Episode 9, Mid-Season Finale Recap and Review

Episode 9 Recap and Review Banner

Holy crap.

What an episode!

Lorca is a… PIG.  A manipulative, sociopathic ass!  I had to stop myself from hurling my phone across the room toward the end of this episode because of his actions.

Last week’s “Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum” was touted as the ’emotional’ episode for the first-half season, but for me it was this episode.  I shed tears three times, twice because of the tragedy of a particular situation, and once out of surprise and anger.

“Into the Forest I Go” was (for me at least) a roller coaster ride – and I loved it.  Eight out of nine of the episodes this season have been my favourite for at least a week, but now this and “Lethe” hold equal first place for this ‘chapter’ of the story.

Some reviewers have had issues with the episode, or have been unimpressed.  I was the exact opposite.

It was so so good.

Let’s get into it.

The Facts
Episode Number: 109
Episode Title: “Into the Forest I Go”
Written By: Bo Yeon Kim and Erika Lippoldt
Directed By: Chris Byrne

Quotable
Culber to Lorca
: “Well I’m not ready to play roulette with his brain.

Stamets to Lorca: “You want me to make 133 jumps?!

Lorca to Stamets: “I know what drives you, lieutenant.  You’re not just a scientist, you’re an explorer.  You could’ve just stayed in a lab on Earth, but you chose to go where no one has gone before.” *squee!*

Stamets to Lorca: “You’ve been accumulating this data from my jumps the whole time?  And these scattered pockets of negative mass… it’s… they could indicate alternative parallel universes connected to the mycelial network… and with more jumps we could find a pattern – perhaps even the coordinates to reach them!
Lorca to Stamets: “You showed me this invention could take us to places that we never dreamed we could reach.  This is far beyond our preconceptions of time and space.
Stamets to Lorca: “Captain, I didn’t know you cared.
Lorca to Stamets: “We have to win this war.  But then…
Stamets to Lorca: “Then the journey continues.  (*squee* again)  If we can save Pahvo, defeat the Klingons and do all this… 133 jumps it is.

Lorca to his crew: “We are about to face the most difficult challenge we have ever attempted.  Today we stare down the bow of the Ship of the Dead.  The very same ship that took thousands of our own at the Battle of the Binary Stars.  When I took command of this vessel, you were a crew of polite scientists.  Now, I look at you, and you are fierce warriors all.  No other Federation vessel would have a chance of pulling this off.  Just us.  Because mark my words, you will look back proudly, and tell the world you were there the day the USS Discovery saved Pahvo and ended the Klingon War.

Interesting Bits and Pieces
– In this episode we get the first real indication of the existence of the Mirror Universe for this series.
– Starfleet has ‘pattern simulators’ that can mimic the life signs of other species’.  This is a great idea.  New tech for Trek, but tech that makes sense!
– The 133 jumps are an homage to the Battlestar Galactica Episode “33,” source: After Trek.”
– When the Discovery does it’s ‘last’ jump, for a moment, the ship is split in two, evoking a scene from the TOS episode “Mirror, Mirror.”

The Recap and Review
Before jumping into the episode I need to correct something, last week I wondered if “Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum” was the shortest live-action Trek episode ever, coming in at only 41 minutes.  It wasn’t.  The shortest is actually “Battle at the Binary Stars,” which runs only 39 minutes.

Okay… after a brief orientation to what’s happened across the last few episodes, we go into a teaser!  No cold open this episode.

The Discovery is still at Pahvo, and Lorca is arguing with Vulcan Admiral Terral (via hologram) on the bridge.

Lorca and Admiral Terral

I don’t think that’s a great move.  If I were Terral I would have demanded privacy because he knows how insubordinate Lorca can be.  Discovery‘s bridge crew get to watch their captain argue with a senior officer which doesn’t seem wise to me.

Terral wants Discovery to leave Pahvo and return to Starbase 46.  Lorca wants to stay and protect the Pahvo.

Lorca, eventually, seemingly complies, to the surprise of his crew.  But, this is Gabriel Lorca, he does exactly what he wants to do – and is smart enough, in this circumstance, to at least give the appearance of obeying orders.

He has Discovery warp to Starbase 46, rather than jump using the DASH drive.  At warp, the Starbase is three hours away.  He wants to use those three hours to devise a plan to save the Pahvans.

Using the excuse that Stamets is having issues with his interface for the spore-drive (if only Lorca knew), he rationalises his choice to go to warp, delaying their return.

Lorca orders Stamets to Sickbay for a full examination, so that there is a data trail backing up the decision.

Stamets is not happy to comply, but he does, obviously concerned to discover what Hugh will find.

Doctor Culber Delivers Bad News to Stamets and Lorca

After the opening credits sequence, we return to the bridge where the crew, using some very Trekkian technobabble, find a way to crack the Klingon cloak.

The problem?  To get their attempt to work, they have to beam someone aboard to plant sensors.

Another problem?  It will take days to collect enough data to succeed.

Lorca decides the spore-drive is their best bet because, with enough jumps, they can gather the data at speed.

He leaves the bridge and goes to Sickbay where Culber tells him that Paul Stamets’ brain is being changed by his interaction with the spore-drive.  The scans show that the tracts within the white matter of Paul’s medial temporal lobe are being restructured.

Culber doesn’t want the captain to play games with Stamets’ brain, Lorca is less than concerned with what the doctor wants and orders a report. He’ll decide whether or not to risk Stamets then.

Prick.

Hugh Culber is not a happy doctor and Lorca’s all no nonsense and captainy.  He takes Stamets with him to implement stage one of his heinous efforts to use and manipulate this overly dedicated and naive scientific genius.

Lorca Tempts Stamets

In his private chamber, he shows Paul what they need to do, telling him he needs him to make 133 jumps so they can map the cloak, break it and save the Pahvans.

Stamets is a bit overwhelmed, so Lorca swoops in for the kill, showing Paul a map full of data from every jump made that shows scattered pockets of negative mass that could indicates alternative, parallel universes.

More jumps might let them access these universes.

Paul, like a junkie, is hooked.  Lorca has convinced him to put his life at risk.

Jason Isaacs is amazing in this scene.  So is Anthony Rapp.  Jason is so manipulative and uses his voice so well, you can hear him weaving a spell just for the lieutenant.  He’s both mesmerising and contemptible all in the same moment.

Anthony, for his turn, plays the wide-eyed naive explorer and self-sacrificing scientist to absolute perfection.

It’s a great scene.

Back on the bridge, Lorca orders a boarding party of two, there’s a little back and fourth around who should go, and it ends up being Michael and Ash.

Some fans have been annoyed by this scene, because Michael’s argument is that she is familiar with the vessel.  Of course, she only spent minutes on it in episode two – however, the Shenzhou was taking detailed scans when they first encountered the vessel, and she probably is pretty up on its specs and is able to use her personal memory of the bridge of the Klingon Ship of the Dead and those scans, and any Discovery has made since, to be an effective navigator.

