I find the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery to be really interesting, as it dives further into Burnham’s past growing up with Vulcans. “Lethe” also brings to light some of Captain Lorca’s personal struggles and, personally, I’m all about the darker crevices of the human soul. Alright, jumping in!
The primary focus of this week’s episode was Burnham’s adopted Vulcan father, Sarek. He’s on a peace mission to meet with a faction of Klingons. Along the way, however, his pilot reveals himself as a Vulcan extremist and attempts to blow up their shuttle. Sarek manages to bring up some sort of force field at the last second, but is seriously injured.
Meanwhile, Burnham is busy coaching Cadet Tilly on how to become a Starfleet captain. It’s nice to see the pair interact, Cadet Tilly’s innocent playfulness contrasting Burnham’s hard-ass routine.
We also see Captain Lorca and Tyler kicking some Klingon butt in a battle simulation. The two are developing a relationship quickly the captain even asks Tyler to be U.S.S. Discovery’s new Chief of Security. Unsurprisingly, this is an honor he eagerly accepts.
It isn’t until Burnham and Cadet Tilly are interacting with Tyler during breakfast that things start heating up.
When Sarek is injured, his katra (Vulcan soul) link with Burnham causes her to feel his pain…and experience one of his memories. Sarek’s thoughts are centered on Burnham’s graduation and discussions of her future admittance into the Vulcan Expeditionary Group. We finally lay eyes on her adoptive, human mother, Amanda. The day should be a good one, but is marred when Sarek shares that the admittance committee has decided that despite her graduating with honors, Burnham isn’t fit to serve in such a capacity.
Sarek notices future Burnham’s presence, however, and forces her out of the memory.
Burnham is rushed to the infirmary, where she explains the connection. As a young girl, her school as attached by Vulcan extremists and she was technically dead for three minutes before Sarek revived her by sharing his katra. She knows he’s in danger and asks Captain Lorca for permission to attempt a rescue mission. To her surprise, the captain agrees.
The problem? Sarek’s ship is floating somewhere in a nebula and there’s too much interference to find him. Burnham and Captain Lorca seek help from Lieutenant Stamets…who is acting totally weird! Burnham doesn’t seem to notice, but Captain Lorca certainly does.
While Lieutenant Stamets is able to create a mechanism that will enhance Burnham’s connection to Sarek, his almost silly-giddy behavior is seriously troubling.
Captain Lorca grants Burnham’s request to take a ship into the nebula. Cadet Tilly is also assigned to the mission, as is Chief of Security Tyler. Captain Lorca instructs him specifically to “Bring her back in once piece.” Assuming he meant the shuttle, Chief of Security Tyler promises to return the ship without a scratch. But that’s not what’s on Captain Lorca’s mind. He’s more concerned about Burnham and goes so far as to tell his new Chief of Security not to come back at all without her.
Unfortunately, utilizing her connection with Sarek isn’t as easy as Burnham hoped. She needs to break through the memory of her graduation in order to wake him up long enough to activate his ship’s distress beacon, but Sarak is fighting her. Eventually, she realizes this is because he’s hiding something. And just what is he hiding? Well, she wasn’t actually denied entrance into the Vulcan Expeditionary Group. Sarek was given a choice – either Burnham could join, or his son Spock when he came of age. Obviously torn but ultimately loyal to his own family, Sarek chose spoke. He believes this to be his greatest moment of shame, as Spock eventually opts to join Starfleet instead anyway.
Realizing this is extremely painful for Burnham, who has been counting this moment as a personal failure of her own. Needless to say, she’s angry with Sarek for letting her believe she wasn’t good enough all this time. Revisiting the memory together is enough to revive Sarek, however, and he manages to activate his distress signal. While seriously injured, he will recover.
His relationship with Burnham, on the other hand, may not. The pair attempts to discuss the memory in person, but it doesn’t go well. In fact, Sarek is exceptionally cold, stating that, “technically, we are not related.”
Now, we need to take a step back. While Captain Lorca seems more than happy to help Burnham execute her rescue mission, Starfleet higher-ups are not so supportive. Admiral Cornwell actually pays Captain Lorca a visit, expressing concern regarding his recent behavior. She feels that, despite him passing all of the required psychological exams, he’s not been the same since the destruction of his last ship. These scenes are extremely interesting, because it appears that Captain Lorca opens up to Admiral Cornwell. In fact, the two are very intimate and obviously share a romantic history together.
Things aren’t exactly as they appear, however, as it soon becomes obvious that Captain Lorca is indeed not okay. Her suspicions confirmed, the Admiral insists he’s unfit for captain the U.S.S. Discovery and informs him of her intent to have him removed from his post.
Captain Lorca isn’t quite finished with the U.S.S. Discovery, however. With Sarek unable to complete his peace mission with the Klingons, Captain Lorca suggests that Admiral Cornwell go instead. Eager to end the war, she agrees, stating that she’s going to report to her superiors about his behavior as soon as she returns…but it becomes obvious that Captain Lorca doesn’t actually expect her to return. The meeting with the Klingons turns out to be a trap and the Admiral is captured. When approached by First Officer Saru, Captain Lorca refuses to mount a rescue until explicitly instructed to do so by Starfleet…hot damn! Someone is manipulative, for sure. Is it bad this makes me like him more!?
One additional note. Before the end of the episode, Captain Lorca officially invites Burnham on as U.S.S. Discovery’s Science Officer and she accepts!
Okay, talk to me folks. What are your thoughts on this episode? We’re seeing some very interesting character development, which I love. It’ll be interesting to see where things go over the next few episodes.