Welcome to my recap of episode eight of Star Trek Discovery, Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum. (Latin saying If you Want Peace Prepare for War).
This is the first TV Trek since 2005, so dust off that Millennium Falcon mug your Gran got you because you like Trek War and get ready to Boldly go once more.
Episode Eight – Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
This blog contains spoilers so if you haven’t watched episode eight yet – What are you? A green-blooded hobgoblin? This review will definitely contain spoilers for episode eight, so look away now, this is your last chance! Ready, the review is below the photo, so let’s go.
Damn it man! I’m a writer not a Horticulturist
The episode opens with the Discovery coming to the aid of a fellow Starfleet ship and the Lorc-man works out that they can only fire when the Klingons are de-cloaked, although no one is calling it a cloak yet. We get speaking parts for the up to now practically mute bridge crew, including Mr Rhys and Airiam (the Cyborg-lady).
They lose their comrades aboard the USS Gagarin (NCC-1309), I’ll come back to this name later, and hello and farewell to Captain T’Shen Kovil (Portrayed by Michael Boisvert). We didn’t know you well but I liked the look of you, I hope your sacrifice will not be in vain. Lorca tells his crew there will be time to grieve later in true gruff Lorca fashion. He then departs to his ready room for a holo-conference with the admiralty.
“Mr Rhys can I trouble you to fire at something please!”
Stamets has a massive shroom hangover and takes it out on Tilly, but those eagle-eyed viewers will have noticed that when Stamets leaves the spore chamber he has the black eyes of mirror Stamets and he calls Tilly Captain. I cannot wait to see the evil Tilly in charge of Mirror Discovery. You know you want it too.
“We’re particularly sensitive to being discussed in the third person when present.”
It is revealed that the mean Vulcan Admiral has ordered Burnham, Tyler and Saru on an away mission to the strategic planet of Pahvo to use a giant crystal transmitter that they hope will help them to broadcast a frequency that will enable them to detect Klingon ships when cloaked.
We look in at the Klingons and L’Rell is back on the Mummy ship and the cloaking device is now with all the Klingons. She offers to help interrogate Cornwell. The away team make first contact with the Pahvans and follow first contact protocol to converse with the sentient pollen.
Tyler and Burnham sit round in the Pahvan’s love hut and Tyler suggests they go camping when the war is over. But Burnham is not convinced as she has to go back to prison after the war. Tyler suggests that maybe they let the war continue so she doesn’t have to go back and he evokes TWOK by saying “the needs of the many are worth fighting for, but so are the needs of the few”, Burnham responds by staring dreamily into Tyler’s eyes and saying. “or the one”.
Tilly approaches Stamets with concern about his spore-related episodes. He admits to not always knowing where he is, he cannot tell Doctor Culber because if he doesn’t report his genetic manipulation to Star Fleet he would lose his job and if he does he will betray his partner. An impossible position for the good Doctor.
L’Rell wants to defect, which is another awesome link to Undiscovered Country, the Cold War allegory and Sixth TOS film, which this show seems to be referencing a lot. I am excited to see if Nicholas Meyer (writer of Undiscovered Country) gets credited with an episode writing cred soon. Do we trust L’Rell though as she is economical with the truth when talking about Voq?
The Pahvans are the planet, and according to Saru they live in symbiosis with the plants. The Pahvans perform a vegan version of the mind meld and cure Saru of his migraine. The side effects are that he joins the Pahvo Love Cult, coming over like a new-age convert. Saru is super creepy reminding me here of the character Doug Jones plays in Pan’s Labyrinth. It’s worth noting that Jones is having the time of his life and is just slaying it in this role. Saru invites Tyler and Burnham to stay forever and ever and ever on the singing planet of harmony.
The Pahvans help Saru find peace and he shows Tyler his green rock of love but discovers he is distracting him while Burnham attempts to communicate with Discovery from the crystal radio tower.
L’Rell and Cornwell attempt to escape but are discovered so L’Rell beats Cornwell up to make it look like she is still with them. She finds all her fallen comrades hidden in a chamber and vows vengeance on Kol.
