After two absolute smashes it was inevitable that Discovery was going to dip in quality, and a little, and this week most would probably agree that things weren’t at their best. But what went wrong?
In a word: pacing. Rather than a single mystery to solve or goal to pursue, things slowed down as we caught up on three subplots, none of which were QUITE as engaging as they should have been.
So, the first. The mystery of Spock’s involvement with the lights inched forward as we got a glimpse into the past and some more continuity patching regarding the relationship between Michael and Spock. Having Amanda Grayson turn up instead of Sarek was a welcome look into Michael (and Spock’s) often-overlooked maternal figure but it came across a little overwrought and somewhat convenient in plot terms. That said, Pike’s reluctant-but-fair attitude to unsealing Spock’s files was a nice touch that gives us an insight into what sort of captain he is.
Tilly’s plotline, by comparison, seemed weirdly truncated given that we just had it introduced but it seems likely there’s more to come, not least because they’ve got a weird floating fungus-thing from the mycelial network hanging around. Still, they tied up the loose end of that spore attaching itself to Tilly pretty well, even if you’d have to be some kind of memory-savant to have remembered that was a dangling plot thread without the flashback they put in there. Again, some good moments but not wholly engaging. It could have (should have?) been an episode in itself.
And hey, if you didn’t like the Klingon stuff from last year then good news: it’s back. And all the Klingon hairdressers died in the war so they look like Klingons again. The Tyler/Voq and L’Rell storyline was weirdly revisionist (“They have a baby they’ve never seen! Okay the baby’s kidnapped! Okay the baby’s gone forever!”) but the scene where they fought back-to-back and slaughtered their many enemies does sort of show you how a Klingon-centric series would work. I was rooting for them to win their fight, but I was also not sad about how they were rescued from it. Looking forward to more Section 31 action with Georgiou and presumably Tyler.
To be fair any one of these plots could have been spun into a full episode and been good, but this piecemeal approach was unsatisfying and soap-y in a way that doesn’t Star Trek’s strengths. It wasn’t like it was bad, but under these restrictions it was never going to be a classic for the ages.
Were there any Easter Eggs?
Trek fans were no doubt glad to see Klingons looking a lot more like Klingons, no matter how tenuous the explanation for their newly-regrown hair. And hey, the holographic reveal of the familiar D-7 battle cruiser – a Klingon ship for all Klingon houses – was a cool moment.
ShiKahr is a Vulcan city previously mentioned in the animated series episode, Yesteryear (1×02).
And Boreth, the Klingon monastery where they leave Voq and L’Rell’s child, was also featured in the TNG episode Rightful Heir (6×23). It’s the same one where they grow a clone of Kahless, the Klingon Jesus.
What are the Unanswered Questions?
How exactly did Spock encounter the Red Angels as a child?
What does that brain fungus thing want with Stamets?
Will L’Rell stay amenable to Federation support if Tyler isn’t around?
And how badass was Georgiou?!