TV REVIEW Star Trek Discovery: Series 2 Episode 5 Saints of Imperfection

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The episode opens up on Michael’s face and wow, this is the first of many examples within the episode that demonstrates that all the actors can convey so much without uttering a word. Both Michael and Stamets break my heart in that opening scene. I do find it interesting that over the next 20 minutes or so the crew are attempting to establish that Tilly is still alive. It was something I never questioned.

The episode really brings the dialogue to the forefront; most of my notes are simply quotes; from Michael’s log insisting ‘I want to have faith. In it’s absence, only duty remains.’ and Section 31 opperative downgrading of Pike’s concerns ‘there are always lives at stake, that’s what keeps us employed.’
Of course, the most important part of dialogue comes from Pike when he informs the crew of Stamets’ plan to rescue Tilly from the mycelial network. Pike’s speech about Starfleet being a promise is a recurring theme that spans the rest of the episode and ensures the two halves join together effortlessly.

The visuals in this episode are incredible; the drop of the apple seems strangely important but regardless it was a beautiful cut. Then there was the visuals when Discovery is acting as a doorstop to the network. I want that image on my wall. It’s these clean and effective visuals that make this stand out from the rest of the franchise.

Of course, it’s the actors that make this show the addictive watch that its become. This episode had a lot of people to play with and they all bring their A game. Not only that, but the episode doesn’t feel bloated or strained. There are very few shows who could manage such a big cast in one episode without loosing some of the quality. Obviously, there are some standout performances and amazing returns, but no one flounders. The one shame of the episode is that Reno disappears from last week’s episode and I really would have liked to see her help Stamets as it feels odd.

Then, just when I can’t think the episode can get any better I start to get a sneaky feeling the monster Tilly has been brought into the Network to kill is Hugh! Amazing Hugh, who was taken from the crew mid series last year in a shocking reveal and cover up. The added blow of Wilson Cruz bowing out was that Rapp lost the person he had the best chemistry with. Yes, it gave Rapp a wonderful gift of character development but I wasn’t ready to lose Hugh.
I can’t quite work out if Hugh’s return was planned or fan wish fulfillment and that is exactly how it should be. Most importantly, I don’t care either way because it’s been so well written that I believe it. It also has me thinking; is it the real Hugh or is it a clone? Most importantly, will that have consequences? I can’t wait to find out. I can’t wait to see Rapp and Cruz working together and I’m very curious as to the backlash of Ash being back on board.

Final Thoughts

This episode felt very much like a game of chess; players are being moved and ready for what I suspect is going to be an action-fueled climax. We even got an appearance of Admiral Cornwell who orders Captain Pike and Section 31 leader Leland to play nice and work together to find Spock.

Love Han x

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

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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

TV Review: Star Trek Discovery (S2 Ep3- Point of Light)

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Another strong episode for the show that is finding a wonderful balance between episodes that work as a stand alone but also work towards a larger story. It’s so natural that there’s no need for the dreaded ‘To be continued…’ fans used to fear.

There’s a welcome return of Shazad Latif, Mary Chieffo and Michelle Yeoh for the first of three main plot threads in today’s episode. I do love the Viking and tribal or clan-like homages made while we spend time with the Klingons. It’s not something I would have normally liked, but this had my attention from the start.
I found Ash/Vok’s situation well acted from everyone involved and that brought so much emotion to the surface. I immediately wondered if this was Discovery creating an explanation for the appearance of TOS Klingons. It still might be and, if so, this show just keeps winning me over.
By the end of the episode, I can’t help but feel we’ve seen a back-door pilot of sorts and can’t wait for more news on Yeoh’s upcoming spin-off.

Michael Burnham spends the episode chasing leads as to where Spock may be. Unfortunately, it does seem by the end of the episode she’s further removed from more than just Spock. I am torn as to whether I am happy with how this story is playing out. The questions are starting to rack up and I feel a little Lost! No, I capitalise correctly, because I feel lost in more ways that one. I have this anxiety that the questions will topple long before I get an answer; much in the same way Lost did back in the day.
That said, I had my reservations about the pre- Kirk setting and I was very happy to be proved wrong by the end of series one. I really do hope we get some resolution soon. Or at least someone else sighting the red angel.

