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11 weeks ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Discover... · 0 replies · +2 points

Massive prediction fail on my part for this season.

(1) The Discovery will spend the entire season in the 32nd century.
Yeah, but that was a gimme. 1/1

(2) At the end of the season, the Discovery will either time-jump to a different era or cross over to a different universe.
Nope. 1/2

(3) Gabrielle Burnham will be alive in the future with a functioning Red Angel suit, but she will be a version who did not arrive in a dead future, did not attempt to change the past, and thus has never met the Disconauts before or seen Michael as an adult.
Nope. 1/3

(4) At some point, Gabrielle or Michael will use the Red Angel suit to go back in the past to send the seven initial signals and the final “we made it” signal from Terralysium, as well as fixing other time paradoxes, like how humans got to Terralysium or how how Michael got her Red Angel suit in a non-galactic-genocide timeline.
Nope. 1/4

(5) The humans on Terralysium have built a warp-capable civilization and have made contact with Earth.
Maybe they did this, but we didn’t see it. 1/5

(6) When the Disconauts arrive at Terralysium, they will find several drones waiting for them with hologram messages from Spock to Michael, sent over a period of decades during Spock’s life.
Maybe Spock did this, but we didn’t see it. 1/6

(7) Burnham’s father is also still alive and is somehow living in the 32nd century. He will be revealed as either the season’s Big Bad or a minion of the Big Bad.
I kept expecting him to show up in the Emerald Chain, but nope. 1/7

(8) At least three of the following characters will get an episode focus: Rhys, Bryce, Detmer, Owosekun, Nillson, Linus. (I admit that’s more a hope than a prediction.)
Nope. Detmer sort of got a story, but that’s it. 1/8

(9) We will meet a character who is a descendent of an established character from one of the previous Trek series. This counts if it’s a sentient hologram/android carrying the memories and personality of Data or the Voyager EMH, even if their appearance has changed.
Nope. 1/9

(10) There will be at least two episodes that act as sequels to TOS and/or TNG episodes. (A sequel to a Picard episode counts as TNG.)
Unification III had the title, but it wasn’t really a sequel. We also got a fan-service appearance by the Guardian of forever, but that wasn’t a sequel to anything. So one-quarter point, maybe? 1.25/10

(11) The Borg will no longer pose a threat (they were exterminated, or stopped forcing assimilation, or are now outmatched technologically).
We didn’t see or hear about them at all. 1.25/11

(12) The Discovery has not been forgotten. The Kelpians didn't cover up the wormhole. Saru has become a mythic founding hero/messianic figure among Kelpians, and his myth ends with his traveling into the wormhole on the Discovery. There are Kelpian cults built around his eventual return. Thus, the Discovery will encounter Kelpians, and Saru will then need to contend with his myth.
Nope. 1.25/12

(13) The Vulcan-Romulan unification that Spock worked on in TNG has been completed, and Spock is now a legendary figure in the unified RomuVulcan society. The RomuVulcans also know of the Discovery and Michael’s presence on it. Michael will thus have instant status among RomuVulcans because of her relationship with Spock.
Yes, almost entirely. 2.25/13

(14) I will enjoy the third season much more than the previous two. However, Cannibal Space Hitler will continue to annoy me through her mere presence.
The second part of that was a gimme, but I’ll take the half point. 2.75/14

(15) The show will use at least one of the following ideas from Bryan Singer’s 2005 proposed 31st-century Star Trek: Federation series:
• the Federation is in decline due to an exodus of most of its former members;
• human leadership in the Federation has become generally arrogant and complacent, resulting in the aforementioned exodus;
• Starfleet is a shadow of its former self, getting by with mostly-ancient starships spread far too thin; ***rest of the list deleted ***

I said “at least one” and we did indeed see a Federation in decline, Starfleet spread thin, and Ni’Var split from the Federation. The reason wasn’t human arrogance, though.

Final score: 3.75/15. Pathetic.

11 weeks ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Discover... · 2 replies · +5 points

As I mentioned yesterday, I've been here on and off since Mark watched Buffy. Not quite from the beginning, but I've been here for about a decade now. I'll miss this site.

It’s no secret that I haven’t enjoyed Discovery. It doesn’t really feel like Star Trek to me. It’s more like a Star Wars series with Star Trek branding. And I’m not that much of a fan of Star Wars.

