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Neil-Review

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY 4×03 “Choose To Live”

Neil reviews the latest episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY calling it a “measured and wonderful exploration.” Stream now via Paramount+.

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Star Trek: Discovery (Paramount+)

Star Trek: Discovery streams Thursdays via Paramount+ in the US. Here in the UK and internationally episodes air Fri-Sun at 9pm on PlutoTV and will be available to purchase on Digital platforms the same day.

Synopsis

Burnham and Tilly hunt the killer of a Starfleet officer as Stamets and the science team race against the clock to prevent the anomaly from killing anyone else.

Review

After two weeks running at warp speed, Star Trek: Discovery has finally slammed on the breaks. This week’s episode, aptly titled “Choose To Life,” is instead a wonderfully measured experience which feels timeless in a way which all Star Trek should. It embraces the exploration and – ahem – discovery of the franchise origins but doesn’t lose sight of its burgeoning overarching narrative.

Written by Terri Hughes Burton, “Choose To Live” juggles a lot of different storylines. This isn’t a simple A-plot versus B-plot episode. Stemming from the emergence of the Dark Matter Anomaly and the destruction of Kweijan, there’s a complex tapestry of dangling plot threads. This episode picks up with Booker (David Ajala) in the fallout from losing his people; Tilly (Mary Wiseman) dealing with her own emotional fallout from the station mission and Gray (Ian Alexander) finally completes his journey from spirit to real-life-boy.

“Choose To Live” really only has one fault. The sheer volume of character development injected in to its plot means that no story gets the full focus it deserves. But in trading off that focus, the episode is able to push ALL of the season’s plots along considerably. It is even able to further the cause of the Federation whilst taking a trip to Ni’Var. Pair that with a mission to save a new alien race, a visit from Burnham mother and you’ve got one incredibly busy episode.

The journey of Gray and Adira (Blu del Barrio) has been on of Trek‘s most progressive to-date. The Trill race always stood as an analogy for gender identity, but taking that literal change and mapping it to the real life journeys of both del Barrio and Alexander has been amazing to watch. Here we learn the story has connections to the events of Star Trek: Picard and some potentially interesting complications for the ageing Admiral. But back to the matter at hand, it remains to be seen what Gray will do now that he’s “alive.” But what we do know is that the journey for these two young actors is really only just beginning.

Tilly’s journey this season is certainly an interesting one. I remarked last week that there was a remarkably fresh attitude towards her crisis of self. She was able to ask for help from Culber (Wilson Cruz) and this week she’s able to put his advice to the test. It makes for some interesting scenes between Tilly and Saru (Doug Jones). The two have always had brilliant chemistry on screen, here the writers have brilliantly honed in on that and created some wonderful material for the pair of them to play with. Though there’s a touch of sadness to her identity crisis, her warm approach to handling it really does bring something new to the table.

Where we begin to run in to overkill territory is with both Burnham and Booker. As Burnham accompanies Tilly on another away mission the complication of the Qowat Milat and her mother (guest star Sonja Sohn) muddies the water further. The problem is, I’m so caught up in the narrative and blinded by admiration for these characters that, as a fan, it doesn’t bother me. Likewise, Book and Stamets’ (Anthony Rapp) visit to Ni’Var for assistance from the scientific council does so much for the DMA plot and Book’s grief that actually it’s never anything but captivating.

Verdict

Discovery draws back on its full throttle launch without giving up any of its welcome developmental progress. “Choose To Live” is a measured and wonderful exploration of life in the universe.


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