It’s a Qowat Milat road trip! Pack your sword, moisturise your hands and join Anika and Liz as we talk about “Choose to Live”!
- Actually we did not love this episode and feel slightly bad about it (but maybe the writers should feel worse?)
- PRESIDENT RILLAK DID NOTHING WRONG, Liz has a powerpoint presentation and an interpretive dance to persuade you if you disagree
- We are once again calling for the abolition of the carceral state
- We don’t know enough about the Federation OR Ni’Varan justice systems to understand why Michael disagrees with Rillak, and that’s kind of a problem
- We have a lot of complaints about this episode, but we love and adore its depiction of Vulcans
- Spock’s World by Diane Duane, a novel which is unexpectedly relevant to this episode of Discovery
- Michael has chemistry with EVERYONE and it’s a problem (unless you’re a multishipper, which we are)
Liz: I just wanted to flag that we had some audio issues with this recording. We usually record through Discord, which produces … We’ve had some problems lately. So we decided to try Skype and the outcome is that Anika sounds like she was recorded on a cassette in 1985. So please bear with us. I think Anika says some hugely intelligent and important things this week, as she always does. So, yes. Thank you for putting up with it.
Welcome to Antimatter Pod, a Star Trek podcast where we discuss fashion, feminism, subtext and subspace, hosted by Anika and Liz. This week, we’re discussing Star Trek: Discovery, season four, episode three, Choose to Live. Anika, did you choose to like this episode?
Anika: I don’t dislike this episode. But I have mixed feelings. I didn’t love this episode, certainly.
Liz: It feels like it had a lot happening, and I don’t know that it formed a coherent whole.
Anika: Right. There are parts that were super engaging, and that I was very happy with. But as an episode, it didn’t all hang together very well for me. If Michael and Tilly and Gabrielle and J’Vini’s plot was the main one, I was not super invested in the plot. I cared about the people…
Anika: But I didn’t really care about the plot at all.
Liz: This makes perfect sense to me.
Anika: Or the resolution of it.
Liz: Yes. Yes. Like, the Qowat Milat road trip? Love it. The complicated relationship between Michael and her mother, and Tilly looking at that relationship and going, “Man, I wish my mother loved me even that little much,” this was all great.
But the resolution and the political stuff in the background really troubled me in ways that we’re going to get into later, because we were discussing it at length yesterday
Liz: And Stamets’s stuff, I enjoyed the mystery, and it’s a Star Trek episode where they were working on a science problem. Classic stuff, can’t go wrong. Love it. Everything with the Ni’Varan stuff, I really enjoyed.
How did you feel about Gray’s body’s subplot?
Anika: Again, it wasn’t … Okay. So I described Guardian Xi as a video game character–
Liz: Oh yeah.
Anika: –which is the extent of emotional connection I had. Just the fact that he was blinking in and out, and that he wasn’t really there. And it was sort of like, you have to go through the different tasks, and Adira as the player character had to figure out on their own what they needed to do to get Gray to the next level.
Anika: It really felt like a game and I just had no emotional connection to it. And I wanted to, because I love Gray so much. Gray is such a wonderful, wonderful character who I adore, and he’s been so excited, and getting him to this place where he can be a real part of the crew is really fun.
But it was all fake. Obviously, this is going to work. Gray’s going to wake up. And if it doesn’t work the first time, we just restart the game, and eventually we’ll get there. There were no stakes and it just felt prolonged for no reason.
Liz: I hate to say it, because I think this is a really important subplot, and again, these are characters that, like you, I really care about. But yeah, there was no tension. I cried, I absolutely cried when Gray re-embodies, but at the same time, I’m also looking at Adira watching over him and thinking, okay, but they’re not going to kill him. This is going to work.
Anika: Right. And in the middle of it all, and this is why it really, really felt like a video game to me, is that in the middle of it all, you know, Hugh was like, “Let’s go take our mind off things,” and they go to the bar and play darts.
It was like another NPC bringing Adira to the place where they figure out what they need to know in order to go back and fix it. I was just like, this is weird. Why are we at the bar? It felt like, ‘Ooh, let’s show off a set,’ rather than, ‘it makes sense for us to go here.’
Liz: Yeah. And don’t get me wrong. It’s a very nice set. And I truly love Hugh’s role as the ship’s counselor and the father figure to Adira, even though they address him as Dr. Culber still. I love all of these pieces, but this subplot in particular didn’t come together.