Planning to Attach the Klingon Ship of the Dead

It’s a non-point, and people just need to let go a little and accept that she was trained on Vulcan to survive and thrive in a Vulcan educational institution, and she was accepted into the Expeditionary Group meaning she would have to have an incredible memory and capacity for reasoning.  She was also raised by a species who knows a lot about the Klingons, and has probably done her own research because they killed her parents.  Though she says she’s the right person for the job because of her time on the ship, that’s probably just a quick way for her to circumnavigate a lengthy argument with Lorca because he doesn’t actually know how long she and Georgiou were on the Sarcophagus ship.  This slight bending of the truth doesn’t derail the fact that she most definitely is the best person for the job.  Seriously people, deal with it.

Star Trek: Discovery has gone out of its way to focus on character, and everything we’ve learned about Michael says she is extraordinary in every way – except, of course, for all the emotional stuff.

Lorca’s expression, after giving Burnham permission to go, has me wondering (again) what does Michael mean to him?  It’s clear he doesn’t want to risk her, and despite denying that when she challenges him, it is obvious she is valuable or meaningful to him in some way.

Tilly is Concerned for Stamets

We leave the bridge and visit Engineering where Tilly accidentally lets the Stamets cat out of the spore-drive bag as Hugh hooks a medical-cuff to Paul to allow him to treat the lieutenant while he’s in the chamber.

Symptoms?  What symptoms?  Oh yeah… THOSE symptoms…

Hugh is going to stay and monitor the jumps.

Back on the bridge, Lorca gives a rousing speech which is beautifully inter cut with reaction shots from the crew, the process of readying the DASH drive, and Paul Stamets bravely facing what he knows is a series of jumps that could literally shred his brain.

Far out does Anthony Rapp sell those moments!

The Toll of Jumping Discovery Begins to Show on Stamets

They detect the signature of a cloaked Klingon vessel entering the Pahvo system, and jump back.

We switch to the Klingons.  They do their Klingon thing.  Growl a lot.  Act arrogantly.  Talk about destroying stuff, and decloak to face off against the Discovery.

Michael and Ash beam over, wearing pattern simulators that will mask their human life signs, and carrying the sensors needed to win this engagement and hopefully provide information that will help the war effort.

After placing the first unnecessarily large, bright and vocal sensor, Michael detects a human life sign!  Yay!!  Admiral Katrina Cornwell is alive.  Wasn’t just a fan boy wish after all.

They revive Katrina but she can’t feel her legs.  Not great.

Unfortunately, for Ash, L’Rell is there too and this triggers a pretty devastating Post Traumatic Stress episode for our favourite head of security, and we get the first of some very disturbing flashbacks to his torture (?) at L’Rell’s hands.

Ash See's L'Rell

Burnham shoots L’Rell as she slowly approaches Ash, who is frozen in place, unable to act.

Poor Ash has a total meltdown and collapses, and Michael is forced to leave him in the care of the Admiral, who, thankfully, is a psychiatrist.

Shazad Latif is incredible in this scene.  He so sincerely and so effectively shows Ash’s distress.  The scene affected me with its intensity.

In the real world, I work two jobs, one is as an actor, the main one is as an allied health professional working with people who have mental health issues.  I do a lot of work with people facing trauma, and who are having psychotic breaks right there in front of you.  It’s tough for them, it’s rough for you as their support person, and it’s just not pretty or sane or easy in any way.

I was so impressed by Shazad (and, later, Cornwell) and was happy with Star Trek and how they were handling this issue.  A lot of people experience PTSD in the real world, police officers, soldiers, emergency services personnel, doctors, nurses, teachers, youth workers, social workers, psychologists, and more.  The very fact the writers were finally focusing on Tyler’s PTSD at all impressed me.  We’ve gone here before in the history of Trek (most memorably with Picard), and it’s right we visit this issue again.

Another interesting part of this scene was Cornwell’s reaction to Burnham.  She seemed both surprised to see Michael there, pissed Michael was there, and then impressed with the new science specialist.  You were left with the distinct feeling Michael was not what Cornwell was expecting.

While this is happening, the Discovery is trying to keep the Klingons occupied by engaging them in battle.

Back on the Klingon Ship of the Dead, Burnham has activated the last unnecessarily large, bright and vocal sensor and is listening in to the Klingons.  To the writers’ credit, they have Burnham activate the Universal Translator which means we don’t have to listen to the Klingons growl, and the actors can focus on acting and not on getting their Klingon lines right.

All of these scenes build the tension perfectly.  They’re beautifully paced and as a result you’re on the edge of your seat.

We cut to Stamets at one point and he is not having a good time.  The toll is shown with some remarkable visuals and disturbing camera angles.

I did not think Paul would survive.

Back on the Klingon ship, Cornwell is trying to walk Ash through his episode as he suffers more terrifying flashbacks.  She uses the exact same techniques we use in real world de-escalations, which is great.  If only Deanna Troi had gotten this much meat in her role as a psychologist.

We visit with Culber, Tilly and Stamets as Culber tries to reason with Lorca, begging him to stop the jumps as he watches his partner writhe in the spore chamber.

It’s heart breaking, and one of the times I felt my cheeks get wet from the emotion of it all.

Michael Confronts Kol

We switch back to the Sarcophagus ship.  To buy the Discovery time to complete its 133 jumps, Burnham blows her cover and gets all wonderfully mouthy with Kol.

Kol is arrogant and over confident, Michael challenges his honour, he pretty much tells her human’s don’t understand honour, so Michael goes in for what she knows will be a powerful blow.  She tells Kol she is the human who killed T’Kuvma.

Back in the cell with Katrina and Ash, the Klingons discover them and Admiral Cornwell has to try to protect herself and Ash with a phaser Michael left behind, but unable to feel her legs she can’t move as much or as swiftly as she needs to, to take down both warriors.

Cornwell Defends an Almost Comatose Ash

She implores Ash to get up, and finally breaks through his PTSD episode.

He acts, and helps take out the last Klingon.

Back on the Klingon bridge, Kol thanks Burnham for killing T’Kuvma telling her that when he kills her it will seal his power.

She challenges him to a fight and he takes her up on it.

Throughout all of this, he taunts her with Georgiou’s Starfleet badge and it’s clear Michael wants that last artifact of her friend, captain and mother figure back.

The fight between Kol and Michael doesn’t go well for Michael, but she holds her own, proving that she paid attention while studying Vulcan martial arts.

Michael and Kol Go Head to Head

Kol grabs Michael and for a moment it looks like it’s all over for her.

He growls about becoming absolute ruler of the Klingon Empire, because killing Burnham will make everyone happy, but Michael isn’t too interested in Kols delusions of grandeur.

