Monday, October 30, 2017

Quick Thoughts on Star Trek Discovery Ep 7

Magic to make the sanest man go mad
Spoilers as usual

The previous episode I felt like Discovery was finally picking up some interesting story telling. This time they are doing it again with a good old Groundhog Day-tale. Mudd returns and manages to cement himself as possibly the most annoying a**hole in the Star Trek Universe, rivaled only by Q.

It all starts off with a party, which feels very un-Star Trekky, not in a bad way but in that, in the older series people have come off as if they are only their on-duty characters all the time. It's a sort of stiffness to the character I would say and not really something I've noticed until I saw this party-scene that felt like it could've come straight out of any other TV-series. In the older Star Trek series, no matter what people were doing it always had this veil of Trekkiness to it that is difficult to describe. That made this scene feel odd but I didn't dislike it.

I think it might be the lack of casual-wear.

Michael and Tyler are called to the bridge because the ship has encountered a Gormagander, which apparently is an endangered species who likes to float around in space. For some reason there is a directive that says that whenever a Federation ship encounters one of these they need to not leave it be, but meddle as much as possible by aiding it - apparently preferably by beaming it straight into a cargo bay. How a creature that seems to live and (somewhat) thrive in open space can even endure being in a cargo bay I don't know but it's not impossible I guess (I mean, tardigrades can so why not these creatures too).

The Gormagander is big enough to hide a space ship in so Mudd basically uses it as a Trojan horse to trick himself inside the Discovery. Once inside he tries to steal the secret behind the spore drive so he can sell it to the Klingons, kill Lorca and when he fails he blows the ship up. Then he loops it all and tries again.

At first I was curious as to how Michael was going to figure out that there was a time loop going on, but turns out it's not Michael who does it at all, but Stamets. Which makes perfect sense seeing as he is "in tune with the Universe" and all. In essence he isn't affected by the time loop so while he dies his memory of the incident remains. Which feels like a pretty arbitrary difference in effect by eh, time travel works in mysterious ways.

Stamets finally manages to get Michael to believe him and Michael gets Tyler to spill the beans on what it could be that Mudd is using. I don't know why the episode feels like Tyler needs to trust someone before he can tell them about Mudd, since he despises Mudd, but I guess a random question about Mudd from a random person would seem odd. Either way this setup is used to force Michael and Tyler to acknowledge to each other that they "like each other". It is used for a decent purpose in this episode, but where they are going with it from here I don't know and I don't see it being particularly interesting either. I can count exactly zero love stories from Star Trek series in the past having interested me in the slightest and I doubt this one will either.

Not even this love story.

I love the look Lorca gives Saru when Lorca calls the Gormagander (sounds like something out of Harry Potter btw) a "fish" and Saru goes to say "technically sir, it's not a fish but a...". He doesn't get further, but that scene was instant Data reference to me, it made me smile.

Towards the end, when we think they might finally have turned the tables on Mudd, Stamets says he will give Mudd the secret to the spore drive if he promises not to kill any more people. As viewer we are not in on whether he does this because he is stupid or because it's part of a plan to trap Mudd so we (or at least I did) immediately thought the latter. Surely Stamets wouldn't go through all that just to give it all up in the end? Well... turns out that seems to be exactly what he does. So they're all screwed, thanks for nothing Stamets.

Fortunately Michael realizes she still has an ace up her sleeve, to force Mudd to loop once more so they can catch him. She goes and reveals to Mudd, who is just about to finish the deal with the Klingons, that she is the Michael Burnham who killed T'Kuvma. Mudd realizes that Michael is worth a fortune to him and in that instant Michael kills herself, forcing Mudd to reloop to capture Michael alive.

Which is obviously exactly what they had been hoping on and Mudd gets caught and... is sent off with his wife?!

This is pretty much what happens. They find out that Mudd needs the money because he owes his father-in-law a ton and so they send for him and his daughter (Stella) who pick him up and leave. Umm... so the whole trying to steal the most secret weapon in the Federation and selling it to the mortal enemy they are currently at war with, killing hundreds of crew members in the process wasn't an issue? Just... letting him go are we?

Yeah that ending leaves a lot of question marks. I knew of course that Mudd survives, since he is in TOS. And we know he absolutely hates his wife so it's more of a funny ending than a suitable one. I also know he's not very liked in the Federation, but considering what he has done he should literally be either in prison or banned from all Federation space forever. He has proven well beyond doubt that he is merciless lunatic that would do anything for a bit of money.

Even though it's the kind of episode where you know they're going to make in the end the suspense is in the "how" and this episode does a very good job with it. It keeps a good pace throughout and is very well edited, leaving in or adding just enough for every loop so that you don't literally have to rewatch the same thing over and over. It's yet another episode where we don't see the Klingons and it almost feels like the series is better off without them. The best episodes so far have been in their absence.

Has Kelsey Grammer been in every TV-series? (TNG Cause and Effect)

Of course this series gave me serious déjà vu for other reasons (no pun intended). The whole time through watching this I felt certain that something very similar has happened in Star Trek before. Of course, I was probably thinking of the TNG episode "Cause and Effect" in which the Enterprise is caught in a time loop where it is constantly destroyed. Data and Dr Crusher eventually figure out a way to send him a message to be able to stop it. Also a great episode that I am going to have to rewatch now. (On a side-note, the USS Bozeman that is also stuck in the time loop in that episode is originally from only 20 years after Discovery is set)

Overall I liked this episode and feel like the series is on a good track. Maybe the whole "war with the Klingons" thing was just an excuse to allow for this kind of story-telling. I would be ok with that, but I doubt that's the case.

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