‘Twas a few days before Christmas, and here on Discord, Anika and Liz got together to talk about Star Trek and politely overlook Liz’s total and absolute inability to use rhyme or meter.
- It turns out we were onto something thematically relevant with our calls for prison abolition!
- “The Examples” feels like TNG or Voyager, and this time we mean it as a compliment
- (It feels so much like a Voyager episode that we have to debate whether or not the character played by an First Nations actor was an ethnic stereotype…)
- Ruon Tarka is a great foil for Stamets and a … temptation? For Book?
- We have a lot of feelings about the USS Janeway and the NSS T’Pau
- Was Zora’s development of emotions triggered by the anomaly? Is this set-up for Calypso? We have WILD SPECULATION and VERY LITTLE EVIDENCE!
- Liz is not entirely certain how to pronounce “eschew” but that’s not going to stop her from trying!
- Prediction: the anomaly looks like an eye because we are going to be asked to empathise with it
Liz: 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 Star Trek: Discovery, season four, episode five, The Examples.
Should we, like, just start off and call for prison abolition, or work up to it, or…
Anika: I’m just really proud of us. I feel like we were ahead of the curve in discussing prison abolition as the theme of the season.
Liz: It’s weird, because at first I thought it was just one of our tangents, and it has turned out to be relevant. And handled much better than it was two weeks ago.
Anika: Oh yeah.
Liz: This felt like what a certain category of fan would call ‘real proper Star Trek,’ with an allegory, everything
Anika: What? Allegories in my Discovery?
Liz: It’s more likely than you think!
Anika: It’s funny because I really enjoyed this episode while I was watching it. And then it ended. And I was like, I don’t actually have anything to say about it. And I came up with things! And I remembered that there were things I wanted to talk about, but it was sort of like, well, that was an episode that I enjoyed and it was done and okay.
Liz: I had the same feeling. And I think in my case, it’s because I’m absolutely exhausted. I had my booster shot earlier this week and, oh my goodness. I was tired to start with, and this made it worse. So I had trouble concentrating on this episode, which rarely happens with Discovery.
So I kind of walked away thinking, Hm, this is really good, but it feels like one of the Next Generation episodes I watched as a kid where I understood there were a lot of important things happening, but they kind of went over my head.
Anika: Actually, it felt a lot like a Next Generation episode. That’s a really good comparison. Which is not a – I’m not dinging either Discovery or Next Generation with that comment.
Liz: No, and it doesn’t feel like a retread the way something like New Eden did. It genuinely feels like it’s taking a format from The Next Generation and using it in a modern and interesting way. And I think that’s really great.
Anika: It was interesting that last episode and this episode both had this, ‘we’re going to introduce you to five new characters out of nowhere, and they’re all going to go on an adventure together.’ In that way it felt a lot like Voyager, like Voyager was really big on guest stars. Not recurring guest stars, the way that Deep Space Nine was, but Voyager was very like, ‘we’re going to introduce someone for this episode, they’re going to be very important, and then we’re never going to talk about them again.’
Anika: And it felt like that. Which, again, it’s not a ding on Voyager or Discovery. It’s just interesting, that Discovery is starting to feel familiar.
Liz: Yeah. I do think that’s, in part, because we’ve had four seasons, three and a half seasons now, and we know these characters so well that, yeah, we kind of can, instead of bouncing them off each other, bounce them off new people.
And so you have characters like Felix, who is a foil to both Michael and Book, and then we have Ruon Taka as a foil to Stamets and Book again. And also, we learn a little bit more about David Carradine. Well, not really, but he’s there. So, you know.
Liz: Yeah, I get my directors mixed up. At one point last year, I definitely referred to him as David Lynch. So – is David Carradine, even a director? I don’t think he is.
Anika: He is not.
Liz: Okay. Look in my defense, I’m not racist, but all white men look the same to me. I also struggle with the Chrises.
Anika: As long as you like Pine best, I’m okay with it.
Liz: I do, actually. I like him a lot.
Anika: I acknowledge the Pine is the best
Liz: No, I think Pine and Evans are the top tier Chrises, and Hemsworth–
Anika: Oh, absolutely.
Liz: is just sort of like … I love Hemsworth, but I kind of look at him and I see a very particular type of Australian bro that I like, but I don’t depend upon.
Anika: Anyway, this has nothing to do with anything about this episode. I don’t think there were any Chrises in it.
