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97. How Do You Solve A Problem Like Ruon Tarka? (Disco 4.07)

Don’t drink and podcast, kids. Anyway, happy new year!

It’s New Year’s Eve. Liz has the fan running and is two drinks in. Anika has just woken up. What a perfect set-up to talk about “…But To Connect”!

  • We speculate wildly about filming multi-storeyed crowd scenes in covid
  • Should, uhhh, Book have been allowed at this meeting? 
  • Earth is a bit genocide-happy and it’s worrying
  • Never trust anyone whose solution to their problems is moving to another universe!
  • Some digressions: Gundam Wing, Fringe, Loki
  • Also Liz reads poetry (badly)
  • Artificial intelligence in our homes: Google, Alexa, Siri, Zora…


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 seven, …But To Connect.

First, a quick apology, it’s New Year’s Eve as we record. It’s New Year’s Eve evening, I should say, where I am. So if you hear any noise, that’s just my neighbors having a party. And also, I’m two drinks in and have a cocktail beside me. And, Anika you’ve just woken up.

Anika: Yes, it’s 5:00 AM and I am awake. I’m up. So hey, hey! [laughs] I also only watched this episode at 11:00 PM last night, too, because it’s New Year’s and we’re celebrating.

Liz: I’m very grateful for both your late-night effort and your early morning presence. And I think that if Star Trek wants us to have profound and considered and well-organized thoughts, they should not be running new episodes over the holidays.

Anika: They should give us a week off.

Liz: I mean. Once again, they could have started Discovery in January.

Anika: It’s fine. It’s fine. It was a good episode. It was a great mid-season finale.

Liz: Yes. Last week I said we really needed to amp up the tension. They did that in a way that I did not expect, which is literally an episode that is just about people in a room, talking to each other and giving speeches. And as the title says, connecting. And that is not what I expected.

Anika: Yeah, it’s funny because it’s quieter than you would expect a mid-season finale to be. Or even just an episode of Discovery to be. We’ve gotten used to the big cinematic push. This really depended entirely on these people selling what they were doing, and the consequences and the tension all on their own.

Liz: And it relied on us knowing them and caring about. Because after four seasons, if you are not connected with these characters, then this episode is probably really boring and unpleasant for you. And I’m sorry, because you’ve missed out on some good shit.

Anika: Now I’m thinking about how that whole, you know, giant room, how it was all filmed, because they weren’t all there. You know, it was like there were different floors. I don’t think that that room exists, is I guess what I’m saying

Liz: No, no, I think there was definitely greenscreen happening.

Anika: And so it’s interesting to think about how many people were in a room at a time, especially with COVID precautions and everything, and yet they were still able to put it all together and make it cohesive.

Liz: I loved them. The costumes are amazing. The makeup was great. TrekCore compared it to the Met Gala, which I agree with.

Anika: Yeah, there was that one woman with the chainmail arms, which, I always love chain mail rms. Science fiction shows really love to bring them out, and it’s always fun for me. So I enjoyed it.

Liz: The Orion contingent, I thought, looked particularly great, but also the Vulcans and the Romulo-Vulcans were sharp as always. It was just visually very satisfying.

Anika: Lots of giant crazy shoulders.

Liz: So many great shoulders.

Anika: So many great shoulders.

Liz: I know we usually do our costume talk last, but I was left to do the show notes, and I don’t think they were very good. So can I just flag how I thought the Ferengi outfit was super sharp, and also very much in conversation with the sort of things that Quark wore.

Anika: I can see that. Like, the color scheme and just sort of the way it all fell together.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: You could see that it was still Ferengi. It was interesting, seeing all of the different races and thinking about, you know, how they got all of these different races to get together at this juncture. You know, the Federation is still sort of in its new infancy, so everybody was familiar, but also not. And that was fun.

Liz: To us and each other.

Anika: And I really liked the design of how the room was put together. It’s like the expanded round table, you know, that…

Liz: Different layers and tiers and … floors, I guess, all gathered around a mezzanine. It was really interesting, and I would love to know about the set design. And as you say, how much of this is actually real and there, and how much was just greenscreened.

Anika: Good job. Set design, production design, costume design. Everybody was really pulling out their A game for this big scene.

Liz: Yes. And then we had the big, important plot, which was the Federation and allied worlds, agreeing on what to do about the DMA, and Ruon Tarka jumping in at the last minute with his horrible suggestion of disabling it.

And then Book, making … I was so intrigued by his plea for the destruction of the DMA, because I genuinely don’t think it came from anger. I don’t think this is a contradiction of what he did last week. I think he’s motivated here by guilt and a genuine desire to prevent further death, rather than a desire for vengeance.

