TV: Star Trek Discovery S01 E06 E07 and E08 - Reviewed

Star Trek: Discovery continues to get stronger with each new episode. 

It is hard to believe that a show that is getting this good started off so poorly. The latest three episodes offer more insight into Sonequa Martin-Green’s Michael Burnham, with episode six, Lethe, focusing heavily on the mystery surrounding her relationship with Sarek (James Frain). The show is succeeding in changing my initial opinions about Burnham, continuing to allow her character to evolve, at times learning from her mistakes and at others repeating them. It’s exciting to see her go from nearly having the captain’s chair to being imprisoned, and now finding her place among the crew of the Discovery. 

Even more exciting is finding out just who exactly Captain Lorca (Jason Isaacs) is and how unstable he might actually be. Lorca is different than other captains in Star Trek. He has an edge; a darkness to him that is only masked by his confidence in any battle. We’re eight episodes in and I’m not exactly sure whether or not Lorca is actually one of the good guys, but maybe that’s the point. What Star Trek: Discovery does so well is populate its world with characters who are not simply one or the other. It’s certainly not the first show to do this, but it’s refreshing to see a captain who is so completely different than his predecessors. 

Of the three episodes, the best by far is episode seven, Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad, which once again showcases a deliciously twisted performance by Rainn Wilson as Harry Mudd. I think this was the role Wilson was meant to play. He’ll always be Dwight Schrute, of course, but Mudd is a villain clearly suited for Wilson’s style. What makes the episode especially fun, aside from Mudd’s antics, is the fact that it is its own version of Groundhog Day. Mudd wants revenge on Lorca after the events of episode five, Choose Your Pain, and has found a way to reset time every thirty minutes, at which point the Discovery blows up and the night begins again. The only one who realizes what’s happening is Stamets (Anthony Rapp), another character who has become increasingly fascinating. 

Once again, Star Trek: Discovery is not the first show to do a version of Groundhog Day, but it doesn’t have to be. It simply needs to have fun with the premise, which it does in spades. It also manages to reveal a lot about Burnham’s love life, or lack thereof, offering some truly sweet moments between her and Tyler (Shazad Latif). There is also a fun bit of editing in a sequence that shows the events from Mudd’s perspective, as each day begins and ends seamlessly all while he makes his way through different areas of the Discovery. In other words, Star Trek: Discovery is succeeding on many levels, not the least of which is its ability to have fun while telling particularly dark stories within the canon of the franchise. 

Episode eight, Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum, meanwhile, finally gets us off the ship and on an alien world, where Burnham, Tyler and Saru (Doug Jones) get to actually seek out new life and a new civilization. There is a lot set up, as Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum leads right into next week’s winter finale, so I’ll reserve my full judgement until then. It is worth noting, however, that this episode allows Jones to explore Saru’s nature more than he has previously, while at the same time further complicating the already strained relationship he has with Burnham. 

I’m finally invested in the show and its characters, which is not something I thought I would write when I watched the pilot. Star Trek: Discovery is as bold as it is mystifying. I guess I’d better prepare myself to keep being surprised. 

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-Matt Giles