The spore drive has made Discovery invaluable to the war effort, but also a huge target so Starfleet tells Lorca to lay low for a but while they outfit all the other ships with one and locate more tardigrades. It is really bizarre how everyone is 100% behind this completely whacky technology that requires a living creature to snort glowing mushrooms so they can travel across the galaxy instantaneously. Yes, cool, says High Ranking Vulcan, Let’s install a fungus slave drive in all our ships. (Actually, no one but Lorca and his ex-girlfriend Admiral Cornwell speak at all in this scene which is also strange.)
Anyway, on the way back to the Discovery from wherever the Command meeting was, Lorca is kidnapped by Klingons. Cornwell orders Acting Captain Saru to find and rescue him before he reveals the secrets of spore drive. This sets up three subplots: Saru in Command, The Problem of the Tardigrade, and Lorca Meets his new boyfriend Lt.Tyler.
Saru’s subplot is a character analysis undertaken by the character. Experiencing a lack of self-confidence, he asks the computer to correlate traits of a good captain based on the most successful commanders in Starfleet — a list of names familiar to Trekkies — and analyze which of them he shares. The best part of this sequence was when the computer inadvertently suggested he do away with Michael and he answered wistfully he couldn’t. He and Michael, and her merry band of Tardifriends, butt heads and it results in two almost fatal injuries, which Saru clearly takes personally. When they are all out of danger, he approaches Michael with a vague apology and a less vague confession that he’s angry with her for getting to be Georgiou’s XO and then creating the situation that killed her before he got the chance to succeed her. As a result, he was unprepared to be in command during the recent emergency. She tells him he did well, and Georgiou would agree, and passes on the telescope their captain left her.
The Lorca and Tyler Meet Cute is also a bit of a character analysis as we learn how Lorca injured his eyes, and why he hasn’t gotten them fixed: Guilt. He’s dropped into a cell with Harry Mudd (aka the worst) and a mysterious young lieutenant who Harry describes as “an idealist”. The Klingons torture them each in turns, and in between ask them to “choose your pain” meaning be tortured themselves or give up one of the others. Harry (the worst) chooses to give up Tyler every time because he’s “a survivor” who doesn’t care about anyone but himself and maybe his pet bug that Lorca figures out is actually bugging (recording) them, and throws across the room. Harry fights back with his intel that Lorca was the sole survivor of his last command, that everyone except the captain went down with the ship. Lorca counters with the real story: he blew up his last ship, and everyone on it, to save them from being captured by the Klingons who (as this episode shows) would have tortured them or worse. Tyler gets huge heart eyes at this confession, the exact opposite of what Harry was going for. It is completely unnecessary for this character to be Harry Mudd, as opposed to any random prisoner, but I expect him to recur (ugh). Harry is ultimately left behind when Lorca and Tyler team up, blast a bunch of Klingons, and steal a Klingon TIE fighter to escape to the Discovery.
The Discovery makes this not-actually-scheduled rendezvous thanks to the spore drive, but plot point three deals with the fall out. Michael is disturbed they are exploiting the tardigrade — she’s even having nightmares about it — and notices Ripper is becoming lethargic with the continued use of the S drive. She asks Dr. Culber to look into it and he determines the creature is being negatively affected, and it is rapidly becoming a crisis. So Stamets, Michael, and Tilly start work on an alternative to tarditravel. The science continues to be completely absurd, but I love this team up. When Lorca’s location is found, Saru commands them to set aside the project and use the tardigrade to jump. Michael is confined to her quarters. Ripper is hurt by the jump, leaks fluid all over the chamber, and curls into a kind of chrysalis — it was EXTREMELY upsetting to watch! For me, Stamets, Tilly, and Culber at least. Saru is mainly concerned with getting the jump drive operational again, whatever the cost.
But thanks to the jump, Discovery is there to witness Lorca’s escape and beam him and Tyler to safety. He orders them to jump away immediately, Saru echoes it, and Stamets acquiesces. They jump, but not by using Ripper. Saru rushes down to find Stamets hooked himself up to the spore drive. He is also leaking and curled up, and this time Saru is the most upset of all. But Stamets regains consciousness. Relieved, Saru tells Michael to save Ripper now, and she and Tilly set them free. Once in open space Ripper reanimates and jumps away.
Live Long and Prosper:
This week’s theme is: trauma. How much can we take? What are we willing to do to avoid it? How does it motivate us? The episode highlights a few different reactions to trauma:
- Michael walls up inside herself
- Tilly loves feeling things, even if they are bad feelings
- Harry makes whatever deals are necessary to stay safe
- Starfleet seems willing to do the same
- Tyler uses it as motivation
- Lorca holds onto his trauma as punishment
- Saru analyzes trauma like an equation
- Stamets and Culver turn to each other so they don’t have to handle it alone
The plot of this episode is super convenient (I don’t want Tyler to be a spy, please) and the pacing is off, but the ideas are solid.
Beam Me Up:
I love the diversity in the cast and crew. I haven’t picked up on their names, but I love Redhead Cyborg, Robot Lady, and Mohawk Storm, and I want to know more about Command Vulcan!
Seriously, what even are those Klingon TIE fighters?!
Michael and Saru: It is interesting how much air play this one relationship is getting. They’ve had versions of altercations and heart to hearts in the last three episodes. I like them and their relationship, and I’m pleased to see Captain Georgiou continuing to influence it, but I hope they move past this particular dynamic soon.
Lorca and Cornwell: Exes.
Lorca and Tyler: Future exes.
Stamets and Culber: Adorable! Brushing teeth together is the cutest!! I hope Culber gets more development despite not being a main character because I love him and his ethics.
Michael and Tilly and Stamets (and Culber): Yes, please do continue to team up and do science! I super support them being the little bubble of the Star Trek we know and love within the big scary galaxy at war machine.
A Good Day to Die
Lorca and Tyler killed a bunch of Klingons and we learned the fate of Lorca’s last command: they blew up.