(Brief bit of housekeeping before the post proper: After much deliberation, I have decided to set my Patreon page back up.)
So, I took a bit of a hiatus from Star Trek stuff, but now I’m back and I swear I will finish recapping this season before the next one comes out.
Anyway, we open on a rather surreal note: a distorted first person view moving across the Discovery’s bridge towards engineering and the spore drive, where Burnham is standing in the spore chamber. The camera then pans to show another Burnham standing at the panel. The Burnham at the panel activates the spore drive, which jabs into the Burnham in the chamber, and both start screaming.
Of course, this turns out to be a dream, as it cuts to Burnham waking with a start.
We then shift to Burnham in Lorca’s trophy room, speaking with Dr. Culber as the two stand in front of Ripper’s cage. Burnham tells the doctor that while the tardigrade is extremely resilient, she’s worried that the Discovery’s frequent jumps are taking their toll on the creature. Culber points out that Ripper is so alien that they don’t really know if Ripper experiences pain or stress in the same way that people do, to which Burnham responds, “You think I’m anthropomorphising.” He clarifies that he thinks Burnham figured out how to use Ripper, and that it “maybe isn’t a victory anymore, given the creature’s deteriorating condition.” Culber says that he’ll run some tests, and Burhnham thanks him.
We then shift to a space station, where Captain Lorca is giving a presentation to a group of admirals. He tells them that the Discovery has managed to stop a rather large number of Klingon attacks in the past three weeks, largely due to the ship’s spore drive. Admiral Cornwell adds that they need to find a way to replicate the bespoke spore drive, and get it into as many ships as they possibly can.
Lorca advises the admirals that he had Stamets release the spore drive schematics, but Cornwell points out a rather vital component that the other ships wouldn’t have: the tardigrade. She adds that until they can find more of the creatures, the Discovery needs to cut back on the number of missions they embark on.
Lorca does not agree with this, and starts to argue with Cornwell, who cuts him off with, citing concerns that the constant missions are “taxing our prime asset.” The captain, however, believes that they “should be out there, winning battles,” and Cornwell counters this by pointing out that they think the Klingons might have figured out what their “secret weapon” is. She adds that the other vessels will pick up the slack created by the Discovery’s absence, to which Lorca responds, “That’s a lot of slack.” Cornwell responds that they’ll manage.
We then go back to the Discovery, specifically the mess hall. Tilly, carrying a tray of food, makes her way to a table occupied by Burnham. She greets her “roomie” cheerfully before commenting that Burnham looks pretty awful. Burnham thanks her, with more than a little sarcasm.
Tilly either ignores or doesn’t pick up on said sarcasm before continuing, “That’s it. We’re gonna have lunch right now. I mean it. I mean that you’re going to tell me what’s going on with you.” Burnham doesn’t really want to talk about it, and Tilly assumes that it’s because Burnham doesn’t like her anymore. She assures Tilly that’s not the reason, and Tilly manages to coax out her worries about Ripper.
She tells Burnham that she’s stressed, but Burnham responds that she’s never really had anything less to do than she does now. Tilly then points out that her not being busy is giving Burnham the time to actually process what she’s feeling. Burnham tells her that she doesn’t like this, and Tillly responds that she “loves feeling feelings.”
Back on the space station, Lorca is alone in the meeting room, pointing what appears to be some kind of medical device at his eye. The light comes on, and he grimaces and yells to turn it back down.
Admiral Cornwell, somewhat flustered, does so and explains that she didn’t think that anyone was still in the room. Lorca continues what he was doing, and tells her that he’s “saddling up for the ride.”
Cornwells asks him, “Why don’t you get your damn eyes fixed?” Lorca then tells her that he doesn’t trust doctors, which Cornwell responds by asking if she should take that personally. Lorca tells her that it’s retaliation for “blind-siding” him in the earlier strategy meeting.
The admiral tells him to “cut the crap,” before pointing out one thing that she didn’t bring up at the meeting: Michael Burnham. Lorca cites the regulation that allows him to basically conscript anyone he wants to, and Cornwell counters that having a known mutineer appearing to escape punishment is hurting morale.
