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94. Anika’s Green Son (Disco 4.04)

The only person shipping Saru/T’Rina more than us is Michael

Liz and Anika put on their dress uniforms and turn up to sit quietly and look official at a diplomatic event. 

…but we’re not very good at that, so instead we talk about: 

  • The departing character, our feelings and our hopes
  • This is an episode about Michael using her middle child powers
  • Vulcans love drama almost as much as they love logic, and we are HERE for it
  • Anika is delighted to see Hugh in action as Discovery’s therapist
  • Are we due for someone else’s planet to asplode?
  • Could this be Discovery‘s final season? Liz has an idea for how it should end — Anika is not impressed.

Transcript

Anika: 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 four, All is Possible.

Liz: I went into this episode almost expecting to have to message you and go, “Hey, I’m not really feeling the season of Discovery, do we really want to keep busting our chops to put out weekly episodes?” Fortunately, I love this episode. I’m so relieved.

Anika: It was sort of a breath of fresh air, I would say.

Liz: After last week?

Anika: After last week. Overall, I’m fine with this season, but it has sort of swung pretty … Like, here is really, really heavy stuff, and then now, here’s inconsequential stuff and, oh, let’s go back to the heavy stuff and, oh, this happened, and now we’re playing darts. I’m never going to get over that.

Liz: Even heavy stuff like Gray re-embodying, has been played very lightly.

Anika: Yeah, the tone has been off somewhat. I liked that this had a completely different tone from everything that had happened before, and we were sort of on a side quest that ended up being really engaging.

Liz: And it feels like, yes, it’s a side quest, but it’s also going to have a lot of repercussions down the line. Which is really the best way to tell a serialized story, pulling all these threads and then bringing them together in the long run.

We had been speculating for about a week that Tilly was going to leave. And Dawn Ennis, the journalist, tweeted a pretty serious spoiler about it, in that she flagged that she had an interview with the departing cast member and we were like, okay, everyone in that photo except Tilly is…

Anika: Untouchable.

Liz: …clearly sticking around. And we knew she already had a good relationship with Mary Wiseman. So it was like, yeah, Tilly is leaving.

And I was really upset! I was almost as upset as the day I learned of Kat’s death. I was on the train to work and I was angry. I was sharing my conspiracy theories that Mary Wiseman was being fired because she was fat. And I got to work and I was, like, biting back tears as I unloaded the dishwasher.

And then I had breakfast. You shouldn’t have opinions on an empty stomach, it turns out

Anika: Very true. Very true. Or when you haven’t had enough sleep, which is when I have opinions.

Liz: It’s amazing how our bodies really need constant maintenance. I wound up coming around to the idea of Tilly leaving, and I love the way it happened. I’m not delighted that we’ve now lost fifty percent of our female characters from the regular cast. And I think we’ll riot if they decide to promote Nilsson to regular status…

Anika: I maintain they’re not going to promote anyone.

Liz: I kind of agree, now that you’ve said that.

Anika: I’m just going to skip to my final comment here on my things to talk about list, under random observations, which is that this cast is – we’ve said before, it’s inordinately huge. There are so many people on this show.

The number of regulars is very low. It’s like six, but the number of people who show up in most episodes is high. Like, recognizable people who are in more than one episode, who we know the names of. The bridge crew weren’t in this episode at all.

Liz: No.

Anika: None of them, even in the hug montage. And I didn’t miss them, I didn’t need them there. And I’m really glad that they didn’t force them. We had no prominent images of Nilsson, example–

Liz: No.

Anika: –that took away from the focus of the story that was being told. Even Admiral Vance wasn’t in this episode, he–

Liz: No, he was off gestating a worm!

Anika: And he was sort of a plot point. That’s the level – these non-regular semi-regulars – I want them all to be, including the bridge crew. I want to know about their lives and their feelings and what they’re doing, but I don’t want them to be annoyingly there. To be present for no reason, which is sometimes how it feels.

I don’t know what it is. You would think that a bridge scene where they’re in a battle or something, that it would be organic to see the bridge crew. But it’s always annoying to me.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: I don’t know what it is. It feels like the cameras are lingering on them, and we’re supposed to get something out of that, that we’re supposed to connect in some way by what they’re doing, but what they’re doing is reacting to, you know, phaser fire. I just don’t understand what I’m supposed to be getting out of it.

