Review: Star Trek: Discovery | Episode 6: Lethe [2017]

a review by the Crow.

Captain’s log, Stardate 95412.53: These are the voyages of the blog-ship The Corvid Review. One of its continuing missions: to explore strange new episodes of Star Trek, to seek out new characters and plots, to boldly go where no one has gone before.

(Supplemental log: I’m deathly ill again. Despite my recent setbacks, I really don’t do sick; however, that infection I’ve been suffering from lately is back with a vengeance, just before I torpedo it out of my system for good. This post might be a bit rough to get through, considering my lack of focus.)

And this week, we spore out to oversee the Starfleet rescue mission:

DSC-06 Lethe

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What’s the word on the Scuttlebutt?

Sarek and an associate — Adjunct V’latak — depart Vulcan for a a discreet diplomatic mission. Nearing their destination, V’latak reveals himself to be one of “them”: a group of Vulcan “logic fanatics/extremists” (er… okay), and attempts to kill Sarek via suicide bombing. The ship is disabled, Sarek is grievously injured, and light-years away, Michael goes down screaming.

WARNING: THIS SECTION CONTAINS MODERATE SPOILERS

We start with a quick recap of (and a little clarification about) the ‘katric link’ Michael shares with Sarek. It’s a pretty basic explanation and works just fine. One of the more interesting things we find out around this part of the episode is that the scenes of destruction and mayhem we glimpsed at the Vulcan Learning centre in the first episode was the result of these extremists, not Klingons, as some had assumed.

Once Burnham explains to Lorca her link to Sarek and her determination to rescue him, Lorca decides to mount a(n unauthorised!) rescue mission and jumps the Discovery into the Yridia nebula — Sarek’s last known location.

Lorca’s old “friend”cough! Admiral Katrina “Kat” Cornwell (Jayne Brook) comes to visit, furious at Lorca for embarking on the mission, especially in light of the fact that Burnham and Tyler (from the last episode) are part of the three-person crew involved in the actual rescue. Lorca rebuts with his usual ‘necessary actions in times of war!’ argument, before the conversation changes to a much more genial pace.

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We were all told that there’d be a Groundhog Day-esque episode in Star Trek: Discovery, and this is that episode.

Our major plot thread follows Michael’s attempts to rescue Sarek via the katric link, which revolves around a certain moment from the past concerning Sarek, Michael, and the ‘Vulcan Expeditionary Group’. We revolve around this moment over and over, with katra-Michael and katra-Sarek engaging in a game of extraordinary stubbornness against one another within this virtual reality.

Working up to the rescue attempt, we meet Tilly, who’s still starry-eyed about becoming Captain one day and is working towards it under her mentor Michael. Perhaps, one day, she might receive a commission aboard a Constitution-class, like the Enterprisewink-wink-nudge-nudge, and fast-track through the ranks.

We meet Ash as well, before the three board the shuttlecraft. He spends some time shooting Klingons in the recreation room (NOT a holodeck, like so many reviewers seem to be forgetting) with Captain Lorca (I want to play, too!) and excels, beating Lorca’s score, just as the Captain expects from him. After all, the Captain says, he’ll need his Chief of Security to be good at shooting, and he does fight like a Klingon… but enough about Ash’s new job. He eats in the canteen (I guess that’s what I should call it), and engages in small-talk with Burnham and Tilly.

A few minor points I’d like to make, here: yes. I agree that three egg-white breakfast burritos with black beans sounds healthy, and yes, roasted-tomato salsa is delicious (although I’m currently banned from said fruit, despite a friend dropping off a delicious harvest only the other day). And yes: while they sound appetising, and I’m sure they’re nutrient-filled, I really want to punch the lunch-computer in her virtual throat.

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Oh, and everything I mentioned up there about Tilly, Tyler (who is certainly not eating an appetising and nutrient-filled burrito in the aforementioned scene), and Burnham socialising? Up until the Vulcan ship spins out of control, all of that is what makes up the intro. The opening titles come into play at over seven minutes in to the episode. I think that’s a fair bit long.

