While overall reviews of Discovery’s freshman season were somewhat mixed, there were some strong characters and storylines that deserved revisiting. Season two’s third episode “Point of Light” does so, but also feels more like a chapter in a telenovela. Granted, that’s one of the inherent risks with such serialized storytelling. On the plus side, “Point of Light” does offer up some nice dramatic fireworks.
****STARSHIP-SIZED SPOILERS AHEAD!!****
The episode begins aboard Discovery, with Ensign Sylvia Tilly (the charming Mary Wiseman) running in a Command Training Program marathon through the corridors of the vessel. During which, she is stalked and increasingly distracted by last week’s ‘ghost’ of her former middle school classmate May (Bahia Watson) who is less ‘dear departed friend’ and more ‘Drop Dead Fred’, scaring the hell out of Tilly, who thinks she’s losing her mind. Yelling aloud at her head-May during a training session on the bridge (a ‘shut up’ mistakenly directed at Captain Pike) , she embarrassedly excuses herself and abruptly quits the CTP.
Meanwhile, a Vulcan ship carrying Spock’s human mother Amanda Grayson (Mia Kirshner) makes rendezvous with Discovery. Amanda was informed (against Spock’s wishes) about her son being held at the Starbase 5 psychiatric ward. Since she wasn’t allowed to see him, Amanda confides in her foster daughter Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin Green) that she stole his encrypted medical file for Burnham to decode (would’ve loved to have seen that moment…)
After Michael reports possession of the file to Captain Pike (Anson Mount), he contacts Starbase 5 and is offered no further information on his science officer’s condition, either. A frustrated Pike approves Burnham’s plan to decode the file, which speaks of the ‘red angel’ Spock saw as a child… a vision which Michael has also seen during the current mission. The new ‘search for Spock’ continues…
In the Klingon Empire, L’Rell (a Shakespearean Mary Chieffo) and her Klingon/human hybrid mate Tyler/Voq (Shazad Latif) are facing challenges to L’Rell’s tenuous grip on the chancellery, most notably from the House of Kol’s leader, Kol-Sha (Kenneth Mitchell). The Klingons are formalizing their plans to unite the Houses, and Tyler/Voq unleashes the plans for the new D-7 Klingon warship (a ship design seen in the original Star Trek series). Kol mocks L’Rell’s call for unity by wearing his House’s war paint, which he goads Tyler/Voq into wiping off.
Later, during a quieter moment, Tyler/Voq steals a clandestine long range holographic communique with his ex-lover Burnham aboard Discovery. As the two catch up, she makes a quip about his new beard, and he tells her about the dangerous internal power struggles he and L’Rell are facing. I half-expected to hear a voice say, “This call may be monitored for quality assurance purposes.”
After the call, Tyler/Voq realizes he is being stalked by L’Rell’s uncle, whom he learns is keeping a secret from him…his baby son (!). Apparently L’Rell became pregnant before Voq’s transformation into Tyler. Since L’Rell couldn’t afford the distraction of motherhood with her ascendancy into power, the baby was kept secret. The baby’s revelation seems to be a hoary nighttime soap plot twist. It also doesn’t seem to fit into season one’s timeline, since we never saw L’Rell pregnant. However, during her full confession to Tyler/Voq, L’Rell mentions that the baby was born ‘ex-utero’ (out of the womb). So there you go, fellow nitpickers. Overly convenient, yes, but it works…
Tyler/Voq, seeing that his baby boy is born with the same Klingon albinism that made him an outcast, wants to be a real father to his son, despite any complications it might bring to he and L’Rell’s already complicated lives.
Aboard Discovery, Tilly’s head-May situation is reaching critical mass. She half-sobbingly confides in Burnham that she is seeing May’s ‘ghost’ all the time now. The increasingly nagging head-May then asks why are Tilly’s eyes ‘leaking’. For some reason, this ‘ghost’ of May doesn’t seem to know what tears are. Michael (using her Vulcan-raised logic) rules out the possibility that May is a human ‘ghost’ since any human would know about human tears. Since head-May only appeared to Tilly after she was zapped by a chunk of last week’s dark matter asteroid, Michael believes the ‘ghost’ has something to do with a combination of the dark matter asteroid chunk and Tilly’s own proximity to the ship’s unique spore drive.
Michael then calls on the ship’s spore drive creator/expert, Commander Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) who, along with Commander Saru (Doug Jones), detects a growing parasite that has somehow invaded Tilly’s body. The parasite is painfully ‘exorcised’ into a magnetic containment field. The parasite was ‘communicating’ with Tilly in the form of her dead school friend for reasons as yet unknown. Frankly, I was glad to see there was a ‘logical’ reason behind the irritating head-May, and not some quasi-mystical mumbo-jumbo.
