Welcome to episode five of Star Trek: Discovery, “Choose Your Pain.” We really have two separate, albeit related, stories unfolding this week. Let’s start off with the one the title deals with.
Captain Lorca is off ship discussing the many recent successes of the U.S.S. Discovery and it’s incredible spore drive. While Admiral Cornwell and the other Starfleet officers are grateful for the many accomplishments, she asks that he and his crew rein in their involvement in the war with the Klingons. Starfleet believes that the Klingons are aware that the U.S.S. Discovery has new technology and this can be dangerous. Admiral Conrwell promises future missions, but expresses to Captain Lorca that they will be provided sparingly.
Side note: Starfleet is apparently hard at work looking for more Tardigrades so they can replicate the successes of the U.S.S. Discover.
Needless to say, Captain Lorca isn’t happy with the new plan, but there’s not much he can do…especially after his transport ship is attacked by Klingons. The pilot is killed and he is taken hostage.
Once aboard the Klingon ship, Captain Lorca meets fellow inmate Harry Mudd. Mudd actually appeared in a number of original Star Trek episodes, so it’ll be exciting to see how this new character compares to the old. So far? He’s proving to be a pretty horrible individual.
Mudd claims his story is tragic – while courting the love of his life, he borrowed money from some not so reputable folk in order to buy her a moon…yes, I moon…but ultimately fell behind on his payments. The debt collectors handed him over to the Klingons as punishment. Despite Mudd’s apparent love for his wife, Stella, Captain Lorca soon discovers there isn’t much else worth commending. When Klingons enter the cell and address Mudd saying, “Choose your pain,” he quickly passes the upcoming beating to another prisoner, who proceeds to literally get stomped.
This has been the Klingons’ process for a while. When it’s time for a torture session, a guard enters and gives one prisoner the option to choose to take the beating, or pass it onto a comrade. It’s easy to guess what Mudd’s response always is.
Captain Lorca soon realizes there’s yet another individual in the cell: Starfleet Lt. Ash Tyler, who was apparently captured during the Battle of the Binary Stars. These two quickly pair up, despite Mudd’s ranting about Starfleet and accusations regarding Captain Loca’s past. We finally find out exactly how he damaged his eyes. He is the only survivor from his previous ship assignment, which he actually blew up in order to keep the crew from being captured and tortured by the Klingons.
There seems to be some discontent between the two Starfleet men when the Klingon guards come back for another round of “Choose Your Pain,” but it turns out to be an act. The two manage to incapacitate the Klingons and escape the cell…without Mudd. When they lock him in, he vows revenge and pines further for his darling Stella.
The escape goes relatively well and the two flee the ship using a Klingon shuttle.
Meanwhile, there’s a bit of drama on the U.S.S. Discovery as well. Burnham is still extremely concerned about the Tardigrade’s condition. The create is deteriorating and she believes it’s due to the spore drive. She seeks a second opinion from Dr. Culber, who ultimately agrees.
First Officer Saru receives word regarding Captain Lorca’s capture and assume command of the ship. Their mission? Find the captain as soon as possible. Unfortunately, doing this requires use of the spore drive and the Tardigrade and he blatantly ignores Burnham’s request to find a workaround.
In true Burnham style, she approaches Lt. Stamets for help. With Tilly’s help, the three of them create a way to transfer the Tardigrade’s DNA do another sentient creature. Before the idea can be tested, acting captain Saru demands a jump and the Tardigrade is pushed too far. It retreats into an unconscious, near-death state. Now in Klingon territory, acting captain Saru demands the creature be revitalized and prepared for the next jump as quickly as possible. Dr. Culber disagrees with the decision, but Lt. Stamets asserts that the spore drive will be ready once Captain Lorca is found.
And it is. Once Captain Lorca and Lt. Ash Tyler are beamed aboard, First Officer Saru calls for the jump and the ship successfully escapes the Klingons…only, it wasn’t because Lt. Stamets revived the Tardigrade. Instead, he injected himself with its DNA and hooked himself up to the spore drive. He’s unconscious when help arrives, but is alive. In fact, he seems remarkably well.
With a viable alternative in hand, Burnham and Tilly release the Tardigrade into space. After a healthy portion of spores, the creature regenerates and then “jumps” away. It’s a good thing Lt. Stamets can control the spore drive!
Oh, wait…one of the final scenes of the episode actually features Dr. Culber and Lt. Stamets, who we discover, despite their apparent dislike for one another, are actually in a very loving relationship. While the Tardigrade DNA and jump seem to have left little impact on Lt. Stamets, Dr. Culber is worried. And he should be. After Lt. Stamets leaves the room once he finishes brushing his teeth, a copy of him remains in the bathroom mirror. It smiles before walking away.
Say it with me, ya’ll – CREEPY! And so not good.
There are absolutely some interesting things developing here. While I would have enjoyed more episode time on the U.S.S. Discovery following the story arch, I was very interested in the additional information about Captain Lorca’s past. How did you feel the latest episode compared to the rest? Share your thoughts!