Star Trek Discovery: The Red Angel (S2 E10)

An episode that shows some of the strengths of Discovery as well as it’s tendency to plot holes the size of that wormhole from Deep Space Nine.

The episode leads with Airiam’s funeral and various characters get to say something about the character who the show blew out of an airlock. It’s moving and well done and I’m glad that Detmer had a chance to speak. The opening sets the tone: this is an episode of plot exposition and character development — an extended debrief on what has happened and a plan for what happens next.

Section 31 gets to info-dump most of the answers about the mysterious Project Daedalus (a final clue from Airiam and also the title of the last episode) and those revelations keep coming at a personal level for Michael. Doctor Hugh and Stamets continue to negotiate their new reality, while Michael is forced to do the same with both Spock and Ash.

It’s no surprise to have the time-travel plot confirmed. Nor is it a spoiler to reveal that the Red Angel has two agendas: get Star Fleet’s attention and keep Michael alive…or rather keep Michael alive in Season 2, having left her alone in very life threatening situations in Season 1. It’s a big plot hole but we know why it’s there in terms of TV production.

And of course, we finally get to learn who the Red Angel is…and it is…ha, ha I’m not saying but there’s some twisty turns and another plot hole (or maybe Doctor Hugh is bad at doctoring). Either way, no the whole mouse trap plan is full of holes as a plan given what everybody knows but honestly it’s as good a plan as everybody given the obvious paradoxes of fore-knowledge that are implied by their Red Angel theory.

Mainly though this is an episode that keeps up a steady pace and let’s characters talk through issues and theories in a way that feels as genuine as it can be given the inherent absurdities of a Star Trek time travel plot. Discovery’s strength is its characters and their dynamics. With very little action until the end, the episode gave lots of opportunities for different dynamics to play out. The Doctor Hugh, Stamets, Tilly, Georgiou scene was something else but Michael punching Leland was pretty good too.

I’m still not wholly sold on Ethan Peck’s version of Spock but the Spock-Michael dynamic works very nicely. The idea of once character essentially explaining to the other the nature of another character is a bad idea but Michael is well established as a person, mainly though Sonequa Martin-Green’s excellent acting over two seasons. Spock’s multiple assessments of her character are convincing both in their accuracy and as something a sibling might say AND as being very Spock-like in their analysis.

The final part of the story hits all of his analysis perfectly: her tendency towards the dramatic and also placing the whole weight of saving everybody on her own shoulders. So we get a big set piece with Michael centre stage, strapped to a chair facing almost certain death *INTENTIONALLY* in a bid to save all sentient life. Michael is also once again placed in the role of mediator between worlds — a recurring theme for multiple characters in Discovery — in a spot that Georgiou calls “the ninth circle of hell” the circle of traitors, where according to Dante, Judas is held immobile and unable to speak.

Not flawless but I found this a strong episode that made use of Discovery’s story arc structure to do an episode that would have been structurally harder for other Star Trek series to do.

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. The Red Angel (e10) – the cast gets an episode to catch up with the plot and trap the Red Angel
  5. If Memory Serves (e8) – A sequel to The Cage and a prequel to The Menagerie
  6. New Eden (e2) – The Next Generation of The Next Generation
  7. Saints of Imperfection (e5) – Let’s get the old gang back together!
  8. Project Daedelus (e9) – Airiam we will miss you, though we barely got to know you
  9. Light and Shadow (e7) – Michael goes one way, Discovery goes another
  10. Sound of Thunder (e6) – Non-consensual medical procedures on a whole species

Bits and Pieces

  • So Airiam’s casting. Season 1 Airiam was play by Sara Mitch. Season 2 Airiam was played by Hannah Cheeseman…but Sara Mitch was still in Season 2 but now as Lt Nilsson who had minor appearances. Near the end of this episode Lt Nilsson takes over Airiam’s position on the bridge. 3D chess but with actors and roles.
  • The Red Angel is NOT the missing shuttle pilot from Season 1 and hence the evil AI must be the missing shuttle pilot from Season 1.
  • That’s Sonja Sohn aka Kima Greggs from The Wire.
  • The bridge crew get another let’s exchange glances shot.
  • I’d be OK with Admiral Cornwell also being a therapist if that all therapists are evil hadn’t been the theme of this weeks Brooklyn 99.
  • I haven’t used that EXACT dialogue that Tilly used when she interrupted a meeting of important people because she found something…but close to that.
  • Four more episodes to go…and looking at the dates I’m going to miss the finale as I’ll be traveling!
  • Cora’s review has new candidates for her Darth Vader Parenthood Award for Outstandingly Horrible Fictional Parents.


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17 thoughts on “Star Trek Discovery: The Red Angel (S2 E10)

  1. ObPedant: Judas, according to Dante, is in one of Satan’s mouths, being gnawed on eternally. (Brutus and Cassius occupy Satan’s other two mouths, if you were wondering.) It’s only comparatively ordinary traitors who are encased in the ice of Cocytus and then only in the deepest sub-circle – others are left with their head or their whole torsos sticking out, so they can talk to any poets who happen to be passing through.

    I surely can’t be the only one who looks at Captain Leland and thinks “Garibaldi-lite”, can I?

    And Section 31 does love its black, even on their space suits. (I notice Philippa the Merciless has found lots of studs, though.) Do you think one of them ever cracks, and reports for duty in a Hawaiian shirt or something?

    I don’t know what’s going on with the casting of Airiam – I might suspect it was something practical, like Sarah Mitich couldn’t cope with acting under all those prosthetics, but someone still wanted her in the show. Pure guesswork on my part.

