The following are a few notes I took while watching Star Trek Discovery Season 2 Episode 8. Warning: mild spoilers may be included, though I’ve tried to stay away from including anything too glaring. Either way, consider yourself warned.
In Star Trek Discovery Season 2 Episode 8, Spock and Burnham head to Talos IV, where the healing process forces the siblings to confront their troubled past. Meanwhile, Stametz desperately attempts to reconnect with an increasingly disconnected Hugh. And, Tyler struggles to overcome the crew’s suspicions of him, due to his past as the Klingon double agent Voq.
After the closing moments of last week’s episode, I understood where things would be headed this week. After watching Star Trek Discovery Season 2 Episode 8, though, I realize I wasn’t prepared at all. They’ve been telling us for months that Discovery would eventually cozy up to the greater Star Trek canon. They obviously weren’t kidding. Tonight was full on retro Star Trek. It was also unbelievably engrossing to watch.
Before getting into any of the spoilers that might follow, I thought tonight was great. Discovery is doing a great job filling in some of the cracks of existing canon, while telling it’s own story.
Secondary plots with surprising story heft
Star Trek Discovery Season 2 Episode 8‘s subplots were full of great character moments. While ostensibly less important than the main plot of the season involving the Red Angel, Star Trek is always at its best when it’s a character drama. Tonight’s episode – and this season in general – seems to really take that to heart. To that end, the whole thing between Stametz and Culber was great. Their story was a treatise on how trauma can have horrible ripple effects on other parts of your life.
I also found myself more invested in the sibling dynamic between Spock and Burnham than I expected to be. It wasn’t difficult to telegraph where things were headed. That we’d be seeing a play on the old trope of hurting someone to try to save them was obvious. Still – and maybe this was a testament to the acting – the emotions behind that revelation felt very real. I also really thought it was great how the two of them bickered just like siblings.
Even Captain Pike brought the feels tonight, at least for those of us familiar with what came before. Maybe one needs to have watched the original pilot to truly understand, but there was a very real connection between he and Vina. I thought those feelings were communicated quite well in a very subtle fashion tonight. This is especially true for those of us who know what becomes of Pike in the future.
All that being said, this is Star Trek, so it’s impossible to please everyone…
Among sci-fi/fantasy fandom, probably only Star Wars beats out Star Trek when it comes to resistance to change. There are people who absolutely hate Discovery as it is, some of them for debatably stupid reasons. True to form, Star Trek Discovery Season 2 Episode 8 is barely even finished airing, and I’m already hearing some negative scuttlebutt online. Apparently, some people believe going retro was an example of the show giving up its own identity, but I just don’t agree.
I think the choice to go with the “Previously on Star Trek” vignette of old footage, featuring the previous actors in their roles, was a really gutsy move. I also think it was necessary. They certainly needed to be sure some of the more casual fans understood how tonight’s storyline fits into the overall Star Trek canon. How else to accomplish that? Should they have re-shot those iconic scenes with the new actors? I think not. That would have been borderline corny, in my opinion.
Fans need to stop being so nitpicky…
I see the above as an example of Star Trek Discovery bringing itself closer to the roots of the franchise without abandoning the need to represent Trek in a bold and modern way. I also found it very refreshing that they‘re willing to take the chance and gamble on the intelligence of the fans. At this point, even the most diehard among us ought to be able to put aside the aesthetics and concentrate on the story.
Yes, Discovery looks much more advanced than TOS. That’s because there’s been over 50+ years of advancement in special-effects and filming. Presenting something of the scope of Star Trek today and having it look like TOS did in the 1960s would make it look like something I shot in my backyard with an iPhone and a $70 budget. It’s simply wouldn’t work.
To put it plainly, what we are seeing now is what Star Trek would have looked like if Gene Roddenberry had had the same tools they have today. Full stop.
Even a really great episode isn’t always perfect, though…
True to their original depiction decades ago, the Talosians are awfully pushy with their intrusive telepathy. In so far as the depiction, the consistency was awesome. I do, however, feel like Star Trek Discovery Season 2 Episode 8 missed an opportunity to allegorically have a conversation about the importance of informed consent. It could have served the story by also highlighting just how alien the Talosians truly are. This would’ve even helped add additional layers to the reasoning behind the Federation making the Talos system off-limits.
Also, what asleep-at-the-wheel moron assigns guest quarters to the visiting murderer (regardless of opinions about his culpability) on the same floor as his victim? What Saru said about Culber and Tyler eventually getting into it being inevitable was true. Thing is most of that was the fault of bad management of the situation. I mean, I get that Tyler being there was just orders. Maybe someone could’ve seen to it he took his meals in his quarters, though? And nobody’s looking out for the traumatized dude who’s just running into him around the ship?
I sincerely hope there’s a great ship’s counselor aboard Discovery. These folks need one.
But, I digress. Sometimes we fans just have to settle for really great instead of perfect.