Star Trek: Discovery‘s “Choose to Live”

The Qowat Milat are back, including Burnham’s Mom (yay, Sonja Sohn!), as one of their nuns has been stealing dilithium, and also murdered a Starfleet officer. Stamets and Book visit Ni’Var’s Science Council, under the auspices of President T’Rina (yay, Tara Rosling!). Plus Tilly deals with her issues and Gray finally gets a body! My take on Star Trek: Discovery‘s “Choose to Live.”

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Rillak remands Jvini to Ni’Var’s custody. Neither Burnham nor Vance are particularly happy with this—Fehr’s body language especially makes his displeasure clear—and after Jvini is taken away, Burnham calls Rillak out.

I love every nanosecond of this scene, mainly because contrary to the clichés of television in general (and Star Trek in particular), it isn’t a case of the admiral and the politician being assholes and our hero being the only decent person. Burnham is correct in that there should be justice for the Credence first officer, especially for his partner and children. But when she mentions those family members, Rillak makes it clear that she knows he has a family, identifying the children by name before Burnham can. (She likely sent them a condolence call.) But she has to think of the greater good, and turning the Ni’Var citizen over to Ni’Var for justice will do the most good, especially if Ni’Var is to join the Federation. T’Rina comes out directly and says early in the episode that Ni’Var is working toward that goal, and they’re too valuable a world to lose.

4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Black Widow

It’s too little too late in so many ways, but Scarlett Johansson finally gets the spotlight she deserved, a decade after she debuted her version of Natasha Romanoff. Appropriately, her solo film is a spy thriller, with great performances not just by her, but by Florence Pugh and David Harbour as her fake sister and fake father. The great superhero movie rewatch kicks off its year-end revival with Black Widow.

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The movie is tremendous fun, with the fast pace that you expect from a Marvel movie, but also with the strong, honest characterizations. Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh make a superlative double act, and their banter carries the movie. They talk like siblings, and Belova’s pointed commentary on Romanoff’s second life as a hero lands beautifully, as does Romanoff responding the same way she always does: not by talking about it, but by anteing up and kicking in and doing what’s right. The best, of course, is Belova teasing Romanoff about her “superhero landing” pose, which she’s used in pretty much every appearance going back to Iron Man 2, and it’s hilarious, particularly when Belova herself tries the pose. (“That was disgusting…”)

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Strange New World”

Enterprise explores a Class-M planet, Porthos pees on a tree, and the survey team goes camping. Archer doesn’t listen to T’Pol, and because of that, the survey team goes binky-bonkers and nearly dies. The Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch visits a “Strange New World.”

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Basically, the only reason anything bad happens in this episode is because Archer doesn’t listen to T’Pol. He’s impatient, he’s stupid, he’s moronic, he’s imbecilic, and what’s especially frustrating is that nobody actually points this out after T’Pol’s initial objection. The episode should have ended with Archer apologizing to every single person on that survey team, especially T’Pol (whose good advice he disregarded in a snotty and mean-spirited manner) and Novakovich (who nearly died).

Star Trek: Discovery‘s “Anomaly”

Actions having consequences — who’da thunk it? We get forward movement on the season arc but also see how the characters deal with loss, from Book’s response to his homeworld’s destruction to Tilly’s reaction to the deaths she was present for last week to Stamets’s trauma from the events of the end of last season. And Saru’s back, which is good, as first officer, which is bad. My review of Star Trek: Discovery‘s “Anomaly.”

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“Anomaly” is chock full of consequences, and while the most impressive one is what is suffered by Book, I want to take a moment to talk about how very brilliantly we saw Tilly and Adira being affected by the death of Commander Nalas last week. Nalas is exactly the kind of guest character whose death moves the plot along but who is generally forgotten, often before the episode is even over much less beyond it. So it’s incredibly heartening to see that Nalas’ manipulative death was manipulating us for a reason. Tilly is having trouble processing it, and her conversations with both Saru and Culber are strong examinations of Tilly’s trauma at watching him die after trying to rescue him.

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: seventh season overview

Very belatedly posting this, but I never put a link to this post back when I did it in late October: the seventh-season overview of Star Trek: Voyager, which was also a general look back on the series after rewatching it throughout 2020 and 2021.

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While I appreciate that Kenneth Biller tried very hard to address some things that had gone unaddressed, they half-assed it to such a degree that you kind of wish they hadn’t bothered. Plus there was a certain level of not thinking things through that was maddening. Like addressing the Maquis-Starfleet divide in “Repression,” but doing it in a totally absurd way that defies credulity and makes absolutely nothing like sense. Like finally acknowledging the number of casualties among the crew over the past seven years in “Repentance” and “Renaissance Man,” but not actually addressing it in any kind of logical, emotional, or interesting manner. Like continuing to not promote Kim beyond the rank of ensign and repeatedly drawing attention to it and trying to explain it away even though that explanation is inconsistent with both Tuvok and Paris being promoted at various points.

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Fight or Flight”

The crew is bored, and so is the viewer. Sato goes through an agonizing foregone conclusion, the crew is hugely irresponsible regarding an alien life form they bring on board and don’t know what to do with, and a first contact turns out incredibly uninterestingly. The Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch slogs through “Fight or Flight.”

