Star Trek: Discovery – Season 2 Ep. 5: Saints of Imperfection – well, the previous episode was lovingly and equally busy with four subplots, two of which were concluded in that episode but the other two were prepared in a manner that managed to successfully leave me looking forward to the next episode, this one. The search for Spock, not the motion picture, and equally the search for Tilly. And this episode sprints, literally, into action with Burnham rushing to Engineering, along with a Burnham narrative, to find that Tilly has indeed disappeared from the Discovery and Stamets insisting that she is still alive. And, we all know that, she is still alive, but within the mycelial network, and May also makes an appearance. And the Discovery manages to intercept Spock’s shuttle only to find that the occupant inside wasn’t the occupant they expected. At this point I should point out that the episode starts to get a bit of a rollercoaster on with the reintroduction of a handful of characters that we’ve seen already, Captain Georgiou, Admiral Cornwell, Commander Nhan (the new chief of security… What happened to the old one??) and Ash/Voq and although their introduction into this episode is explained, and the reason the character is given its moment in the episode, it all seems a bit busy, but not detrimentally so.
Tilly wakes up in the mycelial network to find that it’s a dying and angry network and no reason is given why but it’s understandable that Tilly is angry and she does show it very convincingly. May, of course, is present when Tilly wakes and finds where she is and May unveils her reason as to why she wants Tilly, Tilly must help the network to live by killing a “monster”.
Meanwhile, Stamets and Burnham manage to find a way to retrieve Tilly, but in the true tradition of Star Trek, it is to “Boldly Go Where No One Has Been Before” and they propose to Pike that the Discovery do a half jump with the spore drive and then be within the network but also in the Star Trek Universe, an overlap of sorts. Pike informs the ship’s crew of what they are about to do with the quite nicely said comment “Starfleet is a promise. I give my life for you, you give your life for me. And nobody gets left behind.”
Now the episode gets a tad faster paced and it’s a fair statement to recommend watching this episode twice at least. The second time around allows for clarity as you know what’s coming but the dialogue between the characters is more understandable. Stamets and Burnham, with communicators that Saru has cleverly modified to be able to communicate as naturally as usual through the overlap, rendezvous with Tilly and May and they all hear a human male groaning in pain. On investigation, Stamets is stunned to realise that the male is in fact Dr Hugh Culber, Stamets love interest. And this is where May states that this is the monster. Now you could draw your own conclusions as to how Culber is the monster, I’d like to try and understand how he got there personally, and this gets really messy in the episode’s explanation of it where Stamets and Culber were in a situation when Culber was dying that Stamets unintentionally and unknowingly transferred Culber into the mycelial network. It’s equally as confusing that for the last number of episodes where May has been antagonistic and confusing to Tilly, that now they are “pinky swear” promising to each other when Tilly’s anger at May transferring her into the network is overlooked.
Of course whilst this is all happening, The Discovery is threatened to be consumed by the mycelial network and the good old Section 31 are on hand to cast a tractor beam on the Discovery to save it. Now is a good point to comment on Section 31. I appreciate that the fascination in having a Black Ops section is too great to avoid in the Star Trek Universe, after all, who else who be chasing after the fugitive Spock on behalf of the Federation? Yet I feel that there is a spin-off for Section 31 but I’d like to see less of it in Start Trek: Discovery, but that’s just me. Ash/Voq becomes the temporary liaison between Discovery and Section 31.
With Discovery on the verge of being consumed, regardless of the help from Section 31, and in time to just get back across the void between mycelial and real space, Stamets explains to a very tired, painful and sceptical Culber that he just needs to cross the void but its not possible because Culber has evolved genetically into the mycelial world. Rapid thoughts from the scientific might of Stamets, Burnham and Tilly mean that the process that May used to transport Tilly (via the cocoon) to the mycelial network can be reversed for Culber, and it worked. The conclusion of the episode is where Admiral Cornwell orders a Section 31 presence aboard the Discovery for the duration of the search for Spock. Tilly and Burnham reconnect, and Stamets is visibly over-joyed to have Culber back alive. Although the mycelial network is still under threat, Discovery is going to help save it.
VERDICT: I rate this episode 9 out of 10 for many reasons, if you over think the episode then you will be very sceptical, but If, like me, you just rolled with it, then again, it’s just another awesome episode that has broken new boundaries. We get to see eviller badassary from Captain Georgiou, we get to understand more of Pike’s past. Ash and Culber return to the Discovery. Stamets gets some stability in his life again, so I guess he is staying put now. There is more of an understanding of the mycelial network.
Overall, this episode, to some, might be a confusingly unnecessary episode but think about it, watch it more than once and you realise that it’s a very necessary episode, and it is certainly fuelling the future episodes for the search for Spock, the mycelial network and the involvement of Section 31. And the characters of the crew of the Discovery get sharper with every episode.