Star Trek: Discovery reviews, Episode 506 and 507, 'Whistlespeak' and 'Erigah'

Two very different episodes that slightly call back to the original Star Trek ways, two steps closer to the end of this wild journey.
L-R Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham and Mary Wiseman as Tilly in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 6, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/Paramount+
L-R Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham and Mary Wiseman as Tilly in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 6, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/Paramount+ /

My dear fellow Trekkies, I am here to remind you that we only have three more episodes of Star Trek: Discovery until the series is finished. Some of you may rejoice (it's okay to be wrong) but for those of us who have been following the show since its initial release in 2017, It's a sad, sad observation.

We're going to talk about the two latest episodes of the fifth and final season of Discovery as they kind of go hand in hand, especially when it comes to embodying the true meaning and feel of what we've always understood Star Trek to be about: diplomacy, obeying the Prime Directive, and protecting all life forms.

Let's start with Episode 6, cheekily titled “Whistlespeak.” It’s a wild sci-fi throwback, tinged with a bit of Stargate SG-1 vibes.

SPOILER WARNING: Please read at your own risk. There will be no time bug to rewind this for you.

L-R Mary Wiseman as Tilly, June Laporte as Ravah and Wilson Cruz as Dr. Culber in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 6, season 5, streaming on Paramount +, 2023. Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/Paramount+ /

Star Trek: Discovery review, Episode 506: "Whistlespeak"

Captain Michael Burnham and the ever-bubbly and relatable and perfect Lt. Sylvia Tilly take the spotlight. Our daring duo beams down, all incognito-style, to a primitive planet: Halem'no. It’s one of those places where you expect to find folks tossing logs for fun without a tech gadget in sight. But hey, this is Discovery and they're on a mission, so anything and everything can happen.

They quickly realize that this seemingly quaint planet has strange traditions, rituals that might involve archaic rituals like, you know, sacrificing members of the population so the gods of the planet can make it rain. And our Starfleet heroes thought they’d just signed up for some light anthropological fieldwork.

Just as they're trying to fake it until they make it when it with the local customs, Tilly participates in a race to honor the High Summit and stumbles upon the sacrificial chamber, for lack of a better term. Tilly and a local girl, Ravah, find themselves in a bind, with air running out; the sacrifice requires those in the chamber to be deprived of oxygen and die a slow and agonizing death by suffocation. Burnham starts to work on a solution all while playing a deadly game of "how to get Tilly and Ravah out of this without violating the Prime Directive too badly." Spoiler alert: the Prime Directive gets violated in the gentlest way possible.

"Whistlespeak” does a stellar job of channeling the spirit of older Star Trek episodes. It has all those classic elements that made us fall in love with the original series: exploration of strange new worlds, tackling complex social issues under the guise of sci-fi narratives, and of course, the ethical dilemmas that come with the Prime Directive. The episode crackles with sharp dialogue and moves faster than a comet, offering a pleasant break from the usual gloom of galaxy-threatening perils. And even though it skirts around massive plot holes, it’s a solid entry in what’s been an interesting and yet very emotional final season.

This episode wasn't just about action and tech; it was about challenging the crew’s moral conviction in a setting that feels both alien and eerily familiar, much like the planets visited by Kirk and Picard on their series. The clever use of primitive culture to mirror our own societal flaws was taken right out of Gene Roddenberry’s playbook. Plus, the emphasis on dialogue and character interaction over flashy effects truly captured the essence of Star Trek at its core.

Discovery finds a connection to the root of it all, the original embodiment of what Star Trek is, and it is absolutely beautiful.. Camila Domingues, Winter-is-Coming. Star Trek: Discovery season 5, episode 6 - "Whistlespeak". Trek. A+

The result was an episode that didn’t just entertain but also made you think, and that’s when Star Trek does at its best. It’s a gem that reminds you why you started watching in the first place. Kudos to the Discovery team for pulling off this nostalgic nod so brilliantly, it really was a treat for the fans.

David Ajala as Book in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 7, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Michael Gibson /Paramount+ /

Star Trek: Discovery review, Episode 507: "Erigah"

Man, David Ajala is just gorgeous. Anyway, moving on to another excellent episode that molds the old soul of clasic Star Trek with the new, Tpisode 507, "Erigah," dials up the political intrigue and brings us face to face with the elusive Breen.

