Star Trek Discovery: If Memory Serves (S2E8)

Yer want original series references? Do yah? Well HERE YOU GO! No messing about or coy nods to Star Trek canon this week on Discovery. The show starts with a recap…of the original series pilot complete with the original Captain Pike and a smiling Leonard Nimoy.

Spock (or rather Spock 3.0) is in a bad mental state and Michael has run away with him in a shuttle bound for Talos IV. The planet is under a general instruction for Federation craft not to approach and we all know why. The apparently desolate planet holds a species of big brained telepaths who psychically project powerful psychic projections psychically. Who better to sort out Spock’s head?

Without spoiling things, that’s what they do revealing to Michael want Spock knows about the Red Angel and helping Spock get his proverbial shit back together. In the process Michael must reveal secrets about her childhood with Spock.

Meanwhile, back on Discovery, Doctor Hugh is having a hard time adjusting to his new existence. A matter not helped by the presence of Ash Tyler on board.

Altogether, we get an episode about consequences and the ramifications of actions. This a theme that Discovery has skipped over far to often. The neatest example is a short conversation between Captain Pike and Saru regarding a fight in the ship’s mess hall. Pike questions Saru’s decision not to intervene and Saru points to the somewhat exceptional circumstances (the usual pile up of plot line history for two characters) which Pike accepts and then requests Saru sticks with the normal code of conduct from then on.

It was inevitable that sooner or later Discovery would make a more overt claim to the original series’s history. Luckily it is at a point when the show is showing confidence in itself. So the bravado of opening with actual Star Trek footage comes over more as Discovery boldly going where Pike had already been than as a desperate bid for relevance.

Melissa George guest stars as the character Vena from the original pilot, and help ties this episode to the later re-worked version of the pilot, the two part “The Menagerie” in which Spock attempts to take the now severly disabled Captain Pike back to Talos IV.

Rankings

  1. An Obol for Charon (e4) – Classic Trek on a magic mushroom trip
  2. Point of Light (e3) – season one Discovery is back for revenge
  3. Brother (e1) – an action orientated fresh start for the Discovery crew
  4. If Memory Serves (e8) – A sequel to The Cage and a prequel to The Menagerie
  5. New Eden (e2) – The Next Generation of The Next Generation
  6. Saints of Imperfection (e5) – Let’s get the old gang back together!
  7. Light and Shadow (e7) – Michael goes one way, Discovery goes another
  8. Sound of Thunder (e6) – Non-consensual medical procedures on a whole species

Bits and Pieces

  • Dr Hugh isn’t happy and who would be in his circumstances.
  • Tyler: ‘I’m sorry I killed you it was part of a plot twist and the writers wanted Stamets to be more relatable!’
  • No absolute knock-out lines for Tilly this episode but I liked ‘come into my office’.
  • So we know why the Red Angel has come from the future – it’s the usual time travel reason.
  • Airiam’s cybernetic infection would be more compelling if Airiam had been given more personality from the start. Evil Airiam (or subverted, co-opted etc) isn’t any different than regular Airiam other than those three red lights in her eyes.
  • The shocking revelation about Michael and Spock was that Michael said some very mean things to him (for noble reasons) when they were kids. Unlike regular siblings who say very mean things to each other for no good reason at all.
  • Speaking of which, Michael disparaging Spock’s beard? Nicely done. Now I believe they are siblings.
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7 thoughts on “Star Trek Discovery: If Memory Serves (S2E8)

  1. Also, some really good performances, from Anthony Rapp and kid Spock (I’ve forgotten his name) in particular. And that scene with Georgiou hoisting Leland on his own petard and walking away, leaving him high and dry, was delicious.

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  2. I started the episode going WTF, because why show the original show’s clippings with completely different looking actors in them, including a Leonard Nimoy who already looks twice the age of young Spock who is supposed to be years older? It was the weirdest thing Discovery has done and shows that they figure most of their audience knows little about basic Star Trek lore. But frankly, with all the exposition in the dialogue, they didn’t need to bother showing the old footage and it was jarring to me.

    But I did eventually start enjoying some of the episode. The Section 31 folk are fun in small doses. And they tied up some loose ends. But those ties were highly anticlimatic and some things were downright annoying:

    1) Spock turns out to know virtually nothing useful. Everybody already guessed that the red angel was a time traveler who was warning people about a coming massive catastrophe. And we already knew that the red angel came to boy Spock and told him where to find Michael because their mom told us that earlier (and which indicates that the time traveler is Michael. Also, are spider monsters on Vulcan a thing I just didn’t know about? I thought they were mainly a desert planet.) And we know that it has something to do with the probe being altered after drifting into the future — future invasion danger. So we learned butkus except that Spock didn’t kill anyone, which we already knew anyway.

    2) We already know that Michael said mean things to boy Spock to keep him away from her because of her fears about the Vulcan terrorists (the ones on the planet of logic mind you. How logical is it to believe that illogic is like an infectious disease?) And Spock himself says he already understands why Michael did what she did. He was way more screwed over by his mother anyway. So Michael’s hesitancy to revisit the memory that she specifically wanted to talk to Spock about, especially as allowing him inside her head would let him better understand she loved him when doing it, made no sense and was deeply annoying. Plus Michael then spent years more on Vulcan so her words were useless — did she never then make up with him? This seems kind of weird.

