William T. Riker strikes again! Yes, the good sir (and Jean-Luc’s trusty sidekick, er, I mean, First Officer) returns to the universe of Discovery, and gives us yet another great episode to toss into the Trek-canon. You’ll remember that he gave us one of last season’s best episodes in “Despite Yourself”. This was the one that made most of our jaws drop to the floor, as we simultaneously, across the globe, discovered our crew had jumped into the “Mirror Universe,” and were about to make their acquaintance with the treacherous Terran Empire (this is still one of my favorite episodes from last year). Well, this time, Jonathan Frakes takes us on a journey, 51,450 light-years into the Beta Quandrant, where the Discovery comes across an unsolvable mystery: humans residing on a Class-M planet with no electricity, and no identifiable means by which they could have actually transported there (neither warp-signatures, nor any starships can be found in the vicinity of the planet). However, as they dig deeper, they find that their search for the seven red bursts, Spock’s visions, and an “entity” known only as the “Red Angel,” are all seemingly connected to this human settlement (cue theme from The Twilight Zone).
In the beginning of this episode, Captain Pike reveals to Burnham that Spock has not only taken leave from his duties aboard the Enterprise, he has also decided to check himself into a psychiatric facility on Starbase 5, specifically not wanting Amanda, Sarek, and by extension, Burnham, to be notified (per Starfleet protocol). In addition, we also discover that Spock drew a rendering of the seven red bursts, completely identical to Starfleet’s diagram, two months prior to them even appearing. We have yet to learn the reason behind Spock’s choice to be committed, as well as the meaning behind his apparent precognitive vision; however, we do learn another interesting tidbit about Pike: his father was not only a science teacher, but in addition to this aptitude, taught comparative religion to boot. This is fascinating to me on a personal level because I have a couple of scientist friends who both attend church (one is a teacher who also produces educational “Bill Nye” types of videos, and another is a biologist). Over the years, I have had discussions with them both about how they are able to reconcile their faith with their scientific backgrounds and education. Their answers have both been interesting, as well as informative. But this is neither here nor there, and a discussion to be shelved for another time. I’ve digressed. Let’s get back to the discussion at hand, shall we? I swear I’m like a friggin’ dog sometimes (Squirrel!).
We’re also introduced to something called “General Order 1” as Pike, Burnham, and Owosekun are readying their selves to make the decent down to Terralysium to investigate further. This “General Order 1” will presumably be renamed “The Prime Directive” in several years’ time. Although, we won’t see much adherence, or mention of it, for that matter, until Jean-Luc Picard’s time, really. Kirk would ultimately play by his own rules, and rarely – if ever – subscribe to such nonsense as “non-interference”.
Another tidbit we are given (and probably my favorite) is, that, Arthur C. Clarke’s famous statement, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” gets a 23rd century upgrade. According to Pike, Clarke’s words (known as Clarke’s Third Law) have been reinterpreted to now be, “Any sufficiently advanced extraterrestrial intelligence is indistinguishable from God.” I love how this is a slight nod to all of the beings we’ve come to know over the course of the franchise’s existence, most notably our good ole pal, Q . I wonder what he’s up to these days? Actually, no, I take that back. The last thing Discovery needs is Q popping his head in and screwing things all up. Although, I’d love to see something like this again:
The crew of the Discovery, led by Saru, would ultimately deduce, that, the reason they were brought to this planet by the red burst was to save the planet and its inhabitants from an extinction-level event (one of its outer rings would degrade and cause a nuclear winter, killing everything and everyone). Now, I’m surmising (as are you, probably) that these beings, these “Red Angels,” have been around for a long time, intervening where help or assistance is needed, hence the name “Red Angel”. They’ve already led the Discovery to two rescue missions (the asteroid and Terralysium), and even though the bursts are spread out across more than 30,000 light-years, they somehow know that Discovery has the capability to journey to these locations (or maybe they don’t, and all of this is serendipitous). Additionally, and for reasons yet to be revealed, Spock has always had a personal connection to this race of beings. Is there something unique about the Vulcan that has made him a point of contact for this species? Or is his involvement completely separate from everything else? I have a feeling it’s all connected, somehow.
This is all merely conjecture at this point, but it makes the most sense to me, given the little that we know thus far. Then again, I’m sure that Kurtzman and crew will totally turn everything on its pretty little head, and give us another “Holy shit!” moment like last season when everything was revealed to be the machinations of Lorca’s doppelganger. I mean, the plot has already thickened some more with the introduction of Tilly’s hallucination of her childhood friend from Earth. Or is it a hallucination? Stamets’ speech to her right before the jump to Terralysium pretty much broke down the idea that nothing is ever truly gone. “Termination begets creation,” is what I believe he said. So, is Tilly’s friend part of the mycelial network? Or is there another reason why she’s having a “Sixth Sense” moment? According to Jonathan Frakes, this directly correlates to something that happened last season.
“At the end of season one, an entity actually entered Tilly. It looked like a green spark, like Tinkerbell, that landed on her. I thought there was some aspect of that “magic” that allowed Tilly to have what we perceive as hallucinations about her childhood and this character who she can only see. She has the difficulty of realizing that nobody else sees it, but she doesn’t want to admit it. And she’s already very socially complicated as a person.”
The full article is a great read, which you can check out here.
Nothing is arbitrary in the “Discovery” universe. This much I’m learning. However, insufficient data prevents me from continuing down this patchwork-path of wild guesses; but we’re getting closer to some answers, folks. Stay tuned.