And this is, I think, my main comment, at least so far this season, I just keep talking about how I feel manipulated. And in this episode, even though there were still times that I felt manipulated, and certainly the whole planet stuff was absolutely a video game, it wasn’t as annoying. I connected to every single one of the cadets. Except the dead guy. He was dead.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: I don’t even know who that was. Like, there was another one?

Liz: He wasn’t even a cadet. He was a lieutenant. So we don’t need to care about him.

I definitely think that show feels a bit more comfortable in managing its ensemble than it has in previous seasons.

And also, I think you said that for COVID reasons, they’re not likely to replace Tilly? They keep insisting that Mary Wiseman is still a regular, even though she’s not going to be in every episode. And to me, that means they’re probably got to keep paying her. This is going to be like season two when Wilson Cruz was in the credits of every episode, even though he wasn’t actually in every episode.

And that’s great. I’m happy if Mary gets to maintain her income after she’s written out. And that means that they probably can’t afford to replace her, and that’s great too.

I will say, I’ve been saying since last season that it’s weird that the whole crew has stuck around and that no one is like, “Yeah, actually I’m going to go and get experience on another ship or in another context and, you know, integrate into the 32nd century some more.”

And so I’m really happy that Tilly has done this. I think it’s a really good step for her character. Devastated to lose her. And I hope that she comes back as a regular if we get a fifth season. But this does feel like a good step and an organic piece of writing.

Anika: My understanding is that the writers decided that this is something they wanted to do. It was probably annoying to them too, that everybody’s stuck on the ship. It’s hard to write for this many people, and also, you know, maintain the relationships that exist.

And so I feel for everybody involved, the cast and the writers. And my comments, aren’t like, we should get rid of the bridge crew, or we should replace everybody, or we shouldn’t care about them. My comments are more that, if we can do things like this, where we put Tilly in another place for a little while and she comes back again, when it makes sense for her to be in a scene at the end of the season – all those people are going to be back and there’s going to be a big encounter with the anomaly. And it’s going to be a thing, like you said, putting all the pieces on the board and then moving them round. And then at the end, there is a story.

But if you have too many pieces and you can’t put them aside, you can’t say, “Hey, we don’t actually need a doctor in this episode, but we’re going to throw Wilson Cruz into the scene for no reason,” you’re creating problems for yourself. You’re creating those issues with manipulation and pacing and tonality that I’m reacting to.

Liz: Right. And it’s the same problem Voyager had, where they had nine regulars and every single one of them needed a token scene. Discovery has remembered that it doesn’t need to do that, and that’s fantastic. I think this is a really good choice. And also I cried buckets when Tilly left.

Anika: It was good for her.

Liz: It was, it was.

And you know who also took time out as a lieutenant to teach at Starfleet Academy? James T. Kirk.

And you know who was relentlessly ambitious and never stopped to think about the motivations of his ambition until it was almost too late, and then he spent 10 years as a first officer? William Riker.

So I don’t think this is Tilly stepping away from her ambition to be a Starfleet captain. I think this is her very sensibly taking time to understand her motivations, to change them, and to grow as a person and a professional.

Anika: And she’s also getting experience as a leader, and as a mentor. She’s certainly captaining, just not on a ship. It’s a different variety of captaining and authority, but it’s certainly still leadership skills.

Liz: It’s almost – not just a step towards being a good starship captain, it’s a step to being a good admiral. Because the good admirals, that we see, the Kat Cornwell and the Charles Vances, they can also lead from a variety of positions and a variety of roles, and they can act as mentors and guides. And I can see Tilly making a really great admiral someday.

Anika: That’s an excellent point. And then the people who are bad admirals are really focused on their own point of view and on putting their point of view on everyone else.

Liz: Yes. And not even the people who are bad admirals in the sense of being evil, but the characters who have trouble stepping away from their captaincy roles, like James Kirk, as we’ve discussed. I would say even Picard. And I would say, yeah, I would say Michael Burnham is going to be another of those.

Anika: Yes, Michael Burnham needs a ship. But she keeps on taking responsibilities. She has so many hats. Michael is so she’s amazing. She’s an amazing character with so many layers and so many different … I just love her. I loved her so much this episode.

