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Star Trek Discovery S1 Ep 3: Context Is For Kings

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#1 QueenTiye

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Posted 02 October 2017 - 10:26 PM

ARGH.... I wrote a post last night and it's lost with server hiccups.  Darn.

Well - this is the first episode of Discovery that is really about what the series is going to be about, and I have a bit of nervousness.  This was not my favorite epsiode.  OF course - it couldn't have been, seeing as it was a horror based episode, and I never like those.  But I also am a bit anxious about our captain being a Section 31 type of guy.  Section 31 was essentially nasty and depressing drag in DS9 - but they filled a necessary niche. OTOH - we had the whole rest of the crew to show us what the Federation is really about.  We don't have that sense of balance here - the captain is that nasty, shady guy...

AND Michael Burnham continues to be a willful, spoiled brat!  In this regard, I was very glad that Capt Lorcas knew she broke into the lab - I would hate for her to have just gotten away with that.  She's clever, but she's not superwoman.

OTOH, it occurs to me that we are seeing the Federation from a very different perspective - that of a convicted felon - my discomfort may be hers - in which case that's a very clever place to be watching Starfleet from. Reminds me of an abandoned thread that came out of DS9 - when Sisko went home to see his Dad.  What does the Federation look like to others who are periphery to, or outside of its influence?

OTOH, she's invited to serve on the USS Discovery now, so we may be losing that outsider perspective next week.

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#2 FarscapeOne

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Posted 03 October 2017 - 06:18 AM

Thanks for reviving the thread.  I just saw that it was lost.

Lt. Stamets... he reminds of McKay from STARGATE ATLANTIS.

And that drive they use... am I the only one who thinks this is a slightly modified version of the slipstream from ANDROMEDA?

More thoughts after some sleep.

Edited by FarscapeOne, 03 October 2017 - 06:18 AM.


#3 Cybersnark

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Posted 03 October 2017 - 10:37 AM

As I said pre-hiccup, the "teleporting from planet-to-planet" display made me think of the Iconian Gateways as seen in TNG and DS9. The biology/chemistry/physics crossover also made me think of the Shedai Metagenome, even if it's probably off the table.
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#4 RJDiogenes

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Posted 03 October 2017 - 05:25 PM

I thought it was pretty bad, unfortunately.  It's definitely the nuBSG or Stargate: Universe of Trek. A whole bunch of laughably unlikable characters doing all sorts of grim stuff.

The opening sequence of Burnham being all tough guy with the other prisoners was painful, as was the tough-guy posturing of the security chief. And then there was the pointless fight in the mess hall. And the weird captain-- although I did get a laugh out of him mentioning the bad lighting in his office. Okay, that explains one room, but what about the rest of the 23rd century?  And then there's Burnham's whiny Millennial roommate, who needs to be in her own quarters because of allergies-- and who nobody bothered to inform would be bunking with the notorious Michael Burnham.  Oh, and the helmsman from the Shenzhou has a shaved head and a visible metal plate because medical science in the 23rd century can cure near-fatal radiation burns in an hour, but can't treat head injuries as well as a doctor in the 20th century.  And then we have the grumpy mushroom scientist whose secret war project is the Mushroom Drive. And then we have the scary sequence on the doomed starship with a monster who must be from the Mushroom Dimension, which will be why nobody ever heard of a Mushroom Drive in any other Trek show. But the captain manages to save the monster for future reference.  And there seems to be a lot of people with the munchies on this ship-- Lorca with his fortune cookies and Saru with his blueberries.  Do 'shrooms give you the munchies like cannabis does?

Speaking of Saru, I do like him.  He's kind of low key, but not offensive in any way.  

And then there's the utter impossibility of reconciling this show with the Pike Era. The bridge is more advanced than the Galaxy-class (if not as well lit) and they have site-to-site transportation?  Sigh.

