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Star Trek Dis - Season 2 - Episode 0.2

Star Trek Dis - 2x0.2 - Calypso

Originally Aired: 2018-11-8

Synopsis:
After waking up in an unfamiliar sickbay, Craft finds himself on board a deserted ship, and his only companion and hope for survival is an A.I. computer interface.

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 4.39

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Problems
None

Factoids
- This story is set in the 33rd century. This is further into the future than any Star Trek episode has gone before.
- The writer of this episode Michael Chabon stated that the unseen enemy "V'draysh" is a syncope of "Federation."

Remarkable Scenes
- The hologram of Zora crying as Craft exits the dance.

My Review
Like General Chang from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country hitting you over the head constantly with overwrought Shakespeare references, this entire episode hits you over the head over and over again with overwrought references to Homer's Odyssey, an invocation of Greek mythology that is about as lazy as TOS: Who Mourns for Adonais.

Zora is meant to represent Calypso, for whom the episode is named. In Homer's Odyssey, Calypso rescues a marooned Odysseus and keeps him on her island for some time due to loneliness. In this episode, Zora rescues a marooned Quarrel/Craft and keeps him on her ship for some time due to loneliness.

Quarrel's/Craft's two names also mirror Odysseus, whose name is traditionally defined as "to be wroth against," or "to hate." Synonymous with quarreling. As for Craft, Odysseus was traditionally defined as "skilled in all ways." Synonymous with being crafty.

In Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus was apart from his wife for many years due to war, missed her, and wanted to escape Calypso to be with his wife again. In this episode Craft was apart from his wife for many years due to war, missed her, and wanted to escape Zora to be with his wife again.

In Homer's Odyssey, Calypso was sad that Odysseus wanted to leave, but instead of holding him further, she gave him everything he needed for his journey back. In this episode Zora was sad that Craft wanted to leave, but instead of holding him further, she gave him everything he needed for his journey back.

And so on, and so on...

If shallow, heavy-handed Greek mythology references were the episode's only sin, it might be worth a few more points, but there are so many more cringeworthy details compounded atop this. Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the story is the setting. Here we have yet another irrelevant filler episode sandwiched between season 1's cliffhanger and its eventual resolution, but this time instead of being set ambiguously sometime during season 1—which was bad enough in the previous episode—we now have a story absurdly set a thousand years later aboard a somehow perfectly preserved Discovery that has been ordered to sit in space in stasis for no apparent reason.

Then—as if this episode hadn't imitated enough of Star Trek's worst episodes already—the ship's computer became an emergent AI like TNG: Emergence, one of TNG's worst episodes. Then like about a million other bad Star Trek episodes, the AI turns out to have serious emotional problems, exhibiting behavior also reminiscent of HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Meanwhile, rather than give us answers to basic questions like who the unseen enemy "V'draysh" is, how the Discovery was preserved perfectly for a thousand years but abandoned, or why so much of the Federation's history seems to have been forgotten by at least one human colony, the writers left all that intentionally vague out of an apparent desire to not "get hemmed in by canon" or some other similar platitude that is often trotted out to defend stories with this kind of reckless disregard for the long term health of the franchise's canon.

On the contrary, setting this story a thousand years into the future doesn't do a damn thing to prevent the writers from cornering themselves with canon. If anything, it's one of the worst settings imaginable for preventing future writers from being burdened by canon. Because of this episode, any Star Trek story set far enough into the future has to account for the apparent decline and possible fall of the Federation, or at least rationalize how Craft and his entire planet could be unaware of the Federation's existence.

Constraining future Star Trek stories with this kind of baggage almost never goes well. We've seen what happens with poorly thought through exposition that saddles the franchise with long-term plot implications before. The "warp speed" limit in TNG: Force of Nature was quietly forgotten. The absurd "warp 10" drive that turns you into giant newts from Voy: Threshold was intentionally forgotten with prejudice. There are many examples. This episode's ambiguous proclamations about the Milky Way's future are not impossible to work into future stories, but will require future writers to be at least as clever as this episode's writers were lazy.

And none of it was necessary. There's no reason the story had to be set a thousand years into Star Trek's future. It could've easily been set during a known future era, such as during one of the Federation's many wars from previous shows. Craft could've been a Federation soldier escaping a battle that didn't go well. The idea of the Discovery floating in space perfectly preserved would still be absurd and tough to rationalize, but less so a hundred years into the future than a thousand years into the future. What's important here is this same basic story could've been told in another century that would've actually leveraged canon instead of wasting Star Trek's distant future in such a gratuitously lazy way.

All this just to do an awkward mashup of 2001: A Space Odyssey with Greek mythology, both of which are referenced by science fiction works so often that it is quite cliched to do it yet again unless it is truly earned. It wasn't earned here. A story filled with tired, overused references and no substance of its own is just smoke and mirrors, not real depth. But what else should we expect from a story that rocks a "DISCO" shirt, expecting us to find it, like, real punny, man?

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