I loved her more than ever, because it was such a middle child episode for her, and she was just taking on more and more. And the thing is that they keep putting it on her, Vance and Rillak and now T’Rina, everybody is like, “Well, Michael can do it.” And she never says no, she just sort of jumps in and she’s –it’s a train wreck, but so far she’s keeping it on the rails.

Liz: It feels like they listened to our episode last week and they remembered that this is Sarek’s daughter, and Spock’s sister, and a woman who grew up living and breathing Federation politics.

And then they gave us a reason for her distaste of politics and mistrust of Rillak that really made sense to me. It’s not a populist sort of, ‘oh, politicians, they’re shit, they can’t be trusted’ thing. It’s that she was raised by Sarek, and she spent time with Lorca and Ash Tyler and Emperor Georgiou, and she really requires that people be completely honest with her.

Anika: It makes perfect sense. And more power to her, but I was just so proud of her, not only making that connection for herself and expressing it, but really, like, setting boundaries and saying, you know, ‘I want to have a good relationship with you personally and with Federation leadership and with Starfleet leadership, but in order for that to happen, we have to be meeting at this level where I can trust you and I’m willing to do what’s necessary so that you can trust me in order for that to happen.’

And it was paralleled with her solution for the Ni’Var and Federation rejoining, as well. Cause it was sort of the same, you know, ‘we have to have external boundaries in order to trust each other.’ It was just a really well-crafted plot line for Michael.

Liz: It also felt like, without hitting us over the head, a sign of the time that she has been spending with her mother and learning about the principles of absolute candor. Michael wouldn’t go that far, I think she’s still very reserved, but she is honest about her needs and asking Rillak to be honest about her intentions. And I think that’s great.

I think this is one of the great boundary setting scenes of Star Trek, and also tells us so much about Michael’s character in a way that the last few episodes haven’t really bothered with.

Anika: Exactly. This was the Michael that I have been waiting to see.

Liz: Yeah. I also think it’s a sign of the time that she spent away from Starfleet and away from all of those other influences in her year as a courier. She’s learned to simply not deal with competing expectations, unclear boundaries, uncertain needs. She’s become a lot more straightforward, and she has come to understand that she needs straightforwardness in others.

Anika: Yes. And it’s also, I think, because she does have Book and she has their relationship, that is very supportive. And she has Saru back, and their relationship is very supportive.

And in both cases, it’s not a codependency thing. It’s like, ‘we really are supporting each other and also giving each other space as needed.’ With Ash and with Emperor Georgiou, it was messy. It wasn’t that, ‘we know when to support, and we know when to step back,’ it was people pushing boundaries all the time. That was a big part of both of those relationships.

And now having this relationship with Book and this relationship with Saru – it’s not like she hasn’t had a relationship with Saru, but it was messy too. And now it’s reached that, you know, good plateau where they’re each other’s Spock and Kirk. They can communicate without words. They are very close and level and they understand each other on, you know, a better level than they have. And they’ve both grown.

You know, Saru had time away. Michael had time away. And they know what they need and they know who they are. And I think that having those two close, supportive relationships has allowed Michael to feel like she can tell someone like Rillak, who’s in authority, who she butted heads with from the beginning, she can express herself, because she knows that whatever happens with Rillak, she still is going to have Book and Saru and she’s still gonna have the captaincy, and she’s still gonna have a foundation

Liz: You compare them to Spock and Kirk, and this brings me back to an observation that I meant to make back in the premiere and forgot. But this vibe of having two captains as captain and first officer reminds me specifically of Spock and Kirk in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, where again, they have had time apart from each other, but they’re a really good team. They are dealing with space politics on a global galactic level. And they really get each other. They’re past the point of the push and pull of the yin and the yang, the logic and the emotion. They’re a team and they work in sync and they can basically read each other’s minds.

And I love that this is the vibe on Discovery right now, because Star Trek VI is my favorite Star Trek movie, and it was my introduction to Kirk and Spock. And everything I saw after that, it was like, yeah, but what are they going to get to that cool Star Trek VI relationship?

Anika: Yes, all of that.

Liz: I really just enjoyed the political storyline. It’s kind of silly that Ni’Var would wait until the last minute to drop this bombshell about wanting an exit clause, but Vulcans love logic, and they love drama, and it’s actually difficult to say which one they love more.