I did like a couple of things about it.  Such as when Lorca turned the tables on Burnham-- she thought he was looking for a loser who would do anything to get out of jail, when he actually recognized that she had been willing to sacrifice her career to save her ship.  Also, I liked that the super-secret war project was a better engine, not a bio-weapon.

But, man, I don't see myself paying six bucks a month for this. :(
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#5 Cardie

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Posted 03 October 2017 - 06:35 PM

Lorca is up to no good but I've always liked Jason Isaacs and find the character compelling in his weirdo way. I do wonder if they will just handwave all the differences from the TOS era. I can see the fungal propulsion system turning out to be a major disaster or too-dangerous super-weapon--I'm not sure I believe Lorca as to its purpose. But will some events lead to women being barred from being starship captains or Starfleet crews a decade later tending to be homogeneously from one species except for special cases, rather than the diversity we see on the Shenzhou and Discovery. These are trends we expect in 21st-century space opera but expressly contradicted by TOS.

I adore Saru and he will probably keep me coming back. That ine about his sensing the presence of death was stupid. As a prey species, he senses danger that might result in death but that's not quite the same thing. I wonder if his planet suddenly became vegan, as they must have stopped eating Saru's "livestock" species. It's not just that they are hunted for sport, like Tosk, he says they were also farmed. It could just be that food synthesizers have made livestock not worth the upkeep on Federation planets.
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#6 Christopher

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Posted 03 October 2017 - 07:22 PM

View PostRJDiogenes, on 03 October 2017 - 05:25 PM, said:

And then there's the utter impossibility of reconciling this show with the Pike Era.


Oh, I've reconciled much bigger conflicts in my career writing Trek books. And I gather my friend David Mack did a lot to reconcile this with the Pike era in his DSC novel Desperate Hours, for instance establishing that the pilot-style uniforms are exclusive to the Constitution class at this point.



Quote

The bridge is more advanced than the Galaxy-class

Rather, the way the television series depicts a futuristic starship is more advanced than a television series 30 or 50 years ago was capable of. What we see of the future is filtered through the limitations of the productions approximating it. Obviously we're not supposed to believe a 23rd-century starship actually looks like it was made with 1960s hardware, for example.

When Star Trek: The Motion Picture came along 38 years ago and did the same kind of wholesale redesign of the ships, aliens, uniforms, etc. that DSC is doing now, and when fans raised the exact same kind of complaints about the discontinuity, Gene Roddenberry asked them to pretend that this was how things had always looked, but that the original show simply hadn't had the budget and resources to depict them with enough detail or accuracy. He didn't approach ST as some kind of literal feed from the future, but as a dramatic recreation of a conjectural future. When he changed the way he depicted that future, he saw it as improving the dramatization, not altering the underlying reality.

I mean, surely you don't believe that Saavik got radical plastic surgery right after the death of Spock. You understand that they just recast the character, that the visible change was merely in the depiction and was not meant to represent an actual in-universe difference. This is the same thing, except the change is in the production designers rather than an actor.



Quote

and they have site-to-site transportation?  Sigh.

They had it in TOS too; it was just considered risky. What Spock said in "Day of the Dove" was that "It has rarely been done because of the danger involved. Pinpoint accuracy is required." But Lorca obviously doesn't hesitate to take risks. And his ship is a science vessel, so it's not hard to believe they have transporter specialists capable of fine-tuning their system to have sufficient accuracy.

(Really, though, it should require much less accuracy to beam someone a hundred meters away than several thousand kilometers away. The same margin of error that would materialize someone a millimeter above the deck in the former case would materialize them dozens of kilometers off the ground in the latter case. But I guess it's a matter of the focusing systems not being designed to work at close range, or something.)
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#7 Orpheus

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Posted 03 October 2017 - 07:23 PM

I didn't take Kayla's metal device as a permanent prosthesis, but as some sort of medical appliance -- ideally temporary, to assist brain/eye healing or integration of an artificial eye [though it could have been the lighting,  or natural variation, her eyes look slightly different colors now; they hadn't on the Shenzhou's bridge.