Liz: No, but let me tie it all back together. We were talking about how this episode is a lot like a Voyager episode with strong guest star presence.
The Greatest Generation, just this week, covered The Chute, the Voyager episode, which featured Robert Pine, father of Chris Pine, in a key guest role. And that episode was also about prison and injustice, and Starfleet taking a stand against bad systems.
Anika: Yes. And had the one main prison character who is different from the rest of the prison characters, like Felix.
Liz: Yes. I feel like The Chute doesn’t really work because Janeway is like, “Hey, this system is terrible. I’m just going to get my guys out and warp on out of here.” But. You know.
Anika: This one is more nuanced. The discussion, the Starfleet discussion, with Michael, was more nuanced. I liked this … what’s it called? Conflict. The conflict between Book and Michael was much more interesting to me than previous conflicts between Book and Michael, in that Book is just very not Starfleet, you know, that’s not who he is and he’s not supposed to be. And he’s doesn’t even really get that. Like, he’s just, he’s not the idealogue Starfleet type.
And Michael, at her core, is. Even though sometimes she plays with it, and sometimes doesn’t seem to be. This was a really good episode for Michael showing that side of her that is, again, raised by Sarek and Georgiou and can see the different sides, but really does believe in Starfleet principles.
Liz: And it’s really interesting to me that she allows Felix to stay and die because, yeah, that is a terrible decision to have to make. And I think she’s right in that he is entitled to his agency, but I do understand Book’s perspective that it’s wrong that someone should die just because they’re a murderer, and in Book’s case in particular, it’s wrong to deliberately leave someone to be killed by Greg the DMA. But also I think they did something very interesting in that they paralleled Felix with the Klingons who killed Michael’s father.
Liz: The story of him killing the man with his daughter hiding in the next room, that’s Michael’s, that’s how Michael lost her father and, she thought, her mother. And so she has her own reason to hate him. And she doesn’t, she’s still very kind to him. And so I think that kind of shows what a big soul, what a big heart, Michael has, and how much empathy she has.
Anika: Yes, absolutely. And the reason I call it a very Starfleet decision is that it sort of felt like the Prime Directive in that she was saying, “I have to allow this person slash culture to make their own choices and to make their own decisions and not influence them in any way.”
Liz: Yes. Whereas unlike Picard, you know, I don’t think Picard would have been so willing to invade the alien prison. Well, no, I think he would have but there would have been a lot more meetings to debate it first.
The flip side is, he wouldn’t have to look up the rules to offer asylum. In Michael’s defense, you know, she’s come forward 800 years, she hasn’t really had time to read.
Anika: And she was firmly on the side of, “I’m going to stand up for these prisoners.” And she would’ve stood up for Felix as well.
I really liked her solution that was, “We are not going to just give you a pass in this and just assume that you’re telling the truth and that you’re all innocent and political prisoner. We’re going to give you a trial in our version of the justice system. And you get to choose, you can choose, ‘I’m going to stay here, or I’m going to accept a new trial.’” And I think that was a very balanced way of handling it.
Liz: No, I agree.
Anika: I put here in our notes, restorative justice. And the final part of where Michael met up with the daughter, who had watched her father being killed and thought that she’d lost her family tree forever, and the criminal gave it to Michael to give back to her. That was restorative justice. That was saying, “This is something that I took away from you, and I’m going to literally restore it to you and give back that part. I can’t make up for the fact that I killed your dad, but I can do what is within my power at this point.”
And that was very powerful. And that’s the kind of … Again, it’s not that I don’t want people who harm other people to, I don’t want them to escape punishment. I don’t want there not to be any consequences for actions. It’s that prison is the wrong consequence, that no one can learn from being locked up and treated like they aren’t a whole person.
Liz: I almost wish that Michael had found a compromise with Felix where she goes, “Okay, you don’t have to be set free. You don’t even have to ask to have your case reconsidered. What if you just accept a transfer to a Federation prison where you’re not isolated, and you’re not mistreated and you’re not literally in an old slave camp?”
Anika: I mean, they’re called ‘the examples’. I know they’re not human, but they’re dehumanized. Like that’s what’s happening here. And I’m never going to be behind giving someone a number and turning them into something. And saying that they’re lesser than.
Anika: That is not how we create a better world.