Anika: They created a problem in order to solve it.

Liz: Yeah. And in order to show us Michael solving it.

Anika: Yes. But I love the idea, or I guess the revelation, that T’Rina and Rillak are working secretly behind the scenes to fix it, because they know that it’s a problem, and, they know Michael can fix it, but they’re also not going to tell her anything. They’re just going to put her in it and be like, “Okay. Fix this.”

Liz: You know, last week we were worried that T’Rina would replace Rillak. And then, as I was editing, I was messaging you being like, “But what if T’Rina is the evil one?”

And no, none of them are evil. All of these women are working in good faith to do the best for the Federation and for Ni’Var. And where those entities’ needs are different, they call in Michael to come up with a solution.

Anika: Literally, call me when needed. It was super fun to me.

Liz: When she said, “We need a committee,” I was like, really, Michael? ‘Cos I’ve been on committees and they’re not that helpful. But I do think the idea of a neutral party to assess all planets and their relationship within the Federation is a really good idea, and something that they could have come up with maybe a thousand years earlier.

Anika: By “We need a committee,” does she mean that there’ll be a committee of people and she’ll be on it and she’ll be the one who’s assigned to Ni’Var? Is that what was being suggested, or is Michael the entire committee for the entire United Federation of Planets? I feel like it could go either way.

Liz: She said she would have a seat on the committee, which to me means that there will be others, and maybe there are representatives of each planet and they’re active or otherwise as the situation requires.

My experience with committees is that the more flexible and dynamic they are, the more effective they are. But I also think that this is kind of a solution that is probably only needed for a few decades while the Federation is going through these growing pains of rebuilding. And I think Michael is young enough and smart enough to step back and recognize the point where the committee is maintaining the status quo and it should be disbanded.

Anika: Because I’m me, I do have to mention that when T’Rina was describing the Federation and Ni’Var slash at the time Vulcan’s issues with the Federation, I was like, oh, so it became the Galactic Republic. I get that.

Liz: I actually keep thinking that, if this was Star Wars, they would be calling this new entity the New Federation, like the New Republic.

Anika: It one hundred percent would. But that’s silly. Don’t be like Star Wars, especially when it comes to politics.

I just think it’s so funny because I’ve always said that the only way that the United Federation can work, the way that the Galactic Republic does not, is because there’s so fewer planets, like there’s so fewer people involved in the United Federation of Planets and they still have infighting all the time.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: Once you get to the level that the Galactic Republic is, and the Galactic Senate, it’s ridiculous. Those people are never going to agree on anything. I say this as an American, we only have one hundred senators and they never agree on anything. We only have two parties and they have destroyed the country.

Liz: My history degree tells me that there comes a point where an empire is too large to sustain itself, and particularly a democratic empire, if that’s not a contradiction in terms, kind of has a size limit, or it needs to do what the Romans did and convert itself into an autocracy. Because democracy is hard.

Anika: Democracy is hard.

Liz: And this is kind of why I’m almost scared of the Star Trek political drama that I want, because what if they tell us how the democracy works, and I don’t like it? Personally, don’t like it?

Anika: I just want to make my point here that the quote unquote unbiased committee, because the idea of an unbiased committee or person is so hilarious to me, like that’s not a thing. And Michael, you know, she says, “We’re going to have an unbiased committee and I’m going to be on it. And the reason that I am unbiased toward Ni’Var and the Federation is because I am totally biased toward both Ni’Var and the Federation.” Like, that’s what she said.

I thought that was great. And I loved it. And I was like, oh, so this is The West Wing. Like this particular solution was very … ‘cos The West Wing also like doesn’t take place in reality.

Liz: No, it is a centrist … Yeah.

Anika: Right. A centrist fantasy.

Liz: Yes. And I say that with love, but I also cannot watch it anymore because, oh my God. Have you seen the world’s today?

Anyway, last week, you were complaining that we don’t actually see Hugh giving therapy. So this week we got to see him with two patients, Tilly and Book. Tell me how you feel.

Anika: It was great. I was so happy to get that basis again, the foundation. Now, whatever either of those characters does in terms of therapeutic reaction, or whatever, we understand why they’re doing it and why they’re attributing it to therapy, or why they’re not. And I am just so pleased. I loved how much they lingered in those scenes.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: This is going to be a ridiculous comparison, but I was watching the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, with Keira Knightley.

