I have heard some complaints that Star Trek: Discovery needs to be more like the classic Trek series. No, not that this version is just too dark and not in the spirit of Gene Roddenberry’s vision for the future, but that this series is just to serialized. You have to watch week to week or you’ll miss something in the next episode, whereas with the original series you could tune in any time and check in on the crew and their latest bold new mission which didn’t require such a commitment. Fair enough, I guess, and this week Discovery gave us, almost, an episode that wasn’t laden with the Klingon war although there are certainly things you need to know from past episodes. (You could also call it a “bottle episode” because the entire thing took place solely on the Discovery.)
Like Stamets being the conductor to make the spore drive work, and the effect that has had on him. We’ve seen the moment his reflection lingered longer in the mirror than he did standing before it and we’ve seen his behavior change. Significantly. And where many assumed that he may have opened up some portal to a mirror universe, this episode explains that he’s basically now on a different plane of existence, not bound by our own constraints of space and time.
Of course, the other thing you’d need to have seen was Episode 5 in which Harcourt Fenton Mudd was introduced, a prisoner on the same Klingon ship where Captain Lorca was taken and where Starfleet officer Ash Tyler was introduced. Now, Harry Mudd has basically taken over the Discovery in order to learn its secret, and for that the Klingons will pay handsomely. But he only has thirty minutes to find out why the ship is the most powerful weapon in the Federation or it blows up … and time restarts thanks to some fourth dimensional time crystal Harry has in his possession.
What he didn’t count on was an officer who existed outside of real time, one who gained just as much knowledge as Harry did each time the loop restarted. Stamets problem was trying to convince someone else of what was happening. Luckily, he had that person in Burnham who found herself in a most precarious situation as the episode started — attending a party. Yes, the Discovery crew know how to turn it out but Burnham not so much. Her friend and roommate Tilly senses the attraction between Michael and Ash and does all she can to make sure they at least start a conversation. But they’re interrupted by a call to the bridge when an unknown object is detected. It turns out to be a gormagander, or a space whale, that is endangered and must be taken to a xenologic facility. What they don’t know is that the poor creature is in such bad shape because Harry Mudd and his ship are inside the thing, like and intergalactic Jonah (or Pinocchio). Beaming the creature onto the ship, they unwittingly beam Mudd in as well.
But each time the loop restarts, things are altered as Stamets and Burnham begin to work together to stop Mudd in his tracks. Stamets knew he’d have a hard time convincing anyone of what was happening, but he had Michael tell him one secret that no one else knew so that when they looped back he could repeat it to her. And she was quite stunned when he told her that she’d never been in love, but it was enough to convince her of what they had to do.
But Harry was always one step ahead of them, having reprogrammed the ship’s computer to lock out access to all of the ship’s main functions and designating himself as the captain. At one point seeing no other options, Stamets revealed to Mudd that he was the missing piece to the spore drive and was prepared to give himself up to stop the loop and save the crew. As the Klingons were arriving to pay Mudd and take possession of the ship, Burnham offered him something even more valuable to the Klingons — herself. Mudd said she was no one because he’d already checked the crew manifest, but since she’s technically not an official Starfleet officer, she’s not listed in the manifest because she’s the infamous mutineer who also killed the Klingon T’Kuvmah. Mudd knew he could fetch a good price for her but she ingested one of his little dark matter balls that had already killed Lorca, again, and took herself out, forcing Mudd to let the loop restart.
That gave Burnham, Stamets and Tyler (who was now on up to speed on things) ample time to convince Lorca of what was happening and when Mudd arrived, Lorca graciously turned the ship, Stamets and Burnham over to him on the condition that everyone else was allowed to go free (he didn’t want a repeat of his last incident of leaving a crew behind to die). Mudd agreed and sent the ship’s coordinates to the Klingons but then found himself denied any further access to the ship. Turns out he didn’t lock out any of the secondary command functions, one of which included the captain’s chair (really?) which Tyler was able to rewire and subvert everything Harry had done.
In one of the previous loops, Harry had mentioned his loving wife Stella and how they’d been torn apart but the message he sent to the Klingons had actually gone to Stella’s father, Baron Grimes, and they were on the way to pick up Harry. It turns out the ship’s vast library was also secondary and they learned Harry was actually running away from Stella, having swindled her as well. But in an odd climax she took him back and not wanting to be in debt to Starfleet, the Baron asked what payment they wanted. All the crew wanted was for Harry to stay at his wife’s side for the rest of his life (of course, he doesn’t and pops back up to bedevil the crew of the Enterprise a couple of times).
With the situation for the ship resolved, there is still another situation with a dangling thread: the relationship that began to form between Burnham and Tyler. With the help of Stamets, Burnham had to let her guard down with Tyler during each loop so he could help them against Mudd. They danced together — much to Tilly’s pleasure — and they even shared a kiss. Unfortunately, neither of them remember the kiss but apparently Stamets caught them up on everything. But now Burnham has to deal with these new feelings she’s never had before and Tyler tell her to take her time saying he’s just sad they missed their first kiss.
This was a terrifically lighthearted episode that did little to advance the main plot, but that’s okay. It was nice to have a breather from all the heavy drama and subtitled Klingons. It also almost made us forget about the theories that Tyler is a Klingon. There was nothing at all suspicious about him this week but watching the “previously on” montage at the top of the show did make me thing more than ever that Lorca may actually be the Klingon Voq in disguise. But if that’s true then he should already know about the spore drive, but maybe Mudd’s appearance threw a monkey wrench into whatever plans he has to bring the ship to the twenty-four houses and redeem himself. And if Tyler is Voq, then he knows about the spore drive now too.
And maybe neither are Klingons and it’s going to be the kidnapped admiral who spills the beans to the Klingons. What we overlooked last week was that the episode’s title “Lethe” may have been in reference to more than just Classical Mythology. The original series episode “Dagger of the Mind” featured a character named Lethe who was a brainwashed former inmate at a Federation penal colony, and whose reasons for being there were never explained and she never told Captain Kirk why she was there. It’s possible the Klingons could have erased her memory and returned her to Starfleet. In the Discovery episode, Cornwall says she started her career with Starfleet as a therapist, which is what Lethe becomes at the insane asylum in the TOS episode. We know Cornwall will be in the next episode, and it’s possible she could be quite insane at that point, requiring the incarceration at the asylum … and all very convenient for Lorca, whom Cornwall threatened to relieve of duty before she left for the supposed summit with the Klingons.
There are many theories floating around out there about what’s really going on with Star Trek: Discovery, and that certainly makes the show worth tuning in for. Of course they could all be wrong, but with only two episodes remaining before the mid-season finale, I’m betting we can expect a big reveal and cliffhanger in Episode 9.
What did you think of the latest episode? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.