SpaceX founder Elon Musk hasn’t yet scored a cameo on the Star Trek stage, as fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos did last year, but he won a high-level shout-out on this week’s episode of “Star Trek: Discovery.”
Apparently, Musk will be held in as much esteem as the Wright Brothers and the builder of Earth’s first warp drive, Zefram Cochrane, by the year 2256.
That’s the time frame for “Star Trek: Discovery,” the latest manifestation of the 51-year-old space saga on CBS All Access, the TV network’s streaming video service.
Musk, who celebrated this year’s 14th successful launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket today, gets name-checked during a key scene in Sunday’s episode, during which the captain of the starship Discovery tells the science officer that his careful study of space mushrooms would have to be put aside for a high-risk activation of an experimental “spore drive.”
“How do you want to be remembered in history?” Captain Gabriel Lorca asks. “Alongside the Wright Brothers, Elon Musk, Zefram Cochrane? Or as a failed fungus expert? A selfish little man who put the survival of his own ego before the lives of others?”
Sounds like egos are flaring on “Star Trek.” And there are big egos at work on the 21st century’s space frontier as well. While Musk ls laying out his latest plan for sending thousands of people rocketing to Mars (and to the moon, and around the world), Bezos and his crewmates at the Blue Origin space venture have their hearts set on laying the groundwork for millions of people living and working in space.
TechCrunch took note of the fact that Bezos “doesn’t rate a mention from Lorca among the spaceflight pantheon.” But who knows? Once the Discovery’s crew members deal with a little unpleasantness involving the Klingons, they just might arrange for Amazon Galactic Prime to beam up the dilithium crystals they need.
A big night for @elonmusk #StarTrekDiscovery pic.twitter.com/9xs7noHSXq
— Jordan Hoffman (@jhoffman) October 9, 2017
But what about the show? On one hand, Jordan Hoffman, the critic who first called the Musk mention to attention, says this fourth episode of “Star Trek: Discovery” is the best one yet. On the other hand, “Starts With a Bang” physicist-blogger Ethan Siegel says it’s the worst episode yet.
Who’s right? Will this voyage survive its first streaming season? That all depends on the viewers’ verdict, which can sometimes be, well, illogical. As Mr. Spock once said: “In critical moments, men sometimes see exactly what they wish to see.”