Oh man. You were showing such promise, ‘Star Trek Discovery’ – what happened? The two-part story ‘Light and Shadows‘ and ‘If Memory Serves,’ where the series took the franchise back to Talos IV, seemed like things were moving in the right direction, in terms of hitting a thematic stride and accurately linking the show up to the larger canonical Star Trek universe. But then last week’s episode took a step in the wrong direction, going back to the Michael Bay-ish nonsense of emphasizing action and ‘splosions over plot and character development. And then came this week’s episode: the absolute worst, self-serving, nonsensical, steaming pile of targ dung the series has ever delivered.
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: A short recap here, because I have lots to say in the next section. Plus, for all the ridiculous amount of moving parts and plot sub-threads ‘Discovery’ tried to cram down our throats in this installment – and absolutely none of them getting the attention or intelligence they warrant – this dumb episode can be summed up rather succinctly.
Airiam is given a proper Starfleet funeral, which is odd because A) we as the audience know practically nothing about her and have no emotional connection to her at all, and B) how many other periphery characters and Starfleet officers have we seen die so far in this series, and no one else got this kind of highlight. We get it, ‘Discovery’ creative team, you think Airiam was cool. Let it go.
Tilly finds some stuff in Airiam’s files about how the Red Angel is Michael. The “human DNA patterns match perfectly, one of a kind,” says the obviously-qualified, recently-resurrected-and-confused-as-all-Hell-about-everything-else Doctor Culber who’s on duty for some reason. Michael is ostensibly coming from the future to help avoid the big universe-ending catastrophe… her missions are vital to the ongoing safety of the entire galaxy, probably should let her keep doing what she’s doing to help. What’s that, Discovery senior staff and definitely-clear-headed Section 31 goons? You think the best idea is to capture the Red Angel and interfere with her missions just so you can ask her what’s up with her? Okay then.
That’s it, really. A bunch of other background nonsense happens – people get upset with each other, people are suspicious of each other, people kiss, Section 31 goon Leland reveals he inadvertently got Michael’s parents killed – who were also secretly Section 31 operatives because reasons (at this point, I have to believe Section 31 is larger than the actual Starfleet itself, based on resources they have and amount of people who cheerfully participate in the group).
Yadda yadda yadda, science science science, Red Angel is captured. It was definitely, 100%, beyond of a shadow of a doubt Michael who was the Red Angel, right? Nope! It’s her Mom. Because this is the most self-important family in Star Trek history that you’ve never heard of. Get bent, Kirks!
- Airiam’s funeral is well-shot, but hollow for the viewers because we didn’t know the character – this is a complete fail on the creative team’s part. Everything that her fellow officers are saying about her is really nice, but THAT’S the stuff we needed to be shown in this series, not told now in retrospect. Show, don’t tell – one of the oldest idioms in entertainment.
- Tilly said she found the Red Angel info while looking through Airiam’s digital files – they were all erased by Starfleet to stop potential Control control, so…
- If you couldn’t tell from the recap above, I am not of fan of many things on this show, but Section 31 being shoved down our throats again just completely undermines everything existing Trek canon has established about it being a shadow-type organization.
- There is one in-joke that I will give the ‘Discovery’ creative team credit for. The old section 31 base is on Essof 4 – this information is first told while talking to Stamets & Culber, played by Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz, our two Broadway Rent-ers… Essof spelled backwards is Fosse, as in Bob Fosse, famous Broadway choreographer. Cheeky, but as has been outlined many times over, there are several other areas that the creative team should probably be focusing their efforts.
- Wait, so everyone knows that Georgiou is the evil Terran version of herself now? I thought this was not common knowledge? Much like the existence of Section 31, apparently it’s cool for everyone in the universe to know everything about everything.
- WHAT IS ALL THIS ‘TIME CRYSTAL” BULLS—? DO YOU EVEN STAR TREK, BRO? Tachyons, slingshot maneuvers, chroniton particles, the Orb of Time, a chrono-deflector, the Guardian of Forever, a red-matter black hole, the Nexus – there are dozens of existing canonical ways to time travel, use one of them, not some lazy-writing magical crystals!
- Why is Spock not in uniform? He’s on duty, clearly, and Admiral Cornwell states in this episode that he’s been cleared of any wrong-doing by Starfleet. And side note: do all non-Starfleet personnel have to wear black leather in the future?
- Culber on Essof 4 as the emergency counter-measure, really? Why is the doctor who’s not really even a Doctor right now – or even a Starfleet officer on active duty – the one to be on standby to save Burnham’s life?
- Still trying to force the Burnham/Ash love thing, creative team? Let’s forget the parts last season where he tried to actually murder her or have a Klingon baby with L’Rell, okay? Okay, great, glad we agree.
- TYLER [trying to tell Michael that he loves her]: “Michael…” BURNHAM: “I know, Ash.” It’s not bad enough that they’re dumping on Star Trek canon, but now they are stealing Star Wars’ best lines too?
- Tilly is literally the worst Starfleet officer I’ve ever seen. Her nonsense is not endearing, it’s dangerous and reckless for the high level of responsibilities she is apparently carrying in her duties aboard a Starfleet vessel. And that’s all I have to say about that.
- Let’s get one thing straight: Sonequa Martin-Green can ACT, and she does a hell of a job in ‘Star Trek Discovery.’ But, in a series where everything else around her is so caricature-ized and over-the-top ridiculous, her work comes across with shades of the same, unfortunately.
CLOSING THOUGHTS: UGH.
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
Ethan Peck as Spock
‘Star Trek: Discovery’ features new episodes Thursday nights at 8:30 pm online via CBS All Access.