Guess who’s back…
Star Trek Discovery continues to impress with yet another solid episode that manages to squeeze in two separate stories that both offer tantalising teases for the future and finally give us some decent progress on the Spock storyline.
Picking up directly from last week with the Discovery in orbit above Kaminar, we find Burnham requesting leave to return to Vulcan to find out what her mother, Amanda, knows about Spock’s whereabouts. She soon finds that Amanda has been keeping Spock hidden away while Starfleet and Section 31 search for him. The reunion between Burnham and her adoptive brother is well handled; and we find out just how difficult a childhood Spock has being neither fully Vulcan or Human. We learn he suffered from learning disabilities as a child and it was Amanda’s reading to him that helped him come to terms with these problems.
Sarek, falling back on that old Vulcan proverb the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one, persuades Amanda and Michael to hand Spock over to Section 31 so they can investigate his visions and how they tie into the red angel’s appearances. Concerned for both Spock and Michael’s welfare if they defy Starfleet, Sarek interestingly says “I’m not prepared to loose both my children today” – which begs the question over where Sybok, his first born, is at this time – OR if he even exists in the Discovery universe. It’ll be interesting to ever see if this is broached in some way.
Of course, Section 31 being Section 31, their (and Leland’s) intentions aren’t entirely innocent and once Spock is in their hands it’s clear that his life and mind are at risk putting Michael in the position, with Georgiou’s help, of breaking Spock out of their grasp and going on the run.
Ethan Peck’s introduction as Spock works well, but we are yet to see anything of the character we know. We’ll withhold judgement until such time that we see Spock regain control of his mind.
Meanwhile the Discovery, still in orbit of Kaminar, runs into a time rift – a probe doesn’t reveal anything useful so Pike and Tyler set about investigating the rift and its ties to the larger mystery and find themselves being pulled in; they eventually come face to face with the probe they sent in and find that it has been gone 500 years AND been upgraded by some unknown force significantly.
This whole story is very much the classic Trek trope of putting two clashing personalities together in a small space and letting them work out their differences. We’ve seen it before – Bones and Spock, Bashir and O’Brien – the end always sees the participants having a new found respect and it’s no different here. Unfortunately their predicament is lessened somewhat as it’s Stamets and his spores that eventually save the day (is there nothing a few spores can’t do? They’re coming something of a deus ex machina which is rarely a good thing).
The episode closes with three new mysteries – one over what happened to Burnham’s parents; and how is Leland involved; just what does Talos IV have to do with the red angel? And finally, what kind of virus has Airiam been infected with as a result of her working to stop the future modified probe from stealing every record from the shuttle’s computer?
The exposition-heavy ‘twist’ that Leland was involved the death of Michael’s parents was really unnecessary and may have been better played as a shock at a later date. Now we know there is a question there it feels the pay-off for this will therefore be less effective than it could have been.
The Talos IV reveal is interesting in many ways – it ties tightly into Spock and Pike’s original series storylines; it’s there that the Enterprise visits in the original Star Trek pilot – the events of which happened three years before the time Discovery is set – and it’s also there that Pike ends up spending his life following the events of The Menagerie. Now it appears Spock spends more time there than we were aware of.
Light and Shadows manages to cram a huge amount of story into a short space of time. Either strand could be a standalone episode of its own – and while the conclusion isn’t entirely satisfactory, especially with how Pike and Tyler’s problem is solved, there is plenty here to drive on the second half of the season. It’s interesting to note that the opening credits have now changed – with the red angel appearing far more like the one we saw in last week’s episode with a mechanised suit.
Guessed the spoiler? Are modern audiences too savvy for TV show twists?
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