Liz: Yeah. And that’s kind of why I wish that Michael had found that compromise with Felix, because it does feel like almost a bit of a cop-out to go, okay, well, people should not suffer terrible consequences for petty crimes, but maybe it’s okay that this guy’s going to die.
And I understand that it’s really more nuanced than that. And he is also a product of this messed up society, and that is why he thinks that’s a reasonable punishment. It would have been wrong to force him to leave. But something about it didn’t quite sit with me.
I would like to flag that I think it’s interesting that Felix was played by a Native American [Liz’s note: I should have said “First Nations Canadian”, apologies] actor, Michael Greyeyes. I feel like ‘man of color stoically lays down his life for justice or as punishment for his crimes, knowing that he deserves it,’ is kind of a toxic trope.
Anika: It was interesting. I mean, I agree with you. You know me, I want Seska to still be alive. I want Suder still be alive. I want everybody to survive and actually atone, as opposed to redeem themselves by dying. I am one hundred percent against the redemption by death trope. I will never, ever be on board with that.
And I think that, on one hand, it reminds me of how they cast Landry as a woman of color and how they cast the random Romulan who Elnor killed as a man of color. And it felt like that it was sort of like quote unquote blind casting.
Anika: They’re really bad at it. I feel like going up to whoever’s in charge of casting at Paramount and being like, you have to think this through more. You ended up casting these questionable moral characters and then killing them, and choosing those as the ones that you’re going to put in whatever diverse casting you can find. I will give you a half star for effort, but it’s not the solution that you think it is.
Liz: And it’s notable that it’s never the white lady who is the stoic prisoner who has done something really terrible.
Liz: Having said that, I keep using this word, ‘stoic’, and I kind of don’t think it really applies to Felix. Like, he is obviously very emotionally reserved, but in his final scenes with Michael, his eyes are pleading, his lips are trembling. He is full of emotion and it was an absolutely outstanding performance by Michael Greyeyes.
Anika: I loved that performance. Yes. I mean, that’s why I’m angry that he’s dead. It’s like, well, why, why can’t we have more of him? Why can’t he join the crew, and give the family tree back and that’s the first step in his atonement, restitution. I want that story.
Liz: That’s kind of the thing. I don’t think that spending thirty years in prison is really actually going to do any good after you’ve killed someone. I don’t know, people kill people for a whole myriad of reasons, but in a case like this, where it seems like he killed out of desperation and need, like, basically capitalist reasons, he had no money. He stole for money.
Anika: I have it right here in our notes that I renamed him Felix Valjean, because he started telling his story and I was like, this is literally the plot of Les Mis. “I was poor and I didn’t have enough. And this guy was nice to me, and then I stole from him.”
And I was like, this is Les Mis. That’s what happens. And then, instead of being forgiven and running away and becoming a different person. he murders the guy, but it’s still … I was like, is it a lack of imagination that they stole the plot of Jean Valjean? Or are they trying to say something more?
Liz: I do think they’re trying to say something, and I guess my feeling is that I wish it had been made a bit clearer that even his punishment was all out of proportion to his crime and his capacity for future crime.
Anika: Yes. And also because he was the oldest one there, and he sort of led the others, and he was a mentor for these other characters who were trapped in the prison with him. He was doing that restitution and that atonement as much as he possibly could.
Liz: Yeah, because all of those other prisoners, they’re hardened and they’re wary, but they don’t seem violent. There’s no hint that there’s been rape or other mistreatment. And that’s partially down to him as their leader and the behaviors that he modeled. And so he, in a sense, made prison safer for them. Is that not worth something?
Anika: Right. Exactly. And so, yeah, I, again wish that there was a different resolution to these things. I really liked his interactions with Michael and I really liked how it graded against the Michael and Book relationship.
Anika: I did like that movement. And it’s a good plot. Sometimes I was sort of like, I’m not quite sure what Michael’s doing here, but she came out Michael in the end. So it worked out for me. But there was a lot more potential in this character and in this story that they didn’t quite get to because they weren’t telling that story.
And I get that, but sometimes people create stories and they come up with a side character who has a way more interesting backstory and plot than the character that you’re actually reading about. And you’re like, I want that. I want more of that. And I felt a little bit like that.
Liz: Another way this is like a Voyager episode is that I kind of do look at it and think, you’re really good, and I like you, but I’d like you even better if I just made these little changes here, here, and here. Like acknowledging Michael having been a prisoner herself.
