Kobayashi Marie continues its discussion of the first season of Star Trek Discovery with Episode 7 – Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad
“Tonight we are having … a party”
Oowee, Michael (Sonequa Martin-Green) is way out of her comfort zone when it comes to socialising. She admits to finding Tyler (Shazad Latif) “intriguing”, but can’t allow herself to indulge any emotions that might get in the way of her work, and a full-blown party is not something she can deal with easily.
Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad is the time-loop episode, which I love, but unfortunately features Harry Mudd (Rainn Wilson), which I do not.
As Harry Mudd tries to take control of the ship and its spore drive, the same events are played out in almost identical fashion 6 times, until the crew figures out a way to turn the tables on Mudd. In some ways it’s reminiscent of the Star Trek: TNG episode Cause and Effect, in which the destruction of the Enterprise is replayed in a time loop until Data is able to leave himself enough clues to allow him to work out which is the correct course of action.
In Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad, it’s Stamets (Anthony Rapp) who is the key to everything. Not only is he the only person who remembers events each time the loop is reset, but he is able to nurture Burnham, even under pressure, to accept her emotions and become closer to Tyler – and in doing so, also acquire the information they all need.
His connection with the spore drive has changed Stamet’s personality to the point where Culber (Wilson Cruz) feels he has to follow his partner around and apologise for his overly emotional behaviour. Giving Burnham a huge hug after they collide in the corridor and telling her not to apologise for an accident is far from the abrasive Stamets we’ve met up to now, but he is adorably over the top and the humour is welcome. He also, seemingly at random, comments to Tyler “You’re a very tall man” – something which sounded irrelevant first time through, but has more significance on second viewing.
At each resetting of the timeline, Stamets nudges Burnham and Tyler a fraction further towards solving the problem. The writers very cleverly have taken this opportunity to also nudge the two characters romantically closer together, knowing that they have the added bonus of being able to allow them to forget it even happened, so that the tension between can continue in future episodes.
It’s brewing very nicely too, as the two are apparent emotional opposites. Tyler has such an easy manner of speaking with Burnham in this episode. He senses her discomfort and teases her just enough to keep her on her toes, but not enough to be unpleasant. Her confusion as to how she should respond is delightful, and we can see her awkwardness. She even admits to him that what she’s feeling is complicated. His response? A reassuring – yet charged – “It’s OK, I’m not going anywhere”.
Loving how this is being set up!