Warning: This contains spoilers for Episode 7 of Star Trek: Discovery Season 2. Not caught up? See our spoiler-free review of Season 1’s opening episodes here.
There he is! In a cave with his mom! After weeks of teasing, the ease with which Burnham locates Spock is a major narrative misstep – turns out all she had to do was visit her foster parents on Vulcan. Hardly the high stakes struggle the story so far seemed to have been building to. But, although there are other problems with plotting, there’s still a lot to enjoy this episode.
Jeopardy is provided in the form of Pike and TyVoq’s shuttle trip into a space-time rift. With last episode’s detection of tachyons and confirmation it’s wearing a super-advanced mech-suit, the crew of Discovery come to the conclusion that the entity is unquestionably from the future (it’s a big universe so surely there are other possibilities, but hey, we’re not the 23rd Century science officer). With this in mind, it’s not too much of a surprise that a rift in space-time opens up right next to them. The obvious option, of course, is for the starship’s captain to volunteer to fly a shuttle right at it. Only Saru, who presumably would have been driven insane if he’d served under Kirk, points out that Pike is “essential personnel” and should perhaps stay on the bridge.
Pike’s mistrust of TyVoq is understandable – the guy’s still part-Klingon, murdered Dr. Hugh (now, as his name suggests, regenerated) and is an agent of black-badge-wearing Section 31. Some fun back-and-forth pre-mission reinforces this (Pike insisting that “the chair outranks the badge” is a great line) and then, they’re off for a bottle episode to explore their rivalry.
“Either the well was very deep or she fell very slowly…” says Michael to her brother, quoting from their mutual childhood read, Alice Through the Looking Glass. As well as relating to Spock’s mental condition, it’s pertinent to Pike and TyVoq’s adventure, as, sucked into the anomaly, they begin to experience time out of joint. It’s all traditional Star Trek silliness – hugely enjoyable, especially when Saru gets to exclaim: “It’s not a question of where they are – but when!”
They’re attacked by their own probe, which – according to the shuttle’s sensors – flipped away for 500 years and has been upgraded. As its metallic tentacles battle them within the shuttle, it attaches itself to the console and harvests the databanks for any info on the Red Angel – is it working for the entity or against it?
Thanks to Pike’s periodical dumping of plasma, Stamets (on board Discovery and given superpowers thanks to his magic-mushroom DNA) is able to locate the shuttle both in space and time, and Tilly, who’s told to both “trust the math” and herself, beams Stamets to the shuttle. There, as Pike saves TyVoq’s life with a phaser blast – and we hear that TyVoq cries out in Klingon when under duress – Stamets is able to return the shuttle to normal space. TyVoq has new-found respect for Pike, and Pike admits the Section 31 agent was correct in surmising the captain volunteered due to guilt at being ordered to sit out the Federation-Klingon war.
Parallel to all this space opera shenanigans is the drearier matter of Michael and Spock. Having found him babbling in a cave, all Michael has to do is have a mild argument with her mother and – in a bad day for feminism – have her father overrule his wife and order his daughter to turn Spock over to Section 31. This latter course is deemed moot almost immediately, as, no sooner is Michael being assured by Leland that Spock will be well looked after, than Georgiou is whispering to her that she needs to escape and go on the run. The ensuing banter and staged fight is fantastic, especially Georgiou’s last phaser blast at Michael’s arm and the insouciant shrug that accompanies it, but it all brings to a conclusion a lacklustre episode for Michael – all she’s is be moved around by other characters. Let’s hope she regains her agency as a protagonist for future episodes.
So, although a let-down as a mid-season episode, we’re gifted a lot of intriguing information for future episodes. Georgiou reveals to us – though not Michael – that Leland was responsible for the deaths of her parents, and the woman formerly known as Her Most Imperial Majesty, Mother of the Fatherland, Overlord of Vulcan, Dominus of Qo’noS, Regina Andor, Philippa Georgiou Augustus Iaponius Centarius tells Michael she knows more about her than she could possibly imagine. Does her friendship with the Michael of her own universe give her special knowledge?
The weird probe thing isn’t done with Discovery yet. As TyVoq says: “Whether it’s here to end something or start something one thing’s for sure – we’re in the middle of a fight for the future.” “Always,” agrees Pike. “We’re always in a fight for the future.” And behind them, suddenly possessing an air of menace, is cyborg Lieutenant Commander Airiam – seeing her as an agent for the enemy promises to be thrilling.
And then, finally, we have Michael and Spock on a road-trip, bound for Talos IV. “Where are you taking us?” Michael asks her near-comatose brother. As fans of the original series know, Talos IV features in the episode The Menagerie. Not only are we told of the Starfleet directive that “No vessel under any condition, emergency or otherwise, is to visit Talos IV”, but it has a special place in Spock’s heart, as it’s the final retirement planet of one Captain Pike, by then a wheelchair user who’s lost the ability to speak. And, presumably useful for next episode – we could sure use Spock recovering from his breakdown – Talos IV’s indigenous people are highly telepathic.
All in all, for all its faults, this week sets us up for an exhilarating ride with implications not only for Star Trek’s past, but its future too.
Star Trek: Discovery is available on Netflix UK, as part of £7.99 monthly subscription. New episodes of Season 2 arrive weekly on Fridays, within 24 hours of their US release.