Lorca again brings up that he’s been given the leeway to wage the war any way he sees fit, and Cornwell asks, “But why give everyone another reason to judge you?” The captain laughs this off, and asks her if she’s uncomfortable with the amount of power he’s been granted. She tells him that she’s trying to give him friendly advice, to which he responds with, “It’s my ship. My way.”
We cut to the interior of a shuttle, which is currently transporting Lorca back to his ship. the computer then warns of an incoming warp signature, which is, of course, Klingon. The Klingon ship hits the shuttle with a tractor beam, which prompts Lorca and the pilot to arm themselves. This doesn’t end well as the Klingons kill the pilot and capture Lorca.
Back on the Discovery, Cornwell, via hologram, tells Saru what happened. He asks the admiral if they know where Lorca was taken, and she tells him that they don’t, though she’ll send him what information they do have. She adds that the Klingons were after Lorca specifically, since they’re looking to see what he knows about the spore drive. So, pretty important that they get him back ASAP.
Saru assures Cornwell that they’ll find him, and she wishes him luck before signing off.
Saru orders Detmer to set a course for the captain’s last known location, and Owesekun to start searching sector by sector. Then his ganglia pop out as Burnham enters the bridge. Saru asks her what she doing there and Burnham, unaware of the situation, says she’s come to talk to the captain. He tersely tells her that’s not possible, before turning away to give more orders.
One of those orders is regarding their need to make a whole lot of jumps one after the other. Burnham comments on this, and Saru sarcastically asks her if she has an issue with this. She tells him that she doesn’t think that plan would be feasible.
We then cut to Saru and Burnham in the ready room, with Burnham laying out her concerns about Ripper. Saru tells her that he understood the tardigrade to be more or less indestructible; Burnham tells him that she disagrees with this. He asks her for proog, but she doesn’t have any at the time.
Saru responds by saying that this information isn’t helpful, and asks if she’s suggesting that they abandon their mission. Burnham says that she isn’t but isn’t sure how much more Ripper can stand, observing that “the more you hurt someone, the less helpful they become.” Saru isn’t having any of this, though, and tells her that she isn’t to bring up her concerns again until Lorca is back on the Discovery. Burnham reluctantly acquiesces, and is dismissed.
After she leaves, he has the computer bring up a list of Starfleet’s most decorated captains, before having it list the most common characteristics of said captains.
The computer lists off bravery, self-sacrifice, intelligent, tactical brilliance, and compassion. Saru then tells the computer to start running a protocol to record all data related to his time as acting captain, and to compare it to the captains listed above.
The computer asks him to state the reason, and Saru cites an “element” aboard the ship that makes him second guess himself, clearly referring to Burnham. The computer then suggests that he simply “eliminate the destructive element.” Saru seems to consider this for a moment, before telling that computer that’s not an option.
We then go back to see what’s up with Lorca. He’s unconscious in a cell of some sort, with someone pawing at him. He wakes up and grabs the offender by the neck and demands to know who he is.
So, yes, this is Harry Mudd, who you may remember from TOS as the guy who sold women. And yes, he’s about as much of a dickhead as he was in that series too.
Mudd points out that Lorca’s hand is still around his neck, and Lorca pushes him away before asking where they are. Mudd tells him, sarcastically, “One a resort off Antorus Minor. You should try the spa. The hot stone massage is delightful.”
Lorca, shielding his eyes from the light, repeats the question, and Mudd decries how Starfleet has no sense of humor before explaining that they’re on board “a particularly nasty” Klingon prison vessel.
Lorca asks why there’s a civilian on board, and Mudd explains that he took out a loan with some pretty shady people to impress a girl. Unfortunately, he was not able to repay that loan, tried to run away, and ended up in Klingon space, where he was promptly captured. I love Lorca’s expression during this explanation:
A groan from somewhere nearby interrupts the story, and Lorca turns to see another Starfleet officer in not-so-great shape. Lorca moves over to him, and Mudd tells him he wouldn’t bother: “I believe the technical term for his condition is ‘out to lunch.'”
The door opens, and a pair of guards enter. Mudd comments, “Here comes the floor show” as he puts his hands up. One of the guards says, in heavily accented English, “Choose your pain.” Mudd then points a finger at the officer in the corner, and the guard who spoke grabs him roughly by the hair. Lorca moves to help him, but the armed guard points a rifle at him.
