Star Trek Discovery: Far From Home

Stamets: "I can do this on my own."
Reno: "Fine. Then I'll just follow you for the witty repartee."

By nature I love brevity: The Discovery has leapt 930 years into the future. So why are we still plagued by the same problems and hangups?

Okay, let's be up front. This review is late. It's very late. Part of that is because I was extremely busy for the last few weeks. And part of it is because the more I think about this episode, the less I want to write about it. It would be easier if I hated it. I could bash it and not think twice. But I didn't. I liked it, but only kind of. And the parts I hated were the same parts I've been hating for a long time now.

More up-frontness. I just deleted two paragraphs of unrepentant bashing of Mirror Georgiou. Twice. I'm not going to just bash a character. That's not how I write.

However, I think Georgiou sticks out like a sore thumb as the worst part of this episode. And while I have immense respect for Michelle Yeoh, I think her performance is partly to blame. It's supposed to straddle the line between over-the-top giddy evil and serious intimidation, and neither one works. Every quip feels like it was forced through a machine to suck all the funniness out of it before it leaves her mouth. Rarely does her screen presence intimidate in the way the other characters pretend it does. And I've caught myself bashing again.

*deep breath* Okay. Let's leave off with this. Regardless of how well the character works generally, she doesn't quite fit into this series because she doesn't have a defined place. Is she a rebel against the system? No; she doesn't have a clearly established part in the system in the first place. Is she a counterpoint to that system then? No; she seems content to work with our Starfleet heroes, and more importantly, they seem content to work with her despite their protests to the contrary. Is she on a redemption arc? I can't even tell. She's not an independent rogue because she's very much tied to the Discovery, her crew, and her mission. She's not a member of the crew either because Saru doesn't seem to have any authority over her. She's just there, participating in the plot when she wants to, and wryly commenting on the plot when she doesn't.

I wish I was talking more about the episode. But this was the primary thought it left me with when I watched it way too long ago. Georgiou should never have come along when the ship went to the future.

So let's talk about the episode. While I liked a lot of it, I was disappointed to see the writers returning to the same few tools they've used many times before. Did we really need a ticking clock in this episode? Of course not. But I guess there wasn't enough tension, and the writers don't seem to use many other methods for creating it.

The show also remains plagued by other issues from the past. One of the most consistent is the technobabble and sci-fi concepts. Although it may seem like a small thing, when I watch another Trek series, and the engineer tells the Captain that the shields need to be remodulated or else the radiation will get through, I believe them. After all, the shields protect the ship, and radiation is dangerous. On Discovery, however, I hear that when the sun goes down, the ice will envelop the Discovery and it will never be able to take off again. Why will this happen? Because the ice is parasitic.

The ice. Is parasitic.

Would it not have sufficed to say that the ice would form over the ship, and that the ice was harder than diamond or something like that? But no, the ice has to be parasitic. I see this as a consistent pattern on Discovery. It's not enough to have a simple concept that's easy for the audience to latch on to. The show tends to go overboard instead of just what it needs. It's not enough for the threat to touch the ship and its crew. The whole universe needs to be at risk. It's gratuitous.

Look. I like this show. I don't enjoy saying these things. But the writers – and I hate to be so ungenerous – just keep writing in ways that strike me as lazy or excessive. It shows a commitment to dramatic flair and surface level pursuits, rather than the meaningful character work I so crave.

Which is a shame, because they do pull off some really interesting and compelling character work at times. Tilly and Saru's interactions here were the clear highlight of the episode for me. I love Saru as a character, and I'm warming into a love of Tilly.

Olatunde Osunsamni (whom I have no issue criticizing) is neither at his best nor his worst here. Sure, some of the dialogue scenes feel off and strange, and the tone is not always on point, but he also reins in his excesses in a way that he often has not. I'm pleased with the way Osunsamni has been working so far this season, and I'm eager to see his work continue to mature past the cheap parlor tricks he's been prone to in the past.

