Star Trek: Discovery

“Under the Twin Moons”

2.5 stars.

Air date: 4/4/2024
Written by Alan McElroy
Directed by Doug Aarniokoski

Review Text

The question is whether a retelling of TNG's "The Chase" can sustain an entire season. I suppose "Under the Twin Moons" is instructive in that regard, and documents the next step in the race, and it's better at finding the balance between Trekkian investigation and absurd action scenes than "Red Directive." Yes, there is a big action sequence, involving ancient aerial drones attacking Burnham and Saru on the surface of a long-uninhabited planet that holds still more signposts pointing to the ancient Progenitors. But it doesn't strain as hard to ratchet things up to 11, and simply gives us a tried-and-true planet-based Trek adventure.

On that level, it's serviceable, and at least we don't have endless dialogue being dispensed with strained artifice in the middle of hoverbike chases or warp-speed starship rides. And there's a certain poignancy in the fact that Saru is on his last mission before taking a diplomatic post at Starfleet Headquarters, and how Burnham doesn't want to send him into harm's way just after he's gotten engaged to marry T'Rina. (Indeed, Burnham and Saru feel at this point like the emotional center of this show, worn on the sleeve as it is.)

There's also more plot for Book to sink his teeth into, as he contacts Moll and L'ak through some "dark comms" in an attempt to talk them out of whatever their plan is. Book realizes Moll and L'ak are two people bonded in love through their adventures — which Book clearly envies. But the plot thickens when Moll appears to recognize Booker's name. After further research, Book learns that Moll is actually the daughter of his late mentor, Cleveland Booker IV. Which makes Moll his unofficial sort-of sister.

Also on the character front, Rayner, after being relieved of his command following his tirade in a disciplinary hearing (his actions amid the rockslide landed him in hot water with President Rillak, who finds his stubborn inflexibility unworkable amid the changing Federation political landscape), agrees to be Burnham's first officer in light of Saru's new job. He makes no bones over the fact that he won't be a "yes man." A forceful personality to play as a counterpoint to Burnham could be interesting.

I'm also wondering if this means Saru is going to be off the ship sooner rather than later, and, if so, if we will get side plots following his new job as a Federation ambassador. Such an idea couldn't hurt on the world-building front — which has not been very good over the past two seasons since we arrived in the 32nd century. Some early scenes throw some hints about the state of Federation affairs as it enters a new post-Burn renaissance phase, so hopefully all is not lost on that front.

But the main plot is about following the trail. As such, we learn the symbol in question here is actually a map, and it's part of a nifty 3D puzzle with five segments. Trill is the next stop on the journey, so perhaps Adira will find some resolution with their past and with Gray.

It remains to be seen if this season can fare better than past arc-driven seasons. At the very least, a galactic treasure hunt seems more promising in terms of warp-jumping and world-building than the Burn or the DMA did, so maybe this can work. On the other hand, 10 episodes of following breadcrumbs would not be a huge departure from past seasons. At the very least, it should hopefully be more fun. But we're not exactly off to a gangbusters start.

Some other thoughts:

  • "Action Saru." I didn't understand it until I saw it with my own eyes. But, yes.
  • "It's a beautiful ship," Rayner says of the Discovery. I only wish it were. It's actually pretty ugly. And I don't understand why all Federation ships on this series look so ... flattened, like they were smashed with a hydraulic press in a TikTok video.
  • Adira mentions to Tilly that they kind of like not having Gray around and being their own person for a change. Seems like a healthy advancement.
  • Having Federation Headquarters on a space station in deep space just feels claustrophobic and small. They should've moved HQ back to a planet after resolving the Burn and the dilithium shortage.

Previous episode: Red Directive
Next episode: Jinaal

Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.

◄ Season Index

Comment Section

19 comments on this post

    PROS:

    [1] I like the premise, mystery, and puzzle. I just hope that the upcoming puzzles themselves are interesting. I'll be disappointed if any major solves are uninspired (i.e., repeats of other popular puzzles elsewhere in film or pop culture).

    [2] I love the starship action!

    [3] I like the idea of Saru and the Vulcan getting married

    [4] I love the addition of Rayner! He's got Lorca & Shaw energy all about him. I also love the daring premise of him stepping down from the role of Captain to take a First Officer position. I think this sets up the potential for some truly great drama between Burnham and Rayner. They're two strong-minded individuals that will probably have some crazy dynamic conflicts. He also seems to be written in a way where we'll be expected to disagree with him on more than one occasion. But even so, he'll always have that "I set my ego aside" card in his back pocket as a foundation for every decision he makes, proving he's motivated by the mission and the benefit of the Federation (among the other actions he's taken that's established in these episodes).

