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104. A Fungible Greg (Disco 4.09)

If we were Michael, we’d bring Book in by sending an endless stream of Grudge pictures

If an episode is titled Rubicon, you can bet some sort of … line is going to be crossed. Anika and Liz discuss:

  • We have some prurient speculations about Saru’s … experience; also, we ship Saru/T’Rina A LOT but please never make us look at his hands again
  • Nahn is back! Is this … emotional continuity? Gosh!
  • Book and Michael are sort of spinning their wheels, narratively and emotionally
  • Ruon Tarka is the Elon Musk of the 32nd century, and we do NOT mean that as a compliment! But it’s okay, we took a break from fixing Good Sam to offer notes


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‘s fourth season episode, Rubicon.

Liz: We’re also discussing – in terms of things that start with S – Saru’s love life. I’m not ready to call it Saru’s sex life yet, because (a) I don’t think he’s ready, and (b) I don’t want to think about that. We had to see his hands again, and that was bad.

Anika: I’m not one of those people who needs sex scenes in Star Trek.

Liz: No.

Anika: I want them to have sex, but I don’t need to watch it.

Liz: I think some things are best left to the imagination, and that’s what Archive Of Our Own is for.

Anika: Yeah. Like aliens. It’s just not my thing. It’s fine. But alien romance, and specifically Saru and T’Rina, I am one THOUSAND percent = for.

Liz: Amazing. I realized as he was having his conversation with Hugh, Saru is much, much, younger than Doug Jones. And in fact, I think he’s only a little bit older than Michael. And we don’t know how old T’Rina is, but she is definitely some degree older than him. So get it, T’Rina. Vulcan cougar business.

Anika: Hey, if Sarek can do it, why can’t T’Rina?

Liz: That’s exactly what she’s thinking as she’s putting on her best robes. But also, I really like that this may be Saru’s first serious relationship. You know, he left Kaminar as a young man, and he maybe hasn’t been attracted to any other species. So, what I’m saying is, Saru could be a virgin. And I guess that’s a T’Rina problem.

Anika: And T’Rina is not, I’m gonna go with.

Liz: She’s been through some pon farrs.

Anika: Right. I wonder what happened there. Where’s her bond mate? I’m not gonna worry about that. I’m not gonna worry about it.

Liz: I’m going to speculate wildly.

I just think that touch telepathy is such a great introduction to cross-species sensuality. And go, Saru.

And Hugh is completely right that Saru was being an idiot and overthinking it. And also, T’Rina has invited him for a nice walk and dinner, and they don’t have to get down pon farr style on the first date.

Anika: Right. They don’t have to have be in a relationship on the first date. They can just have a first date. I know Vulcans, I get it.

And who knows what they the Kaminar – like, I have no idea what they do. But I think Saru was overthinking it because it is one of his first relationships. And because he’s never really been in a place…

When we are introduced to him on the Shenzhou, with Michael and Captain Georgiou, he is the overeager third in command, trying to get somewhere, trying to prove himself in Starfleet because Starfleet is so important to him. And relationships weren’t a part of that. Even a relationship with Michael wasn’t a part of that.

Liz: They were barely friends.

Anika: And he’s come so far in the intervening three or four years. And maybe now he is at that place.

Liz: And it makes sense that, you know, yes, he went to the Academy, but he was new to the Federation, and he had come from this pre-warp species, and he just has so much to catch up on that, even if he feels the inclination, who has the time for messy romantic first love?

Anika: Again, we don’t know anything about his race, so there would be another layer of, how do you do that?

Liz: Yes.

Anika: That would be difficult. So T’Rina is the perfect relationship for Saru, but they’re also just adorable.

Liz: Oh, my gosh. Because it’s Doug Jones, there is this middle-aged romance plus the first romance vibe. The combination is really compelling and I love it. And T’Rina is so charming, and so empathetic and emotional.

Anika: She treats Saru as someone who is an equal to her, but also someone that she can teach, and that his feelings are completely valid, even if they are different than hers, even if they are different than how would deal with them. And that was missing in other Vulcans we’ve seen in Star Trek, that ability to say, “I respect your culture, and this is how I do it, and let’s find our middle ground.”

I think that’s what Sarek wants to do. And sometimes he succeeds, but it’s not his default. And people like what’s his name on Enterprise are like just, “No. Earth bad.”