Finally, there’s Tilly and her little ghost stowaway. For the love of Roddenberry, it was heart breaking seeing Tilly so vulnerable. From the outburst on the bridge, to her tear ridden reveal to Michael I was feeling her pain. If Mary Wiseman isn’t at least nominated for an Emmy in the next awards season, I will eat my hat. (I don’t have a hat, nor do I understand awards and nominations, but guys she deserves all of them)
I loved that it was Stamet’s she needed and that it wasn’t as clear cut as I’d predicted last week. As always, Rapp is a delight to have on screen and this was no exception. With his help there was a resolution of sorts. It’s definitely not the last we’ll see of May, but at least Tilly is out of harms way.

Final Thoughts

If this show keeps going, this is going to very quickly replace Deep Space Nine as my favourite in the franchise. Something that I never thought I’d see.

Love Han x

TV REVIEW Star Trek Discovery: S2 Ep2 New Eden

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About: A new signal brings the Discovery to a distant planet, Terralysium, that is inhabited by the descendants of human survivors of World War III, which was fought on Earth 200 years earlier.

Picking up from last week’s reveal, Discovery follows a second inexplicable signal that Spock. Discovery does what Discovery does best and hops across the quadrants to discover a planet over 200 years away and the only way our crew got to it was through use of the spore drive. So, how are their humans on the planet whose lineage implies they’ve been settled on the planet before the development of warp drive on Earth?!

One of the key parts of this episode could retcon all of the franchise and put to rest fan frustration that has existed since the first series. The concept that Kirk on the Original Series was exploring ‘new life and new civilisations’, yet in almost every episode came across humans who got there before Enterprise. It’s a retcon I can get on board with; especially if it stops my father grumbling about this exact thing every time he watches Trek.

It is Pike’s response that wins me over.

“Someone wanna tell me how they got here?”

He implores right before we cut to the credits and my inner, and outer, geek dances. I love the idea that they are clearly discovering a new planet, as so they should, but there are humans already there and everyone is as confused as fuck; and unafraid to show it.

Pike is our every man. For the love of Spock, I hope he’s not a bad guy. I wasn’t sure about Pike in the series 2 opener. I’m more familiar with the Bruce Greenwood incarnation and I was feeling the loss. No longer. Having watched The Original Series double episode, The Menagerie last week along with New Eden, I can safely say Anson Mount is a welcome addition to the bridge of Discovery. Not only does Mount seem to blend both Greenwood and Jeffrey Hunter’s portrayals; he brings something of his own to the role.

It’s through Pike we get the main theme of Science versus Religion. I have a feeling this wouldn’t suit all audiences but I, being someone who has spent the last 9 years teaching RE, adored the exploration of this theme and the fact that Pike’s character clearly has more history when it comes to this. I admire the creative team’s development of a new religion that blends all of the sixth main world faiths. It logically and emotionally feels organic when you consider that there was an amalgamation of people who were moved to the planet. This is seen best in the redacted and edited scripture.

In fact the exploration of the church was my favourite scene. Not only was it able to give us an idea of what the colony was going to be like, it provided a teaching moment. Michael goes to read the scripture and Pike informs her just to look at the windows before explaining that the stained glass was there for that purpose.

“It was how they would teach the Gospels to those who couldn’t read.”

I was a passive viewer of Star Trek until I was 11 years old. I’d become a fan of Deep Space Nine, 3 years earlier, but it wasn’t until an episode of The Next Generation helped me in a Science lesson that I embraced the whole franchise. Worf was injured and spent most of the episode in sick bay where the doctor explained about the spine and its relationship with the brain. The next day, our Science lesson looked at the spine and I received a number of credits for correctly answering a question. One I would not have been able to answer without the episode. Any time an episode has a teaching moment, I inwardly smile and wonder if there’s some teen out there who’ll benefit from that nugget of information.