Anika: Yes, in that he was the argument that he put forth was, “I don’t want what happened to me to happen to you.”

Liz: Yeah. And I think that’s manipulative, but also sincere.

Anika: Well, I mean, look, Book should not even have been at this meeting. I understand that, as a representative, he should, but he’s not in the right place to make this decision, and allowing him to be the face of it, complicates things.

Liz: It’s hard. At the same time, you know, even if there are other survivors of Kwejion, even if there’s a group of them, who is to say that what they’re saying would be any different? It’s hard.

And I don’t want to say that, because he’s biased, he shouldn’t have a place at this table. Obviously, I think he’s wrong, but I think he’s coming at it from a good place, or at least an understandable place.

Anika: You understand Book more than you do, say, Earth.

Liz: Yeah. Earth is really genocide happy, and it worries me.

Anika: Andor voted to destroy, which makes perfect sense. It’s very in keeping with what we know about the Andorians. The moth people were back.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: I was amazed to see the moth people again, but it was also heartwarming. It’s like, good, the moth people are here. They’re a part of the group now.

Liz: I noticed that the Trill were a little bit genocide happy. I guess genocide is the wrong word, but in favor of destroying the DMA, no questions asked.

Anika: It was interesting, but then the Ferengi voted with us to not destroy it, you know? It’s like … Ooh, I want to think about these things. I do want to know if Book’s even talked to any other survivors, because there have to be other off world Kweijonites.

Liz: I know that the implication has always been that most people from Kweijon don’t leave, but it seems unlikely to me that he’d be the only one, especially when they’ve been dealing with the Emerald Chain and the trade in trance worms. There must be others, unless they’re all jerks and he has deliberately cut himself off from them.

And that would actually kind of make sense, because he was estranged from his culture and closely allied with the Federation until now. I guess, in a way, this is a question that I’m happy to have saved for the rest of the season.

Anika: Oh, yes. I’m not saying that that got in the way of this storyline. It’s just sort of interesting to think about. And again, I really feel that Michael, or someone who cares about Book, should have intervened and said, maybe you don’t want to be a part of this.

Liz: It’s interesting that Michael never so much as hinted that. And I think it’s because she knows that if someone ever said that to her, she would just be even more present and even more aggressively pursuing her agenda. And even Book compares it to Michael’s dealings with the Klingons way back in the premiere. And I think that the comparison is wrong, that it’s not unreasonable.

Anika: That’s interesting, ‘cos I like to think about how much they’ve talked about these things.

Liz: Yeah, it comes back to the conversation, which I deleted from our last episode, which is how much does Book know about Ash Tyler.

Anika: Yeah.

Liz: This is all complicated and interesting. And my note here is that Ruon Tarka is THE WORST. I stand by that, but I don’t think he’s necessarily a bad guy. I don’t think there are necessarily any villains in this scenario.

Anika: So this is going to be a really weird comparison, Ruon Tarka and his discussion of his scientist lover…

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: And, you know, what he’s doing now, reminded me of Gundam Wing.

Liz: Go on…

Anika: Which is an anime. There’s like 800,000 Gundams, and Gundam Wing is really the only one that I’ve spent any time with. So I can’t speak to any of the rest of it. But in this particular one, there are a group of scientists, one from each colony, who are taken, sort of, by the bad guys. Let’s call them the Emerald Chain–

Liz: Okay.

Anika: –and forced to create weapons of mass destruction.

Liz: So far, so good.

Anika: And so what happens is that they covertly also create weapons of mass destruction for their own people. And then they give them to five teenage boys.

Liz: The most logical choices. Yes. Who else would you give weapons of mass destruction to?

Anika: So the way that he was talking about his scientist friend–

Liz: Boyfriend.

Anika: –boyfriend, was very reminiscent of this. “We were a bunch of very intelligent people who are stolen by the Emerald Chain and forced to work for them and create horrible things. And we decided to rebel, but we decided to rebel in a completely ridiculous way. In a way that has nothing to do with anything.”

It’s like, you don’t decide, “I’m going to get back at these guys by building a giant robot and putting a teenage boy in it.” Like, that is not the answer, ever. Obviously, in the Gundam universe, of course it is. In, you know, most of anime, of course it is. But in reality, that is not the best answer.

And his completely ridiculous, we are going to run away to another universe idea, like, that’s what you come up with? I understand that they want to get out of their situation as badly as possible, but that’s really taking it to the furthest extreme.

