Our whole crew discusses the second half of of the first season of Star Trek: Discovery – both the positive and the problematic. And we speculate just a little bit about Season 2.
For our episode on Part 1 of Season 1 – 73: Disco Fever.
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Hosts: Andi, Grace, Jarrah, Sue
Transcription: Lydia – @moon_babes_, facebook.com/moonbabesart
I completely agree with the Ash Tyler/Voq/T’Rell mess. I thought I was the only one. It made me SO ANGRY. It completely invalidated the very first portrayal of male sexual assault in Star Trek. It was so poorly done all for a cute plot twist. Horrifying.
I’m late responding to this, but I can’t disagree with Wesley’s comments concerning Culber. As I’m sure it was for a lot of viewers, Culber’s death was really jarring/upsetting to me. On the other hand, I don’t necessarily think a gay character should be immune from harm just for the sake of diversity. I absolutely can’t blame anyone who felt betrayed by the decision to kill Culber off, though, especially after tptb tooted their own horn over being the first Star Trek series to feature gay representation. Personally, I’d probably be happier with a Star Trek show where there wasn’t such a high death toll, period.
Maybe they did wrap up the war a little quickly, but I’m fine with it, as I’m more than ready for the show to move on to something new.
I hate to get hung up on nitpicky trivialities, but part of me wishes they hadn’t made such drastic changes to the Klingon makeup. I was actually kind of excited to see a new interpretation, but they might have gone a little overboard in some places. From a purely practical standpoint, it seems to me that the actors aren’t having the easiest time articulating through such heavy prosthetics. On a totally superficial level, I can’t help thinking it’s a pity that Mary Chieffo, who is an attractive woman, is buried under such a hideous mask; I would not mind one bit of L’Rell got infected by the augment virus in season 2. Sometime before the show was set to come back from its hiatus, I saw a publicity still of L’Rell under blue lighting in the brig and I thought it was a new alien; it took me several seconds to remember that that’s what a Klingon is supposed to look like now.
The only time I found myself appreciating that L’Rell looked less like how we’ve come to expect Klingon females to look and more like a repulsive space monster was when Tyler implied that he’d been raped by her. If she were closer to a human standard of beauty, like B’Etor or Grilka, for example, it might have distracted from the horribleness of the assault and felt more like someone’s kinky fantasy.
However, once it became clear that Tyler and Voq were one and the same, I (perhaps mistakenly) jumped to the conclusion that his memories of being raped were as untrustworthy as the rest of his background. I assumed that he was mixed up and he was misinterpreting Voq’s past relationship with L’Rell. I admit I could be way off base, however. I was somewhat confused by the Tyler/Voq thing for a good portion of the time.
Speaking as someone who is the sibling of a gay man and someone who is fully aware of the “bury your gays” trope, I was… okay with the death of Dr. Culber. I wasn’t happy about it but I wasn’t bothered by it for three reasons:
1. Stamets and Culber’s relationship wasn’t just ground-breaking because they were two gay men. They were the first on-screen Trek couple that came into the series as a couple. Every other Trek coupling we’ve seen has been in the final seasons of their respective series.
2. Culber’s death hurt me emotionally which means I actually cared about him as a character. That’s very much a good thing because most science-fiction shows make me feel little other than, “oh, that was a neat idea.”
3. True equality means true risk-sharing. It doesn’t strike me as honest/truthful/just(?) to erect a metaphorical writer’s force-field around a gay couple and keep them off limits from pain in the interest of simply maintaining diversity.
I’ll argue that Culber’s death doesn’t qualify as “‘fridging” in that his death didn’t move the plot in any direction it wasn’t going to logically go. In the world of comic books, a dead girlfriend is the lazily-written motivation used to motivate the hero into defeating the bad guy. Culber’s death didn’t serve that purpose.
Your panel said that Tyler/V’oq’s never faced justice for Culber’s murder. I think the lack of justice is the point. There is no justice served in war, only death. At the end of the war, soldiers on both sides pack up their guns and go home. Very rarely are enemy combatants put on trial.
DISCO is in a strange position when it comes to gay relationships. We had exactly zero acknowledged gay human beings in five Star Trek series. No main cast, secondary cast, or guest cast human characters. Jump forward to 2017-2018, we not only have a gay human character but a gay human character in a relationship with another gay human character. There’s been no groundwork for this kind of relationship in Trek, though it’s been laid out for quite a while in other pop culture stories. That puts DISCO in a precarious position where, in 2018, it can either be accused of tokenism (which it’s not doing) or can be accused of being unnecessarily cruel to gays (which I don’t think it’s doing either). Of our main cast, Stamets had the most to lose in the war and he lost it. I don’t think it’s wrong to show that, especially in a TV-MA show that focuses on the horrors of violence.
I do agree with your panel in that portraying Mirror Georgiou as bisexual was the wrong move to make, though I also think the point was to illustrate her hedonism with (shock!) having a three-way. When it comes to sexual encounters, Trek firmly falls in the camp of traditional, Western romantic-style monogamy as if healthy sex can serve no other purpose other than to be a vehicle for emotional bonding. It seems to place almost a mystical importance on “love” and ignores the idea that human beings are part of the animal kingdom with the same base instincts that all animals do. Riker had a lot of hook-ups in TNG but each one was also romantic, rather than simply a way to let off steam. If Troi can eat a bowl of chocolate ice cream – which is a bowl of animal fats and sugar – with no other purpose that sheer enjoyment, why is it forbidden to indicate that people have sex because sex just feels good?
Anyway, good podcast! I look forward to Season 2. The grapevine hints that the focus will be on religion and politics so that will be a nice change of pace.
I really can’t say much more other than I believe you’re spot on Wesley 🙂 Particularly in regards to the portrayal of Mirror Georgiou’s sexuality and why they may have gone down that route. The clean-cut image Star Trek has had with regards to sex has also completely romanticised something that comes in a variety of flavours into one idealistic thing.
It wasn’t just Mirror Georgiou’s hedonism that has shown a change from the norm though. In the ‘ground hog day’ episode we keep revisiting the party that seems very different to previous Starfleet parties we have seen. It seems freer, more relaxed, with fewer constraints. The couples and things going on in the background were fascinating on the re-watch.
As a gay woman, I hated seeing Culber’s death but when the actor himself (who is also gay) told us to trust, I did. I got over my knee-jerk reaction to yet another gay character not getting a happy ending, and I can see the reality and sense of it. It added to the story, and to Stamets. I’ll be watching to see where Stamets goes from here.
Looking forward to more mature Star Trek! And more WAW!
I enjoyed your show!!! It was excellent, as always! I had a terrible thought about season two. Could they show the accident that puts Captain Pike into a wheelchair? That’s my terrible thought. If they just show a flyby of the Enterprise and that’s it I’ll still feel cheated but assume Captain Pike is okay for now.
I wish they showed Michelle Yeoh kicking ass all season. She was a wasted talent.
While DISCO has been playing fast and loose with established Trek canon, Pike was wounded after Kirk took command of the Enterprise. In “The Menagerie, Part 1,” Kirk was told that Pike was exposed to delta-particle radiation during a cadet cruise when a baffle plate exploded on a class J starship.
Pike *should* have another decade of being able to walk.
Your extreme fans who don’t hear (hi!) eagerly await the transcript for this one!
Thanks Kirk! We’ll try to get it completed ASAP. Good to know the transcripts are useful for people. Would it help if we provided a list of which episodes currently have transcripts available?
Transcript is up! Thanks for your patience.