Star Trek: Discovery just made holodecks even more bonkers.
Star Trek: Discovery may have just made holodecks even more bonkers. For those new to the franchise, holodecks, in theory, are a cool idea. In theory. In practicality, they would be an unmitigated mess with systems collapsing all the time due to the sheer strain of it all. Holodecks essentially work as a light and sound show on a treadmill, bending and folding things in a way that allows you to move about freely yet never obstructing views of anyone else who may be in there with you.
They only really work as a plot device, designed to get Kathryn Janeway to hang out with Leonardo Da Vinci or to put Worf in tights because he’s a merry man. They really don’t work as anything more than a science fiction plot device and that’s fine.
Until it’s not, because Star Trek: Discovery just did something that some fans are not happy with.
Discovery broke what rules that holodecks had in Star Trek canon
In the fourth season of Discovery, we see that Starfleet officers can now have their own personal holosuite within their actual quarters. We know this because Captain Michael Burnham is sitting in a hologram environment in the middle of her room, only to be interrupted by Saru who seemingly misses every piece of furniture when approaching Burnham.
In a holodeck or holosuite, that’s fine. They’re empty rooms designed for this very type of thing. Yet, Saru just walked through a few pieces of furniture to get to Burnham but more than that, he also didn’t that many steps to get to her. The perspective that the camera initially shows is that Saru isn’t far from the door nor Burnham, yet when the hologram fades, and we see both characters, we realize that Saru actually traversed far further post-hologram. So not only are these new holo-emitters somehow able to erase actual matter when in use, they’re also able to compress distances one has to walk.
Holodecks and the like were already insanely stupid and over-powered, able to do anything the plot calls for, so there won’t be too much of an uproar with these improvements on Discovery. Yet, it further proves that the rules for holo-emitters in Star Trek are far from coherent or consistent.
There might be an explainer, but the fact is until it’s stated on screen, anything else is just speculation. Holo-emmiters are cheeky fun but that’s all. Anyone willing to defend them is simply wasting their time at this point because the franchise has rarely ever used them in a way that would suggest the rules of their operation make sense.
They’re a neat plot device but that’s it.