Liz: And then we have the sub-sub-plot about Tilly, which I like, but I kind of feel like her so-called comfort zone is not actually the problem that she’s dealing with.
Anika: I wrote that down in the notes for you, because that you said it in Discord, and I was like, yeah, I agree, that’s true.
And my issue with that is that I really am excited that they are portraying therapy in Starfleet, in Star Trek. And if they do it wrong, then it’s just going to mess things up even more. I really want to love this portrayal of therapy, and it’s not that it’s wrong, because the beginnings of therapy actually is a lot of, “Let’s try this and see how you feel about it.” That is the early boring work that you have to do in therapy.
And I appreciate that it is realistic, but at the same time, it comes across, because we don’t actually see the therapy part, we just see Tilly doing the stuff that Hugh told her to her do. It comes off very trite. Again, not quite real, like there’s this weird veneer of, ‘we’re play acting therapy instead of doing therapy.’
And I know it’s a show. I get that it’s not real. But the whole episode had this very, very strange veil of unreality for me that I had trouble with.
Liz: No, that makes sense. It does feel like the stakes were a little skewed in every direction. Like someone needed to go and fix all the sliders. Again with the video game metaphors.
Liz: Hmm. So there’s–
Anika: Sorry. Can we take a quick pause? I’m sorry. I have three cats, one of which is a human, at my door.
[brief interlude for “Spanish Flea” to play because that is still hilarious]
Where were we?
Liz: We were talking about the space politics subplot, which is really where … it’s the grain of sand around which the pearl of all my problems with this episode formed.
Anika: Hmm, fair. Yeah, on one hand, space politics!
Liz: This is what we love! We’re so happy.
And yet it doesn’t really like … okay, I’m just going to say it. President Rillak did nothing wrong. Obviously I love her, but also, you know, we have all these people, going back to her first appearance, comparing her to Kai Winn – not in a complimentary way like us – and to Admiral Nechayev, [and] we have discussed at length that we consider Admiral Nechayev to be a pretty reasonable person who is unfairly demonized by fandom.
And to be honest, so far, I don’t think Rillak has done anything even as morally ambiguous as Nechayev.
Liz: I don’t understand why Michael has a problem with handing J’Vini over to Ni’Varan justice.
Anika: Right. I mean, this is definitely my problem. I could go on about it for a long while, but the issue, I think, with the storytelling is the fact that Michael, the main character, our central figure, our hero, as it were, is from jump set up in opposition to President Rillak – [meaning] that the audience is being told to be wary of her because Michael is wary of her. And so I can’t even really blame fandom for being hard on her, when the story is telling them to be.
But I disagree with Michael, and I don’t understand why Michael doesn’t disagree with Michael, because both in the premiere episode, and then in this episode, I just kept thinking, why is Michael doing this? Why is Michael acting like this? That’s not the Michael from the other three seasons. And I don’t know why.
Liz: I’m hesitant to say this, because I think that this is a criticism made by the manbabies we discussed last week, who are never arguing in good faith, but this feels like a case of Michael being wrong, and the show trying to tell us that she’s right, because she’s the main character. And I disagree.
First, we don’t know enough about Vulcan or Ni’Varan justice to assume that handing J’Vini over is in some way bad. And in fact, T’Rina is contrasted with Rillak as the reasonable authority figure who is also kind and decent. There’s this … oh, how can I put it? This weird disjunction between Michael’s reaction and what we’ve actually seen.
And then, I am very uncomfortable with Michael implicitly endorsing the carceral state of which she herself is a victim.
Anika: Yes, I am hugely against it.
Anika: As we know, I am against prison. It’s so funny because I love SVU so much, but I’m against law and order, like, all of it.
Liz: We are adults who can critically assess our entertainment. And, for the record, I bet myself that we would be calling for prison abolition within the first 15 minutes. And we have.
Anika: So the fact that Michael – like, first of all, again, it is the year 3000 and something, right? Can we please have moved past this? It is such a failure of imagination to think that over a thousand years from now, we won’t have come up with a better way to deal with people who don’t follow the will of society.
Liz: Yes. And just for the record, murder is bad and I don’t endorse it. But if you have a culture which permits murder nuns to run around with weapons, your laws have to adapt to accommodate them. And in that circumstance, it is reasonable to apply those laws rather than whatever…
Liz: Also, by this point, the Federation itself should have adapted to the Qowat Milat.
