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107. Pondering the Orb (Disco 4.12)

“Why would an ANDROID want to have EMOTIONS? That is a massive plot hole, this is FAKE STAR TREK!”

Anika and Liz meet the 10-C, shout enough to scare Grudge, and contemplate…

  • What can Book’s fate possibly be? Liz has a theory!
  • A VERY brief digression into matters Picard related (note spoilers)
  • “Why is Star Trek about feelings all of a sudden?” We cannot believe this is even a point of discussion, but since it’s come up, we have a rant we prepared earlier!
  • We do enjoy a nice puzzle…
  • Some WILD SPECULATION about the possibilities for season 5
  • Wait, why haven’t they just chucked a spacesuit on T’Rina and sent her out to mind meld with the 10-C?


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 the penultimate episode of Star Trek: Discovery season four, Species 10-C.

So. We had an episode that is all about intellectual concepts, and connection, and communicating with an alien while the fate of world hangs in the balance. Really pure Star Trek stuff. Do you think the fan bros enjoyed that?

Anika: No.

Liz: No, not even a little bit!

Anika: Not even a little bit. Of course they didn’t.

Liz: No.

Anika: There was too much discussion of feelings, Liz! They stopped to have discussions of feelings!

Liz: I thought this was great. It was exactly what I’ve been wanting from the season. I feel like that three episode blip earlier in this run of episodes is over, and we can come into a really good ending of the season. And I’m happy.

Anika: You know how we said that next season is going to be a ten-episode season. I think it’s notable that there were three episodes that didn’t fit in to the rest of the season.

Liz: I almost wonder if we’re going to learn that this was originally conceived as a ten-episode story, and then they had to add three on. And I totally respect the choice to dedicate those three to character development and feelings, but it’s just so, so, so unbalanced.

Whereas stuff that I did not like, and still have problems with, like Choose to Live, I can now put in context in terms of setting up stuff that’s still to come in the season, ie, what’s going to happen to Book.

Anika: I really like your theory. Do you want to give everyone your theory?

Liz: Yes. My theory is that Choose to Live was there to establish that Michael really, really believes in justice and consequences, and also to establish that Vulcan has this non-violent, non-punitive justice system.

And so what’s going to happen is that, whatever happens to Tarka, Book is going to turn himself over to the Federation, and he’s going to spend some time, you know, doing Vulcan meditation with Michael’s mother. And that plus whatever connection that he makes with 10-C that saves them all is enough to restore Michael’s trust in him and give them a new foundation to rebuild their relationship.

At least, I really hope that’s the case and that they don’t kill him off. Because that would make me sad.

Anika: That would make everyone sad.

Liz: Why would you do that?

Anika: I’ve been angry at Book for most of the season, and yet I don’t want him to be sacrificed on the altar of stakes, or making Michael sad. Fridging a Black man is not actually better than fridging a woman. Just saying.

Liz: Exactly. And I feel like that would be a natural conclusion to the story that they’ve been telling all season, and would kind of make Book and relationships — I’m sorry, Book and Michael’s relationship stronger, in that Michael’s relationship with Ash didn’t really survive the first challenge of — well, okay, Ash was a Klingon and he tried to murder her. That’s hard to overcome. But all that they could get to from that was friendship. And then she left.

Whereas Book and Michael, I think they can get past this. And he is an idiot, but he has not done anything unforgivable yet.

Anika: He can have his atonement.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: I love the idea of Choose to Live existing for that.

Liz: Yes, because we did not care for it otherwise.

Anika: Right. It reminds me of Star Wars Rebels, which I’m just going to say, anybody who is looking forward to Kenobi, please go watch Star Wars Rebels. It will help.

Liz: I texted my flatmate and said, “I know you’re not going to watch the Kenobi trailer,” because she has not been able to watch a trailer since The Phantom Menace, “but we are going to have to do a quick speed run of The Clone Wars and Rebels.”

Is this an appropriate time to mention how sad I am that they did not cast Jason Isaacs as the Inquisitor?

Anika: I have to assume that there was some kind of contractual breakdown or they couldn’t get it together in time kind of thing. I feel like he was offered, but it didn’t work out. That’s my theory.

Liz: Okay. But if it turns out he did Good Sam instead, I’m not sure … That’s a choice that I wouldn’t have gone with.

Anika: It’s not the choice I would’ve made, but we don’t know his life. Maybe he just wanted something simpler. He didn’t want to have lightsabers in reality, you know, it was fun to do it when he was recording in his closet, but if he had to actually have a lightsaber, maybe it wasn’t fun for him.

Liz: Interesting choice, if that’s the reasoning.

Anika: But Star Wars Rebels did this very well, where they would have these episodes that really seem like they had nothing to do with anything, and then all of a sudden they became very important. And they did it over and over, and it was amazing worldbuilding and story-building that I just think we should appreciate.

And sometimes they were the episodes that people were like — you know, they would all call them filler. And I would call them character development.

Liz: And then we fight.

Anika: But sometimes they were episodes that I also was like, I’m not really into this, there’s way too much Jedi nonsense going on here that I don’t want to care about. And then other people who love the Jedi nonsense would be into it. And we would fight. But then at the end, it would all come together.

