Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Star Trek: Discovery -- Season 2 Episode 10 (The Red Angel)


SPOILER ALERT:  I’m going to give away major surprises here.



There’s a line of thought that most mythology has some basis in reality.  Gods and angels could be powerful aliens.  Bigfoot could be any number of real-life animals, such as bears.  There’s even a word for it:  Euhemerism, which is the belief that actual events are distorted to the point where they become legend or myth.

In Discovery, there’s The Red Angel.  Spock saw it as a child.  The Red Angel even helped Spock.  He drew pictures of it, but it was dismissed as the product of a child’s active imagination.  Come to find out a few episodes ago that The Red Angel actually exists.  And it’s assumed to be a humanoid in a mechanical suit.

At the beginning of the episode, something comes to light:  The suit contains a bioneural imprint.  But it’s not any bioneural imprint.  It belongs to none other than Michael Burnham.  So, the crew sets off on the assumption that The Red Angel actually is Burnham.  It’s kind of a flimsy case, but whatever.

Here’s where the crew makes its next logical misstep, though.  They reason that since The Red Angel is Burnham, she’ll act to save Burnham.  Thus, putting Burnham at mortal risk will serve as bait so that they might capture The Red Angel.

Um, ok.  Is it really wise to have Burnham present during these discussions?  Wouldn’t it kind of give their plan away?  I would think they’d have her wait in the next room or something.

There’s also the cliché of having to possible actually kill her for the plan to be effective.  We all know that they’re not going to do that to such an important character.

Despite a few weaknesses, the episode serves as a good transition from Project Daedalus to Perpetual Infinity.  That may be its greatest weakness, in that the series had to get from one point to another and didn’t really have a great way to do that.  The Red Angel has to be drawn out somehow and there’s really only one way to do that with any certainty.  It’s not a great plan, but it’s hard to come up with a better one.

Dr. Culber also talks to Admiral Cornwall, who was a psychologist.  She doesn’t offer her a session, per se, but it is nice to finally see that he does recognize the need to reach out to someone.  I suspect it’s going to be a long road back for Culber.


 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Star Trek: Discovery -- Season 2 Episode 9 (Project Daedalus)


WARNING:  This review gives away plot details for this episode.


For those that remember Matlock, it seemed like every one of his clients was completely innocent.  This didn’t mean there wasn’t a pile of evidence that they committed murder.  The client would be found holding the murder weapon.  The client also had a heated argument with the victim hours earlier in which the accused threatened to kill the victim.  Of course, Matlock would prove their innocence.

This is what it’s like for Spock.  He left a psychiatric facility, which wasn’t a problem.  He was there voluntarily.  What is a problem is that he supposedly murdered several people before leaving.  There’s even a video of Spock murdering the people.  Spock maintains his innocence.

That’s not even Discovery’s biggest problem.  The crew wants to get to a Section 31 facility.  It would be easy except for all the mines around it, which are attracted to shields.  Oh, and the ship is hailed by an admiral informing them to stay away.

So, the ship goes in and manages to survive the minefield.  When they get to the starbase, they’re in for a surprise:  Everyone has been dead for two weeks, including the admiral that told them to stay away.  Well, that’s strange.  But it does provide clues for what happened with Spock.

The entire episode basically deals with Control, the information system that guides the decisions of Starfleet’s upper command.  It has become self-aware and wants more information so that it can become sentient.  Specifically, Baby Skynet wants the information Discovery got from The Sphere earlier in the season.

With most of the character development going to Burnham, it’s nice to see Airiam getting some background information.  I don’t like what comes next, and I should have seen it coming.  I should have known something was coming up.

To be honest, I disliked it mostly because the buildup was so intense.  I felt like it should have been spread out over several episodes.  I guess, in a way, it was.  Airiam has been getting more screen time, but it’s not really the same thing.

It’s a pretty solid episode, overall.  Spock, Airiam and other characters get enough screen time that it’s not entirely the Michael Burnham Show.  It also does nicely to progress the storyline and set up the next episode, in which we maybe learn the identity of The Red Angel.


 

Friday, January 17, 2020

Star Trek: Discovery -- Season 2 Episode 8 (If Memory Serves)


On the one hand, I was really excited that Star Trek: Discovery went back to Talos IV.  This was the site of the very first Star Trek pilot.  It makes sense, given that Captain Pike has taken command of the ship and Michael Burnham has finally found her foster brother, Spock.  I mean, it would have been a minor disappointment if they hadn’t at least mentioned the planet.

Add to this the buildup of the fractured relationship between Spock and Burnham.  We know it was something serious enough that they haven’t spoken in years.  But what is it?

This is one of several storylines going on.  Burnham brings Spock to Talos IV to get him straightened out.  The Talosians make a deal:  If they help Spock, Burnham shows them what transpired between them.  She reluctantly agrees.

On Discovery, Ash and Culber are each still at a loss to fit in.  In fact, it comes to blows, as Ash was the one who sent Culber to the Mycelial network.  Both walk away from the fight and Saru has to explain why, as first officer, he allowed the fight.  But it’s all good.  At least for now.

