You’d be forgiven for wincing as this week’s episode begins because it brings back those pointy-clothed buzzkills from season one, the Klingons. Although it’s immediately apparent that something’s different. They’re more mobile, for one, and certainly more hirsute. And while they’re still speaking Klingon, it’s less stilted and Shakespearean now but they’re probably just excited about Discovery’s latest bit of conciliatory fan service: a glimpse of the iconic D7 battle cruiser.
The D7’s not the only nod to legacy trek this week, as “Point Of Light” is borrowing from the “Deep Space Nine” playbook as everyone’s bad decisions start to catch up with them and this being “Star Trek: Discovery”, there are a lot of bad decisions.
Burnham welcomes a surprise visitor to the USS Discovery, one who brings disturbing news about Spock while on the Klingon homeworld, L’Rell must quell dissent in the ranks. Meanwhile, Tilly is still seeing dead people and struggles to keep her mind on the command training programme.
Although it teeters on the brink of ‘lame of thrones’, the Qo’noS sections of the episode manage to maintain a pace and drama which consistently eluded the Klingon storylines last season. Everyone’s least favourite Star Trek ‘ship’ TyL’Rell actually get time to explore the ramifications of their twisted history and while it still feels distinctly un-Trek for L’Rell to be ruling the Klingon empire under threat of planetary destruction using an explosive device provided by The Federation, it’s the personal dramas which keep their story interesting. The secret baby feels a little too soap opera, but to be fair long lost sons actually have quite the history in “Star Trek”. It feels a bit cheap that their story concludes with a Georgiou Ex Machina but it’s probably a necessary evil to set up the forthcoming Section 31 spin-off which looks likely to boldly go further away from the essence of Star Trek than any series has gone before. With Ash Tyler now apparently on board, I wonder if any other characters will be making the leap to the dark (badge) side?
The brief conversation between Burnham and Tyler is actually quite touching, with both performers bringing real depth and feeling to the small talk. If their destiny is to be on different Star Trek shows, I hope there are still opportunities for the two of them to meet because character-wise, there’s a lot of unfinished business there. The throwaway comment about the Klingons regrowing their hair shows that even when the series is self-correcting it’s still self-conscious and needy enough to require you to notice. It’s a scab that Star Trek has been increasingly incapable of picking at it ever since the Klingon redesign of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”. “Deep Space Nine” had the right idea when they made a casual gag of it in “Trials And Tribble-ations” and then ignored it but “Enterprise” couldn’t resist going back to it and trying to square the circle, a deep-seated compulsion to canonise everything, regardless of his awkward or unnecessary, that is one of Trek (and it’s fandom’s) biggest current weaknesses.
Elsewhere in the episode, the season arc is maintained with the visit of Spock’s mother Amanda to the ship which gives Burnham the chance to reveal yet another terrible secret from her past. I say reveal because she never actually says what she did to destroy her relationship with Spock but it’s apparently bad enough that Amanda immediately grows cold towards her adopted daughter without any further explanation. I suppose it’s reassuring that although Burnham’s past bad decisions haunt her, they only haunt her to the degree that they don’t impede her ability to continue to make bad choices. Speaking of bad choices, Captain Pike continues to show an alarming willingness to disregard protocol and regulations when it suits his mission that it surely foreshadows something wicked comes his way.
The third part of the episode revisits Tilly’s continuing Wesley-isation on her command training programme, complicated by her own version of the Great Gazoo. This is where the episode breaks genuinely new ground for Discovery as Tilly tells Burnham that she’s having visions, marking possibly the first time one of the characters makes a good decision and we finally get a pay-off from Tilly’s dandruff problem in “What’s Past Is Prologue”.
Although I expected the worst, “Point Of Light” actually showed how much progress “Star Trek: Discovery” has made since the first season. It may be an episode made up of three B-stories none of which really has enough substance to carry the episode alone but given it was trying to tidy up a loose end from season one while back door piloting a spin-off show and juggle two of the series’ ongoing plotlines and move them forward, it managed to be pretty entertaining. I can’t believe I’m back to looking forward to Star Trek each week.