STAR TREK DISCOVERY featured the return of a couple familiar first-season faces and introduced someone who, it seems, will be a recurring presence. The new character viewers met in “Saints of Imperfection,” Captain Leland (Alan Van Sprang), seems to be an old friend — or maybe frenemy — of Captain Pike (Anson Mount). Much was made of the Leland’s willingness to work in the “grey areas” for Section 31 so I imagine viewers will be subject to some morally questionable missions involving DISCOVERY’s newest addition.
The familiar faces were those of Admiral Cornwell (Jayne Brook) and, the big surprise return of the episode, Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz). There was a strong focus on Starfleet taking extreme measures to ensure that no officer is left behind so, even though it was a bit weak, it was nice that “Saints of Imperfection” had a thematic through line.
STAR TREK DISCOVERY – S02E05: Mycelial Mayhem
Tilly is missing, and it seems that a mycelial life form is to blame. Coming to the conclusion that the blob of mycelial matter that engulfed Tilly (Mary Wiseman) in “An Obol for Charon” is some sort of mycelial matter transporter, Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) hypothesize that Tilly is alive inside the mycelial network. The two formulate a plan to make the Discovery perform a modified jump that will allow Stamets and Burnham access to the extra-dimensional network. The catch is, the two officers will only have an hour to rescue their friend.
STAR TREK DISCOVERY – S02E05: “You were expecting someone with pointier ears, perhaps?”
Providing yet another Spock-tease, rather than finding the pointy-eared triple-homicide suspect aboard his shuttle, Pike and crew find Captain Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh), who Burnham knows is actually Emperor Georgiou of the Terran Empire, a mirror-universe version of the resourceful captain.
Georgiou reveals her new allegiance to Starfleet’s shadowy black ops branch, Section 31, and brings a second familiar face along with her for the ride. Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif), now Section 31’s liaison officer aboard the Discovery. Burnham seems willing to let bygones be bygones, but Captain Pike’s terse reminder that Tyler killed a Starfleet officer will probably be more typical of how his new and former crew-mates will approach is return to the ship.
STAR TREK DISCOVERY – S02E05: “I am one pissed-off mushroom!”
Having kidnapped Tilly, May (Bahia Watson), who reveals that she is actually a member of a race of sentient mycelial spores called the “jahSepp” describes her people’s problem. May tells Tilly of a “monster” killing the jahSepp. Tilly reluctantly agrees to help solve the jahSepp’s problem, and the two set off to locate the monster.
While on their monster hunt, though, Tilly gets some reassurance. After some odd sound effects, part of the Discovery’s hull appears in the mycelial sky. Help has arrived.
STAR TREK DISCOVERY – S02E05: “Dammit! I’m a doctor, not a monster!”
After arming herself with a Type 3 phaser she picks up in Discovery’s armoury, Tilly sets off to find May’s monster. Instead of a monster, though, Tilly and May happen upon Stamets and Burnham. Burnham and Stamets are mounting a rescue operation for Tilly, but Tilly explains that she promised the jahSepp that she would help.
There isn’t much time, but the three Starfleet officers set off in search of May’s monster. Following what sound like sobbing noises, the group eventually finds a disheveled Dr. Culber. Culber runs off as soon as they find him, but Stamets is in hot pursuit.
STAR TREK DISCOVERY – S02E05: “Saints of Imperfection” – Insect Repellant
It turns out that Culber has been using the bark of yeel trees to ward off the jahSepp, who are intent on breaking down and recycling the energy that constitutes his being. Because Culber has been wearing a substance toxic to the jahSepp, the jahSepp have confused him with an eco-terrorist bent on destroying them. Once Tilly explains to May who Culber is and that they want to take him away from the mycelial network, May stops demanding his death.
STAR TREK DISCOVERY – S02E05: “Saints of Imperfection” – “Seriously, folks, talk about this later!!”
While Tilly, May, Culber, Burnham, and Stamets discuss what’s to be done about Culber’s predicament, the rest of the jahSepp are eating through Discovery’s hull. Leland and Georgiou aboard Section 31’s ship do what they can to keep Discovery from breaking up, and Pike reiterates to the inter-dimensional away team that time is a factor.
When attempting to take Culber back to normal space, the team find that because Culber is composed of matter exclusive to the mycelial network, he is unable to cross back into normal space. The mycelial cocoon that transported Tilly to the mycelial network is suggested as an alternative for Culber. This sounds great, but May protests that if Culber uses the cocoon then she won’t be able to travel back and forth between normal space and the mycelial network.
STAR TREK DISCOVERY – S02E05: “Saints of Imperfection” – “Thanks, but I only think of you as a mushroom friend.”
Tilly assures May that she also values the profound connection they share but explains that she would feel terrible if she were responsible for keeping Culber and Stamets apart. The team agree that Culber should go through the cocoon, and the others go through the portal Stamets set up in the engineering section.
Leland and Georgiou manage to pull Discovery out of the mycelial muck just in time, and, once the ship and crew are out of danger, Admiral Cornwell orders Leland and Pike to work together to find Lt. Spock and solve the mystery of the seven energy signals. The two captains reluctantly agree, each agreeing to fill in where the other needs help.
STAR TREK DISCOVERY – S02E05: “Saints of Imperfection” – Final Thoughts
With Culber on the mend, it seems that Stamets will not have to leave Discovery for a teaching post at the Vulcan Science Academy. But, now that Lt. Tyler is permanently assigned to the Discovery as Section 31’s liaison, viewers could very well be in for a few awkward meetings between the good doctor and the former sleeper agent.
There wasn’t much discussion of Spock and the Red Angel, aside from a couple offhand mentions, so I’m assuming that viewers will see more of that in “The Sounds of Thunder.” As far as this episode went, I thought it contained some good ideas, but I also felt like there were some misses.
For instance, if Culber’s presence is actually what was killing the jahSepp, then I guess, negating the conversation May and Stamets had in “An Obol for Charon,” spore-drive technology is actually OK for the environment. I also didn’t like how halting the ending of this episode was. The writers may have been trying to build tension, but it just felt like they were creating problems to fill in the episode.