Star Trek Discovery: If Memory Serves

Spock and Burnham head to Talos IV, where Spock hopes the telepathic Talosians will be able to cure whatever the Red Angel did to his mind. Meanwhile, Pike does all he can to investigate what happened to Burnham without breaking his orders to stay and analyse the probe; whilst Hugh is having difficulties reconnecting with his old life.

Remember way back in The Cage, when the Talosians were major jerks on a massive power trip, who decided it might be fun to breed together a male and female human to create generations of specimens for their zoo? I think we all breathed a sigh of relief when Captain Pike got away from that planet, and even though they accepted an injured Pike back in The Menagerie, trusting the Talosians hardly seemed like a good way forward. Certainly Starfleet agreed, what with its restrictions on even visiting their solar system.

Nonetheless, for some reason, Spock and the Discovery writers believe that the Talosians are the only ones who can help him, so off we go to their homeworld for some exposition and plot advancement. It turns out that Spock is so messed up because he tried to mind meld with the Red Angel, resulting in him losing all sense of linear time. Fortunately, the Talosians can cure him, but at a price – they want all the juicy details of how his relationship with Burnham went sour. What a convenient way to explore that bit of backstory, eh?

Anyway, the things we learn aren’t that exciting, but are worth noting anyway:

  • When the Red Angel appeared to Spock as a child, it was to impart a vision of Burnham getting killed by a wild beast on Vulcan. Thanks to this vision, Spock was able to avert that future and ensure that Discovery’s main character survived to adulthood. If not for the Red Angel, this series wouldn’t exist at all.
  • The more recent visions given to Spock show the founding worlds of the Federation all being destroyed. Apparently this equates to the destruction of all sentient life in the Federation, and is the terrible fate that must be avoided. But when is it due to happen, and why? Sorry, those kinds of details aren’t yet available.
  • As we know, Burnham drove Spock away so that he wouldn’t be a target for the logic extremists. We finally get to see a flashback to the scene where young Burnham drives young Spock away by repeatedly insulting him, destroying his faith in humanity and setting him on his lifelong path of trying to be as Vulcan as possible. To be honest, with all the build-up we’ve had on this, I wanted something a bit less like a textbook TV Trope.

Meanwhile, back on Discovery, various other developments continue to trundle on. The spore drive gets mysteriously sabotage and Tyler appears to be sending encrypted messages to an unknown recipient, except we all know that red-eye Airiam is responsible. Meanwhile, Culber is having serious issues reconnecting with his old life, leading to him having a fistfight with Tyler in the mess hall, and also seemingly breaking up with Stamets. Can’t the gays just be happy?

Cliche corner

  • Saru insisting everyone “must let this play out” when Culber starts a fight with Tyler.
  • Burnham calling Spock “cold and distant, like some moon” reminded me of these analogies used by high school students.
  • Leland and Georgiou receive instructions from holographic projections of top Starfleet admirals. I was somewhat reminded of the Instrumentality Committee from Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Notes and Observations

  • In case you’re wondering, Spock didn’t kill anyone when he escaped from the psychiatric facility. Not that we ever believed he did, given that he’s both a pacifist and a beloved series favourite.
  • Once again, why would Burnham leaving keep Spock’s family safe from the logic separatists? Sarek still has a human wife and a half-human son. Also, as the Vulcan ambassador, he would probably have some of the best security on the planet to protect his family from danger.
  • Spock seeming to come to terms a little with his emotions feels out of keeping with his largely super-logical demeanour in TOS (excluding those early episodes where Nimoy was still getting to grips with the character). I do almost want to see an alternate universe post-Discovery where Spock and Burnham go on crazy adventures.
  • Are the Talosians really the only telepaths in the explored quadrant who could help Spock? What about a trusted Vulcan priest or priestess who wouldn’t have ratted him out to Sarek and Starfleet? What about other telepathic races within the Federation? I don’t think the Betazoids had joined the Federation by this time, but were there any others?
  • Obviously the surface of Talos IV had to be updated to be more in keeping with the look of the series, however the Talosian singing plants have been retained. I can see a lot of effort has gone into making them look like more than just some paper ovals on sticks, but even so, they now just look unrealistic in a more modern fashion.
  • The Talosians still have enlarged craniums, but they don’t seem as bulgy and veiny as they did in TOS.
  • The Talos system is said to be in restricted space – meriting possible disciplinary action – but the death penalty is not mentioned. I approve of this retcon, as it never felt right that the enlightened Federation even had the death penalty.
  • Who upgraded the Discovery probe last episode? It seems more hostile than the Red Angel, suggesting it might have been intercepted by an adversary. Please say this isn’t a return to the Temporal Cold War.
  • Airiam says that the probe used multiple SQL injections, which means SQL is going to last at least until the 23rd century. Who’d have thought it would have such longevity? I’m willing to be corrected on this, but I also thinks this marks the first time a contemporary programming language has ever been referenced in Star Trek. Let’s just say we never saw what languages Data and The Doctor were implemented in.

Who is the Red Angel? Updated edition

Apparently the Red Angel is a human in a fetching future tech suit, so how does this change our list? Since Spock is half human, I’m not ruling him out.

  • Future Spock, depicted by a CGI recreation of Leonard Nimoy.
  • An Iconian.
  • A member of the Q continuum. Although of course it would be no effort at all for a Q to make themselves appear entirely human.
  • The prime universe Georgiou.
  • A temporal agent.
  • A Time Lord.
  • Future Guy from Enterprise.
  • Gary Seven.
  • The Emissary of the Prophets.
  • A being from beyond the Fourth Wall.

Summary – If Memory Serves: “Mind your own business, Mr Spock. I’m sick of your half-breed interference, do you hear?”

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