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Star Trek: Discovery - The Galactic Barrier - Review

Star Trek: Discovery’s fourth season has been remarkably consistent so far and under the direction of Deborah Kampmeier, this episode pushes us closer to the final encounter with the species behind the origin of the DMA whilst acting as a flashback episode that looked into the past of Tarka.

It felt like a calm before the storm episode, like much of the backend of this season – giving important stakes that ups the ante even more. In this case, the threat to the universe back home is at stake – the DMA’s next course of action is to target the Alpha Quadrant, putting the lives of everyone on Earth at risk. Writer Anne Cofell Saunders was quick to highlight how many of the crew on board the Discovery were from Earth – with the crew themselves talking about what locations on the planet they were looking forward to visiting when they returned, even this far into the future. To lose the planet would be harrowing for them after everything they worked for, and the look of shock and fear on everyone’s face is vibrant throughout the room when they are told by Laira Rillak to devastating effect. First contact has already been made with a hostile intent, and now – the retaliation begins – with the intent on racing to the source of the DMA’s origins and Species 10-C proving a difficult task that just got even harder.

It requires the co-operation of the crew to get through this episode with even the journey itself through the Galactic Barrier potentially risking the destruction of the ship. I liked the switch to black and white vision as the ship was sailing through, in character for the characters as much as it was for us – disorientating as a trip outside of the known universe should be. And I agree with Rhys here – it’s very cool – the visuals were on point this episode and it really helps add to the immersion, getting these little bits and pieces that add character and depth to the bridge crew really goes some way to what this series has been trying to achieve: making the crew of Discovery feel so close and familiar as a family. Even if it’s the simplest of actions like giving people like Bryce and Detmer goals and aspirations – it achieves the end goal of making them feel more real rather than just interchangeable faces that can be swapped in and out without a care in the world. I hope Season 5 gives us a Lower Decks episode without any of the main Michael/Stamets/Book type characters that’s just Bryce/Detmer/Owo/Rhys doing their thing, to be honest – it would go some way to making up for how short changed they’ve been in the first two – and even three seasons, with perhaps Detmer and Owo being the notable exceptions.

Tarka has been an enigmatic figure of mystery to rival Lorca and we got a fascinating origin story for him that’s as close to answering the mystery behind his character as we’re likely to get – Shawn Doyle played him to perfection in this time out giving him an emotional core that went some way to offering him not only some redemption but also some common ground with Book. We learn how the relationship between Tarka and Oros formed when both were locked up by the Emerald Chain, with Oros building a machine to transport them to a peaceful parallel universe. Whilst we don’t know if Oros succeeded in his end game, Tarka hasn’t heard from him since – alive or dead – which gives him hope and makes him the most torn we’ve seen so far. Tarka has built his own machine to travel there – and hopes to use the DMA’s power source to do so, which is unlike what he previously expected, at 10-C’s location rather than inside the DMA. This puts him on a collision course again with Discovery – and once again, Michael, Book and Tarka will be batting heads without a clear side who is in the wrong, just the methods they go about it are different – making Tarka one of the most compelling characters that Discovery has had so far.


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