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106. Anthropology Speedrun (Disco 4.11)

Liz finds gas giants very troubling, which is a normal and reasonable opinion.

Trekapalooza begins! Anika and Liz put Picard on hold to talk about episode 11 of Discovery‘s fourth season: Rosetta. Join us as we visit a new planet, huff some feelings dust and discuss…

  • It’s been a while since we had a nice landing party on this show!
  • Star Trek should never, ever try to be cool 
  • If you are tired of hearing Liz complain about Detmer, good news: she has completely changed her opinion!
  • 10-C, anthropology 101 and the elephant’s graveyard in The Lion King
  • Sometimes a little knowledge about reality can impede one’s enjoyment of Star Trek, which is apparently not a documentary or something…
  • So we can safely assume by now intelligence isn’t the number one trait that attracts Michael to a man…
  • The delegates: a linguistics nerd, Space Wordle, Rillak’s pantsuits and Earth’s Brexity vibes

It’s the episode where Cleveland Booker is on THIN ICE, you guys, THIN ICE.

Transcript

Anika: Okay, welcome to Antimatter Pod, a Star Trek podcast where we discuss fashion, feminism, subtext, and subspace, hosted by Anika and Liz. This week, we’re discussing the Star Trek: Discovery fourth season episode, Rosetta.

Liz: I really enjoyed this episode, Anika. I feel like everything is moving again, the plot has started to advance. I just wish this happened two weeks ago.

Anika: Yeah, I can see that.

Liz: Yeah. The pacing. Again.

Anika: The pacing … It just really felt like things were stuck. And yet, new things happened this week. So that’s good.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: We still haven’t seen 10-C, but okay.

Liz: We know that they’re very, very large, and not remotely humanoid, and yet they have feelings and, you know, that’s a start. I just think this is coming a bit too late.

I saw a suggestion somewhere, somehow, on the internet that moving to a ten-episode season next year will be much better for the writers. And I kind of agree. I think this thirteen-episode stretch is clearly really not working for them.

Anika: Yeah. I think that that’s my real issue. Not to harp on last episode, but the fact that we got Tarka’s backstory, having already gotten Tarka’s backstory, was a problem.

Liz: Yeah. And this is not a problem unique to Star Trek. I think the Netflix MCU series really struggled with this issue. Something about that thirteen-episode structure is unusually challenging, and it’s good that they’re moving away from it. Even though I am genuinely sad to be having less Star Trek.

Having said that, your note here is, too much Star Trek, and I agree.

Anika: I just want to say that I am opposed to Discovery and Picard on the same day. Couldn’t it at least have been on different days? If you’re going to have it the same week, can we at least have it on different days?

Liz: Please!

Amazon actually held Picard back until about 10:00 PM Australian time on Friday. And I thought that was ridiculous, if Disney Plus can have a universal worldwide release, so can literally every other streaming service. And I did not wait for Amazon.

But I can see the benefits. Because Thursday night, I went from Discovery to Picard to Good Sam, and then I barely slept at all because I was having a multitude of feelings.

Anika: I did pace myself, because I needed to, and I knew that I needed to. But I watched them all on Thursday. I couldn’t wait a different day because it’s impossible for me to be on Twitter. Or even in Discord, where we are very careful about spoilers, but it’s like this little bright note that’s like, “Do you want to know about Picard? Do you want to know Picard, Anika? Look, we have information about Picard!” And it’s hard.

Liz: “We have spoilers!”

Anika: So if you want to go into it, not knowing things, then you have to watch it the day it’s out. And when the day is out is the same day as Discovery, it’s hard. I watched Discovery first because I knew that we were discussing it. And if I can’t watch all of it, I want to watch the one that we’re going to talk about.

Liz: Yes, absolutely.

Anika: But I really think it’s a disservice to Discovery to have Picard starting now. Because no one’s talking about Discovery online anymore.

Liz: Right. I think it’s sad.

And I personally am very glad that we’re holding off on our in-depth Picard discussion for a couple of weeks, because I actually want to see more before I decide how I feel about a few things. I will say that I enjoyed it very much. I don’t understand why tiny Jean-Luc is a 1930s newsboy, but … No. We’re here to discuss Discovery, and I think we owe it to Sonequa and to the Discovery team to keep doing that.

