“I start fighting a war, I guarantee you’ll see somethin’ new” said one great captain. There’s long been an idea that we lose ourselves in war. I like to think that’s by choice. The things many people need to do and become to win a conflict. It makes sense to separate that side of yourself. Otherwise, how could you come back from that? The idea of war changing people has also been prominent in Star Trek. Species like The KIlingons and The Dominion orientated entirely around battle and war in contrast to those of intellectual focus like The Vulcans. Then being constantly pulled either way, we have The Federation; the scientists and explorers too often finding themselves having to become soldiers. Could Starfleet ever become a military organization without losing itself? The Discovery may not get that choice if her Captain has his way.
The Butcher's Knife Care Not for the Lamb's Cry - When a vital mining colony is under Klingon attack, the Discovery and her spore drive is the only ship capable of getting there in time. They’ll need help from a very unlikely source.
There’s a good balance to this episode over the scientific and military purposes of Star Fleet through the ship activities and different crew members. Captain Orca is wearing a war face that Gunnery Sergeant Hartman would approve of while the likes of Burnham and Stamets carry the flag for team science. Initially, it felt like a wasted card for Orca to reveal the alien creature from last week’s episode but it ultimately served as an excellent catalyst for this theme. With Orca demanding to know why this “Ripper” is such a good killer and Burnham being more interested on why it would kill. This does the episode a solid classical Trek feel as it mixes in science and wondrous creatures. It also keeps that all important Trek deeper morality on screen over the feature creature usage. Yet unlike most Trek shows (at least during these initial episodes), Discovery is more willing to let its own crew members become the antagonists. I do like this approach as it brings a greater sense of realism to the cast; even if humans have reached a more enlightened society of course not everyone will join Star Fleet with the same agenda.
Right from the offset, the episode’s visuals continue the show’s impressive standard. The highlight this week was getting to see more of the ship using its Spore Drive in action. I’m really loving the gyroscopic nature of the jump sequences and the rotating outer saucer section. It’s different and creative without being too much of a giant leap from Trek kind. Admittedly, the whole flying on spores concept is still difficult to take with a straight face.... and I imagine there are many fans that can’t. The unexpected burning star close-up was stunning as were the various spore interactions and use of the Ripper creature.
In contrast to last week, this episode has a lot of Klingon story, reuniting us with Voq and is devout “Remain Klingon” contingent. It’s a case of different episode, same problems. These scenes are flat and lifeless as these suffering actors are given some of the episode's most emotional material behind such extensive rigs that barely let them move their lips. I don’t mean to keep targeting this weakness every time but it really is the difference maker and as I result, even a 1.21 gigawatt improbability drive couldn’t get me invested in the show’s Klingon story now. This episode implies it’s setting something for the long run but that’s gonna have to be something bloody spectacular to save itself.
I get the feeling that this point the ship has sailed on Discovery. I can’t see it winning over new fans from this point but those aboard will be thoroughly enjoying the ride. It packs a few geeky references too like a name check to Zefram Cochrane. This is the kind of episode we didn’t expect to get with the show’s supposedly single-running story format.... but based on the results, I’m rather glad we did.