To the show’s credit, they made the Talosians look like they should have, given the increased budget.  They’re true to the original show’s look while not looking as childish.  They have the menacing look you would hope for in a race that has extreme telepathic abilities.

I’m several episodes ahead of this, so I know that Culber starts to reach out for help.  Come to think of it, Ash is also in a difficult position.  Both have been isolated for a long time.  Culber is in a different state, mentally, but both really need someone to talk to.  Culber is distancing himself, though, whereas Ash is distanced because of his actions and what he is.

I still say that the show doesn’t really use this aspect of the story to its fullest potential.  I’m seeing the inner struggle, but not so much the potential for help.

The actual rift between Spock and Burnham seems to be a letdown.  I kind of get it.  We’re being shown what kind of person Burnham is.  It also might explain why Spock never spoke of Burnham.  This is done more to set up later episodes rather than to be a major lot element in its own right. 

Still, this is one of the most continuity-heavy episodes in recent memory.  At this point, it would be safe to say that you have to have a heavy understanding of Trek to appreciate what’s going on.  Yes, it’s true to the rest of the season, but to a lesser extent.  Overall, it’s a pretty good episode.


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Star Trek: Discovery -- Season 2 Episode 7 (The Sound of Thunder)

Saru is a bit of an oddity.  He comes from a pre-warp culture, but serves in Starfleet.  He was granted asylum many years ago, but we didn’t know much about the details.  Along comes The Sound of Thunder, wherein one of the Seven Signals is found above Saru’s home planet, Kaminar.

Kaminar is home to another race called the Ba’ul, who hunt the Kelpiens.  This makes visiting the planet tricky, since the Kaminar have warp drive.  Normally, Starfleet would avoid the Kelpiens altogether, but since they already know about interstellar travel, it might not be so bad.  Plus, they need information on The Red Angel.

So, Saru returns to his village with Michael Burnham.  He meets his sister and starts asking questions.  They’ve seen the signal, but not the angel.  Oh, and Saru’s presence has triggered some sort of alarm.

Saru has undergone an evolution his people believe impossible, but it’s not and the Ba’ul seem to know it.  What’s the deal?  Fortunately, the ship came by a vast amount of information that proves useful.  The Ba’ul do actually know more than they’re letting on.

The only thing really cliché about the episode is that Saru steals a shuttle and sacrifices himself.  I suppose there aren’t too many options.  We could have the Ba’ul beam him off or invade the ship and take him anyway.  That’s about it.

There’s also some tension between Saru and his sister.  Since he just disappeared, his village was left to assume that he had been taken by the Ba’ul.  She also realizes that he’s there for a reason and that reason isn’t to catch up.

My big complaint is that Culber is having such a hard time readjusting to life on Discovery and no one is doing anything to help him. The guy literally came back from the dead.  He’s also jumpy to the touch and has been through an ordeal, which might indicate some sort of psychological issue.  You’d think someone would have him talk to a psychologist.  Yet, there’s no indication they even have one on the ship.

However, it appears that what’s happening to Saru is natural and expected.  It’s still not clear exactly how it will play out, but it will be interesting to see what happens.


 

Monday, January 13, 2020

Star Trek: Discovery -- Season 2 Episode 5 (Saints of Imperfection)


Some episodes are pretty straightforward.  There’s one main story and maybe a side story.  It might be personal growth that parallels a major conflict.  It might be a minor conflict that interferes with a normal mission.  Then, there are episodes like Saints of Imperfection.  It’s like, “Ok.  Put down what you’re doing.  I need you to pay attention.”

The main thread here is that Tilly, the overeager captain-in-training, is trapped in mycelial space.  It’s up to Stamets to save her.  Ash Tyler is now posted to The Discovery as a liaison to Section 31.  The ship finally catches up with Spock’s shuttle, bring it on board and…it’s not Spock.  Instead, they find Georgiou, who’s also looking for Spock.

So, the reason that Tilly was brought to mycelial space was that the spores needed her to slay a monster.  It’s not clear why Tilly, specifically.  However, this monster is killing mycelial life forms and has to be stopped.

Stamets finds a way to bring the Discovery into mycelial space and rescue Tilly.  Before going back, they find this monster that the spores want killed.  As a click-bait article might promise, you won’t believe who the monster is!

All of the story lines are tied together by things that are out of place.  Georgiou is not of our universe.  Tilly is trying to find something not of the mycelial universe.  Ash appears human on the outside, but is really Klingon on the inside.  He’s not really welcomed in either world and it’s about to get more complicated.

Speaking of the mycelial network, it seems like we’re never really done with that.  We get a full-on promise never to go back…until we have to again.  Then, that’s the last time…until the next time.  But this is the last time.  We mean it!

And for those of you reading these reviews as you’re watching the series, I feel your pain.  You can’t wait to see Spock.  I’m a few episodes ahead of you.  You’re not going to have to wait long.