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Star Trek: Discovery - The Sound of Thunder - Review

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The Sound of Thunder makes it six good episodes in a row as Star Trek: Discovery takes Saru back to his homeworld, now changed and seperate from the rest of his speices, in the hunt for the Red Angel. It's an interesting episode that, like New Eden, shows just how good this series is at crafting standalone away missions focusing on a select group of cast. With the recent examining of Saru and Burnham's friendship, it's the natural choice for both of them to journey to his world which he hasn't set foot on in many years. It's an emotional return for Saru who is now removed of the fear receptor that has haunted him and his people all his life, but at the same time, allows him the opportunity for closure that he never got.

It was cool to see admittedly, however briefly, a flashback to the pre-Mirrorverse Georgiou and her first meeting with Saru. We learnt how he left his homeworld and joined Starfleet, and we explored the reaction when he encountered those in his home village. The alien world was beautifully shot and well-directed with some excellent use of CGI and cinematography throughout the entire episode, with director Douglas Aarniokoski really getting to grips with Bo Yeon Kim & Erika Lippoldt's script. The show puts an incredible amount of care into fleshing out each planet that is featured, and as far as I'm concerned, the more away missions, the better.

The lingering involvement of the Red Angel dangles over the episode but it's mostly left to the sidelines. Who is the Angel? It's a mystery with no easy answer. Could it be someone more established in the Trek timeline or someone completely new? It may not be the most gripping plot but it has paved way for some very exciting individual episodes like The Sound of Thunder, where Saru sees the Red Angel on Kaminar and makes it decidedly more interesting with the revelation that it may be a humanoid figure in advanced armour, leaning into the theory that any technology too advanced for humanity could be viewed as magic, whilst naturally opening it up to questions of the characters' own identity. Could it even be Spock? Or someone that we know already from the future? Picard is due a return and the series hasn't shied away from re-introducing characters that will be on other shows like the upcoming Section 31 series. Or a different version of Lorca? Or even Mirrorverse Burnham could be as much as a possibility. I'm just throwing names at the board and hoping they stick here. The wonder of Saru's return his priestess sister Siranna experiences is replaced by fear that Saru is provoking the oppressors of the Kelpiens, the Ba'ul. And Siranna has good reason to be afraid, for the Ba'ul in turn are fearful of Kelpiens overcoming their fear and triggering vahar'ai.

So when Pike decides to trigger vahar'ai for every Kelpien, the Ba'ul are going to react. It turns out that the Ba'ul view the Kelpiens as aggressors and were almost wiped out by them over 2,300, so keeping them subdued prevents the same situation happening again in their eyes. The Ba'ul would rather see all Kelpiens destroyed rather than let vahar'ai be triggered, and it's only thanks to the intervention of the mysterious Red Angel that prevents a mass genocide, showing just how deadly it can be and how it probably isn't a good idea to get on its bad side. Either way, Burnham, inspired by Saru, headed back to Vulkan in search of answers, and her homecoming is not going to be an easy one. It did at least make the Red Angel mystery a bit more exciting this episode then it has been in the past and found the right balance between that and the main storyline.

One point that's worth raising as we reach the sixth episode is where will we be when we get to the second half of the season? The back half of Season one thrust us into the Mirrorverse and if this season hopes to be as memorable as the last then we can expect some sheer, unconstrained craziness to follow when the mystery of Spock and the Red Angel ramps up. But for now the series is making the most out of its self-contained episodes even as going as so far to include see some potential connections to the classic series, beyond just character appearances from people like Number One (I hope that brief appearance was not the last we'll see of her). I wasn't a big fan of the Skin of Evil episode of The Next Generation but the Armus that showed up there had the same look and feel as the Ba'ul did here, with some Alien influences for good measure in the creature design to the point where you have to wonder whether it was an intentional homage.

(Although incidentally, the Alien reference may just be down to the fact that I'm thinking about Alien a lot lately, and am going to see it at the local cinema for a re-release on Monday).

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