Discussion in 'Star Trek: Discovery' started by EJD1984, Jul 24, 2017.
I am always confused by the notion that good guys and bad guys are somehow not SF.
I think they're bolted down.
You kinda' hit the nail on it's head with "Star Trek has been a 'solve the problem' series". The problem is that in newer iterations (this is not excluisive to DIS - this trend alreay started to take over since late VOY) - many, many problems were simplified into "defeat the badguy", where before i had been more complicated dilemmas and conondrums.
TOS had more than one society taken over by a computer that needed to be destroyed at the end of the episode. But if you look at episodes like "Taste of Armageddon" or "For the World is hollow and I have touched the sky" - not even the computers were really "bad guys".
And the only true "kill the antagonist"-storyline - "Balance of Terror" - was a heart-wrenching war story, which made it absolutely clear that the Romulan Commander was anything but "evil" - just fighting on orders from the other side.
The trend of having actual, true "bad" guys on Star Trek started with "Wrath of Khan" - and never stopped since then. But where it was once relegated to only the movies, new series often try themselves to be "movies", and thus more and more follow that easy plot line.
The conflicts in newer Trek series - DIS being the prime example, but also many episodes from late VOY to ENT - were overly simplistic in their conflict, in that there wasn't a complex or complicated situation, but a very clear cut and obvious "right" side and a very evil "badguy" on the "wrong" side, which often ended with the badguy biting it after picking a phaser fight with the good guys.
I'm extremely fond of DIS' episodes "Sound of Thunder" and "Saints of Imperfection" - BECAUSE they avoided the trapping of having a clear "villain" in their story - despite featuring extreme conflict, especially regarding the Kelpians - the Ba'Ul just weren't "evil". Yes, they were clear and obvious "supressors". But not out of malice. That was an amazing return to form for Star Trek.
But right now - Trek is still overall littered with straight up "evil" badguys, and overly simplistic storylines that really are about nothing else but "stopping the badguy from destroying the planet/galaxy/multiverse". Usually after a big phaserfight and an explosion of a supersized evil black starship. This season actually a computer. But not one that is misguided (like in TOS "the apple"), but f course straight up evil, destroying all sentient life and all that generic jazz.
Sorry, your interpretation of the computer in 'The Apple' was that it was misguided? How was it more misguided than Control? How is Control more misguided than M5? How was the doomsday machine less misguided than Control? They are all computers. And as far as I can see, the threat of Control is a byproduct of Dr. Burnham's miguided attempt to use a time crystal to power her red angel suit and the constant attempts to fix the future which appears to just be making things worse and worse. I know its easy to reduce something down to what fits your hypothesis, but I find it worthwhile to look at the whole picture and not decide one component to a narrative the contains many components tells the entire story.
Well said. I love TWOK as much as the next trekkie, but its success has become an albatross around the franchise's neck. There has been many attempts to duplicate it, the two most literal attempts, the Nemesis and Into Darkness possibly being the two worst Trek films. I am not saying that there never should be clear 'villains', but it is an overused trope, and when it is done lazily and badly it is just really boring. Khan was a compelling villain. Sure, by any reasonable definition he was evil, but at least we could understand his point of view, even if we would not agree with it. And of course it required the great performance by Montalbán to sell it. The Control is a really lame villain. We don't know it, we don't see its point of view, it is just a faceless foe. It is not really even menacing in the way the early Borg were.
Star Trek would be better served to forget TWOK. There I said it. First Contact, Nemesis, Into Darkness, among others, have all felt the need to use TWOK as the magic formula for making money.
I enjoy good bad guys in Star Trek, but it is tired and I'm ready to move on. DSC at least interested me with the Klingons, but Control is on very thin ice for my money.
I've long found that assessment rather puzzling as well. I can recognize certain broad cues in it, of course, but it never really "looked like" or "felt like" nor otherwise evoked the overall aesthetic impression of the original to me. (A number of other aspects in those films did, but the bridge itself? Not so much.)
If anything, it always reminded me more of this Phase II concept art:
You've now repeatedly accused me of "reduce something to fit my hypothesis", while completely making things up about the show that can described as nothing else but funky "headcanon". No. Dr. Burnham is not at fault and pushing Control more and more into it - Control startet to kill the sentient universe with or without her. That's all it ever does. I have no fucking clue where you picked that weird theory up.
And that already answers your second (well, technically first) question - how Control is different. The computer in "The Apple" tried to shape the civilisation for it's needs - self-preservation - but also "cared" for them. It wasn't any more evil - neither in it's motives nor it's actions - than a virus or parasite would be. M5 was a computer with a very clear and obvious mission that it went way overboard to fullfill - but it had super clear, consistent and concises motives: fullfill it's original mission. The Doomsday Machine as well - it was a weapon from the very beginning. One that was never meant to actually be used. But once it was used - it actually only did what it was designed to do. Can you really blame the weapon itself? Or the manufacturer? None of these did their deeds purely in malice.