Liz: I think also T’Rina is building on the foundation that Sarek laid. Vulcan or Ni’Varan culture are in such different places then and now. There’s not simply a case of, Sarek was doing it wrong, but Sarek was making it up as he went along with very little guidance, and T’Rina has a century of cultural evolution to draw upon, including Romulan culture.

T’Rina just feels like a really good character. She has never been the focus of an episode, I would love to see that, but as a side character, she feels very realized.

Anika: Yes. She brings a lot, having not been around very long.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: But she brings a lot, too. And, like you were saying, we can see sort of the generations before her, that have gotten her to this place. And I think that that’s a really great way of bringing the past and the future together for us.

Because Admiral Vance is great and I love him, but he could easily be on Deep Space Nine. There’s no growth there. Humans failed to grow.

Liz: If anything, we got worse.

Anika: Right, but T’Rina shows that there has been growth on Ni’Var. And you’re right, that she also has the access to Romulan culture and that sort of reunification of the two warring cultures, the two parts of proto Vulcan.

Liz: Yeah. And It’s worth noting that, although she is very Vulcan in her demeanor and her appearance, she does speak of emotions, she talks of taking joy in her routine. Whereas I think Tuvok probably feels the same way, but he would express it as satisfaction.

Anika: And that’s something, I think that the Romulans were able to bring out in them.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: Suppressing emotions is wrong. Not allowing your emotions to overtake you is how we should all be, but ignoring them or denying them is just unhealthy.

Liz: And it’s interesting that we have this attitude from the Ni’Varans, and then we have Starfleet demonstrating a rare example of emotional intelligence, in terms of respecting that Michael is the best person to bring Book in, but also that they don’t want to put her in the position, the deeply traumatic position, of having to maybe kill him. And hence Nahn.

Anika: I love your note.

Liz: “Starfleet protecting its captains from trauma? Seems fake.”

Anika: Has it ever happened before? No.

Liz: I have deliberately not gone looking at reviews this time, because I’ve just had a week where Star Trek fandom has been really unpleasant and nasty. I was like, I just want to hang out with Anika and our friends in the Cornwell Discord, and, you know, the people that I know and like, and talk about it there.

So I assume that someone out there is having a whinge about Michael either being second guessed, or being, oh, a weak soft lady, who cries, because she needs Nahn to back her up. But I think this is really smart on Starfleet’s part.

Anika: There is no way anyone else, including Saru, have negotiated the way that Michael does with Book. No one else could have gotten him to that point, to the point of agreeing with them and accepting the compromise.

Liz: And simply knowing his tactics and strategies, and being able to predict his moves. No one else could do that.

Anika: So it was definitely the right … But, but yeah, it’s also not fair to put it all on her.

Liz: Yeah, and I think Nahn’s a really good choice to be that person, because she has been the one to call out Michael in the past for being unable to make the big calls and the hard decisions that will end in the death of someone she cares about.

Anika: All the way back when Airiam died. I was like, oh my God, continuity again.

Liz: Emotional continuity in my Star Trek? It’s more likely than you think!

Anika: What is happening?

Liz: And so, without bringing all of that up, it felt very natural that Nahn would be the choice. And that Nahn herself has to deal with her own black and white thinking, that she needs to join Discovery‘s nonbinary agenda in terms of her philosophy and outlook on life.

We had character growth for a guest star, and it didn’t feel forced or jammed in or detract from Michael in any way!

Anika: Yes. I will say when they first brought on Nahn, I was like, ah, that’s a gimmick. That’s bringing back in someone because it’s sort of, you know, she came from the past, too. So why would Admiral Vance have a relationship with her at all?

Liz: I knew it would be Nahn, but I really wanted Lieutenant Willa.

Anika: But I can fill in the blanks that she had this experience on her home planet, and then she came back to Starfleet because she didn’t fit in there, and Starfleet at least had that sense of order and duty that she wants.

And if she came to Admiral Vance and was like, “Hey, I want a…” I can see her, like Willa, becoming part of his contingent. So I can sort of fill in the backstory for myself.

And the end result was it was a really smart choice, and it ended up with a really good story, you know, character building for both Nahn and for Michael and for Michael and Nahn, and how it all worked out. I liked what they did with it, so I can accept and like make up how it happened for them.

