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Star Trek: Discovery's 'Brother' sets a course for an exciting second season
It’s hard to overstate how excited I was to watch the second season premiere of Star Trek: Discovery. I was absolutely immersed in this show during its first season, enjoying (and gasping out loud at) every twist and turn the writers threw at us. Now it’s finally here, and I have to say: It didn’t disappoint. At all.
Watching this episode, I had a very familiar feeling, one that I’ve shared every time I watched a season premiere of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, or any other show I’ve absolutely loved — the feeling of getting to spend some time with much-adored old friends. Discovery truly has taken its place (and let’s be real, earned its place) in the Star Trek universe. With the news of Michelle Yeoh’s spin-off series, focusing on Emperor Georgiou as a part of Section 31, along with the Captain Picard series and the animated Lower Decks, it’s a pretty exciting time to be a Star Trek fan.
“Brother” had a different feel to it than did many episodes of Discovery’s first season. The stakes were high, for sure, but they didn’t necessarily threaten the entire galaxy (or at least, not yet). It was a much more personal episode, more focused on characters and those quiet moments. And that is where Discovery excels.
New Beginnings, New Faces
The first season of the show was pretty dark in tone, which was understandable considering the main storyline had to do with war and conflict. But the writers promised us that the second season would be a little more lighthearted, and that was evident from the very beginning of “Brother.” The scenes between Michael and Saru especially had me chortling; the writers really know how to work with their chemistry, and I hope we get more scenes like it in the future.
Anson Mount as Captain Pike was a welcome addition to the crew, and it’s interesting how he slots into the family dynamic. He doesn’t quite trust the crew yet, though he’s warmed up to them considerably by the end of the episode.
I appreciated how this episode balanced between setting up what will clearly be a season (or half-season) long storyline, the search for the red signals (and The Search for Spock, as it were), with an episode-of-the-week rescue. Tig Notaro was absolutely amazing in this role, and I hope we’ll be seeing the character again.
Tilly was, as always, a gift in this episode. Between her awkwardness on the bridge with Captain Pike and her heartfelt statements to Stamets, I really appreciate how well (and earnestly) the character is written. She always manages to provide some lightheartedness without ever being sidelined to “comedic relief.”
Speaking of Stamets, I think we all suspect that he won’t actually make it to the Vulcan Science Academy. This new asteroid discovery will hopefully rekindle his interest in the spore drive, and I suspect it will provide an avenue to bring back Dr. Culber. That’s my hope, at least, given how actor Wilson Cruz has been talking about his character in the show’s second season. Seeing Stamets take some joy in something, as Tilly’s attempt to capture a piece of the asteroid was successful, was a great way to provide a little healing for the character.
The relationship between Michael and Spock will clearly be a focus of this story arc. The flashback scenes set on Vulcan were simply beautiful, with the red standing out among the clean lines of Sarek and Amanda’s house (hopefully this also means that we’ll get to see more of Mia Kirshner in the role, as well as James Frain as Sarek). The episode didn’t reveal what, exactly, Michael had done to lead to her and Spock’s estrangement, but it’s clear that she has many regrets and is ready to go after him.
There’s not a lot of speculating to do in this recap, as this was very much a setup episode. It moved all the pieces into place as the show embarks on its second season. We know that Captain Pike is taking command of the Discovery, at least when it comes to investigation of the red energy signals, and that Spock has had nightmares about the same signals. We know that Burnham now has a map to where he might have gone. What are these signals, and why are they connected to Spock? What caused the rift between Burham and Spock? And why, exactly, is Spock acting the way he is? We’ll have to see how the story unfolds over the next few weeks.