Star Trek Discovery (DIS) Season 2 Guest Reviews
Stardate not given: Synopsis in main DIS listing
Discovery is back and what became apparent immediately is how hard the producers tried to move away from season one. While that surely is a wise decision, "Brother" lacks courage and creativity like all the other episodes before and rather quickly falls back into many of the very basic problems DIS had, except even louder.
The story itself was more or less straightforward and fast paced, while the special effects were bombastic but unfortunately so epileptic that it really was hard to see and process what happened. The entertaining merits "Brother" definitely has, mostly derived from its pace not from fresh or unique ideas or quality writing.
The addition of Captain Christopher Pike to the cast is of course a quite desperate try to come to peace with long-term fans. Well, I can't say it worked. Anson Mount seems to be a capable actor though. The bigger problem, of course, is the addition of Spock to the story which, in my eyes, is nothing but a sign of helplessness on the producers' part.
The whole Burnham-Spock story just feels wrong and strongly contradicts canon. Also, the way it was executed here foreshadows a phony soap opera in space and knowing Discovery the resolution will either be nonsensical, unremarkably unrealistic or completely out of proportion. Nonetheless, the damage to the legend of the Spock-character might be severe and that's a prospect I fear the most for the upcoming season.
What is amazing, is that Kurtzman & Co. seemed to have recognized some of the critique but I'm actually not sure if they were able to draw the right conclusions. For example, they devoted a scene to introducing everyone on the bridge and they finally added a bunch of extras to make the ship feel more like a real place. On the other hand, the odd characterization and the phony and pathetic dialogue just remained unchanged. The addition of some humorous elements could be seen as a reaction to the success (at least with old-time Star Trek fans) of The Orville. Unfortunately, it felt quite forced and out of place.
My biggest problem is still with Michael Burnham. She remains the Mary Sue she was in season one, maybe even worth. Again, she knows everything, explains everything and Pike is immediately impressed by her even though she didn't say anything noticeably smart. A small but good example is the mentioning that she was able to withstand forces of 9 G during her training and the fact that, even after she got just rescued from the Hiawatha (where she was also the one to save the day), she has nothing better to do than devising another brilliant theory on her sickbed. I could go on but I think I made my point clear before. It is simply annoying having a lead like her without any weaknesses because it sidelines the rest of the cast and makes her almost too annoying to bear. I do also think that Sonequa Martin-Green is not a great actress and is unable to give a nuanced enough performance to make her character work.
P.S.: I got the message they wanted to send when they killed off Connolly; but the way Disco presented it is horrifically simplistic and plain stupid. The sad thing is that they achieved the exact opposite of what's intended.
Other characters didn't really work well either. Tilly's social awkwardness is exaggerated once again and she again appears more like a moron. It seems, she can't have a single serious scene on this show which is sad and just perpetuating nasty clichés. Stamets was no more than a side character again and I found Anthony Rapp's acting unconvincing this time. Also, his story with Culber is cliched as well and, again, I fear that the producers prepare for some kind of nonsensical resurrection. Saru just serves as stooge and has no real function in the episode, even though it was tried to shoehorn him into some scenes. All of these characters suffer from the Burnham-centric storytelling that leaves them almost no room to grow or contribute. The addition of Pike as another perfect character makes this sad development even worse.
Another thing that bothered me was, once again, the comic-like appearance of sets and special effects. Especially the scene in which they started the pods into the asteroid field through some kind of out of proportion subway-tube was cringeworthy. All sorts of unlikely tech-gizmos that pop out from thin air let this episode look like a Marvel-movie but not like legit Star Trek. The insides of the Hiawatha were bombastic but didn't even remotely look or feel like the convincing insides of a crashed starship. The storyline including Commander Reno (played by Tig Notaro in what I thought was a great performance) felt strange and very unrealistic over the top. Still, I wouldn't mind seeing more of her in a better setup.
The core story about the seven signals itself leave a bad taste with me as well. Within the science of Star Trek the story already makes little to no sense. I also, once again, despise the highly esoteric undertone that comes with it and that seems to be increasingly present throughout the rest of the season.
Season 2 of Discovery should have been a fresh start but instead of new and bold ideas we are presented with the same weaknesses we could witness in season one, just louder, more colorful and with a good portion of soap-opera.
- Nitpicking: Burnham was adopted by Sarek and Amanda, but why exactly was it not possible to bring her to Earth? Especially when she felt out of place on Vulcan? Granted, it's necessary for the plot, but it still should be explained.
- Remarkable line: "Sometimes it's wise to keep our expectations low." - Well, that certainly IS good advice. Is this Kurtzman talking to the audience?
- Remarkable offense: Not only does Burnham enter Spock's quarters on the Enterprise while he's away, she also accesses his private files there. Why was she allowed to do this? Isn't that a huge violation of Spock's privacy? Pike had no reason to give her authorization to do any of this.
