Previously on Star Trek: Discovery: Way back at the beginning of last season we met Captain Pike (Anson Mount). A bit later we met Number One (Rebecca Romjin), and a few episodes after that we met Spock (Ethan Peck) and got to see the shiny Disco version of Pike’s Enterprise. Anything else that happened last season has no bearing on this recap because this brand new Short Trek is a flashback to before all of that even happened. I suppose if you must read our last recap, you can find it here.
“Q&A” takes place the first day Ensign Spock reports for duty on the Enterprise, where he is met by Number One. Okay and before I get into this was I the only one who right away found myself staring at Spock’s stubble throughout this episode? Is my mind or my TV playing tricks on me? Didn’t he look more baby-faced at the end of Season 2?
Number One doesn’t seem to notice but she’s nothing if not efficient as a supervisor and commander:
“You’ve been on this ship exactly 37 seconds, Ensign, and you haven’t asked a single question. Not what I expect from a science officer. I expect you to barrage every crewman you meet with questions, starting with me, to the point you become an annoyance.”
Rebecca Romjin nails the delivery of this, reminding us of the original Number One’s precision and presence, with just a little bit of a smile reminding us that this Number One is a sassy dame.
His first question is about (according to my closed captions), the “Onofuwa model of combat salvo analysis.” Which is, as the French would say, “technoblahblah” (true fact).
But her response is: “I find it problematic.” and I need a GIF of this STAT.
Soon the two are hurtling towards the bridge in a turbolift that looks like it’s travelling through the bowels of the Death Star. Is there really that much empty space on the Enterprise?
The two reminisce about their old prof Onofuwa and there is a lovely moment where the two say “Fascinating” at the same time – again, playing with the whole origin of the two characters and how Spock was adjusted after “The Cage” to take on more of Number One’s highly logical traits.
Then the turbolift breaks down and they’re stuck. So if there’s any real conflict in this episode I guess it’s “Man vs Environment.”
Number One tells Spock to keep asking questions while they’re stuck. He asks about Pike and she tells him what she’s observed. Again, the writers play with the continuity and callback to what we saw of Majel Barrett’s Number One in “The Cage” – that she was secretly into Captain Pike.
The fact that there isn’t a woman in “The Cage” who’s not into Captain Pike is one of my least favourite parts of that episode. But in this Short Trek it’s only dropped in as a subtle possibility, when Spock observes, “You have made a very careful study of the Captain” and Number One seems startled, then awkwardly checks on what’s taking the crew so long to get the turbolift working again.
Oh, bonus points that the Engineer’s voice has a Scottish accent – seriously, so many easter eggs/callbacks and I’m not even 5 minutes in.
There’s also an exchange about Number One’s name, Una, where she insists he call her Number One instead.
Part-way through she starts to get really annoyed with his questions and asks him to give her a boost to access the ceiling panel (“On your knees, Spock” is another quote I probably need a GIF of). While sharing feels about the wonders of space she electrocutes herself and the two fall to the floor.
It’s a little anticlimactic – they recover pretty quickly and then have some more waiting to do before they’ll finally be rescued by another crewmember.
And that’s when the real magic of this episode happens. Number One asks Spock if she saw him smiling when he beamed over. He says he will take care to avoid doing so in the future.
“The strength of a Starfleet crew is in its diversity and differences. I would never ask a crewmember to suppress or conceal their nature,” she replies.
But then she says that anyone who aspires to command has to be aware of their effect on their colleagues. He says he has no such aspirations and she literally calls bullshit on that – which I guess is why this Short Treks weirdly triggered parental controls the first time I tried to watch it? Either that or it was him asking her if she likes eggplant.
Number One: If you want to command, you’re going to have to learn to keep your freaky to yourself. Even if that’s painful.
Spock: I have been doing that all my life. And it is.
Number One: I know.
And then the magic abruptly ceased for me as Number One reveals her freaky is…Gilbert and Sullivan?
You guys, I am as much a fan of G&S as the next person whose parents put them through classical singing lessons where operetta was as close to belting out Broadway tunes as you were allowed to get. I even think the using “Modern Major General” is a fun song to pick for the character who’s Number One at everything.
But Star Trek, you’ve overused G&S and you’ve already used this same song in the TNG episode “Disaster”! That was where you should’ve left it. Don’t even get me started on using “A British Tar” in Star Trek: Insurrection.
There are few parts of Star Trek canon that I refuse to suspend disbelief for. One is that hundreds of years in the future, everyone will be watching water polo (*cough* Enterprise *cough*) but no one will be into baseball. Add to my list: I refuse to believe that hundreds of years in the future, everyone will know Gilbert & Sullivan’s greatest hits by heart. Not because they’re not great but because there already is, and will be, so much more amazing music made by diverse people.
Ok, end rant. Song over, the two are rescued and there’s a long shot of Number One being pulled up through the interior of the ship while Spock watches from below.
Back on the bridge Number One keeps the time they spent in the turbolift between them, pretending to Pike that she hasn’t even really noticed this new Ensign.
And that’s how a beautiful friendship was born. D’awww.
Just a detail. It’s possible that water polo was practised in Archer’s time while baseball wasn’t in Sisko’s because Archer was about a century before TOS and DS9 about a century later. Also, in Sisko’s time possibly sports weren’t practiced as a pastime and not as a paid job, given Trekonomics and Sisko’s girlfriend knew how to play.
To nitpick (and that’s what the interwebs were made for!): Professional soccer/football seems very much alive and well in DS9’s time. In “Paradise,” one of the marooned neo-Luddites asks Sisko about a specific player, and Sisko knew his history and his current status. https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Soccer