new Star Trek Continues! E07: “Embrace the Winds”

This might be my favorite episode yet, partly because the issue it is grappling with is one that would have been right at home during the original series 50 years ago, and yet one that is, sadly, still something we haven’t got past yet today.

And in the Star Trek Continues tradition, guest stars from the Trek universe as well as the larger community of sci-fi TV include Erin Gray and Marina Sirtis.

Watch previous episodes here.

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Sun, Sep 04, 2016 3:33pm

I love the theme of the episode. I love most of the performances. I cannot say I love the episode, however because of the sheer number of WTH? (I’m keeping it clean) moments throughout. I’ll cherry pick: Starfleet apparently has only two officers ready to become captain. WTH? Adm Gray congratulates Spock on his new command literally seconds before taking back the honor — oh, there’s a challenge! WTH? The first woman considered to command a Connie is… obviously unstable. WTH? A bridge console has no circuit-breakers, causing Chekov to (once again) be that guy who gets hurt on the bridge. WTH? The main thing here is that the producers have given us an episode with an A plot and a B plot, both of which offer no real resolution. Garrett is a terrible candidate and her impassioned Kirk-like speech is not repayment for Starfleet’s mistake in even considering a litigious, contentious, squirrely person (of any gender!!) for command. Why not Uhura (#4 in command on the Enterprise) or any of the ranking women officers from the 7 remaining Connie starships? Meanwhile, the mystery of The Hood goes unsolved (leading to the almost comical moment of Spock getting command pulled out from under him for a second time.) I know they’re trying for a long arc; they mentioned the shortage of ships in the last episode, too. So, after 42 minutes, we the audience come away with nuthin’ much. I also wish wish wish they would stop using Michele Specht to fill the emotional role that Bones is meant to play in Trek; she needs to find her own niche in the Trek universe. Did I blink, or did Chuck Haber literally get only two words in this whole episode? On the plus side, the technical skills in pulling off one of these eps is no small feat, and this crew has got it down. The set, direction, lighting, and all the thousands of little details that make or break a dip into fantasy/sci-fi are all there in good working order. The cast seems comfortable around each other. Vic has considerable screen presence, as does Chris. I wish the writing were a little stronger, but I certainly have and will continue to urge fans to check out all of these episodes.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  CmdrR
Mon, Sep 05, 2016 12:43pm

Starfleet apparently has only two officers ready to become captain.

Did anyone say that? It seems to me that these two were the ones considered best for the job.

The first woman considered to command a Connie is… obviously unstable.

Er, what? She’s defensive, maybe… which is perfectly understandable if she feels she is being held to a standard a man would not be held to, or being scrutinized closer than a man would be.

Garrett is a terrible candidate


reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Sep 05, 2016 5:15pm

It may be difficult to separate the issue from the performance — which is a problem I have with this episode. I would much rather they had focused on ensuring equality among the genders. Instead, this ep gives us an important question but a weak character to champion that cause.
At 4:20ish, Admr Gray says she knows of only one candidate who’s suited to assume command of the Hood. Later, after learning of a lawsuit, she amends that to two. Again, how big is Starfleet?? Wouldn’t there be hundreds who want the job and dozens who are qualified at any given time?
Garrett — as written, directed, and portrayed — is indeed defensive and squirrely. Someone who’s faced the fire and survived… and who has command qualities… would not then be evasive in her answers. She’s also visibly uneasy. That may be the portrayal. I’m not at all saying there shouldn’t be women in command of Connies in Trek. I’m saying this character is intentionally presented as untrustworthy… look again at the sequence around 27:30. Kirk says he’d like to see a woman command, just not this woman. I agree.
Anyway, the ep is still a fun diversion on a Labor Day Weekend!

reply to  CmdrR
Fri, Sep 09, 2016 4:53pm

“Kirk says he’d like to see a woman command, just not this woman.”

I almost wondered if this was supposed to be a Hillary Clinton commentary (in much the same way that scuttling the Farragut seemed to be a commentary on the shutdown of fanfilms in the wake of the Axanar lawsuit).

reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Fri, Sep 09, 2016 4:52pm

I think that’s the problem. The episode almost posits a ‘sexist conspiracy’- ‘everyone is sexist secretly, some people don’t even realize it, any negative performance by this woman is automatically an artifact of the bias of her male sexist reviewers.’ It kind of depends on whether you buy into that as to whether Garrett is a strong, capable officer who has been harassed and gotten defensive about it (and been part of numerous incongruously-inept sounding incidents where she basically pled the 5th), or an incompetent officer that shirks responsibility for her shortcomings and blames it on a made-up bias against her (who has an incongruously-good service record despite being filled with questionable incidents, and has been awarded several times).

