Not every episode of Star Trek Discovery season 2 can be action-packed and although episode 7, Light and Shadows, has its fair share of danger, the more important storyline is the one which deals with Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and her family drama. While not much happens in episode 7, it sets up some pretty important plot points for the future, which prevents it from becoming merely a filler episode. Light and Shadows may not rock your world (especially compared to some of the other fantastic episodes we’ve had this season), but given it marks a pivotal moment in the season, we can forgive the show a more mellow outing this week. With spoilers from this point onwards, here’s our verdict on Star Trek Discovery season 2, episode 7, Light and Shadows.
After Saru’s (Doug Jones) family reunion last week, Burnham decides she needs to go back to Vulcan to see Amanda (Mia Kirshner) and Sarek (James Frain) if she has any hope of finding the illusive Spock (Ethan Peck). After touching down for a mere few minutes, it turns out that Spock has been on Vulcan… well, not exactly all this time, but for a while now, and Amanda’s been keeping his location a secret to protect him from Section 31 and those pesky murder charges. When Burnham finally comes face-to-face with her brother, he’s a rambling mess repeating lines from the First Doctrines of Logic and seemingly random numbers. It’s an interesting and bold introduction to this new Spock and yet there’s still a feel of the Spock we know and love in Peck’s performance. Even though he’s clearly troubled and behaving in a very non-Spock like way, fans will be pleased to see that he’s recognisable as the iconic Vulcan played by Leonard Nimoy.
The Vulcan’s out of the bag
Before long, Sarek knows where Spock is and that his wife’s been hiding him. Cue quite an emotional conversation between husband and wife, which is unlike anything ever seen in Star Trek canon before. Old Trek doesn’t real deal with the complexities of Amanda and Sarek’s human-Vulcan relationship, so it’s pleasing to see it explored in Discovery. It makes them much more intriguing characters as you see the strain coming from two very different worlds puts on their partnership, and both Kirshner and Frain manage to convey years of disappointment and pain in the short exchange. This scene also reveals some intriguing details about Spock and his upbringing - things we either didn’t know before, or are new introductions to Star Trek canon, but either way, it adds more depth to a character who, due to his lack of emotion, is sometimes a little 2D.
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Back on the Discovery, the crew barely has time to miss Burnham before coming face-to-face with a rift in space time left behind by the red signal that led them to Kaminar in the last episode. Pike (Anson Mount) and Tyler (Shazad Latif) go to investigate and, of course, get sucked in, but it at least gives them time work out their issues. Pike is taking unnecessary risks because he feels guilty about sitting out the war and he doesn’t trust Tyler one little bit, which considering he/Voq murdered Culber you can’t really blame him. That’s the least of their worries though once they get lost in the past, present, and future (all at the same time!) and are attacked by a technical robot from the future, which looks like it’s fallen straight out of The Matrix. While this secondary storyline gives Pike and Tyler a welcome chance to interact more, it feels a little bit too much like just giving the Discovery crew something to do while Burnham is on Vulcan. That said, it does build on the time travel theories surrounding the Red Angel and poses some pretty speculatular questions for the future, like, who sent that robot back in time to steal Discovery’s information?
All things told, not much happens in Light and Shadows, but given that Spock has finally turned up after being teased all season (hallelujah!), what more do you want? This week’s episode won’t win any awards and it sits in stark contrast to episode 6, which seemed to pack at least three episodes worth of storyline into it, but the development of the relationships between Burnham’s family more than makes up for its shortcomings. While traditional Trek was all about aliens and space fights, one thing Discovery has introduced more is the exploration of the personal troubles and tribulations of its crew, and it’s all the better for it. By the end of the episode, Burnham and Spock find themselves unexpectedly adrift - I won’t spoil how here - but it promises some exciting things to come.
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