Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Homeward Bound: S02 E06 The Sound of Thunder

With a new lease of life, Saru is a changed character after he survived what his race believed was a life-ending moment.

One of the red masses of energy have been detected at a new location and this time it's taking the Kelpien home - it's appeared over Kaminar.

So what's going on - is this all part of some massive plan we have yet to discover? How come the Red Angel seems to be helping Discovery or placing it in locations where it can do good.

For those who haven't watched The Brightest Star from the Short Treks then this is the time

to dig it out on Netflix and get it watched because you will appreciate those 15 minutes to give a little meat on Saru's backstory bones. That said, The Sound of Thunder does stick in a few parts from the short just to make sure you're covered. 

Unusually for this season the A story dominates the episode with just a few moments left to remind us that Doctor Culber is back from the dead and in the best health of his life in a brand new body that doesn't even bear scars that he'd had for years. How else Culber has changed is left unsaid yet there's the distinct feeling that we have much more to uncover in the weeks coming. 

The bulk of episode six focuses on Saru. Accompanied by Burnham to Kaminar he is reacquainted with his sister, Siranna, who is now the village priest and leader of the community. The Ba'ul are quickly aware of the arrival of the only Kelpien ever to leave the planet and are more than a tad anxious to have him back permanently. 

Everything boils down to the harmonious Great Balance that has been set in place by the predatory Ba'ul but, of course, because this is Star Trek there's a huge twist in here well worthy of the franchise. 

The Sound of Thunder is quintessential Star Trek placing the Prime Directive in conflict with the crew and Saru's desires for his people. Interference could destroy the even keel that the planet has experienced for generations and truly it's a dangerous point that could tip either way. Doug Jones' performance as Saru smashes the episode; no longer is he frozen by fear but confronts the Ba'ul on the bridge of the Discovery and takes the fight directly to them.

The Ba'ul are also finally revealed here after numerous mentions through the season. Now, for long time fans there will be a "Isn't that...?" moment because the alien lifeform we encounter has a striking resemblance to Armus from the first season The Next Generation episode Skin of Evil. The Ba'ul representative is one of Star Trek's truly terrifying aliens virtually dripping evil in every scene. Word for the future - just make sure the voice isn't distorted too much because there were a few words I didn't manage to pick out in the rumble.

Hannah J Spear as Siranna is fantastic alongside Jones as the two confront their species' nemesis face to face and it can't be easy to play out the terror, anger, pain and more that she and Doug manage through the layers of Kelpien makeup. That said, the partnership between Sonequa Martin-Green and Doug Jones goes from strength to strength and is by a country mile the strongest relationship on the show. I would honestly just watch it for these two after the ups and downs of this year alone. Marvellous acting and one of the best Star Trek duos since Spock and McCoy.

Of course, there's a link in to the Red Angel as you would hope since it's teased from the very start of The Sound of Thunder and to date this is our biggest reveal of the mysterious creature/form/thing that's providing the arc for season two. We actually get to see it and, yeah, it doesn't really tell us anything but the speculation will at the least have another layer added to it.

Certainly this episode places the Kelpiens in a very different place to how we began the show in 2017, fundamentally changing their identity and purpose to exist ultimately showing the prey species to be far more powerful than suspected by the viewer and themselves.

The Sound of Thunder is truly in the same vain as classic Star Trek with the crew arriving to assist in the development of a race but restricted through the confines of the Prime Directive. Saru might twist that a bit here but I have strong echoes to stories such as The Apple, Miri, Return of the Archons in the style of the narrative and the strength of the performances throughout. But - are the Ba'ul in the wrong? Were they just protecting their own survival and just where does the Prime Directive lie in all this? The Sound of Thunder asks questions and makes the audience think beyond the credits and in a way that the first year never did. Discovery seems to have cracked the Trek code.

Starting to get a little bored of saying this but once again Discovery has delivered. Providing further teases around the Red Angel arc and building in a greater understanding of the Kelpiens as part of the Galaxy Building begun back in season one. Magic from beginning to end and definitely one of my top three from the show. 

What might the Red Angel be? Is it someone we already know or a new character?

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