Friday, March 1, 2019

Thoughts on Star Trek Discovery S2E7 "Light and Shadows"

And yes, spoilers.

My first thought after finishing this episode is that this season feels like every other episode is a set-up episode, and every other gives you the delivery of that set-up. It's not exactly like that, but that is the feeling it's giving off right now. And this would then be another set-up episode.

Off the back of what happened on Kaminar, Pike and Michael now seem certain that the "Red Angel" is a humanoid and clad in some sort of futuristic get up. They are still completely in the dark as to the motivations of this person/entity and Michael mentions that she wonders "whose future" this thing comes from. I'm not sure what she means by that, isn't the future everyone's?

Anyway, she goes on to tell Pike she needs to speak to her parents (which she briefly alludes to at the end of the previous episode if I remember correctly) because, as she says, she hasn't "spoken to her mother for a long time". Yeah about four episodes or something? And let us go back quickly to when we last saw Sarek actually. The last time we saw him was in episode 14 of season 1 where I at least got the feeling that he was going on a very dangerous mission (if he's popped up since then I have completely forgotten about it). There was just something off about the way he said goodbye to Michael. But we haven't seen anything come out of that, unless all of that had something to do with Section 31. I can't say that I can piece it together yet, but that goes for a lot of things in Discovery. Overall I feel like whatever happened in season 1 is very disconnected to what is happening in season 2.

I guess Michael dies young because she ain't in any family pictures..

Either way, Michael heads back to Vulcan to talk to her mother about where Spock might be. When she confronts her, she gets the feeling that she knows where he is and Amanda eventually agrees to tell her. She has in fact been hiding Spock in a cave temple of sorts and by bringing Michael there she also inadvertently makes Sarek find out where Spock is. Spock, by the way, is a rambling mess and not really with it. This entire way of revealing where Spock is feels a bit forced, to be fair. Why would Michael suddenly get an urge to speak to her mother, again actually. Despite what Michael says she did talk to her about Spock not long ago at all. Why would she have reason to think that Amanda knows where Spock is suddenly? We also get no explanation as to how Spock managed to get to Vulcan from the shuttle he abandoned in space, without being detected.

Sarek thinks they should hand Spock over to Section 31, and his logic is that they want the information in his head (regarding the Red Angel) the most so they are the least likely to hurt him. He is also not worried about Spock ending up in prison because, as he puts it (and I paraphrase), if he did murder people he should be in prison and if he didn't he wont end up in prison. Great Vulcan logic there. They do hijack the scene to give us some Vulcan vs Humanity quarrel between Sarek and Amanda, something that of course is a big part of Spocks identity but honestly feels a bit out of place right there.

So we "finally" get to meet Spock. I say "finally" because personally I am not particularly interested, as I have said before. I wish they would let this series stand on its own feet and merits rather than try to live off other ones. While I don't mind "intermingling" of series if it's done with a purpose, which I have spoken about in a previous post, this just feels like they are trying to use fan-service and the love of one of the biggest characters in Star Trek to breathe more life into Discovery. We'll see if the decision to make this makes more sense further on and maybe I will warm up to Spock.

Space time anomalies are always a blast.

While Michael is on Vulcan, Discovery finds a space time anomaly. I love space time anomalies, while they can often give you a headache with their internal logic, they are almost always loads of fun so I was immediately hyped for this episode.

Pike decides they need to find out more about this anomaly, because it might be related to the Red Angel, and wants to pilot a shuttle closer to it. Saru correctly points out that sending the captain of a starship on such a dangerous mission isn't exactly protocol, but since when does any captain in the Star Trek universe care about that? Tyler tags along, because he thinks he needs to.

The episode starts out with a lot of animosity between Tyler and Pike. Pike doesn't like Tyler because he killed Culber and because Tyler is sort of Voq in that odd way that doesn't entirely make sense. There is a brilliant scene where Pike asks Tyler about it and Tyler says "I'm sorry, there is no way to get rid of him". Pike answers with "I know the feeling". Oh snap.