- Remarkable cheap writing: The seven signals that appear leave a lot of questions open. For once: How did the signals reach the Federation all at once? How was it possible to pick them all up even though they seem to come from remote places of the galaxy? And how is Starfleet unable to have ANY sensor data about them?
Rating: 2 (KilianT.)
Stardate not given: Synopsis in main DIS listing
I have to admit, I couldn't get through this episode the first time I tried to watch it over a year ago. At times, Star Trek: Discovery doesn't feel quite like Star Trek. The focus was more on sizzle and less on steak this time around. An episode that was doing it's best to dazzle the viewer with state of the art visuals. Again as I've said many times before in earlier reviews, the 23rd century shouldn't be this advanced in the lore. It is what it is though, so I won't gripe about that any longer moving forward.
I enjoyed the new Captain Pike played by Anson Mount. He really did a great job in this role and I'm really looking forward to seeing more of him in the future. Then there was introduction of Denise Reno who is apparently very smart but swears like a sailor and comes across as a bit of an ass. Not really a good first impression for a new character unless that was the intent in the first place.
Then we have the whole thing going on between Spock, Burnham, The Red Angel and of course the Sphere. I know where it's all headed since I played "Age of Discovery" and "J'Ula's Discovery" on Star Trek Online long before I ever watched a single episode of STD. I have to say that found story elements taken from this season used for the game to be really confusing and not all that interesting. Perhaps actually watching this season will provide more answers than questions.
Not bad start so far for this second season.
Rating: 4 (R.D. Lewis)
Stardate not given: Synopsis in main DIS listing
"New Eden" continues to make some adjustments to Discovery but still leaves the major problems of the show untouched. Again, I have to grant this episode some entertaining merits but, again, it is severely damaged by contrivance, ill characterization, naivety, and some huge Deus-Ex-Machina moments. This episode relies way too much on incredible coincidences to get it going.
It seems like the producers realized that some changes were inevitable after a weak first season, so they added some humor and also integrated the supporting characters a bit more into the stories. Unfortunately, that is about it. Everything else remains practically unchanged, with the biggest letdown for this week being the presence of the spore drive. A concept that never made any sense and strictly works against Star Trek canon AND common sense. What makes it even more frustrating this time is how unnecessary it was to bring it back. It seems like the writers have no other tools to perpetuate a story than to fall back on Deus-Ex-Machina devices.
"New Eden" marks a departure from a common Star Trek-principle when it comes to religion. With a little more thought and a better developed script, we could have granted the producers some boldness here but unfortunately the story presented here is way too contrived and naïve to be taken seriously. First of all, it sports the usual esoteric nonsense Discovery likes to indulge itself in. A group of humans rescued by an angel and brought to a far away planet to build a new life? Well, I guess one has to swallow that premise. Still, it strikes me as unbelievable that these people would abandon and "forget" about their technologies within only 200 years. Things are worsened when we take into account that technology was more or less present until their batteries died. That is a stretch, at best. Coincidentally, their planet faces total annihilation just moments after the away team beamed down. I guess that was meant to parallel the questions of destiny and faith asked in "New Eden" by showing that Discovery found the planet through some kind of providence, something that is very problematic within the realm of Star Trek and was carefully avoided by the original shows.
What is really annoying is the way the villagers' religious behavior is depicted here. Within 200 years they took all the major religions mankind knows and patched it together to a new one. That doesn't make much sense, leaves many, many questions open, and is incredibly naïve as well. It also, quite impressively, shows what the authors mistake for intellectual debate.
Another nuisance is how Burnham behaves in that context. Why does she engage in a discussion with the villagers about their beliefs, thereby questioning them. Not only does she come across as very patronizing and arrogant here (and Pike should have immediately put a stop to it), but she is also endangering the whole mission just to prove a point. It also is plain stupid if we take into account that the goal of the mission was to acquire knowledge and to keep a low profile. Burnham behaves very intolerant here and it would have been a better choice to leave those discussions aboard the Discovery. I guess the intention was to show Pike as someone who is open to religious feelings and beliefs while Burnham strictly adheres to science. That is by no means a very new idea and the way it is presented here is sadly dumb. Instead of wittingly presented nuanced arguments we are presented some stereotypical sledgehammer-lines that were intended to sound smart but achieve the opposite.
The scenes aboard Discovery suffered a lot from repetitiveness this time. Tilly disobeying orders and taking unnecessary risks is similar to previous installments and lets me question if there is even a proper chain of command on this ship. Also, her awkward behavior is once again exaggerated to an extreme here without doing anything for the character. How can a person like her function in an organization like Starfleet? She is depicted as a walking cliché. The fact that her plan with the asteroid fragment works makes things even worse because it lets the rest of the senior officers look like incompetent wimps. Again, I would really wished for some progress concerning Tilly. Well, maybe we get it from the mystery concerning May Ahearn, but I fear even more insufferable esotericism and contrivance.
