We’re seven weeks into the latest Star Trek series, Star Trek: Discovery. So far, so good – at least in my opinion. There are a few tropes here and there, as well as some rather predictable plot twists but, overall, the show has been enjoyable. This most recent episode, “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad,” however, takes the cake in terms of entertaining television.
Episode six, “Lethe,” left us with some difficult character choices and emotions. So, of course, the best way to start episode seven is with a party! While most of the crew is having a good time, Burnham is unsurprisingly out of place.
Despite Tilly’s encouragement, she has difficulty loosening up and is particularly uncomfortable when left alone with Tyler. Luckily (or not), the pair are “saved by the bell” and called to the bridge.
Along the way, they have yet another interesting interaction with Stamets, who is still acting exceptionally odd due to his connection with the spore drive.
On the bridge, a nearby object in space is identified as a gormagander – which is apparently a giant creature similar to a whale. Captain Lorca is interested in proceeding as planned, but Burnham explains that gormaganders are endangered and, as such, protocol mandates that they bring it aboard and deliver it to a xenologic facility.
Burnham takes lead and the creature is beamed aboard. Things quickly get out of hand, however, as the team realizes the gormagander is in distress just before an unidentified individual exits its mouth and begins shooting the crew. The attacker is revealed as Mudd, the prisoner Captain Lorca and Tyler left stranded on the Klingon ship in episode five. He’s back and he’s ready to exact his vengeance.
His master plan? Mudd traps the U.S.S. Discovery and all of its crew in a 30-minute time loop so he can learn it’s secrets and ultimately sell the ship to the Klingons for a profit. At the end of each cycle, he destroys the ship and starts the process over until he can obtain the information he needs.
What Mudd doesn’t expect, though, is Stamets. Stamets’ altered DNA apparently grants him additional awareness over the situation and, instead of forgetting the events every 30-minutes, he remembers what everyone else can’t. Unfortunately, it proves extremely difficult to get anyone else to believe him after each reset.
Stamets’ first attempt to warn Burnham and Tyler is interrupted by Doctor Culber, who apologizes for the weird behavior. He does manage to tell them that, “it all starts with the gormagander.” On the bridge, the pair become cautious when they do, in fact, come across one of the space whales. They volunteer to head the recovery process, but it’s interrupted when the ship goes into black alert without reason. When they go to investigate, they find Mudd sitting at the spore drive control panel.
There’s a brief confrontation which ends with Stamets shooting Mudd from behind. His next comment is one of my favorites – “As days go, this is a weird one.” He briefly explains that he’s been reliving the attack over and over again, but has yet to find a way for the “home team” to come out on top. Then the spore drive overloads the ship is destroyed.
The loop continues over and over and over and over again. We see snippets from a few of the 30-minute cycles but things really don’t get going until Stamets convinces Burnham to talk with him alone. To help him prove his sanity the next go around, she tells him a secret no one else could know – she’s never been in love.
Stamets uses this to sway Burnham earlier during the next countdown, but they hit another snag when it comes to Tyler. Stamets needs Burnham to find out more about Mudd and Tyler is their only resource. Her lack of experience with love makes her interactions with Tyler awkward and we see yet another failed attempt to save the ship. Stamets does give Burnham some pointers, though, stating that “love isn’t logical.” He also teaches her to dance and reveals some about his own personal relationship.
During the next reset, Burnham does dance with Tyler (and they even kiss!) before heading to the bridge.
They also decide that Mudd must be using a crystal to keep the time loop going. Once on the bridge, Mudd has again taken control and, quite flippantly, kills Tyler with a dark matter bomb. Finally worn down, Stamets admits that he’s the missing link Mudd has been looking for.
Now that Mudd knows the ship’s secret, he plans to end the time loop and call the Klingons…if he succeeds, everyone who has died (including Tyler) will remain dead. To keep this from happening, Burnham reveals her identity as the mutineer that killed T’Kuvma. Mudd is extremely intrigued, as she’d fetch a pretty penny if handed over to the Klingons.
She agrees to go willingly and Mudd questions her motives, which turn out to be Tyler. When Mudd says that he’s dead, she responds with, “Not for long,” and swallows one of the dark matter bombs. In order to cash in on the new Burnham trophy, Mudd resets the timeline one last time.
When Mudd arrives on the bridge next, Captain Lorca easily hands over control of the ship and asks only that the rest of the crew be spared. Mudd warns that conning a con man isn’t smart, but Captain Lorca assures him that he simply doesn’t want a repeat of what happened with his previous ship.
Thinking he’s finally won, Mudd hails the Klingon ship…only to find out moments later that the ship he’s contacted really belongs to Barron Grimes – the father of his dear, dear Stella who, as it turns out, he may not love so much after all. The real story? Mudd agreed to marry Stella and then ran off with her dowry!
In the end, Barron Grimes and Stella beam aboard and confront Mudd. Despite it all, Stella still loves him and Barron Grimes agrees to pardon him as long as he stays by her side.
Overall, I think this episode was a lot of fun. I enjoy Mudd and the havoc he brings. It’s also nice to see some not-so-Vulcan feelings budding in Burnham. Stay tuned to see what happens later this weekend!