Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 8 Review: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

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"If you want peace, prepare for war."

On Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 8, Burnham, Tyler, and Saru form the mission away team tasked to modify a planetary transmitter into a Klingon detector.

The episode title, "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum," is a classical Latin adage that translates to "If you want peace, prepare for war." Here, the adage is applicable to a multitude of situations presented.

Burnham on the Away Mission - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 8

First, and most obviously, is Saru's total abandoning of his training and ethics in order to trap the away team on Pahvo.

His natural cowardice and perpetual prey-instinct drives him to want to stay on this seeming utopia to both escape his constant fear as well as to protect the Pahvons.

On the Planet Pahvo - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 8

We are born afraid, we Kelpians. It's how we survive. As such, my whole life, I have never known a moment without fear. The freedom of it. Not one moment. Until Pahvo.


We've known this was coming for a while. While Saru's caution as First Officer could be viewed as a balance to Lorca's more headlong approach to conflict, it has always been questionable if Starfleet training could turn Saru into an effective commander. 

He has demonstrated the ability but also the insecurity of someone who knows that this doesn't come naturally. It reminds me of the ST:TNG episode "Tapestry" where Picard is given the chance to go back to his past and choose the cautious path. Where does that land him? In a low-level Science Officer position.

First Officer Saru - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 3

Saru was obviously competent on the U.S.S. Shenzhou as the Chief Science Officer. That he aspired to be First Officer after Burnham indicates that he understood he needed training and felt that Captain Georgiou could provide that. 

At the end of Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 5, he tells Burnham that he felt she robbed him of that opportunity for training through her actions at the Binary Stars. Finding himself in the position of First Officer despite that, he must feel unprepared and threatened when Lorca added Burnham to the crew.

Burnham: Is this what harmony and balance look like? Where is the peace you say you found here?
Saru: You have taken it from me. You won't stop taking!
Burnham: I would give anything for a second, a millisecond, of peace but until the war is over, none of us can have it.

That combination of natural physical terror and perceived professional fear has to be stressful in the extreme and his reaction to the Pahvons' unique existence is almost understandable. 

To touch on more classical references, it parallels the Encounter with the Lotus-Eaters in Homer's Odyssey where Ulysses' men stop on an island and the inhabitants feed them narcotics that lull them into a sense of peace and tranquility so that they no longer want to continue their voyage home.

Saru's shame when he is recovering in sick bay isn't so much that he acted out of character as Burnham suggests but that he was acting exactly as he wanted to, risking everything for the chance to live fear-free. It was rather heart-breaking in its sincerity.

Burnham and Tyler on Pahvo - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 8

"If you want peace, prepare for war." In the scenario with Tyler and Burnham and their burgeoning relationship, the meaning of the phrase is flipped a bit in that the end of war means the end of their romance since Burnham will have to return to prison to serve her life-sentence.

Our futures look different. You go back to your lake house and I go back to prison. My sentence was life. This is just temporary.


Any peace that they find in each other is prolonged by the war and Tyler suggests that they should forget the mission objective if it means they can be together a bit longer.

Ultimately, that was just the mood lighting talking, I guess, since the instant Saru starts acting all relaxed and stuff, Tyler pulls rank and orders Burnham to modify the transmitter. Not even willing to discuss her concerns, he pulls the chain of command so hard, he should have rope-burn.

Burnham: The needs of the many...
Tyler: ...are worth fighting for, are worth dying for. But so are the needs of the few.

I'm still not super keen on this match. Not even sure if there needed to be a romance in this series, considering how much is already in the mix.

I really like the Stamets/Culber dynamic, could even handle Tilly or Detmer having a ship-board fling, but Burnham and Tyler are just so unlikely and their romantic scenes are pretty intrusive to the main storylines.

Tilly and Stamets - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 8

Anyhow, to move on to the action that took place on the Discovery, Stamets' confession to Tilly that he is experiencing mental disorientation from navigating the spore drive has great potential for future conflict and catastrophe.

Choosing not to tell his partner and the ship's medical officer, Dr. Culber, what's going on is a decision that took a lot of consideration of potential repercussions. 

