Star Trek #1481: The Red Angel

CAPTAIN'S LOG: Discovery and Section 31 set a trap for the Red Angel.

"What just happened?!"

WHY WE DON'T: Burnham's attitude is absurd.

REVIEW: While I don't deny Burnham is on an emotional roller-coaster in this episode, her behavior is sometimes difficult to take. Two things bother me specifically. One is her striking Leland when she learns he was associated with her parents' death, the agent who did his job badly and led the Klingons to them while they were working on a covert project. No matter how wrapped up in her origin story, he's still a superior officer and it feels out of character for her to go this far. Like Batman killing Joe Chill. But you might find it justifiable in the circumstances. The other thing is that Burnham, as a scientist, should know better than to demand to know every detail of a plan to capture her future self - because SURPRISE! she was the Red Angel all along! (or was she?) - since that would just hamper those efforts. And no one mentions this. Having flashbacks of the CW's Flash show, where no one is able to keep their emotions in check or react to time travel in a logical way. Indeed, there's a lot of teenage angst in this episode, and a little of it goes a long way. Admiral Cornwell must be all booked up. Still, I do like that we go from the reveal of the Red Angel's identity to the entity's capture in a single episode (and then the revelation that the crew's assumptions were wrong, at least partially). No extended subplot where some characters know and won't tell, etc. With all the emotional stupidity on show, there was a real danger of seeing that television trope as well.

But aside from those two instances, the emotional text and subtext of The Red Angel was quite engaging. The eulogy montage was poignant, especially once you realize they left the ship in autopilot so everyone could attend the funeral. Later, there's an awkward moment when an officer is promoted to Airiam's post. Burnham is initially bitter with Spock and Ash, but the very real possibility that she might die capturing the Angel makes her forgive them, and we get good moments for each relationship. I'm perhaps most impressed with Nahn, however, who has been remote and not particularly likeable until recently. Instead of more angst, with perhaps Burnham blaming her for the death of Airiam (and inversely, Nahn criticizing Burnham for not following orders), we get the total opposite. The two women walk away from the incident as closer colleagues, respecting the other for what they were able to do. It would now be a shame if Nahn left the show. And then there's Georgiou who is acting strange... or is she? One of the things we don't really know is what her exact relationship with Mirror Burnham was, but just as Michael has been slowly transferring her feelings about her Georgiou to this one, I think the same is happening with the former Emperor. She makes allusions to the people she cares about, she's the most concerned with Michael's safety, the first to try to pull her out of the death trap, and it's clear she planted all the seeds when it came to Leland telling Burnham the truth about her parents. Are you ready for her Section 31 show yet? Because this is what a master manipulator on OUR side looks like. Note also her very weird scene where she makes passes at Stamets and Culber, apparently pansexual in her dimension. Or are they? There's a good chance she's just trying to get the two of them together again (I don't know why all these guest stars care so much, but it works). Tilly's "What just happened?!" is the perfect comic button on the scene, and we don't need to see the aftermath.

Or at least, not the immediate aftermath. Instead, Culber goes to see Admiral Cornwell for some quick but effective therapy. I can't help but think the showrunners gave Jayne Brook the role because they are Sports Night fans. In that show too, she played an insightful, no-nonsense therapist who could see right through you to the core. She's great, and gets some good lines about love and relationships.

I realize I didn't say much about the plot itself, but as the crew prepares to [technobabble] some [technobabble], it's really about character development happening in the shadow of one death, and the fear another could result so soon. Even the backstory of the Red Angel is tied into character, as is the solution to the problem. It could have been an intellectual puzzle - simply resolving a Grandfather paradox - but instead it seems the Angel is at least sometimes Burnham's mother (who built the suit) saving her daughter throughout her history. Identity, emotion, character. And Spock creates a very tense situation by holding everyone hostage while Burnham dies and they panic (honestly, didn't you understand the plan, people?), a mirror of the previous episode where Michael couldn't follow the opposite orders. They also make some hay about Control not necessarily being destroyed, and that it may lie dormant in some Section 31 computer somewhere. We might not have to wait for long either. Leland getting his eye put out by a security override device is an odd moment - could Control have taken him over in that moment? Is that within its capabilities? Not a good day for Leland, anyway.

LESSON: Sometimes you just have to stand/sit there and take it.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: Characters act a little stupidly at times, but for the most part, this is an emotional (and important) chapter in the saga.


De said...

I thought it interesting that Lt. Nielson is played by Sara Mitich, who played Airiam in Season 1. Not sure why the role was moved to Hannah Cheesman for Season 2.


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