After suffering heavy losses in battle, finding a way to counter the Klingon cloaking technology becomes a priority for Starfleet.
This is the premise of “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellem,” an episode that devotes itself mainly to two very unrelated story arcs.
The first focuses on Starfleet’s efforts to defeat the enemy’s cloaking. To this end, Burnham, Ash, and Saru are sent to a strange forest world called Pahvo, whose unique ecosystem produces a constant harmonic signal that Starfleet believes can be used as a kind of sonar to detect the Klingons.
Their mission is quickly complicated when they discover a race of intelligent energy beings native to Pahvo. Following Starfleet protocol, Saru initiates first contact procedures, but the alien nature of Pahvo soon begins to takes its toll on his mental state.
I know expecting scientific accuracy from Star Trek is a fool’s errand, but I have to say I did find the absolutely outlandish nature of Pahvo and its inhabitants a bit hard to swallow. It’s just pure space magic, and the fact they throw all of this at you in this wall of magitechnobabble right out of the gate doesn’t help matters.
Also, while I’ve wanted to see a Saru-focused episode since… well, since the very first episode of Discovery, it’s a shame it had to take the form of him going space crazy. I think the character deserves better. His scene with Burnham at the very end was nicely done, at least.
As an aside, it occurs to me that Saru’s people could probably benefit a lot from Vulcan philosophy, or at least elements thereof. Like the Vulcans, they seem to have trouble keeping their emotions under control. Wouldn’t it be interesting if Burnham started instructing Saru in Kolinahr?
Meanwhile, the other main thread of “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” abandons the Discovery crew altogether and focuses on the Klingons, especially L’Rell, who seeks to curry the favour of Kol… or so it would seem. This is a very confusing story, and I’m not exactly sure what the writers were trying to achieve.
It seems to put a more sympathetic angle on L’Rell, making her a bit closer to the honourable Klingons we’ve known since the days of The Next Generation, but it’s not really clear if this is genuine or just a part of some elaborate ruse.
If it is genuine, that runs totally contrary to how Discovery has thus far portrayed Klingons in general and L’Rell in particular. I want to see Discovery’s Klingons gain
some any nuance, but this is all a bit out of the blue.
The end result is a fairly uneven and overall rather mediocre episode. They had some interesting ideas, but the execution is lacking.
Overall rating: 6.9/10