Anika: Yes. Which they seem to be afraid to engage with in any meaningful way.
Liz: I feel like there were a lot of things happening in this episode and it’s maybe just something they didn’t have space for. Because we’re about to talk about Ruon Tarka and the whole science subplot, I guess.
Anika: Honestly, you have to explain anything that happened in that to me, because it was hard for me.
Liz: This is where I confess – I did say I was having trouble concentrating. Usually, I don’t look at my phone at all when I’m watching Discovery. Those scenes were where I was looking up Shawn Doyle’s page.
Anika: I didn’t even recognize him as Errinwright! As soon as you said, it was like, oh, that’s where I saw him.
Liz: That was where I knew him from. Like someone said, oh, and so-and-so from The Expanse. And I looked at him and I was like, Errinwright! And then I looked at his IMDb. He also played Will Graham’s lawyer in season two of Hannibal. So he has experience with creepy psychiatrists. He’s basically been in everything, and I hope he sticks around because I think he’s a great foil for Stamets. He’s kind of Stamets’s dark side.
Anika: I mean, that was not a one-off character. I feel like he’s going to be in the rest of the season and have a, you know, is he behind the DMA, or is he working with them? I think we’re supposed to distrust him, but I think in the end, I don’t know. I feel misdirected on purpose, once again. We all know how I don’t like that, but I got a very big, we are being told to not like this person. And so I distrust that
Anika: I don’t like him, and I don’t necessarily think he’s gonna end up being a good guy or, you know, completely trustworthy. But I feel like they were really selling – you suggested that he was going to tell Book the, story of Darth Plagueis the Wise–
Liz: And I stand by that!
Anika: I agree, that scene was really menacing. But I could not tell you what happened in it. I could not tell you one phrase that was actually said by either character, because the whole time I was just going, why is this happening? I feel very creeped out by what’s going on, and I definitely don’t trust that guy, but I also feel like I’m being manipulated into not trusting him.
Liz: I have a theory. He’s like, “Anger is a very productive emotion,” and then the camera pans around and you see he has the scar from neural lock that the Emerald Chain used to control their scientists.
And through this episode, with Saru’s help and Reno and Saru’s extremely reluctant assistance, he has created not just a simulation, but a working miniaturized model of the DMA. And the concern in this episode is that that is a danger to the ship, and it will destroy the ship.
I think he is genuinely trying to find out what the DMA is, and who made it, and how it works, and how it can be stopped. But I also think he’s going to weaponize that miniature version and use it against, I don’t know, the remnants of the Emerald Chain, the people who enslaved him, or the creators of the DMA. I definitely think Book is going to be tempted to use it against the creators of the DMA. So…
Anika: Sorry. I feel secure in my belief that Book is Princess Leia, therefore he might be tempted, but he won’t go there.
Liz: I hope you’re right, because I love him and I definitely don’t want his relationship with Michael to in any way suffer because he makes a really terrible decision. But yeah, that’s my theory. Definitely, he needs to be tempted. I’m not opposed to a bit of temptation, a little temptation as a treat.
Anika: So the way that you were just talking about the mini DMA, not to harp on The Expanse, but that, to me, sounds like how everybody got a little piece of Protomolecule.
Anika: And they were passing it around and it’s like, who has the Protomolecule? That’s what it feels like to me.
Liz: And even with the knowledge that the DMA is technology and has a creator, it still feels less interesting to me than the effect that it has on people and governments. And a weaponized version of it, even on a smaller scale, is that type of thing that I’m interested in.
Anika: I agree with that, because I do not care at all about the DMA. I don’t care about the mystery.
I hate the DMA as a shorthand, because that sounds like – people kept saying “DMA”, and I was like, what association are they’re talking about? Like, I work in academia and everything is an acronym. And I seriously was like, academy, association, administration. What are they talking about? And then I was like, oh, anomaly.
Liz: Yeah, no.
Anika: Oh, it’s the monster. So obviously this is an Anika problem. This is not a problem that anyone else is going to have, but it really bothered me.
Liz: We could have called it the Planetkiller, or it could have been the World Eater…
Anika: I’m still unconvinced it’s technology. It could be a sentient force that someone has captured and is using against us.