And so I really liked that kind of storytelling. It makes me want to rewatch things. It makes me appreciate the episodes that I don’t necessarily care about because it feels like it’s part of a bigger story.

Liz: Yeah. And if this is what Discovery has done, then for all my complaints about the storytelling this season, I think that was a beautiful piece of work, even though I still think that Michael would not be a big fan of the carceral justice system, and that I’m going to die on that hill.

Anika: That’s acceptable. Okay.

Liz: So everyone’s talking about how this is like Star Trek does Arrival. And have you seen Arrival? Cause I haven’t. I’m very embarrassed to say.

Anika: I have seen Arrival, and there are definitely parallels to it, in that they have that linguistics expert. I’ve forgotten his name, but our little Wordle, our Space Wordle guy.

Liz: The guy that we love, whose name we don’t know, because that would just be silly.

Anika: So I’m going to call him Wordle. And Wordle is played by Amy Adams in Arrival, and Michael is played by Jeremy Renner. Unfortunately,

Liz: We’re on Zoom. I’m pulling a face.

Anika: We could also say that the Earth [general], Ndoye, could be played by Jeremy Renner. Both Michael and Ndoye are better than Jeremy Renner in every way. But Arrival is a science fiction story that ends up being about emotions and trauma.

Liz: Hmm. Sounds fake.

Anika: So it actually, I would say, it’s a good sci-fi story to ape, if that’s what they wanted to do, because there are more parallels than just the math and the communication via lights and the one person who understands it, who brings in a group of other people to figure out how to explain it. Because you can’t depend on just math or just linguistics or just storytelling, you have to have all of those together. And all of that was also in this episode. So I see the Arrival parallels.

Liz: And I think that if you’re going to mimic a really famously intelligent movie, based on an acclaimed short story, steal from the best. I love it. I love having this intellectual Star Trek episode. I don’t want to say it’s ‘real Star Trek’, but it feels very much like a confident piece of the canon that knows it has a place.

Anika: And it was also very positive. All of their interactions with 10-C ended up being — 10-C didn’t mean to kill Kwejian or anybody. That wasn’t part of their deal. They do have empathy. They do have curiosity. They do want to know who we are and they do want to communicate with us.

So there were a lot of assumptions that were set aside, and it ended up being this really positive first contact that unfortunately, because Tarka’s the worst, it goes a little sideways at the end.

Liz: I love that this episode gave us a fresh anecdote about Sarek being terrible, but he’s still not the worst because Tarka is there.

Anika: No one can possibly be worse than Tarka. Every single time he has the opportunity to not be the worst, he chooses to be the worst.

Liz: It’s Gul Dukat levels of unwillingness to accept the opportunity for redemption.

Speaking of, RIP Scull Dukat. Very sad about his alternate universe death. I’m sure it was hilarious.

But yeah, Tarka is an interesting fellow, not because of anything intrinsic about him, but just the way there are still people, cis white men, in fandom who were willing to give him, you know, “Let’s hear him out. He really has a point.”

Anika: That’s a big no for me, I don’t want to hear him out. I do not find him. interesting. I am off the Tarka train entirely. I don’t care about him. I don’t care about his relationship to Oros. I don’t care about him getting home. I just want him to go away.

Liz: I feel at this point, he is definitely doomed to die, because in Star Trek, you know, you can maybe make a gesture towards destroying Qo’noS and get away with that. But you can’t put Earth at risk and be redeemed. Not in Star Trek.

Anika: And Ni’Var.

Liz: And Ni’Var.

Anika: And Discovery, the ship that this show is about, all of the characters we care about.

Liz: Does he know that there’s a cat on board Discovery? He can’t endanger that.

Anika: He doesn’t care about anyone or anything other than his plot to escape to an alternate universe. It is the most selfish motivation possible. He is not even saving his son’s life, or something. He is not curing a disease. He is not changing the timeline to stop the murder of anyone. He is literally escaping the universe. That is his only goal.

Liz: It’s not even as noble as, oh no, my wife or lover was fridged. Because Oros — he doesn’t know where he is. Oros could be around the corner getting McDonald’s.

Anika: Yeah. He could be anywhere. Or be the 10-C, we don’t know.

Liz: It’s as good a theory as any!

Anika: Or Oros could be dead. Oros could be a figment of his imagination.

Liz: Oh, my God, there was never an Oros! I will not be shocked when he learns that Oros is dead and yeah, maybe he was never alive to begin with. I do like that

Anika: Fitting for Tarka, the worst. Even Gul Dukat was better. He had some redeeming quality, he at least has a point of view.

Liz: The only person who is possibly worse is evil Confederation Picard and his room full of skulls. And I feel like even he probably has a philosophy that’s not just, ‘what is good for me personally, as an individual.’

Anika: Yeah, I know we’re not talking about Picard, but just since you brought it up…

Liz: It was hard not to!

Anika: This is related, because we’re discussing Book’s atonement, and inadvertently we’re discussing Tarka’s atonement.

