What can I say about “Stormy Weather”? Episode 4×06 of Star Trek: Discovery does offer some interesting perspectives on Zora’s newfound sentience. We get a little more information about our bridge crew and their dynamics. Also, we get fairly close to what is a Next Generation-style bottle episode. Let’s dig a little deeper into “Stormy Weather.”
Sentient Machine Alert!
Zora’s newfound sentience I suppose shouldn’t be surprising, considering Star Trek comes from a long line of sentient AI. Data from Next Generation and The Doctor in Voyager are the most notable, but our sphere data, the newly named Zora, is a different sort of AI. This is particularly different, considering she’s data that’s become sentient and is housed in the ship’s computer.
Watching Michael give a pep talk to a computer was not something I expected to see in an episode of Star Trek, but here we are. I was also not expecting Zora to sing Michael a song, but here we are as well. Despite being a sax player, I had not heard the jazz standard “Stormy Weather” until watching this episode. Zora’s further development is something I hope we’ll continue to see this season. Also, my only experience with Zora actor, Annabelle Wallis, is James Wan’s Malignant. I didn’t know that girl could sing! I love a good alto and Wallis performs “Stormy Weather” gorgeously.
Meet the Bridge Crew…FINALLY!
While I’ll continue to object to the lack of development our bridge crew has gotten, I was happy to see the little bit of insight that we did get in this episode. We see Owo and Detmer working out together. We see Bryce, Nillson, and Rhys discussing their thoughts on the DMA and how eager they are to get answers to this situation. Also, getting that further detail of Owosekun’s driving motivations (save and protect those she loves) is wonderful (episode 2×02, “New Eden” reveals that Owo grew up in a Luddite Community). It’s not just those little discussions, but also that we see with whom they choose to enter the pattern buffer. “No one should have to go this alone,” says Michael. The found family dynamics here are my most favorite.
Pros and Cons
One of my frustrations with this season of Discovery is that we are faced yet again with another cataclysmic crisis. There’s no room for much character development, only time to fight another universe-ending catastrophe. That being said, I will say that I see Discovery is responding well to this criticism. We’re getting as much detail as we can in these episodes where we’re also dealing with these gigantic crises.
This week, we get about as close to a bottle episode as we’ve ever gotten with Discovery. For those unfamiliar with the term, a “bottle episode” of Star Trek means that we have an episode that is self-contained. In Next Generation, those episodes didn’t necessarily have anything to do with the overarching story, but they did much to teach the audience about who their crew is. It’s those episodes that give us our character development. “Stormy Weather” is written in this style, even if it’s not totally possible to do true a bottle episode with the nature of the serialized storytelling in Star Trek: Discovery. While I feel like more could have been revealed within this episode and frankly, should have been revealed sooner, I’m glad we’re getting some response to this critique within the framework of the show.
Here are a few other moments that I really enjoyed in this episode.
- Next Generation alum, Jonathan Frakes directed “Stormy Weather,” which should surprise no one, considering the inclusion of the jazz standard of the same name. Commander Riker played trombone and has a love of jazz simply because Frakes himself does.
- The idea of an AI playing a game to work out conclusions to a much larger existential crisis smacks of one of my favorite 80s films, WarGames.
- Book’s “encounter” with his dad gives us just a bit of backstory on their history and why Book chose the path he did. I want more Book backstory, please!
- More Grudge. Always add more Grudge. She is my favorite Space Cat. Don’t tell my cat; he’ll be jealous.
What do you think about “Stormy Weather”? Leave me a comment and let’s talk Trek!
The next episode of Star Trek: Discovery will air on December 30, 2021, on Paramount+.