Discovery’ Embraces Second Chances In “Under The Twin Moons” – TrekMovie.com

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“Under the Twin Moons”

Star Trek: Discovery Season 5, Episode 2 – Debuted Thursday, April 4, 2024
Written by Alan McElroy
Directed by Doug Aarniokoski

Season 2 continues strong with more action and a focus on characters and Trek themes.

Meet the captains.

 

WARNING: Spoilers below!

RECAP

“Power of creation, here we come”

Captain Burnham has a moment to consider philosophical questions about the meaning of life as Discovery gets all that sand from Q’Mau removed. The profound stakes of her mission to find the Progenitors’ power have her pondering if she will find new purpose. Her mood could also be due to this being Saru’s last day as first officer. Before they can head off to find the next clue, Michael is summoned to a heated tribunal for Captain Rayner, called to the space carpet for his reckless actions in episode 1. Michael doesn’t want to be a squealer but when pressed, admits she disagreed with Rayner and told him so. His Burn-era cowboy ways aren’t cutting it with Admiral Vance and President Rillak, and once he accuses them of sitting on their “asses” ignoring threats, the Kellerun’s future in Starfleet is not looking good. After Vance checks in with Michael to make sure Book isn’t a distraction, she makes sure her ex (and Grudge) are settling in, keeping it friendly and profesh. He is to work with Hugh and Paul to sort out clues left behind by Dr. Vellek. She also gives him (and Grudge) a cute holo-mouse toy, so they’re going to be fine.

Arriving at Lyrek, Adira and Tilly (on loan from SFA as a “science specialist”) brief Burnham and Saru on how the shadow of twin moons points to an old Promellian necropolis, but an energy field means they will have to hoof (literally for Saru… ha!… sorry) from the beam-in spot. In tactical gear, Michael and Saru take a beat to acknowledge their “last dance” and appreciate the serene beauty of this garden spot before heading to the biggest pyramid. The pair takes this time to joke about Reno giving the Kelpien the nickname “Action Saru” and reminisce about how far they have come together. The former USS Shenzhou shipmates are way past their early sibling rivalry, now seeing the best in each other in this sweet moment that feels like a goodbye. Saru offers advice on his replacement as first officer, suggesting she find someone who stands their ground, not unlike Book… but not actually Book. The stakes rise when they spot a very old skeleton, but it still leaves time for Saru to drop a “grave disappointment” dad joke. A spike in the EM field has Tilly concerned, Michael assures there is nothing to worry about… oh, except the killer drones that just emerged from a giant collapsed four-eyed alien statue head. Run!

Action Saru… complete with Kung-fu Quills!

“We are running out of body parts here ”

On the Disco, Adira and Tilly struggle over how to help the landing party, now hiding under a giant stone foot as the drones fire on them, and then blow up on suicide runs (only to be replaced by more drones). As the flustered nerds run through a series of unworkable options, Rayner holograms himself into the situation—because he’s been secretly watching from HQ, but that’s totally not creepy—and starts guiding them towards a solution that factors in how the ancient Promellians would power an automated security system. The solve is to overload a phaser inside the giant statue head, the source of the drones, which sort of seems obvious, but still, teamwork! Michael wants to take the tough job of target distraction since Saru is about to get hitched, but he reminds her he is stronger and faster and T’Rina would expect him to do his duty. So off he goes like a Kelpien Steve Austin, dodging fire (actually getting hit once) and dispatching drones with his quills. Action Saru, indeed! Michael drops the phaser bomb, buying them time—by now it’s clear why Dr. Vellek chose this ancient graveyard to hide a clue. Sneaky Romulan.

While everyone else is dealing with the danger forest, Book and Culber are building a profile of this season’s adversaries. Moll and L’ak are dangerous but not inherently violent. Moll is human, but L’ak is a mystery. Book sees they are in love, and their actions in episode 1 show him they are “thrillseekers” having a bit of fun as “Sui” couriers who take the most dangerous jobs. This gives him the idea to reach out directly via “dark coms,” using cringy courier slang. They take the bait and have a not-so-friendly chat via hologram. The former couriers have figured out what’s at the end of Vellek’s rainbow, so his diary is no longer for sale. Book tries to scare them with the Starfleet boogeyman, but the cocky duo relishes the challenge. They question if he is a real courier but seem impressed when he reveals his identity as Cleveland Booker before they hang up the (untraceable) call. Yet Book spotted something—and after de-aging Moll’s image (thanks, Zora) he realizes he knows her. Real name Malinne, she is the daughter of Cleveland Booker IV, his mentor and namesake. He never actually met her, but figures she is “the closest thing to family” he has. Wow.

