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Star Trek: Discovery 502 “Under the Twin Moons” Review: Clues among the moons

Star Trek: Discovery "Under the Twin Moons" Review: Clues among the moons
Credit: Paramount+

Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Episode 2 “Under the Twin Moons” Review

As we theorized, the second episode of season five does not inherit the momentum generated by the excellent season premiere, but we see the Discovery crew take the next step toward finding the Progenitors’ life-creating technology.

Thanks to information found in Dr. Vellek’s diary – specifically, that he hid the next clue in the trail to the Progenitors tech “under the shadow of twin moons” – Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) surmises the location of this vague astronomical event: Lyrek. It’s one step closer to finding perhaps the most valuable treasure of all time – the key to life itself – and it’s a wild idea for Burnham to contemplate; it even makes the captain question what drives her in life. She has always thought the mission was what motivated her, but now that seems inconsequential. Who wouldn’t be immeasurably impacted by discovering the origin of life?

L-R Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham and Oded Fehr as Admiral Vance in Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 2, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Marni Grossman/Paramount+

Arriving at Lyrek and beaming down with Saru (Doug Jones), who is on his last mission as Burnham’s first officer before embarking on his ambassadorship, the pair make their way to the site where the planet’s two moons create a shadow. It’s at this place where a curious electromagnetic field masks the next key to Dr. Vellek’s trail. On the way there, Saru and Burnham are attacked by defense drones that nearly stop their journey short permanently, if not for the timely intervention of holographic Captain Rayner (Callum Keith Rennie), who Zooms in from Starfleet Headquarters. The sage captain helps Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) and Adira (Blu del Barrio) shut down the attacking drones, which allows the away team to reach their objective.

Captain Rayner’s unexpected participation in this mission is curious, as before Discovery left Starfleet Command, the captain was facing a board of inquiry about his recklessness in pursuing Moll (Eve Harlow) and L’ak (Elias Toufexis) in the season premiere. In this inquiry, Rayner unshakingly stands by his pragmatic actions and refuses to issue an apology, much to the dismay of President Laira Rillak (Chelah Horsdal) and Admiral Charles Vance (Oded Fehr).

Rillak asserts the Federation in which Rayner earned his shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later approach is not the same Federation today, as the organization is rebuilding its galactic profile after the Burn. Vance ultimately goes so far as to offer his stubborn long-time friend an early retirement, but as we’ll see later, that arrangement doesn’t last long.

Mary Wiseman as Tilly in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 2, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Marni Grossman /Paramount+

“War is always a possibility, and you are living in a candy-color holo-fantasy is you think otherwise.”

“[quietly] You are not helping yourself.”

– Rayner and Burnham, while Rayner is speaking to the Federation president.

Anyway, with Burnham and Saru free from the danger posed by the drones protecting the clue’s hiding place, it’s time for them to discover what lies at the center of the twin moons’ shadow. And find a clue they do, as the pair discover a stone pillar fashioned with a cryptic Romulan poem. The poem is complete, in typical Romulan fashion, with a hidden verse that Moll and L’ak, who had apparently beat them to the poem, surely missed. Saru and Burnham read the complete poem – which not only points them to Trill being the location of the next clue but hands them a physical token to aid in their quest – just before Discovery whisks them away from the site’s other lethal defensive systems.

The token Saru and Burnham retrieve from the stone pillar is a shape that matches one of the symbols from the Romulan diary. By combining the token with the diary illustration, Burnham and crew now have part of a five-piece map. The next piece is presumably hidden on Trill.

While Burnham and Saru are down on the planet, Cleveland Booker (David Ajala) has a mission of his own: trying to figure out Moll and L’ak’s next move. He first deduces a bit about their motivations – the pair are having fun running from their enemies despite the enormous stakes, and they might even be in love, something that was hinted at in the previous episode. Book manages to call the pair on the “dark com,” a secret communication channel known only to those who need to use such clandestine measures.

