Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Discovery, Season 3: Forget Me Not

Discovery, Season 3
"Forget Me Not"
Airdate: November 5, 2020
33 of 33 produced
33 of 33 aired


Discovery goes to the planet Trill in order to help Adira reclaim her past memories.

Crap. The pool boy really f-ed up the Ph balance this time!


Kevin: The basic story ideas here are fine. We have an A and a B story and the show pretty much sticks to them. One story is introducing Adira in more detail, since it appears they are here for a while, and the other is watching the crew deal with the continued fallout of coming to the 31st century. At the core, both are perfectly fine stories. The story of Saru trying to assess and respond to the crew's mental health needs is good, and I particularly liked the conversation at the end with Saru and Culber that they are not fine, they couldn't be fine and acknowledging that is the first step to becoming fine. That works. What does not work is that weird haiku breakdown. I think it's that they were trying to lump in Tilly and Stamets snapping at each other with...whatever the hell psychotic event Detmer was experiencing. Trimmed of trying to do everything at once, the dinner scene is not a bad idea and "trying to throw a party and it blowing up in your face" is a narrative staple for a reason. They just tried to pack too much in. I mean, Georgiou's button of walking out with the wine was the best line of the scene in that is was quickly and lightly executed, and when Empress Georgiou is your lowest key, you have missed the mark slightly.

Matthew: For me to want to endure a "Bad Thanksgiving" scene with a dozen people, I have to know who they are and care about them. And although I can give you the names of perhaps half the characters there, I can only really give you attributes for 3 or 4 of them. So Detmer having some sort of break is just unpleasant and does not illuminate the inner workings of a character that I actually want to know more about. The conflict between Tilly and Stamets seems reverse engineered to fit into the narrative of this episode's B story. When were they ever fighting before? And frankly, yes, her idea does sound dumb. Dark matter literally doesn't interact with the rest of our universe except via gravity. How could it "mediate" anything? The whole "we're all sad because of what we've lost" story theme fails to cohere into anything that feels real because we don't know what any of these people have lost. We're just being told they lost stuff. Burnham is like a super orphan. Saru was already an outcast from his people. Georgiou is literally out of her own universe. Stamets and Culber already have each other. Does Tilly have family? Owosekun? Detmer? Asian Bridge Guy? Black Bridge Guy? White Bridge Lady? Alien Guy who Eats Beetles? Who knows.

Kevin: With Adira, I'm actually happy the Trill were revealed to be Dicks in the Future right away. Waiting for a sudden but inevitable betrayal would have bogged down the episode further. My other problem is every character talked like they knew they were making grand pronouncements. There's a way to pitch this that breaths a little more life and veracity into the idea of a Trill that is grappling with permanently losing access to the symbionts. As for Adira, the introduction of Gray was fairly heavy handed. You know from the moment he comes on screen he is going to die and it is going to be SAD and all of the dialogue is artificial. Have any two people in a relationship ever talked like that? The basic idea is fine. We've seen several people wrestle with the implications of what joining means for their partner, and it works best in small differences, not grand pronouncements. As for the ghost (?) of Gray, there is precedent for hosts communicating in that way with their previous hosts, but...I'm skeptical it will actually work long term. Also, the little details were off too. How can they be on a generation ship in search of Federation HQ? If you need a generation ship to get there, it's not Federation HQ anymore, it's just some people who used to be the Federation but now are very far away. It starts to smell like the meta-plot getting out of hand. And the bigger one now that I think about it is given the Trill taboo against reassociation, what do they think about remembering being your own boyfriend?

Matthew: The problem for me is that we are getting this story about ten screen minutes after being introduced to the character of Adira. I don't have any emotional investment in... her (why did the Discovery producers shout to the heavens about what a Big Deal it is to hire a non-binary actor, just to label them their birth-assigned gender in character?), so the whole Trill "meet your predecessors" moment doesn't mean anything to me. It barely worked in DS9, and we got way more time with Jadzia Dax before they dunked her in the glowing pool. The Gray relationship did not work for me. I guess they were... 15? That's a problem. When Wesley had a thing for the Dauphin, it was acknowledged by everyone as an adolescent crush, even if he felt (wrongly) that it was more. Here, the relationship is being asked to carry a lot of emotional water, and it fails to. And they're on a generational ship? Wait... if they need a generational ship, how did Adira get back to Earth in less time than it took to get however far out they were? And yeah, the Trill were behaving in a way very similar to the Earth Defense Force people of last episode. They were all aggro and douchey from the outset, only to turn on a dime when the plot dictated it (why did they wait until they beamed down to reveal that the symbiont was with a human host, anyway?). Burnham was totally chill until she started yelling at people and kicking them in the face. The whole "Burnham Character Development" angle to the story falls flat for me. We are told that she doesn't want to be emotionally supportive to the crew because she can't or something (because of the Year of Things Happening that we did not see), but clearly she can and is, and I'm not seeing where the conflict it. You know who couldn't be friendly to the crew? Ensign Ro. She had clearly delineated issues. You know who is a transparent, featureless plot dump for writers? Burnham. Whatever you need a character to do, Burnham can do. When she dived into the pool of glowing water to help Adira, surrounded by a dozen people whose biology and experiences would actually lend themselves to the task, I just laughed. Why didn't Ronnie dive in and sass Adira into working her shit out?

