Review: Star Trek Discovery – episode 6

Episode 6 “Lethe” is the first ‘status quo’ episode or at least closest to it i.e. an episode in which the crew characters each interact to do a thing that (largely) leaves their relationship unchanged. Overall it worked with lots of hand wavey stuff.

The basic plot is that Sarek, Vulcan Ambassador/Spock Dad, needs rescuing by the Discovery. To do that:

  • Lorca has to break the rules and be a maverick star ship captain
  • Stamets has to wave his hand at science
  • Michael has to balance her Vulcan logic and human emotions
  • Tilly has to be helpful
  • Saru has to look worried
  • Dr Culber has to marvel over alien biology
  • And new guy Ash Tyler has to be a bit of an ace pilot action hero

The episode didn’t push the boundaries of television anywhere but it worked quite well. I think the series needed an episode like this in which there was a sense of a core crew doing there thing.

Visually though – wow. There were some stunning images, particularly near the start on Vulcan but also in dream/psychic sequences. Very nicely done.

Some spoilers after this, so here is a fold:

Having said all that there was an emphasis on Michael and Sarek’s relationship – which was OK but there is a retroactive effect of making Spock look like a bit of a shit. Michael was effectively his sister and her decisions (and Sarek’s decisions) impacted him. Except of course, classic Spock never mentioned a sister because storywise he didn’t have one. The show is reprising the conflict between Spock and Sarek and also Spock’s relationship with his human mother but via Michael and I’m not sure about it.

The side story that provides the change in events for the next episode, is Admiral Cornwell. Visiting Lorca because of his disobedience in attempting to rescue Sarek (which honestly seems to be the least wacky of the things we’ve seen Lorca do so far) she expresses her concern about his psychological fitness. But…it turns out this is also a romantic call between her and Lorca who end up sleeping together…which leads to Lorca revealing that he is not well rather dramatically.

There was a point where I thought Lorca was going to murder the Admiral. It was within the bounds of where the show might go. I’m glad he didn’t but the plot and the Klingons removed her instead (not dead but captured).

Rankings:

  1. Episode 3: Context is for Kings
  2. Episode 4: Seriously stupidly long episode name
  3. Episode 2: Battle at the Binary Stars
  4. Episode 6: Lethe
  5. Episode 5: Choose Your Pain
  6. Episode 1: The Vulcan Hello

Bits and pieces

  • Crew t-shirts for the discovery have “DISCO” written on them. This is the best.
  • Tilly and Michael remain a good double act.
  • The holodeck/danger-room stuff was annoying for continuity with the supposed setting.
  • Sonequa Martin-Green is consistently good as Michael – plausibly Vulcan like as a default mode but with emotional depth.
  • I assume we are heading for a situation where Michael really SHOULD mutiny at some point but doesn’t.
  • For anybody who watched the UK comedy Toast of London, Ash Tyler is Clem Fandango.
  • Not much advance in the Klingon sub-plot.
  • No freaky Twin Peaks stuff with mirrors this week.

18 thoughts on “Review: Star Trek Discovery – episode 6

  1. The holodeck is not a continuity problem! The original Enterprise had a holodeck! The Animated Series is canon, I tell you, canon!

    Ahem. Overall, I liked this one – good character-driven stuff, and well handled. Sonequa Martin-Green is impressing me a lot with her performance. Lorca is continuing to be a good source of plot complications, even though some of the developments are a bit obvious – oh, all right (rot13)jura fur fnlf “V nz tbvat bss ba guvf zvffvba abj, naq jura V pbzr onpx V jvyy punatr gur sbezng bs gur fubj,” lbh xabj qnea jryy fur’f abg pbzvat onpx.

    Stamets has evidently been replaced by a parallel Stamets from the Stoner Universe. We’ll see how this plays out.

    In the low circles in which I move, the hypothesis that Tyler is secretly Voq after a severe makeover is gaining currency. This is obviously nonsense – he was given a thorough vetting by Lorca himself, after all. I would totally trust a security check run by Captain Wibbletrousers; if the magical sparkle unicorn that lives in his sock drawer says Tyler is OK, that’s good enough for me.

    I’m interested in who started to carve the controls for a PlayStation into Lorca’s back, and why.

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    1. Yeah, we knew Sarek wpuld survive, because he did already. And the ending was predictable for the reason you roted. Still, I really liked this Episode. Not sure I like the new guy though. Maybe thats why everybody thinks hes a spy – if you are put in the show that heavyhanded, it has to be a major plot point.

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  2. Bit of a trad A/B plot this week.

    “There was a point where I thought Lorca was going to murder the Admiral.”

    Me too. I wondered if I was imagining it, but that was a real look of dangerous menace on Lorca’s face. Getting Isaacs in as Lorca was a real investment.

    On the other hand, Starfleet have a serious senior-officers-getting-kidnapped issue, and need to improve their security.
    Luckily Klingons are really obvious and definitely can’t make themselves look human, so there’s a limit to the damage that can be done.

