The Klingons—newly redesigned seemingly for the express purpose of making fanboys gripe less—make their Season 2 debut while Michael Burnham confronts her mother and Tilly sees belligerent dead people in this week’s Star Trek: Discovery episode, “Point of Light.” There’s an awful lot of seemingly disparate and very talky plot threads all competing for prominence this week, and new story arc revelations abound, accompanied by lots of swooping camera angles by director Olatunde Osunsanmi.
Ensign Sylvia Tilly is still being visited by a vision of her dead middle school friend, May Ahearn, but the encounters have become increasingly more stern. May demands attention, demands that Tilly help her achieve her goal (whatever that is, we still don’t know, but it has something to do with Stamets), and she becomes angry and jealous when Tilly ignores her. Tilly doesn’t handle the situation very well, losing control on the bridge in front of the Captain. Tilly is a socially awkward young officer early in her career who struggles with self-confidence (as we saw in her solo mini-episode “Runaway“); it’s enjoyable watching a young officer, so early in her career, still finding her sea legs, taking the first steps toward career advancement. It’s similar to what we saw on Voyager with Ensign Harry Kim, but here the difference is that Tilly is actively in training to become a command officer and worries anytime something seems to stand in her way. We never got that with Harry. In fact, Voyager rarely treated him any differently than any of the other senior officers. Tilly’s little friend is linked to a Mirror Universe spore that attached itself to her and made the journey with her to the Prime Universe. Is she simply wanting to get back to her universe, or is her purpose something more sinister?
As those who’ve been following along at home know, this season’s arc centers on the discovery of seven mysterious red bursts that have appeared across the galaxy, and that these bursts are somehow linked to Spock. We get a little bit more insight into the Spock situation this week, as Amanda (Spock’s mother and Burnham’s adoptive mother) shows up to enlist Burnham’s help in tracking him down. Amanda has stolen Spock’s encrypted medical records from Starbase 5 and needs Burnham to open them. But Burnham won’t do it without Captain Pike’s authorization, so she enlists his help. In contacting Starbase 5, Pike learns that Spock is now accused of murdering three of his doctors. Has Spock’s very strict upbringing, with all emotions withheld from him, caused him to be unstable, his human and Vulcan sides at war with each other, causing him to be unbalanced? Or is he being framed? The rift between him and Burnham may have something to do with it, too. She ostracized him out of a sense of protecting him and the family from violent actions taken by the logic extremists—a radical group on Vulcan that had already attempted to kill her (we saw that in Season 1), so her actions are understandable. She tried to run away, and that’s when Spock was first visited by the Red Angel. Burnham was also visited by the Angel in the first episode this season: why are she and Spock the only ones so far who have seen it? What’s the connection, other than being related?
The big story this week is the Klingons, though, and interestingly, they are also aware of the appearance of the seven pulses, but at least some of them have a very different interpretation of them: They are seven drops of blood that will rain down upon them, an indictment of the current state of the Klingon Empire. The Empire, you see, is in a precarious state. L’Rell, who ascended to the rank of Chancellor at the end of Season 1 and used her position to bring the Klingon war with the Federation to an end, is now seeing inevitable challenges to her leadership. For one thing, she’s a woman, and as is pointed out to her, “your councilors must reorganize their tiny male brains to rationalize why it isn’t them standing on that dais,” since females do not typically hold high positions in the Empire. And for another thing, she continues to consort with Ash Tyler, who is actually her lover Voq, an albino Klingon who was named the Torchbearer by T’Kuvma, the warrior who had attempted to unify the disparate Klingon houses before his death at the hands of Michael Burnham. While L’Rell sees Voq, the other Klingons only see a human and they don’t trust him or her. This is reinforced when it’s learned that Voq/Tyler had contacted Burnham to warn the Federation of the situation on Qo’noS (the Klingon homeworld) and that if L’Rell is removed from office, the peace between the Feds and the Klingons will end.
L’Rell has a secret up her sleeve: She and Voq had a baby. She correctly assesses this baby to be a liability to her, and has kept it hidden even from Voq/Tyler. Like Voq, the baby is albino—which is quite possibly a nice tie-in to a Season 2 episode of Deep Space Nine called “Blood Oath,” in which the three Klingons from The Original Series (Kor, Kang, and Koloth) are on a quest to destroy a being known only as the Albino, a criminal who looked vaguely Klingon and had been attacking Klingon colonies. Kor, Kang, and Koloth had routed most of his forces, and he took vengeance on them, killing their children. As Klingons, barring death in combat, live around 150 years, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that we have seen the birth of the Klingon trio’s enemy, which is a nice continuity touch.
Speaking of continuity, the Discovery showrunners seem to have bent over backward to remold the Klingons into a more traditional and fan-familiar image. In a single episode, the Klingons have been given hair (which we learn they had kept shaved during the war and are now growing back); at least some of them have less extreme skull structures (L’Rell—while her facial makeup has been softened greatly this season, giving her a much more traditional feminine appearance—has also lost the entire back half of her enormous head); we see the introduction of the D7, the battleship that the Klingons used (or rather, will use) during The Original Series; and then the possible connection with the DS9 Albino—all to reassure fans, “Yes, these really are the same Klingons that you’ve seen in the other series!”
By the end of the episode, L’Rell faces a direct challenge to her leadership from Kol-Sha, who has kidnapped the baby with a promise to return him for the transfer of Chancellorship to him. A baby in exchange for an Empire. His plan would have been successful, too, had it not been for the timely intervention of Philippa Georgiou, former captain of the USS Shenzhou (or the Mirror Universe version of her, anyway) who now works for the Federation’s Section 31. S31 seems equally invested in keeping L’Rell on the throne and are not above assassination to accomplish that goal. But then, that’s what they’re there for. Seeing Georgiou back in action and in a new role on a Section 31 ship bodes well not only for the rest of Season 2, but also sets the stage for the recently announced Georgiou spin-off series starring Michelle Yeoh.
A great deal was crammed into this episode, but it was tense and well-constructed if a bit on the slow side (thank goodness for one good Klingon bat’leth battle!). The emphasis on the Klingon plot took time away from our Federation cast, which has been one of the highlights of Season 2. Next week looks to be ship-based again, with the return of Tig Notaro’s Jett Reno, which is a very welcome thing, and the entrance of Rebecca Romijn’s Number One. Will Spock finally be making an appearance? We’ll see!
“An Obol for Charon” debuts February 7 at 8:30 p.m. (Eastern) on CBS All Access.