Star Trek Discovery: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

Harry Mudd is back, and he’s after Discovery. The Klingons have paid him to deliver them the secret of the spore drive, and Mudd has an innovative way of getting it. By setting up a time loop that repeats the same thirty minutes over and over, Mudd can iteratively learn about Discovery and its systems, coming closer to success each time. But he hasn’t reckoned on Stamets, who is able to retain his memory from one time loop to the next.

Ah, the old “time keeps looping but one character retains their memory” storyline. We’ve seen it in plenty of other sci-fi shows, both within the Star Trek franchise and outside. Putting Groundhog Day aside, my favourite remains Stargate SG-1’s Window of Opportunity. But how does Discovery stack up against the competition?

In all honesty, I have mixed feelings about this episode. As always, the show’s aesthetic is absolutely gorgeous, and that really helps sell the onscreen action. The time loop story is a solid choice of standard sci-fi tropes that largely proves interesting. Burnham and Tyler’s awkward first steps towards a relationship are quite sweet to see, and I’m feeling more positive about them as a couple than I was last week. On the other hand, the whole plot is centred on Harry Mudd, and that’s really offputting to me.

As I said a couple of weeks ago, Discovery’s version of Harry Mudd is actually a lot better than I feared from the trailers. But even so, he’s still skirting the edge of being unbearably annoying here. Mudd’s inventory is full of magical MacGuffins that let him bypass the security of Starfleet’s most advanced ship; yes, we all know that Starfleet has terrible security, but this is on a par with episodes like Rascals.

Franchise nods

  • Harry Mudd once robbed a bank on Betazed.
  • Harry’s wife Stella makes an appearance. Given that we’ve previously only seen android copies of her, this is actually her first in-person appearance on Star Trek.

Points of Note

  • Stella looks far too young and pretty to look as she does ten years later in I, Mudd.

Summary – Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad: A decent episode, but shame that it relies on a magical time crystal.

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