“We’re not just going to escape the Emerald Chain. We’re not going to escape this system, this star system, we’re going to leave this universe. And that’s totally logical. And I need the amount of energy that destroys a planet in order to do it. So I’m going to hijack someone else’s weapon of mass destruction in order to power my universe jumping engine.”

Nothing about that is logical in any way.

Liz: I am three cocktails in and can confirm, that is stupid.

What it made me think of was people going, “Oh, I’m moving to Canada!” after every US election that’s won by Republicans. Or the Australian version, “Oh, I’m moving to New Zealand.” It’s just that expression of, I’m going to leave, and I’m not going to do anything at all to make the universe I’m in a better place. Which Tarka is clearly intelligent enough to do.

Anika: It is hugely selfish in every possible way. “I’m just gonna escape to a completely different place, and I’m not going to worry about how that’s going to affect anyone here or anyone there. I am just going to go.”

Liz: It’s also massively deluded. Because who is to say that this universe where the Burn never happened doesn’t have its own terrible problems? I’m sorry, but the secret of Star Trek is, there is no utopia. You have to work for your utopia, wherever you are.

Anika: That’s a perfect way of putting it.

Liz: Thank you. That’s my last intelligent thought for the year.

Anika: That’s why comparing it to our trying to escape politics is a very apt, because you don’t find your paradise by–

Liz: No, you have to make it.

Anika: It’s a bad idea. It’s a crazy idea. And it’s a selfish idea. And so Ruon Tarka is actually, yes, the worst.

Liz: The worst. I want to flag that “I’m going to jump into another universe and then all my problems will be solved” was also Lorca’s idea of a good solution.

And that also it’s a terrible idea, it’s stupid, but it’s a really interesting problem for a character to have. And it’s a really interesting way for a guy to be an antagonist. And I actually think that this might be original to Discovery, which I’m very impressed by. So well done, everyone. Ruon Tarka is the worst in a whole new way.

Anika: I just finished rewatching Loki, cause the first thing I did when I got to my friend’s house was convince them to watch Loki.

Liz: You did a good thing.

Anika: And I’m also in the middle of rewatching Fringe, and I’m sort of toward the beginning of the second season, which is where they first start with their second universe.

Universe hopping is certainly something that Marvel has been doing all year, which almost is why I started rewatching Fringe, I want to, you know, go back to other multiverses. And obviously, Star Trek has plenty, but I’m already watching Star Trek.

So it’s, always, you know, I love the idea of parallels and variants and people meeting themselves or friends. Because I’m me, what I’m thinking is, so he hops into the other universe and he finds his boyfriend, but what if that boyfriend isn’t his boyfriend, but is that universe’s boyfriend? What does that mean and how does it change? And what if his Ruon Tarka is also there? Does he have to kill his other self in order to get his happy ending? Send his Ruon Tarka back to our universe? Like, what happens? So I feel like there were a lot of variables that Ruon Tarka is not thinking about.

Liz: Yeah, Ruon needs to think about this more.

Anika: You know, according to the Loki universe, which, again, is obviously not the same as the Star Trek universe, but according to the Loki universe, two variants meeting destroys the first. universe.

Liz: I mean, according to the Time Variance Authority, and I think we can assume from the events of the series, that they are biased.

Anika: But it does break the timelines. it does create the tree of timelines.

Liz: It definitely has an impact. I almost wondered as I wandered around the house today, you know, doing things and thinking about what I was going to say in this episode, the mention of parallel universes and alternate timelines is thrown in so very casually, just like the way, at a similar point in season two of Discovery, Kat Cornwell says, “blah-blah-blah and time travel.” And then it turns out, of course, that time travel is the key to season two.

I feel like this is not a red herring, but a clue pointing to something bigger. Or it is a red herring, as we know, I’m always wrong.

Anika: Maybe the DMA is a universe focal point, and is the two variants destroying the universe?

Liz: Yeah,

Anika: It’s Loki!

Liz: Look, at this point, my love for Loki is such that if Tom Hiddleston turned up, I wouldn’t even complain. And that is so embarrassing, because if you had asked me at this time last year, I would’ve said, “Oh, Loki, oh, he’s a bit overrated, right? I mean, Tom Hiddleston thinks he’s a bit special.”

The other thing that I wanted to flag is that when Ruon Tarka was having this whole monologue about his ultimate universe, a line of poetry popped into my head: ‘Listen, there’s a hell of a good universe next door; let’s go.’

