The Ethical Prism of Sentience in Season Two of Star Trek: Discovery

Sentience is a primary theme throughout season two of Star Trek: Discovery. There is the elemental nature of the crew of Discovery attempting to understand the red signs, or bursts, and Saru finally seeing that the Red Angel is a humanoid. At last they know for certain there is meaning and design behind the signs that the Red Angel has left to be seen. It is only later that they learn who the Red Angel is: Michael Burnham. The also learn that the Red Angel is Michael’s biological mother, Gabrielle Burnham. I will not spoil the complexity of this fact for those who have not seen Discovery. However, I will completely recommend the entire series.

The process of ascribing sentience and meaning to the red bursts was a drawn out and complicated endeavor. While Starfleet commands Section 31 to project a newly formed feckless and dangerous nature to Spock, the crew of Discovery learns that Spock holds a prophetic warrant over the continuous time traveling nature of the Red Angel. It is a slow progression to seeing the Red Angel as having good intent. This abscission of mischievousness of the Red Angel is directly related to understanding the sentience of the Red Angel. It is only through ethically good bounds of upheaval that the crew discovers Michael’s direct connection. What does that say about ethical conquest related for the viewer for Star Trek: Discovery?

There is a great deal to be said. As with the positive ethical projection that is being laid out for the viewer of the story, there is equally the ethically misguided nature of Section 31 that only grows until it is signified with Control. Control is (or becomes) a semi-sentient AI that is sophisticated enough to command possession of a humanoid body and to set its mission to possess the Sphere Data that is within Discovery’s main computer, but it still needs the Sphere Data to attain complete sentience. What Spock knows and is later able to share is that once Control does attain complete sentience, it will target and destroy biological life across the galaxy. 

What we have is an ethical parallel of equals in season two of Star Trek: Discovery. The suspensive quarreling between good and evil could not be more clear. The biological and environmental destruction and meaning related here in season two is not unlike the DMA and Unknown Species 10-C in Star Trek: Discovery season four. Perhaps revisiting the plaintive adjunctive of morose reality verses the fusion of a direct approach of good contemplating evil is timeless and Star Trek either recovers that tradition or moves along in spite of its overuse, but the result is the same: we are moved to contemplate how evil within our own society in the here and now might be able to be banished through community and direct action.

This is a fictional model of ethical specifications where good wins out. However, interestingly, where we can see the most adroit relations is the identification of evil and how that mirrors what we know about day-to-day life, political upheavals, societal mores, and ontological disasters. What season two, as well as season four, show us is that there is a sentient existence behind both good and evil. Perhaps we can learn from this and understand the motivations of evil are not unlike the motivations for good. What is most fundamental about overcoming evil is understanding it. That is true for those who wish to compel good to take its place as the centerpiece of organized society just as it is true for those lost in evil designs who wish to know a better way to live; as I suspect, they do.

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