The essence that “Star Trek: Discovery” is trying to maintain in the sense of its progression is reflecting canon while still maintaining mystery and a sense of tension. With the aspect of “Through The Valley Of Shadows”, the foreshadowing continues and starts an infrastructure that interrelates in an odd way to aspects of “The Wrath Of Khan” but it also offers a bigger perception without either actor ever revealing it of the deep seated secrets or regrets with Spock, whether it be in the outcome of this escapade of “The Red Angel”, the perception of “The Managerie” or even Spock’s eventual second family in the Enterprise crew of Bones and Kirk and his eventual death and resurrection. To do this in a larger structure with the fact that certain ripple effects might literally wipe Michael Burnham out of the timeline at a certain point is a real perception. While reflexive, the show is still working on the basest psychological constructs. And especially within this idea, the concept of time, hinted at in the texture of “Interstellar” and its reflections of relativity, really gives an undeniably concept of the larger ideas that Discovery is playing with. Anson Mount shines in this episode as Pike and again gives clarity of the embracing of his ideas and what creates the shell of the man he becomes, both literally and figuratively. What is really reassuring is the adherence to the original series and its eventual progression and not the timeline of the new movies which while interesting for the big screen is not as integral a story as this one is turning out to be.
The aspect of loyalty is a concept that unbalances itself many times with “Star Trek: Discovery”. The idea of trust and the greater good can be mired by thoughts and perceptions of selfishness and the intricate values of altruism. In ”Perpetual Infinity”, the idea of what is for the greater good and what simply necessitates survival is what is the key in capturing The Red Angel. Without revealing any plot points, the texture of who we pretend to be always reveals itself in essence who we truly are. Michael Burnham hides her emotions to protect herself from the loss of her mother. Spock hides his emotions because of emotional pain Michael inflicted on him as a child. While the mythic is not as much in play here as the previous episode, the aspect of loss of choice and the resulting idea of consequence takes over the episode in many ways. The fluid dynamics of time have to figure in with what is happening. But the stubborn aspect of Michael’s bloodline in the feeling that every problem can be fixed is undeniable. But as Spock references two aspects of literature in the episode including one to Macbeth, the proof is in between the lines. The texture of tragedy is only a short time away. The future is fluid and is always changing but every possible outcome has a foreboding nature, as evidenced in Christopher Pike, possibly Michael and eventually and most heartbreakingly Spock. It is just in what lays ahead…come what may.
The aspect of canon has always been a thistle in a way in the side of the “Discovery”. While striving to make something original, this franchise like Star Wars can be helped and hindered. But in its best it transcends. “If Memory Serves” is the best episode of the series by far because it found that balance. In bringing in old TOS lore, and staying fairly close without breaking it, it necessitates what might be in store. The aspect of Michael and Spock is so dynamic because it shows the incessant humanity while completely lost in logic. When he finally begins speaking, it makes a lot of what we have seen past and present integrated. It also very much speaks to perhaps a bigger structural basis between the Kelvin & Prime Universes which undoubtedly is spacing through the writers’ room. That said, despite any of the mechanics, “If Memory Serves” is a dynamic emotional episodes that contains the best perspective of Star Trek episodes in that they make you think, reflect but also emote. While Michael and Spock carry the basis of the episode, it is the balance and intent of Anson Mount as Christopher Pike and his connection that allows for the bridge between two worlds, as Mount alluded to IR at our interview at TCA, without him giving a thing away. Bravo.
The essence of “Light And Shadows” reflects in the ideas of who we are and who we are to be perceived to be. In the most recent episode, Doug Jones’ Saru discovered that his instincts were really part of an awakening which allowed him to come to his unseen potential. The inference comes to a head as he is drawn back home to face demons, literally and metaphorically that have changed the idea of what it means to exist. This balances in Michael Burnham’s continuing search for Spock and the reasoning of this point. We finally see the first glimpses of Ethan Peck as Spock but what is really interesting is the diametric of the family as Michael herself returns home and like Saru must understand the difference between knowing her path and walking the path. The Red Angel continues to be a presiding influence but in true serialized storytelling structure it is starting to take on a different meaning in terms of its resonance. Connection is a big driving force but tolerance and understanding even more so despite differing socio, political, even world views. The ideal that ends the episodes again points to another piece in the puzzle which slowly but surely continues to unfold while telling very universal stories which “Star Trek” has always been known for.
The essence of identity continues within the structure of “Star Trek: Discovery”. In ”The Sound Of Thunder”, the texture of the Red Angel is continued by a series of perceptions of changed definition. Saru is the focus and the return to his home planet after a transformation of sorts. While not as powerful as the previous episode simply because the stakes are different, this perspective shows, without giving anything away that rising awareness can affect change but also change the nature of who we are. This is true not just of Saru but of a recently returned crew mate. What is interesting in this continuing thread is what expectations create. Parallel structure definitely affects Michael Burnham in many ways and in certain perspectives, some of the canonized material seen sometimes can also run parallel to “The Next Generation”. As the narrative continues to unfold, the essence of the story is connected but while still making each episode, this one more than the last, able to have a essential life force of its own without sacrificing the serialized nature of the proceedings.