    CONS:

    [a] We're still too deep into everyone's feelings. Are we generally in consensus that this is one of the show's flaws? I am _always_ a big proponent of character development, and I usually welcome talking about feelings on shows to address conflict, but I've hit my limit. It's really become a cumulative negative effect. I'm just like, "get to f**kin work!"

    [b] I want someone to come up with fresh technobabble. The idea of using an EMP to disable technology is an overly-treaded tech in TV & film; for it to be used here in the far-flung future feels ridiculous. Compounding on that is the convenience of learning that a phaser can develop its own EMP.

    [c] Kinda stupid that the Federation decided to discontinue development of the spore drive. I can see why writers may want to do that for storytelling reasons, but: goddamn you, writers, you already introduced the tech, backtracking like this just makes your characters seem idiotic. Especially when the reason seems to be "oh, someone destroyed the prototype. Let's give up!"

    OTHER THOUGHTS:

    [i] Soooo can officers just create as many phasers as they need provided their suits have the energy for it? Just how many phasers? Why didn't Saru use one when he was on the run?

    [ii] I thought they all carry their own personal force field? Why didn't Saru have one when he was on the run?

    [iii] I'm still hoping we will eventually see the bridge of a 32nd century starfleet ship before Discovery ends.

    [iv] The tie-in to TNG... I honestly don't know how I feel about that. TNG is my favorite of all Trek franchises, but ever since we came off the heels of Picard's Season 3, it feels like we should have a nice long break from all that. I would have preferred a tie-in to DS9.

    [v] I hope Zora will somehow play a more active role as an individual, kinda like KITT from Knight Rider. That may just be wishful thinking since she's always meant to be staffed with someone in command...

    Oh no, Discovery just introduced a straight white male as the new first officer. Whatever will this comment section bitch about now?

    Burnham only cried twice per episode. Well, she may have cried three times in the second episode. Does it count as crying if the tear doesn't quite leave her eye?

    Looks like the show is finally committing to some cool new 32nd century tech. Like infinite phaser summonses and autodeploying spacesuits on vacuum detection. The effort to create a consistent imagined technological "language" for this future is appreciated, if overdue. Although, no personal forcefields in those firefights? I guess it's the classic arms race thing: a gun is only effective as a gun if it can defeat a personal-sized forcefield, so any gun they would be using would be able to defeat a personal-sized forcefield, so why use a personal-sized forcefield at all. Or something like that.

    Every time they do some kind of bike chase or drone shootout or whatever, I'm just kind of bored and biding my time until it's over and we can get back to the plot. Or the character moments (mixed bag that they are). Just, you know, something actually somewhat interesting. Not the reaction they're going for, considering that's where they're spending all their money and effort, and yet. Maybe it's a "me" thing. But is it? Or is it a "most Star Trek fans" thing?

    Hey, when's the last time Discovery itself got into a firefight? Like a proper space battle, not just tiny little fighter craft or whatever. But two capital ships slugging it out. Was it honestly the season two finale? If you must be this way, Discovery, I would like to see that. How about spending some money on that?

    Oh look Tilly's back. And she's in a whole bunch of scenes with Adira. And they are literally the same character. Like, they're exactly the same character. They're written the same way and any of their lines could be given to the other and they would be delivered in exactly the same manner. It's Big Tilly (Big Big Tilly) and Little Tilly. Double Tillyvision. Oh joy.

    I'm honestly much more attached to many of the supporting cast, like Owo, Detmer, Vance, Kovich, Rillak, and T'Rina, than half of the main cast that the believes are worth all its focus. At least Book continues to be a bright spot. Book makes Burnham almost bearable at times.

    I thought the actor who played Fred did a really good job. In a world where Discovery was a better show, they would have repaired Fred and dragged him along on this wild quest of theirs.

    Which quest, I am glad it isn't yet another mystery we need to wait nearly the entire season to understand.

    I didn't even bother getting excited when the Antarres showed up and was shuttling around with Discovery that we might finally get to go aboard and see the inside of a 32nd century ship because I knew we would not. AND: we didn't.