Liz: Watching that scene and knowing that it would be Nahn, I was like, ah, this is going to be weird and dodgy, but it came out really well. And I think that’s in part because this was a chapter in Nahn’s story, and she wasn’t just a supporting character in Michael’s. She has her own thing going.

Anika: Because again, with that continuity, they called back not only to her interactions with Michael on the Airiam episode and its aftermath, also her whole story last season, which is the episode that I can’t–

Liz: We didn’t like that episode!

Anika: I don’t like it, but they didn’t just bring her back and be like, oh, that happened, but we’re not going to talk about it. It was a plot point.

And that, too, at first I was like, they’re not going to explain why she’s back. She’s just security. I don’t like this. As the episode went on, they brought in the points that I wanted, they addressed her time away. It wasn’t just, we’re going to hand wave it all and bring her back because we want to see her again.

Liz: It felt like a story, as well as being fan service.

We even get to see a glimpse of the aftermath of the collapse of the Emerald Chain. And that’s great. There’s a whole ‘nother story there. Not one that I really think we need to see on screen in Discovery, but if they wanted to do a six part comic series about Nahn and Willa, and the aftermath of the Emerald Chain. That would be great.

Anika: That’d be great.

Liz: Nahn’s presence on Discovery and the way Michael dealt with it reminded me again that Michael’s vulnerability is also her strength. And so she is honest, maybe even absolutely candid, about the reason for Nahn being there. And she puts a lot of trust in her crew to see her for who she really is. Picard always had the captain’s mask. Janeway became the mask of the captain.

Anika: I loved that moment on the bridge.

Liz: It felt like something that only Michael Burnham could do.

Anika: I loved it because Nahn, she’s all in black and she’s Starfleet security. And she’s like the shifty person who is doing covert ops, kind of section 31y. So she was totally on board with lying to them the entire time, from a place of protecting Michael. you know, I’m not saying that she had ill intent or–

Liz: No, I think she was acting out of respect for Michael and her role.

Anika: Yes. But I loved that Michael was like, “No, we’re not playing that. That’s not how I do it on my bridge.” And I was just like, A+, you know, assertion of how you run things. And it’d be amazing, a show of faith in your crew.

Liz: And even though Rhys and Bryce are at odds over whether Book has done the wrong thing, I never thought for a moment that either of them was going to disobey orders. I actually can’t remember which one was Team Book and which one wasn’t. But I knew that they would follow orders.

Anika: They’re so interchangeable. Last week you were saying that Michael and Owosekun are not interchangeable. Bryce and Rhys really are.

Liz: I mainly know Rhys because I learned his name when Lorca is drawling it when they’re doing drills in episode four of season one. And Bryce is there and he’s very handsome, and I guess he has a job…

Anika: Bryce surfs and Rhys … Starfleet saved his planet from something, I don’t remember.

Liz: He’s a hurricane survivor.

Anika: I forgot that his tragic backstory was also ridiculous. They don’t have hurricanes, that’s not a thing in the 23rd century, but anyway,

Liz: Yeah, look, I don’t want to make light of it when a terrible storm is at this moment battering the United Kingdom. But, lol.

Anika: I forgot that that even happened. I have to say, though, that’s how interchangeable and forgettable those two are to me, that I forgot they even had any thoughts on Book. I remembered that they were in the mission, but that’s it. I just remember they joined in.

Liz: I liked that we see that the bridge crew have differing opinions on this situation, and we even got a bit of Nilsson characterization as, just as she identified with that DOT who was murdered a few episodes back, she is horrified by the disregard of the DMA. But at the same time, I still don’t really care.

Anika: Yes. I try to pay attention to the bridge crew and I fail. Owosekun is the only one that I’m invested in. Detmer, I care more about Detmer than the others, and I could explain who she is, but those two are the only ones who have ever any real personality to me.

The others, once in a while, do something that shows they have a character and a personality, but it’s like, it doesn’t stick around. There’s none of that continuity. They just pop up and say a thing, and then they go back into the background, and I don’t see any of it. I’m not blaming the actors or the directors, or like, I’m not. I don’t know what it is. But I have a blindness.

