We’re up to episode 4 now of Star Trek: Discovery‘s latest series and our reviews continue in earnest. Once again a mixed bag of thoughts and feelings…
Vedran’s up first…with the distinct impression that Burnham is getting involved where she is isn’t needed and other characters appear to be sidelined.
When USS Discovery reached the future, I was worried that we will not see the real impact that arriving in the far future had for the ship’s crew. After all, everyone they ever knew and loved have been dead for centuries. They are in the place they can barely recognize, with no allies and with the haphazardly established chain of command. Saru is good captain material, but even he is still trying to master the ropes. In short, the crew should not be okay. And, thankfully, it is not . In the process of confronting that issue, healing is required. And this is the theme of this week’s episode. Another episode which is full of feeling, but short on world-building. But I will get to that later.
This episode is primarily focused on two things. Of getting the information from the newest crew member – Adira – which takes us to Trill. The second plotline deals with the crew’s recovery and it also points to an interesting development with the ship itself. Something I am looking forward to. The Trill visit is one more moment when Burnham is shoehorned into a plotline in which she is not required. Adira could confront her past herself, or with someone who is better trained for help in such a situation. Someone who experienced (quite personally) the death and loss. Someone like Dr. Culber. But this is Discovery, which is for better or worse focused on Burnham’s character. It is Burnham who plays an instrumental role in helping poor and confused Adira to deal with her grief, her loss, and the process of accepting who she is. Oh, we also finally encounter Admiral Sella Tal, and next week, we are for a meeting with what remains of Starfleet.
But as powerful as the scene of Adira’s remembering her past (which is suggested by the very title of the episode ‘Forget Me Not’), I cannot escape the feeling that it would be good if we had more time with Admiral Tal. And discover more about his mission and the Burn. We meet Gray, however, in a powerful and emotional scene, and as it seems, we will see more of Ian Alexander in the future. It will be interesting to see if Gray’s ghost is a side-effect of human-symbiont joining. Sidenote: after all the promotion that CBS All Access did with Blu del Barrio as a first non-binary actor/character in Trek, I am still confused why no one (including Adira) is addressing the character as they? Could it be that this will come later, with her new nature after recognizing the Tal past? There is also an issue I have with the Trill. The Burn killed most of the eligible hosts, but it is not explained how, nor we got a better insight into the political or social situation of this once key Federation planet. All this might come later (maybe even in the next episode), but I am still disappointed that feelings, not the actual story, are given main attention.
And that is what happens on the Discovery itself. With the crew in a state of emotional imbalance, it is up to Saru to find a way to reconcile them and alleviate their stress. The dinner scene is nicely done, as it is easy to imagine that one “family” gathering will not be enough to solve the pile of issues the crew is facing. I am particularly happy that Detmer’s PTSD is addressed, and that this is indeed a psychological issue, and not something related to Control. The impact is lessened, however, due to something I am stating again and again. We barely know some of the characters, and to be frank, up to this episode, I did not realize that Detmer is behaving like a “macho pilot”, as she mentioned it. It could be that Discovery writers are finally starting to use “show, don’t tell” (as seen in Adira’s memory), but the errors of the previous two seasons can hardly be erased. Thankfully, the dinner scene gave us more of those details, which help a lot in building and defining the crew members.
Finally, here is the elephant in the room (no, not where Reno is , who was for some weird reason not invited to the dinner), and that’s Discovery itself. Or better say herself. It seems that we are connecting with Short Trek‘s ‘Calypso’. At Saru’s visible surprise, Discovery is becoming self-aware. Could it be that we are getting a new character and that a hero ship, will be the new hero (or heroine) of the show? I would be very happy if this is a fact. Self-aware ships are a rarity in sci-fi, and if any franchise can do it well, it could be Star Trek.
All in all, this was a good episode, which could be even better if instead of feelings, attention was also given to the issue of world-building. But that can still happen in the next episode, as reaching the Starfleet should give us some much-needed information about this weird new world of the future. And tell us a bit more about the Burn. Hopefully.
Ah…and where are Book and Grudge? We need that cat back, now.
Jack’s opinion is a little higher, finding much to praise this week.
We are now four episodes in to the belated third season of Star Trek: Discovery and it hasn’t exactly been scoring multiple home runs. But if you’ve been reading my reviews, you’ll know I’m a bit impressed by the episodes so far. True, I don’t rate episode three as high as the first two, but that’s like saying The Godfather III is bad if you only compare it to the masterpieces that are the first two.
Fortunately I overall loved it for multiple reasons. This is once again because it wears its optimism on its sleeve in what has been a pretty awful year (although full disclosure: today we got new Trek, The Mandalorian, Trump looks like he’ll lose the Presidency and in four days, this game geek gets his hands on an Xbox Series X. Oh and as I’m writing, I’m cuddling a very fluffy cat. Bad example. Back to Star Trek. Computer, beam the audience to their regular programming).
First and foremost I want to address the first example of a favourite Trek scene I’ve seen in decades, that being the Ready Room meal. It was odd to see the kinda random Haiku insults hurled at Stamets, but I might chalk that up to the fact that Lieutenant Detmer is clearly the victim of a seemingly undiagnosed issue while coping with the Herculean responsibilities which come with manning the ship’s helm. From where I sit, it’s literally impossible to diagnose her issue however I am sure (as I’ve previously said) that we will get more into this sub-plot as the series continues.
