Originally Published on There Are Four Mics – A Star Trek Podcast
(We’re moving our Star Trek Discovery related content over here where it belongs)
The eighth episode of the season, Si Vi Pacem, Para Bellum, opens with the some of that glorious space action that Star Trek Discovery is becoming synonymous with. Probably not coincidentally, it mirrors the exact situation that Lorca was having the bridge crew run drills for in “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry.” Just like they did in that battle simulation, the Discovery fails to stop the Klingons and the USS Gagarin and all hands are lost in the process. Let’s dive into a Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum review.
Shipping L’Rell and Cornwell
The highlight of this episode is definitely the growing connection between Admiral Cornwell and L’Rell. These are both amazing characters portrayed by even more outstanding actresses. CBS All Access needs to get a spin-off buddy comedy featuring these two going stat. I notice L’Rell says “Kahless willing” when she and the Admiral are trying to make their way to her ship. This seems to be the first time she hasn’t directed her praise to T’Kuvma. Her disillusionment with Kol seems to be shuffling T’Kuvma down in importance.
Let’s Visit Some Planets
Discovery visits a planet! There haven’t been a lot of planet visits in this series yet. I suppose it makes sense because they have that fancy new starship set they gotta use. Plus that Klingon set on the Ship of the Dead making an appearance on my screen is always a treat. But planet visits are always a nice change of pace. Especially when it’s shot on-location in as gorgeous a place as this one. And with entirely unique aliens made of light! I love me some unusual looking aliens. Pahvo delivers on all these accounts. And after learning of the conflict with the Klingons, the Pahvan decision to call them to the planet for a chat feels perfectly logical in this context. Disastrous for Starfleet, sure, but also logical. That’s some good storytelling.
One of the things I’m really enjoying is watching the spread of the cloaking devices throughout the Klingon Empire. Back in Lethe, we see a couple Klingon houses capture Admiral Cornwell and turn her over to Kol in order to be brought into the fold and gain access to cloaks. Here in “Si Vi Pacem, Para Bellum,” as Discovery is encountering more and more ships capable of cloaking, Starfleet is getting increasingly antsy. The way this technology is gradually spreading across the Klingon Empire creates a building sense of foreboding and urgency to the whole show.
Saru, The Kidnapper
But there were parts of the plot that kind of confused me. Saru’s decision to destroy Tyler and Burnham’s communicators while they’re on the surface seems like a good first step in making sure they can stay on the planet. But…what’s next? Destroying those communicators doesn’t mean Discovery just abandons them. When the Discovery inevitably makes a swing back through the Pahvan system, what is Saru’s next move going to be? It seems like he could just resign his commission and live out his days on this planet. Build himself a nice little forest shack, and spend all his free time celebrating the fact that he’s not scared. I’m not sure why he needs to go a step further and kidnap his colleagues. This isn’t a fate they’re seeking. And all of this seems wildly contrary to the kind of things the peace-loving Pahvans could get behind.
But “Si Vi Pacem, Para Bellum” makes very clear why Doug Jones is playing the role of Saru. Even beneath all that make-up, the depth of despair that Saru was feeling at being ripped away from the peace provided by Pahvo was heartbreaking. Deceiving Tyler and Burnham became entirely understandable through the performance of Jones and the sheer desperation he was able to convey. Give this man all the awards.
Pick up all of Star Trek Discovery season one on Blu-ray from Amazon here.