Mark Watches ‘Short Treks’: S02E03 – Ask Not / S02E04 – Ephraim and Dot

In the third episode of the second season of Short Treks, a cadet faces a terrible choice. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

I love that Short Treks can introduce new characters to us this way because it doesn’t have the same expectations as an episode of Discovery. It’s possible that in season three, I’ll get to see more of Sidhu, and this was acting as an introduction to her. But even if that’s not the case, I’m glad that we’re still getting these explorations. In a sense, this episode went hand-in-hand with the previous one. Both are about different characters’ first time coming to Enterprise. In this case, though, Cadet Sidhu’s actions earned her a place on the ship.

This is the shortest Short Treks thus far, but it’s a stressful experience. It took a full viewing to appreciate one thing the show managed to accomplish with Cadet Sidhu’s story: that the tension derived not just from the urgency of the situation, but our knowledge of Captain Pike. Cadet Sidhu is asked to keep watch over a mutineer, who is revealed to be the captain of the Enterprise. She is aware of his reputation, enough that she is quite shocked when he’s left behind with her. But those of us in the audience have a different relationship with Pike. As he ran through the various reasons why it was ethically acceptable for Sidhu to let him go, it was very easy to believe him. This is what he does, right? Even the story he told sounded like one of the many shenanigans he’d gotten into during season two. 

So, on some level, that’s the point of the test. For Sidhu, he seems to be making sense, the story he tells is believable, and there’s a compelling reason to believe that the charge of mutiny is a mistake. For us, it’s just flat-out unbelievable. Captain Pike wouldn’t actually do something that reckless and careless! He must have done something right! FREE HIM!!!!

In hindsight, I should have figured this out when Captain Pike began to bring in the personal details of Sidhu’s life as a persuasion/manipulation tactic. That actually isn’t very much like Pike at all, but in the moment, I interpreted it as him remembering Sidhu and her husband. All of it, though, was a methodical means of testing Sidhu’s willingness to stick to Starfleet protocol. That’s where Cadet Sidhu shined, and I loved getting to see her come into her own in “Ask Not.” Every time Pike brought a new argument to her, she was able to quickly and succinctly shoot him down.

In the video for this episode, you’ll see the exact moment where I put it together that this was probably not real. As soon as Pike threatened Sidhu, everything came into focus: Was this the actual Pike or something else? Oh, he was very much real (AND HAD A LIVE PHASER POINTED AT HIM), but the simulation was not. I did also appreciated that Pike VERY quickly acknowledged that this simulation was not just intense, but potentially triggering for Sidhu specifically, since she and her husband had been the sole survivors of a Tholian attack before. It did bring up a lot of questions on my end, though. Like… do they do this for other cadets? Are simulations part of training or the application process? Are they always this intense???

Anyway, this was another fun episode and an intriguing look at a part of this process we otherwise wouldn’t have seen. Bravo!

The video for “Ask Not” can be downloaded here for $0.99.


In the fourth episode of Short Treks, THIS WAS TOO CUTE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Short Treks continues to prove that it is not bound by any sort of rules, and that includes rules of the medium. As I said on video, I fully did not expect that there would be an animated episode of the show. It fits perfectly with the story, too! This “educational” video turns into a wacky (though later distressing) journey following a tardigrade as they try to locate the ideal place to lay their eggs. Throughout the episode, there are countless references to the style of Looney Tunes. There’s lots of slapstick as Ephraim (I assume that was the tardigrade’s name?) and Dot robot clash with one another, both of them attempting to protect what is important to them. That’s the most interesting part of this wonderful episode, at least for me. Ephraim is trying her hardest to find a warm, protected spot to lay her eggs, and as we see throughout the episode, she’s willing to do anything to keep her eggs safe. But that is what makes this conflict what it is: The Dot robot is ALSO doing whatever it can to keep the Enterprise safe!

The two forces collide and misinterpret one another over the course of an episode that is somehow less than ten minutes long, yet manages to span almost the ENTIRE history of the Enterprise. We see the early days of the ship, all the way to its self destruction. (Which I believe was in one of the films, yes? My memory of canon isn’t always that great, since it’s spread out over such a long period of time.) There’s something both deeply funny AND deeply touching about the idea that Ephraim and Dot went at it for YEARS. Literal years! The whole time, each thought they were doing what was right for them (which they were), until a dramatic twist forced them into a very, very Trek conclusion. At the heart of “Ephraim and Dot” is a sense of care, so it was touching to see Dot care for the recently hatched tardigrade babies. Dot was programmed to protect anyway! With a shift in perspective, both Dot and Ephraim are able to understand what the other character was ACTUALLY trying to do, and then they become best friends??? I want all of their adventures? Animated? In a 10 episode mini-series???? Who needs a buddy cop adventure when you have THIS???

This was also a blast. Y’all, I remain forever thankful that I was told to watch Short Treks. These rule so much!!!

The video for “Ephraim and Dot” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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