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Star Trek Dis - Season 1 - Episode 06

Star Trek Dis - 1x06 - Lethe

Originally Aired: 2017-10-22

Synopsis:
The U.S.S. Discovery crew is intrigued by new addition, Lt. Ash Tyler. Sarek seeks Burnham's help, rekindling memories from her past. Admiral Cornwell questions Lorca's tactics.

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 6.58

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Problems
- When Sarek gets aboard his ship, two large planets/moons are visible in the sky. It's heavily implied that he is departing from Vulcan, which was said in TOS: The Man Trap to not have a moon, though it may be a Vulcan colony on another planet.

Factoids
None

Remarkable Scenes
- That gorgeous shot of a Vulcan city.
- The Vulcan extremist blowing himself up in an attempt to kill Sarek. Interesting that the technology closely resembled Ent: Chosen Realm.
- Burnham's flashback to her past via Sarek's memory.
- Lorca defying orders to stage a rescue of Sarek.
- Cornwell: "You launched an unauthorized rescue mission using a convicted mutineer! Not to mention a POW who has barely had time to recover! Can you even trust this guy?"
- Lorca freaking out at Cornwell and pulling a phaser on her out of nowhere when she touched his scar.
- Lorca: "Don't take my ship away from me! She's all I got. Please, I'm begging you."

My Review
A straightforward, but touching story. The attack on Sarek and his rescue is dramatically compelling, the deeper window into Burnham's backstory with Sarek is intriguing, and the insight into Sarek's conduct as a father not just of Burnham but of Spock also is fascinating. It's nice to see that Vulcans aren't exactly a totally unified society after the events of Enterprise. It always made sense that the nativism the Romulans exploited would've originated as a homegrown phenomenon that the Romulans merely fanned the flames of, rather than something they conjured up from whole cloth. A demagogue can't succeed without some demand for demagoguery. Even a hundred years after the demagogic (for a Vulcan) leader and secret Romulan collaborator V'Las was removed from power in disgrace, those nativist feelings are still simmering on Vulcan. There is still a group which sees humans as inferior, and even views the Federation as a failed experiment. This sentiment apparently extended far enough to deny Burnham a job in the Vulcan Expeditionary Group based entirely and explicitly on race rather than merit. This resentment of outsiders was so intense that it was the reason for the bombing of the Vulcan Learning Center. Burnham was the target of the terrorist attack; the extremists were trying to assassinate her.

Meanwhile, the nature of Lorca's psych issues becomes a bit clearer here in a quite creepy way. Cornwell stages a much needed intervention on Lorca, whose erratic behavior should rightly be a cause of concern for Starfleet. After psychoanalyzing him, she concludes that his behavior is pathological and manipulative. During a particularly chilling scene, she admits that she can't tell whether or not Lorca is being emotionally honest with her or just pretending to feel the things she expects him to feel. And in one of the most chilling scenes yet aired, Lorca jumps at the chance to manipulate Cornwell into taking Sarek's place for the meeting with the Klingons, almost as though he knew she would be captured. Did he know somehow? Or was he just trying to get her off the ship temporarily while he figured out what to do? Or worse yet, did he tip off the Klingons somehow? All to keep Cornwell off his back? These are disturbing things to ponder. Regardless, he is certainly taking advantage of her absence, given that he is now all too willing to drag his feet rescuing her by uncharacteristically (as Saru explicitly makes note of) going through proper (slow) channels to get a rescue mission authorized. Clearly Lorca is in no hurry to see Cornwell again, a person that is supposed to be his friend. Like Harry Mudd, Cornwell is left at the mercy of the Klingons because Lorca is apparently a sociopath. Given all that, Burnham's line, "I'm grateful to serve under a captain like you." was a pretty nice piece of irony.

While this episode is overall quite good, there are a few wrinkles in the story. Despite Cornwell's concerns about him, Ash Tyler seems to be coping far too well with his ex-POW status. Aside from his overwhelmingly contrived interruption of Burnham's attempt to reach Sarek seemingly for no other reason than to dispense seasoned veteran advice about how people going through near death experiences dwell on what they wish they would've done differently, Tyler was a picture of good character and perfect conduct, which is not something one generally expects from someone who just spent the better part of a year being tortured. Perhaps the most annoying feature of the episode though was seeing them using the spore drive with impunity now, seemingly without additional costs. At least no costs other than Stamets acting weird again and being oddly cheerful in a creepy way. It's like the annoying cliffhanger from the last episode never happened. This episode doesn't deal with the consequences of having Stamets pilot the spore drive at all, which is a pretty big dramatic oversight. Although Cornwell's remark that Starfleet knows about Stamets' illegal eugenics work is delightfully ominous. As we know from other Star Trek shows, augments are rarely treated well.

Also of note, it is pretty neat to see Kol dolling out cloaking technology in exchange for loyalty oaths. Using new technology as leverage to dominate the other great houses feels very authentically Klingon and it adds a nice piece of texture to Klingon history.

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