How is it I am answering to all these primitives from 900 years ago?

“You held my hand and I was not afraid.”

Back on the forest planet, Michael and Saru are under a ticking clock before the drones power up again as they arrive at where the clues pointed with no ancient power source to be found. Curiously, the stone pillar they do find has fresh phaser scorching… There must have been more clues but Moll and L’ak beat them to it! Thankfully SaruSuperVisionTM  detects iridescent traces of writing in the form of a Romulan “revlav” poem. Michael deploys her old xenoanthropology powers to determine there are only four verses on the pillar, so where is the fifth? It must be hidden because Romulans are sneaky. They find the final verse under the pillar, which Moll and L’ak don’t have. She also finds a hidden object. Score! They beam out at literally the last second (naturally) before the EM defense field restarts. In the science lab, it turns out the thingie they found matches a mysterious symbol from the diary Stamets has been struggling with. Thanks to Zora creating a nice little stand, it’s now clear they have the first of five pieces of a map that will lead them to the Progenitors. And the poem tells them where piece number 2 is. “A world like no other where two souls entwine, joined as one.” Adira nails it: “We’re going to Trill.” Oh and Moll and L’ak only have the first four verses, which point to the wrong planet: Betazed, where hopefully the locals will passive-aggressively mock them telepathically.

Michael visits Saru as he packs up his very moist quarters. They reminsce again, recalling how in this very room she helped him through Vahar’ai. He offers her more parting advice to “trust the journey.” It’s one of those “it’s been an honor” kind of conversations and you can be forgiven for getting choked up, especially as Saru honors his friend, his family, with a Kelpien forehead embrace. Michael checks in with Vance who gives her the thumbs up on the day’s mission. As for Rayner, he has been asked to retire. She defends his actions and has the twinkle of an idea. Burnham finds the grumpy now former captain staring longingly at her ship. “They don’t make ‘em like that anymore,” he notes, which could be said about him. He is not willing to back down from his principles even if they did get him drummed out, but he regrets not anticipating what Moll and L’ak did on Q’Mau, putting all those people at risk. He seems lost, so Burnham offers him a lifeline… as her new XO. She’s impressed with how he helped out on the Lyrek mission even when no one asked him to. And he deserves a second chance like the one she got from Saru. He won’t be her “yes man,” and she’s counting on that. Zip up, it’s time for this mopey Kellerun to get back to work. Cue the music and fade to black.

Is that smell the swamp kelp?

ANALYSIS

Goodbye and hello

The second episode of this new season comes in just as strong as the first. With the premiere doing the heavy lifting of setting up the new tone, stakes, and plot arc for the season, episode 2 had more time to explore the characters and their arcs. A strong theme of second chances was woven into these character stories told mostly in pairs, with Michael and Saru getting top billing. Doug Jones was a standout on his last day on the job (thankfully not falling into the “retirony” trope) as he and Sonequa Martin-Green took a stroll (almost literally) through a memory lane of their series-long arc from rivals to family. Action Saru was a lot of fun and it was nice to see Discovery remember some of his cool Kelpien abilities. For the most part, the pacing kept things flowing between the character beats, although the show still has a thing for literally stopping the action for feelings sidebars. This can easily be forgiven as the production itself was gorgeous, with the second visit to a unique alien location. This season may have a new Indiana Jones tone and style, but this episode reminds us of the core Trek themes with messages like: “I think the world is bigger than our corner in it.”