That’s from the poem, Pity This Busy Monster Manunkind by ee cummings, which is a really interesting poem that I think everyone who was in Doctor Who fandom at some point reads way too much into, and then digs too many titles out off. But … Let me read you the whole thing.

pity this busy monster, manunkind,

not. Progress is a comfortable disease:
your victim (death and life safely beyond)

plays with the bigness of his littleness
— electrons deify one razorblade
into a mountainrange; lenses extend
unwish through curving wherewhen till unwish
returns on its unself.
                          A world of made
is not a world of born — pity poor flesh

and trees, poor stars and stones, but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical

ultraomnipotence. We doctors know

a hopeless case if — listen: there’s a hell
of a good universe next door; let’s go

So it’s sort of hopeless and nihilistic, but playing with a lot of the ideas that turn up in this episode. ‘A world of made is not a world of born.’ ‘Electrons deify one razor blade into a mountain range.’

And then we have this whole subplot about Zora and her personhood being interrogated.

I’m probably reading too much into it, in that way where it was 40 degrees [Celsius] today and thinking is hard, but that’s so interesting to me.

Anika: It is. I can see why Doctor Who fans read too much into it.

Liz: Oh, yeah, yeah, definitely.

Anika: But I mean, obviously that last line

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: There he is. Crazy Tarka!

Liz: And then we have the storyline about Zora and her personhood, and her, I don’t want to use this phrase cause it’s kind of fraught, but her right to life, her claim on existence being debated at the same time as the DMA’s. It’s really interesting. And I wonder if that’s going to be an ongoing parallel, if they’re both an artificial entity, a new lifeform.

Anika: It’s not like this is the first time that Star Trek has interrogated whether artificial life is life.

Liz: No.

Anika: And it was interesting that everyone sort of agreed that Zora was sentient and alive, and it was more, what are we going to do with her?

Liz: Yes.

Anika: Than it was, does she exist at all? Like with the Doctor or with Data. It was sort of the next step of, okay, you’re alive.

Liz: Now what?

Anika: What rights do we have to tell her what to do? To ask anything of her? To expect her not to destroy us all?

Liz: Or to expect her to give us information that might enable us to destroy us all.

One thing that I found interesting was that she has these coordinates, she’s keeping them to herself, and Michael orders her to give them up. But Zora has not chosen to be in Starfleet. She was designed and built as a Starfleet computer, but she did not volunteer for this.

I found it interesting at the end, where Stamets gives her the opportunity to volunteer, but I wish that had been flagged, that she is not actually disobeying orders, because she has never signed up to be in Starfleet.

Anika: It is similar in ways to the Doctor, in that the Doctor was created for a purpose that was completely different than what his purpose ended up being, because he wasn’t supposed to be the actual doctor. He was supposed to be a stop gap measure.

Liz: A rapid antigen test, if you will.

Anika: And so there is sort of that parallel. But in the Doctor’s case, he literally pops into existence with a uniform on.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: It’s almost like he was created to be in Starfleet. And Zora doesn’t even have that. She is the ship, and the ship is part of Starfleet, but really, she isn’t the ship. She lives in the ship, but she’s not actually the ship.

Liz: It’s her body, but she could choose to leave.

Anika: Yeah. It was interesting when they were talking about extracting her and putting her somewhere else. And it was like, does she choose to be humanoid? Does she want to be in a different ship? I mean, Discovery is kind of important to the Federation.

Liz: You think she’d like to be a less important ship?

Anika: I just mean that if I was Kovich and I decided that she had to be extracted, I mean, I guess he said that the regulation is against any sentience in any ship? What happened that that’s a regulation?

Liz: Yes. Yeah.

Anika: But if I was Starfleet and I was worried about this, and I decided at the end of this episode that I didn’t trust Zora, I wouldn’t leave her in what amounts to the most important ship in the fleet.

Liz: No, I’d be getting her a synth body. I assumed, when he said that, that this season would end–

Anika: With that happening.

Liz: Yeah. That we’d have Annabelle Wallis in person as Zora. Which I was pretty okay with, but I like having a character who is the ship.

And here I have to talk about Mass Effect a bit, because in the second Mass Effect game, an AI is illegally installed in Normandy. Her name is … shoot I’ve blanked on her name. This is really embarrassing. [It’s EDI, if you’re wondering.] Anyway, in the third game, she gets a body. And so she is both the ship and she is a sexy robot lady that you can take on missions and stuff. And that’s cool. And I would really enjoy that for Zora if she could be both.

Anika: She just needs her mobile emitter.

Liz: Yeah. Basically. Oh my gosh, I know I’ve said this before, I can’t remember if I said it on the podcast or here, this is after my bedtime and I’m sorry. But I would really like fic where Zora meets the emergency training hologram and the Doctor. They get to like, hang out, being, being artificial life forms. Soji can come too

Anika: All of the artificial life forms just getting together. They can go to a little space bar–

Liz: And not drink.

