While I felt this episode had a couple of major missteps, I overall felt this was a good episode.
So the Vulcans and Romulans did re-unify at some point, and renamed the planet Vulcan as Ni'var. The significance of that is unknown. Maybe an ancient name for the planet?
Vance's explanation of the Romulans' true nature was good in the sense that they still harken back to the original idea that nobody knew who the Romulans actually were until "Balance of Terror", without calling too much attention to the fact that nobody seeing a Romulan (alive or dead) during the Romulan War is kinda dumb.
The re-use of Spock's scene from "Unification II" was spot-on for the premise of this episode. Even an in-universe explanation that it was classified info gathered by Picard. (Not totally sure I buy that, but like I said, the scene really worked, so I can ignore that.)
As usual, the decision to make Burnham Spock's adopted sister is a mixed bag. Using it as a plot point to open up negotiations with Vulcan/Ni'var was pretty good. However, it was awfully cringe-worthy at the end of the episode when the Ni'var President apparantly says Spock became who he was because of Burnham. Too far, episode. Too far.
Also, I really feel we needed more of a connect-the-dots on how Mrs. Burnham became a Qowat Milat. That was out of left field. That having been said, I liked the idea of the Qowat Milat from Picard and thought the idea of one being an advocate here for Burnham's lost cause was good.
The B-plot has Saru offer his Number One spot to Tilly, and Tilly seeking advice on whether she should accept. Great scene with the bridge crew telling her to accept, and hilarious lampshading almost immediately thereafter by Burnham ("Did I miss the cool "say yes" part?")
So next episode seems as if we'll go investigate the location of the Burn's origin. Did anyone see the starship in the preview that looks very Dominion-esque? Maybe we're headed to the Gamma Quadrant? (Or maybe not, looks like the Orions are somehow involved in the episode.)
-------------------- "Kirito? I killed a thing and now it says I have XPs! Is that bad? Am I dying?"
-Asuna, Episode 2, Sword Art Online Abridged
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There's a million things I haven't done, but just you wait
Member # 343
I'll agree with most of the above. Some other thoughts:
• The Gabrielle Burnham reveal gave me a response like Wayne from "Letterkenny" ("I– 'Kay. But y'know what? ....'Kay. I just–'Kay."). I actually hated the Picard reference because it's such a bad dumb show.
• Ni'Var was the name of a Vulcan ship in ENT. I checked MA & it turns out it got its name from an old fandom term:
quote: Ni var was a term coined circa 1967 by linguist Dorothy Jones, who wrote the Dorothy and Myfanwy series of Star Trek stories for the fanzine T-Negative in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It literally means "two form" and was an art form practiced on Vulcan in which a subject was examined from two different viewpoints, or in terms of its having two different aspects or natures. Ni var poetry and art were printed in Spockanalia and various other fanzines, and the term (actually part of a sophisticated Vulcan language invented by Ms. Jones) caught on like wildfire in the Star Trek fan community.
"Ni Var" was also the name of a novella originally entitled The Thousandth Man by Claire Gabriel, which was cut down to short-story length for publication in the 1976 anthology The New Voyages (edited by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath; the original novella by Gabriel was the final chapter of a six-part book which is now available for reading at Jacqueline Lichtenberg's website). In the story, it was "a Vulcan term referring to the duality of things: two who are one, two diversities that are a unity, two halves that come together to make a whole" (from Leonard Nimoy's introduction to the short story, which did not credit Ms. Jones as the originator of the term). It seemed much more likely that the ship was named after this story and that the writers of "Shadows of P'Jem" were unaware of the origins of the term, as Ms. Jones' Star Trek stories were never professionally published and have been largely forgotten. According to episode co-writer Mike Sussman, the Ni'Var was indeed an homage to the short story published in The New Voyages. The Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. 2, p. 81) corroborated Sussman's account.
So interestingly, it fits the new society. Well done.
• "USS Yelchin"... pull you finger outta your ass!
• XO Tilly feels forced. Saru's explanation was hackneyed; she was chosen because she's the only other main cast member left except Stamets, who would obviously refuse. Everyone else is (annoyingly) a minor player. But still, "hey, this ensign is your boss now" is some bullshit I see in stores all the time.
• Speaking of Saru, every time he keeps getting better as captain. Furthermore, I'm super-happy to finally see a hero ship with a non-human CO.
• "The Federation was already running out of dilithium": dude, fuck you. That might be acceptabl for the 2200s, MAYBE the 2300s, but by 3069, you can't replicate dilithium or find alternate methods? Lazy as fuck. It's like how we still have gas cars because people abandoned steam (& to a point, electrics) out of laziness. This whole idea plus the Burn are lazy, shitty concepts.
-------------------- "I never agreed with Jefferson once—we have fought on like seventy-five different fronts. But when all is said & all is done...Jefferson HAS beliefs; Burr has none."
