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Wednesday, November 08, 2017
TV Round-Up: Star Trek: Discovery, "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum"
After taking a week off for some wacky time-travel fun, Star Trek: Discovery gets back to the business of the war with “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum.”

CBS Digital originally intended for this episode to serve as the mid-season finale.  And while it does end of a cliffhanger, I’m glad they’ve decided not to just leave us hanging on these developments for the next couple of months.  Don’t get me wrong -- it’s strong, solid episode but I think I would have been annoyed if this was where we left things until January.

The episode also made me sad that I’ve read certain fan speculation on-line about the identities and fate of certain characters . I found myself reading a bit too much into certain lines, looking for hints of foreshadowing that may or may not necessarily be there. The biggest is when Saru is able to read Tyler’s thoughts thanks to the spore-beings and comments that Tyler is being deceptive. On the one hand, that’s exactly what Tyler is doing in an attempt to  buy Burnham time to set up a communications relay using the giant tower on the planet, but based on certain articles I’ve seen on-line that put various clues together, I couldn’t help but wonder if Saru found out that Tyler is hiding something more from our crew. And if that will come back to bite Burnham when and if it’s finally revealed.

It’s interesting to see that as Burnham is becoming more willing to open herself up to people on Discovery (Tilly and Tyler), that some of the other members of the crew are hiding secrets from each other. Tilly and Stamets are both aware of the impact using the spore drive is having on him, allowing him to exist outside of time (or could he possibly be going back and forth from our universe to a certain parallel universe in which facial hair signifies that you’re evil?) and are actively keeping it a secret from everyone else, especially Culber.  As Stamets points out, telling Culber puts the doctor in an awkward position.  He either reports the impact that the spore drive is having on Stamets, which will turn him into an instant lab study and could lead to Starfleet losing the war or he keeps it to himself and faces charges when and if Starfleet eventually wins the war.  It’s the Kobyashi Maru of situations -- and that doesn’t even take into account the impact it can and will have on their personal relationships.

Stamets does have an interesting line of referring to Tilly as “Captain” which I feel can be taken one of two ways . One is that he’s seeing outside of time and that Tilly will, eventually, rise to the role of captain. Or the other is that he’s shuffling back and forth between our universe and a certain other one where that could be Tilly’s rank.  Again, the entire moment with his reflection lingering in the mirror a few weeks ago looms VERY large.  (And there’s so much on-line speculation and actors and directors giving away details that haven’t come up just yet that I can’t exactly ignore it.  Well, I could but I’m weak...weak I tell you!)

All of this underlines that the war with the Klingons isn’t going well. Their technology allows for their ships to avoid being locked onto while in battle, giving them an advantage.  Lorca and company are trying to come up with a way to level the playing field a bit, which is why Tyler, Saru and Burnham are on an away mission to planet Phavo.  Seems there’s a big crystal structure that can help Starfleet lock onto the Klingon vessels.  

The episode opens with a space battle that may be one of the most entertaining space battles Star Trek has given us in any iteration.   The battle, for once, operates in three dimensions (as did the battle in the Nebula in Wrath of Khan), which I loved.  It also highlighted how badly things are going for Starfleet. Discovery can’t be everywhere at once and with their new technological advantage being spread throughout the Empire, the Klingons appear to be turning the tide in their favor.  

I get the feeling that the Klingon have been able to withstand the first punch that Starfleet gave them with Discovery and are turning the tide in their favor. It will be interesting to see if and how Starfleet can counteract the inability to lock weapons on Klingon ships because clearly by the era of Kirk and Spock they can do just that.

Meanwhile, we get our first significant away mission of the series with the trio of Saru, Tyler and Burnham trying to find a way to counteract this new cloaking device.  

And that leads up to Phavo and some nice character work for Saru and Burnham.  I will admit part of me thought it would be interesting to see only Saru and Burnham on the away team, given the tension between them.  But having Tyler along gives us another dynamic and a buffer.

Early on, it was established that Saru’s people live in a perpetual state of fear and can sense death. Saru’s hearing means he can hear the song that the cloud of creatures or the planet is creating constantly playing.  (I can only imagine it would be like riding It’s A Small World at DisneyWorld -- fun at first but it would get really old really fast!)  Saru becomes weary of this, trying to rest and asks the creatures for one moment of silence -- which they deliver and then some. Suddenly, we see a different side of Saru -- one that is freed from the noise and his race’s constant fear. Freed from that, he doesn’t want to go back, crushing everyone’s communicators, lying and willing to do whatever it takes to allow him to stay.  I do wonder if Saru’s comments that Tyler and Burnham would eventually come into the fold were true or if he’d eventually have to eliminate one or both of them.  

