Title: Choose Your Pain
Director: Lee Rose
Writers: based on Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry, created by Bryan Fuller, and Alex Kurtzman teleplay by Kemp Powers story by Gretchen J Berg, Aaron Harbert and Kemp Powers
Starring: Sonequa Martin-Green, Michelle Yeoh, Doug Jones, Shazad Latif, Anthony Rapp, Jason Isaacs, Mary Wiseman, James Frain, Chris Obi, Kenneth Mitchell
Duration: 1 hr
Network: CBS and CBS all access
CHoose Your Pain developed the show’s narrative on several fronts. We learn more about the history of Captain Lorca which in a way explains his cold and tactless treatment of the crew. The relationship between Saru and Burnham evolves, and in related information, I discovered that if you say Mister Saru in the right way, it sounds an awful lot like Mr. Sulu.
It’s not made clear, but I got the impression this episode takes place a few weeks after last week’s show, and there have been some developments and complications since we saw the Discovery in action. I thought this week’s episode was a good one maybe even great with a classic mix of drama, action, adventure, suspense and mystery we have come to expect from a series broadcast under the Trek banner. Along with that, we got a special bonus tribute to the original series with the appearance of a classic Star Trek TOS character.
(*warning spoilers follow*)
Captain Lorca is in a strategy meeting with The Starfleet admiralty who wants him to cut back on the number of missions he is carrying out using the Sporedrive. They are concerned the Kilgons are aware that Discovery is their secret weapon and do not want to risk losing it by overusing the ship. Lorca is not happy with the decision and stubbornly insists he was supposed to have complete freedom to carry out his mission as best he sees fit. On the way back to the ship his shuttle is attacked by Klingons, and he gets captured by them. Apparently, the Klingons specifically targeted him for capture instead of killing him outright and attacking everything in sight implying they are getting more strategic in their actions as the conflict continues.
As soon as the Discovery is informed acting Captain Saru quickly develops a plan to find and retrieve Lorca, including making multiple jumps until they see some sign of his location. This decision coincides with the increasing certainty by Burnham that the jumps are having a harmful effect on the Tardigrade. Of course, this leads to a conflict between Saru and her again. Informed the jumps may be harming the creature Saru doesn’t seem to care, which did seem a little out of character for him. He has only the single-minded goal to rescue the captain in mind. It begins to look like the potential for another mutiny by Burnham is a possibility, but it doesn’t go that far. Burnham first goes to the Starfleet doctor Culber to acquire confirmation of her suspicions, and then along with Tilley and Stamets tries to find another suitable organism to use in the Tardigrade’s place. Saru intervenes and insists on using the creature one more time after which it goes into deep cyclomorphosis to escape the harmful environment.
Meanwhile, Lorca finds himself in a harmful environment of another kind onboard the Klingon ship in the brig along with a few other human captives. A survivor from another Starfleet vessel, Lt. Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif), and another man who introduces himself as Harcourt Fenton Mudd (Rainin Wilson), That’s right, it’s that Harry Mudd and Wilson’s portrayal of the classic character is right on target as suitably slimy and duplicitous. Harry, this time, is a much darker version of the jolly felon who shows signs of being a sociopath not long after Lorca’s arrival. There’s also another prisoner the Klingons kill brutally soon after Lorca awakes.
It turns out that Mudd knows something about Lorca’s past which he reveals. He discloses Lorca was in command of a ship that was destroyed by the Klingons before his stint on Discovery began and that he was the only survivor. Lorca corrects him by informing him he blew up the ship himself killing everyone onboard because he didn’t want to see them taken prisoner by the Klingons. That’s one hell of a confession to make in front of strangers, and it sure gives us more to chew on regarding Captain Lorca and what sort of man he is.
The ship’s female captain wants information about how Discovery magically appears and disappears, and she tortures Lorca by abusing his eye condition for the info, but to no avail.
When he returns to his cell Lorca has figured out the pet bug that Harry Mudd has is a bug in more ways than one. Harry’s been informing on them in exchange for his survival his pet bug carries a listening device. Lorca and Tyler manage to escape and leave Harry behind. They fight their way off the ship, followed by a chase scene where they get pursued by a swarm of Klingon raiders.
Meanwhile back on Discovery Saru orders one more jump despite knowing the last jump nearly killed the creature. The jump gets made, and it turns out this one is to where the captain is attempting to escape his pursuers. The Discovery beams him and Tyler onboard just as their ship gets destroyed. When Saru tries to congratulate Stamets its discovered rather than risk killing the creature he used himself as the needed component to complete the jump. So, Stamets who seemed like a real jerk before turns out to be not to be such a bad guy after all and also turns out to be one hell of a hero. Not only is he the creator of the Spore Drive, but nearly sacrifices himself to save the creature’s life.
Later Burham and Tilley release the creature back into the vacuum of space where it seems to recover immediately and is last seen transporting itself far away. Saru approaches Burnham and confesses his antagonism was the result of the jealousy and envy he felt when she became the first officer on the Shenzhou. Whether this will lead to a new rapport of cooperation is not clear, but it did indicate their relationship is evolving in a positive direction.
There is a final scene that strongly suggests Stamets and Culber are a gay couple. It’s not dome overtly, but if you’re paying attention, it’s pretty obvious. In it, Stamets confesses he didn’t use the creature for the last jump (that nearly kills him) because he thought Culber would never forgive him if he did. There is an additional mystery introduced at the very end of the show with Stamets mirror reflection seeming to take on a life of its own after he walks away. Is this some side effect of being part of the Spore Drive that will come back to haunt him later? It was certainly an intriguing way to end the episode.