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Recap / Star Trek: Discovery S2E06 "The Sounds of Thunder"

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Discovery detects a new Red Angel signal outside of Federation space, coming from Kaminar, Saru's homeworld, and uncovers the secrets of Kelpien and Ba'ul history.


Tropes in this episode:

  • Aliens are Bastards: The Ba'ul basically never take any opportunity to de-escalate the situation, greeting diplomacy with hostility and hostility with open gun ports. Most notably, they never share The Reveal with Pike, which would have changed the whole episode — Pike demonstrably will not stand for genocide, and would have objected to a solution that requires the Ba'ul to surrender to it.
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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: In-universe, Pike notes that the Red Angel has drawn Discovery to places where the crew could do good. Tyler retorts that it manipulated the situation on Kaminar such that it could interfere and change an entire society for unknown reasons and may very well use its technology and capabilities against the Federation.
  • Artistic Licence Biology: The population numbers given for Ba'ul and Kelpiens in Kaminar's past as each approached extinction (both in single digits) seem somewhat unlikely to allow for any chance of species survival.
  • Batman Gambit: The Red Angel's plan was to manipulate a confrontation between Discovery and the Ba'ul which would result in the Ba'ul attempting genocide, and the linking of their pylons to do it allowed the Red Angel to disable the Ba'ul technology, saving the Kelpians and upsetting the planet's civilization.
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  • Better Than New: Dr. Pollard tells Dr. Culber that while his mental patterns and brainwaves match what's in his medical file, his body is "pristine" because it was rebuilt completely from his DNA and shows none of the wear for a man of his age.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Just when it looks like there's no way to save the Kelpiens from genocide, the Red Angel appears to disable the Ba'ul technology.
  • Call-Back: The events of "The Brightest Star" are referenced and expanded upon.
  • Deus ex Machina: Zig Zagged Trope. The Red Angel teleports in and saves the day... but only because Discovery set the situation up just right. ...But only because the Red Angel lured Discovery there in the first place.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Saru's observation of the Red Angel demonstrates that whoever it is, it's a physical being using mundane, if highly advanced, technology and isn't a divine or mystical entity.
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  • The Faceless: No Kelpien had ever seen a Ba'ul (at least as far as the present-day Kelpiens knew) as they hid behind their technology. When one finally appears, its face still isn't seen, other than its glowing red eyes. Which is probably a good thing, given what the rest of it looks like.
  • Final Solution: Faced with the entire Kelpien population undergoing vahar'ai, the Ba'ul try to detonate the pylons all over the planet to completely exterminate them rather than risk their predators rising once again.
  • Floating Limbs: The Red Angel's "wings" are composed of an array of solid parts floating in a formation beside the Powered Armor.
  • Foreshadowing: Doctor Pollard notes that in the place of Saru's lost ganglia, new cartilage is growing that has a toothlike form. Later, when faced by a Ba'ul, Saru reveals the new tissue forms spikes that can be shot at a threat.
  • A Glass in the Hand: While Pike is trying to negotiate with the Ba'ul, Saru becomes so angry at keeping quiet that he shatters his bridge console's display with his bare hands.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Ba'ul look humanoid but are tall and abnormally thin, with long hair (or tentacles), disproportionately long fingers, and appear to be made of a black oil-like slime that constantly drips off them. The one that appears rises out of a pool of the same black substance.
  • Loophole Abuse: When Tyler questions whether Discovery can contact the Kelpiens in violation of the Prime Directive, Burnham points out that the Ba'ul have developed warp capability, so even though the Kelpiens themselves aren't warp-capable they have seen warp-capable technology and know about space flight, giving the crew some leeway to act.
  • Multistage Teleport: When the Red Angel shows up, it appears to use a series of short jumps to make its way from the vicinity of Discovery to the Ba'ul facility.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Had the Ba'ul been content with ordering Discovery to leave and Saru never to return, they would have left Pike with little choice but to comply, and then they could have eliminated his sister, or the entire village, afterwards to contain any potential knowledge of him surviving the vahar'ai. Instead by preparing to attack Discovery to get him back and openly threatening his sister, they forced Saru to act and Discovery to intervene directly.
