“You made me believe I failed you. You manipulated me. Do you have any idea what living with that lie did to me?”
Two very long cons are at play in the first season of Star Trek: Discovery. They involve Captain Gabriel Lorca and Lieutenant Ash Tyler. You’ll remember from the previous episode, Lorca and Tyler found each other in a Klingon holding cell with Harry Mudd. Tyler’s excuse for being able to pull off a successful escape was that he needed a competent running buddy. As Mudd was revealed to be a mole, Tyler and Lorca escaped with unbelievable ease (and I do mean unbelievable).
When we next see them, they’re playing war-games in the holodeck, and you get the feeling they could become fast friends. Lorca asks Tyler to join his crew. He’s looking for a few good men. Meanwhile, Sarek is given a diplomatic assignment that appears to be nothing more than a trap orchestrated by an odd cadre of renegades who have formed their own faction and made it their mission in life to disconnect Vulcan from the Federation. If that sounds illogical, it’s because it is. These particular Vulcans believe humans to be inferior.
It’s not a controversial sentiment since we’ve seen these ideas manifested repeatedly in Enterprise. Spock is even known to show this kind of bigotry, but he generally keeps it to himself. One such renegade Vulcan commits suicide by implanting himself with a bomb in an effort to explode Sarek’s ship. Luckily, Sarek catches on and puts up a force-field, but because the blast cripples his ship and knocks him unconscious, he reaches out with his mind to contact Michael.
Michael goes to Lorca and asks for his permission to mount a rescue mission. This requires a ridiculously tedious discussion with the perpetually sarcastic Stamets (quickly becoming one of the least tolerable characters on the show, but I know Tig Notaro will have him beat in her first two minutes) involving mind-meld physics. The Vulcans refuse Lorca’s assistance in rescuing him. Lorca ignores them and sends Tyler, Tilly, and Michael out to find Sarek, which gives them a chance to get close. I will admit that scenes play much better with this trio of characters than with any one person. The three of them make up a complete person.
Admiral Cornwell inexplicably comes to Discovery to yell at Lorca some more. She behaves less like an officer and more like (you’ll forgive me) a nagging wife. Cornwell determines Lorca has lost his mind because he sleeps with a phaser under his pillow. It’s a little more complicated than that, Sweetie. During the rescue mission, Michael attempts to mind-meld with Sarek to get his specific location. I don’t know how this possible; Michael being human and all, but each time she attempts to contact him, he violently rejects her and throws her out of his mind. This would all be extremely interesting to me if I didn’t feel (as I do with the entire show) the rules are being re-written to serve Burnham’s character.
Mind-melds in the Original Series were cut-and-dry, no-nonsense; sometimes a B.S. device designed to advance the plot. In Enterprise, we saw that there could be medical consequences to forcible melds. Here it seems like magic more than anything. After Sarek’s rescue, it becomes apparent Michael is suffering from some brand of “middle-child syndrome,” even though she’s adopted. I had no idea we were watching an episode of Star Trek: Eight is Enough. When Cornwell takes up Sarek’s mission, she is herself abducted by the Klingons. Lorca contemplates rescuing her, but instead asks Starfleet for instructions. Ooh!
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