Liz: I think it’s also that we’re four seasons in, and people are still complaining that they quote unquote don’t know who these people are, and that they feel that they should. And it’s like, this is not an ensemble show. And four seasons in, why have you not wrapped your head around that yet?

Anika: And also, yeah, we’re four seasons, and, but we have what amounts to two seasons of episodes. So it’s just sort of disingenuous.

Liz: And I know that everyone’s like, “Oh, I miss the good old days when we had episodes that were just hanging out with the characters, having small adventures and getting to know them.” Watching Farscape, I’ve realized I don’t miss those episodes at all. I want a nice tight arc, God damn it.

Anika: But also, when those episodes happen, when there are filler episodes, people complain about them. They say – oh, WandaVision, the penultimate episode of WandaVision, half the people were complaining that it was filler. And it’s like, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t hate filler and also need filler.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: What I get out of it is, people are just never happy.

Liz: I think that is an acceptable conclusion.

Anika: So I do not fault the creators in any way for just telling the stories they want to tell and not worrying about us.

Liz: Right. And I think it’s arguable that this season of Discovery is not as compelling as last season because there’s not as much happening. Last season, we had: getting to the future, finding Earth, finding the Federation, integrating Adira into the crew. And then the Emerald Chain and the Burn. And these things all sort of collided and lots of stuff was happening. Whereas this season is mostly about the DMA and it feels a little more monotonous.

Anika: And honestly, I would describe this episode and last episode as filler because nothing really, again, nothing really happens. It’s like, in this episode they actually blow up the DMA, and yet it immediately reverts and so nothing happened.

Liz: It’s a fungible Greg.

Anika: I like the character building.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: But the pacing is weird, and the character building of the bridge crew is weird. It’s not well integrated into the story.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: And these two episodes, while the last episode was totally fun, and this episode had a lot of emotional stakes and cute moments, we’re sort of treading water. We’re not going anywhere here.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: Last season, they seem to have gotten a handle on the pacing issues. this season has gone back to the Discovery just really doesn’t know how to tell their story in a well-timed way.

Liz: No, and it’s depressing.

You’ve got a note here down at the end, ‘the mystery box problem and the stakes problem.’ And I think part of it is that species 10-C is a mystery. And so they have to hold off on the reveal. That just isn’t satisfying to me. The twist should not be so close to the end. The twist needs to have an aftermath.

Hey, maybe next week, episode 10, they will meet species 10-C and then the twist comes and we get three episodes of the aftermath.

I don’t know, but it does feel … I love last week’s episode. I thought it was great. Whereas this week’s episode, I enjoyed, but I watched it twice and didn’t really feel like I needed to. But they could have been combined in terms of events that take place. Both were very dense with character stuff, which is obviously important. And you know, I’m always going to argue for character stuff as an integral part of the plot….

Anika: Most of the character stuff in both last week’s episode and this week’s episode were centered on Michael and Book, and they also are just treading water. They’re not getting anywhere in their relationship. They sort of moved forward at the end of this episode, but then everything fell apart. So we didn’t get to a new space. The new space was coming, and they were going to meet in the middle, and then it didn’t happen.

Liz: Ruon Tarka ruined it. It’s right there in his name. And he’s just the worst.

But before we get to that, last week, and this week both had Michael and Book basically mirroring each other because they know each other so well from their courier days. And normally I love parallels between episodes, but it felt repetitious.

Anika: Right. Exactly. It doesn’t feel new if you do it twice in a row.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: And it also doesn’t feel like you’re building out the characters, either, because you’re doing the same thing. It’s like, no, we have to learn from something. Something has to change. If it was a procedural, that would be different, but it’s not.

Liz: No, frankly, I want these guys to surprise each other, and surprise each other in a way that’s not stealing a spore drive and going off to destroy Greg. Because otherwise it starts to feel like maybe their relationship is a bit stale.

Anika: Yeah. Can we talk about Book’s motivations? Because this is part of a stakes problem for me, but I was a lot like Michael throughout this entire episode, where Michael was like, “So it’s not a weapon and they’re not trying to destroy things,” and Book was like, “I don’t care.” And then she was like, “Okay, so this is more information that we found,” and it didn’t get anywhere.

I don’t know when Book made the decision to go so all in on this destroy Greg plot. I feel like I didn’t see it happen.

