Star Trek Discovery: Choose Your Pain

When Lorca is captured by the Klingons, he experiences first-hand the sadistic way in which they treat their prisoners. Desperate to get his captain back, Saru takes command and orders that Stamets continues to use the tardigrade to control thespore drive. But Burnham fears that they are damaging the creature by using it too much.

Once again, we get another packed episode of Discovery. Let’s start with Lorca’s experiences on the Klingon ship. These Klingons don’t pull their punches – they go straight for their prisoners’ weaknesses and ruthlessly exploit them. They even let the prisoners give another of their number up for torture. I was quite impressed with the ruthlessness of these new Klingons, right up until the time that Lorca and fellow prisoner Tyler were easily able to overpower them and get away. Once again, I feel the need to point out that these are the galaxy’s best warriors – and yet pretty much any main character can take them in a fight.

Also playing a part in Lorca’s prison experience is none other than Harcourt Fenton Mudd of TOS fame. When I saw Mudd in the trailer, I was unimpressed – how would such a comical character fit in to the darker Star Trek series? Whilst I’m not ecstatic to see that he’s due to appear in around four more episodes, I actually found Mudd a lot better here than expected. There’s a darkness to his character that makes him more than just a comedic buffoon. Despite his betrayal, I think Lorca was wrong to leave him behind – now, instead of owing a debt to Lorca, he’ll just be really angry and bent on revenge.

Back on Discovery, Saru has to take command, and it’s clear that he feels the weight of that responsibility. He asks the computer to review his performance – something which feels almost Vulcan. He also pushes for the use of Ripper, even as Burnham realises that the creature is suffering. I’m sort of glad that we get rid of the tardigrade in this episode (don’t worry, it doesn’t die) as it was pretty ridiculous, but in its place we get Stamets injecting himself with spore DNA, so I don’t think we can say that Discovery’s science has become any more sensible.

Franchise nods

  • This episode features Harry Mudd, as seen on TOS. He even mentions his beloved wife, Stella. By the time of TOS, he seemed less enamoured with her.

Character points

  • After setting off my gaydar for the entirety of the episode, we learn that Culber is already in a relationship with Stamets.This marks our first proper gay couple on Star Trek – hooray.
  • Saru expresses his anger that Burnham’s actions cost him the chance to be Georgiou’s first officer. Having said that Saru has thus far felt like the most morally ‘pure’ and Star-Trek-esuqe character, here he seems quite self-interested. Whilst it’s totally valid to feel that, it feels like it should be secondary to missing her as a person and as an awesome captain.
  • We learn that Lorca killed his previous crew to save them from being captured and tortured by the Klingons.

Other points

  • This is the first time anyone has ever said ‘fuck’ on Star Trek. It feels wrong, somehow.
  • Last week I got the impression that Culber was the chief medical officer on Discovery. In fact, he is not.
  • If the tardigrade could use spores to escape, why didn’t it do so either on the Glenn or when Burnham gave it “the good stuff” last episode?
  • Apparently the mycelial spores grow throughout ‘a layer of subspace’. I guess, given that the solanagen-based aliens live in subspace, we have to accept that subspace bullshit is nothing new.

Summary – Choose Your Pain: Don’t look into the light!

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