Episode 2 also showed us what to expect from the new quest-focused season, laying out a map and clues that can form a nice structure that allow for standalone adventures which still fit into the big picture of the search for Progenitor gold. And even with that mystery thankfully revealed in episode 1, this episode presented us with some nice new ones like L’ak’s background and Book’s connection to Moll. This episode had more time to give almost everyone something to do and also clued us into their season arcs, although Stamets still gets the short end. Some of these characters are a bit lost, especially Book and Rayner, but we also see hints of how they will be found. Episode 2 was particularly good in defining Rayner, including his history with Vance, his drive and helpfulness on the mission, and the vulnerability under his gruff exterior. Callum Keith Rennie continues to impress as this great addition to the series. And it might be just a canon nod, but sharing the Grankite Order of Tactics honor with James T. Kirk is a hint at what they are going for with echoes of that legendary captain finding himself out of touch in post-Praxis 23rd century. No one can replace Saru (and he isn’t really leaving, just moving to Starfleet HQ), but the prospect of Rayner as Disco’s first officer opens up a whole new world of fun possibilities.

So do you get dizzy when the saucer spins around?

The visit to the planet and fighting off those drones certainly brought “The Arsenal of Freedom” vibes, but the ancient graveyard was actually another deep cut to the Promellans from “Booby Trap.” These types of things along with using bits of Romulan lore from Picard, like secret doors, shows how Discovery is fully embracing canon without indulging in nostalgia porn. Episode 2 also had more 32nd-century worldbuilding tidbits, including talk of Breen infighting and Orions (presumably Emerald Chain) regrouping. Hopefully these nods, along with some from episode 1, are part of a longer game of fleshing out this century and building upon the big season arc. Moll and L’ak now know what they are looking for and it’s likely they can start a bidding war with the various factions. That said, the show still ignores offering details on things that seem important, like what exactly is a Red Directive… and how has Rayner already done seven of them? And of course, keeping track of what programmable matter (which is essentially magic at this point) can and can’t do will only drive you crazy. But these are just nitpicks and in no way distracting from the overall enjoyment of the season so far.

Vance is disappointed his FedNet updates are flooded with “Zaddy” comments.

Final thoughts

Season 2 is off to a great start with an episode that is debatably better than the first, especially if you love these characters. The show has successfully pivoted without losing what makes Discovery, Discovery. After getting two in one day, it’s hard to have to wait for more.

Okay, but I am not moving into Saru’s swamp.

Bits

  • “Under the Twin Moons” was released simultaneously with the first episode of the season (reviewed separately).
  • Captain Burnham’s personal log was Stardate 866274.3. The last confirmed Stardate was 865783.7 in episode 411 “Rosetta.”
  • The mention of the sands from Q’Mau from episode 501 having “unknown radiative properties” feels like something that could pay off later.
  • Programable matter bracelets can make multiple phasers, in case you lose one or in this case, use one as a bomb.
  • The Starfleet Corps of Engineering got their first shoutout for the 32nd century.
  • Jett Reno came up with the nickname “Action Saru,” inspired in part by how he dealt with Zareh when the Discovery first arrived in the 32nd century in “That Hope Is You, Part 2.”
  • Book, Moll, and L’ak trade a lot of 32nd-century slang, including “kav’kar,” which sort of means BS.
  • Moll says since Vellek was a Romulan, his diary is out of the Federation’s jurisdiction, but the Romulans reunified with Vulcan to form Ni’Var, who have joined the Federation so ipso facto, it is their jurisdiction.
  • Vance’s (previously unnamed) daughter is named Charlie.
  • Saru’s quarters are going to be left as is, a microcosm of his swampy home planet Kaminar.
  • It’s unclear why, but do not touch Kelpien swamp kelp when it is in bloom.
  • Among the items Saru packs is the Kelpien knife used to cut off his threat ganglia in “An Obol For Charon.”

I hope T’Rina likes things misty.

More to come

Every Friday, the TrekMovie.com All Access Star Trek Podcast covers the latest news in the Star Trek Universe and discusses the latest episode. The podcast is available on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPocket CastsStitcher and is part of the TrekMovie Podcast Network.

The fifth and final season of Discovery debuted with two episodes on Thursday, April 4 exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., the UK, Switzerland, South Korea, Latin America, Germany, France, Italy, Australia, and Austria. Discovery will also premiere on April 4 on Paramount+ in Canada and will be broadcast on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel in Canada. The rest of the 10-episode final season will be available to stream weekly on Thursdays. Season 5 debuts on SkyShowtime in select European countries on April 5.


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