We have a finale! Anika and Liz put on a lightshow, blow up a techbro, and discuss…
- We get our nitpicks out of the way first
- Michael is a hard act to follow when it comes to big speeches
- Ndoye has taken the final step to becoming a fully fledged character, and we love it
- We find opportunities to compare TWO characters to Admiral Cornwell #ourbrand
- The “emotions? In my Star Trek?” argument comes up again; Liz makes snoring noises
- Wait, did we know Federation HQ was mobile???
- Anika talks about The Abyss
- Stacey Abrams! Liz has a hot take; Anika has a much better one
- Liz accidentally quotes Ronald Reagan and owes Anika a MASSIVE apology
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 the season finale of Star Trek: Discovery season four, Coming Home.
Liz: What a great title. And we were totally wrong in all of our speculation last week, but it looked for a minute there like we were going to get our Voyager ending with them stranded outside the galaxy, or having to make the decades long journey home and I was like, yes!
Anika: It was definitely close. But then, you know, 10-C was like, “We’re gonna do it for ya.”
Liz: Yeah, “We like you guys. You ants are all right.”
Anika: Oh, 10-C.
Liz: Before we get deep into Discovery, can I give a shout out to another podcast?
Anika: Of course. I know which one.
Liz: We are not talking about Picard in any detail until next week, so if what you need is two women who are friends talking about Star Trek: Picard, I highly recommend the podcast Where’s Beverly? It’s one of those ones where one host, each episode of this season, has absolutely hated this episode, and then gone on to talk at length about all the good things they found in it. So it’s just a really nice time. And I’ve decided that I love them and I want to be their friend.
I was telling my flatmate about it. She said, “It kind of sounds like they’re stealing your gimmick.” And I was like, “It’s not a gimmick. It’s just how old podcasts should be.” So that’s lovely. And they are delightful. Very good.
Liz: And they also raised the question of which men in Star Trek would not bring you tampons when you’re having a bad period day. And I have a lot of thoughts about that, that I think we should get into in a future episode.
Anika: I kind of hope that they’ve figured out a better way to deal with menstruation in the future. That’s my goal.
Liz: That’s absolutely the dream. But okay, if — no, I’m not going to impose menstrual related time travel shenanigans on this scenario, because then we just get into talking about Picard. Let’s talk about Discovery.
Anika: Okay, we have to stay on topic. Stay on topic.
Liz: Stay on topic. I’ve started our timer.
Anika: So where should we start?
Liz: Let’s start with how fantastically wrong we were about everything, and yet it felt like we were on the right track in a macro kind of way. And it really held together.
Anika: It was a very solid finale, second time in a row. Good job, Discovery.
Liz: Yes, we’re proud of you.
Anika: I have not forgiven them for the first two seasons. I just to start with that.
And then I guess I’ll jump to Book. I’m just gonna jump around all over the place, but I’m gonna jump right to–
Anika: –Book’s big speech that he gives to the 10-C.
Anika: I’m gonna say two things about this. The first is that I struggle to believe in their ability to communicate that well, that quickly. Just gotta say, it strained my credulity a little, but I handwave it as ‘Oh, yeah, Star Trek,’ the universal translator doesn’t make sense anyway, so sure, they can do it. But Rillak and Book and Michael were all using words that I was like, you guys, you can’t turn that into math and lights and, like, emotional — there’s only sixteen of those emotions, how are you doing this? But it’s fine.
Liz: I had the same feeling, but like you, I chose to handwave it.
Anika: Right. It’s related to my main point, which is that Book didn’t use any of his empathic powers. He just gave a nice speech, which is fine. And I’m glad that Book that got to give that speech, and got to be the person to stand up for Kwejian and the displaced peoples of wherever else the 10-C was farming and didn’t notice that people were alive down there. But I would have liked it better if he used his empathic abilities instead of his florid words. That’s just me.
Liz: I agree, if only because following a Sonequa Martin-Green speech, it’s a real challenge. And he did use his empathy to make a connection. But you’re right, it was primarily verbal.
And I do feel like they missed a chance there, like, Book has not used his empathy since his planet was lost. And they could have made more of that than they did.
But that’s a nitpick. I really liked what we got.
Anika: That was really my only — and it’s not even really negative. But that was my only negative thing to say about the episode. So I thought I’d start with that, so that we can go and just be positive for the rest of the episode.
I did like that his forehead glowed, which is a presentation of his powers. And then all of the 10-C also glowed in what you could construe was their forehead. Part of me was like, wait, what if Book is like a descendant of the 10-C, or the 10-C were descendants of — very, very briefly, I was like, oh, is this gonna be like the twist is that they actually are related? But that didn’t happen.
