Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 9 Review: Project Daedalus

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When we look back on this season, I feel that Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 9 will be the keystone episode that begins the resolution to all the mysteries that have been introduced.

Airiam - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 9

Setting aside the biological element of Section 31, revealing that Control is not a person but a threat assessment program was an elegant finesse that changed the parameters of the conflict Discovery is facing.

It's decidedly chilling that an intelligence created from the informational input of Star Fleet's entire admiralty is hovering on the cusp of sentience with enough self-awareness to know what it needs to do to make that evolutionary leap.

(In contrast, the idea of a benevolent AI sentience and evolution was briliiantly illustrated in the Short Trek: Calypso where Discovery's computer is left idling for a few hundred years and grows into an entity self-identifying as Zora.)

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I'm a little irked that it took Airiam becoming a danger to the crew to get to know anything about her. Her backstory was fascinating and her casual interactions with the crew endearing.

It seems a shame that she spent an entire season as set decoration only to get a history and personality and then get killed all in one episode. 

Airiam: Now I understand why this was so difficult for you. Key encryptions are continually changing.
Tilly: Good thing you're half-robot.
Airiam: I prefer cybernetically-augmented, thank you very much.

Granted, Control needed an individual with cybernetic augmentation that it could corrupt and over-ride. Pretty handy that Discovery happened to have one of those, isn't it?

Now for the timeline shenanigans. I'm guessing that the pimped-out squid probe that was sent back in time to attack Pike and Tyler on Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 7 was sent by a sentient Control of the future, intent on acquiring the Sphere information necessary to evolve in the present.

Related: Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 is All Over the Space (and Time)

So is it Future Control that killed the Section 31 admirals? Was the order to turn the headquarters' environment against the biological life forms sent in that first message?

Did that first message reprogram present-day Control's entire purpose? Because unless Future Control is able to continue to relay information back through time, it's present-day Control (in its little mine-surrounded repurposed prison) that tries to tear Discovery a new one.

Control is a great resource. Every Starfleet admiral feeds data into it. We consider its recommendations. But final decisions always include our experience and instinct.

Cornwell

Obviously, it was Control-controlled (!) Airiam that sabotaged the spore drive. Again, pretty handy to have Tyler on-board to pin the blame on for that one.

I'm relatively sure that they'll eventually explain Control's strategy and execution but, at the moment, it's hard to parse exactly how far-gone the present-day program is. I mean, on a scale from WALL-E to HAL 9000, where are we sitting?

Spock and Cornwell - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 9

Airiam's involvement led to an exciting, if tragic, conclusion. Not that anyone should be keeping count, but that's the SECOND crewmate that's asked Burnham to kill her/him this season.

It was also satisfying to have some answers regarding Spock's alleged murders. It was interesting to learn that video surveillance footage in 2257 include heat signatures... but seemingly only for Vulcans? And why would holograms have any heat signature at all?

Unless Control has Talosian projection technology. Pike did comment that Vina felt real which, one would assume would mean feeling warm/alive.

Nhan in Trouble - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 9

The foreshadowing was sledge-hammer subtle when it came to Nhan. Airiam's question about her breathing apparatus was a giant red flag. 

We haven't seen a lot of Nhan but she reminds me a bit of Commander Landry whom we last saw on Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 4.

She seems a bit more cautious than Landry to the point that I wondered why she wasn't more confrontational with Airiam when she first suspected something was odd.

Burnham Drawn and Ready - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 9

Burnham's conflict with Spock isn't working for me as a central tension. Spock describes her compulsion to shoulder all the responsibility for everything pretty well. Of course, Spock himself comes off as terribly petty and pouty. And his fixation on why he was "chosen" is subtly self aggrandizing.

Unlike Ensign Tilly, you seem to have no individual expression whatsoever. It is quite the accomplishment of the uniquely mundane.

Spock

Their argument over the chess match is, in turns, viciously hurtful and ridiculously childish. There are a lot of below the belt shots taken on both sides.

Related: Star Trek: Discovery Renewed for Season 3 with New Co-Showrunner

Burnham's motivation is to push Spock into some sort of realization while Spock's seems to be to deflect and re-direct, a tactic he uses again later with Stamets by mentioning Culber.

Cornwell and Pike - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 9

My favorite scene, like many this season, was a Captain Pike moment. Anson Mount has brought a nice levity to the captain's chair and Christopher Pike is a white hat through and through which is a relief after our run of morally ambiguous mighty leaders.

When the Section 31 headquarters' defences are identified, the horrified expressions of the bridge crew speak volumes about how far from the Starfleet manual this design has strayed.

Saru: The Federation does not permit the use of mines.
Pike: No, they do not.
Cornwell: The Federation didn't build them.
Pike: I'd call that a distinction without a difference.

Then, just as he's getting all riled up about the ethics of war-time behavior, Cornwell effectively undercuts him by naming him the best of Starfleet, deemed too good to use in the war with the Klingons.

Giving up our values in the name of security is to lose the battle in advance.

Pike

His deflation is quite a visible one although his thanks is quite genuine. It's a scene that is indicative of the type of commander he is. Noble.

I'm still not keen on "Hit it" as a catchphrase though.

Burnham and Tilly - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 9

Ultimately, although we get some closure on some of the many, many narrative threads the season has spun out, this was a giant cliffhanger, leaving us with "Project Daedalus" and an indication that Burnham, not Spock, is Control's target.

So as you watch Star Trek: Discovery online, puzzle me this: wouldn't it make the most sense -- with all the time bubbles floating around this season -- if Burnham is the Red Angel?

She wouldn't need to be from that far in the future if she's using time distortions rather than actual time-travel tech.

There's a lot of theories out there. Hit me with your best ones!

Project Daedalus Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (18 Votes)

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

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Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 9 Quotes

Giving up our values in the name of security is to lose the battle in advance.

Pike

What I feel is that failure is liberating and, for the first time, I enjoy expressing emotion!

Spock