Hey Trekkies, welcome back to this week’s recap of Star Trek: Discovery, “Project Daedalus”, where our courageous crew attempts to infiltrate Section 31’s headquarters in order to find out what is hell is going on there. There has been a lot of excitement around this episode as it was directed by Star Trek’s very own Jonathan Frakes who played Commander William T. Riker in Star Trek: The Original Series and subsequent films.
At a glance: What happened in this week’s episode:
Admiral on board
- When Admiral Cornwell realizes that Section 31 has turned rogue and locked her out of Control, Starfleet’s AI threat assessment center, she comes on board the Discovery to inform Captain Pike of these troublesome developments. Apparently another admiral, a logic extremist, has voted in favor of turning all of Starfleet’s decision-making over to Control. That’s so not good!
The trouble with Control and Section 31
- The Singularity in cooperation with a future version of Control, has found a way to obtain the Sphere’s vast and valuable data on AI: It uses Lieutenant Commander Airiam, the first cybernetically augmented human, to transfer this data to Control so that it can evolve and destroy all sentient life.
- The murders Spock was accused of? It turns out he was framed by Section 31, using a hologram to manipulate the evidence. Color us (not) surprised.
- When the Discovery arrives at Section 31 headquarters (after making it through a hazardous minefield), they find the bodies of the admirals in charge of Section 31. Control must have murdered them weeks ago. This confirms that Control has been running section 31 for weeks now.
Saying good-bye to Airiam
- Just as the crew learns these facts on board the Discovery, they also find out that Airiam has been compromised and has begun transferring the AI Data to Section 31’s computers. There’s only one way of stopping her: Opening the airlock and ejecting her into space. Burnham is reluctant to do so, stubbornly insisting there must be another way. Ultimately, it’s Commander Nhan who does the deed. Airiam’s last words are: “You have to find Project Daedalus.”
Some highlights of this week’s episode:
A real treat: The many Star Trek references
Spock speaking Vulcan? Check. The Vulcan nerv pinch? Check. Playing 3D chess with Michael? Check. Spock not on good terms with Sarek? Check. The crew playing Kadis-kot (some sort of board game)? Check.
The siblings spending time together and forcing each other to confront their demons
Okay, this happens at the command of Captain Pike, but nevertheless it was fascinating to watch Michael and Spock interact in the “home” environment of Michael’s quarters. Of course there was a lot of bickering involved. While it is obvious that these two love each other, it’s also quite clear that they are both stubborn and know how to push each other’s buttons.
Once again, we are confronted with an unfamiliar, angry, overemotional Spock trying to deal with everything on his plate. It bugs him that he hasn’t figured out yet why he was chosen by the Red Angel. Michael’s trying to help, but Spock is determined to make her see her own flaws.
Most meaningful dialogue
Spock is intentionally cruel in trying to make Michael face her own demons, He succeeds in getting under her skin, so Michael tries to give back as good as she gets:
Michael: I refuse to take this posturing seriously. It’s entirely out of character.
Spock: We’ve not seen each other in years. You’ve no foundation for judging my character. Yet here you are, full of self-importance, once again taking responsibility for that which is beyond your control. My perception of reality was challenged by visions from a time-traveling entity. Who should help me but you, of course? After all, the entire Klingon war was your doing. Your parent’s death was your responsibility.
Michael: Stop it.
Spock: If only you hadn’t asked to watch a star become a Supernova. But you’re wise to blame yourself. Children should know when a war-faring race will attack without warning. Perhaps you could have done something. A child fighting a Klingon, those are excellent odds.
Michael: Shut up!
Spock: You were trapped on the other side of a door, Michael. You could not stop any of it. You could not save them. It is unreasonable for you to believe otherwise, yet you do. As you believed you could save my family from logic extremists, when in truth, they despised us because of me, the half-human abomination. Your presence was beside the point.
Michael: Whatever point you’re trying to make, you’re failing.
Spock: Then let me be clear. You avoid reality because it is easier for you to shoulder burden than to face unimaginable grief.
Michael: I really thought this could be a new start for us. I really did. Clearly I was wrong.
Spock: Yes, you were. We will never relate as equals so long as you attempt to assume every burden is yours alone.
Michael: Since we’re being honest with each other. You need to stop taking whatever this is out on me. You need to identify why you’re really angry.
Spock: There is nothing to identify. I am angry. Pure and simple.
Michael: Because you feel you failed as a Vulcan or as a human?
Spock: What I feel is that failure is liberating. And for the first time, I enjoy expressing emotion.
Source: Star Trek Discovery, 2×09 “Project Daedalus”/CBS All Access.
Spock interacting with Stamets
Warning: Here be bromance! During a little heart-to-heart with Starfleet’s astromycologist Stamets, Stamets encourages Spock not to give up on his quest to find out why he is the Red Angel’s chosen one. Spock decides to repay Stamets kindness by offering some insight on the “It’s complicated” status of Stamets and Culber’s relationship. In doing so, he displayed a new level of empathy and of understanding complex human emotions:
Spock: I saw Dr. Culber moving out of your shared quarters. You seemed quite upset.
Stamets: Yes, he said he needs distance.
Spock: I submit that your assessment of the situation my be inverted. Perhaps he needs distance from you not because he no longer has feelings for you, but because he no longer knows how to feel about himself.
Getting to know more about Airiam (and then, in true Star Trek tradition, watching her die a gruesome death)
Being given a backstory to Airiam is awesome. This week’s episode points out that she is actually the first cybernetically augmented human. We see her memory of walking down the beach with her husband before the shuttle that was supposed to bring them home crashed.
But you know the trouble with a sudden focus on characters previously very much neglected? They are usually killed off. Good-bye, Airiam. What we saw of you made us like you a lot.
And with Star Trek? You never know. We might see her again.
Overall, this was a pretty good, if sometimes a bit rocky, episode. I loved getting more insight into the characters, and I still have high hopes that Michael and Spock might one day see eye to eye.
Star Trek: Discovery airs Thursdays at CBS All Access
Featured Image: Michael Gibson/CBS All Access