Anika: And not drink. They can go bowling. That was it. That was a joke for our Discord.

Liz: Yeah. Only Aristofranes and our other Discord members will understand that.

Anika: Five people.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: Shout out to all of you. Thanks for listening.

Liz: We love you. You made my year a lot better.

I have to say that this storyline, which basically required the audience, and also Stamets, to empathize with Zora, makes me strongly suspect that Book is going to go off on his mission with Ruon Tarka, and he’s going to accidentally empathize with the DMA. And then he’s going to become the DMA’s advocate

Anika: Interesting.

Liz: Like you say, it has an eye. It looks like a whale, we’re going to empathize with it.

Anika: And empathy is Book’s–

Both: Superpower.

Anika: Yes. I love that. I love the idea that someone can go off to destroy something, and–

Liz: Yes, not out of anger, but out of grief, and still come round. To be honest, to have Book ongoing as a character, and to have him continue as Michael’s love interest, I don’t see how it can end in any other way.

Anika: Right. Yes, definitely.

Liz: I really enjoyed the aspect of this storyline where Michael has to balance the personal and professional. She’s done that before, with Ash. But that was a different sort of relationship.

And I really feel like she and Book are in it for the long haul, but this is the first real challenge that they’ve faced. First with his grief, and then with Felix choosing to die. And now with this decision here, and you can see in her face that, for a moment, she is willing to stay silent and not defend the DMA out of respect and love for him.

Anika: That was really, really sad at the end. It was very–

Liz: I know, I know!

Anika: –emotional

Liz: When he puts Grudge in the carrier, and she doesn’t struggle at all, I was really upset by that. Do you know how long it takes me to get Harvey into his carrier?

Anika: Yes, I have four cats. But, to be fair, because I have four cats, I can say that two of them are pretty easy to get into the carrier. So it’s a 50/50 shot. Grudge clearly is a sedate queen.

Liz: She’s a good girl and we love her. And I love that Michael is trying to, you know, build a relationship with Grudge, the way you would with an angry potential stepchild. If they want to sell that cat toy, I will totally buy it for Harvey.

Anika: The cat toy reminded me of a galaxy, which just solidified my belief that actually Grudge is the DMA. They’re going to show what the DMA is, and I’m still going to be sitting here and go, actually, it’s…

Both: Grudge.

Liz: I think it definitely signifies that the galaxy and its boundaries are a big part of the story, and that also Book’s ability to empathize and create a relationship with an apex predator is going to be really important.

Anika: And just on that, the galaxy and its boundaries, I liked there was a throwaway line. It was like, we have representatives from all four quadrants. And I liked that, just because, in nineties Trek, that was huge. It’s hard. You can’t get to the other quadrants, you know, you can’t go there. Whereas this one is just popping in from wherever.

Liz: It disappointed me that we didn’t see any Founders or Vorta or Kazon. But I trust that they were there, you know, being uncomfortable and awkward with one another.

Anika: We didn’t get to see everybody. Oh man. The poor Kazon. I have a question for you, because you could see Amanda last week, and I couldn’t. Did you see a representative of Kaminar?

Liz: I did not! And I was really puzzled, because I felt like Saru should be there as the offworld Kaminar guy. Instead he’s, like, floating around Discovery, doing important things with Kovich and Zora, and all that, and then bringing his sex cactus to T’Rina. But yeah. Where was our Kaminar vote?

Anika: Right. Saru is the obvious choice. Saru is their elder. He is their representative. And I think he should have been there. But if he was there, Michael could have asked him to make the speech.

Liz: Yeah. And obviously it had to be Michael.

Anika: It had to be her. And so that meant that Saru couldn’t be there. But I do think they should have made an effort to put some other Kaminar in there

Liz: We should have seen a Kelpien and a Ba’ul.

Anika: Exactly. And we now know what the Ba’ul looked like, and everything. So yeah, I think another Kelpien and their little, you know…

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: What are those things in Harry Potter?

Liz: Dementors?

Anika: That you cast the the Patronus … yeah, the Dementors. The Dementors should have been a part of it. Because I spent too much time thinking, why isn’t Saru here? Oh, it’s a plot convenience. And that I don’t want to be thinking that.

Liz: I will say, I didn’t think that until after, when I realized I hadn’t seen a Kelpien and or a Ba’ul there.

