In the original series the Klingons were a generic threat, mixing aspects of cold war fears and aspects of orientalist prejudice to create a foil for Starfleet. The later movies and Star Trek: The Next Generation reworked the Klingons into something else – essentially creatures that have wandered in from a fantasy novel, mixing elements of Tolkienesque dwarfs and orcs and in turn helping reshape fantasy ‘warrior races’ in fantasy novels and films. Symbolically they fight with bladed weapons in a universe of hand held phasers.
Discovery’s writers stray into epic fantasy tropes on a regular basis, all of season 2 has aspects of a quest narrative. Season 2 Episode 3 “Point of Light” had a diversion to Qo’noS and struggles for the throne. Episode 12 brings back L’Rell with an episode title that pairs of the “Light” names of Episode 3 with a “Shadow” name. This time the fantasy genre intrudes into Star Trek with a visit to what can only be called Klingon Hogwarts.
This is not a great episode. It’s another plot coupon story with a dead-end diversion for Spock and Michael and a kind of spirit-quest story for Captain Pike. It’s not lacking in entertainment but it feels lazy and the twists are so heavily telegraphed that the only work as twists because you assume the writers don’t understand their story well enough.
It’s overall a mediocre episode filling out a space in the series. There are mandatory Discovery check box elements all checked off (including the overt referencing of original series continuity), some action and some interpersonal stuff. As always the acting is excellent and it’s often in weaker episode where you get to see how the cast copes with weak dialogue and poorly constructed plots. I did like that the L’Rell, Voq/Tyler, Michael triangle was handled by the characters as something that had emotional pain but which didn’t require any of them to act like idiots. Michael’s reaction to hearing about Tyler’s son was to show empathy rather than adding some out-of-character jealousy or conflict
- 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
- Perpetual Infinity (e11) – Mistakes were made, repeatedly
- The Red Angel (e10) – the cast gets an episode to catch up with the plot and trap the Red Angel
- If Memory Serves (e8) – A sequel to The Cage and a prequel to The Menagerie
- New Eden (e2) – The Next Generation of The Next Generation
- Saints of Imperfection (e5) – Let’s get the old gang back together!
- Project Daedelus (e9) – Airiam we will miss you, though we barely got to know you
- Light and Shadow (e7) – Michael goes one way, Discovery goes another
- Sound of Thunder (e6) – Non-consensual medical procedures on a whole species
- Through the Valley of Shadows (e12) – Pike visits Klingon Hogwarts to get a plot coupon
Bits and Pieces
- A Tilly-lite episode last week and ZERO Tilly this week. Next week presumably negative Tilly as her mirror universe version comes seeking revenge.
- Klingon Monasteries are all built in the style of Victorian faux-Gothic. Saint Pancras Railway Station in London? Klingon Monastery dedicated to T’Rain, the Klingon warrior dedicated to express services to Sheffield.
- The lack of Tilly means she hasn’t had an opportunity to point out that “time crystal” is a shining example of her previously stated rule of adding “time” in front of things to name something cool.
- Pike chooses his future but the gods of continuity had already chosen it for him.
- Control is becoming less like the Borg and more like the techno-virus Phalanx from the X-Men.
- Pike’s space-parka has a black Starfleet symbol in the style of Section 31? Are they the only section of Starfleet equipped for cold weather?
- Do you wonder if there is a struggle for power within the Discovery writing room? L’Rell & Voq having a secret son hidden away on a remote planet, felt like a plot strand that a writer had placed there to be revived later for a whole Klingon dynasty twist. This episode effectively shuts that down for no particular reason.
- Cora wasn’t happy with this episode either and has a good dissection as to why it seemed so hackneyed http://corabuhlert.com/2019/04/06/star-trek-discovery-ventures-through-the-valley-of-shadows/