The scene quickly ended with the crew leaving their seats in frustration. But soon each came back. Ensign Tilly even remarked this was basically just a Tuesday in her experience, underscoring how how the meal ended was not truly ‘the end’. Then in the shuttle bay came the hug of forgiveness between Stamets and Detmer, surely a positive omen for the remainder of the season? The optimist in me certainly hopes so!
I enjoyed Nico saying that no Trill symbiont has been successfully bonded with a non-Trill in two millennia (so roughly our twelfth century, pre-dating even Magna Carta for perspective). At first I thought this was a goof in continuity as both Will Riker and the senior staff of Deep Space Nine were joined to Trill symbionts. Then I remembered that in no cases were these joinings and in the cases of DS9’s senior staff, they qualify even less as they took on the personalities of Jadzia Dax’ previous hosts. Therefore they were not joined. Will’s own joining was always going to be temporary.
The scenes on Trill’s symbiont cave confirmed a few things to me. Firstly that this season will likely see Commander Burnham be a complete bad-ass (something I think will be welcome on this show and indeed, any show competing with the likes of The Mandalorian), secondly that the acting chops of Blu Del Barrio fit comfortably into the show. I greatly look forward to their future roles in the show. If anyone can join an ongoing show with an existing cast to me shows nothing but sheer talent (credit also to the writers of this excellent episode). It also shows marked proof that while keeping continuity with its forebears (and the odd playful reference to Star Trek Picard), things such as the visual depiction of the Hooboshian Baths and NCC-1701 show this is a visual reboot at the very least.
In all I would characterise the message behind the episode as being ‘things may look bleak, but things will be okay in the end and if things are not okay now, it cannot possibly be the end’. Once again, powerfully Star Trek to its core and I think that’s why this season and ‘Forget Me Not’ in particular comfortably get 4.5 stars out of 5.
Now it’s Dave who enjoyed the episode a lot, however feels like there was a missed opportunity in some regard.
To access the memories of the Trill Symbiont that has found itself inside a human host, the USS Discovery take Adira to the Trill home world for answers. Meanwhile, aboard the ship the bridge crew join Saru for dinner in attempt to boost morale but ultimately unlocks the door to the issues the crew have been dealing with since arriving in the future.
I won’t go into too much of the plot details of this episode as my colleagues have already covered this above, however I think that we have had a really good episode of Star Trek. Not just Star Trek Discovery but Trek itself. Similar to last weeks episode I get a true sense of a Star Trek episode.
From the start we learn that Adira has no memory to how they gained the symbiont the plan is to travel to Trill in order to both help Adira with their own memories and in at the same time allow Discovery to access the coordinates to the new Federation base. Dr Culber is our lead in the opening few scenes as he narrates a log entry which raises his concerns for the crew’s wellbeing which he later discusses with Saru. There is a clever mirroring effect going during these opening exchanges. Adira has lost their memories and it is clear that they are suffering as a result as anyone of us would be, not knowing something about yourself or indeed how you could come into possession of such a thing as a symbiont is bound to cause stress and anxiety. On the flip side of that, the crew of the Discovery are stressed and suffering because they can remember everything that has happened, the conflicts, the losses of their friends, shipmates as well as the memories of their families. In each case they are resolved by facing up to a fear, for Adira its their trepidation when in the waters of the caves of Mak’ala and for the crew, the fear of admitting there is a problem.
Adira is accompanied by Burnham to the surface which although is not really an issue I do feel that the writers have missed a trick. This would have been a perfect opportunity for another member of the crew to get some real time in the spotlight and advanced development, the most likely choice would have been Dr Culber but it is he himself who suggests Burnham goes with Adira. Its clear that they are setting Burnham up as a mentor figure for Adira but I think someone like Culber, giving his own experiences could do just a good a job, especially giving how the episode ends. During the scenes in the cave when Adira access the memories of her Symbiont we learn via flashbacks that they were in love with a Trill called Gray (Ian Alexander) who died during a meteor strike and Adira took the symbiont to preserve the memories it carries. At the end, for reasons unexplained for now, Gray has become a manifestation to Adira and they can interact with their former boyfriend. With Culber being a doctor and having gone through a resurrection of sorts himself, his shared experience and natural nature of a doctor could have offered a more understanding confidant and brought these two characters closer. No doubt Adira will be keeping Gray a secret and this will cause issues going forward.
As mentioned, the crew finally admit that there is problems and the most notable is Detmer who during a game played at the captains table, takes things a little too far and causes a blow out between herself and Stamets. At the end she visits Culber and indeed admits she is not OK. There is a lot of powerful and emotional scenes in this episode. The interactions and history between Adira and Gray are nicely done and offers some emotional punch when they see each other again for the first time since Grays death. For me though it was when Detmer visited Culber and finally realized that she has been suffering from some mental health issues. Its hard for her to admit but its fantastically acted. This is relatable and has some real-world connotations and I felt particularly moved by this small scene.
Next week we will finally get to see the new Federation now that they have the coordinates and I cannot wait to see what has changed since last we saw them in Picard.