Welcome back to another week where we recap, react to, and ruminate about Star Trek: Discovery Episode 12: “Vaulting Ambition.” This post will contain mild spoilers, so don’t read head until you have watched episode 12.
We are a day early this week because the topic tackled for Star Trek: Discovery episode 12 ruminations are important and I’m so bloody angry. Next week, we should be back to our regularly scheduled Wednesday post.
As with the other posts in this Star Trek: Discovery series, there won’t be a lengthy recap. Instead of we will focus on the basic of what we learn. As before, I’ll be pulling reactions and ruminations from my Star Trek community.
All previous discussions and posts in this series are linked at the end of this article.
Also, be prepared for a certain tone from this writer. A couple things happened this week, filling me with, “What. Ever.”
Star Trek: Discovery Episode 12: “Vaulting Ambitions” Recap
Star Trek: Discovery episode 12 was a short episode, clocking in at 10 minutes under the average normal length.
“Vaulting Ambitions” begins with Burnham and Lorca heading to the emperor’s palace ship. During their voyage, they discuss the redacted Defiant files and Burnham gives Lorca a pain inhibitor, continuing to play into his master plan. Later, Emperor Georgiou reminds us how discovery of the Defiant 100 years ago led to a rebellion.
Mirror Stamets and Prime Stamets are walking in a forest together and then they are on the Discovery, when ghost Culber arrives. What. Ever. Culber confirms he is dead dead, there is no coming back, and what we, the queer community, are supposed to buy as touching is actually depressing AF.
Mirror Stamets uses Prime Stamets to escape the plane of existence in which he is currently trapped. The forest is dead.
In a blink of an eye, how Voq/Tyler was created is explained. Just as quickly, it is undone. At least, that is the assumption after Voq/Tyler switched from speaking Klingon to English and L’Rell did the Klingon death howl. What. Ever.
We learn that in the Mirror Universe, it was Georgiou who adopted Burnham, Mirror Burnham and Lorca were a thing, and what was supposed to be another big ta da moment, but wasn’t, is revealed: Lorca has been Mirror Lorca this whole time.
Star Trek: Discovery Episode 12: “Vaulting Ambitions” Reactions
After episode 12 of Star Trek: Discovery, this week’s discussion thread was relatively quiet. Missing from the discussion were the openly queer people who have participated regularly from week one. I hate making assumptions, but I can only assume it’s because they are just as upset and angry as I am because Aaron Harberts lied to us. GLAAD lied to us. Trust us, they said. BWAHAHAHAHA nope. Sorry, a lot of us are done trusting.
The people who did speak up were filled with, “I liked it but…” There was disappointment over how rushed the post-Voq/Tyler reveal was handled. Thomas Fleming summed it up well:
The way L’Rell screamed, it suggested that she, at least, thinks that Voq is permanently gone. I’d be surprised if that were the case, if only because it would mean that the whole Voq/Tyler plotline didn’t really amount to very much. He was a sleeper agent, went berserk and slightly complicated one mission, and then died.
That’s pretty underwhelming, if there’s not more to it than that.
Some people were genuinely surprised about the whole Lorca thing, even though we discussed it, including talking about the clues, last week. As we’ve discussed a few times, the writers don’t introduce anything unless you’re meant to pay attention. Every detail matters.
After episode 12 of Star Trek: Discovery, the fact the writers don’t waste viewers time drawing attention to things that don’t matter to plot, is the only thing preventing me from rage quitting. One of my biggest pet peeves in writing is when a writer makes you pay attention to a detail for absolutely no reason.
“Vaulting Ambitions” is a Macbeth reference. The phrase is used when discussing Lorca and his vaulting ambitions. During After Trek, they talked about Macbeth and ghosts and the duality that has been explored during season one of Star Trek: Discovery and all I want to do is flip them the bird because they are also talking about themselves.
After episode 10, Aaron Harberts looked us straight in our faces and said, “I’m gay. Trust me. Culber isn’t dead dead and we took great care.” GLAAD made statements. Then we reach episode 12, and Culber tells Stamets that he is dead dead and there is no coming back. THEN, Cruz does an “exclusive” with Den of Geek telling us to continue to trust them here.
We don’t. Or at least, I don’t. I expect better. Currently, I feel that Aaron Harberts has his own wolf inside and his vaulting ambitions have gotten the better of him as he throws the rest of the queer community under the bus for his own gains.
Star Trek: Discovery Episode 12: “Vaulting Ambitions” Ruminations
Last week, we ruminated about hope. This week, I’m just too damned angry and wanted to spend 1000 words telling Harberts, FU. They keep telling us to trust them and there is hope, but not only have the showrunners continuously lied to us for 12 episodes, but they got the actors to do it to.
There are only so many times someone can attempt to throw viewers off the path and blatantly lie in hopes of big reveals that never are, before the fans just stop trusting. Sure, there are a few fans who still have hope, even hope we’ll see Culber alive, but I’m tired.
