Jason Isaacs and the Six-Dollar Seduction
By Alexa Day
My longest, most functional relationship is with Star Trek. We’ve been together since I was a teenager. We got through the frosty cynicism of my college years together. I stood by it through the worst of the movies and the first unsteady steps of The Next Generation.
Star Trek is my heart. It’s my family.
So when I found out that we were getting a brand new Star Trek television series, I felt a deep, warming joy that sustained me through some pretty dark times. The rest of the world might be going to hell, but new Star Trek was coming, and it would be here every week. Constant production delays didn’t bother me. Weird staff changes didn’t bother me. I just thought of Sonequa Martin-Green and Michelle Yeoh together, on the bridge of a starship. How could this be wrong? How could anything ever be wrong again?
At or around the last minute, CBS said they were going to put the new Star Trek behind a paywall. We could have those first two episodes for free. After that, new Star Trek was going to cost six dollars a month.
I had a little mental argument with CBS.
Me: Six dollars?
CBS: Well, it’s not that much in the larger scheme of things.
Me: That isn’t the point. Six dollars might not be much, but it’s more than I’m used to paying for CBS, which is zero.
CBS: Look, Alexa, we think you’re going to be cool with giving us the six dollars.
Me: That isn’t really the point, either. Star Trek is my family. You know how Star Trek people are. We’re going to give you the six dollars.
CBS: Oh, good.
Me: But then we need to ride you about it. I can’t just give you six dollars on a silver platter. You need to work for it. Otherwise, you get things like Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan.
CBS: I thought we were done talking about that.
Me: I did, too, but now you want six dollars. What is my six dollars for? What are you doing to earn six dollars?
CBS: You get Sonequa Martin-Green for an hour a week for six dollars. Sonequa plus Star Trek. That’s good for six dollars, right?
Me: I’m not giving you six dollars for Sonequa. Look, I saw the first two episodes. Sonequa is turning it out as Michael Burnham. She’s a brilliant badass with a tough past and big trouble in her future. I’ve seen some of that before, with The Walking Dead. They didn’t want six dollars.
CBS: Right, but —
Me: Plus, I think you could put Sonequa and her brilliant badassery into any of those free shows. Seal Team 40. NCIS: Des Moines. Washington Crisis Mode. Whatever. So if I pay you six dollars for Sonequa, that’s like saying it’s okay that she’s not on the actual network for free. That’s not okay.
CBS: Okay. How about the effects? That stuff’s expensive.
Me: Dude, I’m not crowdfunding your special effects. Star Trek is about making more with less. Grab a salt shaker and make us use our imaginations. Seriously, what is the money for?
CBS: What do you want it to be for?
Me: Well, in an ideal world, I want you to surprise me. I want to be excited to give you six dollars. I want to do a giddy little dance when I give it to you. I want to lie awake in bed, wondering when I can give you six dollars. I want to be seduced. Seduce me into giving you six dollars.
I really did not think Star Trek: Discovery would seduce me into paying six dollars a month to watch a single television show. I didn’t think Star Trek could seduce me at all anymore. This is what happens in these long-term relationships. The fire dies, and it’s just familiarity and requests for six dollars.
But then something special happened. On Sunday, Star Trek seduced me.
It’s all spoilers from the music video to the end. Proceed with caution.
I was told that Jason Isaacs would be in Star Trek: Discovery quite some time ago. I admit, I was distracted by Sonequa and Michelle. I didn’t know any better. And those tiny photos on my phone make a lot of people look the same. So I was not really ready for Jason’s entrance as Captain Lorca toward the beginning of episode three, “Context Is For Kings.”
He has a way of occupying the darkened room. That voice is an invitation. And those eyes. Hmm.
Later, I took this question to my esteemed colleagues at Lady Smut: “Where has Jason Isaacs been hiding his fine self all this time? I know nothing.”
Madeline Iva responded that most people who have not been under a rock like me recognize Jason as Lucius Malfoy from the Harry Potter movies. So apparently, he’s spent part of this time hiding his fine self underneath that wig. I’m glad we rectified that. For six dollars, the absolute least I expect to see is a man’s face.
Kiersten Hallie Krum provided me with a syllabus. I cleared a Saturday on my calendar for tax-deductible research, so that I can better work FOR YOU. Then I returned to the man who is going to earn that six dollars.
Back to the darkened room. The six-dollar seduction awaits.
1. The mystery. Michael Burnham meets her next commanding officer in the dark because his gorgeous eyes are sensitive to changes in the light level. He’s more comfortable in the dark. He says he thinks it adds an air of mystery to him. It’s working. He’s got mystery in spades, and charm to go with it. But all that charm has a predatory undercurrent. The mood lighting and the man himself create a subtle tension. It’s hard to look away and dangerous to get too close, and Michael keeps up her end of the dance, sliding away as he advances toward her.
This is not a very Star Trek thing to do. There are only a handful of Star Trek captains, and we usually know everything we need to know about them within minutes of being introduced. Captain Lorca is not a complete mystery — he feels dangerous. Immediately. Still, this is a new experience. I want to know more … but maybe not this second. Maybe right now, I just want to enjoy the danger and not know what happens next.
2. The Innocent Look. Michael was on her way to prison with some other inmates, when her shuttle was picked up by her new captain in the middle of a storm. Michael is no fool. She suggests that her encounter with Captain Lorca’s ship is not entirely coincidental.