Liz: That he’ s not going to do.

Anika: That he’s not going to do, but I think that part of him thinks that doing this craziness is his penance.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: He’s delusional, but I think that that’s what he thinks. But I’m very, very interested in this idea that our Picard has to atone for the worst Picard’s actions. I’m interested in where that story is going to go.

Liz: My theory is that something that Picard does while they are traveling back in time is what triggers this timeline. And so our Jean-Luc Picard created that Jean-Luc Picard, and then he has to go back and fix it.

And I’m like, Q, you could just say this. Like, just use your words. But then it would be a very short season.

And yeah, I don’t want to get into Picard stuff too deep, because I really enjoyed it, and I have a lot of feelings about it, but it’s really challenging to go from this thoughtful – I keep using the word ‘intellectual’, it’s almost a little dry – episode of Discovery, to the much more whizzbang alternate universe, legacy characters that we’ve known for decades, storytelling of Picard.

There’s nothing wrong with either of them, but again, I wish we were having them on separate nights.

Anika: Me too. But I do have to say that I was very, very impressed with how good both episodes were, given how different they were, how very tonally different they were. Almost in a different genre of storytelling.

But both stories were very tight. There was no excess in either. Both had emotional connections. I was invested in both the plot and the characterizations, and it was just two really strong episodes that were both very Star Trek and also very sci-fi. But also very different.

If that’s where we’re at in Star Trek world, in the universe of Star Trek, I am very excited to be here.

Liz: Absolutely. And Star Trek can be so many different things. I really do enjoy that. It can be so many things simultaneously. As much as Voyager and Deep Space Nine were very, very different, they still had the same costume designers, the same composers, the same overall aesthetics, in a way that Picard and Discovery don’t. And Strange New Worlds might be different again. And obviously the animated shows are their own beasts entirely. I’m very happy with the state of Star Trek right now.

Anika: So we’ve talked about Book and we’ve talked about Tarka, let’s talk about the other two in their side of the plot, which is Reno and Ndoye.

Liz: I have always loved Jett Reno and I’ve always enjoyed Tig Notaro’s presence, but I don’t think she has ever acted as well as this in Discovery. So sad and gentle and empathetic, and it was just a great performance from someone who I’ve now realized is very underrated as an actor.

Anika: Right. I agree. It’s been a shtick until this episode. And then this episode, it was like, oh, we’re giving her a plot line and a story ended up a purpose beyond ‘I’m a mix of Scotty and bones and I’m tired and I’m giving you these little breadcrumbs of wisdom.’

I think she has a presence, but I agree that she hasn’t been acting. And the only other time that I saw her acting was when she had that scene with Hugh, where she first brought up her wife. And so I like that. There’s that connection as well, that when there are personal stakes for the character, she gets to shine.

Liz: Yeah. A lot of the time it does feel like she is basically playing Tig Notaro in space. And so whenever Jett gets to be more than that, Tig Notaro really shines.

And I love learning more about her. I love learning about this desperate attempt to save this ensign who subconsciously reminded her of her wife, and that she had lost her wife early enough in the war that she took this posting [on the Hiawatha] and then was stranded for most of it.

Her wife must’ve died at the Battle of the Binary Stars, and yet she has no problem with Michael. That says, you know, what a great big hearted person she is. Deep down. Don’t tell anyone.

Anika: I also think it aligns her with the Discovery crew and their constant, ‘every time I try to get away from myself and my trauma, I ended up in even worse position that I started in.’

Liz: It’s almost as if avoiding your trauma is bad.

Anika: Oops.

Liz: Hmm. Fake news.

Anika: That might be something that’s a theme in Discovery.

Liz: Interesting.

Anika: That those fan bros we were talking about don’t want to hear.

Liz: It does feel like – we were talking about this earlier in the week, that so much of an audience right now seems to be really against the idea of emotional driven storytelling. And it feels like everyone is traumatized and a lot of people have adopted a flat affect to cope with it. And they think that they’re the ones who are okay.

And I totally get that. I spend many, many hours pretending I don’t have feelings, but feelings are a thing and we have to put up with them, unfortunately. Even in our storytelling,

Anika: I have seen a lot of comments in this argument that have brought up the idea of escapism and that they don’t — so I think that you’re right, that there is a cohort of people who aren’t able to address the trauma in their own lives. And you put that out there, every single person on earth right now is going through a trauma. And has been for years.

Liz: Yeah. It’s not even just with the pandemic.

Anika: Regardless of where you are or what you’ve personally been dealing with, globally, we have been traumatized. So I understand that there are people who don’t have the bandwidth to address any of that, and are trying to use something like Star Trek as an escape. So they don’t want to be presented with it.

But for me, my version of escapism is actually escaping into a story about dealing with trauma, so that I build up my own ability to deal with my trauma.

Liz: I don’t even do anything as sophisticated as that. I just like to deal with other people’s fictional emotions instead of my own.

I will say, at the same time, we have a lot of stories that are basically about trauma right now, particularly in popular culture. You know, WandaVision is the obvious one, but even something like Yellowjackets, which does it on a horror level, or the most recent Spider-Man movie.