The guard beats on the other prisoner, throwing him against a wall at one point, before stomping on his face. The two then drag him out of the room.
After they leave, Mudd explains that the Klingons will sometimes tell them to “choose [their] pain,” meaning that one of them has to choose which one gets beaten and tortured that time around in order to keep them from bonding with each other. Lorca comments that Mudd is “conspicuously free of bruises,” to which Mudd responds that he’s “learned how to choose wisely.” Lorca clearly disapproves of this, and Mudd says, “Don’t judge. You’re gonna want to stick with me. I’m a survivor, just like you.” Lorca is not flattered by the comparison.
We then head back to the Discovery, where Culber and Burnham walk into engineering to talk to Stamets. Culber warns her that Stamets usually doesn’t listen to him, but Burnham tells him that she’ll be able to handle him. Culber then asks her to show him how.
Anyway, the two then approach Stamet’s station, where Burnham tries to butter him up a bit by telling him that the sport drive is a work of genius. Stamets sees through this cunning rouse, however, and bluntly asks her what she wants. Culber explains that Burnham is worried that they’re harming the tardigrade by plugging it into the spore drive, and that he agrees based on the tests he’s run. Burnham then adds that they need to find a workaround, with Culber adding that if they lose Ripper, they lose the spore drive (and their ability to rescue the captain).
Stamets sarcastically asks Culber if there are any “actual people” that he could be seeing to. Culber responds that he, in fact, does, before taking his leave. Stamets points out to Burnham that using Ripper to power the spore drive was, purely, her idea, and it was never his intention to use a life form in that way. Burnham tells him it wasn’t hers, either, but Stamets responds, “You say portobella, I say portobello. You are the cause of this situation Burnham.”
Burnham responds with this facial expression:
and Stamets asks her what she’s doing with her mouth. Burnham, clearly trying to keep a reign on her temper, responds, “I am swallowing the urge to set the record straight.” Stamets tells her that this isn’t getting them anywhere, and asks, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to fix this?”
We rejoin the prisoners, where Mudd appears to be asleep. Lorca moves over to the other Starfleet officer, and tells him that he didn’t realize he was there. The officer says that he was “pulled out of rotation,” adding that the Klingons will sometimes give them time to heal from previous torture sessions so that they “last longer.” He then realizes that Lorca’s a captain, and he moves away.
The other officer moves to sit next to him, and gives him a biscuit-like ration. Lorca declines, and tells him to keep it. The officer tells Lorca that he’s “gonna have to insist,” adding that they never know when their hosts will decide to feed them again. He also says that “I already lost one captain. I won’t lose another.”
Lorca asks his name, which is Lieutenant Ash Tyler, before asking who he served under: Captain Steven Maranville on the USS Yeager. Lorca recognizes both names, and asks him if he was at the Battle of The Binaries.
Tyler comments on the fact that they gave it a name, and that was, in fact, where he was captured. Lorca says that was almost seven mother ago, and Tyler laughs. When Lorca asks him what’s so funny, Tyler responds that “if that’s true, I’m tougher than I thought.”
Lorca accuses him of lying, since no one could survive Klingon torture for that long. Tyler tells him that the ship’s captain seems has “taken a liking” to him, which has some…disturbing implications. The captain, thinking that Tyler must have been able to gather some information during his time there, asks him how many Klingons are on board. He says maybe 30 or 40.
At this point, we see Mudd wake up (or he was only pretending to sleep) and take a rather pointed interest in the conversation. Unaware of their eavesdropper, Lorca says that he needs to find a comm relay to get in touch with his ship. Tyler points out the flaw in this plan: namely, no ship would be able to make it that far into Klingon space without being destroyed. Lorca responds, “My ship can. It’s like a ghost.
There’s a squeaking noise, and an insect-like creature scuttles over and steals their food, bringing it back to Mudd.
Tyler gets up and and threatens to harm Mudd if he sees “that pet” again, to which Mudd responds with “Sorry, Lieutenant. Stuart has boundary issues.” Stuart then gives him the biscuit, which Mudd takes a bite out of.
Lorca is not impressed, saying, “You’d take food out of the mouths of the only two men standing between you and death?” Mudd responds, “Damn right I would. Because this is all Starfleet has left me.” Basically, he blames Starfleet and the war for his current predicament.
