STAR TREK: DISCOVERY – Can’t We All Get Along?

Lorca berates his bridge crew by sarcastically applauding their efforts

By M. Pilon

I can relate…

I’m fortunate that, as a Canadian, Star Trek Discovery is part of my cable package. So I should feel a little less put upon than my American counterparts. But I too am frustrated with how this story is told and I’m wondering if I should just drop it and pick it up again later when the whole story’s in one piece. Most of my family and friends have already drifted away from it. Frankly, so far, it’s not that interesting or compelling if you’re not a committed fan. But as bad, awkward and misleading as the unveiling of each chapter of the story has been, the real damage for me, and what is causing me to rethink my allegiance and forbearance, is the outside stuff.

Stuff like this:

Jason Isaacs responds to a dedicated fan
Jason Isaacs responds to a dedicated fan

That was a legitimate question and I can relate to the frustration with which it was asked. And I can also understand how much fun it can be, and how irresistible it is to our basic human nature, to stand up on the parapet of the castle, once one has discovered all the secrets within, and shoot stinging arrows of just-wait-and-see and buckets of burning oil of ridicule at the assembled masses below who have grown frustrated at the lack of development and have started to demand to be let in on the joke.

But how worthwhile is it in the long run? How is that helping us to understanding each other so we can work towards peace and unity in every sphere of our lives? We’re told that, in the end, it’s not the big things that count but the countless little things along the way. Random acts of kindness have far-reaching consequences, even if those are never reported. The consequences of random acts of belittling are just as far-reaching if not more.

Let’s be kinder with and more understanding of each other. Some cast members were told what the story was before they signed on. How unbecoming then for them to ridicule viewers, who were not only kept in the dark and told to trust in TPTB that they are telling them the truth, when everything they have seen so far speaks to the contrary. These same viewers are now effectively expected, sight unseen, to reimburse CBS for this trademark owner’s little broadcast toy and for what they paid in production costs and salaries.

I’m one of those frustrated viewers who asked the same question and a lot more. I wish this series had been done with as little fanfare as possible and released in it entirety like any good streaming series would have been. It would have lived or died on the merit of its story without the drip-drip of a weekly installment that is turning into some sort of water torture. I don’t want to feel “reeeaaaally silly” when all is finally revealed. I’m not a pawn in a game of “let’s see if anyone can guess” or the butt of an inside joke for someone’s cheap thrills. This should have been a journey we all took together without anyone feeling used, lied to, strung along, manipulated, ridiculed for asking a question or otherwise kept in the dark – we’re not mushrooms after all.

If we can’t raise the bar on the storytelling with this one, at least let’s raise the bar on the discourse surrounding it. And those in the know should know better and lead the way. Please. We all want the same thing in the end – a good, believable iteration of Star Trek, true to its original values and current marketing and promotion. It’s not like there’s a shortage of real things to tackle out there, so we don’t have to start in on each other.

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About M Pilon

M Pilon is a retired TV Producer, Director and Writer who now spends her time developing and writing her own projects, satisfying her curiosity and trying to do her part to make this a better and more inclusive world. M Pilon credits TOS with influencing the course of her life, like thousands of other kids of her generation. She's maintained an interest in the franchise.

  • Salvador Nogueira

    I can relate to the agony of not knowing, but, honestly, the only promise the producers made was that Discovery would fit in the prime timeline, story-wise. And that’s not such a big deal. Most of us have done this exercise before. In 1984, AKA 2285, the Excelsior was dubbed “the great experiment” and had transwarp capability. And then it was gone, and not even Voyager, a century later had transwarp. Did the producers ever had to explain how? No. We can easily assume “the great experiment” was a failure (a reasonable result for any experiment), and that settled it. The same is true with Discovery’s spore drive. Had the series ended in episode 4, we could easily think that something between 2256 and 2266 happened and turned spore drives unpractical, and live our lives the same way we lived with the Excelsior. However, Discovery is still on, and we may get to see exactly how the spore drive failed. And that is the fun of it. Had Isaacs tweeted something like “Experimental stuff, but by episode 15 we’ll see it’s a failure ‘cause multiple jumps make people crazy”, the fun of watching it would be diminished, since the basis of it — in the end it won’t — we already knew, and the details were the only thing left to discover by watching the show concerning the spore drive.