Anika: Yes. So the Ni’Var are still not a part of the Federation. I have an addendum, just when I get done with this point, at some point we’ll get to that one.
So the Ni’Var are not a part of the Federation yet, so the Federation actually has no standing in this, other than it’s their officer. They want justice for their officer, sure. I get that. But choosing to allow the Ni’Var to handle the situation would be like someone in Italy killing an American, and he is handed over to the Italian police because that’s where it happened.
When you have a treaty with another country, or another planet, there are guidelines and there are rules. And if there isn’t one that exists, then the people in charge get to choose and compromise and decide. And that’s what happened. And why is that bad? The only reason it’s bad is because Michael personally doesn’t think that because he is Starfleet.
Liz: You actually dropped out in the middle of your excellent rant but I think what you were saying is that the death of a Starfleet officer doesn’t override all other considerations. And it felt to me like the way the police go after cop killers and prioritize those cases over, say, the murder of a passing civilian.
And again, I don’t condone murder, but no one murder is worse than any others. And I would say, in fact, that a serving officer who volunteered to be in a position of danger is maybe … you know, it’s tragic and it’s terrible again, don’t condone murder, but … Oh God, I’m going to get cancelled so hard.
Anika: You keep having to say it!
Liz: Yeah. Well.
Anika: If the murder nuns exist, then the murder nuns have their own regulations. That’s the real point. It’s sort of like, yeah, in their society, murder is okay under this, this, this, reasons or whatever. But I feel like, even so, they have to do something. If they’re nuns then they have to atone way, right? Like, isn’t that how it works? I’m not Catholic.
[Liz’s note: I am delighted by the implication that the Romulan murder nuns are Catholic.]
Liz: That makes sense to me. I absolutely think that would be the case. I think the TrekCore reviewer put it as there’s no reason to believe that Ni’Var is going to throw J’Vini a ticker tape parade and give her a cupcake as a reward.
Anika: I know Vulcans and Romulans, and they’re both kind of really harsh on criminals.
Liz: Yeah, honestly, J’Vini would probably be better off in a cushy Federation prison farm, whatever.
Anika: We don’t know what that is either.
Liz: No, no.
Anika: We’ve had trials in the Star Trek, but we haven’t had imprisonment. I guess Tom Paris was in prison in Australia.
Liz: New Zealand, excuse me.
Anika: Didn’t mean to besmirch your hometown.
Liz: New Zealand is very welcome to have him. It’s just kind of … no, no, I’m not going to get into why this is hilarious.
What I was going to say was, it has always sort of bugged me that, going back to the beginnings of Star Trek, they’ve never really shown much imagination in terms of what does the criminal justice system look like, and what does punishment and rehabilitation look like? We get all sorts of things, from Tom Paris’s cushy outdoor jail garden thing, to Michael Burnham being sent off to mine dilithium, or whatever, for the rest of her life.
It bugs me that we have this story in 2021, which is making all of these assumptions about justice and retribution, and not interrogating any of them in the way that the mainstream culture right now is doing.
Anika: It’s troubling to me, cause, like, the victim was a Black man, the Starfleet guy…
Anika: And I didn’t like that.
Liz: No, and the perpetrator was also a woman of color.
And you mentioned Elnor [in our chat], and that in Picard, he straight up kills a guy and Picard’s like, “Oh now, don’t do that again.” And again, the victim was a Black man and Elnor is played by a man of color, but he is white passing. And I think a lot of Americans don’t realize that he’s a person of color.
Anika: Yeah. They think of him as an elf.
Liz: Basically. Yeah. So yeah, it really, really troubles me. And I don’t understand how Michael Burnham, of all people, is just … It’s just bad writing and it doesn’t hold up. Separately from how Michael’s relationship with the president doesn’t make sense to me.
Anika: Yeah. I agree with that. Michael not getting along with politics and the president for some reason is a separate issue. Michael really coming across as that and order candidate type person who requires justice.
And at the same time, she was standing up for J’Vini until the president says, “Oh, well, we’re giving her to Ni’Var, so no biggie.” And then she immediately switched tactics and it was like, no, that’s not good enough. And I was just like, what is going on?
Liz: It feels like Michael wants to be part of a savior narrative, which is, again, hashtag problematic. And I think it’s worth flagging that this is the very first episode this season that did not have a Black woman co-writing it.
Liz: I realize that television writing is always collaborative, regardless of who is actually credited. But that jumps out at me, to be honest.
