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Star Trek Dis - Season 2 - Episode 0.1

Star Trek Dis - 2x0.1 - Runaway

Originally Aired: 2018-10-4

Synopsis:
Onboard the U.S.S. Discovery, Ensign Tilly encounters an unexpected visitor in need of help. However, this unlikely pair may have more in common than meets the eye.

My Rating - 2

Fan Rating Average - 3.8

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Problems
None

Factoids
- This episode establishes that Tilly has a step sister.
- The Xahieans just achieved warp capacity.

Remarkable Scenes
- The food dispenser malfunctioning and chucking random food dishes all over the mess hall.
- It was nice to see the universal translator not working automatically for once. This was very reminiscent of several scenes in Enterprise as well as DS9: Sanctuary, which featured a similar plot in which the usually reliable UT took a bit of time to pick up a new language.
- Tilly: "There is a hormonal space rabbit. He escaped from the lab and then he got loose in here. He's got mood swings."

My Review
Following in the infamous tradition of the horrible Battlestar Galactica "webisodes," this new between-seasons "Short Trek" format delivers Star Trek Discovery's first true filler episode, annoyingly sandwiched between the first season finale and the first "real" episode of season 2 that will eventually get the plot back on track and resolve season 1's cliffhanger. This thankfully short chronicling of Ensign Tilly's mysterious encounter with an awkward alien teenager doubles down on Discovery's preoccupation with targeting the short attention span crowd, delivering story depth roughly on par with a typical episode of The Animated Series.

The narrative's only apparent purpose appears to be celebrating immature anxiety as an identity group. All that happens here is a therapy session between Tilly and her alien counterpart in which the sole moral of the story is that it's okay to feel nervous about things sometimes, especially when you're young because it's harder to control your emotions when you're young. Or something. While it would certainly be nice to see a Star Trek episode that explores anxiety disorders in some depth in an effort to portray mental health problems on TV in a better, more sympathetic light to help erode generations of stigma surrounding mental health issues, this episode misses that mark by far. And in so doing, presents a largely incoherent plot.

How did the alien hitch a ride on a shuttle to Discovery? Why target that specific shuttle or Discovery in particular? Why didn't Tilly call for help when the alien appeared in the mess hall? Why especially didn't Tilly call for help after the mess hall scene? How did Tilly get away with beaming a living creature off the ship without setting off alarms? Why is it possible for anyone—especially an ensign—to operate the transporter alone without setting off alarms? Where exactly did Tilly even beam the alien to? Where was the ship at this time? When was the ship at this time? Since Tilly was talking about joining the Starfleet Command training program, it had to be after at least some of the events of the previous episode Will You Take My Hand, but it seems hard to believe Tilly would have this entire alien adventure during the cliffhanger between Will You Take My Hand and whatever the next "real" episode of season 2 is which will presumably resolve the cliffhanger. So then the events of this episode take place during the middle of the previous episode somehow...?

Much of that litany of plotting issues seriously strains credibility to rationalize, which is clearly why the episode didn't bother trying. As usual with an episode of Star Trek: Discovery, the writers are hoping to activate your feelings here, not your mind. And as usual with an episode of Star Trek: Discovery, this episode is kind of entertaining, so long as you don't think about it too much. Instead of thinking about totally boring things like plot coherence, you're supposed to feel super moved by such inspiring lines like, "Evolution is about soul," man! Like whoa. Super deep. Almost as deep as Kirk's similarly profound line, "What of Lazarus?" from TOS: The Alternative Factor, an episode that is apparently this show's role model for writing quality.

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