Something that leaves a sad impression is how the producers continue to throw in bits and bites from Star Trek-canon even though they shouldn't be around during the period. This time the most blatant example was the door chirp from Voyager. It may be a small detail but it tells a lot about the producers' mindset when it comes to the coherence of the franchise and once again let me question their sincerity. Sad.
Among the redeeming qualities of the episode are decent performances by the guest cast, especially by Andrew Moodie as Jacob who manages to come across as a credible character, all contrivances in the script aside. As mentioned above, I did like the short scene between Saru and Tilly in which Saru elaborates on being the only Kelpian in Starfleet. I also give the writers some credit for choosing Lt. Owosekun for the away team even though she was clearly sidelined by Burnham and Pike. It would have been nice if she contributed more. The away mission was a welcome change of pace even though the team managed to stumble into every possible pithole and came across as incredibly incompetent.
- Continuity: In the beginning Michael is in possession of Spock's padd. Was she just allowed to take it? Is there no such thing as privacy? Spock obviously wanted his stay in a psychiatric institution to be a secret. The point here is: If Pike was going to tell Burnham the truth anyway, why didn't he do so from the beginning. If he wanted to keep it a secret, he should have never allowed her to dig through Spock's personal belongings. Either way, this whole segment of the show doesn't make any sense at all.
- The away team is materializing in the middle of the village. How could they be sure that no one sees them? This strikes me as illogically risky.
- It is very convenient that a fully functional stun grenade pops up when needed.
- A more serious problem comes with May Ahearn. Even if she is supposed to be a hallucination, it is revealed that she is an old school-friend of Tilly. Shouldn't she KNOW whether someone like this is aboard Discovery or not? The point is: Tilly should have been suspicious from the very first second.
- Remarkable lines:
- "I am familiar with the texts of Earth religions." (Burnham to Pike). Well, of course you are.
- "That's the power of math!" (Tilly). Sigh... it's the power of physics, if any...
- Logic 101: The allegedly logical thinking Michael Burnham thinks it is wise to ridicule the villagers' beliefs with scientific arguments. Is that a good idea when you're supposed to blend in and keep a low profile? And, btw: What happened to tolerance and acceptance in Disco's timeline?
Rating: 2 (KilianT.)
Stardate not given: Synopsis in main DIS listing
After a brief hiatus I'm back at it again with more STD Season 2 reviews.
"New Eden" surprised me and it managed to grab me on an emotional level. I really felt bad for Jacob and it was a bit a shame Pike didn't take him with them to see Earth. This man had a hunch about the actual truth about how their church ended up in the Beta Quadrant some 200 years ago. It was nice that Pike (after Burnham's urging) came back to to tell Jacob the truth.
Then there was the moment when Tilly saved the far flung human colony with a last minute crazy plan involving the dark matter asteroid. However, it was later revealed that she was seeing a dead high school friend this whole time? How? Why? Did I miss something here? I hope there's some kind of follow up on that development.
Overall it is a fine episode on my opinion. I'm just left wondering why the Red Angel would save a seemingly random group of people during World War 3.
- Remarkable scene: the dark matter asteroid being used to remove radioactive debris
- Remarkable fact: The Red Angel saved a church full of people during WW3 and dropped them off on a far away world. Why? Don't know.
Rating: 7 (R.D. Lewis)
Stardate not given: Synopsis in main DIS listing
Welcome to Soap Trek Discovery. The show returns this week with the car-crash version of a real episode that feels like being right out of season 1. We have all the basic problems and plotholes, just worse and with even more Deus-Ex-Machina moments that tell the viewer how helpless the producers are.
Again, some of the plots are rushed while others are dragged out to the maximum. Things happen, just because the writers want them to happen. Characterizations are faint while motifs are never really explained or explored. On top of all of it, "Point of Light" is overcoated with some unnecessary violent and very tasteless scenes and sports the worst directing of all of the episodes so far. I literally had to pause several times in order not to get dizzy.
The Klingon arc from season 1 was a complete mess in which, at the end, nothing made any sense anymore. It was concluded with one of the biggest examples of bad ethics in all of Star Trek. Still, the producers of DIS managed to give it a turn to the worse here with a plot moving so fast that it was almost impossible to tell what's going on. I can only imagine that this episode served as a way to bring closure to the whole storyline. That might explain the careless and rather slack writing. Characters simply pop up out of nowhere and are gone almost as fast. We learn that L'Rell had a baby no one knew about, even though there is no way that this makes any sense at all. We have some kind of conspiracy going on against her that isn't properly explained in any way and that should be further fleshed out.
Finally, the whole mess leads to a shamefully bad choreographed gratuitous fight scene that was as nonsensical as it was wooden.
It seems, like so often before, the characters didn't have a plan at all and were only saved by some Deus-Ex-Machina-moment, this time provided by Georgiou in a scene so stupid that it almost hurt physically. The conclusion of the storyline is a disgraceful display of graphic violence that would never have been possible in Star Trek and that didn't even make any sense. Are we really asked to buy that L'Rell's deception worked without any questions asked? A sad display of bad writing...
