So, Spock is even more special than TOS had us believe, Culber still hasn’t come to terms with being alive again, and Talos IV remains a wasteland inhabited by bulgy-headed aliens, though they’re somewhat less sinister and, well, alien, than a low-budget series made them look and sound fifty+ years ago.

Discovery does give us a visually-impressive wasteland, along with further clues regarding the Red Angel.

Titles: “If Memory Serves”

Directed by T.J. Scott
Written by Jay Beattie, Dan Dworkin

Cast
Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham
Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike
Doug Jones as Commander Saru
Ethan Peck as Mr. Spock
Anthony Rapp as Commander Paul Stamets
Wilson Cruzas as Dr. Hugh Culber
Mary Wiseman as Ensign Sylvia Tilly
Melissa George as Vina
Shazad Latif as Ash Tyler
Hannah Cheesman as Lt. Cmdr. Airiam
Michelle Yeoh as Philippa Georgiou
Alan Van Sprang as Leland
Emily Coutts as Lt. Keyla Detmer
Dee Pelletier, Rob Brownstein, Nicole Dickenson as Talosians
Patrick Kwok-Choon as Lt. Gen Rhys
Oyin Oladejo as Lt. Joann Owosekun
Ronnie Rowe as Lt. R.A. Bryce
Raven Dauda as Dr. Tracy Pollard
Allison Down as psychiatrist
Julianne Grossman as Discovery Computer
Arista Arhin as li’l Michael
Liam Hughes as li’l Spock
Riley Gilchrist as Andorian
Harry Judge as hairy Tellarite
Jon De Leon as Section 31 Engineer
Sara Mitich as Lt. Nilsson
Tara Nicodemo as Admiral Patar

Premise:

Culber encounters difficulties with his return to the real world– shouldn’t they be testing and evaluating him somewhere?– while Burnham and Spock learn more about the Red Angel during a visit to Talos IV.

Meanwhile, we still do not know exactly what’s happened with Airiam. Section 31, for their part, continue to make the Ferengi look like trustworthy straight-talkers.

High Points

Leonard Nimoy’s Spock is one of the most well-known and best-regarded characters in the history of science-fiction. Ethan Peck, as he comes around, channels enough of the source to make the character work. Anson Mount, meanwhile, continues to engage the crew and the audience as Christopher Pike.

Low Points:

The debate about changed design, style, and appearances has raged around the show since the crew turned up in new-design uniforms and the first Discovery Klingon mumbled dialogue through heavy latex. I’ve always taken a middle approach, approving the updates to basic tech design while scratching my head over some unnecessary re-envisioning.

Which brings us to Talos IV. I liked the more realistic, detailed planetary surface that the new effects permit. I do not understand why they made the Talosians less alien and unique. It’s unnecessary and ill-considered.

But then, so, to some degree, is a return to Talos IV, unless the show has an entirely new story to tell. Along the way, the episode undercuts the original explanation for her true appearance. It also raises questions of why the Starfleet tech we’ve seen couldn’t rebuild her, or why she doesn’t consider leaving. These things don’t have to happen, but the episode necessarily raises such questions.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6 We have a new approach to familiar territory with Culber, who is not the first or most famous Trek character to return from the dead. The other plot consists of a rather uneven sequel to “The Cage” / “The Menagerie.”

And, of course, we’ve seen a heroic crew Go Rogue before, for All the Right Reasons. Naturally, the Fate of the Galaxy is at stake!

Effects: 6/6

Acting: 5/6

Production: 6/6

Emotional Response: 4/6

Story: 3/6 The payoffs in the story, from the revelation about Spock and Burnham’s rift to the new revelations about the Angel, are somewhat underwhelming. And did anyone really think Spock would be guilty of murder?

Overall: 4/6

In total, “If Memory Serves” receives 30/42

Lingering Questions

1. Viewers will nitpick. Continuing on my discussion of changes, I still kind of wish they’d have based their updated phasar design on the Pike-era weapons instead of the Kirk-era ones. It would have been a nice bit of continuity for fans and would have bothered nobody.

What’s your favorite or least-favorite change, update, or continuity glitch?

2. The cyborgesque Airiam…. The future destruction…. Is anyone else detecting an attempt to download the Borg into Discovery?

And can we make it the Cybermen or the Daleks instead? That would at least be somewhat original….

3. They don’t drag Linus into the story this week, but we do see an unnamed officer with an unusual head.