Unfortunately, we’re given no solid basis to make a judgement on which is true, save for her brief meeting with Kirk (where she becomes suddenly unreasonable and then goes to file a complaint over almost-literally nothing; hence why I- and probably CmdrR gravitate toward the latter assumption). Yet all of her impassioned speeches are based almost solely on the fact that she is a perfect officer that has been subject to a conspiracy-like bias, which is responsible not only for questions about her record, but also for her own questionable behavior in after-actions reports AND her own short-tempered, reactionary personality.

Unfortunately, at this point, you’ve either bought this massive conspiracy and excuse her shortcomings as the product of her circumstances, or you haven’t bought this and she sounds like she’s just trying to blame all her own shortcomings on an invented galactic conspiracy. Now, maybe that’s the point- you have to decide which you believe- but the claims seem to be so far-reaching, and her own actions so discourteous and reactionary, that it seems to me like it requires some significant solid evidence that her claims are actually true in order to counterbalance the only evidence we *are* given- her own ‘potentially-justified’ actions and personality.

Basically… it doesn’t really work for some viewers, I think, because it posits a position that requires a massive leap of faith and has no substantiation, and seems possibly at odds with her portrayal, in order to actually be the ‘who is really correct here?’ dilemma they seem to want it to be.

Mon, Sep 05, 2016 2:39pm

It was odd in this episode to see how Uhura was directed. When the salvage team goes to the Hood, Scotty and the two male officers are non-plussed at the dead bodies. Uhura and the other female officer flinch and are visibly distressed. Ditto the scene between Uhura and Scotty — the female officer is in need of support/reassurance from the male officer. It felt odd given the message of the episode.

reply to  AllenW
Mon, Sep 05, 2016 5:19pm

Leaving the dead bodies laying around seemed odd. If the boarding party was on the Hood for hours, I think Scotty would have ordered the red shirts to move the corpses to some storage locker somewhere. It’s also the first time we’ve seen any Trek character make a face over the ‘smell’ of death.

Jess Haskins
Jess Haskins
Tue, Sep 06, 2016 12:50am

Wow, I didn’t think we would be getting another one of these after the Paramount smackdown. That also seemed pretty quick since the last one came out. I wonder if Star Trek Continues will, in fact, continue?

Although there are plenty of faults, these fan episodes are always a treat. Mignogna does a convincing Kirk, and I’m even starting to warm to Haberkorn as Spock. As a side note, I had to look up Erin Gray…she seems pretty cool, and I could tell she was one of the pros.

This might be one of my favorites of this series, although I do pretty much agree with all of CmdrR’s points. I love a good Starfleet procedural, and I appreciated the token nod toward redeeming Turnabout Intruder and its depressing implications. But I suppose this means that this episode will immediately be invalidated as soon as we get a woman captain in a prequel, like maybe Discovery…

reply to  Jess Haskins
Fri, Sep 09, 2016 4:55pm

I always thought that Turnabout Intruder was much better redeemed by assuming (as fandom often did) ‘Janet Lester was delusional and assumed her own inability to get a command because of mental instability was in fact because of her gender because she couldn’t acknowledge there was something wrong with her as an individual.’

In that way, actually… kind of completely like Commander Garrett came off, to me.

Fri, Sep 09, 2016 5:41pm

I just… couldn’t really get a handle on this one. At times, I was behind what it had to say; at times, I couldn’t disagree more. It felt difficult to pin down, because the episode itself didn’t know what it wanted to say- or knew, but didn’t know how to effectively communicate it. I think my difficulties were:

-The aforementioned disconnect between Garret’s portrayal and supposed(?) persecution; there were too many inconsistencies no matter which way you looked at it. If there were these many questionable incidents and evasive after-action responses in her record, why was she thought so highly of in the first place? If she was so highly decorated and lauded, why were these ancient issues still coming up as if they were relevant to her performance?

-The aforementioned ‘sexist conspiracy.’ After the conversation with McKena, the message of the episode basically seemed to be ‘Yeah, basically everyone is sexist, some people just don’t realize it.’

