Title: Star Trek: Discovery – “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” Review
Air Date: November 5th, 2017
Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure, Drama
Following a fun time loop romp last week with Harry Mudd last week, Star Trek: Discovery gets back to its main plotline just in time for the penultimate episode of its fall portion of the season. While episode eight certainly has the old school Trek feel to it, “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” had some disjointedness to it as well.
“Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum,” which translates to “If you want peace, prepare for war,” see’s Burnham, Saru, and Tyler head out on a mission to the planet Pahvo, hoping to utilize its unique sound properties as sonar to uncloak the Klingons’ stealth technology.
Outside of a few quick scenes in the desert, this is really the first expedition party to take place in Star Trek: Discovery, as the episode definitely showed similarities to past Trek plot lines. Not only do we get an interesting interaction with the natives of the planet, who are actually the planet, “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” features some beautiful sprawling landscapes and colors. This episode really shows how far Star Trek has come from the fake sets of fiberglass caves and fake plants, while still feeling like one of Kirks old adventures.
As things begin to unravel on Pahvo, the question of the pros and cons of Starfleet interaction with aliens – and the quandary of exposing them to a bigger universe – comes into play between Burnham and Saru. It doesn’t take long before “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” shows off a different side to Saru, one that even he has never seen before.
Throughout the series, the Lieutenant has reinforced that his species are prey that have had to adapt to survive the constant fear of predators on their homeworld. Yet this episode shows that a Kelpian that knows no fear is a terrifying adversary. Combining his smarts with ridiculous speed and strength makes Saru one tough enemy, as even phaser shots wouldn’t take him down.
But even though I didn’t entirely understand the reasoning behind his actions at first, they executed it very well in the end with his speech of always being afraid. Every action that he took, despite being so out of line with his character, made sense for his character. All this reaffirms that not only is Saru the deepest character on Star Trek: Discovery, Doug Jones is still the best actor by a wide margin.
Outside of the main plot line, “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” did feature two other side stories that helped add some variation to the plot and locations, but didn’t execute as well as the main arc. First we see the return of Grumpy Lt. Stamets. While he was the star of last week’s episode, this week saw him confronted by Tilly for his odd behavior.
When talking with Tilly, his reasoning for why he didn’t tell others about his condition didn’t really make too much sense to me. I can understand being protective of his significant other, but the Discovery really isn’t any normal ship, so if he spoke with Lorca or other qualified people about what was going on, it wouldn’t end up anywhere near how he was explaining it. For now, it just seems like being secretive for the sake of tension.
Speaking of tension, I’m getting more and more worried about how Star Trek: Discovery is treating the Burnham and Tyler relationship. While their romantic, Avatar esque scene was touching, if not cliche fan service, it’s going to be really confusing if the fan theory about Ash Tyler is true. I wouldn’t bring it up as much if parts of this episode didn’t add fuel to the fire as well.
In the last side plot of the episode, which followed L’Rell, the Klingon spy’s actions not only reinforced that she has a plan up her sleeve with Voq, they were also pretty damn confusing. L’Rell has made it pretty clear she wants to take down Kol, but this episode went in two different directions with how she planned to do that, while also possibly furthering her own motives.
In order to earn his trust, she lends her interrogation methods to him. It’s revealed that he needs her to get the previously captured Admiral Cornwell to talk. Instead of torturing her though, L’Rell makes a deal with her to help them both escape to the Discovery. But when they are seen together in the hall, the two must “fight,” with L’Rell getting the better of Cornwell. What comes next is the confusing part. Not only is Cornwell’s fate left ambiguous, as she is dragged unconscious by L’Rell, L’Rell pledges a deceitful loyalty to Kol, one that he immediately sees through. It was all very disjointed.
If nothing else though, Star Trek: Discovery has done a great job at leading all of it’s plots to a point of convergence. With the fall season finale just around the corner, I can’t wait to see how everything plays out, with the main protagonists and antagonist meeting for the first time since the premiere.
Verdict: “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” is a strong, modern version of old-school Trek, but fails to execute with regards to some of its side plots reasoning. Nonetheless, next week’s episode has the potential to be great thanks to how each plot has been building.
What did you think of the most recent episode of Star Trek: Discovery? What scene or scenes did you like the most? What are your predictions for the rest of the debut season as things begin to unravel? Be sure to let us know in the comments below. Also be sure to check back to the site each Sunday after the most recent episode of the show airs on CBS All Access for the site’s official review.
- Exploration of Pahvo
- A different side to Saru
- Anticipation for the Fall Finale
- Stamets reasoning
- Burnham and Tyler
- Klingon arc feels disjointed