Liz: No, and I’m kind of relieved. I feel like the evolutionary links between giant gas giant CGI people and Book…
Anika: It’s very anime. If this were an anime, that’s what would have happened. Just putting that out there. You have to understand my background.
Liz: I understand. And it would also be a bit ‘Sisko is of the Prophets’, and I hated that. So, you know — I was gonna say fully human Book. I don’t actually think he’s human but fully whatever he is Book is–
Anika: Whatever he is.
Liz: You know.
Anika: We don’t know what he is. He’s magic.
Liz: He’s a Disney prince and we love him.
I really enjoyed that this finale was so quiet. And the action scenes were about chasing and fighting the elements more than pew pew pew, though I obviously love the pew pew pew as well. But this just … we were talking about last week about how everything is real Star Trek, but this feels particularly like it comes from that classic intellectual mould.
Liz: I really liked they stuck with that and that the great tension was, can we talk to these people in time and can we evacuate these people in time? And also Tarka is there, but you know, what can you do?
Anika: Okay, I’m not negative about Tarka, but I’m also not positive about Tarka. I think this entire season would have benefited from not having Tarka. That’s my hot take. He was unnecessary. In order for Book to betray Michael, he needed to be pushed by someone who — and manipulated by someone who was not Book, and so they made Tarka.
But for me, just as it would have been stronger for Saavik to be Valeris, it would have been stronger for Book to be Tarka.
Liz: Yeah, but then he probably would have had to die, or at least suffer a much greater punishment. I don’t think his relationship with Michael would have survived.
Anika: But they could have had more communication and less pew pew.
Liz: Yeah, true.
Anika: They didn’t really need that part with, although it gave Ndoye or something amazing to do. So I do forgive it for that because I loved her subplot.
Liz: I liked your note here that she finally gets a characterization upgrade. And I agree and we’ll get to that.
I guess my feeling is that we needed an antagonist and Tarka was good in that role. But — and it’s mainly just because we’re not viewers who sympathize with the sad white man, unless he’s played by Jason Isaacs. He just wasn’t the guy for us.
Anika: Or James Callis.
Liz: Or James Callis.
Anika: They missed the boat, not casting James Callis. I would have liked Tarka!
Liz: I don’t want to criticize Shawn Doyle’s performance, because I think he was really good, but I just think he was an octagonal peg in a sexagonal hole.
Anika: Oooh, sexagonal.
[Liz note: in my defence, I forgot that it’s ‘hectagonal’.]
Liz: You know, close but not quite there.
Anika: I really liked, I will say, Tarka’s comeuppance, I guess you could call it, where he finally too late came to the realization that Oros wouldn’t want this, and that Oros would be saying the same thing that Book was. That was very strong. That was really — it was like, oh, you finally like made me care about your relationship with Oros. Good job.
Liz: Literally in the last 30 seconds of Tarka’s existence. Yeah.
Anika: I don’t blame Shawn Doyle at all. I blame the writers. Because they didn’t make me invested in Tarka as an antagonist, or as a sad story. Nothing about Tarka. — I just don’t care.
Liz: I do think that a show which namedropped Elon Musk multiple times in its first two seasons going on to create an antagonist who is basically a tech bro is a really great evolution, and I love that for them.
I just — I’m watching The Dropout and I’m watching WeCrashed at the same time. And Elizabeth Holmes is much more interesting than Adam Neumann. I’m never going to be on the side of the male tech bro disrupter, whatever.
Obviously I am not on Elizabeth Holmes’s side, like, she is straight up not a good person, but I’m interested in her because I–
Anika: Interested, right.
Liz: I can feel a connection with her
Anika: And Tarka, like, you know, everyone’s been saying everybody lives, nobody dies. It’s like, well, like I kind of think Tarka died. But I also don’t care. Like I said.
Liz: He doesn’t count. He doesn’t — I’m pretty sure I sent the Ninth Doctor “Everybody lives, Rose, just this once everybody lives!” GIF, and Tarka, he just doesn’t count.
Maybe he got blown up. Maybe he’s in his paradise alternate universe. Maybe he’s been thrown back to the Terran Empire in the 23rd century, and he’s not even going to notice that he’s in the past because he’s not good at history. But I don’t care. He’s gone.
Anika: He’s gone. He went somewhere. The 10-C saved Book. They could have saved him too. And, like, they talk to him about this stuff, or … I don’t know. I can imagine stories being told, but I never want to watch them. So that’s my take.
Liz: I think he belongs to the fanfic writers now, and I’m very happy for them. Goodbye, Tarka.
Anika: Before we get on to Ndoye, let’s finish off Book with, what do you think of Book’s resolution and his punishment?
Liz: I was once again wrong about the nature of his punishment. But I really like it. And I think this is exactly what restorative justice looks like.