He pushes her back to cleave her in two, but she takes advantage of this and keeps her balance and fights back, stabbing him with a non-fatal blow, but a blow strong enough to make him stagger.

On Discovery, they locate their crew and start to beam them back.  L’Rell takes advantage of this and hitches a ride on Tyler’s back.

Burnham is Beamed to Safety

Back on the Klingon Ship of the Dead Kol gets over confident.  As he advances on her, Michael is contacted by Discovery and told to get ready to beam out.  In a daring move she lunges forward and grabs Georgiou’s Starfleet Delta badge from Kol, and throws herself over a railing and falls as Discovery‘s transporter beam takes hold and beams her to freedom.

With confirmation everyone is safe, and with the surprise that both Cornwell and L’Rell are on board his ship, Lorca orders a photon torpedo strike on the now cloaked Klingon vessel.

Lorca lets loose the dogs of war, and in a very surprising turn, Kol and the Sarcophagus ship explode.

The Klingon Ship of the Dead Explodes

I did not expect that, I didn’t think Kol would die so early and I didn’t think we’d lose the Klingon Ship of the Dead at the mid-point of the season.

That just leaves L’Rell as our main antagonist… but, what an antagonist she is!

This surprising turn of events gives us a beautiful moment between Saru and Michael.  I think this may have finally given the both of them the closure they needed.

As Michael watches the ship explode in a blinding flash of light, the look on her face is perfect.  Sonequa Martin-Green evokes so many emotions in this scene, relief, shock, satisfaction, regret, sorrow, confusion… it’s a big moment for her character.

Lorca’s reaction to her and Ash’s return is strange.  He doesn’t look happy.  He doesn’t look disappointed.  He looks angry.

I need to make a special mention of the music in this episode, but particularly this scene.  It is epic.  Evocative.  Moving.  Just beautiful.

As the Klingon ship gives it’s last dying shudder, Michael realises Ash isn’t behind her anymore.  She looks worried as we cut to a conversation between Lorca and Admiral Terral, who is telling Lorca that Cornwell’s emergency medical shuttle has arrived safely at Starbase 88.  She’s going to be fine!  Yay!!

Lorca tells Terral to send her his best (yeah, right), and then rattles off his successes, including the almost completed cloak-breaking algorithm to be sent fleet wide once it’s finished.

Terral tells Lorca to get back to the Federation where he’ll receive the Legion of Honour.

Lorca doesn’t look thrilled, even thought this probably means he’ll be able to keep his command, even with Cornwell arguing he needs time to heal.

Meanwhile, Michael has gone to find Ash.  She tracks him down to his cabin, and in a beautiful scene that is full of emotion gets him to talk about his experiences on board the Klingon prison ship.

The interaction between Michael and Ash is handled with such care by the director.  If anything, this first half of the season has been defined by that word.  Care.  Though a lot has changed from what we’re used to as Trek fans, we cannot deny how much care has gone into every aspect of this production.

Michael Comforts Ash as He Comes to Terms with His PTSD

As Ash and Michael sit together, Ash admits he cultivated a relationship with L’Rell to survive.  From the way he glances at Michael throughout the scene, it is clear he is unsure if she will understand what he did and why, or if she will condemn him.

For him, it’s laying everything to do with this new relationship on the line.

Shazad Latif and Sonequa Martin-Green play this perfectly.

Michael gives him the absolution he doesn’t seem to have been able to give himself, and we leave them, holding each other, to visit with Stamets and Lorca in the shuttle bay as the mycelial network traveling scientist stares into space in deep thought.

It’s this scene that made me loathe Lorca without reservation.

Up until now I’d been able to forgive or find a way to understand his machinations, not this time.  To so recklessly and possibly selfishly use another life, one already in pain and one that has already given so much, is reprehensible.

Lorca Manipulates Stamets

Lorca knows what the spore-drive is doing to Stamets, and after setting up the new dangers faced by an approaching Klingon fleet, paints a picture that has Stamets offering to facilitate one more jump to keep the crew safe.

Lorca thanks him, then starts to rabbit on about what they’ll be able to do with the spore-drive once the war is over.

Stamets stops him and tells Lorca that this jump will be it.  The last one.  Disappointment is etched in every line on Lorca’s face.  Eventually, he masks it, knowing it won’t be the last jump.

We cut to Ash, deep in a nightmare.  It’s a series of inter cut scenes that are quite confronting and appear to show Tyler being sexually assaulted by L’Rell.

Tyler wakes with a start.  He was asleep on a couch in his quarters, with Michael.  He leaves her and finds his way to the brig where he approaches L’Rell.

Another flashback causes him to collapse to his knees.

What did you do to me?”  He asks her.

L'Rell Has Something Over Ash

Do not worry, I will never let them hurt you.”  She responds seductively.

This is interrupted by the ships computer calling people to their command stations.

As Ash gets to his feet, L’Rell utters an ominous “Soon.

We cut to Stamets and Culber in Engineering where they are preparing for what both hope is the last jump the lieutenant will ever have to make.

Stamets walks up to Culber and clasps his partners face in both hands, giving Star Trek it’s first ever gay male kiss.  Can you believe that has taken 51 years?

The scene is handled perfectly.  There’s no fuss to it.  There’s no build, there’s no excessive use of emotion or reaction, it’s just there.  It’s just like two straight people kissing before the next part of a big adventure.

Though, for Trek, this is a history making moment, it was treated just right by everyone involved.

Finally, the First Gay Kiss on Star Trek

As Paul enters the spore chamber with Hugh watching on, we cut to Lorca over riding navigation and entering new coordinates into the DASH drive.  The image shows a list of spore-jumps, with the last three entries being:
SPORE-JUMP 132: 071-MARK-898
OVERRIDE-LORCA, G.
SPORE-JUMP 133–UNKNOWN

They jump, Stamets screams, something weird happens in the spore chamber as the walls appear to crystalise.

Tilly announces the computer is calling it an incomplete navigation sequence.

Paul opens the door to the spore chamber and collapses on the floor of engineering as Tilly and Culber rush to his side.

Hugh says Paul is starting to crash.  Paul opens his eyes and they’ve gone white with his pupil and iris barely showing through.  He’s rambling, making no sense, and we’re left wondering if he will survive.

On the bridge, they don’t know where they are.

The camera pulls back, through the bridge window, through a debris field of destroyed ships and fades to the closing credits.

Now that is a cliff-hanger.

Predictions
Weeks ago, Jonathan Frakes (yes, Commander William T. Riker himself) let slip that the Discovery goes to the Mirror Universe this season.  It would seem safe to assume that is where they are now.  I don’t think Lorca realises that, and it will be interesting to see how it all pans out.

That’s not really a prediction, I know, but I only have one for this episode.

Up until I saw “Into The Forest I Go” I had become convinced Ash was Voq.  I don’t believe that anymore.  I think it’s still a possibility, but one that seems less likely.  When I think about it, was there enough time between L’Rell sending Voq away and Ash’s discovery by Lorca on the Klingon prison ship, for Voq to have been fully transformed?