The introduction of Section 31 here just corroborates how amateurish everything feels on that show. Is this a children's show now? Those scenes were nothing but fanfiction and none of it has any chance to fit into canon (or a sane human brain). Even worse is the fact that this adds even more to the dark and gritty tone of the show and just serves as an excuse to let mass-murderer Georgiou be around to serve as plot vehicle to resolve any kind of stuck up situation in the show.
The scenes aboard Discovery weren't any better this week. While there have been some overall improvements in season 2 so far, this was a huge step back. Like the Ash-Tyler-story in the first season the whole "Search for Spock"- theme is dragged out unnecessarily without adding anything new to the narrative. The involvement of Burnham's sister-mother feels out of place and Mia Kirshner is a very, very obvious miscast. The retrocharacterization of Spock as some kind of lunatic who goes mad because he saw some kind of mystical figure in a vision when he was a child just doesn't feel right. There is also no plausible reason for Burnham to withhold her secret in this situation if it really is as grave as the story wants us to believe (something I highly doubt at this point).
Aside from this, the story features the usual contrivances, like the fact that Amanda could simply steal Spock's medical files. Additionally, her plan to find Spock on her own seems rather inconsiderate and illogical. She is a civilian after all. Someone should have objected and stopped her. I also disliked the acting in the scenes between Burnham and Amanda. Was all the conspirative whispering really necessary?
The storyline surrounding Tilly wasn't quite compelling either, as it was foreseeable and quickly resolved. There was a good opportunity to give some of the other characters a bit more to do. It should have been Saru and Stamets who deal with her and who come up with a solution. Instead, it was once again Michael who only had to hear a few sentences from Tilly to come up with a sound theory and a plan to resolve the situation. Yawn! Saru even states that they were able to help her "thanks to Burnham's insides." The producers' urge to shoehorn Burnham into every subplot is simply annoying as it robs all the others from gaining some depth. This, in my opinion, is the main reason why it is so difficult for many viewers to bond with the characters.
In conclusion and to make it brief, this episode unfortunately doesn't have any redeeming qualities at all, Discovery really hit rock bottom with this one. It appears that the producers think that some small adjustments and some bones thrown to the fans can fix a broken premise but they're wrong. The show remains as dark and dismissive as it was in season one and there is still no trace of a vision or a message. It also sports the same weaknesses in writing and execution and giving the Klingons hair and dropping in the D-7 doesn't help at all (the latter even creates a severe break in Disco's own continuity). On the contrary, it even corroborates the fact that DIS has dissolved itself from Star Trek not only visually but also intellectually, and has become an even more generic superhero-soap opera-comicbook-show. This week's episode is filled with plotholes, contrivances and some extremly bad writing, so persistent that it is impossible to overlook it. A sad display of creative and professional ineptitude.
- The Klingon hair, of course. The explanation given here makes no sense and even contradicts former installments of DIS itself.
- The D-7-class, infamously, already appeared on DIS. It also seems that the ship is in service for quite a while during TOS.
- The "joke" about communicating via screen is very odd here as everyone seems to communicate via screen later in the timeline. This dumb try on self-irony is just another insult to the fans and could be read as a message from the producers to long-time fans, saying that they don't care about the people who care.
- The depiction of Section 31 in DIS reminds me of old Bond-films in which everyone seems to know Bond's name and who he is. In DS9 it seems that even Captain Sisko didn't know about them. Which made perfect sense, because they are a SECRET organization. BTW: It is quite stupid for an organization like Section 31 to create special badges and things like that. It is like writing the word "spy" on a spy's forehead.
- So, L'Rell was pregnant while being held captive on Discovery? There is no way that works. Also, shouldn't Culber or his replacement have noticed that at some point? Well, then again, I just remembered Culber's track record in noticing the obvious...
- After Tilly's breakdown it is said that Saru was looking for her. Is it really so hard to find her on the ship? Why not ask the computer or go to her quarters as the obvious first choice?
- I still don't get the Command Training Program that is supervised by Saru for some reason. Until now it seemed like Tilly took part in the program while she was assigned to Discovery. This week, it seemed like the whole program takes place on Discovery with all the attendees being part of the crew. (Which wouldn't make sense because of the secret nature of Discovery's assignment explained in season 1.)
- During the cadets' run Tilly is distracted by her hallucinations and even stops for several moments to argue with Mae. There is no way she could have caught up to the others and even win the race and thereby setting a new record. I guess, the show had to remind us how amazing everyone is in case we forgot...
- Speaking of the race. What is the purpose of distractingly turning on and off the lights all the time?
- Tilly is "treated" in Engineering by Stamets and Burnham. Shouldn't she be examined by a Doctor first? And shouldn't medical personnel be present during the procedure in case anything goes wrong?
- One would guess that Georgiou's all-purpose assault drone makes any other form of combat obsolete in the future.
Rating: 0 (KilianT.)