These two episodes have not even really set the stage for the new season. Instead they've shown us how the crew in its two halves (parts? It's not really halves) is moving into the new season. It remains to be seen where this goes, but I'm intrigued.

Strange New Worlds:

The planet the ship landed on was not Terralysium, the original intended destination for both Burnham and the Discovery. It apparently has no name, but is referred to as 'The Colony'.

New Life and New Civilizations:

Kal and the bartender are Coridanites, a race that traces their Trek history all the way back to TOS. In 'Journey to Babel', the Babel conference was called to determine whether or not to admit Coridan admission into the Federation. The species did not appear onscreen, however, until ENT.

Pensees:

-The crash landing on the snowy/icy planet reminded me of the VOY episode 'Timeless'.

-I quite liked Osunsamni's direction decisions in Stamets' waking up scene. It was a really neat effect.

-I'm curious why they can't discuss past events with people in the present. It's not like it can contaminate the timeline in the past somehow.

-Loved Saru cutting Tilly off from dropping another f bomb.

-The image of Leland in... pieces... was disturbing and I wish it hadn't been there. I guarantee you that was Akiva 'Klingons have two genitals' Goldsman's idea.

-The cowboy-like courier didn't work for me. He wasn't at all intimidating, and it was weird how quickly he figured out they were time travelers.

-The sudden loss of daylight reminded me of a moment from Jeff Smith's Bone where the snow falls pretty fast in the valley. If somebody gets this reference they're my new favorite.

Quotes:

Tilly: "Thank you for asking me to accompany you, sir. Why did you ask me to accompany you, sir?"

Georgiou: "Bureaucracy is where fun goes to die."

Saru: "I would never ask any of my crew to not have fear, but I will ask you to contain it now."

Saru: "I'm Saru. This is Tilly."
Tilly: "My name lacks authority."
Saru: "What?"
Tilly: "What?"

Culber: "We're gonna focus on this one moment at a time. We're gonna take this slowly. Because I need you out of there alive so I can kill you."

Stamets: "Jett, thanks for nothing."
Reno: "Back at ya, bobcat."
Culber: "Bobcat?"
Reno: "I don't know, I'm on drugs."

A bit of a mess. 2 out of 6 parasitic forms of water.

--
CoramDeo don't even speak good English.

3 comments:

Billie Doux said...

CoramDeo, I'm sorry you're not liking Disco so much. I'm not a huge fan, but I seem to enjoy nearly all new Star Trek.

I do agree with you about Georgiou. I don't like her at all and never have, and I don't get why they are planning to build a series around her. That said, I thought her arrival at the bar/store/whatever was fun. And I enjoyed Tilly and Saru, but I always enjoy Tilly and Saru. And I think I'm in love with Reno. :)

Patrick said...

I agree that Georgiou doesn't seem to fit in this new story arc. I hope they've got a plan for her, otherwise I just don't understand why she came with them to the future other than "we didn't want to lose Michelle Yeoh". Spinning her off into her own show focused on Section 31 and playing in the Classic Trek era would make a lot more sense than her getting up to mischief 900 years in the future.

milostanfield said...

I’ve been hopeful that Discovery, having gone 900 years into the future, can escape the whole Classic Trek stuff, which I’m really, really tired of, although I’m gonna watch Strange New Worlds just for Anson Mount. But if they’re gonna put Gheorgiou in a series in the TOS era, then I guess that means Discovery’s rubber band is gonna snap back at some time. At least somebody will go back.

Having Gheorgiou as a foil to Saru won’t work because the crew is 110% behind Saru. There are no Maquis on board like in Voyager. I like the bad ass joy she brings to the character, and love the actress, but she’s wasted here so far, treated like a minor character. Like Patrick said, she shoulda never made the trip. Although if she hadn’t Saru and Tilly may not have diplomated their way out of that cowboy saloon. So there’s that.

I also loved the Stamets wake up scene. Delaying the chaotic sounds of the sick bay until Stamets awoke was a nice bit of editing.