Anomalies. What Star Trek fan doesn’t love an anomaly? I like ‘em, you love ‘em, Starfleet bridge crews definitely love ‘em, and Discovery is no exception. But Discovery is still the show it has been from the start, which means its approach to exploring the unknown of the week is going to be much, much more dramatic than its predecessors would’ve dreamed of being.
“Anomaly,” on the floor, may simply be any basic plot-of-the-week in your commonplace Star Trek, distilled to its most simple description: the crew journey to, and examine, the titular mysterious anomaly. In truth, it’s even a two for one deal, as a result of in doing so it’s additionally that basic “two characters who don’t like each other are forced to go on an away mission together, which goes wrong and they learn to have an understanding of each other by the time they make it out alive.” It’s reductive, to make certain. But for the primary time shortly—between the high-stakes finish of season three’s finale and season 4’s contemplative, however nonetheless extremely dramatic opening final week—Discovery is giving itself the possibility to only be a Star Trek present.
It’s not a breather, nevertheless, as that is nonetheless Discovery—and for higher or worse, that implies that it will probably’t merely simply be Star Trek, it must be on it, and the “it” right here is “incredibly high stakes stressful drama oh god everything is blowing up aaaaaaah.” That’s actually what Discovery brings to the desk in a approach its predecessors didn’t. The Enterprise or Voyager crew may deal with two binary black holes producing gravitational fluctuations with a indifferent scientific curiousity, as a result of it’s actually what we’ve been taught to see Starfleet’s heroes as: calm, collected, and really considering Space Stuff. Discovery’s crew and its new captain are related, however during the last three seasons they’ve additionally been allowed to be extra human about it within the course of. Which means when the inevitability of issues going sideways begins to occur in “Anomaly,” not solely do they achieve this to extremely explosive impact, however the crew is put via a bodily, psychological, and emotional wringer in addition, leaving you virtually simply as exhausted as they’re when every little thing involves an in depth.
This appears like a nasty factor—and is perhaps to some detractors who nonetheless don’t like that Discovery’s bridge crew aren’t that prim-and-proper concerning the wild nonsense they’ve put up with. But as Lower Decks has confirmed, albeit to a way more comedic relatively than dramatic impact, there’s a form of allure and catharsis to watching Starfleet officers reckon with the fully insane, cool, science-y, and cataclysmic stuff they face week in, week out by simply having form of a scream and shout about it. If Discovery goes to be the form of sci-fi present the place the stakes are so intensely excessive on a regular basis—the anomaly in “Anomaly,” in fact, is a menace to the complete galaxy, and our heroes’ reward for exploring it’s only to find that it may destroy any planet, wherever, at any random course—then each infrequently, taking the time to see its characters reckon with the emotional exhaustion of even one thing as humdrum as a scientific investigative mission with these stakes may be extremely rewarding.
And for probably the most half, “Anomaly” is that. Even earlier than issues get unhealthy as Discovery sends Book’s ship to discover the titular anomaly for extra information, Michael finds herself struggling to attach as both captain or associate to Book himself, nonetheless devastated by the lack of his homeworld Kwejian final week. Playing on the teachings she struggled to articulate with President Rilak within the premiere, “Anomaly” turns into concerning the instances when a captain does should be in flux in a harmful scenario, about when to be the indifferent chief making selections along with your head, and when your coronary heart is required to hook up with your crew and get them via in a single piece. Michael additionally finds herself with the blessing of Saru’s return to the Discovery as first officer, an emotional rock that will get her via the hazard of navigating a stellar object that might, at any second, fling her crew and ship aside in a hail of sound and fury. Finding these rocks among the many crew turns into important the extra explosive and panicked “Anomaly” turns into—Stamets, holographically dragged alongside for the journey to amass scanning information in Book’s ship, desperately tries to make his rock the disgruntled Kwejian, who rightly factors out that they’ve barely spoken to one another earlier than. Tilly, making an attempt to not crack below the stress elevated on her by her promotion and the lingering fallout of her rescue-mission-gone-wrong final week, virtually breaks snapping at Adira, who likewise continues to be processing their perceived failures final week on that very same mission. And Book himself, uncooked and misplaced after the demise of his homeworld and household, struggles to search out that his rock is finally Michael, not till it’s virtually too late.
In exhibiting all these fracture factors with these characters—emotionally and, darkly funnily, virtually actually, as Dr. Culber spends most of his time this episode working across the bridge along with his new Thirty first-century medical gear, letting him virtually immediately heal gaping head wounds and cracked ribs with a couple of waves of a software—all through what would, in basic Star Trek, be a form of every-week scientific prevalence, Discovery reminds us of the sorts of human, emotional turmoil that’s the actuality of a life in a company resembling Starfleet. We can joke about how loopy it’s these figures normally strategy life-threatening cosmic weirdness prefer it’s administrative forms in different Trek reveals, however Discovery’s preponderance for giant stakes and massive feelings reveals simply how anxious and harmful like in Star Trek can actually be. And crucially, it follows up with a cathartic launch when the rapid menace is over, and our heroes make it out of the anomaly’s fringes in a single piece. We get to see, over the closing minutes of “Anomaly,” characters like Tilly, Adira, Book, Stamets, and Michael launch the extreme feelings they’ve simply construct up and needed to let simmer over the course of the episode, and crucially see them doing so by confiding truthfully within the buddies round them, giving them paths ahead to heal and transfer on from their present rawness.
“Anomaly” won’t do a lot by way of advancing Discovery’s present main overarching plot, and its means to show even the most straightforward of Trek premises into high-stakes, cinematic motion wildness is perhaps a bit too exhausting for some. But acknowledging the stresses of these stakes from time to time throughout the textual content and inside its characters, and reminding us all the want this crew has in leaning on one another to get via the act of simply current in Star Trek: Discovery’s world, positively makes it price bearing via the gravitational ups and downs.
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