Anika: There were three distinct, really three and a half distinct plot lines, this week, that were interconnected, but we were going back and forth between different points of view.

Liz: And they were much better balanced than last week. I don’t want to keep harping on about last week, but I feel like this was overall a stronger episode in terms of how everything was integrated. And we didn’t have these moments where the tension just evaporated. It felt really well balanced.

I really wish that we could let it stand alone from last week, because I think it’s a much stronger episode. And, like I said, we should have had it a few weeks ago. So we start with the landing party.

Anika: Which, you know, we haven’t had a landing party in a while, so fun times, away team.

Liz: The bit where they’re walking towards the camera in slow motion, they haven’t done that since the season one finale. And I just don’t think that Star Trek should ever try to be cool, because the overall effect is hilarious. It’s kind of adorable. I love it. It was great. That is not a criticism. I’m just like, oh, you nerds.

Anika: Remember how last week made me sick, and I said, don’t do that anymore.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: I didn’t like SaruVision.

Liz: SaruVision is a little terrifying.

Anika: That didn’t make me happy. It didn’t make me nauseous, so that’s good. But it just feels super gimmicky. I don’t want to be against it. I’m not against it on an artistic level. I understand that they’re trying to do new things, they’re trying to play with fourth dimensionality and getting into the character’s viewpoint, but…

Liz: You’re not one of the guys complaining about spinning cameras for seasons upon seasons.

Anika: It takes me out of watching it. I don’t know. I didn’t like it, but again, it didn’t make me nauseous. And I do think I am – I’m a proponent for doing new things, trying new things, even if it doesn’t work. So it’s like, well, they’re playing. And I can’t be against that.

Liz: I thought it was very interesting that they could convey the fear through that very visceral POV camera work, but then they couldn’t convey love and safety because we don’t really have an easy visual language for it, except to look at people’s faces. And I thought that was an interesting contrast, and maybe says something possibly very profound about human emotions, but also maybe a bit sad about the nature of cinema and television.

But mostly, like, I didn’t have your problem with the gimmicky camera stuff. I quite liked it and I thought it was clever.

And I felt like, and you know I am usually number one on the kill off Detmer train, I had a moment where I was like, man, they’re talking so much about Detmer’s past, are they going to kill her? And I didn’t want them to, because all of a sudden I liked her.

Anika: That’s so funny. You know, we’ve been talking about this whole season that the bridge crew gets to have a little spotlight. Spotlight on this random bridge crew person for this episode. And Detmer has had a spotlight on her before, she has been more of a presence, I guess, than the others. So part of me didn’t even expect her to get a spotlight.

Liz: No, same. And what I saw she was on the landing party. I was like, oh, but she’s already had her go. She had a whole thing last year.

Which is silly, because her storyline here built on what happened last year, but I also think it did better, because last year she was all like, oh, I can’t talk about my feelings cause pilots are macho. And this time it was about her childhood and her experience teaching her not to deal with her feelings. And I thought that was much more nuanced and less sexist, and frankly, more interesting.

Anika: I really liked the Adira and Jett and Keyla stuff more than … I agree with you that I think that it was well done on the planet. It was more integrated, because it was like, there’s a mystery of, why is she not having this experience, and then they figured that out and it was sort of, she was having that experience anyway, but for different reasons. And that was interesting.

But the Adira and Jett and Keyla stuff was just — I noticed Adira’s interest in Detmer when it happened, like, when they were leaving. I noticed her reactions and her interactions with Detmer, and in my mind I was like, oh, she has a crush and–

Liz: You’re using the wrong pronouns.

Anika: Oh, you’re right! I’m sorry. They have a crush. But I thought it was me, I thought it was shipper goggles. I thought it wasn’t part of the plot, you know, I thought it was an acting choice.

Liz: Yeah. I was going to be like, oh my gosh, Blu Del Barrio, they’re adding so much, I really enjoy it. And then it was intentional, which is not to say that they are not adding a lot and bringing a lot to the performance and the character, but it’s not just them alone.

