Star Trek Discovery: A Point of Light (S2:E3)

Old-style Discovery comes roaring back with a vengeance and a bloody bat’leth. Spore drive, parasites, Klingon man-buns, Ash Tyler, black-ops Star Fleet, hallucinating Tilly, grimdark space-opera — its a week for the weird and wacky on Discovery and I love it.

It’s all story arc this week. Michael is looking for Spock and in a twist so is Spock’s mum. Meanwhile, Ash Tyler is starring in Game of Thrones: The Klingon Years as he struggles with his new reality and seeks to support L’rell as she attempts to unite the now much hairier Klingons. Meanwhile, meanwhile, Tilly is being harassed by the annoying ghost of a former school mate.

The three story lines power on intriguingly with their own twists. The resolutions push the story on in interesting ways which I won’t spoil but which aren’t massive surprises. What’s good here is the confidence with which the episode handles the story. The tone is quite different from last week’s TNG style episode but it didn’t have that same tonal-whiplash that Season 1 Discovery suffered from. A big part of that is the clearer separation between the Discovery crew and the darker elements. The imperial machinations are on the Klingon home world and feature characters that we know (Tyler/Voq and L’rell) but who are distinct from the crew.

Speaking of which, while we no longer have Lorca, Michelle Yeoh is back and she has her own spaceship and mission. The idea of the darker, uglier side of Starfleet isn’t new to Trek and it was one of the fascinating ideas from Season 1. However, the show really didn’t know what to do with it and the concept clashed with the more classic Star Trek elements on board the Discovery.

A cast and plot-lines that extend beyond the titular ship is something we’ve seen before, Deep Space 9 in particular with its more stationery setting had characters follow storylines beyond mere away-team adventures. We’ll see how well Discovery can maintain this division. The director (Olatunde Osunsanmi) directed the episodes I ranked second and seventh from last season (Episode 13: What’s Past is Prologue, Episode 4: “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry”) both of which were decent episodes but like this one were in the style of chapters in a longer novel more than the classic Trek-style of short-story using familiar characters. Maybe of a mix of Frakes-like episodes and Osunsanmi-like episodes might help Discovery be both its own gonzo-take on the Star Trek universe.

Rankings

  1. Point of Light – season one Discovery is back for revenge
  2. Brother – an action orientated fresh start for the Discovery crew
  3. New Eden – The Next Generation of The Next Generation

Bits and Pieces

  • Michael gets to BE rational not just play at being rational. She helps Tilly reason about her ghost and when trusts the Captain to help her hack confidential medical records.
  • I’m glad the Tilly ghost thing got some resolution this week.
  • The idea of people being involved in the spore drive being sort of the Captain was a theme from last season as well.
  • Georgiou gets to be a bad-ass and L’rell gets a great line when she adopts her more fearsome title.
  • Hairy Klingons are better…but the rationale that Klingons shave off all their hair during wartime doesn’t help continuity any better. It only raises more questions.
  • Hairy Ash Tyler is better and that’s an impressive beard.
  • The Spock family is just a hive of emotional abuse. The whole concept of Vulcan rationality is a thread that when you pull on it with any seriousness just falls apart.
  • Speaking of which, the ‘red angel’ directly intervened in Spock and Michael’s childhood for those speculating on what’s going on.
  • Sorry but ‘logic extremists’ is both absurd and wonderful. “Yeah but if they are so committed to logic why do they do such stupid things?” you might ask but then I can point to Ayn Rand followers and the likes of Stefan Molyneux who genuinely think of themselves as extremely committed to ‘logic’ and who can’t string a syllogism together. I’ll assume Vulcan has the same.
  • Cora’s review is (as always) worth reading http://corabuhlert.com/2019/02/02/star-trek-discovery-suddenly-remembers-that-season-1-existed-with-point-of-light/#more-28600
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15 comments

  1. Bonnie McDaniel

    And Michelle Yeoh! I never get tired of saying that.

    This was a throwaway line, but in talking to L’Rell, didn’t the Mirror Emperor say she had a child? That’s what I thought I heard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • stevejwright

      She might have been talking about Mirror-Michael, who was certainly a daughter-surrogate if not actually an adopted daughter (I can’t remember their exact relationship, if it was ever officially clarified. Shameful of me.)

      Speaking of those little details, though, weren’t there people with black badges guarding Discovery’s spore drive room when Michael first came aboard? (Though that was before Tyler joined the crew, so maybe the guys with the black badges pushed off back to Section 31 before he could see them.)

      And yay, Tyler is back! So he can suffer some more! Hooray for angst!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mark Hepworth

    That was a pretty strong episode, but very busy – can they keep juggling all those plots or will some just get annoyingly shelved for a while?

    I was very impressed by the bit where Michael listens to Tilly and just logics her way to realising it’s something external, that was clever writing.

    “Deep Space 9 in particular with its more stationery setting” – I suppose that’s true on paper.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie McDaniel

      I suppose that’s true on paper.

      *snorfle* Did you intend to make that pun?

      Second thought on this ep: If they can successfully combine a more classic Trek-ian feel, with the flashes of humor and fun re the first episode, with what I thought were the better elements of the first season (Lorca before he went psycho–not actual Lorca, obviously, but more of that conflicted, anti-hero character, a role the Mirror Emperor would perfectly fill), they might be able to find their own distinctive way forward.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Hepworth

        All puns intended.

        So we know that this “angel” thing is real, has been around for years, seems able to move around space with ease, implied to be very powerful, and apparently meddlesome. Given Disco’s penchant for bringing back elements from previous shows, I’m querying what that could be. Something quixotic and quick-witted? Something quarrellsome but quipish? Is there anything in ST canon that could quench my questioning here?

