Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Star Trek Discovery: Season 1, Episode 15: Will You Take My Hand

Captain Evil!Georgiou is now leading the Discovery to Qo’noS and she’s not even trying to pretend to be good, she’s letting her evil flag fly; much to Michael and Saru’s concern. She even tries to taunt Saru about eating him but Saru is definitely not going to be intimidated

They need information on Qo’noS so Georgiou decides to beat up L’rell while Michael tries to appeal to her (sure the humans are winning but her and T’kuvma’s dream of a united Klingon Empire is pretty much dead - she’s losing this war too). Georgiou’s beating achieves nothing and Michaels offers a better idea: Tyler

Since Tyler has Klingon memories and is more inclined to co-operate without torture, this is a good idea. We throw in some angst about Tyler clinging to his human memories and Georgiou continues to be the worst. This is necessary this episode because Evil!Georgiou may actually be the most fun character on the show so we need to be reminded she is evil incarnate. Michael certainly seems to need it.

Tyler gives them lots of up to date information which allows them to Magic mushroom there way to a cave on Qo’noS and then send a landing team to go to the place where they need to plant the bomb

That landing team includes Georgiou, Tyler, Michael (yay angst) and Tilly. Who quickly learns that Georgiou is evil since Georgiou is doing nothing to hide who she is (and reminisces about the many Star Trek staples they’ve massacred together with evil!Tilly)

The spot they’re going to on Qo’noS has been given to the Orions. An old school Star Trek race of sexy half naked green people. No, Discovery has not looked at this depiction and decided “hey… maybe a whole species shouldn’t be depicted this way”?

So it’s time to dress as low lives (i.e. wear lots of leather. A fashion that hasn’t changed in centuries. I may own Tyler’s outfit) and go to the black market to offer lots of shiny technology for trade, eat bits of unidentified meat and try to figure out where to go. Tilly is both tough and kind of dangerous while, at the same time, also kind and comforting to Michael, recognising how hard this must be for Michael, working with Evil Georgiou

They end up in a bar/brothel where we have half-naked dancers (because this is EDGY Star Trek) and Georgiou promptly picks two to have sex with (she knew our whole universe couldn’t be boring). Hey you know what doesn’t make Star Trek’s “kill the gays” trope better? Throwing in the depraved bisexual trope! Hey remember the 50 years when Star Trek didn’t bother with LGBTQ representation? Let’s go back to that because if this is them trying, in 2018, they need to stop

After she has her fun she violently threatens both sex workers until they give her the location of the shrine where they need to plant the bomb

Meanwhile Michael and Tyler try to question random Klingons using Tyler’s knowledge (which comes with him sharing Voq’s back story with Michael about how he was an outsider and oppressed) and lots of violent klingon posturing. This hits Michael’s nerves, remembering the violent Klingon attack which killed her parents. She describes it in detail to Tyler who realises why Michael would hate all Klingons - including him

Except she doesn’t - because she looks round and sees people just trying to live the same kind of lives that anyone does anywhere (because so much of sci-fi is so damn lazy and alien species are inevitably basically humans who look a little weird so of course their cultures look basically human). This is a home. And the idea of giving the Federation targets to attack here makes her super sad.

Tyler praises her compassion and how this is an amazing thing about the Federation and why he’s on side. But how absolutely no Klingons would have any kind of compassion for her. She points out her does. Cool Michael, let’s brain meld every Klingon into having compassion. They also find the shrine’s location

While Tilly gets tricked into taking drugs, nearly gets the “drone” stolen before finding out it’s actually a bomb and evil Georgiou is evil. High, she calls Michael and Tyler, but can’t stop Georgiou taking the bomb

Running a simulation, Michael points out the bomb will cause apocalyptic damage to Qo’noS, basically killing nearly everyone and rendering the planet uninhabitable. She confronts Admiral Cornwell about this and we have a big epic speech about the ideals of the Federation. She, not so subtly, calls back to her own mutiny and how she forgot those principles in favour of a violent, easier option. Now she asks if there needs to be another mutiny to remind everyone of those principles. It contains epic lines like:
“We do not have the luxury of principles”
“Principles are all we have!”
Yes the essence of Star Fleet which would have been an awesome storyline to develop. At all. Ever.

Led by Saru the whole crew stands in support of Michael and the Federation sees the Error of their Ways.

This leads to Michael to be teleported down to see Georgiou and ask her to hand over the detonator in exchange for her guaranteed freedom. There’s some back and forth including Michael finally getting it that Terran Georgiou is NOT A NICE PERSON.

She protests all the melodrama, after all SOME Klingons will totally survive. She even goes with how she wanted to end this war because it would salve Michael’s guilt for starting it.

Michael doesn’t buy it. “It was worth a try”. Georgiou is evil but she’s also fun.

