Critic’s Log – Star Trek: Discovery 2.10

Critic’s log, supplemental.

Regardless of any talk of the Red Angel, the real mystery behind Discovery’s second season is how a writers’ room this poor can continue to work on a lynchpin series with a blockbuster budget.

You and I, we’re just pundits – we sit in our padded cells and mount our dirty protests, because it’s Friday, and that’s what we do on Fridays even if we’ve forgotten why – and we write on those walls, in our own excrement naturally, our predictions about the show’s plot. These are the very first things that come to mind. Yet, there must be method in our madness because every week the hacks that pilot Starfleet’s most dysfunctional vessel do exactly these things, leaving us frustrated and bored. We’re the idiots whose expectations are supposed to be routed by geniuses. But you and I could work on this show, and we’d be welcome. Think about that for a moment.

Last week we speculated, following the thumping great clue/reference that was ‘Project Daedalus’ that the Angel was either Mick or Mick’s parents. As always the simplest answer proved to be the correct one, though incredibly, “The Red Angel” attempted to intrigue us by first sticking the time travelling credentials on Mick, rendering the episode’s plot idiotic for reasons we’re explore momentarily, then revealing the literal quantum leaper to be the heavily trailed mother of Mick – a character that, as enshrined in the Discovery series bible, was only given a proper backstory and prescribed the necessary importance in the self-same episode.

When the season began we were excited (though cautious) about who or what the Red Angel might be, and what the fucker might want. A universe of possibilities opened before us. Hark, we cried, Discovery’s team have learned the lesson from season one, namely that focusing on Burnham – a dull and ill-conceived character written to a standard that fell far short of the values and intellect she was supposed to represent – instead of the crew’s celestial exploits, was a mistake.

The second season would be a corrective, we hoped – more an ensemble affair with some spare faring mysteries at its core. In time we grew despondent as we realised the Angel’s story was bound up with the unwanted shadowmen and women of Section 31 and their out of control Control – an AI, but worse was to come. Finally, in the wrap up phase of the season, it came to pass that Mick – yes Mick once again, was the talismanic puzzle piece on which the fate of the galaxy, indeed all sentient life turned. That’s Mick – the show’s sixth most interesting character. Mick, whose forced relationship with step brother Spock has only underlined how superior the template character is to his Discovery proxy. Mick, a human bereft of warmth or charm who substitutes real conversation for lofty, empty rhetoric – incredulity and crying. Mick, apparently one of the most important humans of the 23rd century.

In fact Mick’s so shrewd that as “The Red Angel” opened, it hadn’t occurred to her to follow up Airium’s reference to Project Daedalus. Sure, her colleague and friend (we’re told) had committed suicide to protect Mick from whatever it was about and had given her this information in her dying moments, but apparently Mick had forgotten about it, because when Tilly, babbling as usual, entered the conference room with news from Airium’s autopsy – that a reference to said project had appeared in the dead woman’s cyberbrain along with, conveniently, a DNA profile of the Angel, only then did it occur to our hero to pipe up. Oh, and in other news, the Angel’s profile was a one hundred percent (note that figure down, we’ll return to it later) match for, who else, our very own Commander B. ‘Michael, it’s you,’ squealed Tilly, and hearts around the world sank faster than Clem Fandango’s erection when handed human porn.

When discussion turned to trapping the Angel, using Mick as bait, as the only pattern that could be discerned by anyone in respect of events the show’s writers hadn’t thought through properly, was the time traveller appearing to save, er, itself – it was clear that Burnham should no longer be involved in the conversation. We knew it, the dog in the street knew it, but apparently it didn’t occur to anyone writing the show.

If Mick was the Angel then including her in a plan to capture her future self could only result in failure. Mick, being present and all, would remember whatever scheme they came up and would have all the time in the world, quite literally, to formulate a counter strategy. Yet, despite this, not only did Pike, Cornwell at al discuss the intricacies of the mousetrap plan with Mick, she insisted on being the bait to capture herself, with no one pointing out that if the Angel was free and operating in the future, and assuming the Angel was Mick, then the plan must have failed. One could infer Mick survived her planned brush with death and the Angel got away on account of them having a future Mick to ensnare in the first place.

This was surely the point when one of the crew’s brains should have said, ‘this is a plot written by an idiot, it can’t be Burnham, it must, for these obvious reasons, be someone else,’ but the show had doubled down, having Culber confirm Tilly’s findings, so there was no getting out of it – we had to go along with this sham to the bitter end.

