For some reason I had gotten it into my head that the last episode was a mid-season finale? Did I not do this last season as well? What the heck is wrong with me? Two little children, that's what... But either way, I noticed that I was wrong and here we are.
This episode was a whole lot of good things, baked in between two less good things.
The first not so good thing is how the episode pretty much starts. Admiral Cornwell (I keep thinking it's Cornwall) visits the now fugitive crew of the Discovery and tells them they have a big problem. Well yeah they do, they are on the run for harbouring a murderer, but what did you need help with Cornwell? Apparently some person called Patar has been taking control of a system called... eh, Control, and is misusing it. What is this Control you wonder? Glad you asked - it's something thrown straight in our face this very second for the sake of bad writing. It's also a huge computer system that the Federation uses to aid it in its tactical decision making. Cornwell needs the Discovery to get there and retake it. And since the Discovery has nothing better to do... (?).
Meanwhile Spock and Burnham are trying to understand what the Red Angel wants with Spock specifically and with showing up in general. The animosity between them is clear and actually played out pretty good. I've mentioned before that it hasn't been very well established exactly why they are so bad at getting along (the whole thing about Burnham being mean to Spock as a kid at one point seems like not enough for this kind of bad blood) but through the dialogue it becomes more clear that there is a whole lot more going on and it makes more sense. In essence, Spock is angry about being half-human and angry with Burnham for being a bit of a busybody and a martyr. He ain't wrong though. But it's also pretty classical Spock stuff.
|So many Spocks.|
In fact, after having complained for pretty much every post so far that I don't particularly care for Spock being in this season, I feel like my opinion of him is a bit more nuanced now that we've gotten to know him a bit better and seen him interact with people. I actually like this Spock. Or let me rephrase - I like this character. It feels like a Spock, sure. But it doesn't feel like the Spock. Zachary Quinto's Spock felt like Spock. This guy is called Spock, and he's a good character but I don't get Spock from him. That is not to say he's bad, but maybe too different. He's interesting though and I don't mind him being in the series anymore, at least for now.
Burnham tries to help Spock figure out what is going on and suggests they play that Vulcan chess game because it is "based in logic". I thought "Kal-Toh" was the go-to logic game for Vulcans though? Mid-game, Spock does the Vulcan version of rage-quitting and they have a good scene where they duke it out (verbally, mind you) leading to the above-mentioned further understanding of the difficulties between them.
|Maybe it hasn't been invented yet.|
We also get a bit of background story on Airiam and I was getting my hopes up that we'd finally get some more character development. Unfortunately this would all come crashing down with big flaw number two, but there is still some things happening before then. Her background story anyhow is that she is a sort of cyborg, think Robocop, who was in a shuttle crash in which her newlywed husband died. So she used to be human but was cybernetically enhanced because of the accident, presumably, it's not flat out told which I actually prefer.
On board the Discovery, Airiam and Tilly are trying to find out who has been sending the secret messages. Since it is Airiam who has done it, she tries to make sure Tilly doesn't find out. We get to understand that Airiam is only "possessed" by the malicious software/virus intermittently and sort of "wakes up" from it whenever it is done with its deeds. It seems to worry or at least confuse her but why she doesn't tell anyone is anyone's guess. Nahn, Pike's assistent or whatever she is that he brought over from his previous ship and who has been absolutely useless as a character so far, is suspicious of Airiam and keeps an eye on her. Why she doesn't tell anyone is anyone's guess.
Cornwell gets the Discovery to go to Section 31 secret hideout and as they get there they notice it is completely surrounded by a great variety of mines. Slicing mines and scramble mines and magnetic mines and I'm just making names up at this point... While travelling they look at the tactical data on the big viewscreen, with all the stars rushing past in great flashing light as a background, making it virtually impossible to concentrate or make anything out of the information on the screen. Surely there must be a way to remove that star effect if you want to use the screen as a computer screen rather than a window?
|Imagine text on that thing and you can see my problem.|
Cornwell tells them to lower their shields (because it attracts mines) and use a special route that she has and they'll be fine. Of course that fails almost immediately when they are being attacked by the mines. Detmer shouts something about "the ship being upside down" and what does that even mean in space? Then something happens that makes no sense - possessed-Airiam transmits some message to somewhere and the mines stop attacking. Admiral Patar starts talking to them, telling them they are all going to be arrested for treason. Cornwell tells Pike that they need to sort out the Control system anyway, which he agrees with. They decide to send in Burnham, Nahn and Airiam.