Lorca tells him that Starfleet didn’t start the war, but Mudd has his own ideas about this:
Of course you did, the moment you decided to boldly go where no one had gone before. What did you think would happen when you bumped into someone who didn’t want you in their front yard?
Tyler accuses Mudd of siding with the Klingons. Mudd, in response continues his tirade:
I’m not siding with anyone. But I sure as hell understand why the Klingons pushed back. Starfleet arrogance. Have you ever bothered to look out of your spaceships down at the little people below? If you had, you’d realize that there’s a lot more of us down there than there are of you up here. And we’re sick and tired of getting caught in your crossfire.
Damn. I hate to say it, but Mudd kind of has a point here.
At any rate, Mudd is cut off when the door opens to admit the guards, one of which moves towards Tyler and Lorca. Tyler moves towards the guard, but is backhanded away as he grabs Lorca by the neck before marching out with the captain.
Back on the Discovery, Burnham, Stamets, and Tilly are working to remedy the Ripper problem. Stamets starts out by giving a rundown about the mycelial network and how it works. Burnham cuts in with information about the tardigrade, and its ability to navigate the aforementioned network, as well as its ability to incorporate foreign DNA. Tilly points out that they have Ripper’s DNA sequence in the computer, so they theoretically should be able to create a “virtual Ripper.”
Stamets points out that he was trying to use the computer to navigate before, and Burnham adds that they were only able to make short jumps using that method. However, Statmets adds that he knows what went wrong: they needed an “animate copilot” in order for the drive to function properly. So, they would need to integrate Ripper’s DNA into a compatible, sentient, and willing species.
Tilly, excited, interjects with, “You guys, this is so fucking cool.” Then she gets a hold of herself, and apologizes. Stamets, however, responds with, “No, Cadet. It is fucking cool.”
We then go back to the Klingon ship, where L’Rell (who turns out to be the captain) goes over to implements while asking a restrained Lorca if he’s ever been tortured. Lorca compliments her on her English, and L’Rell tells him she’s from a family of spies: “Languages are useful, particularly when it comes to understanding those who seek to destroy the Klingon empire.”
Lorca, because he’s a smart ass, retorts, “Little ol’ me?” L’Rell brushes this off, telling him that she knows what the Discovery has been up to: “Appearing out of nowhere and disappearing without a trace. Undetectable, like a ghost.” So, naturally, she’s very interested in learning how the Discovery’s managed this little feat.
Lorca pretends to not know what she’s talking about, but she clearly thinks he’s full of shit. She continues, pointing out Lorca’s photosensitivity. Lorca’s not done poking the bear, though: “Well, we all got something, honey. You’re seeking solace in the arms of a human male. We don’t even have the right number of organs for you. Why so hard up?”
I’m not sure “seeking solace” is really the right term for what L’Rell’s been doing, but I digress.
So, L’Rell does not take kindly to this, and backhands Lorca hard enough to split his lip. Lorca asks, “Now who’s being sensitive?” L’Rell calls Lorca a glory seeker, putting a device on his head which pulls his eyelids open. Then she turns on the light.
The scene then shifts back to the Discovery, where Saru walks onto the bridge. He asks a lieutenant names Rhys when he’ll be done with his analysis of the sensor data, and Rhys says that they’ve managed to narrow Lorca’s path down to three possibilities.
Saru gives an order to let Stamets know that they’re ready to go, but the ops officer, Owosekun, tells him that the spore drive is being shut down.
We then go to engineering, where Stamets, Burnham, and Tilly are still trying to work out the tardigrage problem. Stamets is frustrated that they haven’t been able to find a species that’s compatible with the tardigrade’s DNA, and Tilly asks if she should try to get into Starfleet’s classified database to keep looking.
They’re interrupted, however, but their very unhappy acting captain’s arrival. Saru asks Stamets why they’ve shut down the drive, pointing out that they where just about to locate the captain. Stamets tells him that they’re trying to find a substitute for Ripper, and Saru asks him why.
Stamets says that Burnham told him that the jumps were harming the tardigrade, which of course directs Saru’s ire towards her. Her reminds Burnham that he told her to drop it until Lorca’s back on board; Burnham responds that they may have found a workaround: injecting tardigrade DNA into another organism. Such as a human.
