Star Trek Short Treks: Ask Not

"Tactical force should always be a last resort, and vengeance should never be a factor."

By nature I love brevity: A nice, straightforward, solidly directed short film. There really isn't all that much more to say.

Clocking in at under 10 minutes, 'Ask Not' is the shortest Short Trek yet. The next shortest one, 'Q & A,' is 40% longer at 14 minutes. This explains 'Ask Not' pretty well - it's very simple and doesn't try to do any more than it needs to. Director Sanji Senaka, whose only previous credits are music videos, keeps the story laser-focused and never strays from his main goals. I can't stress enough how important that quality is in a short film. Too many shorts, even many of the other Short Treks, either try to tackle a concept bigger than a short film or try to expand their concept further than they are able. It takes a lot of skill to keep things small and simple.

But when you can keep it short and sweet, the results are often amazing. That is assuredly the case here. Star Trek: Discovery and the Short Treks have been known to try fancy new things, with a mixed track record. It's so easy as a writer or a director to take something you've come up with and present it with fanfare. We love to say, 'Look at this! Isn't it majestic and incredible?' More often than not, those ideas aren't the best, and when they're presented like that, the failures are spectacular. It's a lot harder to take something that's just good, not great, and then do the best job with it that you possibly can. Maybe it isn't brilliant or visionary, but it's solid, and it speaks for itself.

The community theatre group I'm a part of deals with this sometimes. We aren't professional-level, but we do have some real talent and we can put on a show. But sometimes we take on a professional quality play and try to make it happen. Because we aren't up to the task, it fails pretty badly. What I advocate for is to take a show that maybe isn't the highest quality material, and add our own spin and energy to make it entertaining. When we do that, we can almost always knock it out of the park.

I haven't really talked much about the plot or characterization in 'Ask Not' because it's pretty basic and simple. Ensign Sidhu is well portrayed by Amrit Kaur, who plays opposite Anson Mount with just the right dynamic. In many ways, the daunting task that Sidhu faces when such a high-ranking and distinguished officer is trying to intimidate her mirrors the feeling a young actress like Kaur must feel when asked to go head-to-head with a seasoned character actor like Mount. She faces the challenge brilliantly, and Mount is terrific as always.

'Ask Not' isn't a groundbreaking piece of cinema. It's not a vehicle that will catapult Sanji Senaka or Amrit Kaur to high-profile superstardom overnight. It doesn't even wow you with impressive visuals or a fascinating concept. It isn't trying to be any of those things. Instead, it opts for the humble goal of a solid concept executed well, and succeeds in spades.

Pensees:

-We all knew, of course, that Pike was acting out of character. What we didn't know was when exactly this was set, which would provide an important piece of the puzzle. Pike is alleged to have mutinied, but Michael Burnham was the first mutineer in Starfleet history. If this was set before Discovery Season One, we would have known for certain it must be fake.

-I liked the music in this episode. Jeff Ward is a fine composer, but Andrea Datzman was a much better fit here.

-So Amrit Kaur was listed as a guest star in this episode, while Ethan Peck and Rebecca Romijn enjoyed starring status. The explanation that carries the benefit of the doubt, which I will choose to use, is that Mount, Peck, and Romijn are the current stars of the show Star Trek: Short Treks, and that Kaur merely appeared in this episode. However, in 'The Trouble with Edward,' Rosa Salazar was listed in a starring role. I don't think there was any slight intended toward Amrit Kaur, but I will say that these shorts should adopt a consistent format for the credits.

-I liked the very different opening, without a main title or anything. It really suited the episode.

-I like the idea of a Kobayashi Maru-like test for Cadets wanting to transfer to Enterprise. It fits, and so does Pike's somewhat sheepish apology to Sidhu after it's over.

-The engine room looks pretty great.

6 out of 6 humble goals

--
CoramDeo only knows like three words in Polish.

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