-Similarly, that entire scene was… just nonsense. Mckena suddenly suggests she was the victim of this secret sexism (even though she’d never thought so before), and even practically accused Spock of it. She even ended by asking ‘Would these same questions be raised… if she were a male?’ (at which point I groaned aloud, both for the stupidity of the question and the outright cliche). Considering that the answer was a resounding ‘Yes, actually,’ it makes her whole scene come off as bizarrely paranoid and full of hot air, since it was building to a (seeming) conclusion of false indictment to Spock and false exoneration of Garret on the flimsiest of pretenses.

-What was with the sudden bigoted attacks against Spock by his fellow Vulcan? It felt as if I had strayed into the first 15 minutes of Star Trek (2009) without warning. The guy just suddenly starts attacking Spock about having emotions (which Garrett also does, incidentally, so this is an issue why exactly…?) and seemingly trying to prove that Spock is unfit for reasons of Vulcan racial/emotional purity, or something? I don’t understand why neither of the other two officers turned to him and asked ‘Dude, what the heck is WRONG with you?’ this would have been a perfect opportunity for Kirk’s ‘leave your bigotry in our quarters, mister’ line… yet no one calls the guy on it. It just felt out-of-place, and very random in the way it’s all-but-ignored by the other two (save a tacit objection by Kirk that hardly addresses the underlying problem with this absolutely unjustified, out-of-nowhere vendetta!)

-This may be my personal politics only, but the notion that ‘It’s time for a woman to be the captain (just not this one)’ is as idiotic as ‘It’s time for only men to be the captain.’ No, dimwit- it’s time for *whoever is best at the job* to be captain; it’s just time for it not to matter what gender, race, religion, etc. that person happens to be. Specifically targeting a gender/race/religion, etc., and saying ‘The next one must be this’ is condescending and short-sighted; that would be, in essence, unfair bias against Spock’s candidacy. The absence of racism/sexism/intolerance is not saying ‘Look, we gave one of the OTHER ones a try, see how enlightened we are!’ It’s honestly not caring one way or another who gets in- on individual merit alone- because the differences no longer matter.

-Similarly, I couldn’t stand Garrett’s ‘not answering the question’- because honestly, her answer is ‘Yes, people should get special treatment, as long as it’s in compensation for past poor treatment.’ Again, this may just be me- but to me, this is an absurd sentiment that opens up an enormous can of logistical worms (For what duration? Who decides what requires compensation for? What will be done to make sure it doesn’t just end up as reverse-inequality to ‘punish’ the previous beneficiaries of the arrangement?), and also means, in essence, that it is a tacit endorsement of preferential treatment based on gender/race/religion/etc.- the very thing that CAUSED the previous inequality… it’s just an endorsement based on ‘the principle is sound, as long as the application meets my personal standards,’ which is a standard very ripe for abuse.

-The line about a Garrett Captaining an Enterprise was painfully contrived. If it had been ‘the Enterprise,’ it at least would have helped. As it was, it sounded unnatural just for the sake of a prescient wink-and-a-nod. It reminded me of the horrific ‘Reed Alert’ joke from Enterprise.

-The Tellarite ambassador scene was abrupt, trite, silly, amateurish, and almost-pointless.

That said, there were some positives. The opening scene in the shuttle, while a little clumsy, had some good characterization- and I thought Mckenna’s line about ‘perhaps too much,’ addressing the polarization and hatred in our modern culture over social change issues and the aggressive way they’re handled, was a nice subtlety amidst an otherwise-clumsy exchange.

The Starbase looked magnificent, and the shots out the window were spectacularly-tracked; they looked absolutely natural.

Erin Grey did an excellent job in this one; indeed, the actors were top notch.

The message, while very clumsy and confused in execution, was of course a good one.

Checkov ending scene in sickbay was a good one, too.

Lastly, Kirk was very well-served by this episode; he was a passionate defender of equality, but also willing to accept that the bias might not be the widespread thing Garrett claimed- or, that a mix of the two might be true, rather than simply blaming everything on bias (as Garrett did). Yet he was passionate about rooting out that bias where he could; expressed disbelief that this issue even still exists, and was very dedicated to giving Garrett a fair shake as a person, rather than letting the politics of the situation sway him in either direction. His continuing bafflement as the situation developed and escalated seemed to serve as an audience-surrogate, sitting at home and looking at so many of these news stories about unequal pay and the like in modern culture and asking aloud ‘How is this even still a thing???’