Saru does not agree with this option, pointing out that the Federation has outlawed genetic manipulation.
Burnahm admits that she knows this, and that’s why they need more time to figure this out. Saru, not buying this, again orders her to stand down, and asks if she understands. Burnham tries to plead their case again, telling Saru that she understands that he’s on the lookout for enemies, but she isn’t one. Saru does not take this well:
How dare you treat me like one of your xenoanthropology subjects. You’re not an enemy, you’re a proven predator. And I know that not only because my instincts tell me you are, but because your actions show me that you are. Saving the tardigrad will neither bring back nor change the fact that this is exactly the kind of behavior that killed Captain Georgiou.
That’s a low blow.
They are interrupted by the bridge calling to inform Saru that they think they found the ship that took Lorca. He acknowledges, then orders Stamets to get the spore drive backup before telling Burnham she’s to be confined to her quarters before leaving.
We then cut back to the Klingon ship, where Lorca is deposited into his cell by the guards. Mudd stands up from his bunk, but Lorca angrily him back down. Anticipating a beatdown, Mudd starts pleading with him not to hurt him. However, it turns out that the captain is after Stuart. He grabs the bug, and says that Mudd stealing the food was a diversion, and that he was using Stuart to transmit information to the Klingons.
He takes the transmitter off Stuart, before crushing it under his heel and continues, saying that he “dropped a little conversational nugget” to see if Mudd could be trusted, which was repeated almost word-for-word by L’Rell. Lorca then throws Stuart against a wall, to Mudd’s distress.
Mudd goes to scoop up the insect, angrily telling the captain that he’d almost killed Stuart. Tyler, also not super happy about what he’s just heard, pushes Mudd against the wall and says, “You’re finished. And when it’s time to choose our pain, we’re choosing you. Until there’s nothing left.”
He releases Mudd, who goes back in on the captain, asking if he’s going to let Tyler humiliate himself by siding with him, before indicating that he knows something related to the captain and his previous command.
Tyler asks Lorca what Mudd’s talking about, and Mudd continues: basically, Lorca had been the captain of the USS Buran, a ship that the Klingons boarded and destroyed, with Lorca being the only survivor: “Apparently, the honorable captain was too good to go down with his ship.
Lorca says that what Mudd’s said is only half right, and admits that he had blown the ship up himself in order to spare the crew from the slow, torturous death that would have awaited them on the Klingon homeworld.
Mudd, smugly, responds, “Well, they say confession is good for the soul. Too bad none of us have one anymore.”
We then head back to the Discovery, where the crew is preparing for their impending jump. Saru asks Stamets if he’s ready to go; he responds that they are. Saru then calls for a black alert, and we cut to engineering where Stamets is starting up the drive.
The drive is engaged, and Ripper starts freaking out, and the scene briefly cuts to a pensive-looking Burnham in her quarters. They make the jump, disengage the drive, and then Ripper falls over before shedding a fuckton of water from its body.
The scene then shifts to the bridge, where Culber and Stamets are explaining what happened. Basically, as a defense mechanism, the tardigrade shed most of its water and has gone into a kind of hibernation. Saru orders them to rehydrate it and wake it up, before asking the bridge crew if they’ve been detected.
Culber tries to explain why that’s probably impossible, but Saru ignores him to ask if they’ve found the ship holding Lorca. Owosekun tells him that they have, and gives its relative position to them. Saru gives the order to follow as quickly and discreetly as possible.
Culber cuts in again, and explains that it’s “not like waking someone from a nap,” and that Ripper is in “survival mode.” Saru tells the doctor that they are too, and to “crack it open if you have to.” Culber tells him that would kill it, but Saru responds that it’s the only way they have to get out of Klingon territory, so they’ll have to risk it.
The doctor tells him he thinks Ripper may be sentient; Saru says that if that’s true he’ll face the consequences, but he’s not going to put the life of the tardigrade above the lives of the crew. He adds that they need to do whatever is necessary to force Ripper to comply.
Culber says that he wants no part in this, but Saru explains that he was talking to Stamets. He asks if Stamets will follow his orders; he responds that he will as Culber gives him an incredulous look.
The scene shifts back to the prison ship, where the guards have entered Lorca, Mudd, and Tyler’s cell, before giving Lorca the order to choose his pain. Mudd, is freaking out a bit, but Tyler, being the better person, tells Lorca to choose him instead. Mudd, unsurprisingly, has no problems with this.