Control is a "threat assessment program", that - as soon as it becomes sentient - set out to destroy all life in the galaxy. No further motives given - just "Order" vs "Chaos", Skynet with even less clear motives (Skynet at least had a reason to act like it did - it was meant to destroy a clear enemy, and it did) but with more villain exposition dialogue straight ripped from Dr. Evil. You telling me you can't tell any difference between those? Sorry, I can't take that serious.
You might laugh - but I absolutely think this Phase II concept art is closer in style and aesthetics to the TOS bridge than the DISCO-Enterprise bridge.
I dig the Captain's bean bag chair.
You just know he's sitting there cross-legged too. So comfy!
To come back one last time to "badguys": I think in good writing, the more evil the deeds are, the better they need to be justified by the person commiting them. Not being agreeable mind you! But being understandable.
Self-preservation is an incredible powerful motivation. The Ba'Ul did horrible things to the Kelpians. Yet at no point they felt one-dimensional or simply evil. In fact, that they even preserved the Kelpians from extinction, despite them being responsible for thier own almost extinction, even gives them some nobility in their adversary. Khan was a masterclass in writing - his complete single-mindedness on revenge was palpable. Note that movie actually featured a weapon of mass destruction - and at NO point in the movie Khan threatened to target Earth with it or some bullshit like that! His one and only goal was Kirk. That made it believable. None of the other revenge-driven movies was ever able to replicate that.
"Destroying all sentient life in the galaxy" simply is such a shockingly and absurdly over-the-top evil thing to do - it would need a DAMN good explanation to work! It can work - I never questioned the Bugs in "Starship Troopers", or the Borg (who don't really "destroy", just "assimilate", which in their twisted worldview is actually beneficial for everyone). But the motives for "Control" are just so, so much lacking at this point - it feels like "just 'cause", because otherwiese there would be no stakes for the season, instead of coming organically from within the story and from character motivations.
I can see the point of view, but I can understand Control, because they feel like Species 8472 or the machines from the Matrix, or at least Agent Smith. So, I can understand them just fine. I just don't feel a desire for TWOK style rehash.
Funny that you picked those two - because both Species 8472 AND the machines in the Matrix were actually the ones who were attacked first. On their ground! And not just attacked - the first strike on them was obvously designed to wipe them out completely (at least they would believably think so). With a long history of abuse for the machines before. As I said: Self-preservation is an extremely powerful motivation for a sentient being to do awful things.
"Control" as an antagonist is actually not the problem - Dr. Burnham wants to destroy it, it fights back. That part is fine. Destroying all life in the Galaxy is not.
Sure it is. It's an overreaction to be sure, but it makes sense. Humans do it all the time. If Control is modeled in anyway on a human's brain then it makes sense. I mean, that is almost Skynet's whole motivation too.
This isn't that hard, I don't think.
It's not hard. It's just lazy. You can have a badguy who's dog got run over, and thus he decides to destroy all of humanity with a nuclear weapon as revenge. That "makes sense" and gets the plot going. But it makes for an awful story.
"Skynet" by contrast had an extremely clear and precise motivation for it's nuclear strike (at least in Terminator 2 - in 1 it was more a backdrop, the primary conflict was Arnie with the goal of - you guessed it - self-preservation. Avoid the future defeat by the hands of John Connor).
So far, there has been no explanation as to why "Control becoming sentient" is irreconciable with "organic life existing in the galaxy", especially in a galaxy that has a vast multitude of already existing A.I. side-by-side with biological lifeforms.
(Hell, they could have given Control an equally ambitious goal - "make all FTL-travel in the galaxy impossible" - and it would have actually made sense and be in line with it's original programming. There is no threat to any planet from outer space, if no-one can access outer space. And yet it's obvious our heroes would fight to stop it. "Killing everything just 'cause" simply makes for baaaaad writing. It still would have been unbelievably over the top. But at least not as laughable generic as it currently is).
Actually Star Trek started out with bad guys. Talosians who treated Captain Pike as a lab rat, the salt vampire who mocked Spock and McCoy as it was murdering Kirk, Charlie X and Gary Mitchell who were given godlike powers which they abused without a second thought. And we've seen many, many bad guys since then.
I can see why the reasoning behind Control's destruction of sentient life being ambiguous disturbs some people. But I disagree that it makes for bad writing. Me, I find that an enemy that cannot be reasoned with or rationalized would be the scariest enemy of all to a rational society trying to keep its ideals while fighting for its existence
Everything about the designs in ST 2009 reminded me more of the original series than the designs of previous movies and sequel TV series.
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