Liz: Oh, that’s cool. My theory is that it’s going to turn out to be some sort of universe exploring technology that wasn’t meant to cause harm, but also that the creators are sort of a red herring and they’re ultimately less significant than what everyone else does with it.
Anika: Right. My other theory is that maybe some ancient superpower race, like the Q Continuum, created it, but that’s not who’s using it right now, that it’s going to end up being someone who, like Tarka, is just someone who’s on a personal vendetta.
Liz: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So you heard it here first on Antimatter Pod.
And yeah, I like Tarka as a foil for Stamets because I think Stamets started out as a real asshole, and we kind of forget that his very introduction to the series is belittling and undermining a Black woman and questioning her credentials. But I don’t forget. I love Stamets, but that introduction was bad.
He’s softened a lot over the years, and to have him come up against someone who really represents his worst self is kind of cool. He’s grown a lot as a person. I’m looking forward to Tarka interacting with Gray and Adira, who weren’t in this episode. I’m glad that he won’t interact with Tilly, because she doesn’t deserve that. And yeah. I don’t like him. I don’t really care about him, but I like his impact on everyone else.
Anika: That’s fair. That’s kind of like Errinwright, to be honest.
Liz: Well, yeah. But Shawn Doyle is very charismatic in that sort of character actor way, which I think is why he’s been in so much stuff.
Anika: You know, you’re calling him sort of the anti-Stamets, because he had the same kind of energy, and I actually really liked that Stamets hated him, and then got to know him and was like, “Oh, wait, he kind of reminds me of me.”
Anika: “I can’t hate him.”
Liz: “But also I don’t like what that says about me.”
Anika: Yeah, I really liked that. He was a really good foil. And there was one moment, and this is where I really think that it’s the performance more than the story, but there was one moment when they were arguing, it was Stamets and Jett and Tarka, and he said, “You were wrong about this wormhole thing.”
And Stamets goes, “I didn’t have all the information.”
And he was like, “Yeah, and what I’m trying to tell you is that that was a good instinct. And I think that this is the story.”
And it was this moment where he was sort of stepping back and saying, “I’m not belittling you. I am actually trying to treat you as an equal and have a conversation about science with you.” And I really liked that because that made him more of a person. He wasn’t just someone to bat up against, he could also be a collaborator and they could learn from each other. And that’s way more interesting than someone who just comes in and walks all over you.
Liz: Yeah, exactly. And I think that makes him better as a character who’ll be around for a while.
I also like that he’s from Risa, because I hate Risa as a planet, because the idea of it is just a nightmare to me. I’ve always wondered what happens if you grew up on Risa and you just want to be an accountant, and here’s this guy confirming my belief that, yeah, it really sucks. Risa is the worst planet
Anika: And he’s a friend of Aurellio, or a colleague
Anika: That was fun.
Liz: I’m glad Aurellio is still around.
Anika: And that he’s getting to do science and getting to be involved in all of this
Liz: I get the impression that Ken Mitchell’s health means that he won’t be actually acting for … probably ever. But I’m glad that Aurellio as a character is still around and can still be part of the story. (Watch me be wrong next week when Kenneth Mitchell turns up.)
Anika: When he shows up.
I liked that. Because it was another one of those Things where it’s like, this is a big universe. Star Trek is a big universe. And everyone’s like, oh, you know, I don’t like it when they mention people who we already know. And, oh it’s too small a universe. And I’m like, no, always mention people we already know.
Liz: You know I’m usually on Team It’s A Big Universe. Honestly, I’ve come to feel like Discovery in the 32nd century gets around that problem because of the spore drive. It makes it possible for everyone to meet up and remain in contact. And so that works for me.
It feels big, but it doesn’t feel crowded. Much like all of these scenes with a tiny number of people standing at a big space because of COVID filming.
Anika: Yes, yes.
Liz: The necessities of filming in the pandemic accidentally created a mood which really suits the series and the setting.
Liz: Speaking of pandemics, let’s talk about Hugh, and your note here is ‘health worker burnout.’
Anika: I mean, I was amazed. I was amazed that this happened. I was just like, this storyline is so powerful and so personal.
Liz: We talked about how it’s an allegory, and it’s proper Star Trek, but on the one hand, we know that prison populations were hit particularly hard by COVID. And on the other hand, we know that healthcare workers just leaving the profession in droves because they simply cannot do it anymore.
