We learn from Voq that it’s been six months since the war started. For some reason, Voq and the rest of T’Kuvma’s followers were left adrift and starving after the Battle of the Binary Stars, while the rest of the Klingon Empire (which was united by T’Kuvma), takes on the Federation. After Voq travels to the derelict remains of the Shenzhou in order to get its dilithium to make his ship operable again, Kol buys the loyalty of Voq’s crew by giving them food. (T’Kuvma’s followers are painted as cultlike. That they would be bought off with food by a Klingon who stood against their leader seems dishonorable, but hey, I’m not Klingon and I’m not starving.)
Speaking of food, chowing down is another symbol of power, as Lorca shows. He is eating, at least visually, a tasty meal as he is made aware of Corvan II’s troubles by Admiral Cornwell. This is a classic “Star Trek” trope. A planet that produces 40 percent of the Federation’s dilithium, a crucial resource, is under attack by an enemy, and of course, the Discovery — with spore drive — is the only ship able to help.
1. Burnham’s Intuition
Finally, four episodes in, we see an instance of why Burnham was a successful Starfleet officer before her mutiny. Her instincts tell her that the creature Lorca wants her to weaponize is not actually violent by nature, just misunderstood. If this sounds familiar, Spock, who is supposed to be Burnham’s stepbrother, deduced something very similar in an original-series episode, “The Devil in the Dark,” in which a creature threatens a mining colony.
Burnham is able to figure out how to use the creature to transport the Discovery to Corvan II. Don’t ask me how. This was straight Trek techno-babble, which is fine. Burnham’s scenes felt like a more traditional Trek episode, which was enjoyable in its own right.
I was a little skeptical of the science nerd played by Mary Wiseman, but she is providing a much needed counterpoint to Burnham’s morose demeanor. For one thing, their pairing shows us two characters that actually tolerate each other’s presence, which is more than can be said of every other crew member on the Discovery. It’s nice to see a real friendship develop here.
3. Georgiou’s Return!
Michelle Yeoh returns as Georgiou, albeit as a hologram, to pass on a telescope she left for Burnham as part of her will. Georgiou, we barely knew ye. But every time Yeoh appears, she brings a level of charm and sincerity to the captain’s chair that is lacking in the rest of the show right now. (Georgiou says in her hologram appearance that Burnham is like a daughter to her. Does she have any actual family? I was surprised that no family member intervened to keep a prized possession from going to someone who committed mutiny against her. Then again, Picard didn’t have a family, so who knows?)
What Didn’t Work
1. Commander Landry’s Death
I understand the inclination for TV shows to mimic “Game of Thrones” and kill off main characters unexpectedly. We’ve already seen it in “Discovery” with Georgiou and T’Kuvma. But can we not do it in a way that makes the character seem absurdly stupid? Rekha Sharma was actually compelling in her brief run in “Discovery” as Landry. She seems composed, professional, rational and efficient. Freeing the creature without any proper safety precautions in place seemed totally out of character. Of course the alien was going to thrash her. Landry also seemed overly loyal to Lorca and one of the few whom he confided in. Yet, Lorca treats her death as barely an afterthought. I get it. Lorca is unsentimental. We’re at war. But he’s not a robot.
“Discovery” doesn’t appear to have any interest so far in being an ensemble show, which is why we know little about crew members like Saru and Stamets, and why it is willing to kill off major characters right after introducing them.
2. Klingon Politics
It’s hard to care at all about the main villains in “Discovery” when the actors playing them can barely move their faces. “The Next Generation” made Klingon politics magnetic, especially in “Redemption.” The Klingons — Gowron, Duras, etc. — thoroughly inhabited their roles in the story line with gusto. Part of what made previous iterations of Klingons so palatable is that they leaned into emotions and impulses. “Discovery” Klingons cannot emote effectively because of the make up.
Did You Catch That?
When Lorca is arguing with Stamets over the use of the spore drive, he asks: “How do you want to be remembered in history? Alongside the Wright Brothers? Elon Musk? Zefram Cochrane?”
Cochrane, as Trek fans will remember, is the 21st century scientist who fathered warp drive. He appeared in the original series, and he was played by James Cromwell in “Star Trek First Contact” and in the pilot of “Enterprise.”
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