La'an: Missed Opportunity?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' started by Death Ray, Aug 3, 2023.

  1. Death Ray

    Death Ray Commander Red Shirt

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    I can't be the first person to raise this issue, but having only just watched Ad Astra Per Aspera, it seems more salient now: Shouldn't the DNA augmentation material have been written around La'an, not Una?

    The fact that La'an is a direct descendant of Khan only makes this decision more bizarre. If anyone should be on trial for the crimes of her own flesh, it should be La'an. La'an's eventual acquital would also have been, in its way, an intriguing redemption arc for Khan and the people who started World War III.

    I dunno... this seems perfectly obvious to me. (Before the SNW writers go back to work I may have a few demands of my own.)

     
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  2. Finn

    Finn Bad Batch of TrekBBS Admiral

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  3. HotRod

    HotRod Commodore Commodore

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    La'an didn't ask to be born with genetic enhancements. She can hardly be held responsible for actions that occurred over a century before she was born.
     
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  4. Death Ray

    Death Ray Commander Red Shirt

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    When exactly did Una get her enhancements?

    Regardless, I aver that it simply makes more sense to use La'an in this story. Why even establish a character who is descended from history's most famous augment if not to exploit it for exactly this kind of moral dilemma?

    I think what happened is that the show wanted to tackle the subject of refugees/asylum seekers, and chose to make genetic engineering the sci-fi hook. Unfortunately, they already had a character with an established backstory (La'an) who didn't quite fit the "refugee" angle of the story, so they transferred the "augment" issue onto Una instead.

    I don't want to harsh on the show, but this is just sloppy writing. The writers were trying to have their cake and eat it too. A moral conflict about genetic modification naturally belonged to La'an. Think about it: The entire premise for Una's trial is the Federation's leftover paranoia from the Eugenics Wars. But the tyrant Khan's own multi-great granddaughter is right there to hang this story on!

    I am sorry, but Una was simply the wrong choice for this moral dilemma.

    So, how could they have handled the asylum issue using Una? Simple: Drop the DNA angle altogether and simply reveal that Una came from some rogue human colony that Earth has a previously undisclosed strained relationship with. (Space Mexico, basically). Then you could have explored the nuances of who is "in" and "out" of the Federation, and make that the "trouble in paradise" conundrum.

    This episode also continues the trend of "How can we make the Federation look like shit?" that too many of the NuTreks suffer from (Lower Decks being the only real exception). The attempt to demonize Una and her people for their entirely benevolent mods, to the point where they are even being treated like Warsaw Jews within the Federation, simply strains our concept of the future that Trek has established. But having one of Khan's descendants in Starfleet, a potential "young superman" waiting to go off like a DNA time bomb? That is a legitimate reason for Starfleet to get the heebies-jeebies.
     
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  5. Finn

    Finn Bad Batch of TrekBBS Admiral

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    She didn't get enchantments. Her ancestors did...several generations removed.

    You are overthinking this.
     
  6. Death Ray

    Death Ray Commander Red Shirt

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    We see that Una has healing abilities as a child... were these inherited? Were Una's ancestors modified? If so, that just makes her situation even more similar to La'an's.

    I could see a moral dilemma arising if, say, Una had gotten a "healing" mod when she was 18, but then realized that this could keep her out of Starfleet, which leads to her lying on her application. That, at least, raises the issue of her own responsibility versus the fairness of the law and Starfleet's intolerance of cultural differences. But if Una is simply the descendant of people who made the decision before she was born, then this is almost identical to what makes La'an unique, and therefor, this story should have focused on her.
     
  7. Finn

    Finn Bad Batch of TrekBBS Admiral

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    Sorry, I misread your post. I read it as La'an.

    Never mind
     
  8. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Star Trek always has characters in the Federation that look down upon others. Romulan ancestry, genetic augmentation (sometimes), or other enemies.

