Alright nerds, it’s time to take a look at the third episode of Star Trek: Discovery, “Context is for Kings.” I think fans were in for a bit of treat this go-around, as this latest episode really brought home the Star Trek “feel,” while also throwing a few interesting punches.
We rejoin Michael Burnham, along with three other Starfleet prisoners, six months after the Battle at Binary Stars. With more than 8,000 casualties weighing on her conscience, it clear Burnham is resigned to her fate. In fact, she seems to be embracing her life-sentence, as well as the obvious hatred from those around her.
The merry band of crooks are being transported to another facility, but after their ship is infested and immobilized by space bugs, they are picked up by the U.S.S. Discovery. As Burnham and the rest of the prisoners are escorted to the cafeteria by Security Officer Landry, we see a number of unique elements worth noting – including different uniforms and black Starfleet badges. Mealtime, however, is interrupted when one of the other inmates picks a fight with Burnham, who quickly finishes it with her awesome suus mahna techniques.
Officer Landry suddenly announces that the ship’s captain wants to see Burnham and takes her to the bridge…where we find out Saru is Discovery’s First Officer. Boom! That’s not a punch in the gut, or anything.
Our first encounter with the recently injured Captain Gabriel Lorca is a fascinating one. He seems particularly intrigued by Burnham and it’s instantly obvious to her (and viewers) that he’s up to something more than mere Captain-y duty in rescuing the prison shuttle occupants. But he has fortune cookies, so I’m willing to give him some slack.
He also sees Burnham for the talented (and misunderstood) individual that she is. Despite her request to be left alone, he temporarily assigns her to the Discovery’s engineering team to put her superior skills to better use.
Burnham is given a room and everything, as well as a roommate! Enter the overly chipper and endearingly awkward Cadet Sylvia Tilly. I felt like I was watching Wicked – a classic case of incompatible people forced to reside together in a small space. Until she realizes who Burnham really is, Cadet Tilly’s take on the development is that “A roommate is an automatic, built-in friend!” Burnham, on the other hand, seems intent on remaining distant and broody.
Her moodiness is interrupted, however, by an unfamiliar ship alarm and some weird, watery substance she’s never seen before. Cadet Tilly’s talkativeness shuts down, though, as soon as she realizes Burnham hasn’t been briefed. There’s definitely something wonky with U.S.S. Discovery and Burnham’s interest is piqued.
The strangeness continues as Burnham reports for duty later. Lieutenant Stamets, co-leader of some top-secret Starfleet science experiment, is none too pleased to have her on his team. He gives her a throwaway assignment, which she tackles handily, ultimately revealing an error that had been previously overlooked.
Things heat up in the episode when when disaster strikes the U.S.S. Discovery’s sister ship, killing all of the crew. Captain Lorca gives the command to investigate the situation and retrieve any salvageable project materials. Burnham is assigned to the recovery team after a wary First Officer Saru admits that she’s the most intelligent Starfleet officer he’s ever encountered.
Lieutenant Stamets, Cadet Tilly, Security Officer Landry and another unimportant crew member also make the cut – can you guess which one doesn’t make it back to Discovery?
There’s actually a lot going on once the team boards the other ship…unfortunately, no one can really tell what it is. The crew is dead, they find piles of dead Klingons, an immensely strong monster is running around, and there’s absolutely no conclusive evidence to indicate what caused it all to happen. Almost as if to highlight the confusion of the situation, we get an amazing scene in which Burnham crawls through air ducts reciting lines from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Her daring antics inevitably save the the team from being killed by the scary monster (well, everyone except that fifth guy) and they return to the U.S.S. Discovery.
Burnham is more certain than ever that something is terribly wrong and when Captain Lorca invites her to stay on as an official crew member, she is quick to say no. She’s fairly certain U.S.S. Discovery is working on dangerous and unsanctioned chemical warfare and, while she may have been designated a mutineer, she’s still firmly committed to Sarfleet’s principles and mission. Her perception of the situation is incorrect, however, as Captain Lorca explains the ship and its crew are actually working on a pore-based propulsion system.
She’s still reluctant, but he ultimately sways her with the offer of using her superior skills to fix the mistake she made. “You helped start a war. Don’t you want to help me end it?” Annnd Captain Lorca closes the deal with a fortune cookie! I won’t lie, I’m liking this guy…
Well, kind of. His affinity for working within the “grey” of war also means he’s prone to doing stuff like teleport that extremely dangerous monster onto the U.S.S. Discovery…and that’s just a recipe calling for disaster in a future episode.
Another important moment of interest is a conversation between Burnham and First Officer Saru. She apologizes for her role in what happened and, while he admires her abilities and acknowledges that she’s incredibly capable, he ultimately asserts his belief that she is also extremely dangerous. There’s not much resolved between the two, so I think we are in for some great relationship development here.
The other relationship worth highlighting is Burnham and her roommate, Cadet Tilly. It’s obvious that the cadet sees something admirable in Burnham. She shares her intent to become a Starfleet captain in the future and believes she can learn a lot from Burnham. This is definitely the beginning of a mentor-mentee sort of relationship and I look forward to seeing where it goes.
Overall, I think we are looking at a pretty solid new Star Trek series. There’s lot of potential here and I’m definitely looking forward to tuning in for episode four. Now that we’re seeing more with regards to the true direction of the show, what are your thoughts?