After the queer community talked for weeks about “Bury Your Gays” and “Stuffed into the Fridge“, cishet people still think this about them. One well-meaning commentator said, “I would like to believe that non-gay couples can identify with them as easily.”
The following isn’t directed at that person because there was more to the dialogue and they are honestly trying to understand. The following is for the rest of the people who, simply, aren’t trying to understand:
This isn’t about you identifying with a queer relationship. This is about us needing a healthy relationship with which we can identify; one that reflects our reality. As for how this should affect cishet people, it’s about normalizing queer relationships and making them no longer “other.” I’ve yet to see a cishet relationship with which I identify because they are cishet and are structured differently.
I don’t know a single queer person who sees a straight relationship on TV and identifies with it because they are not the same (I’m not saying they don’t exist, just saying, I don’t personally know these people). Especially in a day and age where societal gender roles still play a huge role in how a relationship functions and queer relationships have no roadmap.
There is no stereotype for whose job it is to take out the garbage or go grocery shopping or make appointments for the kids, and all the other “mundane” things that make a relationship function. Every single little thing that is just done automatically for straight couples has to be negotiated. There is no default setting here. Queer relationships are for us. Not everything is about you.
We are in happy and healthy relationships—very healthy because everything requires discussion and negotiation to survive—and we need to see that. Stamets and Culber were healthy and happy. But we didn’t get to see it. We were told it. The only times we saw them together after the teeth brushing was when something threatened their relationship and their happiness. We only know they are healthy and so madly in love because of supposition.
As discussed in previous weeks, we’ve seen way more of the cishet couple who have known each other for two seconds. And if Tyler is, in fact, Tyler now forever, the assumption is they’ll get to ride off happily ever after, and Culber is a ghost.
We don’t need cishet couples to relate to us. We need cishet couples to see us and accept us and know us; for it to be safe for a same-sex couple to walk down the street holding hands, instead of quickly stopping when someone walks by.
Maybe you still have hope. I’ve given up on hope in this area. Maybe they’ll turn it around. But after 11 weeks of being lied to during After Trek and through other press, and while I will watch to the bitter end, even if Culber comes back through some super magic and isn’t a ghost, there is no repairing this storyline and how it has been handled in the public forum.
A couple weeks ago, someone asked me the following:
Do you see a breaking point in this arc, where if ____ happened, you’d be done with the show?
We have reached the point of the “blank.” My response then is the same as it is now:
I’ve asked myself that a lot between the events of episode 9 and 10. Star Trek has been my life literally since birth. I haven’t gone a single day without watching an episode of Star Trek. I have watched all the series more times than it is possible to keep track of. I even had a United Federation of Planets wedding where I was Spock and my partner was Kirk. Like, this show was a huge salvation and allowed me to feel like I had a legitimate place in this world.
So, to just turn that off? I’m not sure I can do that. Especially when there is so much I love about this series. I think a better solution is just to continue to demand better especially when the showrunners say they are all queer friendly but then write things that are not. Like, I still don’t buy the “Culber is the smartest so it had to be him and not random straight person.” If it weren’t always the queer person dying to save the straight people, I’d feel differently.
Until next Wednesday, Live Long and Prosper. Or, whatever.
Catch Up With Other Posts in the Star Trek: Discovery Recap, Reactions, and Ruminations Series
Star Trek: Discovery Episodes 1 and 2: Recap, Reactions, and Ruminations: We ruminate about Burnham’s actions as it relates to her past, and how the message of “we come in peace” will not always be received as such.
Star Trek: Discovery Episode 3: Recap, Reactions, and Ruminations: We ruminate about Section 31, the many Starfleet officers who have broken the prime direction, and Alice in Wonderland.
Star Trek: Discovery Episode 4: Recap, Reactions, and Ruminations: We ruminate about Captain Lorca and his requirement for unquestioning loyalty and the consequences; blindly following orders versus challenging them.
Star Trek: Discovery Episode 5: Recap, Reactions, and Ruminations: We ruminate about the times some of our favorite captains did extremely questionable and unethical things, and how it related to Lorca.
Star Trek: Discovery Episode 6: Recap, Reactions, and Ruminations: We ruminate about the effects of surviving trauma, C-PSTD, PTSD, and how it relates to Burnham and Lorca.
Star Trek: Discovery Episode 7: Recap, Reactions, and Rumination: We ruminate about relationships in the context of Burnham and why the interpersonal relationships amongst the crew seem to be so important to fans
Star Trek: Discovery Episode 8: Recap, Reactions, and Ruminations: We ruminate about the real-world implications of war and PTSD and how this reality is reflected in Star Trek: Discovery.
Star Trek: Discovery Episode 9: Recap, Reactions, and Ruminations: We ruminate about trauma and the difference in how the cishet couple is treated compared to the queer couple.
Star Trek: Discovery Episode 10: Recap, Reactions, and Ruminations: We ruminate about how heartbreaking it is to see the “Bury Your Gays” trope in Star Trek.