Star Trek Short Treks: The Trouble with Edward

"Pretty darn cute."
"Yeah. But if you take all the fur off, underneath, it's all meat. Like a scallop. Blood red."

By nature I love brevity: A solid meh. This episode is funny in many places, but not laugh-out-loud funny, and it thinks it's much funnier than it actually is at many junctures. I hate to judge it by its humor, but that's pretty much all there is to judge it by.

'The Trouble with Edward' is the sort of episode that frustrates me to no end. It's there. It's entertaining. But it doesn't mean much, and it could so very easily have meant a lot.

For example, in the opening, Captain Pike gives the newly minted Captain Lucero some advice. He tells her that some people may not be on her level of brilliance, and tells her to keep her optimism about people. This implies that Pike is no longer optimistic about people, an assertion I think is handily discounted by DIS Season Two. Additionally, it sets it up to be the theme of the whole piece, which ultimately falls flat. In the end, Captain Lucero's big revelation amounts to 'He was an idiot.' The only message that could possibly send is that anybody who's in leadership long enough loses their optimism, which is horribly bleak, patently untrue, and unsupported by the rest of the episode.

And lest you say there wasn't room for a theme, let me pitch a slightly different version of 'The Trouble with Edward.' In this one, instead of some junk about optimism, Pike tells Lucero to know her people, and treat them well even if they don't deserve it. Leave the middle of the episode as is, until we get to the board of inquiry at the end. There Captain Lucero says that it's her fault. She tells the board of inquiry that she became frustrated with Edward and treated him poorly. She takes responsibility for what went on under her command, and she accepts the consequences, learning a lesson about leadership along the way.

'Cause here's the thing: all of that is true. Captain Lucero first met Edward at the briefing, during which he clearly revealed he was nervous and wanted to impress her. She dismissed his ideas and tried to shift him to a department he had no experience in. When he complained to Starfleet, which, to be fair, was an extreme overreaction, she immediately called him into her office. Here's the place that the writers could have humanized her. Here's where she could have tried to understand him, tried to empathize. Maybe she could have attempted to work with him and find a place for him on the team. After all, a leader has to work with people, even people they don't like or who don't like them. But instead, she becomes short and snippy for the sake of a painfully drawn out joke that wasn't funny.

Let me be very clear here: Edward was an idiot. He was emotionally immature and probably unstable. Captain Lucero's emotional reactions to him were completely justified. But she should have moved past them and dealt with the situation in a reasonable and understanding manner. A leader has to be more than their gut emotional reactions. A leader has to use discernment and watch how they act, because it affects the people under their command. As a result, the responsibility for the events of the episode lies squarely at the feet of Captain Lucero. The blame is all Edward's. But the responsibility is hers.

Okay. Rant over. What did I like about the episode? To start, not all of the jokes fell as flat as the 'conversation over' bit. In fact, I smiled or lightly chuckled throughout. The acting is quite good, despite the poorly written characterization. And I did like seeing the tribbles again, even if the math is a little wonky.

Math time:

In the original 'The Trouble with Tribbles' and 'Trials and Tribble-ations,' we are given a formula for how quickly the tribbles breed. Spock assumes an average litter of ten tribbles every twelve hours. After three days, this gave him 1,771,561 tribbles. Let's compare this to the situation in 'Edward.' We're told the ship was overrun after less than two weeks. Edward altered the tribble at least a day into this, leaving us with a conservative number of ten days. The equation I set up is t=10^(d*2), where t is the number of tribbles and d is the number of days. Plugging in 10 for d, we get 100,000,000,000,000,000,000, or 100 Quintillion tribbles. Assuming an average volume of 1 cubic decimeter, we are left with 10 Quintillion cubic meters of tribble. The approximate volume of the U.S.S. Enterprise, a much larger ship than the Cabot, is 211,248 cubic meters, or 1/47,337,726,274,331 of the volume of these tribbles. For further comparison, the original Death Star had an approximate volume of a mere 904 trillion cubic meters, meaning these tribbles could fill the Death Star. Eleven thousand times.

Pensees:

-Watch through the credits. There's a scene after them that was very funny.

-Even when he isn't being at all useful, I love Anson Mount's Pike.

-Jeff Russo didn't compose this episode either, meaning he probably isn't doing the second season of Short Treks at all. I wonder if he's busy with Picard.

-After this little two-fer, we've got a month until the next Short Trek. Sit tight, folks.

Quotes:

Edward: “I have eaten one or two. For research purposes.”

Captain Lucero: “We're all scientists here. Learning things is kind of in our wheelhouse.”

Edward: “I mean, do you think you're bad at your job, or that you're dumb?”


CoramDeo has seen the liiiiiiight…

4 comments:

Dénes House said...

Great review. The thing is, McCoy in “The Trouble with Tribbles” said that the solution to rapid Tribble breeding was to stop feeding them. And Spock’s calculations factored in the volume of the storage compartments storage compartments. This means that Tribbles gotta eat to reproduce. So what were the tribbles eating on the Cabot? Matter cannot be created or destroyed, so how could a mass of tribbles sufficient to break through the hull of the Cabot from the inside out be created? You would need an equivalent mass of food to begin with, no?

CoramDeo said...

For anybody interested, here's the source of my numbers for the volume of the ships:
http://www.st-v-sw.net/STSWvolumetrics.html

Patryk said...

Anyone knows when those Short Treks are going to appear intenationally on Netflix?

Dmitri Fedortchenko said...

Does this episode actually imply that humans essentially created the Tribble problem? And then a few years later conveniently forgot about it? And in the mean time the Klingons wiped them out?

Makes no sense since I seem to recall Worf saying that they wiped out their home planet, so Tribbles were already breeding fast, but in this episode it's suggested that Edward modified them to be born pregnant...