STAR TREK DISCOVERY – S02E10: Reviewing “The Red Angel”

FIRST IMPRESSION

“The Red Angel” answered questions at the same time that it raised more of them. There were some good performances in this episode along with some strange writing choices. A lot has happened since Spock got his voice back from that sea wit—err, came out of his semi-catatonic state. I've been enjoying the interplay between Spock and Michael, and I'm glad that viewers finally have some vague sense of what the red angel is.
“The Red Angel”
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STAR TREK DISCOVERY went heavy on the nostalgia in “If Memory Serves” and followed that up with the introduction of a new mystery in “Project Daedalus.” “Project Daedalus” served as an introduction and abrupt expulsion of Lieutenant Commander Airiam, the cybernetically augmented spore drive ops officer. Viewers learned a bit about Airiam’s personal history, and then we watched as she suffocated in the vacuum of space. “Damn! Should’ve gotten that breathe-in-space augmentation!”

It was good to learn a bit about Airiam in “Project Daedalus” since I had questions about exactly what she was. After all, any Trekkie knows that Starfleet’s first android officer is Data of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, set over 100 years after the events chronicled in “Project Daedalus.”

I liked that Airiam was a cyborg with a romantic backstory, but I didn’t like that the writers introduced her backstory in the same breath as the one in which they killed her off. This basically happened with Dr. Culber in DISCOVERY’s first season, but we all know how that turned out. Will viewers witness the return of Airiam just like we witnessed the return of Dr. Culber?

STAR TREK DISCOVERY – First, A Correction…

In a previous post, I suggested that the events of DISCO season 2 are set prior to the events featured in STAR TREK’s rejected pilot episode “The Cage.” As “If Memory Serves” made clear, DISCO season 2 is set in 2257, two years after the events featured in “The Cage” and eight years before the events featured in “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” which chronicles Captain James T. Kirk’s first mission as captain of the Enterprise.

Speaking of the young Jim Kirk, Trek canon describes 2257 as a big year for the upstart lieutenant who accepts a posting aboard the USS Farragut. Lt. Kirk also earns a commendation from the Farragut’s first officer for his actions at Tycho IV.

For those concerned with what Trek canon says about what Captain Pike is supposed to be doing, 2257 marks the first year of his second five-year mission aboard the USS Enterprise. So, he and Spock better sort this Red Angel business out and get back to exploring the Alpha quadrant aboard the Enterprise where they belong.

STAR TREK DISCOVERY S02E10: “The Red Angel” – “Airiam, we hardly knew ye.”

A familiar type of funeral starts the episode off. Having sacrificed her life to save her ship and crew in “Project Daedalus,” a lifeless Airiam lies in a photon torpedo casing. Airiam receives eulogies from her crew and friends, and is then fired into space.

Airiam’s ceremony complete, the crew get on with their amazing daily lives. In a meeting with Captain Pike, Admiral Cornwell demands answers to why Control would turn against its creators. Tilly, true to form, bursts into the meeting of high-ranking officers with surprising news. A file in Airiam’s data-banks, which first appeared to be junk data from an old update, turned out to be a file implanted by a digital parasite. The file is the same Project Daedalus Airiam mentioned before her death. Tilly also reveals that the file contains a bio-neural signature of the Red Angel: it matches Burnham’s.

STAR TREK DISCOVERY S02E10: “The Red Angel” – “Aaeuh?”

Burnham appears to be the Red Angel. Spock, using some deft temporal logic, manages to determine that if Michael were killed then the Red Angel would never exist — so apparently we’re working with a CHRONO TRIGGER model of temporal mechanics. This means that Burnham will have to act as a kind of bait for the Red Angel. Burnham will be systematically deprived of oxygen, which will draw the Red Angel out.

Once the Red Angel makes its appearance, the plan is to use tractor devices that will lock onto the suit’s internal “time crystal.” This will immobilize the suit and give the Red Angel an opportunity to reveal its motives.

STAR TREK DISCOVERY S02E10: “The Red Angel” – “Time Crystal?”

Burnham and Leland have a much-awaited conversation. Leland reveals that Burnham’s parents worked with him on Project Daedalus, which was a key component in a temporal arms race with the Klingon Empire. Although the details are sketchy, Leland admits that the deaths of Burnham’s parents are his fault. Burnham doesn’t take the news too well, especially because this means that Tyler has also been keeping the truth from her.

Burnham and Spock finally make up, their emotional rift overcome at least in part by their experience sharing a memory back in “If Memory Serves.” And, Burnham and Spock share a typically Spock moment when he advises Burnham that surviving her oxygen depletion would be “ideal.”

STAR TREK DISCOVERY S02E10: “The Red Angel” – “Detective Greggs?!”

The crew lays the trap and take positions. Dr. Culber is on hand, waiting with Spock and Georgiou in a room adjoining the one Burnham is in. Life support in Burnham’s room is turned off. Burnham screams and convulses, but Spock won’t allow Dr. Culber or Georgiou to stop the process. Captain Pike orders a phaser-wielding Spock to stand down, but Spock refuses.

Burnham dies but moments later the Red Angel appears and fires an energy beam at her. Burnham revives just as the tractor devices go to work on the Red Angel’s suit. The suit is immobilized, and as it falls to the ground we hear Burnham gasp, “Mom?!”

STAR TREK DISCOVERY S02E10: “The Red Angel” – Final Thoughts

The main question I have after watching this episode is, “Why do Burnham and her mother have the same bio-neural signature?” One would think that a bio-neural signature would be more precise than a DNA test.

Stamets and Culber’s relationship crumbling apart has been a handy diversion from all of the temporal mechanics. The idea of the narrative, that Culber is rediscovering his humanity after being remade atom by atom in the mycelial network, is interesting, but the execution of this story-line has been a bit clunky.

The scene involving Georgiou, Stamets, and Culber was unnecessarily bawdy. I don’t want to sound prudish, but it was unclear what Georgiou’s motivation was for trying to seduce both men. It was clear, however, that writers wanted viewers to remember that Georgiou is a deviant from the mirror universe.

It looks like viewers are in for a lot of action in “Perpetual Infinity.” And, with only four more episodes left in this season, viewers can probably expect plenty of Trek-action throughout April.

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