“Anomaly” Goes Big on Classic Tropics

Sonequa Martin-Green's Captain Michael Burnham sits on a damaged Discovery Bridge, while Dr.  Wilson Cruz's Culber controls her.

This is exactly what it looks like emotionally decompressing after something happens on Discovery, honestly.
Image: Paramount+

Differences. What Star Trek fan doesn’t like an anomaly? I love them, you love them, Starfleet bridge crews Surely love them, and Discovery is no exception. But Discovery is still the show it used to be from the beginning, meaning his approach to exploring the unknown of the week will be much, much more dramatic than his predecessors could have dreamed.

Image for article titled Star Trek: Discovery took a classic premise and put it on a much higher level than 11

“Anomaly”, at first glance, could just be a classic plot of the week on your standard Star TrekDistilled down to its most basic description: the crew travels to and investigates the titular mysterious anomaly. In fact, it’s even a two-for-one deal, as it’s also classic “two characters who don’t like each other are forced to go on a road mission together, which goes wrong and they learn to understand each other over time.” that they come out alive.” It’s reductive, to be sure. But for the first time in a while – between the end of the high-stakes of season three finale and contemplative season four, but still very dramatic opening last week-Discovery gives herself the chance to just have a Star Trek show.

Image for article titled Star Trek: Discovery took a classic premise and put it on a much higher level than 11

Image: Paramount+

It’s not a breather, however, since this is still Discovery— and for better or for worse, that means it can’t just be Star Trek, it has to be like this am working on it, and the “it” here is “incredibly high stakes stressful drama oh god everything explodes aaaaaaah.” That’s really what Discovery brings to the table in a way its predecessors didn’t. The Company or Voyager The crew could treat two binary black holes that generate gravitational fluctuations with a distant scientific curiosity, because it’s really what we’ve been taught to see Starfleet’s heroes as: calm, composed, and deeply interested in Space Stuff. DiscoveryThe crew and new captain are similar, but over the past three seasons they’ve also been allowed to be more human about it. Which means that when the inevitability of things going sideways begins to happen in “Anomaly”, not only does it have an incredibly explosive effect, but the crew is swept through a physical, mental and emotional wringer to boot, leaving you almost as exhausted as they are when it all comes to an end.

This sounds like a bad thing – and maybe to some opponents who still don’t like it DiscoveryThe bridge crew isn’t too neat about the wild crap they’ve endured. but if Lower decks has proved, albeit with much more comedic than dramatic effect, that there is a kind of charm and catharsis to watching Starfleet officers reckon with the completely insane, cool, scientific and catastrophic stuff they do week in, week out. just have a kind of scream and shout about it. If Discovery becomes the kind of sci-fi show where the stakes are always so intensely high – the anomaly in “Anomaly” is of course a threat to the whole galaxyand our heroes’ reward for exploring it is only to discover that it can destroy any planet, anywhere, in any direction – and then every now and then, taking the time to see how its characters take into account the emotional exhaustion of even something as mundane as a scientific research mission with that commitment can be incredibly rewarding.

Image for article titled Star Trek: Discovery took a classic premise and put it on a much higher level than 11

Image: Paramount+

And for the most part, “Anomaly” is. Even before it goes bad when Discovery Sending Books ship to investigate the titular anomaly for more data, Michael finds it difficult to connect as a captain or partner with Book himself, still devastated by the loss of his homeworld Kwejian last week. Playing on the lessons she struggled to articulate with President Rilak during the premiere, “Anomaly” is about the time when a captain is doing must be on the move in a dangerous situation, about when to be the detached leader who makes decisions with your head, and when your heart is needed to connect with your crew and get them through in one piece. Michael also finds himself with the blessing of Saru’s return to the Discovery as First Officer, an emotional rock that guides her through the peril of navigating a stellar object that could at any moment throw her crew and ship apart in a hail of noise and fury. Finding those rocks among the crew becomes vital, the more explosive and panicky “Anomaly” gets – Stamets, holographically dragged along for the ride to obtain scan data in Book’s ship, desperately tries to make his rock the disgruntled Kwejian, who ends up there. indicates that they have barely spoken to each other. Tilly, trying not to crack under the pressure put on her by her promotion and the lingering fallout from her rescue mission gone wrong last week, nearly breaks out and snaps at Adira, who also still remembers their alleged failures from last week. processed on the same day. mission. And Book himself, raw and lost after the deaths of his homeworld and family, struggles to find out that his rock is ultimately Michael, not until it’s almost too late.

By showing all these breakpoints with these characters – emotionally and, darkly funny, almost literally, as Dr. Culber spends most of his time in this episode running around the bridge with his new 31st century medical kit, almost instantly healing his gaping head wounds and bruised ribs with a few waves of a tool—by what would, in classic Star Trek, be a kind of weekly scientific event, Discovery reminds us of the kinds of human, emotional turmoil that is the reality of living in an organization like Starfleet. We can joke about how crazy it is that these numbers usually approach life-threatening cosmic madness as if it were administrative bureaucracy in other trek show, but Discovery‘s preponderance for big stakes and big emotions shows how stressful and dangerous it is in Star Trek can be real. And crucially, it follows a cathartic release when the imminent threat is over and our heroes emerge from the periphery of the anomaly in one piece. During the final minutes of “Anomaly,” we get to see characters like Tilly, Adira, Book, Stamets, and Michael unleash the intense emotions they’ve just built up and had to simmer over the course of the episode, and crucially, see how they manage this. do by honestly confiding in the friends around them, giving them paths forward to heal and move on from their current rawness.

Image for article titled Star Trek: Discovery took a classic premise and put it on a much higher level than 11

Image: Paramount+

“Anomaly” may not do much in terms of progress Discovery‘s current great overarching plot, and its ability to make even the simplest trek premise in high-stakes, cinematic action wildness might be a little too tiring for some. But by acknowledging the tensions of that commitment every now and then in the text and in the characters, and reminding us all of the need this crew has to lean on each other to get through the act of ordinary existence in Star Trek: Discoveryworld, makes it well worth going back and forth through gravity.


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