Anika: So that was fun. And I liked that. I liked the Jett calls it a crush. And they were like, no. That was fun too, for me. Because again, I read it as a crush. And I don’t think it’s not true, but I also think that they were correct in what they were saying. And they were saying, I want to be this person. And I think that as a teenager, I had those feelings of, like, am I attracted to this person? Or do I want to be this person, or both?

Liz: Hell, I have those feelings all the time now. In that regard, it feels extremely realistic.

And a friend of mine was saying — they’re just catching up on season four now, and they were saying that Adira and Gray seemed way too together and down to earth and undramatic for teenagers. And I think that’s true, but they also have a thousand years of experiences via the Tal symbiont.

I think that Adira is being honest when they say that they don’t have a crush on Keyla, and I also think that they would never betray Grey. But I also think they know on some level that they absolutely do quietly have a crush bound up in admiration and respect for Keyla. And I respect that.

Anika: And I mean, not to [get into] semantics, but I feel like there’s a difference between a crush and an attraction.

Liz: Yeah. I also think that they disagreed with the way Jett framed it, which is like, oh, Gray is out of sight, therefore….

Anika: I mean, I took that as Jett just being teasing. I don’t think she was–

Liz: She didn’t mean anything harmful by it.

Anika: But yeah, so, I mean, it was fun to see Jett at all.

Liz: Absolutely.

Anika: And Adira, for that matter. They’ve been on the periphery more. My last note here is that the recurring cast is just ginormous. There are so many people in this show. And it’s a little hard, sometimes, to keep them all in mind.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: But I’m glad that we are checking in with people like Adira and Jett. And even Keyla.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: I just really enjoyed that whole thing.

Liz: My beef with Keyla as a character has often been that people care about her, like, Owo obviously cares about her very deeply, but we rarely see Keyla reciprocate. So to have her form that connection with Adira after sharing something of herself with the rest of the landing party, that really made me soften towards her.

I need to get over my Keyla thing, because it is not fair to the character or to Emily Coutts. This is a Liz problem. But I think that she was really well done.

Anika: I did not realize how tall she is. As an aside, as Adira was checking her out–

Liz: Yes! I also think Blu is a bit on the short side, but yeah, I think Emily Coutts is one of the more giant–

Anika: In that, you know, power walk scene, Saru is obviously a giant, and then Hugh and Michael are small in comparison to Saru and Detmer. And so Detmer looked like — obviously Saru is much taller, but she really looked tall compared to the others.

Liz: That scene and her recent photo shoot for Out magazine, which was outstanding, both had me wondering if she has modelling experience. Because the height and the presentation, it’s just amazing.

Anika: The strut.

Liz: The strut, oh my goodness. Like I said, that wasn’t cool. That was incredibly dorky, but it was also, you know, kind of amazing. I only watched it three or four times and I can move on whenever I choose.

Anika: So as much as I called it gimmicky five minutes ago, Discovery has always been pretty stylistic on purpose. So maybe, when I’m saying that it’s gimmicky, it’s actually that it’s too realistic. Maybe that’s the issue, that I’m used to this sort of veil that they, exist behind.

Liz: Most episodes of nineties Trek were relatively static in their camera styling, and didn’t draw attention to the camera work. And Discovery absolutely does not do that. Discovery is very happy for you to pay attention to the camera work.

I do think that’s a bit of a visual shift, and I know some fans have been very, vocally opposed and, you know, not real Star Trek, blah-blah-blah. It both is more naturalistic and more stylized at the same time. And that can be confusing. I don’t really have the visual vocabulary to talk about it with any intelligence, but that’s sort of how I feel.

Anika: I think, based on my experience last week, my experience at Universal Studios, and my experience with animation, that I’ve discussed a lot on this podcast, I think that I just have a visual tic, or something, that I can’t switch between things. I think that that’s just something that I can’t personally do physically. My brain is like, no. And that inhibits my ability to enjoy any media that does that, does switch between visual style.

Liz: No, that makes sense. It’s like when you’re watching old Doctor Who, and you go from the scenes filmed outside on film to the scenes filmed on a set on video. And the quality difference is jarring, and distracting. And it sounds like it’s even more visceral for you.

