Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Discovery, Season 1: The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry, Season 1
"The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry"
Airdate: October 8, 2017
4 of 15 produced
4 of 15 aired


An attack on a vital mining operation moves up the Discovery's timeline for getting its experimental engines working. Burnham is tasked with learning what she can from the ships newest acquisition that can help their war effort.
 Saru hates shopping, because it's so hard to find pants that fit stilt legs.


Kevin: Again, there are some very Trek ideas in this episode, even if they don't get the workout we think they should. First, I really liked Burnham explicitly stating that they don't know for certain that the Tardigrade is hostile based on one experience. Sure, that's a METAPHOR for Burnham, but it's a very Trek idea. Later, she seems visibly disturbed by the creature's discomfort. I was reminded most obviously of the Equinox and Captain Ransom killing the creatures to get home faster. I wish the episode had spent more time on it, but again, I'll never be mad watching Star Trek engage big questions, even if it's only at the edges.

Matthew: "Devil In The Dark" spent nearly 50 minutes on the question of whether an "other" creature fulfilling its biological imperative is worthy of care or of being dealt with by violence. This episode spent about 50 seconds on the same question. So while credit is due, and I'm glad it's here, but I can't help feeling that 1. the truncated, serial nature of the series; and 2. the emphasis on pew-pew-explode! is reducing the emphasis on otherwise quintessentially Star Trek ideas. I wanted more of this story, and I was annoyed that I didn't get it. I too enjoyed the subtly handled but clear analogy between Burnham and the creature.

Kevin: The Klingons. Hmmm. What to say? The subtitles and prosthetics are just keeping me from ever connecting with these characters. Some plot questions are why does this ship have a cloaking device? Why didn't the other Klingons just give these guys a lift? Then there's the weird reference to eating Captain Georgiou. I understand Klingons have referenced eating the hearts of their enemies in some ceremonial way, but this felt...different...particularly in light of Kurtzman's response to a question about Klingons seeming very close to stereotypical 'savages.' Any of these things alone might be overlooked, but together, I just can't connect to them and invest in their story.

Matthew: They need to stop speaking in Klingon with subtitles. Bottom line, It is interfering with my enjoyment of this whole story element - which I think could be relatively enjoyable, even with cannibalism. I have been viewing these Klingons as an iteration. TOS Klingons were Soviets with daggers. TNG Klingons were Vikings or something. Here they are a reactionary culture with religious overtones who is hostile to the influence of a liberal society on their border (I'll leave you to fill in the analog for yourself). That's a compelling angle - it is just buried under mountains of prosthetics and minutes worth of gobbledeygook.

Kevin: The war arc is well executed enough, but it's getting in the way of things like character development. What little we got was good. I like Burnham using Saru even if the idea doesn't quite bear scrutiny. I liked Stamets sparring with Lorca, and even with the doctor. (Aside: I totally think they dated and it ended badly. That kind of acid is usually reserved by gays for the exes they don't still sometimes have brunch with.) Lorca seems to be tilted more toward war-happy in a way that belies his portrayal in the pilot, like his creepy trophy room.

Matthew: I guess we just need to interpret Lorca's behavior as someone who manipulated Burnham with the promise of limitless exploration. Which would be fine, except it's in the very next episode that this pose comes undone. I'm glad we met the doctor, but I wonder how much he will get to do based on what we saw here. The doctor role in a Star Trek show usually involves creating a setting and opportunity for medical drama, and for articulating a humanistic worldview in opposition to a more militaristic one. So far, it's hard to see either one here.

Kevin: In the flat out minus column is Landry's death. Yar had only a slightly more useless death. She was ridiculously aggressive and stupid and it got the character killed, and I liked the actress enough to think that with a little shading, she could be a fun addition. Also, if Corvan II is 40% of a vital resource's production, shouldn't there just be ships always there? It's not the first time this sin has been committed, but it is one of the more egregious examples.

Matthew: Landry's behavior was facially stupid. I guess we're supposed to take this as a result of the pressure that Lorca puts on his people? She wouldn't have been so reckless had he not been demanding results.


Kevin: Martin-Green is great, and I really want her and Doug Jones to get a morning show where they trade lovingly barbed banter over coffee. I would watch that show. My plot issues with why his ganglia would react in some way that gave objective rather than subjective information aside, that was a sick burn.

Matthew: It was nice to see Martin-Green get to do something besides put up defenses and be dour. She portrayed the compassion she had for the creature really well. I wish she had been given more to chew into, scene-wise. Doug Jones got to portray a wider range of emotions, too, and he nailed it.

Kevin: I liked Rapp more here than I did in the pilot. I liked the conflict with Lorca and the doctor. I kind of hope they did date. I don't need a romance left and right on my drama, but one wouldn't go amiss. Once again, Michelle Yeoh's acting job just makes me wonder why she is not on the show every week. She managed to make a somewhat unearned emotional moment really sing.

Matthew: Yeah, Michelle Yeoh really sticks out, doesn't she? She brims with that optimism that used to define Star Trek, and it makes me miss it (and her) all the more.

Production Values

Kevin: I have few complaints in terms of execution. The replicator effect was cool. I like a lot of the interiors which give the ship a real sense of space and population. The silhouette shot of the Discovery above the sun was really cool. The rotating discs...hmmm. I have chosen to be happy that they answered my technical question last week about why the saucer looked that way with a plot reason, even if that raises more questions. I really liked the interior of the abandoned Shenzhou. That was nicely done and atmospheric.

Matthew: I found the stuff on the Klingon ship to be bizarre, pointless, and ultimately distracting. Why was Voq drawing touchscreen holographic pictures? Why does his ship look like Donald Trump watching H.R. Giger perform a golden shower on a gilded bathroom fixture? On the plus side, I liked the new interior areas of the Discovery ship we saw.


Kevin: This is a 3. The character and proto-ethical questions with Burnham were nicely done and very Star Trek. I even like that she's still fucking up a little. It took Spock some time to balance Vulcan practical ruthlessness with emotional needs both his own and others, so I like seeing Burnham get an arc. The explodey stuff while not badly done or stupid per se, certainly takes time away from the plot development I want to see. Still, I was solidly entertained throughout.

Matthew: This is a 3 for me, too, for a total of 6. But this is the last 3 I'll be giving to an episode that puts off investigation of an ethical question or a science fiction idea to blow shit up. It's getting old. Looking at my review, I notice how many times I say "I wish" or "I wanted." It's time to do big ideas, whether in the board room (is there one?) or on a planet. Otherwise, it's just Star Wars with a chevron on its chest.


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