Thursday, 28 March 2019

Press Reveal: The Red Angel S02 E10

Episode ten of Discovery’s second season is its most linear storytelling of the year.  

Focusing purely on the Red Angel narrative (as you might have guessed from the title), the episode kicks off with Airiam’s funeral and the revelation that it seems the enigmatic being appears to have exactly the same signature readings as Michael Burnham. 

Could it be that she and the Red Angel are, shock, horror, gasp, one and the same?!   From the fact that this is pulled from nowhere fairly early into the story you can immediately guess that this is ultimately the least likely explanation and luckily by the end credits we finally have an answer to this season’s greatest conundrum.   

But that;s not all. Section 31 are back but this time Leland and Georgiou return to Discovery to deliver a lot of damn important plot information in one especially big chunk. Seems that the Klingons were dabbling in time travel which prompted the Federation to have a go which in turn led to the recruitment of Burnham’s parents (specifically her mother) to work on their version of the project.   

It's a rather emotional hour for Sonequa Martin-Green this week since she has the loss of Airiam to cope with followed by the reopening of old wounds. Section 31's Leland is also more key to their murder than we had been told and cleverly this all brings Burnham’s story full circle back to her recovery by the Vulcans following the murder of her parents by the Klingons who were bent on recovering their time crystal. She plays it well, keeping it all in check but there are visible chinks in Burnham’s shell this time and a close encounter with Tyler then allows a lot of buried emotions we’ve not seen since last year return to the surface.  There's so much mistrust and discomfort in this episode it's a screaming example of a story that would never have happened in the days of Roddenberry; the conflict of Burnham and Tyler is just one element with the Stamets/Culber relationship also taking a beating and providing Georgiou with at least a minute of entertainment.

The Red Angel isn’t one of this season’s biggest highlights for me aside from the galactic reveal in the dying seconds. Why? Because it unloads a ton of exposition around time travel and future interference all in one truckload. While absolutely necessary for the show and to move the story forward it’s dropped in one slab about 15 minutes in and if you have any sense you’ll work out the twist in a split second. It is very, very talky since we as the audience have to be led from A to B to C and perhaps we are signposted and hand-held a little too much here. Could we not have spread some of the info dump over a couple of stories? 

Oh - and Project Daedalus? Yep, it's the Red Angel; a time travelling suit created by Section 31. Didn't see that coming however when it all unravels it's not actually that unexpected; it kinda makes sense.

What the crew do come to realise is that Burnham is the link to the appearances and when there’s not been an incident to deal with, the Red Angel has arrived in time to save Michael so she volunteers as bait in a trap to ensnare the traveller.   

The Red Angel does utilise the larger cast with great effect, allowing the underused Stamets and the regenerated Culber in much stronger positions. While Cruz’s doctor has been very out of the picture until his rescue from the mycelial network, Stamets seems to have been on the backfoot for a lot of the season potentially because the spore drive and in turn the network itself have barely been utilised in favour of the Spock storyline.

Episode ten is an exposition heavy piece for the first half, but when we arrive at the Project Daedalus test site with the plan to restrict and capture the individual within the Red Angel suit it does kick into a second gear.There's a technobabble heavy explanation of how this all happens involving micro-wormholes, tethers, forcefields and the like but nothing can prepare you for the final revelation of the episode. We were all wrong (or were we?) and when the deactivated Project Daedalus suit deposits its occupant on the deck its more than we could have expected.

Discovery's strengths are played on here with the main plot well developed and every main character getting some meaty scenes. Culber and Stamets are definitely well served but I'm concerned that Tilly is now just becoming comic relief and a caricature rather than a serious crewmember - I mean, would you have her serving on this ship because she's starting to seem like a liability and she has no idea of Starfleet etiquette at all. Did she go to the academy?!

The Red Angel does go as far as to answer one of the season's biggest questions yet with four episodes still to go we have the imminent apocalypse of the universe to contend with as well as finding out just why the occupant of the suit read as Burnham. I don't want to post the answer but it's got to be something to do with time travel hasn't it....?

What are your predictions for the end of season two? Drop them below and share our article to help add to the conversation.

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