'Star Trek: Discovery' season 5 episode 2 sows the seeds of seasonal plot threads (Under the Twin Moons recap)

The Progenitors from the TNG episode "The Chase" (S06, E20) could provide a plot backdrop for this season
The Progenitors from the TNG episode "The Chase" (S06, E20) could provide a plot backdrop for this season (Image credit: Paramount Plus)

Warning: Spoilers ahead for "Star Trek: Discovery" season 5, episode 2

So, as you will have gathered from watching Star Trek: Discovery's episode 1 of season 5,  it would appear that the primary plot is based on a past episode of "The Next Generation" (TNG). Yes indeed, no new "Star Trek" show is safe from nostalgia — and very specifically — TNG-era nostalgia. Any storyline, from any previous incarnation of "Star Trek" could've been used, but it cannot denied that it feels like we're being given what Terry Matalas and the other executive producers who are still obsessed with living in the past want, which is to relive their teens. 

The thing is, there's nothing wrong with TNG and if you watch the episode that all of this seems to be stemming from, "The Chase" (S06, E20) it's actually a pretty good installment. And in fact, it has a "Babylon 5" quality and uses dialogue and straightforward set pieces to tell an interesting, nuanced story. (Aside from at least from one significant plot hole that is not explained.) But that was then — April 1993, to be precise — and this is now. And while it might have been fun to revisit this in a TNG-era movie for example, this ship really has passed. If you need a refresher on how to watch Star Trek: Discovery, you can check out our Star Trek streaming guide for Paramount Plus.

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The episode "The Chase" is a fun explainer as to why all the humanoid aliens look the same. Obviously, it's all to do with budget in the real world, but in the Star Trek universe it's because a super-advanced race of aliens — unofficially referred to as Progenitors — opted to scatter different parts of our DNA across the galaxy, which when fully evolved over millions of years time, came to form humans, Klingons, Cardassians, Romulans and the rest. When DNA strands from all of these races are combined, it unlocked a ancient holographic message. 

Related: 5 things Star Trek: Discovery season 5 needs to fix

Captains Saru and Michael Burnham, eminent archeologists and obtainers of rare, alien antiquities. (Image credit: Paramount Plus)

"Life evolved on my planet before all others in this part of the galaxy. We left our world, explored the stars, and found none like ourselves. Our civilization thrived for ages, but what is the life of one race, compared to the vast stretches of cosmic time?" the unnamed humanoid alien said. "We knew that one day we would be gone, that nothing of us would survive. So, we left you. Our scientists seeded the primordial oceans of many worlds, where life was in its infancy ... The seed codes also contained this message, which we scattered in fragments on many different worlds. It was our hope that you would have to come together in fellowship and companionship to hear this message."

The potential of this was pretty big, but it was never followed up. It was rumored there might even be a connection to the Changling race and it was talked about in chat groups...15 years ago. And while this was a certainly an opportunity left open-ended, ready to be revisited after having been found by writers scrambling for ideas, it's also interesting to note that "The Chase" was directed by Jonathan Frakes, who as we know, is still very much involved with Nu-Trek.

Back to "Discovery" season 5, episode 2 and possibly the biggest single, burning question is, will Captain Rayner (Callum Keith Rennie) met a death as utterly pointless as Captain Shaw, Huw and Cristóbal Rios? And now with Captain Saru (Doug Jones) leaving the USS Discovery and Raynor taking his place as first officer, Captain Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) now at least has an antagonist close by for this adventure.

Saru's (Doug Jones) story might be taking a slightly different path in this final season of "Discovery" (Image credit: Paramount Plus)

This second episode feels a little less lost than the season premiere, although it relies rather heavily on the classic bureaucracy trope, something, you'd have to believe we'd really been able to get past in the 32nd century. Guess not. Staying with Rayner though, if his appointment to become the new First Officer of the USS Discovery just turns out to be another underused, Tarka-style antagonist, it will be a spectacular missed opportunity. But, "Discovery" does keep us guessing, that much is certain. Who'd have thought an socially awkward alien would cause all the dilithium in the galaxy to explode

There are some interesting set pieces in this episode, but let's hope we don't dwell on the whole breadcrumb-trail to alien artifacts theme too long. Also, where the blazes does the energy and the matter come from to instantly form replacement phasers? Just wonderin' like. But, on the plus side, Grudge is back and so is Zora.  

In other "Star Trek" news, production on the new "Star Trek: Section 31" television movie starring Michelle Yeoh has started principal photography. Paramount Plus posted a pic on Instagram and Variety released a still. In addition to Yeoh, the cast includes Omari Hardwick ("Powers"), Kacey Rohl ("Hannibal"), Emmy Award winner Sam Richardson ("Ted Lasso"), Sven Ruygrok ("One Piece"), Robert Kazinsky ("Pacific Rim"), Humberly Gonzalez ("Ginny & Georgia") and James Hiroyuki Liao ("Barry").

Michelle Yeoh returns as Philippa Georgiou to finally fulfill her contractual obligations with Paramount (Image credit: Variety/Paramount Plus)

However, the most interesting news is that the story appears to be set in the "lost era" of "Star Trek" — between the events of the Kirk-era movie, "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" and the TV series TNG. Arguably the most underused and interesting field of opportunity within the "Star Trek" franchise...and Kacey Rohl ("Arrow") has also joined the project as a young Rachel Garrett, the future captain of the USS Enterprise-C, from the epic TNG episode "Yesterday's Enterprise" (S03, E15) where the character was previously portrayed by Tricia O’Neil.

The fifth and final season of "Star Trek: Discovery" and every episode of every "Star Trek" show — with the exception of "Star Trek: Prodigy" — currently streams exclusively on Paramount Plus in the US while "Prodigy" has found a new home on Netflix. 

Internationally, the shows are available on Paramount Plus in Australia, Latin America, the UK and South Korea, as well as on Pluto TV in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland on the Pluto TV Sci-Fi channel. They also stream on Paramount Plus in Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In Canada, they air on Bell Media's CTV Sci-Fi Channel and stream on Crave.

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Scott Snowden

When Scott's application to the NASA astronaut training program was turned down, he was naturally upset...as any 6-year-old boy would be. He chose instead to write as much as he possibly could about science, technology and space exploration. He graduated from The University of Coventry and received his training on Fleet Street in London. He still hopes to be the first journalist in space.