Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Ep. 8: If Memory Serves’ narrative is a classic “Captain’s Log” from Pike but after a very well thought out “previously on Star Trek….” that goes back to the pilot episode of Star Trek, “The Cage” and features Pike, Spock, Vina and the Talosians. It’s a great intro into what the viewer might expect. Of course, there is a bit of artistic licence because Jeffery Hunter, Susan Oliver and Leonard Nimoy are no longer with us, but in my opinion, it knits quite admirably into the episode.
There are continuing stories within this episode, and we gain more insight to the characters of those stories, Burnham and Spock, Pike and Tyler, Stamets and Culber, Culber and Tyler, Pike and Vina, and Georgiou and Leland. I would just to point out one observation that unless you read it, you didn’t notice it had happened but the actress who played Lt Cmdr Airiam in the last season and the first two episodes of this season, Sarah Mitich, now plays Lt Nilsson in engineering and Lt Cmdr Airiam is now played by Hannah Cheesman.
Anyway, the continuing emotional battle between Burnham and Spock progresses and sometimes within this episode Burnham can be slightly over-acted emotionally by Sonequa Martin-Green more than any episode she has starred in, but don’t take that as a negative because she is a great actor. Apart from improving and knowing more by the end of the episode about their relationship and the reason why Burnham carries such a burden for hurting Spock, the journey to Talos, and encountering the Talosians and their telepathic skills, enlightened more about the Red Angel and that the Red Angel saved Burnham when she was a child and visited child Spock too. Through the mind probing of the Talosians we finally understand what the outcome of the current timeline will be, and it is an Extinction Level Event for not just the planet Earth but the Galaxy as we know it. Spock and Burnham must get back to the Discovery to try and stop this event happening.
With the Pike and Tyler situation there is definitely a mutual respect for each other and also, be it a gradual decline in this episode, a friendship put to the test. Although at the beginning of the episode Pike values Tyler’s input but strange things are happening on the Discovery, we all know that it’s a “hacked” Lt Cmdr Airiam with her flashing red eyes but unfortunately the crew aren’t aware of it and all the sabotage, the Spore Drive failing, and reports being sent out on subspace frequencies all point to it being Tyler, who is then stripped of his comms and confined to his quarters by the end of the episode.
Stamets and Culber are struggling in their relationship but Stamets is resolute that it can be overcome but Culber isn’t certain of himself let alone a relationship. I’ve found this relationship to be a bit creepy and a bit too dramatic on Stamets part, and I was a bit relieved that Culber, frustrated and confused as he is, decides to stop the relationship. Stamets did bend over backwards since Culber was found and brought back to life but I sensed at the beginning of the last episode that this was going to end in tears.
Culber confronts Tyler for killing him and there becomes a fist fight in the canteen that is witnessed by several crew members including Saru and Tilly. Pike questions Saru why he didn’t break it up but Saru’s reasoning was quite obvious and pure Star Trek in that why should he break up a fight with a guy brought back from the dead fighting with the Klingon inside the man that killed him. Quite a remarkable scene and one that endears me closer to Saru’s character. Culber’s questions as to why Tyler/Voq killed him are left unanswered because Tyler doesn’t even know.
With Vina back on the scene, she reopens old wounds in Pike that were evidently stitched up from the last time. They had to be reunited with Vina being the hostess to the encounters and reunions of Burnham and Spock respectively, so it was inevitable that Pike would be part of this. Pike’s cool, for the first time since he joined the series, is waivered by Vina but the reunion is there so that Burnham and Pike can communicate via the Talosian’s intelligence skills as Georgiou and Leland have the Discovery‘s usual comms covered for when Burnham contacts Pike to explain what’s going on, but little did they know, nor expect that Burnham and Pike would have that option. It is at this point that I should add that very early on in the episode, Section 31 confine the Discovery to menial tasks and order the Discovery not to pursue Burnham and Spock, but secretly, and mutinously, they investigate under the very nose of Section 31.
Georgiou and Leland have a power play between them, and we all know that Leland will fail, it’s on the cards as the Georgiou character is stronger, more interesting and long standing. The powerplay culminates in them intercepting Burnham and Spock beaming to the Discovery after the Discovery fooled Section 31 and went on a rescue mission. They persuade Pike to let them intrude on the beam and beam Burnham and Spock on board and they warp away to find that they have actually not beamed Burnham and Spock but a Talosian mind trick and Burnham says to Spock “Say goodbye Spock” and Spock turns to Leland and, yup you’ve guessed correctly, he deadpan says “Goodbye Spock” before they disappear into nothing.
The episode concludes with Burnham and Spock reuniting with Pike and explaining the Extinction Level Event and that they are convinced the Red Angel is trying to stop it.
VERDICT: I rate this episode 9 out of 10 because like all the other episodes this Season, there is a lot going on and the episode can be a bit hard to keep up with, I watched it twice. The storyline has had more information added to it than previous episodes and it’s always nice to see the crossover of another franchise. My fellow critics seem to find it hard to not be positive about the reality of this show but in all fairness, this is science fiction at its best, being allowed to roam and enjoy wherever it goes.
I really enjoyed this episode a lot, and I can’t wait to see what happens to Culber, Tyler, and Airiam in the next episode. Every coupling in this episode has had Yin and Yang moments, it has been expertly written and directed. It’s very creative and makes the experience richer when you can see just what the writers want you to see.