Another episode full of unexpected twists and revelations. After being introduced last week to the Tardigrade ("Ripper") as a rampaging monster that will slice you up, I found myself quite delighted to discover that it's actually a cuddly creature who seems to be depressed. Michael figuring this out has warmed to to her a lot more, and I really like her being in science mode rather than "I'm-going-to-act-rashly-because-I'm-clever" mode. It's also our first hint that she does has some empathy once she sees how the Tardigrade is hurting. Her approach to learning about it was delightful and so in-keeping with what so many of us love about Trek.
I think it's time to address the characters on this show. There's a lot of talk in various forums about how they are not true to the spirit of what Star Trek has shown us before. That's just not true. People seem to be forgetting that it wasn't really until The Next Generation that Roddenberry imposed his rules about humans having overcome petty feelings like jealousy and animosity, with no conflict allowed between Starfleet crew members. And then people also seem to forget that the rule was disregarded more times than I can count, with all of the writers (correctly) pushing against it as much as they could. It was a noble concept but a terrible one for telling stories.
Lt. Stamets does seem to be overly critical and confrontational, but I find myself enjoying seeing a human being acting like a human being rather than some sanitised idea of what one should be. And this is certainly not a new concept within Trek if you remember any number of human scientists who appeared on the various shows before. Off the top of my head, in TNG Dr. Leah Brahms was a stone cold bitch to Geordi when she discovered how he was modifying her engine designs. If we go closer to the era of Discovery, then we have Dr. Richard Daystrom from TOS who was was crippled by feelings of resentment and endangered people's lives.
A bit more troublesome is (was) security chief Landry. She seemed to be downright hostile and condescending. Again, we have seen examples of other security officers acting this way across TNG, DS9, etc. but I was finding her a bit much to handle (and I had a similar issue with Rekha Sharma's performance on Battlestar Galactica), and I can't say I'm sorry to see her go. She was the most un-Trek like character on the show, almost malevolent.
The return of the Klingons to the main story had me a bit worried, as they were by far the worst thing about the opening episodes. I'm glad to say I was more impressed with them here, despite many of the fundamental issues still hovering in the background. I was immediately intrigued by the relationship between Voq and L'Rell which came through even though the makeup barely allows the actors to emote. I wish we had gotten a better look at the Birds of Prey, though, they were little more than blurry shapes.
If this episode revealed anything, it seems that Captain Lorca and Michael are going to end up severely at odds. Michael could see that the Tardigrade was in distress and is clearly not comfortable with the moral dilemma - but there's no way that Lorca is going to take that as any kind of consideration. Someone like Captain Picard would certainly not allow one creature's suffering at the expense of other's safety to continue, but Lorca is very different. Stamet's summary of him last episode as a "warmonger" is beginning to fit. I think that where the true Star Trek spirit is going to appear is with her desire to end the war through more peaceful means while pushing against Lorca's more bloodthirsty ways.
Also, finally we see why there's a gap in the ship's saucer and I LOVE it!
So let me get this right ... a major plot device is that the whole starship is making literal trips on magic mushrooms ...
[7.2/10] For better or for worse, this is the episode of Star Trek Discovery that’s felt the most like a regular episode of its predecessor series so far. If the first two episodes were an origin story, and the third episode was a pilot, then this episode was the closest thing we’ve gotten to “business as usual” so far.
That’s not a bad thing! 90% of the Star Trek franchise is business as usual, outside of a few two-parters and DS9’s experiments in serialization. What made each show and the franchise great is what they did within that structure. But “The Butcher’s Knife” feels like the modern day twist on that sort of rubric, with a problem of the week for the ship, a personal challenge to overcome for Burnham, and even a short arc for the (sympathetic) villain of the series.
That ship-wde problem of the week is a Federation colony under attack by the Klingons. No Starfleet ships are close enough to defend them, and the colony produces 40% of the Federation’s dilithium (think magical engine juice) so it’s of great importance that they be saved and the Discovery, with its magic spore drive, is the only ship that has a chance to do it.
It creates a nice opportunity for Captain Lorca to seem like a “by any means necessary” wartime chief as he demands more, sometimes in harsh terms, like his crew, and for Lt. Stamets to do his sarcastic, perpetually annoyed, “I can’t deliver what you want” routine in return. It’s overwritten at times (like a lot in this episode) but the conflict between Lorca as a warmonger and Stamets as a scientist, and the way they stand for the larger conflict within the peaceful Federation that finds themselves at war is well-positioned.
That theme extends to Burnham’s personal challenge, which is to figure out how weaponize the macro-tardigrade that Lorca extracted from the Discovery’s sister ship last week. Again, the theme is not subtle. Burnham is sent to figure out how to turn a living thing into a weapon, and instead she not only starts to understand it, but figures out that they can have a symbiotic relationship rather than an antagonistic one with the creature.
(As an aside, I’d admit I was pretty surprised when the tough-as-nails security chief died at the hands of the tardigrade. Sure, opening the creature’s container was Prometheus levels of stupid, but I’d just figured out she was Tory from Battlestar Galactica so I assumed they had more for her than that.)
So the episode gives the other characters some one-on-one time with Burnham. Saru is still a skeptic, but she uses his danger ganglia to prove that the tardigrade isn’t hostile, and Tilly shows her own kind of awkward bravery by helping Burnham feed the creature with spores, which gives Burnham the connection she needs.