Saru shows his superior pace and strength and tries to stop Burnham. She appeals directly to the Pahvans to help them keep their peace. Saru begs them to not help as the Klingons will destroy them if they find out they have assisted the Federation. The Pavhans trigger their magical pulsing shaft and the away team make it back to the ship. Saru is crestfallen, because he has never known a moment without fear until being on Pahvo, so whilst he acted out of character because of the influence of the Pahvans resonating plants, he still regrets not staying there as well as feeling guilty for attacking his crew mates. This is rather heartbreaking and beautifully written.
Kol sees through L’Rell’s subterfuge as she’s probably the worst double agent ever and the Pahvans decide to use their transmitter to invite the Klingons to them as well as Discovery to try and bring harmony to them both. The episode ends on a mild cliff hanger with Discovery having to decide whether to defend the Pahvans from their inevitable destruction by the Klingons.
Phasers set to “that was fricking awesome.”
This is the first away team episode and it’s exciting, we see the prime directive referenced, that Saru is faster than Usain Bolt and we get first contact with a previously undiscovered alien life form.
A full Vulcan hello and welcome to Sara Mitich, getting some dialogue and chair time, as the intriguing cyborg lady Airiam. And the same greeting is extended to Patrick Kwok-Choon as the determined under pressure Rhys. I’m looking forward to getting to know these supporting characters more in the future. I thought that Pahvo looked very cool, its surreal blue glow lending it a truly alien feel. A classic Trek strange new world.
Beyond the Guardian of Forever
According to Wikipedia (which is always right) the episode title is the motto for a unit of the 31st Marines. 31 meaning Section 31. However thanks to my friends in the Talk Trek forum for pointing out that this might not be the case. In fact this motto is well used by military regiments. I’m still going with this as a Section 31 nod, as I do love a conspiracy theory. A special mention to William Alvarez who served with the 31st and gave me some perspective on this.
I’d be interested in the thoughts of those who’ve been in the military as to how Discovery is doing in its attempts to cover the costs and complexities of modern war? They have ploughed this field before with First Contact and DS9 but this feels different.
This episode was penned by Trek novel veteran Kirsten Beyer and I think it’s great that this show is using the pool of talent that has contributed to the Trek expanded universe.
It’s Cold in Space and It’s a Cold War.
Another excellent episode where we get plenty of character development and quiet time with different parts of the crew. I am not sure I buy the Tyler, Burnham romance but there is a good rapport between them. I am softening towards Burnham who up until now I have found the hardest character to get along with. She plays Vulcan detachment very well but it sometimes leaves me cold.
OK let’s sort this out in the forum. What is it with Discovery and naming ships after all things Russian? Is it some coded reference to the Mueller investigation? This week the Gagarin makes an appearance and we’ve already had the Buran. Is this designed to make us feel nostalgic for the Cold War and to build up the Undiscovered Country vibe, or is it an allusion to double agents, and the enemy within, sometimes also known as Section 31?
In true Cluedo fashion I point my finger towards too good to be true handsome head of security Tyler. Has the smooth talking former POW been placed on the Discovery deliberately by shadowy elements of StarFleet or am I just unhealthily obsessed with seeing a Section 31 story-line?
Thanks to Jason Deline, AKA sarcastic science guy, for re-tweeting the blog last week, I am taking that as confirmation of the fact he is Norman the Android. We can also add him to our Impressive Discovery International Celebrities or IDIC hall of fame for Trek alumni, who have backed the LSG Media brand by liking our tweets or giving love to our Instagram posts. The list now includes Deline, David Mack and Wilson Cruz.
A special mention to Memory Alpha, I could not get this blog done as efficiently without the dedicated fans who update it so quickly with new stuff, without them I would never have been able to spell Pahvo.
What did you think? Are you excited by the prospect of evil Mirror Tilly, could you give two hoots about Burnham and Tyler or Ty-Burns as some of the youngsters are calling them? Join me over at the Trek Talk forum if you want to discuss it further.
Until next week remember the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.
John is a writer and clinically diagnosed Trekker. You can get the latest news about his published work at his website The World Outside the Window.