I don’t have much to say about the Sarek/Michael storyline. It hits all the right character moments, and Frain does an admirable job of portraying Sarek. It’s a very basic plot that isn’t fussed about with too much, and fits right into the episodic format of the Star Trek shows of old. While I’m happy for the clarification we get regarding Michael’s past, and am happy to see the ‘other’ side of Sarek bubble at the surface, it’s not something that would require me to point to this episode as a particularly good one.

There is, however, the other main plot thread.

Affirming almost everything I have suspected about Gabriel Lorca since my first meeting with the man, Lethe does everything in it’s power to establish Lorca’s personality by dragging it out into the open. So far, we’ve seen Lorca through the lens of others who have no real intimacy with him. But this time around — as foreshadowed in previous episodes — we have his old friendcough! Kat, here to both be mad at Gabriel, and just stopping by to see her friend.

I quite like how they’ve set up both the characters so far in the lead-up to their conversations in this episode. The way in which Lorca weaves and weasels his way around Kat’s prods and jabs at his character and choices is almost slimy — and a testament to just how much the character is capable of.

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After all, it’s not often that a Star Trek episode elicits a “You sneaky bastard.” out loud from me. But despite Lorca’s actions towards the end of the episode, one has to consider this: the original “diplomatic mission” is ludicrously asinine. During a time of war, would you agree to meet with the representatives of two Klingon Houses who claim to not be in league with Kol, of the House of Kor? In person? With minimal security? The neutral ground and hosts be damned.

Sarek’s stature and record regardless, I wouldn’t step foot near Cancri IV. I’d demand a pair of view-screens and a few million light-years between us. And just like the Vulcan High Command, Starfleet is dumb enough to fall for the same ploy when Sarek is removed from play? Come on, show-runners, sell me another one. Or wait… I have a bridge to sell to you, first.

It’s the muted nature of the Sarek/Michael story, as well as the silly set-up of the diplomatic that make me want to be overly harsh towards this episode. However, the development of the character arcs are on point, and the Lorca storyline is excellent. Our other main characters — Saru, Culber, and Stamets — are pushed to the background in this one, but it doesn’t matter. Lorca steals the day. We don’t see any of L’Rell, either. I bet we’ll be hearing from her soon, though.

Lethe is an adequate episode, at best. I wish I could score it higher, but I’m going to keep myself from giving it too much leeway. There was a great episode in here, but the show-runners played it too safe. And that’s a shame.

As usual, a spoiler section will follow.


fuhneob

FINAL RATINGS

THE CROW: 6.5/10

THE AZURE-WINGED MAGPIE: 7/10

Spoilers lie ahead. Please stop scrolling.

This is your final warning.

Failure to comply will result in your being spoiled.

Complaining afterwards is futile.


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My Mind to Your Mind, My Thoughts to Your Thoughts

WARNING: THIS SECTION CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS

Okay, let’s break this episode down a little further…

Let’s just get it out of the way that the meeting is a terrible idea. The ease with which the Klingons turn the tables on Cornwell is something that quite aggravates me. A part of me would like to propose that this episode would have been better handled if the table-turning was kept off-screen, but then… we wouldn’t have had that exceptional moment in which Lorca’s special “friend” looks at her phaser in a mix of horror and shock. Combine that with the final shot we get of Lorca, phaser “snug as a bug in a rug” in his back pocket, looking out across the stars.

We’ve finally caught up to the speed with the Lorca I felt I’d come to know. It’s safe to say this is the beginning of a very interesting character arc.

A quick note about Stamets: was his “lag” incident a one-off? He doesn’t seem to have noticed it (or maybe he just hasn’t brought it up). But what he has done is dabbled in “eugenic manipulation”. I’m assuming that it’s naught much than having surgery to allow the interface with the spore-drive, and regularly using the Tardigrade DNA, but I’m curious to see where he goes from here on out.

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: Ash Tyler.

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Like all of you, and as I’ve hinted at in the past, there’s something quite strange going on behind the scenes as far as certain cast members go on Discovery. And yes, I picked up on all the odd bits and bobs during Choose Your Pain, and I did think about them to quite some degree.

So, am I buying into the theory that our grand-Klingon-idiot Voq is connected to Ash?