    EMP was dumb. Listen, we can already shield against that shit. Want to tell me the future can't?

    But at the end of the day, neither of these episodes committed any terrible sins, and perhaps that's the best I can say for them. I'm not terribly interested in anything the show is doing, but it didn't piss me off. Perhaps I'm more cynical now and less open to Discovery's take on Star Trek, having been two years since it was last on and with two seasons of Strange New Worlds, Picard season 3, and some honestly-pretty-great Lower Decks episodes having aired in the meantime, doing a vastly better job of being Trek.

    It's the moment we've all been waiting for: the beginning of the end for ST: Discovery. When JT, one of Nu-Trek's greatest cheerleaders is starting to get cynical about the start of another season you know that its welcome cannot wear much thinner.

    The final season encapsulates Discovery well with the MacGuffin they're chasing being a literal Mystery Box. Fortunately before long we find out what's inside and how it's meant to lead to still more MacGuffins. Looks like it's going to be a very cinematic action plot as they track down various pieces of the map, each culminating in frenetic and eye-catching set pieces. This...may actually not be so bad if you allow yourself to forget that you're watching Star Trek, but see it more aptly as a generic yet serviceable blockbuster showcase. Or at least, the made-for-TV equivalent of that. These action scenes are certainly well-done, and are complemented with flashy enough CGI.

    I also liked the callback to the Progenitors and have always figured that some sort of follow-up to such an epic and important story was deserved... too bad it took them til the rushed final season of DISC to get to that point. Really hoping the writers don't fumble this promising opportunity to make something of it.

    Some old problems rear their ugly heads as expected. Like how everyone gets all sentimental and navel-gazy especially right when there are more urgent and important matters at stake. Or how people suddenly know the answer to what we're told are nearly-insoluble problems...just because they're them and not someone else. Only the genius of Book can deduce that outlaws fleeing from the Federation would avoid Federation space. Only Burnham miraculously knows exactly which twinned-moon system to head to while the Starfleet Intelligence expert vacillates between thousands of possibilities. Annoyingly, they use this impossible or too-obvious knowledge for as leverage for why they're needed on this mission.

    One thing I didn't quite get is why Rayner is basically fired for pulling the kind of audacious stunts that have gotten Burnham congratulated and promoted in the past. She's certainly no less mouthy about it than him either. The only difference is that the consequences didn't work out for the best...which wasn't even his fault to begin with. Burnham seems to have this reality-warping field around her which causes events to conveniently unfold in her favor. It's why she supplanted Saru as captain of the Discovery, and now it's why she gets her choice of first officer, precisely when the old one is about to leave. Only now it's even more insulting for this decorated captain to take a demotion in order to serve under her and it's framed as her doing this great favor to him. If she really respected him and cared about his interests, she'd convince Vance to give him back his command and not anything so self-serving and demoralizing as that.

    But when Rayner initially asked Vance, "My mission or hers?" I half-expected to Vance to just smile and say "You know the drill."


    Random thoughts:

    - Burnham's all like "They're trapped in there and losing life support but WOW WEEEEEE, how fun is this?!"

    - Burnham sounds kinda hoarse and a bit stilted at times... it is not a pleasant aural experience when she gets really excited or throws her voice

    - Saru's impassioned words to T'Rina, about how she's 'his home, his family and still so much more' would be touching...if he didn't say basically the same thing to Sukal. Okay, maybe his steadfast devotion to the screaming manchild lacked the same romantic undertones, but here is a guy who keeps on treating his duty and decorated career like it's a secondary consideration to this or that newly introduced minor character with precious little in the way of development to justify such life-altering decisions. They're already considering getting married and they just barely met, it feels like....

    - What happened to Tilly? Did she get swapped with her MU clone or is her hair and makeup person way overcompensating?

    Since it looks like Jammer will not be splitting up the review pages for the first two episode, my thoughts on Under the Twin Moons...

    Eh, it's fine. Good even. Unlike the premier, there were no notably weird/awkward scenes which dragged things to a screeching halt. It was a competent hour or so of light action-adventure, with a few surprisingly adult emotional interactions for a show that veers too oft towards the maudlin. Michael and Saru arguing about which of them should risk their life (all while Michael cried) did absolutely nothing for me, but their final scene where Saru was packing up worked great - referencing back emotional moments across past seasons that didn't work then, but worked fine now. Even better was Michael's recruitment talk with Rayner for XO, which explicitly mirrored her entire arc, but didn't feel contrived. Probably helps a bit as well that Rayner feels like Lorca in terms of surface presentation.

