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Star Trek: Discovery, Episode 5, “Choose Your Pain”

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Is Captain Lorca a friend, or a foe?

This is the query I’m still asking of myself five-episodes in. I would presume he’s a “friend” after defending, against Admiral Cornwell’s objections, his decision to recruit Burnham as a member of his ship’s crew; but is there a shady, ulterior motive for doing so? Would he defend her life, as if it were his own, given a situation where it was in danger of being extinguished? I mean, he did, after all, save the captured Starfleet officer (Lieutenant Ash Tyler) he was imprisoned with on the Klingon ship. There’s something to be said about that, right? I don’t know. It’s hard to say at this juncture; especially given his confession to Harry Mudd about blowing up his crew, in the face of Klingon capture, to spare their lives from torture and inevitable execution on Qo’noS; “Not on my watch,” he vehemently stated. Again, I don’ know. I want to like him, but, “Can he be trusted?” is the million-dollar question.

In this episode, we are finally introduced to another, widely-beloved character from the Trek-universe: Mister Harcourt Fenton Mudd. Although, “beloved” is quite the strong adjective to be used as a descriptor for this slimy bastard. Rainn Wilson is the actor tasked with injecting new-life into this fan-favorite. He plays him much darker than Roger C. Carmel did back on TOS; and by “darker” I’m referring to how he’s managed to survive being a prisoner on a Klingon ship: by throwing fellow inmates to the proverbial wolves in order to save his own tookus (choosing others to be fatally beaten, is another way of putting it). We’re also given a nice, Easter-egg of a glimpse into how he met his wife, Stella – a woman we’ve already been kind of “formally” introduced to in the TOS episode, “I, Mudd”; introduced, to an android-version, that is, of his loving and “nagging” better-half. Which leads us into the reason of why he’s a prisoner: he borrowed money to gift his betrothed with a moon – a romantic gesture, for sure, but one he couldn’t afford to repay; a gesture, which led him on a chase, and into the mitts of the Klingon Empire. Let it never be said that Harcourt Fenton Mudd won’t risk Klingon imprisonment to give his love the moon and the stars; quite literally. Such a romantic, this guy is. Anyhow, I’m fairly certain the weasel will be turning up in future episodes of Discovery, even though Lorca and Tyler left him to rot in the brig, as they deftly escaped the Klingon vessel (Rainn Wilson is just too good to merely have as a one-off).

Speaking of Easter eggs, how cool was the scene in Lorca’s ready room with Saru? If you haven’t seen the episode yet, – and I’m assuming you have if you’ve read this far – there’s a really sweet scene with Saru querying the computer to list “Starfleet’s most decorated captains, living and deceased”. The list which is produced displays the following:

I think I spat out an audible “OH!!” when I read the names. It’s interesting that Matt Decker was one of the captains listed, as he was almost responsible, if you remember, for the deaths of the entire Enterprise crew in the TOS episode, “The Doomsday Machine”. But hey, I’ve never been one to spit on the grave of a deceased Starfleet commodore (respect, kids).

We also got a look at some familiar technology towards the end: the Star Trek medical tricorder; newly-improved and looking fabulously current. The snazzy, updated design maintains some of its classic charm while infusing a few minor upgrades, primarily the device’s interface (is Apple around in the 23rd Century?). The hand scanner, however, looks just about the same way it did when the good Doctor Leonard H. “Bones” McCoy first introduced us to the tech, back in those good ole inaugural days of TOS.

And speaking of endings, was that some creepy shite, or what?! I’m not too sure what to think of Stamets’ doppelganger that we saw eerily smiling in the mirror as “Stamets Prime” departed the bathroom area of his, and Culber’s, living quarters, but the first thought which sprung into my mind was the “Mirror, Mirror” universe. Now, whether this is the case or not, remains to be seen; but I’m hoping that it is quite the case, my friends – quite the case, indeed.

So, before we part ways for the humdrum of our everyday lives – at least, until next Sunday (oh, yeah), I’ll leave you with a video to watch. Apparently, Paul Stamets’ character is modeled after a real-life Paul Stamets who, coincidentally, is also a mycologist (Discovery’s Stamets is an astromycologist). It’s a fascinating TED Talk with the biologist that’ll provide you with some intellectual nourishment, as well as some food-for-thought. Until next week, mind your Ps and Qs like a Vulcan, friends.

2 replies »

  1. I think I liked Lorca better after this episode than I have thus far. He felt like a dark character but the fact that he didn’t try to deny or weasel his way out of the claim did make me respect him a bit more.

    • Yeah, I agree. I respect the fact that he was forthcoming, without pause or hesitation, and owned his decision. I’m hoping he doesn’t turn out to be another Admiral Marcus, because I like his character. I think his reaction to the Tardigrade being released will give us further understanding of the type of person he is.

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