Welcome to another week where we recap, react to, and ruminate about Star Trek: Discovery. Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 8 “If Memory Serves” took us back to a planet with a history while exploring memory and trauma.
This post will contain minor spoilers. So, don’t read ahead until you have watched Episode 8.
As with previous posts in this Star Trek: Discovery series, there won’t be a lengthy recap, but instead of we will focus on the basics of what we learn. Once again, I’ll be pulling reactions and ruminations from my Star Trek community.
Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 8: “If Memory Serves” Recap
In Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 8 – “If Memory serves,” Section 31 tries to waylay the Discovery so they can catch Burnham and Spock to scramble his brains by ripping out some memories.
Burnham and Spock make it to the coordinates and break beyond a psychically-caused barrier. It isn’t long before Burnham realized they are at Talos IV: a place that is restricted. The Talosians tell Burnham they will fix Spock’s brain that is in many timelines but it comes at a very high price: She must give them her memories of what she did to so deeply wound Spock.
Meantime, back on the Discovery, things are not good between Stamets and Culber. Culber is having an incredibly difficult time adjusting. Stamets wants to pretend nothing bad happened. They are at odds. Culber starts a physical fight with Tyler.
Pike is looking for Spock and Burnham while also pretending to obey orders to not look for them. Vina appears. Pike and Vina exchange some tender moments as preparation for an incoming brain transmission from Burnham and Spock.
A plan is hatched to use the spore drive to get Spock and Burnham so they can be undetected by Section 31, who is spying on them. But the spore drive is sabotaged. So, they come up with another plan. Someone tells Section 31 the plan. Everyone blames Tyler. There is a showdown on the planet. The Discovery wins.
Airium has been taken over by something.
Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 8: “If Memory Serves” Reactions
As the result of my Star Trek community moving to its new home, there wasn’t much in the way of community discussions this week. However, we did have one person chime in with even more theories to add to last week’s theories:
Allison Fitzgerald: My impressions and predictions: loved the “previously on” montage. It was a touching use of TOS footage and I felt sort of sad knowing what lies in Pike’s future.
I’m of the view the Red Angel is eventually going to be revealed as Burnham, due to some dialogue said by Spock. I can’t say what without spoiling, but it makes sense in that it’s humanoid and seemingly exists outside of time. It also makes sense that Michael doesn’t get mentioned in the future, as taking on the role of the Red Angel takes herself out of the timeline.
I also get the impression Georgiou knows more than she’s letting on.
I also have a theory that Airium is a precursor to the Borg.
Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 8: “If Memory Serves” Ruminations
I had to sit for quite a while to put my stomach and emotions back where they belonged after watching Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 8. There are have been several episodes this season that have hit me right in the gut for being so very honest and real in portraying how moving through trauma can look like, for many types of people. But “If Memory Serves” took that to a whole new level.
This episode dealt with a lot of memories from different people. Not all of these memories served them well, even if sharing a traumatic memory is what saves Spock’s brain in the end. You don’t necessarily have to share traumatic memories to move through trauma. Doing so can make the trauma worse. But you do need to deal with the effects of those memories—the effects of trauma. Trauma rewires your brain and changes its chemistry, and it takes a lot of work to change those changes.
I experienced anxiety watching the interactions between Pike and Vina, knowing what Pike had gone through in “The Cage.” Something threatened to get in my eye as Burnham shared the horrible thing she did to Spock to save his life. But, the most painful and honest parts to watch were the interactions between Culber and Stamets. Then, there were actual tears.
Burnham has decades separating her from those events from her childhood, though they still shape her. Pike has had three years, so it’s still just under the surface. However, with Stamets and Culber it is a brand-new gaping and seeping injury. Everything is above the surface, exploding.
The interactions between Culber and Stamets were so raw and true. It was exactly what I was hoping for after Season 2 Episode 6. And while it was a very true portrayal of what would happen, there was a very specific moment that hit me the hardest.
The moment which struck me the hardest was when Culber said, “I have that memory. It’s just… my… my senses and my feelings… don’t connect with it.”
That is how I lived decades of my life because my traumas were so profound, I had to disassociate. After disassociating for so long, that was the only way I knew how to exist. I used to tell people, “I don’t experience things. It’s like I’m always watching myself in a movie, like I’m looking down at myself instead of out of myself.” People could never understand.
It’s been only in the last couple of years, after I started trauma therapy about five years ago, that I’ve spent more time experiencing my life instead of watching it from outside of my body. In that one scene, a lot of people who have experienced complex and prolonged trauma were seen, heard, and validated.
Memories don’t always serve. For many people with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS), it can feel as if their memories aren’t theirs. It’s just a series of events that they watched from a distant place.
I know Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery is about the intersections of faith and family with trauma, with the focus being on Spock, Burnham, and the Red Angel. But I wish the rest of the season would only focus on Stamets and Culber because I haven’t seen a portrayal of trauma so real as this one.
This representation is long overdue, especially if we are ever going to destigmatize PTSS.
As an end note, my Star Trek community is in the process of moving with the upcoming shutdown of Google+. You can find us and join us at The United Federation of Planets. It’s free to join but there are paid options with extra features to help offset the costs of hosting and building the apps. The Android app is now available and the iOS app should be available any day now.
Until next Sunday, Live Long and Prosper!