On Sunday, Star Trek: Discovery set phasers to stun. During the series' fifth episode, "Choose Your Pain," Cadet Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) delivered the first F-bomb in more than a half-century of Trek, and fans are shaken to their warp core.
The USS Discovery's science officers needed to find a way to use the spore drive, which allows the ship to teleport across the galaxy, without killing an alien creature linked with it. Tilly describes a potential solution as "so fucking cool."
She immediately apologizes to Lieutenant Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) for her coarse language, but Stamets concurs with her assessment, offering a of his own.
Fans React To The First F-Bomb In Star Trek History
It was a jarring moment — as if Patrick Stewart had casually walked onto the Enterprise bridge with a toupée, or William Shatner without one — and #StarTrek fans took to Twitter in a state of bafflement:
The majority of tweets expressed similar levels of shock. However, some fans were OK with it, applauding the realistic new tone:
"It was so unrealistic for #StarTrekDiscovery to have a crewmember drop an f-bomb; no one in our navy/armed forces EVER curses," joked Twitter user @DoctorLongscarf.
'Star Trek: Discovery' Cast And Crew Explain The Decision
While the PG-13 Trek movies have featured the words "goddamnit" and "bullshit," the CBS All Access streaming platform allows for Netflix- and HBO-style creative freedom. As co-showrunner Aaron Harberts told Entertainment Weekly:
“Every writer’s impulse when you get to work on the streaming shows with no parameters is to go crazy. But then you look at things like: How does nudity play on Trek? Eh, it feels weird. How does a lot of [profanity] on Trek? Not so great. Are there moments where it merits it that we’re trying to push here and there? I would say we’re trying to push more by having the type of complicated messed-up characters who aren’t necessarily embraced on broadcast.”
Anthony Rapp, who is now the Buzz Aldrin of Star Trek F-bombs, pointed to the positive context of the scene, which reflects Trek's optimistic legacy:
"These people just put their brains to work in a really tough way and they had a breakthrough. And I imagine there are scientists in their labs who might do that any time. We didn’t drop the F-bomb in Star Trek by telling somebody to go fuck themselves. We did it by saying, ‘this is f—ing cool.'”
Personally, I love Star Trek and I love profanity in much the same way that I do pickles and ice cream: not at the same time. However, so far Star Trek: Discovery captures Trek's cadences, spirit, diversity and philosophical quandaries, so it's already earned the right to push a few boundaries. Even if you hope that Discovery is done with F-bombs after this episode, you have to admit that it was pretty ... well ... fascinating. (Now that's an F-word Trekkers can agree on.)
What do you think about Star Trek: Discovery dropping Starfleet's first F-bomb? Make your voice heard in the comments below!