TL;DR – We get an exploration of some fundamental philosophical questions, which is Star Trek at its best.
Disclosure – I paid for the Paramount+ service that viewed this episode.
Star Trek: Discovery Review –
At its heart, Star Trek has always been about exploring ideas about politics, philosophy, hell, even religion, economics, sociology, and more. This week we get a show that tackles not one but two core dilemmas about society and in ways that leave no clear-cut answer.
So to set the scene, at the end of last week’s episode, the crew of the USS Discovery used the electrical impulses left by the Anomaly in Book’s (David Ajala) head to discover that the aliens who sent it sent it from outside the galaxy. This week, Zora (Annabelle Wallis), Stamets (Anthony Rapp), and Adira (Blu del Barrio) are all trying to outline where The Anomaly entered The Milky Way so that they can chart in back to the people that made it. With a way forward, Federation President Laira Rillak (Chelah Horsdal) calls a meeting of the Federation and other worlds to discuss how to go ahead from here, just one problem. At the same time, Zora knows the coordinates. However, they are keeping it to themselves. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
Our first philosophical discussion starts onboard the USS Discovery. Its computer has reached the point in its emotional development where it unilaterally decided to withhold information to protect the crew. I found this storyline fascinating because it dealt with cause-and-effect, artificial intelligence, and also the meaning of sentience. Throughout this episode, there are hints of The Measure of a Man, with Zora in some kind of trial as a defendant. You have Saru (Doug Jones), Gray (Ian Alexander), and Adira for the defence, Stamets for the prosecution, and Dr Kovich (David Cronenberg) as the judge. But all of this formality is hidden behind a conversation, almost like an intervention. I very much enjoyed the back and forth in this section because both sides made reasonable points. Also, we got to spend some more time with Kovich. When Discovery first landed in the future, and we met Kovich in Die Trying, he was a mystery, but every interaction creates both more intrigue and a deeper understanding of who he is. Part of this is the character’s writing, but also in the exacting performance that Cronenberg delivers. All of this is backed up with the resolution to this dilemma which felt earned after all the deliberation.
Our second philosophical discussion comes to the duality of action. Do you take the quick, easy route? It has the most risk, but you can do it now. Or do you take the slow unknown course of diplomacy? This is less fulfilling, but it also has the most potential for long term growth. Within this conversation, we have Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), who supports diplomacy because we assume the Anomaly is a weapon, but that is proscribing a motivation to a race of beings that we simply don’t know enough about. But then also Book, who has the grief of his entire plant on his hands, a man who lost it all, and who is presented with a realistic option to strike back. This is then taken to the next level, as they are in a relationship, so Michael has to decide what is more important, her relationship with the man she loves or her moral core. Not a simple choice and you can feel the pain it causes Michael when she has to make that choice.
At its heart, this is an episode of consequences. Gray fighting for Zora made them realise they needed to go back to Trill. Stamets experiencing Control led to him clouding his understanding of Zora. The grief of someone lost powers Tarka (Shawn Doyle) and his actions. Michael’s choice to follow her moral core led to the potential permanent rupture of her relationship with Book. And most importantly, T’Rina (Tara Rosling) getting her flirt on a couple of episodes back led to Saru returning in kind. This episode also serves as the narrative break between what happened before and what will happen in the rest of the season, creating a good closure point and a jumping-off platform for everything to come.
In the end, do we recommend …But To Connect? Absolutely. Star Trek is at its best when it is exploring moral quandaries, and this week we got not one but two exciting moments to explore.
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 – Lee Rose
Written by – Terri Hughes Burton & Carlos Cisco
Based off – Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry
Created by – Bryan Fuller & Alex Kurtzman
Production/Distribution Companies – CBS Television Studios, Roddenberry Entertainment, Secret Hideout & Paramount+.
Starring in Season 2 – Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Anthony Rapp, Wilson Cruz, Blu del Barrio & David Ajala and Ian Alexander, David Cronenberg, Shawn Doyle, Chelah Horsdal, Tara Rosling, Phumzile Sitole, Annabelle Wallis, Andreas Apergis, Nicole Dickinson, Alex McCooeye, Giovanni Spina, Leeu & Durban