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Star Trek Discovery: Rubicon

Stamets: "Is there an acceptable answer other than yes?"
Burnham: "No."
Stamets: "Then yes."

By nature I love brevity: A pretty basic, average return to form. Only the average for this show has risen considerably; this one's pretty good.

After a pretty inconsequential episode last week, I was hoping we'd get back to the drama. I was not disappointed. I'm continually impressed by the chemistry that Martin-Green and Ajala have with each other, although not having them in the same room wasn't quite the same here. Not everyone can be Shatner and Montalban. Which was why the scene where she flew right across from him was a little more compelling. Still, they were clearly both acting against a green screen rather than the other actor, and that hurt those scenes.

It does help that both of them have some good characters to play off of on either side of the conversation. It was really nice to see Nhan again, although her inclusion felt slightly shoehorned, and Shawn Doyle's Tarka is always interesting to watch. I'm not sure that keeping Tarka's motivations so tightly under wraps is as effective as it ought to be, however. It's cool that there's an air of mystery around him, but it makes scenes like we get in this episode where he goes to greater and greater lengths to achieve his goals a bit less compelling. We know why Book's doing this, and it gives Ajala's performance so much more gravity. I'm never quite there with Tarka. Sure, we know something about a friend he's looking for, but I'm not super clear on the details.

Speaking of fuzzy details, I am glad that this little game between Book and Tarka and the Discovery crew is probably coming to an end. Especially last episode, I've found it hard to really pinpoint exactly what Book and Tarka's relationship with the Federation was at this point. Here, for example, it doesn't really feel much like an authority pursuing a fugitive. Usually in situations like that there's a sort of power imbalance I've never really felt from Discovery's pursuit of Book and Tarka. They just sit there talking to each other for quite a while. Maybe it's the direction, but I didn't really get the sense that this was much of a stalemate, either. Discovery's never been the show to pay close and careful attention to the specifics of authority and chain of command, but a little more work on that would be appreciated.

One element that really hasn't worked for me yet is Saru's budding relationship with Ni'Var President T'Rina. I think it's just that Tara Rosling's Vulcan performance is a little offputting to me. She feels a little too warm. Still, I like Saru and I'm happy he's still getting things to do. But I'm worried he's taking a backseat to the rest of the cast at this point. He's my favorite character, so I wish they'd do more with him.

The episode's big central compromise/middle ground idea was nice, if a little heavy-handed. I did like that we saw the bridge crew split on the whole Book issue, it helped to maintain the nuance.

Strange New Worlds:

All ship-based action this week, no planets.

New Life and New Civilizations:

Beyond a few references to Nhan as a Barzan, there wasn't much alien lore here either.

Pensees:

-I continue to love Oded Fehr's Admiral Vance quite a bit, but what exactly was that justification for putting Nhan in charge of babysitting Burnham? 'She's a Barzan, so she'll be loyal to her duty?' Sounds like space racism to me.

-I think shuffling a bunch of the characters out of the way for a bit has worked really well. Saru, Stamets, Culber, and such don't get enough time as it is; if time still had to be portioned out to Tilly, Adira, and Gray, the focus would be all over the place right now.

-Looks like we're headed for the inevitable confrontation with the mysterious Species 10-C, as we all probably expected when the concept of them was introduced.

Again, the average for Discovery has risen. 4 out of 6 new deadly security systems.
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CoramDeo looked it up on the Google.

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