Thursday, December 7, 2017

Discovery 1x8 "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum"

rating: **

the story: Saru is compromised by aliens.

what it's all about: This is the first episode to really disappoint me from the series.  It's as flat a story as could be expected, with Saru being featured at face value, which for me is the most disappointing thing about it, as Saru has consistently been a highlight of Discovery, who along with Burnham has been the uniting element from the early twists of the journey.

Then this happens.  "If you want peace, prepare for war," as the title translates.  The title has far more to do with Lorca than Saru, which is about as telling as the undercooked nature of the episode can be expected to deliver.  It's clearly an homage to classic Star Trek storytelling, with too many examples to bother referencing here (yeah, I've indulged that instinct plenty of times in other reviews across the franchise, but I don't really think it's relevant for an iteration of the franchise that has until this point gleefully broken new ground).  That's a problem especially if the subject is Saru and we're supposed to just accept that it's a logical conclusion to tell it this way because of the nature of the character, and feel warm and fuzzy because he feels a sense of peace he's never known and...This was the chance to expand the character, not limit him, and yet that's exactly what happens.

Logistically, the episode also comes up with a convoluted turning point for the Klingon conflict, a Star Trek scenario where the good guys have to be the good guys for traditional reasons...Again, this is below the series.  Deep Space Nine, which broke this ground, never stooped to something like this.  It just reeks of that last itch of the growing pains following the loss of showrunner Bryan Fuller, like someone was desperately trying to figure out where everything was supposed to go without really thinking about it, so they fudged it.  And that fudging is a whole episode.

criteria analysis:
  • franchise - Casual fans will probably see how this connects to Star Trek tradition.
  • series - But Discovery fans ought to feel something like a slap in the face.
  • character - In any other context, this Saru spotlight would be much more acceptable, but instead it's disappointing, even if it's nice that it finally happened.
  • essential - No, not really.

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