Discovery lacks so many of the things that first attracted me to Trek and kept me as a fan all these years. Gone is the optimistic vision of the future that inspires hope, or the positive look at humanity and human potential. Instead, we see a future constantly under siege from existential threats. In the first season, the entire Federation teeters on collapse under a relentless space-orc invasion. In the second season, a berserk AI threatens to end all life in the galaxy. In the third season, galactic civilization has collapsed due to resource scarcity – not because they collectively ignored the problems of an unsustainable system until it was too late, but because a child wizard committed an accidental act of random space magic.

Science fiction is usually bleak: it creates cautionary tales of futures to be avoided, or simply acts as a flashy setting for action movies where the good guys beat the bad guys with big explosions. Star Trekwas an exception to that: it presented an optimistic future where humanity really did fix things, learned to do better, and went on to explore the universe and test the limits of possibility. Discovery gave a couple of token nods to those ideas, but the narrative itself was “the future sucks; it’s just one massive crisis after another with lots of fight scenes and violent death and explosions along the way.”

Unlike the vast majority of science fiction, Star Trek showed me a future I’d want to live in. This show didn’t.

As for the scripts, they were riddled with so many glaring plotholes that it constantly took me out of the story. The show was all about character arcs, mysteries, grand dramatic reveals, and action sequences: all flash and very little substance. Left on the sidelines was story logic: we watched things happen, but the reason they happened was frequently nonsensical. Characters do things because the script says they do, not because it’s a plausible human reaction to the situation. I’ve seen this sort of storytelling in action movies a lot: the creators want to make certain action scenes, and craft the entire narrative around justifying those scenes. The story is created in service of specific scenes, rather than the scenes being written to serve the story. That form of storytelling has never worked for me.

One thing that’s always bugged me about previous Trek shows was when writers threw science out the window in favor of meaningless technobabble. Voyager was a notable offender in that respect, but this show ramped it up to 11. No actual science allowed here; this series is space magic all the way down.

Finally, while there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with a reboot, I wanted to watch a series set in the established Star Trek universe. Regardless of any statements of intent the creators have made, there are just too many contradictions with the prime timeline for this show to be a part of it (and this comes from a guy with decades of experience in rationalizing discrepancies between the various canon series). So I found that disappointing.

Basically, if someone had set out to custom-design a Trek-branded series specifically to drive me away, this is really close to what they’d get. About the only thing I liked was the casting, which was really, really good.

There are more Trek-branded series to come. I’m generally neutral on Picard thus far; it had some good moments, but I didn’t find it particularly engaging (pun unintended). I haven’t watched Lower Decks yet, but I assume from the ads that it’s not intended to be taken seriously. I’ll give Strange New Worlds a fair chance, in the hope that they do something more line with previous Trek series. I have zero interest in a Cannibal Space Hitler spinoff, even though I'd normally watch Michelle Yeoh in just about anything. I know nothing of Prodigal beyond the title, so no expectations yet. I’m not a big supporter of this “throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and see what sticks” approach to the Trek franchise, but I suppose it’ll eventually produce something I like.

11 weeks ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Discover... · 1 reply · +5 points

Found it. In "Die Trying" the hologram doctor told Saru he "may be the last Kelpian who still retains biochemical traces of Vahar'ai." They weren't in contact with Kaminar, so I took that to mean Vahar'ai hadn't been a thing for Kelpians since some time before the Burn.

11 weeks ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Discover... · 0 replies · +3 points

I assume that once the Federation knows about the obstacles, they can build sufficient shielding. Or maybe just use robots and/or holograms for the actual mining.

11 weeks ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Discover... · 0 replies · +2 points

While I was watching, it did occur to me that the most practical solution to the Su'Kal problem was a phaser. What if he breeds? What if his mutation starts spreading through the Kelpian population? Can the galaxy risk a growing population of wizards who can violently obliterate galactic civilization if they lose their cool even for a second?

11 weeks ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Discover... · 3 replies · +2 points

Wasn't there dialogue in an earlier episode that said (or implied) that Kelpians didn't go through vahar'ai anymore? It may be that the Ba'ul were able to complete their selective breeding program in the intervening centuries -- possibly with Kelpian cooperation -- and finally remove varhar'ai from the Kelpian species entirely.

11 weeks ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Discover... · 1 reply · +2 points

It's still bigger on the inside, though. The Discovery is a wide, flat outer saucer that looks like it's two or three decks thick, with a smaller, slightly thicker inner saucer that's maybe six decks thick, and a wide, flat lower hull that's basically the height of the shuttle bay.

