Friday, November 17, 2017

Gene Simmons, Second Chances, & Good Trek/Bad Trek #46 Discovery: Into The Forest I Go

Intro: I’ve loved Star Trek since I was a kid. I started by watching TNG in 6th grade. I’ve been a fan since then and though I’ve spent a lot of time watching Star Trek, I’ve never watched The Original Series. So, I’m watching and reviewing them as a fan of Star Trek, but one who’s never seen any of them. So I’m watching all the TOS episodes for the first time and saying whether or not they suck. At the end, I give examples of better and/or worse Star Trek episodes to watch that remind me of this episode. Usually, I ramble on about some bullshit before the Trek. That’s it.

Another week another whole bunch of sexual assault news. I think we can all admit how shocked we all were when we found out that Kiss frontman and legendary piece of shit Gene Simmons acted like a piece of shit. If you haven't heard, he's no longer welcome on Fox News for acting like a piece of shit. You have to wonder what it takes to get banned from Fox. Usually, they just give you the 8:00 slot until the lawsuits pile up and become too much. But I guess they’ve decided to head this one off at the pass. I didn’t know that Simmons was a regular on Fox. I can’t imagine a scenario where Gene Simmons would need to weigh in on anything not having to do with being a piece of shit. They’re always having two people yell about an issue. So do they sometimes have a segment called “being a piece of shit.” Then they have someone take the con side and Simmons weighs in on the pro side of being a piece of shit. I don’t watch. I’m sure his insights into the Middle East conflict were very insightful right up until he stripped down and started humping the sofa like an unfixed dog. 

There are lessons to be learned with all the sexual assault stuff. The big takeaway I’ve gotten from my social media feed is that ranking the degrees of sexual assault severity is probably a game you don’t want to play. This is particularly true if you’re a dude. If you’re a dude who hears about something a lady went through and you want to point out that it isn’t nearly as bad as the thing the last round of revelations brought forward then that’s probably something that you should keep to yourself. Until women come forward with some kind of official ranking system that we can all refer to, maybe you just take their word for it that it sucked and move on. The thing is you don't have to have an opinion on everything. You can skip a couple here and there. Just leave this news piece alone and get going on your hot-take for the next thing. 

The other thing that I’ve learned is that I think we should probably be done with politics as a field in which you can redeem yourself. I liked Al Franken. I’ve read some of his books. I wasn’t opposed to him running for the presidency in 2020. That’s looking a lot less likely. That’s probably for the best. There’s a history of redemption in politics. I don’t know if it’s the same everywhere, but in America, you can be a pretty big piece of shit and then be in a public office and slowly teach people that you’re not as big a piece of shit anymore. That doesn’t seem like the place for that. If for no other reason than there’s a lot of people out there. Many don’t have the same baggage. Maybe we can find a couple of them to run for something. Robert Byrd was a Klansmen. That’s obviously not okay. That was never okay. But for some reason, Robert Byrd was allowed to show the world that he wasn’t as big a piece of shit as he used to be. There’s probably a place better suited to learning you’re not a klansmen. Used car sales come to mind. You can sell cars and not be a member of the klan. I think it’s encouraged in fact. But as a salesman, you can still learn the error or your previous beliefs and how wrong you were and as an added bonus we as Americans aren’t looking at a dude who used to run the Klan every time we turn on C-Span. 

That goes double for people in the entertainment industry. I’m not saying that people don’t fuck up. People do. I’m not saying that people don’t deserve second chances. I’m just that the people who make more money than me and have had more success don’t deserve second chances. There are way too many folks waiting in the wings to keep on giving folks who’ve already made more money than god more and more chances to let everyone down. Fuck ‘em. 

Know what doesn’t need a second chance because it didn’t let anyone down? Star Trek Discovery. Particularly the last episode of the first part of the first season. This one. 


Here we are the end of part one of season one and it’s a doozy. A whole lot goes down on this one. Maybe too much. Lorca, Saru, and Burnham want the Discovery to stay and protect the planet its inhabitants. Starfleet order Discovery back because of how important it is to the war effort. Lorca decides to trick Starfleet and fight. He’s got a plan. But there’s risk. He’s got to beam folks over to set up sensors and just hang out while at the same time making Stamets make 130 micro jumps with the spore drive. 

If this didn't tug the shit out of your heartstrings then you're an unfeeling monster 

This isn’t a good idea. Stamets knows that running the spore drive is messing him up something fierce. Lorca has the doctor check him out and then now he realizes how bad the damage is. This is extra tricky because the doctor and Stamets are an item. The doctor tells Lorca how dangerous this is and Lorca doesn’t give a shit. 

Burnham and Tyler go over. They discover that Admiral LeftForDead is (surprise!) still alive. Also, that seeing the person in charge of torturing Tyler is enough to trigger some really awful PTSD. He’s pretty useless at this point. Not judging. Just saying. 

These are all the amazing places you've helped discover, but won't be able to visit on account of I'm gonna sacrifice you for the good of the mission

Meanwhile, back on Discovery, the jumps are not doing good things to Stamets. These jumps are taking a lot out of him. The doctor wants Lorca to stop, but he won’t because it’s too important. He’s ordered to keep him alive long enough to finish the sequence. It’s a pretty heartbreaking scene. This alone is worth watching for. 

And boom goes the anti-matter

Burnham is worried that the Klingons are going to try to warp away so she challenges the Klingon commander to a knife fight. Solid action. The Klingons don’t warp away. Burnham, Tyler, Admiral LeftForDead, and also the Klingon who tortured Tyler get beamed away. The Klingon flagship gets destroyed. The Admiral gets put on the first transport to medical care. Lorca is about to get a medal for how great he handles his insubordination. Tyler, Burnham, the doctor, and Stamets share passionate kisses. Everything is tied up in a nice little bow. 