Could he have been surgically altered and healed in that short a space of time and then indoctrinated into Federation culture and taught it’s language, flawlessly, so quickly?

I’m thinking two things now.  Either Voq is meant to replace the real Ash – who is currently on Discovery – at some point, or Ash is a sleeper agent who has been brainwashed to work for the Klingons, who will be triggered later in the war?

Last episode and this episode, L’Rell was keen to get on board the Discovery.  Was it to reunite with Voq, or was it to trigger her sleeper agent?

I think this storyline will play out this season, and I can’t wait to find out what the heck is going on.

Scorecard
Five Starfleet Deltas

This episode was excellent.  I really enjoyed it.  It had me in suspense, it had me in tears, it had me smiling, gasping and even looking away at points.

Excellent acting (as always), incredible music, outstanding directing, brilliant effects, and perfect editing and pacing.

I don’t know if people would have tuned back in with as much excitement as I’m hearing out there in the fan community, if the last episode for this half of the first season had been “Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum.”

This episode was the right choice to wrap up what the producers are calling ‘chapter one.’  “Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum” was a great episode, but it’s cliff-hanger ending wasn’t big enough.

One of the really pleasing things about this episode, is that we’ve discovered two new bright and shining lights in the writing world.  Bo Yeon Kim and Erika Lippoldt.  What an outstanding story and beautifully crafted script.

Star Trek: Discovery returns to CBS All Access on the 7th of January, and returns to Netflix on the 8th of January.

Star Trek: Discovery airs in the United States on CBS All Access, with new episodes appearing on Sundays at 8:30pm ET.  In Canada, the show airs on the Space Channel at 8:00pm ET, also on Sundays.  Outside of the US and Canada, Star Trek: Discovery airs on Netflix on a Monday – 8:00am BST in the UK, and 6:00pm AEDT in Australia.

I hope you enjoyed this episode as much as I did!

Star Trek: Sentinel‘s recaps and reviews will return in early January.

I can’t wait for the next episode.

Until then, and always, live long, and prosper.

LCARS Interface

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Episode 5 Recap and Review

Episode 5 Recap and Review

Episode 5 went by in a flash.

I started watching it, ‘girding my loins’ for way too many Klingons and subtitles, and before I knew it the credits were rolling.  The episode flew by in what felt like 20 minutes, not 47.

Every week this show gets better.

The Facts
Episode Number: 105 (Season 1, Episode 5)
Episode Title: “Choose Your Pain”
Story: Aaron Harberts, Gretchen J. Berg and Kemp Powers
Writer: Kemp Powers
Director: Lee Rose

Quotable
Tilly to Michael
: “I love feeling feelings.

Stamets to Michael: “What are you doing with your mouth?
Burnham, in response: “I am swallowing the urge to set the record straight.

Mudd (in reference to his pet arachnid): “Apologies, Lieutenant.  Stewart has boundary issues.

Interesting Bits and Pieces
Some people called it fan service, I thought it was awesome.  Context?  When Saru is having a bit of a command crisis, he calls up a list of some of Starfleets most decorated Captains.  Who?
– Captain Robert April
– Captain Matt Decker (later, Commodore Decker and the father of Commander Willard Decker from Star Trek: The Motion Picture)
– Captain Philippa Georgiou
– Captain Christopher Pike

Also, we saw a map that included some very familiar locations:
– The K-7 Space Station
– Rura Penthe
– the Mempa Sector
– Khitomer

I didn’t see Khitomer, but according to some fans it can be seen up in the corner of the map.

These call outs work – a lot better than the Gorn skeleton, the Horta in the corner, and a neutered Tribble on Lorca’s desk.  They’re nice additions that link directly to continuity and make sense in the context of the episode.

If the team behind Star Trek: Discovery want to reward us fans, this is the way to do it.  It’s not gratuitous.

The Recap and Review
We kick off the episode with a dream sequence and it quickly becomes clear our favourite mutineer has been deeply affected by Ripper the tardigrade’s situation.

Michael wakes to Tilly’s gentle snores and decides to pay Doctor Culber a visit.  She needs Hugh’s help to determine whether or not they really are causing the tardigrade pain.

Hugh points out that they can’t know whether or not they’re hurting Ripper, because they simply don’t know enough about his biology – Michael agrees that she could be anthropomorphising Ripper, but when the doctor says he’ll help she is thankful for his assistance.

Ripper’s reaction to the spore-drive was one of the most troubling things about last week’s episode and I personally found it difficult to watch.  It was a relief to see them dealing with the ethics of using another life form against its will.

Credit where credit is due, the animators did an incredible job of showing us Ripper was in pain and confused, Ripper came to life under their care.  Sonequa Martin-Green’s performance added to the impact and made every scene she shared with Ripper meaningful and let us know that maybe we weren’t misinterpreting his reaction.

While Hugh starts his tests, we jump over to a space station located somewhere near the Klingon border where Lorca is addressing a small group of Admirals.  Starfleet is impressed with the DASH drive (Displacement-Activated Spore Drive) and the success Discovery has had with it since the disaster on the Glenn.  They want to roll it out to every ship in the fleet, but they need more tardigrades.

Lorca with the Admirals - Episode 5

Until they find more, they want Lorca to pull back on his attacks because they believe the Klingons now know about the DASH-drive and are super keen to take the Discovery no matter the cost.

Lorca is not happy.

Back on Discovery, Tilly and Michael have lunch.  Tilly, as usual, is being adorable and Michael is unusually distracted.  Tilly takes Michael’s distraction to be a rejection of her friendship in a telling exchange of dialogue that gives us some interesting and simultaneously heart-breaking insight into her character.  The subtext is that people find her a bit too much, and as a result she doesn’t have many (or any) friends.  Michael slowly realises what’s going on, and assures Sylvia that that is not what is happening.

Michael brings Tilly into her confidence and tells her about her concerns regarding Ripper.

Back on the Starbase/Space Station, Lorca and Admiral Katrina Cornwell (Jayne Brook) discuss Michael Burnham.  Cornwell expresses her concerns around Lorca taking Michael on board, and he pretty much tells her to take a leap into a matter/antimatter reactor.  He reminds Katrina that Starfleet gave him “the fullest latitude” to fight the war his way… and he isn’t all that nice about it.  Katrina reminds him they’re friends, but Lorca brushes it off.

We also learn, in this exchange, that Lorca and Cornwell might have been something more than friends.

Thanks to AfterTrek we also find out that Cornwell was a psychiatrist in her previous Starfleet life.  This is alluded to on screen when Katrina and Lorca have a tense exchange about doctors, after she suggests he get his eyes fixed.  Lorca pointedly tells her he “doesn’t trust doctors.”