Anika: Yes. I think that that’s the way it is. For whatever reason, for whatever physical vision brain. Somewhat in science can explain that to me, but…

Liz: We’re still going to go to laser tag to figure this out.

Anika: Okay.

Liz: I really enjoyed what we learned about the 10-C. I have one semester of anthropology behind me, I did anthropology 101, so I know how absurd it is, the idea that they can learn enough about a society to communicate with them in a few hours from these ruins. But setting that aside, I like the intellectual side of the story and the Sciency McScience of, their dust contains their feelings.

Anika: So Little Raven, in our Discord, described the planet as the elephant graveyard in The Lion King.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: And I just want to let everyone know that, because that is a perfect analogy. And I loved that. And it also sort of explains to me why I found it so creepy.

Liz: Oh, no, it’s absolutely creepy!

Anika: Without, you know, Saru and all of the others, even without the story happening, it was already creepy. And it has that ancient, dead, scary, you know, something that is very other from us, that, you know, I’m the lion cub, and I’m scared of both the elephants, the ghosts of these elephants, and also the hyenas that now live in there. You know, that’s how I felt. I had to bring that up because I think it was a really well-placed metaphor.

And you know, what we eventually determined was the dust, like, that was this hyena fear. And, you know, a hyena is a very specific animal that is also super stylized. Our idea of a hyena, you know, like the hyena’s laughter, and particularly, in something like The Lion King is so — the thing about The Lion King is they’re the comic relief until the end, and then they’re terrible.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: And so it felt like that, whereas this dust was something that was just sort of a scientific curiosity. And then, all of a sudden, it was something that was out to get them.

Liz: Yes. It also made me think of Prodigy and the planet with the crystals and the aliens. And I remember we were talking about that episode and we said, you couldn’t do that in live action. And I think we have proven ourselves wrong. Congratulations, Discovery.

I just think it was a really clever planet in the way that it evoked so many creepy things even well before it became overtly disturbing. I guess it’s like going to Pompeii and knowing that you’re walking around a mass grave.

Anika: Yes. Yes, exactly. These graveyards, these ancient burial grounds.

Liz: Also one thing you don’t see a lot in any science fiction is aliens who evolve to inhabit a gas giant. So the idea of that, and also that the gas giant no longer is a gas giant, it’s just this little shell of a core, that too is really disturbing.

Maybe this is the time to admit that sometimes I read Wikipedia articles about Jupiter when I can’t sleep and want to give myself a scare. Some people read creepypasta, I read about Jupiter. I just find gas giants very troubling.

Anika: Okay. [laughs] You do you.

Liz: there’s a lot of wind and a lot of pressure and gases that will kill you. And anyway, I’m a little bit scared of 10-C and not just because they may or may not have empathy.

Anika: We already knew that they were hinting that the 10-C is going to be very, very non-humanoid, very, very different That they weren’t going to live in a class M planet have, you know, funny ears or funny nose. And that’s nothing against Star Trek.

Liz: We know how this show works!

Anika: But it is exciting to meet a new alien. But I also think, almost because of that difference, it’s going to be very difficult to set aside reality and they’re going to make first contact and it’s going to all work out in the next two hours.

Liz: Right. It took The Expanse many, many books to even distantly approach that.

Anika: I’m just going to have trouble. I’m just going to put that out there now, so that when it happens, I can say, “As I said, but I’ve decided to let that go.” Like you said, with the anthropology, it’s like, okay, sure. You guys can do this. You can figure out the Rosetta Stone in forty minutes instead of a hundred years.

Liz: Yeah, a friend of mine is a physicist and she was deeply horrified by the whole concept of a galactic barrier, which apparently is not really a thing in real life. And the fact that it’s been canon in Star Trek for nearly 60 years didn’t sway her. And you know, just sometimes we have to put this knowledge of reality aside, whether it’s a hard science or a soft.

Anika: I’m going to just put this out there, I’m going to remind everyone, as someone who works in science, that science is constantly evolving. That as soon as you think you have discovered something, you find five other things that you need to figure out before you fully address it. That is just how science works.