Michael points out that if she sets off the bomb the whole federation will hunt her forever. And she’ll totally have to kill Michael as well. It’s telling that Michael doesn’t rely on Georgiou wanting her alive to convince her. Or maybe she’s just giving Georgiou a selfish “excuse” to preserve Michael

Georgiou takes her freedom, runs off to cause untold chaos and leaves Michael with the detonator to give to L’rell

Yes everyone who just yelled “SERIOUSLY?!” at the screen, L’rell. Because L’rell doesn’t want the war she wants all Klingons to be unified and now she can go to the Klingon Houses and say “You will all follow me in incorruptible Klingon unity as T’kuva envisaged, or I will destroy our home world with a human weapon that I have control over thanks to my collaboration”. Tyler also goes with her, so she can also introduce her human friend with benefits who is totally-not-a-human-spy and definitely not evidence that L’rell has been utterly compromised

Against all the odds, this plan works. L’rell threatens the Klingons into peace and lo everyone is saved. Tyler makes his goodbyes to Michael as he joins L’rell to go and successfully end the war

Everyone else goes back to Earth to be celebrated, get medals, make big epic speeches about principles from Michael (who gets her conviction overturned and rank restored) and everyone has a happy ever after (well, Stamets gets to carry Culber posthumous medal so yay… epic romance apparently). We have a nice scene with Michael and her mother and Michael with Sarek - and this Vulcan is like 3 seconds away from reciting emotional poetry while indulging in interpretive dance.

Look this is supposed to be the so-satisfying ending but it all feels so forced I’m just not feeling it, to be honest.

After everyone has had their feel good moments, it’s time to pick up the new captain (personally, I’d have promoted Saru) and take Sarek to Vulcan. But on the way they get a distress call - from Captain Pike of the Enterprise. Yes that would be the captain who preceded Captain Kirk because the writers are having a lore-gasm.

And lo, Michael clings to the virtues of the Federation, picking the high road, rejecting the Terran way of being and generally clinging to those virtues in wonderful glorious fashion

And it’s bullshit

It’s bullshit because the whole conflict about mortality and falling down the Terran path is that desperation drives you to it. This was the message of Lorca before he was revealed to be evil. This was the message Michael choked down while snacking on Saru’s cousin. This was the message Admiral Cornwell and Sarek endured when using Terran Georgiou’s tactics. Good people are driven to evil because their back is to the wall and they have no other viable choice.

This didn’t happen - Michael got a magical get-out-of-evil card which ONLY worked because the writers decided it would. Because if L’rell did take over the Klingons (a big if), there is absolutely no guarantee she wouldn’t launch her own war with the UNITED Klingon empire against the already shattered Federation. But Michael could take that risk

This isn’t about making the hard choice with evil & survival on one side and sacrifice & principles on the other. This is taking the magical shiny short cut to fluffy decision land where you can make daft choices and have it all work out and then make lots of shiny feel good speeches about how good you are because suddenly GOOD HAS NO COST. Because taking the moral high road me be an arduous path up a treacherous mountain but that’s fine, the writers have installed a ski-lift and turned our moral quandary into a winter holiday

Or there’s L’rell. Exactly how is this supposed to work? She’s going to unify the Klingons in T’kuva’s vision of unity and following Kahless by threatening to bomb Qo’noS into ruins after being held captive for months by the humans and being followed around by a human fuckbuddy. I don’t care what kind of utter trainwreck Discovery has made of world building the Klingons, this is ridiculous. This is unsustainable. There is absolutely no way that ANY intelligent people can be unified and controlled this way long term. I give it 2 years tops before someone kills her in her sleep, snipes her, or just plains stabs her, damn the consequences, because they’re KLINGONS.

Look, I love the epic inspiring speeches and I love a utopian speeches and I was there for Michael facing down the Admiral. But this kind of lazy writing, refusing to examine the complex topics the show has raised has become a habit this whole season - and my old rant about that stands - and if the very foundation of this whole season is the moral conflict begun when Michael rebelled against Georgiou in that first episode then it needed a better resolve than a get-out-of-hard-decisions-free-card

I’m glad Georgiou and Tyler are alive so they can technically come back now and then - which is definitely better than being dead. But it also rather removes them both from the main storyline which is a shame: especially when we throw in dead Culber and dead Landry and I’d like to see them around a lot more

I could love Michael as a character, but she just hasn’t had all her motivations, et al developed - because so much of this show hasn’t been. Which is terrible because it’s all there!

As for the running around the media claiming they haven’t pulled a “kill your gays” trope - they have. This is the season finale. Culber is dead. Still. Frankly their trying to excuse this homophobic vileness just made it worse.

In all this show just had so much potential – and then did almost nothing with it. It should have pared down its storylines by at least half and truly worked on them. Instead it threw everything at the wall and didn’t focus on any of it