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Still, Trek has always been bad about dealing with "just how big is this ship anyway" so...
And also the fans who don't like, say, Discovery will have four other styles of shows to choose from.
I give you all my fond memories of the past eight years, in the form of the Many Faces of Mark Oshiro.
So, yeah, Mark's been a part of my life, with only rare interruption, for eight years and five days. That includes the entire epic quest that was Mark Reads Discworld (from March 2014 to June 2020) and the almost-as-ridiculously-lengthy Mark Watches Star Trek (from June 2014 to November 2017, then resuming for Discovery over the past few months).
Mark, you gave me an excuse to finally watch FMA: Brotherhood, Monster, and Person of Interest, and to fill the gaps in my Trek viewing. You allowed me to re-experience Discworld, Gargoyles, Death Note, and Babylon 5 with the fresh eyes of a newcomer beside me. You introduced me to Steven Universe and Young Wizards, both of which I'd never considered looking into until you started covering them, both of which now rate among my most perspective-changing media.
You gave me a community that let me clumsily explore ideas, and come out the other end with a better understanding of the world and myself. One where I have shared things I don't normally share with "strangers," and a few things no one else besides my wife and my therapist know about me.
And whatever you were watching or reading, you found the best parts of it to enjoy the hell out of, and that was contagious.
I have a little project I'm still finishing up, which I'll put up separately, hopefully this evening. But for this post, I have a better closer anyway… I missed the chance to put this video up when you finished Trek the first time around, four years ago, but it feels even more right to put it up now that we're celebrating our time with Mark as well.
In whatever you do, Mark, take care, continue to enjoy the hell out of it, and be blessed with connection.
[youtube cv2x0fDP4DU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cv2x0fDP4DU youtube]
Since the 1950s alone, we've taken a computer that required a warehouse and made it fit into your hand. Do the same for Discovery's systems and, well, you end up with a mostly empty warehouse in the middle of the ship.
First, there is a single ongoing storyline through each season, which most every episode is dedicated to advancing in some way because with only 13-14 episodes you need to make them count. And if most episodes are not stand-alone, it's hard to label any one episode as a "favorite," because they don't really work on their own, outside the context of the season as a whole. In fact, it can be hard to remember which elements of the season's story were in which episode. This can at least give the impression after watching that none of the episodes were "good"; what you really need to be asking is whether the SEASON was good.
Second, everything in Discovery is in service to the emotional beats of the story. This means that this is very "soft" sci fi for a Trek show, with elements such as the mycelial network (and especially Culber's resurrection within it), the Red Angel's time travel, or the psychokinetic Kelpian being "science" only in name. This also means that there are plenty of moments of "but why didn't they just…?" fridge logic. (Because then we wouldn't have this next emotional moment, that's why.) The show is visually amazing and emotionally compelling, but you do have to tamp down on the part of your brain that demands coherency, or those emotional beats are going to land flat and, as many have put it, feel "unearned."
Third, this is not an ensemble show. Again, most every episode is dedicated to advancing the season's storyline. And the focal character of each of those storylines is Michael Burnham, which means the focal character of most every episode is Michael Burnham. The third season dials this back some, with Saru getting some quality screentime in the big chair or connecting with Su'Kal, Adira and Gray joining up with Paul and Hugh to form one big happy queer half-of-us-have-died family, and Georgiou making the most of her farewell two-parter. But it's Burnham's head we're inside most of the time, sometimes even when an episode is SUPPOSEDLY about someone else (e.g. Forget Me Not). When we were Mark-Watching Voyager, I once commented that it was a good thing Jeri Ryan was such a good actress with such a compelling character, because she was getting a disproportionate share of focus episodes. Well, Burnham gets nearly ALL the episodes, and SMG is definitely also a good actress but even so that may be a little too much Burnham for you (especially if you're desperate after three seasons for more development of the other characters).
Fortunately for us, Mark enjoys ongoing storylines, loves Burnham (and Georgiou, which was honestly a surprise), and ADORES emotional punches to the gut, so everything worked out nicely.
And some of us are, in this case, the complete opposite of Mark, and that's fine. Love what you love, don't love what you don't love. So long as you aren't the kind of person who insists that we love or hate what you love or hate.
And you're also in luck, because this is a new Golden Age of Trek (well, if you shell out for Paramount Plus anyway). There are three separate Trek series presently available for viewing right now, all with further episodes in production, plus a fourth premiering later this year and a fifth on schedule to start next year. So if you enjoyed the voyages of the starship Discovery, Season Four will be here soon enough. If you can't stand it, you also have the voyages of gur fgnefuvc Yn Fveran, gur fgnefuvc Preevgbf, gur fgnefuvc Cebgbfgne, naq lrf, bapr zber, gur fgnefuvc Ragrecevfr. Their continuing missions: to explore strange new show concepts, to seek out new styles and new presentations! And, if the Patreon wills it, to boldly flail where no Mark has flailed before!
See you… out there.
One day the Federation wasn't there for Su'Kal. And then it wasn't there for anyone. Though it wasn't intentional, I wonder if it was a subconscious thing, to isolate everyone as Su'Kal had been isolated.
