STAR TREK DISCOVERY “LETHE” REVIEW
BY GEANNIE BASTIAN
No we’re not just talking about last night’s widely reported patchy streaming quality on CBS All Access; there’s a story point here. Last night’s “Lethe” saw Michael called upon to rescue Sarek, her Vulcan mentor and father figure.
Michael, who is linked to Sarek’s katra, has just enough of a connection to his broken soul to enable a telepathic link — a link that needed to be boosted by means of a nebula, a shuttle and some seriously advanced looking tech in order to make the rescue. (As with most of the technology in last night’s episode, Discovery seems to have forgotten that it predates original Star Trek.)
Meanwhile, the crew is breaking in a new chief of security — the recently rescued Tyler — and Tilly has started her training towards her ultimate goal of becoming a captain.
Michael is now her mentor in the way that Sarek was Michael’s. Oh and the Captain’s old flame looks like she might just relieve him of duty, but more on that later.
Fathers and Daughters, and Fathers and Sons
Any Star Trek fan can probably tell you that Spock and Sarek have something of a chilly relationship, even by Vulcan standards. Original series fans know that a big chunk of that is due to Sarek never really approving of Spock choosing to go to Starfleet. And now, we’ve been given a little backstory as to why.
Michael attempts to reach out through their connection in order to locate Sarek following the actions of a Vulcan extremist who blew himself up on the ambassador’s shuttle, in an effort to martyr himself and kill Sarek. This act of “extreme logic” is designed to rid Vulcan of his “human obsession” in the process.
As she searches for her adoptive father, Michael finds herself in a particular memory of his – namely the day she was rejected from the Vulcan Expeditionary Group. But Sarek keeps pushing her out, suggesting there’s something about the memory that he doesn’t want her to see. It’s reminiscent of The Next Generation’s “Dark Page” though with less emotional depth — maybe owing to the Vulcan-ness of it all?
Once Tyler suggests that the hidden memory may not be about his shame, as Michael first assumes, but rather about regret, Michael is able to confront Sarek and learn the truth: she was not rejected. Instead, the VEG was only willing to take one of Sarek’s not quite Vulcan children — Michael or Spock. Faced with this impossible choice, Sarek told Michael she had been rejected, saving the place for Spock. But he never used it, choosing Starfleet instead, and rendering Sarek’s choice moot.
With that confrontation out of the way, Michael is able to reconnect with Sarek’s mind, and locate and rescue him in time to save his life. She attempts to talk to him about the incident later, but he is closed off. She says that she will not push him, implying that he has always pushed her – perhaps too much – but they will talk about it one day.
She leaves, calling him Father as she goes.
From PTSD to POW
Meanwhile Lorca gets a visit from his favorite Admiral – and we do mean favorite. Turns out that Admiral Cornwall and Lorca go back a number of years. It also transpires that the dark-haired captain’s former ladylove is also a psychologist, and if that sounds familiar to you you’re not alone, but this is Discovery so prepare to go dark.
Cornwall has been concerned about some of Lorca’s choices lately, up to and including adding the recently rescued Tyler to his crew. She’s concerned that ever since the injury affecting his eyes he hasn’t been psychologically fit for command. Lorca reminds her that he passed all of his required tests. He then suggests that if she’s done analyzing him, they should have some fun with their session. They sleep together but things go bad in the morning when he is jolted awake by her presence and pulls a phaser on her.
Cornwall suggests that he found some way to cheat on those tests, and that he’s not fine at all. Surprisingly, he agrees, but begs her not to take Discovery away from him. She is then sent, at Lorca’s suggestion, on Sarek’s original mission, to meet with two Klingon factions hoping to arrange for peace in Sarek’s place.
Cornwall promises that when she returns they will discuss ways for him to step down from his command in order to get the help he so desperately needs.
The whole scene has an overwhelming sense of foreboding to it, and when the meet inevitably turns out to be a trap and Cornwell is captured, it’s hard not to wonder if Lorca had a suspicion this would happen when he suggested she be the one to go.
Star Trek: Discovery continues Sundays on CBS All Access.