The building of path interrelates to a spirit of trust. The series so far this season has been building on the basis of faith, or perhaps in a more esoteric way, trust. The mythic overtones whether in intimate relationships or in large scale pursuit paths define much of what is happening to the crew. The search for Spock is no uncertain terms is one of redemption for multiple characters, not just Michael Burnham. This episode interrelates a certain idea of the spore drive and its unintentional side effects. Tilly plays a big part in this and Mary Wiseman’s portrayal is starting to play a big deeper, which is of undeniable strength. Some characters intersect and go in and out of the story so perhaps there is too many working parts. But in league with some of the insights on faith and science that Sonequa spoke about in the character, the path becomes both more clear and more puzzling, especially when a certain type of radiation is detected towards the end of the episode. The key in this review is not to reveal any more of the plot points then needed. But ultimately the idea comes down to the path we choose. Now granted some of the dialogue can border on the melodramatic when it might need to be at times, more cutting. But in serving the story, especially with these amounts of special effects for a weekly show, the line needs to be walked. But in an unique way with the slow motion codas at the beginning and end, the tale of Discovery continues to be shaped in small bits.
“True Detective” bases itself in creating a noir style of world. While many people reserve their judgments on the first viewing, I wanted to see the second episode at least6 to allow a perspective. With last season, I binged watched one night in NYC after seeing Colin Farrell’s “A Winter’s Tale” with about 4 episodes before I headed off to the bar at 2am for a nightcap. Interestingly enough a year or so later, it comes around full circle with Colin in the lead for the second season here. Despite his attempt to create balance, these kind of dark characters are what Colin does best…guys that want to go the high road but fall tempted to their base natures while searching out redemption. This is true of all the characters in this series. In the first 2 episodes, Colin’s is the most pronounced which is why the impact action at the end of the 2nd episode has such effect. If they stick to their guns on it, it shows a great presence of mind with the writers and an interesting movie by Farrell to regain some cred. “Miami Vice” is the last time he progressed deep and entrenched himself and, as a result, that performance has a definitely degree of soul. He went into the backwaters of Ecuador and the DR with Michael Mann while Jamie Foxx opted out. Different people. Here you can see a little bit of that edginess peeking through. Colin is more controlled but he, like Gary Oldman, when properly poised, can do great things. And with Colin, the older he gets the better he gets. Oldman, by comparison, had it right from the start.
In this series, Colin plays a cop in a subsection of downtown/east LA that seems to be under the thumb of questionable figures and is able to keep his head just above water. An aspect of his former fiancée getting raped and her having a son anyway screams dysfunction and Colin embodies it. Not his fault in terms of the character…just a side effect of life. On the other side of the sheet is Vince Vaughn’s gangster who is trying to go legit. It is nice to see this side of Vaughn again but he is not as edgy as he could be. At one point in the second episode you start to see his fangs come out, if all goes well, the animal will rear its head and that is when Vaughn will shine. He needs a resurgence and this will present it. Rachel McAdams’ character is flawed but has the possibilities to be the strongest of them all. When she subtly calls Colin’s character out at one point, it comes off as sly, intelligent and spot on. She does have a immense dark side that shows in different ways whether it be raiding a house where her sister is doing web cams legally as an “art piece” or her research into a suspect who was into escorts. You can see her slipping and that is intriguing to do. This iteration of “True Detective” does not shy away from the darker edges of LA or the near bottom feeders who exist there. People there want to do good (a large part of the main characters are cops) but they just can’t get above water. The use of location is also exceptional too. This is the underbelly of LA that you don’t see or usually see from a different angle (even Malibu).
The last of the main characters is Taylor Kitsch’s motorcycle cop whose deeper seat relationship problems show that the devil is in the details. His character is not as well defined in terms of personality traits in the first two episodes but hopefully his character will unravel in the best possible dramatic way. “John Carter” wasn’t his fault as it was not a bad film. Its timing, like “Tomorrowland”, was simply wrong. “Battleship”, of course, is another story. And in Season 2, even supporting characters are great from Colin’s boozy would be partner (Bruce McGill is that you?) to Kelly Reilly as Vaughn’s better half/black widow partner. The reality is that her character can likely cause some widespread carnage. We’ll see. The first two episode of Season 2 of “True Detective” is a different animal than its predecessor and will be held under the microscope with infinitely more scrutiny. While the former had the element of surprise and Louisiana, it is a matter of time to whether LA can stand up to the challenge. So far though, it is working.