Anika: So I get a subscription to The New York Times through my job. It’s sort of a double-edged sword to get a free subscription to The New York Times. But I am signed up for The Morning, which is ‘things that we think are the best thing that we reported on in the past 24 hours. These are what you should read about over breakfast.’ So I do.
And one of them was, they just recently did a survey of, you know, 1500 mental health workers in all fifty states. And they basically described mental health in America as a second pandemic.
Anika: I had literally said the same thing in our Discord, the day before
Anika: I was like, yeah, yes, I felt so validated by The New York Times.
Liz: They’re reading our Discord.
Anika: And then, to have Discovery have this exact same presentation of, “I am a healthcare worker, I am a mental health care worker, and I cannot serve the number of people who need my help, and that is creating a mental health crisis in myself,” it was such a good storyline for Hugh and he looked so sad and so overwhelmed by the fact that he was even saying these things aloud. just so good.
Liz: And even his feelings about being alive when he had literally been murdered, and, you know, “I was brought back from the dead, so my life should have a purpose.” I think that’s how a lot of people who haven’t suffered COVID, haven’t been touched by COVID, feel.
And it must be especially great in the medical and healthcare professions, when, yeah, you are so lucky. And what do you do with that? And why do you feel like you need to do something with that? Is it not enough that you are Hugh Culber and you’re a loving partner and a father and a good doctor and a good therapist. You don’t have to save everyone.
Anika: Right. So the reason I put in ‘health worker slash caretaker burnout’ is because it’s definitely a pandemic about mental health care workers, and healthcare workers in generals. Any nurse, anyone who works in an emergency room, anyone who works in ICU, they are all really struggling because we are going into a year three of COVID-19 and we haven’t figured out how to do it yet. We keep making the same mistakes.
And when I say ‘caretaker’, I don’t even mean just the nurses and the ICU people. And I mean, the sanitation workers, I mean, the criminalists who’ve been reassigned [to run test results and deal with Covid deaths], and I mean the parents who are dealing with all of this for themselves and then also their children. I mean, the teachers.
Liz: Often their own parents, who are older people.
Anika: Yes, absolutely. The people who are taking care of, and that’s the population that is the most susceptible to COVID. I sometimes feel lucky that I don’t have living parents because I don’t have to worry about it. And that is a horrible place to be.
So just this storyline of Hugh saying, “This is too much and if I keep going, I’m going to burn out,” and Kovich saying, “Yeah, you’re right. You have to take care of you,” it’s just really powerful.
People have told me that, and I don’t want to hear it and I don’t want, you know, it’s like, I can’t put myself first and – I have to take care of me where I can take care of anyone else, because look at all these other people I’m trying to take care of.
Liz: It’s a case of needing to put your own oxygen mask on first. And my real hope is that when we see Hugh next week, he is kicking back in the forward lounge, playing darts and drinking something and just chilling.
Because Star Trek and its characters are particularly bad at the whole working themselves to death, and refusing to take holidays, and getting yelled at by Dr. McCoy or Dr. Crusher for having too much leave accrued. And this story is so relevant to real life that I think the next step is to see Hugh take that advice.
Anika: Yes, yes, yes, yes. Everything that you just said.
Liz: On a happier note, let’s talk about the USS Janeway and the NSS T’Pau.
Anika: That made me so happy. It was like the first thirty seconds of the show. And I was just like, I have to immediately text this. I was so happy.
Liz: I definitely want a Janeway shirt in the style of the Disco shirt and the Cerritos shirt.
Anika: I want it so badly. So badly.
Liz: In honor of the 32nd century, it can even be an ugly shade of gray.
Anika: I need this to happen. You know we were talking about how we are going to do Past Tense cosplay, and then our second day of the convention, we to the Janeway shirts.
Liz: I love it when starships are named after women. There has always been a bit of a gender imbalance there. And I believe the first starship ever named after a fictional character within the Star Trek universe was the Gorkon. And I’m happy to keep adding to that, you know, let’s just keep nerding out, starship style.
Anika: It’s confirmation that Janeway’s experiences in the Delta quadrant elevated her to the level of, I’m going to be in the history books, no matter what.
Anika: And I just support that. I support that in every way. It’s not like I don’t want Picard and Sisko to be in the history books…
Liz: No, but I’m sure that Bajor has a lot of monuments named after the Emissary.
Anika: Right. Exactly.
