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Star Trek Discovery: Rosetta

'I have to be right. I have to.'

By nature I love brevity: Some good concepts, but they're not realized as well as I would prefer. The B storyline is good though.

I'll be upfront: I've been critical of a lot of the writing on Discovery. But when it comes to coming up with concepts that are interesting and worth exploring, they nail it almost every time. I mean, the idea of an alien species that communicates primarily via emotions delivered by pheromones? Not only is that a weird and totally new sci-fi concept that seems like it could be a lot of fun, it's totally in line with the emotionally intelligent, empathic brand the show primarily trades in. Of course you'd see that species on Discovery of all Trek shows.

In fact, the entire episode was brimming with stuff that must've been dynamite when it was pitched in the writers' room. The massive bones, the weird dust, it all had such an interesting atmosphere. And the fact that this is taking place outside the galaxy, literally farther than Trek has ever gone before, lends it an even greater mystique. It's all so interesting, and yet the execution just doesn't quite do it for me.

One of the things that contributes most to my dissatisfaction with the execution is Detmer's portion of the storyline. While I'm a fan in principle (again, the concepts) of giving the bridge crew more to do and looking deeper into their characters, it's always been so totally shoehorned in. It always feels like they just told the writers of each episode that they needed to include a scene featuring the backstory of one of the bridge crew, and then they added it in last minute to check off a box. Now, Detmer's here was much better, since it seemed to flow organically from the themes of the episode, but it was still kind of awkward. Part of it is the way that she was integrated into the episode narrative. She got picked to go on the away mission, and we saw nothing about why or what made her the right choice. It makes it feel like her name got drawn out of a hat as the character to get some development this week, rather than receiving attention according to the needs of the story that was being told.

Contrast this with General Ngoye, a background character that got pushed to the limelight this episode in a way that flowed and naturally developed through the ongoing story. Ngoye's presence has been steadily ramped up since the beginning of the season. First she started appearing at the Federation meetings, to remind us who her character was. Then she was placed on one side of the debate they were having, to give her opinions and a perspective, which made sense given her guest appearance and introduction last season. Now she's included among the delegates on the away mission, and her relevance is clear because it's her planet that's at risk from the DMA. She's been brought forward slowly, in stages, and each one seemed like it followed after the movements of the plot, not that the movements of the plot were engineered to bring her forward. I'm fascinated to see the role she'll play going forward.

Actually, I really liked most of the B plot. I've been really enjoying watching Book and Tarka throughout this season, especially since it's basically the David Ajala show every week. And with Ngoye and now Reno in the mix, I think this storyline is poised to be very interesting as we hurtle toward the end of the season. That shot panning through the wall to reveal Book sitting there watching Burnham is gonna stick with me, I think.

Strange New Worlds:

This planet has no name that we know of since it's outside the galaxy. It used to house the 10-C before something happened to them.

New Life and New Civilizations:

We learned this episode that the 10-C are apparently giant, with low-density bones that allow them to float through the atmosphere, and that they communicate using pheromone dust that transfers their emotions. They built Dyson rings around their sun.


-At the start of the episode it was stated that there remain only 29 hours until the DMA destroys Earth/Vulcan.

-So... who is this doctor guy that randomly showed up last episode without an introduction and seems to be a big part of the storyline all of a sudden? His name is supposed to be Dr. Hirai. He's just completely come out of left field and I wish there would be some kind of satisfactory explanation for what his character's role here is. I think David Cronenberg did a little handwave about it last episode but it's not very satisfying.

-I had almost forgotten how scared Saru used to be all the time. He's come really far as a character, maybe more than any other character on the show.

-I liked that Ngoye wasn't immediately on Book and Tarka's side, and that she agreed to help them only if they wait until it's clear other methods aren't going to work.

-It's really interesting that the show seems to be trying to explore how you can possibly connect to and empathize with beings that know they're hurting others and don't care, and that want to hurt people. In a climate where everybody judges everyone else's motives and nobody seems capable of putting themselves in other people's shoes, that seems a very relevant theme.


Tarka: "Is that a Kwejian thing?"
Book: "No. I just like having a torso."

Reno: "Pro tip: don't start with 'I want to be you.' It's kinda creepy."

Detmer: "I just want to apologize for letting my personal issues compromise the-"
Burnham: "If you finish that sentence I will demote you to Ensign. It's okay to not be in control for five minutes."
This is one of my favorite line readings from Sonequa Martin-Green in quite some time.

Adira: "We maybe don't have to mention that ever again."
Detmer: "Or we could mention it every day for the rest of your life."

Not bad. 4 out of 6 pinches of emotion dust.

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