On Discovery, Failure is not an option

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We have to address the elephant in the room this week and that is, for those of you who subscribe to CBS All Access, the major streaming issue they had with the launch of this week’s episode of Star Trek: Discovery. I know many subscribers were angry, I was a bit upset, but that’s technology for you. It’s not perfect, internet sites are prone to crash and being a relatively new service, it’s not unthinkable for issues like this to crop up. I will say that as a subscriber to CBS All Access since it launched, this is the first major issue I’ve experienced in a couple seasons of Big Brother, the first season of The Good Fight and the first five episodes of Discovery. Is it reason enough to cancel a subscription? No, not at this point. Even Netflix has crashed so all the people setting their hair on fire need to just chill. If it becomes an on-going thing, then we and CBS will have to re-evaluate the service.

So on to this week’s episode titled “Lethe”. What the heck does that even mean? Well, the dictionary has a couple of meanings. In Classical Mythology, Lethe as a noun is a river in Hades whose waters cause forgetfulness of the past for those who drink from it. Another definition makes it an adjective meaning simply forgetfulness or oblivion which sort of plays into the main storyline in this episode.

It seems Sarek is on a mission of great importance and great secrecy. The young Vulcan accompanying him on his journey has other plans though. As a member of the Logic Extremists, he already knows that Sarek is heading to a peace talk with the Klingons, and coupled with Sarek’s attachement to humans and seemingly emotional decisions, the Vulcan is going to martyr himself and kill Sarek in the process. Of course he fails on the second count, but Sarek is gravely wounded, floating in the depths of space in a disabled shuttle, unable to contact anyone close enough to save him.

On the Discovery, Burnham is trying to whip Cadet Tilly into shape and is forced to make pleasantries with new arrival Ash Tyler. But she has a medical emergency that turns out to be Sarek’s katra, or part of his soul, that he placed in Burnham when she was still a student on Vulcan after the Academy bombing. Burnham is the only one who can communicate with Sarek but every time she tries, she relives the day she was turned down for the Vulcan Expeditionary Group, apparently because Sarek believed she was not good enough. But Burnham has to save Sarek before the opportunity to meet with the Klingons expires.

Burnham comes up with the idea of creating a sort of remote mind meld, and Stamets is more than game to give it a shot, except Sarek’s shuttle is drifting in a massive radiation field and they’d never be able to (a)fly the Discovery into it or (b)get a signal strong enough to get through the radiation. Next best option, take a shuttle as close to Sarek’s shuttle as possible, hoping the shields will hold the radiation at bay. And who gets to fly the shuttle? Newly installed Chief of Security Ash Tyler, of course, and Burnham requests Cadet Tilly for assistance and moral support.

A first attempt at the meld finds Burnham again reliving that crushing moment and fighting Sarek. And while she told Tilly not to bring her out of the meld, Tyler sensed Burnham was in distress and ordered Tilly to bring her back. And it was Tyler who talked to Burnham about what she experienced and convinced her that it wasn’t Sarek’s disappointment she was coming up against, it was her own sense of inadequacy that was holding her back. Thinking maybe he was right, Burnham went in again and discovered the truth. The Vulcans were not too keen on Sarek’s “experimentation” with humans, and they really didn’t want two humans in the group. Yes, the Vulcans consider Sarek’s son Spock to be human as well, so Sarek had to make the choice between his own flesh and blood and this human he’d nurtured and trained as his own blood. It was his shame that was preventing her from helping him, but once he accepted that, they were able to pin down his location and get him back to the Discovery. But, Sarek is in no condition to meet with the Klingons.

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Luckily, Admiral Cornwell had paid a surprise visit to the Discovery, much to Lorca’s dismay because he knows she’s going to go off on him about (a)putting a convicted mutineer in charge of an important mission, (b)entrusted a high ranking position and the lives of Burnham and Tilly with someone who just busted out of a Klingon detention ship, and (c)Lorca’s own fitness for command after his own torture on the Klingon ship. Has he had time to process all that happened there? She’s concerned with many of his erratic decisions especially when it comes to handling Discovery, the fleet’s most advanced ship. But when Lorca asked her why she was really there, she just said, “To see a friend.”