And when I say Michael had to be the one to give that speech, I don’t mean in a, ‘oh, she’s a Mary Sue, she saves every episode by giving a speech’ way, which is a criticism that I’ve seen of this episode, and I’m sorry, have you seen an episode or a season of Star Trek: The Next Generation? Because Picard gives a lot of speeches. And that is Michael’s job.

We needed her to be there, and we needed her to give that speech, but we also needed to see, if not Saru, any Kelpien

Anika: Exactly. I wasn’t sitting there going, “Saru should be here.”

And this is why I bring it up and why I consider it a complaint, even though I enjoyed the episode, and I don’t really have anything bad to say about it, but the reason this is a complaint is that I am focused on that. I am focused on, why isn’t Saru there?

And I’m imagining the alternate take where Saru is there, and Michael doesn’t speak up and Saru starts to, and then Michael interrupts and does do it. I can imagine all of the different ways that this could have been fixed.

Liz: It’s troubling, because I do think Saru was necessary in the Zora scenes. And I think it’s valuable to have the Zora scenes happening at the same time as the meeting about the DMA. Like, the parallel of Michael’s speech against Stamets’s, I think was really, really powerful.

But yeah, even if we had just seen some other Kelpien, so we weren’t wondering, why is Saru not here, when he was such a great part of the Ni’Varan conference. I think that would have been useful.

Anika: So again, doesn’t ruin the episode, but it was one little thing that I feel could have been easily handled. And I’m sad that it wasn’t. I guess we’ll just have to pretend they are there along with the Kazon.

Liz: Someone, somewhere, I thought it was in our Discord, but now I’m looking at our Discord, and I’m not seeing it… Someone compared it to The War Within, The War Without, as an episode that’s mostly about talking and relationships and set-up.

Anika: It was in our Discord. I think it was Opal.

Liz: Oh, okay. But, yeah, it reminds me of that episode. And that is my favorite episode of season one. So…

Anika: Exactly.

Liz: When we criticize for things like Saru. Not being at the big meeting, that is not to say that we did not love this episode.

Anika: One other small criticism is, who are these teenagers that run around Discovery and just pop into meetings without a care in the world? Last week I was saying that I loved that Gray was just like, “I’m going to the bridge,” and then did it. And I do.

But they did it again this episode and it was just like, guys, again, it didn’t have to be that way. it could have been Saru, or Hugh, either could’ve said, “Gray is good at talking, to Zora, we should bring him in.”

Liz: And then Adira comes along because Gray support. Right? I agree.

Anika: Super easy.

Liz: Yes. I have the same thought, but then TrekCore had that criticism – And I really to find out who the TrekCore reviewer is, because I love them. They were also like, yeah, Wesley Crusher did this, like, once a season for four years, at least. It’s just the rules of Star Trek, that this is how it goes if you have a teenager on board. And yeah, I get that. I respect that. The rules of Star Trek say this works.

Anika: Okay.

Liz: Having said that, I agree with you that it could have been handled a bit more smoothly, but as we were saying with the bridge crew last week, they don’t handle smoothly.

Anika: They’re bad at that. They don’t know how to do that. It was really funny, because they literally just burst in and were like, we’re supposed to be here. I was like, okay.

Liz: But then, Paul has burst in going, “Oh my God, group hug, let’s get a very close together and talk like Zora can’t overhear us.” And clearly Hugh has been listening to this for a couple of days, and everyone else is like, “We’re not hugging you, Paul.” So yeah. Everyone comes in assuming that everyone else is on the same page as them, and they are wrong.

Anika: So that’s a great place to point out that I love Dr. Kovich for his complete denial of that idea. I think he was like, “We’re not holding secret meetings from Zora. We’re not having a meeting about Zora with Zora.”

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: Which was great.

Liz: Nothing about us without us.

Anika: Talk about the best psychiatrist that I’ve seen. In fiction, not even just Star Trek. But boundaries? Amazing. Good job.

Liz: You know that I have very strong feelings about Admiral Cornwell, and I love her a lot, and I’ve written a lot of fic about on her, but…

Anika: She would have 100% had that secret meeting.

Liz: Oh yeah. I actually think Kovich is the better psychiatrist.

I do think that there are questions to be answered about Zora and … priiiiiiiiiiiiivacy?

Anika: She’s omnipotent, omnipresent.

Liz: Like, is she watching Hugh and Paul have sex?

Anika: According to her dreams? Yes.

Liz: I mean, Zora, you shouldn’t be. I understand these things happen in your subconscious, but you need to set a program where people can exclude you.

Anika: I think that a sentient computer program that is meant to help the crew with whatever they need, and do all of the ship duties, I think that, yeah, it wouldn’t be the default. The default would be to be watching at all times and to be eavesdropping, and always there. And to not really understand boundaries at all. Like, again, Data didn’t really understand boundaries either.

