“Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” is the 8th episode of the TV show “Star Trek: Discovery” and follows “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad“.
Note. This article contains several spoilers about “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum”.
Saru (Doug Jones), Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif) got sent to the planet Pahvo to find the way to use its unique properties to create a sort of sonar to locate the cloaked Klingon starships. The war is going bad and the Federation needs new progress to change its course. Meanwhile, L’Rell (Mary Chieffo) has the task of interrogating Admiral Katrina Cornwell (Jayne Brook).
“Like Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” is an episode that adds a lot to the show’s story-arc, so much that it doesn’t have a real ending and could be the first part of a double episode to end the first part of the season or a multiple one if midseason will have a cliffhanger.
There are various subplots but they all revolve around the Federation and the Klingon war. Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) now rather than the scientific officer is the USS Discovery’s pilot but has started to show side-effects of experimenting on himself. There are only a couple of scenes about him so it remains to be clarified whether the spice… err, the spores gave him some form of prescience or something else.
Most of the episode is split between the mission on the planet Pahvo and a return to the subplot about the Klingons, also linked to the presence of Admiral Katrina Cornwell, their prisoner. In some ways, discovering a new form of life on Pahvo is a Star Trek classic, the problem is that it’s accompanied by a lot of technobabble linked to the possible development of a sort of sonar.
The technobabble problem is not new to Star Trek but it has become too common in Discovery. The authors seem to always want to include exotic technologies justifying them with a series of words that are supposed to add at least some scientific plausibility but end up too often seeming random.
In the episode the good is that the Pahvo mission leads to a potential turning point in the story of the war between the Federation and the Klingons and the events on the planet also led to new developments in the characters. The romantic moment between Michael Burnham and Ash Tyler is not too cheesy and somewhat balanced by the reference to the needs of many but above all that mission shows us a new side of Saru’s personality, again with precedents in Star Trek.
Since “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” puts certain elements of the plot into motion, a global judgment can only be given when at least some of them reach their conclusion. There are many subplots for a single episode so it’s possible that some developments will be long-term.