While in the base they find a lot of dead people. Burnham asks Nahn to go find some way to turn environmental controls back on and so she is left alone with Airiam. "Ruh-roh!" as some dogs and people might say. Airiam pretends to start Control back up while instead actually submitting some sort of data. Nahn gets the gravity back on and she and Burnham find Admiral Patar, dead. Uhm? Pike asks the right question when he says "so who was I talking to then?". Saru has the answer, that Patar was actually a hologram. Who made it though? Tilly has the answer. While everything has been going on, Tilly has figured out that Airiam has been acting weird and checks her station. She sees that Airiam has been downloading information from the Sphere that they encountered a couple of episodes back. Pike tells Burnham and Nahn to stop Airiam from uploading that data to the Control system, because the Control system is the actual villain. Think Skynet from Terminator. It turns out it needs the data from the Sphere to become fully sentient, at which point it can exterminate all sentient life in the Universe. They seem to realize this is what Spock has been having visions about all along. So now all that stuff that didn't make sense earlier is supposed to make sense.
Ok so hold it here, I have a lot of questions.
- Firstly, what constitutes as "sentient"? Are we talking dolphins and whales? Robots? Mushrooms? I guess if nothing else this will be a way to find out what that means. This is the same issue as the one I had with Thanos killing "half of all life". What counts as life?
- And why would Control want to do that? They seem absolutely sure that is going to happen. How can they know, besides assuming this is what Spock's visions is about?
- It's credible that Control, which seems to be interlinked with every Federation system, would know about the Sphere. But why doesn't it already have the knowledge of the Sphere? Instead it needs it transferred to it manually? Surely there must've been a better way to do that than to hijack a cyborg and then get it all the way to the main systems by impersonating people and setting them up (Control is what got Spock accused of murder). It's an extremely elaborate scheme that could go wrong in so many ways. Like maybe how about just asking for that information? Until just now, no one has suspected that Control is actually a maniac, half-sentient program.
- To do all this scheming and wanting to be sentient it already has to be quite sentient. I mean what does it really need that Sphere information for anyway? They say it's to make it fully knowledgeable and unbeatable, essentially, but the Federation also has all that information.
- Why did it attack with the mines? I understand somewhat that Airiam sending that message was for Control to realize that it shouldn't attack, but didn't it know that Discovery was carrying Airiam with the information? What other ship was it expecting to show up at this exact time?
- Wasn't Airiam infected by something from the probe which was from the future? Is Control from the future? Or was Control in a future where it was in... eh, control, and sent back that probe to make that future come true?
I could go on pretty much forever, but it's getting boring and I know I won't get any answers to any of this so let's move on instead.
|Another guy who wasn't being very clear with his annihilation plans.|
Nahn and Burnham attack Airiam, Airiam quickly renders Nahn useless (surprise, surprise) and has a fight with Burnham, who somehow manages to not completely break her hands when punching Airiam in the face. Must be something about the Vulcan fighting technique. Or maybe all that metal looking thing in her face is actually soft? Anyway, Burnham manages to lock her in the air lock and Airiam briefly gets her senses, but not her motor control, back when Tilly talks to her weepingly. Airiam pleads for Burnham to throw her out into space or Airiam will kill them all by being possessed. Airiam tells Burnham that she is the reason Control is acting this way and that Burnham has to remember about Project Daedalus. Burnham hesitates but before Airiam can say anything more Nahn turns up to do the dirty work it for her. That Nahn character has still to prove her point of being in the series for me though.
But yeah, Airiam dies and we don't care one bit because they just started her character development 40 minutes ago. Good job there guys, it's not like you've had over 20 episodes /facepalm.
So in the end we have an episode that has some pretty good scenes between characters, but everything else is so poorly established it's like they've just decided to go this route with the story at the last minute. Control isn't mentioned (at least not to my knowledge) at all until this very moment and Airiam has only been seen in the background basically until this very episode. And this episode is all about us caring about those two things. It doesn't work like that DSC. In VOY (which I am talking a lot about mainly because I am rewatching it simultaneously as I am watching Discovery) they can elude to things tens of episodes before it comes to fruition, like Tom Paris interest of everything vintage (this isn't always true though, as with Seven of Nines and Chakotays sudden romance in season 7).
I'll be honest, I can't even remember how the episode ended, but maybe things will make more sense in next weeks episode.