Liz: I kind of understand it, because his fear is that, even if this is not a weapon and it’s just a natural phenomenon, effectively, you know, we can’t control it, it doesn’t know about us, it doesn’t care about us. It’s still like, if you could throw a grenade and prevent a cyclone from wiping out an island, would you throw that grenade? Yes, of course. So I get that.

What I don’t get, in terms of the stakes, is the assumption that destroying the DMA is going to be perceived as an act of war by species 10-C, when there’s no evidence that species 10-C is even aware that this galaxy’s inhabited.

It feels like they’re ascribing a human motive to something where they don’t have enough data. There’s just not enough data to be speculating like this. And Michael, as a xenoanthropologist, should be aware of that.

Anika: They’ve definitely forgotten that she’s a xenoanthropologist.

Liz: One hundred percent.

Anika: That hasn’t come up in a while.

My issue, and this is something that I do fault the writing for Book. Not the – I would never fault the actor. I love him. David Ajala is amazing, and I love Book. I love the character of Book, and I’m really focused on him, and I want him to come out on the other side.

When we first started talking about the destruction of Kwejian and I described it as Alderaan, and it’s the same problem, that we don’t care as an audience. We cannot feel the destruction of that planet because it’s too huge. It’s too huge to understand on a full universal level. And the only way that we can feel it is through the character. And neither Book nor Leia really get to feel it on screen. Especially Leia.

Liz: I disagree. Book spends episodes and episodes processing his feelings ad nauseum.

Anika: I think it was, like, one episode.

Liz: It was, like, two.

Anika: I don’t know. I still see it from his perspective instead of mine.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: I don’t know how to explain, exactly. It’s not given the right amount of weight, maybe because Book is feeling it, but all the people around him also can’t understand the destruction of a planet?

Michael, who’s the closest to him and absolutely is supportive of him and takes care of him, and is there for him … and Saru has that conversation with him where they talk about it. Everybody is there for him, but there’s still this missing … I don’t know. Maybe I just need Book to really lose it, to lose it on a Russian figure skater level.

Liz: I think it’s a problem with how it was filmed. Because we saw it as a special effect, perceived from Book’s ship, where … I’m thinking in terms of the Vietnam war, which Americans and Australians saw unfold on their televisions in their living rooms.

And I’m not saying that Discovery should have gone into gratuitous violence for the destruction of Kwejian, but I think maybe we needed to see the people on the planet as it breaks apart and they die.

Anika: You know how the little kid was like a ghost for two episodes, or hallucination, I guess. And he annoyed me. I was annoyed by that child instead of connecting to him as a person who matters and who we should mourn.

I am the type of person who connects pretty deeply with television and movies and Russian figure skaters, and so I don’t know what is wrong. I don’t know why there’s this block where I just am mad at Book for being upset that his planet – like, when I say it out loud, I’m like, of course he’s upset, he has every reason to do what he’s doing. But I don’t feel it. I’m not connected to it.

Liz: It was done really, really well in season five of The Expanse, where we see various perspectives of the asteroids hitting Earth, and it’s the most chilling scene is where Avasarala is on the phone to the president, and the president drops out and Avasarala realizes that her plane has been destroyed. That was haunting and terrifying, and no special effects were required.

Discovery‘s destruction of Kwejian was very special effects heavy, but we only saw it through one person’s physically removed perspective.

Anika: Maybe if there were more Kwejian people, like, we had more perspectives or … I don’t know what the issue is, but there’s an issue for me.

And no shade to anyone else who is totally connected, or loves that kid, or is, like, crying. Every day. That’s great. I’m glad that you are invested. This is entirely about me,

Liz: We cannot speak for all of fandom.

My beef is also, like, we had that episode on Kwejian in season three, and I didn’t like that episode, and I didn’t find convincing as a place because it was just a bunch of sets and some actors. It just felt really small. All we see is this one family and, these few individuals.

Anika: Then in this season, you know, they had that tree ceremony and I was like, the entire point of this is that something bad is going on. Like, it was just seemed to, so obvious. I couldn’t connect to it, cause I was just seeing the end before it happened. Like, they reintroduce those characters and I was like, oh, okay, a small, happy child going through his bar mitzvah, he’s going to die.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: I don’t know. Maybe I watched too much television, maybe. There are too many stories in the world now, and it’s hard.