Liz: And Matthew Macfadyen. Yes.

Anika: Which is my favorite. And the best part of that movie, why I love it so much, is that it is so willing to let us linger in the moment. To let the music and the costumes and the cinematography and the facial expressions, and the acting and the words, the writing, live. Every single part is allowed to breathe, and we just stay in moments till you almost think it’s too long, but it’s actually perfect.

Liz: Yeah. I definitely saw people complaining that Book’s scenes with Hugh went on too long. I don’t think that’s the case. I think they were great.

My feeling is that they broke up the tension of the other subplots. And this is a problem that the series has had basically since episode one of the fourth season. That’s just an ongoing problem that they’re having. And the scenes on their own were fantastic.

Anika: Right. Yes. I agree with that. I can see how, if you’re not me and you’re not wanting to linger in the therapy, or if you just like super caught up, if you can’t switch that quickly and easily from one to the other – I think that while there was a lot of tension in like the Tilly plot, until the end, it wasn’t a battle. It wasn’t so active that it was a real switch for me. But I can absolutely see why it would be.

And I agree that it is a problem that they deal with, but I think it’s just a problem of the format. If you’re going to be telling this story in little chunks in each episode, but also have a story that happens in the episode, you’re going to end up with this. There’s going to be clashes of tension. And, as we’ve said many, many times, pacing is not Discovery‘s strength.

Liz: No, and they’re telling interesting stories in spite of that weakness, which I really, really welcome.

I thought Hugh was a really great therapist, and especially the bit where he talks about his uncle’s funeral, and then he’s like, “If I was a proper therapist, I wouldn’t be telling you about myself, but we’re in this weird space where we already have a relationship outside of patient and therapist, so I think that’s beneficial.”

I thought that was really smart, because that is a tension that has always been there in the role of counselor on Star Trek, that Deanna and Ezri live and work and date alongside their patients.

Anika: Yes, but that’s going to happen in any small community. Even if it was a small town, you know, if you have like 1200 people in your town, you’re only going to have one therapist and that one therapist is going to be going to all of the other places with you. You’re going to know them.

So it’s hard, it’s hard, and I do appreciate that he said it and he made it – it was sort of almost like Hugh was setting a boundary. You know, he was saying, “This is how therapy is, and this is what I’m trusting you with. And this is why I’m trusting you with it.”

And that makes him a better therapist than someone who makes up a personal story or talks about a personal story, but says it was something he read or, you know, it’s better to be truthful than trick your patients.

Liz: Absolutely.

Anika: PSA.

Liz: Yeah. Also, as a bit of worldbuilding, I wound up reading about Puerto Rican standing funerals, and I love the detail that Hugh is specifically Puerto Rican, but they’re actually a very new development. Like, they’ve sort of become a thing in the last decade or so. So I love the worldbuilding detail that what is currently a new funerary concept is part of the mainstream culture of some humans in the 23rd and probably 32nd centuries.

I think that’s really cool. I think it’s a great bit of detail, and I also love the way that Hugh doesn’t downplay it as in any way a sort of weird or niche or non-mainstream cultural practice, the way Star Trek has sometimes done in the past with non-Anglo-American cultural stuff.

Anika: And also with religious stuff.

Liz: Mm. True. Because the standing funeral is very, very Catholic.

Anika: Yes. the fact that they didn’t add like caveats to it, to be like, you know, that it’s the secular version of the … People are allowed to have their beliefs.

Liz: Yes. And I don’t think that we’re going to find out that Hugh is Catholic. I would be very, very surprised, but I kind of hope we do, because, as a Catholic, I like the idea that the Church persists into the future and its practitioners include, you know, lovely gay men in stable long-term relationships with their partners and that they’re still, practicing and accepted by other Catholics. This is up there with my ongoing headcanon about the Pope sending shit posts to Kai Winn.

Anika: The only other thing I want to say here is that I really appreciate that Book wasn’t fixed after one Vulcan mind meld.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: Because in The Next Generation

Liz: Oh, I know

Anika: He one hundred percent would have been.

Liz: Only Picard is allowed to have long-term trauma.