    I’m not sure if this advanced the Wonderland theory, but that nebula was seriously funky – almost disco in fact.

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    1. It was definitely the disco episode.

      Aside from the overt one (the gift of the book) I didn’t notice any obvious Alice references…
      Oops correction…there was a definite “off with their heads” moment.

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  3. I’m pretty certain that Lorca is from the Mirror Universe. This episode cemented that idea for me, because there were so many little hints.
    – First, his hesitation as the Admiral talks about the time when they polished off a bottle watching the Perseids.
    – Then, the strange marks on his back when he’s in bed with her, along with the fact that he sleeps with a phaser in his bed. Guilt over losing his crew likely wouldn’t make him paranoid like that.
    – As well the Admiral telling him how much he’s changed since the Buran.
    – And lastly, having a phaser tucked into the small of his back when Saru comes to tell him about the Admiral being taken prisoner.

    It all points to the fact that he’s used to a far more cutthroat environment than Starfleet. And it would certainly explain his ruthless and reckless side.

    What would really be cool is if the episode that’s confirmed to take place in the Mirror Universe is when they find the real Lorca and they switch back. =)

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      1. Tilly is from the mirror universe also – the normal universe Tilly doesn’t snore quite as loud but is otherwise exactly the same.

        Also can we call them ‘reverse twins’

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      2. I’m guessing whatever caused the destruction of the Buran is how he was thrown into this universe.

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  4. Late to the feast. Yes, thin gruel regarding the Alice thing (Mock Turtle soup?) but we do have a White Queen – the Earthwoman with a tiara (a crown, of course) and a cape (in Looking Glass, the White Queen has a shawl, which keeps getting tangled up in things) in Sarek’s memory, who presents Burnham with that copy of AIW. (And here we thought she owned that book all through her childhood). The actor is not credited, that I can find – but just as the White Queen doesn’t reappear until near the end of Looking Glass, maybe we’ll see her again near the end of the series.

    And Alice seems to have got her promotion already (though no rank, no badge and she hasn’t appeared on the bridge just yet). Let’s just see…

    Oh, and I like the mirror universe thing, especially regarding Lorca, of course that’s vaguely Alicey by definition…

    OBScience (trying not to do that, what the heck). Amazingly enough, you can have a radioactive nebula, though it is rather short-lived. The radiation from a supernova continues to generate heavy radioactive elements in the surrounding expanding gas cloud quite late into the explosion, many of which do not exist in our system, because they’ve all decayed by now (yes, plutonium is actually a naturally occurring element, just not here).

    But not letting ST off. If you’re in the vicinity of a recent supernova you will likely have other issues on your mind than the surrounding diffuse radioactive decay (which ST screens should hardly notice).

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  5. A further thought. How do we know that what we are seeing isn’t itself the mirror universe? It has a little bit of time (not much, I grant you) to develop fully into what we see of that in TOS, but it may already have split off and have been heading down that road for a while.

    In this context, Lorca could be a renegade officer from the ‘good universe’ who has escaped here. His ruthlessness in pursuing the Klingon War will ultimately lead to the collapse of the Federation, and its humane values, and the creation of the Empire.

    Meanwhile the ‘good’ Lorca (originally from the ‘bad’ universe) is no doubt completely useless and has long since been demoted to vending machine technician (third class).

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    1. I think in the Star Trek mythology, the people in the mirror universe had been bad for a long time – from at least first contact.

      However, if you’ve got one parallel universe then you’ve got a whole bunch of parallel universes…

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      1. Indeed. Though that’s a yawning chasm that ST has tended to back away from. Though all they need is an n-dimensional Hilbert Space drive. Easy.

        In other news, no need to bother with that anagram effort – Paul Stamets is a real mycologist…

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Stamets

        (Thanks to Ars Technica for that. Resisting the urge to check on everyone else in the cast, cos I have to go up the shop…)

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      2. I’d noticed that about Stamets – it can’t be a coincidence surely but I’m surprised the network lawyers allowed it given how easy it would be to pick a different name.

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      3. He really must have give explicit permission way back, Bryan Fuller has referenced him before:

        WP: ‘The Mushroom Master in Nancy Farmer’s novel, The Lord of Opium, is based on Paul Stamets. An entry in the Appendix summarizes his work.

        A serial killer in the television series Hannibal, created by Bryan Fuller, is named Eldon Stamets and uses his victims as fertilizer to grow mushrooms.

        The series Star Trek Discovery, also created by Fuller, features Science Officer Lieutenant Paul Stamets an “astro mycologist” played by Anthony Rapp and named in honor of Paul Stamets.’

        Great PR for him, I hadn’t heard of him and now I want to read some of those books (I may go shrooming in the next couple of days, they should be prime round here by now – kind of the upside of soggy British weather. (Culinary use, of course, hoping for some chanterelles. But I do know a few places where the funky ones grow. No, not telling.)

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