Star Trek Discovery: “Light and Shadows” (S2, E7 review)

The staring contests between Michael and Philippa were damn near legendary (image via SpoilerTV (c) CBS Interactive)


So it seems we are in a fight for the future!

You could well argue we are fighting for it all the time; in fact, Captain Pike (Anson Mount), whose sense of humour adds a delightful sparkle to Star Trek Discovery, notes just that since every moment in the present, good or bad, feels into what the hell is coming up next.

The thing is, the future isn’t usually trying to kill you.

But that’s exactly what it tries to do when a rift in space and time – don’t you hate when that happens? So much for a linear, neatly-ordered chronological timeline – over Saru’s home planet of Kaminar, spits back a tentacled, Terminator-like probe which does its best to kill Pike and Section 31’s Pin-Up Boy du Jour aka Discovery Liaison Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif) when they are trapped in said time rift experiencing the past present and future all together.

Pike likens it to spending all eternity together, which they will do if they don’t escape the clutches of the rift and the souped-up, very angry probe which seems determined to both kill them and steal all the information it can about the Discovery.

Someone 500 years into the future is very unhappy with what’s happening in the future and is aiming to do something about it via this aggressively-blinged up probe … and by the Red Angel?

Thanks to Saru we know the Red Angel is a being in a metal exo-skeleton – god bless superior Kelpian eyesight and that great deal at Spec Savers which gave him the best contact lenses in the galaxy – who is, because of the “freaking amazing” densities of tachyons (Tilly, played by Mary Wiseman, is pretty blown away by that since they don’t naturally occur outside of supernova at five thousand parts per cubic micron; not yet, anyway) known to also be from the future.

Spock’s hirsute younger look is arresting in all the right ways (image via SpoilerTV (c) CBS Interactive)

So are he and the Octo-Probe (someone had to name it – c’mon) working together or not?

Pike has resisted the idea of the Red Angel, who has sent Spock (Ethan Peck) mad, quite mad (more on him later), being a malevolent force but the fact is, while his or her acts do look kind and humanitarian, are they simply meant to warp the present to create or, possibly, avoid, some kind of future?

It’s a real possibility, and one that Pike, who bonds to an extent with Tyler, Voq and all, in their time-starved race to not die aboard a shuttle – he agrees with Tyler that maybe, just maybe, he volunteered to dive into the time rift, to make up for the guilt he feels at sitting out the war – finally comes around to in the dying minutes of the episode.

It’s an episode that does a neat job of widening the scope and narrative heft of a season which already has quite a lot going for it.

The mystery of the Red Angel, and whether its acts are kindly or malignant, would be enough to sustain a season all on its own, its Churchillian-level of intrigue, bolstered by the fact that the signals keep disappearing (except IN the time rift where they are still blinking on and off, and oops, infecting Lt. Cmdr. Airiam, played by Hannah Cheesman so that she now looks, well, a tad possessed really) give Discovery, and by extension, the show, lots to chase after.

Thrown in the mystery of the head of Section 31, Captain Leland (Alan van Sprang) maybe being responsible for Burnham’s parents’ deaths – Michelle Yeoh is having a freaking ball playing Georgiou in this reality, especially Section 31’s take on it, with her skills a uniquely-perfect fit for the organisation’s love of intrigue and shadowy intent – and Burnham’s tortured relationship with her adoptive brother Spock, and you have a show that is kicking it out of the park.

With all that going on, it would be easy for Star Trek Discovery to get lots in all the action and forget the people who help to make watching it such a compelling delight.

But that doesn’t happen for a second, especially in “Light and Shadows” where Burnham’s interactions with her furiously-protective mum Amanda (Mia Kirshner) – who is all too aware of what it is like to straddle two worlds, just as her children do; in her case, it was a choice because she loves Sarek (James Frain) while for them not so much – and her father and most especially her brother who is off with the galactic pixies muttering the coordinates to Talos IV and random quotes from C. S. Lewis’s Alice in Wonderland, give the episode a thundering sound of emotional torment writ large.

The bromance is now real, people … it is very real indeed (image via SpoilerTV (c) CBS Interactive)

She is passionate about getting to Spock before anyone else does, and gets Pike’s official though obliquely-given permission to do so given her brother’s link, dating back to childhood, with the Red Angel, but she is beaten to it by her mum who is hiding her beloved son away in a crypt on his home planet of Vulcan (which remains very, very brightly orange; and yet no one seems to wear sunglasses which would seem to be a necessity), in contravention of Sarek’s wishes.

He, of course, cites the logic of handing in Spock to the general authorities, a suggestion which is roundly rejected by Amanda who reminds her husband exactly what she gave up willingly because she loves him and that she is not his chattel to be ordered around or to blow meekly to his much-remarked upon authority but his partner and wife (her fiery defense of both herself and her son is one of the highlight’s of the episode).

She prevails, as you knew she would, and Burnham takes Spock to Section 31 who, under Leland, claim that they will treat the Red Angel’s apparent Vulcan emissary with loving kid gloves; we know that’s b.s. but what choice does Burnham have … well until Georgiou tells her that Leland is up to no good.

Uh-oh … so Burnham fake fights Georgiou – does she though really? There’s some real passion there and you can’t help but feel that Georgiou and Burnham are bound by an intense longing and love of some kind – hides in an asteroid, which no one on the Section 31 ships think to check (yep, they’re super thorough) and then, with the help of the computer who determines Spock’s numerical gibberish is actually coordinate to a planetary system.

Off she goes then, at maximum warp (because why would you not?) to Talos IV where … what waits?

Not more familial strife I’d wager since every last bit of her family’s long-built up angst must have already been expended in this exquisitely well-cut scenes in the episode which revealed the family as loving but as fraught as any other, but more Red Angel future tampering?

Is the fiery Angel good or bad? Future saviour or avenging entity? We’ll possibly find out, but don’t hold your breath what will all the mysteries, enigmas and riddles flying around like long-repressed familial emotional baggage, when next we see the Discovery do its thing, and Spock’s mind serve up some apocalyptic secrets, in “If Memory Serves” …

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