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Speaking of lazy, we have Sato’s plotline, which has a completely foregone conclusion by virtue of Linda Park’s place in the opening credits. I do like how Park plays it: one of her talents as an actor is showing her emotions via body language, whether her tense apprehension while asking Archer for new quarters, her slump-shouldered depression after the first away mission, her sad frustration at Sluggo’s declining health and at her inability to communicate with the Axanar—and, most notably, her very obviously feigned confidence-boosting posture when talking directly to the Axanar.

Star Trek: Discovery‘s “Kobayashi Maru”

We get some familiar faces (more Oded Fehr! more Bill Irwin! Blu del Barrio now in the opening credits!), some new faces (a Federation President! and she’s not a dude!), a diplomatic mission gone horribly wrong at least in part because of the cat, and a rescue mission, plus an interesting conversation about insane risks and plot armor. My review of the Star Trek: Discovery fourth-season premiere, “Kobayashi Maru.”

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It’s an interesting conversation the two of them have, with Burnham on the side of no-person-left-behind that most TV show characters follow, and Rillak with the much more practical and realistic notion that you can’t possibly save everyone. It almost feels like a TV Tropes discussion: Burnham will take the crazy-ass risks because she still remembers being “abandoned” by her parents when the Klingons attacked, and she always makes it because she’s the star of a television show. Rillak quite rightly points out that that kind of luck doesn’t always hold out.

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Broken Bow”

We’re introduced to the NX-01, the first starship called Enterprise, captained by Sam Beckett– er, that is, Dwayne Pride– er, that is Jonathan Archer, played with incredible blandness by Scott Bakula. The good news is, some good characters, great production values, mostly fine acting, especially from John Billingsley, and a beagle! The bad news is, too many boring white people, too many cheap titillations, too much looking backwards, and a really dopey time-travel plot that won’t get any better. The Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch kicks off with “Broken Bow.”

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Indeed, the show is trying a little too hard to capture an original series feel. The dynamic among Archer, Tucker, and T’Pol is so aggressively attempting to ape the Kirk-Spock-McCoy banter it’s almost painful to watch. And, since T’Pol is played by an attractive woman, we get the added “bonus” of focusing on how hawt she is in the decon scene. Yes, Connor Trinneer’s manly manly chest gets some attention, but the camera lingers quite a bit longer on Jolene Blalock’s torso and chest. This is exacerbated by the gratuitous Archer-Sarin kiss (which they very carefully only allow to happen when Sarin looks like Melinda Clarke instead of Clarke covered in pock-marked makeup and greenish skin) and the scantily clad butterfly dancers of Rigel X.

introducing the Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch!

It’s officially official! Starting next week, I’ll be doing a weekly rewatch of the fourth Star Trek spinoff, Enterprise, which debuted twenty years ago. Archer furrowing his brow! T’Pol being logical! Tucker urging people to keep their shirts on! Phlox being awesome! Mayweather being underused! And Porthos being the bestest pupper!

An excerpt from the intro:

After moving away from the square-jawed-white-guy template for the spinoffs, we get in Scott Bakula’s Jonathan Archer a stereotypical manly hero type, having gone for the middle-aged cerebral captain in TNG, a man of color in DS9, and a woman in Voyager. (Having said that, Bakula was the same age when Enterprise debuted in 2001 that Sir Patrick Stewart was when TNG debuted in 1987, but Stewart was playing much older than Bakula was.)

Most distressingly for the franchise, Enterprise was also the first (and so far only) one of the Trek spinoffs to fail in the marketplace. Its three predecessors all ended on their own terms after seven seasons, and the five ongoing series that have been produced since are all still in production. Enterprise was ended by UPN after four seasons, and that cancellation in 2005 concluded an era of Trek on television that started with TNG in 1987 and wouldn’t come back until Discovery‘s debut in 2017.

Star Trek: Prodigy‘s first couple of episodes

Pictured: Brett Gray as Dal of the Paramount+ series Star Trek: Prodigy . Photo Cr: Nickelodeon/Paramount+ ©2021, All Rights Reserved.

I take a look at the first couple of episodes of Star Trek: Prodigy, which is, IMO, the best of the new Trek shows–which isn’t dinging Dicovery, Picard, Short Treks, or Lower Decks, it’s just that Prodigy is really that good. A delightful new entry into the Trek mythos.

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My favorite character, though, by far is Rok-Tahk, voiced by Rylee Alazraqui. The unsubtly named Rok is a Brikar, and she pretty much looks like the Thing from the Fantastic Four. She’s also the basis of the funniest moment in the two-part premiere episode, “Lost and Found.” The Diviner has forbidden translators in his mine, so the prisoners can’t talk to each other. When he’s sent to find Fugitive Zero, Dal finds himself paired with this giant rock creature who mostly seems to talk in growls and snarls. It isn’t until they get on board the Protostar, with its universal translator, that we discover that the big scary monster has a high squeaky voice and is, in fact, just a little girl. Rok is, at once, very sweet, very naïve, and very easy to love. She also has a temper, as we discover in the second episode, “Starstruck,” when we find out just how much she resents Gwyn for doing nothing to help the prisoners. (Gwyn, for her part, thought they were all criminals. Rok assures her that is not the case. Tellingly, the Diviner and his hench-robot Drednok refer to the miners, not as prisoners, but as “the unwanted.”)