And so I do understand that there is also going to be a backlash against every story being about trauma, and trauma is not the only emotional experience that we should be exploring through fiction.

So I completely understand if people are kind of like, “Every story is about trauma and I’m getting a little bored with that and I want something different,” but at the same time, Discovery is not just dealing with trauma. They’re dealing with Saru’s new love and Michael’s frustration as her boyfriend disappoints her.

Anika: I think that that is the other problem, is that they are lumping the idea of any emotion as being a negative traumatic emotion. Or dealing with anxiety. But they’re saying like, “Oh, Saru is anxious about his relationship with T’Rina and therefore he’s dealing with anxiety.” And so is Michael and Hugh, who are dealing with a completely different kind of anxiety.

Book is a great representation, although I continue to believe that he’s a terrible representation of being traumatized. However, he is dealing with a completely different kind of anxiety that Saru is dealing with. And one is very trauma-based and the other is much more mundane.

Liz: Right. And Saru’s anxiety is, in a way, very positive. He is taking this new step. He is building a new relationship and he is learning new things and he’s nervous because he cares about T’Rina and he doesn’t want to hurt her, and he doesn’t want to be hurt. They can be negative, but in this iteration, I think they’re very positive feelings.

Anika: Right. So emotions aren’t bad. That’s the bottom line. Emotions aren’t bad.

Liz: I definitely feel like a lot of these guys would be looking at Data’s quest to feel emotions through the seven years of The Next Generation and going, “Hmm. Seems fake. As an android, he’s already the highest possible form of life. Unrealistic. Plot hole. Zero stars.”

Anika: Spock, too. Spock’s entire characterization is based on, “What emotions do I want to feel, and when?”

Liz: “And how do I deal with them in a healthy way?” Yeah. Yeah. And that was way back in the sixties.

I think it’s in part toxic masculinity, and also a response to the events of the last few years, and a genuine desire to step back and distance oneself from emotions, because they think that will make life easier. And I think they’re wrong, but I understand the urge.

Anika: It’s something they can control.

Liz: Yeah. Yeah. But also, they’re also being asked to empathize with the emotions of Black women and men who are not very masculine, and obviously for some people in fandom that is also a problem.

But yeah, and it’s also worth noting that for all the whizzbang AU nonsense happening in Picard, that is also a series whose premiere episode for this season started basically with a whole lot of conversations about his personal life and his feelings, and why is Picard bad at romance? So…

Anika: And it’s clear that in relationships are very important to the story that they’re telling in Picard, because every single person in it is in a relationship that is in a certain upheaval.

Liz: Except for Soji, whose boyfriend was literally forgotten last season, and now she seems to be sidelined as a regular. Let’s talk about that in a couple of weeks.

Anika: So Ndoye is the final of our four people who are in that grouping. And I feel pretty bad for her, got to say, but I also have that sort of same, why are you doing this? The show has not sold me on her motivations as it could have to make me believe in why she’s doing the things she’s doing.

But I also think that she’s definitely been manipulated by the Tarka. The worst.

Liz: The worst.

Also, I think she is acting out of fear that Earth will end up like Kwejian. And fear, as much as grief, is a really negative and damaging emotion, if you give into it. And I enjoy how she tries to walk that middle line.

I don’t know if you noticed at the end, when Rillak invites her to join them in the orb, which is then pondered by 10-C, Ndoye says no. And then she takes T’Rina aside and has a quiet word with her. And so I wonder if T’Rina has been let in on plans–

Anika: Interesting.

Liz: –and is going to take some action next week. I don’t know. I’m curious.

I like Ndoye, I want to see the consequences for her. I think they’re going to be a lot more punitive if they come from the Earth government than the Federation, but who knows? Maybe she can seek asylum with the Federation and go, “Hey, I totally messed up. Can you help me be better?” Cause I feel like Earth seems like a not very healthy place right now, just from the little we’ve seen of it.

Anika: Right? Which is why she’s acting the way she’s acting.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: It’s a Seska situation, where she was raised in this way, and this is the only way she knows how to deal with it. I’m more interested in her reasons than in her actions, I guess. Her actions feel very, ‘we needed somebody over here to do this, and so we got her.’ But I think it’s going somewhere. And I definitely want someone to double cross Tarka!

Liz: Oh my gosh, please. When is Grudge going to come in and be like, “Okay, you shot my human, you also took him away from me. Let’s talk. Claws out.” Grudge will save us all.

Anika: So the other foursome is on the orb.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: Michael, Saru, T’Rina and Rillak

Liz: A really fun double date. I’m just putting that out there for our friend USSJellyfish, who is the OG Michael/T’Rina shipper and who had some notes — oh my God. Michael/Rillak. And she had some notes about our Vance/Rillak shipping a couple of weeks ago. We hear you. We acknowledge you. You are valid. It is a great ship.

Anika: I mean, I’m super angry with Book right now, so go on…

Liz: We don’t know what kind of parameters for monogamy Rillak has with her partners. You know, what better time?

Anika: Maybe Earth will be destroyed. I didn’t mean that, but…

Liz: Fingers crossed!