Liz: No doubt Picard has whole space stations. Like, Janeway can have a ship. She’s allowed.
Anika: Janeway can have a ship, and it is good. I just love it. I love this idea that Janeway exists in textbooks and therefore gets a ship named after her.
And T’Pau, too. LikeT’Pau is special because T’Pau is really only important to Vulcans. I know they make this sort of play, like, oh, she was important to the Federation and, you know, like we talk about her and she’s amazing. But she was really like, she only actually affected…
Liz: Vulcan. And also that the NSS T’Pau, which is, I guess, Ni’Var Star Ship, is on a joint mission with the Janeway. And it’s like, yes, they’re working together. They’re coming together. And we haven’t really seen this kind of separate, but united Vulcan Federation, or Vulcan human collaboration, since the Enterprise era. I’m just very happy.
Anika: I just loved it. I just loved it. It was beautiful. It made me very happy.
Liz: It’s the kind of fan service that I like, in that it pleases me, it’s short. It doesn’t overstay its welcome, unlike, possibly, our talk about it, and it makes a certain kind of fanboy mad.
Your note here is, ‘the DMA is technology and Zora has feelings.’ So I’m glad that I’m not the only person who thinks those facts are related.
Anika: I definitely think those facts are related. So I didn’t believe you when you said that this was the last season of Discovery…
Liz: I mean you shouldn’t. I’m guessing, but at the same time…
Anika: However, the fact that Zora is all of a sudden, like … We haven’t really talked about this. This isn’t the first episode where Zora has all of a sudden been inserted into the storyline as something separate than the computer. It’s been happening all season.
But this episode, basically, Michael was in a turbolift, and she had a full-on conversation with Zora, and it was about feelings and it was about how Zora is evolving past her programming. And I find that very notable.
Liz: She has just recently started having emotions.
Anika: Right. I find it super convenient that it is happening at the same time as the DMA.
Liz: I don’t think one has necessarily triggered the other, but I’m wondering if this season will end with Discovery being abandoned for plot purposes and swallowed by the DMA and thus setting up the situation in Calypso, where Discovery is alone and isolated and has been for a thousand years, and doesn’t know what happened to her crew, save that she is waiting for them.
Anika: I don’t want to watch Calypso again.
Liz: No, me neither. Let’s just not and say we did.
Anika: But clearly that is where this whole Zora plotline is going, and that’s why it exists to begin with, the Zora plotline. But it was notable. It was notable that, in the same episode where we decide that a superpower is creating a planet killer, Zora was realizing that she has feelings.
Liz: It’s kind of interesting that, even after the events of season one of Picard, it seems like the Federation has pretty much stagnated for 800 years when it comes to artificial intelligence.
And I understand that. I don’t think that needs to be a nefarious reason for it. I think artificial intelligence is unknown and potentially dangerous, and creating that kind of life has consequences that we don’t understand, and may never understand. It makes sense to me that the Federation would largely eschew it. Likewise, the sort of transhumanism thing with creating synth bodies and so forth. And so Zora is something new, and I think maybe the DMA is something new. It’s interesting.
Anika: I still say that the DMA looks like an eye, and that’s important. I maintain.
Liz: No, I think it definitely means that there will come a stage where we are called upon to empathize with it. Because you don’t give something an eye that so resembles a whale or even a human eye, if you’re not going to ask us to make that connection.
Anika: Yes. Yes, exactly. And I know that Prodigy is the one where I’m normally talking about how similar to Star Wars Rebels it is. It really reminds me of the space whales in Star Wars Rebels. And this particular episode had a lot of Star Warsy – and you know, again, this is not a ding, I love Star Wars. I want more Star Wars in my Star Trek. I’m super into it. I want more Star Trek in my Star Wars, as well. And you know, we can only have so many space stories before they all sort of blend together.
Liz: Right. We were also talking earlier about how this feels a bit like The Expanse.
Anika: Right, exactly. So I am not opposed to all of these different ways that we here in the 21st century see space, and see space exploration, and see the future of humanity, having gone into space. There are different ways that that could go, and I like seeing them sort of merge and play around. I think that’s cool. I like it. But I really, really felt very strongly that we are going to need to empathize with the DMA in some way, and then it’s going to be humanized.
Liz: For want of a better term?
Anika: Anthropomorphized. Right. Into something else.