Kevin: Also, just a wrap up note: Admiral Tal, they are called thumb drives. You can put data on them and password protect them and everything. There are way easier ways to pass information discreetly than hoping your symbiont will survive.

Matthew: The problem with a grand mystery plot is that you have a ship that can travel instantaneously. Would Lord of the Rings have been anywhere near as compelling if they had a magic spell that took them to Mount Doom in an instant? Uh, no. This story is so lazy and uncompelling. Let me think of the dumbest way possible to resolve it: "The Burn" is named after Burn-ham, because her mom destroyed things, or she did, or something, with the time jump. The Federation will be fixed by giving everyone Mushroom Drive. We didn't even touch on the sphere data "plot," because it's so utterly rootless and inconsequential. Let's say the Sphere consciousness is what finds Burn-ham's mom, or fixes the Mushroom Drive so everyone can use it, or perhaps both.


Kevin: I think del Barrio is giving the writers and directors everything being asked of them. So while I think the script was trying to take too many shortcuts, I can't deny that in terms of acting, I think del Barrio can deliver. I do question adding another guest character while trying to keep us all invested in all the Discovery crew. I love an ensemble, but we are pivoting from ensemble to legion. Individually, every one is fine. I even found Georgiou to be enjoyably calibrated this week. I just want them to think who they are focusing on a little.

Matthew: Adding three new characters to this show all but precludes the possibility of the Discovery crew cohering into anything meaningful or memorable. It's as if the writers had a dartboard of ethnicities and genders, and felt that by having the casting directors throw enough darts, they would create a compelling group through basically no effort. Ian Alexander seems like a charming person. The character seems like little more than a cuteness receptacle, though. Blu del Barrio provides more shades to Adira's inner life. Wait... why does a teenager have a symbiont, anyway?

Kevin: I really like Martin-Green this week. Her scenes on Discovery where she has a like contented vibe are more effective for me than her teary stuff elsewhere. The decision to make Burnham the voice of Federation idealism but not Starfleet protocol I think has actually really helped. She is visibly more at ease and it makes for a more enjoyable performance.

Matthew: She can certainly swing from emotional extreme to totally chill. That's a credit to her acting ability, but an indictment of the writing. Why is everyone on this show so totally bipolar? I did not enjoy almost anything on the Thanksgiving Dinner scene. Emily Coutts is being asked to do the impossible - to make Detmer compelling and to get us to care about her but only by showing her unpleasantness.

Kevin: On a guest star note, Karen Robinson is a delight as Ronnie in Schitt's Creek and I think they criminally underused her here. I think a little of Ronnie's weary sarcasm could have really breathed some depth into the Trill scenes.

Matthew: Yeah, everyone is being written as a Space Acting character - someone who knows that This Thing With a Funny Name is Very Important and therefore it should be talked about in Sweeping Reverent Tones. The corollary in genre fiction is the Magic Acting character.

Production Values

Kevin: I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but I think the episode would have been substantially better if they thinned it out to about 80% of the content, and it goes for the design choices, too. I thought the Trill caves were a solid enough redesign from their DS9 inspiration, though the white eyes is one of those generic sci-fi touches that just makes me go 'eh.' The interior space was interesting enough and I liked the imagery well enough but it was just too busy. The same basic idea without about 3/4 of the 'stuff' would have been far more effective for me.

Matthew: Trill was certainly a busy place, visually. I found the production design on the... orb of... sensing stuff? to be very odd. How does it tell people anything useful? By cracking? The Thanksgiving Dinner looked nice and was lit well.


Kevin: Ultimately, this is still a 3. If only for once again, only having an A story and a B story that fit in the larger narrative but don't get bogged down it. This isn't as good as last week for me, but this episode was at worst 'fine.' The two basic stories of introducing a new character and watching the crew continue to deal with the fallout of their decision is sound. The only real enduring complaint I have is that they need to let the big moments happen organically rather than by fiat at the whim of the composer. I can say the story so far has been fine. I promise if you step back to let that story breathe, I will feel more, not less, if only for the contrast.

Matthew: This was boring and mostly inoffensive. It felt like a paint-by-numbers story in which someone's arm slipped and knocked over the Burnt Ochre. Here is a character you should care about! Here's a generational ship... that we will not tell you about! Here are some people being irrationally angry but then not! Here is a love story between people you just met and know nothing about! Everything is rushed and the emotions don't work because of that rushing. I think I'm at a 2, because boring and inoffensive isn't enough to rate the 3. It's not a violent, frenetic 2 like most Discovery. So that's... good? This episode again felt like filler to pad out the Big Plot of finding the Federation. That makes our total a 5.

No comments:

Post a Comment