Star Trek Discovery Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

The penultimate 2017 episode of Star Trek: Discovery, “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum,” is one that should definitely go towards Doug Jones’ “For Your Consideration” Emmy package, since he was the true MVP this week. Let’s go through the ways Jones knocked it out of the park.

A Quick Observation About Doug Jones’ Shoes

When our Discovery Scooby-Doo crew of Burnham, Tyler and Saru landed on the planet Pahvo to learn more about the Klingons’ cloaking technology, we see them walking across all kinds of hardcore terrain. This hiking trail would be challenging for anyone, but it’s especially challenging for Jones, since he done up in all kinds of prosthetics and wearing heel-less high heels to showcase Saru’s hoof-like feet. To see Jones walk over rocks in those shoes had me both scared and, to use an internet colloquialism, shook. Jones now knows the pain of many women (and femme-presenting individuals) who have to walk along debris-strewn sidewalks and gravelly paths. I was especially impressed when Jones had to run in these horrible shoes. I winced in solidarity as I watched.

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Saru Emotes

We’ve seen Saru offer some emotions throughout this season, but we’ve never seen Saru this up close and personal. This performance from Jones cements this episode as the second winner in a row for Star Trek: Discovery. We learn much more about Saru and how he wishes, for just one second, he could have peace. His desire for peace is multi-layered, since not only does he wish for the fatigue of war to be over, but he also wants freedom from his emotional pain — he’s still in deep mourning over Georgiou, and to me, it seems like the closest he’s had to peace was under her calm and resolute command. With doggone Lorca call the shots, the poor guy never has peace. As anyone who has worked in an office environment knows, peace at work is so covetable (particularly in an awful working environment) that you’re ready to fight someone in the hallway just to get five minutes to yourself. Not only is Saru constantly at sea emotionally, he’s probably always having to bury his anger.

Much of that anger stems from his still-seething irritation at Michael’s very presence. Michael has been a low-level threat to him even before Georgiou’s death, but once Michael became Public Enemy No. 1, Saru has had nothing but distaste for her. She’s the cause of his world, his life on the Shenzhou, being destroyed. She had a hand in his beloved captain’s death. She destroyed the small amount of peace he was able to find in Starfleet. Her presence on the Discovery continually reminds Saru of what he has lost.

In this episode, Saru lets all of these emotions come to the forefront, thanks to the Pahvans. He unleashes his anger onto Michael, but also mindlessly pleads with her not to take away the peace the Pahvans have given him. He shows fear at having to re-enter the theater of war and at the threat of the Pahvans being destroyed by either Starfleet or the Klingons. He is also ready to cut a son of a gun over the little shred of peace he’s finally found. I understand, Saru. I completely understand.

We see a lot of Saru in a painful, hopeless state, but the most poignant moment comes when he’s in sickbay. He hates that he attacked Michael and Tyler and recognizes that it wasn’t all the Pahvans’ doing that led him towards violence. Saru is an angry being, and I think we as audience members — and the members of the Discovery — fail to remember that to be in constant fear is also to be in constant anger.

While that might sound like I’m paraphrasing Yoda from the Star Wars prequels, I’m pulling more from James Baldwin, who said that to be black in America is to be in a constant state of anger. Of course, Saru’s not black. But I can tell you firsthand that being in a constant state of anger most definitely means you have a running commentary of fear flashing somewhere in your mind. Survival instincts are up high and you’re angry that you always have to fear the worst. When he’s in sickbay, Saru sounds positively drained from the mental burden he’s always had to bear. For now, though, let’s hope Saru rests well.

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Is Tyler a Klingon?

We’re only one week away from midseason finale and this episode brings us back to the persistent “Tyler is Voq” theory, especially since the Tyler/Michael relationship is heating up quickly. There are just some things that aren’t adding up. Like, how would Voq know about Lake Shasta and roasted trout? That seems pretty specific. (I’m sure some of you will provide your theories in the comments section, but I just don’t see Voq torturing someone to find out info on Lake Shasta.) Also, Tyler specifically tells Saru how much he wants to hurt the Klingons for what they did to him. Would Voq say that?

The character most certainly throwing me for a loop is L’Rell. What kind of quadruple-agent is she? First she’s playing Voq’s side, then she’s playing Kol’s side, next she’s playing Starfleet’s side? Come on, now. At least Kol saw through some of her lies. Unfortunately for L’Rell, that means she’s being tortured. But that also could play into her plan to avenge her fallen brothers and kill Kol. Also, is the only reason she wants to get to the Discovery is because Tyler — who may or may not be a Klingon — is over there? Who are you, L’Rell, and what do you want?

I guess we’ll find out next week.

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