Michael Burnham continues to entertain as the human who tries to be Vulcan and is a bit messed up as a result. Partly (and only partly) this is the most Star Trekky episode yet. Sadly, the air of dark mystery established last episode basically vanishes this episode. This is not a plot whole as such – Michael Burnham is the main point of view and last week she was little more than a infamous prisoner being given a brief oppotunity to help out before being shipped back to the surprisingly regressive Federation penal system. This week Michael is a reluctant (and rankless) member of the crew and as a consequence people are more open about what is going on.
Spoilers below the fold…
Firstly the fungus-drive is something everybody knows about this week and the story focuses on the crew trying to get it to work for real because the Klingons are busy attacking the Federation’s key dilithium crystal mine. Secondly, Captain Lorca has given Michael the job of investigating the alien monster captured in the last episode – which undermines mystery two. The implication at the end of last week’s episode was Lorca had a semi-secret lab of scary stuff. This week, the lab isn’t secret, but it is still kind of creepy.
Michael makes the right calls, works out what the monster is all about and saves the day. Hooray…but…with enough moral ambiguity to imply there are reasons why the magical fungus drive is not something we see Starfleet using in the future.
The real innovation with this episode is not on the Discovery. In between Michael’s attempts to make friends with the monster, the plot shift backs to binary stars of episode 2.
Here the spaceship of the Klingon messiah T’Kuvma is floating in space without a functioning warpdrive. With T’Kuvma dead (courtesy of Michael Burnham in episode 2) leadership has passed to Kol – the houseless 2ic of T’Kuvma’s. With the spaceship’s cloaking technology a major asset for the Klingon’s, Kol’s leadership does not go unchallenged.
Here, we have the trickiest element of Discovery. Having made the Klingon’s physically more alien and having them speaking primarily in subtitled Klingon, the show has intentionally created a distance of empathy between the viewer and the Klingons. However, this appears to be for a positive purpose, as the episode uses a Klingon point of view to follow Kol’s character and his aspirations.
The Houses of Klingon are united for the purpose of fighting Starfleet but that unity is fleeting. Kol, following T’Kuvma’s dream, wants to create a lasting Klingon unity. And this works…By the end of the episode Kol has been set on his own story arc and we’ve been given enough reason to want to see him succeed.
So, overall good and Trekky.
- Episode 3: Context is for Kings
- Episode 4: Seriously stupidly long episode name
- Episode 2: Battle at the Binary Stars
- Episode 1: The Vulcan Hello
Bits and pieces
- Sorry but the alien monster as the other ship’s secret sauce is just daft. Yes, it is all a super-secret developmental program but they would have told somebody. The two fungus drive ships were sharing information and the monster is not a minor development.
- The saucer bit of the Discovery spins round which is fun.
- I also don’t believe the force field to the monster’s prison/cave doesn’t have a safety hatch.
- Only one redshirt death this week but it was a high ranking one. Having said that, that was a REALLY, really stupid thing to do. Implausibly so. The monster had slashed its way through a bunch of Klingons, not to mention sections of a starship. It had already shown that it was invulnerable to phasers – so the chief secruity officer will, almost alone, try and zap it with a rifle. She gets chewed to bits, which is awful obviously but hardly unexpected.
- Saru is definitely fun.
- Lt Samets is meant to be annoying and petulant. Knowing this makes him less annoying.