Anika: It just made me uncomfortable. It left me struggling. I mean, it was a rough week here in America, in regards to guns and murder and justice and courts. So I was already upset about the system, you know, the system is broken.
And then here was Michael Burnham, who, as we said, in literally the very beginning of the series was a victim of the system. And it was unjust, and there are fans quote, unquote to this day who say they can’t accept her even still being on the show, but certainly not as captain, because of that. So they didn’t do a great job of showing that it was the system that was wrong, and not Michael who was wrong.
And to have that character now be trying to force the system that hurt her on other people who are not a part of the system, and a thousand years later, when, again, they should have fixed this problem by now – it just really, really bothers me.
It felt like, you know, let’s say AOC is going to put forth here’s this new, great thing that we’re going to do. There’s like, I don’t know, mandatory re-looking at the court documents after three years, or something. And Michael standing up and saying, “No, I’m against it.” And it’s like, why, why are you against it? You are the one person who should be for it.
Liz: Yeah. It really feels like a case of breaking through the glass ceiling and then pulling the ladder up behind you. I just don’t like it.
Anika: Right. And I don’t want Michael to be in that position. I don’t want to see Michael in that position or to think of her as the type of character.
Liz: And it’s weird to think that Michael is wrong and it’s worse to think that she’s wrong, and maybe the writers don’t know. If I could trust that they know that this is the story that they’re telling, much like with the thing about Tilly’s angst, in my opinion, being more about losing her mother than being out of her comfort zone, that lack of confidence makes it hard to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Anika: Right. I want to trust the writers, but I … Past experience.
Anika: Has not left me with that trust. And maybe three episodes from now, Michael will give a big speech, she’s really good at speeches, so maybe she’ll give a big speech about what she’s learned and why was wrong. And that this was a lesson that she had to learn. But you know what? I don’t want that either. That’s what I said last week. I don’t want this show to be about Michael learning lessons.
Liz: Also at this point, Michael should not have Admiral Vance explaining to her that Starfleet answers to civilian authority. She should know that.
Anika: Right. And again, the people who are writing this, do they know that three years have already happened? Do they know that Michael has a rich backstory that involves global or universal politics?
I don’t understand. I just don’t understand why her story is this right now. All of it, everything that’s happening with Michael, other than that she’s captain now, which is great, but why does all this other stuff come with [her being] captain now? Why does she have to prove herself when she’s already captain? And why does she suddenly not know how Federation works, when last season was literally Michael telling people how the Federation works.
Liz: It’s just disappointing. I expect better from Discovery at this point.
The woman who wrote this week’s episode previously wrote for Warrior Nun, which is hilarious in a Qowat Milat way. I never watched it, but I asked in our Discord, “Hey, what’s this show?” And someone said, “Oh yeah, it had really, really good ideas and the writing really let it down.”
Anika: Not great.
Liz: Yeah, that’s…
Anika: Not a good endorsement.
Anika: So that’s why I have to land on, I didn’t super like this episode. I’m sort of holding judgment ’til I’ve seen the whole season and know what all of the pieces, ‘cos I also did feel like this was a, a lot of laying down the groundwork for more of the story. I don’t feel like J’Vini is going to come back. But I could be wrong, I guess. But possibly, even if the woman herself isn’t back, the fact that they gave her to Ni’Var is clearly important, and that decision could come back.
So my addendum from before is that I have this fear, and I’m expecting to be wrong the way that you like to expect to be wrong, but I have this scary kernel that President Rillak is going to be outed as bad or terrible or conniving in some way, you know, Cardassian in some way, and that Ni’Var is going to join the Federation and T’Rina is going to be made president. And do not want. I love T’Rina, but do not want.
Liz: I have exactly the same fear. And it’s not that I think T’Rina would make a bad president, but Rillak is the–
Anika: It’s more the optics, you know, the optics of the Vulcans coming in and taking over
Liz: Yeah. I also feel like there’s a bit of fantastical space racism in the assumption that Rillak is part Cardassian and part Bajoran and therefore cannot be trusted. I mean, I see it in the fandom, but I also see it in the writing and hi, I hate it a lot. Obviously this is not the worst racism in the fandom or the show, but it produces assumptions that lead to poor writing. I’ll put it that way.
