Trekathon 767: Project Daedalus (DIS)

March 15th, 2019

Discovery meets the new boss. Spoilers.

This episode is very important from what the behind the scenes actions tell us. The writer of the episode, Michelle Paradise, is going to be co-show runner for the next season of Discovery. That makes this episode a pretty important signal of the direction things might be going.

Fortunately the signs are pretty positive – this is a strong, impactful episode with great moments. The only real complaints I have are more about the way we got to this point in the story than anything else.

There is a bit of a flavour of direction changing to the episode – a bit of a reset from the ‘Discovery on the run’ that the previous episode seemed to set up, and moving to focus on what has been set up fairly cleverly in terms of the overarching plot about an apparently rogue AI.

The story that Airiam is given this episode is the best part of it. To some extent it’s a fairly rapid ‘establish someone we like then kill them’ structure, but the depth of the relationship established between the four female junior officers is very believable. It’s clever writing and acting to manage everything so compactly. As a result the final scene of Airiam’s death lands well. I only wish that some of the character building for Airiam had been spread over the season, rather than land all at once.

The other noteworthy part of the episode is the Spock arc. In particular the scene over the game of chess, which has a gripping ascending tempo, making great use of emotions being played by characters who normally try to avoid them. This is probably the most directly Trek has addressed Spock’s half-human side and emotions, and I am interested to see where it goes from here. But it was also nice to see the small role Spock took in the final scenes on the bridge, showing that he still cares for Burnham.

Quick hits:

  • 59 minute episode. It is nice to see that the streaming format gives the show more time to move.

  • OK, enough with the skinny camera. It must stop – it’s overused, distracting, and not fun to watch. Jonathan Frakes directing is normally a surer hand than that (as the rest of the episode shows after the first 5 minutes).

  • A 100% accurate lie detector is a bad plot choice. It’s a fundamentally overpowered technology, and inevitably there will be episodes in the future where the plot will rely on forgetting that this exists.

  • Tilly/Detmer/Airiam/O-O are delightful together. I demand spinoffs. Sadly it will need to be set before this episode though…

  • Don’t punch the cybernetically improved person. It’s just going to hurt you…

  • What was with the whole ‘Nhan watching Airiam from around the corner’ thing? I was expecting she’d be the one to work out what was going on with Airiam from the framing, but it ends up being Tilly. If it’s a misdirect, it’s an oddly placed one.

767 down. Five episodes left in Season Two of Discovery.