Star Trek Discovery; Lethe

Welcome to my recap of episode six of Star Trek Discovery, Lethe (one of the five rivers of the underworld of Hades).

I’ll be looking at each episode, pretty soon after it has aired. This is the first TV Trek since 2005, so get out your bi-weekly collectors edition Star Trek Magazine, with free ring binder and get ready to Boldly go once more.

Episode Six – Lethe

This blog contains spoilers so if you haven’t watched episode six yet – What are you? A green-blooded hobgoblin? This review will definitely  contain spoilers for episode six, so this is your last chance! Ready, the review is below the photo, so let’s go.

Damn it man! I’m a writer not a Marriage Counsellor 

Episode six and everyone has relationship issues. Sarek is being a bad Dad, Lorca has gotta work on his safe word and Burnham couldn’t tell a hot guy from a hot burrito.

At the opening of the episode we get a very cool look-in at Vulcan. Michael, “you absolutely have a personality,” Burnham is training Tilly and as they run around the decks she mentions the Enterprise.

Tyler and Lorca bond in an epic game of Klingon laser tag, on a pre-cursor to the holo-deck. I guess this means we could get a Dixon Hill episode. This level of tech seems beyond the tech of the Enterprise of TOS, again raising the possiblity that this is Secton 31 black ops equipment. Tyler is on the fast track and he is promoted to chief of security by his new mentor Captain Lorca.

“Humans are inferior.”

Sarek is victim of an assassination attempt, shockingly at the hands of a vulcan suicide bomber. He is told that his fascination with humans must end and Sarek calls the bomber a fanatic. I hope this means we are likely to see a plot-line fearturing Symmetrists. (featured in the Shatner-verse, the Symmetrists did not believe that the vulcans should be part of the federation).

Burnham knows that Sarek is in trouble due to their mind meld. We see her in Sarek’s mind, she views an argument between Amanda and Sarek over Burnham’s future. Burnham also reveals that logic extremists bombed the library because they wanted her to leave.

Lorca agrees, surprisingly easily, to Burnham’s request to rescue Ambassador Sarek, he does this by disobeying orders from Starfleet command. The Ambassador had been on his way to meet with a faction of Klingons. We see more of Lorca’s apparent human side.

“A psychic hit of speed.”

Burnham asks Stamets to create a synthetic mind meld to help her connect more stably with Sarek’s dying mind. Stamets hilariously calls this idea “Groovy.” Jason Isaac’s plays this scene beautifully with his facial expressions, clearly worried what has happened to Stamets since he plugged himself into the spore-drive. Stamets says that Burnham is suggesting a “psychic hit of speed.” Stamets has really lightened up since last week and has turned into a sci-fi Timothy Leary.

Admiral Cornwell pays a home visit concerned about Lorca’s unauthorised mission with a mutineer and POW, Cornwell is pissed. But then they break out the booze. Single Malt and some Kenny G is the way Captain L rolls, Lorca you sly old dog.

Kat Cornwell is a psychiatrist and she is worried Lorca has PTSD, and she employs a therapy that I am not sure is ethical, as they get down to naked business, boldly exploring Lorca’s husbands bulge

Tyler seems a real good guy and gives Burnham the inspiration to save Sarek. We get the awesome revelation that because Spock is half-Vulcan they will only take him into the academy otherwise they will have too many non-Vulcan. Sarek confesses to Burnham that it is his failure that he regrets at the moment of his death.

Spock is called another of his “experiments.” Burnham bounces in and out of his mind and the episode is like a psychedelic Alice in Wonderland.

“I will accept one of your not quite Vulcans.”

Sarek is accused of making a decision on emotion. Sarek chose Spock to join the academy and he lied to Burnham saying she didn’t make it because of her failure when it was merely a political decision.