We have seen this most recently with the pandemic, in that people are upset that our understanding of how COVID works has evolved, has changed. We have made different decisions based on different information every six months or so. And that is how science works. And so if we put that on top of Star Trek, you know, in 1967, the idea of a galactic barrier was perfectly reasonable.

Liz: We’ve talked about how, you know, canon has to evolve, but what harm is there if this fictional galactic barrier is part of a story, and what harm is there if, you know, you have a bit of a speed run anthropology?

Anika: Absolutely. Cause at the end of the day, they’re telling a story. And that’s the purpose of this. As much as Star Trek is quote unquote based in science, LOL, but okay. That is not the point of Star Trek. Star Trek is not teaching science. Star Trek is not discovering science. Star Trek is not, you know, engaging with the scientific method in order to figure something out. Star Trek is telling a story.

Liz: No. And what’s important is that this episode reminded me of how much I love anthropology and archeology, and the idea of learning about a society and people through their artifacts and through what remains of them. I love that. I was going to be an archeologist. Rheumatoid arthritis is not really compatible with that career, but being reminded of how excited I was about that concept was worth it.

Anika: Nice.

Liz: One thing. That I question is the conclusion, and I don’t think this is a universal conclusion, I think it’s mostly Keyla, but the conclusion that 10-C don’t have empathy.

Anika: I said something like, 10-C doesn’t have empathy and Book is an empath. So I see how this is ending. That was where I went with it. And you said 10-C either doesn’t have empathy or has too much empathy. Or all the empathy, I think, is how you put it. And that’s interesting. It’s sort of like, the Vulcans have all the emotions. And so they choose to have no emotions.

Liz: Yes. Realistically, I don’t think it’s a case of one or the other. I think that would be very unrealistic, but I think that a species whose emotions lead to physical traces has to have empathy. They can taste how they feel. The question, I guess, is not are they capable of empathy, but do they understand that the people of the Milky Way Galaxy are who can be empathized with?

Anika: Right. So does it become stepping on an anthill at that point?

Liz: Yes, that’s what I think it’s going to be, they had no idea that intelligent life … Maybe that intelligent life exists at all. These guys have evolved outside of the galaxy. There doesn’t seem to be much by way of inhabited or habitable planets out here. And so maybe they really do think they are alone in the galaxy and these funny little bipeds are just clever insects.

I do wonder, because of what you said about Book being an empath, we’ve been saying from the beginning that he is going to be the source of the connection between the Federation and 10-C. I wonder if he’s going to make amends for his fairly stupid decisions the last few weeks by leaving Michael and staying with the 10-C as an ambassador,

Anika: I was going to say, I’m wholly convinced that Book is going to do something significant and amazing that reverses his fortunes, as it were. Because at this — well, we can talk about Book in depth in a minute, but at this point, I think that it would be very reasonable for everyone to be very much like, we are going to arrest you and hold you accountable for a bunch of things that have happened because of your, I don’t know, short-sightedness.

But I fully believe that the fact that he is an empath who can have quote, unquote conversations with creatures that do not use the same language going to be highly important.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: It’s going to get him back in the good graces of the authorities. I’m cynical enough to think that the writers won’t believe that Book needs to stay with 10-C and leave Michael in order to make up for it. But you could be right.

Liz: Maybe for a period of time, and then season five might pick up with his return to the Federation. I don’t know, I’m making this up as I go along, but I feel like the 10-C and Book are both capable of so much connection that this feels … Like you said, there’s a lock and there’s a key and there’s a Book.

Anika: Yes.

Liz: So let’s talk about our good friend Book, who I think at this point — I know Michael likes a himbo, but this is Ash Tyler levels of stupid.

Anika: Yes. I am very much done with it because I have never considered that … Like, yeah, it’s a really good comparison, because Ash Tyler, completely subtracting the whole Klingon spy part of it, just taking that out of the equation entirely, was a himbo. Like, by himself. I was super into Ash. And then they had that episode — they had two episodes in a row. So they had Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go, whatever.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: The Mudd episode. And he had the lei, and he was like, “Hey everybody!” And he was acting like a jock who, who, you know, transfers to a new school and is everybody’s favorite person because he’s such a jock and it was so weird.

