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Star Trek Discovery: Anomaly

'Not on our watch.'

By nature I love brevity: Discovery lives up to the standard of the premiere with another solid, quality episode.

The pieces are in place now. I think we're in for a great season.

For starters, David Ajala is very good. He was a neat addition to the cast last season, but here, he's A+. Book's character really needed a good watershed moment to really tie him to the main thread of the story; he's always been sort of on the peripheral. Now he's got a tragedy to refer back to, and it's quite compelling. Not only did we see the origins of the tragedy, it's built off of the back of the episode last season where he was able to reconcile with his family and his people. That's all been ripped from him, and Ajala sells Book's inner emptiness with compelling fervor.

I also liked seeing Burnham as the encourager and comforter. A lot of the time, Burnham's the one that endures the tragedy and is on the receiving end of the big emotional speech. Here she got to give that big emotional speech. Say what you will about Sonequa Martin-Green, her speechifying is excellent. Even her whisper habit worked pretty well in this instance.

We also got to see some great work from Mary Wiseman, whose character has always been fun but rarely very compelling. Even her transition into a command position last season often felt less like an inner character struggle and more like a bunch of external obstacles. This season seems to have a clear idea of what it wants to do with her and where her character is going. The worry I have is that these early threads feel like the start of a mid-season character departure. She's clearly having doubts about the way she's spent her life thus far, and her questions feel very much like the questions of someone that wants to start living their life in a dramatically different way. I think episode three will be a big indicator of her arc's direction, but I won't be surprised if she ends up leaving the ship for a bit by around the mid-season. Sad and disappointed, but not surprised.

Our other characters mostly just get bits here and there. Saru's back after all of *squints* one episode. Stamets resented Book but now their relationship is repaired. Adira wants to impress Tilly. Gray's getting a synthetic physical body. And Bryce gets shoehorned into the big scientific solution faster than you can say 'parasitic ice.' Seriously, what was that bit about? He walked from his station off camera to the middle of the frame, said his thing about the surfing, and then went back. Then they clapped for him afterward! It was awkward and very forced, and I'm wondering if it had a purpose we'll see pay off later.

Two episodes this season – two good episodes, and Olatunde Osunsamni has been at the helm for both of them. Along with everyone else, I've given Osunsamni quite a bit of crap over the years (anyone remember the 'space sickness' video?) but he's gone two for two this season, and it's in no small part due to the direction. If two episodes is anything to go by, the fancy directorial experimentation he used to do earlier in the show's run has given way to solid instincts and a good eye. The camera moves aren't intrusive anymore, or when they are, it's for a reason. I loved the camera rotation after the gravity waves hit, it really sold the disorientation of the characters. And the edit is finally letting the episodes breathe; the pacing has been excellent so far. All this to say that I love the work we've gotten from Osunsamni this season and I'm eagerly awaiting more.

Strange New Worlds:

No planets this time. We spent the whole episode aboard space vessels of various types.

New Life and New Civilizations:

Practically nothing new about aliens or other creatures this week either. It was more focused on developing the characters than their traits.

Pensees:

-I liked the opening sequence a lot, where Book kept replaying the event in his mind over and over. And the last shot was killer.

-Saru was offered command of the U.S.S. Sojourner. He declined (and sort of just assigned himself as Burnham's XO).

-At the briefing, we saw a Ferengi officer. The first Ferengi in Starfleet was DS9's Nog, played by the late Aron Eisenberg. The character received a lovely shoutout last season with a background ship named after him.

-It's going to be hard to get used to Vulcan being called Ni'Var, although I like that they aren't using the very human names that have always been applied to the races. I wonder if we'll see any Romulans, and if so, will they be called Rihannsu?

-Sonequa Martin-Green has producer credit now (and she did on the previous episode as well). This makes her the second lead actor to also receive producer credit on a Trek show, after Patrick Stewart in Picard. If we count movies, Stewart was also the producer on Star Trek: Nemesis, and if we include other principal cast members, Leonard Nimoy produced Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

-Speaking of Picard, the old admiral received a namedrop this week, as did Dr. Soong.

-Burnham used an evolution of holodeck technology in this episode. There have been holograms throughout Discovery, but I believe this is the closest we've come to seeing an actual holodeck on the show.

-The computer has renamed itself 'Zora.' At this point, I can only assume that the Short Trek 'Calypso' will become required viewing at some point in the near future. If you haven't seen it, definitely do.

-At this point, we really don't care about what programmable matter is or can do, right? It's just magic? Alright cool.

-Speaking of which, the tether was pitched as the reason Stamets' hologram could remain on Book's ship through the interference, but we never once saw anyone even concerned that the hologram would flicker out, even after the tether was released. Why even reference that it could happen?

-While Bryce's interjection was weird and probably unnecessary, I did like the 'riding the wave' idea. It was a concept that clicked instantly and didn't make me ask too many boring logistical questions.

-The music in this episode was quite stirring, especially in the closing scene. Serious props to Jeff Russo.

-The second episode of ENT Season Three was also called 'Anomaly.' This marks the second time two different Star Trek productions had the exact same title (third if you count TOS and the 2009 film Star Trek). The other one was the TNG episode 'First Contact' and the film Star Trek: First Contact. This is the first title match between two episodes.

Quotes:

Book: "Come on, Michael, you'd fight like hell to go on this mission."
Burnham: "And Hugh would stop me."
Book: "Michael–"
Burnham: "And he would be right."

Stamets: "Hey, are you okay?"
Book: "Don't ask me that again."

Tilly, growling adorably: "I'm gonna go dig into that data."
Saru: "Alright."
Tilly, holding out her arms like she's doing a troll impression: "Alright."
Saru: "Go save the world."
Tilly: "I will!"

Another solid entry. 5 out of 6 useful hobbies.

--
CoramDeo was a good little writer, but he was always very curious.

1 comment:

  1. Much agreement that David Ayala was terrific in this one. I also agree that there is something really uncomfortable about calling Vulcan 'Ni'Var,' even if it was the fulfillment of Spock's dream.

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