Stardate 1532.9: Synopsis in main DIS listing
So far, there's been a slight, very slight improvement in Star Trek Discovery. The show still suffers from the same problems it had last season however. The generally disjointed story or too many plots in one episode, generally unlikable, unrelatable characters etc. The characters are a really large part of the issue when it comes to Discovery in general along with the poor writing, which is perhaps not a surprise since none of the writing staff have any Trek, or even any sci-fi writing experience. The show comes across more like a soap opera than thoughtful science fiction.
The introduction of Pike in season is a welcome addition to the cast and Anson Mount does a fine job with what little he's given. It's sad to think that, yet another series surrounding the crew of the Enterprise during Pikes command would've been much more preferable to Discovery. This episode was certainly one of his more standout performances, especially the scene with Vina. I was impressed with how they managed to keep Vina's inclusion under wraps although it was probably a no brainer that she would appear. As far as the recasting of Vina goes, I think Melissa George did a more than passable job as Vina. It says a lot though when your guest stars are better than your regulars.
We finally get some more light shed on (God help us) Burnham and Spock's relationship. It seems Spock was rather besotted with Micheal when he was young, probably not surprising since every character in Discovery seems to go weak at the knees when Burnham's HUGE ego is around. The whole mystery surrounding what she said to Spock though and why they never talked was a huge anticlimax although, not unforeseen considering how predictable Discovery is.
As for the Talosians, the redesign could've been worse, I don't know what the fascination Discovery's prosthetics team have with huge nose pieces is about though! The CGI'd veins in the head looked cheap though, probably blew most of their FX budget in the previous two episodes. Sometimes practical effects are just better. When 60s technology did it better I suppose. The Talosians weren't as creepy I didn't find either. They seemed less alien ironically. Not even trying to mimic the original voice of the Leader.
Back on the subject of Spock. I think Ethan Peck did a fine job! As said in his interviews he studied the character in depth, and it does show! Again, if there was a series following the crew of the Enterprise with, Pike, Number One and Spock, I'd totally be in for that, but bring in seasoned Trek writers, I genuinely don't know why they won't bring in the old guard who know what they're doing.
The story surrounding Culber's "Resurrection" was ok, we all knew what was coming before the trailers. Sooner or later his and Tyler's paths would cross.
Doug Jones does a decent enough Job with Saru as usual. I'm not a fan of the Kelpians as a race however. I think Saru would've been better as an already established race. An Andorian or Tellarite, maybe even a Xindi! Now that would've been quite interesting. But introducing another new alien race in a prequel, especially one that is really rather dull wasn't the cleverest idea. What am I saying, this is Discovery. I know Enterprise introduced several new species, but they were at least all fairly unique and interesting.
So... onto what's rapidly turning into the worst part of Discovery and that's saying something! Section 31... Oh where to start!
Section 31 are becoming an increasingly irritating thing in Discovery. For one, everyone knows about them, that takes away so much of what made them interesting in DS9, popping up out of nowhere. No one knowing who they were, not being answerable to anyone. I get the feeling they may be building up Georgiou to take the organisation "Rogue". This however doesn't make much sense since in Enterprise we see 31 is still very much in the shadows and still no one is aware of their existence. Leland seems like a 31 kinda guy, I do find him similar in some ways to Sloan, although no where near as charismatic. Sloan you could identify with, you understood the things he did. Filling in his back story more in "Extreme Measures" showing his family etc really fleshed out an already interesting character. No character in Discovery has that kind of connection to the audience, much less any in 31!
It's become a bit of a Star Trek trope that most admirals are really shady. Even the good ones like Admiral Ross have their devious side as shown in "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges". Cornwell really rubs me up the wrong way however. From the first season sanctioning Genocide on Qo'noS to being very much in charge of what 31 does. One scene that really annoyed me was where she was talking to Leland and Georgiou and was only interested in what Georgiou (a mass murdering dictator from the Mirror universe who's barely been in "Prime" universe for 5 seconds) had to say. It's obviously very much par of the course in Discovery that the male characters have little to nothing to say or do and can't be in charge. Like I mentioned earlier, Pike may be captaining Discovery, but he doesn't generally do much and just follows whatever his crew tell him to do. This is just a reflection of the times, it's sad to see especially in Star Trek that's never out-rightly hated on anyone, but you could definitely say Discovery is very much trying to make a point when it comes to stereotyping men in general. Connolly for example in "Brother". The only reason he was even given any lines was so the creators could push a pointless "Mansplain" narrative.
It's sad to see Trek stooping to that kind of low because of the current political climate!
In conclusion, it didn't really progress the Red Angel arc, other than showing it appearing to Spock, but we're none-the-wiser to its identity or purpose. We know it's human and probably from the future, that's nothing we didn't already know 2 episodes ago. We do know it appeared to Spock and showed Burnham being killed when she ran away. Because of this, Spock told his parents and they managed to save her. Does this confirm that Discovery is actually in another parallel universe? If Burnham was meant to die, it would explain why she didn't exist in TOS through TNG era etc.
