Welcome, one and all, to my continuing ‘Quick Thoughts on Star Trek Discovery’ series. Today’s episode, ‘Project Daedalus’, was a lot of fun. There were maybe a few minor issues, but mostly, this did a really good job. Let’s have a look at why.
- The episode kicked off with a Starfleet response to Discovery harbouring Michael and Spock: Admiral Cornwall returned, travelling to the ship in secret. Pike tries to get her up to speed and put his view across, but she’s mostly interested in seeing Spock. This leads to a scene of her interrogation the iconic character using a cool futuristic lie detector. Where this got interesting was that she said it’s 100% accurate, and so his assertion that he didn’t kill anyone is indicative that he believes it. This is absolutely a matter of belief though as Section 31 sent her footage of him committing the murders.
- That little bit of doubt being cast over Spock was good. Overall, he came across as a far more complicated character this week too. His interactions with Michael were important because it showed how wide a rift there is between them right now, and how much their trying to repair that hurts. This all came to a head during a game of 3D chess that Michael had set up to try to get him back on track in terms of applying logic. That whole scene not only advance their sibling arc, but also showed the complexity of their relationship with their father by way of some great lines from Spock. This included: “I disappoint him, he disappoints me. The sun sets and a new day begins.”
- Spock is more amenable towards Stamets than he is Michael. The great thing is, during their short scene together, they had a lovely bonding moment that served to advance two arcs a little. For one, Stamets tried to soften him on Michael, pointing out that she clearly loves and risked her life for him. Meanwhile, Spock reciprocated with an observation about Hugh: perhaps he needs space, not because of a lack of love for Stamets, but because he no longer knows how to feel about himself. I really liked that as it helped push things forward for the couple without taking focus from the main story of the episode.
- And that story involved machinery. The crew are put on a course towards the Section 31 headquarters. They’ve locked Admiral Cornwall out and she wants to find out why. There were some nice twists and turns her with the Vulcan Admiral Patar confirming that they attacked Discovery on approach by order of Starfleet, only for the boarding party to discover that Patar has been dead for two weeks. Saru figures out that she’s a hologram due to the lack of changed when monitoring her heat signatures. He shows that, when you apply that knowledge to the video of Spock, it proves that it too features holograms, thusly exonerating him again.
- Airiam gets to play the star here though. We finally get to see her in terms of how she fits in with the crew, mostly through her running through her memories and saving the ones that feature her interacting with the crew but deleting the moments where she’s just walking around. Importantly, we see her favourite memory, where she was still human and had just been married, then learn that she still ahs some sand form that day, and the shuttle she was on crashed, killing her husband. That she prefers the term ‘cybernetically augmented’ to ‘half robot’ was a nice touch too.
- Airiam ended up crucial to the story arc too. There were a few moments where she seemed to notice that something was going on, and that she’s being controlled, but doesn’t seem to be able to stop them. Eventually, she downloads all her memories onto Discovery’s systems and replaces them with all the information held on AIs that the crew gained from the sphere a few episodes back. This leads to her eventually attacking and almost killing both Michael and Commander Nhan on board Section 31 HQ.
- Ad that’s where we get some scenes that are both excellent and so-so at once. Control, the AI that runs Section 31 has gone rogue, and wants the data in order to evolve itself and instigate the catastrophe that Spock saw when interacting with the Red Angel. It’s Tilly that figures out what’s happened to Airiam, and she’s able to help her regain enough control to talk. Airiam knows that she’s only managed to send 25% of the data and that she cannot stop herself. She demands that Michael shoot her out of the airlock and kill her to prevent it, but Michael hesitates, and Nhan ends up doing it. The episode ends with Airiam dying while rewatching her favourite memory from the beach.
- The problem here is twofold. One, we finally got some more development for Airiam, and while her death is heroic in nature, I do think it would have hit harder had she been given more time to shine before now. In that regard, it’s well executed, but does risk losing the impact a little. Second, before she dies, she tells Michael that it all comes down to her, and she needs to find Project Daedalus. This points us towards a Chosen One arc for Michael. While I’m not opposed to this kind of story, I do worry that it won’t feel like a good fit within the Discovery universe. I’ve loved the show so far though, so I’ll happily give it a chance. Right now, I’ll guess that said Project is the tech, and Michael is actually the Red Angel.
- As a side, this one was directed by franchise alumni Jonathan Frakes. He did a great job here.
So, those were my thoughts, but what about yourselves? Are you watching Star Trek Discovery? How are you finding this second season? What did you make of this episode? Let me know in the comments below.