Before we dive into the season premiere for Discovery I’d like to make a confession. As a teenager, I was a hardcore Star Trek nerd. I even was in a Star Trek club at school where we would convene in the one classroom with a VHS player and TV set up and watch one of that week’s new episodes. Off season we’d watch one of our personal favorites.
Before you ask pretty much all my favorites are DS9 episodes. This is because DS9 is the best ever Star Trek series and I will fight you if you say otherwise.
Star Trek Discovery had what I considered to be a fantastic opening season, easily the best first season of any Trek show due mostly to it’s serialized storytelling and it’s fantastic cast. Jason Isaacs, in particular, has always been a favorite actor of mine and he was brilliant last season as Captain Lorca.
But we’re not here to talk about last season, we’re here to talk about the “Brother” the second season premiere.
At the end of the previous season the Enterprise turned up, and this episode begins immediately after that. With a very brief detour right at the start to the day that Sarek brought Michael home. He introduces her to a young Spock, and she reaches out to shake his hand but he ignores her and shuts his bedroom door in her face. All the sets for the Vulcan flashbacks look like sets made for Legion, very stylistic.
Back in the present, the Enterprise is sending a distress code and Discovery doesn’t know what to do. Eventually, they get comms up and running and speak to Pike, who at this point in time is still captain of the Enterprise. For those not in the know, Pike was the name of the captain in the original pilot for the first Star Trek series, but the network wanted to change the actor to William Shatner. Later they made the pilot canon by introducing Pike as the previous captain of the Enterprise. This is one of the many thousands of weird Star Trek facts I know. I apologize now to the editor reviewing this before publication as this article is likely way too long.
Pike says he is coming aboard with an engineer and his science officer, so both Michael and Sarek go to the transporter room to meet Spock. It’s been years since either of them spoke to him, and there seems to be apprehension from both of them. The credits play here, and they’re so good I’m adding in the YouTube video for them so you can enjoy them again if you want.
Spock isn’t there, it’s just a human dude. Pike is here to take over the ship. There are some weird red lights in space that they can’t scan and that have managed to disable Enterprise, so Pike has been told to take command of Discovery and go investigate the closest one with them. Saru won’t transfer command without a DNA verification (smart after last season) so they do this on the bridge, at which point Tilly looks at Pike’s hands and says he has wonderful nail beds. Pike is played by Anson Mount, Black Bolt from Marvel’s failed Inhumans, and is so charming and expressive I didn’t realize until I looked him up on IMDB that it was the same actor.
We’re reintroduced again to Stamets now, who is watching voicemails left to him by his deceased husband Hugh who was murdered in the previous season. I loved these two together so I’m just as sad as Stamets, and it’s a great performance from Anthony Rapp. Tilly is talking to him and Stamets tells her that he’s leaving Discovery for the Vulcan Science Ministry. He can’t be on Discovery any more as everywhere he looks he sees memories of Hugh.
Speaking off Vulcan we’re back with Michael who is sat in her quarters reading Alice in Wonderland. She remembers Amanda reading this to her as a child on Vulcan. Sarek visits her and tells her he’s also leaving Discovery, though this time it’s because he’s been tasked by the Vulcans to check out the red glowing lights. Michael asks him why he brought her home with him and what he hoped Spock to learn from her, and he says that she was there to teach him empathy. Sarek thinks he failed in this but Burnham says “empathy is very real for Spock”. There are a few comments in here which make me feel like maybe Michael and Spock had a romantic involvement, which is a little bit too Game of Thrones for me so I’m hoping they don’t go there.
Discovery has arrived at the closest red flashy thing and as they’re about to go in Pike addresses the entire bridge crew asking them to tell him their names, but not their ranks as ranks don’t matter. Pike is so likable here and throughout this episode, and you can tell all the characters love him too. When they get close enough they see that they have arrived at a huge asteroid.
Pike says “I was expecting a red thing, where’s my red thing?” which honestly almost made me do a mini spit take with my morning coffee.
