Discovery is struggling to move beyond the Planet of the Hats. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, essentially it refers to a culture defined by a single ubiquitous character trait. Every single Vulcan is logical. Every single Klingon is a warrior. Every single person on the planet of the hats wears hats all the time. It’s a prominent sci-fi genre convention (or cliché, if you’re feeling less kind), and one with plenty of examples across Trek history – pick a random episode of TOS and you’ve got a good chance of finding one.
Discovery, up until now, is pretty much just doing the same thing. Vulcans are all dedicated to logic, Klingons to war, Kelpians are all fearful (or so we’re told); as ever, it’s only the human characters who have differences in aspirations and motivations and even personalities. Yes, certainly, there are differences within that limited scope; while both Sarek and the Vulcan suicide bomber are both dedicated to logic, they’ve clearly got differing interpretations of such. But even then – the Vulcan is a radical adherent to logic. Is that the most interesting thing you could have done with it?
Here’s my review of Lethe, which is the one with James Frain as Sarek. Well, one of them.
At times, I did find Discovery frustrating, even while actually quite enjoying it. This is one such episode, really; entertaining in a lot of ways, but enough little flaws to grate throughout.