Leaving the Admiral, Lorca boards a shuttle to return to his ship but the Klingons have other ideas.  They’d like to invite Lorca to a party where every time a Klingon says “choose your pain” you have to take a shot of blood wine.

A D-7 Klingon cruiser that doesn’t look like a D-7 Klingon cruiser warps right in on top of the shuttle, and things go from bad to bloody in a matter of moments.

The Klingon’s board Lorca’s shuttle, pretty much gut the shuttle pilot and leave us with the revelation that there are now two jobs in Starfleet that you don’t ever want to do – security AND shuttle pilot.

Then we jump to the main title sequence.

Admiral Cornwell - Episode 5 Recap and Review

After the main titles, we return to Discovery where a holographic Admiral Cornwell tells the bridge crew that Lorca has been captured – and they’re tasked with rescuing him.

Starfleet believes the Klingons have learned about the new drive, and are after Lorca to get more information.

Saru, the acting-captain in Lorca’s absence, sets to work issuing orders when, suddenly, his threat ganglia poke out.  The turbo-lift doors open – revealing Michael.  She tells Saru that she’s looking for the captain, and Saru fills her in.  She cuts right to the point, and expresses her concerns about Ripper.  Saru, as someone who once described his species as, essentially, “cattle”, is surprisingly unsympathetic.

He retreats to Lorca’s ready room and consults the computer about leadership, with issues about Burnham at the forefront of his mind.  This is where we get the shot of Starfleets’ most decorated captains, mentioned above in our “Interesting Bits and Pieces” section.

During Saru’s introspection, the computer pretty much suggests he jettison Burnham out an airlock.  Thankfully he doesn’t.

It’s really interesting how much Burnham effects Saru.  We’re not given long to think about that, because we jump to the Klingon ship and meet…

Mudd - Episode 5 Recap and Review

Harcourt Fenton Mudd, played by Rainn Wilson.

Way too much fuss was made about Harry Mudd’s inclusion in Star Trek: Discovery, with some people thinking it was unnecessary and some having an issue with Rainn Wilson stepping into the role.

I hope all of that fuss has now been put to rest, because it works, and Rainn is excellent.

Thanks to Harry, we learn that the Klingon vessel is a prison ship.  We also learn that the Klingons like to group their prisoners into shared cells.

Lorca asks Harry what a civilian is doing on a Klingon prison ship, and Harry tells him he has no idea and that his only crime is the crime of love – then, in a nice monologue that evokes the original series, talks about his beloved Stella.  As Mudd waxes lyrical, Lorca checks out their cell and finds a Starfleet officer broken and huddled in a corner.

We quickly learn why this officer is so broken.

The Klingons walk in and ask Harry to “choose his pain.”  He points at the huddled Starfleet officer and the Klingons go to town on him, beating him senseless.  They end his life with a brutal and shocking, skull cracking stomp to the head and then drag the body out.

Lorca stares on in shock as Harry tells him the rules.  They can either accept the beating themselves, or pass it to someone else in the cell.

Lorca is stunned, and, judging by the look on his face, disgusted.

Lorca - Episode 5 Recap and Review

We leave Lorca and Harry to visit with Stamets, Culber and Burnham.  Burnham wants to enlist Stamets’ help with Ripper and tries to charm him… which doesn’t work.  Hugh takes the more direct approach and tells Stamets that they’re there to talk about the effects of the spore-drive on the tardigrade.

They convince Stamets and he agrees with the both of them.  They need a solution, and can’t continue to use a potentially sentient life form against its will.

It’s taken this version of Trek a while to give us this side of Starfleet.  It’s so indescribably wonderful to see these conversations taking place, and to see a glimpse of the Starfleet and Federation I love.

If I have one issue with Star Trek: Discovery, it’s that since the death of Captain Georgiou we haven’t seen anyone expressing or ‘living’ the ideals of Starfleet and the Federation.  Yes, Star Trek fans love special effects and compelling story lines and new species, but a lot of us are dreamers too: we want to believe that this shitty period in history that we’re all stuck in will end, and that something beautiful and amazing will come out of the mess of the last few centuries.  Our new Trek has kind of been saying… yeah, everything is still sorta shit.

Back on the prison ship, Lorca continues to explore his cell, probably in an attempt to stay as far away from Harry Mudd as he can.  He stumbles across Lieutenant Ash Tyler.

Tyler is excited to see a Starfleet captain, and tries to feed Lorca, who refuses, while Stewart, Harry Mudd’s cute little arachnid pet, steals the food for Harry who smugly eats it in front of both men.

Mudd and Tyler - Episode 5 Recap and Review

Mudd is entirely unsympathetic.  He’s a prick and I love Rainn’s gleeful but restrained portrayal of the character.

We learn that Tyler was on board the USS Yeager and has been on the prison ship since the Battle of the Binary Stars.

We also learn that L’Rell, the captain of the prison ship, has taken a… liking to Tyler.  There is subtext here that suggests he has been sexually assaulted by her.

Tyler and Lorca end up in an argument with Mudd, who challenges both men, telling them that they started the war by bothering to “boldy go”.  He tells them he can understand why the Klingons don’t want them in their ‘front yard.’

At this point, our overly bloodthirsty Klingons return.  They take Lorca to L’Rell.  No “choose your pain,” they just drag him out.

We probably need to talk about Tyler here – because fandom has gone bonkers about his character.

On my first watch, a few things Tyler said didn’t ‘drop’ in my mind.  I didn’t find myself analysing it all too deeply until my second watch.

In my first watch, I came away thinking “Manchurian Candidate.”  Klingons are crazy-strong.  It’s canon.  We see it in this episode.  They throw their human victims about like they’re sacks of potatoes, and the human skull is pretty strong.  One stomp shouldn’t shatter a grown man’s head – but one Klingon stomp does.  But, a tortured Lorca and an exhausted, repeatedly beaten, undernourished Tyler take a few out in a couple of scenes time.  Not once, but twice, and then they steal a fighter and escape.  Everything pointed to them being let go.

Inbetween my first and second watches of the episode, I listened to a podcast where it was suggested Ash Tyler was Voq, our Albino Klingon.  I’m now 98% convinced he is.  This article, from TrekMovie, was what pushed me from my Manchurian Candidate theory to the Ash is Voq theory.  Visit TrekMovie here.

There’s only one fault with the analysis – nothing in the episode tells us how long L’Rell has been in command of the prison ship.  She could have taken a liking to him in recent days, or of course it’s all a lie to deceive Lorca.  Time will tell, as will whether or not we see Voq in any future episodes.

One last thing, was the officer who had his head stomped the real Ash Tyler?

Back on the Discovery, Tilly, Stamets and Burnham are working together, trying to find a solution to Ripper’s dilemma.

Tilly - Episode 5 Recap and Review

Tilly suggests creating a virtual Ripper.  Stamets talks about his earlier research and how he tried to use software to fix the problem but it only enabled small jumps.  He points out that things only started to work to their fullest potential when a sentient creature was interfaced with the mycelium network.

