Star Trek: Discovery “Light and Shadows” Recap
The search for Spock ends, while Pike and Tyler investigate a time-rift.
Star Trek Discovery’s seventh episode of season two, Light and Shadows, leads Burnham on a journey home to Vulcan, while Pike and Tyler fight against space and time, unraveling a thread to even more mysteries. And while some of the story points can feel a bit forced at times, the episode manages to get there in the end, with a touch of flare that had me feening for the next episode.
Upon the realization that traveling home to Vulcan may be the key to figuring out the whereabouts of Spock, Michael Burnham requests leave in order to investigate. Burnham has a gut feeling that her foster mother, Amanda Grayson, may have uncovered additional information after their initial encounter, prior to Spock’s escape from Starbase 5. Burnham’s instincts do not disappoint, as Amanda has been hiding Spock on Vulcan in a sacred crypt.
Burnham finds Spock in a frantic state, reciting the Vulcan doctrines of logic, drawing on the cave walls, and repeating the numbers 8–4–1–9–4–7, to which Burnham nor Amanda have any idea what the numbers mean. Things escalate after Sarek is able to find the three, confronting both Amanda and Burnham on the gravity of their actions.
The amount of deception from Amanda is a bit troubling, as Amanda has chosen to not only hide Spock from the hands of the federation in the guise of diplomatic immunity, but also from her husband Sarek.
Amanda and Sarek’s approach to the situation is fundamentally colored in the nature of each of their respective species. Amanda takes the very human approach, choosing to place the love of her son above the interests of the federation, in spite of the accusations. While Sarek takes the logical approach, telling Burnham to take Spock to Section 31, as that would be the best option to help Spock recover from an undeniable illness. Burnham’s feelings hang in the balance, having to choose between the love for her brother and her duty to the federation.
Also thrown into the mix, is the fact that Spock inherited a dyslexia-like learning disability called Ltak Terai from Amanda, that he’s been dealing with his entire life. This new revelation felt a bit clumsy and unnecessary, seemingly geared toward humanizing Spock, while also relating Spock and Burnham’s journey to that of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Ultimately, it feels like it was contrived for the eventual payoff at the end of the episode.
Next Burnham is off to hand over Spock to Section 31, with hopes they may be able to help with Spock’s mental state, and possibly get to the bottom of the mystery of the red angel. Captain Leland informs Burnham that Spock will undergo a brain analysis, to which Burnham has understandable reservations. Her fears are amplified when Georgiou warns the procedure is sure to leave Spock in a vegetative state. Though Burnham is not so sure about the emperor’s advice, as she knows Georgiou doesn’t do anything without reason.
Whatever the case, Burnham agrees and works with Georgiou to stage an escape for herself and Spock. The banter between the two, along with the staged-escape sequence, provided what may have been the best part of the episode. Not only getting Spock out of harm’s way but damaging the reputation of Captain Leland in the process.
We also learn the Burnham-Leland relationship goes a bit deeper than expected, as Georgiou has uncovered a vital bit of information surrounding Burnham’s parent's death. Although Burnham’s parents were killed by Klingons, Phillipa somehow thinks Leland is responsible.
Meanwhile back on Discovery, we have a storyline that felt just a bit too forced, but like always, characters like Captain Pike and Ensign Tilly make it fun and interesting. Not to mention, yet another mystery to uncover.
Things kick off when an anomaly appears near Kaminar at the coordinates where Discovery initially encountered the last red burst.
Captain Pike suggests he take a shuttle in closer to release a probe, making the case that his superior piloting skills are the best chance for the success of the mission. Section 31 liaison Ash Tyler isn’t buying his explanation, pointing out the stupidity of him being the one to execute this dangerous mission.
This is where the storyline begins to get super clumsy and forced. Tyler has seemingly made it his mission to beat Pike over the head about his guilt for missing the war. I get it. We all get it. Pike missed the war against the Klingons. He has guilt. But the need for Tyler to repeatedly beat Pike over the head with it — and in turn us — , just felt forced. And for what? A moment in the end for Pike to tell Tyler that he was right all along? And now let's be friends? Clumsy.
The mission to investigate the time-rift leads to the obvious, as the shuttle cannot find its way out of the anomaly, getting pulled in after flying too close. The team is eventually saved by our resident spore-DNA-infused mycologist, Paul Stamets, who is able to somehow spot the shuttle location through space and time, due to his connection to the mycelial network, and some very excellent math skills.
But the fun doesn’t stop there. While in the anomaly, the very probe that Discovery initially sent into the rift to investigate has returned, albeit with a very futuristic upgrade, wreaking havoc on the shuttle and entering the shuttle's computer system.
Once again, Discovery’s computer systems are put to the test, as the virus that was uploaded from the probe to the shuttle, makes its way to Discovery via its communication systems, and eventually into our resident cybernetic science officer, Airiam. Is Airiam the red angel? Is this virus a major factor in putting things more in line with canon?
Speaking of canon, this episode goes out of its way to show a more analog side of things. Buttons and switches that I’ve never noticed before, are given intentional visibility. When the camera pans around the bridge, TOS-style buttons and switches are given focus and use by the crew. Not to mention the look and feel of the controls on the shuttle, as I was definitely getting that Delta Flyer vibe!
Finally, we have to talk about the big reveal at the end of the episode, and what it means for the series, and maybe even the franchise. We learn that Spock’s frantic, seemingly dissociated, rumbling of numbers really has a meaning. Taking into account Spock’s learning disability as a child, Burnham deduces that the numbers he’s been spouting may be backward, and runs them through the computer system aboard her shuttle.
Turns out 749-mark-148, are the coordinates to Talos IV. For anyone who is a fan of the classic series, this is huge. The initial pilot for Star Trek, “The Cage”, takes place on the fourth planet in the Talos system, and the implications of going there could be dire. The Talosians possess the power of illusion, able to project any illusion they deem fit.
After the events of Pike’s mission in 2254, travel to the system was banned by General Order VII. The fact the Burnham may be going there is surely something that has not been documented. In the TOS episodes “The Menagerie I & II”, we learn that prior to the return of the Enterprise in 2267, no other ship had been there other than the SS Columbia that crashed there in 2236. Though if Burnham makes it there in the guise of Section 31, it stands to reason why it will be off the books.
While this episode mostly felt like a filler, it set up what could be an interesting trip to Talos IV, introducing a virus from the future, and ending the search for Spock. Now we are tasked with finding out Spock’s connection to the red angel, which should provide enough intrigue to keep us on edge for the rest of the season. Admittedly, while I believe the trip to Talos IV will be exciting, I’m still puzzled about the why. Spock has an obvious connection to Talos IV, but why would he be so dead set on revisiting it. I think it could provide us a better look into why he was so invested in the events of “The Menagerie”.
What are your thoughts on this episode? Was the search for Spock worth it? Any new clues on his connection to the red angel? Talos IV? Leave questions or comments below.