Or is it…because it turns out that Tyler is still really messed up by his time being tortured and raped and his captor being on board is really not good for his mental health. Stamets agrees to one last jump before quitting Starfleet to focus on not dying in a spore drive. Lorca knows that as soon as the admiral recovers she’s going to have his gun and badge for his behavior. And the one last jump goes awry and leaves them in the middle of nowhere. Anyone who has seen any TV ever knew that it wasn’t going to end all happy like. It was a damn satisfying way to end. I can’t wait for the second half. You probably know what the answer to the next part is but…

Good Trek?

I would say yes. I still like the previous episodes a lot more. I like this show so much better when they’re letting the characters stretch out. I like the occasional war and space fight. Those scenes are awesome. The effects on this show are just nuts. They look amazing. But some of these war-centric episodes are so jam-packed with plot that we don’t really get to hang out with the characters. I know that the makers of this wanted to make this a new generations Trek, but a lot of this would have had so much more impact had it come later in the run or at least later in the run. I’m not sold on the doctor. It’s not that he’s a bad character or that I don’t care for the actor, but we’ve just spent so little time with him. I’m not really all that invested in his and Stamet’s relationship. I know they’re together. I’m not sure if they’ve mentioned if they’re married or dating or what. I know that they seem to care about each other. Had we known a little bit more about what they’ve been through and who they are, then watching him sit idly by while Stamets is hooked into the spore drive would have carried so much more weight. 

What's the matter, Burnham? Targ got your tongue?

I love how willing this show is to creating what are supposed to be huge multi-season plot points and then just throws them away. The ship of the dead which is supposed to be the focal point of the Klingon war and now it’s just gone and also now the Federation can see through cloaks somehow. I don’t know why they’re not looking for increased tachyon particle emissions because everyone knows that cloaked ships produce detectible tachyon particles. I guess they should have watched TNG before sending Burnham and Tyler on the Klingon flagship. 

Really, they should call the engine the Stamets drive

This did what it was trying for really well. It wanted to tie up some loose ends and loosen some new ends. It did that really well. I don’t know where Discovery is now that the spore drive has gone haywire. I hope it’s very far from the front lines. I want to know what’s going on in Stamets’ head. I want Tyler to deal with his PTSD. I want Lorca to come to terms with the shit that he’s done. I want Tilly and Saru to keep being Tilly and Saru. And I want Burnham to keep on being such a badass. I really just want them to stretch out their legs and let Discovery do some goddamn discovering. That’s what I’m hoping for come the last six episodes of season one. I thought this was the last episode, but it’s really just the last episode of the first half of the first season. This is a midseason break. The last six will drop in January. 

The only thing that continues to get my goat about this show is that it takes place when it would. I love so much about this show, but I think that it would so much better if it took place after the events of DS9 and VOY. The fact that the technology is so advanced would make more sense. Testing out a new experimental engine would make sense considering nobody has ever mentioned the Discovery or their experimental drive in any other incarnation of Trek. I think the Klingon war could’ve and should’ve been a newly independent Jem’Hadar who are locked in multiple tribal fights now that they don’t know what to do with their freedom. There would be multiple factions and houses that are now vying for supremacy. The crew of Discovery could be exploring the Gamma Quadrant because the war with the Dominion didn’t really give the Federation to do so. I’ve given this some thought. But if you can’t have the Trek you love, love the Trek your with. And I do love this show. 

Better Trek?

Listen, if you like Trek and you’re not watching this show you’re an asshole. I’m sorry. I don’t want to have been stern with you, but there are qualms to have about this show, but the goods so outweigh the bad. The cast is bananas. Every character we’ve gotten to know I adore with the exception of Lorca. But I don’t think we’re supposed to love him. If we are then they’ve screwed that up, because that guy is a monster. The characters that I’m not sold on it’s mostly because we just haven’t spent enough time with them. I don’t really know about the doctor. I’m invested in his and Stamets’ relationship, but mostly because I’m invested in Stamets as a character. Same with the two people with metal faces on the bridge. Would like to get to know them better. Don’t know them at all. Would like to. That being said, this is a great show and you should be watching it. 

In terms of other Treks this one hit some themes we’ve seen before. If you want the best cliffhanger ever then it has to be The Best of Both Worlds. This is the episode that introduced us to Locutus. Captain Picard gets abducted by the Borg and forced to become their face while they try to assimilate Earth. It’s one of the best episodes that TNG did and ends in such an uncertain way particularly considering that I’ve heard that a lot of actors weren’t sold on the show yet and weren’t sure if they planned on coming back for the fourth season. 

If you're looking for an episode where the crew of a ship is on a mission and gets trapped where they don’t know how to get back during a war then go with DS9’s A Time to Stand. Sisko takes a Jem’Hadar warship on a dangerous mission. A whole bunch of other shit ensues which leads to some engine problems. Great cliffhanger too even though it was the first episode of the season. Also, it leads to a great multi-episode arc that you should probably watch in its entirety. It’s all pretty badass. 

Worse Trek?

If you want an episode about using an experimental engine that’s being run by a person that takes a lot out of that person and leaves them in the middle of nowhere then watch Where No One Has Gone Before. Or don’t watch it because it sucks. A guy named the Traveler takes over the Enterprise’s engines and gets them trapped somewhere. Then they all start hallucinating. It’s a pretty well-regarded episode and I have no idea. It’s cheesy and Wesley sucks and there’s no reason to watch it. The Traveler is a dumb character. A lot of folks think that this is one of the first early TNG episodes that showed its promise. I disagree. It’s a stinker. Don’t watch it. Watch this episode of Discovery instead. 

That’s it for this week. And that’s it for this group of Discovery. So I guess I’m back to TOS next week. 

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