Anika: Yeah, so I’m scared. And T’Rina is great. I really liked her this episode, I loved how she wasn’t a part of the Vulcan Jedi council and yet was important. It’s like they were the scholars, you know? Okay. So I’m going to segue to the Vulcan Jedi Council, because what they were.
Liz: I actually said to my flatmate, that looks like the Jedi Council, that there’s a strong Jedi Council aesthetic happening, and Anika is going to love this.
Anika: Exactly. If the Jedi council was like these Vulcans, I wouldn’t be as angry at them, because these Vulcans, they don’t pretend to care about the rest of society.
My main issue with the Jedi is that they want to tell – and the Vulcans do this too, but these particular Vulcans weren’t doing this – that they want to impart their wisdom to everybody and have everybody follow their rules, but also be hands-off and like, “No, you guys, we can’t actually care about you in any way,” but also, think that they need to be involved in everything.
Like, if you want to have no attachments, great. Buddhist monks who go live on a mountain and have nothing to do with society can do whatever they want with attachments. But if the Jedi are literally leading armies and telling people how to politic, and bringing refugees all over the place, and, most importantly, raising up the next generation of Jedi, they can’t do that. You can’t be detached when you are trying to be in a society and in a community. And in a school.
Liz: I agree.
Anika: These Vulcans, I really liked. When they were doing their calculations, it was just like Spock and Michael’s school. It was like, these were the Vulcans who just never left school. And I loved that. I was like, yes, this is exactly what I want the Vulcan science conglomerate, or whatever they’re called, to be. This is perfect.
Liz: I especially love that you’ve got your nerds doing your science and, you know, having their passive aggressive meditation nap, but then you also have T’Rina, who is incredibly emotionally intelligent without expressing emotion herself.
I really respect that. I feel like she is a wonderful character, and she’s a wonderful Vulcan. And I think she really embodies how much Vulcan society needed to be reunified with the Romulans. And likewise, the Romulans we see are much more restrained.
Anika: Right, right. Yeah. I love that. That’s such a good insight, because I have been saying forever that the problem with the Vulcans is they don’t evolve. They got stuck. And that’s true of the Romulans as well. The Romulans are more – they’re trying to evolve more than the Vulcans are because the Romulans aren’t happy with where they’re at.
But the Vulcans are just like, this is the best we could be, and so we’re going to be continuing to be it for the next thousand years. And that is not healthy for a civilization or a person. And this idea that they needed the balance, they needed both parts to be a really whole race that was emotionally healthy and mentally healthy, that makes perfect sense to me, like, on a scientific level and a psychological level. And I love it. Good job.
Liz: Thank you. I would go so far as to say that I think this metaphor can be extended to the need to reintegrate Vulcan, or Ni’Var, with the Federation because maybe the Federation does need that shot in the arm. But we don’t know.
And the thing is, we have not seen enough of the civilian Federation to say for certain. To come back to my problem with the politics plotline, I feel like they’re telling a story, but they’re not laying any of the ground work. There’s no world-building going on here
Anika: Yes. We don’t know what they’re even replacing. Or what, like – and I really hate, every single time, and it’s happened at least twice, possibly three times now, but someone says, “This was the worst thing that’s happened to us since the Burn.” And it was like, you mean like last week? Shocking! I guess the Burn was actually a hundred years ago, but obviously…
Liz: It’s actually funny that that’s your reaction, because my reaction is, oh, you’ve gone a hundred years without a major disaster. That sounds amazing. What’s that like?
Anika: Oh, again, it’s just a failure of imagination because it’s like, those are the only things that we, the audience, know about. Come up with something else. Su’Kal was eighty something years old, right? So, hey, guess what more has happened?
It’s okay. It’s fine. It’s fine. I don’t want to be riding on this so much. It’s because I loved everything on Vulcan, pretty much. I loved T’Rina and Book. Again, T’Rina has this grasp of how to talk to someone who’s not a Vulcan, while still being a Vulcan, that I haven’t seen in any other Vulcan. Tuvok comes closest, but she was able to tell Book what he needed to hear, and help him through this stuff that he needed to deal with. Without … she didn’t do anything. She just was like, “Okay, we’re going to go here, and I got what I need.” And he was like, “No, I still need something.”
Anika: She was like, “Okay, we’re going to stay in here until you’re ready, but I’m not going to do anything, because this isn’t my stuff.” And it was really good.