Anika: But they are fun. I liked that it was three bad-ass women and Saru.

Liz: Yes.

Anika: That was fun for me. And that they each had reason to go into the orb, to trust 10-C’s intentions, to believe in their mission. But they also each had a reason to be scared and not sure if it was going to work out and have to think about the consequences.

It was a well-balanced presentation of those feelings, instead of just being, “Yeah, I’m going to go be the first person to meet the 10-C!”

Liz: I will say, when Rillak tells the linguistics guy that he has to stay behind my flatmate turned to me and said, “That would be my [villain] origin story.” So let’s just wait until season five, when Wordle guy is the big bad.

Anika: It was a little strange. It’s sort of like, didn’t Rillak bring him along specifically to do this?

Liz: I just figure you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. I personally would leave the president behind and send the underling who’s a specialist. But what do I know?

Anika: It was strange. Rillak seemed to be doing the, “I’m going to be the first person to meet the 10-C, and I’ve led the presidency go to my head,” but I don’t think that that’s true. I don’t think that was actually her motivation. But I don’t really fully understand why she sent him behind.

I agree with your flatmate that it’s like, man, that’s his life. Remember how last week I was saying that Michael got to use her PhD. He is not getting to use PhD. He is being told that it was a poor choice on his part to go that particular degree. And that’s been said to me, so I feel for him.

But, okay, so when it came out and it was like the arm and, like — it was very much like The Abyss. Have you seen The Abyss? The nineties James Cameron movie?

Liz: I’ve seen the video in the video store. That’s as close as I got.

Anika: Well, it’s about aliens.

Liz: Mm?

Anika: Who are giant and who control water. And the effect, that space bending effect was very reminiscent of The Abyss. Like with Arrival, it felt like — because in The Abyss, they can’t use language. And so the aliens use the news. They use television, bits and pieces of television, to explain what they’re saying, and recordings. And that’s how they end up having a quote unquote conversation.

I like that they are sort of hearkening back to these old school – or new school, Arrival‘s not old, but the story is – but anyway, that we were getting different versions of how to communicate with someone that you can’t communicate with. Easter eggs, Easter eggs, for me, specifically for me.

Liz: I guess, rather than saying it’s a rip-off or it’s derivative, I think it’s definitely conscious of the stories that have gone before and building on them. As distinct from season one of Picard, where I really was increasingly like, I don’t think anyone here has consumed any science fiction made in this century. I feel like this season’s writers for Discovery are very sci-fi literate.

Anika: And they want to tell this really exciting, very sci-fi story about being unable to communicate, because the universal translator really takes that away from all of Star Trek.

Liz: Yeah, you could not tell this story with a more humanoid alien, because it would seem silly, given the technology available to them.

Apparently Mohamed Noor consulted a lot on like the biology of the 10-C and how they communicate with their hydrocarbons. And he and Jayne Brook are doing another series of YouTube videos, looking at the biology of each episode of Discovery. So I feel like that’s going to get fun towards the end. I’m going to learn some stuff. Going to do some science.

Anika: I love the puzzle stuff in this episode because — so, you know, Dungeons and Dragons?

Liz: Yes.

Anika: So I played Dungeons and Dragons. And I really don’t like the combat and, you know, traps, that kind of stuff that is in Dungeons and Dragons. But I played these amazing mazes, like you’re in a labyrinth. Then you get to a certain place and you’re in a room that has four walls and you have to — it’s like an escape room. You know, you have to solve the puzzle in order to get out of the room. And I loved those.

And what was fun is that some of the rooms were like, you have to beat something. And some of the rooms were, you have to find something. And some of the rooms were, you have these puzzles. And so each of us in our party each — like the real person had a talent, and mine was puzzles.

And I got so excited whenever we would get into one of those rooms, I would like grab it. And I would start putting in my little — you know, cause I had the key, I started putting it all in and I would just felt like that … You know, that was twenty-something years ago. But I remember it as the best time I ever played Dungeons and Dragons or any role playing game at all, because it was something that I was good at, that I could contribute. I didn’t have to ask anybody what I was supposed to be doing.

I sound like I’m not a Disco Does D and D person. Which is true.

Liz: I’ve never played Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve just never had the opportunity, though I could go out and find one of those parties for beginners and meet people — anyway.

But I play a lot of video games, and I am so, so, so bad at puzzles. I really struggle with puzzles, I quite often have to use cheats, but if I get them by myself, there is this tremendous sense of satisfaction.

And I had that all through this episode, there was the satisfaction of a puzzle being solved, and also the tension of knowing that first Tarka is existing and being the worst and going to ruin it all, but also that if they fail, the stakes are very high.

Anika: But it was also that elation that it was working and that they were communicating and that they had found common ground, and that they realized that they didn’t mean to hurt them. And there was this possibility for a diplomatic solution. All of that.

That’s where finally the tension and the stakes were right along with you, because we knew that Tarka was doing all of this. We knew that they had less time than they thought.

