Hmmm. I liked this episode, but I have five pages of notes
on it – that’s a lot more than usual. They’re all quite disconnected, and I
think the only way of going through them is to go through them as they appeared
in the episode.
Firstly, I liked the planet Vashti. This was actually the
main reason why I liked the episode. I thought the look of the planet was very
well designed – it was very distinctive. The whole opening sequence was set on
the planet, and I think it was very immersive.
It was also nice to hear some Romulan. As much as I can’t
stand Star Trek Discovery, one of the few things I did like about it was the
inclusion of a lot of Klingon. Having characters speak in alien languages in a
show adds to the realism. It creates more of a sense that these alien races are
real and have real cultures.
The next point in my notes is that the dialogue in the show
is still very, very unnatural. This is something that came up A LOT in the
episode – I’ll return to it later with specific examples. So often the things
that the characters say are not the things that any real person would say at
that point in a real conversation. It’s jarring.
Another quick aside, Ian Nunney, who plays the young Elnor
in this episode, is outstanding – he’s better than many of the older actors.
Now we get to some bigger points. The character of Dr.
Jurati, who in previous episodes I quite liked, in this episode spontaneously
becomes completely obnoxious. She has a conversation with Chris Rios, the
captain of the ship they’re all on. She opens with ‘Space turns out to be
super-boring.’ while something very interesting happens behind her. I don’t
know about anyone else, but to me the idea of getting to look out of a ship as
it’s travelling faster than the speed of fucking light sounds pretty fucking
After Chris Rios says something that’s full-on fucking
edgelord, she says sarcastically ‘Well that’s not a conversation killer at
all.’. But while what Chris Rios said was a bit weird and trying too hard, it
wasn’t a fucking conversation killer – it had the potential to be quite
interesting. What was a conversation
killer, Dr. Jurati, was you listing off stats about the galaxy. See what I mean
about this show having really weird dialogue? The show is trying to be
banter-y, but the writers have no fucking idea how to write that.
It occurred to me while watching this episode that Dr.
Jurati is basically just Tilly from Star Trek Discovery. They’re both nerdy;
they’re both awkward; they’re both hyper-positive. They both just go up to
people and start talking to them. They even have many of the same facial
expressions. While I didn’t dislike Tilly in STD, is new Star Trek capable of
writing any other kinds of character? This is just what non-nerds think nerds
On the subject of obnoxious characters, Raffi is endlessly
annoying. She can never let anyone else be right – she always has to correct
them, often with patronising incredulity – particularly if anyone dares to
infer what she might mean by something she’s said. It’s infuriating to watch,
and I think it’s both a writing problem and an acting problem.
It’s become evident that this show is trying to assemble its
‘gang’. This is a concept that’s very familiar from shows like Avatar: The Last
Airbender – your main characters form a group that goes around from place to
place and adventure to adventure – each person in the group has distinctive
personality traits and abilities (so that they all depend on each other), but
they work well together as a group, even if some of them don’t get along
The problem is that having a ‘gang’ like this depends on
having likeable characters, and only Jean-luc is likeable out of this lot.
Anyway, we had some more stupid dialogue. Dr. Jurati says
‘Anyone else think the Way of Absolute Candor sounds potentially annoying.’ Oh
ha ha very funny but no. That actually sounds pretty fucking convenient. What
is annoying, however, is you.
Raffi says ‘Your basic impenetrable shield of orbital killer
drones.’ – Who the fuck wrote this? A fucking five-year-old?
Elnor is just an elf from Middle Earth. Even the name
‘Elnor’ is pretty fucking elvish. Picard even asks him ‘Will you bind your
sword to my quest?’ at one point – this is just Lord of the Fucking Rings!
While on the subject of Elnor, it’s annoying that when he
and Picard meet for the first time after about fourteen years, we don’t get to
see their initial reactions – it cuts away. This is something that seems to
happen a lot in film and television nowadays, and it’s very annoying.
Not-quite-finally, another thing that I really didn’t like
about this episode was the portrayal of many of the Romulans on Vashti. The
Romulans weren’t very Romulan. In The Next Generation, the Romulans are of
course militaristic, but they are also pensive, cunning, cautious, and sly.
That makes them unique among the enemies of the Federation, and very ominous.
All of that is gone here. In this episode, they’re just
space thugs. Why does every alien race in new Star Trek seem to become space
thugs? It’s the same thing that happened with the Klingons in STD. It’s as
though the writers of new Star Trek can’t conceive of any other form of evil
On this same point, the actor who played the former Romulan
senator clearly has never seen classic Star Trek. He has none of the presence
that previous actors who’ve played Romulans of that kind of status had.
And then finally … Jeri Ryan’s still got it. The five
seconds of her that we got at the end of the episode were better than the rest
of the fucking episode. What is it about these actors from older shows that
means that they’re just far better on screen? I’m not completely sure, but I
think it’s probably that they can do performances with subtlety. The two or
three facial expressions that we got from Jeri Ryan at the end of the episode
were more engaging than any line said by any other character in the whole forty
So when I say I enjoyed this episode, I mean that it was
engaging to watch, but it was also punctuated by lots of very annoying moments.
In that regard it was similar to all of the episodes we’ve had so far – it looks
like this whole series is going to be filled with these annoying moments.