Star Trek Discovery Review: “Brother”

Discovery‘s second season takes the show in new directions. They’re familiar directions to Star Trek fans, however, as is the name of the ship’s new captain.

Titles: “Brother”

Directed by Alex Kurtzman
Written by Gretchen J. Berg, Aaron Harberts, Ted Sullivan

Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham
Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike
Doug Jones as Saru
Shazad Latif as Tyler
Anthony Rapp as Paul Stamets
Mary Wiseman as Sylvia Tilly
Hannah Cheesman as Airiam 2.5
Emily Coutts as Keyla Detmer
Patrick Kwok-Choon as Rhys
Oyin Oladejo as Joann Owosekun
Tig Notaro as Jet Reno
Alan Van Sprang as Leland
Alisen Down as Starfleet Psychiatrist
James Frain as Sarek
Mia Kirshner as Amanda
Ronnie Rowe as Bryce
Sean Connolly Affleck as Connolly
Rachael Ancheril as Nhan
Arista Arhin as Young Michael Burnham
Liam Hughes as Young Spock
Raven Dauda as Dr. Pollard
Julianne Grossman as Discovery Computer
Sara Mitich as Lt. Nilsson
David Benjamin Tomlinson as Sneezy the Saurian Linus1


The Discovery and a damaged Enterprise rendezvous, and Christopher Pike leads an Away Team to rescue humans trapped in a dangerous zone, against the background of this season’s Big Red Mystery.

High Point:

“Say fewer things.”

The episode tries to reset much of what rankled fans about last season, with a friendly crew engaging in dangerous adventures. It may have been flawed, but it was fun to watch.

If they can regularly manage a scene as good as the encounter with Jet Reno on the asteroid, I will eagerly watch this show.

Low Point:

“Do fewer things.”

This episode tries to set all the spheres in motion for Season Two and, as a result, we get too little of the characterization needed to make the emotional elements work as well as they should.


You seriously don’t expect a Discovery review without one, do you?

Last season, it was the change to the Klingons. They’ll be getting their hair back this season. We’ll learn that, at this point in Klingon history, they shaved when going to war. No, seriously. That’s straight from the showrunner’s mouth. Apparently, they don’t discuss it with outsiders, or even the audience. I can only hope they’ll cut back on the prosthetics a little, too.2

This episode, I’ll be going with a really slight nitpick. How is it this crew knows what a tribble is? Yeah, Lorca seemingly had one on his desk last season, but then, why would the species still be a complete mystery to Kirk’s crew, decades later? Is it worth it, just for a throwaway Easter Egg?

Just asking.

What’s your nit?

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6

Effects: 6/6 The first season features spectacular effects, in service of a story written to have a lot of spectacular effects.

Acting: 5/6 The banter recalls the original series, and it’s not bad, but we’ll need to get to know these characters before it really works.

Production: 6/6

Story: 4/6 I won’t criticize Pike’s decision to personally lead the Most Dangerous Away Team Ever. That has long been Starfleet policy.

Emotional Response: 4/6 It’s a fun episode, owing as much to Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as classic Trek, but it needs to develop its characters. That way, the past relationship emotional worries, the witty banter, and the danger all mean something.

The death of a character literally gets tossed off between quips.3

Overall: 5/6 They’re trying to put the dark series of last season behind them, and strike a balance between classic Treks and the more recent action-adventure movies (which new showrunner Alex Kurtzman co-scripted). They’re not quite there yet, but I’m more optimistic about Season Two than I ever was about Season One.

In total, “Brother” receives 33/42


1. Linus makes a brief appearance this week, providing some comic relief in relation to a somewhat snotty character. Pity he did not have a security blanket to use as a Kleenex. He (?) will return as a regular. I’m glad we still don’t know the specific backstories of every single character. That can all develop later. We finally learned Suru’s in the recent Short Treks. Maybe by Season Three will know what’s up with Airiam 2.5.

2. I’m good with things not looking exactly as they did on a low-budget TV series from half a century ago, but the show, within reason, should respect continuity, and gratuitous departures annoy me. I thought they handled the uniforms well. Pike’s crew, apparently, wear newer-issue uniforms that will eventually replace the ones we see in Discovery, which in turn have some continuity with the ones seen in Enterprise.

3. Granted, we don’t much like him.

7 replies on “Star Trek Discovery Review: “Brother””

  1. My pet peeve is the too dense asteroid field so they can have the ship banging into things – it would either be a lot more spread out, or clumped together aggregating itself.

    • That’s a good point. I’m so used to seeing the trope in media SF that I handwaved it, thinking the wonky gravitational effects they encountered perhaps created the situation recently from a less-dense field. It’s not like that would be the worst science in Trek history.

  2. I thought the episode was awesome. I was all in, Tig Notaro can deadpan like nobody’s business, the red-shirt tease line, the action, a few fun meta comments, and they kept the science in sci-fi. My low point was how a trusted, buddy officer is completely forgotten after he leaves the episode, but I wasn’t into him anyways.

  3. The cocky git was always going to die. The fact that his shirt wasn’t red should have been a nit. 8-)

    There was a lot to like. This felt like Star Trek. The running into the Enterprise but not seeing anyone familiar was a bit of a disappointment. They could have used Pike transferring to the discovery as a way of showing Kirk becoming the captain but instead, hand waved the Enterprise as being missing from the fight and now mysteriously broken. Then they just leave the Enterprise there? Why show the Enterprise at all? Why not just have then detour and pick up Pike from a shuttle.

    And speaking of which why the concern that a Commander might get a bit peeved when ordered to hand over a ship to an incoming Captain? They were on their way to pick up a replacement captain anyway. The whole shared command thing doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    • Possible answers:

      Why show the Enterprise at all? Why not just have then detour and pick up Pike from a shuttle.

      Fan service. Reminder of what the Federation is like/show’s origins. Also, we saw Spock’s quarters as a key element of the story.

      why the concern that a Commander might get a bit peeved when ordered to hand over a ship to an incoming Captain?

      Someone, I think David Gerrold, writes about how the characters in the original series sometimes behave in ways that we wouldn’t expect of a professional / quasi-military organization, but which seem very human, and allow us to connect to the characters. But I agree that this seemed a bit much.

      • I take it more as “An outside who isn’t joining us is now deciding our fate” as opposed to just adding someone. It’s the difference from your visiting mother-in-law telling you how to rearrange your living room to your new significant other helping to rearrange as they move in.

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