He suggests they find something or someone else, who is willing and can fully understand the choice they’re making.

It’s at this point we have another first for Star Trek.

Tilly says: “You guys, this is so fucking cool!”  She quickly realises that might not have been the best or most professional thing to say in front of her boss.  Stamets stares at her, eyebrow raised for a moment, and then with a small sly smile, agrees.  “No cadet, it is fucking cool.

So… the f-bomb.  I admit it grated, but in that scene it worked.  It would have worked better if Stamets hadn’t used the f-bomb too.

We leave our intrepid trio of Ripper-savers to jump over to L’Rell, who has captain Lorca strapped into a nasty looking chair.

She talks to him about torture, he compliments her English, she talks about being descended from spies and then asks him about his ship and its mode of transport.

Mary Chieffo is, as per usual, extraordinary.  I don’t have words to describe how much I admire this young actor.  What she can do under all those prosthetics is amazing.

L’Rell tells Lorca in an almost seductive way, that she knows about his photo-sensitivity and then forces his eyes open with a device straight out of a horror movie and uses bright light to torture him.  Some fans have suggested this scene is reminiscent of Picard’s torture at the hands of the Cardassians in the episode “Chain of Command.”  It did pop into my mind briefly when I was watching, but I don’t really see a similarity past the fact it featured bright lights.

I’ve been heavily critical of the Klingons, primarily because of the distracting subtitles and heavy makeup that makes their vocalisations hard to understand.  So how about a positive?  This episode was, from memory, subtitle free and it made a difference.  It let me really pay attention to the Klingon scenes within the flow of the episode – no rewinding and rewatching, breaking me out of the moment.  I came away from that simple experience excited by them.  What I do love about these Klingons is how deep we’re going into their culture and the effort the writers are going to, to make these guys feel real and not just ‘different.’  They’re starting to come across like a real, multifaceted species, rather than the stereotype and caricature they turned into in the TNG era.  They’re more nuanced in this Trek.  That’ll probably piss off some fans, but after an intriguing start with Worf, everything became “honour” this and “honour” that and “I’ll drink blood wine on the corpses of my enemies.”  In this show they have so many different dimensions to them.  Different houses with different perspectives and physical characteristics – just like us and the many different races that make up humanity, and this very real and very current fear of multiculturalism.  I love this aspect.  The Klingons are interesting and forbidding again and they are finally starting to grow on me.

We leave Lorca, screaming, in the capable and malicious hands of L’Rell to return to the Discovery.

Staments, Burnham and Tilly are unable to find a compatible species in the database that is capable of working the spore-drive.  At that point, Saru walks in, and he’s pissed.

Michael tells Saru that they have a sample of tardigrade DNA and could use it to empower a human to work the spore-drive.  Saru reminds her that Eugenics is not allowed.  The discussion quickly goes down hill, heating up when Saru accuses Michael of treating him like one of her anthropology subjects.

Refusing to hear anymore, he orders Stamets to bring the drive on line and to use the tardigrate.  Turning on Burnham, he confines her to quarters.

Saru and Burnham - Episode 5 Recap and Review

We jump back to the prison ship where Lorca confronts Mudd and accuses him of being a spy for the Klingons.  Lorca sprinkled some things in his initial conversation with Mudd which was parroted back at him during his interrogation, making it likely Mudd told his jailers and is working with them.  But was it Harry or Ash?

Mudd goes in for a very distracting attack and turns the tables on Lorca.  He brings up Lorca’s last command, the USS Buran.

It’s here that we start to get a deeper glimpse into Lorca, and some indication of why he’s as hard-ass as he is.  We learn that Lorca survived a Klingon attack, but his crew did not.

Rather than let Mudd continue, Lorca takes back control of the conversation and in an unusually candid moment tells Mudd he only knows half the story.  He tells Mudd and Ash Tyler that he blew his crew up to avoid them being captured by the Klingons.

Ash Tyler lowers his head and the scene switches to a black alert on the Discovery.

Stamets beams the tardigrade into the reaction chamber.  Tilly watches, distressed, as Michael, in her quarters, worries about Ripper.  It is obvious Stamets is not happy with how things are transpiring either and in a nice, beautifully filmed moment we watch our heroes realise that they really have been thoughtlessly torturing Ripper.

As they jump, the tardigade screams in pain and collapses.

Stamets and Tilly rush into the chamber, but they’re too late to do anything.  Ripper curls into a ball, shedding all of his water and breaking my heart in the process.  We quickly learn, thanks to Doctor Culber, that Ripper has gone into a state of extreme cryptobiosis.

Saru dispassionately orders Doctor Culber to rehydrate the tardigrade and hook it back into the engine.

More than anything, from stomped heads to tardigrade torture, this was one of the most shocking scenes in this episode.  Saru knows what it’s like to be used against his will by a more powerful predator, yet he mercilessly orders his crew to commit a crime, telling them that if they’re right, and Ripper is sentient, he’ll be judged in accordance with his actions.

Culber refuses to participate.

Saru Culber and Barnham - Episode 5 Recap and Review

Saru doesn’t appear to care.  I expect he does, and I expect, deep down, this is hurting him quite badly.  Saru orders Stamets to do it.  There’s a quirk in Paul’s voice as he agrees to get the drive working.

Back on the prison ship, the Klingons turn up in the cell and ask Lorca to “choose your pain.”  Ash tells Lorca to choose him.  Lorca, after some resistance, does.

It’s a trick.  Ash and Lorca overpower the Klingons all too easily.

Both men dash out of the prison, with Harry begging to be taken with them.  Disgusted by Mudd, Lorca doesn’t let him come.  Harry angrily tells Lorca he hasn’t seen the last of him.

In a nearby corridor they have another fight with the Klingons, and these ones are also surprisingly easy to defeat.

Ash gets injured in the scuffle and Lorca uses a disrupter to blow a Klingon into a cool looking green smoke before the lieutenant is killed.  Ash can’t continue and suggests Lorca come back for him.  Lorca hesitatingly agrees and disappears.

Suddenly, L’Rell is there and Ash finds some kind of inner strength and gets up and starts to punch her.  He lets loose, and it looks like she’s taking one heck of a pummelling.  If this is all a ruse to deceive Lorca and the Federation, is Voq (Ash) unleashing on L’Rell because he has been surgically altered to look like the very species he hates?  The species that killed his Messiah?

In the middle of this very violent act, Lorca returns, melts off half of L’Rell’s face with a disruptor blast and drags Ash to a Klingon raider.

The next scene is both men in the fighter, and they’ve escaped.  Way too easily.

As they fight off their pursuit, we learn that Lorca’s sensitivity to light was caused by the destruction of the Buran, and that he suffers through the pain of damaged eyes in memory of his former crew.