Building on what Saru told Burnham a few weeks ago, the wounds that he feels from her become a bit deeper. Saru points out that he won’t let Burnham take anything else away from him.  This is twice we’ve heard about this now and if we don’t get some more payoff on it later, I will be disappointed.

Meanwhile, we find out not only do Saru and Staments have a lot at stake, but Burham does as well.  Unlike Tyler who can retire to his beach condo when the war is over, Burnham looks forward to a return prison.  She sees herself as only useful until the end of the war, at which point Lorca’s leverage with Starfleet runs out and she’s sent back to prison.  It certainly makes me unsure of what to root for in seeing Lorca stay in command as long as possible (you have to think that if Cornwell removes Lorca from the center chair that Burnham would be pulled from duty as well).  It also helps explain why Burnham is reluctant to form too many bonds with her crewmates outside of Tilly and Tyler.

OK, so maybe I was wrong about this one being a bit more straightforward. There is a lot going on here and that doesn’t take into account the Klingon plotline.

Speaking of not knowing how to trust, I’m not sure how much of what L’Rell says and does we can take at face value. Does she want to help Kov? Is she looking to defect?  Did she really kill Cornwell?  

Given that we see some of her fellow devotees of T’Kuvma rounded up and pretty graphically killed, the lack of dismemberment of Cornwell makes me believe she’s not actually dead.  Could this be part of some plan that Cornwell and L’Rell have concocted to allow her to defect and possibly give Starfleet a look at the cloaking technology?   

This episode ran shorter than most, leading me to wonder if they couldn’t have spared a few seconds to declare Cornwell officially dead if that was the case.  

Again, it could be that certain on-line speculation is clouding my perceptions here. But if that’s all to the Cornwell plot I may be disappointed.

That leaves us with only one more episode left in the fall run.  Here’s hoping the show goes out on a high note….

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/08/2017 01:40:00 PM | |
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
TV Round-Up: Star Trek Discovery: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad
Strange that an episode featuring a never-ending time loop where a lot of the crew dies in the course of defending the ship would be one of the most entertaining, fun and light episodes Star Trek: Discovery has given us.
And yet, “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad,” achieves just that.
A lot of that can be chalked up to the presence of one Harcourt Fenton Mudd, who wants to sell Discovery’s secret weapon to the Klingon in exchange for a lot of money. (I’d argue that Mudd may be lying a bit there since it’s fairly obvious that he has an iffy relationship with the truth.  It doesn’t seem too huge a stretch to think that Mudd has bartered with the Klingons to set him free in exchange for handing over Discovery to them.  That would go a long way toward giving Mudd more motive to reset the timeline when he finds out who Burnham is and she kills herself.  Mudd may need that extra money to pay off whatever debts he’s accrued and would rather spend his life running from, rather than marrying Stella).
110700_0503bWhen I heard Rainn Wilson was cast as Mudd for the upcoming season, I was both intrigued and apprehensive.  I was worried that Discoverycould fall into the same trap that Enterprise did when it brought in the Borg.  I didn’t want to see Mudd shoehorned into the show as a publicity stunt or ratings grab like the Borg were in Enterprise.  I wanted the character to be well used and to maybe get some sense of what led him to be the man we see when Kirk and company meet him during the original series run.
After two solid episodes of Wilson chewing the scenery, I’m glad to see that I shouldn’t have worried. Mudd’s inclusion works well and if he goes on to become a recurring thorn in the side of Lorca and company, I certainly wouldn’t mind.
Credit a lot of that to Wilson, whose work in this episode was just spot on.  Mudd’s scheming made him a good threat and his connection to Lorca from their time in the Klingon prison cell served as a great motivation for Mudd’s time loop creation and his desire to sell out the ship to the Klingons.  I do find myself wondering if Mudd and Tyler were both placed in the cell with Lorca as some type of test or a way to make Lorca choose between the two men.  I have feeling that while Mudd is more transparent in his desire to give the Klingons the ship, that Tyler may be playing a longer game. I just can’t quite shake the feeling (SPOILER info and speculative articles aside) there’s more to him than he’s letting on.  After all, it’s not like it’s easy to survive seven months of Klingon torture and come out as relatively unscathed as he did.
110700_0604bThere’s also the feeling during Burnham’s final log entry that she and the crew are being set up to have the rug pulled out from under them. Clearly, Lorca could be removed from command when and if Admiral Cornwell is released/escapes her Klingon captors.  A lot of this episode felt like it was putting the characters into certain positions for us to see dominoes begin to fall during the back half of the season.  It feels like this is crew of outsiders who have found a way to work well together and are building the type of relationship that drove other Trek series. But I can’t help but wonder if this trust could all be easily shattered by a betrayal or two. Again, it seems like Lorca could easily fall out the crew’s good graces when how he’s taken advantage of events to keep Cornwell from taking the ship from him comes to light.
And while I’m not necessarily sure that seeing the first ever wild kegger on a Star Trekshow is the best idea, I’m willing to roll with it for the character work here. And while it was interesting to see Stamets teach Burnham how to dance, I would be lying if I said there weren’t echoes of “The Doctor Dances” from the new Doctor Who running through my mind.
Overall, though, I was very pleased with the episode and felt it worked well on just about every level.  It may be my favorite episode of the series so far.
A few smaller items:
  • If you ever asked me what the scariest red-shirt death in all of TOS was, I’d tell you that it’s when Kirk beams two random red-shirts into nothingness thinking the ship is still orbiting the planet in “And the Children Shall Lead.” For years, I’ve morbidly wondered what that was like for those two red-shirts. Well, I think we’ve got an answer now when Mudd has Lorca beamed into space and we see him die.  And now that scene has become more chilling than ever.
  • Speaking of deaths, it was nice to see how many ways Mudd came up with to eliminate Lorca.
  • Mudd’s line of “mon capitan” made me wonder if Mudd be to Lorca what Q was to Picard. And if that’s the way it goes, I’m fine with that.
  • I feel like we missed an opportunity when Stella didn’t call Harry by his full name.
  • Speaking of Stella, she doesn’t seem quite as harsh as we see her android version will be in “I, Mudd.” Does she become harsher or is that Harry’s perception of her because he has to give up his devious ways to settle down with her?
  • Stamets being outside of time and having to work with Burnham to try and stop Mudd brings up some intriguing questions. It also makes me wonder if there’s more of a side effect to using the spore drive than we’ve been led to believe so far. I don’t want to this to become like the speed limit we put on vessels in later TNGthanks to a pretty forgettable season seven episode. But I can see how the writers are setting things up so the spore drive can be put aside and not around to do something like, say, bring Voyager home easily.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 10/31/2017 11:15:00 AM | |
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
UT vs Austin Peay Haiku
Jones era begins
Let’s Butch slap the Governors
Start season with win