Registered: Jun 2000
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The story behind the name Ni’var is really cool, and it’s the perfect name for the planet. After all, it probably had different names in different regions or languages in pre-Surak times, just like Earth, so why not have a new name for the new reunified planet?
Yes, Tilly is mainly going to be XO because she’s on the main cast. But at the same time, she’s a liked and respected crew member. and aside from Reno, Stamets, and Burnham, have we seen anyone else above the rank of Lieutenant on the ship this season? Her main weakness is that she’s had no experience or training in commanding others yet, even in small groups before she starts commanding the whole ship. That being said, she’s vastly more qualified (both in experience and emotionally) than alt-Kirk was in the Abramsverse movies, so nobody should complain too much.
An arguably more practical solution would be to recruit a first officer from the current time frame, to help inform the crew about current events and with adjusting to the new technology. but that would mean bringing in another new main character, which they apparently don't want to do.
Until this episode, I thought for sure that Burnham’s mom was somehow going to be related to the cause of the Burn. I’m glad that’s not happening, but I’m not sure this is better. It’s close to “Worf was at the Manzar colony” level of lack of explanation. Her surviving and being somewhere to reconnect with Michael was enough of a stretch, considering she was jumping into future timelines that no longer exist... now she’s a Romulan warrior nun? That’s a complete non sequitur IMO.
Still, these are quibbles on the plot and setup. Emotionally and philosophically, I thought this was a pretty good story. Classical Trekkian format of talking things out and using logic and reason pushed by emotion to get to the key issue... which really wasn’t even about the data, not exactly. It was about Michael belonging on the ship.
At least Book explicitly called her out for her messiah complex.
The thing that worries me most is that aside from Admiral Vance and his security chief, we haven’t seen ANY other major time-indigenous Starfleet characters. So I’m a little worried that Saru and Burnham claiming to represent the Federation as they did is more based on hopes and wishes than fact.
quote:So Burnham didn't bother to check up on Vulcan the whole year she was in the future? She didn't even know they left the Federation?
I think it’s more that Burnham was way out in the sticks of the galaxy, hundreds or thousands of light years from Earth and Vulcan —err, Ni’Var. Remember that Earth was way too far for Book or Burnham to get to easily. I was under the impression that she also stayed relatively close to the spot where the wormhole had been through that year in the hopes that Discovery would come out as they eventually did. The spore drive makes it a little tough to judge travel times and distances.
-------------------- “Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.” — Isaac Asimov Star Trek Minutiae | Memory Alpha
Registered: Nov 2000
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So in the end they win out by reverse-psychologying the... Vumulans? Romulcans? Ni’varians? - and because the President fancies the captain?! Though given how often Kirk flirted his way to success, it’s kinda cool that Saru can do too, however inadvertently.
SB-19 feels a bit like that slingshot thing in that Voyager episode...
Bernd’s review is kinda damning. This season is too preoccupied with the past to really take account of what a new millennium has to offer.
This episode does try to have its cake and eat it - it attempts to lampshade, unpack, examine, deconstruct and subvert Michael Burnham’s Mary-Sueness, yet in the end reinforces and endorses it. When previously they made her a contemporary and confidante and even mentor to Spock, they invited us to compare the two of them (and we did, invariably unfavourably). But now her being equal to him is stated as fact. But they don’t get to unilaterally give her parity with the single most revered character in the franchise. However much he may have been intended to become central to the show or not (Roddenberry did save the character at the cost of the one played by his own girlfriend after all), he earned that stature in a way Burnham hasn’t.
Just me or is anyone else just tired of the overacting and use of Michael? So emotional, crying, naive, reckless, don't care about repercussions to her friends.
-------------------- "The Starships of the Federation are the physical, tangible manifestations of Humanity´s stubborn insistence that life does indeed mean something." Spock to Leonard McCoy in "Final Frontier"
Registered: Jan 2000
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I am getting rather tired of the whole show revolving around her. "Unification III" had far less to do with the Vulcan-Romulan reunification and more to do with Michael Burnham, who had nothing whatsoever to do with it, other than the cringeworthy line about everything Spock was, he owed to Michael. The reunification was just a plot device to frame whatever silliness was going on between Michael and her mom.
I find her character to be a 'reverse' Mary Sue. As many of you might know, a Mary Sue is a character who is pretty much perfect in every way and can do no wrong, and all the other characters exist just to reinforce that idea. Burnham instead is a character presented as having multiple flaws (not following orders being prime among them), and yet her ends always seem to end up justifying her means. Even Saru demoting her seemed to have no real consequences.
-------------------- "A film made in 2008 isn't going to look like a TV series from 1966 if it wants to make any money. As long as the characters act the same way, and the spirit of the story remains the same then it's "real" Star Trek. Everything else is window dressing." -StCoop
Registered: Jun 2000
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