“Saints of Imperfection” is a visually sound episode, beautiful in its design – possibly the best episode, visually, of ‘Star Trek Discovery’ so far. But, sadly, this installment of Season 2 suffers the same fate as many episodes have: there’s too much going on in too many various overlapping plot lines, and the end result is an episode whose “big moments” feel rushed and forced.
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: Essentially a “part two” of last week’s cliffhanger, Tilly has been abducted into the mycelial network, but it takes Stamets a bit to figure that out. Sidebar: no Jett Reno this episode, after she featured so heavily in last week’s Engineering/mycelial portions of the show? Not cool to just back-shelf characters whenever you want, ‘Discovery’ creative team.
Meanwhile, pretty much every other character on the show has one thing on their mind: Spock. Almost everyone gets to say his name at some point in tonight’s show, but it’s the darndest thing, we just can’t seem to get the guy to actually appear. This is five episodes where we are on a Spock-heavy storyline and we haven’t even seen everyone’s favorite Vulcan yet. This episode is the biggest Spocktease of them all: Discovery finally catches up with Spock’s shuttle and pulls it into the shuttle bay… only to have Georgiou conveniently pop out and tell us that she found Spock’s shuttle but, wouldn’t you know it, it was empty. The Search for Spock™️ continues, I guess.
Meanwhile, Stamets has decided that Tilly must be in the mycelial network, because science, and somehow convinces Pike that it’s cool to endanger everyone on Discovery and the ship itself in order to try and go find her. I appreciate the sentiment of the “no man left behind” Starfleet mantra proudly displayed here – but it’s a far cry from the Vulcan IDIC and “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” – this is, by far, a much more logical approach, so it’s strange that Burnham, life-long stoic Vulcan emoter that she is, doesn’t even make a peep about this at any point.
Surprise! The “monster” terrorizing the mycelial network and its inhabitants turns out to be Dr. Culber! He was saved from neck-snapping real-world death because magic spore science. When we first (re-)meet him, he’s a babbling, incoherent mess that seems traumatized and can’t string two syllables together, but just a few minutes later, he’s back to his old eloquent and rational self – this is a side-effect of the aforementioned negative of the episode, wherein there is too much going on and not enough time to properly focus on anything. So, too, does Culber and Stamets’ emotional goodbye-but-oh-wait-we-CAN-actually-save-you moment fall prey to this same issue. Add to this list the fact that Tilly and May went from being adversarial abductee-abductor to pinky-swearing BFFs in just a few short scenes – no time for actual character development here!
Section 31 is back with their cool ship and agents that just happen to be all the characters from last season that don’t have anything else to do in the current storyline! Just in case you forgot that there’s a Section 31 spinoff show coming soon. Seriously, it’s starting to feel like when the Scooby-Doo 1970s cartoon had the gang team up with everyone from Batman to the Harlem Globetrotters – it don’t make no sense, but it’s entertaining, to a point.
Tilly: rescued. Culber: still alive. Section 31: present. Spock: whatever.
- A quote from Pike from tonight’s episode on he and Georgiou: “We met at the Academy.” Another blow to the apparently non-canon novelizations where they met for the first time as respective Captains of the Enterprise and Shenzhou. I mean, it’s fine if the ‘Discovery’ novelizations are essentially fan-fiction, but at least do fans the courtesy of telling us they are straight-up “Legends” type of stories from the get-go instead of letting us pretend that we’re actually getting more canon-specific story by reading them.
- Everyone in the freakin’ Federation seems to instantly recognize Section 31. Hell, the black-insignia-ed operatives may have been casually hanging out on the Discovery at least since we first saw them back in the third episode of the first season – not so covert of a group then, eh?
- About the only thing I disliked in Season 1 as much as the Klingons was the mycelial network – and here we are again, with our main plotline revolving squarely around it. Let’s hope tonight’s vague-ish conclusion to the episode means that the door to the network is now permanently shut.
- A combadge AND a Federation ship that can not only cloak but now camouflage via external holo-emitters? That unceremonious “splat” sound you’re hearing is the “Discovery” creative team apparently deciding to throw canon straight out the window. The creative team swears up and down in interviews that they are working hard to respect canon and have a plan in place to “sync up” with the general look and technology level of ‘The Original Series,’ so they really better be going somewhere intentional with all this.
- The spore drive on Discovery seems to work just fine – you’re telling me the hyper-advanced Section 31 ship wouldn’t have installed that galaxy-hopping noise in their own ship a long time ago?
- Through all my displeasure with the show, as I mentioned in last week’s review, it’s still oddly entertaining. Moreso than this, my main reason to continue watching right now: I friggin’ love Captain Pike. Anson Mount has taken a character from classic Star Trek lore and truly made it his own, while effectively and respectfully building on the existing foundation of the character. I couldn’t be more pleased with this particular aspect of the show.
CLOSING THOUGHTS: Next week on ‘Discovery:’ more drama! More action! Probably still no Spock!
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
Wilson Cruz as Dr. Culber
‘Star Trek: Discovery’ features new episodes Thursday nights at 8:00 pm online via CBS All Access.