    Some of the choices made were incredibly tropey (ancient temple with booby traps, puzzle with missing pieces). Still, a tropey story isn't necessarily a bad story. I really can't think of anything other than nitpicks to complain about here (other than low-level unease regarding the season arc as a whole).

    I let that sink in overnight, and today I am still sur­pris­ed that I found the two epis­odes a lot bet­ter than my cy­ni­cal self had pre­dict­ed. But let’s speak about the negatives first.

    The writing is as bad as ever, with numerous Marvelesk lines (“This is not what I expected when the night started”), in­appro­pri­ate col­loquia­lisms (“Duty calls”) and ex­po­si­tion that makes the cha­rac­ters look dumb (“What are the little tiny floaty things?”). When I heard “So­me­how, Dr. Vellek found their tech­no­logy” I burst into laugh­ter — se­ri­ous­ly, is there any­one be­sides the wri­ters that hasn’t seen the Ep9-memes? And even that got top­ped with “I think this is a map of some kind” (I wait­ed for “… and it leads to Luke Skywalker”).

    The problems, however, go beyond choice of words, as the plot­ting re­mains a col­lec­tion of holes. Why does Star­fleet know a 800 year old Ro­mu­lan ship is a threat? Why does the Pump­kin & Ho­ney Bun­­ny team know what to steal from a ship full of anti­­qui­­ties? Why does every­one as­su­me they got the mor­sels while 99% of all stuff was still there? Why does Burn­ham sug­gest Lyrek and not any other planet with a multitude of moons in exotic con­fi­gu­ra­ti­ons? Why did pre­vious ex­pe­di­ti­ons to Lyrek not re­port on the de­fen­se sy­stem?

    And, most importantly, what is so important about the Pro­geni­tors and their technological abilities? Sure, they know a lot about DNA and evolution so that they can seed the galaxy with some­thing (spores? bac­te­ria?) that will pro­du­ce an abun­dance of in­tel­li­gent life 4½ bil­lion years later, in a kind of pre­de­ter­min­ed evo­lu­ti­on. But I fail to see the tac­tical or cul­tu­ral or mili­tary sig­ni­fi­can­ce of that — really, it’s only a pro­gram writ­ten in DNA, not some se­mi-magi­cal mat­­ter and time re­ar­rang­ing gon­cu­la­tor.

    And the hugging and smiling on the bridge goes on and on. Dis­co­v­e­ry is what it is. At least, Burn­ham stopped interrupting every­body, and I guess one has to be gra­te­ful for that.

    Speaking of the Good: De­spite their sig­ni­fi­cant run­time, the two episodes did not bore me like much that happened in S3 and S4. There was a sense of ex­ci­te­ment and raw kinetic energy in the action, and the treasure hunt format did provide a satisfying mix of mystery and revelations, not that drag­ged-out mys­tery box BS we all know and loathe.

    The Soong-style Android was an unexpected and welcome ad­di­ti­on, and one of the very first ti­mes that Trek v3 calls back to it­self. Since I am more le­ni­ent to PIC S1 than most here, I am ac­tu­ally hap­py to see that the Synth co­lo­ny ma­nag­ed to sur­vi­ve for some time. Also, “The Chase” always seemed an un­der­rat­ed TNG epis­ode to me; it is very far from perfect but poses an intriguing pre­mise. Thus, it is a good place to return and improve on it, in the same way as LD repeatedly did with me­dio­cre old epis­odes, of­ten with suc­cess.

    This season also comes with some of the more interesting vil­lains of Trek v3. They are introduced as not exactly evil, but daring and cocky, and a lot of fun to watch. When Ho­ney Bun­ny murdered Fred mercilessly, I got unsure of what to think of them, but the re­ve­la­tion at the clos­ing of Ep. 2 con­vin­ces me that she will get the Jurati treatment in the end. Still, that sounds bet­ter than al­most all we had before in Trek v3, with the Diviner from PRO perhaps being the best (in no small part because of John Noble).

    Another plus is Captain Rayner, an ex­pe­rienc­ed Cap­tain with a dif­fe­rent out­look on the world, doubt­less­ly shap­ed by his up­brin­ging in a post-Burn uni­ver­se. Please don’t turn him into a Burn­ham wor­ship­per, and don’t kill him off in Shaw style. I dare you, I double dare you, you motherwriters!