And there was so much going on, like the whole side plot with Adira realizing that Reno was gone and trying to find them, and, the engineering crew and Zora knowing that something was wrong, but not being able to articulate it. All of that was happening. And so there was this real race to see what was going to happen.

Were Book and Reno going to be able to overtake Tarka, were Paul and Hugh and Adira and Zora going to figure out what was going on on the ship, were Michael and T’Rina and Saru and Rillak going to be able to breach the conversation and stop everything in time for Tarka, or realize it was happening? There was so much going on and there was so much tension. And it really, it was a great penultimate episode, because by the end of it, I was really, really ready for the finale.

Liz: Absolutely. And then it ended. And I was like, what the fuck? There’s so much more to go.

Whereas usually I’m watching television and I have a very strong sense of time passing and, ‘okay, we’re within five minutes of the ending, it’s wrapping up.’ There was none of that. I had no sense of time passing. It just all flew at me at once. It was amazing and a little overwhelming.

And then I went and watched Picard. So that was a choice. Because Picard had the same relentless pace.

Anika: And the same whoops, we’re not going tell you anything cliffhanger.

So I am concerned, given that there is so much story left to be told, that it’s not going to get wrapped up in the final episode. And we’re going to go back to a cliffhanger and not a happy ending. I’m concerned

Liz: Yeah, the trailer for the second half of the season, it included Vance and Tilly. Oh no, it was Kovich and Tilly, but either way it was a scene we have not seen yet. And that means that the threat is going to come to the Federation headquarters.

And I’m like, but I just want them to, like, apologize to the 10-C and chuck Tarka out of an airlock by way of apology, and then everything’s good.

I think they can wrap it up in an hour, but not your standard 45.

Anika: Someone suggested that Discovery‘s going to get lost and wherever, that that’s going to happen, and that Tilly was left behind specifically so that someone we know is – like, we get to see her reaction as the person back having lost Discovery. Now I’m terrified. I was like, no, no, that’s bad.

Liz: I’ve seen that theory too. And Kovich said something about a three hour tour, and apparently that’s a Gilligan’s Island reference.

And maybe it is going to end with you know, Discovery, like Voyager, is lost and has to find its way home, and that’s season five. I think that would be really cool, but I would like it best if you’re right that Tilly has been left behind as a connection with home, and that she will play a bigger role in season five, even if she’s not a regular.

Anika: I want that. I want her to be back. But, also, I don’t want to lose the connection. Now that we found the Federation. I don’t want to lose it again. I don’t want to do that again. And I don’t want to rehash Voyager.

I do think it could be interesting to have, how do Discovery and the 10-C work together to fix the universe, and then get back to wherever they need to go. That could be interesting, but don’t want them just lost.

Liz: The idea of them being trapped and isolated somewhere and having to find their way home Janeway style, but instead of the Maquis, they have the Federation leadership and the Ni’Varan leadership and this Earth general onboard, that would be amazing dynamic.

Anika: It’s like, we have the choice, if we could create our own new Federation, like a mini one, but it’s also, who’s in charge? Who is in charge in that situation? Because Earth isn’t even a part of the Federation, so they don’t have to listen to the Federation president if they don’t want to. And there’s a lot that can happen there. It’s very interesting.

And obviously it’s Michael’s ship and Michael should be in charge, but also she has a bunch of people who are — like, even Saru is actually her equal, right? So it’s very interesting.

Liz: The dynamics are not like Voyager at all, which would be really, really cool. And obviously I think this could only last for a season, but that could be a really fun season.

Anika: Now I’m wondering if, at the end of Discovery, we’re going to look back, are we going to say each season was an homage to a different Star Trek that came before.

Liz: Oh, that’s interesting! The Greatest Generation guys talk about Star Trek is a place, Star Trek is a place where you can tell all sorts of different stories. So you have your war story and your AI conspiracy, X-Filesy story. And then your far future SF, and then your alien contact, Arrival. And then this. That is really cool.

Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Season one is Yesterday’s Enterprise. Season two is, I want to say, the section 31 episodes from Deep Space Nine, but also the Lore episodes from TNG. Season three is Enterprise.

Anika: Definitely.

Liz: Season four is one of those boring, highly acclaimed episodes that everyone loves, and I think are fine. And–

Anika: The Doomsday Machine.

Liz: Yeah. Yeah. Or, you know, The Devil – oh my God. This season is The Devil In The Dark!

Anika: It is The Devil In The Dark. They even had eggs. And it’s like, yeah,

Liz: I did wonder why they didn’t just send T’Rina out to mind-meld with the 10-C.

Anika: Okay, so obviously if we’re going to jump to wild speculation for the finale, then I’ve been saying all season that Book’s empathy and ability to sort of mind-meld with creatures, specifically with creatures, with Book’s creature, sensitivity, let’s call it, is going to come into play. And that that is going to be important, and that he is going to be doing something to the 10-C, and that is going to be part of the big climax. And I still think that that is true.

Liz: I have always agreed with you. And then while I was watching the other night, I was like, wait, wait, wait, T’Rina is Vulcan!

