Kobayashi Marie continues its discussion of the first season of Star Trek Discovery with Episode 5 – Choose Your Pain (a tale of two strands).
Captain Lorca’s (Jason Isaacs) shuttle is attacked and he finds himself imprisoned by the Klingons. Meanwhile Discovery’s preparations to rescue him endanger the tardigrade, and they are in danger of losing access to the spore drive.
Lorca soon discovers that he’s sharing his prison cell with other inmates – one of them being Harcourt Fenton Mudd (Rainn Wilson), known to TOS audiences from the episodes Mudd’s Women and The Trouble with Tribbles. Wilson has absolutely captured a young Harry Mudd in his portrayal of the conman in question – he is definitely recognisable from his encounters with Kirk and crew – but unfortunately for this viewer, Harry Mudd is one of my least favourite characters from TOS and so my heart sank when he introduced himself to Lorca. I’ve never been able to view him as a lovable rogue; he’s always been a really annoying character for me. Fortunately his whining, wheeling and dealing wasn’t on screen for too long, as the other occupant of the prison cell, Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif) became the catalyst for their escape.
On rewatch, I was surprised at how swiftly the episode moves along – first time around I remembered a lot more brutality from the Klingons, and a lot more Mudd. We’re introduced to the idea that Tyler has quite a constitution, having been captive for 7 months. He confides to Lorca that the Klingon captain has “taken a liking to him”. Lorca and Tyler’s duping of Mudd and subsequent jailbreak is fun to watch – but Mudd does threaten that we haven’t seen the last of him. Booo.
As they escape, Tyler fights with L’Rell (Mary Chieffo) – in fact, he really lays into her. It’s quite alarming to see the violence he’s using. We know it’s necessary if they are to escape, but there is real venom in the ferocity of his blows. And as if that weren’t enough, Lorca’s ricocheted shot leaves a nasty injury on the side of her face. She certainly took a lot of abuse this episode.
Meanwhile, back on Discovery, Tilly (Mary Wiseman), Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) gleefully discover that what the spore drive actually needs is an animate, sentient life form to co-pilot – it doesn’t need to be a tardigrade. So when the tardigrade goes into some form of hibernation to protect itself from further harm, Stamets has a solution when the time comes to urgently get out of Klingon territory.
Problem is, the solution is Stamets himself. Fortunately for everyone involved his plan works, and he seems unharmed, meaning that Burnham and Tilly can re-animate the tardigrade and release it back into space.
The episode concludes on a domestic scene in the bathroom, with Stamets and Culber brushing their teeth together before bedtime. All the bickering that we’ve seen, their disagreements over what actions to take – it’s not because they dislike each other, it’s because they love each other!
Although … just when we think everything is now OK – Stamets turns away from the mirror, but his reflection stays for a while after he leaves …