Assuming, as no one on Discovery did, bar Ethan Peck’s refreshingly Spock-like Spock, that the Red Angel wasn’t Mick (Spock pointed out it wasn’t logical – which it wasn’t), the team behind Operation Mousetrap weren’t giving the time traveller – who was intelligent enough to have invented a time travel suit – much credit.

They manufactured the galaxy’s most obvious trap – creating a scenario that could exist for no other reason than to provoke the Angel into appearing and saving Mick’s life. This involved travelling to a hostile planet and strapping Mick to a chair in an abandoned warehouse, where the vents would be opened and she’d then suffocate, surrounded by an assembly designed specifically for the one-off purpose of neutralising a time travel suit and containing the pilot. At this point Mick was still thought to be said pilot, so the Angel could reasonably be expected to know the mechanics of the trap, but if it wasn’t Mick, might the conspicuous nature of the setup not have acted as a tip off?

If the crew were serious they’d have met in secret while Mick was asleep or masturbating and said, ‘okay, we’ll manufacture an order for an away mission to this hostile world, make sure Burnham’s on the away team, and then sabotage her bio-suit so she gets into trouble on the planet surface – a real risk to life. Then, we sit back and wait for the Angel to appear. In the future it will be logged as an accident, death by misadventure. It should work, after all Burnham saved herself all those other times despite originally dying on several occasions. Wait, if she died, how could her future self know abo- ah, never mind.’

Yet the Angel fell for the trap, as the plot demanded and was caught, so perhaps they were right to presume the pilot was stupid. Inevitably, it was not Mick but Mick’s mother – a twist that had been obvious from the moment Section 31’s Leland told us she was the inventor of the time travel suit that ran on, er, time crystals (a commodity for which one imagines there’s only one use so it was a surprise to learn S31 were surprised they needed one).

The arrival of Mick’s mother was good for a couple of reasons. One, it puts some distance between Mick and Spock’s family and two, it means Mick isn’t quite as integral to the future of the galaxy as all that. Now we know this season will end with an odd battle to frustrate the genocidal ambitions of Section 31’s AI using a time travelling iron man suit. If you hoped for more at the start of the year, you’re not alone.

Anomalous Readings

  • If the Angel was Mick’s mother and not she, why was the Angel a 100% DNA profile match for Mick? Assuming Burnham is a product of her mother and father like most of us, and not grown in a lab from her Mother’s cells, then she’d have her own DNA profile. And wouldn’t Discovery have access to Mick’s mother’s medical files – after all, she was a Federation scientist. Why didn’t they match her to the Angel straight away?
  • Airium’s funeral was a big deal. Apparently the augmented extra was a favourite amongst the entire crew. They all turned out for the Wrath of Khan inspired ceremony, leaving the ship on auto pilot. When Tasha Yar died only her bridge crew pals attended the holodeck ceremony, but apparently a hundred years earlier it was the tradition to leave the ship crewless and vulnerable to attack or misadventure, by dropping everything to send off a crewman that only a select few would have known. Still, her friends spoke and it was nice, until Mick ruined it with one of her abstract soliloquys.
  • Culber spent the episode walking around with a contemporary suit jacket and shirt combination. Very stylish, but this is the 23rd century – shouldn’t he be wearing something weird? See TNG for casual future dress tips.
  • Culber needed therapy so it was fortunate that Cornwell was a former counsellor. Still, the writers needed that scene, so…
  • Airium’s replacement is Lt. Nelson. I wonder if she’ll ever get any lines?
  • The episode was notable for one very odd scene in which Mirror Georgiou had a baffling, passive aggressive conversation with Stamets and Culber about their sexuality. She implied that in the Mirror Universe they swung both ways and had engaged in a threesome with the Empress at her pleasure. Stamets, not unreasonably, was offended by the implication that his sexuality could differ in another timeline, and we were left agog at how clunky and awkward the scene was. It was left to Tilly, who looked as confused as anyone at this discussion using 21st century terms around sexuality, to ask, on behalf of us all, ‘what just happened?’
  • Watching Mick choke to death was, of course, great.

Mick’s Second Crack at the Galaxy

The Maiden Voyage 

Foreboding

Published in: on March 23, 2019 at 12:17  Comments Off on Critic’s Log – Star Trek: Discovery 2.10  
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