    So yes, I am hooked enough to look forward to next Thursday with limited optimism (and any joke about “beaten Trek­kie syn­dro­me” here).

    Yeah, I'm surprised at this.

    Because really, Episode 1 and 2 are better than the entirety of DISCO so far and I mean that put together. I didn't hate Season 1, I did hate Season 2, I was mostly pretty okay with Season 3 (and disliked the fact it Jettisoned all of the build up in the previous seasons) and HATED Season 4. However, Season 5 1 and 2 are fantastic.

    + This is a sequel to TNG's "The Chase", which I appreciate because I liked the Progenitors but I feel like they could have added a disclaimer, "Obviously, evolution is still real and true but it explains a few holes in the fossil record."

    + I absolutely love the villains are just a pair of smugglers and feel like they are so much of a breath of fresh air after the fact that universal threats were overwhelming all the other seasons. They're also incredibly fun villains as well.

    + The Tomb Raider/Uncharted energy was something I didn't expect to like as much as I did.

    + I really hate that they're writing Tilly off from being a captain because she had the most captain energy of them all. On the other hand, I have strong hopes Mary Wiseman will be the lead on Starfleet Academy.

    + Is the other Starfleet captain half-Ferengi?

    + I really would love to know what David Cronenberg is? He acts like he's the actual head of the Federation. I would not be surprised if he turns out to be CONTROL having been fixed and repaired.

    + The appearance of a Soong android was a welcome surprise.

    + I like how Stahmets reaction to the spore drive is, "Okay, they don't give a shit about it anymore in the future so I have no legacy whatsoever." It's kind of hilarious how this shoe has written away so much of its own premise.

    + Lots of excellent visuals.

    + I DO hate the fact that they have a "Blue Wall of Silence" in Starfleet by Burnham's reaction to being asked by the President to testify against her fellow officer. That's an attitude we totally need to get rid outside of a playground.

    Will just add, in a far future where environmental suits can materialize when exposed to space, produce/replicate phasers, offer mobile transporters, and run detailed tricorder-like scans, it is a bit odd that they do not also offer some form of defense or shields. For that matter, it's a bit odd that some form of remote holo-emitter, like the one Geordi was experimenting with in 'Interace,' would not have been refined and exist by this point. Obviously the absence is for dramatic reasons, but the absence of plausible technology is, again, a bit odd. Then again, view screens are still the go-to three hundred years from now. Nitpicking.

    While these offerings are an improvement pacing-wise over previous seasons, no episode of Discovery seems able to escape its fundamental flaws: magic technology and overbearing emotionalism. And despite the glowing early reviews, the Macguffin of THIS season will most likely turn out to be the worst of all.

    Five seasons in, I remain unable to get into the series, no matter how I'm pressured to do so. The writing room of this show lacks an understanding of what allows actionable drama. It doesn't work as science fiction because it's too far removed from what we know today. Previous series worked hard to remain somewhat scientifically informed. Warp drive made sense theoretically and retained key limitations that allowed...y'know, plots. Technobabble abounded, but it existed in a recognizable universe. And the writers' team, once it all came together around TNG Season 3 at least, possessed good talent at riding the line, at least often enough to make the drama believable.

    Here, nothing is coherent. The omniscience of 32nd century technology simply hemorrhages plot holes. I've said it before and I've said it again, tech like programmable matter, infinite phasers, and spore drives are prohibitive of drama. If you essentially have a supply of inexhaustible grenades, for example, millenia-old drones aren't going to be a problem. Just sucked all the reward out of that entire sequence (which went on for entirely too long). No matter how hard the writers try, the endless "Why couldn't they just...?"'s proliferate like hydra heads.

    Yet you still have to have obstacles, and so we get moments in which Discovery's sensors are blocked by...sand...or how she's somehow damaged sufficiently to be immobilized for several days so she can't pursue the bad guys. Moments like these only stand out more glaringly in light of magic technology. There's no possible consistency. Indeed, even in previous series, it was hard to eliminate all such moments. I can't imagine what the writers were thinking making it ten times worse.

