Saturday, March 23, 2019

Thoughts on Star Trek Discovery S2E10 "The Red Angel"


This series is getting pretty self-aware and I must say I am enjoying it. The interactions and dialogue between characters was one of the best parts of this episode as well, in which we see Michael die. I did say spoilers right?

She doesn't stay dead for long though, but let's go back a little first.

The episode starts with a funeral for Airiam, and I'll be honest, it made me a lot angrier than it made me sad. Why are they trying to make us feel for Airiam now? That ship has sailed people. They make a poor teary-eyed Tilly do her best in selling us that she used to be a really close friend to Airiam and everything is so sad yada yada, no one is buying it. The actors are doing a great job with an ungrateful task here, trying to fix what the writers couldn't put together properly. They throw out Airiams body into space, and if that is the last we ever see of her then she is probably one of the worst used characters in the history of Star Trek (and reading this makes it seem like the writers had no idea what to do with her originally). Please feel free to give me other examples.

So much potential, wasted?

And also, what is up with the whole shooting dead people into space thing? I know it refers back to when people used to do it on sea and I can see if humans thought it might be a good idea in the early days of space traveling. But just like we don't throw dead people into the sea anymore (we don't, do we?) why would they want to throw out dead people into space, knowing how populated space is? Any body you leave floating around out there is almost certain to be picked up by something, is that really how we want our bodies to be left?

Anyway, Tilly manages to find a file inside Airiams head that tell them who the Red Angel really is. Surprise, surprise, it is Michael. Spock delivers a lovely scene where he says that it fits Michael's emotional personality of having to be the one that saves the day, going a little bit meta with addressing the point of how Michael always find herself in the middle of the weirdest situations. It's also something that I guess could've been guessed by a half-clever viewer (so not me), as it also sort of answers the question of why it has been showing itself to Spock specifically. It does make you wonder why Michael hasn't been showing herself to... herself. If you get my meaning. Why go back and give vague hints to Spock?

There is an explanation of sorts to that, for instance way back when Spock first saw the Red Angel and it lead to him being able to rescue Michael from some sort of Vulcan beast in the wilderness. But this could've been accomplished by Michael simply going back and saving herself (which is a possibility as we will soon see in the episode). So there isn't a clear explanation just yet as to why Michael chooses Spock for the visions of herself. This whole issue becomes even more confusing at the very end of this episode, as we will get to.

Section 31 shows up and tells the Discovery people that they have a plan to capture the Red Angel, because they are in fact the creators of the time traveling suit that she is using. Back at the beginning of the Klingon war it seemed like the Klingons dabbled in time traveling and so to not get wiped off the time map, the Federation also created a time traveling device. It was the subsequently lost. Discovery lets them in on the information that the traveller is Michael and they decide they need to team up to set a trap. They put Stamets on the task of very quickly coming up with a solution to capture someone who can time travel, which he of course does in an afternoon (or something), because Stamets will just solve any problem thrown at him. Where is my "Stamets will fix it" meme?

I want an episode where TOS Klingons meet DSC Klingons.

Stamets solution is in part to render the time crystal in the suit inoperational, but what the heck is a time crystal anyway? The way it's worded it's literally some sort of stone that allows for time travel, and how that would work would be very interesting to know.

There is another great scene where Stamets and Tilly talk about the intricacies of time traveling and suits with Philippa, when Hugh comes in for no reason and asks where Admiral Cornwell is (can't you locate people via the computer here? Maybe that comes later?). Everything goes all awkward between Stamets and Hugh and Philippa relishes in it and starts talking about their sexuality. It's just a weird scene which Tilly wraps up perfectly with "what just happened?", which must be what everyone watching is thinking as well. At least the writers acknowledge that

Hugh finds Cornwell, who apparently used to work as a therapist before she became an admiral, and they briefly talk about Hugh's issues with his new identity. It's a nice talk actually where Cornwell sums it up with whatever Hugh used to feel and whomever he used to be, he is still free and in charge of the path he chooses to go forward. It's unclear how this ties in to the bigger story, but it's a good scene nonetheless.

Leland tells Michael the story about why he is sort of responsible for her parents death, and that her parents were also part of the crew that built the time travel suit. Michael kicks his ass in response. At first it's also unclear how this is important to everything going on, besides giving some more backstory to Michael I guess? But it might become a bit clearer moving forward as we will soon find out. It does make you wonder how old Leland is, if he was in charge of Michael's parents. He does mention that he was young when taking those decision however, so presumably he somehow got into high command and highly classified Starfleet dealings at an early age.

They died in a supernova, in case you were wondering.

For the trap to work they need to know when the Red Angel is going to show up again, and Spock tells Michael that he has figured out that she shows up to save herself from death. Michael promptly decides that she needs to die in order to get future-Michael to save her and walk into their trap. Pike and Philippa are not keen on Michael's idea, but agree to it eventually. The trap is set on a planet where no humanoids can survive and Michael is basically going to be allowed to suffocate to death in the hostile atmosphere. Spock tells Michael it would be nice of her not to die, since that would otherwise have him charged with murder again. "Such a way with words" Michael replies.

Spock and Michael are much better friends in this episode and even come around to telling each other they're sorry. It's a bit jarring that Spock tells Michael in this episode that "she was just a child" when in the previous episode he very clearly did not forgive her anything despite her age. Why they've suddenly made up isn't very well established, but I don't even mind because the interactions between them are just so entertaining to watch. I actually really like this Spock.

Philippa goes very protective-mother over Michael in this episode (as much as the character is capable at least), which frankly is an interesting side of evil-Philippa, and something that has been established throughout the series. It works, but Philippa says that she knew Michael would do something like this because she would always try to do the right thing (I am paraphrasing). The way Philippa has been talking about her own Michael from the mirror-Universe, it makes it almost seem like that Michael wasn't even evil? So I am not really sure if everyone in the mirror-Universe is a mirror of themselves or how that works. How could a non-evil Michael even survive in the mirror-Universe?

Still killing it.

Spock straps Michael into a chair and Hugh is close by, ready to resurrect her. It's a bit unclear here whether they actually mean for her to die-die, or just really unconscious-die. It seems the characters haven't really decided themselves, because as Michael is dying, Philippa and Pike tell them to abort the mission, but Spock won't let them and threatens them at phaser point. Even if they could resurrect Michael after she's died, isn't there a brain damage factor involved? At this point however it seems like Spock actually means for Michael to die-die because he's thinking that is the only way to summon the Red Angel. It's also a pretty well done scene for him.

So Michael dies, and moments after the Red Angel shows up to resurrect her. Firstly, why wait that long? Secondly, why would she have the exact tools required to resurrect Michael in this situation in her time traveling suit? And why does the suit have wings like an angel? I could find possible answers to these question but these posts always get longer than I intend them to anyway so let's move right along.

They manage to capture the Red Angel just like they planned and out of the suit falls... Michael's mom? This would explain the Leland and Michael's backstory scene (why do they insist on always giving us the establishing backstory and character development right before it becomes relevant? Do they think our memory and ability to create a bigger picture in our minds have become that fickle?). This does not however explain why the Red Angel has shown itself to Spock instead of Michael all this time. But they might still give us an explanation for this so I am going to let it slide for now.

Overall a good episode with, as mentioned, more of the fun interaction and banter between characters that we saw some of in the previous episode. It makes the characters come alive a bit and thus the show itself. I hope it continues in this vein and this episode definitely left it on a cliffhanger that makes me very interested in seeing where things are going from here.

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