Friday, November 10, 2017

If You Seek Star Trek, Prepare for Discovery

SPOILERS for STAR TREK: DISCOVERY's 
"Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum"

In "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum" ("If you seek peace, prepare for war"), Michael Burnham, Saru, and Ash Tyler visit a truly gorgeous alien planet, Pahvo, that may hold the key to rendering Klingon invisibility screens useless, thereby turning the tide of the Federation-Klingon war. Meanwhile on Discovery...well, not a lot really happens on the Discovery this episode, except for one very well-executed space battle that does a good job of displaying Captain Lorca's humanity and giving a couple of minor characters brief moments to shine. There's also a weird scene with Stamets and Tilly that seems to have nothing to do with the main plot of this episode, but provides some hints on where Stamets' character arc might be going. 

Kudos to the production team for making Pahvo feel like a really alien world, and for introducing a pretty need alien species, mist-like folks who build gigantic crystal towers stretching toward the stars. The Pahvans are extremely dedicated to peace, so much so that poor Saru, who for the first time finding himself in a place where he doesn't feel fear, winds up turning on Burnham and Tyler and insists that the landing party should abandon their mission and live on Pahva in peace. At first I was a bit put off by this development, since it seemed at first to hew a little too closely to the plot of "This Side of Paradise," but it turns out that Saru wasn't overly influenced by the aliens; he just made some bad choices. We learn that Saru is actually pretty badass, running at ludicrous speeds and horse-kicking humans so hard they fly several meters. Ouch! 

This episode ends on a cliffhanger, as the Pahvans, instead of helping the Federation win their war, invite the Klingons over for peace talks. I'm sure that will turn out fine in the next installment! 

While this wasn't a bad episode, per se, I found its pacing strange, and in some spots the editing was so abrupt I felt like I was missing pieces of the story. It felt like this story was a little rushed in post-production, or perhaps could have used one more editing pass. 

All in all, this feels like the weakest episode of the season thus far, supplanting "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad." It's not bad, just a little rough around the edges. 

2 comments:

Jeff Shyluk said...

I agree with your review, for certain. It seemed hesitant and rushed, like you say. I had hoped to see Saru go on an away mission if only to see how his actor could deal with the awkward costume. The writers simply gave him more alien powers - inner eyelid anybody? Saru is no Spock, he is hard to relate to, and he's not really breaking out as a character, not like Stamets. Saru is best interacting with Michael Burnham, but Burnham is also difficult to relate to, at least for me. Her personality seems to oscillate between uncomfortable rectitude, steely remorse, and a Sesame Street ingenue-ity as if she were about to introduce Big Bird to Captain Lorca. She is strong, but I wish she could settle her character down. My vote would be steely remorse.

Hey, about Saru: in a previous episode, Saru portrays insecurity by having the ship's computer compare his command to those of Starfleet's most decorated officers - Pike, Archer, Decker, April, etc... no Captain Garth in that list, despite that his exploits were required reading at the Academy for Kirk. "Lord Garth" => "Lor Ca"... coincidence? Only cliff-handing two-parter episodes will tell.

Jeff Shyluk said...

I've been painting my icon when I just this moment realized that Michael and Gabriel are the names of archangels. Well, I knew that before, but Michael and Gabriel are androgynous - they've both been depicted as males and females in form. Maybe that helps to conceptualize Burnham? The Vulcans must have killed themselves laughing, if they could laugh.

Michael and Gabriel are the only archangels named in the Holy Bible, so I figure that's the end of angelic names in Star Trek, a show seems to tangentially broach Christian ethos. There are five other archangels (more or less) depending on which religious texts you find them: Raphael, Uriel, Selaphiel Raguel or Jegudiel, and Barachiel.