Doug Jones as Saru in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 2, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Marni Grossman /Paramount+

Book ultimately fails in getting Moll and L’ak to expose their location, but the man does have a serious revelation after being face-to-face with Moll. He recognizes Moll’s birthmark and realizes she is the daughter of Book’s mentor, Cleveland Booker IV. After the destruction of his homeworld in the last season, this makes Moll the only family Book has. Will this man’s emotional burdens never end? Moreover, how will this impact him aiding Discovery in hunting down the criminals?

As we are in the final season of this show, it’s only appropriate Burnham and Saru get an episode that highlights the relationship the pair have fostered over the last five years. “Under the Twin Moons” takes all the time it wants to provide a bit of retrospective on the former antagonists-turned-friends, and takes special care to highlight the tender respect and trust the characters have fostered. Let’s just say if this was an episode of Martin-Green’s other famous show, The Walking Dead, we would assume Saru would meet an unfortunate end here because of how much this installment sentimentally focuses on him. Alas, the Kelpien lives to fight another day, despite the peril “Action Saru” finds fighting drones.

“How the hell am I going to find another you?”

“You don’t need another me. You need a new Number One.”

– Burnham and Saru.

It’s clear Discovery is leading us on a breadcrumb trail to a miraculous treasure, perhaps even on a clue-per-episode basis. Saru and Burnham’s adventure on Lyrek wasn’t nearly as bombastic as the escapade in the season premiere, but really, how could it? We must be prepared to have ebbs and flows in this season-long adventure.

The highlight of this episode for us was Burnham poaching Captain Rayner to serve as her first officer. Rayner made a great first impression with us in “Red Directive,” and his popping in on Tilly and Adira’s problem-solving in “Under the Twin Moon,” while improbable, decently illustrated his leadership abilities. We are intrigued by this addition to Burnham’s bridge, and Rayner’s aggressive personality will serve as an interesting foil to Burnham’s more measured style. Rayner’s presence serves as a neat full-circle moment for Burnham, who once was heading to jail if not for a second chance at making her life matter. Now, the captain is giving Rayner a second chance. What will he make of it?

Stray Thoughts:

  • During Rayner’s board of inquiry, he specifically mentions how the Breen are fighting for a new leader. Will we see this enigmatic race, which debuted in Deep Space Nine, in Discovery, or was this line just window dressing?

  • How convenient Discovery is investigating the Progenitor clue trail just when the moons orbiting Lyrek cast their shadow once every seven years?

  • Adira notes the Promellians used Lyrek before they went extinct. This species is featured in TNG’s “Booby Trap.”

  • What was stopping Burnham and Saru from matter-creating more powerful weapons to fight the drones? Moreover, a security team could have easily beamed down and assisted the ship’s most senior officers in the time it took Tilly and Adira to engineer a solution.

  • Saru and Burnham didn’t have to stay plainly in view of the massive Romulan statue guard after they replaced the stone pillar. If they had just gotten out of the statue’s relatively weak weapon’s line of sight, surely some of the scene’s tension could have been defused.

New episodes of Star Trek: Discovery stream Thursdays on Paramount+, this season stars Sonequa Martin-Green (Captain Michael Burnham), Doug Jones (Saru), Anthony Rapp (Paul Stamets), Mary Wiseman (Sylvia Tilly), Wilson Cruz (Dr. Hugh Culber), David Ajala (Cleveland “Book” Booker), Blu del Barrio (Adira) and Callum Keith Rennie (Rayner). Season five also features recurring guest stars Elias Toufexis (L’ak) and Eve Harlow (Moll).

Stay tuned to for all the latest news on Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Prodigy, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Lower Decks, and more.

Written By

Kyle Hadyniak has been a lifelong Star Trek fan, and isn't ashamed to admit that Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek: Nemesis are his favorite Star Trek movies. You can follow Kyle on Twitter @khady93.

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