The guard orders Lorca again, and he reluctantly chooses Tyler. The guard starts going in on Tyler, and is about to stomp his face in when he rolls out of the way and Lorca attacks the other guard.
The two Starfleet officers proceed to thoroughly kick their captors’ asses and steal their weapons as a stunned Mudd watches. Mudd manages to get a hold of himself enough to ask Tyler, “Where the hell did that come from?” Tyler responds, as he and Lorca leave, “Getting out of here was always a two-man job. I just waited until I found the right man.”
Mudd, impressed, compliments Tyler for playing him, before asking how they should proceed. Lorca and Tyler, however, have no intention of taking him with them, for obvious reasons. Lorca knocks him to the ground before leaving and locking the door behind him and Tyler, with Mudd at first begging to be let out before switching to threats. They ignore him, and continue on their way.
They fight their way out, but Tyler is injured when one of the Klingons slams him against a wall. Lorca kills the Klingon, then hefts Tyler up. They continue for a while, with Tyler leaning against Lorca before falling and telling him to go one without him.
Lorca tells him to take cover, and that he’ll be back for him as soon as he finds a way out. He’s not gone long when L’Rell turns the corner and finds Tyler. Needless to say, she’s not super happy that he’s trying to leave.
Tyler gets up and takes a swing at her, and the two scuffle for a bit, with Tyler managing to gain the upper hand momentarily when another Klingon comes to her aid. Lorca comes back, however, and shoots the other Klingon, killing him. L’Rell takes the moment to headbutt Tyler and seems to regain her advantage. Lorca shoots at her and misses, but the shot ricochets off the wall and the sparks hit her in the face. Lorca tells Tyler that he’s found the docking bay, and they take this opportunity to make their escape.
They hijack a raider from the ship, with Lorca telling Tyler to redirect power to their shields. He does so, with Lorca pointing out that they have 5 shuttles on their tail. Tyler shoots and destroys one before asking Lorca is his eye issues started when he destroyed the Buran. Lorca responds, “We choose our own pain. Mine helps me remember.”
On the Discovery, Detmer announces that at least 5 Klingon raiders are heading straight at them. Saru orders a red alert, and Owosekun says that they must have been spotted when they arrived. Rhys asks if they should lock on, but Saru notes that the other ships have split off around the one in the lead: “Predator packs often split into smaller groups while in pursuit. One group initiates the chase, while the other travels ahead of the prey’s escape path.”
He orders the communications officer to hail the raider in question. One the raider, Lorca comments to Tyler that “the cavalry showed up” before responding to the hail and telling them to beam Tyler and himself out.
Saru makes sure the transporter room has a lock, then tells Lorca to lower his shields. He does, and the two are beamed off just before the shuttle is destroyed.
Tyler collapses in the transporter bay, and Lorca and the transporter operators move towards him to help. He tells the bridge that they’re on board and need to jump away now.
Saru calls engineering and asks Stamets if they’re ready to go. Stamets, somewhat cryptically, says that they’re able to jump. Rhys says that the Klingons have traced their transporter signal and have locked on. They manage to jump before the Klingons are able to attack.
Back in the transporter room, Lorca tells Tyler that he’s home, and Tyler thanks him. Lorca asks, “For what? Dragging you back into the war on a ship with a target on its back?” Tyler tells him that there’s no place that he’d rather be.
On the bridge, Saru congratulates Stamets on a successful jump, but doesn’t answer. Owosekun tells Saru that Stamets is in engineering, but his life signs are in distress.
Saru heads to engineering to see what’s going on, and finds Stamets on the floor in the spore chamber, with some rather suggestive looking holes in his uniform and the hypospray that had Ripper’s DNA in it next to him.
Saru enters the spore chamber and leans next to Stamets as Tilly explains what happened: he’d injected himself with Ripper’s DNA and then hooked himself up to the spore drive. She asks, quite worried, if he’s dead, and Saru puts a hand on his neck to see. At this point, Stamets wakes with a gasp, and asks if they made it. Saru responds that they did, to which Stamets responds with hysterical laughter.
