Star Trek: Discovery is really starting to annoy me this season. It started out with two amazing episodes that showed a galaxy ending threat, the destruction of Booker’s homeworld, and a heart-wrenching look into how grief is processed… and then it put the galaxy ending threat that destroyed Book’s homeworld on the back burner to have sidequests that have nothing to do with the five lightyear spanning anomaly that is apparently just sitting there in space twiddling its thumbs.
That’s the thing that is getting me about Discovery this season. It gathered such momentum early on and then threw it all away for episodic adventures that mean absolutely nothing to the grand scheme as if Discovery wants this urgent overarching story, but also wants its side quests: Discovery wants its cake and wants to eat it too, but it has to decide which it wants because both cannot happen while it wants us to accept the DMA as a legitimate threat – legitimate threats that can chew up a planet and poop it out cannot be sidelined for a whacky adventure of the week.
I wouldn’t even mind, to be honest, if these side quests were genuinely entertaining, but “Choose to Live” and “All is Possible” are the most basic of episodes. They aren’t memorable, they aren’t original, and they don’t stand out in the least bit. At least, in this week’s adventure, common sense prevailed and smart characters were shown being smart, unlike last week where if any one character had a brain, the problem would have been solved in five minutes.
Here, Tilly leads a group of young Starfleet cadets fresh from the newly re-minted, Starfleet Academy, only for them all to crash land and forced to go on a nature hike to safety while a strange new lifeform tries to have them for a snack. It was a decent adventure, reminiscent of TOS’s, “Galileo Seven,” but at the same time… not original or interesting enough to get me to stop thinking about the five light year anomaly dragging its butt across the galaxy’s rug.
Mary Wiseman was superb in this episode as was Blu del Barrio. The drama, however, felt forced between the cadets and I was never able to accept it as genuine giving the episode an air of artificiality.
Meanwhile, Burnham and Saru are thrust into negotiations to bring Ni’Var back into the Federation. To be honest, if there are any side quests that would hold my interest in the fact of an impending galactic purple nurple, it would be the politics that Discovery has been showing us lately… these somewhat despicable behind the scenes double-dealings are fun and I like the way that Burnham and Saru handled them and, if I haven’t said it this week, Rilik is one of my favorite new characters.
If there is anything that Discovery is nailing this year, it’s the characters. In the fact of dissapointing plots, the character writing and interaction have been bangers this year — the way that Culber counseled book, the way that Gray and Adira interacted in their small scene, Saru and President T’Rina’s scenes were very nice, and the scene with Burnham and Tilly at the end broke my heart.
Still, Discovery can be episodic or it can be story arcs… it cannot be both and I wish it would stop trying. Back to the galaxy ending threat, please?