Star Trek Discovery: Light and Shadows

Tilly: "I'm sorry, sir. You know how I get around violations of causality."

By nature I love brevity: Okay. I am impressed and pleased. This episode is quite good, and most importantly it doesn't drop the ball the way I feared it might. It may not have knocked it out of the park, but it kept the story thread moving without ruining or damaging it. I can live with that.

There were two major fears that I had going into this episode. Both involved Spock. The first is that the show would go the whole time teasing us that Spock was going to show up, and that he would only appear in the last minute or less of the episode. Given this season's tendency to dangle Spock in front of our noses and then pull him away, this seemed like exactly the sort of thing that might happen. But that didn't happen at all, and it didn't feel like a cheat or a cheap fake-out like I'd feared. My second fear was that Spock would appear significantly, and be a massive disappointment. While his appearance did not blow me away, and the actual process of finding him was not entirely as grand as I might have expected, his role in the episode was a logical progression of what we've heard previously about his current condition.

I refuse to make a judgement about Ethan Peck in the role just yet. This Spock is a mere shell of what he typically is, and there's no way to measure a half-Spock against a full Spock. What I can say is that Peck does very well in making us believe that this is both a very damaged person and yet still Spock. I can see little glimmers of the character I love in Peck's performance that give me tentative hope for the character's future on this show. I think next week will see him restored at least partially, and perhaps we will see him as a whole Spock in the episode after that.

The scenes on Vulcan were fine. I really like Mia Kirschner as Amanda, and James Frain continues to not completely suck at playing Sarek. I liked his almost imperceptible flicker of emotion when he talked about the risk of losing both his children in one day. The flashback sequence in which Spock teaches Burnham to do the Vulcan salute made me smile, and the family dynamics between Spock and Amanda seemed to work just fine.

What's of more interest for me is the sequences aboard Leland's Section 31 ship (which still doesn't have a name). Leland is certainly looking more antagonistic here than he necessarily was in 'Saints of Imperfection' a few episodes ago, but that's always been part of Section 31 - they toe the line between villains and antiheroes. Georgiou, on the other hand, seems to be on a path of partial redemption. At the very least, her goals align with Burnham's for the moment. I don't believe for a second, though, that she'll get anywhere close to even antihero as far as character goes for quite a long time. Let's not forget that barely a season ago she was eating Kelpiens. I like Michelle Yeoh, but the more they expect me to resonate with the character or even find her remotely sympathetic, the less I tolerate Georgiou.

On the Disco front, the ship stayed near Kaminar for the whole episode. Whether this was simply a narrative requirement in order to keep the ship near one of the red bursts or they want to do more with the Kelpiens in the next episode, only time will tell. But I didn't mind the time rift, though it was a bit generic, and it certainly has interesting implications. The Red Angel must be stepping up its game now, if it's willing to start affecting events so massively and directly. I wonder where it's going from here.

Pike and Tyler mostly worked here. I'm not the biggest fan of Ash Tyler or Shazad Latif, and I'm not thrilled with his ability to see directly into Pike's soul here without difficulty, but he wasn't actively or even passively annoying me here, so I count it as a win. Speaking of Tyler's magical insight into Pike, I am glad they're developing that motivation for his character further. I've stated previously that I really want him to move past the generic great Starfleet Captain stage and become a more interesting character emotionally, and it seems like his guilt over sitting out the war will help with that. I have no doubt that Anson Mount will portray whatever journey they put him on very well and very meaningfully.

The slightly expanded involvement of the bridge crew this season has been a high point so far. Fans have taken to Owosekun and Detmer especially, but the others have some love as well. There is one character, however, that has had something of a mystery surrounding her this entire time, only further compounded this season. This character, of course, is Airiam. The first and most burning question for longtime Trek fans is exactly what she is. We know from TNG that Data is the first android to achieve sentience and to enter Starfleet, and Airiam can't alter that. The character has been described by people involved with the show as a 'synthetic-Human hybrid,' an alien, an 'augmented alien,' and an 'augmented human.' The other thing that's baffled fans is exactly why the actress has been replaced. Sara Mitich portrayed the character throughout the first season, but for no apparent reason, Hannah Cheesman took over the role starting with this season's opener 'Brother.' The other interesting thing is that Sara Mitich did not even leave the show. She has appeared in several episodes this season as a background human character called Lt. Nilsson. The new Airiam has been referred to as 'Airiam 2.0.'

