Discovery finally reveals the Red Angel’s identity in what is otherwise the weakest episode of Season Two.

Titles: “The Red Angel”
Directed by Hanelle M. Culpepper
Written by Anthony Maranville and Chris Silvestri

Cast
Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham
Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike
Doug Jones as Saru
Anthony Rapp as Paul Stamets
Mary Wiseman as Sylvia Tilly
Michelle Yeoh as Philippa Georgiou
Jayne Brook as Admiral Cornwell
Ethan Peck as Spock
Wilson Cruz as Dr. Hugh Culber
Shazad Latif as Ash Tyler
Alan Van Sprang as Leland
Rachael Ancheril as Cmdr. Nhan
Sara Mitch as Lt. Nilsson
Patrick Kwok-Choon as Lt. Gen Rhys
Oyin Oladejoas Lt. Joann Owosekun
Ronnie Rowe as Lt. R.A. Bryce (as Ronnie Rowe Jr.)
Hannah Cheesman as Lt. Cmdr. Airiam (flashbacks)
Emily Coutts as Keyla Detmer
Sonja Sohn as Character Who is About to Become Important
Julianne Grossman as Discovery Computer

Premise:

A cluttered plot leads the Discovery crew and their uncomfortable allies to an encounter with the Red Angel.

High Points:

I give the show credit for its angle on the Angel. None of the popular fan theories proved correct, and, whatever you think of the solutions, they make sense in context. I only wish they hadn’t had the second, shocking reveal. Much could have been made of the first explanation.

Of course, given Discovery‘s addiction to Shocking Twists, the Red Angel’s identity could be another Red Herring. I don’t think so, however. I suspect the series will move forward with this explanation.

Low Points:

1. We really don’t know who Airiam is, so having a protracted funeral that tells us how much she meant to people wastes screen time. Spock’s funeral meant something because we knew Spock. Airiam (played by two people in two years1) has barely appeared onscreen, and they played what that was worth by killing her last week. The false emotionalism of the opening introduces a cluttered episode that is more soap than space opera, filled with forced drama. I started wondering if the show had migrated to the CW.

2. The usually-strong Yeoh is at her weakest here in a parodic-even-for-the-Mirror-verse scene that leans heavily on the curious fact that the Evil Universe is also the highly-(pan/poly)sexualized universe. She also engages in what would absolutely be sexual harassment—but, apparently, the Trek-verse also condones punching out a fellow officer who annoys you and disobeying direct orders if you’re pretty darned certain you’re right

3. “Time Crystal.”

I’ll just leave that there.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6 You know, I think I’ve seen multiple incarnations of the mysterious person in the spacesuit / behind the mask, whose identity, when revealed, makes you re-think the story and your assumptions.

Effects: 5/6

Acting: 4/6 The acting falls below usual standards, perhaps in part due to some pretty awful dialogue. It’s particularly frustrating after last’ week’s handling of the show’s emotional relationships. Martin-Green does well enough with some difficult discoveries, but the script wastes potential. They should’ve ditched the funeral and developed her key scenes.

Production: 6/6 Production values remain high.

Story: 4/6 I have been critical of the writing, but I suppose I should cut the story some slack. We have a decent solution to the mystery. Furthermore, this episode in particular forms a part of a larger arc.

Emotional Response: 3/6

Overall: 4/6

In total, “The Red Angel” receives 28/42

Note

1. We’ve seen Lt Nilsson before, and I get that the crew feels uncomfortable by her reporting to new duties because she’s replacing their beloved Airiam. The scene suffers from three problems:

1) We’re in the middle of far more serious matters, so, as played, the scene feels misplaced.

2) Airiam was only beloved in one episode and then, retroactively, and having a trained, quasi-military crew react so strongly to her replacement feels forced.

3) Nilsson gets played by the actress who originated the role of Airiam in Season One and, despite the make-up and the second season casting change, this behind-the-scenes fact causes confusion regarding why the crew might feel uncomfortable.

In short, they should have cut this scene entirely, underplayed it as part of the growing tension, or played some version of it another day.