All Is Possible In Latest Star Trek: Discovery, Including Certain Death
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All Is Possible In Latest Star Trek: Discovery Episode, Including Certain Death

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BY December 8, 2021

One of the great things about Star Trek shows is that you can have a thrilling action-adventure story or one about politics and intrigue. The framework created by Gene Rodenberry and improved upon by countless other artists is one that supports and encourages both kinds of stories. In the case of “All Is Possible,” Star Trek: Discovery gives us both stories at once. Again, much of the season 4 storyline about the Dark Matter Anomaly is tangential to what’s happening in the episode. It seems that even more so than last season, Star Trek: Discovery is transitioning to more episodic-style storytelling. Yes, there are arcs and through lines to the larger story arcs, but the main drama and tension in each episode is very much about the self-contained story being told.

Along with the two storylines in this episode, we again spend time with David Ajala’s Book who is still grieving the loss of his entire planet and people. While he did find some solace in the last Star Trek: Discovery episode “Choose to Live,” his loss is deep and profound. Luckily, Wilson Cruz’s Dr. Culber continues to shine in his role as Senior Medical and Best Pal Officer. Also, we get a brief look at the newly re-bodied Gray, played by Ian Alexander, and his new look. We don’t see much about how the Discovery crew reacts to their second returned-from-the-dead crewmember, but I suspect we will.

Ultimately, this is another stellar episode of Star Trek: Discovery, and it serves to suggest how all really is possible. We get two stories about overcoming distrust, fear, and animosity with open hearts and open minds.

Spoilers to follow.

All Is Possible in Politics as Star Trek: Discovery Rebuilds the Federation

Pictured: Tara Rosling as T'Rina of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/Paramount+ © 2021 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved. Image via Michael Gibson via CBIS Interactive

Further in the Star Trek universe future than ever before, the Federation is nearly a character in season 4. In terms of actual people, Chelah Horsdal as President Laira Rillak is the character who most represents the Federation’s point-of-view. She’s savvy, a little untrustworthy, but ultimately seems to be on the right side of the ideals Starfleet is supposed to uphold. Yet, as she often tells Sonequa Martin-Green’s Captain Michael Burnham, politics is a slick business. Ultimately, President Rillak arranges to have Burnham and (still?) Captain Saru join negotiations for the Vulcans and Romulans to rejoin the Federation. (Also, Tara Rosling’s T’Rina has a crush on Doug Jones’s Saru, something Rillak is not afraid to exploit.)

The most frustrating thing about this story is, I think, also the point. The whole runaround where Rillak, T’Rina, Burnham, and Saru work out a compromise started because T’Rina told President Rillak about the problem ahead of time. Yet, both Rillak and T’Rina had to take positions they didn’t want to best represent the interests of their respective collectives. It shows how even when people are acting in good faith, politics is a strange dance that feels like unnecessary nonsense but also makes a kind of sense. It’s a difficult subject matter to both explain via fiction and make interesting to watch, but the storytellers pull it off.

Personally, I love political stories, but I respond more to The West Wing than House of Cards. It’s a difference of cynicism versus optimism. Sadly, the real world of politics has more than enough cynicism to go around. In fiction, I like to at least imagine what it would look like if politics worked the way it is supposed to. Hell, I’d watch a whole series about President Rillak and Oded Fehr’s Admiral Vance simply dealing with space politics.

Team-Building with Horrific Ice Spiders

Pictured: Mary Wiseman as Tilly and Blu del Barrio as Adira of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/Paramount+ © 2021 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved. Image via Michael Gibson via CBIS Interactive

The other big story in this episode is Mary Wiseman’s Lieutenant Tilly leaving the ship (but not the series, we think) to teach at Starfleet Academy. Also, Blu Del Barrio’s Adira joins Tilly on a team-building mission and discover that they have a depth of ability and bravery they didn’t expect. We also get a return of David Cronenberg’s mysterious Kovich character, who tells Tilly that because these kids grew up in a universe without warp space travel, they don’t trust other species. On its face, it’s a pretty straightforward version of the old story about people who don’t like each other surviving some hellish near-death experience and emerging on the other side friends. Yet, it’s unique to see those characters wearing Starfleet uniforms.

While they don’t dive deep into it, the episode does do a good job of making the animosity between the cadets believable. In fact, there were a couple times during the episode I thought they would mutiny. Yet, the newly confident Tilly showed she is an “Away Mission” VIP, and she only lost one Redshirt. I am really unclear what’s up with the character if she’s leaving the ship. It’s not uncommon for series to do this, only to bring the character back. Yet, it’s also possible that she could be jumping ship to some other Star Trek project. Though, I suspect Tilly will be back on Discovery in no time.

Lastly, they devoted part of this episode to Book’s therapy sessions. It’s a lovely, if not novel, take on processing grief, and it just so happens that Book’s culture has a ritual of some kind that involves creating some kind of sci-fi artwork and then wiping it away forever. A little on-the-nose as a metaphor, but the performances and chemistry between Wilson Cruz and David Ajala keeps it engaging and moving.

Pictured: Mary Wiseman as Tilly of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/Paramount+ © 2021 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved. Image via Michael Gibson via CBIS Interactive

Star Trek: Discovery debuts new episodes on Thursdays on Paramount+.

What did you think of “All Is Possible” and the whole of Star Trek: Discovery season 4 so far? Share your thoughts, reactions, and theories in the comments below.

Featured image by Michael Gibson via CBS Interactive.

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Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.

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