TV REVIEW Star Trek Discovery: S2 Ep4 (An Obol for Charon)

What an episode. Okay, plot wise we don’t get much by way of progression. However, we have so much character and relationship development and it’s beyond perfect.

Saru

Saru is our main character in this episode. Upon being held captive by an organic entity, Saru’s biology betrays him and he begins to go into what he believes to be a terminal condition. What I loved about this thread was that we learnt even more about Saru’s species and how he ended up working within the Federation. It’s quite a heartbreaking watch and Doug Jones demonstrates his skills; not only is he able to embody the pain and empathy that Saru feels, there’s something hypnotic about watching his broken body struggle around Discovery.
The joy at the final act reveal is only surpassed by what it might mean for the character. We’ve had 19 episodes with an alien who is susceptible to fear and was the embodiment of caution. Without this and discovering everything he knew of his species was a lie, I can’t help but wonder what lies ahead for this character.

Tilly, Stamets and Reno

I’ve missed snarky Stamets. It’s been too long since we’ve witnessed a closed and stand-offish engineer. I have obviously enjoy the character break down the walls and warm up to those who work closest to him, but it was a joy to see him clash with Tig Notaro’s Jett Reno.
How they spar over the way they see the future of technology is wonderful, and one that is played just right. Its a play that could have gotten old fast, if it was handled by lesser talent. I’m hoping this is the start of a beautiful friendship; when it comes down to it it is a balance of both of their insights that they need. When things that got critical, they bounced off each other as all good scientists do.

“Hey kiddo…” Have I said that I love the growing relationship between Stamets and Tilly? It’s something that I don’t feel we’ve seen with such sincerity in a Trek franchise before. The care and trust that the actors bring to the characters is heart warming. Although, their rendition of Space Oddity was beautiful and haunting. It almost had me in tears to think that Stametts was using it as a form of distractions.

And of course, there’s a bit of a game changer to the resolution of this plot thread. In a Stranger Things/ Shawshank homage, we discover that Stammets wasn’t completely successful in keeping Tilly safe. I dread to consider how we’ll find Stamets when we pick up again next week.

Saru and Michael

I have never cried at Star Trek. I think as a kid I was relatively detached from the shows to be so emotionally involved. However, there’s a few things in the show that really had me invested in the relationship of these two characters and what each was experiencing while Saru was facing death.

Firstly, we’ve seen from the first series that Discovery has no hesitation in killing off its main crew so I did spend the entire episode believing that this was the last we’d see of Saru and Doug Jones. Throughout the franchise we’ve seen semi-regular characters die; Tasha Yar springs to mind and there is also the shocking departure of Terry Farrell in Deep Space Nine. However, its very rare to see a main character leave so early in a show. I’m completely in disagreement with my father; upon finishing the episode he expressed that they took it too close to death to u-turn. I think it was necessary in order to show how much the relationship between Saru and Michael had grown and the impact it’ll have on Michael’s relationship with Spock.
I loved the whole thread that saw Michael caring for Saru, but it was that death-bed scene that caused me to cry. I can’t help but compare it to Eastenders and the heartbreaking scene between Dot and Ethel all those years ago. Saru was requesting Michael participated in voluntary euthanasia. The words weren’t said, it wasn’t used as a way of looking at it in a political way but it still held the emotional gravitas. As a relationship, Saru and Michael have progressed, in such a short space of time, from at-odds colleagues to friends, and now family. It was beautiful and will be something that can only get better.

Final Thoughts

I still have reservations about the Spock story arc. It’s nothing to do with the storytelling, at all. It’s just that I can’t help but feel like I’m in the middle of a puzzle and I’m sure I missed something. I know I have to be patient, I know by the time series 2 is wrapped up I’ll be satisfied… but, well lets put it this way; if I was a Kelpien, my ganglia would be showing.

Love Han x

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