Fans of a long-running science fiction show that takes place in space gathered Friday at 2:30PM in the Hilton Galleria 2-3 to discuss the latest installment. It was an opportunity to delve into what we liked, what we wish was better, and what we hope for whenever we can get more of it.
A lot of the discussion focused on the musical episode, “Subspace Rhapsody.” It was almost universally liked by the people that chose to comment on it. The songs are good songs. Fans are learning all the words, listening to the cast recording on Spotify over and over. Part of what makes the episode work is that it is sophistically constructed like an actual musical with character-driven songs. There is also an internal awareness during the episode that the characters are suddenly singing instead of speaking, which grounds it in reality. It is similar to the episode of the vampire-slaying television series episode “Once More, With Feeling,” which partially inspired it. One fan also noted that they fell off the couch laughing when the Klingons appeared and started singing a K-pop style song instead of the, perhaps predictable, Klingon opera.
There was also a lot of love given to the crossover episode with Lower Decks, “Those Old Scientists.” Fans commented on how important it was for the voice actors to have been cast as the live-action versions of themselves, bringing all their knowledge and experience of the characters to the performance. But as funny and weird as the episode was, it was also poignant. Boimler and Mariner stand in for all of us, fanboying and fangirling over the crew of the Enterprise the way we would. Importantly, it also gives us one of the most touching call-backs to one of the best episodes of the season “Ad Astra Per Aspera.”
It was generally agreed that this episode was one for the best Trek episodes that the current series has done, featuring the trial of Commander Una Chin-Riley. She was court-martialed for lying and hiding her Illyrian origins from Starfleet. The episode tackled issues of civil rights and the slow march toward justice, ultimately allowing Una to be reinstated into her position as Number One on the Enterprise. When Boimler meets Number One, he’s so intimidated by her that he runs away. Mariner reveals that Boimler has a poster of her in his locker, but Una takes it the wrong way. Finally, Una can’t take it and asks him what it is about her future that he doesn’t want to tell her. He reveals that Una was literally the face of Starfleet with her face on the recruiting poster and the words that were so important to her: ad astra per aspera.
To go from “you’re not allowed to be in Starfleet because of who you are” to being the literal poster child, is a journey that a lot of fans connected with.
There were a lot of references to instances of “ugly crying” in reaction to one episode or another, especially “Under the Cloak of War,” which dealt heavily with depictions of PTSD. It is good to know that a franchise that’s been around for more than 50 years can still touch people and tell relevant, important stories.