Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery made its official debut this past Thursday, and what a debut it was, folks. I spent the weekend watching the season’s inaugural episode over and over again, trying to decipher any hidden messages that might be embedded within it (seeing as last season apparently left clues, as to where it was going, littered all about for viewers to discover). But, alas, my eagle-eyes (or lack thereof) weren’t able to pick up on anything (womp, womp). However, I did notice that the episode unequivocally had a “cinematic” quality to it – thanks to Mr. Kurtzman, I would presume. To me, the series thus far hasn’t even felt like “television” (something that was initially apparent at the very beginning of last season). The love and care that has gone into these episodes make the series feel like it’s comprised of mini-movies that belong on the big screen. Additionally, and on a side-note, I’m a bit relieved that CBS decided to move the show from Sunday to Thursday. There’s way too much going on in my idiot box during the last evening of the week, and one less thing to keep me glued to it is quite welcomed. With that being said, let’s dive into the episode.
“Brother” was written by a trio of recognizable Trek-scribblers from last season: Gretchen J. Berg, Ted Sullivan, and Aaron Harberts. It was directed by Alex Kurtzman, which is probably why it felt like it belonged in the Abrams “Trek” universe – from the Discovery’s flight through the asteroid field, to Burnham’s, Connolly’s, Pike’s, and Nahn’s death-defying rescue mission. Even their flight suits had similar designs to that of Kirk’s, Sulu’s, and Olson’s in Star Trek 2009. Being a huge fan of the “Kelvin” timeline, and an equally ardent fan of all three films (which I know a lot of fans have issues with), I was really digging the overall look and feel of this episode.
Often times, when a film or television series casts or recasts an existing character from the universe it’s exploring, there tend to be mishaps. These mishaps are often found in, either, the conceptualization, the writing, or the actual actor/actress charged with the responsibility of carrying the proverbial torch of a well-known and beloved character. This definitely was not the case here. Anson Mount not only embodies everything that I could have hoped for in a “Captain Pike,” he also personifies everything that we’ve come to love about Starfleet and the 23rd century. As much as I loved Gabriel Lorca (if loving him is wrong, I don’t want to be right), Captain Pike’s arrival brings with it a breath of fresh air for our crew. Since the episode picks up right where we left off in Season 1, with Discovery barely making it back from the “Mirror Universe,” only to be engaged in battle with the Klingons, he is exactly what the doctor ordered. The episode also did a great job of humanizing him and distinguishing him from Lorca as a captain the crew could fully get behind. His speech to the bridge at the beginning went a long way in doing just that….
“Everybody grab a seat. Go ahead. I want you all to give that a read. I’m Captain Christopher Pike. Up there are my commendations, my diagnosis of childhood asthma. Ah, the big red “F”…..that was my failing grade in astrophysics at the Academy. I know this is a hard left turn. You were en route to Vulcan to pick up a new captain. I was briefed on the classified details surrounding your last one. I know he betrayed this crew. If I were you, I’d have my doubts about me, as well. But I’m not him. I’m not Lorca.”
Now, you’re probably wondering (just like I am) where in the timeline this season takes place. According to the Trek-podcast, Transporter Room 3, they’ve surmised that Captain Pike’s arrival on Discovery takes place after his first visit to Talos IV in “The Cage,” but before his accident (obviously) in “The Menagerie, Parts 1 and 2”. This makes me wonder if we’ll be seeing any mention of said trip, or maybe even to the battle on Rigel VII which preceded their excursion down to the forbidden planet. Maybe, quite possibly, between Pike and Spock, or Pike and his Number One? One can only guess. However, seeing as Starfleet has deemed Talos IV’s existence classified (under General Order 7), I guess that’s kind of doubtful.
We don’t get an introduction to Spock just yet, but we are treated to glimpses of his and Burnham’s childhood growing up on Vulcan (and, to be frank, tiny Spock is kind of a dick). With the little that we are given, we know, that:
- Spock took leave from the Enterprise to seek-out answers to the riddle of his nightmares/visions, which are the same ones he endured as a child.
- He’s found the meaning to his visions, which we have yet to learn, however, we know they are directly related to the seven red bursts Pike and the Discovery are investigating.
- Something called the “Red Angel” is significantly important to this conundrum Spock is attempting to solve (The Hollywood Reporter has a pretty decent article on this aspect of the season).
- He believes he may not make it back to the Enterprise alive.
Additionally, we also get a sneak peek of Spock’s quarters, which holds a few items that hearken back to TOS episodes of old (a Vulcan lute being one of them).
Other standout moments of the episode, as well as tidbits that I personally loved, are:
- The Enterprise was on its five-year mission during the Federation-Klingon war.
- Stamets has accepted a permanent teaching position at the Vulcan Science Academy, because the Discovery carries with it too large of a memory for him of his love, Dr. Culber (the video-message of Culber that we see Stamets watching really punched me in the gut, and seriously choked me up).
- Pike’s science officer, Evans Connolly, is one, arrogant douche. Is it callous of me that I laughed when he took an early dirt-nap? Possibly.
- Commander Jett Reno is friggin’ awesome. I wish she could be my homie in the 21st century.
- Best line of the episode came from Ensign Tilly: “If you ask me anymore questions, I’m gonna start crying like a baby Tribble in the kill-zone.” I literally laughed-out-loud.
I’m also really happy that the series has made an assorted effort to put science and math at the forefront of every episode. When Tilly shouts, “This is the power of math, people!,” I couldn’t help but crack a giant smile. With both subjects being attacked repeatedly by the “Manchurian Candidate” in the White House, and his base continually lending credence and support to his nonsense, it’s no wonder that Star Trek’s return has been a hugely-welcomed gift from the Television Gods. I, for one, can’t wait to see what surprises this season brings. It’s going to be quite the ride, it seems, yet again.