Review- Star Trek: Discovery Episode 3 (Context is for Kings)

The titular spaceship finally appears in the third episode of Star Trek: Discovery. Here’s our review… 

 

After an explosive introductory two episodes, Star Trek: Discovery is now at the true beginning of its story. I definitely commend the producers for going out of the way to have that prologue to set up the 6-months later storyline, rather than have it be told throughout flashbacks as to why Michael Burnham was delisted from Starfleet and imprisoned.

Carrying on, we’ve rejoined Burnham, who’s kept her head low and intends to serve her sentence as required by the court martial, which appears to have caused her to retreat within herself and appears to be more Vulcan-like than she appeared in the prologue episodes, clearly a coping mechanism. On her way to another mine with common criminals, Burnham is made to standout with her yellow prison suit when compared to the mute gray of the other prisoners, and as we find out, she’s now referred to as the “Mutineer”. Seems almost funny how big a deal it is when you consider the other acts of mutiny there had been in earlier episodes, including the earlier set Star Trek: Enterprise. We do see how heavily her actions have weighed on her throughout the episode, keeping a count of all members of Starfleet who we’re lost in the “Battle of the Binary Stars” due to her actions, and through her desire to simply be forgotten and left to finish her punishment.

Following a bit of space danger, the prison transport is picked up by none other than the… USS Discovery! At long last, we finally get to see what appears to be the pride of the Federation, for the next couple of years anyway. The Discovery is wonderfully advanced as well as looking practical and feels so much like it could be a real type of spacecraft we could be flying in a few decades. As it turns out, Michael isn’t the only former officer of the USS Shenzhou…

Both Lieutant Keyla Detmer and Sa… I mean, First Officer Saru, were onboard the ship, with Saru now fulfilling the post that Burnham once did, and Keyla featuring a bionic graft, a result of her injuries due to Burnham’s mutiny. The fact that neither of them are comfortable with her nor particularly happy to see her makes for real, natural emotion, something that isn’t always conveyed well, but this series is doing well. Along with old officers, we also get to meet the new ones making up the main cast.

The most interesting is Jason Isaacs’ Captain Gabriel Lorca, who appears to have a more military slant to him, more in keeping with Admiral Marcus and Captain Balthazar Edison from the films, but there may be enough of the explorer within him to keep him out of trouble from getting lost in the directionless vacuum of space. We also meet Lieutant Paul Stamets, the Science officer Burnham is assigned to, and while he’s rather unlikable at first, he becomes far more understanding when it’s revealed that he wants nothing to do with being on a starship, preferring to work on the ground with his partner in science. Last, but certainly not least, we have Cadet Sylvia Tilley, who’s been described as the “heart” of the Discovery, and one can see why during this episode. Her propensity for talking is humourous, and her nervousness is relatable, providing some good comic relief, although some viewers may find her to get a bit grating at times.

Between all these introductions, there’s also a little story as well, with the USS Glenn, another science vessel, which was conducting tests of a secret nature. In good Trek fashion, Stamets forms a boarding team, grudgingly taking along Burnham, and so they take a shuttle across to the Glenn. The corridors of the Glenn can easily be recognised as similar corridors from the Discovery, just battered up and darkly lit, but seeing as the ships are for similar purposes, that’s not surprising, plus it wouldn’t be the first time this happened in Trek, with various bridge sets being reused for other shows and films.

The scenes aboard the Glenn are wonderfully terrifying, showing off horror like Trek never has before, with truly disgusting remnants of human body, boxed up like cubes and featuring faces of pain. The ship also featured Klingon bodies, just to remind us who we’re at war with, as well as a terrifying beast that wreaks havoc for the crew members of the away team. But with any secret data recovered from the Glenn, the away team make their escape, with Burnham acting as a decoy.

Following their return, the Glenn is destroyed and the beast along with it, while Burnham meets with the captain one last time before her departure. At last, the conversation between Lorca and Burnham reveals his nature, as he explains the purposes of what molecules they are testing. They were to act as a method of transportation, and not biological warfare as Burnham had suspected. Captain Lorca may have been a military man, but he is also a capable explorer and simply wants to end the war with the Klingons with as little collateral damage as possible, and see Burnham as a tool to help him. Manipulative as all this may seem, Burnham is still a criminal and many would just see her as a tool. But the shocking revelation that Lorca didn’t let the terrifying creature onboard the USS Glenn suggests that maybe Lorca isn’t quite as peaceful as he makes out to be. Only time will tell…

Accepting the captain’s offer, as we all know she would, Burnham starts to settle into the Discovery, with even a mention of her adoptive mother and her adoptive brother to boot. Gee, I wonder why Spock never mentioned her? Probably had something to do with mutiny.

Another adventure aboard a Starfleet vessels swiftly comes to a close, and overall it was fantastic. My only gripe is that I wish Jason Isaacs’ Lorca spoke with his natural British accent, but he does well with the American one, which does better help covey the more militaristic feel of his captain. One other thing is that it was a little introduction heavy, as most pilots are, but at least two of the characters were already known to us. Three episodes in and Star Trek: Discovery has been delivering a wonderful new slice of Star Trek lore. I can’t wait for more to come in the following weeks, and for more Suus Mahna.

 

Rating:

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