Star Trek Discovery: The Red Angel

Now that Burnham and the Discovery crew are aware of the existence of something called ‘Project Daedalus’, Section 31 are ready to reveal some of their secrets. The project was part of an arms race to develop time travel, culminating in the creation of the suit worn by the Red Angel. And when the signature of the Red Angel is shown to match that of Michael Burnham, the Discovery crew hatch a risky plan to capture her.

I did think we’d get at least an entire episode of searching for info on Project Daedalus, but for better or worse, it’s full steam ahead on plot points here. Let’s run down what we now know:

  • The Red Angel suit is a piece of time travel technology developed by Burnham’s parents and Section 31. Yet again, Section 31 have ridiculously advanced technology for the era.
  • The Red Angel suit is powered by a ‘time crystal’. I was very sceptical about such a vaguely named thing, since it does sound a lot like “magic Macguffin device”, although on further reading it turns out there is indeed the concept of a time crystal in condensed matter physics, and one may have been created in 2016. So maybe it’s no more ridiculous than quantum filaments and dilithium crystals.
  • Burnham finally finds out that Leland was responsible for the deaths (or apparent deaths) of her parents. As a young agent, his carelessness in obtaining a time crystal led the Klingons to the Burnhams, and tragedy ensued.
  • It turns out that the Red Angel’s actions have been directed at protecting Burnham’s life since she was a child. We all know that the hero is generally invincible, but it’s rarely written so explicitly into the story.
  • We spend most of the episode believing that the Red Angel is future Burnham, but in the closing moments the person who emerges from the suit is actually her mother.
  • Control seems to be still active, as it stabs Leland in the eye (a good argument against using retinal scanners for verification), and presumably keeps the Red Angel’s wormhole open just long enough to retrieve its future self.
  • If the Red Angel had indeed been future Burnham, she presumably would have remembered the attempt to capture her, and this could have affected whether she turned up or not. For example, if she knew Burnham wasn’t in true jeopardy because the crew could rescue her, she may not have appeared. Or she may have remembered her past self’s desire to summon her and thus shown up on schedule. Having her be Burnham’s mother gets around this, at least.

Other points

  • Some minutes at the start are devoted to Airiam’s funeral. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how heartfelt the eulogies are – even if the entire crew loved Airiam and thought she was great, it’s not like the audience really felt the same way.
  • Georgiou claims that, in the mirror universe, Stamets was pansexual. Of course, she could just be trolling in order to wind up Stamets and Culber. Culber, for his part, is struggling with both feeling obligated to his past relationship with Stamets
  • Airiam’s replacement is Lieutenant Nilsson, played by the actor who portrayed Airiam in season one.
  • Given the scope of this whole time travel plot, where are the timeships and temporal agents of the future Federation? It seems like they should be interested in this.
  • Tyler and Burnham share a kiss in this episode, though I still don’t find the chemistry between them very convincing.
  • After years of estrangement, Spock and Burnham seem to finally be coming to an understanding.

Summary – The Red Angel: Burnham has her own guardian angel.

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