As for a return to Talos IV, it could've been interesting, but generally fell flat and certainly didn't have the appeal that it did in "The Cage". I still maintain especially for a pilot, "The Cage" is a fantastic episode of Star Trek!
I have to agree with Bernd over the montage of the Cage at the beginning of the episode. I felt it rather de-valued the Genesis of Trek by making very fairytale-esque as if it was all just a dream! I did like how it merged to show Mount's Pike and we did finally get a Captain's Log!
- Vulcan has always been called and shown as a desert planet, but now seems to have luscious forest, including in "The Forge", described in TAS and and shown in ENT as the largest and most inhospitable desert on Vulcan!
- The Sehlat, at least I'm assuming that's what it was supposed to be hunting down Micheal looks more like the bug Red beast from 2009.
- The continuity where Vina tells Pike the Talosians created the illusion of Pike for her. He was there and saw that for himself, how's that news to him?
- Remarkable inconsistency: It's clear when the Computer was dispensing the information about Talos IV that it's already prohibited to visit and carries General Order 7, the death penalty. If Talos IV is prohibited to visit, then surely any information about it would not be so easily accessible as to just ask the computer?
- Remarkable dialogue: "I don't even know who I am anymore." - "Who do you think you're talking to?" (Culber and Tyler)
- Remarkable prop: The singing flowers on Talos IV kept the original sound effects albeit the visual style was changed, but not so much that it was actually bad. The Talosian costumes were very reminiscent of the originals including Vina's short dress made out of the same material.
Rating: 4 (Jamie H)
Stardate not given: Synopsis in main DIS listing
The intention behind "If Memory Serves" was arguably to tie DIS into Star Trek canon. Surprisingly, that part of the story worked quite well. It's largely free of contradictions and comes across as more or less thoroughly constructed. The Talosians themselves looked and acted halfway credible. They could have been even more convincing if they were played by women with male voices like it was the case in the original.
The introduction sports some scenes from "The Cage". This is a double-edged sword to me because it only further corroborates how far DIS is away from the feels and looks of classic Star Trek. It also leaves me with the impression that classic Star Trek is seen as a distant fairy tale by the producers that doesn't have to be taken too seriously anymore.
The rest of the story is very unremarkable. There is not a single twist or surprise in the story to make it more compelling. Instead everything goes according to plan without any obstacles to overcome or any real resistance to fight. That adds to the impressions of this being a remarkably boring episode. It also shows, despite smaller improvements, that the writers are unable to find a middle way between complete over-exaggeration and deadly boredom.
Consequently, the B-story featuring Culber and Stamets was the more interesting part of the episode, which wasn't hard to accomplish. Still, this part of the story strikes me as cheesy and cliched. It is also quite separated from the rest of the plot. I also usually like Wilson Cruz's acting but this time he doesn't seem to know what to act. I blame the generally very weak directing in the show for that. Speaking of bad directing styles: The use of lens flares has become almost unbearable by now and nearly made some sequences unwatchable.
The biggest letdown is the revelation of Burnham's conflict with Spock. As could be expected the "big secret" that no one was allowed to know about was nothing but hot air. Burnham called Spock names as a kid. Wow. Even for DIS this is poor. The try to improve it with the logic-extremists backstory didn't even remotely work (the concept itself is questionable at best). Again, an absolute non-story is blown out of proportion and was dragged out for seven(!) episodes here. That is disappointing on all accounts and damages the credibility of the characters even further. It was clear from the beginning that the outcome of this storyline could never justify the fuzz that was made around it. It is also a good and sad example of how predictable Discovery is as a show in general and how un-organic most of the developments feel.
Ethan Peck as Spock has the most thankless task in the whole show. He can only lose as Spock and he does. Peck doesn't even come close to the grace of Leonard Nimoy. What makes it even worth is that the role his character plays so far is rather unremarkable. This week he was constantly sidelined by Burnham (welcome to the club, btw) and the whole nonsensical story about the "red angel" does more damage to the Spock character than anything else in Star Trek before. It seems like the producers simply wanted to shoehorn Spock in, but gave him a part that could have been played by anyone. I don't want to be unfair against Peck who, nonetheless, seems to be a capable actor. So let's wait and see...
The Section 31 segments of the show are becoming more and more annoying. The writing here is especially bad and damaged an episode that would have been okay without it. 31 was conceived in DS9 as a shady organization that stays in the shadows and really is a secret. Their motivations were revealed only layer by layer with great care and with credible characters like Sloan. The writers of DIS seem to think in comic-book-terms were villains have huge headquarters and are in everyone's sight with their evilness all the time. For a show that wants to be mature and dramatic this is rather ridiculous.
In conclusion, this episode could have been a highlight but felt rather unremarkable and boring. Nothing new was added to the conflicts and the revelations about Burnham and the Red Angel simply fell flat. It benefited from the inclusion of the Talosians but it lacked real conflict and kept dragging out a very thin premise. Still, I'm willing to see some good will in this one.
