“Zora? I don’t know where you are. Or exactly what you are. I don’t know if I’ll make it home, what I’ll find when I get there. But I know you saved my life. And healed my body. You reminded me what it means to be human.” -Craft “Please, Craft. No poignant ironies.” -Zora
Previously on Short Treks: We got to see Tilly (Mary Wiseman) make a new goth, black lagoon princess friend (Yadira Guevara-Prip) as she learned to ignore her mother’s neurotic rambling about childhood shit and embrace her dream of command. Also the replicator threw pot pies at her, because of course it did.
On our new Short Treks adventure we meet Craft (Aldis Hodge) who is currently in the process of a) watching Betty Boop and b) dying in an escape pod while it drifts into the orbit of one U.S.S. Discovery. He wakes up in sickbay, and is apparently… not dead? Well, that’s nice. The makers of Discovery have been trying to top Dr. Culber’s (Wilson Cruz) mind numbing white uniform since he was introduced, and apparently their new offering is a basically naked Aldis Hodge flexing his way through sick bay banging on doors. It’s a worthy offering. As Craft is trying to work out an escape, sickbay seems to be responding to his needs, including offering him a jumpsuit so he doesn’t have to claw his way out wearing nothing but his underwear.
As Craft is realizing his guns are far too big to be holstered in this tiny jumpsuit, he is also realizing that his wounds have been fixed. He checks on an old scar and a voice comes out of nowhere to let him know that she left his scar in case it had sentimental value. Craft immediately wants to know what her name is, and it’s Zora (Annabelle Wallis). She wants to know his, and he lies.
Zora does what I would do immediately if faced with Aldis Hodge, she starts flirting with him. She starts with making him a tailored jumpsuit and then moves directly to feeding him while giggling. After some drinks and a good meal, Craft is feeling more like opening up and they bond a little. Craft is from Alcor IV and he’s a soldier in a war. He escaped with his enemy’s escape pod and apparently watched Betty Boop until his eyes almost fell out. Zora reveals that she has been drifting for a thousand years, waiting for the crew to come back, and dang girl, that’s melancholy.
Craft hits the bridge and realizes that making it home is possible if he takes a shuttle, though Zora points out that the shuttle is old af and also never tested. Craft then reminds her that she could make the trip easily, but her orders from a long dead crew are to stay put and she plans to stick to them. Craft lets it… go? Immediately? Alright. Because definitely if I had a way home I would just… not take it.
Craft sets himself up a hammock so he can look at videos of his wife and son, who he hasn’t seen in a decade to fight in what seems like a pretty pointless war. Although really, the vast majority of wars seem pretty pointless if we’re being honest.
We move into a montage of Zora taking care of Craft, teaching him about waffles, playing chess with him, surprising him with Taco Tuesday, and most notably giving him some popcorn and playing him her favorite rom-com, Funny Face. If it were me personally, I probably would’ve showed him, like, Super Troopers or something, but I am not what anyone would call a romantic. But just imagine being able to see the “snozzberries taste like snozzberries” scene in 3D hologram and tell me that it wouldn’t have been a better choice. Just sayin’.
As fun as movie night was, Craft is still gazing out into the stars feeling sad and missing home. Zora asks what he’d be doing if he was back on Alcor IV and he describes an idyllic fishing scene that Zora works to recreate for him through sound. She does a good job and he’s even more sad. He also notices that she’s been taking care of him and he’d like to return the favor.
What he comes up with is to recreate Zora’s favorite scene in Funny Face, right down to an inexplicably ill-fitting suit. He learns the dance and goes out into the bridge and convinces Zora that she’s his leading lady, not Audrey Hepburn, and she creates herself a holographic body. They dance. It is romantic. It is so romantic that Craft almost kisses hologram Zora until he remembers that he actually has a wife and son back home and realizes he has to get back to them.
Zora tries to convince him that he did nothing wrong because she’s “not a real person” and “it doesn’t mean anything”. These are lies, and Craft calls them out as such.
Zora realizes she needs to let Craft go, and makes him a space suit so he can take the shuttle home. He thanks for saving him and reminding him what it means to be human. You know, through Taco Tuesday and Rom-Com Wednesday. Zora asks him not to speak in “poignant ironies” which is hilarious and then asks him if they were on his world, would she know his true name? He answers that if they were lovers on his world, she would give it to him. And apparently she has. And it’s Funny Face. Craft leaves to a fanfare and the short ends.
Ok, so. I think this short is pretty well done in a lot of ways. Especially the acting. But I was sad that I found the story rather predictable. The second she calls him a liar in that sultry voice I knew exactly what would happen, and how it would end, and what the theme would be and it was kind of a bummer. I just don’t find the “sexy computer AI voice falls in love” to be that compelling. And it’s been done before. Heck, falling in love with a sexy hologram has been done on Trek before! I also don’t understand why Craft wouldn’t leave the second he found the shuttle craft, and I certainly don’t see how Zora reminded him what it means to be human? How? When? We do not see how he forgot that in the first place?
Also, the implications of this short are sort of horrible and completely glossed over. Where did the crew go? Is the Federation gone? Why has no one come for Discovery? Is Zora just going to float out there forever watching Funny Face until her power runs out? I don’t know. Overall, this is the short I was most excited for so I’m a bit sad that I didn’t like it more. BUT. Aldis Hodge is now forever in Star Trek and that is awesome. Obviously.