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Star Trek Dis - Season 1 - Episode 04

Star Trek Dis - 1x04 - The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry

Originally Aired: 2017-10-8

Synopsis:
With tensions and stakes high as Starfleet continues in their efforts to end the war with Klingons, Burnham begins to settle in to her new position aboard the U.S.S. Discovery.

My Rating - 2

Fan Rating Average - 6.65

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Problems
- When the spore drive dropped them too close to a star, as soon as they regained control of the ship, Lorca immediately ordered them to jump to warp. To where? Did they even know where they were or where they were going?
- The star is also mentioned to be an "O-type star." O-type stars are blue-white, but the star shown is more Sun-like.
- Elon Musk is referenced as a figure alongside the Wright brothers and Zefram Cochrane. Irrespective of the ludicrousness of the comparison (covered in the review below), even mentioning Musk's name verges on a continuity error, given that the timeline of Star Trek splits off from the real world in the late 20th century, well before any of Musk's real world achievements (such as they are) came into being.
- Discovery hovering not far above the ground of Corvan II seems hard to rationalize given how treacherous in-atmosphere flight has been shown to be for starships in virtually every other Star Trek production. Perhaps a quirk of the spore drive allowed them to do this...?

Factoids
- The title of this episode is the second longest in Star Trek so far, only slightly shorter than TOS: For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky.
- This episode establishes that Discovery is the only ship with a "displacement activated spore hub drive" now that the Glenn is destroyed.
- This episode establishes that the cloaking device on T'Kuvma's ship was unique and one of its kind, thus the need for Kol to steal it.
- This episode establishes that Kol is a member of the House of Kor.
- This episode establishes that Philippa Georgiou was born in 2202 and attended Starfleet Academy from 2220 to 2224.
- This episode establishes that Michael Burnham was born in 2226 and attended the Vulcan Science Academy from 2245 to 2249.

Remarkable Scenes
- Voq: "To fuse its [the Shenzhou's] technology with our own would be blasphemy." L'Rell: "You had no such outrage when we ate its captain. I saw your smile when you picked the meat from her smooth skull."
- Discovery jumping too close to a star when the spore drive misfired.
- The Klingons assaulting Corvan II and Discovery's rescue.

My Review
In the next installment of Captain Ransom'sLorca's quest to capture creatures to power his experimental propulsion drive, the mad scientist captain astonishingly forgets what the creature was for and becomes inexplicably obsessed with its murky potential to be turned into a weapon somehow, despite its obvious and much more useful connection to the parallel spore propulsion experiments that were being conducted on the Glenn. It wasn't just Lorca who missed the obvious though. Literally everyone seems oblivious to this connection for half the episode for seemingly no reason. Burnham eventually figures it out, but not before Landry gets herself killed in the most embarrassingly stupid and unnecessary way imaginable in a reckless beyond words attempt to harvest its body parts to turn into weapons of some kind. If she had succeeded in killing the creature, she would've permanently destroyed its potential to be exploited for propulsion in exchange for weapons of questionable value at best.

Meanwhile Lorca and Stamets get into perhaps one of the pettiest arguments ever seen on Star Trek when Stamets whines again that he's a scientist, not a soldier, after which Lorca rhetorically invites Stamets to leave the ship. Stamets, evidently a bit dense, takes the rhetorical suggestion literally and threatens to "take everything" with him, after which Lorca has to literally remind him that the ship and all its contents are the property of Starfleet, so he can't really take his ball and go home. Ultimately, the only thing that convinced Stamets to go back to his job was Lorca passive aggressively broadcasting the death and carnage going on at Corvan II over the entire ship's intercom, in a seeming act of public humiliation directed at Stamets. Basically Stamets threw a temper tantrum and Lorca gave him a spanking in front of his schoolmates. But the narrative portrays it as though it ought to be compelling interpersonal conflict. Like super deep stuff, man!

