Discovering Trek: Point of Light
This is my guide to Star Trek Discovery episode: Point of Light, spoilers ahoy so turn back now if you haven’t seen episode 3 of Star Trek Discovery’s second season.
The Search for Spock Continues via Qo’nos
Imagine you are someone who wants to watch Discovery without spoilers, and that you don’t read any reviews. Imagine that are someone who hasn’t got a google alert set-up to inform them immediately of every little tidbit to do with Star Trek and CBS’s plans for spin-off shows and you don’t even watch the additional scenes they sometimes put online. If you are this person this episode was probably very confusing. It was confusing and muddled for me, and I am someone who allows himself mild spoilers, and was one of the three people who have watched the short treks (a big shout out to the other two, Glenn and Valerie). There was a lot going on in this episode I am going to eschew my usual scene by scene approach and cover the episode according to story arc. Hopefully this will catch you up and fill you in on some of the missing details.Overall, I found the episode too busy and after two episodes that promised a more episodic approach, we are thrown straight back to the chaotic plotting of episodes one and two of season one. There is nowhere near enough Pike time, nowhere near enough Spock plot and everything was loud and rushed.
After spending all of last season predicting and hoping for Section 31 storylines, what we get here is almost a whole episode that acts as a back-door pilot for a Section 31 show, which is odd because a Section 31 show has already been greenlit. So, why was this? Testing audience reaction? Episode three was a strange place to position this in my view, as it is so jarring compared to what the first two episodes seemed to be offering.
Tyler and L’Rell
Aside from some development for L’Rell, establishing her as a chancellor with authority and some backing from the different houses of the Klingon Empire, all of the Tyler and L’Rell stuff seemed unnecessary and it didn’t further the Spock plot at all. I feel that this could have been threaded throughout the whole season, and all it did was serve to establish Ash Tyler as a character in the Section 31 show. But what if you didn’t know there was going to be a Section 31 show? Surely you would be scratching your chin asking what the frack is going on? I get the impression that CBS really want you to watch their shiny new spin-off show about Section 31. Emperor Georgiou strode around like a pantomime villain and it was a shame that Michelle Yeoh hasn’t been given a more meaningful part to play in the proceedings, instead of swishing about like Darth Vader. I half expected her to turn to the camera and twirl her evil moustache, she’s dark and edgy and not to be trusted lest we forget. In short summary, the Klingons don’t like L’Rell’s human boyfriend and it turns out that L’Rell has had a baby with Ash. The Klingons won’t accept L’Rell’s authority with Ash on the scene so Georgiou beams in with a lightsabre and helps L’Rell fake the deaths of Ash and their baby, whisking them off to the death star where they will be marginally safer.
The Exorcism of Sylvia Tilly
Tilly is taking part in the command programme’s half marathon but it’s really difficult to concentrate with the spore-ghost apparition of a former friend haunting your every step. May appears to have a menacing quality this week, in stark contrast to the benevolent Dr.Culber, who seems to bring some comfort or guidance to Stamets. May is an agitated figure and she is bugging Tilly to meet the Captain. In the best scene of the episode Tilly is on the bridge and trying to shadow Captain Pike but ends up telling him to shut-up. She is not really telling him to shut-up but is actually communicating with May. We can see that May is having a severely detrimental effect on Tilly’s mental health, an interesting subject matter that I wished the episode had explored more thoroughly. However what we got was the whole May story arc being wrapped up within this episode and it felt a little rushed. Stamets appears and quickly works out that Tilly must have a spore attached to her and this is manifesting itself as May. It is not clear why Tilly sees May, but the May lifeform sees Stamets and is convinced that he is the Captain. Stamets whips out his proton pack and captures mushroom May in a bubble and the exorcism is completed. How May is linked to the mycelial network and whether this is connected to Culber in anyway will hopefully play out in future episodes.