And Book’s stuff was amazing. Everything Book did was – it made the annoying child be – not that the child is annoying, but it was annoying that the child kept coming back last episode. And this was such a beautiful resolution to that. And then he was wearing his necklace by the end of the episode. And he was looking at the trees and I was like, oh, you know, we were talking about how grief is a book on a shelf? Book was putting new things on his shelves again, he was like, “Grief isn’t going to be the only thing on my shelf anymore.”
And I was just like, this is so beautiful. And Michael got to share it with him. And all of that was so great. The other stuff didn’t live up to it.
Anika: It made me angry sometimes.
Liz: I feel like world-building and setting up the baseline to understand where your characters are coming from is actually really important.
Anika: It’s kind of important to storytelling.
Liz: So my novel was rejected by an agent this week. I was really disappointed, but one of the things she said was that my world-building is really good, but then I need to integrate that more with how my main characters are reacting to the new worlds that they’re in.
And I kind of feel like it’s a similar problem with Discovery so far this season, where characters are reacting, but we don’t understand where they’re coming from as they react. They’ve done the opposite to me.
Anika: Yeah, and, like, Admiral Vance, his analogy of the symphony was lovely, and he delivered it really nicely. And I really liked the Vance and Michael relationship–
Liz: Yeah, I think it is so great for Michael to have a mentor who is not trying to be more than that. They could grow to become friends, but he’s not trying to be her dad. Or her mom. (Neither is her mom.) But Michael shouldn’t need this explained? Michael should know this?
Anika: It felt like a beautiful speech that a writer wrote to the audience to explain what we were supposed to take away.
Anika: It had nothing to do with Michael. And I didn’t like that.
Liz: It almost feels like Discovery is sort of skating off fandom’s assumptions about politics and politicians and the way the Federation works, without actually doing anything to put the work in.
Is this where we want to talk about Spock’s World by Diane Duane?
Anika: Okay. So Spock’s World by Diane Duane is a hardcover novel. So it was like a big deal at the time when it came out and everything. And it is the story of the Vulcans. Vulcan, as a planet, chooses to secede from the Federation. It’s like – I can’t make Vulcan and Brexit makes sense, but it’s Vexit, it’s Vexit and it is literally – there’s a vote, a planetwide vote and they vote to Vexit.
Anika: They vote to consider vexiting, I should say, they vote to have basically what amounts to a trial, a live Senate hearing, I guess would be the closest analogy.
They invite a bunch of people, Vulcans and non-Vulcans, to talk in front of scholars and scientists and politicians. And then also it’s broadcast to all of Vulcan. And they say specifically in the book that ninety-three percent of the Vulcan population is watching, because of course Vulcans love politics.
Liz: Of course!
Anika: So that’s one half of the book. And then the other half of the book is how Vulcan became Vulcan. So it’s like pre-Surak, and then Surak, and then the Romulans leave. And then the final prequel chapter is Sarek and Amanda meeting and falling in love. It’s like two separate books.
And so that’s all the world-building. It’s literal world-building, cause she’s building Vulcan as we know it through all of these different steps. And then there’s this political drama that the people we know are involved in, because of course, Kirk, Spock and McCoy, and Sarek, get to speak at the Vulcan hearing. And T’Pau dies, I’m sorry. I’m laughing. So in the middle of the trial, T’Pau, who’s in charge of Vulcan, or whatever, dies.
Anika: And she gives her katra to Amanda.
Anika: It’s this big thing where T’Pau has to be pro-Vexit. But she’s passive aggressively anti-Vexit. She makes Sarek give a speech about how pro-Vexit he is. And then at the end of it, he resigns because he was like, “Okay. I did my duty and now I’m going to resign because my heart isn’t in that, and I’m going to live with my wife on Earth, bye.”
It’s a good book. It’s not a great book. It’s a good book. A lot of it is out of character. I would say the Sarek and Amanda stuff is weird. The T’Pau stuff is a little bit weird. McCoy is great. She’s really, really good at writing McCoy. Everybody else is a little bit off. She loves McCoy and she’s best at writing him. But also, it’s a novel, so it’s not like the real characters, it’s like a little [inaudible] with these characters.
But it turns out that T’Pring, Spock’s ex fiancée T’Pring, is the one who started Vexit, and it’s like a real estate deal. So she convinces all these pro0Vexit people to buy up Federation real estate so that once they kick the Federation out, they can sell it off to the highest bidder. It’s so funny to me.
Liz: Diane, what the fuck?
Anika: It’s very like, oh, like me, you were worried about Reagan, like Reaganwasin your life, kind of thing.