Liz: I don’t think that can possibly be the case. I just think this one was not executed as well as it could have been, and we simply didn’t have the emotional connection to Kwejian that we need to make Book’s story work.

You know, there’s a throwaway line in Deep Space Nine, Betazed’s been invaded by the Dominion, and Betazed has fallen, and all of that. And that’s terrible. And we never learn anything more about it in television canon, but it sent shockwaves through the show and through the fandom, because Betazed, we know Deanna. We know her mother. We have seen Betazed, even if it is just a park in Los Angeles.

Anika: Yeah, with the pretty pink flowers.

Liz: We had only visited Kwejian once. It didn’t seem all that convincing and its loss is sad, but it’s also hypothetical.

Anika: Yeah, I think you’re right, because when Vulcan blew up in the 2009 movie…

Liz: That is such a better comparison.

Anika: That was traumatic!

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: It was really upsetting for the audience, not just the characters.

Liz: It was. and then the loss of Romulus in our timeline is devastating, and decades later, there’s still fall out and consequences. I do think part of the problem is that Book is the only Kwejian person that we know.

Anika: I think that’s it.

Liz: The sole survivor of a lost planet, that’s sad, but it’s kind of a little unrealistic. Whereas a handful of survivors is interesting. They have different agendas, they have different feelings, there’s internal conflict, but there’s also the precarious hope.

Anika: Ooh, what if Ruon Tarka was also from Kwejian?

Liz: That’s it! Yes! If Ruon Tarka was like, “Hey, there’s a universe where Kwejian wasn’t destroyed,” I would be much more sympathetic to … Let’s talk about Ruon Tarka and how he is the worst. And I don’t mean he’s the worst, but I love him, like Sarek. I don’t even mean he’s the worst, but he’s a great villain, like Lorca. I mean, I hate him and I want to punch him in the face.

Anika: Actually the worst. He’s so smarmy. I don’t trust anything he’s saying. And my note here is that he’s the worst, and then he’s not rewarded for it, which somehow makes it worse because if he at least got what it is that he was trying to do, there would be some payoff for his being the worst.

But nothing happens. He just ruins everything. No one is happy. I’m just, just done. I don’t want it.

Liz: Like Book and Michael in their holding pattern, he is also in a holding pattern. We don’t get the catharsis of seeing him thrown in jail, and we don’t even get the, ‘oh no, what happens next?!’ of him getting a win.

I tweeted yesterday, “My non spoiler-y take on this season of Star Trek: Discovery is that Ruon Taka would be into crypto.”

And I think it’s resonated, because so far it’s received 202 likes, which is outrageous by the standards of my little Twitter.

I think a lot of people look at him and they see the tech bro and the mansplainer and the Elon Musk of the Federation, in that he promises, and he dodges and he weaves, and he talks and talks and talks about himself, but his plans don’t actually work. He doesn’t actually get…

Anika: He literally tricked Vance into backing him. He’s absolutely a crypto bro, you know, venture capitalist nonsense guy. And at this point, there’s nothing redeemable about him. Are we supposed to be sad that he lost his best friend slash lover, Gundam wing scientist guy? Like I’m not.

Liz: At this point, I’m pretty sure–

Anika: That guy went to an alternate universe–

Both: To get away from him!

Liz: I was just about to say that. No, absolutely.

I think he’s a great character, in that, I see him and I hate him. And I was talking to a friend, and I was like, would I feel differently if he was played by Jason Isaacs?

But I feel like if he was played by Jason Isaacs, he’d have more going on beneath the surface. Whereas Shawn Doyle is giving us a man who is just completely hollow. It’s Ruon Tarka’s self-interest all the way down.

Anika: Yeah.

Liz: And also, anytime someone starts talking about game theory, that’s a bad sign. Nothing good ever comes from a monologue about game theory.

Anika: He starts talking and I just, like – like you said, I just want to punch him in the face. And it was another one of those, like, of course he is going to ruin everything, but nothing happened. He ruined everything, and it didn’t matter.

Liz: I honestly thought he was going to pull out a phaser and shoot Book. And I don’t want Book to die, but I’m a little disappointed that didn’t happen, because that would have been a genuine surprise and a substantial change for the show.

