Director Jonathan Frakes takes the crew to Section 31 headquarters, located in a former Riker’s Island of space. We learn the backstory of two of Discovery’s secondary characters and the solution to other, before the episode sets up our heroes to fight the System.

Literally.

Titles: “Project Daedalus”

Directed by Jonathan Frakes
Written by Michelle Paradise

Cast
Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham
Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike
Doug Jones as Commander Saru
Anthony Rapp as Commander Paul Stamets
Mary Wiseman as Ensign Sylvia Tilly
Hannah Cheesman as Lt. Cmdr. Airiam
Ethan Peck as Mr. Spock
Jayne Brook as Admiral Cornwell
Rachael Ancheril as Cmdr. Nhan
Alan Van Sprang as Leland
Wilson Cruzas Dr. Hugh Culber
Shazad Latif as Ash Tyler
Emily Coutts as Lt. Keyla Detmer
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
Julianne Grossman as Discovery Computer

Premise:

The crew cautiously approach Section 31’s headquarters, where they find even more danger than they anticipated, along with some uncomfortable solutions to arc-related mysteries.

High Point:

Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham and several others get forced to make a soul-wrenching decision, of the type that would be required a lot more often in the course of exploring space.

The show handles the scene well.

Low Point:

This week brings us a strong episode, though one that diminishes the ethical discussion surrounding Section 31. It turns out that part of the reason they’re so un-Starfleet-like is they’ve been compromised.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6 It’s interesting to compare Westworld‘s handling of the same issues. I like Discovery, but it’s the less sophisticated and thoughtful of the two shows.

Effects: 6/6

Acting: 5/6 Hannah Cheesman and Mary Wiseman also get strong emotional moments. I have been okay with Ethan Peck’s interpretation of Spock. I found his performance a little uncomfortable this week, though Peck plays a younger Spock, under great pressure.

Production: 6/6

Emotional Response: 5/6

Story: 5/6 The story works well on its own terms, and the death of a series regular, however minor, reminds us of one of the key differences between Discovery and most previous Trek series.

Overall: 5/6: I hope, for future seasons, this episode reminds the writers and showrunners that the Fate of the Entire Galaxy doesn’t need to be constantly at stake to make the series work. The most powerful scenes this week involved the risk to individual characters.

In total, “Project Daedalus” receives 34/42

Lingering Questions

1. Sensors say we’re upside-down???

How is one “upside-down” in space? With reference to what? Have all Trek ships agreed to the same frame of reference, thus explaining why they always approach each other in space with the same arbitrary horizontal frame-of-reference? Or can “upside-down” mean something other than, you know, “upside-down?”

2. Why does Nhan not just put her spacehelmet back on? Are you trying to tell me it’s not configured to do the same gassy thing performed by her metal implants? However, that particular plot device related to Nhan bred some additional suspense, so I guess we go with it.

3. In another nod to canon, the “skant”– NextGen‘s unisex explanation for why TOS woman scampered about in skimpy miniskirts– reportedly will appear in the near future. Is anyone excited about this?

Anyone?

Hellooooooo?