I’m sorry to say, but for me, ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ just isn’t settling into any sort of a groove. Perhaps it’s because of my well-documented disdain for the creative team and their seemingly-rampant disregard for established Trek canon and timeline integrity, but I’m just really having trouble enjoying any of these new episodes – even this week’s, “Lethe,” that actually does have a few intriguing moments mired in the sea of a poorly-constructed and executed episode.
WARNING: Spoilers for this episode of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ lie ahead, obviously. If you haven’t seen the episode and don’t wish for any of its content to be spoiled for you, the time to turn back is NOW!
RECAP: Sarek and another nameless Vulcan – let’s call him “Red Shirt,” just for the heck of it – take a ship from Vulcan and head towards a secret peace-negotiation meeting. But surprise surprise, Red Shirt is a member of a “radical faction” of Vulcans who value logic above all else… so, logically, Red Shirt blows himself up in an attempt to kill Sarek. He fails because instead of just shooting Sarek or destroying their ship, he uses the convoluted plan of injecting himself with science-y crap to make his own body blow up, while conveniently giving himself enough time to explain everything to Sarek. Neat!
On Discovery, Burnham and Tilly are running laps in the main halls wearing utterly inane “DISCO” shirts, while Lorca and Tyler are shooting Klingons in a holodeck that hasn’t been invented yet. Seems like if holodecks are now a thing in the Prime Universe timeline somehow, crew members could maybe do their jogging in those, or at least on a treadmill, instead of lazily bopping around the already-crowded corridors of a starship during wartime. Anyhow, Lorca’s known Ash for a few days now, so why not offer the main the Chief of Security position aboard the ship?
Burnham gets the mind-meld heebie-jeebies and senses that Sarek is dying, so a wholly nonsensical and utterly unrealistic plan is hatched for her to head into a soupy nebula with only an unproven cadet and the recently-freed POW to help her – a plan approved by battle-hardened and weathered-but-wisened Lorca, no less. After a quick visit to a clearly-not-himself-but-no-one-cares-enough-to-ask-further-questions Stamets in Engineering, more nonsensical pseudo-science is added to the mix, mostly so we audience members don’t forget about those kooky spores!
Hey, Admiral Cornwell shows up in “her warship” (can’t even be bothered to name another Federation vessel, creative team?) just in time to have a drink and get freaky with Lorca. Between the on-duty drinking, sex, and Disco Fever t-shirts, Starfleet has really let itself go, eh?
Whatever, the issues get resolved, Spock and the Enterprise get name-dropped in case you forgot that this was actually ‘Star Trek,’ and the show ends again with a crew member looking at a reflection that probably isn’t truly theirs – in case you forgot about that whole Mirror Universe thing, y’know.
- I have to say it again: those “DISCO” shirts are ludicrous. Would we ever believe for a second that Kirk’s crew would spend their downtime wearing “ENTY” tees?
- “You fight like a Klingon, ” Lorca says calmly to his new-most-trusted crew member, Ash Tyler. Does anyone not see how the Voq-undercover-as-Tyler subplot is a thing anymore? I mean, I may be wrong, of course, but it seems like the creative team is working overtime to be Captain Obvious about it.
- How did Discovery get to the nebula where Sarek was? The ship literally dropped down on-screen, indicating that she didn’t warp in, she spore-drived in… who got hooked up to the ship to be the guinea pig this time? This info is conveniently left out of the story.
- Burnham says of Sarek: “I was supposed to be his greatest proof that humans and Vulcans could co-exist” – um, Sarek has a human wife and a half-human son, WTF? Could we work any harder to shoehorn Burnham into canon?
- The Vulcan katra thing is all over the place. The first time Burnham dives into Sarek’s mind, he kung-fu punches her out… and the second time she dives in, she hears a conversation that Amanda had with her that Sarek never heard, so how is it in his mind? Sarek’s weirdly emotional when he’s not supposed to be and coldly logical when he knows he needs to show compassion… has his human family taught him nothing? Apparently not – at least, not this version of Sarek that we’re being given.
- I think my favorite thing about all of this “Sarek family” rejiggering going on here in ‘Discovery’ – let’s not forget that Sarek has yet another son, Sybok! His son from a previous marriage/relationship/hookup with a Vulcan princess, Sarek certainly has quite the convoluted family tree.
- Hey, look at the “peace negotiation” – more Klingon subterfuge in killing the neutral hosts (and it sure seemed ridiculously easy to kill them, yeah?). Again, for fierce warriors who find honor in direct combat, these ‘Discovery’ Klingons are real dicks.
CLOSING THOUGHTS: If there’s any question on where my mind is after watching this episode, I recommend going back and re-reading the review. Not much else left to say here!
PRINCIPAL CAST FEATURED IN THIS EPISODE:
Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham
Doug Jones as Lieutenant Saru
Jason Isaacs as Captain Lorca
Anthony Rapp as Lieutenant Stamets
Mary Wiseman as Cadet Tilly
‘Star Trek: Discovery’ features new episodes Sunday nights at 8:30 pm online via CBS All Access.