Anika: Right. So now I’m curious if, you know, it’s been a thousand years and they’ve changed. They’ve merged back with the Romulans. And so maybe is it isn’t her go-to, maybe mind melding isn’t something that you do for communication

Liz: She mind-melded with Book earlier this season, so we know she can, and we know she will.

Anika: But Book is someone that’s like … I don’t know. Yeah. It could be an intimacy thing.

Liz: It could also be like, maybe they will merge their powers and become a sort of Captain Planet of empathy!

Anika: Literally the entire episode I was going, why isn’t T’rina mind melding, why isn’t she attempting any mental contact at all?

Liz: Why is it not even being raised and rejected as a possibility?

Anika: Right. So it’s either they forgot, or it was just too inconvenient to put that in there, or there it’s actually a plot point. So I feel like it’s more going to be, not that they forgot, but that they wanted it to be Book. And so they conveniently left that out, but I think it would have been better if they didn’t, like you said, have her mind melding earlier.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: Then it could be something that was, not lost because it takes longer than a thousand years to lose something like that, but changed.

Liz: Maybe they’ve reverted to the Vulcan cultural mores of Enterprise.

Anika: Well, I mean, she could even say, “I can’t do it without touching someone.” Literally a four word explanation could have happened here that would have made it.

But I just think that the idea that she’s not attempting it at all, and that they don’t have any Betazoids, they don’t have anybody with any kind of telepathy trying to do any of that. It just seems like you would – you know, they don’t do it in Arrival because, spoilers, ESP doesn’t actually exist. Real humans are not capable of mentally talking to aliens. However, in the Star Trek reality, they can.

Liz: This reminds me of something that’s been bugging me for weeks! The name 10-C was reminding me of something. And finally I figured out that in the Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold, which I reread a few months ago, there’s a genetically engineered compound called Terran C, which is the artificial human gene for telepathy, and all the governments want it. And 10-C, Terran C it’s been bugging me.

And then you pointed out correctly that humans do not have telepathy. And I was like, yes. Yes. That’s it. That’s it. That’s it. Thank you. No.

Anika: But in Star Trek, Vulcans definitely do. Betazoids definitely do. There’s a whole bunch of aliens that have telepathy. And yes, even humans do. there’s the Trill. Aliens that could communicate in ways that are different from language. And none of those are here.

Liz: Yeah. It’s interesting that we even moved Gray off the ship before we made this trip. I wouldn’t have thought of the Trill as being the first go-to for communication here, but the humanoid Trill must’ve at some point made contact with the symbiont Trill, and Gray is training to be a guardian.

Anika: He’s a guardian. It was smart to get him off the ship, because then it was like, we don’t have that. We don’t have him here. But they specifically included T’Rina, and are not using her mental powers.

Liz: Yeah. I wonder if that’s going to be a thing next week, and that she and Book can augment each other, and I know I used that Captain Planet analogy, but strengthen each other’s power to a point where, combined, they can communicate with–

Anika: Oh, you know what? Sailor Moon does this and I one hundred percent want it to happen now. I want all of them, I want Saru’s weird abilities to come into play. I want Michael’s Vulcan upbringing to come into play. I want this to actually end up being a Captain Planet, Sailor Moon, everybody use your to power to send the message that’s going to be like, “Oops, sorry. We do not take responsibility for that guy.”

Liz: “He is not with us!”

Anika: “Therefore we will not hold you responsible for what you did to us.”

Liz: Yeah, actually, actually, actually, that’s the other thing about the aftermath of Choose to Live. Michael has to accept that it’s okay to turn someone over to an alien justice system. And maybe that means Book goes to Ni’Var, but Tarka goes to wherever bad 10-Cs go. An orb, I assume.

I know that we have spent much of this season calling for prison abolition, and I have to out myself as a massive hypocrite, because I would like to see Tarka in some kind of terrible alien jail purely because he annoys me.

Anika: I don’t know what I want. I’m so completely disinterested in Tarka that I don’t want anything for him. I guess what I want for him … Okay. So Star Trek Beyond is my favorite of the 2009 Kelvinverse movies.

Liz: Because it’s the best.

Anika: Cause it’s the best. But it’s imperfect, because at the very end, Idris Elba doesn’t ever come to the realization that he’s wrong. And there is an opportunity, when Kirk is risking it all to save the station and he’s still fighting off Idris Elba, I’m sorry, I don’t know his name. And there is an opportunity for Elba to see what’s happening and to help Kirk and then die.

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: And again, this is another forward change. It would be so easy for that to happen. And that would have been more of a positive Star Trek ending.

Liz: And also less of a waste of Idris Elba. Who had a very interesting role, but also as an actor, he was massively underused and spent most of it under a pile of make-up.

Anika: I just think it could have been a more of a performance. And obviously, of course, I would want him to not die, but to own up and have a conversation about, “I was abandoned by the Federation, and so this is what I turned into, and now I’m going to help the Federation make sure that doesn’t happen to anybody else.” That would have been a better ending for me, like, just, you know, putting it out there.