Liz: Can we wrap up by pointing out that no one has heard from the Q for 600 years and, oh my gosh, I’m so jealous. I wish I had never heard of the Q
Anika: I just think that is blatantly a Picard reference. I think it is setting something up for the next season or seasons of Picard, because we know that Q is in it. And we know that Q is important, and we know that Q and Picard is important. And so fact, like it was just, you know, he was listing off people, and … I liked that he brought up the Iconians.
Anika: I love a throwback to the Iconians, I was super into that. And he was like, “And even the Q Continuum, but we haven’t heard from them in 600 years, so they’re not really a factor.”
And I was like, oh, okay. That’s going to be explained, because you don’t bring up something like that if you’re not going to explain it. But I don’t think it’s going to be explained in Discovery. It’s going to be explained in Picard.
Liz: Agreed. And I have to admit that I like the shout out to the Iconians. I know that they’re sort of a big thing in Star Trek Online and I don’t care.
I just feel like there are points in Star Trek where space feels ancient and unknowable, particularly in The Original Series and the early Next Generation. I think this was something Roddenberry was particularly into, where you had these great, vast ancient civilizations with great technology, that nevertheless destroyed themselves and–
Anika: Were they perhaps a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away?
Liz: Or that, yes. Or they evolved into something else. And the Iconians were one of them. And I never want to find out who or what the Iconians were, it’s why I don’t care about the game.
Anika: Yeah. I mean, I, I haven’t played the game either. I know the Iconians from the second season Next Generation episode Contagion, which is easily the second-best episode of the second season of Next Generation. Only second to Measure of a Man.
Anika: And I love that episode. I love everything about that episode. And I just want more. So please go back to Iconians, Star Trek.
Liz: Yeah, I don’t want to know anything about them, but I also do. It’s a very fan problem. But also I feel like Discovery is really re-embracing that sense of space as ancient and vast and dangerous. We have the DMA, but we also have these moments where space itself feels really dangerous again, like Michael’s space walk in the season premiere. And I love that stuff. This is my favorite aspect of The Original Series, and I’m very happy to have Discovery embrace it.
Anika: Yeah, I agree.
Liz: Space archeology, but make it gothic.
Anika: Again, I love that Discovery is both in the quote unquote past and the quote unquote feature. Like, obviously they’re both in the future, because we live in 2021 or whatever, but. Within the context of the series, it is the past because it is, you know, right before The Original Series. And this is the future because it’s so far flung from even Picard. I love that. I love that about Discovery. It’s almost my favorite thing about Discovery, that it gets to be both.
Liz: Yes. I remember I was so opposed to the jump into the future at the end of season two, and yet I enjoy that setting so much. And a big part of me would have preferred that Discovery remained a prequel, and I am looking forward to Strange New Worlds for that reason. But I also really hope that when Discovery does end, whether that’s next year or in the future, we get more Star Trek set in this time period, because I would like to explore it more.
Anika: In the future.
Anika: I mean, I know it’s all in the future, but in the Admiral Vance time period.
Liz: Yes. Because, if nothing else, I feel like everything we know about the 26th to 30th centuries is that there’s a lot of time travel, which means that by definition, any Star Trek set in that time almost has to be sort of self-referential and wanky. A bit self-absorbed.
Whereas you hit the 32nd century and it’s almost like the Burn, well, it is like the Burn did a big reset. And suddenly it’s not about time, it’s about space and rebuilding and connections and politics. And that’s what I’m here for.
Anika: Super cool.
Having started out saying that we didn’t have much to say about this episode, we filled an hour very nicely.
Anika: Good. Go us.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you like us, leave a review on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you consume your podcasts. Just today, I was at a holiday party, and I told them that I had to leave so that I could go record this podcast, and they followed us and promised to write a review. So, shout out to my grad students. The more reviews, the easier it is for new listeners to find us. In just five weeks, we’ll be recording our 100th episode. Amazing. When I wrote down that this was episode 95, I was … I’m shocked.
Liz: It’s a bit scary.
Anika: Pat yourself on the back. And we will be giving away free stuff, free Star Trek memorabilia that my grad students have no interest in. So there’ll be just for you, our audience. So get those reviews in now and email us at email@example.com.
And join us next week, when we will be back to just discuss the sixth episode of Star Trek Discovery season four, which doesn’t have a title yet, or, I mean, it does have a title, but it’s as boring as The Examples. So we don’t know what it is.