I do not like that he doesn’t have an end to his punishment, like, part of the point of state punishment is that it’s finite, and it has an ending. But I would also guess that it’s not going to take more than a year at most to use the vast resources of the Federation to resettle and rehome all those people.
Anika: I assume they didn’t give it a timetable because they didn’t want to paint themselves into a corner about where Book is next season.
Anika: I think it was meta, not truth.
Liz: Also, in story, we can say, we don’t know how long it takes, but we assume it will be this period and Book will be with us for the whole project.
Anika: Since it is literally almost word for word what I wanted for Ben Solo, I strongly approve.
Liz: And he even gets to take his cat.
Anika: That’s right.
Liz: This is beautiful. I think, despite the isolytic weapon and the blowing up of Greg, he is basically a nonviolent offender. And also, I think that helping people rebuild will be really good for his psyche.
Anika: Yes. Right.
Liz: Well done, the Federation justice system.
Anika: So now Ndoye, because she also sort of gets what one could call the redemption arc. The first thing she did that impressed me was that she came right out and said, “Yeah, that was me. I did that.” And there was no squirrely moment of looking around as, you know, “Am I gonna say it?” She just admitted it and explained her reasoning and accepted her punishment. So that was good.
But then I liked that Michael and Rillak realized that they could use her knowledge and that she would help in their certain situation. It sort of reminded me of, you know, let’s get Emperor Georgiou to help us out here. So that was nice.
And then I was very upset when she first volunteered for the mission, because she was taking Detmer’s place. And it really felt like we’re gonna sacrifice this suddenly complex Black woman for Keyla Detmer because she’s a part of the bridge crew and we care about her more. And I didn’t like that.
Liz: I had a whole rant prepared!
Anika: I didn’t like that at all. Because it was like, wait, you’re finally making Ndoye more than what she was, and then you’re just gonna kill her off and have it specifically be in place of Detmer. I didn’t like that at all.
But then she didn’t die! She didn’t die. She gets to come back. She still has her job. She’s doing well, she’s doing great. I was like, this is wonderful! She wasn’t burned. Nothing bad happened to Ndoye, and I was like, great. I approve.
Liz: Ndoye’s story here actually sort of reminds me of Katrina Cornwell in season one, where she sort of turns up and she’s just a plot device, and little by little she gets more and more characterization, until you get to Lethe and she becomes a fully-fledged character and then does not die.
You know, she was meant to die at the end of Lethe but she’s saved. She’s saved again later in the season and she makes it two seasons before she … Let’s not talk about it.
That is how I feel about Ndoye, that she is organically becoming a fully-fledged character and a member of the wider ensemble, and I’m delighted.
Anika: It was great.
Liz: I really hope we see more of her next season. If she joins Starfleet and has some kind of professional rivalry or conflict with Vance, that would be really interesting.
Anika: Amazing. She could teach with Tilly, too. I can see her as the stricter version of Tilly. You know, they would be like, good to balance it out. I think that would be good.
Liz: Absolutely. Okay. Okay. So in the 32nd century Starfleet Academy series that probably doesn’t really exist, we can add Ndoye to Tilly as part of the adult character line-up.
Anika: You heard it here first!
Liz: With all that power we have over Paramount.
Anika: One other thing that I wasn’t actually expecting, but I did mention it last week, that I expect Zora to eventually get a holographic body. And I really thought, when they said Zora was beaming in, I was like, is it gonna be a person? But it was just like a blinking thing. So it was not.
Liz: I had the exact same assumption! And I do think that, even if she doesn’t necessarily uncouple from the ship, because she was very adamant, and won her right to stay as part of Discovery. I do think she’s eventually going to manifest a humanoid holographic form. And I’m looking forward to it.
Anika: Yeah, just to, you know, fit in with the crew. It’s one thing to say that she’s a member of the crew. And they do really do treat her like one. Everybody in Discovery accepts it straightforward.
But I think it would be easier for the audience to see her as a member of the crew if she was sometimes just to be all the time. I like the idea of, “I’m a ship, and when I’m on vacation, I’m me.” She could even be a different body every time, that would be fun, too.
Liz: A rotating cast of Zoras of different races and sizes and–
Liz: –ages. Yes. You know, she just wants to experience the full range of humanoid life. Existence. That’s nice! I’m so happy for her with this thing that we just made up.
Anika: I’m glad that she got to go on the away mission with everybody. Except Hugh, which was also so, so sweet. The engineers couldn’t go, and so he stayed with them. That was awesome.
Liz: But also I think it’s a really healthy choice for him, because he thinks Book has died and Book was his patient. And so instead of forcing himself to push through and do the work, he goes to be with his family instead. I think that’s good for him.
Anika: It is good for him. Given that one thing that wasn’t resolved at all was Hugh’s plotline.
