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STAR TREK: DISCOVERY “Choose Your Pain” Review

By on October 16, 2017

Discovery: Where Everything is Fine, So Long As Nobody (Important) Dies

 

By Geannie Bastian

 

If this week’s Star Trek: Discovery had a theme, it would be that no one did what they were supposed to do, but everyone came home alive anyway. In a later version of Star Trek, that might’ve made for an amusing episode. But this is Discovery, so the reality was more intense.

We started off with Captain Lorca in a meeting with an Admiral from Starfleet, who was informing him that their current goal was to lay low while Starfleet focused on making more war ships with the discovery’s spore drive. Discovery, it seems has been attracting attention to herself on the front lines with multiple successes following the use of “Ripper” to help guide their large-scale jumps. He’s not pleased and doesn’t seem inclined to comply, but then is kidnapped by the Klingons on the way home in his shuttle, and this week’s “red shirt” is lost.

From here the episode is a race to get the Captain back, while also exploring what happens where Lorca is being held. Along the way there’s more folks not doing what they’re told, a familiar face, oh yes, and some Klingons.

 

The Bitterness of Captain Saru

With Lorca off the ship, Saru is left in charge as acting Captain. And he’s none to happy to learn Michael’s concerns, carried over from last week, that overusing Ripper during jumps could cause damage to the creature, and ultimately, the drive itself. But now that the captain is missing, he frankly doesn’t care. The first imperative is to get the captain back.

Do we think Michael is going to listen to that? Of course not. So she goes to enlist the help of Dr. Colbur, one of the ship’s doctors who is apparently not the CMO. They go down to engineering and explain this to Stemets. With the help of Tilly, they begin the work of coming up with an alternative that would spare Ripper but still allow them to travel as before.

Meanwhile, we learn that privately Saru is not at all comfortable with his role as acting Captain. He’s concerned about his performance and whether or not he should be giving credence to the self-doubt that Michael seems to put in his head. When reasoning this out with the computer, the computer recommends eliminating the distraction. Saru says, with some regret, that’s not an option.

Unfortunately for the engineering team, Saru finds out just as they’re about to make a jump that the engine is off-line. He dismisses their alternative of injecting a human with some of Ripper’s DNA in the hope the volunteer might act as a conduit, and confines Michael to quarters, for disobeying his order to stand down on the matter, an action, he reminds her she is all too familiar with. They make the jump, and of course Ripper is terribly ill afterwards. There is concern that the next jump may kill him, but Saru is adamant. Once they find the captain they must be ready to jump.

When they do locate the captain following his escape from the Klingon’s vessel, the jump is made, only it turns out that Stemets, has taken the injection of Ripper’s DNA, and acted as conduit himself. It seems the experiment has nearly killed him, but then he awakens and is fine. We later learn that Dr. Colbur is his partner, making Stemets and Colbur the first openly gay characters in a Star Trek TV series.

Saru goes to Michael, and lets her know that they have recovered the captain. He also orders her to do what is best save Ripper, saying in the end, they do not own his soul. Michael asks Saru if he is really afraid of her. He reveals that he isn’t afraid of her so much as angry.  After All, she had the benefit of learning beside her former captain, a benefit he was supposed to inherit when she moved on to become a captain, and he became the first officer. Her choices and the events that followed deprived him of that. Understanding this, Michael gives him the telescope Captain Georgiou left her, saying it’s time for him to see the world as she did.

A Familiar Face and Some Familiar Names

When Lorca finds himself captured aboard a Klingon ship, he ends up rooming with someone the audience at least knows quite well: Harry Mudd. This early version is apparently still quite in love with Stella. While he at first seems as if he will be an asset to Lorca, it turns out his little space lizard is secretly transmitting everything they are saying to their Klingon captors. One of them thankfully speaks English, so we are spared the incredibly aggravating subtitles this week. 

It is the other occupant of the cell, a Starfleet officer who was captured at the beginning of the war (and who is kept alive in relatively good shape because he was – friendly and useful – to their female Klingon captor), who ultimately helps Lorca escape to a Klingon freighter, and they leave Mudd behind. Though he begs them to take him with them, Lorca refuses, saying he betrayed them. The last we see of an infuriated Mudd is him banging against the cell door vowing revenge on Lorca.

Notes

When Saru asked about great Starfleet captains, we were treated to several familiar names including Archer, Pike, and Dekker. Despite the fact that many of Star Trek’s greatest captains are yet to come, this was a nice way of placing Discovery in Star Trek canon.

Secondly, a couple of casually dropped F bombs in the middle of the episode marked the franchise’s first foray into such territory.

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