And then, the very next episode, they go camping and he’s like, you know, I really like to fish. A6nd I was just like, I can’t, I am no longer attracted to this person because he is such a bro, like, I can’t.

Liz: He does seem like a very sensitive sweet bro. A man who spends time in the outdoors for pleasure. Which is sick.

Anika: And that’s not Book, that’s not how I see Book. I don’t see Book as a bro. I don’t see Book as a sensitive himbo. That’s not how I’ve understood Book to be. And so I’m a little upset that he is now acting that way. And, for the third episode in a row, I do not understand Book’s motivations,

Liz: By this point, I’m willing to chalk up a lot to his judgment being just massively impaired by grief. He has no idea how poor his reasoning has become.

But also, there’s a sunk cost fallacy of, he has thrown everything away. His relationship with Michael, as far as he knows, is effectively over. He doesn’t even have Grudge. He has given it all up to go all in on Tarka’s plan. And so to admit that he threw all that away for nothing is really, really hard.

And I think, at this point, like, he walks in and there’s Jett as a hostage and he’s like, nah, I’m done. I’m done.

Anika: But I spent this entire episode thinking that he was going to turn against Tarka. The entire episode, until the end. And it never happened. And I was just like – I don’t – David … How do you say his name?

Liz: Ajala.

Anika: I am three ciders in. I went to a party before this. I had a more than eight hour work day. Sorry, everyone.

Liz: I think that our listeners got through me and our New Year’s Eve episode and they can cope with this.

Anika: I just wanted to apologize. This is why I’m having trouble with pronouns and names.

But David Ajala, I think he’s a great actor and I love his portrayal of Book. I love Book as a character and I am angry in this episode, at multiple times, the camera would linger on his face and he would make this expression of ‘I’m totally going to betray Tarka’ and then it never happened.

Liz: I kept waiting for that! I thought that he was going to summon General Ndoye to like ask her to quietly pass on to Rillak that they were there. And he didn’t.

And then I kept waiting for the twist at the end that he had betrayed Tarka. And, like, Book, what are you doing, mate? You’re just creeping around in the Jeffries tubes, doing a ceiling cat impression and watching Michael. And that’s creepy. We need to talk about that. But, like, it’s just – just make a good choice for a change!

Anika: So yes, I can’t. I can’t with Book. Book is confusing me. And the acting choices, the direction, I’m not kidding, the camera lingers on his face looking conflicted and then nothing happened.

And so now are we going to learn next week that in some random scene that we didn’t see, he went to see Rillak and, like, double, triple crossed everybody? I don’t want that to happen, either, because I really don’t like, you know, “Surprise, everything that you saw didn’t actually happen.” I don’t like that either. If it was in this episode where we saw him lying and then catching him in the act, that would be one thing, but for it to go over to the next episode, I don’t accept that.

I love Book and I’m angry with him.

Liz: Well, you and Michael both. I just feel like Book has passed the point where he should have changed sides. And yeah, let’s chalk all of this up to grief and poor judgment. And maybe some time with the 10-C will set him right, and by next season, he is in a better place.

Anika: So on that note, let’s talk about Hugh.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: Hugh’s arc of being the trauma therapist and being traumatized at the same time, which, same.

Liz: Okay. Because I watched all my shows in one night, the bit in Good Sam where Lex is like, “I love trauma,” I was like, “Same!”  Just make your themes as obvious as possible. This is what CBS is all about. And I respect that deeply.

I really liked Hugh’s scene at the end with Michael. First of all, I want to say they had this really great drinkware in this episode, those sort of oval cups. They were dark with a gold base. Really like them. Would like to find out what they are so I can get some.

But we rarely get to see Michael and Hugh hanging out, professionally or personally. And so that was a nice change and just, Hugh’s whole, “I am not remotely okay.” And Michael being like, “Yeah, no, that’s fair. That’s cool. I don’t mind.” That really meant a lot to me.