        Like

      • Bonnie McDaniel

        Well, hell, if we’re going to do that, we might as well go for the whole Q-bang. 😀

        Like

  3. Standback

    I said I’d give S2 a 3-episode trial period, to figure out whether this is a series I want to be watching.

    Welp, I’m afraid it isn’t. I’m noping out here.

    What stakes is this episode setting up?

    – Will L’Rell and Tyler cement their control of the Klingon Houses?
    I have… NO reason to care about this one. I don’t have any reason to WANT L’Rell in power; sticking her on this way last season was a weird, tacked-on, and fairly stupid ending. L’Rell is a character who’s little more than a rough sketch; Tyler is defined 100% by NOT being the character we met last season, but we have no idea what he is (Reunify the Klingons! No, raise a kid! No, join Starfleet Black Ops!).

    – What’s up with Spock?
    They’re banking here on me being so invested in a character from the ’60s that I will be fascinated by the thread of “people asking what’s up with that character” — without establishing any reason for that character to be interesting or compelling; without introducing avenues of investigation, nor why it matters, nor what it might mean. Just a lot of “ooooh, mysterious, ooooh important,” along with a retcon of Spock as some kind of angst-ridden ghost-haunted misfit. It’s starting how *little* this episode does — it adds no more substance, just tells Burnham “sorry, your plot is in another castle,” and yet again has Burnham solemnly hinting that she did something Really Really Hurtful to Spock, but apparently not something that would actually make the story more interesting, or they would maybe TELL us instead of dangling it as a Big Secret to be revealed in the midseason finale or whatever.

    – Tilly has a ghost in her head
    Okay, so?
    I mean, we saw this *last* week.
    The fact that Tilly considers a full-formed hallucination to be probably just stress is kind of disturbing.
    Narratively, the stakes aren’t “what is this thing”, which the viewer has a much better sense of than Tilly does (and which we get no resolution to), it’s just “how bad is Tilly going to screw up before she realizes this is that spore thing from last season.”

    And everything just feels poorly thought out; mishandled. I don’t even know why the Klingon thread is important… I am unimpressed by “secret baby” as a magic plot button… and then you go and end it by stowing the baby away in escrow and sticking Tyler in, like, a different TV show? How does that impact ST:Discovery *in any way*? What story has been advanced here? Why am I watching this?

    I just don’t feel like this is coherent. It’s always “we’ll tell you what the *real* plot is *next* week”. And in the meantime, references. Spockspockspock! Characters from season one! Section 31! Are you not entertained?

    So: noping out. I don’t want to just be hatewatching. By intention or otherwise, this show is not for me, and I’ll just leave it at that.

    Like

    • Cora

      I didn’t much care for this episode either. It wasn’t a story, just a bunch of unconnected plot coupons.

      The only reason for the Klingon plot was to tie off a plot from last season (which didn’t really need tying off) and to set up the section 31 spin-off. And while more Michelle Yeoh is always welcome and Michelle Yeoh kicking Klingon arse is doubly welcome, I would have been happy never to see L’Rell, Voq and the rest of last season’s Klingons again. Their story was over and I never cared about these character in the first place. I wouldn’t have minded seeing Ash Tyler again, but the Ash we saw in this episode seems to have had yet another complete personality transplant. The secret baby angle, meanwhile, dragged Discovery fully into soap opera territory. And is common for soap operas, the baby is discarded once it’s served its plot purpose. Not that Star Trek hasn’t done this before (Chakotay’s kid with whatshername Cardassian turned Bajoran, Deanna Troi’s glowing miracle pregnancy, Data’s homebuilt daughter), but it’s still massively annoying, especially since I probably cared more about those plot vehicle babies than their respective parents did.

      The Spock plot was completely superfluous, cast Amanda, up to now the only sane adult in this family, in a bad light and didn’t even tell us anything new. As for the shocking revelation (TM) about what Spock supposedly did, when we watched that scene, we looked at each other and said, “No, he didn’t. Spock doesn’t do that sort of thing.” There is no real suspense either, because we know that Spock will eventually be cleared of all charges. And that’s the risk of playing too much with established original series characters (unlike Pike about whom we know little). We know these people and know how their story turns out.

      As for Tilly ghost plot, I’m still not sure where this is going, though I suspect it’s mainly there to give Tilly, Saru and Stamets something to do, while Michael and Ash are wallowing in their respective angst, and maybe find a way to reintroduce Dr. Culber. But then, Discovery wouldn’t need to reintroduce him, if he hadn’t been so unceremoniously killed off to further somebody else’s plot.

      I’m not giving up on Discovery yet, especially since the first two episodes showed some improvement over season 1, but this one was a massive step backwards.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Peer

        Im so glad L rell is now called mother of Klingons! Clearly a crossover with GoT is in the cards (and if I learned one thing from season 1: Everything is in the cards!

        Tbh: I didnt hate this episode, I just fail to get excited by te Spock plotline, found the Tilly plotline OKish (if a bit wonky, to say the keast) and still dont care about Klingon Homecoming stories. But I guess (hope) its the last we see of Vox and Lrell in this series. I suspect that Klingon action will be outsourced to section 31, were it probably fits better

        Like

  4. michaeleochaidh

    Of course the Spock family is a mess. Haven’t we all learned that anyone on the Internet claiming to be devoted to logic and reason is almost guaranteed to have debilitating anger management issues? Now imagine that applying to an entire *species*.

    Really, it’s a wonder any of them are at all well adjusted.

    Liked by 1 person

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