The asteroid appears to have gravity and even some sort of atmosphere, which it shouldn’t because it’s too small. This is a very old-school Trek thing, to show you something you expect to be one thing and it doesn’t behave like that thing. They use Discovery’s cameras to take pictures of the asteroid and find a crashed Starfleet medical transport assumed lost in the war several months ago. Due to the specific conditions of the asteroid they can’t beam down and a shuttle isn’t maneuverable enough to make it, but luckily Discovery has all kinds of cool and weird tech and Michael has an idea.
Michael, Pike and his two Enterprise officers put on some shiny space suits and go down to the shuttle bay to get in these super cool tiny single man pods. On the way, they run into Tilly who tells Michael that the mycelium (a major plot point last season, yes Star Trek is super nerdy) started acting up the closer they got to the asteroid.
The effects here are particularly good. This show looks SO expensive and so pretty. The show has moved from a 16:9 TV aspect ratio to 2:35:1 cinematic one and there’s been a clear attempt to make this show look like it has very high production values.
They fly the pods through the asteroid and it’s surround field of sharp and deadly rocks, Michael notes that the rocks are moving in a way that will make it difficult for computers to predict and that they should move to manual. Enterprise’s science officer disagrees and goes on a rant about how great the computer is and how he’s always right and has made the calculations and dies instantly. At the rough same time, Pike’s pod is hit hard and he needs to eject, but his suit won’t seal up. Michael gets Discovery to do it remotely and jumps out of her own pod to catch him and get him safely to the asteroid.
Again I want to say that this show looks amazing. The asteroid environment is really well designed and the effects are great. Almost as soon as they land on a probe turns up, made from scavenged Starfleet parts. It speaks to them in Tig Notaro’s voice and takes them to the makeshift emergency shelter she’s fashioned. Tig is playing Jett Reno, an engineer on the medical ship who was the only one unhurt in the crash on the asteroid. She’s kept all of the wounded and sick on the ship alive for 10 months, even going so far as to use a dead man’s heart to keep another alive.
They get the medical ship transporter room working and beam everyone out, but as the Discovery team are leaving on the last trip there’s an issue which Michael runs to fix. She fixes the issue and Pike et al beam out but she’s left behind. The transporter room is falling apart so she runs outside and is knocked out, waking up with a big jagged piece of metal in her leg. You think all is lost for her until a shadow resolves out of the red light, and it’s Pike. He’s come back for her.
Back on the Discovery Michael is healing in sickbay when TIlly visits, and Michael tells her that the asteroid is made up of a super interesting (I couldn’t catch the name for my notes sorry!) type of matter. Tilly is super excited and hatches a plan to get a big sample. Back on the bridge, Pike hands over command to Saru and they begin to maneuver the ship so as to catch some asteroid in the shuttle bay.
They manage it, but also damage the shuttlebay quite a lot in the process. Tilly is excited though and shouts “The power of math people!” which is a very Tilly thing to do.
The next scene is Michael visiting Pike in Lorca’s old ready room. Pike is wearing one of the Discovery uniforms instead of his new yellow one and is having trouble with the fit. He also complains about how stark the ready room is, and that there are no chairs. Michael says Lorca didn’t want chairs as that could encourage people to stay for a conversation. She then asks about Spock, where we find out that he’s on sabbatical and has been gone for months without contact. From that, she asks for permission to visit Spock’s quarters.
Right before this scene ends Pike finds a slip from a fortune cookie on the floor left by Lorca, I assume. The cookie says “Not every cage is a prison, not every loss eternal.” The pilot for Star Trek the original series that starred Pike was called The Cage, which this is likely a reference to.
Michael goes to Spock’s quarters, imagining exploring his childhood bedroom. She finds his computer and listens to his latest personal log. He talks about having nightmares as a child, which have returned. He says he has left information in this log which can be used to find him, which Michael activates and it shows the red light anomaly map.
You can probably gather from the above recap that I loved this episode. The A plot with Pike and the mission to the asteroid was great and the B plot about Spock (which I was not on board with before the episode) was really well done. I can’t wait to see where this season goes, but if this episode is anything to go by it’ll be a great season.
9/10 (because nobody’s perfect*)
*unless we’re talking about season seven episode 8 of Arrow.