Moll and L’ak, the universe's most unlucky lovebirds (space Romeo and Juliet, anyone?), are caught in the grips of a serious cosmic pickle. They sent out an S.O.S. and got more than they bargained for when the Discovery swooped in to save the day, sort of. L'ak is seriously hurt, and Dr. Culbert is scratching his head over Breen biology. As they’re zipping back to Federation HQ to scoop up a fancy cryo device to cool L’ak down (who knew Breen could regenerate?), a massive Breen dreadnought shows up, demanding their peeps back to settle some blood bounty business. Yup, blood bounty, as if weekday mornings weren’t tough enough already.

L-R Blu del Barrio as Adira, Tig Notaro as Jett Reno and Mary Wiseman as Tilly in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 7, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Marni Grossman /Paramount+ /

The Federation is buzzing because no one knows much about the Breen. They're as mysterious as a ghost story, and twice as chilling when they show up unannounced. The Breen aren’t just knocking; they’re threatening to Sparta-kick the door down. Commander Rayner steps up in this episode and boy, does he have a tale to tell; one of those gut-wrenching, make-your-skin-crawl kind of stories about his past under Breen occupation. It’s enough to make you understand why he’s all for action over words. Rayner has grown on me so much over the course of the last four episodes, it makes me wish he had been introduced much earlier in the series. His dynamic with Burnham is exciting and unique. They're two powerhouses with different command styles trying to work together and around each other's differences. Meanwhile, T’Rina, ever the poised Vulcan and soon-to-be Mrs. Saru, is holding the line like she’s born for this, negotiating with a chilling calm that could freeze the sun.

In a twist that nobody saw coming, L'ak goes out not with a bang, but with a medical mishap — an accidental overdose, leaving Moll and everyone else reeling. His untimely exit isn’t just a sob story; it’s a political grenade that’s just gone off, with all sides scrambling because he’s a royal Breen pawn everyone wants to play. As for Moll, she’s broken and trying to gather the pieces that remain while playing 4D chess, using her bond to stick with the Breen and whispering sweet secrets of Progenitor tech. Talk about a power move. She's dangerously smart, reckless, and now has nothing else to live for if she can't bring L'ak back to life with the Progenitor tech.

Trek. A+. Another callback to the diplomacy and strategies used by the Federation in the older Trek shows - a welcome touch to the series especially following the previous episode.. Camila Domingues, Winter-is-Coming. Star Trek: Discovery season 5, episode 7 - "Erigah"

Just when you think you've got a handle on things, the episode wraps with hints of ancient libraries and high-tech library cards leading to the next big clue in the Progenitor puzzle. Classic Star Trek pulling us deeper into the lore with a geeky twist that keeps us coming back for more.

Back to the old Star Trek way of doing things

While "Erigah" took a sharp turn from the nostalgic vibes of last week's "Whistlespeak," it served up its own refreshing take on classic Star Trek themes, focusing on the Federation's knack for diplomacy. Unlike the introspective and almost quaint exploration of a primitive world in “Whistlespeak,” “Erigah” gives us a deep dive into how the Federation handles threats not with phasers, but with parleys and strategic negotiations, reminiscent of many a classic Star Trek scenario where dialogue and wisdom outpaced weaponry.

The political intricacies of dealing with the Breen, who are mysterious as they are formidable (and cool, those helmets and their language are so on point), echo the kind of cold-war tensions seen in the original series and The Next Generation. Discovery is returning to the roots of what made Star Trek so captivating: the complex moral decisions, the emphasis on collective security over individual gains, and the portrayal of the Federation as a fundamentally diplomatic entity.

In these last two episodes, Discovery has felt more Star Trek than ever, embracing the core elements that have defined the franchise: exploration, diplomacy, and the continuous quest for understanding, even amid conflict. It’s a welcome layer of depth that aligns beautifully with the enduring themes of Star Trek, reminding us why we keep returning to this universe.

Don't forget to tune in to Paramount+ for next week's episode. Trust me when I say it's going to be a good one.

Next. Star Trek: Discovery review, Season 5 Episode 5, "Mirrors". Star Trek: Discovery review, Season 5 Episode 5, "Mirrors". dark

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