Naturally, the two stories on the Discovery converge, and the tardigrade is the missing piece that allows Stamets to make use of the equipment he got from the U.S.S. Glenn and allows Discovery to get to the colony in time. It’s admittedly a little easy, but it also feels like a hallmark of Star Trek writing, where two pieces come together and suddenly the crew can solve the whole puzzle, so there’s something warm and familiar about it.
What isn’t familiar is the show, but impressive cinematography. Bits like the microscopic zoom out from the replicator making Burnham’s uniform, or the upside down perspective as Voq walks the husk of the Shenzhou, or the zoom in from space to the Discovery bridge show a visual flair that doesn’t do a whole lot in terms of symbolism (though the flipped perspective adds something to the peculiarity of Voq walking the halls of the ship he helped destroy) but it’s pretty to look at.
Speaking of Voq, he has the Klingon equivalent of a meetcute, where T’Kuvma’s second in command and he find their mutual respect metamorphosizing into something more. Of course, it’s coupled with Voq’s ship (formerly T’Kuvma’s shop) running out of food and power, and a pledge of fealty from a rival house turning into one of those Klingon coups you’ve heard so much about.
Once more, there’s some pretty heavy-handed theme work, with L’Rell giving a grand (at least in the subtitles) speech about bridging both sides of something. That’s the overall theme of this episode. L’Rell is of two houses; Voq has to resolve T’Kuvma’s purity with their need to survive, and the Discovery and its crew need to balance the need to win the war with their principles to advance the cause of peace and scientific advancement. It’s underlined strongly, but it’s nice enough and there’s something oddly compelling about the slightly hokey Klingon romance.
Last but not least, we get Burnham opening the video will of Capt. Georgiou, who left her the telescope they looked through in the pilot. It’s a nice touch, even if, say it with me, the writing is a bit too blunt, that works well as a symbol of how Geourgiou’s memory is both a source of solace and a source of guilt for Burnham.
Overall, this was a meat and potatoes episode of Star Trek, but a reliably good, albeit not great one.
I have only two words for this episode: warp midichlorians.
Having never truly watched anything Star Trek related before, I must say, each episode is better and I am really, really enjoying this.
I absolutely love this show! Amazing episode with exciting, emotional story and stunning visuals! Loved to see Michelle Yeoh again in this episode. Can't wait for next week. Finally we have a great sci-fi space opera back on the air!
It‘s a great sci-fi show. Probably the best spaceship/battle show right now. I‘m just not sure it‘s Star Trek. After four episodes it‘s beginning to settle in and the ironic thing is there is really not much „discovering“ going on in Discovery. That does not mean I don’t like the show. As I said it‘s pretty much the only space battle show out right now and the production value is top notch. Nothing here looks cheap. (Although it is pretty obvious that they have better tech there than in TNG which should be impossible, but that’s a whole nother issue). On a side note I gotta admit that the „new“ Klingons are beginning to get on my nerves.
Upon watching this I find it more and more likely that a theory I have read about is possible.I'm not quite over the Klingon revamp but placing the show in the Mirror Universe would nullify the problems and explain how "un-star trek" the Starfleet people are acting. Even the amount of lighting in the ships, tech and the general feel of it all (including the ominous shadowy figures of Starfleet Command) make sense in the Mirror Universe..Even if the theory isn't correct: big fan of this show.
Some thoughts on this episode:
I really don´t like that spore drive because it takes a lot of urgency out of the storytelling. If you can literally be anywhere in the blink of an eye.....and I won´t even go into continuity issues. Maybe that will be adressed at a later point.
The "new" Klingons get more depth which instantly pays of.
I don´t have that much of a problem with the more military direction but I have a problem with stupid behavior. Therefore the death of Landry was deserved and I for one am fine with that. Very onedimesional character.
Lot´s of kinda cyborg like aliens/people. In general there seem to be species never seen before. Would be nice to see some more known to make a connection to the other shows.
Still like what I´m seeing in general.
The production levels are through the rough in this show! Every episode looks like a movie. Visually, it's been one hell of a ride.They do seem to be consolidating the idea of a grittier, bitter Star Trek with Discovery. And, quite frankly, I've given up sort of scoffing at it ("this is Star Wars in Star Trek uniforms!") and I'm all on board, now. I like this show, it's growing on me, despite its apparent disregard for the essence of Star Trek. At least I consider it to be better than the movies (I wonder what other Star Trek fans think of this...?).
A giant menacing tardigrade acting like a puppy was something disturbing to see. A giant menacing tardigrade acting like the ship's navigator was just plain weird. But I'm definitely enjoying the science side of the show (it's a science-fiction show with some actual science thrown in, even if it's, well, fictional).Hey, I liked how they considered Elon Musk a visionary, by then ;)People seem to not be enjoying the Klingons, but I'm genuinely interested in their part of the story. It has betrayal, love, pride, shame... All the ingredients of a good telenovela! :DNow I'm just waiting for the Borg to appear so I can forget about any other villain on this show. It's very unlikely, given that TNG was the first to encounter them (I think), but since they seem to be getting rather flexible regarding the Star Trek lore, I'm getting my hopes up.
Never before i hated shaky camera
Wow, what a stinker. Mediocre story, badly told. I actually can't think of anything good about this episode.
Does your need justify your suffering ?, Very fan of the captain
Whoah! Ensign Bug-face surprised me a little. It may be a little more Star Wars like, but I like funky aliens.
so...will there be Klingons til the end of this season?
Better than the last episode, also quite good sci-fi show, but still not Star Trek. And these were no Bird-of-Preys.