a review by the Crow.
Captain‘s log, Stardate 96763.4: Tonight, a crow has stayed up in wait of the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery, to repent for his being late with the previous two episodes.
And as of stardate 96763.62, I have a great deal to talk about.
But first: a personal anecdote.
Only night before last, I was going over my notes from the long-abandoned Star Trek project I was once connected to, to perhaps filch unused ideas for my current project. It was one of those sessions featuring the dramatic acting-out of scenes to find the pacing, to boot. And it was during this “dramatic acting-out” that two things connected me to the present episode.
Among the vast amounts of notes I’d made was a name — a name that appears at the climax of this week’s episode, leading me to wonder just how many ideas Star Trek: Discovery cannibalised.
Throughout this season of the show (or more accurately: since Captain Pike took over), I’ve seen multiple ideas being used which were originally meant for other potential Star Trek projects following Discovery, but this is one of the few that call close to home for me (I’ll leave the others unmentioned because I’d rather not violate promises I made). Discovery‘s had a bumpy start and is still spending time finding its feet, and while I might not directly be a part of what makes it move forward, I’m nothing but happy to see that the ideas haven’t entirely gone to waste.
After all: waste not, want not.
(And on that note: If you’d like, feel free to guess what the connection is.)
With that said, let’s prepare the warp core and lay in a course for the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery
Light and Shadows
SPOILER LEVELS at MODERATE
Before I speak about this episode, let me remind you that I’ve had a long-running problem with Discovery‘s “discarding” of plot-lines. While I praised last week’s episode to no end; it, too, presented that issue. I was waiting for an episode featuring the Kelpians and the Ba’ul, but even counting the Short Trek episode The Brightest Star, the entire story unfolds over the course of less than ten episodes. And that is the furthest Discovery has gone with any plot that isn’t central to the overarching story (which was incredibly weak in the first season, at that). The Mirror Universe angle lasted only a few episodes, as did the matter of May (Bahia Watson). This show — even though it wants to be a seasonal show — is throwing away angles with no sign of direct foresight.
Looking back on the Kelpian/Ba’ul plot, I would have preferred to wait. I understand that Discovery‘s future wasn’t guaranteed up until just over a day ago, but cutting overarching themes so short shows a certain undercurrent of fear — a fear I would prefer Star Trek never have.
The point — after all — is to boldly go.
A rant: I’ve mentioned certain “critics” of ST:DSC in previous reviews — people who I’ve described as individuals with nothing better to do than to nitpick the show and wax lyrical over its perceived failings. While I have little time for these people, there is one thing I would like to point out.
There seems to be an impression that Star Trek: Discovery has been pushing a “feminist agenda” and that people who like the show should “remove themselves from the fandom”.
Now, I am a fan, but I doubt I could be called a part of the larger fandom. My Klingon factor is overly strong. But allow me to rebutt that point with the following:
Have you seen where you are?
This is Star Trek. Star Trek has always pushed to be at the very forefront of social issues (and has miserably failed many a time). I posit that if you think Star Trek is “too open”, there is something fundamentally wrong with you as a “fan”.
And just to drive home how pathetic these people are: a good number of them were rejoicing in the knowledge that Star Trek: Discovery was already cancelled (with apparent “insider knowledge”) until the news broke that it was quite the opposite — and they started whining all over. Have they not heard of what The Next Generation went through in its first season? Do they not understand that pinning a “canon” on Star Trek is as miresome as one of Simon Pegg‘s Scotty analogies?
And to drive a final nail in the coffin: if it’s that important to you that Star Trek line up with your vision of it — get help. Some of these people seem to line their wallets with these “criticisms”, but not all of them. Get help. You need it.
But now, on to the episode:
Light and Shadows begins with a monologue that sets up the thematic tone for the episode. And it doesn’t work. To summarise why it doesn’t work is because the internal structure of the episode is a mess. The idea is secure, but it plays out mostly as filler. The usually good CGI gets spotty at times trying to keep up with the action on screen, and the only real action we are delivered is in the exchange between Commander Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Ex-Emperor Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh).
Tyler (Shazad Latif) and Pike (Anson Mount) share some scenes together that work, but are undercut by the storyline at play. Once again: Discovery sets up much to work with, but fails to do a lot with it. In this episode, I can forgive that, since it seems that Light and Shadows is a set up that will lead directly into episode 10. And as an aside (alliteration!): I’ve always wanted someone to “fling the badge”. The captain of my own design had a habit of doing so (the character never made any cut), but I’ve always felt it was a striking image. Mr Latif nails the attitude I’d envisioned, and continues to be the strongest performer on the cast. I’ve mentioned before how no one on the show comes close to him in terms of performance, and his strengths surface here: using his four “voices” to great degree — however subtle they may be.
The heart of the story, however, resides in Spock (Ethan Peck), Amanda (Mia Kirschner), and Sarek (James Frain) as they relate to Michael. Sarek definitely deserves the award Number One‘s wanted to award him (for over a year now) for the “Worst Dad in the Galaxy”, and he acts exactly in line with Spock’s fears in The Final Frontier.
And there’s the interesting thing. I can already see those idiots I mentioned arguing over how Spock’s been “demeaned” because of the revelations made in this episode. And they are (prediction, here) simply incorrect. This lines perfectly with Spock as we’ve known him — and it makes him a better character for it. A lot of the questions that might’ve been raised about Spock’s relationship to Sarek are explained in this episode. There is — of course — ground to yet be covered, but what we’ve been given paints enough of a picture.
To summarise my overall thoughts on the episode (I am quite deprived of sleep): it’s a rushed affair. It pushes us further in the direction of Captain Saru (Doug Jones), and whatever’s going on with Talos IV is not what we brainstormed so long ago — that, I can guarantee you. But we’ll have to wait for the next episode to discover where this angle is going. All I can say is that this is — and those of you in the know will agree — a very “cagey” affair. Lorca’s last fortune cookie did speak volumes, in the end.
Now that I know that the “unnamed” Section 31 (NCIA93) ship isn’t unique, I’m less unthused by it.
The Treknobabble is a touch above-average, considering that they come close to fields of mathematics I’m quite enamoured of, and the dynamic between Pike and Tyler really is a delight. It harkens back to Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart) and Worf (Michael Dorn) from First Contact. Stamets (Anthony Rapp) is a particular delight in this episode owing to his “naturalistic” acting, and like I said last week: we already know who the Red Angel is.
There are three lights.
There is a great deal to like in Light and Shadows, but only when considering it as a filler episode. It’s almost a masterstroke that the first appearance of the new Spock could be handled with as little ceremony, and that might very well be a feather in the episode’s cap. All-in-all: Light and Shadows comes recommended by The Corvid Review. It’s a good watch — if only an in-between.
Watch 2.5 (Hannah Cheesman). She knows.
— Crow out.
THE CROW: 5.5/10
THE AZURE-WINGED MAGPIE: TBA/10
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- Star Trek: Discovery — Episodes 11 — 15 Round Up
- Star Trek: Discovery — Short Treks
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- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E02: New Eden
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E03: Point of Light
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E04: An Obol for Charon
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E05: Saints of Imperfection
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E06: The Sound of Thunder
- Star Trek: The Motion Picture
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
- Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
- Star Trek: Generations
- Star Trek: First Contact
- Star Trek Beyond