Anika: He needs Book to travel around. But if it had succeeded, he would have his engine, so he wouldn’t need Book anymore.

I agree, that’s the power move. The power move is, “I believe in my thing so much that I’m just gonna shoot you and get you out of the way.”

I don’t want Book to die, but there would have been that catharsis for both of us. And Michael. And also for Tarka, because he couldn’t jump away without Book, so he would’ve screwed himself. So it’s like, that is a more compelling ending, even though I don’t want it. I don’t want that to have happened.

Liz: He doesn’t have to shoot to kill Book, right? He could just injure him a little.

Anika: Even if he’s stunned him, he wouldn’t be able to use him to jump away.

Liz: There was the clamp that the Emerald Chain used to control Stamets, and I do kind of like the idea that Tarka is so far gone in his obsession that he would use the methods of the people who enslaved him against someone else. See, we’re writing a much better version!

Anika: We’re making a better version of – sorry, we’ve come up with three different ways Tarka could be a better character.

Liz: We have taken a break from fixing Good Sam and to returned to our original hobby of fixing Discovery.

Anika: So you know how, at the end of every Greatest Generation episode, they’re like, “So did you like this episode?” I think I have to admit that I didn’t love this episode.

Liz: I also didn’t love this one.

Anika: It’s sort of a low point for this season.

Liz: I agree.

Anika: It wasn’t bad.

Liz: No, and it wasn’t problematic the way Choose to Live was. It didn’t leave me thinking that they had forgotten who Michael is. I just didn’t really enjoy it. That doesn’t mean it was bad.

One of the things that I really enjoy about The Greatest Gen is how they can recognize that something is good, but also it’s not their favorite. And that’s how I … I don’t know that this episode is good. I just don’t think it’s bad.

Anika: I think it’s fine.

Liz: Mm.

Anika: It’s one of those just fine  episodes.

Liz: So did you find yourself a drunk Shimoda?

[both laughing]

Anika: Um, I’m going to say Hugh Culber. I just love Wilson’s expressions during his scene with Saru. He just had this look of, “Oh my boy’s growing up, like, what a sweet thing.” He was this very parental … And yet it’s Saru. So it was just really sweet. It was a very sweet moment.

That was the part of the episode, the T’Rina and Saru stuff at the beginning and the Saru and Culber stuff at the end were my favorite parts of the episode, and just made me smile.

Liz: Great. And I also really love learning more about Nahn, not just in who she is, but in how she thinks, and in her recognition that she needs to change the way she thinks. I am also very prone to black and white thinking. So I get it, Nahn. I’d be happy to see her some more.

Anika: Yes and see her grow. And I agree that I want that little story of what she was doing in between, I think it’s interesting. Yeah, I don’t think it belongs in Discovery, but a nice tie-in for her.

Liz: Yes. Also, I think it’s good for Michael to have a friend who is outside of her chain of command. I really miss Tilly. And honestly, I walked away from this episode thinking I miss Tilly, and I miss Adira, and I miss Gray.

But I like seeing Michael have a friend who is her equal, and who has never been her protege and has never been her mother figure and has never eaten people. She’s just Michael knows and trusts and likes.

Anika: And someone who is willing to stand up to Michael, but still respects her at the end, like, stands up to her because she respects her.

Liz: That’s it. That’s perfect. And it didn’t have an uncomfortable racial dynamic of a white woman telling a Black woman how to feel. They walked that line with great finesse.

 So, no, this is not my favorite episode, but I don’t hate it. Did you see that the controller for Greg was an Omega molecule?

Anika: Oh, yes, yes I did. and it looked exactly like my toy. It looks exactly like my toy. I was very excited.

Liz: I started explaining to Erin the whole Omega thing, and it’s like god to the Borg, and Janeway has to destroy it, and it’s a toy, and Anika really wanted one. And I don’t think I sold her, but, you know, yeah. That that was a nice detail. And I’m really glad that we talked about it last week so thatI looked it up and could recognize it.

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

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Join us next week when we’ll be discussing the next episode of Star Trek: Discovery, in which I presume something may happen or not. Whatever, I don’t care. (I do.)

Anika: Maybe we’ll meet the 10-C people. because that’s sort of, that’s sort of how the cliffhanger ended, was we’re going to the 10-C people.