Liz: Honestly, T’Pring as Ronald Reagan or Nigel Farage, or T’Pring as Theresa May is amazing, but the rest is terrible.
Anika: You have to read it for yourself if you want to have a real opinion. But I can’t recommend it. But also like, it’s fun.
Liz: I’m definitely going to read it.
Anika: So once they figure all this out, the end result is T’Pring is handed over to Vulcan authority, just like J’Vini has handed over to Ni’Var authority. And it’s like a spa. The prison is a really nice place where they are required to stay until they have realized the illogic of their murders or real estate scams.
And unlike Michael, Kirk Spock and McCoy – other than allegedly T’Pau, no one died, because no one was murdered. T’Pring didn’t murder anybody this time. She kind of murdered somebody last time, just saying. So no one’s been murdered. I think that that is important to say. Like you said, we don’t condone murder, but Kirk, they all tell her, they all are like, “T’Pring, we were disappointed in you. You could be so much more than this. And we we’re looking forward for you to mess up our lives again.” They’re all sort of like, you’re going to get out of this crazy Vulcan spa prison, you’re going to do great things.
And that is not a lack of imagination in what prison could be. Prison could be, you have to stay here and you have to follow our rules until you’re no longer a threat to yourself or others, then–
Liz: Then off you go. Yeah. Which has its own problems. Certainly, the Vulcan method is logical, and if they’ll forgive my racism, humane.
The reason Spock’s World is relevant is that a Vulcan term that Diane Duane came up with for this book is used in this episode of Discovery. So we have to assume that this is what they had in mind. And I love that, I’m very happy for Diane Duane, but this just cements my feeling that Michael is mad that J’Vini is not getting punished enough. And I don’t like that! Just to repeat what we were talking about twenty minutes ago.
Anika: And again, Vulcans are not us. Vulcans have been around for thousands of years. That’s what the book is about, it was like, look at all these primitive Vulcans, and here’s the Vulcans that are the same age as humans, and here’s the Vulcans as they are today. We’re supposed to look up to Vulcan. And you know, I have a lot of problems with Vulcan, so I’m not saying that Vulcans are who you’re supposed to look up to, but just this idea that it’s not justice for the Vulcans to deal with it. Like, they’re a logic people, of course they’re going to want to fit the punishment to the crime. Isn’t that logical?
Liz: Is that not good?
Anika: Everything we know about Vulcans, they’re not going to be like, “Good job, J’Vini, go out there and murder some more!” Even the Romulans wouldn’t do that.
Liz: No, I was going to say if anything, the Romulan justice system prior to reunification was terrible and no sensible person would want someone handed over to it.
Anika: The Romulan justice system is basically Game of Thrones.
Anika: You can choose trial by combat or or walk through the hall and have people throw trash at you. These are your options, Romulans. Have fun.
Liz: You know, I can definitely see the appeal of both options, but on the whole, I think I’d rather a nice cushy Federation or Vulcan prison.
I forgot to set our timer, but we’re coming up on about 50 minutes. What else do we want to talk about?
Anika: I want to talk about Michael having chemistry with everyone that she talks to. Literally. Even her mom. But literally everyone she talks to.
In particular, I was annoyed at how I could see Michael and Vance as a ship after their conversation. I was like, no. Less annoyingly, but only slightly less annoyingly was, after their first conversation at the beginning of the episode – like, this is why I wrote down my comments, ‘why does Michael have chemistry with everything?’ When she was talking to President Rillak at the very beginning and President Rillak was like, “Don’t forget, you’re in charge…”
Liz: Oh look.
Anika: I was like, there is a sexy undertone to this. Guys, Michael, is in a very happy, committed relationship and I don’t want anything to mess that up, but also, why is she so compatible with everyone she talks to?
Liz: The part of me that wrote Cornwell/Michael fic is definitely up for shipping Michael with Rillak.
Anika: Right. It’s just, I mean, I’m sorry. It was there.
But there was still not enough kissing in this episode/show. Book and Michael still have not kissed this whole season. I know it’s only three episodes, but also again, I just said they’re in a committed relationship. They’re lying down next to each other in bed, why are we not kissing? And Gray and Adira were this close to kissing, and Hugh shows up and is like, “Yay, you’re joined, huzzah!” And, no.
Liz: Do you think this is a COVID problem?