Though I must admit I had a moment of asking myself if they were doing human experiments on this "science" ship. Still not sure they aren't

But forget those dark speculations: the real crime here is ... someone (or some natural ecosystem) has weaponized tardigrades! The bastards!

dsc-s01e03-lorca-05-640x317.jpg

Overall, I liked this episode quite a bit more than the opening two-parter. I'd long ago decided that continuity between Trek franchises was slightly overrated (and probably impossible: I may just possibly have met a fan or two who could compose a season of eps without a gaffe, but that's more a sign of OCD than the writing talent/temperament needed for a TV show). So I'm asking myself "is this decent TV science fiction?" -- and the answer seems to be "yes". It's like an upscale version of "The Expanse" (The Federation is more advanced, and the not-dark StarFleet has always run a bit cushy and posh, compared to life aboard any standard naval vessel I've ever seen.

#8 Christopher

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Posted 03 October 2017 - 07:43 PM

View PostCardie, on 03 October 2017 - 06:35 PM, said:

But will some events lead to women being barred from being starship captains

That is not explicitly true in TOS. What Janice Lester said was "Your world of starship captains doesn't admit women," which was probably meant by the screenwriters to mean that women couldn't be captains, but it's ambiguous enough that many fans take it to mean "Being a starship captain doesn't give you, James Kirk, room in your personal life for a woman." Either that or it was a delusional woman falsely blaming sexism for her exclusion on mental-health grounds and Kirk just humoring her because he knows she's unstable.



Quote

or Starfleet crews a decade later tending to be homogeneously from one species except for special cases, rather than the diversity we see on the Shenzhou and Discovery.

Do we know that about all crews, or just the Enterprise (and the Intrepid)? Quite a few TOS-era novels, such as the Vanguard series, have already given us Kirk-era crews with much greater diversity than the E (and female captains), and nobody at CBS licensing has ever told us we were violating canon by doing so.



View PostOrpheus, on 03 October 2017 - 07:23 PM, said:

I didn't take Kayla's metal device as a permanent prosthesis, but as some sort of medical appliance -- ideally temporary, to assist brain/eye healing or integration of an artificial eye [though it could have been the lighting,  or natural variation, her eyes look slightly different colors now; they hadn't on the Shenzhou's bridge.

I figured it was some kind of neural implant to compensate for brain damage. Although then we run up against McCoy's badly dated line from "The Menagerie" that 23rd-century science has less understanding of the brain than we have now in 2017. Some things in TOS are so dated -- like the Janice Lester women-captains thing -- that the only sensible way to deal with them is either to rationalize them away or just ignore them.

Edited by Christopher, 03 October 2017 - 07:43 PM.

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#9 Jorgasnarova

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Posted 03 October 2017 - 09:36 PM

Personally, I find the Happy Magic Mushroom Jump Drive, officially known as the Spore Drive, no more or less implausible than the idea of Warp Drive in the first place.  As science fiction author Larry Niven once put it all FTL Drives are double-talk drives.  Or the idea of dilithum crystals, these magic pieces of glass that somehow avoid going BOOM when bombarded with anti-protons.

#10 Orpheus

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Posted 03 October 2017 - 09:51 PM

Well, the Intrepid [TOS] and the T'Kumba (sp?) as late as DS9 were all-Vulcan. I don't recall other examples on TOS, but I recall single-species ships in some TOS-era books

McCoy was uncomfortable treating a Vulcan [and threw around many species-ist epithets]; Star Fleet apparent didn't even know about Vulcan mating cycles. Contradictions abound.

Meh. Mistakes were made. Roddenberry's crew was TRYING, but alien prostheses were expensive/times consuming, and 60's studio execs probably felt a human crew had diversity enough for the audience

#11 Orpheus

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Posted 03 October 2017 - 10:12 PM

We've seen Trek species that can warp -- but they were Big Interstellar Creatures, not (in our bias) "mere fungi".