Indeed, the episode is laced with similar false profundity everywhere. Some of it is in the small details, like Lorca casually name dropping Elon Musk alongside the Wright brothers and Zefram Cochrane, as though Musk's accomplishments, impressive as they may be, are even remotely comparable to inventing airplanes or inventing warp drive. They aren't. Other cringeworthy dialog included casually mentioning that Corvan II produces 40% of the Federation's dilithium, while also mentioning that there are no ships in range to protect it. These two facts are trotted out for dramatic effect, but all it really does is beg the question as to why the Federation would leave such a valuable asset so poorly defended to begin with. A related issue has to do with why the Discovery left Corvan II so quickly afterward. You'd think they'd stick around to provide relief to the colonists, but of course that wouldn't be anywhere near as cool as a dramatic exit, now would it? Likewise the uniform synthesizer scene put some seriously overwrought visual effects on display for seemingly no reason other than to go for a wow factor that falls flat.

The biggest offender in terms of false profundity though was the writing surrounding Burnham. Two scenes stick out like a sore thumb. First, the scene when she manipulates Saru into borrowing his threat ganglia as a means to see if the tardigrade was dangerous. Setting aside how overwhelmingly cringeworthy the entire concept of threat ganglia is to begin with, manipulating him into coming down there and then offending him with trickery was unnecessary. She could've just asked to borrow his threat ganglia. But, see, then it wouldn't be laced with unnecessary melodrama! Likewise, the second big Burnham scene that reeks of false profundity is Georgiou's letter to Burnham in her will. While it's always nice to see more of Georgiou, one of Star Trek: Discovery's few likable characters so far, hamming up the irony that Burnham became the opposite of what Georgiou imagined in her letter added no value to the story. All of that was made quite clear in the Battle at the Binary Stars. Repeating it all in a video will is just, well... repetitive. And closing the episode on a redundant scene wasn't a strong choice, especially when they could've depicted her struggling with the morality of inflicting pain on the tardigrade to save lives instead.

Also, they really need to slow down those Klingon subtitles.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Shani on 2017-10-09 at 7:12am:
    I don't like replicators were around during the TOS era. How are they replicating food and uniforms?
  • From Shodanbot on 2017-10-09 at 7:03pm:
    Landry's death was very silly and forced. Especially given her interactions with Michael up to that point, as I got the impression she was to be this series "Worf". But it is how forced and unnecessary this death was that I found difficult to over-look. Couldn't they have used the transporter to "harvest" a claw from the beast? Cruel and very out of place at Starfleet, but I don't see any reason a transporter couldn't do it. Landry would've avoid getting within mauling distance with the beast with a quick transport.

    Oh well. Whatever. They needed the beast alive and in one piece to get the plot moving, and added a bit of silly blood letting to keep the peanut gallery from falling asleep. I wonder if the star trek universe's 23rd century has an equivalent of The Darwin Awards?

    Another bit of an annoyance for me, and to be fair a pedantic one at that, is "Xeno-Anthropologist". Just what is a Xeno-Anthropologist?
  • From matzieq on 2017-10-10 at 4:46am:
    I just can't get used to the new look of the klingons, if only they had hair, or ANYTHING that made them look like klingons! Also, the need to constantly read subtitles while they bark at each other unintelligibly is so annoying... even though I'm used to reading subtitles since English is not my first language. And every time someone says "T'Kuvma" I want to reply "Gesundheit!"
  • From Rob UK on 2017-10-15 at 7:08pm:
    Ahhhhhh man we've been all waiting so long.

    I do not know about you folks but I thought they were going to give us a TV series with the new adventures of new Spock n Kirk n crew down the new old timeline, so I already have sand in my vag before we start but here we go.

    I am trying my best to ignore all the things I am not liking about this new show and failing miserably, it is taking me multiple sittings just to get through a single episode, I put it on with the best intentions and then twenty minutes later find myself in the mancave pottering about as I am clearly bored out of my gourd.

    So I am trying my best to be ignoring all cannon foe-pars, ignoring all timeline blunders and everything like the redesign of things and species that really didn't have the gaps in their chronology to fit like the Klingons going from how they look in the OS to Next Gen (we had a explanation for that) to squeezing how they all look in this into that between the Eugenics experiments that make them all look as they do in Next gen.

    Deep breaths

    So even when I do all that and make myself sit down and leave the bong alone long enough to actually get through an episode in it's entirety in one attention span (I can sit through ten episode off the belt of any previous Star Trek in any order and hardly blink) I sadly come to the same conclusion of

    WORST STAR TREK EVER

    and I definitely include the animated series in that statement.

    I am still going to keep watching and hoping it improves as I am a bloody Star Trek fan, speaking of that

    Absolutely loving every second of The Orville, surely it can't just be me, are you Trek-heads on board?

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