Monday, November 13, 2017

Quick Thoughts on Star Trek Discovery Ep 9

Into the Forest I Go
And as usual, spoilers.

Was this the mid-season finale? I'm not sure how those things go since I don't watch many TV-series. In either case, it was quite a good one albeit with some stupid things. But to be fair, if I were to nitpick every other episode of Star Trek I'd end up with about the same amount of stupid, in the end it's about whether it comes together as something with a Star Trek feeling or not. I think this episode did.

Where to start? Well, last episode basically left us in the middle of a shit-pickle. The Pahvo'ans had just invited the Klingons to their coordinates and Federation want Discovery nowhere near that mess. No one on the Discovery wants to leave the Pahvo'ans to their demise so Lorca decides to disobey the order and just do the opposite of what he is asked, as usual. That anyone expects him to do anything he is told anymore suprises me. And the Vulcan admiral, or whatever he is, that he talks to seems so annoyed that Lorca won't just do what he says. How absolutely un-Vulcan.

A much better Vulcan.

Lorca thinks it's a better idea to try to solve the Klingon cloaking device issue in an arbitrary three hours, which is interesting considering the entire Federation science force has presumably tried to do this since the start of the war and failed. But they don't have Michael Burnham, so of course they succeed.

It's not an easy feat though, they basically need to plant sensors on board the Klingon ship, aptly named the Ship of Death or something like it, and then perform exactly 133 spore-jumps to get enough data to crack the cloaking device. The sensors can only be planted by beaming someone over there to put them there. Sounds like a great plan that can't fail.

This is also when Lorca, and Stamets boyfriend the Doctor, find out during a medical check-up that the spore-jumps are messing up Stamets' brain. The Doctor (who actually has a name, I just forget because he's unfortunately the most underdeveloped doctor in the Star Trek universe) strongly advices against it but since "trillions of lives", as Lorca puts it, hang in the balance Stamets doesn't really have a choice. You'd think Stamets would have regular full-body check-ups anyway, considering what he is doing, but apparently not.

Why can't someone else just do the jumping? Did they establish somewhere that Stamets is uniquely qualified? Granted, it might be difficult to persuade someone else to do it given the side-effects it's had on Stamets, but considering the circumstances probably not. Speaking of side-effects, Tilly of course blabs that she knew about it all along and that makes for an awkward moment between Stamets and the Doctor.

The best Doctor.

I also wonder why Discovery is still the only ship with the spore-drive? Did I miss when they explained why this can't be copied onto other ships, especially considering how insanely, awesomely useful it is? One explanation could be that Lorca hasn't given the Federation the chance to go through the Discovery enough to replicate the spore-drive, but still.

Speaking of something else though, at this point I really like that they've established Lorca as having such dubious morale, because in every scene he is in and every conversation he has you question whether he has an ulterior motive. It really makes him a very interesting character and give some otherwise ordinary scenes an extra layer.

Michael and Tyler are sent over to the Klingon ship who has de-cloaked to be able to fire on the Discovery. Apparently they also lowered their shields because I thought you couldn't beam through shields? I think that is something that is a bit on-again off-again in the ST Universe.

Either way, Michael and Tyler make it over without any issues. Then they start planting the sensors and they are big, noisy and shiny. Really? Just about the most useless sensors ever if you want them hidden. Let's go with the explanation that they weren't designed to be hidden and there was no time to even turn off the annoying bright, blue lights or beeping they do. Of course they need to beep, or they don't work.

While on the ship they find another human life sign (don't worry, they've masked their own) and who could that be? That's right, Admiral Cornwell isn't dead. To get into the room she's in, Tyler does some nifty "removing of panel and cutting wires" that seems to work in every movie and series. Star Wars had it right, you need an R2D2 to hack into stuff, just breaking it won't work. Although they employ that as well on occasion, anyway, I digress. Tyler says he's been imprisoned long enough to know these things, but unless they're how he got out (and we know it wasn't) there is no reason he would know that.

In essence, Star Trek needs more robots.

In the room where Klingons apparently throw corpses, they find Cornwell alive but not so well, and also L'Rell who has been a bit beaten but not killed. Why was she left there exactly? If they didn't kill her, why not imprison her? They left her with the dead people because they were going to come back and kill her later?

Seeing L'Rell puts Tyler into full PTSD mode and he becomes a blabbering heap of uselessness, leaving Michael to do the rest. He has been hiding that issue pretty well! The rest involves getting onto the actual bridge and planting the last sensor there. I love how the Klingon bridge just conveniently allows someone to sneak in and sit behind a corner and plant sensors. Sounds like a pretty big design flaw to me and it would've been impossible on the Discovery. We don't actually see how Michael gets onto the bridge (unless I blinked in that moment) but she's there and that sensor is even more noisy than the rest. Not that anyone notices, maybe the Klingon are hard of hearing and that would explain why they shout so much.

Best hard-of-hearing character

With the planting of the last sensor, the Discovery starts doing its 133 jumps and Stamets is not doing well at all. Long before they're done however, the Klingons decide to leave so Michael decides to reveal herself and fight Kol to stall them. It does mean the humans in the death-hold get discovered though and fighting ensues. Cornwell basically tells Tyler to get his act together, and he does enough to shoot a Klingon that dies with a sound effect that sounds ripped straight from Dungeon Keeper.

Eventually the Discovery is done jumping and Michael is saved from Kol as he goes to kill her. At the same time L'Rell jumps and grabs onto Tyler just as he is beamed out, allowing her to leave the ship with the others. Then Lorca orders them to destroy the Klingon ship and they do. Kol is presumably dead and now we don't know who will take over to lead the Klingon war-effort.

Back on the Discovery, they've been ordered to return to base. Tyler reveals to Michael that he was a sexual abuse victim to L'Rell, beside also being tortured by her for seven months. It also seems L'Rell still has some sort of Stockholm Syndrome power over Tyler, because he runs to her in her prison confinement and acts weird.

Meanwhile Stamets agrees to do "one last jump" to get everyone back to base safely. The fact that the jumps already almost fried his brain is apparently not so important. Of course this can only go one way - Stamets promises to take the Doctor to the operas if he allows him to do one last jump, because gay people like the opera-cliché - they kiss and then Stamets' fate is of course sealed, Hollywood-style. To no ones surprise Stamets fries his brain in the jump, which means the jump fails and sends Discovery into "where-the-heck-are-we?", basically doing a Voyager. The only thing they see are a load of derelict Klingon ships, which can mean basically anything. Are they in Sto-Vo-Kor?

Stamets demise would've been sadder if it hadn't been so obvious and also kind of unecessary. If he had had his brain fried during the 133 jumps that would've been more powerful, even though that is also kind of expected. But like this it is so extremely sign-posted and also feels a bit forced. Stamets deserved better.

Overall though a good episode with some nice and intense scenes. The ending is exactly what I wanted to make me look forward to the next episode. It looks again like they're moving away a bit from the war-story and at least allowing for the possibility for some mysterious episodes, the kind that make Voyager my favorite Star Trek series.

What do I think of Star Trek Discovery so far as a whole? In short, it's alright. I definitely didn't dislike it but I think I need to see how it all comes together before I can give a verdict on the first 9 episodes. On their own they swayed from mildly interesting to pretty entertaining but they have the potential to be part of a greater whole. Fingers crossed that'll happen.

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