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Star Trek Discovery: Choose to Live

'This isn't a moon. It's a ship.'

Well, I was gonna make a Star Wars joke, but I guess they already did it for me.

By nature I love brevity: Not as strong as the last two. It dragged a bit and was quite dull in parts.

When I saw the description of this episode, I got very excited, perhaps too excited. It talked about hunting for the killer of a Starfleet officer, so my mind immediately went to the exhilirating DS9 episode 'Field of Fire,' which was pretty much just a crime procedural episode starring Ezri Dax. That episode's a ton of fun, and I admit I went into this episode with that in my mind. I want to go into things with an open mind, but that was my bias as I started it. So keep that in mind as you read my thoughts, and apply grains of salt to taste.

The opening, to be fair, did not exactly do anything to discourage expectations like the ones I had. There was a neat action sequence, suspenseful music, and a clear establishment of the threat. It was almost a classic Trek style teaser. And as we headed into the credits, there was a cool tension established between Burnham's duty to the Federation and her love for her mother and respect for the Qowat Milat. All that seemed set up for a killer episode.

But it just kinda... wasn't that. They did very little with Burnham's internal struggle, and instead cast her as the voice of reason for her mother. While that made some sense given where they were going with the story, and while Sonja Sohn is certainly more than qualified to carry that, the truth is we simply don't know Mama Burnham well enough to really resonate with her character struggles. Say what you will about Michael Burnham, we do very clearly know who she is, what she tends to struggle with, and why she does what she does in most situations. She's a character we know and can follow, so when she struggles, the audience has the opportunity to buy in. That's not really the case for Mama Burnham, but the episode tried to shoehorn in some quick backstory and act like we really care about her as a character and not just as a supporting player in her daughter's story.

Also, while Ayesha Mansur Gonsalves did a pretty good job as J'Vini, and her plight was certainly interesting on paper, the way we went about learning what she was doing and why really didn't help us to connect with her as a character. We basically just got her whole mission and purpose exposited to us – by other characters. Whether it was Tilly or Michael or Mama, we heard about what J'Vini must've been doing, but she didn't show up much to let us know what she was actually doing. It's a shame, because the story of the Abronians could've been really compelling.

Also good on paper but weak in execution was the resurrection of Gray Tal. Although it may have been touching, I really didn't feel a sense of stakes. There were no real complications presented to us toward Gray's incorporation into the synthetic body. To make matters worse, it wasn't visually interesting. What happened to that black void with all the colorful strings? That looked awesome, and it was an easy visual that I could understand quickly. Why not just put in a few shots of Gray hearing Adira's voice and climbing the strings up to the light or something like that? Instead we get Adira holding his hand, and then in the next scene, BAM! He's awake! We only learn that Adira's intervention was necessary after the problem has been solved. That's just sloppy writing.

Still, I continue to be very impressed by Blu del Barrio. They were pretty good when they were introduced last season, and they've only improved their abilities as time has gone by. I may not love their character's writing all the time, but I almost always believe their delivery, and I feel like they've gotten completely inside their character's head. del Barrio is quickly joining the ranks of the most capable members of the cast, and that's a powerful accomplishment for someone of their age.

The one story thread I did feel was done justice was the smallest and least significant to the overall plot. Book and Stamets, armed with their improved relationship from last week, head for Ni'Var to try and work out Stamets' new theory about the newly named Dark Matter Anomaly (DMA). David Ajala continues to effectively communicate his character's inner pain, and I am here for it. I loved his interactions with Vulcan President T'Rina, as he begged her to help him compartmentalize his emotions in a Vulcan way, and she informed him matter-of-factly that it wasn't the right method for him. Plus, a Vulcan mind-meld is always fun. I'm not sure what we accomplished except for ruling out the new theory, but hey, Book got some catharsis out of it.

The last thing I'll mention is Tilly. I've been tracking Tilly this season with an eye to the idea that she might make an exit sometime soon. This episode is all but confirmation of that to me, as she and Mama Burnham discussed 'her path' and how to figure out when a path has ended. It seems pretty clear Tilly is being set up to leave Discovery for a little while at least. She may not leave the show, and she may not even be gone for long (remember how many episodes Saru was off the ship?), but she's definitely on an exit trajectory. I certainly hope we'll have her around on the show at least for a little while longer.

Strange New Worlds:

The Abronians traveled on their moon-ship to a new planet they could inhabit. We didn't get many details about the planet.

New Life and New Civilizations:

Abronians are insectoid in nature, and they have some telepathic abilities. Their cocoons contain a high concentration of latinum.


-It was cool to see another ship in the fleet. I hope we get to see more of the new Starfleet going forward.

-Director Christopher J. Byrne has only a few TV credits to his name at this point, all of them recent. I don't blame him for my boredom here; I think that was mostly the writing.

-Kaminar has voted to return to space.

-Adira played darts with a doctor, in a bar, with a Liseppian in the background and a Ferengi pouring the drinks. The DS9 fan in me (which is a large part of me) was cheering.


Saru: "Sometimes the most important thing we can do is reach for one another."

Tilly, when threatened: "I choose- I choose to live. 100%, I choose to live. Definitely."

Book: "Someday, if I'm lucky, the grief will fade. And if I don't want all my other memories to fade with it, I'll have to open myself back up to them."

Not as impressed with this one. 3 out of 6 blue tachyons.
CoramDeo wasn't buying it. Boop! For me. Cuz it wasn't real.


  1. I really didn't like this one. To me, the whole "Choose Life"... at the beginning and its eventual explanation was all too deliberately obtuse. It was frustrating. Can someone please just be clear... and these deaths might not have happened? Yes, J'Vini explained a little later that she had tried to explain to the higher ups about the need for the dilithium... but come on... we go from trying to explain to killing? Maybe I'm not neutral because I have never been a fan of the Qowat Milat. It just feels like dense stuff meant to be deep but is just... dense. While I love the idea of an organization of fierce women... this is not it to me. Women, ideally, would not operate this way.

  2. Yeah, I have to agree that it wasn't as cool as it could have been. And that the bit with Book and Stamets was a highlight. I'm not all that interested in Gray, although I'm certainly open to seeing where they go with this new body situation.


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