Anika: I guess that’s possible. That’s a reasonable answer. Star Trek as a whole is horny, but not sexy, do you know what I mean? Like, there’s a lot of subtexts, but there’s not a lot of–
Liz: Actual text.
Anika: –texts. And also like, everyone says that there’s not enough sex in the MCU. Sometimes I get concerned that, like, as a society we’re moving towards this – no one actually wants – like, you know, in The Princess Bride and he goes, “This is a kissing book!”
Anika: That no one wants more kissing books.
Liz: Yeah. Not everything has to be about sex, but it is a common part of the human experience, and I say that as an asexual, but it’s weird to exclude it altogether.
Anika: I totally accept your COVID issue. That makes a lot of sense. And I will forgive them because I would much rather people be safe.
Liz: Yes. But at the same time, a little gentle kiss with, now and then, or some really intense handholding. I could go for that. I am a J/C shipper, so putting two people in the same scene together, looking at each other, is pretty great.
Anika: I’m sad. Now we’re not going to get kissing the whole season because of COVID.
Liz: I’m sure we’ll get some, but it will have to be judiciously doled out to minimize the challenges. They’ll make it work.
Before we bow out, I would just love to flag that Tilly doesn’t like mac and cheese, and now I am reassessing whether she and I could ever be friends.
Anika: It was weird. It was weird that it was mac and cheese. It’s interesting. I wish that I had seen the actual therapy session, because Tilly being like, “I’ll try something that I don’t think I like for dinner, and that will be going outside my comfort zone…” It’s not going outside your comfort zone to try a different thing for dinner. Baby steps, I guess, but I don’t think that’s what he meant.
Liz: Last week we talked about how Tillie talks around her problems and sort of deflects from them, and so I wonder if she is still in the early stage of therapy where she is having trouble identifying her problems or the root of her problem, and it’s not just Hugh trying things that might not work. It’s Tilly trying things that might not work.
Anika: She did have that nice conversation with Gabrielle though,
Liz: Yes. And that is what makes me think that Tilly really wants a mother. And I think Rillak is that person. I know we assumed that Rillak was going to be a new surrogate mother for Michael, but why does Michael get all the mothers?
Anika: Spreading the moms around.
Liz: I just think Tilly is due. And I think Rillak is probably a really great person. And I’m going to keep on thinking that until she does something genuinely terrible right there in front of me.
Anika: I still think that really sounds so much like Mia Kirshner as Amanda. there’s just something about the way they speak
Liz: My final final note for this episode is that Grudge wasn’t in it and I wish to issue a complaint. I really need to know how the Qowat Milat feel about cats.
Anika: Right. I was super sad that the other Qowat Milat died. Because I was totally shipping her with Tilly and I was like, Tilly, you should become a Qowat Milat and hook up with this handmaiden. I’m into it.
Liz: It’s so great. Speaking of people I ship, do we think that Gabrielle and J’Vini were girlfriends?
Anika: Ooh. Like, I mean, I think that the show was suggesting that J’Vini was the new Michael, like she was the fake daughter.
Liz: Oh, I dunno, she seems a lot older than–
Anika: Gabrielle was treating her very maternally.
Liz: Ohhhhh, I, thought that was romantic.
Anika: It didn’t come across as romantic to me, but I respect your interpretation.
Liz: Once again, I’m going to be cancelled.
I think it would be interesting to revisit this episode at the end of the season and see if it fits into the story overall in a better way, or if it’s a regrettable outlier that we will never talk off again, like that episode where Nahn left.
Anika: That’s exactly what I was thinking. I was like, this is like the episode where Nahn left.
Liz: Discovery always has at least one episode that’s not actually bad, but we just don’t like it very much. And this is it, and that’s fine.
Anika: That’s fine.
Liz: Definitely don’t need to lie awake, worrying that the show is bad now.
Anika: We wouldn’t have so much to say if the show was bad.
Liz: That is so true.
Anika: People who don’t like it talk all the time, but they say the same thing over and over again.
Liz: And have been since season one.
Anika: 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 tumbler, all at @antimatterpod, and write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We accept questions, suggestions, whatever you want to say.
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We have stickers. I’m trying to work on designs for those t-shirts that we keep shouting out everywhere. And we have actual Star Trek merchandise that is from the actual Star Trek people.
Liz: But it’s inferior.
Anika: And join us next week when we’ll be discussing the next episode of Star Trek discovery, All Is Possible.
Liz: Oh, that’s so nice and positive.