Title: Magic To Make The Sanest Man Go Mad
Director: David M. Barrett
Writers: based on Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry, created by Bryan Fuller, and Alex Kurtzman written by Aron Eli Coleite and Jesse Alexander
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
Harry Mudd (Harcourt Fenton Mudd) makes his second appearance of the season and precipitates a crisis on board Discovery. When the classic Trek villain made his appearances on the original series Mudd was portrayed as a sort of jolly bad guy, initially introduced as an unscrupulous salesman and later as a deceitful drug dealer and pimp. It quickly became apparent that beneath that smiling veneer was the mind of a greedy sociopath willing to do whatever it took to get what he wanted, which was usually wealth. This time around Mudd is portrayed as much darker, a merciless killer, and just plain evil.
The show has made the logical and natural choice for developing and exploring the relationships of the ship’s crew, starting, of course, with Burnham. As this week’s episode develops, there is a significant crisis that threatens the ship and the lives of everyone on it, and another that parallels it concerning matters of the heart and feelings. This is something Burnham, partially because she got raised on Vulcan, needs to deal with as part of her makeup that she has up until now found ways to avoid.
Oh, by the way, I found out the story behind that bridge crew member that looks like a robot, She’s not a robot, she’s a cyborg, and her name is Airiam. Hopefully, we will find out more about her as the series continues.
(*warning spoilers follow*)
Magic To Make The Sanest Man Mad is a time-loop story, something we have encountered numerous time in genre shows including earlier editions of the Trek universe. It seems Harry Mudd wants revenge for Lorca leaving him behind locked up in the Klingon ship, and now he has a found a way to take over Discovery which he plans to sell to the Klingons as a sort of poetic justice.
He first enters the ship by way of catching a ride inside a Gormagander, a sort of space whale. Initially, he is shown exiting the beast in a unique and nicely styled spacesuit and begins shooting everyone in sight, eventually taking control of the ship. This sequence gets repeated several times, each time slightly different but all resulting in Discovery getting destroyed in a cataclysmic explosion. It seemed odd the show kept portraying Discovery being destroyed in a blast when Mudd had already stated his intention to sell the ship to the Klingons. There are multiple depictions of Mudd killing Lorca to reinforce this sequence as something that is occurring over and over again.
Stametz is the hitch in Mudd’s plan, maybe because he’s is connected to the intergalactic spores he’s the only one aware of the situation, and eventually, he convinces Burnham its real and they need to find a way to stop Mudd. Stamets is still behaving oddly, almost as if he is high on some psychedelic drug, or maybe a little drunk, or both. Burnham also recruits Tyler to help foil Mudd’s scheme and to do that she is forced to examine her feelings and the nature of personal relationships and get out of her comfort zone. With a little help from Stamets, she manages to cross into what is for her, unexplored territory and establish a rapport with him. For better or worse, it looks as if a star-crossed relationship is in store for Burnham’s future.
Eventually, the Discovery crew work together to trick Mudd at his own game, sending him back into the waiting arms of his “beloved” Stella, a situation he was trying to escape forever.
This was, for me, an immensely enjoyable episode, with a nice blend of action, mystery, and suspense along with enough surprises to keep it interesting, and I also enjoyed getting a closer, more personal look at the show’s characters.