TL;DR – We get a powerful look at Saru and his world, but it does still feel like we are waiting for the other shoe to drop
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Star Trek Discovery is a show that is juggling a lot of different stories all at once. Yes, we have the main drive of the red lights and the red angel. However, we also have The Klingons, The Mycelium Network, Section 31, and more. As the season has gone one, it has been interesting to see how the show brings all these different elements together to help with the central premise or using the central premise as an excuse to look at these different side plots, depending on your perspective. One of those side plots has been the life and biology of Saru’s people and today all of that comes to a head.
So to set the scene, since we were first introduced to Saru (Doug Jones) we knew there was something out of place with him and why he was the only Kelpien in Starfleet. Over Season One we found out that there was a devastating dynamic on his planet where Kelpiens were not the dominant species. We learned about his threat ganglia derived from the biological need to stay safe. All of this fell into place in the Short Trek The Brightest Star, when we discovered that there were two species living on the Kelpian homeworld, one that preys on the other and that a certain point in their lives all Kelpiens are sacrificed to the Ba’ul. It is murder disguised as ideology, as the Kelpiens believe that this is the will of the universe called the great balance, and they are going to die anyway in the Vahar’ai, so what is the matter. However, in An Obol For Charon, we discovered that the biological shift that triggers the culling was not actually fatal, and every part of Kelpien society was a lie. At the start of this week’s episode Saru is discovering just what biological changes are happening to his body now he does not have a threat ganglia, only for another red signal to blare out, only this time it is coming from his homeworld. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
of the great things about this episode is that it really lets Doug Jones shine
as he goes through the full gamut of emotions and still sells it under layers
of prosthetics. Seriously, I don’t think people realise just how hard it is to emote
as you have layers of polymer covering much of the face that you would use to show the full range of emotional
expression. You see the pain of betrayal, the righteous anger of witnessing injustice,
the rage at the dying light. There is this change that is going through Saru on
a biological level, something no Kelpien
has experienced in a very long time, so even though all his fear is gone, there
is also a little fear about the unknown changes happening in his life. Though finding
out you have the ability to fire spiked barbs out of your head would be a bit
alarming. Doug is one of those actors that really show that you should take seriously
those performers that work from underneath prosthetics, and CBS should be
pushing his name come Emmy time.
When it comes to the production of this episode there were some things I really loved and some things that left me a bit perplexed. Firstly, once again the design of the Kelpien’s home plant of Kaminar is just beautiful. There are the red sands, the flowers, and the digital augmentations that all work together to bring it alive. As well as this, Ba’ul were one of the more unique alien races that we have seen on Star Trek. They seem to be aquatic in nature, with a slightly but also a not really humanoid body. One area where I think it will get a bit frustrating for some is the swaying camera. Generally speaking, you have a camera locked down on a tripod to stop it from moving unless you want it to. However, some filmmakers like to take it off the tripod and go handheld (or use techniques to mimic handheld). Here there are times when the camera dances around the bridge and you feel like you are there in the middle of it all. Other times it will sit there and draw focus away from an actor’s performance because you focus instead on the movement and not what is being said.
When it came to the overall story of the episode, there were once again things that I liked and things that didn’t quite work for me. I really liked that interplay between who was really the prey and who was the hunter. You feel that undercurrent of pain and loss in the language like calling his father a collaborator with all the added weight that word brings with it. Or indeed there are these conversation that happen entirely in looks which is always delightful. I do have concerns that the Sphere from An Obol For Charon is just going to be used as like a get out of jail free card when they need history on something and would not normally have access to that data. As well as this, I would have been good to at least take a moment to talk about how they were going to facilitate dialogue between the two species before warping away at the end.
In the end, do we recommend The Sounds of Thunder? Once again, yes but there is still that feeling that something is missing. While we did get more of an idea as to who the Red Angel might be it still feels like were are waiting for the other shoe to drop, and I hope we get there soon. I mean I am all for a homage to A Search for Spock, but like this is taking it a bit too far.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
Have you seen Star Trek Discovery yet?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Star Trek Discovery
Directed by – Doug Aarniokoski
Written by – Bo Yeon Kim & Erika Lippoldt
Based off – Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry
Created by – Bryan Fuller & Alex Kurtzman
Production/Distribution Companies – CBS Television Studios, Roddenberry Entertainment, Secret Hideout, CBS All Access & Netflix.
Starring in Season 2 – Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman, Shazad Latif, Wilson Cruz & Anson Mount with Javier Botet, Hannah Spear, Mark Pellington, Hannah Cheesman, Emily Coutts, Oyin Oladejo, Patrick Kwok-Choon, Ronnie Rowe Jr., David Benjamin Tomlinson, Raven Dauda & Julianne Grossman