Star Trek #1479: If Memory Serves

CAPTAIN'S LOG: Burnham brings Spock back to Talos IV.


WHY WE DON'T: The conflict between Burnham and Spock... that's IT?!

REVIEW: Seeing Talos IV, the planet from The Cage, in last week's teaser got me a little excited, I must admit, even if this season makes me feel like Pike and his Enterprise never had any other adventures. As a plot point, it doesn't even feel necessary. I mean, it's cool to see the Talosians and their world re-imagined, but if the whole point is to allow Spock to share memories with Burnham, isn't there an easier way, i.e. a mindmeld? A line saying this was too dangerous, or showing the Talosians reordering Spock's mind, might have gone a long way making this more than glorified fanwank. I especially dislike the opening recap with scenes from The Cage, using silly transitions to retell the story. For long-time Trekkies who already know the footage, it's spoiling the surprise of, say, the singing plants of Talos. For Discovery's new audience, it's admitting that the episode is largely opaque unless you ARE a long-time Trekkie. It also puts a bright spotlight on the new actors and forces a comparison between old and new aesthetics you don't really want gumming up the works. ESPECIALLY if you're going to change the aliens' make-up (shame they didn't stick with the conceit of using women with male voices), give Vina a new hairstyle (she can look like anything, but why poke the bear?), and make Spock smile as if for the first time when he's all smiles in The Cage. That said, it's got some nice adventurous moments, the illusory black hole, and the way Michael and Spock escape Section 31 principally.

Moving the season arc forward, Spock shares the vision the Red Angel (now known to be a future human, sigh) gave him, one in which squid probes from 500 years hence destroy all inhabited planets. It's flashy, and at this point, there's no way to communicate this to Discovery which has already had an encounter with one such squid. We also learn that Spock didn't murder anyone at the mental hospital, to which I say "well duh". In exchange for their help, the Talosian demand to see the source of the conflict between Spock and Michael, so I guess they're like the audience. I wonder if they were as disappointed as I was. So little Michael called littler Spock a weird half-breed to make him stop following her around and embrace his Vulcan side so he wouldn't get bullied anymore? I don't think this big reveal is shameful enough to warrant her attitude about it since the start of the season. There's no surprise, and it's even a beat we've seen before (albeit not with Burnham) in both the animated series (where HE runs away into the wilderness instead of her) and the reboot films. As an adult, he understands why she did it. His obvious bitterness is illogical. It's not a bad origin story for why Spock is more Vulcan than human, but it's a very obvious one.

Meanwhile, Discovery is literally in a holding pattern (under orders from Section 31, still working the subplot about Georgiou undermining Leland), studying the probe and investigating who has been sending transmissions since the incident (possessed Airiam, but Tyler takes the fall - again, the episode tells us things we know). Pike gets a bittersweet reunion with Vina that fails to really go anywhere. And then there's all the stuff with Hugh Culber that I am starting to really dislike. If it's supposed to be a PTSD story, it's veiled in too many science fiction tropes. We just HAD a war, and I think a more truthful way to address the issue would have been to lean into it literally (as in the Nog storyline after The Siege of AR-558). Instead, it just feels like they really don't want to keep Culber and poor Stamets together. Though having a same-sex couple on the show was groundbreaking for Trek (but very late in coming when compared to the overall television landscape), all they've done is undermine (not to say punish) their relationship since the beginning, killing Hugh off and now breaking his emotional connections to his past life. I really don't need to see another "will they/won't they" storyline, if that's what it's going to be either. Culber's troubles do lead to an interesting moment with Tyler, as he tries to violently bring Voq out of him so he can get revenge. Tyler passes the test of his own will, fighting defensively throughout, and I love their last exchange. "I don't even know who I am anymore." "Who do you think you're talking to?"

LESSON: Starfleet mental hospitals have extra floor space in every room in case the patient has A Beautiful Mind.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: Once it stops pandering to your inner geek, it's really nothing special. Fine, but hardly ever surprising.


De said...

Given the Talosians' seeming addiction to illusions instead of reality, I figured their change in appearance was just another illusion they were trying out. However, their visual change was the least of this episode's problems—you laid them all out well in the review.


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