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Star Trek Discovery: Species Ten-C

"How do we convey the concept of 'us'?"

By nature I love brevity: A really good episode, with some great stakes, and a great mystery for the crew to solve that we could actually follow. Is it kind of just discount Arrival? Yeah. But I love Arrival, so that's not necessarily a bad thing.

It's becoming increasingly clear that Discovery Season Four is trying in earnest to be a story in the classic tradition of Trek: a story about the Federation trying to connect to a species that's completely and utterly different from them. A classic story of communication and resolving differences that's always been one of Star Trek's best legacies. While some of the sci-fi ideas in this show have been either too absurd on their face or too esoteric to really work as story points, the communication in 'Species Ten-C' is right on the money for me. It balances interesting and creative sci-fi ideas with comprehensible concepts that have a clear and defined impact on the story.

What's more, the stakes finally feel properly balanced. While I don't necessarily think that Earth and Ni'Var will be destroyed, it's not outside the realm of possibility for the show to do something like that, especially as far into the future as they've gone. And the characters that might cause the impending disaster are people we really care about and want to see do the right thing, rather than villains we've just given up on. So regardless of what happens to the universe, the real personal stakes of the season are firmly established, and we've already seen the impact on Burnham and Book's relationship. This is the first time we've approached the end of a Discovery season and I've really, truly felt tension. That's a very good sign.

Actually, I think I was properly engaged the whole episode. From the communication efforts to Reno's escape attempts, everything from top to bottom was just really solid, interesting stuff. For a show that has almost every season had great build-up and less-than-stellar payoff, getting better – and getting this good – as we head towards the end is great news. This may be the best season of the show yet, and I can't wait to see how the finale shakes out.

I really don't have that much more to say. This was just a really solid episode from top to bottom. It didn't really stick out, it did its job very well and got us where we needed to be for the finale.

Strange New Worlds:

This week we traveled to the current home of Species Ten-C, the hyperfield they've constructed after they abandoned their home planet. It contains a solar system with three gas giant planets.

New Life and New Civilizations:

We finally got to meet the Ten-C here, after hearing about their presumed existence for quite some time. We didn't get much of a look at them, but they have visual receptors and pheromone glands, and probably auditory receptors. They communicate by excreting the emotional pheromones the crew found on the planet, in combination somehow with a visual signal, flashing lights in a specific pattern. We didn't learn much about their actual language because they used a bridge language – math – to communicate.


-I'm not sure that we've seen any species that lived on gas giant planets before in Star Trek. That's exciting.

-I'm a little bummed that we didn't get to see the Ten-C species design. That's part of the fun of Trek aliens for me. That's at the top of my wishlist for the finale.

-The Ten-C's method of communicating reminds me of a species that was in a Star Trek book I read one time (I think it might've been a DS9 book). They had big flat panels on their chests that would light up with colorful patterns, and that was how they communicated, based on the colors they used and the patterns they appeared in.

-How did they know for certain that the chemicals that caused specific feelings in humans and other humanoid species would cause the same feelings in the Ten-C? Couldn't serotonin, for example, potentially cause anger in this species? I don't think that's going on here, but it's a thought I had.

-Reno made a communicator out of a piece of licorice. That reminds me of the legends we heard in DS9 that Starfleet engineers could 'turn a rock into a replicator.'

-Math being a universal language that all species can use to communicate with one another is really interesting and a very Star Trek concept, but more than that it's a very Discovery kind of concept. That sort of boundless passion for math and science isn't unique to this show, but it is much more potent here than anywhere else, and it fits perfectly. And communicating math through emotions? No other show on television.

-Also very fitting for Discovery was the scene where Burnham and Saru got out their nervousness by releasing primal yells. That almost felt like a last touching moment between old friends. Are we headed for a death/departure for Saru? Surely Burnham will be the main character for the whole run of the show.

-Smart, if a little uncreative, to have the Ten-C make them a meeting place that replicates an existing set.

Overall quite strong. 5 out of 6 licorice communicators.

CoramDeo wonders anyway: What if Kurtzweil doesn't make it?

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