    The Progenitors are only an extension of this problem. I appreciated the callback, but be honest - what is really supposed to happen with this technology beyond making it the Fun with DNA™ version of programmable matter? There's probably a reason that TNG didn't go any further with the idea, or allow Kirk to actually find God at the galactic center, or permit transwarp/slipstream/Warp 10 drive, or anything else - it means there's nothing else to discover. One episode in and the writers have already backed themselves into an inescapable corner. You can already see the Reset Button™ coming. It can't be allowed to fall into enemy hands, fine, but what would the good guys do with it that would allow for more show? It'd make them gods. It's tough to see any fate for it beyond it being destroyed somehow by the end of the season. A true Macguffin.

    The excessive feelings are still there. The scenes just go on for several beats too long, relentlessly mawkish and saccharine. Too many Meaningful Stares™, too many tears. It's like the producers don't understand that these same goals can be achieved with less. It's almost just an editing problem. Yet they just won't trim it down. With previous series, there was a sense of real professionalism, trained adults working problems. When tender moments were needed, it meant all the MORE coming from capable heroes we looked up to. These people are basket cases. I would not trust my life to any of Burnham, Tilly, Stamets, or Adira, any more than I would the JJ version of Kirk or Spock. Good writing walks the line of obviousisms and telegraphings. There's no subtlety with Discovery.

    And with each episode that goes by, I am also reminded of how this series has ruined the rest of the Trek universe as well. By setting the series in the 32nd century, it makes it impossible for me to appreciate any drama set in ANY prior century, because I already know the Federation will endure. The entire canon is now afflicted with terminal prequel syndrome. They're in the same boat with Strange New Worlds, which is faced with the dilemma of either retconning canon or playing out stories that rely entirely on execution and acting because no believable stakes can be offered. I desperately wish Discovery could somehow simply be partitioned off into its own parallel universe a la JJTrek and allowed to play out there, just so I could sit back, watch a show like Legacy, and partake in that small fiction trope of NOT KNOWING WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN.

    I hate Discovery. There really are coherent reasons to hate it, no matter what people say.

    Other problems:

    * I've never heard of an avalanche crossing ten miles of level desert floor before.

    * Tilly and Adira should not have needed Rayner's coaching. They knew it was an ancient booby trap; thinking in historical context should have been the first place they mentally went. This is like the NASA director in "The Martian" needing to be reminded about planetary slingshot maneuvers by a junior analyst.

    * Backing off the spore drive makes no sense. Just build another one. With resources like the Federation's, you shouldn't need to pick one God-drive over another, and if they're expecting us to believe that the Federation is lacking resources, well, they haven't done enough good world-rebuilding to convince anyone of that.

    * Kovich being less secretive would have allowed everyone to do their jobs better and made the Red Directive a lot likelier to succeed. Just tell Poe - I mean, um, Burnham - what's going on!

    * Tilly is just straight-up annoying at this point. Characters should have an arc after five years.

    * Burnham's out-of-the-box thinking in hiring Rayner is undermined, for me, by Rayner's self-destructive tendencies. He wasn't interesting by shouting in that hearing and I didn't get a sense of someone who's really been in the trenches for thirty years. He certainly seems to have inherited none of his Vulcan ancestry. Ronny Cox did this shtick better.

    * The villains are boring.

    * So was the synth. Too much.

    * Whatever anyone says, this season was NOT served well by revealing the Macguffin this soon. I'm not invested anymore, because the show's remaining pillars and execution aren't that compelling.

    * The contemporaries of that 800-year-old Romulan scout ship could scan for life through entire planetary crusts. Discovery's sensors are blocked by...sand.

    Oh, and...

    * Please stop telling me that I have to love Discovery so that Star Trek will continue to be made. This is Hollywood. They don't know how to do anything other than recycling existing intellectual properties. They do movies based on board games, for crying out loud. Trek was out of production for a whopping two years before XI started getting made. It wouldn't get forgotten even if we wanted it to be. Even decades from now, there will still be someone in Hollywood willing to give Trek another try.

    "Under the Twin Moons" is a better episode than "Red Directive" and I quite like Captain Rayner. He’s old school and a good captain. Good that the episode makes that clear with Adm. Vance’s praise. The actor Rennie played the Cylon Leoben on BSG, though I’m wondering what species he is here.

    Then there’s this idea that “things have changed” and presumably Rayner doesn't fit in it anymore. I'd like to hear how DSC would elaborate on "things have changed" though when Rayner ripped into President Lesbian that was a bit too forced to illustrate. He alluded to "politics". But it's good that some kind of hearing or post-mortem was conducted regarding the whole avalanche event -- perhaps we don't see or know of this kind of thing on Trek enough.