  • No Endor Holocaust: there is no discussion on how Mass Vahar'ai affected the Kelpiens as a whole. Having said that, Saru's promise — that his people won't turn against the Ba'ul — has yet to be tested.
  • Obviously Evil: One look at an individual Ba'ul and one is hard-pressed not to immediately decide they're the bad guys.
  • Oh, Crap!: As soon as Saru reveals he has survived his vahar'ai the Ba'ul send ten of their sentry ships to try and force Discovery to surrender him.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: In-universe, Saru's loss of his constant fear causes actions that other characters quickly notice.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Saru's aggressive and angry behaviour causes obvious concern among the Discovery crew.
  • The Paranoiac:
    • Pike accuses Section 31 and Control of this in assuming that the Red Angel can be considered a threat given that it's done nothing but help people so far. Tyler, to the contrary, claims they're Properly Paranoid because they have no idea of its motivation or actual goals and it has demonstrated its willingness to manipulate in order to advance whatever its agenda is.
    • The Ba'ul as well. Burnham describes them as isolationist and conservative, and it's made clear over the course of the episode that their culture has not evolved in over two millenia, even if their technology has.
  • Powered Armor: The Red Angel is a humanoid wearing some kind of very technologically-advanced full-body suit, giving it abilities that Starfleet or any civilization it knows of would find impossible to duplicate.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The only facial feature seen of the Ba'ul are their glowing red eyes.
  • Retcon: Apparently, when Georgiou offered Saru the opportunity to depart from Kaminar, she was serving as a lieutenant aboard the U.S.S. Archimedes, not the U.S.S. Shenzhou. The flashback to this scene reuses footage from "The Brightest Star" but alters the shuttle's registry from "SHN 03" to merely "03".
  • The Reveal:
    • Twenty-three hundred years ago, the Kelpiens were the predatory species on Kaminar, and the Ba'ul were the victims who were nearly wiped out.
    • The Red Angel is a humanoid wearing a very technologically-advanced set of Powered Armor. It only appears as an angel because the aura generated by the suit distorts its appearance. Saru, possessing vision well above humanoid standard, is able to see through the aura.
  • Sadistic Choice: When the Ba'ul learn Saru has survived his vahar'ai and Discovery won't surrender him, they threaten to destroy his village to force him to give himself up.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The mere existence of a Kelpien outside of the Ba'ul's control, let alone one who survived vahar'ai, is considered such an existential threat that it drives them to extreme measures even though they have a massive technological advantage so that the Kelpians are nowhere near as much a physical threat as they had been 2300 years before.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: As soon as Burnham, Tilly, and Airiam uncover the true history of Kaminar, any discussion about interfering with the Kelpiens and Ba'ul and Prime Directive is immediately put aside, and Pike is prepared to start a war in order to defend the Kelpiens against genocide, or to avenge them if he can't.
  • Shout-Out: the episode takes its name from Ray Bradbury's short story A Sound of Thunder, which is the Trope Namer for the Butterfly of Doom — a small change that has massive effects. Appropriately, it centers around Saru's personal convictions changing the fate of two sentient species and utterly upending the established political situation between them. Appropriately, Tyler also makes reference to Time Travel, which the Bradbury story also involved.
  • Spike Shooter: In place of his threat ganglia, Saru has grown appendages which shoot spikes.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: The Red Angel is a humanoid with godlike technology.
  • Villain Has a Point: While the Ba'ul act like oppressive monsters toward the Kelpiens, their initial motives for setting up the Culling system were justified and even benevolent; they had to do something to protect themselves after the Kelpiens nearly hunted them to extinction, yet at the same time they didn't exterminate the Kelpiens when they had the opportunity.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Ba'ul originally contained the Kelpiens to defend themselves. However, they are satisfied with their solution and have refused to look for others, or attempt to negotiate a new one.

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