Liz: I feel like it ends with him and Paul going on vacation, and that is going to be a really good key part of his recovery. Because, if nothing else, burnout is like–
Liz: –you know, you need that rest. I loved seeing Dr. Pollard again. I would add Dr. Pollard to my lineup of the Starfleet Academy spin off, not because it needs her, but because I personally like her.
Anika: She had good hair too. I was really into her hair.
Liz: She always has good hair.
Anika: I love seeing Dr. Pollard, too.
Liz: The look she gives Hugh when he pulls her away so that Saru and T’Rina can have a private moment … I don’t want to suggest that the doctors of Discovery are in any way violating the bounds of patient confidentiality, but they have the best gossip.
Anika: I mean, you know, other series, the doctors have definitely thrown confidentiality at the windows.
Liz: Oh, yeah.
Anika: Yeah, a little light gossip is the is the least.
Liz: Discovery doesn’t even have private rooms in its sickbay. I saw a Tumblr post asking, like, if you’re getting your pap smear, is Worf just on the next biobed over?
Anika: What happens? “Here you go guys!”
Liz: I have questions.
Anika: Maybe that’s something that’s easier to do in the future.
Liz: Let’s hope. Let’s really hope.
Going back to Book, but I want to talk about Michael and Sonequa’s absolute devastation when he’s lost. She’s crying and I’m like, “Oh, the fanboys are going to hate this.”
And I really resented myself for having that thought, because she’s giving the performance of her life, and Michael is grieving and yet pulling it together and doing her job as she should. So I don’t need the fanboys in my head for this really great thing.
Anika: It reminded me of my favorite Katrina Cornwell scene, where they come to Starbase One and it’s been destroyed, and she is incapable of talking for a few seconds. And I really love the contrast between “my devastation is so much that I completely freeze” and “my devastation is so much that I cannot control myself. And I’m sobbing openly on the bridge.”
And yeah, I think that those are both hugely valid. They’re wonderful examples of trauma in media that I can add to my repertoire, and I just — Sonequa Martin-Green’s performance was amazing. It always is. She’s just so good. But that was award worthy, if anything deserves awards, that absolute — the relief to absolute sorrow, to pulling it all in and forcing it away, so that you can do your job. And being able to do that, and still, you could still see the sorrow.
Anika: Like, even as she was saying, “We’ve got to get this done,” and she was getting herself under control, it was still in her tone of voice, it was still in her eyes, it was all still there. But she was also completely in control of it. And that was an amazing performance. It was just beautiful.
And even though I didn’t believe Book had died, I completely believed Michael’s absolute pain, and that even if he was alive, she was still traumatized by this, and was going to be dealing with it. Because it was so horrible.
Liz: I also thought of that Cornwell scene in The War Without, The War Within. (I honestly think of that scene quite a lot. No reason.)
And what struck me is that in that moment, Kat was completely alone. She is leading a crew that still doesn’t quite — like, they’ve become closer, but they’re still not quite a family. And she is not a member of that family. And only only Saru turns to her, and he is asking about her orders, not whether she’s okay.
Whereas Michael, four years later, 900 years later, is with her family. And President Rillak, who everyone except us hated at the beginning, offers her physical comfort in the form of a hand on the shoulder. That was just remarkable to me in terms of what Starfleet can be in the 32nd century.
The other thing that struck me was that, you know, the first two seasons, Michael really struggled with emotional regulation, you know, too much, too little. When she released her emotions, she had trouble coping with them. And she’s just come so far from the officer she was in season one.
Anika: I really like your comment about this is what Starfleet can be in 3189. Because one of the things that always comes up in discussions of Star Trek, and especially when we bring up this whole ‘emotions on the bridge’ idea [Liz makes a snoring noise] is that in the military, you have to react a certain way. And you’re not allowed to have those emotional outbursts because the mission and the order — I have no idea what a group of soldiers is called, sorry — has to come first before the individual.
Anika: And certainly Starfleet has things like rank. It has things like regulations, it has court martials, it has uniforms. There are many trappings of the military in Starfleet. And so I understand, and I’ve even been the person who says that Starfleet is at least partly military.
Anika: And so I get it when people are like, how is this captain reacting in a way that a soldier would not. But I think that that acceptance on their bridge and how everybody came together, and everybody was treating Michael as a person who was going through a huge loss, as well as their captain. It’s not like they stopped respecting her as their captain in order to see her as Michael. They just were treating her as their friend as well.
And that’s certainly something that happens with — like, I mean, the whole Kirk and Spock relationship is based on that. In all Star Treks, there are these relationships that are somewhere between friends and family. And more than just crew mate and captain.
