Yeah they made it REALLY OBVIOUS that the Red Angel is either Michael or Spock travelling through time to help the other, so much so that I hope it's purposeful misdirection (but it's probably not.)
This felt like the sketch for a good Star Trek episode, but let down in the execution and the story not making much sense. Saru had some good moments but nothing about the Bal'ul made much sense. They used to be the "prey" but they looking like big scary oil monsters? How did they manage to become the predators? How did they make the Kelpians forget they used to be predators? If they're so technically advanced why don't they just move somewhere else instead of hanging around suppressing the Kelpians for thousands of years? Maybe this all sounds nitpicky but if the story had worked better I wouldn't be thinking these things PROBABLY.
Yeah, the Bal'ul were weird and didn't seem like prey at all, but still it is good that Saru's people can have their neck weapons now! I'm glad they didn't change Saru's personality from fearful to aggressive. He can still be the thoughtful character, but not afraid. Also, I don't think it would be such a good thing to be fearless. Fear has a purpose.
Yeah I just kept thinking “space is big”. If you don’t like your neighbours, go somewhere else.
Since they avoided showing the Bal’ul so much I was expecting it to be a Ba’ku/Son’a situation, where the Bal’ul were all Kelpians who had lost their ganglia and become sassy Sarus. It would’ve made a lot more sense.
Aside from the logic not really adding up, this episode really suffered from the rushed pacing. It feels like someone recapping a story for you in a hurry, rather than a drama you can get absorbed into and think about.
The best bit of the episode was probably the Culber/Stamets scene, because it was actually given some time and mostly conveyed in the subtext. I guess Culber’s eventually going to awkwardly talk to Tyler about his feelings, since they’re going through similar identity and PTSD-like issues.
Eh, they ripped that shit off from David Gerrold's script (later novel) Blood & Fire, anyway. I get that they wanted to establish that there are no character shields, but they could have killed off a character who was more annoying -- like Burnham, for example. Culber wasn't annoying. He wasn't really interesting at all, either, though. But that's typical of Discovery, where the only (briefly) interesting thing about any given character is which oppressed minority they fall into.
I can see how the writer's meeting went:
"Okay, we need a Captain. Can't be a white male."
"Good? Good? What else?"
"Uh... she's could be young and all kawaii!"
"Nope, we don't want to get flooded with emails from the weaboos."
"Old and wise, then!"
"Okay, there you go. Now we need a main character. Let's say it's the First Officer."
"Didn't we just --"
"Nope. We're trying to be Different, people."
"But why? We know what the fans respond to and --"
"Because I have no idea what I'm doing and they still put me in charge which means I'm awesome. Main character, go!"
"Uh... okay... black female."
"That's good, that's good, ticks a couple boxes on the Intersectionality checklist, what else?"
"Um... raised by Vulcans so she'd be all rational and stuff?"
"Hmmm... I like the raised by Vulcans part. Spock's parents."
"But Spock would have --"
"NOPE! Oh, and we're gonna ditch the 'rational' part about ten minutes in. Using your brain, that's white male cis/het ist ist is phobe phobe phobe whaaaaarrrrgarbl..."
"Next! The token alien!"
"Um... okay, I'm getting the hang of this. Beta male. Real soyboy type -- actually, full on coward."
"Yes! YES! Now you're getting it! What about the Child Prodigy? Next Gen had one of those."
"Ohhhh, yeah. Everybody just LOVED Wesley Crusher. Only let's make him a girl in this one. A cute girl. Two birds with one stone."
"I thought you were getting the hang of this."
"No, hear me out -- she'll be autistic. Not DURR autistic, just really awkward."
"Mmmmm, okay. Oh, now a few episodes in, we're gonna have another Captain."
"WHAT have we been doing here? Are you even paying attention?!"
"Just hear me out -- we make him EVIL. The EVIL white male."
"I'm sorry I doubted you for a second. You may have a jelly bean. Now let's see, what boxes on the Intersectionality checklist HAVEN'T we checked yet..."
TV and movie characters are so easy to write these days. Because, for the most part, they don't need personalities, or individualized motives, or flaws, or character arcs. They just have to fall in Oppressed Minority boxes, the more the better. Oh, and they must be Woke and preachy. That's it; job done.
Black genderqueer vegan with a serious mental illness who solves crimes. There's your next CBS breakout character. In fact, put money on that, it's comin'.
'The Cage' took place in 2254
This episode took place in 2257
'The Menagerie' takes place in 2267
(All dates from Memory Alpha. I did get confused before this season thinking that it was taking place before 'The Cage' but I was thinking of the J.J. movies, though apparently the frist one took place in 2258 so I don't know.)