Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Star Trek: Discovery -- Season 1 Episode 5 (Choose Your Pain)

I’ve asked a few questions while watching Star Trek: Discovery.  Notably, I’ve wondered if ethical concerns would prohibit the ship’s spore drive from becoming useful in the long run.  “Choose Your Pain” is the first episode to really face that head on.  The ship’s spore drive requires a living navigator, but that comes at a steep price, especially for said navigator.  The creature that the Discovery is using, Ripper, is in pain and actually gives out during this episode.

Only one crew member, Michael Burnham, advocates for Ripper.  The problem is that when Ripper’s services aren’t needed, it’s not really an issue.  When Ripper is needed, it’s to save lives.  During this episode, the ship has to go into hostile territory and get out as soon as they have their captain.  This can’t be done without Ripper, which means it sucks when he curls up into a ball and can’t navigate the ship.

While in captivity, Captain Lorca has two cellmates.  One is Harcourt Fenton “Harry” Mudd.  Fans of the original series might remember him as the guy who was peddling would-be brides to miners.  He’s not a nice guy.  I don’t know that he deserves to be in a Klingon holding cell, but he’s not the kind of guy I’d want as a friend, either.

The other cellmate is Ash Tyler.  He’s a Starfleet officer who had the misfortune to be captured by the Klingons at the Battle of the Binary Stars.  How he’s survived seven months in Klingon captivity escapes Captain Lorca, but he’s still a Starfleet officer.  The two escape and leave Mudd behind.

I do think that the series is picking up.  We get some plot development and some character development, notably with First Officer Saru, who is left in command.  It would appear that this is the first time that he’s gone an extended period without the captain present, being that he has to look up how to be a captain.  I would have thought that an executive officer would have learned something about that by now.  Still, it’s nice to know that his head is in the right place.  It also gives the show a chance to drop a few familiar names.

Speaking of familiar names, I realize that the part of Mudd has to be recast.  I’m not saying that Rainn Wilson is a bad actor, but I was expecting something closer to Roger C. Carmel.  Instead, I had this lingering image of John Lithgow by the end of the episode.  (Maybe it’s my imagination.)

I’m beginning to get the sense that the writers are playing the long game here.  I suspect that more of my issues will be resolved as time goes by.  I had hoped to watch at least half the season, which would be to the end of this disc.  I may have to go put a hold on the third disc before I’m done with this one.

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