And I like this idea that Starfleet has moved from — and Discovery is a really good way of showing it, because, yeah, so in the first season, we have Kat being very stoic in her grief, and Saru asking about his orders. And then we get Michael being very openly emotional in her grief, but still being able to give her orders. That’s proving that Starfleet is — even if it has all the trappings of this military, it is not based in a defensive, ordered, rule-driven reality.
Anika: And it doesn’t have to be, because it’s not about defending Earth. It’s about exploring space.
Liz: Right. You know, I saw a criticism of Star Trek: Picard recently, that Picard is insufficiently militaristic. Not like the good old days in The Next Generation. I increasingly think that maybe people have just never seen The Next Generation and are making this stuff up in their heads.
Anika: I — yeah, I haven’t — I have no — nope. Even first season, the entire first season. No one is ever not — a ridiculous, absurdist — it’s just not true. Maybe when they’re fighting the Borg or when he’s going through torture? Like, maybe then Picard is a little bit militaristic.
Liz: That’s the thing, like, the military turns like in Chain of Command are memorable because they are so unusual to the setting.
Liz: But I definitely feel like Discovery marks a point where they’ve really found a way to balance the need for a pseudomilitary to be collectivist in a way, everyone is completely dependent on everyone else to do their jobs and carry out their orders for their survival. But they haven’t lost their individuality.
I just said it was a perfect balance. And then I thought about this season, and I was like, no, they have not perfected that balance. They’re still trying, but they are trying, I think I’m going to give them a gold star for that.
Anika: It makes the annoying bridge crew scenes — that I still find annoying — but yes, I like the idea that what they’re trying to get across with all of that is that everyone matters. Everyone’s opinion matters. Everyone’s feelings matter. Everyone’s backstory matters.
That there is this sort of underlying ‘we’re all in this together. And no one person is more important than another person, even if one person over here is the captain and one person over here is an ensign’. Or like Christopher, who we just met, who got blown up and I was convinced to is going to be that sacrificial lamb, but he was fine. Just like Ndoye, nothing bad happened to him.
Liz: This does feel like the Star Trek equivalent of Doctor Who under Steven Moffat. And since that is my second favorite era of Doctor Who, I am really okay with that.
Anika: We could definitely see the budget in this episode. The 10-C was amazing. I really enjoyed it.
Liz: I will give so much credit to the first person who can successfully pull off a 10-C cosplay. Or people. I’m suddenly picturing, like, a Chinese dragon situation, but with LED lights?
Anika: It’d be very exciting.
When you think about it, it’s like 10 people in an empty room, having this emotional scene, but it was incredible. And then, also, the evacuation of Earth was also — again, none of this is real. None of this actually exists in reality. And it was all very well-choreographed.
I don’t care about CGI or effects, generally speaking, I really only talk about them when they’re bad and I can see them.
Anika: When they get in the way of my enjoyment. But this was impressive. In a way, it was like, we are throwing everything into our season finale, we are going to make this the best episode. I can tell that a lot of work, probably hundreds of people put a lot of effort into this. And so I want to give them their due and say that it was really well done.
Liz: I have to say last week, I was like, “Oh no, the conflict will reach Federation headquarters!” I didn’t realize that Federation headquarters could just pack up and move to the size of the conflict! No one told me that was possible! Did we know–?
Anika: No, I did not know. I was like, Whoa, it’s a ship! It was incredible. That was very intimate, too, I have to say it was like, wow, this is like something out of Macross. But I enjoyed it. And it was also, we haven’t seen the outside of Federation headquarters in a while.
Liz: Yeah, I didn’t recognise it.
Anika: Really, it was a lot of fun to imagine that that is I really love. And they did this in, you know, Beyond, with Yorktown, and they did it in Boba Fett with whatever that planet that Mando went to, that was like one ring thing.
You know, they’re like really putting effort into making weird locations that don’t look like planets or ships in any way. And I think that’s fun. It’s another, like, good job, effects people. I really like how you’re letting your imagination lead you.
I started to feel at about the halfway mark like we were definitely going to lose a major character. Obviously Tarka was probably fried, but I was convinced we were going to lose someone else. And for a brief shining moment there, I thought it would be Detmer. And it wasn’t, and then I thought, “Okay, well Ndoye, I will be really angry to lose Ndoye, I have a whole rant prepared about how problematic this is, but at least Book and Tilly are safe.”
Then Ndoye lived. And then we lost Book. And I thought, “Oh, thank God, that means Tilly and Vance are safe.” Because, obviously, Discovery has a poor history in terms of admirals and explosions and even numbered season finales.
And then I became convinced that Tilly was also going to die and we would lose Vance, and basically Michael would lose everyone she loves the most in one terrible incident.
Liz: I was not okay! So I completely, completely believed that Book was dead. And I was kind of salty about it, because I felt like it was a silly death, but also, I was just relieved that this maybe increased Tilly’s chances of survival. And then everybody lived.