Anika: I completely agree. I loved their frank conversation in soft, comforting tones,

Liz: Yes. And, Grudge was there, bestowing her presence as a very reluctant therapy cat. I mean, she was in the room.

Anika: I’ve said from the beginning that I like the doctor characters and so I always am like attracted to them, and that I’ve really been following Hugh and I loved everything he’s done this season. And I related a lot to this idea of, “I want to do so much, but I can’t. And I need help and I need someone to show me where to go to get the help that I need.”

I was just like, whew, same. Please, please save me.

Liz: I really want you to have a holiday.

But I also want to have a time jump at the end of this season, and then we open season five with, like, a montage of Hugh getting therapy, and people having breaks and going swimming, and, you know, that stupid holiday stuff that we complained about last week. Just, give these people a rest

Anika: Everybody needs a rest. Including us.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: But I really appreciate that, even though, as you said Star Trek and CBS in general is definitely hitting us over the head with, like, “Hey guys, did you know that this season was made during COVID?” It is not a secret, but I also, I still appreciate it. I still get something out of it. And so I’m not upset with them for it. I appreciate that.

Liz: No. no. And I’m glad that Picard is going to explore the flip side, which is the fascist side of what’s happening now. Spoilers for a few weeks’ time, I guess.

Do you want to use our remaining time to talk about the delegates? Cause I have some feelings.

Anika: Yes.

Liz: My first feeling is that I can’t remember the name of the linguistics nerd, but I love him. I connect with him more than literally anyone else on this show. And the bit where Rillak walks in and he’s … I know he’s doing a crossword, but my first thought was Space Wordle. That was great.

Anika: Space Wordle!

Liz: He’s my favorite.

Anika: He was great. I really enjoyed Rillak being better at wordplay than him.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: Because it’s like, it’s his job, but it’s not really. His job is completely … It’s a much more scientific, much more in depth version of that. He’s not solving puzzles, he’s understanding the meanings of words.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: Rillak, being a politician, being very canny, is solving puzzles. I was like, this is great. This is great character building for both of them.

Liz: It’s also the first time we see Rillak dealing with a subordinate who has no authority whatsoever. And she does so with a great deal of respect and kindness, but also a spine of pure steel. And I thought that was great. And something I meant to mention last week was that it’s interesting how Rillak on this mission is wearing a Hillary Clinton pantsuit.

Anika: And no capes, no capes. No epaulets. No, brooches. Very bare bones.

Liz: No. And aesthetically, I don’t like it, I’m not a pantsuit fan.

But I’m interested that this is the visual language of an older female leader in a time of crisis, because the only other female leader I can think of as a model — our only modern one, I should say, aside from Margaret Thatcher, which, no — is Jacinda Ardern from New Zealand. And her whole style is just completely different from anything Rillak could or would wear. So I think the Hillary thing is intentional and I like it, but I also hate it aesthetically.

The other thing I wanted to talk about with General Ndoye. I love her and her cape and her jaunty hat.

Anika: Her jaunty hat is great, also her jaunty personality,

Liz: Yes.

Anika: This was really the first episode where she came across as, I don’t want to say a deep thinker or a three-dimensional character. Those are all cliches, but–

Liz: But someone with a perspective.

Anika: Yeah, because she was very one note up until this time. She was belligerent, almost. I mean, the reason that Book reached out to her is because she was on his side, she was voting for, “Let’s be offensive first.”

So the fact that she was so incredibly nuanced, both with Michael and with Book that was the amazing part, that she was pushing back against both of them. She was sort of saying, “I’m not going to agree with either side of this. I’m going to agree with my own side.”

Liz: Yes. What I found interesting — we were talking a couple of weeks ago about how Earth has not advanced in this thousand years. And, in fact, seems to have regressed since the Burn. And the same way she’s like, “Why do we need this knowledge? Why can’t we just go in gung ho communications style,” that made me think Earth has become so insular and incurious since the Burn.

And I don’t think it’s entirely coincidence that their representative is played by an English person. I think last year I may have compared Earth to Australia in terms of, like, pulling up its borders and closing the door on the outside world in a crisis. And I think that stands, but I also think there’s a bit of Brexit here as well, in terms of simply not wanting to know too much about others. That seems like a very English, note I say English not British, attitude. [Liz note: for the record, that is also very much an Australian trope, I am absolutely not letting us off the hook here.]