    Burnham hiring Rayner as her No.1 is probably the best move she's made all series for me. And that's a good move for the series. Rennie is a good actor and Rayner sounds like a terrific character to give a more pragmatic side to an argument.

    I think DSC is making an effort to tone down the Maudlin. There were a few of these moments that could have gone overboard with the emoting -- like Burnham and Saru appreciating each other, Adira and Tilly back together. Fortunately no tears of sadness, crying. I can't stand Dr. Culber -- always going around asking Booker how he feels -- he's got that annoying early-TNG Troy characteristic.

    But as for the plot -- it's just more of "The Chase". Next it's to Trill. (And likely a few more places after that to get all the pieces of the puzzle.) "The Arsenal of Freedom" scenes on the planet were tiresome. Gotta question Burnham and Saru being the only 2 on this away mission, but then again Kirk and Spock went on their share of away missions together too.

    Booker must always have some personal / family connection with someone -- and here it's Moll. Not interested in knowing how this connection gets fleshed out.

    2.5 stars for "Under the Twin Moons" -- I think DSC is trying to make Burnham more likeable and reasonable. She doesn't have to be the all-knowing hero all the time. She goes with Saru's idea on the planet. The world has changed bit is irksome but at least Rayner is well portrayed, well regarded by those who know what's going on.

    @ Jammer "It's a beautiful ship," Rayner says of the Discovery. I only wish it were. It's actually pretty ugly. And I don't understand why all Federation ships on this series look so ... flattened, like they were smashed with a hydraulic press in a TikTok video.

    +1

    "It's a beautiful ship," Rayner says of the Discovery. I only wish it were. It's actually pretty ugly

    lol

    Jammer, thanks for the great reviews. I would give the second episode 3 stars instead of 2.5 but loved the details in your review. Saru-Burnham scenes were my favorite and it was time we saw Saru's little arrows (whatever they are called) and his hyper-speed running in action. I think it was in the first season the last time we saw it.

    I enjoyed the nods to the TNG episodes.

    I don't get bothered by the action scenes as much as others here so it was entertaining for me, except for the warp-speed ride by Burnham which you explained perfectly as to why it was ridiculous. But I was into the sand avalanche scene. The visuals and cinematic experience are always top-notch in this show.

    Rayner is a welcome addition to the cast, let's see how he turns out in his collaboration with Burnham.

    Thanks again for your insight.

    I should also add that I appreciated Chris W's review in the comments. Great points on the pros and cons.

    re: Jammer's critique of "flattish starships" - the better to create Enterprise starship keyrings! just had one keyring arrive in the post. Love it.
    re: Jefferey tube welcoming new arrival Captn Rayner character as white man - I thought he looked incredibly like Steve McQueen aged on the computer, minus the pointed ears.
    Re: new to me is Saru's extendable winged ears that can be weaponised: that's newsworthy science fiction, not?!

    And now we come to the death rattle of Star Trek Discovery. Hallelujah, let’s make it a quick and painless death. Two stars for both episodes of this two-part opener for the fifth and final season of a failed TV series.

    I agree with Jammer’s thoughts on the interminable B movie action padding of these two stories. Just a few things to add—

    1. My first thought as I watched Red Directive was “this feels like the last season of Star Trek Enterprise” again, with some interesting attempts at doing something new subsumed in an overall tone of boredom and the feeling of the show’s inevitable cancellation.

    2. It’s been slightly over two years (!) between the end of Season 4 and the start of Season 5, and it shows: An early cocktail party scene introducing the returning regulars shows them noticeably older, grayer, and fatter than the last time we saw them. It’s a depressing reminder that this series abruptly vanished without explanation as the more thematically consistent Picard, Prodigy, Lower Decks and Strange New Worlds went on.

    3. The time lapse between seasons is also depressing because most of the characters are hardly seen again after the cocktails scene; it feels like an obligatory and forced reminder that some supporting actors from past seasons are still hanging around in search of a way into a series that here sidelines them from the main plot.

    4. The lack of basic storytelling skills in this series has become a real irritation that we must accept will never get better. Here we have the notion of a “red directive” in the title that is never explained, random beats like Saru’s marriage proposal tossed into the story without any real resonance, and the amiable but pointless continuation of the Book-Burnham relationship that still never goes anywhere interesting. Book is like a guest character who just won’t disappear, despite having no reason to still be on the show.

