With the Star Trek Discovery now firmly established, it’s crew tentatively positioned to survive at least the length of the next episode, and a motive so basic even the scholars of Vulcan can wrap their pointy ears around it, CBS/Netflix has managed to do something I for one could not have imagined. It has succeeded. Every man, woman, threat ganglion and sentient “Tardigrade” (why couldn’t they just leave it at Ripper?) has a specific place in this universe, a place that has been carefully, and masterfully, considered for what appears to have been a very long time.
“Choose Your Pain“, like its predecessors, does not weigh too heavily on the incidents before it. Its primary goal has been, and should always be, where are we, and where are we going to be? Because of this, the stakes of each episode translate onto the screen with effortless grace, the performers provide every syllable with the nobility and respect they rightfully deserve and the production crew utilizes every skill and ability at their disposal to provide something worthy to behold.
Jason Isaacs’ Captain Lorca has so far been the standout member of Star Trek Discovery. Before this, his mysticism, responsibility, and morality have been a welcome breath of fresh air. After this, we can only learn to love him that much more! Within the first 10 minutes, the hapless Captain is kidnapped by the Klingons and subjected to a true display of their unmitigated barbarism. Although not the only story told in this episode, it has to be considered the most compelling. From shocking revelations, heroic acts of bravery, and a confrontation with Rain Wilson that will not be easily forgotten, Isaacs flexed every muscle on his body to provide Lorca with the most memorable outing to date.
Alongside these endeavors were the more sympathetic concerns of Burnham who believed the Discovery’s continual use of the Spore Drive was starting to have an adverse effect on their so-called “Navigator”. With signs of physical distress, unsettling neo-cortex scans and Burnham’s own bad dreams all creating an environment of fear within the engineering team, it is, in fact, acting Captain Saru that forces the team to do what they so greatly feared. Saru actually takes a surprising turn in this episode, showing signs of self-gratification and pomposity when tasked with leading the charge in Lorca’s absence. His desire to succeed in the footsteps of great Starfleet Captains such as Christopher Pike, Jonathon Archer, and the late Philippa Georgiou all elevate him to level not seen before. It is, in fact, this desire that causes our harmless Ripper (I’m not disgracing myself by pretending to know how to spell the other word) to revert to a state of survival, ejecting most of its fluid and forming a ball much like that of a hedgehog. Undeterred, Saru orders Stamets to awaken the creature and use it to help save the doomed Captain. At first, it seems as though this is the case, however on later inspection it is revealed that Stamets himself, with the help of the Ripper’s DNA, was attached to the drive, and lead the ship to Lorca’s aid.
In amongst this climatic course of events, Discovery boldly enters a world reserved for the more daring of Science Fiction adventures. Not only do we hear the first ever F-Bomb in a Star Trek show, not only do we discover that the Female Captain of the Klingon prison vessel has been sexually exploiting the imprisoned Lieutenant, Ash Tyler for the last 7 months, but, the crew members of the USS Discovery are expected to brush their teeth with motorised black brushes that don’t appear to have brush heads! Scandalous if you ask me… I’m joking of course. We were however treated to the long-awaited reveal of the relationship between Stamets and the long-maligned Doctor Hugh Culber. Although this isn’t necessarily a significant reveal, in the beginning, its necessity instigates when Stamet’s reflection remains in the mirror long after the pair have left the bathroom.
As enjoyable as this season has been, it sometimes feels as though small advances have been made in a relatively lengthier period of time. Understandably the Writers/Directors must establish the Who’s and the What’s and the Why’s before anything spectacular can really begin. Merely teasing the prospect of an all-out war with the Klingons can only carry the salivating masses for so long. Sooner or later a time will have to come where those who say will have to become those that act.