Warning: This contains spoilers for Episode 4 of Star Trek: Discovery. Not caught up? See our spoiler-free review of the series’ opening episodes here.
It’s a sign of a good series that Discovery, even in its fourth episode, succeeds in wrong-footing its audience while still keeping us gripped. That said, the violent death of Security Chief Landry feels like the squandering of a character with a lot of potential – “It’s amazing how much I hate Vulcan proverbs” is just one of many great sardonic lines she’s been given. That is, of course, if this really is the end of the road for her and the other dead characters.
But, for those of us who assumed the monster was some sort of Alien-style bio-weapon, it was pleasing that we were as wrong as Captain Lorca. That it turned out to be the missing component in the mushroom-powered propulsion system (yeah, when you say it out loud it does sound pretty lame) was a neat twist. There are parallels, of course, between the tardigrade creature and Michael, as she warned Lorca that she wasn’t the person he believed her to be. Regardless, both she and the creature enable the Discovery to materialise above the mining colony and, although they saved many Federation citizens, dozens of Klingons are killed. Whichever way Michael cuts it, she’s a formidable addition to Lorca’s crew, which he denigrates as “the tip of the spear – a science vessel full of wide-eyed explorers”.
Time is spent this episode on the Klingon disciples of T’Kuvma, particularly his anointed torchbearer, Voq. We see that the 24 houses aren’t quite as united as the prophecy would have us believe, as Voq is betrayed by Moklai clan leader Kol (Kenneth Mitchell). He’s saved from death by L’Rell (Michelle Chieffo), who, in an earlier scene, partook in the Klingon version of flirting. Voq grunting “Shall we uncouple” (talking about the dilithium generator they were removing from the crippled starship Shenzou, of course) was a rare moment of humour. That the renegade couple, a Klingon Bonnie and Clyde, have a clear objective – to win the war against the Federation, single-handed – is a deft piece of plotting; all-out galaxy-wide war is all well and good for a backdrop, but we need stories that revolve around individual characters.
That an inordinate amount of Discovery’s characters are already dead, as well as a lot of people in Michael’s past, does suggest that time-travel is going to play a part in future episodes. It may also come to explain why Michael’s infamy as a mutineer seems at odds with Star Trek canon – some fans are frothing at the mouth over the fact that Spock, in Original Series episode Turnabout Intruder, makes the observation that there has never been a mutiny in Star Fleet history. You’d think he’d perhaps add, “Uh, apart from my adopted sister…” Could it be that Michael is going to get to go back and undo some of the worst moments in her life?
All in all, Episode 4 of Discovery is a solid episode and, compared to the preceding three, relatively unremarkable. But it’s still a gripping step along the road of what is fast turning out to be the best Star Trek series since The Next Generation found its feet in its third season. That not all Trekkies agree goes without saying – especially those with froth around their mouths.
Star Trek: Discovery is available on Netflix UK, as part of £7.49 monthly subscription. New episodes arrive every Monday, within 24 hours of their US release.