Lorca is accused of being pathological after he almost strangles Cornwell post-coitus. He tells her that he needs help and begs her not to take his ship away, he looks genuinely upset at this idea. He saved Sarek for Burnham as he needs a good team around him and she is promoted to the bridge as a science specialist. His decisions are still serving his own agenda and when he recommends Cornwell taking over diplomatic talks because Sarek is injured I started to wonder what lengths would he go to to achieve his objectives, would he kill his lover?

We would certainly have a Captain like no other if he did. Does anyone think he’d go that far? Or is his character more nuanced than this, I got real warmth from him at times, even if it is to serve his own ends, I think he cares for his crew.

Burnham calls Sarek Father. She bonds with Tyler with a glass of green tea. “It’s just being human.”

The Elders of Cancri IV meet a sticky end as unsurprisingly the secret peace talks with the Klingons is a ruse and Kol is behind the trap. He mentions the United Klingon Empire. It turns out that Lorca isn’t cold enough to kill her but he uses her kidnapping by the Klingons to his advantage by choosing not to rescue her.

Phasers set to “that was fricking awesome.”

So I called it that Cornwell and Lorca were once (and perhaps still are) a thing. But did Lorca sleep with her to deflect from his psychological torment?

I think it is a stroke of genius creating a Sarek origin story and incorporating Burnham into this. I always loved the inter-play between Sarek and Spock in the original series and films and it is a compelling narrative device having Sarek in conflict with other Vulcan’s due to his pursuit of human vulcan integration. He is the outsider, the Vulcan who married a human. It is a path his son will mirror in his life, the outsider but also the attempted unifier as he attempts to bring the Vulcan and Romulans together.

The holographic simulation was very cool and thanks to After Trek who gave me the behind the scenes information that Isaacs actually coeographed this scene himself, using his experience filming Black Hawk Down. (Why not check out LSG’s media’s recent podcast on that very movie for more details.) The elders of Cancri IV were brilliantly designed, reminding me of some of the characters from the film Spirited Away.

Beyond the Guardian of Forever

The Enterprise is name-checked, so I am increasingly confident we will see Pike and Spock, maybe in series two. We see Vulcan martial-arts and it was nice to see Amanda and a beautifully rendered planet Vulcan. It’s good to see the Vulcan homeworld back after all that JJ-verse silliness. The writer of this episode is Joe Menosky, Trek vet and writer of TNG episodes Darmok and Time’s Arrow. This episode feels like classic Trek with the quieter character moments I crave.

Traveller Where Art Thou?

No sign of the traveller, a Wil Wheaton cameo, Kodos or Section 31 this week. But maybe we get hints toward the mirror universe. Is Lorca’s behaviour in this episode the actions of a well man? Or as some online theories suggest, is he the mirror universe Lorca as Cornwell states that “you are not the man I knew.” Could this literally be true?

My take on it is that he has been affected by the war and his experiences but he seemed genuinely upset at hurting Cornwell and the prospect of losing his ship. I think he is very manipulative and will do whatever it takes to end the war, this is his obsession, the white whale to his Captain Ahab.

What do you think? Is the whole series taking place in the mirror universe or has mirror Lorca taken his place? Is Alice in Wonderland a hint towards the mirror universe because of Alice through the Looking Glass? My last mirror universe thought this week is that if the Vulcan logic extremists turn out to be Symmetrists this could be alluding to another Trek novel universe story called Fearful Symmetry, a DS9 tale involving Sisko and the mirror universe. Have the writers of Discovery been mining the rich source of material that is contained within the novel universe and if they have when are they going to call-up David Mack to the writer’s room?

Romance is potentially on the cards for Burnham and Tyler, although Burnham doesn’t seem to get it and I like the dynamic between the three amigos, Burnham, Tilly and Tyler (the BTT) and the episode showed yet more strong character development. Lorca sleeps with a phaser under his pillow and the episode ends showing his phaser tucked into his belt.

Join me over at the Trek Talk forum if you want to discuss it further. This was another very strong episode and in a week when series two has been announced.

Until next week live long and prosper

John is a writer and clinically diagnosed Trekker. You can get the latest news about his published work at his website The World Outside the Window.