    The fan tweet also seems very whiny. Can’t he appreciate the show already has explained why the USS Discovery’s design is so different from, let’s say, the Enterprise? The spore drive is the answer for that, an answer he didn’t have before the show aired. That’s part of the journey! Discovering stuff! You may end up disagreeing with the writers, producers, and actors. But to disagree before seeing it is both childish and premature, to say the least. Have fun with the show, or don’t. But it is what it is, and it’s not gonna change because someone doesn’t get it. I think that is what Isaacs tried to say.

    • M. Pilon

      Gracias por su comentario, Salvador. You obviously thought about it before posting. I appreciate that and will attempt to return the favour. The piece had nothing to do with the “Disco Ring”. I couldn’t give a spinning flying f*** about the ring, or about the ship design, the “sporadic” drive, the weapons or even the timeline for that matter. So, sadly, your detailed explanation of ships and timelines was lost on me. My interests are in believable, well-constructed stories and characters and the traditional values expounded by Star Trek that inspired my generation to aim for the stars. But I will fight to the death for your right to enjoy the segment of fandom that you are knowledgeable and passionate about and comment and debate it to your heart’s content with like-minded individuals. I would like to be given the same courtesy from all segments of the fandom without the barrage of negation, belittling and mansplaining.

      If someone dares to ask a question or to express a view or a concern, there are probably at least 100’s of others who feel the same but are afraid to put it out there. How that one person (however obnoxious) is dealt with affects all those 100’s. If someone is actually a troll, then don’t engage for the fun of it, just block.

      The producers made lots of promises – that this iteration would celebrate diversity (they are killing the diversity and replacing it with white males), about optimism (still looking for it), how we come in peace and how we get along (not even close). So, given these, I’m sure you can understand why some of us would be asking questions, if we dared. I’m glad your priorities are being addressed so far in this iteration, but other fans’ priorities aren’t. There is no need to explain what is in the producers’ or Isaacs’ mind or dismiss anyone’s concerns as “childish and premature, to say the least.”

      I acknowledge that you love this franchise and feel moved to defend it from those who ask questions that don’t occur to you or express concerns that don’t bother you. But that’s the thing – those who ask questions you wouldn’t ask or express concerns that don’t affect you, love Star Trek as much as you do. They simply come at it from a different angle which gives them a different perspective. That’s all. If you don’t care for their concerns, then quietly move on; there will be others who do care and have the same concerns. There has to be room for everyone to express their views (respectfully if at all possible) and feel safe from judgment for doing so. Muchas gracias Salvador.

      • Salvador Nogueira

        I understand your point, and I thank you for your effort to say something in my language, even though I don’t speak Spanish (we in Brazil speak Portuguese).

        The same thing I said about spore drives and continuity applies to your point. It is more worth to see things developing than to know/see how it turns out.

        You are wondering where is the expected optimism and camaraderie in Star Trek: Discovery. They say it is there, you just have to wait and see. And they probably decided that it would be more interesting if they showed this as an evolving thing, instead of presenting it as a miracle of the 23rd century (aspirational, but, let’s face it, not very useful).

        We need Star Trek’s guidance, now more than ever. And perhaps today, living divided as we are, in the US and abroad, a better approach towards this is showing how different people eventually get along with each other. So, in the first episode aboard Discovery, it seems everybody hates everybody, everybody disagrees with everyone else, and so on… and then things start to change. Stamets and Burnham seem to be coming to a situation of mutual respect, Saru is obviously someone who respects Burnham, even though he won’t admit it, and those relationships are all evolving — from their worst point ever (as the point we are in today, fueled by fake news and social media) to a better place, one worthy of Star Trek’s dreams. Ain’t that a good, new, and useful approach to Trek’s optimism, one that could entertain us and at the same time offer clues and guide us out of the mess we’re in right now?

        I think it is. You are free to disagree. But, as Isaacs said, just give it time before passing judgment. 😉

        Best!
        Salvador

        • M. Pilon

          I apologize for the wrong language. Brazlian Portuguese has wonderful cadence. I wish I could speak it. I just caught a few words and jumped to conclusions. Lots of that happening these days. I’m glad the story resonates with you so far.