- Vina tells Pike what he should already know, doesn't she? He was present when the Talosians created an illusion of him for her.
- It is established that it is already forbidden to visit Talos IV at this point, but the computer is readily offering any information Burnham needs.
- Where did all the deserts on Vulcan go? It looked surprisingly vegetated to me.
- Starbase 11 is only 2 lightyears away from Talos IV. This is remarkably close considering the status of Talos and the fact that the mental powers of the Talosians can reach quite far out.
- I don't really get the chain of command regarding Section 31 and the rest of the fleet. Who knows about Georgiou's real identity? Why can Leland give Pike orders all the sudden? Shouldn't Pike contact the admiralty?
Rating: 4 (KilianT.)
Stardate not given: Synopsis in main DIS listing
Kurtzman promised to "sync" Discovery with Star Trek continuity. While it was quite obvious that such a goal might be impossible to achieve at this state of the show it seems like the writers didn't even try. Instead of an explanation, or at least some serious effort, all the viewer gets is a big "Up yours"-card from Discovery's staff. "Such Sweet Sorrow" is so insulting to the average viewers' intelligence that it hurts on many levels. It was clear from the beginning that there could be no satisfying ending unless the whole Discovery-timeline was to be erased. As it was clear that this would not happen it was deemed a good enough explanation to simply declare everything that happened a secret. I don't see the point in listing all the reasons why this is complete nonsense but you should think that the writers would have encountered at least a few of them.
What really makes me angry is the damage that is done to beloved characters. It is Spock who suggests to Starfleet to ban the information regarding Discovery and all its surroundings from existence. While this is not only unethical it is also highly illogical to believe that everything that happened could possibly be kept secret. Spock had no real function in season 2 (despite his famous name), which is bad enough, but he was also turned into a moron here as well. This only adds to a very, very long list of insults regarding iconic characters, ships and events. It also corroborates the initial mistakes of the show to 1) insist on it being canon even though it is clearly not, and 2) not set it in the distance future where the producers would have had all the license they obviously need.
The producers add insult to injury with their bad habit of casually throwing in bits and pieces of classic Star Trek. Be it sounds, designs, names, melodies and so on, everything is just stirred together whether it fits the era or not. If this is a try to reconcile Discovery with canon it makes things even worse because it shows how little care and how little knowledge of Star Trek history is apparently present in the writers' room.
I don't want to repeat what was said many times before about the basic and fundamental problems of Discovery as a show in general and as a Star Trek-show specifically. Still, it is worth noting that there was apparently some will to repair some of the damage done in season 1, but it succeeded on very few occasions and only on very superficial levels, which only leaves one conclusion: The producers, writers and the creative staff working on Discovery are simply inept. I cannot remember any show as badly and amateurish produced as Discovery, with so many gaps in its inner logic and its plots, that made it to a third season. (I think that has much to do with CBS' policy regarding All Access; but that, of course, is mere speculation.) It is obvious that a course correction was deemed unavoidable in season 2 but none of the real issues were tackled and the writing remained as weak as in the first season.
But, enough of that. A few words about the episode itself. Despite all the effort that were made to let it look visually overwhelming there is not much happening here. Nothing that happens is really unexpected, there is no clever turn and the death of Admiral Cornwell qualifies as the biggest surprise, which is saying a lot. In the end everything that happened was either announced in the first part or thoroughly planned and then executed without real obstacles to overcome. One of the main weaknesses of the scripts in season 2 was that everything went down too smoothly. From a final episode I would have expected something more intriguing than what we eventually got. There is a lot of action going on. The space battle is epileptic as usual, this time littered with small drones, vehicles, repair-bots and whatever to ensure that no one can tell what is going on. Still, all remains strangely static here, while the scenes itself appear quite blurry. Discovery and the Enterprise are barely moving and it seems all the time as if nothing is achieved by all the phasering.
Same goes for Leland aboard the Discovery. We have almost a third of the episode dedicated to gratuitous punching on different decks while it never becomes clear what Leland's plan was. Isn't he supposed to be very resourceful? Shouldn't he have had a more clever plan than just beaming aboard with a gun and see where it goes from there?
Burnham's suit on the other hand can be built with ease and equipped with the crystal without any larger problems to solve. Star Trek was always good for a mystery or two and for some real obstacles to overcome. The characters usually needed some wit and finesse to overcome problems. Nothing of this is present on Discovery. There is just shouting and punching, garnered with lines that are either cheesy or so melodramatic that one can only sigh. Again, when it comes to the storytelling Discovery is very old-fashioned and a-teamy in this regard. If they really want to appeal to a "modern" audience they should finally start to adhere to the simplest rules of storytelling.
