Spoiler Alert! (Stop, if you haven't seen episode #5 of Star Trek: Discovery, “Choose Your Pain.”)
Last Time on Discovery…
Audiences made the acquaintance of Harry Mudd (Rainn Wilson), as did Captain Lorca (Jason Isaacs). Mudd turned out to be a sly, vile human, but he made a few valid points about Lorca and the Federation’s overreach at the expense of the little people down on the planets below. As always, Mudd expressed his love for beloved, sweet Stella.
Lorca immediately distrusted Mudd, and rightly so. How is he still alive and barely bruised? As the captain put it, “What’s a civilian like you doing in a Klingon prison?” But we’re not sure who Lorca despised more, Mudd or his little pal, Stuart, who helped Mudd feed info about fellow prisoners to his Klingon captors. As for Mudd, his comment, “I’m a survivor… just like you,” signaled that he knows more about Lorca than we, the audience, know so far.
We also met Lt. Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif), who’d be wearing a red shirt if Discovery characters wore red shirts. Turns out, he was at the Battle of the Binaries and served on the U.S.S. Yeager under Steven Maranville. Tyler has been imprisoned on the Klingon vessel for seven months, with a particular Klingon (that’d be Mary Chieffo’s L’Rell) apparently taking a liking to him, in all the wrong ways. Lorca appreciated Tyler’s sacrifice and sympathized with his shame. Later, he and Lorca escaped together, proving himself to be adept with a weapon, tough as hell and a superior pilot.
In a huge development, it was revealed that Lorca, while commanding the U.S.S. Buran, killed his previous crew rather than let them die or be tortured by the Klingons. Is that heroic or psychotic? As the events of “Choose Your Pain” unfolded, L’Rell tortured Lorca, using his extreme photosensitivity against him. And, in another key scene, Admiral Cornwell (Jayne Brook) -- just before the Klingons captured her – pondered whether Lorca, her old friend and lover, was back in command too soon and of too important a ship for his own good… or the good of anyone else.
Beyond the Lorca-Mudd-Tyler drama, the rest of the U.S.S. Discovery crew raced the clock to save their captain. Saru (Doug Jones) assumed command, while Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) teamed with Dr. Culber (Wilson Cruz), and the f-bomb-dropping Tilly (Mary Wiseman) and Stamets (Anthony Rapp) to figure out how to make the spore drive work without further harming the Tardigrade.
Saru and Burnham were still at odds, with Burham going around him yet again in order to do what she felt necessary. This time, she ignored his order to stand down in the effort to find a substitute for the Tardigrade until Lorca has been recovered. At one point, in front of the crew, he dressed her down harshly, adding, “You wreak havoc and destruction, and your motivations are, as always, entirely selfish. Saving this Tardigrade will neither bring back nor change the fact that this is exactly the kind of behavior that killed Captain Georgiou.”
Ah, poor Mudd. In a move that surely stirred debate amongst Star Trek fans, Lorca left Mudd behind in the cell when he and Tyler broke out. Is that really the Starfleet way? But we all know Mudd will be back, and he surely won’t be pleased with Lorca.
Stamets ultimately took matters into his own hands and made himself the guinea pig as the Tardigrade’s replacement. He succeeded, but at what cost? Near the episode’s end, Stamets and Dr. Culber stood side by side in the bathroom of their quarters, brushing their teeth and sharing their experiences of the day. Stamets detailed being immersed in an “entire universe of possibilities” he never dreamed existed, while Dr. Culber insisted that he never do anything so stupid again. As they exited the bathroom, Stamets turned back to see his reflection, which didn’t move. Ooooooh!
Next on Discovery…
In the new episode called "Lethe,” the U.S.S. Discovery crew is intrigued by their new addition, Lt. Ash Tyler.
Meanwhile, Sarek (James Frain) seeks Burnham’s help, rekindling memories from her past.
And Admiral Cornwell visits the U.S.S. Discovery to question Lorca’s tactics.
According to Dictionary.com, Lethe, in Classical Mythology, is a river in Hades whose water caused forgetfulness of the past in those who drank of it. The secondary definition, usually lowercase, is forgetfulness; oblivion.
Douglas Aarniokoski makes his Discovery directing debut with “Lethe.” Aarniokoski, in his career, worked his way up the ranks from second assistant director to first assistant director to director and also producer. His credits as a director include the films Highlander: Endgame and Nurse 3D, and multiple episodes each of such series as Criminal Minds, Sleepy Hollow, Arrow, Limitless and Bull.
When Star Trek: Discovery ends, After Trek begins. Joining host Matt Mira will be:
Star Trek: Discovery airs Sunday nights on CBS All Access in the U.S. and Space Channel in Canada. The series airs on Mondays on Netflix in the rest of the world.