Even with miniaturization of the infrastructure, where exactly is that cavernous space supposed to be located? There's no room for it. And the fact that we saw that huge space in Season 2 just supports my point: 23rd century technology produced the TARDIS effect. This ship has always been built with technology that doesn't exist in the prime timeline.

11 weeks ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Discover... · 1 reply · +3 points

You need to be okay with three things about the show to enjoy it....

That was a really good analysis of why this show failed for me. In particular: "everything in Discovery is in service to the emotional beats of the story.... 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." That is just about my least favorite method storytelling, because I cannot tamp down the part of my brain that demands coherency. A show can't possibly be emotionally compelling for me if I don't believe the situations or the reactions of the characters to those situations. I can't get emotionally engaged when the plot keeps making my brain jump up and yell "bullshit" at the narrative.

I see this kind of writing in action movies all the time, and I always hate it. The creators apparently come up with the action scenes they want to shoot first, then craft a feeble excuse for a "plot" to link them together, even if it winds up with characters doing many things that make no sense at all. It's pretty much a given that any writers who decide they need "big emotional scenes" to anchor their story, and then backfill the plot from the need to reach those scenes, will lose me.

I subscribe strongly to the notion that scenes need to be in service of the story, and that you need to "kill your darlings" if necessary to make the story work. This "emotional beats uber alles" type of writing puts the story (such as it is) in service to the scenes, and I almost invariably find the final result to be extremely unsatisfying.

Give me a story that makes sense, and let the emotional scenes arise organically from the reasonable reactions of the characters to the situations they face. Previous Trek series generally did that really well.

(Also, in terms of whether episodes were good vs. whether the season was good, I get that you don't analyze a book by individual chapters. But looking at the seasons as a whole ... all three of them failed for me as season-long stories, again because of the near-absence of any story logic to most of the stuff that happened.)

11 weeks ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Discover... · 0 replies · +4 points

I agree with your point about making Michael captain. It's not a logical result of the story thus far .... but if they're going to center all stories around her anyway, they might as well just give her a position where it makes narrative sense to do that.

Of course, they could have done that by simply having her promoted from the Shenzhou to command the Discovery back in season one, episode one. Narratively, she was a competent and reliable first officer prior to her inexplicable attempted mutiny.

11 weeks ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Discover... · 5 replies · +3 points

Burnham, unsurprisingly, turns out to be a really awful captain. When she got to the bridge after saving the day, Tilly just handed command over to her. That’s actually a reasonable decision on paper: the most junior officer on board should hand command over to the most senior officer. But this is Michael Burnham, so her first order as acting captain?

BRYCE: The Viridian won't just let us go.
BURNHAM: I don't expect them to. Which is why we have to eject the warp core and blow our way out.

Burnham had no idea whether Book could actually activate the magic mushroom drive, let alone that he could instinctively guide it to the precise place in the universe they needed to be. If he could do it, they could just leave the Viridian without blowing up anything. If he couldn’t, the Emerald Chain still had nothing worth capturing even if they could re-board the ship, because the only pilot was safely back at Starfleet. But I doubt the Emerald Chain would have had time, because the Discovery’s phasers could have wrecked the Viridian from inside in seconds, cut their own way out, and let the pursuing fleet deal with what was left of the bad guys.

So ejecting the warp core in that situation was just about the most reckless and nonsensical thing Burnham could have done. The most likely outcome would be to pointlessly destroy the Discovery. I wouldn’t trust Burnham with command of a survey team after this. But somehow, her recklessness and bad judgment landed her in the captain’s chair. There wasn’t any particular story reason to hand command of the single most important strategic asset in the Federation over to Captain Loose Cannon, except that Vance was apparently sentimental about his daughter, but … that’s how things go on Star Trek: Everyone Loves Michael.

(That said, it was cool to see an actual silent explosion in space. You don’t need sound effects to make this sort of thing work.)

Any lingering pretense this show is set in the prime timeline was destroyed by that ridiculous scene with the floating turbolifts in the cavernous interior space. There’s no place on the Discovery where that space could exist, which means the Discovery is (a) vastly larger on the inside than the outside, and (b) designed like no Federation starship ever seen in the prime timeline, any era. I assume that in the Disco timeline, Starfleet was able to reverse-engineer that time-traveling tesseract Archer’s crew encountered in “Future Tense”, and had TARDIS technology on its ships by the 23rd century. At least that helps explain all the absurdly large interior spaces on the ship.