Ba’ul / Preservers Mystery Finally “Solved”?

Michael

Good Bad Influence
Moderator
[Sorry for the long-ass screed. I kinda got carried away. I’m getting to the point at the bolded part, if you want to skip the preamble.]

It’s been a while since I’ve really posted anything in the Discovery subforum. (Basically since the end of season two, which was a sore disappointment to me, especially since it started out so strong and promising. Have been on lurk mode ever since.) However, reading along @Vger23 ’s rewatch of the first season inspired me to go back to my old posts and reviews about the show from back then, which made me remember things I had completely forgotten about.

Anyway, what I remember most fondly about season two was the various ways in which the show made you guess about how the Red Angel storyline would play out and how clues would connect. And one of my favorite mysteries was the one surrounding the Ba’ul and the theory that they might be connected or related to the Preservers from the TOS episode “The Paradise Syndrome”.

This theory mostly came about because in the Short Trek episode “The Brightest Star” and then later in “The Sound of Thunder” they featured an enigmatic obelisk watching over the Kelpian settlement, whose design looked more than coincidentally similar to the one they had in the TOS episode, which was the technology of an ancient race known as the Preservers.

But the similarities didn’t stop with the design, here are more conceptual similarities (also with the early season two episode “New Eden”):
  • In both, “Paradise Syndrome” and “Brightest Star”, the obelisk has become the site of religious ceremonies (“New Eden” doesn't feature an obelisk, but a church as a central place).
  • In both episodes, the Preservers instructed a “medicine man” with how to work the obelisk's function (“New Eden” features the All-Mother in a seemingly similar role).
  • In both, “Paradise Syndrome” and “New Eden”, the Preservers transplanted and rescued a group of people from another planet.
  • And in both episodes, the planet is threatened by an impending catastrophe.
But then also the designs for the Ba’ul ships and their language seemed to take clear cues from what was created for the Preservers …

aanCBV2.jpg


Now, none of that really came to anything in the course of the season and the similarities seemed to be mere remnants of what the story idea for the season had been originally. The head writers of the show, Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts, were famously fired from the show five episodes into the second season, which always had me assume that their original vision was likely changed by the writers taking their place.

—————

Fast forward to now:
This had always remained one of my favorite question marks from the show and I always kept wondering what was originally planned. Well, as it turns out, it might have been nothing at all … Because flipping through the “The Art of Star Trek Discovery” artbook by Paula Block and Terry Erdmann (an excellent book, by the way) I came across two instances where they actually talk about the Preservers obelisk and quote production designer Tamara Deverell who just plainly seems to say that she – and not the writers – “wanted to do something reminiscent of TOS” and basically just inserted the obelisk design because she wanted to see “if fans noticed”.

To me this reads like it was never actually a story idea that anyone really wanted to play out. Just a random TOS easteregg, nothing more, nothing less. And I must admit, as much as I’m happy to finally find this out, I’m kinda disappointed there was never going to be more behind this mystery.

How do others feel about this? (Probably indifferent.) Am I the only one caring about this years old mystery? (Probably yes.) Do any of you know of more production sources talking about this subject?

Here are the two instances from the book, for those who are curious …

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This theory mostly came about because in the Short Trek episode “The Brightest Star” and then later in “The Sound of Thunder” they featured an enigmatic obelisk watching over the Kelpian settlement, whose design looked more than coincidentally similar to the one they had in the TOS episode, which was the technology of an ancient race known as the Preservers.

Having seen this for the first time, I would have said that there's no coincidence at all: Those two obelisks look exactly the same, and the intent was clearly that the Kelpian obelisk was a Preserver artifact as well.

However, I don't really see the Ba'ul as depicted in DSC to be the Preservers, or even an offshoot of them. There's very little to nothing that makes me think that this former prey species had anything to do with 'seeding' humans throughout the galaxy. It's probably well and good that it was never truly the intent of the producers to have them as such.
 
