Updated: Mar 25, 2019
This is my guide to Star Trek Discovery episode: The Sounds of Thunder, spoilers ahoy so turn back now if you haven’t seen episode 6 of Star Trek Discovery’s second season.
The Search for Spock Whilst We Take On the Predator
“We all come from somewhere; we carry that place with us wherever we go.” Intones Saru, taking on opening scene voiceover duties this week.
We see Airiam and Tilly analysing the Sphere data, a nice feature of this season is we are getting follow-ups to previous events. We get a look-in on Culber, and Saru rather unconvincingly tries to offer him counsel by reflecting on some of his own experiences. Culber as we will see later in the episode is very traumatised by his experiences. He has after all been murdered and then reconstituted by mushrooms. Saru’s threat ganglia (looking forward to seeing the back of this phrase) are being replaced with teeth. Dr Pollard is struggling to make sense of Saru’s physiological changes, telling him his fear response is now suppressed. Saru is losing the very thing that defines him. Burnham and Tyler are discussing the red signals with Pike who feels the angel’s motivation is benign whilst Burnham concludes that there is no way to be sure of its intentions. Ash briefs Pike and Burnham stating that the readings suggest the red angel is capable of time incursions. Does the angel merely appear at catastrophic events or does it cause them asks Tyler?
A red signal then appears over Saru’s home world of Kaminar. They all head to the bridge and there is a fun moment where Saru doesn’t relinquish the chair, but Pike gives him a look and he does, I guess this is officially the end of the co-captain’s dream. Saru briefs Pike about his home world explaining that it is populated by two sentient species, the Kelpian and the Ba’ul. According to Burnham the Ba’ul achieved warp capability twenty years ago following Saru’s signal (established in the Short Trek The Brightest Star) although it is later established that Saru sent his signal eighteen years ago, so I am not sure if I have misunderstood this and whether these two events are connected or not? We are then told the U.S.S. Archimedes the ship that took Saru away from Kaminar are the ones who attempted contact with the Ba’ul but they proved hostile. So, the Prime Directive appears to only be in place for the Kelpians. Pike points out that the appearance of the red signal above Saru’s world is unlikely to be a coincidence. “Out of all the billions of planets it happens to show up at the home world of my first officer.” During this bridge conference we see the first glimpse of Saru’s seething hatred of the Ba’ul, accusing them of hiding behind their technology, pouring scorn on their “great balance.”
Pike proposes contact with the Ba’ul, Tyler queries his approach. “are we just gonna ask nicely.” Pike’s response is typically folksy, “as uninvited guests it never hurts to be polite.” This puts the increasingly irritating Tyler in his place. As they arrive at Kaminar the angel disappears, they hail the Ba’ul, who respond by scanning Disco’s weapon’s systems. Pike wants to know why the Ba’ul won’t respond, and we get the second major glimpse of Saru’s eagerness to exact justice, even if it means disrespecting the chain of command. “They are oppressors,” he barks, “why would you trust those who enslaved my species with fear and lies?”
After a discussion Saru calms down and suggests contacting the Kelpian priests as they may give an insight into the red angel. Burnham says first contact with the Kelpians might be appropriate but it’s the captain’s call. Her approach is a stark contrast to Saru’s direct manner. Pike says that Burnham is the most qualified member of the crew to lead the away mission to meet the village priests as she is a xeno-biologist. Saru, unsurprisingly at this stage challenges this. He claims that to disregard his knowledge would be to disregard all Kelpian suffering. Pike acknowledges Saru and says that he would be the complicated choice. Refusing to drop his petulant child act Saru ups the stakes. “Do you doubt my ability?” It’s like an awkward team meeting where Dave from accounts goes off on one again, the rest of the crew look aghast or stare at their feet. Pike takes this opportunity to point out that no one knows the physiological changes Saru is going through and he sympathises with the burden Saru might feel about wanting to share the truth with his people. Saru then crosses over into an overtly hostile stance, shouting at Pike and squaring up to him aggressively. “Are you suggesting I’d disobey your orders?” Saru towers over Pike so the threat is palpable. Burnham intervenes and she looks genuinely shocked by Saru’s behaviour. She appeals to Pike that Saru’s knowledge may indeed be invaluable to her and Pike agrees. I have watched these scenes back several times and it still feels like Saru threatened Pike and Pike gave in.
We then get a look in with Culber and Stamets. Culber is as good as new, in fact he is better than that, he is new and improved, he has even lost an old scar he obtained out on a hiking expedition. It was a scar he kept as a reminder as to why he became a Doctor. Culber though remains troubled and he recoils from Stamet’s touch. Stamets appears oblivious such is his delight at having his husband back. I am looking forward to more of this story and a possible confrontation between Culber and Tyler.
Saru and Burnham beam down to the surface of Kaminar and they meet Saru’s sister, Siranna, who is now a priest following their father’s succumbing to the Valharai. The planet is beautiful, Burnham describes it as a paradise and one of the shows strengths has been its use of location shoots and practical effects, it gives a tangible sense of reality. The watchful eye manifests itself by way of a vast network of pylons which seem to have multiple uses, weapons, transporting and monitoring and Saru and Burnham’s presence is detected by the villages pylon. Siranna is initially delighted at her brother’s return, she greats Burnham with wonder in a lovely scene that evokes everything that Star Trek is about. She takes Burnham’s hand to compare to her own, “so different, yet so similar.” The meet and great is concluded with the brilliant line from Siranna, “Do humans from earth drink tea?” Yeah, they do, they drink earl grey hot, if they know what’s good for them. They go to Siranna’s home and drink tea, Siranna is as astute as her brother and she guesses they are not here merely for a reunion. She tells them that they all thought that Saru had been punished for asking too many questions. That left Siranna and her family fearing retribution from the Ba’ul. They tell her the purpose of their mission