STAR TREK: DISCOVERY REVIEW “MAGIC TO MAKE THE SANEST MAN GO MAD”
BY GEANNIE BASTIAN
Practice Makes Perfect
This week’s episode of Star Trek Discovery opened with a party … and a bang.
More specifically, we open with Michael’s personal log, as she details the beginnings of her settling in on the Discovery, and her unease as she’s headed to a ship wide party. The party gets quickly interrupted when she and Tyler are making their way to the bridge, but not before there’s a little awkward “you know you like him” between Michael and Tilly regarding Tyler.
The ship has encountered in endangered species — a “space whale,” lost, alone and seemingly in distress. They decide to bring it on board, per protocol. However, when they bring the creature on board, someone walks out from inside, Trojan horse style. He starts shooting crew members, and only then do we learn it is an extremely vengeful Harry Mudd. He sets off a device and the ship explodes.
And then, as Next Generation fans will remember from “Cause and Effect,” – the loop starts over.
His Name is Mudd, and His Plan is Dirty
Mudd’s basic plan is this: he’s going to go through the time loop as many times as is necessary to figure out how to operate Discovery’s drive system. Then he’s going to sell the ship to the Klingons, knowing that it’s the Federation’s secret weapon in the war. His motive, he says, is vengeance because he was left behind in the Klingon prison, and kept away from his beloved Stella.
Each time he goes through the time loop, he learns a little bit more about the ship and how it works. But what he doesn’t know is that the one thing he needs to make it work is also the one thing working against him — Lieutenant Stemets. Because he is connected to the ship in the way that he is, and because he injected himself with Ripper’s DNA, he seems to exist outside of the timestream. So when everything leaves and changes, he is aware and begins warning the others each time. He attempts to start with Tyler, then quickly realizes the best way to get through to Tyler is through Michael. More on that in a minute.
Over a few iterations, Michael begins to figure out that he’s using a crystal to control time, one that is partially with him and partially inside their visiting “space whale.” Once they know how he’s doing it they just have to figure out how to stop him.
One of the things that occurs as we go through each pass of the timeline is that Mudd finds different and creative ways to kill various crew members — many of them succumbing to Lorca’s collection of dark weaponry. When he uses one particularly nasty weapon on Tyler and then threatens to use it on the entire crew, Stemets loses his nerve, and reveals he is the missing piece to Discovery’s system.
With this piece of information, it seems that Harry Mudd has everything he wants. He contacts the Klingons and tells them where to find the Federation’s secret weapon ship, as a precursor to working out some sort of deal. However, Michael realizes there’s one thing the Klingons might want more. Her. After all she killed their leader. Mudd is delighted – at least until Michael kills herself with the dark matter weapon. When Mudd questions her actions, she tells him that her death forces Mudd to reset the time loop so that she is alive to be given to the Klingons. Without that reset everyone killed him this loop would stay dead, including Tyler.
In the next, and final loop, the Captain agrees to turn over the ship, as well as Michael and Stemets, in exchange for the safety of the crew. But there’s a catch – the crew takes the time crystal, and rewires the Captain’s chair. When Mudd contacted “The Klingons” he was actually altering Stella and her father. Because in the last pass, the crew realized what Original Series fans have always figured – Mudd was running from her, not looking for her. And so they come to collect Mudd, and the Discovery is safe for another day.
Michael and Tyler Have A Moment – That They Don’t Remember
Several of the early time resets happened at the party. In one version, Stemets needs Michael to get information out of Tyler about Mudd. “What makes you think he’d open up to me” she asks. “Simple,” the engineer replies. “He likes you.” Stemets already knows (through the secret she gave him so he could earn her trust throughout the loops) that she’s never been in love. And so it turns out that the engineer might have more than one motive in play when he sets Tyler and Michael up to dance. Ostensibly, she is there to get information about his time in the cell with Harry Mudd. That things escalate into a kiss? Probably just an extra.
We see Michael’s interest in Tyler play out through the story a little bit more. It is, after all, for Tyler that she risks a rather painful death, and she’s not shy about saying so.
She is shy about the details of what happened after the danger has passed, as the two meet the turbo lift and she awkwardly says Stemets told her they…danced. And she liked it. Micheal can’t imagine it. “Why?” Tyler asks. “I’m a very good dancer!”
Michael stumbles awkwardly through an explanation, but Tyler cuts her off. He says he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and it’s fine. Just as they’re about to exit however, she turns back and says she is sorry they missed their first kiss.
The episode ends with Micheal finding her place on the bridge, and giving the end of her personal log, talking about finally fitting in where you least expect it. Tyler looks on from nearby.