The escape scene is beautifully directed and acted and is visually stunning.  The space battle scenes look GREAT!  Everything Star Trek: Discovery is doing is feature film quality.  This series looks better than the Kelvin-timeline films.

The USS Discovery

We don’t spend nearly enough time with Lorca, Ash and the space battle and find ourselves back on the Discovery.  They detect the raiders and Saru works out Lorca is on one of them.

Discovery contacts him and beams both he and Ash aboard, just as their fighter gets blown apart.

Saru asks Stamets if the tardigrade is hooked up.  Stamets noncommittally advises they are “able to jump.”

They jump.

In the transporter room, Lorca helps Ash up and welcomes him back to the war.

On the bridge, Saru is trying to get in touch with Stamets.  He’s advised Stamets’ life signs are in distress and in a scene reminiscent of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Saru races to engineering and finds Stamets collapsed in the reaction chamber.

Tilly tells Saru that Stamets injected himself with the tardigrade DNA.

For a fleeting moment it looks like Paul Stamets is dead, but suddenly, Stamets comes to and starts to laugh hysterically.

We cut to Burnham’s quarters.  Saru comes in and they finally have it out.  Saru tells Michael that’s he’s angry with her and that she’s taken a great deal from him.

Saru wanted what Michael threw away.  He had hoped Michael would get promoted to her own command, and that he would become Georgiou’s first officer.  He’d hoped to learn under Georgiou’s guidance.  He’s angry at Michael for destroying her own life, for destroying his dreams, and for, in his opinion, getting their captain killed.

Michael takes it and apologises.  Then, in a sweet moment, she tells Saru that he did well as acting captain, and gives him Georgiou’s telescope.

Hopefully, now, their healing can begin.

Michael finds Tilly and together, in what is a beautiful scene, they set the tardigrade free.  He uses some spores Michael poured over him and jumps toward a distant nebula.

Culber and Stamets - Episode 5 Recap and Review

The episode ends with Stamets and Culber together in their bathroom, brushing their teeth in what is a very simple but poignant scene.  Culber is worried about the DNA injection, and gently lectures his partner.

Stamets tells him that he had to do something because Culber was in danger.

He tries to describe his experience with the spores, but can’t quite find the words, describing it as “unspeakably beautiful.”

Hugh tells his partner to never do that again, because though Stamets might not care about Stamets, he does.

As Culber goes to bed, Stamets lingers for a couple of seconds and then turns away.  As he does, his reflection stays in the mirror and smiles.

Stamets Reflection - Episode 5 Recap and Review

It’s a wonderfully creepy way to finish the episode.

This is the most Star Trek episode to date.  I loved it.  It was action packed, it was full of drama, the performances from every cast member were outstanding.

It was shocking, revelatory and poignant.  My only complaint is that it went too fast.  I do not know how they squeezed all of that in.

This series is really taking flight.  It didn’t exactly have a bumpy start, but it did take it’s time bringing us to the mystery – and it feels like we’re finally there.

Is Ash Voq in human disguise?  There is precedent for this.  In the original series episode “The Trouble with Tribbles”, the character of Arne Darvin was revealed to be a Klingon.

What did Lorca do?  Why didn’t he go down with his ship?  What’s the story behind him killing his crew, but somehow surviving?

Will we see Ripper again?

Have Saru and Michael finally started their path toward becoming friends again?

What is going on with that reflection in Hugh and Stamets’ mirror?

Most people out there in fandom think this is hinting at an upcoming Mirror Universe episode.  We do know one is coming.  Will it be next episode?

I don’t care.  I’m just enjoying the ride.

There is no question.  I LOVE THIS SERIES.

Scorecard
Acting: 10/10
Direction: 10/10
Writing: 10/10
Editing: 10/10
Special Effects/VFX: 10/10
Story: 10/10

Overall, five Starfleet deltas out of five.

The next episode of Star Trek: Discovery is called “Lethe”.

Star Trek: Discovery airs in the United States on CBS All Access with new episodes released Sundays at 8:30pm ET.  In Canada the show airs on the Space Channel at 8:00pm ET.  Outside of the USA and Canada, Star Trek: Discovery airs on Netflix with new episodes dropping in the UK at 8am BST Mondays, and in Australia at 6pm Mondays AEDT.

Live long, and prosper.  See you in about a week.

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Episode 3 Recap and Review

Star Trek Discovery Update 22062017

I am so conflicted.

I really enjoyed this episode, but there were a couple of things that gave me pause.  More on that later in the review.  First… the basics:

The Facts
Episode Number
: 103 (Season 1, Episode 3)
Episode Title: “Context Is For Kings”
Writers: Aaron Harberts, Gretchen J. Berg and Craig Sweeny
Story: Bryan Fuller, Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg
Director: Akiva Goldsman

Interesting Bits and Pieces
We get to see our first Jefferies Tube!
There is a different Starfleet delta badge worn by some officers on the Discovery.  It’s all black.
A boarding party is a boarding party, not an away team (like on TNG).
Amanda is mentioned, and Spock is hinted at when Burnham talks to Tilly about her childhood.
Lorca has a Tribble.  That is hopefully neutered!
Lorca has a Gorn skeleton in his private area.  This is a little annoying, because I’m pretty sure we don’t officially meet the Gorn until the TOS era?
The robot is called Airiam and appears to be a Lieutenant Commander or full Commander?  I hope they explain this soon.  It looks like Data may have been the first “human-looking” android and not the first android in Starfleet.
The Discovery uses “breath” ID scans to access sensitive parts of the ship.  It actually looks kind of silly.
Last, but not least, Lorca and Landry are up to something together, and seem to have a relationship that goes back a while.

The Recap and Review
The first few minutes of “Context Is For Kings” did not grab me on the first watch.  On the second watch, I was far more interested because I knew what was coming and the scene made more sense.

We start on a prisoner transfer shuttle six-months after the events of “Battle At The Binary Stars.”

Burnham is in old school command mustard-gold, though it’s not a Starfleet uniform she is wearing, it’s prison garb.  She’s not in a good head space.

Sharing the shuttle with her are three not very nice individuals, one woman, two men, all human.  They’re unpleasant in every way, and this works.  The scene does a few things.  It shows us we’re not yet in the utopia that the Federation will become in the Picard-Sisko-Janeway era and it shows us that, as a species, humanity is still working itself out and is still trying to cast off some of its less desirable traits.

We quickly learn that Burnham is infamous as one of the prisoners tells her, with considerable anger, that she lost a family member in that battle.

Before things get violent, some kind of life form that feeds on energy starts to drain the shuttle of all power.  The pilot does an emergency EVA to try and fix the problem, but her tether breaks and she shoots off into the distance.  It’s all a little weird.  The scene is filmed in a very flat and undramatic way.  It’s devoid of intensity and energy.  Even the pilots death lacks drama.  She just shoots by a window.  I think that’s Akiva (the Director) helping us to climb into Michael’s mind – but initially I didn’t like it.

