Saturday, 16 March 2019

TREK REVIEW: Discovery 2-7 - "Light and Shadows"

The search for Spock is over... almost. Ethan Peck makes his debut appearance as Trek's most celebrated character, but spends the bulk of his time wandering about in a fret, muttering numbers and strange phrases to himself as if he was Barry Allen after a sojourn in the Speed Force.

There are two strands to this fairly brief episode, one dealing with Micheal and her family on Vulcan, the other on the Discovery following up the mysteries of the Red Angel. There's a lot to enjoy in both of them, although neither one quite manages to be more than a bridge between this episode and the next.

Michael returns to Vulcan (which is absolutely beautifully realised in some of the best shots of the series) to have it out with Amanda, who she correctly deduces is hiding Spock. In spite of Spock's limited agency in this episode, this strand is all about him, with the conflicting attitudes of Sarek, Amanda and Michael threatening to tear their family apart. They all have Spock's interests at heart, but differ vehemently on how to help him. In the end, Michael and Sarek win out and take him to Starfleet – well, Section 31 – only for Michael to realise how stupid she's being and break him out before they use a mind-sifter on him. Once again, Georgiou helps Michael, doing the right thing for perhaps the wrong reasons. Her motivation is so opaque so far that it's hard to say what she's up to.

It's revealed that Spock suffers from a specific learning difficulty named l'tak terai, which is compared to dyslexia but, as a spatial awareness disorder, seems to be closer to a Vulcan equivalent of dyspraxia (the two conditions are closely related, though). Not only do we have a dyspraxic character in Doctor Who, now it's revealed that one of the most intelligent and remarkable characters in Star Trek also experiences the condition. This is brilliant, although there's never been anything to suggest that Spock has such difficulties in the past, but it shows that a disability doesn't have to hold someone back from doing great things. Sarek's unsurprisingly shitty attitude is a powerful element as well – basically dismissing it as being cured by superior Vulcan teaching, which is, of course, ridiculous. Even in the 23rd century, you don't cure dyspraxia, you learn to work with it. Moreover, though, one feels terribly sorry for Spock, who torn between his mother's and father's expectations as a child.

Back on the Disco, the investigation into the Red Angel continues in orbit of Kaminar. I'm not quite convinced that the Red Angel must be from the future just because there are tachyon traces (which have already been identified as being a result of cloaking devices as well as time travel) and because its technology is more advanced than what Starfleet has now (which could just mean it's alien). Nonetheless, this seems to be the answer to its origins, at least partly. I love the shuttle trip into the time rift, though, which is classic Trek adventure and makes what would otherwise be a very talky episode into something more action-packed. The time pockets add some bizarre elements to the peril, which gets particularly exciting when the Discovery's probe comes back from the future, augmented by superior technology into something like one of those be-tentacled killer robots from The Matrix.

The trip is an excuse to put Tyler and Pike in a small space together and force them to come to an understanding. Frankly, I'm on Pike's side; Tyler is a known murderer who killed a crewman, and whose defence is that at the time he was under the control of a split personality, but that he's just fine now. Is it any wonder Pike doesn't trust him? For his part, Tyler sees through Pike and realises he's thrill-seeking due to his sitting out the war, which actually fits Pike's character rather well; back in “The Cage,” he fantasised about living it up on the Orion Colonies dealing in slave girls because he was feeling guilty about his actions in Starfleet. Basically, he's a cocky test pilot who deals with his guilt with adrenaline. However, while Tyler proves he can be trusted to put his captain and his mission ahead of personal feelings, he's still a massive liability and Pike's chumminess with him after this is a bit unbelievable.

Still, the plot thickens when Airiam gets infected by some kind of influence that makes her eyes go red and evil-looking. There's a definite link between, not only the “probe” and the Red Angel, but also the intelligent red sphere from episode three. It's an intriguing episode that mostly serves to further the overall plot, but has a lot of solid content in itself.

Best line:

Everything's cooler with 'time' in front of it.”

General observations:

  • So, assuming the probe was picked up after drifting for five hundred years and arriving in the native time of the agency that sent it back... there's someone or something active in the 28th century involved in the whole Red Angel fiasco. It doesn't necessarily follow, of course, that the Angel is from this time. More than anything, this brings to mind Enterprise and it's time war, with factions acting from different points in history with different levels of knowledge and technology. If there is something acting from the 28th century, then this is a period we know very little about, although it might be noted that Enterprise's mysterious Future Guy called this era home.
  • Almost any continuity issues could be resolved by utilising the time travel aspects of this plot. On the other hand, I almost want them to go all out and use it to pull Discovery into another timeline altogether, thereby saving them from having to fit in with existing continuity, something that's been pretty hit-and-miss so far.
  • For instance, there's a bit of a clash here with the original series, which has Spock and Sarek estranged for years beforehand and not even having seen each other since years Spock joined Starfleet. Feasibly, though, neither one counts this as a meeting, given that Sarek barely interacts with Spock and Spock is off his head.
  • Leland is responsible for the deaths of Michael's parents. Because of course he is. Does everything have to be related to Michael and Spock's childhoods?

No comments:

Post a Comment