Star Trek: Discovery: The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry
After three episodes of laying the ground-work for Discovery, the fourth episode finally settles in and begins to delve a little deeper into the characters and situation. It makes for a fascinating hour and one that is this series’ best and most Trek-like so far.
As with “The Devil in the Dark from TOS, Discovery finds out that just because a creature looks and acts like a monster from our point of view, that doesn’t necessarily make it the case. The tardigrade isn’t blindly attacking people or killing indiscremently. Like the Horta, its attack response is done in self-defense. The crew of the Glenn attempted to use the creature serve as a navigator for the spore drive with not disastrous results (though I wonder how much of the twisted alien bodies we saw on the Glenn comes from using the drive without the creature as a navigator and falling into some type of star or anomaly like Discovery does on its first attempt). The creature lashes out when attacked or in danger but is fairly docile when allowed to feed on the spores. Apparently, the creature and the spores can somehow connect to warp around the galaxy in the blink of an eye.
My question last week of why we don’t see this in future Trek installments gets a bit of answer here. From what we see, the process is apparently hurting the creature or causing it pain. And while Lorca is pretty set on the ends justify the means to win the war with the Klingons (more on that in a minute), it appears Burnham isn’t happy about this. And while she doesn’t act on it, I can’t help but wonder if her principles from her background on Vulcan and Vulcan Science Academy will come into play at the season progresses. Burnham has shown a willingness to defy orders when she believes she is in the right. Could she challenge Lorca’s authority later this season if the spore drive is proving harmful to the creature?
Lorca’s drive to win the war at all costs (and apparently having carte blanche to do that) is put on full display here. Starfleet needs Discovery to get to Corvan 2 ASAP to defend the dilithium crystal mining facility there. If the Klingons take that, Starfleet is pretty much on the losing end of things. Lorca’s insistence at getting there and the ticking clock help deliver some tension to the episode (you can almost feel the ticking clock as things unfold). And while everything works out (for now), I’m starting to have some questions about Lorca. The battle drill when he and Burnham first arrive on the bridge was telling. In some ways, it reminded me of Kirk running drills in “The Corbomite Maneuver” and telling Spock that the crew should shoot for a 100% efficiency rating instead of the 94% they get. The drill also reveals how hard Lorca is riding the crew – and given the multiple references we get to Discovery being a science-vessel first, I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t the crew that will respond best to a military situation.
It also makes me wish I hadn’t read a certain SPOILER floating around online (it was in the headline on my news feed, blast it!) about Lorca and upcoming episodes. I won’t detail it here but if you want to know, it’s fairly easy to find.
Meanwhile, it’s back to the politics of the Klingon Empire. I’ll admit there’s part of me that wants to tell them to just pretend the universal translator is working and have all the Klingon lines delivered in Federation Standard. I really feel like the on-screen translations hold the Klingon politics portions of the show back a bit. And the frustrating part (at least to this fan) is that the politics of the Empire are finally getting interesting here. We find out that only one ship as a cloaking device (an interesting parallel to Discovery apparently being the only ship that can spore warp) and that the house of Kor wants it. Voq’s ship is disabled and in need of dilithum drive. But apparently, Klingons of this era don’t want to take one from a Starfleet ship because it will be a blasphemy to fuse Klingon and human technology.
Finally convinced to take the parts needed from the Shenzhou, Voq is double-crossed by T’Rell. Or so it would seem. I can’t help but wonder if T’Rell’s idea to leave Voq to die on the disabled ship isn’t a part of some greater plan for him to come into his own and be the leader that T’Kumva saw in him and chose him to be. Certainly getting of the dead starship and back to the center of Klingon politics would bolster his claim. I also can’t help but wonder how much the Klingon’s emphasis on honor is in play at this point in the canon. Perhaps it’s Voq who sets them down that path to embrace honor.
Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
The Flash: The Flash Reborn
Call me crazy, but I’m not one of the fans who felt like The Flash had a sustainable dip in quality last year. It could be that with the birth of Shortcake, I binged the season in chunks, making some of the frustrations at the season’s pacing feel less frustrating than if I’d watched week to week. I can see how fans would get frustrated at the apparent treading water on the real identity of Savatar during the second half of the season. And I’m glad that the show is trying to move away from having the main big bad of the season be a speedster and somehow a mirror of Barry.
All that said, it feels like “The Flash Reborn” is a reset button, designed to jettison all of the frustrations fans felt with season three while giving us a taste of season four.
Barry’s back from the Speed Force and not quite himself until it’s time to go and save Iris. The getting him back is all a bunch of technobabble, but it all works. And you can’t help but wonder why Cisco wasn’t dreaming up this tech to trick the Speed Force before Barry had to go inside as the prisoner? Watching disheveled, bearded Barry scrawling the alien writing and spouting off lines from previous seasons, I couldn’t help but wonder if he’s holding something back from his time in the Speed Force from the rest of the team. (Sort of how Buffy held back the information that the Scooby gang pulled her out of heaven when the revived her in season six). Could Barry have been happy there, possibly creating a reality like the one we saw at the start of season three last year where his mom and dad are both alive and well?
Meanwhile, this one is all about putting the team back together, facing off against the menace of the week and putting the season arc into motion.
I keep wondering if The Flash might benefit from mini-arcs for a season with the crew facing off against a medium bad for each segment of the season instead of just one Big Bad. That said, I’m intrigued to see how Barry and company face off against the Thinker. It will be nice to (hopefully) see a Big Bad who isn’t defeated because Barry figures out how to run faster.
And I also have to wonder just how Catelyn got control back of her powers and who the guy she threatened in the bar really is. What’s his connection?
I did love her allusion to the infamous line from The Incredible Hulk of “you wouldn’t like me when I’m frosty.”