The prisoners go into a panic but Burnham sits there, quietly, almost with an air of relief, accepting her fate.  Perhaps even looking forward to it.

That, the second time around, was actually quite powerful.  It’s as if Burnham wanted to die and thought she deserved it.

Suddenly, a beautiful looking starship drifts languidly into shot, tractor beam extended, to save them.

USS Discovery

After two episodes, we finally get to see the USS Discovery.

I know the Discovery‘s design has divided fandom, but I love it.  It’s recognisably Starfleet, but is it’s own thing – and it’s stunning.  It’s design influence is a little alien, and I wonder at that.  I don’t recognise any particular Star Trek race’s ‘fingerprints’ on the design, but find that I want to know who developed her and whether or not they were guided by an alien aesthetic.

That’s the Trek geek in my coming out!

From the moment Discovery sails in to save the day, the episode kicks into high gear and we finally get to meet most of the principle cast.

Rekha Sharma as Commander Ellen Landry is entirely unlikeable.  She doesn’t seem to like or dislike Burnham, but treats everyone with what feels like contempt.  Equally.  Except for Gabriel Lorca.

Jason Isaacs plays our new Captain and you never know, from one moment to the next, whether or not Lorca is a good guy or a bad guy.  He is entirely mysterious, almost menacing, and completely compelling.

Mary Wiseman’s Ensign Sylvia Tilly is fantastic in every way.  She’s someone a lot of us can relate to.  This show is serious and tense, and Tilly brings a lighter touch which is needed.  I admit, I adore her.  She’s awkward, a ball of anxiety, allergic to almost everything, and is just a really good and really sweet human being.

Anthony Rapp’s Lieutenant Paul Stamets is arrogant, dismissive and entirely obsessed with his work.  He’s going to be an amazing character.  He doesn’t seem to like Lorca, and I’m not sure if he’s Starfleet or civilian?  It seems, from his dialogue, that he might have been drafted.

We reunite with Doug Jones’ Saru, and there’s also a brief, dialogue free reunion with a cybernetically altered Lieutenant Keyla Detmer from the Shenzhou, played by Emily Coutts.

Neither reunion goes well.  Gone is the brother/sister vibe between Saru and Burnham.  Saru is now the first officer of the Discovery, and he makes it clear that he considers Michael dangerous.

Keyla?  She just stares at Michael with barely constrained hatred and turns away.

Michael is temporarily put to work in Engineering with Stamets and Tilly while the shuttle is repaired.  It’s made clear she’ll ship out with the other prisoners and resume her journey when the transport is fixed.

As she gets to work, and gets a little break-and-entery, the mystery that is Discovery and her mission starts to unfold.

We learn that the Discovery has a sister ship, the USS Glenn, and the Glenn goes silent after upping their mycelial propulsion experiment.

Discovery shoots off to investigate.

Burnham, Tilly, Stamets, Landry and our first red-shirt (sorry… bronze-shirt), Ensign Ricky, shuttle over to what turns out to be a ship of horrors.

The experimental propulsion system on the Glenn has done something terrible to the biological lifeforms on the ship, and we go from Star Trek to horror-Trek in a matter of moments.  Disfigured, dismembered crew litter the ship, and it appears the Klingons tried to board her as we see one – before he’s quickly eaten by some kind of slug/beetle hybrid.

It’s a scene that is both amusing and horrifying.  One moment the Klingon is “shushing” the Discovery crew, the next he’s set upon by the monster and sucked into its toothy maw.

After a tense chase scene, that includes Michael reciting lines from an Alice in Wonderland book, our heroes escape, and, we learn, so too does the monster… though escape is probably the wrong word.  It ends up in some sort of menagerie aboard the Discovery thanks to Commander Landry.

The episode ends with Lorca asking Burnham to stay on as a consultant.  She declines, saying she committed mutiny and deserves her punishment, giving context to her despondency in the first scene.  She also doubts Lorca can over rule Starfleet.  He tells her he has a wide latitude in his mission, and insists she’s someone he needs.

She initially thinks its to engage in clandestine, barely legal activities in the name of the war effort and challenges him on this.

In a moment that gives us some welcome insight into Lorca’s cold and suspicious behaviour, he says it’s not.  He needs people who think on their feet, and are capable of doing what is necessary to save lives.

Burnham accepts his offer, affected by Lorca’s argument: “you helped start a war, don’t you wanna help me end it?”

What will her role be?  We’ll have to tune in to the next episode to find out.

“Context Is For Kings” is an excellent episode.  Akiva Goldsman really can direct.

The entire episode is tight, though there is a lot of treknobabble it doesn’t get in the way, and the exposition is light.

The performance of every single actor is superb.  There isn’t one weak actor in this show.

The writing… well, it feels like it’s been written by a committee and suffered as a result.  Previous Trek shows have an almost lyrical narrative flow, but Star Trek: Discovery hasn’t found that yet – and I think it’s because so many people have their fingers in each script.

That might eventually prove to be a good thing, but right now it is clear the writers are still trying to find their groove.

What gave me pause?

This new way of flying.  Unless I’m missing something, the Discovery appears to be mushroom-powered.  Which is okay.  In my day job, one part of the business I work for is looking into the science of mushrooms and how they can purify water and reclaim waste – and I am almost convinced mushrooms might save our planet, but there are four Trek series set in the future where there is zero mention of or reference to mushroom powered vessels.

Also, Lorca.  I admit I love his character, but I can’t work out if he’s a genius or a sociopath.

It rubs me the wrong way that Starfleet has given this man carte blanche to find a way to defeat the Klingons.

Context may be for kings, but I need more context.  We all do.  Is the war going so badly after six-months, that Starfleet is willing to consider chemical weapons or some other horrific tool as a means of stopping the Klingons?  Is this a Section 31 thing?  Are the black markings on the Discovery a symbol it is somehow different from other Starfleet vessels?

Lorca’s moral ambiguity is both fascinating and disquieting.

The shows writers and producers have gone to great pains to assure us it will all make sense, so I’m happy to suspend my concerns and enjoy the ride, but I do hope things become a little clearer soon.

Overall, this is an intense and enjoyable third episode… or actual pilot, if you prefer to see it that way.

Scorecard
This series is shaping up to be something very different and uniquely wonderful.  Four delta’s out of five!
4 Deltas

The next episode of Star Trek: Discovery has the second longest title in Trek history (I think).  It’s called “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry.”

The longest episode title in Trek history?  To my knowledge, it’s “For The World Is Hollow, and I Have Touched the Sky.”

We’ll be back with another review in a few days time.

Star Trek: Discovery continues to look incredible, and while the show still feels a little uneven I have no doubt it will find its voice soon, and its place in Star Trek canon.

Live Long, and Prosper.

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