Anika: I mentioned last episode that the water orb reminded me of the water orb in The Abyss. And they showed that again in the previously on, so even though they were talking about orbs, they didn’t do that affects this episode, it was still in my mind.
And, spoilers for a movie from the 90s, Ed Harris’s character is presumed dead. And his wife has a very similar emotional outburst, and everybody has to come in and take care of her, and it’s a big part of the end of the movie.
But then Ed Harris is saved by the aliens and he’s fine. In a very similar, like, we found this floating human and brought them along.
Liz: “Is this guy with you?”
Anika: Identical to Book. So I was convinced. I was like, Yeah, Book’s not dead, because that would go against my completely made up the idea that they’re redoing The Abyss. So…
Liz: I understand that nothing has been said to that effect. But it does seem like they’re very compelling comparisons.
And obviously, there’s the Arrival thing and also Contact, I saw someone in our Discord compare it to Contact. And I think this is really cool. I think there has not been a lot of really intellectual science fiction cinema ever, because that’s really hard to do and doesn’t have a massive audience. And so it’s really cool to see Star Trek take something from three of the iconic examples.
And I know I just called a James Cameron movie that I haven’t seen ‘intellectual’ and I may have cause to regret that.
Anika: No, no, it is very intellectual. The other thing about The Abyss is that there is an antagonist. There is a Tarka. And much like Tarka, I do not care about him at all. He’s worse than Tarka, in that he doesn’t even have a good reason. He’s just bad. He has, you know, a vendetta against the aliens. There were just all these little things that just make me think of that movie.
But don’t feel bad, because it’s not like — not to be a James Cameron apologist, yikes. But it’s a good movie. It’s a very good working-class story.
Plus the intelligent women. And that’s what I want to say about those three movies, Arrival, The Abyss and Contact, all have a woman scientist at the center of them. And I think that’s kind of great. And I also think it reminds me of all of the madam presidents–
Liz: I was about to make that connection!
Anika: –in this episode. And also of course, Michael, and the fact that we have multiple women scientists, and even non binary scientists, and Reno is an engineer. There’s just lots of women out there doing great stuff. It shouldn’t be something to celebrate in 2022.
Liz: Well, no, but I think it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate that even a very thin character like Detmer, who is very underwritten, has more intentional characterization than Uhura or Rand got in the 1960s. I would say possibly, as much as Beverly Crusher got–
Anika: I was gonna say, unfortunately…
Liz: And as you know, Beverly is my fave, so that’s no shade on her. But most of her characterization is from Gates McFadden’s work, right?
And yeah, I loved the three presidents. Right? Was it three?
Anika: Yes, because it’s Rillak, T’Rina and unnamed president–
Liz: President Stacey Abrams.
Anika: Stacey Abrams.
Liz: My hot take, and you’ve discussed this with me already, is that I don’t like that Stacey Abrams is positioned as the president of a xenophobic and paranoid regime, which only a week ago, within this story, was arguing to bomb Greg instead of making first contact.
However, I am prepared to headcanon some sort of parliamentary system where the president is not the only person with whom executive power rests. And so President Stacey Abrams is a wonderful, progressive and peace-minded leader who has to make a lot of compromises because that is the nature of the political system of Earth.
Anika: We can blame Ndoye for a week ago, right?
Liz: We can, but I don’t want to! I want to believe that Ndoye is a flawed product of a flawed system who can do better. And I’m happy to believe that of the Earth president as well.
I just think it’s unfair to Stacey Abrams to put that on her. Like, find a better cameo for Stacey Abrams. Even though obviously I am delighted for her as a Trekkie.
And I did not understand why she had that scene with Michael, because I would not recognize most American politicians without a name tag. And I was like, “Oh, this is fantastic. This is a wonderful, middle aged plus size black woman leading Earth, that is beautiful. I feel like I’ve seen her face before. I’ll look her up later. I’m sure she’s been in literally everything. And I’m just bad with faces.”
And no, it was Stacey Abrams! Anyway, I was like, “it’s weird how there’s just this funny little scene with Michael. I don’t know what that’s about. But it’s nice. It’s very nice.”
Anika: I liked it. I loved the scene with Michael because she was like, “We have a lot of work to do. Are you ready for it?” And I was like, yeah, just put that right into your ad.
Anika: And so, as an American who recognized Stacey Abrams, because Stacey Abrams is one of our very few, I can count on one hand, good politicians, in terms of, she has yet to have messed up in a way, you know, she’s yet to have to compromise. That’s the best way to put it. She has yet to compromise her ideals. And I think that’s why she hasn’t been elected.
