"Star Trek: Discovery" Season 4, Episode 6 has been aired.
It's hard to tell which direction it's going in in the latest episode of "Star Trek: Discovery", which marks the halfway point of the fourth season. "Stormy Weather" is the first episode of Season 4 that Jonathan Frakes has directed and it has his hallmark handprints all over it.
The story pace was given a cocktail of high
This week's episode is action-packed, so it would have been a different experience if the whole season had been like that. Last week's episode did a lot of heavy lifting, by changing the nature of the dark matter anomaly, and introducing mashed potato. This is the most entertaining episode so far and it presents some interesting directions that the story might take, which is open for discussion.
We start with a link to last week's episode as Michael Burnham creates her own family tree inspired by the lalogi orb Felix gave to her at the end of "The Examples" It's a great product placement. We learn that Book's father's birthday would've been today, which sets up a nice sub-story later in the episode.
The Discovery is going to enter the subspace rift left behind by the DMA. The origin of the anomalies will hopefully be provided by some careful analysis. In an extremely long Discovery corridor tracking shot, Doug Jones provides some helpful exposition and we learn that the ride into the rift will be bumpy and slow. While their dialogue often lets them down, they do make a very effective command team.
Frakes uses screen wipes to create an old-fashioned-style of excited crew members dropping whatever they're doing in their downtime to ready themselves for the mission. It's the first of a few old-school elements that return in this episode and that's great, but therein lies the main problem with "Discovery," every episode really feels different; there's very little continuity between presentation styles and content.
There are many nice touches in this episode that have been missing in other episodes. Paramount+)
The ride through the subspace rift becomes as smooth as glass after a long, bumpy journey. All scans are useless as there is nothing out there. The DOT-23 robot is launched to investigate, rather than risk a life. When the drone encounters the edge of the rift and begins to break, it is the right decision for her to make. The opening credits are rolled.
The crew goes through a plan of action to get answers. The Discovery is in a sub-space bubble that is collapsing, and a flare fired at the same speed with the same trajectory as a poor drone indicates that. Our clock is running for this episode. It's refreshing that an "inverse tachyon pulse" wasn't mentioned at any point, since we assume that was from "All Good Things", the series finale.
The most contrived part of this episode is the new relationship between Zora and Gray Tal. Adira and Gray have not been given stronger, better-written parts to play. It's great to see "Star Trek" embracing a metaphoric story reflecting the journey of a very personal transformation and we've seen a lot of that, but it's not subtle anymore and it's entirely possible to saturate a good thing.
The first "Matrix" movie was written by two closeted trans women and contains references to the trans experience, so we should remind ourselves that this week's release of "The Matrix Resurrections" is related to this. The references in "Star Trek: Discovery" are no longer interesting or subtle. There is an article about the importance of "The Matrix" to the Wachowski sisters.
The crew of the Discovery is ready to go to what is beyond the Eye of Sauron. Paramount+)
Efforts to learn anything about the subspace void have largely failed, so Burnham aborted the mission and ordered a withdrawal. They're stuck because there are no reference points in space. The team at Paramount behind this episode have done a good job of shutting down every avenue of escape for the hapless crew of the Crossfield class starship.
warp drive is not an option because Zora, whose personality expands at an exponential rate this episode, can't help it. It's up to Book and Stamets to jump Discovery out of the way. Book ends up on the receiving end of a surge of energy. This creates another fun sub-story, Book's heated argument with the hallucination of his dead father, which is enjoyable to watch and handled well. We're hoping that this is an episode-long sub-story and we'll see him again, which we do, of course.
Gray helps Zora focus in a scene rich in contrived dialogue and in doing so he is able to detect something unusual on the exterior hull of deck 17. The Discovery's plight is worsened by a sudden hull breach that makes no sense except to kill poor Ensign Cortez and reinforce the seriousness of the situation. The team can indulge in a bit of twisted fun. The reason why that part of the Discovery's hull got through the shields isn't adequately explored.
If the Discovery is a sentient artificial intelligence, were all the DOT remote drones sentient as well? The image is from Paramount+.
At this point, the Discovery is now a sentient starship, like if HAL from "2001: A Space Odyssey" had a daughter with a daughter. You have to wonder why this hasn't happened before, given what else 32nd-century technology has to offer, and that will always be a problem when you push a science fiction show a thousand years into the future.
Book is arguing into thin air, frightening those who are standing next to or near him. It's not just Book that is having problems with guilt, as well as Zora, who is trying to get consoled from both Gray and Burnham, to reestablish her sentient lifeform status and her place as a member of the crew.
Dr. Culber has been analyzing Book's brain and trying to figure out if the strange particles are causing the hallucinations. It's obvious that the species that made it came from outside our galaxy when you follow the rabbit hole to its end.
