Star Trek Discovery If Memory Serves review

Finally, in Star Trek: Discovery’s eighth episode of the season, “If Memory Serves,” we get Ethan Peck as Spock. As a huge Spock fan, I found it pitch perfect.

There were actually several pitch perfect moments in this hour, even though the entire episode hit a depressing chord overall. Yes, after several high-flying, adventure-filled episodes, we have gotten our first truly sad one. It was deeply emotional: haunting, heartbreaking, and just downright somber. Here’s how my heart broke throughout the episode.

Sad Little Spock

While Big Spock is certainly stealing the show, Little Spock (Liam Hughes) really stole my heart. Little Spock, as the sensitive soul he is, was profoundly affected by little Michael’s (Arista Arhin) harsh words, words she said in order to protect him and his family from Vulcan extremists seeking to kill her. While I get the reason why she was unnecessarily harsh, I was still like, “Come on, Michael! Don’t call him a half-breed and a freak! Do anything but that!” No wonder Spock has been upset for 15+ years!

Spock wants to act like he hasn’t internalized Michael’s words, as if he’s no longer affected by that wound. But you can tell that when he and Michael are back in each other’s presences, he is still visibly hurt. He’s trying to hide that hurt behind the Vulcan mask of impenetrability, but he’s still the same boy who told his big sister he loved her and had that love thrown back in his face.

Speaking of love, you can tell Spock still loves Michael a lot, because why else would he seek Michael’s help to navigate to Talos IV? Of course, he needed her as a baseline for the Talosians to do their work to heal his mind. But he also wanted her there because he has no one else to turn to. As he said himself, all of his mental crutches – logic, time, his relationship with emotions – have all failed him. The only person he has left is Michael, and to be honest, she’s the best person to have when you’re faced with the end of civilization.

The End of the Galaxy

I feel like any one of us would lose our minds if a weird being came to us and showed us a premonition of entire worlds dying. So I don’t think any of us can blame Spock for nearly losing his.

This premonition, though, brings back the through-line that’s been running all season long: the merging of science and faith. When Spock asked Pike to have faith in him with regard to the Red Angel’s premonition, it reminded me once again how this season is all about exercising the imagination beyond what one might think is possible. This season wants us as viewers to think bigger than ever before. It wants us to find a balance between human reason and spirituality, since, according to this season’s theory, we will need both if we truly want to change society.

I’m a little bit of a new-age person, so I’ve found it interesting that this series’ message comes at a time when Uranus is in Taurus, signifying that we’re in a time in which the new and the old collide and form something that excites, reboots, and expands humanity as a whole. Part of this includes bringing faith back in line with science.

I’m not talking about anything in line with how fundamental religious practices, like fundamental Christianity, deny science. Rather, I’m talking about how both the exciting discoveries that occur in science also form because there’s an overlying faith in something bigger out there. The atom was discovered because there was a theory, a form of scientific faith, that it was there. The faith in a better world is driving scientists to discover new ways to help us humans battle and survive climate change instead of simply succumbing to outright fear. In Star Trek: Discovery, the faith of the Red Angel to stop a cataclysm is putting it on a path towards achieving the impossible. And Spock’s faith in the Red Angel is helping it achieve its goal.

Technically, the Red Angel is already succeeding: not only did it warn of catastrophes throughout this season, but it also warned Spock in time for Sarek and Amanda to save Michael after she ran away. Otherwise, she would be dead, and I think there would be nothing the Red Angel could do to save the timeline from destruction.

What I’d like to know right now is why Michael and Spock are so important to the Red Angel’s cause? What do they possess that the Red Angel needs? I can’t wait to find out.

Stamets and Culber On The Rocks

Culber is going through it after his emergence from the other side, and it’s understandable, since he should be dead. Stamets, of course, is overjoyed and wants things to be just like how they were before Culber was killed by Voq-Tyler. However, Culber can’t go back to how things were. To him, he’s not even Culber anymore.

This is a very interesting development, and I like it, even though I hate seeing a sad Stamets. But if someone came back from the dead in a regenerated body, I think it’s logical that they wouldn’t feel like their former selves anymore. Culber might have his old memories, but his body has a new relationship with the world. He’s like Tyler in that he has access to a former life, but he no longer has any connection to that life.

He might hate that he’s more like Tyler than he would be comfortable with. Tyler was a Starfleet officer, but he became a Klingon experiment and had Voq’s memories grafted into his mind. Throughout the first season, Tyler had no idea who he was or how to handle his new life. Also: Tyler, as we all know by now, killed the original Culber when Voq took over Tyler’s body.

I’ve been waiting for Culber to take Tyler to task for his crime now that he’s alive, and thankfully we get that when Culber dukes it out with Tyler in the mess hall. Incredibly, Saru lets the fight play out – probably because he, like everyone else, doesn’t really see it for Tyler anymore because of his past. But Saru is right that the fight needed to happen; Culber needed to approach the man who killed him and let out some aggression.

However, it doesn’t solve anything between Stamets and Culber’s strained relationship. Stamets is still connected to the old Culber, but the new Culber tells him that he must let go and move on. So apparently, our favorite DISCO couple are now…on ice. Hopefully not for long. Maybe we can get some episodes where Stamets tries to court Culber like he did back in the day, so they can have a brand new relationship instead of trying to continue the old one.

Pike and Vina

Hardcore Star Trek heads are probably really excited to see some old TOS footage at the beginning of this week’s episode. The footage comes from the pilot episode of the original series, “The Cage,” in which Pike and the Enterprise crew land on Talos IV and meet the Talosians and Vina. Bringing back Vina (played in this incarnation by Melissa George) and the Talosians is such an interesting avenue for the writers to go down, especially since it brings back Vina’s relationship with Pike.

Once again, we were treated to some sadness, since at this current point in time, Vina and Pike can’t be together. Instead, Vina tells Pike that the Talosians have created an illusory version of Pike for her to be with.

Vina’s presence allows us to see a new layer of vulnerability to Pike. While we already knew he was a standout captain and morally upstanding person, it’s interesting to see him wrestle with other, more murky emotions such as love and loss. I hope we’ll get to see more of Pike and Vina together at some point this season.

Overall, we’ve had a very satisfying, if depressing, episode! I can’t wait to see what other horrors await our stalwart crew next episode.

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