‘Sanctuary’ explores the politics of prudence

The issues surrounding Moclan culture have been slowly and steadily building since "About a Girl" last season, and have continued to magnify ("Primal Urges," "Deflectors") throughout this season. They reach a boiling point with "Sanctuary," which is an effective and involving drama that falls back on a number of classic Trekkian elements, including the impassioned public hearing and the tense diplomatic crisis.

While one could argue that we’ve perhaps seen too much of the Moclans over these first two seasons, I would instead argue that what the writers have done is build a solid arc across a series using an episodic format. I’m reminded of the way Worf’s discommendation arc and the Klingon civil war played out in the middle seasons of TNG.

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Trailer: ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’

The first teaser trailer for Episode IX has dropped. Discuss it here!

The importance of being earnest

"Such Sweet Sorrow," right down to its corny Shakespeare-quoting title, is an hour of extreme earnestness, featuring grand gestures of selflessness, last-minute family reunions, naked sentimentality, and lots of tearful goodbyes. I mean, they really laid it on thick here. Here’s an hour that slows down to acknowledge the character relationships, but is completely ham-fisted about it. I’ll also say this: There had better be a major shakeup of this series coming in next week’s season finale for this episode to have been remotely earned. Discovery — or at least Michael Burnham — had better be riding permanently off into the sunset of the distant future.

We left last week with the Enterprise en route to rescue the crew of the Discovery after it was decided the only way to destroy the sphere data and keep it out of Control’s hands was to auto-destruct the ship. Well, it turns out this plan also doesn’t work, because the data has now merged with Discovery‘s computer and has enough control of the ship to disarm the auto-destruct. It also raises its shields when the Enterprise starts firing torpedoes at it. So it’s back to the drawing board, with only an hour before Control’s Section 31 ships arrive.

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Pike confronts his destiny

I’m finding the serial nature of Discovery — particularly the past few weeks where the episodes are more chapter-like with incremental arc progress than they are episodic standalones — is starting to make the reviewing process somewhat more tedious as we reach the end of the season. There are only so many ways I can say I was moderately entertained by an hour of sci-fi action-adventure while shrugging at the big picture because it’s deferred for yet another week.

But that’s the MO of this series. Advance the plot in mechanically incremental but not especially substantively groundbreaking ways (because we still have two episodes after this one). Deliver some decent dialogue scenes. Reveal a somewhat significant character insight. Have a major action set-piece. End on a cliffhanger that teases us for next week. This, as I say nearly every time, is adequately diverting. But it’s becoming considerably less interesting to write about as the season goes on. I’ve reached the point where I want to know what the destination is. The journey documenting Control’s desire to take over the galaxy has probably gone on long enough — and an evil AI devoid of any plausible motivation for its plan to wipe out all life is not particularly compelling as villains go.

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Infinite timelines in infinite combinations

"Perpetual Infinity" is another frequently exciting episode of Action Thriller Trek that moves the season arc forward and is mostly sold on its sense of adrenaline, which continues to deliver admirably. But it also comes at a moment in the season when the arc begins supplying answers and tying together threads, and the big picture begins coming into focus. And I’m wondering how much of this is going to make sense by the end. The truth is, it probably doesn’t have to make very much sense because manipulating timelines means probably anything is possible.

There are some points here I’m confused about. I’d watch it again to clarify details, but I don’t have time in my schedule for that, and I don’t own a time-traveling suit to make more time. (Besides, I have doubts that a rewatch would necessarily clear things up.)

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