An arc-based episode that feel standalone too.
It’s another thrilling week on Star Trek: Discovery as the fifth episode of the season seemingly manages to somehow bring us a story that is almost entirely made up of ongoing plot threads while still managing to be great example of a standalone story. It feels like what they’d been attempting to achieve throughout season one but this time it was a success.
Picking up on last weeks disappearance of Tilly, the episode reveals that she’s been pulled into the Mycelial universe via some sort of spore-based take on transporter technology. There she finally discovers why “May” had arrived on the Discovery – it turns out the Discovery’s use of the network has brought with it a ‘beast’ intent on destroying the mycelial lifeforms and they need help. By the episode’s end, the whole idea and our perception of who May his and what the “beast” is are turned on our head in the most uplifting Star Trek way possible.
We also see the return of Section 31- with both ‘Captain’ Georgiou and Ash Tyler brought on board; Tyler becoming a Section 31 liaison stationed on the Discovery returning him to series regular status. Georgiou has been tasked with tracking down Spock and had recovered his abandoned shuttlecraft; the one Discovery had been tracking.
Full marks to Kirsten Beyer who has written an episode that takes the three dangling threads – May/Tilly, Section 31 and Spock’s disappearance – that have made up the season so far and has weaved them into a whole that makes sense when stood alone. The fact that it also brings in key events of the previous season and reignites those AND hints towards the Star Trek: The Next Generation era AND brings in a possible element of time travel and yet could be watched as one of the most touchingly emotional episodes that Trek has given us to date (there is one moment in particular that has the emotional resonance of something like Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s The Visitor) is pure artistry. With lest deft hands this could have been one of the most cumbersome stories we’ve seen so far – so much going on that, going on previous experience, really the episode was set up for failure.
It’s not perfect – the Spock arc feels like it might be becoming a little too stretched out with again it really only bookending this story. We can see his return is being set up for a mid-season event; but that means that we’re now five weeks in with very actual little progress or understanding of what’s going on with the signals and ‘angel’ and Star Trek: Discovery is running the risk of viewers becoming bored before Spock actually arrives on the scene. Saints of Imperfection also highlights how redundant the season’s low point episode really was – Georgiou and Tyler turning up in Section 31 without all of the pre-amble of that episode would have been much more exciting reveal now without all of the Klingon baggage we had to endure.
Saints of Imperfection was an exciting event episode – seeing the return of multiple familiar faces and twisting our ideas of reality enough to make events surprising. There were some brilliant moments with Captain Pike and Leland (Alan van Sprang); the captain of the Section 31 ship and Georgiou’s recruiter, who we discover already have a history and their future relationship seems set to be a strained one. Mary Wiseman was again awesome and continues to be the most relatable character on the show and Anthony Rapp turned on the feels more than at any moment we’ve seen to date – our hearts were breaking for him so it was joyous to actually see something positive happen by episode’s end.
If Star Trek: Discovery can deliver more arc-based episodes like this then it’s clear that this is an entirely different show to what we had in the first season and that can only be a good thing.
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