Friday, March 8, 2019

Thoughts on Star Trek S2E8 "If Memory Serves"

Spoilers ahead!

So this was apparently the season finale (or is it just a mid season?), which I never realize until after I've watched the episode. As such I'm not sure what to think about it, so I am just going to look at the episode at face value. It sets up some interesting premises that I can only hope get expanded upon as we go forward. We've got a huge change of character for both Saru and Culber (I'll get to more on that) and of course, the possible destruction of a whole bunch of things unless something is fixed.

Stuff is gonna explode.

Going into this episode I was actually mostly curious as to how they would handle the whole Talos IV thing. I'll be honest, I hadn't really understood where they were in the timeline regarding Pike and Spock's previous visit to Talos. Was this their first or second one? We get a very nice flashback with original footage to their previous visit to set the stage. The interesting thing about it is that unless you've seen that specific episode, I don't think the flashback would do much to help you understand what happened there. For us who have, it was very nice (and dare I say needed) to see.

So when Michael and Spock set down on Talos, it's after Pike and Spock have already been there. It turns out Spock has taken them there because the Talosians are the only ones who can help him. The writers let this be an opportunity to let us see what Spock knows about the future and also what happened between Michael and Spock to make their relationship so strained. The first one I find to be quite clever writing. They find a good way to get Talosians into the story that also makes sense and isn't just fanservice. The other one however... the Talosians tell Burnham that in order to help Spock they require one of her memories as payment, and it has to be that specific memory. It just makes no other sense than to serve as exposition and quite frankly it's a bit stupid. But ok. We get to see Spocks future memory and Michaels past memory (you know it's Star Trek when you have to differentiate memories like that).

In Spocks memory we get to see that some sort of alien beings are destroying planets. They remind me of the Reapers from the Mass Effect series? Can't say for sure what they are. We also get to see that he did in fact not kill anyone at the mental facility he was at, but rather just stunned them. So who killed those people to set up Spock? Hopefully we'll find out.

In Burnham's memory we find out she was being very nasty to little Spock to make sure he wouldn't follow her when she ran away to keep them safe from anti-human Vulcan violence. Kind of when someone throws rock at an animal to make sure they walk away. After rewatching the memory Spock tells Michael that he understands why she did it, but he is for some reason still angry with her? Even after telling her that he is grateful it happened because that meant he left his humanity behind and focused on the logic, which also should mean he can't feel anger towards her anymore. It's a bit unclear why he is still unhappy with her, but in the end they get back to Discovery together.

So what has Discovery been up to? 

Mostly been bossed around by Leland and Section 31. They tell Pike to stop looking for Spock and Burnham and instead collect debris from the futurized probe from the previous episode. Pike decides to do both. They find loads of debris from the blown up shuttle, but absolutely none from the probe. Mysterious!

Then Vina (a woman Pike met on Talos) shows up through projection and tells Pike that he needs to go get Burnham and Spock, so he does that. He at first intends to use the spore drive to jump there and so get rid of Section 31 who are on his tail, but someone has sabotaged the spore drive. Someone who has also sent highly encrypted messages off the ship. Mysterious! Tyler is basically set up as the culprit, but it's very heavily hinted that Airiam is the real crook. We know she was infected by the probe in the previous episode so it's likely she is the enemy at the moment.

Not Pike's Vina

Because they can't use the spore drive, they have to get there the conventional way, which means they get Section 31 to come along with them. Section 31 try to steal Burnham and Spock from under them by teleporting them but it turns out those are only projections. So you can apparently teleport those now or was that all just a big hallucination? Either way, as mentioned Spock and Burnham end up on Discovery instead.

We also get to see a bit more on what is going on with Hugh Culber at the moment. It turns out he is being super weirded by the whole technically being a clone thing and is lashing out at Stamets. It essentially boils down to that he doesn't want to live with Stamets anymore and even though not said out loud it is clear that he doesn't want to be in a relationship with Stamets anymore and maybe doesn't even have feelings for him anymore either. Ouch, poor Stamets, who deals with it like a boss to be fair.

What is he thinking?

There is also a pretty good scene where Hugh confronts Tyler in the mess hall and they have a fight. There is no way in hell that Culber fights better than Tyler unless there is something about them both we don't know. So Tyler is basically letting Culber lay in to him for a bit, which would only annoy me more if I was Culber I think. Meanwhile, Saru stands by and lets it happen, telling everyone not to interfere because as he says it "it needs to play out". Afterwards he gets told off by Pike for not following regulations, and Saru is being well snarky about it. Saru is definitely evolving and changing into something completely else and it's interesting to follow.

We don't know what this all means for Culber as a character though, what will his role be in the forthcoming series? I am actually also curious about this simply because he seems like he doesn't really fit anywhere, so I am hoping he will come a bit out of left field and surprise us.

The episode ends with  Discovery on the run, the world possibly coming to an end, a spy on the ship and two very unstable people going through their own transformations. They've definitely set the stage for greatness, and I hope they will deliver.

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