character development with few exceptions. Part of this may be due to the show’s lack of a team focus, I suppose.
Sorry if that’s rambling. But looking forward to that patron special!
I’d go with “this episode was alright”. I really enjoy Michael Burnham when she presents as Vulcan, and that dressing down she gives Sarek at his bedside is sublime. Nice revelation that Burnham almost died in a Vulcan bombing; that was not what I’d assumed from the scenes in the pilot.
And Eric, Richard, I refuse to read speculation any more ever since I felt like I’d heard a version of the Babylon 5 plot via newsgroup fan theories before the episodes aired. It was always a little disappointing to discover an episode was written by “Ian from Manchester”!
And no mention of the pre-TOS holo-deck? Looks like that boiled some fans alive in holographic lava. (Look, as long as the Borg don’t turn up, I’m fine.)
Count me among the fans that don’t care one bit about the holodeck in this episode, for a variety of reasons:
1) The Enterprise had a version of the holodeck in The Animated Series
2) The holodeck as described in TNG was amazing not because it existed, but because of its incredible lifelike simulation.
Is it a retcon? Sure. Is it unforgiveable? Not really.
The fortune in the fortune cookie says “Help, help, am trapped in fortune cookie factory!”
I think they’re trying to do a Matt Decker riff with Lorca (the guy whose entire crew was lost in The Doomsday Machine). It’s sketchy so far bc it appears that Lorca made the choice to save himself, but we dont know the whole story there.
Re: him and Cornwell, someone I know said that he tried to pull Kirk’s move on her (romance as a way of establishing trust while he keeps his head for the most part) but she was actually doing it to him first , which I thought was great.
Lorca is Garth of Izar!!!
I like what they’re doing with Cornwell. I didn’t pick up on that inversion, but it’s interesting.
Oh, seconded – that’s interesting. I didn’t pick up on that either. (It makes sense because I thought Cornwell was too smart to get hoodwinked by Lorca with sex.)
Sorry that was supposed to be a reply to Cliffy73