Battling demons on Star Trek: Discovery

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In this week’s installment of Star Trek: Discovery, Klingon L’Rell explains to Voq that they need to build a bridge between themselves and the 24 houses of the Klingon Empire in order to survive. This episode also serves as a bridge between last week’s introduction of the Discovery and her crew and the coming interactions between Starfleet and the Klingons as the war escalates. And caught in the middle of all this is Michael Burnham, the mutineer who now has an unexpected place among the ship’s crew, much to the dismay of First Officer Saru, who only spoke of Burnham’s professionalism – minus the mutiny thing – when he thought she’d be back on the transport and headed off to life in prison. Now the two have to co-exist, and the relationship is going to be thorny for a while, to say the least.

As if Burnham doesn’t need another thing to concern her. She’s very confused and curious about the experiments being conducted on the ship by Stamets and how these biological spores are going to help them win against the Klingons. Since the galaxy is filled with these spores, they are supposed to make traveling from one place to another a cinch, but when the Discovery is needed for a rescue mission for a colony under Klingon attack, Stamets is not convinced the ship is ready to travel such a great distance … and he was right as the ship almost crashes into a star. The jump also injured Stamets and we get our first introduction of Dr. Culber, played by Wilson Cruz.

Burnham, however, is forced to battle another demon but this one is very real — the beast that Lorca had transported from the other ship last episode. Since this “monster” was able to survive battle with a Klingon, and took out said Klingon, Lorca wants to know what makes this thing tick and what about it can be weaponized to defeat the Empire. During the jump, Burnham noticed the creature reacted strangely and felt it had something to do with the spores. Commander Landry didn’t really care and decided to take matters into her own hands which resulted in her death after being mauled by the creature (which was perhaps a cheap shot to kill off another no-nonsense female character as a way to move Burnham into her position on the bridge).

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Further study, however, revealed that the beast was not what it seemed and was somehow related to the microscopic Tardigrade, that cute little creature that made waves all over the internet not too long ago. How that little thing got so big is not really known, but it does seem to be able to interact with the spores and it acts as a living GPS for the Discovery, helping it get to Corvan before the Klingons finish off everyone there. But it obviously takes a toll on the creature and Burnham begins to feel some empathy for it.

But Burnham has an even bigger weight on her shoulders when a package arrives — the last will and testament of Captain Georgiou. When she learns what this package is, she immediately stows it under her bunk, hoping to ignore it for as long as she can. Luckily the Tardigrade distracted her for a while, but once back in her quarters, the persistent beeping forced her to find out what was inside. The video message from Georgiou was obviously meant to be seen at a much later time as she assumed Burnham was now the commander of her own ship — whoops — and spoke of how proud she was of her “student.” Inside the package was the telescope Burnham had used to pinpoint the mysterious object in the opener that led to all that’s happened since. It was a bit battle-scarred, and of course Georgiou had no idea that this instrument would be what ultimately led to her and her ship’s destruction, so while it might have been comforting to Burnham in other circumstances, one has to wonder what impact this would have on her psyche at this point in time.

Meanwhile, Voq is trying to get his ship back up and running as the food supply is almost gone, and the only way to get them running again is to get the fusion reactor off of the remains of the Shinzhou. Voq is against integrating technology from the humans who killed his leader but L’Rell convinces him this is what he has to do. Kol has even come to Voq to grovel a bit, but when Voq and L’Rell return from the Shinzhou, Kol has fed the crew and basically turned them all against him. To prevent Kol from killing Voq, L’Rell gives Kol the reactor, grabs some food and suggests stranding Voq on the Shinzhou, which he does. But L’Rell returns and tells him that together they can defeat Kol and regain their honor among the Klingons.

So, four episodes in, and just five more to go before the mid-season finale, this episode really didn’t come together that well. Yes, it is setting up a coming confrontation (and we certainly saw evidence of that in the preview for next week), but a lot of it seemed unnecessary and … odd. Like why and how did someone get that telescope to send to Burnham but left a functioning reactor behind? And with Burnham tricking Saru to test out his death-detecting ganglia when near the tardigrade — from which he had no reaction (although he did when he ran into her in the elevator) — only drives a deeper wedge between them. One interesting thing we did learn was that the Klingons ate Captain Georgiou, so she’s definitely not coming back.

While the episode didn’t seem to move the plot forward all that much, there is something interesting to consider. A theory floating around the internet suggests that Star Trek: Discovery may not be the show we think it is, it’s not about the Starfleet we know from all the other series and movies, but it’s actually about the mysterious Black Ops section of Starfleet known as Section 31 which was first presented on em>Deep Space Nine. There are compelling arguments to be made, from the style of the uniforms to the black badges to the biological experiments. On those episode, William Sadler played a man by the name of Sloan who worked for Section 31 and tried to bring Dr. Bashir into the organization in much the same way as Lorca got Burnham to join the crew of Discovery. The theory posits that Lorca is Sloan’s great-grandfather and a side-by-side comparison of the cadence of their speech does make that seem highly possible (especially since actor Jason Isaacs is not using his normal speaking voice). It would be a cool little twist if this does come to pass and would perhaps silence the naysayers who keep complaining that this is not Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek. What say you?

What did you think of the latest episode? Do you have any theories as to where this is going? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

 

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