As for the characters, there is only little happening as well here. Burnham is the one to save the day like in literally every episode, every plot and every subplot before. This is a huge factor in the show being extremely predictable. Sadly, Sonequa Martin-Greene doesn't have the acting skills to back it up. Her portrayal is very one-dimensional and lacks depth. We see her either crying or lecturing all the time. Again, this is more like 80s television than anything else. Everyone else on Discovery and the Enterprise serves as an extra, the doesn't work as an ensemble show at all. The presence of Georgiou doesn't fulfill any special purpose and her character doesn't work at all. On the contrary it is very alarming to see how a fascist mass murderer was whitewashed during the season. This also contradicts Discovery's otherwise rather liberal agenda one more time, which is very sad. I guess, the writers deemed her as being popular with the audience, and while I still thin Michelle Yeoh is one of the better actors on the show it is sad that they didn't find a better developed role for her to play. Praise, on the other hand, goes to Anson Mount who tried his best to salvage an otherwise disappointing season.
Obviously, Discovery has departed itself from the spirit of Star Trek entirely. "Such Sweet Sorrow" marks the preliminary low point of the transformation of the franchise to a meaningless and rather unimpressive wasteland that is so disposable that there is not the slightest trace of a distinct message left, let alone an idea or vision. If it weren't for the label "Star Trek", I'm pretty sure no one would talk about it at all.
The whole production seems to be a mashup of other shows and films. It's just breathless copying of whatever is deemed popular at the moment. The feels and looks are very comic-like, sometimes esoteric, sometimes fuzzy, often plain stupid. When Discovery was first announced I was quite aware that it would be a departure from the Star Trek I knew. I was prepared for that and I was more than willing to embrace it, as long as they would stick to the positivity that made the franchise unique. I was hoping for fresh and intriguing ideas. Instead I got a show that is dystopic, meaningless and, worst of all, without a soul.
- The Enterprise will lose a lot of firepower in the future. Is dismantling the additional phaserbanks part of Starfleet's brilliant plan to keep everything a secret?
- What happens to drones, repair-bots and all the other auxiliary vessels we see? They must be standard-gear aboard the Enterprise but for no reason we never see them again. Maybe George Lucas filed a lawsuit against the Federation.
- Also, we already know that no effort was taken in depicting credible insides of the ships and I don't think it makes sense to list all the problems when there was obviously no willingness to make it work, but this time the show jumps the shark with apparently hundreds of vessels pouring out the shuttlebays of both ships.
- Wasn't it an important plot-point earlier in the season that Tyler is supposed to be dead to the Klingons? He doesn't seem to care when he is aboard the L'Rell's vessel and so does nobody else.
- Speaking of the Klingons. They are really fast ship-builders. The D7 was first mentioned in "Point of Light" and only a few weeks later there are several ready for combat.
- The Klingons are fighting side by side with the Federation here. Their next appearance in the franchise is in "Errand of Mercy" only a couple of years later. There is no way to bring these events together.
- There is no way the Klingons and the Ba'ul could arrive at the battle scene in time and more or less simultaneous. This is another instance of the Discovery-universe being extremely small. (Strangely enough, no other relief seemed to be available.)
- Generally, distances don't seem to play a role in Discovery anymore. The Enterprise is able to identify a signal 51000 lightyears away.
- So, Saru's sister bothered to train herself as a fighter pilot just in case her brother needed some assistance one day. I see...
- There are several problems with the torpedo stuck to the hull. First: Are we supposed to believe that closing the door could really prevent further damage to the ship? What alloy can achieve that miracle? Second: Why can't they just beam Cornwell out? Third: Is it clever to have the manual control inside this room? Fourth: Pike is really close when the torpedo goes finally off. I think he is dead.
- It strikes me as fairly easy to construct the timesuit from scratch and it doesn't seem to be a problem to use the crystal as power-source as well. It also seems as if the crystal was built to fit the suit perfectly, which is quite illogical.
- Why can't they just beam Michael and the suit to the shuttlebay? It would have saved Stamets some severe injuries.
- Oddly enough Discovery doesn't seem to suffer any real damage as all vital systems seem to be intact. Would it be a problem for them to activate the spore-drive to jump to safe distance from the battlefield to finish and launch the suit without any pressure? I don't think so...
- There is a whole lot that doesn't make sense when it comes to Burnham and the time-travel-suit-plotline but as space is limited here, I'm going to mention only the most pressing one: After Leland's death, why does she still have to go to the future?
- Logics 101: So, no one must speak about Discovery and its crew, the spore-drive, the Red Angel, and so on, again. What about the Klingons? The Ba'ul? All the others who witnessed the wonders Discovery did? What about the families and friends of the crew? What about anyone who knows about the ship? I don't see how Starfleet will be able to ensure that all of this is kept a secret in the future. But the more pressing question is: Why should they even mind? The episode's explanation is very unconvincing...
- Remarkable design: I do like the drydock at the end. It looks like a more or less thoughtfully updated version from TMP. I wish there be more of that on the show.
Rating: 0 (Kilian T.)