Review: Star Trek Discovery Episode 8

Speaking of erratic SF TV spin-offs of a classic series, in the show Class (I think episode 7) Ms Quill bounces between some strange worlds – one is a planet that is a normal forest with purple leaves and another is a weird nest/tent. Well in this episode Saru, Ash and Michael end up on the same planet – sadly Ms Quill isn’t there, or maybe that’s for the best because Lorca would probably put in her charge of a super-weapon or something.

The ‘science’ is very much at Doctor Who levels of suspension of disbelief here also. Pahvo is a singing planet with a great big organic transmitter on it. The Federation wants to use the singing and the transmitter as a way of seeing through the Klingon cloaking device. Let’s ignore how any of that might work because it clearly makes no sense.

Ah but…the supposedly uninhabited planet is home to sentient (if naive) incorporeal beings. Nicely, the prime directive gets a nod here and also an acknowledgement that the landing party have already accidentally stomped all over it and are well into First Contact. Sadly this main plot doesn’t go very far other than Saru going off the rails a bit and Michael and Ash bonding a bit more.

Surrounding the Pahvo plot is more Klingon space war action. The episode starts with a genuinely exciting space battle as the Discovery comes to the aid of another Star Fleet ship. Meanwhile, some other threads are coming together – L’Rell, the Klingon interrogator and ally of Voq, has come to the big Klingon ship that started all the trouble. Now being run by the unpleasant Kol, L’Rell offers her services as an interrogator but this a ruse because everything L’Rell does is a ruse. In fact, she is trying to get access to Admiral Cornwell. So that’s nice. Everybody else may have forgotten about Cornwell except L’Rell. Shenanigans ensue.

So a bit of a messy episode but no terrible missteps like last week. The episode reaches a nice cliffhanger which should force the Discovery and the main Klingon characters back together for episode 9 and the mid-season break.


  1. Episode 3: Context is for Kings
  2. Episode 4: Seriously stupidly long episode name
  3. Episode 2: Battle at the Binary Stars
  4. Episode 6: Lethe
  5. Episode 8: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
  6. Episode 5: Choose Your Pain
  7. Episode 1: The Vulcan Hello
  8. Episode 7: Seriously WTF Discovery Scriptwriters? [revised title]

Bits and pieces

  • Tilly and Stamets get a side conversation about his befuddlement after he accidentally calls her ‘captain’. Good that the show doesn’t forget a side plot for once.
  • Singing plants aren’t canon in Alice in Wonderland (that I can recall) but singing flowers do appear in the Disney animated version.
  • It is totally OK for Saru to jeopardize the mission and do intemperate things because he was stressed out. Yup, seems reasonable – except totally inconsistent with Michael’s life sentence.
  • If Ash Tyler is Voq then his cover is excellent. Having said that, the absence of Voq in this episode that is setting up all the players to be in the same spot for episode 9 really underlines that Voq must be somewhere.
  • The death toll on the show remains high with a whole star ship and crew blown up.
  • ‘like sonar’ no, no just ignore things like that.
  • The planet has its own giant antennae and the crew are surprised to discover intelligent life there? I’m OK with this as the scanners let them down and that sort of fits with a mind set that would trust the instrumentation above other evidence.
  • a lot rides on the next episode as the Kol-Lorca showdown arrives.


11 thoughts on “Review: Star Trek Discovery Episode 8

  1. I honestly didn’t have a clue what this episode was aiming at, and then it just stopped.

    The basic setup had good Trek potential – weird alien planet, a techie mission to perform, prime directive/first contact conflict – but it all sort of fizzled.

    I think Saru may have the most squandered potential of the series so far – there’s real interest in his species and character, and this episode could have really worked on that, but instead he just goes a bit wibble?

    I still think AshVoq is a credible idea, but unless he’s playing the triple agent thing to the absolute hilt than a lot of his actions don’t add up to it properly.

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  2. Sound does too travel through a vacuum. We know this from the physics text “A Taste of Armageddon” where the people of Eminiar VII try to shoot down the Enterprise with sonic disruptors. (Also, I’m pretty sure the howls of outrage from everyone with GCSE or higher-level physics will be audible from several light years away.)

    Overall, I quite liked this one. Saru was, I think, clearly under an unexpected mental influence, whereas Michael’s behaviour in episode one was entirely down to her own bad judgement – she hadn’t been zonked by any blue CGI lights and had her consciousness expanded. (Talking of CGI, super-speed Saru was fun, but distinctly unconvincing. Props to Doug Jones, though, in the non-CGI bits, for even trying to tackle that terrain in those boots.)

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  3. Now, now, sound doesn’t travel in a vacuum. Of course, interplanetary space isn’t actually a vacuum.

    (That said, let’s see, the solar wind at 1AU is a few nanoPascals… based off the ‘Mean free Path’ Wikipedia page, that’s 10^-11 hPa, Ultra-high vacuum, and means a mean free path of probably around a megameter… and any sound wave with a wavelength less than that gets attenuated really quickly. At Mach 1, that means the maximum frequency that can go any significant distance is measured in fractions of a milliHertz. So, yeah, unless the speaker cone is moving so slowly that you need time lapse photography to see it moving, the sound isn’t travelling into space.)

    Why yes, I did just put far too much thought into that.

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    1. OK, so… we’ve got the start of a technical spec, then, for the Eminian sonic disruptor. It has an output of 18,000,000,000 decibels, and a frequency of (let’s say) 0.0005 Hz. What else do we need to know if we’re going to build this thing?

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      1. The problem is, of course, that anything smaller than that megameter wavelength (which will include almost all spaceships since, well, THE MOON is less than two megameters across for a scale check) is going to basically just rock back and forth in the beam like a cork floating on top of water. So it would only be effective as a weapon against Death Star scaled opponents.


      2. Correction: the moon’s radius is less than two megameters. The diameter is about three and a half.


      1. There does seem to be less of it, this time around. OK, there`s the spore drive, and this episode`s planetary sonar wibble ray, but there`s less background noise about unexpected new elementary particles, or new elements from Trek`s value-added version of the periodic table, or superstring fragments or cyanoacrylate radiation (that last one was a favourite of mine – from some TNG episode, I forget which) or spiroid epsilon waves. In Discovery, you can sometimes get all the way from one commercial break to the next without once hearing anything jaw-droppingly ridiculous. At least on the science front.


  4. I’m glad this show has gotten another season to find itself. It sounds like it’s going to need it.


  5. I’m sorry, but I still can’t stand Saru. I probably dislike him even more than Lorca, because at least Lorca is supposed to be an awful person, while I suspect we’re supposed to like Saru. A pity because Doug Jones is a fine actor, even when hampered by tonnes of prosthetic make-up. He played the merman creature in Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water, which just won the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival. So Jones went from award-winning sensitive portrayal of the romance between a deaf cleaner and the creature from the Black Lagoon to playing Starfleet’s most incompetent officer.

    On the other hand, I really like the budding romance between Michael and Ash Tyler. They’re so sweet together, which is pretty much a guarantee that Tyler really is a Klingon spy and that one or both of them won’t survive the season finale. I kind of hope they both just run off together, especially since Michael fully believes she will have to go back to prison after the war is over (Which begets the question, why does she help the Federation, if she’s not going to get pardoned anyway? Cause I sure as hell wouldn’t.). But that won’t happen, because characters who’ve fallen in love never just run off together in this kind of story.

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