Disco S1E3, on an Andorian moon

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Oh yes, true, they used the obelisk there as well. I wonder if that was Tamara Deverell too that made sure to include that there.

Having seen this for the first time, I would have said that there's no coincidence at all: Those two obelisks look exactly the same, and the intent was clearly that the Kelpian obelisk was a Preserver artifact as well.

However, I don't really see the Ba'ul as depicted in DSC to be the Preservers, or even an offshoot of them. There's very little to nothing that makes me think that this former prey species had anything to do with 'seeding' humans throughout the galaxy. It's probably well and good that it was never truly the intent of the producers to have them as such.
Yes, I agree entirely. Visually the resemblance just couldn't have been coincidental and back then when “The Brightest Star” aired I was sure that they were going somewhere with this and didn’t just throw it in as a gag. But apparently I was very wrong. :lol:

And yes, the way they ended up portraying the Ba’ul did not fit at all with the idea of the Preservers. Which is why I always thought there was a more interesting story at the core of this that might even involve the Red Angel storyline, but oh well …

I gotta say, these kind of visual eastereggs do nothing for me as a fan if they are just meant to remind you of an earlier show, but without actually using the underlying concepts. Especially if that leads to outright confusing / misleading the viewer who recognizes the nod. Doesn’t make me mad or anything, but I’d still rather that when they do this kind of stuff, it actually means something.
 
I gotta say, these kind of visual eastereggs do nothing for me as a fan if they are just meant to remind you of an earlier show, but without actually using the underlying concepts. Especially if that leads to outright confusing / misleading the viewer who recognizes the nod. Doesn’t make me mad or anything, but I’d still rather that when they do this kind of stuff, it actually means something.

I agree with you, but I think that the term 'easter egg' should probably be better defined. A split-second scene of R2-D2 floating around in the wreckage of destroyed starships in Star Trek '09 is an easter egg; the Kelpian Obelisk is not. It was an integral part of the story, and as you say, if its design was meant to evoke the Preservers, then that's what it should have evoked. In my opinion, Ms. Deverell shouldn't have used such an overt reference if all she wanted to do was add an easter egg to see if anyone noticed.
 
I agree with you, but I think that the term 'easter egg' should probably be better defined. A split-second scene of R2-D2 floating around in the wreckage of destroyed starships in Star Trek '09 is an easter egg; the Kelpian Obelisk is not. It was an integral part of the story, and as you say, if its design was meant to evoke the Preservers, then that's what it should have evoked. In my opinion, Ms. Deverell shouldn't have used such an overt reference if all she wanted to do was add an easter egg to see if anyone noticed.
No disagreement from me. I just used the word “easter egg” because she used it in the book. But yes, I wish she would not just have randomly created that connection to the Preservers if it was never going to mean anything whatsoever. The only way that might have been excusable is if somehow she assumed “The Brightest Star” would never be followed up on. In that case only I would have been fine with a visual reference to the Preservers. But as far as I’m aware at that point it was already planned to revisit Kaminar, the Ba’ul and the obelisk later in the season.
 
Maybe those obelisks were the ancient species' version of that TOS/TNG/DS9/VOY "Merchantman" guest ship which played all sorts of human, Klingon, Cardassian, Vidiian and ancient alien ships.
 
Since the thing is upside down on Kaminar, they're advocating for the Eliminators, not the Preservers. :D
Sure it’s not the “Srevreserp”? :p

Maybe those obelisks were the ancient species' version of that TOS/TNG/DS9/VOY "Merchantman" guest ship which played all sorts of human, Klingon, Cardassian, Vidiian and ancient alien ships.
Well, at least in those cases they re-used an existing physical model for budgetary reasons. Here the re-use was apparently just to mess with the viewers. :lol:
 
The Ba'ul were able to use and control Preserver tech the same way the early DSC Klingons used Hur'q ships.

I think it would have prevented a lot of complaining about Klingon design lineage if they had just thrown a line in about those ships being a Hur'q fleet that was discovered somewhere.
 
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