Star Trek: Discovery – Talos IV Visit Brings Clarity, Danger & Trickery – Review, Ep. 208

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Let me just get this out of the way from the outset, I loved the opening scenes from Star Trek: Discovery’s latest episode (208), “If Memory Serves.” Just using old TOS footage of Pike’s previous visit to Talos IV from back in the day really added a connective thread to the Star Trek realm as a whole, and set the stage for what was a revealing and interesting episode.

I also need to say that I appreciate the creativity of the Star Trek: Discovery folks for how well they melded the old with the new within this episode. You know, it’s not easy to satisfy the masses who love Star Trek, they can be a finicky lot as it pertains to the Star Trek timeline. Adhering to canon is a fine aspiration, but it’s not something that I require to enjoy Star Trek: Discovery. Episode 208 takes place about a year after Pike’s “original” visit to the planet and his experience with the Talosians, and 10 years before a Kirk-captained Enterprise.

It opens with scenes from the TOS episode, “The Cage,” which sets our feet upon this wonderful tale. Again, I think all involved did a splendid job of giving us that nostalgic vibe right off, then kept that story line playing nicely above the other things that were going, including Spock’s issues. People can quibble all they want about minor points, but for my money, “If Memory Serves” was a nice walk down a classic episode that now transitions into this current story line. I just thought it was well done and satisfied the Trek fan within my own beating heart. Well done, all.

“If Memory Serves” — Ep#208 — Pictured (l-r): Ethan Peck as Spock; Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS ©2018 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Talos IV and the Talosians (and yes, Vina is still there and still very much in love with Captain Pike) end up playing a pivotal role in this arc. Michael Burnham, who you’ll remember escaped with Spock from Section 31, makes her way there via those reversed coordinates Spock had been writing on the wall. Turns out, this was no idle scribbling. Spock, even in the throes of his mental debilitation, understood through his experience of a year before (Remember the singing flowers?) that the Talosians had the mental capabilities to sift through his mind and unlock his struggle with a suddenly “fluid” timeline – not linear.

It was a great piece of storytelling and the work done by Ethan Peck and Sonequa Martin-Green as Spock and Burnham is both intense and wonderfully personal. In short, the Talosians will help Burnham see what is in Spock’s mind (and hopefully unlock it), but for a price. And that price is to look into her mind and see what it was that caused the pain between her and Spock.

Oooh, talk about juicy stuff. I admit that when the Talosians made that the price for their help, I was delighted. At last, a chance to see where the rift was caused – that’s good stuff. However, while that was a small little victory for my own selfish desires, the big reveal was that Spock was given knowledge of the future, and what the Red Angel is after.

“If Memory Serves” — Ep#208 — Pictured (l-r): Doug Jones as Saru; Shazad Latif as Tyler; Anson Mount as Captain Pike; Hannah Cheesman as Airiam 2.5 of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS ©2018 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Turns out, Spock sees the destruction of all sentient life in the galaxy and it would appear that the Red Angel is of humanoid origins with a desire to change that timeline, thereby (we assume) saving the universe. A terrifying development and one that Burnham senses instantly is a development that alters all their courses. Death is coming, the Red Angel seems to be wanting to help, and there are still plenty of questions to ask. In Spock’s mind, we see an armada of some sort that releases weapons that would appear to be planet killers.

Who or what is this race that wants to wipe out all sentient life in this galaxy? And why? What exactly can the Red Angel bring to the table to create a different timeline? How can Spock, Burnham and (we assume) the Discovery be of service (or hindrance) in whatever plan is hatched. And perhaps a bigger question is what role is Lt. Nilsson Airiam to play in all this.

It’s clear she was the one sending the clandestine messages from the Discovery and sabotaged the spore drive – we know this because in an earlier episode, our aggressive probe apparently accessed her via the computer system. And we also know this because her eyes routinely glow red, the international signal for “being bad.”

So it would seem that whatever, or whomever, sent that probe last episode is keeping tabs on the Discovery and trying to hinder her on multiple levels. But to what end? In the world of fluid timelines (you have to expect the future has more access to this kind of thing than Discovery), is the entity bent on this galaxy’s destruction aware that the timeline can and, perhaps, was changed? Are they delivering pre-emptive interference to make sure that the timeline they want, and the destruction it brings, is fulfilled? Interesting, don’t you think?

“If Memory Serves” — Ep#208 — Pictured (l-r): Hannah Cheesman as Airiam 2.5; Doug Jones as Saru of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS ©2018 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

So Burnham and Spock are having their minds melded by the Talosians, which brings dire news, and in the payment process we learn that Burnham left Spock’s home to protect him, but said some very hurtful things to him on the way out. The hardcore Logics on the planet were posing a threat to Sarak, Amanda and Spock, something Burnham simply wouldn’t allow. So, she left, and left behind a young Spock both bent and broken. Again, Martin-Green and Peck pull off these scenes so very well. There’s pain, there’s relief, there’s logic (of course) and perhaps a tad bit of forgiveness.