The first round of principal photography on the season ended in December 2019, so the writers had the storyline set long before anyone knew the world they'd be airing it in. But by the time the first episode dropped in October 2020, the terror of isolation and loss was something we all understood.
Having been seen, TRULY seen, Gray agonises over giving that up. I have no idea what happens in Season Four (I've deliberately avoided the teaser trailers) but I look forward to them capitalizing on the promise to fix it for good. (We have at least one solution right now -- holograms -- and we're in an era where mobile emitters are two-century-old technology.) And whether or not Gray the character is transmasculine, his actor is, so the metaphor that's implicit in his arc still works regardless.
A couple commenters were worried that Saru would be made to step down to make way for a Captain Burnham because he was "letting his personal feelings get in the way of the mission" (which Burnham herself does ALL THE TIME so what the hell). But instead… well, it SORT of happened still? But in a way that let Saru keep his agency: he CHOSE, of his own volition, to make his new bond with Su'Kal a priority (besides, the human crew all got to see future Earth, but he'd been constantly passing up the chance to see Kaminar, and he'd EARNED it).
Speaking of people who earned it, yep, I'm going to cry over Sahil again. That is to say, LIEUTENANT Aditya Sahil. Burnham's monologue at the end makes the "this season is about connection!" theme explicit, and though Discovery's work has made that easier, let's give credit to the guy who spent his entire adult life manning a Starfleet communication outpost, fearlessly reaching out to anyone nearby willing to listen.
(I still don't like the new uniforms though.)
As for Burnham, I'm just going to repeat what I said in encryption way back in the second episode of Discovery:
Rewatching Burnham's mind-meld discussion with Sarek provides some interesting context for all that she does over the course of her career. "Live long and prosper" is placed on her like a demand: use your talents to their maximum, in whatever opportunity presents itself, and NEVER EVER stop fighting.
Same for Georgiou's final criticism of Burnham: she chose logic instead of hope. The Burnham to come will always choose hope instead.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," Act IV, Scene 2.
Conduits! Former galactic freeways of the Borg. I wonder what happened to THEM since the 24th century? Apparently at some point it became a good idea to use the conduits for normal traffic, so they must have stopped being a threat? Of course, then a bunch of ships blew up inside the conduits and littered them with debris…
(final episode) "...naq lbh'er abg na rzcngu fb…" Vg'f n dhvpx nfvqr gb Fgnzrgf fb V zvffrq vg ba svefg ivrj, ohg gubfr cnlvat zber nggragvba ubcrshyyl pnhtug gung gurer'f n cbgragvny frpbaq fcber qevire ba Qvfpbirel.
I'm always torn on the issue of whether to engage those apparently committed to the abhorrent. Sometimes they're unrepentant, consciously opposed to the people and the ideals I find important, and then the engagement is one big waste of time and leaves me frustrated. But sometimes I encounter an Aurellio, who's honestly never thought all that hard about what he's supporting (never HAD to think about it). And the most annoying thing is that it's so hard to tell the difference at first glance...
The Federation of the 22nd and 23rd centuries had replicators and virtually unlimited energy, therefore a post-scarcity economy, and who needs capitalism then? Use as much as you like to the benefit of all. But without dilithium, you're having to decide where the resources go VERY CAREFULLY, and further scientific progress may wind up taking a hit in favor of helping the hungry or sick right now (even if the science would make helping them easier in the future, they're starving NOW...) You can argue whether it's wise, but the UFP is now absolutely focused on the present -- that's why they gave up looking for the source of the Burn, and that's why the Chain is kicking their butt in scientific advancement (until they blow all their dilithium supply, oops).
Enter Osyraa's Plan B: now that the Federation knows about the Chain's shortages anyway, let's go to the table. Like Emperor Georgiou, Osyraa truly DOES want her empire to endure and thrive after she's gone, and is willing to change her ways to bring that about. And hasn't this entire season been about connecting with others? We've seen the ROMULANS in a (shaky but desired) unity with the Vulcans, and it sure looks like the Kelpians and Ba'ul are also living in peace. Why not let the people in the Chain be part of the Federation?
But she thinks that changing NOW makes up for all she's done before. Can't the past be in the past? Well, no. En masse, any group is full of good people and shouldn't be held accountable for the actions of any one of them. But Osyraa herself can DEFINITELY be held accountable for her OWN actions.
Does this conflict with what happened with the Emperor two episodes prior, as her own past is forgiven and she's allowed to live on in some other time frame? Maybe. But is Osyraa's change of heart merely practical, or due to an honest moral epiphany? PROBABLY the former; her nation's back is against the wall and now the Federation knows it, so she's willing to sue for peace… if it doesn't cost her too much. The Emperor, as demonstrated by her impulse decision to tell Saru what lay beyond vahar'ai, is more of the latter.
In other words, the Georgiou who left the cast is of different moral character than the Georgiou who joined it. Osyraa, though more complex than we might have been aware, is by all appearances still Osyraa.
Which means she'll still vaporize an Andorian lieutenant that she can't control anymore.