Well… I really don’t think I can deny it any longer. The show’s forcing the fact, and might have completely ruined the secret with all their fun with the names of their cast members. But I don’t think it’s a disguise. Voq’s cover is far deeper than a lot of people think. Ash does think he’s Ash — whatever he is, but there is something lurking somewhere in the back of his mind, is my best guess.

Voq is probably in a water/goop-filled tank or something with the Matriarchs, probably undergoing some measure of pain. And I doubt it will be any time soon we see him running around again. For now, Ash is just Ash — just a guy from Seattle who likes burgers, gets over rape fast, can fight like a Klingon, and is beginning to fancy the pants off’f Michael (poor cadet Tilly!).

We’ll just have to wait and see how this plays out. And hopefully, both the Vulcan High Command and Starfleet get people with actual brains on the job the next time…

I’m off to finish simmering my curried chicken soup, now (recipe below for the fun of it — consider it a soft-release of our new recipe posts), even though what I really want is a big lovely burrito…


fuhneob

FINAL RATINGS

THE CROW: 6.5/10

THE AZURE-WINGED MAGPIE: 7/10


See Also


Curried Chicken Soup Recipe

(No pictures, sorry. Bad form, today.)

Ingredients

  • Salt, pepper, oil (basic vegetable oil is the best)
  • Vegetable/chicken stock (everyone should have some of their own)
  • Red onion, garlic, ginger
  • Dried red chilli (optional — not for everyone with a cold)
  • Fresh green chillies (also optional), mushrooms
  • A bag of frozen veg (carrots, cauliflower, and peas is what I had)
  • Flavouring spice (choose something mild) and cumin seeds
  • Turmeric and Yoghurt (only a few tablespoons required)
  • Chicken (whatever portion you like, try and leave bones out)
  • Coriander to finish, if it’s to your liking, parsley if not

Utensils

  • A deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan
  • A pair of knives and chopping boards
  • A ladle/spatula

Process

Prep

  • Cut up your chicken into small pieces (1.5 cm, max.)
  • Stab the pieces over, mix with a little yoghurt in a bowl
  • Mix some turmeric in and leave for a few minutes
  • Mix in flavouring spice, pepper, and set aside (NO salt) for an hour
    • Or leave in the fridge for around 8 hours
  • Alternatively, boil your chicken in some seasoned water/stock
    • Pull apart with a fork, season, spice, and set aside
  • Finely dice your red onion (I like using a considerable amount)
  • Smoosh up your garlic, and grate your ginger (ratio 3:2)
  • Chop up any veg you have to an appropriate size
    • Leave smaller mushrooms whole

Cooking the Soup

Note: this is for the marinated chicken. For the pre-cooked chicken method, mix in the chicken five minutes before the end and let it sit.

  • Add oil to a deep saucepan, start a medium heat
  • Add some cumin seeds. When they start to pop…
    • [Optional] add your dried chillies
  • Carefully slide in your onion
  • Add a pinch of salt and stir the onion occasionally
  • Add your garlic+ginger when the onions start to glisten
  • Stir together and add your flavouring spice
  • Add your chicken pieces and stir together
  • When the chicken starts firming up…
    • Add your mushrooms and any other hard veg
    • Cauliflower and broccoli are good options, here
    • Add another pinch of salt
    • Add more flavouring spice, if you will
  • Give the lot a stir five minutes in
  • Drop in the rest of your veg, stir, and…
    • Be careful of what vegetables might get overcooked
    • Add those when appropriate
  • Pour in as much stock as you have of the mix in the pan
  • Increase the heat to high
  • Cover the soup, allowing for some steam to escape
  • Simmer, mostly-covered, for five minutes
  • When your pieces of chicken are cooked through…
    • If not, just leave them in a little longer on a lower flame
  • Switch off the heat, uncover, and leave to rest until warm
  • Garnish with coriander/parsley and salt to taste
  • Enjoy with soft bread and/or plain mashed potatoes

So yeah, this is more of a plain curry that becomes a tasty soup. I hope it helps someone. It’ll sure help me in a bit.

— Crow out

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