In an episode full of arresting images, the Discovery becomes lodged half in, half out, of the network. But is the revelation of May’s secret purpose worth the wait?

As with the past few episodes, this second season of Star Trek: Discovery continues to be surprisingly fragmented in its storytelling. Last season was defined as “a juggernaut of forward momentum” “a great white shark of plot”, but this year the storylines tread water week after week as the focus shift about.  Saints of Imperfection continues to redefine May, Section 31 and Spock.

This week’s subplot continues to explore Tilly’s imaginary friend, May, the interdimensional fungus that infected Tilly and consumes Tilly whole. Tilly has been ‘biological transported’ to another universe. And from there it just gets weird.

Soon Burnham and Stamets have convinced Pike to crash the Discovery into the mycelial network  – half in, half out – so they can undertake a rescue mission for Tilly.  This seems to contradict the plot point that the use of the spore drive damages the ecology of the network. After all, Starfleet has already committed to never using the drive again. As it happens, the whole plot line across multiple episodes turns out to be about resurrecting an old dead character – one, I’ve got to admit, I never found all that impressive in the first place.

The writers seem to have been reverse engineering of the plot of last season to bring a character back and the story simply struggles to create some justification for it..  I must admit the Discovery sitting partly in our universe, seemingly cut in half, is a striking image but implementation of the idea stretches credulity.

The premise that the decks submerged in the network are fatal makes sense but why is it possible to walk between the universes in engineering?  And that somehow magic kisses can transport a dying man’s soul to another universe where a new body can be made for him out of fungus mimicking flesh and credulity snaps.  Does that now mean one our main cast members is made out of some sort of Quorn? Unless this is leading to something more, it seems substantial screen time this season has just been wasted.

Ensign Tilly (Mary Wiseman) and 'May' (Bahia Watson) make their way back aboard Discovery after it crashes into the network in pursuit of the abducted Tilly (c) CBS All Access
Ensign Tilly (Mary Wiseman) and ‘May’ (Bahia Watson) make their way back aboard Discovery after it crashes into the network in pursuit of the abducted Tilly (c) CBS All Access

Section 31 – The super-secret spy agency is back

The Section 31 plot is only slightly more believable.  The ‘dirty tricks’ division hidden within Starfleet and largely unacknowledged with a penchant for wearing black leather versions of the standard Starfleet uniforms, matte black badges, and light dimmers on their bridge makes them difficult to take seriously as an intelligence agency.   Certainly, they wouldn’t be able to see any of their intel in the darkness.

Michelle Yeoh’s deposed Mirror Universe Emperor is pleasingly slithery as ever but why would Section 31 recruit her?  After all, it’s the type of operation that requires fanatical loyalty to the state. Not someone whom they know works by murdering her way to the top of any food chain.

By the same token, Ash Tyler still being alive is supposed to be a massive secret which could topple the government of the Klingon Empire and re-ignite the Federation/Klingon war. But Section 31 not only recruit him as a field agent, they immediately send him to the one place in the Federation he’s guaranteed to be recognised.

The upside to this rather lacklustre episode is that at least appears to have finished resetting the plot. Which hopefully means that next week the central storyline of the Red Angel and Spock can finally take centre stage and begin to progress.

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.

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