TL;DR – After a season we start getting answers while things fall apart
Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix subscription that viewed this series.
Su’Kal Review –
There have been several on-going questions through this season of Star Trek Discovery, and at the core of them is what caused The Burn. Today, after a season of questions, we finally get some answers, before things start falling apart.
So to set the scene, we start this week’s episode right where last week’s Terra Firma Part 2 finished with a memorial service. While this is happening Stamets (Anthony Rapp) gets a notification from the ship that they are watching that there is a life form on board, which given it has been 125 years, and the amount of radiation seems unlikely, but here we are. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
This is an episode that is difficult to review because much of how well it is going to work will depend on how the ending gets resolved next week. What we get this week is a lot of set up, moving characters into position, and setting up the conflicts. Some of which are interesting and some of which are frustrating.
The main thrust of this episode is Michael (Sonequa Martin-Green), Culber (Wilson Cruz), and Saru (Doug Jones) beaming aboard the stranded ship. Still, because of the radiation, the USS Discovery has to wait outside the nebula. This leaves Tilly (Mary Wiseman) in charge for the first time, and I think the writing did her a little bit of a disservice here. When they beam down they find themselves in a forest, not a ship and Michael is a Trill, Culber is a Bajoran, and Saru is a Human. This means that we get to see Doug Jones without all the prosthetics.
They soon discover that this is all a holo-projection, a construct that Su’Kal’s (Bill Irwin) mother made to help raise her son until help arrived. This entire sequence is quite interesting as we learn more about the Kelpien and Ba’ul Alliance, and this weird failing world. It is here where we finally discovered what caused The Burn, and that is Su’Kal himself. He was born into a world of highly charged subspace radiation and massive dilithium, and somehow he bonded with it, and in a moment of great distress, he can destabilise it. Of all the possible reasons for The Burn, I was not expecting this one, but it is a very Star Trek-y answer.
While the away team is on the ship, another Federation vessel arrives, but it is all a ruse because it is actually Osyraa (Janet Kidder) and the Viridian. For a while, they stay hidden via a cloak, but Su’Kal disrupts that. Knowing they won’t have time to save the crew on the planet and that the Spore Drive is more important they move to jump out of there before some people beam into the research lab that holds the drive and disrupt. One of my big disappointments with this episode it how this plays out because Tilly was shown to be a reliable captain doing the right thing but then just sat there calling Stamets rather than acting. She didn’t start the self-destruct, she didn’t start firing on the ship, she didn’t even take precautions to lock the computer out. After such a strong episode, it just felt like they just needed to wrap it up to strand everyone in the nebula and bring the damage back to Federation Headquarters.
In the end, do we recommend Su’kal? This is an episode of two halves, down on the ship was interesting and engaging, but back in space, it was a mess. I hope this is just a blip in the season and next week comes back strong, but I am concerned.
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.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Star Trek Discovery
Directed by – Norma Bailey
Written by – Anne Cofell Saunders
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, Wilson Cruz & David Ajala and Bill Irwin, Janet Kidder, Oded Fehr, Blu del Barrio, Ian Alexander, Tig Notaro, Emily Coutts, Patrick Kwok-Choon, Oyin Oladejo, Ronnie Rowe Jr., Raven Dauda, and Leeu