Star Trek #1478: Light and Shadows

CAPTAIN'S LOG: Burnham finds Spock. Pike and Tyler get lost in a temporal rift.

WHY WE LIKE IT: Pike gets all the best lines. Georgiou all the best reactions.

WHY WE DON'T: Still waiting to be convinced of Spock's casting.

REVIEW: In this one, we're following two stories, but not necessarily to term. They have their arcs, and are edited so that a complication or breakthrough in one coincides with the same in the other, but both are really only set-ups for the next chapter in a continuing story. The one that seems most like a complete story, and thus has some claim to being the A-plot, concerns a time rift opening in orbit around Kaminar and Pike and Tyler resolving their antagonism by flying a mission inside it. A-plot it may be, but it's still an ill-formed idea. We don't know where it comes from, if it actually has something to do with the Red Angel, and if you thought "we're sticking around Kaminar for a bit" had anything to do with the social transition it must now undergo, you'd be wrong. Even Saru doesn't seem to care about that. Nor does anyone where the plot thread ends with a "time tsunami" that seems to hit the planet, the way it's pictured and edited. Temporal anomalies are a technobabble problem with technobabble solutions, and while Discovery's been pretty good about avoiding those, it just means the fix is less comprehensible than normal. Stamets can parse time because of his tardigrade DNA, sure. But having Tilly transport him into the anomaly on his mark (which he never gives), then his flying the shuttle out somehow, is just something we're told is difficult, but then happens without all that much difficulty. "Trust the math", we 're told, but I think they mean "trust the script".

So was this really about putting Pike and Tyler in the same room so they could hash it out and become more friendly going forward? I suppose so. I don't quite believe it, mind. I think Pike is way too quick to admit Tyler was right about his insolent psycho analysis, and Tyler admitting he was wrong to doubt Pike's piloting ability and tactics doesn't make them even as it was pretty obvious he was wrong about that. What we perhaps needed was a promise to lay off the badge-flashing Section 31 bull, but even so, it all feels like a facile end-of-episode, "well maybe we were both right" kind of moment. No matter how you dress it, the plot was only really about getting us to the next one, with Commander Airiam getting possessed by the Superman Animated Series version of Brainiac (I'm not the only one who sees it, right?). This, at least, is exciting, as it promises answers about her odd machine nature. For a moment, I thought this whole thing might tie into the Short Trek Calypso, but the enhanced probe here comes from 500 years in the future; Calypso was 1000 years hence. But while I'm not entirely satisfied with this story, it does deliver on the Pike one-liners. My favorite being "I know the feeling" about Tyler's assessment that Voq is impossible to get rid of.

Meanwhile, Burnham pursues her quest to find Spock by visiting her adoptive parents on Vulcan, a visually gorgeous trip that shows us Vulcan isn't just a desert wasteland filled with ruins (although it is also that). The city is either built on an oasis, or since it's actually raining there, might be terraformed in some capacity. Either way, it's a gateway to Burnham's childhood memories (I feel you, baby Burnham, Vulcan hand signs are hard for me too), and shows us the Amanda-Sarek relationship in action. I was particularly interested in the way they argue, logically of course, with each other, "Try again husband", and that ultimately, his best argument comes with strained, repressed emotion breaking through his voice. And Burnham does find Spock, hidden in a shrine by his mother. Unfortunately, because he's in a dissociative state, it remains impossible to gauge how good a Spock Ethan Peck might be. His famous grandfather could have passed as Vulcan, but he neither sounds, nor looks, nor acts like Spock at this point. Maybe without the beard. And to confuse matters more, he is rectonned as having a learning disability, as if being half-human hadn't come with enough of a stigma. I don't begrudge people with such disabilities some representation, but Spock was already someone people on the autism spectrum could identify with (as highlighted in the film Please Stand By), and I'm not sure there's canonical evidence to support it. I'd be more into it if it didn't feel like it existed only as the solution to the puzzle of Spock leaving nonsense coordinates behind (they were reversed). At least it sends us to Talos IV, which is exciting, although it now increasingly seems like this was the Enterprise's only adventure in Pike's 5-year mission.

Anyway, the family's decision is to deliver Spock into the hands of Section 31, who should be highly motivated to keep him alive since he has information they need. They just didn't account for the memory extractor, the same dangerous technology Luther Sloan would one day use on Deep Space Nine. This allows for more fun with Michelle Yeoh (who even gets to do kung fu, yay!) who just pulls the best expressions (after she gets hit in the stomach, after she shoots Burnham). If she helps Burnham rescue Spock, it's obviously to give Leland a black eye so that she might replace him some day, but I'm not entirely sure if her threat to him makes sense. Why would he "need her" to keep Burnham from finding out he was responsible for her biological parents' deaths? Wouldn't that instead be a reason to get her out of the way somehow? If that, since I'm not sure how damaging that would be to Leland. It will probably turn out that she's goading him into destroying his own career, but it still feels empty to me.

LESSON: The captain piloting a shuttle into danger ahead of the ship against the crew's advice is a time-honored Starfleet tradition.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: Necessary pieces of the larger arcs, though I find these kinds of episodes lack focus, and in this case, the episode falls apart readily under scrutiny.

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