The revelations come thick and fast in the latest episode as we reach the home straight of Star Trek Season 2. Section 31’s involvement with Burnham’s past and the Red Angel’s identity finally revealed.
The crew of the discovery barely have time to mourn the dearly departed Airiam in the artfully shot funeral scene at the beginning of this episode (and yes, Doug Jones has confirmed on Twitter that it was indeed him singing that ethereal song) before the story arc thrusts them back into action. They have a red angel to catch and new information to help them do it.
Taking it upon herself to save the universe?
For once we get a briefing in the actual briefing room. A nice change of pace from the frantic, cut-heavy bridge based discussions this series usually delivers. And this briefing revealed an intriguing twist to the audience and the crew of Discovery – the Red Angel has Burnham’s bio-signature. And while this was obviously a red-herring, it led to some fantastic banter between Burnham and Spock continuing on one of the highlights of the last few episodes.
There is some emotional development their relationship and while brother and sister start at each other with the barbed comments we have seen in previous episodes, the episode concludes with the beginnings of a reconciliation with a quiet and touching scene.
Red Angel was a well-paced episode that woven many meaningful moments woven into the plot being forced or detracting from the story However, there was a notable exception.
There was a ‘new’ bridge crew member on board Discovery this week – sort of. Not everyone may know but Arium was portrayed by two different actors. In Season 1 Sara Mitich took on the role of the cyborg-enhanced Starfleet officer and in season 2 Hannah Cheesman did. With Arium’s death, a replacement on the bridge was needed – enter Lt Nisson who just happens to be portrayed by Sara Mitich, without extra make-up required for the role of Arium. That by itself is fine but when Lt Nisson steps on-screen the bridge crew provide somewhat knowing reactions to her presence. It is somewhat odd doesn’t belong and breaks the fourth wall in a way that is jarring.
Moving the pieces
Boiled down this episode has a straightforward plot – trap the Red Angel. The rest of the time outside this is taken up with running the chess pieces of our characters just one or two spaces down their own arcs. We see Culber continue adjusting to being back and seeking help to understand his own feelings. Saru confronts Leyland, demonstrating his bold and fearless new outlook on life and we finally learn what Leyland’s connection to Burnham’s parents. Alan Van Sprang manages to inject enough feeling into his remorseful performance that we start believing Leyland display is real rather than another Section 31 ploy.
The final act is effectively delivered. Burnham’s Suffocation is well done – with the acting, visual effects, music, directing and sound mix all combining to create quite a harrowing scene. However, the logic of the plan doesn’t quite fit. If Discovery’s crew truly believed that Burnham was the Red Angel then the master plan should have been kept from her or how would they capture her future self?
This paradox loop ends up being a moot point as Burnham’s mum was the Red Angel. A twist most of the audience didn’t see coming. Time and the remaining four episodes will tell whether this was a wise choice.
CBS All Access carries Star Trek: Discovery in the United States with new episodes every Thursday. In the UK and Ireland, it’s available on Netflix, with new episodes appearing on Fridays.