Last week Cora noted that once you thought about the episode it all fell apart. This week the fragility of the story is even more manifest. If you shut down any thought of the moral, social and political implications of what happens and just sit back and enjoy the ride, it’s not at all bad. Doug Jones takes the lead in a Saru centred story and he is always fun to watch. We also get the continuation of the Episode 4 story line as well as the pre-season 2 ‘Short Trek’ story ‘The Brightest Star’ (well worth watching prior to this episode).
Yeah, but. No. Sorry, this was bollocks. However, spoilers must be heralded, so do not click below unless you are prepared.
The show starts with a broad recap, catching up with Doctor Hugh, Saru and The Big Dead Sentient Planetoid thing from episode 4. Then, surprise the Red Plot Angel aka Mothman sends yet another signal. The twist being that it is Saru’s homeworld!
Episode 4 had already set the ground work for an interesting ethical dilemma about intervention in other cultures: in this case the Kelpians who are preyed upon by the technologically advanced & mysterious Ba’ul. From the Short Trek ‘Brightest Star’, the Kelpian/Ba’ul relationship appeared to be an Eloi-Morlock thing: the Kelpians living a peaceful, carefree pastoral existence aside from a regular cull by the Ba’ul which the Kelpians had been socially conditioned to accept.
Did I say ‘interesting’? Not so much. It would only be interesting if there was a dilemma for Star Fleet and some examination of how the heck the Prime Directive is supposed to work. Instead the story just bulldozers past this. General Order 1 becomes more of a guideline than a unbreakable rule. OK, I can tolerate that – surely most cases where it would be relevant would be edge cases such as this one (the Ba’ul have warp technology but the Kelpians don’t but then the Kelpian society is already in contact with a warp-tech level society).
Saru is a lot more radical without his threat ganglion and things escalate quickly. The Ba’ul, almost disappointingly, don’t turn out to be just cannibal Kelpians but weird monsters who live in dark pools. Meanwhile, Discovery learns from The Big Dead Sentient Planetoid’s records that the Kelpians used to be mainly like Saru post-ganglions and possibly the Kelpians were the predators of the Ba’ul.
Really, did I say interesting ethical dilemma? What a naive expectation. Willy-nilly and without any thought for the consequences or any discussion with any Kelpian other than Saru, Discovery initiates a planet wide biological change of all the Kelpians so they ‘evolve’ from the cowardly Kelpians into the more agressive post-ganglion Kelpians. Exclusive scene below:
You can’t just go around zapping a whole species into some sort of version of puberty without so much of a say so. There’s not even a pause for breath or a moments thought about it. The Ba’ul react by initiating genocide and Discovery say “Oh…that’s why we should have maybe thought about what we were doing a few minutes ago!” Luckily the red angel intervenes and everybody lives happily ever after.
Arrgggghhhhhh. With a bit of work, this could have been so much better. Discovery needs an ethicist in their writing room, just to think some of this through. For example, changing when the Ba’ul threat of genocide occurs in the order of events, making Saru wholly responsible for the species-wide change. None of that would make the plot preachy but would add creative conflict between the characters. Pike, Tyler, Michael, Saru all have different perspectives on events if we follow their characters but instead of seeing that within the story, it’s glossed over because nobody gets to challenge the plot choices.
Entertaining but Orville level degrees of starship crew thinking more than one step ahead with their interactions with alien cultures.
- An Obol for Charon (e4) – Classic Trek on a magic mushroom trip
- Point of Light (e3) – season one Discovery is back for revenge
- Brother (e1) – an action orientated fresh start for the Discovery crew
- New Eden (e2) – The Next Generation of The Next Generation
- Saints of Imperfection (e5) – Let’s get the old gang back together!
- Sound of Thunder (e6) – Non-consensual medical procedures on a whole species
Bits and Pieces
- Apparently, some ‘Spock’ character is in this series.
- If you haven’t watched ‘Brightest Star’ then the episode is even more shallow, as we only get to see one other Kelpian.\
- I assume the Ba’ul are aquatic.
- The twist that didn’t happen was the Ba’ul being post-ganglion Kelpian-Morlocks, instead, they were drippy creepy things
- The other twist I thought was coming was the original Kelpians being an eco-disastrous society that nearly destroyed their home world – hence the Ba’ul enforcing this ‘balance’. Instead, the Ba’ul are just dicks.