posted by Michael Hickerson at 8/28/2013 04:09:00 PM | |
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Vols Vs Akron Haiku
Better late than never, I guess.  I was so bummed by not only the loss but how the Vols lost last week that I couldn't muster up the gumption to do my standard haiku early in the week.

Can Vols bounce back
Get win before October
Schedule gets brutal


posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/22/2012 08:59:00 AM | |
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Florida 37, Vols 20
Derek Dooley seems like a really nice guy.  It's too bad that he's likely gone at the end of the season.

He's yet to pick up that signature win.  And he's had opportunities to do it.  But I keep seeing the team under him making the same mistakes over and over again.  Or falling prey to the same negative tendencies.

For example, the inability to adjust in-game to what the other team is doing.   Once Florida decided to make their QB the second coming of Tim Teabow yesterdays, the Vols defense was completely flustered and you could see them giving up on play after play after play.  It's hard to get back into the game and get a crowd back into the game (one that desperately wanted to get back into it, mind you) when time and again you don't make a play.  

Another thing is the team's lack of killer instinct.  After answering Florida's opening field goal of the second half with a touchdown drive, the Vols had everything going their way and could have put the Gators away for good.  Instead, we miss an extra point (more on this in a minute!) and then the defense holds on a fake punt. Then the offense goes out of sync and Tyler Bray can't hit the broad side of a barn.  There's a couple of a reasons for this--the biggest being that complete lack of a run game to try and keep the Gators honest.   You live by the pass, you die by the pass.  I said it after the NC State game--you can't win consistently on huge plays in the SEC.  Teams will figure it out eventually, take that away and make you beat them with other aspects of the game.  Tennessee didn't have those for a quarter and a half and, well, we all saw the results.

Back to my original point--this team lacks leadership to calm them down, focus them again and go back onto the field to try and make something happen.  We have a great collection of players, but I don't see a cohesive team out there.

All of this comes to rest squarely at the feet of Dooley.  I really feel like ever since we had 13 men on the field in the waning moments of the LSU game two years ago that the team and program hasn't been the same.  That seems to be the crossroads for the Dooley's all been shoulda, woulda, coulda ever since that point.  We shoulda made the play, we coulda won, we woulda done better if....

Again, I like Dooley as a person. As a coach, I'm less than impressed.  Maybe it's time to put the orange pants back on the hanger and try again....

posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/16/2012 04:38:00 PM | |
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Tennessee vs Florida Haiku
Game Day visiting
Rocky Top must be rocking
Break seven year streak

Turning point for Vols
Start SEC season right
Hand Gators a loss

posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/12/2012 06:43:00 PM | |

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