Back on the Klingon homeworld, L’Rell and Tyler/Voq discover that her uncle (the baby’s guardian) has been killed and their baby kidnapped by House of Kol, their greatest political rival. Kol-Sha used microscopic monitoring devices in his face paint (which he goaded Tyler into wiping off) to learn of the baby.
A determined L’Rell and Tyler/Voq break through House of Kol’s deadly sentries until they are confronted by Klingon Kidnapper Kol-Sha (sounds way too close to ‘coleslaw’). Kol then disables the two with a neural paralyzer and is about to execute them both in his own rise to power until…
…he is killed by a mysterious dark figure who is revealed to be mirror-Philippa Georgiou (a welcome Michelle Yeoh, also returning from season one). Georgiou is now working for the clandestine Starfleet black ops team of “Section 31” (first encountered in “Deep Space Nine” and later seen in both “Enterprise” and “Star Trek Into Darkness”).
Afterward, L’Rell addresses her people, bolstering her case for unity by telling them her baby is dead, and that she killed Tyler/Voq for ‘betraying’ her with a secret call to his Starfleet ex-lover (a clever mix of truth and lie). Totally committing to her role as leader at the expense of a personal life or child, she then tosses what appears to be Tyler/Voq’s head into a flaming pit, and tells her people that she is not to be addressed as chancellor… she demands a more powerful title for her now-united people; mother!
Onboard a mysterious Section 31 starship, an alive-and-well Tyler/Voq is seen holding his baby son, who is to be dropped off at the Klingon monastery at Borath (seen in the 1993 Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Rightful Heir”) where he will be cared for. The baby is to grow up not knowing his real parentage (for his own safety). Both Tyler/Voq’s and the baby’s severed heads were cloned body parts, created by advanced (and possibly illegal) Section 31 medical technology. Tyler gains some appreciation for the power and breadth of this clandestine wing of the Federation.
Georgiou then confers with her recruiter/partner, Leland (Alan Van Sprang) before their mysterious new starship warps off to its next secret assignment.
A few nits and observations.
— Tilly’s head-May subplot, while revealed to be a side effect of her spore-drive/dark matter storylines, is all kinds of annoying. Head-May’s subplot could’ve been told without the screaming and yelling, and perhaps with more methodical creepiness (similar to Jack Nicholson’s hallucinations in “The Shining”). By the time of Stamets’ ‘exorcism’ I was more than glad to see head-May go the way of Pazuzu. Ron Moore’s “Battlestar Galactica” TV series (2003-2009) had many such ‘head-characters,’ but it juggled them with far more grace and humor than annoying head-May.
— The Klingons are redesigned yet again, which doesn’t really bother me as I’ve long made my peace with new Klingons; I’m old enough to have seen several distinct changes to their look over 40 years. Tonight we see that they have hair again, which is revealed to be their natural state when not at war. L’Rell’s previously phaser-scarred face is also a lot smoother now, and we can now see some hint of the actor Mary Chieffo beneath the heavy prosthetics. Yes, this further redesign will no doubt make some fans angry, but I prefer the look of this season’s Klingons.
— A distinctly “Game Of Thrones”-like appearance to this year’s Klingon costumes, sets (highlighted by lots of golden torchlights, fire pits, etc) and storyline. The call for unity of the warring Houses, the sinister Machiavellian power scheming of Kol-Sha, and even Tyler/Voq’s new look (very Jon Snow) all feel somewhat influenced by Game Of Thrones, subtly or even overtly (and for the record, I’m not a “Thrones” fan, but my wife very much is…).
— Most welcome for me was the return of mirror-Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh), who automatically ratchets things up by her mere presence. While I’m a bit concerned about the direction of her character’s newly announced Section 31 spinoff series, the prospect of a new Michelle Yeoh-led series is just too tempting, even if Star Trek could be in danger of losing its core optimism and brand identity. Here’s hoping they tread carefully on that one.
Overall “Point of Light” (a reference to the description of Borath in the aforementioned TNG episode, “Rightful Heir”) is satisfactory, but not exceptional. Despite a few soap-opera twists and surprises, this episode is more chapter than whole. Perhaps that’s just the downside of serialization (as noted above). While it was nice to catch up with a few of season one’s characters and dangling plot threads, this episode felt like several stories intersecting, though not really connecting. I suppose that connection is what awaits us in the rest of Discovery’s second season yet to come.