Thursday, March 14, 2019

REVIEW: 'Star Trek: Discovery' - A Covert Mission at Section 31 Headquarters Doesn't Go According to Plan in 'Project Daedalus'

CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery - Episode 2.09 "Project Daedalus"

When the Discovery crew infiltrates Section 31's headquarters, suspicions arise that the crew may have a traitor in their midst. Burnham tries to help Spock but her efforts don't go as planned.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery.

"Project Daedalus" was written by Michelle Paradise and directed by Jonathan Frakes

This season has been a little all over the place creatively. It has made some decisions that highlighted what worked in the first season while expanding on the emotional stakes of the ensemble. However, the overall mystery hasn't been all that engaging or compelling in a long time. The introduction of Spock failed to liven things up in a meaningful way. However, this episode actually gives me a ton of confidence about the future of Star Trek: Discovery. First, it's written by the woman set to serve as the showrunner for the third season. So even if this season is unable to pull itself out of the creative mess, there is the sense that things are in good hands for when the show returns for its next story. And second, this hour offers a ton of development that is pivotal for the characters and actually earns the powerful emotions at the end of the hour. That is very tricky to do because the show still struggles giving the other members of the bridge crew distinct personalities. Everything that happens in this hour could be seen as the latest example of a simple and annoying plot trope. A background character has their backstory fleshed out moments before they are killed off in order for the audience to feel something about their loss. The audience probably didn't have feelings one way or the other pertaining to Airiam. Of course, there was the sense that she was a looming threat because her programming was being overwritten by the technology from the future. And now, that threat presents itself fully. This was all a part of an elaborate plan to transfer all of the sphere's data about artificial intelligence into Control, the program used to help Starfleet officers make the best decisions in any given situation. As such, the enemy that the Federation may be facing right now may not have any human interface. Sure, that seems very unlikely. Airiam presents as a threat standing in the way of Michael and Pike succeeding with their mission. Plus, someone in the future had to travel back and mess with this timeline to ensure that Section 31 headquarters was already compromised. There was always the sense that Section 31 was the new antagonist for this season. That was aided by the addition of some familiar faces to that organization. However, Georgiou and Tyler are no where to be seen here. Instead, the threat comes solely from Airiam. She doesn't wish to betray her fellow officers. And yet, she is no longer in control of her own body. This hour fleshes out how she has to literally download and store her memories. It's a process she has to go through each week. But it's also a very efficient and effective way for the show to articulate what her priorities are in a short amount of time. Tilly needs her to make sense of what's going on with the computers. There is a fair amount of action here where things are intense for a couple of minutes. However, it's all absolutely heartbreaking to watch as Michael fights to save Airiam's life even though she is being ordered to send her out an airlock. There wasn't another way out of this complicated situation. Airiam dies to ensure the entire program isn't uploaded. The threat is still present though. Plus, a new understanding of the Red Angel comes into play as well. Spock may not be the one who needed to be contacted. Instead, it may be Michael. That makes sense because the Red Angel ensured that Michael survived when she ran away from her home on Vulcan. And now, all of these players are once again at the center of this story. Whatever leads to the destruction of all civilization in the future is happening in the present. It's not some threat in the distant future. The actions done today will come to decide the fate of all humanity which is such a powerful allegory for the show to produce. It works extremely well in this hour as well.