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    Five Thoughts on Star Trek Discovery‘s “The Red Angel”

    By | March 24th, 2019
    Posted in Television | % Comments

    1. Mourning

    It’s the moment we’ve all be waiting for, the capture and discovery of the nature of the Red Angel. But of course it does take us some time to get there and we have to properly mourn Lt. Commander Airiam before we can move on. She gave her life to save humanity, the needs of the many. The allusions to Spock’s funeral in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan are strong. In this movie, we hear only from Captain Kirk, his thoughts on his friend, but on Discovery, we hear the thoughts of a variety of crew members: Pike, Tilly, Stamets, Detmer, and Burnham. Each character reflects on Airiam’s life and contributions in ways that reflect their own interests and character. Instead of Scotty playing the bagpipes to send Spock off, Saru sings a Kelpian song to send Airiam off, towards a planet with a rising sun, just like Spock towards Genesis and its rising sun. Even the Starfleet insignia plays a prominent role in both scenes, as does the black photon torpedo tube, or coffin, they are sent off in. Or that giant sunglass case, as described by Jerry Seinfeld. Mourning the dead is an important ritual for those still alive and it is no different in the future world of Star Trek.

    2. The Red Angel

    She has been a mystery throughout season two, and here we finally get some answers. According to Tilly, Michael Burnham is the Red Angel, a revelation that leads to those aboard Discovery hatching a plan to capture her upon her next arrival; the only problem is determining when her next arrival will be. Section 31 — Leland, Georgiou, and Tyler — is collaborating with Discovery to find the Angel and capture her, after admitting that the tech she is using was, in face, developed by Section 31. In an oddly open moment, Leland confesses to Burnham that he was in charge of developing the time traveling suit the Angel is using, and that her parents were the ones doing the scientific work in order to develop it. He also confesses that he is responsible for the Burnhams’ deaths at the hands of the Klingons. Georgiou hinted at this earlier, but now it’s out in the open. Maybe that’s why he confessed; Georgiou is not one for keeping secrets, unless those secrets benefit her in the long run. For his actions, Burnham punches Leland right in the face, twice. Once for her mom and once for her dad. She may have spent part of her childhood being raised by Vulcans, but she’s all human emotion at heart.

    3. Reconciliation

    Spock and Burnham have not been on good terms; this is not a petty quarrel that has lasted for weeks, it is a major estrangement that has lasted for years. Burnham has tried to mend fences with Spock ever since she first found him while he was on the run from Starfleet, but Spock has fought to, well, continue fighting with his sister. In this episode we see Spock confront Burnham about her attack on Leland, and this interaction goes in a different direction; he tells her he wishes he was there to see her punch Leland…because he would have enjoyed it. Logically or emotionally, he doesn’t say. Spock is present for his sister, as he tells her both logic and emotion have failed her, and he knows how uncomfortable that can be. Here we see two individuals, two people from different worlds, thrust together as children under extreme circumstances, finding common ground. They are finding a way to heal their relationship and each other at the same time. Burnham finally has a reconciliation with her brother, one she has been reaching for desperately for since we first saw Spock appear this season.

    4. The plan

    Every good adventure story has a crazy plan. It’s so crazy, it just might work. And this episode has a crazy, crazy plan. As it turns out, Spock has discovered that Michael Burnham is the variance they have been looking for. She is the reason the Red Angel appears; the Angel is appearing to save Michael’s life. And so, Michael decides they must put her life in danger in order to capture it and find a solution to all of their problems: the Angel, AI, Control and the small problem of the destruction of all sentient life in the galaxy. Once Burnham gasping for breath on an inhospitable planet, dying a horribly painful death, with everyone watching, it seems like the Angel is not going to show up. Georgiou is surprisingly worried about Burnham and calls the plan off from the planet. Eventually, Pike calls the plan off from Discovery, but Spock is barring their way. He refuses to give up, and insists Burnham does not want to give up either, because they both know she has to die in order for the Angel to return. And he’s right. She does return, and saves Burnham’s life. We thought the big reveal was Burnham’s identity as the Angel, but when we see her, it’s not Burnham. It’s her mom.

    Continued below

    5. Random Thoughts

    Burnham and Tyler are struggling to mend their relationship, but Burnham cannot get over the fact that he works for Section 31, an entity she now knows is responsible for the death of her parents at the hands of the Klingons. But the strength of their love can’t allow for this parting once they both realize Burnham might die. Everything else is secondary in the face of death, it doesn’t matter that she disagrees with his choice of job, they reconcile before she heads to, possibly, her last mission. The outer shots of Discovery, the ones that follow the outside of the ship until finally resting on the action inside, remind me of similar shots from the Trek movies. A small homage, but enjoyable. Same with the TOS transporter sounds aboard Discovery – they evoke past memories and nostalgia. Georgiou continues to be one of my favorite characters. We see her enjoy the tension between Stamets and Culber, and she advises Tilly to enjoy it as well, instead of trying to cover it up because she doesn’t want them to feel awkward. Georiou is a student of human nature and human interactions, and she is an expert. She hasn’t gotten this far by being oblivious to those around her. Lastly, Leland attempts to override a security system while they are in the midst of capturing the Red Angel; we’re unclear on his motivation, but the system is boobytrapped, and it stabs him right in the eye. Is Georgiou behind this? That’s my first guess. She knows him, she knows men, and she has a strange mix of loyalty and love towards Michael Burnham, as well as a ruthless edge which drives her to succeed no matter the cost. I wonder which is more important to her.

    //TAGS | Star Trek Discovery

    Liz Farrell


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