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Star Trek: Discovery – The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry (Review)

The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry represents another attempt to reconcile one of the central tensions of Star Trek: Discovery, the conflict that exists between the expectations of a Star Trek series and the demands of a piece of prestige television. It frequently feels like there is a tug of war between these two competing impulses within the series, and the production team are trying desperately to find the right balance between these two very different storytelling models.

Much like Context is for Kings, the basic story at the heart of The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry is quintessential Star Trek plotting. The contours of the plot will be recognisable to any viewer with even a passing familiarity with the narrative structures and templates of the larger Star Trek franchise. At the same time, a lot of the episode’s finer details are more recognisable as the hallmarks of contemporary prestige television. The result is a piece of television that tells a very simplistic Star Trek in a manner that feels somewhat dissonant.

Hanging out with the Kol kids.

There is an awkwardness to The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry, a sense that the creative team are still working out the proverbial kinks. Much like the engineering and science staff on the Discovery itself, the production team are creating something new and exciting, but something without a clear precedent or blueprint. Discovery often struggles to properly mix its constituent elements, some of its narrative choices feeling clumsy and others struggling to mesh with the story being told.

At the same time, like Context is for Kings before it, The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry is an episode that exists primarily to reassure viewers that Discovery is still fundamentally Star Trek, no matter the production design or the prestige trappings. However, Discovery is investing so much time in proving that it is Star Trek, that it is still searching for its own clear voice.

Resting uneasy.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Masks by John Vornholt (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

Generally, I’ve been looking at novels and tie-ins that are specifically or thematically related to specific episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s a valid approach to writing about the show, searching out material that expands or develops themes and concepts and characters lightly touched upon during the episode in question. However, some times it is also worth taking time out to look at what was happening in tie-in fiction at approximately the same time.

Obviously, the scripts written by writers working on the show were the result of a careful creative process drawing input from the writers in general, the producers and the studio. They were crafted with a key eye to shaping the future direction of the show, by the people working on the show. Looking at official tie-in material from the same time allows us to venture a bit outside that circle, and to get a glimpse of what The Next Generation might have looked like to a creator outside the writers’ room as it was going to air.

Masks was published in July 1989, after Shades of Grey had aired and the second season had limped off the screen. While author John Vornholt obviously could not have seen the whole season on submitting his novel, it is interesting to get his view of the sci-fi spin-off in its sophomore season.


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