While in the shuttle, they of course get sucked into the anomaly and need to be rescued by the Discovery. I love how the shuttle interior show both analog and digital components. Like they have actual switches that they throw to do things in there. I know they build the Delta Flyer in Voyager with switches on purpose because Tom Paris likes things to be analog, but otherwise I'm not sure how common they are. But maybe they just look analog.

In case you'd want to build your own.

While in the anomaly Pike and Tyler continue to bicker about everything. Suddenly they get attacked by some big tentacled robot looking rocket and they realize it's a probe they sent into the anomaly earlier that has been altered somehow. Their shuttle computer tells them the probe is now 500 years older and for some reason it is trying to kill them by breaking their shuttle apart. It manages to get a tentacle or three into the shuttle and attacks them, and also tries to download information from their computers.

Meanwhile on Discovery, Tilly realizes that someone with Tardigrade DNA can probably locate the shuttle inside the anomaly because that's how that works. Stamets to the rescue yet again. Stamets is in Discovery what the "deflector dish" is in Voyager. Every Star Trek series needs that one thing that they can go to, to solve any problem. Stamets not only locates them, but also beams himself on board the shuttle while in the anomaly and pilots them out of there. Or at least close enough to the Discovery for them all to be beamed back. They put the shuttle on self destruct to destroy the violent probe, but the probe manages to not only attack the Discovery computers first, but also seems to infect the bridge resident robot-thingy Airiam with a virus or something. We don't know much about Airiam yet, in fact it's not entirely clear that she is a robot or what she is. Hopefully we will find out more about this soon.

After their ordeal on the shuttle, Pike and Tyler suddenly go from not trusting each other with making a cup of tea to being best friends. Pike now agrees with Tyler that the Red Angel could be hostile, because the probe came from the future and it was hostile, but that is pretty much the only thing speaking for that theory so far. It's a bit like not liking food because you had this thing once that didn't taste good. Talk about generalizing much, Pike.

More Philippa please.

Meanwhile, Michael has taken Spock to Section 31 and is assured that everything will be fine with him. Leland tells her to go to a starbase to get some rest. Philippa tells Michael that Leland is lying (so much for Sarek's logic), Michael asks her why she cares and Philippa answers what surmounts to "I care because you care". Michael and Philippa have a fake-fight for the cameras to make it look like Michael is overpowering Philippa to free Spock and off they go. Leland tells Philippa he doesn't believe that she was actually trying to stop Michael but Philippa says that she knows he killed Michaels parents so Philippa has him under her thumb unless he wants her to spill the beans on that. I'm not sure what that is going to amount to, but the easiest guess is that Philippa will oust Leland as the captain of the Section 31 ship and become captain of it herself.

Philippa is easily the most interesting character in this season so far, although Saru comes a close second. We know very little about her motivations. Her actions are generally egotistical but occasionally seem somewhat compassionate to keep her a multi-faceted and fascinating character. It's definitely keeping me intrigued and I want to know more about what her plans are and how it all ties into the bigger picture. She has basically replaced the Lorca character in that we don't really know if we can trust her and it means all her actions have several possible outcomes. Star Trek characters have a tendency to be a bit black and white so it's a lot of fun to see these more gray area people. Hopefully they won't let Philippa down with their writing.

Red angel?

Michael is hiding with Spock in a shuttle and manages to crack that one of his delusional ramblings are coordinates for a planet. That planet is Talos IV. Sounds familiar? It sure did to me. That is the planet of the Talosians from the The Cage and The Menagerie episodes of TOS where the captain Pike character originally figures. Are they basically tying in the Discovery with what happens in those episodes? That could turn out really awesome if they get it right.

Except for producing Spock it doesn't feel like a lot happens in this episode. It sets up a lot of things that could be really great if they pay off, but that is a pretty big if. While this season has proven it can do some cool things, season 1 had a lot of set up that didn't pay off if you ask me. Hopefully this season won't repeat that.

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