“Light and Shadows” was Star Trek: Discovery on an off week, cramming too much into one space (no pun intended) to underwhelming effect.
This recap of Star Trek: Discovery Season 2, Episode 7, “Light and Shadows”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
To say we’ve been waiting virtually the entire second season of Star Trek: Discovery for Spock’s arrival, I must say it was rather underwhelming when he turned up in “Light and Shadows”. Played by a beardy Ethan Peck and manically reciting numbers and other titbits of weird nonsense was to be expected, but the sheer mundanity of him being hidden away in a temple around the corner from his house leaves a bit to be desired.
Amanda (Mia Kirshner) was in on it, obviously, acting rather against the cold logic you’d expect from a Vulcan spouse – even a human one. That certainly seems like part of a larger plan as regards Amanda’s characterisation; later in “Light and Shadows” it’s suggested that Spock has a learning disability that he inherited from her, just to round out the increasing list of things she feels she needs to atone for. And next on that list will inevitably be turning Spock over to Section 31 at Sarek’s (James Frain) insistence.
The problem with Section 31 is that they’re nakedly villainous, an impression not at all helped by Mirror Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) strutting around saying openly sinister things. When she explains to Michael (Sonequa Martin-Green) that Spock’s loving care is going to melt his brain, she allows Michael to leg it with her adopted brother after a “staged” fight between the two women, and you can just feel how “Light and Shadows” is bending over backwards to accommodate this. The whole plan rests on a 60-second time limit and only requires Michael to create the impression that she knocked Georgiou out, yet it erupts into a complete fight sequence purely for the sake of having the high-kicking hotties square off. I’m not complaining – but I am kind of complaining at the same time.
Michael springs Spock and obviously manages to figure out what he was babbling about: the numbers are coordinates to Talos IV, a planet that a cursory Google search informs me holds some real significance for long-time Trekkies. So, we have that to look forward to.
Elsewhere in “Light and Shadows”, Captain Pike (Anson Mount) and Tyler (Shazad Latif) are busy cultivating their bromance by bickering their way into a space-time rift, where their shuttle is assaulted by a Starfleet probe that has been repurposed and sent back in angry mode from what we’re to assume is the same technologically advanced future as the enigmatic red angels. It manages to get its tentacles into Discovery’s computers and hack its way into Airiam (Sara Mitich) before Tyler and Pike, with the help of Stamets (Anthony Rapp), are able to self-destruct the shuttle and bro-tastically teleport out in the nick of time.
The problem with “Light and Shadows” wasn’t that it was bad, per se, but that on the one hand it’s starting to include far too many instances of the word “somehow” – for instance, Georgiou somehow found out that Leland (Alan Van Sprang) was somehow responsible for the deaths of Michael’s biological parents – and on the other that episodes like this feel a lot like generic action-sci-fi fluff rather than something with any real intellect.
I’m not sure where this weird impulse comes from, to have the show fulfil certain expected requirements in every episode, even if the elements don’t mesh or feel diversionary. It’s one of Star Trek: Discovery’s legitimately bad habits and I hope we see a lot less of it as this second season progresses.