Top 10 Moments of Star Trek Discovery Episode 10 “Despite Yourself” (Spoilers)
So after a two month hiatus, err “mid-season break,” the show came roaring back with “Chapter 2” aka the last 6 episodes of season 1. Confused yet? Fear not, you’re nowhere near as confused as the writers.
Anyway, whatever, let’s get into it.
NUMBER TEN — Best episode so far!
Now, that’s not saying all that much, but it’s still notable. As one of the most vocal anti-Discovery critics out there, I think it’s safe to say that this is huge praise from me. It was an interesting story, well-paced, well-directed, well-acted. The characters felt 100x better and the visual storytelling was actually competent for once. I’m giving a lot of credit to Frakes for this, but I’m sure there’s an army of support staff who made it all come together. Everyone but the writers.
NUMBER NINE — Jonathan Frakes makes a Star Trek!
I’ve been thinking about why I, and legions of others, prefer Orville to STD. Orville is not original in any sense, it’s literally just Seth MacFarlane’s Star Trek fanfiction. The plots, costumes, and characters are all recycled, but updated. But that’s ok. It’s not trying to be some epic, intelligent, plot-twisty space opera. It’s just Seth’s Star Trek fanfic, and that’s all it is. What MacFarlane did that was brilliant is that he got Team Star Trek people integrated into the show right away. Brannon Braga is an executive producer, Braga, Jonathan Frakes and Robert Duncan McNeill directed some of the first episodes. It set the tone for the audience, visually, tonally, and dramatically — this is a TV show frame you know and you already like.
Star Trek Discovery did the exact opposite. They went out of their way to snub Team Star Trek writers, producers, and directors. It was a minor coup when they revealed Frakes was directing an episode — note: one episode. STD is being run by non-Star Trek people, written by non-Star Trek people, and directed by non-Star Trek people. Which in itself isn’t a problem, and I’m not taking away from the talents of those people. But the entire first half of the first season never *felt* Star Trek, because it wasn’t.
Audiences today are sophisticated when it comes to plot twists, but they’re not sophisticated when it comes to the technical production of shows. So STD needed one of those two elements to work from the start — instead, neither worked. STD tries to out-think its audience, which it seemingly can’t do, but it also gives the audience an alien feel, compounding audience’s negative reactions. Watching Episode 10, I still hated the story, but at least the show itself *felt* like a Star Trek episode.
In summary: More Frakes, less Herberts.
NUMBER EIGHT — Voq confirmed!
F — king finally. One of the dumbest, most ham-fisted and clunky “character reveals” in TV history is finally — almost — over. See, they never used the word “Voq” this episode, they just gave Tyler his voice and had him kill the good doctor. Oh well, whatever. I’ve been thinking about how this reveal is so diametrically different than the Cylon reveals on NuBSG. The first few years of NuBSG are a clinic in serialized storytelling that challenges the audience and is always one step ahead. (Of course, we know they were making it up as they went along, but at the time and even rewatching, it feels like the story is going somewhere dramatic and important.) Cylon reveals are done suddenly and only after subtle foreshadowing. And once they’re done, they’re done. The show doesn’t spend 10 episodes making the audience guess at whether Sharon Valeri is a Cylon — we know she’s a Cylon, it’s her crewmates who are doing the guessing.
Star Trek Discovery’s biggest writing problem is that they’re setting it up as if it’s a clever, multidimensional, twisting and turning drama. And it’s not. The audience has been ahead of them *the entire time* — that’s not good. Anyway, finally Voq is Tyler, Tyler is Voq and we can get on with an actual character arc.
NUMBER SEVEN — The Mirror Universe reveal!
I didn’t think they’d do it. Certainly not this quickly. Certainly not when Frakes denied the MU stuff was in his episode. But after some self-reflection I realized I was giving the writers too much credit. What’s the stupidest thing they could have done with the “jump into uncertain space” finale? Arrive in the Mirror Universe is the stupidest thing, and that’s exactly what they did.
The irony of course is that our main crew feels a hundred times more comfortable in the Terran Empire than they do in Starfleet. If this exact cast of the same characters, played the same way as they have been this whole time, but the show was set in the MU from scene one, it would be 100x better. The whole thing would just feel more natural as the story of a group of fascist officers working for a fascist empire.
I love that in the Mirror Universe the crew of the Shenzhou loves Burnham. Because it’s the exact opposite of the real universe. HAHAHAHA. Our main character is loathed by everyone who works with her, except the Manklingon Candidate and Cadet Killy.
Also, Georgiou is the Emperor.
NUMBER SIX — The ‘love boat’ moment.
Lorca has no time for this emerging love boat nonsense, and he makes it clear to everyone that he knows what they’re doing so cut the shit. It was the first time he called Burnham on her shit and hey, better late than never. And with regard to Culber and Stamets — he’s right. Culber can’t be Stamets’ primary doc, he’ll never put the safety of the ship over Stamets’ well-being.
This is also a great meta-moment because this episode was directed by Jonathan Frakes and a big complaint of the last few years of TNG is that it became Star Trek: Love Boat where everyone was having relations with each other.
NUMBER FIVE — Lorca’s Scottish accent!
This was genuinely funny. Not in-character funny, not in-universe funny, but funny to me, the Star Trek nerd in the audience. Captain Killy is floundering on comm and she hot potatoes it to Lorca who has to play Anonymous Chief Engineer. It was funny, you laughed too. LATCHCOMB!
NUMBER FOUR — What’s a xenoanthropologist?!
The moment when Burnham grabs the datacore and says “Let the xenoanthropologist get to work” was hilariously bad. Ok, in my “real” “life” I’ve taken more than my share of anthropology courses and I own entire bookshelves of anthropology books. Nowhere, in any of those books, or in any of those lectures, was I taught how to analyze a Vulcan data core. Granted, maybe future anthros are taught differently, and Margaret Mead is replaced by Zuckerberg on the syllabus or something. Which is just more proof that STD exists as a future in which I don’t want to live.
Note: this isn’t the first time Burnham has used her “credentials” as an anthropologist to brag about her computer programming/analysis skills. I would say that it gives her character depth, but like everything else Burnham-related, it’s just terrible.
NUMBER THREE — Tyler acting his ass off!
They didn’t really give Shahad Latif a lot to do in “Chapter One” so I’m glad to see that they’re finally getting into his part of the story. And luckily, Latif crushed it this episode. He out-acted the script by leaps and bounds, which is great, since Anthony Rapp is now bed-ridden and has Gary Mitchell eyes. Serious, no snark, Latif acted his ass off this episode — bravo, sir!
Burnham still can’t act, though.
NUMBER TWO — They killed off Dr. Culber!
The enemy is here! Don’t go to the palace!!! This one genuinely came out of nowhere and for that I applaud them. I finished the episode and was like, damn I didn’t see that one coming. Then I went on twitter and saw they were doing PREEMPTIVE DAMAGE CONTROL and assuring fans that Culber wasn’t gone from the show. Herberts then proceeded to storysplain to his audience and reveal that they ran the story idea by GLAAD first before filming. Look, I’m all for gay characters — especially in Star Trek, which has been on the cutting edge of progressive pop culture — but that’s a bit much, no?
Anyway, that personal and emotional moment for the audience was immediately erased and the idea that STD is competing with Game of Thrones where “anyone can die at any moment” remains laughable.
…and the NUMBER ONE moment of Episode 10: