Discovery decides to play it safe with an episode that’s so The Next Generation that it needs Commander Riker to direct it.
The mystery of the red signals leads Discovery to the Beta quadrant via a quick use of the spore drive. There they discover a colony of humans from pre-warp Earth. Meanwhile in orbit, the collapse of a planetary ring of radioactive rocks (just go along with it) imperils not just the lost colony of humans but the away team (Pike, Michael and crew member of the week).
It’s nice enough. There’s a theme of faith versus science with Pike sort of taking one side and Michael the other. There’s an ecumenical perspective on religion that nonetheless centres Christianity. A very North American church with stained glass windows, including one with a crucifix surrounded by religious symbols from other faiths sums up the episode’s take on religion in one go. It’s striving to be inoffensive and it’s not implausible given the back story of how this particular church finds itself in the wrong bit of the galaxy.
As below, so above. Nothing is resolved about the mysterious signals or the red-angelic figure glimpsed by Michael last episode. However, the presence of the blurry winged beings is now known by Captain Pike as well.
Pike is being pitched as an older, father-figure like captain in the Picard model. This is some distance from the Pike of the original series Pilot, a more youthful, if melancholic figure but consistent with the J.J.Abrams version. The dynamic between him and Michael works nicely. Michael’s complex reaction to authority figures is one of the most interesting things about her character — seeking approval and yet somehow on the edge of rebellion. It’s a trait that she shares with Tilly, whose eagerness to help out leads her into doing dangerous things and defying orders from Saru this week.
The return of the Prime Directive as a plot point underlines the whole TNG feel of the episode. It’s probably the weakest application of it ever — this is after all a human colony — but it’s not gratuitous. I doubt the show will be able to maintain quite such a strict application of the rule (I like to think of it as a strict rule in the same sense that ‘fair use’ in copyright is a strict rule — as in not at all).
Speaking of consistent ethics, Pike has no problems sending Stamets back into the spore drive. The rationale is that it is OK to fire up the dangerous spore drive which relies on unethical war-time human experimentation and which directly endangers the health and sanity of a crew member because Starfleet would really like to know what those red signals are all about and hey, that’s not so very different from being in an existential war of survival. I envisage Chidi from The Good Place with his blackboard on the deck of the Discovery trying to point out all the ethical inconsistencies. On the one hand, this is pretty minor compared to Season 1 but on the other hand, Season-1’s ethical lapses were mainly by an actual psychopath from a literally evil universe.
- Brother – an action orientated fresh start for the Discovery crew
- New Eden – The Next Generation of The Next Generation
Bits and Pieces
- A ghostly side plot for Tilly!
- The Discovery crew really have that vibe of a workplace that recently lost a toxic colleague and can’t work out why things just seem happier somehow.
- Disco-donuts in space!
- OK, nice enough but is Discovery in danger of Chibnallism — all safeness and no WTFckery? I know I’m in a minority but I expect Discovery to deliver more intense nonsense than this 🙂
- Saru on the tardigrade: “You had to be there.”
- My grammar checker wants to change “spore drive” to “spare drive”.
- Yes, I have a grammar checker. What you see is what you get AFTER the grammar checker.
- Nice that Season 2 hasn’t forgotten that Discovery parked a giant rock in its hanger, given that Season 1 just forgot about a whole missing shuttle pilot.
- ETA Cora explains that the third member of the away team was Lieutenant Owosekun — who actually is a regular cast member but I didn’t spot that. Sorry.