This week’s Star Trek: Discovery has me doing a lot of yelling at the TV and muttering obscenities under my breath. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover today, so let’s get started with my thoughts on episode 4×12, “Species Ten-C.”
Sci-Fi Blockbuster Vibes
One of the interesting things about this season of Discovery is its borrowing of imagery from science fiction films. My colleagues over at the We Are Starfleet podcast pointed out that in episode 4×05, “The Examples” Tarka’s mashed potato DMA model is a nod to Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In this episode, the use of sound and light nod at Close Encounters again while also leaning into Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival. The way the Ten-C have chosen to appear, the use of a simpler, more primitive language to communicate all nod to Arrival.
That being said, I think the way species Ten-C are presented is interesting and effective. Though we do not know them, we are starting to understand them. It’s worth noting in order to understand their language, Michael called in three very different members of her bridge crew. It shows an appreciation for their experience, their expertise, and that she values their individual perspectives. She acknowledges the value of a diverse team. Without them, we would not have learned that the Ten-C do have compassion. They do have empathy. Here’s hoping they do not have to pay dearly for Tarka’s hubris.
Mutiny on the Discovery…AGAIN
There are so many things that have got me stressed out and pissed in this episode too. It’s frustrating that Ndoye put her faith in Booker and Tarka’s plan. What could have been another positive attempt at first contact has been ruined because of fear and mistrust. I understand that this is a very dire situation and Ndoye has always had her guard up, even from the first time we met her in season 3, but this is a particularly heinous mistake.
That being said, Jett Reno’s proclivity for sweets and her ingenuity in all things chemistry is a particular stroke of genius. I find humor in the apparent running gag of black licorice between this episode and Lower Decks episode 2×07, “Where Pleasant Fountains Lie.” Between Tig Notaro here and Amy Sedaris in The Mandalorian, all science fiction shows should be obligated to have one female comedian in the cast.
Tig’s humor balanced with her ability to deliver poignant dialogue is especially powerful. She’s like a disarming, dramatic ninja who makes us drop our defenses wtih humor, then cuts us to the bone with the sword of her dramatic delivery. I’m glad she’s on the ship with Book. Without her, he would’ve been too blind to try to stop Tarka. Here’s hoping they aren’t too late to save all relations with species Ten-C.
Finally, Discovery is consistently solid with their character moments, but there is a lot ot enjoy in “Species Ten-C.” The scream session between Michael and Saru was a small and necessary moment of levity in the episode. Also, GRUDGE! I’ve been missing my favorite space cat. Don’t worry, Grudge. My cat doesn’t like it when I scream either.
In closing, it’s a small reveal, but we finally get an answer to the question raised in episode 3×13 about the original Cleveland Booker. It’s nice to know that the name “Cleveland Booker” is a Dread Pirate Roberts situation as I speculated. Jett calling him “Book the Fifth” gave me a giggle. But even in this small interchange what we learn about Book is that his integrity means everything to him. Keeping his word, doing things by his code of honor, all demonstrate the kind of man he is. I respect someone like that and try to be someone like that. I hope Book shows us that integrity again and helps put a stop to Tarka.
What did you think of “Species Ten-C”? Leave me a comment and let’s talk Trek.
The next episode of Star Trek: Discovery will air on March 17, 2022, on Paramount+.