Amanda & Burnham
Sarek’s ship approaches the Discovery but it is not Sarek on board but his wife, Amanda. She has come for Burnham’s help in reviewing Spock’s medical file, which she has stolen. It is encrypted and they enlist the help of Pike. Initially Pike refuses saying he would be in violation of Star Fleets rules, and “my mother wouldn’t like that.” There is a nice interplay between Amanda and Pike in his ready room and these pleasing character moments are sadly in short supply throughout the episode as a whole. Pike is charming and wily and we see he is prepared to put things on the line to help his friend Spock. My favourite line of the episode is here. “Was she this bossy as a child?” He asks Amanda. “On Vulcan we call it persistence and she gets it from me.” Quips Amanda in return. We get to spend some time with Amanda in this episode, developing her character more than we have previously seen in the franchise.
Pike contacts Starbase 5 for an update on Spock but is told that the case is classified. He points out that he is well within his rights as his commanding officer to get a prognosis and that Spock has intel relating to his priority number one mission. He is informed that it is classified not because of the mission but because Spock has fled the facility and is wanted for the murder of three of his doctors. Pike, Burnham and Amanda are unwilling to accept this. Pike says the boy is in trouble and needs a fair shake so he orders Burnham to break into Mr Spock’s medical file. When Burnham manages to break into the file the medical officer makes clear that Spock was suffering from "extreme empathy deficits". Amanda worries about the fact that Sarek wanted Spock raised in the Vulcan way, with displays of emotion discouraged, and Amanda had to learn to hide her emotions.
They find some of Spock's drawings of the "red angel", which he had seen as a child. Amanda explains that the "red angel" first appeared to Spock when Burnham had tried to run away, after the logic extremists had bombed the Vulcan Learning Center. Spock had helped find her saying that the red angel had told him where to look. Burnham admits that she was the cause of the rift between herself and Spock, feeling that she had to wound him deeply to protect him from the logic extremists. Amanda kisses Burnham and tells her that she would be the one to find Spock and she departs Discovery with the medical files.
My Trek background has often found me exploring the expanded universe of the Star Trek novels and I find myself continuing to reach for this knowledge to inform my approach to reviewing Discovery and understanding where the writers might be taking continuity. With that in mind each week I am going to recommend an EU novel and an episode from one of the other shows that I have recently re-visited and found relevant to canon. Faith versus science was the big theme last week and there was some fascinating chat in the forum on this subject, with Glenn and Valerie promising to explore it in more detail in future pods. The debate prompted me to think about where we have seen these themes before in previous iterations of Trek and I watched TNG episode "The Next Phase." In it Ensign Ro and Geordi fall victim to a transporter accident and are presumed dead. We then get a whole episode where Ro and Geordi get to witness the different approaches to grief their crewmates have as they remember Ro and Geordi and prepare for their memorial service. We also see the exploration of different belief systems around the afterlife. Ro is Bajoran and believes she is in the afterlife and she has to say goodbye to everyone before she can move on, Geordi does not accept that he is dead and seeks a pragmatic answer to his predicament. Worf meditates on how happy he is for Geordi because he died in the line of duty, which is a great honour. Data assembles aspects of different beliefs to arrange an inclusive memorial and the whole episode explores all these elements with great subtly. It reminded me that Discovery is not exploring new territory for Trek and equally Discovery has a benchmark to reach as TNG tackled these subjects in more nuanced ways.
My literary recommendation of the week is the Section 31 novel Abyss. Doctor Julian Bashir is compelled by Section 31 to undertake a mission to stop Dr. Ethan Locken a genetically enhanced individual, who once worked for Section 31 but now dreams of remaking the galaxy in his own image, oh and he has a big fan-boy crush on a certain Khan Noonien Singh. This is a fun novel that shows that Section 31 are prepared to go to any length to protect the interests of the Federation and it also features Ro Lauren as one of Bashir’s away team that take on Locken. I would love to hear your thoughts in the Claytemple Star Trek forum where the search for Spock continues, and be sure to check out Glenn and Valerie’s discussion about the episode down in the Lower Decks.
John is a writer and clinically diagnosed Trekker. You can get the latest news about his published work and read about his work with Star Trek Magazine at his website at his website The World Outside the Window. Live Long and Prosper.