His response to this implication is a prize-winning Innocent Look. Me? I rescued you and your trashy prison friends from a storm. What are you suggesting? He glides smoothly from injury to confusion to offense, without being too genuine. If we had a hint before that the man was trouble, the Innocent Look is confirmation.
I like trouble. Trouble is where the real story starts. But mostly, I’m into the dirty, tangled potential of it.
3. The Wanting and the Getting. It’s not that Captain Lorca won’t take no for an answer. Michael spent much of the episode saying no to him, and he’d listen and nod and let her come all the way to the end of what she was saying. But he’s used to getting what he wants. He’s good with just pulling rank if he has to — and with Michael, he had to, at least the first time. The second time, he had to seduce her.
Not like that. I’d have paid CBS sixty dollars for that, and you would be reading a very different column.
The captain seduces Michael in a very traditional way. He reassures her that he already knows everything about her, including whatever flaws she thinks she is hiding. He identifies something she wants. He shows her that he has something she wants. And then he waits for her to reach for it.
It’s not sexual in this instance, but practiced seduction always has a sexual undertone. That’s worth my six dollars.
4. The fearlessness. Captain Lorca is described by his first officer as “a man who does not fear the things normal people fear.” Trek nerds like me get a quick glimpse of that right away; the captain has exactly one tribble on his desk, not far away from food. But there are less subtle clues. Michael is on her way to prison because she’s been convicted of mutiny. She assaulted her last captain in order to take command of the ship. Her belief system is the mirror opposite of Captain Lorca’s. But he knows everything about her, and he must know a similar showdown is imminent. He’s just not worried about it. That means Michael is going to get a long overdue comeuppance, or her captain is in for a big surprise. Either might be worth six dollars.
5. Who is we? So I’ll be honest. By the end of the episode, I was still a little conflicted about giving up my hard earned six dollars. How do I know Jason Isaacs and his delightfully wicked character won’t go the same way as Michelle Yeoh’s Captain Georgiou? (If you were going to spend six dollars to see Michelle, you can maybe hang on to it. Sorry. I wish I had better news.)
I think CBS knew I was having some doubts. But seduction is about anticipating resistance and acting on the other person’s hesitation. So they waited until the last few minutes to make a play for my money.
Star Trek has historically been a little short on sex appeal. Sure, the new universe has its share of pretty faces, and Chris Pine’s Jim Kirk is unabashedly sexual.
But Jim Kirk is a frat boy at a party school compared to Captain Lorca. Kirk is all about straight-ahead flirtation on a highway flanked with a few laughs and the occasional sweet gesture before we arrive at the inevitable destination. Captain Lorca is a fearless, mysterious man who is used to getting whatever he wants. It’s hard to say what to expect, but I doubt traditional flirtation will be involved.
I see your skeptical expressions. Fine. Let’s skip down to the end of the episode.
The captain and his security chief Landry, played by Rekha Sharma, are standing very close together indeed. The two of them don’t have a lot of screen time together yet, but the way she talks about him is pure something-is-happening-between-us. I’m kind of on the edge of my seat, intrigued but not fully committed to giving up that six dollars.
The captain turns those eyes to his security chief. In the dark, the room seems very small. I give the television a side-eye. Are we going there? Is that what we’re doing with my six dollars?
Ever have a moment when you think you’re giving someone 100 percent of your attention, and then they say something that makes you sit up? Yeah. Here it comes.
Very quietly, in the dark intimacy of this room, he says, “I think we will spend some time together this evening.”
Not a question. This is what we are doing.
In return, I have two questions. Who is we? And what will we spend this time doing? Because for six dollars, I expect to be fully integrated into this evening’s activities. Fully integrated.
Alas, Lorca and Landry are not going there. Not right now, anyway. Turns out she’s brought him a little something. It’s kind of like a lethal cockroach about the size of an ATV. She and Michael barely escaped it with their lives earlier that episode, and I’m sure no one else knows it’s on board. It’s a little secret on a ship full of secrets.
Anyway, something about the way Landry says, “Anything, anytime,” is telling me that this conversation has gone a couple of different ways and might head down those familiar paths again soon. I hope it’s before I have to give up another six dollars.
Back to Sonequa.
I had started to worry that Sonequa had gone from playing one brilliant badass to another. She had only just started to explore Sasha’s vulnerability and emotional depth when she was cut down on The Walking Dead, and I worried that she was going to be just another Strong Black Woman on a TV show I was paying six dollars for. Who was going to test Michael Burnham? Who was going to break Michael down and watch her rebuild herself? Who will make her giggle? Who will make her sigh?
Michael is in an untenable position; Captain Lorca is trouble on a stick. He is going to make her life difficult in ways she hasn’t started to think about yet, and she’ll have to evolve outside her comfort level to survive that.
And Jason Isaacs is hot. I’m telling you that the man seduced me so thoroughly in one hour that I put a song from Fifty Shades on a blog post with my name on it.
Once. Don’t get crazy on me. You’re not getting anything related to Fifty Shades from me EVER again, unless it’s vitriol and scorn.
Two minutes after the episode ended, a receipt for six dollars landed in my inbox. Well played, CBS. I am already wondering about how you will get the next six dollars.
I didn’t do the giddy little dance, though.
For that, I’m going to need someone to take off some clothes.
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