Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Sectioned: Point of Light S02 E03

After the rather sedentary second episode of season two, it felt like Discovery stepped back on form with its third hour.

Choosing to focus more heavily on the activities of the Klingons, it felt like the Discovery took something of a back seat this week but it was well worth the unusual imbalance. 

For a 50 minute episode, the writers managed to cram three storylines into the runtime; Burnham’s investigation into the Red Angel, Tilly’s strange apparition and the return to the story of L’Rell and Tyler/Voq.

Burnham’s story sees Sarek’s wife Amanda journeying to the Discovery after stealing Spock’s medical file from Starbase Five. Mira Sorvino returns as Spock’s human mother concerned for her son’s well being and helps to move along the plot of the Red Angel story since it appears he’s been involved with this entity since childhood. The visit also uncovers why Spock and Burnham haven’t spoken for years which does seem a tad convoluted but let’s run with it anyway. 

A good piece of Point of Light is focused purely on these two characters looking for answers with a surprise twist at the end however their tale - which in essence is what the season is being built around - took a very obvious backseat this week. Their interactions are good but honestly, Sorvino is a little bland in the role and doesn't counter the more fiery Martin-Green leaving the tail end of their story feeling a little odd.

Second up is Tilly and hell yes, we were all right that the spore that dropped on her from the Mirror Universe at the end of last season was actually goddamn relevant. Turns out in fact it's been reacting with the asteroid fragment and creating the vision of her now-deceased former junior school classmate.

Tilly is all over the place this week and the revelation of what's going on does mean that last week's OTT performance isn't as out of place as I might have commented. The fact that this isn't dragged out for a third week is a fine choice by the writers and we get some more dramatic moments for the newly minted ensign with her outbursts on the bridge being a particular highlight of the show. Also good that they're woven Till's command training into the fabric of the show with her running a half marathon around the ship as part of the programme.

As with the Burnham/Amanda storyline this one is also dangled open-ended with the spore removed from Tilly but how this is all going to come together is a bit of a headscratcher. At least it feels like we're headed in some direction rather than the stall that was New Eden (still holding out a hope that it will all be super-relevant and therefore make last week one of the best episodes of the season).

Ok, so let's get into the real heart of this week and after a two episode absence both L'Rell and Ash Tyler/Voq are back. The Empire is at a tender point in its evolution. The war is over and the 24 houses have come together uneasily under one banner and the leadership of Chancellor L'Rell. Tyler is uncertain of his place within society acting as Torchbearer still but looking human to all and sundry.

Couple of great bits of trivia in there too with the Klingons regrowing their hair following the end of hostilities and also that the D7 cruiser is in development bearing one emblem and a combined design path which, I would think, is there to appease all houses. Later note that there's the mention of Borath and the monastery there which Worf visited in Rightful Heir as the point of light in the sky (just thought of that...) which Kahless indicated would be where he would return one day. As we know in The Next Generation he sort of did.

There is of course one old grump who can't let go of the house system and creates all sorts of problems in the form of Kol's father played, cleverly, by Kol actor Kenneth Mitchell. But there's more. Seems that L'Rell and Voq have a child and thanks to some equally clever face paint that means Dad of Kol can listen in, he uncovers this rather intriguing piece of information that could destabilise the Empire and place the House of Kol at the top of the pecking order.

Shazad Latif and Mary Chieffo make this episode and the whole thing is clearly built around them. Their relationship carries all sorts of emotions with Latif's Tyler clearly struggling to find a place in Klingon society to the point where he simply can't be there any more for his own safety and to secure L'Rell's future as "Mother" of the Empire. There's a piece of brilliant direction in here with Tyler communicating to Burnham which sees the two worlds of Q'onoS and the Discovery physically colliding on the screen so the two are facing each other rather than being on holo-displays. It's a beautiful moment and one of the magical directorial shots this season seems to be throwing in every now and then.

The pacing of the Klingon story is fantastic, forever moving and brings about a twist in the tale which not only returns a certain Section 31 to Discovery (including their rather nifty ship) but also Michelle Yeoh's Mirror Georgiou in ass-kicking style. Nothing screams more than "backdoor pilot" than ending the episode aboard the Section 31 ship and you have to assume that the heading is going to take them right into the path of the title starship. 

The original Prime Georgiou was all process but this one chews every bit of scenery in sight and offers Tyler a way out. For those who didn't catch the bonus scene at the end of season one with Phillipa being recruited then her actions will be a little of a surprise but if you did catch it then this should all make a lot more sense.

I loved Point of Light as a return to the meaty core of Discovery and even with being Pike and Stamets light (two of my faves at the minute) it felt as though I'd been served a few answers to questions and also shown some information which has started to weave this series into the history books of the franchise. The continuation of the Klingon arc from season one had to be carried on and this episode makes a lot of sense when it comes to Tyler's journey. Could it have worked? Likely not since he was already an outcast when he became T'Kuvma's Torchbearer in The Vulcan Hello.

Point of Light continues to build on the mythology and is perhaps the first episode to show that Discovery is not exclusively about the starship but a much larger picture which reinforces the "universe building" belief that was part of the reason the show was delayed for so long in 2017. 

Much better result than last week and it did feel that we were getting some form of payoff - what that might look like is not something to second guess however - is Tyler now in Section 31 and will we see L'Rell again this year?

What are your Klingon predictions for Discovery?

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1 comment:

  1. Well, I had the opposite reaction to this one. Two classic episodes followed by this average one. Events moved too swiftly, like they're trying to shut down the season 1 plotline. I mean, it makes your head spin, suddenly there's a baby, a coup and then the baby is sent away! The direction was dire, and the fight scene unexciting. A hot mess of an episode. I like Tilly and thought there was some nice acting alongside SMG.

    I really hate the section 31 storyline, was anyone actually surprised to see Georgio save the day? Georgio is a monster, why would Section 31 trust her?

    She's not just a monster- or a Harry Mudd type (old skool scoundrel with a heart of gold - at least in TOS).

    Lets not forget that she's a genocidal dictator who literally ate people. It's madness that she's allowed to pose as her Prime Universe counterpart.

    We are supposed to believe that the Federation have exonerated her and now trust her to work clandestinely, with the only justification being that she has certain "skills". What skills, exactly?

    It's comic book storytelling, so the next argument is relevant only if we treat the show as a serious adult science fiction series that is about themes and issues rather than Science Fantasy.

    OK, imagine if Goebbels hadn't committed suicide. There's no way that he wouldn't have been arrested and ultimately executed for his role in the holocaust. Of course, he like Hitler never answered for his crimes and instead committed suicide.

    For me, mirror Georgiou is the biggest mis-step in Discovery. I like the show well enough, but this stretches credulity to the absolute breaking point. Every time we see her hamming it up as a delightful baddie working for Section 31, I think that we are watching a show for kids.

    Finally, Spock is a cherished character and the writer's need to take great care.
    - Just last week Sarek says he hoped Bernham would teach Spock empathy. Now Amanda says Sarek wanted Spock raised in the traditional Vulcan way.. this is contradictory.