Warning: This contains spoilers for Episode 8 of Star Trek: Discovery. Not caught up? See our spoiler-free review of the series’ opening episodes here.
Picking up the ongoing storyline, Episode 8 sees The Discovery thwarted by cloaked Klingon warbirds, and three other Star Fleet ships blown to atoms – a dramatic reminder of the edge the Klingons have, now Kol is bequeathing the invisibility technology to those Klingon houses swearing fealty to him. This has a direct bearing on the main meat of the episode, as we see Michael, Ash and Saru embarking on a mission to the planet Pahvo. A world of blue forests – it looks fantastic – where every living thing sings in harmony, a sonic talent that somehow (the explanation is deliciously fun Trek pseudo-scientific babble) will enable the Federation to track cloaked Klingon ships.
Tapping into another well-worn Trek trope, the initially benign floaty gestalt life-form on Pahvo drives Saru mad – his wish to live forever in the peace of the forest doing nothing with the rest of his life brings to mind the Lotus Eaters of Greek myth. But his entry-level Buddhism doesn’t last long: when Michael runs off to utilise the Pahvans’ crystal communication tower to contact Discovery, Saru attacks in a rage. When we’re told early in the episode that Saru and his fellow Kelpians can run at up to 80 mph when pursued by an apex predator, we know that his sprinting abilities will come into play – seeing the lanky commander powering through the forest is extremely pleasing. Here’s hoping we get to see it again.
There’s a tiny slice of Klingon intrigue going on in the episode’s B-story, as L’Rell – last seen having half her face blasted off by Captain Lorca when he escaped with Ash – tries to defect by helping Admiral Cornwell to escape.
As well as their mission on Pahvo, we’re treated to a few scenes in which it’s established that Michael and Ash are an item – they dp kissing and everything. The only real consequence of last episode’s by-the-numbers time travel froth, was that it dispensed with a season’s worth of will-they-won’t-they in one episode. It’s actually pretty refreshing – how many more Ross/Rachel/Mulder/Scully scenarios can we take, after all? – and means they can concentrate on the more interesting fact that Michael is working towards ending a war that will mean she will resume her life sentence for mutiny. Ash is more confident than her that they have a future, but Michael is right to be worried – after all, neither Spock nor Sarek make any mention of her in the Original Series…
Maybe Michael’s fate will be to be erased, or have her timeline altered, as the timey-wimey elements hinted at in earlier episodes once again resurface. Stamets, constantly pumped full of inter-dimensional magic mushroom spores, seems to experience a flash of the future, referring to Cadet Tilly as ‘Captain’, a rank to which we’ve seen her aspire throughout the series. Could it be Tilly gets her promotion? And surely Michael, whose past seems to figure far more prominently than characters from other shows in the Trek family, is going to get a chance to put right the wrongs she has done?
All that may come to pass, but for now, we have the excitement of a cliffhanger. The overly optimistic Pahvans, hailing the Klingons as well as Discovery, so the two sides can talk it out, will need defending. And what of L’Rell, unmasked as a traitor by Kol? Will she and the Admiral get off the Klingon vessel alive?
A fun, exciting and – literally, in the case of Saru – fast-moving episode. More of this, please, Netflix.
Star Trek: Discovery is available on Netflix UK, as part of £7.49 monthly subscription. New episodes arrive every Monday, within 24 hours of their US release.