And so that’s what I want for Tarka well. I want Tarka have the opportunity to help the Federation/Discovery/Book/10-C, and do it and then, have to atone and be given the opportunity to … you know, I don’t want him to go to prison. I want him to be a better person. I wanted to turn him into a better person

Liz: I have never said this before, but I would be completely okay with a redemption by death for Tarka. Because yes, it’s a cop-out and I don’t think he really deserves it, but also it would get him out of the way, and we never have to talk about him again.

Anika: I just think it would be a better ending than … I don’t want him to die as he’s lived, because that’s the Idris Elba. It’s like, that’s not a resolution. That’s just an ending.

And it’s realistic, I guess, but I don’t — like, this is where I want escapism. I don’t want people to be so one dimensional. I don’t want people’s motivations to be so boring. And so I would rather there be a redemption by death or atonement by prison or a trial, or even, he joins the 10-C and becomes some kind of weird ambassador thing that lives an alien space. I don’t know. he Merges with Zora. Something else, but I want him to acknowledge that he’s wrong.

Liz: Yeah. I almost wonder if it wouldn’t be a good ending for him to just get everything he wants. He goes to the other universe and it’s fine. And Oros is there. And then he realizes that he has to live every day of his life and it’s going to be really boring, and he’s done these terrible things and he has to deal with that. And then he’s out of our hair.

Anika: Yeah. Like fine, he gets everything he wants, but he is changed by it. He realizes what — like, I just really think, again, he is so completely set on this and he does have that moment, that tiny moment where he admits that he is trying to be friends with Book, that he truly cares about him, that he wanted that relationship he had with Oros again. And yet he betrayed it.

And so I want him to realize the harm in that and to feel it, even if he gets everything he wants and is just unsatisfied. I don’t know. I agree with you that I just don’t want target to be around anymore, but I don’t want him to just end up delusional and evil and pointless, because then why did we spend all of these episodes on him?

Liz: That’s it. I want to justify the amount of time we’ve spent with him without spending more time with him.

Anika: My final wild speculation is Zora is definitely moving towards I’m going to be a person, right?

Liz: Oh yeah.

Anika: We have to keep believing that at some point, Zora is going to at the least get a partial, like holographic body or something. Sometimes she’s a computer and sometimes she’s a person. Because she’s just become more and more of a presence, and it’s weird for her to be the ship.

Liz: We’ve seen that she has these vulnerabilities as part of the ship, in that she actually can’t see everything. All of her perceptions are through her sensors and her sensors can actually be fooled pretty easily. And that’s dangerous for her.

Anika: And it’s also dangerous for the ship. Like, on normal ships you do a diagnostic on it and a little red thing lights up and says, this is a problem. But if they’re leaving the diagnostics to Zora, because she’s a sentient being who can do her own thing and they’re trusting her to know what’s going on. And then it worked because she did bring it up and say, Hey, something’s wrong with me? You guys got to fix it.

I’m not saying that that’s wrong, but it does end up being — like, just a few episodes ago, she was holding information hostage and, and, not moving along the missions. So it’s a problem for her to be in this.

Liz: I think that’s kind of what Starfleet was arguing a few weeks ago. And I get that, but I think if she had a body, even a holographic body, at the very least, she wouldn’t be just the ship and she would have an opportunity to empathize with her human crew members as a human shaped being.

And I think that would really fix a lot of those problems that she is just becoming aware of. And also, I think it would be cool in, in terms of, you know, we have the Rios holograms on La Sirena, and we have the Janeway hologram, and then the Zora hologram as sort of the natural next step.

Anika: Yes, I think it’d be great. So I don’t know if it’s going to be next episode, bit we’re definitely building towards Zora being a part of the crew and not the ship.

Liz: And if they get trapped outside the galaxy for a while, and they don’t have Tilly and they don’t have Gray, I know they have all the delegates, but they have a little bit of space for another recurring character. Especially if they also don’t have Tarka, let’s replace Tarka with a nice lady.

Anika: I do like that Linus is now on the bridge.

Liz: Yes. Okay. I loved the bridge crew contributing to the communications. And especially, one of the things we know about Nilsson that is not actually said on screen, but it has been said behind the scenes, is that she was a ballet dancer, and then she was injured and that’s when she joined Starfleet. So her comparison to music felt really natural to me. Even though, if you didn’t know this thing about her being dancer, it would still be a nice character beat.

Anika: Also the very beginning of the episode, they had the eye. So 10-C and then they went to Owo, and then they went to, like, Rhys. And when they got to Nilsson, I was like, ugh.

Liz: Oh!

Anika: I’m so sorry. I’m starting to feel bad about my Nilsson hate, but I still had a, like, absolute, like, ugh

Liz: No, we got to Nilsson, and my flatmate yelled, “WHO ARE YOU?”

Anika: One other thing that I’ve been saying from the very beginning is that the 10-C looks like an eye, and therefore…

Liz: Yeah.

Anika: I just want to say!

Liz: Greg lives. Sort of. Let us wrap up.

Anika: 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 to us at Send us your thoughts.

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And join us next week, when we will be discussing the fourth season finale of Star Trek: Discovery.

Liz: And also going on a Borg queen road trip.

Anika: I would choose the Borg queen road trip.