Anika: The fact that Book acknowledged that it helped, but also that it wasn’t enough. Those two things together, that’s what I want. Again, I want us to live in this space where we can see mental health care as something that is slow, as something that is poignant and can go in stops and starts, can get messy, can go poorly.

And then you pick yourself up and start over again and acknowledging that, again, I keep bringing up this grief metaphor, but I just think it’s important, especially these days, that the grief never is erased. That the trauma is never gone from your life. You just learn how to live with it. You learn how to acknowledge it. You learn how to diminish it, but you don’t just erase it. You don’t forget it.

I really appreciate it when we have these stories, where it’s like trauma is important and you can’t erase it, but also you can’t let it rule your life. You won’t be comfortable until you acknowledge what’s making you uncomfortable.

Liz: I completely agree. And I’m so happy that this is an ongoing story. I kind of feel like it’s time to move Book’s grief to a less prominent place in the narrative for a while. Which is not to say it should be dropped, but I think we’ve seen enough of it for now that, on a storytelling level, we should move on.

Anika: Well, I have a feeling that someone else’s planet is going to get blown up soon, so.

Liz: We’re due for that. We haven’t heard much from Greg lately.

I have two more observations before we move on from Hugh as counselor. One is that I’m pretty sure that the set for his office is the same one where he has his brief therapy session with Kat in season two. And thinking about that made me realize that he is Kat’s legacy. Her final legacy to the universe is Hugh Culber becoming a therapist and guiding people through grief and loss and uncertainty. And I think that’s wonderful.

Anika: That’s beautiful. Oh, I love that. I love the idea that she put him on this path and now he’s putting other people on their path.

Liz: Yeah. We were talking about how admirals lead from different positions to Starfleet captains. And I liked the idea that even long, long, long after she’s died, she has still made that impact.

Do we want to talk about our young cadets and finding your interpersonal skills have atrophied in a time of isolation?

Anika: Because that is so, so topical.

Liz: When David Cronenberg was like, oh yeah, these kids don’t really know how to interact with other people, I was like, yeah, mood, mood.

Anika: I work at university, which is pretty much the same age group as academy cadets, our freshmen. And we have had many, many discussions about how difficult this year has been. Our freshmen this year were juniors when COVID hit.

And so I really felt for our little Academy cadets, because it’s like, “I’ve never been off world, I haven’t met any aliens. I don’t know how to talk to people. I don’t know how to interact with other cultures that I’ve never had any exposure to, that I’ve maybe not even read about, or that I’ve only read bad things about.”

Liz: “Or that my only other experience with someone from that culture was not just negative, but profoundly traumatic.”

At first I thought these kids didn’t seem old enough and mature enough to be Academy cadets, but I was comparing them to, like, your 24th century, you know, your Wesley Crushers, your Nogs. These kids are so isolated, and they’ve probably known real deprivation. And yeah, Tilly grew up on a generation ship, so — Tilly? Adira grew up in a generation ship, so of course they have very limited experience making friends with other people.

And it’s interesting, and it’s a nice touch that Gray does not have that problem, you know, just because you were on a generation ship together, doesn’t mean you’re not different individuals.

But the girl from Titan is–

Anika: Sasha.

Liz: Yes. She’s maybe a little bit xenophobic. And I think the Tellarite and the Orion have legitimate grounds for conflict. At first I thought it was a bit easy for the Orion to be the son of a great progressive political prisoner. And then I realized that was the exact kind of Orion who would be joining Starfleet Academy at the first opportunity.

But also, we saw this group of first years be welcomed in the premiere. They’ve only been cadets for about a month or two. It sounds like their trainers and their teachers are sort of at a loss for how to deal with them. They probably haven’t been to the Academy either–

Anika: Exactly. They don’t have those skills either. They’ve also lived in these isolated bubbles, and at best were doing correspondence Academy.

Liz: Or something like an apprenticeship.

Anika: It’s a very interesting place to be. I really love how Discovery is the super, super, super future, but also the frontier. I really like where they’ve landed at a place where transporters are, like, literally at the blink of an eye and you can go anywhere and you do it yourself and you have little personal thing.

But also, none of us know how to actually talk to each other. And some people have never seen an alien before. I love all of that. It’s very, very fun. And I loved my Orion–

Liz: Your son. Your green son.

