Synopsis: The U.S.S. Discovery arrives in the future, at their intended destination. With a badly damaged ship, Commander Saru (Doug Jones) and the crew must attempt repairs. Following on from last season’s finale, Stammets (Anthony Rapp) is still in a bad way. Saru and Tilly investigate (Mary Wiseman) detected life-signs, on what proves to be a very dangerous mission . . .
In last week’s episode, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) hoped the U.S.S. Discovery, and the crew, would arrive closely behind her, in the future. All things considered, that’s pretty much what happens. More on that later, and the reuniting.
This week on Discovery, with Burnham notably absent in this episode, it’s Saru and the others who enjoy the majority of the screen time. An interesting set up, that the circumstances allow for. Perhaps it might have made for a greater sense of drama to pre-long the arrival of the ship and crew. Whilst that be, the way that their depositing into the far future was handled was interesting. Saru, ignorant to the ill-fated status of The Federation, decides to uphold General Order One (an precursor to the Prime Directive). Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) is infuriated with him, and the decision. This was good use of theme, as The Federation’s key principles, and their significance, will be the focus of this season.
Stammets, still in a critical way, soon pulls himself through and gets on with it. His hurried recovery helps to express the urgency of their situation. The Discovery is buried in ice, where it crash-landed. It turns out, parasitic ice. They are against the clock, so
Coridans and Ending
With life-signs detected, Saru decides they must seek help and takes Tilly to explore. They pose as locals. Then, they meet Kal (Jonathan Koensgen) and a small gang of other Coridans. Following discussion, Kal agrees to help Saru, in exchange for dilithium. Consequently, we learn Kal has hoped that members of Starfleet would show up. However, we also soon learn that Kal and the other Coridans fear Zareh (Jake Weber). Inevitably, Zareh and his gang turn up. Kal is killed, brutally, providing an important introduction to this future, for Saru and Tilly. Zareh’s crew find Georgiou outside. Good set up, her acting against orders. Zareh starts to kill her. She fights back. With Saru’s help they overpower Zareh and the gang. Despite him clearly being being dangerous, Saru does not be let Georgiou murder Zareh, in retaliation, insisting on doing things “Starfleet”. Further upholding of key Star Trek ideals.
Saru and Tilly make it back to the ship, and with supplies get it up and running. Just as they’re about to lift off, the Discovery is held by an unknown tractor beam Unsurprisingly, it turns out to be Burham, who tells them she’s looking for them, for a year.
Doug Jones as Saru, showed this week why he’s one of the best things about Discovery. A really well studied character, that Jones makes utterly his own. Fantastic presence, so important for a lead part. Jones showed why really, Discovery has a dual central protagonist. Commanding, and never not the most important character, during the scenes which require him to be just that. No doubt about it, Jones firmly established himself as one of the faces of the franchise, in the modern era. An inspired performance from him.
Other notable performances were that of Mary Wiseman’s Tilly, who was believable as frightened, yet brave. Her scenes with Zareh were powerful, in a subtle way. Playing Zareh was Jake Weber. Certainly not a great “big bad”, but a decent enough showing by him.
Michelle Yeoh brings bags of fun to the role of Gergiou, and did so again this week. Another role which requires a definite conviction, to get accross such a strong character. Yeoh does so. Some great physical acting, too. Yeoh relied on her vast experience in action roles, injecting fun and excitement to an episode that largely relied on emotionally driven drama. Full marks to Yeoh for this.
CGI & Effects
Discovery continues to show why it belongs in the future. Gone are the so bright they’ll blind you visuals. The ice surrounding the ship looked like it was causing decay. The ship being trapped there looked very effective, and embodied the whole mood of the episode. Of being trapped, and up against it. This was further compounded, by the way the ship looked on the inside. The power being out allowed for a sense of darkness, which sort of acted like a visual metaphor for the tone of things. Well considered set designing, here.
The scene where Zareh killed Kal was impressive, visually. That sort of death, by an energy weapon, isn’t usual in Star Trek. As well as looking horrific, which it was meant to, it also gave a darker element to things. Clever design and a possible sign of things to come,
A good job was done of the Discovery and the crew coming through the wormhole. What worked was that despite the trauma of being so far from home, they were pleased to be there. Additionally, when they crash-landed, there was no time to lose. This urgency gave this week’s offering of the show a sense of quick tension, and urgency. It felt like a proper Star Trek adventure. One which they were all in, and that was key. Unity was the weapon which they relied on. Except for Georgiou. But that works, helping to create a sense of tension. Unpredictability means you’re never certain how things will go. Good use of conflict, there, likely to recur again soon.
Just before the credits the role, the “big reveal” comes. Sadly, it’s a bit of a let down. It was obvious that when the tractor beam was pulling them, it was Burnham, using Book’s ship. It could have at least kept us guessing until next week. Also, the crew and Burnham being reunited so early was somewhat an atmosphere killer. They could have got at least a couple more weeks mileage out of that. Maybe more. Though, when they talk with Burnham, what she tells them has potential to make up for this. If Burnham’s been there for a year, she should be changed, a little. Her character developed. Maybe she’s adapted to the starkness and the brutality. Has already began setting up plans with to rebuild The Federation, with Sahir (Adil Hussain).
Last but not least, Detmer’s (Emily Coutts) injury must surely mean something bad’s coming. This was well written, and good use of basic mystery writing. Sadly, that same concept wasn’t well pulled off in the final scene. As a result, an otherwise strong episode was marred slightly.