I love time-loops for the same reasons I love AUs and legacy cycles — repetition is revelatory! This episode’s time-loop was orchestrated by Harry Mudd, using a multidimensional crystal and a space whale, to steal the Discovery and sell her secrets to the Klingons. His shenanigans interrupt the ship’s mixer where at there is dancing, beer pong, flower chains, and the crew, well, mixing.
Burnham has to brace herself to even go in. Tilly is high on life, and possibly something stronger, and nudging her bestie to Go For It with Tyler. Tyler is the most popular guy in school despite arriving yesterday and is giving a toast that makes literally everyone swoon. Despite Tilly’s best efforts, Michael and Tyler share only awkwardness before being called to the bridge. And then also on the way. It’s cute, really, Michael is honestly trying and just at a loss because she never learned how to ‘mix’ and Tyler is just the nicest most wonderful person and I really need him to not be hiding anything. Because he’s perfect.
On the way to the bridge they run into Stamets and Culber (literally) and discover that Stamets is still super loopy (spoiler: he is also super time loopy!). Culber is so adorable trying to contain the situation. And we learn he’s made an interface for Stamets to use with the Spore Drive.
They were called to bridge about an unidentified ship that turns out to be a space whale. I love space whales! Lorca does not and wants to move on but Michael quotes the endangered species act and he tells her to go do her science thing. They bring the whale on board and she coughs up an intruder. Mudd, in a Mau Maus suit, takes out four extras and heads to the bridge to deliver his supervillain plot exposition speech to Lorca. Then they all blow up….and it starts again.
In the second loop we visit they don’t collide with Stamets but he catches them just before the turbolift takes off and shouts that it all starts with the space whale. They think he’s losing it until they immediately discover a space whale. This time the confrontation with Harry happens in the spore drive room — he’s figured out it’s importance but doesn’t know how to make it go. In the next loop Stamets convinced Michael to listen to him, but they don’t have time to do anything. She tells him a secret he can repeat to her so she’ll know to trust him. We learn in the following loop her secret is she’s never been in love, and they end up spending that loop working on her ability to connect to a person (specifically Ash Tyler) because she botches it this time. This is a beautiful oasis of pure character and relationship development and when Michael and Paul hold hands as the ship blows up I almost cried.
In the next loop we see marked improvement. Michael gets Ash on the dance floor, gets him talking about Harry Mudd, explains the time loop heist situation, and he joins their team. And! They share a kiss.
We get variation throughout all these loop-de-loops but the central beats remain the same:
- Harry Mudd takes over the ship
- Stamets knows what’s going on
- Michael and Ash dance around each other, sometimes literally
- Tilly is the cutest thing you’ve ever seen
- Lorca Does Not Care about the Fish Space Whale
There is also a montage of Mudd murdering Lorca which I’m sure is cathartic for the haters out there.
Finally, Team Time show up to confront Mudd and he kills off Tyler with dark matter by throwing a purple crystal he found in Lorca’s personal stash (we’ll just file that away for now) at him. Michael wants to murder Mudd because she just finally had a real date with Ash and now he’s…ash. But Saru stops her, twice even, and it’s another really lovely character moment that makes my heart sing.
Stamets hands himself to Mudd when he threatens Saru saying he can’t watch Mudd kill anyone else. Unlike the rest of them, he remembers all the deaths so I get why he does it — but it’s not so smart since everyone comes back to life if Mudd doesn’t get what he needs. And Stamets just gave him what he needs. Maybe Paul believes the Ash is Voq theory and was happy to see him explode.
Anyway, Michael tells Mudd he may have Discovery but there’s something else the Klingons would give him even more money for: the woman who killed their messiah, aka, her. Mudd starts to salivate at the possibilities and, knowing she has him hooked into wanting to cash in the Michael Bonus, she swallows one of the dark matter crystals. Michael Burnham is a queen.
In the final reset, Team Time recruit the captain, the entire bridge crew, and the computer onto their side and successfully stop Mudd. How this is accomplished in not revealed — we literally get a 3 second clip of them whispering at the party and then Mudd bursts onto the bridge and Lorca gives up control. But I am more than happy to handwave logic because the whole last loop is delightful. Lorca surrenders the ship, himself, Michael, and Stamets to Mudd in exchange for the safety of the crew and sells it by telling Mudd he couldn’t take another loss like the Buran.
This is Lorca using the truth to sell his lie which is Lorca at his best. Then Team Time practically skip as they accompany Mudd to the transporter room and reveal their nefarious plot: it’s not the klingons who’ve arrived to take custody of the Discovery, but Stella and her father the Baron who’ve arrived to take custody of him. And Stella is straight out sixties Star Trek and she deserves so much better than Harry Mudd omg. Though to be fair, Harry was a good foil here, and she’s her little “Daddy will take care of the rest” in regards to any criminal activity tells us a lot.
ETA: It is a little odd that the punishment for Harry’s attempted murder and larceny is to be sent to live with with his wife, but I guess we’re supposed to find it all light-hearted fun cuz it didn’t happen that way this time?
Live Long and Prosper:
Well, it’s love, actually.
It’s Michael’s story — her personal entry bookends the episode and she’s the one who Learns Something. Everything else is just clever and often quite funny window dressing. In order to Save The Ship, Michael has to learn how to talk Ash on a personal level. It takes 50+ tries but that’s what time-loops are for, right? And she spends one of them getting a crash course in romantic overtures from Stamets: he dances with her (for science!), details how he and his dear doctor got together, and emphasizes that honesty and trust are the cornerstones of a relationship. Michael is good at the first and pretty terrible at the second (I relate. A lot.)
Never hide who you are. That’s the only way relationships work. – Stamets to Burnham
This is an especially brilliant line because so far, the entire series has been about peeling back all the layers that these characters (and Starfleet/The Klingons as a whole) hide behind.
Beam Me Up:
This episode gives us:
- A literal disco on the Disco
- Lonely Space Whale
- Stamets is a part human, part mushroom, part tardigrade, cyborg
- “Lorca’s Mancave”
- Dark matter crystals
Stella’s Dad is also amazing:
Michael and Tyler: Get Discovery‘s first actual kiss! It’s earned, it’s hot, and I am utterly enamored of their height difference. I never quite understood the appeal of “tol and smol” but now I do 100%. And I have to take this moment to point out the following:
- First Romance Reveal: multiracial gay couple
- First Sex Scene: a 50something man and a 50something woman
- First Kiss: a brown man and a black woman (while two women dance together in the background)
Gold Star, Discovery, keep it going.
Stamets and Culber: we learn how they met and the story ends with “He sat right next to me, and he’s been there ever since” which is disgustingly adorable. Now get these two a kissing/sex scene.
Background Lesbians: Hey girls, I see you and I love you.
A Good Day to Die
Everybody died but nobody died. If only it could be like this every week, the preview for the next episode has my stomach in knots.