If you’re like me, you may have felt a little inundated by the constant presence of the Klingons in the first season of Star Trek Discovery. If you’ve been enjoying a Klingon-free respite in the first two episodes here in the second season and the following-through of the creative team’s promise of taking things in a fresh and new exciting direction this season, well, I’m sorry to say that all appears to be over, and that the ridged-forehead break has firmly come to an end.
WARNING: Spoilers for this episode of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ lie ahead, obviously. If you haven’t seen the episode and don’t wish for any of its content to be spoiled for you, the time to turn back is NOW!
RECAP: Even though a lot happened in this episode – like, soap-opera level “a lot” – I’m going to try and keep it brief(ish) for you. Amanda shows up on Discovery because (other than the fact that Burnham can’t go for more than a week or two without one of her adopted parents swinging by to visit) she’s concerned about Spock. We find out from Captain Vela at Starbase Five (who really should be wearing the color-by-occupation “new Starfleet uniforms,” right?) that Spock has gone perhaps a bit insane, killed a few of his doctors, and bolted from the facility. Oh, and Amanda mentions casually that Spock has been seeing this Red Angel character since he was a boy, like some extra-terrestrial invisible friend. So now our well-known Trek character that’s been around for 50-plus years is a nutty invalid that apparently needs saved by Burnham; can we bastardize Spock as a character any more, Disco creative team?
MEANWHILE, on Qo’nos, L’Rell and Voq/Tyler are trying to lead the Klingons, but *in whiniest human teenage voice* they just won’t listennnnn! Voq/Tyler shows everybody his new designs for the unified Klingons’ newest and coolest battleship, the D7 battlecruiser. Yes, it’s the design we all know and love from classic Star Trek series, which is all well and good, except… why are Klingons calling it a “D7” when further Trek post-TOS action has established that Klingons call these ships “K’Tinga-class battle cruisers?” Further, in last season’s episode “Choose Your Pain,” the Starfleet computer system has already identified another Klingon ship as a “Klingon D7 Battlecruiser.” How can Captain Lorca run across one last season when Voq/Tyler hasn’t even invented them until right now?
MEANWHILE, Tilly is training for the Starfleet Command Program… by doing seizure-light-flashing marathons in the hallways of the ship, I guess. (Again – isn’t what this is the [canon-breaking existence of the] holodecks is for, so we can keep the halls of a bustling, on-duty starship clear and stuff?) She’s still seeing dead pseudo-friends and it’s totally making her act weird! Well, weirder than normal.
MEANWHILE, back on Qo’nos, L’Rell and Voq/Tyler go full soap opera: they have a secret baby! It’s abducted by a rival house patriarch! Voq/Tyler calls Burnham via holo-phone to get some advice, but the Klingons were totally listening and are pissed! Wait, Terran Empire Georgiou shows up to save them and conveniently introduce Section 31 before her spin-off series!
MEANWHILE, back on Discovery, Burnham talks some more about Spock but doesn’t really do anything about it. Tilly is found to have spores up in her insides, and Stamets uses a techno-future-thingamabobber to pull it out of her, which manifests as a floating blobby meatball for some reason. They isolate it in a containment field before it can go full Spaceballs slapstick and run away hoo-hoo-ing down the hall.
MEANWHILE, back on Qo’nos, Georgiou helps L’Rell and Voq/Tyler concoct an insanely elaborate plot that puts L’Rell as the Mother of All Klingons, their baby secretively in a Klingon monastery, and Voq/Tyler in Section 31’s employ. Because reasons.
Confused? Tired? Concerned? Apathetic? Welcome back to Star Trek Discovery, Season 1 Style.
- If it’s not clear from above, the Klingon stuff is just not working for me. In one sentence, Voq/Tyler says “I am Voq!” In the very next sentence, he says “…but me, as Tyler, feels…” Pick a side, bro! You fit in well with these waffling Klingons who like to spend more time talking their stuff out then fighting it out. Although when the fights do come…
- There is a lengthy Klingon hand-to-hand combat sequence, and while it’s visually presented well, the choreography just felt slow and clunky to me – lots of actors standing and waiting for their turn to make their moves in the dance. And of course, our main Klingon characters couldn’t have possibly survived without a human (Georgiou) stepping in to save them. What an Earth-centric view of the universe we have.
- I applaud returning director Olatunde Osunsanmi for making some unique visual choices in this episode – of particular note are the transporter-room point-of-view juxtaposition between Burnham and Amanda and the bridge scene where the camera, positioned in the middle of the action, frenetically whirls from character to character. What I have an issue, with, however – and this is an ongoing issue for me, as those that read my reviews know well – is that these technical positives don’t add anything to the substance of the show. Take the bridge scene for example: yes, we see all the characters that comprise the bridge crew, but does the scene do anything to further their existence as actual characters that we care about? The answer, unfortunately, is no – the camera whirls by each so fast, we only get to see their faces for a moment, and none of them have any actual lines of dialogue. In fact, I think only one or two lines of dialogue in the entire episode are given to “non-essential” bridge crew. Just showing characters standing around and being present in situations doesn’t equal character development – far from it.
- Tilly has a bit of a mental breakdown in dealing with her imaginary spore friend and loses it on the bridge. That part is all well and good, and in line with the plot… but then she proclaims “I quit” and casually hops in the turbolift while all other characters (Pike and Saru included) stand quietly and watch. I feel like someone would have said something in the moment – maybe hit Tilly with a follow-up question or just make sure she’s okay. You’ve got the Captain and the XO present, for god’s sake; if they can’t take action in the moment, who on the ship can?
- Cool Section 31 ship, bro! And it even has a smoothly-working cloaking device, years and years before the Federation desperately sent Captain Kirk and crew to steal one from the Romulans in the TOS episode “Balance of Terror.” Yet another piece of advanced technology that shouldn’t exist at this point in the Trek Timeline, and another galactic dump on canon, apparently.
- Still no Reno reappearance in this episode, huh? Even though we get some action directly in Engineering? Well, at least she is featured briefly in the preview for next week’s episode – along with Rebecca Romijn’s Number One, finally! Anyone placing bets and/or odds on whether Number One gets an actual name or not? According to the Star Trek Discovery novels, her name is Una – but these novels, even though they are less than a year old, have now had their plots and details featuring the crews of both the Discovery and the Enterprise largely rendered moot and inaccurate by this season’s events, so who can say for sure.
CLOSING THOUGHTS: Friends, I know I’m coming across as very harsh and nit-picky again, and I do apologize – but it’s only because I care so much about Star Trek as a whole, it hurts me to see Star Trek Discovery come so at odds with the larger universe. I’m just consistently perplexed by the decision to put this show at this point in the Trek timeline. If this show was set in the timeline after Star Trek Voyager, I think it would work so much better and have so much less canon-specific baggage to be burdened with! But it’s not, for some reason, and for now, all I can do is keep watching and keep reporting for you, which I intend to do. Until next week, friends!
PRINCIPAL CAST FEATURED IN THIS EPISODE:
Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham
Doug Jones as Lieutenant Saru
Anson Mount as Captain Pike
Anthony Rapp as Lieutenant Stamets
Mary Wiseman as Cadet Tilly
‘Star Trek: Discovery’ features new episodes Thursday nights at 8:00 pm online via CBS All Access.