There's an impression that microbial or "primitive kingdom" life is somehow less evolved. In reality the evolutionary distance between Schizosaccharomycetes pombe and Saccharomycetes cervesiae (yeasts that are used in brewing -- in East African mouth-chewed beer and European beer, respectively) are as evolutionarily distant from each other as either is from humans. Evolution doesn't stop. It goes in different directions and the notion that we are more evolved than other species, the pinnacle of Earth evolution, is painfully parochial, We are merely differently evolved.

While I don't know diddly about warp engine design, I have to accept that some natural organisms can warp travel. It's canon. It's not that much of a stretch: many creatures flew before airplanes, swam before before submarines, navigated by Earth's magnetic field before compasses or sunlight polarization before sunstones), and so on.

It's considered scientifically plausible that some crossed interplanetary/interstellar space -- Dienococcus radiodurans and tardigrades could survive in raw space, to name two examples.

If warp travel is possible, warp-creatures may not be big/impressive or possess complex organs. Few things that cross Earth's oceans are whales/fish. 99.9% (by weight) are microbes/plankton.

#12 Cardie

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Posted 03 October 2017 - 10:20 PM

I actually don't mind the discrepancies. I'm worried they will come up with some convoluted explanations in order to reconcile them.
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#13 Christopher

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Posted 03 October 2017 - 10:56 PM

View PostOrpheus, on 03 October 2017 - 09:51 PM, said:

Meh. Mistakes were made. Roddenberry's crew was TRYING, but alien prostheses were expensive/times consuming, and 60's studio execs probably felt a human crew had diversity enough for the audience

Also, remember, the Enterprise was originally conceived as an Earth ship. The idea of the Federation wasn't invented until "Arena" 2/3 of the way through season 1, and the idea that it had any nonhuman members -- the Vulcans -- wasn't made explicit until "Errand of Mercy" near the end of the season.

This is why it's best not to be too attached to precise details coming from TOS. The original show was making things up as it went, and contradicted itself a bunch of times as it felt its way toward a better version of the universe it was trying to create. So an Earth ship became a Federation ship, lasers became phasers, James R. Kirk became James T. Kirk, a part-Vulcanian who shouted a lot became a stoic half-Vulcan, etc. TNG did this too. Picard was originally as cartoonishly obsessed with France as Chekov was with Russia. Troi had a pseudo-Greek accent that eventually vanished. Data used contractions routinely until halfway through the episode that claimed he usually didn't use them, and that preference to avoid contractions was later mistakenly retconned into an actual, nonsensical inability to use them. For that matter, Data wasn't retconned to be emotionless until the start of the third season; before then he was just emotionally subdued and inexperienced.

Series fiction is a work in progress, and the creators have to refine it and fix its mistakes as they go. Which means it's best not to cling to the early versions of things as the way things "should" be. It's better to portray Starfleet as more diverse than TOS managed to portray it. We should be able to pretend it was that way all along, just as we pretend that the Federation existed all along or that Troi had the same accent all along.
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#14 FarscapeOne

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Posted 04 October 2017 - 12:04 AM

View PostOrpheus, on 03 October 2017 - 09:51 PM, said:

Well, the Intrepid [TOS] and the T'Kumba (sp?) as late as DS9 were all-Vulcan. I don't recall other examples on TOS, but I recall single-species ships in some TOS-era books

McCoy was uncomfortable treating a Vulcan [and threw around many species-ist epithets]; Star Fleet apparent didn't even know about Vulcan mating cycles. Contradictions abound.

Meh. Mistakes were made. Roddenberry's crew was TRYING, but alien prostheses were expensive/times consuming, and 60's studio execs probably felt a human crew had diversity enough for the audience

T'Kumbra.  (I don't have the ability to italicize on my phone.)

