Thursday, April 4, 2019

REVIEW: 'Star Trek: Discovery' - Pike and Michael Make Difficult Decisions to Fight Control in 'Through the Valley of Shadows'

CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery - Episode 2.12 "Through the Valley of Shadows"

A fourth signal leads the U.S.S. Discovery to an insular world, where Pike is forced to make a life-changing choice. Burnham and Spock investigate a Section 31 ship gone rogue, leading to a discovery with catastrophic consequences.

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.

"Through the Valley of Shadows" was written by Bo Yeon Kim & Erika Lippoldt and directed by Douglas Aarniokoski

This hour returns to the Klingon planet where Tyler sent his and L'Rell's son in order to protect him as well as L'Rell's power over the Klingon people. It would seem to suggest that the mysterious signals are somehow connected to places of great personal importance to the main characters. They aren't appearing in random spots throughout the galaxy. Of course, Dr. Burnham wasn't the person behind them even though the Red Angel frequently made appearances alongside the signals. She is now trapped in the future. Michael is hoping to find a way to rescue her from that fate of pure isolation with no way to travel through time. This signal actually brings the Discovery to the one planet in the universe where time crystals are. However, it's fascinating how the story really isn't about the child that Tyler and L'Rell had to abandon and how they are continuing to cope with that choice. The hour really isn't about them at all. Yes, they mention this fact to the people making the decisions. But Pike is the one who goes down to this planet in the hopes of proving himself worthy of a time crystal. That's the artifact necessary to fuel a suit that can travel through time. That is the only remaining hope for rescuing Dr. Burnham and eliminating the sphere data before Control gets it. As such, Pike is willing to risk everything for the good of the mission. He understands what's at stake here. The future of all civilization is now resting on the decisions he and his team are making right now. The test he faces is touching the crystal and seeing the brutal truth of his inevitable tragedy. There have been teases throughout this season that everything was going to end badly for Pike at some point. And yes, that would line up perfectly with what was established previously in the Star Trek canon. But this hour presents it as a choice. If Pike takes the time crystal, then his fate is sealed. That outcome will be inevitable. If he doesn't, then Starfleet may not have any way to defend itself against the threat that is coming. The decision seems easy to Pike. It will just come at a great personal cost for him. That's what makes him an effective captain. He stands for the ideals of what Starfleet can be in order to save the entire universe. Meanwhile, Michael and Spock confront the threat from Control head on. The antagonist is only growing its power. They see it as strange when one Section 31 ship goes rogue. That organization follows a strict protocol. That would seem to suggest something is off in that corner of the world. When Michael and Spock land, they are faced with a graveyard of the ship's entire crew. The only survivor is a friendly face to Michael from her past. It's a character return that means absolutely nothing to the audience though. As such, it's a little too easy to predict that this officer has actually been taken over by Control. The artificial intelligence is no longer contained to Leland as its sole human interface. Now, it is luring Michael into a trap in order to take over her body. It perceives her as the best way to get to the sphere data to complete its transformation into the greatest threat to the entire universe. Michael and Spock have an impressive action sequence that is very intense and thrilling to watch. Plus, it offers the sense that Michael could be the one person who can save the universe. Control keeps targeting her for a reason. It's just unfortunate when it all builds to Pike and Michael agreeing that the only way to protect the mission is to destroy the Discovery. That's an enticing and fraught ending here.