And so I give them a pass. Like, I forgot that — I didn’t have that criticism, because I did not think of Earth as xenophobic.
Liz: I literally — no, no–
Anika: I did not imagine it was — she was just president of Earth and Earth is where I live. And all I wanted to do was move to Georgia, so I could vote for her for governor. Like, that was the reaction I had.
Liz: I think that’s the reaction you’re meant to have. And it’s just that they were — they forget, again, that they have an audience all around the world who won’t have the same emotional connection with a truly outstanding and inspiring woman. Like, I am not criticizing Abrams in any way. I’m a big fan of her work.
Anika: Her thing is, like, what we can do when we work together. And so I was very happy for her to get this dream of having a role on her favorite show, the show that she has credited with giving her the ideas to believe in a better world and work for it and say, “You know what, I shouldn’t just accept no, I should work really hard to make yes happen.”
So she sort of represents that Picard quote for me that like you can do everything right and still lose.
Anika: And there’s nothing about you and it’s just like so. Yay, Stacey Abrams. So I was very happy with it. Sorry.
Liz: No, no, please don’t apologize. I think you are having the correct reaction. And I am being kind of nitpicky and contrarian … and correct. But also unfair. I think unfair is the word for my feelings.
And I also want to say Abrams is also a romance novelist and an author of thrillers. I 100% believe she has an AO3 account. And I kind of hope we get to see more of President Stacey Abrams and more worldbuilding for to make it more complicated and more interesting and more positive than what we’ve seen so far.
Anika: Yeah. So like, crazy comment, I guess. What if season five Discovery is also season five of Enterprise? Just saying…
Liz: I mean, I like the bit where we get in Bakula and Blalock and send them out to do their thing. You know, I don’t think you met it that literally, but I do. Okay.
Anika: But I meant metaphorically. But.
Liz: It does make me think, you know, Enterprise skipped the whole bit where we went from the post atomic horror to a post scarcity utopia, and that side of the story has always been really interesting to me. And so if we got a version of that, with Earth’s recovery from bombardment, and also at least a century of isolation…
Liz: Another thing that occurs to me is that these last two seasons, you know, mostly this season, the first episode opens with the Federation having dropped its cloaking device and opening its headquarters to the world. And then the 10-C are persuaded to drop their hyperfield, which, we don’t know what threats are out there in, you know, extra galactic space. Maybe that’s not safe for the 10-C. But anyway, and then we have Earth dropping its metaphorical defenses and rejoining the Federation.
And it’s kind of a really nice, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” thing that’s present throughout the whole season. Really like it.
Anika: Yeah, I had issues with the season. But the ideas or the concept or the overarching themes, I think, were very solid and came through. It was the details that I had some problems with. But that’s, you know, that’s just growing pains and pacing, and they’re just not great at all of the stories they want to tell sometimes.
Liz: I definitely feel like we had a 10-episode season that got a last minute order for for an extra three, maybe for Netflix reasons, which is kind of awkward given how it went down for Netflix. I think it would have worked best as an 11-episode season to, like, get the details that we got in those three extra episodes.
Anika: Yes, right together and smash them–
Anika: Or they were elongated, and then that meant the pacing was really weird, and it just didn’t work. But that’s, you know, again, those are nitpicks that’s not–
Liz: Yeah, the pacing in the first half of the season was fine.
Anika: We need to talk about Tilly and Vance and my green son.
Liz: I’m so happy to see your green son back. RIP your green-blooded son.
Anika: No, we’re not talking about that!
Liz: I don’t believe for a minute that Elnor’s dead, but we’ll talk about that next week.
Anika: I really thought — okay, so just crazy speculation, just so that I can get it out there. I really thought the Borg Queen was going to assimilate Elnor’s body and that’s how they were gonna bring him back to life, and she was gonna be using Elnor, and then they were gonna exorcise, you know, exorcise the Borg Queen and get Elnor back. So until Agnes was speaking as the Borg Queen, I 100% was thinking it was gonna involve Elnor’s body.
Liz: I firmly believe that he will be back. And that is largely based on my close study of Evan Evagora’s Instagram, and he tends to post more when he’s not filming. And he had some silent patches there, where I assume he was back on set.
So welcome back your green son and his–
Anika: Tellarite boyfriend.
Liz: –Tellarite boyfriend. And everything with Vance and Tilly was so great. Obviously I wanted them to make out with two hours to go and they’re alone on the bridge or whatever it was, until they die.
Anika: And drunk.
Liz: And drunk! What else are you going to do … in fan fiction?
But realistically, I like that the character who was introduced as the most junior and green of cadets and this wonderful seasoned Admiral had this moment where they got to bond as something close to equals.