In Burnham’s quarters, we see her sitting on the edge of her bed as the door chime goes off. She tells the person on the other side to enter, and it turns out to be Saru. He tells her taht they’ve rescued the captain, and that there’s been a “setback” regarding the tardigrade. Burnham tells him that Tilly’s already filled her in, and asks Saru for permission to speak freely.
He grants it, and she asks him if he’s actually afraid of her. He tells her that he isn’t: “I am…angry at you. Angry because of how much you stole from me. I am deeply jealous that I never got the chance you had.”
She asks if the “chance” he’s referring to was to be Georgiou’s first officer, and he continues:
You stood by her side and learned everything she had to teach. The anticipated scenario-you would move up and out. Captain your own starship. And I would take your place. I never got that chance. If I had, I would have been more prepared for today.
Burnham tells Saru that he did well, and that Georgiou would have agreed with her. He doesn’t look like he believes her, though, so Burnham pulls out the telescope that Georgiou left her from under her bed. She opens the box, and tells Saru that it belongs to him now: “you should have the privilege to see the universe the way she did.”
Saru takes the box and turns to Burnham, telling her that Lorca has yet to be cleared for duty and that he could use her help with something. She agrees, and Saru tells her that Culber thinks Ripper is sentient: “We have no claim on its soul. Go save its life, Burnham. That’s an order.”
We cut to an elevator leading outside, with the tardigrade on it. Tilly and Burnham are standing in front of it, Burnham holding a spore container. Tilly says, “May the sun and moon watch your comings and goings in the endless nights and days that are before you,” before asking Burnham if she’s sure this will work. Burnham responds that she’s not, before asking if this is how it responds to extreme conditions, what would it consider to be hospitable? “This creature has traveled to the far ends of the universe. My hope is that what makes it most happy is to be free.”
She opens the jar of spores before pouring it over Ripper before Tilly starts the elevator to let it outside the ship. The tardigrade drifts for a bit before it plumps back up and teleports away.
In the ready room, Saru tells the computer to start a protocol, which he then cancels, saying “I know what I did.”
The scene shifts to Culber and Stamets in their quarters, with Stamets brushing his teeth as Culber scans him with a tricorder. Annoyed, he tells Culber to stop worrying about him, to which the doctor responds, “Well, one tends to worry when they’re doomed to love a brilliant but reckless maniac who’s willing to risk his life for glory.” And here we see that the two bicker like an old married couple because, basically, they are.
Stamets says that he only did what he did because the captain was in danger, to which Culber responds by pointing out that captains are always in danger. Stamets then turns to him and says, “You were in danger.”
Culber begins brushing his own teeth as Stamets continues:
I’ve spent my entire career trying to grasp the essence of mycelium. Now, for the first time, I do. I saw the network, and entire universe of possibilites I never dreamed existed. It’s unspeakably beautiful.
They stop talking and go back to brushing their teeth for a moment before Stamets says he new Culber would leave him if he let anything else harm Ripper. Culber sarcastically says that Stamets does listen to him, and Stamets says, “Not really. You sold that with a look.”
Culber tells him to “never do anything that stupid ever again. You may not care about you, but I do.” He asks Stamets if he’s sure he feels all right; Stamets assures him that he does. Culber leaves, and Stamets looks in the mirror for a moment before following him.
And here we get one last bit of weirdness: Stamets leaves. His reflection doesn’t.
So, this episode. There are a lot of things to like about it. I think the beginning was a rather clever use of foreshadowing; after watching it and later when they introduce the hypospray I thought that it would be Burnham that would end up taking Ripper’s place. I was right about the what, if not the who. Also, while I’m still not fond of the character of Harry Mudd, Rainn Wilson does an exceptional job of portraying him: he has a lot of charisma, but you still kinda want to see him get punched in the face.
I would like to finish by expanding on something I said earlier in the post: that Mudd kind of has a point regarding the war, particularly where he was looking at the Klingons’ point of view. From what T’Kuvma, Voq, and L’Rell have said, it’s clear that they’re trying to preserve their culture from what they see as a colonizing force. This kind of critique of the Federation isn’t something that we see a lot of in Star Trek; in fact the only other series that I’ve seen explore the dark side of this future utopia is Deep Space Nine, with the Dominion War and some of the rather shady things they’ve done there as well.
It’s a bit of food for thought.