Trekathon 840: The Galactic Barrier (DIS)

But I thought space was the final frontier? Spoilers.

The pacing of this season is really frustrating me. This episode really underlines that problem big and small. In the big, the episode fills overall like filler. Very little is achieved in terms of the overall plot (the ship gets from A to B really), and there’s not that much in terms of character development either. The action scenes are a bit underwhelming. It’s overall a ‘meh’ episode that you’d happily skip on future episodes.

And it’s a shame – crossing the galactic barrier should be a big thing. But the uneven pacing makes it hard to care. It’s a solid 14 minutes of setup to the main ‘action’ of the episode (all pre-credits). And we’re spending way too much time on Saru’s dating life. And then flashbacks to Tarka’s imprisonment. What should be a tense buildup to the confrontation the season has been establishing becomes quite anticlimactic. Even when tension is built up a bit we have a Stamets/Adira relationship scene. That’s not to say that there’s not some useful character development in these scenes, but they are momentum killers the way they’re placed in the episode.

There’s a missed opportunity for some continuity porn. TOS was packed to the gills with weird, super powerful aliens. Or even just a reference to the times Kirk went through the barrier.

The pivot on Tarka is interesting – the season has spent the time making him seem like someone with a dark secret, and now the show is giving him a more sympathetic back story. I think it might have worked better if there was a bit more ground work to the flashback, possibly even some appearances in past episodes.

Quick hits:

– It was nice to see Star Trek talking about truly alien aliens, but surely that’s not such a new problem here?

– The writers have decided to make Cronenberg a lot more mysterious here. I wonder where that’s going – next season?

– Is that a hint that the 10-C have been observing the Federation?

– Why are we getting a farewell scene with basically nameless bridge crew number 5 (Bryce)?

– Big oof for Mr Saru. That was brutal.

– “The difference between asking a question and questioning” – so true!

– The colour grading on Tarka’s prison planet is distractingly different. And then the episode uses colour grading as a plot element two scenes later.

– The Galactic Barrier sequence is a hodge podge of technobabble and rabbits out of hats. Not a fan.

– Well at least it wasn’t solely a threat to Earth to generate the big bad.

– What was the point of the cloaked ship on Tarka’s planet?

840 down.