Anika: So much. My son, my green son. He is so precious to me. I just … I love that kid. I don’t know who the actor is, but he was able to portray, “I’m a orion, who is embarrassed of my race, but I’m also an Orion and not be that, and I’m proud of my dad.” There was just a lot of nuance to that character.

Liz: He actually reminded me of Tendi

Anika: Yes. He reminded me of Tendi, and also when I think of Worf in the academy, or even like very young – like, first season Worf was in the same position of, like, “I’m very visibly Klingon and some people distrust me. But I also love being a Klingon. But I’m also not really a Klingon, because I was raised as a human.”

And there’s all of this baggage, and I was excited to see that in an Orion, because as we all know, I’ve been asking for Orion representation forever. There was so much potential there, and, getting it with an adorable Orion kid, I’m just super excited. I love him. And I ship him with all of the others.

Liz: It definitely felt like the backdoor pilot for the Academy series that has long been rumored. And I have to say I’ve never been that excited at the idea of an Academy series set in the 23rd or 24th centuries, because the Academy we see there is so sterile and so settled, and it’s basically a college drama set in a futuristic military academy. I can see the appeal, but it would not be for me.

Whereas this, rebuilding after a disaster and sort of having to make it up from scratch and the templates of a thousand years ago, that’s really exciting to me. So if we have Tilly and David Cronenberg leading an Academy drama, I would be totally up for that.

Anika: I forgot David Cronenberg was in this show. And then he showed up again and I was like, oh wait, the Academy drama is going to be led by the creepy psychiatrist guy? I was very excited.

Also, please, please hire me, please. I’m begging you. This is the show I wanted to write for. I want desperately to write for the high school slash college drama led by the creepy psychiatrist and the bubbly, awkward girl Kirk.

Liz: One hundred percent. Our timer just went off. So we’ve got about eight minutes left, but I kind of love that Kovich is back. And when he’s dealing with people outside of Georgiou, he’s actually, you know, pretty nice. I like the idea that he and Tilly can be buddies.

Anika: Oh my God.

Liz: So…

Anika: The best awkward buddies. They’re so good. Cause they’re both awkward and socially outcast, but also outgoing at the same time. Like they’re just, they’re perfect hilarious besties. And I want that so badly. And all of my little cadets who I just adore.

Liz: I’m so happy that you’re happy.

Anika: It’s just so silly, but I have one more thing to say about the episode.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: It’s that Saru and T’Rina’s relationship and romance

Liz: Oh my God.

Anika: It’s not only in our head.

Liz: The only person shipping it more than us is Michael.

Anika: Is Michael! I loved the way she looked at the tea! Oh my goodness. And that’s what I’m talking about when I say like, they have this great, great relationship, because she could tease him and be playful while also like totally taking all of his feelings and the entire situation super seriously. I was just like, this is the best.

Liz: I really enjoy Saru and T’Rina’s relationship, but I also never want to see the palms of Saru’s hands ever again. Like, happy for you, T’Rina, go for what you want, live your dream. But I I don’t want to ever see or think about Saru having sex

Anika: I mean, yeah, same. I agree. I don’t need them to kiss. They’re fine with their tea. I am fully on board with their relationship without any physical intimacy because they’re perfect. You know, it’s fine if you want to give it to me, but I’m just saying.

Liz: I liked the idea of, you know, a sexy relationship between two aliens. But … Happy for the monster fuckers and the xenophiles, but I’m just gonna enjoy it on screen and not think about it further.

And Gray changed his hair. He has a body and he can do that.

Anika: He can do that. It looks great. I’ve seen Ian Alexander with this hair.

Liz: Yeah. He’s been wearing it to places.

Anika: It has this David Bowie and Labyrinth feel to it, which I’m super into. Anyone who wants to be a Jareth type … always lean into Jareth. Always.

Liz: Yeah. It’s funny cause he’s–

Anika: PSA,

Liz: really not a Jareth type in personality.

Anika: Not at all, but.

Liz: I was reading the new edition of the retooled official Star Trek magazine, and it had an interview with Ian. He uses he/they pronouns, which I didn’t realize. But he originally auditioned for Adira, and they liked his work so much that they took Gray, who was originally conceived as a cis girl, and made Gray trans masculine. I think that’s really cool.