Something has been happening to me. One minute, I know where I am, who you are, what I'm doing and then... all of a sudden, what I know changes. It gets jumbled.


The peace Stamets is determined to maintain by keeping his condition from Culber may cost him a war later and that understanding now weighs heavy on Tilly as well.

L'Rell of House Mokai - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 4
Admiral Cornwell - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 6

"If you want peace, prepare for war." I have to wonder how the Klingons would translate this themselves since their culture exists as the antithesis of peace. After all, T'Kuvma stated at the very start of the premiere that the Klingons would know their enemies by the words,"We come in peace."

They are coming. Atom by atom, they will coil around us and take all that we are.


Perhaps "peace" in this context would translate to something like "satisfaction."

In any case, aboard the Klingon Ship of the Dead, now captained by Kol of House Kor, we face a very different conflict scenario. L'Rell cannot find "peace" until she is able to bring Kol down but she seems out-played in her game of intrigue. 

She seems ready to go to war and we seem to have seen her set many plays into motion but there are LARGE holes in the continuity at the moment. MASSIVE Ship of the Dead-sized holes.

Faces of the Enemy - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 2

Whether her request to Cornwell to protect her in a defection is sincere or not, it's meaningless as she kills the admiral to cover her anti-Kol intentions. (Didn't really expect Cornwell to make it back so that didn't surprise me much.)

However, then we have her bringing up Discovery's tech to Kol. Kol appears brighter than first predicted. Well, definitely more suspicious anyway.

Do not mistake me for your fallen idol...T'Kuvma! He sought unity. I seek only Klingon supremacy under my rule.


I have a lot of questions and even more confusion about the Klingon machinations. It seems that L'Rell WAS the captain of the prison ship Tyler, Mudd, and Lorca were held captive on.

This, as an astute commenter here noted previously, throws off Tyler's storyline as she was with Voq for the majority of the time Tyler claims to have been having an intimate relationship with her.

Ash Tyler Up Close - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 6

Also, are we supposed to believe that Admiral Cornwell actually told L'Rell about the spore drive technology? Or was L'Rell one of the Klingons that Mudd had lined up as buyers?

We're obviously being kept in the dark on a lot of the details of the Klingon developments which is both interesting and frustrating. Especially with one episode left before the hiatus.

Away Team At the Ready - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 8

"If you want peace, prepare for war."

The final application of this adage falls on the planet Pahvo itself. If, as Burnham says, the spirit residing there is one of harmony, intent on balancing all discord, one could suppose that it has an arsenal to ensure its tranquility.

We've seen that it has the ability to integrate and invade the psyche of biological species; to transport them instantaneously (oooh, are they spore-driven too?); and to transmit messages across the universe.

The series began with a two-part introduction to the war and Burnham. It seems apt that the first arc of the season ends with a two-parter that brings the war's two enemy flagships and Burnham into direct conflict. Of course, Tyler's here now so there's a wild card in the deck.

Tyler: You don't just forget something like [seven months of torture.] You can't.
Saru: What's the other option? Allowing it to transform you into something worse than those who did this?
Tyler: If it means I can make them suffer like they made me suffer, then yes.

Can't figure out what L'Rell is up to? You can watch Star Trek: Discovery online and see what clues you can spot.

Anyone else roll their eyes when Pahvo's energy/harmony/interconnectedness sounded a little too much like Avatar's Pandora (minus the inhabitants with their tail-as-USB thingy)?

Someone back me up on the unnecessary-ness of Tyler and Burnham. Please.

And what are people's thoughts on how long Stamets can keep it together?

"If you want peace, prepare for war." From my seat in the stands, peace looks a long way off.

Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum Review

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Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (16 Votes)

Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 8 Quotes

Do not mistake me for your fallen idol...T'Kuvma! He sought unity. I seek only Klingon supremacy under my rule.


Burnham: Kelpians pursued by apex predators have exceeded speeds of eighty kilometers per hour. They can also sense predators from a distance as much as ten kilometers.
Saru: And we particularly enjoy being discussed in the third person while present.