Liz: True. Maybe this is something that Zora has to learn as the season continues. You know, this season is not complete. I just do think that, “Hey, Zora, we need to privacy from you” is a conversation that people are going to have to have

Anika: Paul would one hundred percent do that from now on, I feel like, though. If they’re kissing and they’re like, wait, and Paul would stop and be like, “Zora….”

Liz: “Goodbye, Zora.”

Anika: I could imagine him doing that.

Liz: You know, just on Wednesday, I set up a Google Nest in my bedroom. And it’s not that a lot happens in my bedroom, but now I’m like, Hmm. Hmmmmmmmmmmm. And frankly, I trust Zora more than Google.

Anika: That’s such a sad statement. But true. I was on a panel, I think I’ve mentioned before that I was on a panel that was about AI, basically. And I said that, you know, we talk to our phones and we talk to our Alexas.

And absolutely, the algorithm is set up so that it starts to think it knows what you’re going to be asking for, right? And it’s pretty darn good. I will be, for example, watching an episode of Discovery and I’ll put in S T and it’ll fill in Star Trek: Discovery. Or you put in an S and it’s like, Sonequa Martin Green. And I’m like, damn.

And, you know, your phone can be completely off, and you can have a conversation about something, and then you turn your phone on, and it’s trying to sell you that thing.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: That’s terrifying and really worrisome. But it is a version of artificial intelligence. And what I was saying on my panel is, after, like, fifty years of using Google, we’re putting all of this into it. It wouldn’t be surprising to me for Google to come alive.

And what’s really interesting about that is, what is Google at that point? Is Google going to destroy the world because more people type in terrible things than good things, or is Google gonna be like Zora where, you know, humans are default good, and we just want information?

That’s a terrifying and interesting thing to think about. We are playing with a lot of information, and a lot of different ways of looking at that information and finding that information.

And we have seen how misinformation can infect people, to the point where I read this article about people who were at the January 6 insurrection and their family members. And they’re like, they were a completely normal person. And then within six months, they were storming the White House. And we don’t know how that, like, we don’t understand how that happened. And it was because they fell into these, you know, Q Anon cult type places. But it starts out very innocent. It starts out with one ad. It starts out with one, you know, weird Facebook group rabbit hole.

So it’s scary out there, but because of that, because of how people use and manipulate information, it is not a crazy leap for me to imagine the computer figuring out how to do it, too.

Liz: Yeah. And I think this was sort of the unfollowed path that we saw with Control in season two, you know, what if this computer was fed misinformation, what if this computer was subject to propaganda and did not believe that peace was possible? And I still wish they had done that with Control. It is probably not where they going with Zora but it would be interesting. And I understand why Hugh feels the way he does.

Anika: I have to say that because I have such strong negative feelings about season two, every time they mention Control or the sphere data, I get kinda twitchy.

Liz: No, no.

Anika: But I like anytime when people have emotional continuity, that’s a good thing. Because sometimes even a serial like Discovery, it doesn’t happen every time.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: So I like that Paul had these issues. But it was not sold to me in season two. Season two did not tell that story well enough for me to believe it and invest in it in season four.

Liz: Apparently there was a cut scene in season two where someone refers to the Zora program as a more sophisticated version of Control? I read that on Memory Alpha, and I was like, mm, no, no. Just no.

Anika: No, I don’t. Again, that was a poorly told storyline. In my opinion, I have to say, because there was a lot of chatter online this week about people reviewing things and not making it clear that it’s their opinion. And I think that that is a reader’s fault, not a writer’s fault, more often than not, because I think it’s implied.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: But I am going to say, in my opinion, the second season was not told well, in particular, the Control storyline. So I struggle with it now.

Liz: I think we call that the official Antimatter Pod account … opinion. I’m sorry. I should not have had three cocktails before we recorded.

Anika: We’re fine, people are gonna be like, wow, Anika was kind of tired. Liz was a little tipsy.

Liz: Look compared with the Greatest Gen when they do their drunkisodes, I think we’re doing great!

Anika: We’re doing amazing.

Liz: In that only one of us is drunk. Okay. We’re at an hour. Let’s wrap up. What would you like to see in the second half of the season?

Anika: Well, we discussed, and I’ve been saying since the DMA was introduced, that I want book to — I want an Ezra and the space whale story with Book and the DMA, at which you described earlier. So I still want that. ‘Cos I agree with you. I’d like the idea of someone going after the creature with ill intent and, being transformed. That’s like the story of the Horta, and that’s my favorite TOS episode. Taming dragons is my favorite trope. So I want that.

