If the first episode of Star Trek: Discovery’s second season is any indication, we’re in for quite a fun ride in this show’s second season. We pick up a little after we left off last season with the Enterprise and Discovery coming nose-to-nose at last. Saru is the acting captain of the Discovery, Michael Burnham is again on the bridge, Sylvia Tilley is as spunky and positive as ever, Paul Stamets is still dealing with the loss of Hugh, and L’Rell is the supreme chancellor of the Klingon Empire. In short, all’s just as we’d like it to remain.
But that didn’t last long, did it? The Enterprise has met the Discovery for a specific reason. There’s 7 red lights out there that are a mystery to everyone, and Captain Christopher Pike has been sent to take command of the Discovery and see if he can find out what the lights are, or who sent them. The Klingons, fresh off the armistice signing, seem to be in the clear, so there’s a mystery afoot, one that Pike hopes the Discovery can … “Discover.”
We are, at long last, introduced to Anson Mount as Captain Pike. Here’s my take on Mount’s work as Pike in the first episode — wow! I thought Mount’s portrayal of Pike was dynamic and filled the screen with a fun, witty, mentally sharp, yet human vibe that was tremendously satisfying.
I don’t know how long Pike will be with the show, but I hope he’s a constant presence because EP. 201 just vibrated with him in the captain’s chair. Captain Pike has a presence about him. I liked that he was firm, confident, yet vulnerable and funny at the same time. Pike had no pretense about himself or the crew, just a straight-shooter with a desire to cut through the BS. He had a nice exchange with Burnham that demonstrated he’s also capable of making a mistake, admitting it and learning from it.
We’re one episode in and I’m already convinced that Mount’s Pike is going to be a wonderfully interesting addition to Star Trek: Discovery. Well done, Anson Mount. You got the skills, my man.
So as you might expect, the crew of the Discovery, while trying to ID these red lights (only one of which seems to not vanish at the first sign of scanning), comes upon an interesting discovery (see what I did there?). Turns out a medical frigate (the Hiawatha) that was thought lost 10 months ago while the Klingon war raged, had crashed on a meteor that’s not only traveling at a great rate of speed, but destined to be destroyed by a pulsar — soon. So we’ve got a dead ship, but no signs of life, a meteor that’s shedding fragments like a dog sheds hair, and plenty of interference and danger for us all. You in? I was.
I think one of aspects of Star Trek: Discovery that I’ve come to really appreciate is that the action and adventure part of the show never seems forced, which is saying something for this type of sci-fi show. Oh sure, you’ve got to suspend your disbelief a bit, but that’s part of the fun, isn’t it? In the end, you know Burnham and Pike are going to make a run for this wrecked mess to see what’s what. And they do, accompanied by a couple crewman Pike brought with him from the Enterprise.
While we know disaster is going to strike someone, Burnham and Pike make it to the ship and we make another wonderful discovery in the character of Jett Reno, played with a wonderfully deadpan wink by Tig Notaro. Talk about a wonderful character – Jett is both brilliant, pragmatic and filled with enough can-do attitude to fill up a shuttle bay. She’s an engineer by trade, but it turns out she’s jury-rigged a bunch of equipment to help keep a handful of surviving patients alive.
Use a Bolian heart to help a guy survive the loss of his own heart? Sure, a little duct tape, a few wires and Reno has it dialed in. Build some security drones out of spare parts? Done and done.
I found Jett Reno to be a character I was drawn to instantly and I thought Notaro played her brilliant pragmatism with a flair and panache’ that was both pointed and fun. It’s clear this character has an engineering brilliance that is pretty impressive, and offers that “fix it” mentality that is so interesting in a show like this, so I’m hoping she sticks around a while and gets to play with Burnham, whom I think she kind of took an instant liking to. Fun to see smart folks be smart together in a smart-a-thon those two could create. Again, another great character with plenty of potential moving forward.
So, naturally the rescue doesn’t go off quite as everyone had hoped as Burnham, trying to put together a last-minute fix, misses the transporter window and is blown through an open door. Fortunately, demonstrating her own gift of quick thinking, she creates a plan on the run — literally. And through her own smart moves and the work of the Discovery crew, she’s saved, though knocked around a bit.
For my money, Episode 201 was a tremendously satisfying opener for season 2. New characters were added and look as though they’ll be really fine additions for however long they are involved. Michael Burnham will have to face the issues she has with her half-brother, Spock (Respect the beard, people), which should be very interesting, indeed.
The pair are obviously estranged and her talk with Sarak aboard the Discovery about why Spock didn’t accompany Pike to the ship was telling — in what was said, but also what was silently implied. So that will be fun to watch that relationship re-engage at various points. Burnham’s Vulcan family is, to say the least, complicated. But that’s what makes it so dang much fun.
Through all the action and adventure of this episode, a couple other things stood out. I thought there was more humor in this episode than we’d seen to that point. Pike seemed to be the catalyst for it, but there were several moments when I chuckled out loud at a line or a look (In the elevator, I know that was a ‘green around the gills’ inside joke). I thought it was well done, too. Not gratuitous, but just kind of “in the crucible of stress” kind of moment. Very well done by both actors and writers. I liked it.
I was also touched by the pain that Stamets is still feeling and his announcement to Tilly that he’s accepted a transfer to the Vulcan Science Academy. It was a bit emotional when he shared that Hugh was “everywhere” in that lab. And as touching as Stamets was, the reaction by Tilly was equally emotional. She’s so good, so optimistic, so dialed into the good in people, that it’s tough when she’s hit with something emotionally trying. I loved it when she blurted out to a walking away Stamets that she didn’t want to lose him.
Just a killer moment that was so well done by Mary Wiseman and Anthony Rapp. Warm, emotional and painful by a couple of actors who were really on-point. Love their work every time they are on the screen.
But I could say that about everyone on this show. It’s nice to see the family back after the long hiatus and with an opening salvo that was fun, intense and reminded us all of how this show grew and got under our skin in season 1. How will Pike impact the show moving forward, and for how long? What will the Burnham/Spock relationship look like and develop as season 2 moves forward?
Stamets, are you really leaving, buddy? You know you and Tilly are a nice scientific nerd fit. Wear it! How much more development does Saru get to have this season and what of Jett Reno, how will she fit into things? What I so enjoyed about this episode was the many possible avenues that could be developed. What’s next, Star Trek: Discovery?
And what of L’Rell and the Klingons? I’ve got a barrel of 2049 blood wine (there is no finer vintage) that says they’ve got some surprises for us moving forward. Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery has beamed aboard, folks. The first ride was a lot of fun. Let’s see what’s next. Engage!
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