Kobayashi Marie continues its adventure into the second season that is Star Trek Discovery with Episode 8 – If Memory Serves
“Do you actually think the beard is working?”
After the previous episode, which I found a little drawn out and disappointing, this one chucked everything at us and I loved it!
However, I’m quite aware that others may have a different opinion.
The first minute of If Memory Serves is a “Previously on …” section edited together with clips from The Cage, the unaired 1965 pilot episode of Star Trek TOS, before cutting to out own Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) on the bridge of the Discovery.
Now if, like me, the very hint of an appearance from Christopher Pike compelled you to go back for a rewatch of either/or The Cage and The Menagerie, then this little introduction was probably unnecessary. If you haven’t, or you are completely new to Trek via Discovery and have no idea about Christopher Pike, then the introduction may well have been really useful. You make up your mind. I loved it.
Let me get one thing out of the way first though. Did JJ Abrams direct this episode? Because there is so much lens flare, I thought it had to be him. Perhaps it’s been there all along, but in all honesty this is the first time I’d noticed it, and I’m not a fan.
But there is so much else to like in this episode.
For example, We’ve been tiptoeing around the fact that Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz) is resurrected and sharing the same spaceship as his executioner Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif). They haven’t encountered each other so far, but it’s about to get complicated. Both characters are struggling with their identity: despite appearances, Culber is not the same man he was before he died, and is struggling to work out just who he is in this new incarnation. Tyler is still carrying Voq around in his head, which has changed his life indelibly. Neither has a clear idea of who they really are anymore, and both have an air of being lost souls.
And so obviously the way to resolve all of these issues is with a fight! A fight which no-one, not even Saru, sees fit to break up. It’s almost as if it is inevitable that the two need to vent their anger on someone, and they each choose the other.
I can’t actually decide which is the biggest talking point from this episode though – is it Spock, or is it the return to Talos IV?
Let’s start with Spock (Ethan Peck). Finally, finally, finally we meet him in a form that begins to make sense. Ethan Peck does not look like Leonard Nimoy, but he has something which captures the essence of Spock very well indeed – the voice. I am already in love with Ethan Peck’s voice. It is sweet honey wrapped in warm, melted chocolate, and I could listen to it forever. It is beautiful.
We learn a lot about the puzzles of earlier episodes in If Memory Serves – the mystery of Spock’s connection with the Red Angel is revealed, which in turn explains his mental state and the murder charges against him. And we finally find out exactly what Michael (Sonequa Martin-Green) said to the very young Spock when they were children, and which caused the rift in their relationship. It was horrible, but fortunately not as horrible as some insinuations had been suggesting.
But how do we come to learn these deeply hidden secrets? Well, just as in 1965, we take a trip to Thalos IV.
Thalos IV is the planet which ties together the Trek universe’s first and last chronological contacts with Christopher Pike – Discovery takes place somewhere in between. And so for those who have watched Star Trek TOS which featured Pike, Thalos IV is definitely significant. If you haven’t seen these episodes, or if it’s been a while, I do urge you to revisit.
The singing flowers on the planet are a lovely touch to set the scene, but seeing the Thalosians again is a real trip down memory lane. If I’m totally honest, the papery throbbing heads of the 1965 Thalosians were much more interesting that the more synthetic, digital versions we got this week – special effects are clearly just too good nowadays.
I’m still debating how I feel about Vina (Melissa George) and Pike’s reunion. Hair and make-up departments have succeeded in capturing original Vina’s sixties vibe, while maintaining a contemporary image. Her appearance to Pike reflected in the table was stunning, with Pike clearly shaken by the encounter. It also left me feeling a little sad because I know what is to come for him in the next couple of years.
So with the focus now on uncovering the secret of the Red Angel, it turns out that Section 31 is living up to its reputation and Pike must get away from them.
Discovery is now on the run.
“Say goodbye Spock.”