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TV Review: ‘Star Trek: Discovery – Light and Shadows’ – Science Fiction


“Light and Shadows” — Episode #207 — Pictured (l-r): Mary Wiseman as Tilly; Doug Jones as Saru; Anson Mount as Pike of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS ©2018 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Well, that was… unexpected.  In the final scene of tonight’s episode, ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ finally makes a canonical connection with the original ‘Star Trek’ series that may actually start to help us make sense of how and why things are presenting so differently, aesthetically and technologically, in this series as opposed to the original (the former being set about a decade prior to the latter in the grander scheme of the Trek timeline).

WARNING: Spoilers for this episode of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ lie ahead, obviously.  If you haven’t seen the episode and don’t wish for any of its content to be spoiled for you, the time to turn back is NOW!

RECAP: This episode – seventh into this season – finally delivered on the marketing and creative teams’ promises to deliver Spock to our screens.  Burnham asks to take a leave from Discovery to visit Vulcan, which Captain Pike grants.  She believes that her adopted mother, Amanda, is not being completely truthful with her knowledge of the whereabouts of her son (and Burnham’s adoptive brother) Spock.  Sure enough, Amanda has hidden Spock deep in a cave system, and it’s clear that the Enterprise science officer is hurting, mentally and emotionally.

With Sarek’s arrival to the caves and his discovery of his children present as well, the decision is made for Burnham to escort Spock to the Section 31 ship commanded by Leland.  Ostensibly, Leland wants to help Spock, but Evil Georgiou lets Burnham know this is not the case and helps her and her brother escape.

Meanwhile, back on the Discovery, a temporal rift has appeared above Kaminar, thanks to last episode’s Red Angel action.  Pike and Tyler hop in a shuttle to insert a probe all up in the rift’s business, but wouldn’t you know it, something goes wrong and the shuttle is scooped up into the rift after shooting the probe off.  The find themselves battling temporal waves, and oddly enough, their own probe, which appears to have traveled 500 years into the future and is back with some serious tech and AI upgrades.  Discovery finally manages to pull them back into the present, but in so doing, something appears to make the trip as well, via the computer system, and may possibly be inhabiting the body of Airiam, if the triangle of red dots that jumped from computer screen to her eye is any indication.

Burnham and Spock are hiding from the Section 31 ships in their shuttlecraft, with Spock repeating the same numerical sequence he has been all episode: 841947.  Burnham figures out that if you reverse the sequence, the numbers may be coordinates, to a very specific location in Trek canon…

OBSERVATIONS:

  • Do I really need to spend paragraphs educating you on Talos IV and why it’s important to the history of Pike, Spock, the Enterprise, and Star Trek in general?  Please visit this convenient link to a Wiki page for more information if you’re not a true Star Trek fan.  It is important to point out, however, that at this point in the Trek timeline, Pike and Spock have already visited Talos IV for the first time, about 3 years prior to our “current position” here on ‘Discovery.’  We of course first saw these events as shown to us in retro-active format in the Original Series two-part episode “The Menagerie” – the events of that episode will come about a decade from our “current position.”  Confused yet?  Timey-wimey!
  • While I’m still not thrilled with the heavy public-knowledge use of Section 31, it’s clear there is a burgeoning mystery afoot here in the Trek universe, so we’ll go along for the ride with them for now.
  • Speaking of the mystery, several new wrinkles were thrown into the season-long story arc in this episode: the future tech of the enhanced probe, coupled with the Red Angel/time-travel action… Leland having something to do with Burnham’s parents’ death & Georgiou knowing about it… and of course, the impending arrival of (ostensibly) Burnham and Spock to Talos IV next episode.
  • So, let’s recap: Burnham’s parents were killed in a Klingon raid on Doctari Alpha when she was a child… Section 31 possibly involved in some way, based on Evil Georgiou’s statement to Leland in this episode… an apparent trip to Talos IV next episode… Starfleet’s previous conflict with Klingons as chronicled extensively in the first season… is it possible Discovery is taking the lead from the Star Trek comic book “The Final Voyage” from way back in 1986, that showed the Klingons attempting to take over Talos IV?  Probably not, but it’s a cool thought.
  • Lost in all the end-of-episode giddiness about Talos IV is that “time tsunami” that the Discovery had to warp away from in order to avoid being struck with temporal nonsense – surely that hit Kaminar, Saru’s homeworld and the planet that Discovery was in orbit of, at full blast, right?  Please tell me we’ll get an answer to this question eventually: technologically-advanced Kelpiens via a “future shock,” perhaps?

CLOSING THOUGHTS: Color me intrigued.  For the first time in my personal history of watching ‘Discovery,’ I was more engaged by this episode than mad at it for its long and well-documented list of canon violations.  The trailer for next week’s episode seems to pretty clearly indicate that we’ll be visiting Talos IV next week, so I for one am interested to see where the continuing journey takes us.  Also, look at those boss Talosians!

PRINCIPAL CAST FEATURED IN THIS EPISODE:

Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham
Doug Jones as Lieutenant Saru
Anson Mount as Captain Pike
Anthony Rapp as Lieutenant Stamets
Mary Wiseman as Cadet Tilly
Wilson Cruz as Dr. Culber

‘Star Trek: Discovery’ features new episodes Thursday nights at 8:00 pm online via CBS All Access.

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