There was a lot to like about the Talos IV story line. One of the other parts I enjoyed was the change in the Talosian’s look. Why? Because I just did. Hey, the Klingons look different in every new Star Trek iteration, so what the heck. Let the creators create and update, for heaven’s sake. Hell, the Klingons have hair this season. Works for me.

I did like the return of Vina and her interactions with Pike. Remember, this is supposed to be just a year after “The Cage,” so the memories for Pike (and Vina) are fresh. That was a fun quality to the episode as they  melded the two stories, now more than 50 years apart, into a workable story line. It’s clear that Vina and Pike developed strong feelings for each other, something you suspected in the TOS episode, but played out nicely here. A love neither could have. Sad, but well done by Anson Mount and Melissa George in giving us love tinged with pain. I become more and more a fan of Mr. Mount’s work as Pike.

I’ve been trying to put my finger on why I like this Pike so much and I’ve come to the conclusion that Mount gives Pike a nice “cool” factor and vibe. That’s my take on it.

The Talosians.

And within all of this, we’ve got Section 31 sneaking around – just out of sight. The episode showed us (and Burnham) quite clearly that Spock was no murderer, so I’m going to go out on a limb here and posit the theory that Section 31 may have its hands dirty in those murders and would like to erase Spock’s murder-clearing memories to shield themselves. They want him bad and it looked like they’d bagged him until we learn that the Talosians had another image-fooling mind game up their sleeves. What a beaut.

Burnham and Spock were there, then gone. Poof! You could almost hear Philippa Georgiou cackling with glee as Captain Leland fully realized he’d been duped. Oh, it won’t be long before Georgiou is running that ship and, who knows, all of Section 31? Again, I’m really curious to see where this Georgiou arc ends up.

She just doesn’t seem to be cut from a cloth that will serve at other’s whims for very long. She may have evil intent, but she’s a leader with the instincts of a leader. And Leland feels like he’ll be the first stalk of wheat to fall beneath her blade. We shall see.

I had offered up the theory that the return of Hugh Culber to the fray may not be all that it seemed. And as Paul Stamets rejoiced in his return and tried to make him comfortable, you could tell that something quite different was burning inside of Culber. And the more Stamets pushed to create “normalcy,” the more it seemed to agitate Culber. My heart really does go out to Stamets, who seems to be perpetually struggling to find  happiness of any kind in the wake of Hugh’s death – and now resurrection. Once again, stellar work from Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz, who have a delightful chemistry, even when fighting.

“If Memory Serves” — Ep#208 — Pictured (l-r): Wilson Cruz as Culber; Shazad Latif as Tyler of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS ©2018 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Culber who returned from the Mycellial cocoon is not the one that Voq killed. Things are different, he is different and it all kind of came to a head in Ep. 208. He pushed Stamets away and told him to move on so that he could do the same. Culber also tracked down Ash Tyler in the cafeteria and “threw down” for a little fisticuff action. It’s interesting that Tyler is dealing with the remnants of the Klingon within while the man he killed as Voq is dealing with his own struggles from within.

I also thought it interesting that Saru let the boys brawl a bit. It had a grade school recess feel to it as Ash and Hugh wrestled through the lunch room as a group of their peers looked on. Again, both of these men have turmoil and uncertainty roiling in their souls. Of course, Tyler killed Culber, so I get the anger, though it’s part of something larger.

Fun scene and Saru’s development continues with an interesting decision to let the lads settle things. Very interesting, is Mr. Saru. He continues to develop and change, nearly episode to episode. What next, panty raids, an addiction to milkshakes, casino night? I can’t wait to find out.

So we’ve got mentally solid Spock back, along with Burnham (Do you actually think that beard is working?), aboard the Discovery with the knowledge that the galaxy’s very existence may be in the hands of the Red Angel. But what to do now? How to communicate with this humanoid entity? And what of our little intruder aboard the Discovery via Airiam? I don’t hold her responsible for what she’s up to, and can appreciate her framing of Tyler for her dastardly deeds, but what is the end game with whatever is inside her? I’m fascinated by her character anyway, so would love some backstory on Airiam.

Looks like next week we get a visit to Section 31 headquarters, which should be very interesting. My guess is Pike discovers Section 31’s duplicity in the hospital deaths and goes looking for retribution. Is this where Georgiou makes her final bid for power? Dang, let’s hope so. As we head to the homestretch, there’s still a lot to be settled, but the players are in place, so let’s see where it all ends up, shall we?

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John Baker