#15 Orpheus

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Posted 04 October 2017 - 01:55 AM

View PostFarscapeOne, on 04 October 2017 - 12:04 AM, said:

T'Kumbra.  (I don't have the ability to italicize on my phone.)

Thanks for the correction.

Technically, I was probably wrong to italicize it, for at least two purist reasons. I'd have stood on better footing if I hadn't written the T'kumb[r]a.

BTW, if you can use the switch icon at the top left of  the input pane (I haven't improved the mobile skin in ages), you can enter a mode where you can type HTML-like BBcode tags (for basic text style formatting, it's usually the same tags as HTML, but with square brackets instead of angle brackets) -- bold, italics, and much more. I'll start a thread on Exisle's BBcode if there's sufficient interest. I use that mode in almost all my posts. For years, we only had one mode: even if you used the buttons. In that mode, the preview pane (above the input and buttons) showed your [prior] input, as formatted, but the input pane (where you typed) showed unformatted text, including the tags.

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#16 FarscapeOne

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Posted 04 October 2017 - 02:33 AM

Orpheus, you are a smarter man than I am.  I have no idea what any of that paragraph means.

#17 QueenTiye

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Posted 04 October 2017 - 08:50 AM

FarscapeOne: you may remember, years ago, that we used to do this: [b ]FarscapeOne[/ b] (but without the spaces, to effectuate Bold, Italics, and Quotes.  SO - in the editing box, the first icon in the first row allows you to see the code while you're typing, and you can type in the following standard codes:

text = [b ]to start bold, and [/b ] to end bold (again, no spaces in all these examples.
text = [i ]to start italics, and [/i ] to end italics



There's a spoiler tag too but I don't remember it.  AND - it looks like the quote tag is broken...

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#18 Orpheus

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Posted 04 October 2017 - 11:12 AM

No, FnlPrblem, the last time I was "a smarter man" than someone, it was because she was "a smarter woman" than I. And only then because she was my 5 year old baby sister, and I was twice her age.

Oh, the glory days, when I briefly felt smarter than a Pakled with severe head trauma.

QT is right. I should've been clearer. I've started a separate thread on The Beach to explore this

Edited to add: The "quote" tag works. Did you have a specific problem, QT?

Edited by Orpheus, 04 October 2017 - 11:23 AM.


#19 Cybersnark

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Posted 04 October 2017 - 12:12 PM

View PostChristopher, on 03 October 2017 - 07:22 PM, said:

Quote

and they have site-to-site transportation?  Sigh.

They had it in TOS too; it was just considered risky. What Spock said in "Day of the Dove" was that "It has rarely been done because of the danger involved. Pinpoint accuracy is required." But Lorca obviously doesn't hesitate to take risks. And his ship is a science vessel, so it's not hard to believe they have transporter specialists capable of fine-tuning their system to have sufficient accuracy.

(Really, though, it should require much less accuracy to beam someone a hundred meters away than several thousand kilometers away. The same margin of error that would materialize someone a millimeter above the deck in the former case would materialize them dozens of kilometers off the ground in the latter case. But I guess it's a matter of the focusing systems not being designed to work at close range, or something.)
I always figured the difficulty with point-to-point transporters was a routing/pattern buffer issue --that "point-to-point" actually meant "point-to-platform-to-point" without rematerializing in the middle. Basically "hacking" a system that was designed to only be point-to-platform.
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#20 Orpheus

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Posted 04 October 2017 - 12:27 PM

The only term I recall hearing them say was "horizontal" transport, which I took to mean "we think we're going to still need ship-to-planet, -shuttle, -whatever for exposition purposes (and cheap gimmicky solutions) but recognize that point-to-point is too powerful, and would disrupt too many potential dramatic situations, so we're disavowing it here. Of course, we're unnecessarily IGNORING that rule in this very scene (which is set before point-to-point exists in this timeline), so who knows what we'll end up doing?"



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