This plot strand brings with it one other major debate that is seen time and time again; the prime directive and the ethical standing it brings. This clearly isn’t a normal situation and is one that should be discussed. It’s a problem that when you break it down is something any viewer can relate to; an absolute rule to fit situational ethical problems. Or, square peg, round hole. I love that no one finds the directive easy to follow but more so, I love that it’s the Vulcan raised Michael that finds it hardest to follow.

On the ship, it’s a Tilly focused episode. There isn’t a character I don’t like on this show, but I bloody love Tilly. She’s The Doctor; it will forever be head canon for me and a dream casting that Mary Wiseman will be given the keys to the Tardis someday. Her caffeinated problem solving brings the two plots together and ensures the episode is neatly wrapped up; for now.

The plot develops not only Tilly’s character but reinforces some amazing relationships that are strengthening this show. Last week we saw her sadness of Stamet’s announcement that he was transferring. Her ‘I don’t want you to go.’ Was heart breaking and its clearly the motivation for her actions that see her in the med bay. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see Rapp on my screen full stop, but his chemistry with Wiseman is delightful, charming and something I would never have expected this time last season. Tilly has broken down Stamet’s hard and frosty exterior and I can’t wait to see them become firm friends.

Viewers also get some wonderful interactions between Tilly and Saru. Saru is a mentor for Tilly; she respects him and wants to learn from him. However, there’s that parental undertone that I can’t help but smile at. Tilly doesn’t want to disappoint Saru, and Saru just wants her to be safe. While there’s not much to the interaction, I think it’s forming a foundation for the rest of the series. I’d love for the show to last long enough to see her take command.

Not only is this my favourite episode of Discovery, I think this might be my favourite Trek episode of all time. The story is fascinating, the special effects, sets and costumes are nothing short of beautiful. Not only that, I’m invested in the characters and I cannot wait for the next episodes.

Love Han x

Star Trek Discovery S1 ep7: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

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Star Trek Discovery
S1 ep7: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad
From IMDB:
As the U.S.S. Discovery crew attempts to let loose at a party, an unwelcome visitor comes aboard bringing about a problematic and twisted sequence of events.

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My favourite episode so far; it takes an old school Trek idea and makes it feel fresh and new.

The Logical

This is the first episode where the ‘previously on…’ and the title sequence run one after the other. Immediately I feel like something different is going to happen this episode. This then leads naturally into Michael’s ‘ship’s log’. It does feel a little bit like a homage to the recent films, but it still is a nice touch.

We get a party. A proper party. Not one of the stuffy things of Trek of old. There’s alcohol, there’s loud music and there is fraternisation. We get a drunk Tilly, and its genius.

Michael and Ash are being established as a romantic couple. It’s not subtle, it’s beautifully organic and totally fun to watch. Especially as the episode progresses and Michael is able to explore her emotions.

The plot develops around a returning fan favourite; using the good old trojan horse trick to get on board. However, it’s not the only old trick in the book that the episode uses. Henry Mudd, seeking his revenge uses a temporal loop to gain information about Discovery. It’s delightful and fun. And you know what makes it different from other shows that use this plot device? We don’t follow the character that is exempt from the loop. It’s our resident Stamets! I did tell you I loved him, right? When asked about the second run through, Stamets has to correct them:

“Multiple times actually, and I’ve yet to get a win for the home team.”

If you loved Stamets before, you’ll be bursting with love after seeing be all positive and joyful. Even more so when you see how he responds to Michael. The best part was watching him teach her how to dance.

The time loops develop to a musical crescendo and by the episode’s time runs out, everything is resolved and Mudd is sent off with a beautiful wave from Stamets.

The Illogical

Call me cynical, but was the Gormagander the alien of the week to coincide with the release of series 2 of Stranger Things?

 

Final thoughts
No Klingons and, surprise surprise I loved every minute of this episode. I’ll let you into a secret; I didn’t have any illogical points and I think the timing of the episode was genius.