Star Trek: Discovery Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum Review
Star Trek: Discovery: Season 1, Episode 8: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum not only tells a solid story but gives us a generous dose of Doug Jones‘ considerable talent.
We’ve seen enough of Jones as Saru to recognize the enormous potential his character has, but he has never figured as prominently and as brilliantly in an episode as he did in Sunday night’s show. His Spockian sarcasm returns when he snidely notes that the sound being consistently emanated by the Pahvans on their planet that Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Tyler (Shazad Latif) find so melodiously is causing his hypersensitive physiology no shortage of irritation, but we also see another, more consequential (for lack of a better word) side of him.
Under the influence of the Pahvans, we get our first inkling of an idea what Saru is capable of when he feels threatened. Seeing him run effortlessly through the woods seemingly unhindered by his platformed shoes and smashing Burnham’s transmitter with his bare hands, we realize that there is brawn behind the considerable brain he possesses. But even more impressive than his newfound physical prowess is the emotion that he displays throughout the show.
Touched by the peace that the Pahvans enjoy, Saru is genuinely distraught at the thought of the Federation and the Klingons ending it with their war, contrasting with the cautious reserve he has embodied in previous installments of the show. This distress turns to desperation when Burnham attempts to contact the Discovery, with the Kelpien frantically protesting that she will “not take this away” also. We’ve known for some time that Saru resented Burnham for her actions on the Shenzhou and triggering everything that followed, but we’ve never seen him express it so nakedly.
As the first world we’ve really gotten to see on the show, Pahvo may appear underwhelming at first glance but its most salient qualities prove remarkable enough to give the planet a unique identity. With the planet populated by the disembodied Pahvans and boasting a sky-high crystal tower, it’s no surprise that the show had to use CG to render both but what is surprising is how seamlessly they blend into their natural surroundings and flesh and blood co-stars. The scene in which Saru is first approached by the Pahvans is an especially stunning sight to behold and serves as yet another reminder of how far Trek has come from the low tech graphics of The Original Series. What Discovery does have in common with TOS, however, is the ability to tell mesmerizing stories, as this episode plentifully demonstrates.
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