    La'an has no control over her ancestry, and has to make peace with it like Spock. See also "Yesteryear" and the "logical" Vulcan children teasing him.
     
  9. Death Ray

    Death Ray Commander Red Shirt

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    Here, let me put it in these terms: What if in the TNG episode " "The Measure of a Man" it was Geordi who was on trial, not Data?

    If the writers of "Ad Astra" had written that episode, their logic would have been that Geordi's mechanical enhancement (his VISOR) gave him an unfair advantage over other humans, and this made him inhuman in some way, and thus subject to having his VISOR removed against his will. Meanwhile, Data, who is entirely mechanical and superior (including completely mechanical eyes), would have been left untouched.

    I think you can see how this would be an entirely backwards approach to the "moral dilema" of cybernetics. Data is the natural subject, not Geordi. And so it is with La'an and Una.
     
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  10. Death Ray

    Death Ray Commander Red Shirt

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    Una was also not responsible for having been modified. We see that she has been modded at least since childhood, possibly in utero. (Did this episode go out of its way to imply that these modifications are not inherited, though? That seems weird.)
     
  11. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Who lied about it?
     
  12. Death Ray

    Death Ray Commander Red Shirt

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    ???
    Lied about what?
     
  13. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Lied about their background to get in.
     
  14. Death Ray

    Death Ray Commander Red Shirt

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    Ah! But that is what I am trying to get across: The writers tried to shoehorn the character of Una into this dilemma using DNA as the hook, which was the wrong approach for this character. DNA augmentation prejudice is a natural fit for La'an, not Una.

    If you want to have a storyline where Una is on trial for misrepresenting her origins, let it be for some other reason. For example: Illyria has a troubled history with the Federation. They once were a Federation world that left under some kind of "Space Brexit" political issue. Now they trade with Federation adversaries, and yet the planet is also a basket case that needs Federation handouts... all in all, a great reason for people to hold a prejudice against them. For these reasons, Illyrians are not allowed into Starfleet.There's your moral dillema.
     
  15. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It works fine.
     
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  16. Discovery McDiscoveryFace

    Discovery McDiscoveryFace Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I can't pin it down but I think it was strongly suggested as something that was pre or post partum or in early childhood. I remember thinking of it having a tiny bit of a parallel to FGM in that regard.
     
  17. Serveaux

    Serveaux Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    They've missed nothing with La'An. They use and develop the character very successfully.

    Frankly, she'd have been wasted on the Una plot.
     
  18. Death Ray

    Death Ray Commander Red Shirt

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    I don't know if you are referring to the characters, or the the actresses performances, but my point is only that this episode is a complete subversion of (Pavel) Chekov's Gun. La'an, as the descendant of the genetically engineered Khan Noonien Singh, who is the very source of the Federation's anti gene-modding paranoia referenced numerous times in this episode, is the natural choice to be the subject of prejudice and the resulting trial. How the writers missed this is beyond me.
     
  19. Serveaux

    Serveaux Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    Uh-huh. Okay...
     
  20. Death Ray

    Death Ray Commander Red Shirt

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    Well, that is not much of a rejoinder. I already gave the example of how this episode is like making Geordi, not Data, the subject of the trial in "The Measure of a Man" TNG episode. It is just perfectly backwards.

    Now, how would the choice of Una over La'an have won me over? Only if they had cunningly set up a switcheroo in the last season where the topic of hiding one's genetic history is explored using La'an as the story's target, and then in the last scene we secretly witness Una displaying her healing power (or whatever). "Ohhh!" we say to ourselves. "It is squeaky clean Number One who is hiding a shady secret, not the granddaughter of history's greatest monster!"

    Since I did not watch all of last season, I cannot say that this didn't happen, but that would be the requisite set-up for "Ad Astra", the only excuse to not use La'an--the descendant of the genetically engineered Khan--as the vehicle for exploring the perils of genetic engineering. Was this plot set up in this way?