And obviously not all English people, not all Earthers. And I think Ndoye herself is much more complex than that, her attitude in that early scene made me think of it.

Anika: Interesting. Very interesting. Especially in our current world climate. Someone was talking about how all of Europe is talking about taking Ukrainian refugees and, you know, basically they were saying, why aren’t people like this when there are refugees from a less European country. But the comment was that the UK stood out from the pack as someone who is just against refugees in general.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: So that’s what I thought of when you were saying that they were like Britain. I was like, oh yeah, they’re the people who closed their borders and just say, “None of you gets to be in our country. We don’t care if you’re on our side or not. We don’t care what you look like or what you think about.”

Liz: Yeah, it’s interesting. And I don’t think it’s wholly intentional, but I don’t think it’s wholly coincidence either.

I would love to know more about Ndoye and how she feels about her government. And what the Earth government is like. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Ni’Var sent their president, who is very intellectual and the Federation sent their president who is an ambassador, and the Earth delegation is led by a general.

Anika: Hmm. Yes. Very anime, that.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: But she, for the first time, was a real character to me, and I was super into it. I really liked her scenes. I really liked that scene with Rillak and the linguist over the crosswords, both of those. The beginning scene with Ndoye and that scene in the bar, there was a lot of worldbuilding going on.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: Scenes that I really appreciated to make it really feel like this is a much wider galaxy. It’s not just about Discovery.

Liz: Which is kind of a contrast about the Star Trek that we’re not going to talk about for a couple more weeks, where literally everything is revolving around the guy whose name is admittedly in the–

Anika: In the title.

But also, I just want to – like, okay, we’re going to talk about it later, but I just have to say, I can’t even — anyone who listens to, “Help us Picard, help us Picard,” or whatever the Borg were saying, and didn’t immediately think Borg are — like, what are you talking about?

Like, what — no, I’m sorry. That was obviously the Borg the entire time. It was very, very obviously the Borg and all of the Federation and all of Starfleet is stupid.

Liz: Yeah, we’ve watched Star Trek. We know what the Borg sound like.

Anika: They’ve literally encountered the Borg. They study these things in Starfleet academy, I assume.

Liz: You would hope that Picard at least would know what the Borg sounds like.

Anika: Exactly.

Liz: Hmm, my final thought before we wrap up, and this is about Discovery, is that I don’t know how Tarka kidnapped Jett, I feel like we were robbed of a really hilarious nerds slap fight. I don’t look at either of these people and see who are adept at handling themselves in physical combat.

Anika: Yes, I agree. Complete hilarity. Steamed bananas.

Liz: Oh, yeah.

Anika: Just nonsense. But also what is going, on? What is going on? What is going on, Tarka? What are you — I completely believe that Tarka, faced with Jett catching him, is like, “The best option I have is to kidnap her. That’s definitely the best thing that I can do right now.”

I completely believe that he thinks that, but it is also no, no, Tarka, that is not the best option. You are an idiot.

Liz: It is kind of entertaining to have an antagonist who is just honestly a bit shit.

Anika: Oh my goodness.

Liz: I don’t think we’ve had anyone since Lorca whose ego so far outstripped his competence.

Anika: So ridiculous. Honestly, I am looking forward to the next episode, I’m very eager to see how it goes.

Liz: Me too!

Anika: So I am ready.

Liz: If nothing else, I think Jett is going to be a terrible and hilarious hostage. And I am here for that.

Anika: If she just spends the entire time heckling his plans, like, that is gold. That is comedy gold.

Liz: I like to think that it would take all of five minutes for Book to beam out, find Rillak and go, “Hey, this is awkward, but…” And then it’s resolved, but those five minutes will be hilarious.

Okay, thank you for listening to Antimatter Pod. You can find our show notes at antimatterpod.com, including links to our social media, credits for our theme music, and transcripts of our episodes. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr, all at @antimatterpod. And write to us at mail@antimatterpod.com.

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