May 20, 2020
Star Trek: Discovery “Point of Light”
Previously: Michael Burnham fell in love for the very first time with Lt. Ash Tyler, a man who—whoops—turned out to be a surgically-altered Klingon sleeper agent better known as Voq the Torchbearer. Together with his Klingon lover L’Rell, Voq/Tyler released a weapon that would destroy the Klingon homeworld unless all the houses united under L’Rell, who became their new chancellor.
The good news is, “Point of Light” isn’t a hot mess like last week’s episode. The better news is that it doesn’t stick to the same formula of the past two outings, where the Discovery jumps to the location of one of those “red bursts”, only to instead find strange phenomena and someone in need of rescuing, and then warp away to the next signal. In fact, this episode doesn’t have much of a standalone plot at all, and is mostly about providing connective tissue to three different ongoing storylines.
The bad news is, the main storyline revolves around L’Rell and Tyler/Voq and Klingon politics, which firstly sucks because it only reminds me off how pointless their first season story arc turned out to be. I still have no solid idea of why Voq decided to turn himself into a human (with no memories of his Klingon self) or what endgame he and L’Rell had in mind once he was aboard Discovery. Second of all, I’ve usually found Klingon-centered episodes (on all the Star Trek series) to be deathly dull, because Klingons are just so very one-note and predictable. If you’ve seen one “Klingon political intrigue” episode, you’ve basically seen them all.
This episode gives us three plots that only barely intersect, so I’ll just go through them one at a time. The A plot, or at least the one that gets the most screentime, takes us back to the Klingon homeworld, where L’Rell reigns as chancellor (and now has hair) and Voq/Tyler is at her side (and now has a full beard). And I guess it’s time to come up with something better to call him, because “Voq/Tyler” is getting old. “Toq”? “Vash”? No… that’s one taken. “Vyler” it is.
L’Rell announces that Vyler will be supervising construction of a brand new line of ships: the D7, previously made famous on TOS, which Vyler calls “the future battle cruiser of the imperial fleet”. Yeah, they’re doing the prequel thing where we have to see stuff we know from the (chronologically) later entries being designed and/or invented. Let’s hope they don’t make a habit of this.
A Klingon named Kol-Sha steps forward to express his distaste for an apparent human holding such a high position in the Klingon government. He also knows about the red bursts throughout the galaxy and thinks they’re a sinister omen in regards to L’Rell’s chancellorship. L’Rell and Vyler take exception to Kol-Sha’s red face paint, which I guess is a symbol of Kol, the previous Klingon leader, and Vyler wrestles with Kol-Sha and forcibly wipes off the paint.
Privately, Vyler confides in L’Rell that he knows that no one in her family, the House of Mo’Kai, will ever accept him because he looks human. He also suspects L’Rell’s uncle of spying on him, but when confronted, the uncle reveals a secret: Vyler and L’Rell have a son. Prior to Voq being transformed into a human, L’Rell became pregnant. She decided the birth would interfere with their mission, whatever that was, so she let the embryo develop “ex-utero”. In fact, L’Rell hasn’t even met her own son.
Vyler wants to bring their son home, and build a real family together, but when they go to retrieve the baby, they find L’Rell’s uncle has been killed and the baby abducted by Kol-Sha. It turns out that Kol-Sha’s face paint stuck to Vyler’s fingers and contained microscopic “listening devices” (a big WTF? moment if there ever was one) and now Kol-Sha knows everything. In exchange for their son’s life, Kol-Sha demands that L’Rell abdicate her chancellorship and turn control over to him. Oddly, she doesn’t respond by threatening to blow up the planet, which to me would seem like a slam-dunk against all attacks on her leadership.
L’Rell and Vyler draw weapons and fight Kol-Sha’s men, and CGI Klingon blood sprays everywhere, and I think the blood might be bright pink, just like it was in Star Trek VI (and nowhere else). The fight comes to an end when Kol-Sha pulls out a wand that paralyzes both of them, and he then uses L’Rell’s thumbprint to unlock her chancellorship. He’s about to execute Vyler and L’Rell when someone phases through a nearby wall and kills Kol-Sha and his men.
That someone turns out to be Mirror Georgiou, now pretending to be prime universe Philippa Georgiou, working for “Starfleet security”. She says she’s here to assure that L’Rell remains chancellor of the Klingon Empire, and warns her that both Vyler and the baby will continue to be liabilities.
And so, they craft a plan where L’Rell addresses the empire and admits to having a baby, but also lies and says that Vyler killed her baby, so she killed Vyler. As proof, she holds up a synthesized fake Vyler head, and then a fake baby head. She says that the Klingon people are now her children, and she wants them to call her “Mother”.
Meanwhile, Vyler and the baby are alive and well on Georgiou’s ship, which is a saucer-less craft that looks a lot like the USS Vengeance from Star Trek Into Darkness. That’s because it belongs to Section 31, Starfleet’s top-secret covert operations branch that somehow everyone knows about. Georgiou works for Section 31 now, and shows off her black badge. So I guess that “explains” why we saw officers with black badges early last season, but not what they were doing on Discovery, or why we never saw them again.
We learn Vyler’s baby will be turned over to a Klingon monastery, and will never see his parents again (and this monastery was seen in a TNG episode where it was described as orbiting a “point of light”, hence the title of this episode). And now that Vyler is single and unattached and childfree, Georgiou tells him he’d fit right in with the “misfits” of Section 31. Later, Georgiou meets up with a guy named Leland and says, “He’s in.”
In the B plot, Sarek’s ship intercepts the Discovery. Pike thinks it’s because he finally told Spock’s parents the truth about Spock committing himself to a psychiatric unit on a starbase. Burnham goes to the transporter room, but it’s not Sarek beaming in. And it’s not Spock either, making this the second “not Spock” transporter fake-out scene this season. Instead, it’s Amanda Grayson, who’s here because she went to that starbase to find Spock, but they wouldn’t let her see him. So she stole Spock’s medical file, and wants Burnham to decrypt it.
