STAR TREK DISCOVERY – S02E01: A Fraternal Return for “Brother”

FIRST IMPRESSION

“Brother,” like many season premieres, made lots of promises about where the season will go. I have concerns about execution, as I always do with this show, but at least the writers have gotten the message that Trekkies want to see some Trek properties. It's unfortunate that the lack of humour in the last season has been replaced by way too much humour in this season, but I look forward to a state of equilibrium some day.
“Brother”

STAR TREK DISCOVERY’s season 2 premiere, like many season premieres, made a lot of narrative promises. That this episode’s title is “Brother” is quite telling, and the writers wasted little time in addressing the green-blooded elephant in the room. If Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) is Sarek’s adopted daughter, then that makes her Spock’s adopted sister.

Longtime fans of the Trek franchise will remember that Spock served as Captain Pike’s science officer aboard the USS Enterprise 1701, so the Discovery’s finding the Enterprise in “Will You Take My Hand?” serves as a promise to fans that they’ll get to see both Pike and Spock in the upcoming season.

But don’t fret. If you didn’t know any of these bits of Trek canon, promotional material has concentrated pretty heavily on the show’s introduction of everyone’s favourite pointy eared logician. I look forward to seeing how Ethan Peck portrays the iconic character at this early stage in Spock’s career.

STAR TREK DISCOVERY – S02E01: “Brother” – Pike, Captain for Rent

As if Captain Pike had nothing better to do on his own ship, which he claims is currently inoperative, he commandeers the Discovery and takes the ship and crew on a wild-goose-chase mission to find five signals from various points in space.

Unfortunately for Burnham, and every Trekkie watching, the science officer who beams over to the Discovery is some blond jerk named Connolly. Connolly hates Michael Burnham. It’s unclear whether he hates Burnham because she’s a woman, because she was raised by Vulcans, or because she’s Starfleet’s most recent mutineer. But don’t worry, he gets sneezed on during a lackluster moment of comic relief…oh, and he dies while trying to prove how cool he is during the pod-race, err, pod-rescue-mission.

STAR TREK DISCOVERY – S02E01: “Brother” – Star Tig

The first signal appears to be coming from an abandoned Starfleet vessel buried in an asteroid that has abnormally strong gravity. Pike, Burnham, and the surprisingly resourceful redshirt find a super-capable bio-engineer (Tig Notaro) who has kept several seriously injured patients alive despite the odds.

The team manages the rescue, but Burnham misses the beam-out. Luckily, this time Burnham happens to be on an away mission with the Christopher Pike who saves her in the nick of time. Just before beam-out, Burnham grabs a chunk of the asteroid — Tilly wants to study it — but it doesn’t beam up, instead falling to the ground when Burnham de-materializes.

STAR TREK DISCOVERY – S02E01: “Brother” – Whoa, Tilly, Take Your Time!

Tilly and Burnham nerd out when they realize the implications of the rock not transporting: it must be non-baryonic matter, which they believe could serve as a source of energy. Tilly reports that it also set the mycellium spores crazy.

Speaking of the spore drive, Stamets is acting pretty maudlin. He pontificates about leaving Starfleet to lecture at the Vulcan Science Academy, but he musters some enthusiasm during Tilly’s mission to collect the non-baryonic matter.

I’m not so sure about the cost-effectiveness of the method by which the crew of the Discovery collected the meteor, and I was even less sure about Tilly’s outburst about the power of math.

STAR TREK DISCOVERY – S02E01: The New Original Search for Spock

The big reveal, and the apparent payoff for Burnham’s flashbacks to her recently revealed childhood with Spock, is that Spock is behind these mysterious signals. Michael finds a recording in Spock’s quarters aboard the Enterprise, meant to be listened to in the event of his death, that reveals this intriguing bit of information.

As far as big reveals go, this one was a bit of a let down since I was already pretty sure that Pike’s mission and Spock’s whereabouts would be tied up together anyway. Ah well.

Final Thoughts

I look forward to watching DISCO’s next episode, “New Eden,” but I’d be lying if I said I weren’t worried about the future of DISCO. It seems that a general lack of humour in the first season has given way to a flood of jokes and an atmosphere of lightheartedness. The USS Discovery isn’t a funerary starship, but it’s not a clown car either. I look forward to later episodes of the show for this reason. It often takes a show a while to find its legs.

Another misstep that I hope the writers avoid is giving Michael and Spock a romantic past of some kind. Michael told Sarek that something convinced her that Spock has strong emotions indeed. A brother–sister sexual relationship would be just too GoT for this reviewer.

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