Basically, for this one… heart in the right place, but poor execution and an unclear message (or a clear message muddled but an unintentional message to the contrary) keep it from being all that it could’ve been. (For me, at least).

Jess Haskins
Jess Haskins
reply to  Zarm
Sat, Sep 10, 2016 1:56pm

The “would these questions still be raised if she were a man” bit was one of the few parts that made sense to me, and showed why Garrett dug in and refused to provide any more answers than “it was investigated, and I wasn’t charged, and the record is sealed.” It makes her seem more untrustworthy, defensive, and like she’s implicating herself with her silence, but I think that’s part of the point—it was resolved and the matter closed, and so it’s unfair to dredge it up if she has an otherwise admirable record, and unfair to hold her silence against her.

The Vulcan admiral’s racial purity line of questioning aside (someone had to be against Spock so that Kirk could be the tie vote, so I guess they decided to make him a bigot who would cast Spock as a race traitor or something), no one was opening up similar closed chapters in Spock’s record—like asking him about that time he mutinied and commandeered the Enterprise, or the time he almost murdered his captain in hand-to-hand combat. Those are suspicious incidents as well, but he was investigated, he wasn’t charged, and the matter was closed.

It makes me think of incidents like when certain women become targets of the alt-right, who dig up dirt about them and spread it around and go to their employers and try to get them fired (and sometimes succeed). These people aren’t perfect and sometimes have secrets or details about their private lives that would be grounds for dismissal, but it never would have come up if they weren’t subject to unequal scrutiny in the first place.

Even though it’s dramatically unsatisfying, I suspect that’s why we never do learn the truth about the mysterious incident in Garrett’s record—because we’re not even supposed to be asking.

(It sounds like I’m fully behind this episode, but yes… I definitely agree with almost all of your points above. Very well put. ST Continues is making a habit of doing classic 60’s-style “morality episodes,” but then seriously confusing the theme and mangling the moral…)

reply to  Jess Haskins
Fri, Sep 16, 2016 5:57pm

I think for me, it was more that McKenna was asking the question of Spock- as if he could potentially be dubious about these issues on sexist grounds- was what rang very false to me. It gave the thing more of a conspiracy flavor, like I said- ‘maybe even YOU’re in on it and don’t realize it because you’re man,’ to the character who is driven by logic and is probably the most impartial individual there… I dunno, it just didn’t work for me. It felt like it was overreaching.

Also, I got the impression from the dialogue that Garrett had actually ‘plead the fifth’ on multiple occasions, to the point at which- even though it couldn’t legally be considered an admission of guilt- it raised eyebrows over why someone would choose to answer at all.

Also, much as the matter may have been sealed, it makes sense that you’re going to dig a little deeper into the psychology and choices of a potential captain with hundreds of lives under their responsibility… so to me, a refusal to get into it because ‘the case was closed’ just didn’t hold water. Yeah, sure, she was cleared of wrongdoing- but this thing is a part of her past, and it’s a valid part of considering anyone for command to look at their past actions and mindset; it’s a whole different avenue of investigation. The difference between whether an Ensign or Lieutenant made a mistake under the circumstances or not, and whether a Captain has the fortitude and split-second decision-making abilities to sit in the big chair. (Much the way that, say, Troi’s unwillingness to order a man to his death was never an issue or consideration for her to become a counselor or enter the service… but once she entered a potential command situation, that aspect of her psyche had to be evaluated more closely).

You make a good point about Spock; honestly, the episode would have been stronger if those incidents had been called up rather than the random line of inquiry that we did get. I don’t know that it strengthens Garrett’s case; or if so, only in a roundabout way- not that they were being too tough on her, but rather that they weren’t being tough enough on Spock. (Or were being, but in a bizarrely inappropriate manner).

And I do get what you’re saying; that the unequal scrutiny is the issue. I just think it got muddled because ANY captaincy candidate should get that scrutiny. It’s more of a ‘the jury let him off because he was rich’ (too lenient to the guy) style of inequality rather than the ‘they treated him fairly but her unfairly’ (too harsh to the gal) style I think they were going for. If that makes any sense.

Then again, I had to watch Lolani twice for it to click what it was actually ‘about’ (with a heavily increased awareness of the worldwide sex slave trafficking abomination in-between the two viewings), so I will give this one credit based on past precedence that maybe there’s something there- something that focuses what seems to be like sloppy messaging- that I’m just not astute enough to perceive yet. It’s happened before. :-)