TV REVIEW: Star Trek: Discovery – S01E6

A reassuringly solid and mushroom-free episode.

Relationships between mentors and mentees are at the heart of this episode, as we see Captain Lorca bond with his new security officer Ash – whose only fault seems to be lying about the number of hologram Klingons he killed to make the captain look good – and Tilly announce that he considers Michael her mentor. Then, of course, there’s the relationship that’s arguably at the heart of the whole series: the one between Sarek and Michael.

The pre-credits sequence expertly sets these three duos up, a (hopefully) intentional laugh coming from Michael and Tilly’s running gear being emblazoned with the word ‘DISCO’, which, in the 23rd Century, everyone just takes to be the beginning of the word ‘Discovery’. And, while Ash and Lorca blasts computer-simulated foes, Sarek faces real danger: a suicide bomber from the murderous Logic Extreme faction, Vulcans who believe their species to be superior and the Federation of Planets a “failed experiment”.

Beaming the bomber outside the ship, Sarek survives, but the explosion still cripples his ship and severely injures him. Dying, his subconscious mind reaches out to Michael – the two sharing consciousness ever since he performed a mind-meld on her to save her life. That it was Vulcan extremists who bombed the learning centre on Vulcan in an attempt to kill the young Michael is just one revelation. The other comes as a shock to Michael as well as the audience: that Sarek was forced to choose whether to send Michael or his half-human son Spock – hooray for this fan service – to the Vulcan Expeditionary Academy and chose Spock. When Sarek told his would-be assassin that “in times of crisis, ignorance can be beneficial” he could also have been talking about Michael; does knowing this unpalatable truth harm or heal her relationship with Sarek?

With Sarek rescued and recuperating on board Discovery, Michael’s heartfelt vow that she and her “father” will have “this conversation one day” seems one the show’s writers intend to keep. For this and many reasons, Sarek is a most welcome addition to Discovery’s crew.

Elsewhere, while Michael boosted Cadet Tilly’s confidence by insisting she join the mission, Lorca did the same with Ash; as expected, both newcomers excelled themselves with a typically Trek ability to follow orders, but not blindly. Failing to follow orders is also Captain Lorca’s greatest failing. Well, that and lying during his psyche test and almost shooting his friend and lover, Admiral Cornwell, with a phaser. Her capture at the hands of the Klingons, and Lorca’s sudden reluctance to mount a daring rescue, puzzles Saru and has viewers wondering about his motives. As Cornwell intends to relieve Lorca of his command, is the Captain willing to sacrifice her life to keep his job?

Damn, and just when Michael has come round to thinking of Lorca as a mentor, telling him she considers it an “honour” to serve under him. How long is that going to last? And, with Michael and Ash perhaps showing the first sign of romantic feelings (or at least a solid, flirty friendship), will Lorca’s two biggest fans both have to deal with the monster he may be becoming?

As good as last episode, with the added benefit of being suitable for children (a touch of throat-slashing notwithstanding), Discovery needs to maintain this level of quality – and mention the magic mushrooms as little as possible – having Stamet’s say “groovy” was a low point – if disgruntled fans are going to be wooed back.

This review was first published on the website Vodzilla in 2017. To read it there, together with many more of my reviews, click here