Pike refuses to let them break into Spock’s medical file, I guess due to 23rd Century HIPAA regulations. But then he contacts the starbase, and some weaselly captain reports that Spock is now wanted for murder. Allegedly, he killed his doctors and then escaped from the starbase. Pike doesn’t believe this story, so he orders Burnham to break into Spock’s file.
Inside, they find drawings of the Red Angel that Spock made while in therapy, and Amanda says Spock told her about being visited by a Red Angel when he was a boy. She says this happened after that attack by “logic extremists” that nearly killed young Burnham. In the aftermath, Burnham tried to run away from home, but a Red Angel appeared to Spock and told him where to find her. At the time, his parents just dismissed this as a “figment of his imagination”.
Burnham mentions she too had a vision of a Red Angel, but adds, “I’m not even sure it was real.” What? Just last week, Pike watched a video recording of a Red Angel, courtesy of a soldier’s helmet cam. Did they forget that plot point, or did Pike not tell Burnham about what he watched?
We then get more hints as to why Spock and Burnham haven’t spoken in years: After the attack, she was afraid Spock would also become a target of the logic extremists, so she decided to “wound him” in some unspecified manner to drive him away from her. She provides no further details, so that whatever major revelation they’re building towards can be held back for a few more weeks. Amanda leaves, heading off on her own search for Spock.
And finally, in our C plot, Tilly is still being tormented by visions of her dead former classmate May, who no one else can see. First, May appears to Tilly while she’s jogging through corridors and participating in the “trainee half-marathon” for the Command Training Program. Then when Tilly is doing “shadow exercises” to observe the bridge crew, May appears to her and is very insistent that Pike isn’t the captain, and she needs to find the real captain, who’s shorter and blonder and “much, much whiter”. This eventually makes Tilly so mental that she screams at May, and since no one else can see May, it looks like she’s screaming at Captain Pike.
Tilly quits the Command Training Program out of sheer embarrassment, and then goes to her quarters where she sees… Burnham? Wait, have they been roommates all this time? I don’t think we’ve seen them together in here since like, the fourth episode.
Tilly confesses to Burnham what’s been happening, and how she thinks she’s going insane. She starts crying, but May has no idea what “crying” is. Which Burnham interprets as proof that May isn’t a hallucination at all, and somehow they both figure out May’s appearance has something to do with the dark matter of the asteroid fragment interacting with the spores.
Tilly goes to see Stamets, who turns out to be the blonder, whiter guy that May was trying to find. She thinks Stamets is the captain because he “flies the ship”, referring to how he climbs into the spore chamber to do the jumps.
Stamets discovers that Tilly has been infected with a fungal parasite that’s manipulating her brain. And there’s a flashback to how she was infected: Remember when they made the jump back from the Mirror Universe, and that one green spore landed on Tilly, and it seemed like just a random, throwaway detail? Surprise: that green spore was May, or rather, some sort of creature that grew inside of Tilly and appeared to her as a hallucination of May.
Stamets extracts the fungus by using some random tube-thing with handles that pulls stuff out of Tilly’s body, and soon a big disgusting blob is floating around Engineering. Saru triggers an intruder alert and a force-field appears around the blob. The end.
It wasn’t a bad episode, but not one that I’m likely to ever watch again, because there’s nothing here that stands on its own. The Vyler/L’Rell storyline was the usual Klingon treachery/machinations stuff we’ve seen plenty of times before. Hopefully, it was mainly a way to set up Vyler joining Section 31 and it won’t turn into a dull, ongoing “internal Klingon politics” story arc. Also, I was never really that bothered by the Klingons not looking like the TNG Klingons (who looked nothing like the TOS Klingons, after all), so them suddenly having smaller heads, and growing hair, along with some perfunctory dialogue to “explain” the change just feels like unnecessary kowtowing to fan complaints.
And as far as Section 31 goes, I wasn’t terribly impressed by any of their appearances on Deep Space Nine, Enterprise, and especially Into Darkness, so I have my doubts that Discovery will manage to make them entertaining. They mostly come off like some teenager’s idea of what a “cool” and “edgy” spy agency would be like, rather than something authentic or fleshed out.
The Burnham/Amanda Grayson storyline was really just the two of them standing in a room and talking, so there’s not a lot to say there. They do seem to be indulging in one of the worst aspects of heavily serialized storytelling, in that revelations about Spock are being doled out very slowly—there seems to be a “three revelations per episode” limit in place—for no real reason other than to build up anticipation for his eventual appearance. And we know there’s no way Spock actually murdered three Starfleet doctors, so this storyline was just a big info-dump. I’d theorize on why Starfleet seems to want to cover up Spock’s connection to the Red Angels, but unfortunately nothing about the Red Angels has so far gotten me interested enough to speculate.
Honestly, the only intriguing thread here was Tilly’s story, as she for once wasn’t the quirky and annoying comic relief and instead experienced a serious crisis that had her questioning her sanity. Alas, it was resolved far too easily and quickly: Why would Stamets just pull an alien creature out of Tilly right there in Engineering, with no safeguards in place in case the fungus/creature/whatever it is ran amuck? And given that there seemed to be some sort of sentient aspect to her infection, why wouldn’t they at least leave it inside Tilly long enough to make some form of contact?
Next up: The Discovery gets stuck in a huge energy web. Why does that sound familiar? Pike’s Number One beams aboard, now played by Rebecca Romijn. Saru comes down with a terminal illness, and Tilly gets up swallowed up by a blob. The same blob? I guess we’ll have to wait until next week to find out.