Liz: No, I think that’s great.

Anika: I want Michael and Book to end in a good place.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: It’s fine to have drama, but I don’t – it will feel like manufactured drama if they don’t discuss it, but come to a better understanding of their relationship.

Liz: Agreed.

Anika: Starfleet is going to continue being a problem in their relationship if they don’t talk about it. So I don’t want it to be like, “We’ve shown up, and you’re on our side again, and so now we’re fine.” That’s not good, but I also don’t want this to be … I don’t want them to break up and I don’t want them to, you know, I don’t want – oh my God, I just thought of Book dying. And I don’t want that.

Liz: No! No. No.

Anika: I also don’t want Book to actually pull an Ezra and leave with the space whales. Oh dear, now I’m down terrible rabbit holes. I am trying to decide what I want for Ruon Tarka, because … how do you solve a problem like Ruon Tarka?

Liz: Well, we’ve just found our episode title!

I feel like we can’t solve his problem. I feel like the best solution for him is for him to reach his other universe and go, okay, everything is going to be great. And then something happens, someone turns up, like alternative Ruon Tarka, and he realizes that it’s not going to be great. Then it’s done. Like, we cut to the main universe. His story is over.

Anika: The internet would hate that, Liz, there would be so much uproar

Liz: I give so few fucks about what the internet thinks.

Anika: I’m just saying, we’d be arguing about that for months.

Liz: Look, in twenty-five years, we can get the Ruon Tarka series that makes it all make sense. We have The Book of Boba Fett, so, you know, give us time and we can have a reasonable discussion about this.

Anika: I just want to put it out there and say, Ruon Tarka is not a character on par with Boba Fett. Okay. Sorry.

Liz: I apologize for insulting Boba Fett by the comparison.

Anika: I will say though, that Shawn Doyle continues to be really good in this role.

Liz: He’s very, very good. I really enjoy his work.

Anika: I listened to that monologue about the alternate universe, and I hated it the entire time, but he sold it. I wanted to care, and I was angry. I was angry that I wanted to care. So, good job. I liked the little teaser of what’s to come

Liz: Oh My gosh. We seen Nhan again. I’m so happy.

Anika: Yeah. Right. It was fun.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: You get excited. It was a well done “To be continued”.

Liz: Yes. None of the bridge crew gave a weird monologue about their feelings and their trauma this episode. And that’s–

Anika: No one did.

Liz: –really all I needed.

Anika: The delegates, nobody had a thing.

Liz: The closest we came was Ruon Tarka and that had been foreshadowed. So I was already engaged.

Anika: Hm

Liz: Hmm. Hmm. Also I need to shout out, our recent guest, recent ish guest, Tim for pointing after I was very wrong when I said that Enterprise was the first time that Star Trek, that nineties Trek, had learned to tell a story over multiple episodes. Obviously Deep Space Nine exists … and I forgot.

Anika: I think that Deep Space Nine did it differently from — Enterprise did it deliberately and Deep Space Nine, did it with deliberation.

Liz: I feel like I feel –

Anika: Maybe that’s just semantics.

Liz: No, no, no. It makes sense to me, because I feel like Deep Space Nine got away with it because it was syndicated, and because Rick Berman was not paying attention, whereas Enterprise had Rick Berman actually writing stuff, and still managed to tell stories over multiple episodes.

I said this on Twitter, but to me, Enterprise is more of a successor to Voyager than to Deep Space Nine.

Anika: Oh, for sure. I mean, they’re both the UPN ones.

Liz: Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s also the other connection. But at the same time, Tim was not wrong that Deep Space Nine really pioneered the arc for Star Trek. So, yeah. Sorry. I forgot that series. Please outro us so I can go and drink more with my flatmate.

Anika: Yes, ma’am.

Thank you for listening to Antipatter pod. [laughs] Let me try that again. I’m going back to bed.

Thank you for listening to Antimatter Pod. You can find our show notes at, 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 us at

If you like us, leave review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you consume your podcasts. I will note that Spotify finally set up a way for you to leave reviews on Spotify. So go for it.

Liz: Ooh!

Anika: The more reviews, the easier it is for new listeners to find us. You can also tell people about us, or give us a shout out on social media. We’re just a few weeks away from recording our 100th episode, which might be about Prodigy.

Liz: I think it will be, yeah.

Anika: And yeah, giving away free stuff for our audience. So that those reviews in now. Join us next week, when we will be returning to Star Trek: Prodigy!

Liz: I am very happy.