Anika: I love Gray. Gray is so important to me as representation. I really appreciate Gray and Ian Alexander, both the character and the actor.

But also, like you said, Gray and Adira have different personalities even though they were on the same generation ship. And Gray’s personality is so … sunshine, happy, a little bit arrogant, fun. I just really like Gray and I want to see more of that, now that he has a body. I’m really, really excited to see him interact with people other than Adira.

Liz: Yes. I think it’s a mark of the quality of the writing for Gray and Adira that you could drop them into Prodigy and they would fit right in with the other 17-year-olds. And I know this is something that a lot of people complain about, but I love that we have this little young adult space opera romance happening in the background of the big, serious grimdark Star Trek show.

Anika: Yeah. Why wouldn’t you want that?

Liz: Hmm. My final thing in our last two minutes is, do we think this is Discovery‘s last season?

Anika: Why do we think that.

Liz: Well, usually a renewal announcement goes out within a few days of the season premiere. And there’s been nothing so far. And in the meantime, we have Strange New Worlds coming, allegedly Section 31 is still on the back burner, pending Michelle Yeoh’s availability.

I’m actually wondering if they’re bringing Discovery to a natural end and then maybe spooling up a 32nd century Academy series with Mary Wiseman. That is pure speculation, but it’s notable that we haven’t had a renewal announcement yet, and I almost wonder if ending after a fourth season, with the rebuilding of the Federation, wouldn’t be a really lovely and very earned parallel to Enterprise.

Anika: I was just going to say, I have noticed the prominence of Enterprise in this season.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: And Enterprise famously and ended after four seasons. And that wasn’t the plan. And so it would be a nice – as long as it was what they wanted, I really like the idea of that parallel. And that it wouldn’t stop there. And even some of these other characters could do other stuff too, or they are here and we just get to see them in conventions and stuff.

There’s so much Star Trek now. I wouldn’t, I don’t want to say wouldn’t miss them. That’s not quite the right thing to say, but it would be okay.

Liz: I would be sorry to lose a Star Trek, a live action Star Trek, led by a Black woman, but who knows who the main cast of the alleged Academy series will be, for example. And four seasons is a pretty good run in the modern television landscape.

My personal preference would be for Discovery to go for five, so that we can outlive Enterprise and laugh in the face of the fanboys, but it feels like they’re building up to something thoughtful.

Anika: It does. I never pay attention to renewal announcements so much, mostly because I’m usually disappointed. They like to cancel my shows.

I will say that television in general, and CBS in specific, has been tentative about renewals this season more so than normal seasons. I think this is also a COVID issue. I think that everybody’s dealing with a lot. There are expenses related to COVID. There are time and scheduling pieces related to COVID. There are mandates related to COVID. There are travel restrictions. COVID messes up a lot. I wouldn’t say that the fact that we haven’t heard is a flag that it’s not going to be renewed

Liz: Mm.

Anika: Because I think there are a lot more things to think about than in a normal year.

Liz: Knowing my luck, they will announce a renewal before this episode goes out.

Anika: Yeah.

Liz: Everyone will just fast forward through our speculation.

Anika: Well, if that happens, that’s okay, too.

Liz: Yeah, no complaints.

Anika: Then you get your fifth year.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: You get to laugh in the face of the Enterprise fanboys

Liz: I think we should wrap this up, but I have one more question. If Discovery ends this season, do you think it will be Michael Burnham on the holodeck playing an Enterprise holonovel? [Extremely long, judgemental silence] Work with me here. It would be hilarious.

Anika: That was mean, that was a mean thing. I just freaked out.

Liz: So … not likely, then?

Anika: That is so painful. That entire thing is so painful. No, it’s a big no. Big no

Liz: Big. No.

Anika: Enterprise somehow was able to rival Turnabout Intruder for worst finale ever in Star Trek.

Liz: I mean, that’s fitting because next to TOS, it is the most misogynistic Star Trek

Anika: True that.

Liz: Yes. Okay.

Thank you for listening to Antimatter Pod and our excellent theories about how Discovery will end. I think they’re excellent.

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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Join us next week when we’ll be discussing the fifth episode of Star Trek Discovery, season four, the title hasn’t been announced yet, so I’m going to assume it’s titled the Revenge of Greg.

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