All this season, there have been little throwaway lines of dialogue that referred to Airiam, and there have been several shots that featured her prominently. Most notably, 'The Sound of Thunder' had this creepy image:

Peekaboo! I'll kill you!
It's clear now that the show runners have wanted to keep the character at least in the backs of our heads all season, and now we know something of the reason why. What happened to the character, and why she's displaying the Brainiac symbol in the center of her eye, is anybody's guess. But IMDb lists her, rather ominously, as 'Airiam 2.5' in next week's episode. Brrr.

Strange New Worlds:

We visited Vulcan again, but that's not much of a new world. It was raining, though, which we haven't seen happen on the planet before.

New Life and New Civilizations:

Was that upgraded probe sentient? If so, does it count as new life? Also, is it the same thing that's infected Airiam?

Pensees:

-Potential theme alert: Did the Angel break Spock, or choose him because he was broken?

-There was a new graphic in the opening credits, replacing the old image of the Red Angel. It's much more detailed and in-depth, which makes sense to me since now we know at least partially what the Angel is.

-Didn't care so much for the fake-out where Pike saw himself shooting Tyler. If I'd thought at any point that they might get angry enough at each other to try and kill one another, it might have worked. But they never got past 'you annoy me.'

-I just love Saru in command of the ship. He's just the best when he does it. I also love how Doug Jones is playing Saru with a greater confidence about the world and everything now that he's lost the ganglia. Can we please make him Captain next season, if Pike doesn't stick around?

-Good continuity regarding Stamets' unusual relationship with time. Also, a callback to my favorite episode of Discovery so far doesn't hurt.

-Wait, wait... so Spock had dyslexia? Okay then. I don't think that horribly breaks everything about Trek canon. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to let the angry haters tell me why that's a bad decision.

-Okay. So I have to say something to CBS All Access. *ahem* Please figure out how to make commercial breaks work. Seriously. All this season, the commercials have come a few seconds off from where they're supposed to in the episode. This time two commercials overlapped each other, one cutting off the previous one. I don't care about commercials, really, but this is annoying and unprofessional.

-Stuff for Rhys to do! Yay!

-Have I mentioned in the last five seconds how much I love Stamets and Tilly? You've really got something with these characters' interactions here, guys!

-However, Anthony Rapp needs to stop delivering technobabble and exposition now. Seriously, it's just not his thing.

-Wait... Leland is responsible for the deaths of Burnham's parents? We're really going that route? *sigh* Okay...

-We saw a couple more ships of the same class as Leland's 31 ship.

-TALOS FREAKING IV, BABY! WOOO!

-I may be a little bit excited for the next episode. Don't you dare let me down, DIS. Not this time. Not with the Talosians.

Quotes:

Pike: "Mr. Tyler... the chair outranks the badge."
I may have smiled at this. And possibly pumped my fist and said, 'Yeah!'

Tyler, about Voq: "I'm sorry, but there's no way to get rid of him."
Pike: "I know the feeling."

Burnham: "My whole life you've told me the truth. That's how I know you're lying."

Tilly: "Everything sounds better when you put 'time' in front of it."
Pike: "Getting readings from the rift. Time rift."

Georgiou: "Once more, with feeling."

I liked this one a lot. 5 out of 6 mysterious Brainiac symbols.

--
CoramDeo prefers non-poking.

2 comments:

Henrik Bennetter said...

Regarding the probe and the red angel. My money is on that they represent two different sides. The probe was probably upgraded by the future baddies, whereas the Red angel is the future goodie.

Just a hunch.

CoramDeo said...

I like the theory, Henrik.