    5. I really liked TNG’s “The Chase” as a kid: It was a cerebral, gentler, and more wholesome take on an Indiana Jones romp that felt refreshing in that series. This episode, or season arc if it pushes things that far, feels much less satisfying because (like most of Disco) it takes everything way too seriously. This series just doesn’t do fun well. The TNG story was more tongue-in-cheek, light, and enjoyable in a fantastical way that Patrick Stewart sold well. It’s worrisome to think that Discovery apparently wants to stretch a decent hourlong Trek episode from the 1990s into a 10-season arc.

    6. The dressing down and demotion of Captain Rayner in “Under the Twin Moons” is stupid, derivative, and adds nothing to the story. From TOS to “Into Darkness,” Star Trek has leaned a bit too heavily on the “crazed captain” trope, with diminishing returns. Other than the redemptive arc of Commodore Decker in TOS’ “Doomsday Machine,” it rarely feels worth it, and that’s true again here. Why is Discovery adding another one-season series regular instead of spending more time developing the existing cast? Answer: This show’s ADHD largely prevents it from staying with the same group of characters long enough to develop any real audience identification with them.

    7. If nothing else, I like the focus of these two episodes on the remaining core characters from Season 1: Burnham, Saru, and Tilly, with some minor Stamets and Culber stuff in the background.

    8. Although this series still feels oddly downbeat and overly seriously, this season continues the season 4 trend of dialing down the forced emotions a bit. I noticed that Burnham doesn’t cry once in these first two episodes of season 5. That’s a real departure from earlier seasons where the fake tears flowed profusely in all her big scenes. She now comes across as almost unemotional by comparison. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing yet; it’s just something I noticed.

    9. If this final season is really meant to be an adventure romp, Discovery really needs to lighten up and learn how to have a good time. These first two episodes of the final season are occasionally interesting, but there are not “fun.”

    When I saw the trailer I almost talked myself into skipping season 5. ... But I just can't not watch new trek so...

    Nice to see Eve Harlow. I enjoyed her in Ahsoka.

    I'm not even going to get into riding star ships at warp and 32-century motorcycles... eeesh.

    So, where did the video of the Projenitor come from? If memory serves, only Picard and Beverly went down to the planet surface in "The Chase".

    I think the premise here is better than season 3&4. I kind of like the idea of racing to get pieces of a puzzle... but I'm not sure why this information would warrant a "red directive". What will someone do with this technology? ... create new life? Why wouldn't this be freely shared? ... especially in the 32nd century? This should have been explained.

    I was happy Saru and our resident Naru ambassador got together, but it seemed dry... so, will Saru be gone the rest of the season? ... knowing my luck probably... he's my favorite character.

    I'm over Tilly... 50 pounds heavier... you know, obesity hasn't been figured out in the 32nd century you know. I'm not looking forward to the Acadamy series. I could care less. I'd much prefer 7 captaining our new Enterprise.

    Our new #1 is a white male... 10 bucks says he dies before the end of the series... why exactly was he forced to retire? why didn't both Star Ships wait in orbit and engage them when they left? Was it really because ADM Vance didn't put someone in charge? There ALWAYS need to be one person in charge. Was it because the almighty Michael had to be correct? So ADM Vance forces him to retire and then grants Burham permission to make him his #1? Who dreams this shit up?

    On to Trill we go... do we think it's possible to get through an episode with no tears?

    I did enjoy how Burnham and Saru figured out how to get the info on the planet...

    ... and I enjoyed "Action Saru"... and Fred.

    2 stars for each of these.

    Ni'Var, not Naru... I think this is too close to Star Wars... next I'll be saying Naboo

    Okay, the second episode was a lot better than the first, and now I'm more on board with the multi-stage treasure hunt plot. Captain Rayner is also great, now that I see him as more than just Leoben with pointed ears. I'll miss Saru as Number One but Rayner is a solid replacement. I also enjoy how Book actually has some emotional stakes in this hunt now, and how Moll and L'ak are essentially what he and Michael used to be (off-screen, unfortunately) and maybe what he wished they still were. Dr. Culber looking out for his mental well-being is a nice touch. On to Trill...

    Submit a comment

    ◄ Season Index