    I was wondering how they faked the bio-neural signature, but it occurred to me that a) there is no reason the Red Angel suit can only be worn by one person, and indeed b) there is no particular reason to assume there is only one Red Angel suit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the answer will be that the signature is Michael’s but it was there to help the angel locate Michael (which is something the Discovery crew should have thought of as well)

      And thanks for the correction 🙂

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      1. I did like this episode as well, quite solid transitional episode with a singing Saru, who later puts leland in his place.
        I was just thinking why Michael should forget her own trap in the future.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. While you’re picking up corrections, Cam: As Steve says, Sara’s surname is spelled Mitich, not Mitch. (It’s Serbian, her parents having been emigrants from Serbia to Canada.)

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    2. I might suspect it was something practical, like Sarah Mitich couldn’t cope with acting under all those prosthetics,

      I seem to remember reading something about her having an allergic reaction to the makeup.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I liked this, but it’s yet another episode where you can’t think about it too much.

    Although that delicious scene with Georgiou needling Stamets about his alternate being “pansexual” had me chortling in my seat. Ditto Michael’s punching Leland out. Also, that bit where Saru pulled himself up to his full height to tower over Leland had me thinking, “Now that his threat ganglia are gone, this is one person you do not want to fuck with.”

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  3. Conversation between me and my husband:

    Husband: Why are they planning how to trap future Michael in front of Michael so that future Michael will know the plan? Did they learn nothing from Back to the Future?

    Me: Well they did have that Third World War, so maybe Back to the Future did not survive as cultural artifact.

    Husband: They’re supposed to be scientists though. Now Michael is making her own plan to trap her future self who will know her plan and that she’s not really in danger.

    Me: That’s why they are burning her face off and making torture porn of abusing a black woman instead of just slowly reducing the oxygen to gently suffocate her — so that future Michael will show up despite knowing it’s a trap to avoid really bad facial scars.

    Husband: This is the stupidest Star Trek episode ever.

    Me: Well, some of the original series ones were pretty awful. Like, what was that infamous one, Spock’s Brain?

    Husband: They didn’t deliberately cause what happened to them in that episode.

    Me: On the bright side, with that ending, this show is now firmly a daytime soap opera. So maybe we’ll get good Lorca showing up.

    So needless to say, we spent most of the episode essentially going, are you kidding me, more than the usual amount. It wasn’t just a plot-hole in a time travel episode — you expect those; it was nonsensical. If they keep this up, I may have to root for the future A.I. The actors are great, the dialogue is fun when not being gobbleygook, but the writers cannot plot their way out of a paperbag. Can they not bring in some decent SF authors, like the original Trek did?

    I was highly amused that Culver, who was usually in medical white in Season 1, is now running around in black and is apparently back on active duty despite having physically attacked Ash only a couple of weeks ago and separated from his husband. This is very much Discovery’s guiding ethos — you can have PTSD problems, attack your co-workers, mutiny, endanger the whole ship and still be back on duty as perfectly fine, but in clothing that signals your shift to edginess.

    I thought folks here, after frequently talking about how Discovery makes more sense as an alternate timeline, would appreciate this encapsulation from Adam Whitehead:

    “So the Red Angel went back in time and changed the Prime Timeline slightly by saving Burnham. Without its intervention, she would have died on Vulcan and this is why Spock never mentioned her in the original series or films: from his POV, she was a waif his father took in for a few weeks 25+ years earlier and then stopped being part of his life, having thoroughly insulted him first. Without Burnham, the war with the Klingons would have either not happened or been rather different, and Discovery would have been destroyed on several occasions, meaning the spore drive never became a thing.

    It now appears that Discovery is operating in a slightly modified timeline, rather than a parallel universe: Yesterday’s Enterprise rather than the Abrams 09 movie.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I absolutely agree about the trap-thing. Maybe thats why she apparently told Spock to not let them save her (which is hinted at the dialogue between them just before the torture scene). It may have been cut or I may overanalyze things.
      Pike did say that „Culver, despite not being yet on active duty“ will make sure Burnham doesnt die. Why they didnt use someone who is on active duty is a mystery though. Because he has more experience with Death?

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  4. Wait, is Burnham perhaps her own mum? They did mention the grandfather paradox, so why not go all in? Then the bio signatures are not a plot hole but a clue!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s Discovery, so anything is possible. Maybe a time-travelling Michael had a night of passion with Ash (or some other human) and there were consequences, since birth control isn’t all that great in the Federation either.

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      1. Well, the more scientific possibility would be that she’s a clone of her mother. That way the bio signatures would be identical. (Although that eliminates all the fun of technobabble.)

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Just catching up… yes, that was a fairly silly plan. In my head I just handwaved that it was a placeholder for a plan that actually made timeywimey sense.
    I’m noticing that episodes with Philippa the Merciless (h/t Steve) are always significantly better than ones without.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Apparently, Yeoh will be appearing on Disco in Season 3 as well and then after Season 3 is when they will likely do the Section 31 show. So we’ll get to enjoy her for awhile longer. Might be enough with Stamets and Tilly to make me keep watching the show past Season 2. Pike is apparently departing after Season 2, which makes sense — he has to go captain the Enterprise again and Spock has to go with him. Which will then lead to an interesting question — are they going to bring in another white guy to be captain of Discovery or let Saru be captain or what? Are we going to see the show live up to Roddenberry’s longer ranging vision of equality or sink back into the mire?

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