    3) Kudos to possessed Airiam pinning her sabotage on Ash. But yeah, Discovery’s over-arching plotlines require them to take forever to follow them. Not a problem unique to this series but one they could improve on. It would be better if it happened later, now that they have given the bridge crew more to do (including their wonderfully blase attitude about mutiny — hey, this is like our third time!) so that we would care more, but it was less annoying than:

    4) Discovery gave us a functioning, loving, supportive gay marriage. People loved that. So Discovery then decided to have the bigoted stereotype of killing one of the gay couple and having the other one suffer. People hated that and complained it was a bigoted stereotype. So Discovery brings back the killed character in hand wavy hokum. And no one was expecting the guy tortured for months in the fungi temporal zone to be all put together, especially on seeing Ash. But apparently, Discovery still wants to stereotypically torture the gay characters, so the marriage is broken up and the doc no longer loves Stamets no more, even though in the fungi temporal zone as they rescued him, he clearly loved Stamets with devotion. So what was the point of bringing the doc back if we don’t get the functional, loving, supportive gay marriage but instead stick with bigoted stereotypes of gay suffering? And why will Stamets stay on the ship if the doc leaves, instead of going to that nice, quiet prof job? So it’s another waste of a plotline, although it did give Saru the best line of the night. Maybe it’s going to turn out that some part of the transformation is actually messing with the doc’s neurons and affecting his behavior, but they better figure that out fast then. Because this stuff isn’t cute, interesting or progressive. It’s just old crap.

    The duality of Discovery completely mucking with the canon of the old show while clinging desperately to the old show for appeal — I just hope they can start moving away from that in season three. You can do things without messing canon and also without replaying canon, be their own mission. But at this point, the actors do have their stuff down with their own quirks, so Discovery has a voice and a lot of times, it is a good one. But they don’t trust that voice, so it’s never consistent. My problem is I had kind of high hopes for the new writers this year and those hopes are mostly, except for some nice lines of dialogue, not being realized.

    But they did a decent job with the ancient ST plot and at least we now have a functioning Spock that everybody makes jokes about. I don’t want him in the show, but maybe the show will be able to move on from Michael’s Vulcan family conflicts after this by having him now.

    (To be fair, Nimoy was only 35 when he started Trek and Peck is 33, but Nimoy looked older while Peck looks like he’s about 24, plus is supposed to be several years younger than Michael, in her early thirties. Spock will live much longer than Michael of course. Pike looks like he somehow aged twenty years in a few years because they showed the old footage. That’s partly because Jeffrey Hunter, who was nearly forty when he played Pike, looked much younger, but it still just looked weird.)

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    1. Im pretty sure Staments and Hugh will get back together due to some stuff. Disco is very Star Trek in this regards. Might take a few episodes though.

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      1. Either way, the point is that Discovery’s writers keep mistaking lazy bigotry for drama. They do it with Ash, with the docs, with Michael, etc. Even with Mirror Georgiou, as much fun as she is, she’s still the bigoted stereotype of the Dragon Lady — the scheming, duplicitous Asian.

        And I’m not nailing them to the wall for it, because all shows have these various tone dead issues and mostly white writing staffs. But Discovery has a habit of killing off POC characters and then bringing a few of them back in some variation. And when it comes to Hugh and Stamets, they’ve just consistently gone with the tried and true stereotypes on plots when they had so much potential not to do that, which doesn’t produce tension but annoyance from me. So the fight with Ash was fine, but with Stamets and Hugh, we are now going through a repeat of Michael and Ash. I just don’t feel the need, nor do I see the need to mess up the one functioning relationship on Discovery for kicks just because it’s the gay one and the gay people must suffer. At this point, Stamets is mostly a punching bag — the snappy, commanding scientist is basically gone.

        Anyway, Discovery offers enough to keep watching for now, but I have been disappointed in my hopes for Season 2. But again, good dialogue in the episode — when they’re on, they’re on it, which is why it’s so frustrating when they get lazy or cling to the old shows. I cannot fault the actors either — they’ve been great, even Pike. I just am not into the Pike character.

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  3. Just getting caught up a bit. I’m a bit unconvinced by the plot turn of red-angel-as-time-traveller, especially if it turns out to be one of the characters (unless it’s Jason Isaacs, because that would make no sense but in the most wonderful way).
    They don’t seem to be doing as much subversion of expectations as season 1 – are they trying to settle down now?

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  4. Because we have to find our delights where we may, I cherish that one exchange between Michael and Spock that rings true to anyone with a sibling:

    Michael: Spock! You saw the Red Angel.
    Spock: First as a child, then a few months ago.
    Michael: What is it? Who is it?
    Spock: If I knew, we would not be here.
    Michael: I was asking rhetorically.
    Spock: Then, at least ask something I’ve never asked myself.
    Michael: Can we have a better version of this conversation?
    Spock: Is there a valuable question in your arsenal?
    Michael: Yes, do you actually think the beard is working?

    [Spock ponders, strokes his furry chin.]

    Yep, as Cam said, demonstrably brother and sister.

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