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Star Trek Discovery: All In

"I have missed you like a Cardassian misses cake!"

By nature I love brevity: Not much of consequence here, just a bit of light, harmless fun. I'm not convinced this was really the right moment for that, but light, harmless fun is something Discovery's struggled to do in the past, so I'll take it.

While 'All In' is no 'Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad,' it is probably the closest DIS has come to matching the energy of that episode since then. The big difference – and the big problem – is that 'Magic' was a bright spot of silliness in the middle of a show that had been taking itself far too seriously for half a season at that point. It was perfectly calibrated to take all the self-serious posturing the show had been doing for six episodes and just pop it like a bubble. Rainn Wilson's Harry Mudd was exactly what we needed at that point. 'All In,' on the other hand, is the first episode back from a big break. The previous episode, '...But to Connect,' was in this reviewer's opinion a shining example of the heights of compelling drama that Discovery is capable of reaching. And what have Trek fans been watching in the meantime? Prodigy.

Now, don't get me wrong. I adore Prodigy. I'm not trying to say it's too childish – it deals with some powerful themes. I'm not trying to say it can't hit dramatic heights – it absolutely can. What I am saying is that by and large, Prodigy is pretty light and fun. So when it comes to our return to Discovery, was that the refreshing tonal adjustment viewers were craving? I doubt it. Certainly, this viewer was ready to dive back into the complex and deeply personal drama Discovery had going. And instead I got 'All In.'

Now, I'm also not saying Discovery doesn't need more light fun. That's something I think the show needs to be able to do for the sake of its longevity. And it may be that, years later on a rewatch, this will be exactly the right episode to watch after '...But to Connect' when binging through. But after the wildly entertaining gateway drug to Star Trek that was Prodigy, I didn't want this. I wanted the captivating melodrama of 'Connect.' So I'm a little bit disappointed.

The episode itself is not bad. They clearly had a lot of fun with this one, and when you have fun making something, it shows in the final product. I've always liked Cmdr. Owosekun, who got some pretty good stuff to do here. The structure of it was pretty interesting, too. We sort of followed the two stories as they circled around each other, then in the last half we focused on Burnham and Book working together. It made the act structure kind of funky, and helped keep me on my toes; I actually thought the episode was just about over when they caught the Changeling.

Speaking of which, I was more entertained by the hunt for the card counter than I was by the boxing match. Neither was particularly compelling from an emotional standpoint, but the boxing match went for the inspirational. It didn't quite land, although it was interesting to watch Burnham be so completely comfortable in this arena. We've never really seen this side of Burnham before, which made that aspect of the episode new. The most compelling section, though, was the third one with both Burnham and Book together. Those two have a fascinating relationship that they play really well, so anything with the two of them is great in my book. I would've preferred a little more drama, but I can't have everything.

Strange New Worlds:

This week saw our characters visiting new planet Porathia, a world outside Federation jurisdiction.

New Life and New Civilizations:

Haz Mazaro's species wasn't given a name, so instead I'll just point out: CHANGELING! It's a Changeling! We've got a new Changeling in Star Trek! For those not up on their DS9, the Changelings were a species of shapeshifters from the Gamma Quadrant, of which Odo was a member. The Changelings tended to be pretty inwardly focused, usually staying on their homeworld and hanging around as part of the Great Link. A long time ago, however, the Changelings sent out a hundred newly formed members of their species into the galaxy to experience what was out there and then return. It's possible this Changeling was one of these. Also it shapeshifted into a tribble. :)


-The Porathia system was previously seen in the Mirror Universe, in the episode 'Despite Yourself.'

-Mazaro references Armus, from TNG: 'Skin of Evil.'

-This game of Leonian poker is obviously not the first time poker has appeared in Star Trek. The folks on the Enterprise-D played human poker all the time in TNG. But this is probably the most normal alien card game that's appeared in Trek. DS9 often featured a Ferengi card game called Tongo.

Fluff, but pretty good fluff. 3 out of 6 spider cows.

CoramDeo is looking at pictures of cats.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this episode. I thought it was terrific. Maybe it's somehow because I don't care much for Prodigy?


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