Well, these two are a bit more than friends and after a few adult beverages, the two hit the sheets. Later, Cornwell notices some scars on Lorca’s back, and touching them caused him to pull a phaser out from under his pillow and point it in her face, kind of in a bit of panic because he isn’t used to someone being in his bed. Ah, but then it turned out she was really there to do her onw personal diagnosis of his mental state, and that one act gave her enough evidence to support a decision that perhaps he needs some time away from Discovery to decompress. But that will have to wait as Cornwell will be closest to the neutral meeting point with the Klingons and will go in Sarek’s stead.

Arriving at the destination, Cornwell is greeted by two Klingons who promptly slit the throats of her two-man security team. A hologram of Kol appears and he reveals that this was all a ruse to capture a high ranking Vulcan. But now they have a human and that’s even better. But it seems her words with Lorca about how he’s rushed into action too many times without Starfleet approval — regardless of his excellent track record — may come back to bite her in the ass. Saru informs Lorca about the situation and wants to know if they’re going to launch a rescue mission. But … Lorca says they need to wait for Starfleet’s approval before they do anything, much to Saru’s confusion and surprise. So what’s Lorca’s game? Is he maybe hoping Cornwell is executed so she won’t be able to relieve him of his duties? Or is he going to go galloping in like a White Knight and prove to her that he’s not as crazy as she thinks he is?

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And he is a bit crazy, right? Or is he something, or someone, else? Some have pointed out the odd behavior of Staments this week. He’s usually a bit of a grouch with a superior air about him when it comes to his work. This week he was unusually chipper bringing us back to that moment from the previous episode where his reflection lingered in the mirror just a bit too long after Stamets walked away. Lorca was also behaving a bit oddly, seeming to not remember watching a meteor shower with Cornwell years ago (and she clearly was not familiar with those scars on his back, and they weren’t fresh from the Klingon torture). Are alternate universe versions of the Discovery crew swapping places with the actual crew members from the Prime universe?

And let’s talk about Ash Tyler for a moment. Perhaps you’ve heard the internet theory that Tyler is actually the Klingon Voq and that actor Shazad Latif is playing both roles. An IMDB search for the show lists an actor by the name of Javid Iqbal as Voq, but this is his only credit and the only photos of him are in the makeup. Latif’s name has been in the main credits from the first episode, but so have Jason Isaacs and Anthony Rapp, so that might not be as big a clue as people think. But this week as Tyler and Lorca run a hologram simulation fighting Klingons, Lorca presses Tler for more personal information like where he’s from. Tyler says Seattle, but Lorca already knows that he’s from a town 25 kilometers away, but he brushes that off as just splitting hairs. But could this be a little slip up in the Klingons’ intel on the real Ash Tyler? Tyler’s story of survival on the Klingon ship for seven months because he was pleasuring the captain also seems a bit sketchy. In fact, Voq was told he would have to give up everything in order to exact his revenge on the humans and regain some standing within the Houses of Klingon. It’s not unheard of in the Star Trek universe for Klingons to undergo operations to appear human, so Voq could very well be Tyler in disguise. Which also brings us back to Lorca. If he’s not a Mirror Universe version of the captain, and there’s no reason to assume he would be unlike Stamets, could he also be a Klingon in disguise? Two things were never seen on screen in the last episode — Lorca’s torture and his and Tyler’s escape. It seems Lorca found that Klingon shuttle much too easily and four others were not able to take them down until Discovery beamed them aboard? If this Lorca is a Klingon spy, it would also make sense as to why he didn’t immediately go after Cornwell. But there is one missing piece to this puzzle: that Tribble that was so conspicuously sitting on Lorca’s desk in the third episode. As every Trekker knows, Tribbles don’t like Klingons and they can detect even a disguised one. So where is it? Did “Lorca” dispose of it after he boarded the Discovery?

That’s a lot to ponder.

What did you think of the latest episode? What’s going on with Lorca and Tyler? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

 

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