You would think they could use the technology of the 32nd century to beam him into an escape field. Paramount+)
With just 10 minutes left until the shields are compromised, a plan is hatched: detect the particles in the rift and follow them out, but to ensure the crew's safety when the shields finally fail, everyone is going to be stored in the ship's transporter pattern buffer.
The buffer that protects the transporter. That chestnut is old. Even though it's become a common part of everyday life in the 32nd century, people still use transporters instead of stairs, and even though we saw in the Season 4 premiere episode that people use them to change outfits, the thing is, they kill you.
The creators of "Star Trek" never confirmed that transporters kill you. Based on the science, transporters do kill you. The original body is to all intents and purposes destroyed when the devices are used to temporarily store the molecule in the pattern buffer. The data stream from the scanned copy is converted into energy by the transporter and used to rebuild the body from a sub-atomic level. It's similar to a fax, except that the fax machine destroys the original, to prevent duplicate work.
The issue is not about anything else. Transference of consciousness isn't possible since our bodies are identifiable. What makes us unique? What is the difference between an identical copy and you? Would you be able to see your copy if you put it in a different room? No. It's a perfect copy, but it's not you. There is an article on Ars Technica that goes into detail about this.
This is one of the reasons that "Star Trek" is my favorite series, because the use of transporters is much less than other versions of the show. Even if we are 1,100 years from now, they're not used so casually as to replace stairs or corridors.
In the first episode of "The Original Series", Captain Kirk was duplicated in the transporter and in the second episode Will Riker was duplicated in the transporter. The episode "Relics" is about the discovery that Captain Montgomery Scott was stored inside the pattern buffer of a ship that crashed on a Dyson sphere more than 75 years prior.
It was sent up to a million pieces. This is what happens when a service goes wrong. The image is from United International Pictures.
Everyone gets together in groups and holds hands, like we used to do at kindergarten, before they all get scanned, disintegrated and stored on a computer they hope runs on something more advanced than El Capitan. She decided to stay with her ship and Zora.
The final scene as he wishes his dead father a happy birthday is quite touching, and the book resolves more with himself than with his hallucination. Another touching moment quickly follows as Book races to say goodbye to Burnham before he gets diced into a million pieces and she faces the full fire and fury of the subspace rift.
The final act sets up the tension nicely, as we see interior shots of Discovery's deserted corridors, completely devoid of anyone or any activity, as Zora shuts down the starship's life support, and Burnham waits on the bridge with nothing but an environment suit to protect her. The scene may or may not be an intentional nod to the epic 1980 sci-fi adaptation of "Flash Gordon", but I would rather be listening to the power cords of Brian May and the "Flash Gordon" soundtrack flying a starship through a perilous field of flames.
Rewatch the scene where Burnham is on the bridge, which is ablaze as the Discovery hurtles through the subspace barrier, and listen to this. Tell me that you wouldn't be yelling at Zora to dial the volume up.
Who wants to live forever? You can dial the volume up to 11 and play Queen. The image is from Universal Pictures.
Everyone was beamed out of the transport buffer as Burnham woke up. The Discovery is being repaired in a spacedock, and while at Federation HQ, Saru had an interesting conversation with Book. It was nice to hear how quickly the repairs are being made, just in time for next week's episode. The death of millions of people could be accidentally caused by a cranky Kelpien if the book's recent experience is anything to go by.
Will he show up again in the next five episodes? Zareh's last-minute reappearance last season was more fulfilling.
I feel bruised from being bumped around so much with so many different styles of episodes, even though this episode is good and the best so far this season. There are a lot of twists and turns, but the action is evenly spread throughout, keeping you on your toes. In the "Short Trek" episode "Calypso", we saw a potential future for us because of the fully-fleshed out Zora. She seems to struggle with some basic things, but she has no problem interpreting a complex mix of tone, facial expression and non-verbal methods of communication.
On the weekend on Rigel II.
The link to the "tree of life" is very nice.
In this episode, the character of everybody is explored.
The deaths of the robot and crewmember are dark.
A good old-fashioned ridiculous escape plot is brilliant.
There are a lot of great action that is spread out.
I was imprisoned on Rura Penthe.
Zora sometimes struggles with basic stuff, but can easily interpret it.
There were no wires in the 32nd century.
There was no sign of Tarka this week.
Missed chance to listen to the "Flash Gordon" soundtrack.
Adira and Gray aren't being used fully.
The rating was 6.5/10.
The first six episodes of the fourth season of "Star Trek: Discovery" are now available to watch on Paramount+ in the US and Canada and will be released every Thursday. Outside of North America, the Pluto TVSci-fi channel is available.
The mid-season finale of "Star Trek: Discovery" will be dropping on Thursday, Dec. 30th, with Paramount announcing on the social networking site that the show will be taking a break after next week. The new episodes will start on Feb. 10, 2022. That's a break of six weeks.
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