Star Trek Short Treks: Calypso

Zora: "Craft? On your world, if we were lovers, would you tell me your name? Your true name?"
Craft: "If we were lovers on my world, you would give me my true name."
Zora: "Oh. Well, then, I already did."

By nature I love brevity: A thought-provoking, engrossing story that has a lot going for it. It also raises some very intriguing questions that may have serious repercussions for the entire Star Trek franchise.

'Calypso' opens mysteriously, with countless unanswered questions. Craft (Aldis Hodge) is floating in a propulsionless shuttlecraft, adrift and alone, with nothing but Betty Boop to watch for a month. He's tractored in by the U.S.S. Discovery, at which point he awakes in the ship's sick bay. As Craft wanders around the Disco, it's clear there isn't anyone around, yet the lights and other systems are clearly being controlled by someone. That someone reveals herself with a voice; she calls herself Zora (Annabelle Wallis), and she's an Artificial Intelligence.

As Craft and Zora talk, details come out about their pasts. Zora and the Disco have been adrift for a thousand years; Craft has been away from his family and his planet for ten. Craft left because he was fighting a war against his enemies the 'V'draysh,' who he says are "In love with old things." The thing is, both Craft and Zora are also in love with old things.

Craft's mind remains on his wife and child on his homeworld. Even when he becomes distracted during the episode and he forgets, his priority always remains with them. And Zora, longing to make any sort of human connection, watches wild romance movies of the past in the hopes of feeling something. It's not only Zora that needs a human connection, though. Craft, after ten years of life away from his family, has forgotten what it's like to be human.

What Craft and Zora give each other is precisely what they both need. Zora has never been anything but alone, and Craft has been alone for too long. Unlike the previous 'Runaway,' however, things aren't perfect or wrapped in a tidy bow. What Zora really longs for, Craft can't provide; Zora's real hope is to find love, no doubt fueled by the exaggerated romance of movies like Funny Face. Craft is still tied to his family, and he can't stay to give Zora the permanent connection she desires.

Zora is a parallel for Calypso of 'The Odyssey,' and Craft is Odysseus. In the myth, Calypso is doomed to perpetually seek her soul mate. Every once in a while, the man of her dreams will arrive on her island, and she will attempt to convince him to stay. But in every case, for one reason or another, the person she longs to be with has to go, and she cannot leave with him. Her curse is to make connections, to fall in love, and to have those connections severed right away. They say that it's better to have loved and lost, than never loved at all, but what if that was your life? What if you were doomed to always love and to always lose?

But there's one important difference here. It's a clever sci-fi twist. Zora is a computer, and there's no reason she can't make the connection last forever for her. In the final shot, as Craft's shuttle goes to warp, we see Zora's holographic representation of herself dancing with a holographic representation of Craft. For a computer, all that is real is its memory, and as long as Zora can remember Craft, he is with her. Craft leaves a lasting impression on Zora more than Odysseus ever did for Calypso. And Zora's impression on Craft is the same way. When Odysseus returned to Penelope, he probably forgot all about all the things he had done on his trip. At the very least, they didn't matter to him anymore. But Zora showed Craft how to be human. He will not forget that.

And there's one last element of this Short Trek, one you might not have noticed. This is a fan theory that was actually confirmed by the writer of 'Calypso.' Craft's enemies are the V'draysh, who are in love with old things. On instagram, Michael Chabon confirmed to a fan that 'V'draysh' is a syncope of 'Federation.' This raises huge questions about Star Trek canon. For one thing, 1000 years past the final mission of the U.S.S. Discovery, whatever that mission may be, is way past anything Star Trek has done before. Even if the Discovery were to be abandoned in that nebula at the end of DIS S2, that puts this story in at least the 33rd Century. Daniels from Enterprise is from the 31st Century. The final scene of VOY: "Living Witness" is 'many years' after 3074, but there is no indication of how many years.

All in all, this was a moving and poignant short film, a literary adaptation with a sci-fi twist. I love it..

Strange New Worlds:

We hear about, but do not visit, Alcor IV.

New Life and New Civilizations:

We don't know much about the V'draysh, but they seem to be a new variation on an old civilization. Also, in the culture of the humans on Alcor IV, you receive your name from someone who loves you.

Pensees:

-Was I the only one waiting for an 'I'm afraid I can't do that, Craft' moment from Zora?

-I liked the moment when Craft tries to put on a shirt in sickbay and it doesn't fit. That was funny.

-Betty Boop's Snow White probably qualifies as torture when it's played on a loop for a month straight.

-So far, both Short Treks have focused on two people meeting and having a positive effect on the courses of each others' lives. We'll see if that trend continues into 'The Brightest Star.'

5 out of 6 Taco Tuesdays

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CoramDeo is in love with old things and happy with it.

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