Anika: Before we leave my green son behind, I just want to say that although he’s clearly dating the Tellarite, he definitely has a crush on Tilly, and it was adorable. Everyone has a crush on — everyone has a crush on Tilly. But they were so cute. All of the cadets.
Her speech to the cadets was a perfect way to start this episode. And I really I love the cadets, I love Tilly and the cadets. When she said that she was lucky because she found her her path — I’m misquoting, but she basically said, “I don’t have any regrets because I figured out what where I belonged in the world. And I got to be that for a while.”
And I was just like, “Okay, it’s all” — the fact that supporting the next generation is Tilly’s — it makes perfect sense for Tilly, it’s such a great place for her, and I have wanted a Starfleet Academy since forever. So let’s have that series.
But the Tilly and Vance scene where they were discussing regrets was the most emotional … like, as amazing as Sonequa’s performance was and as earned as the 10-C and Book conversation was, that conversation between Tilly and Vance about regrets and parenting? Destroyed me. I was sobbing.
And then I watched the Joy Luck Club the next day. It was later in that same day because I woke up early to watch Discovery yesterday. But solely so that I could cry about mothers and daughters for two hours because I needed it.
I needed that catharsis after Tilly’s comments about how she had this hard relationship with her mother, but she always knew she was loved. And I needed to hear that from Tilly, like, I needed closure on Tilly’s feelings about leaving that relationship behind. It was so, so beautiful.
And, you know, Vance always also introduced — yes, he’s a seasoned Admiral, but he’s a seasoned admiral who was isolated. who didn’t have the infrastructure of the Federation. And he didn’t even have he didn’t have his wife. He didn’t have his daughter. He didn’t have, he couldn’t have those important relationships.
Liz: He didn’t even have the foundation of attending Starfleet Academy, probably.
Anika: So him getting to have this heart to heart with Tilly, that — I completely agree. I hope to read multiple fics about their two hours. But I really appreciated their bonding and attachment, that seems just magic to me. It was exactly what I needed and wanted from Star Trek.
And it was extra special that it was in the middle of this amazing season finale that was so solid and — and I don’t even know how to describe it. But like, I guess impressive on all these other levels, production values, and acting and writing and effects, and just everything all coming together to have this personal scene and this personal reaction on my part to that scene. I was just — I felt like this is why I watch Star Trek.
Liz: I definitely watch Star Trek to have feelings about fictional people in space.
Rillak and Vance also had a scene together at the end. And I just want to say if they want me to stop shipping Vance with everyone he interacts with, they’re going to have to have — he’s gonna have to interact with his wife on screen, and maybe she and his daughter can get names and jobs.
Anika: They were really practically skipping at the end. They were all in white and skipping, and it didn’t help it more make them more real to me. It was like, maybe his wife and daughter are delusions? They don’t seem like real people to me.
Liz: No, no, the matching white dresses — they’re not matching-matching, but they’re both wearing white dresses. Very Instagram-ready.
Anika: Yeah, there was definitely a filter on.
Liz: Yeah, and it reminded me very much of the scenes–
Siri: I didn’t get that. Could you try again?
Liz: Siri. Sorry. It reminded me very much of the scenes with Jennifer Sisko as perceived by the Prophets. She’s wearing the pastel pink one shoulder dress–
Siri: I found this on the web.
Anika: Siri has opinions.
Liz: Siri wants to know if Jennifer Sisko’s death was orchestrated by the Prophets. Let’s discuss that in another episode.
Anika: She also reminded me of dream T’Pel, again, in one episode, and T’Pel is — I have, you know, been very vocal about my shipping of Janeway and Tuvok. And people are always angry at me about this. Because they’re like, he’s very married. I’m like, Yeah, but the show didn’t care. So why am I being required to care?
Liz: His wife was not a character, the same way Vance’s wife and child are not characters. And so if they don’t want us to ship them with other people or each other, I could get behind that. They’re just gonna have to do something about that.
And we were talking earlier about how great the women are in this series. And I agree, and I think we need to extend that level of thought and characterization to Vance’s family.
Anika: At least a name.
Liz: At least a name. And I think I want her to be a scientist, but a scientist who has become some sort of senior administrator, so she’s dealing with politics, but she doesn’t enjoy it. She’s good at it, but it’s not what brings her joy. And she’s wondering if she needs to change careers.
So give me a name and I can do the rest of the heavy lifting.
Anika: Very good.
Liz: Yes. Okie dokie.
Thank you for listening to Antimatter Pod. You can find our show notes at antimatterpod.com, including links to our social media credits for our theme music and transcripts of our episodes. You can also follow us on Twitter, FaceBook, and Tumblr, all at @antimatterpod, and write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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And join us next week when we will finally be discussing the first four episodes of Star Trek: Picard‘s second season and how Elnor is not dead. That’s right.
Anika: But Seven is a superhero.