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As I promised last week, we’ll start this review with the big question for those who haven’t jumped onto the CBS All Access bandwagon yet: Is Star Trek: Discovery worth paying for a subscription? Nope. Not yet, ladies and gentlemen. This week’s offering, the ridiculously long-titled “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry,” was a mess of exposition on the Starfleet side of things and wasted time spent on the completely unengaging Klingon power struggle plot. Without getting into spoilers, this show has a major Klingon problem, and I am starting to lose hope that showrunners Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts will be able to course correct and turn it into anything resembling an interesting story arc. Having said that, time to dive into the spoiler-filled episode review.
There was an oversupply of stupidity running throughout the entire episode, and while I can forgive freshmen shows an awful lot in terms of struggling to find story and characters, I am not in the business of forgiving stupidity. Let’s begin with the streak of stupid that angered me the most: Lt. Commander Landry letting the creature out of its cage to stun it and dismember it while Burnham just stood by and did nothing. First, nothing about Landry up to this point suggests she’s impulsive and willing to take a risk of that nature (there have been plenty of signs that she’s willing to go along with Lorca’s orders no matter what, mostly out of fear of triggering his anger). And Burnham should have absolutely done something to stop her from making such a hasty and, as it turned out, deadly choice, especially since Burnham’s life was also on the line. What bugs me the most was that I found Landry to be one of the show’s more fun characters. Hell, she actually made me laugh, which is a job now solely reserved for good, nervous Tilly (who, I have to say, is really growing on me).
So far, the series has killed off two of my favorite characters (and two of their interesting female characters- something that is often in short supply on a Star Trek series). Considering neither Michelle Yeoh or Rekha Sharma were main cast members, I saw their deaths coming pretty clearly. But it’s disappointing that Discovery has only two full-time female cast members. At this point in Star Trek, I had hoped for a show with at least a few interesting supporting female characters to balance things out, and both Georgiou and Landry had the potential to fit the bill. I suppose Jayne Brook’s Admiral Katrina Cornwell has a chance to fill the void left by the two deaths, but who knows. Burnham makes a strong co-lead with Lorca, and Tilly is a good supporting character and a potential sounding board for Burnham as she continues her hero’s journey, but having a few more kickass ladies wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Now for the episode’s second stupid arc: Voq the Klingon trusts another Klingon and let’s him hang out alone on his ship assuming nothing bad will happen. The series has made it quite clear that Voq was bullied as a kid and has a chip on his shoulder the size of Qo’noS. He’s shifty and doesn’t like other Klingons. WHY WOULD HE TRUST A GUY WHO REFUSED TO GO ALONG WITH HIM IN THE FIRST PLACE? It doesn’t make any sense. Perhaps they wanted to show there are still cracks in the Klingon Empire? Well, that was clear in the pilot when T’Kuvma couldn’t get all 24 Houses to align with him. Perhaps it was to show that Voq isn’t a good leader. Well, that was clear when we found out he was too stubborn to get the power source from the Shenzhou and was willing to let his crew starve. But the worst part of the arc is that we have been given exactly zero reasons to invest in Voq.
He’s the bad guy, but he’s an inept bad guy. He’s the only living Klingon we can blame for the death of a character we cared about. Trying to make us feel sympathy for him and his inability to lead his people doesn’t work. So he lost control of his holy war? Fine. That apparently has no bearing on the Klingons who were attacking the dilithium mine (the show hasn’t been particularly clear on exactly which Klingons are attacking Starfleet- is it Voq’s people, or is it another configuration of Klingon Houses?), as they just kept right on bombing the outpost. But the show needs to make a choice: is this the story of a beaten down Klingon outcast who rises to glory in the Empire, or is it a story of a war between the Klingon Empire (as it grows into a formidable force, regardless of Voq’s involvement) and Starfleet? Right now, Discovery wants to have it both ways: the nameless Klingons are the danger, but we are supposed to care about Voq’s arc. Right now, I just want Starfleet to kill all the Klingons. And that is an issue.
— Kudos to Rekha Sharma for crafting a fun and interesting character in Landry over the course of only two episodes. She was a huge part of making Battlestar Galactica something special and I hope to see her in something again soon.
— Here’s another sign of how poorly the series has crafted Voq’s character: I care more about the animal that flies the Spore Drive than him. That poor creature . . .
— Speaking of the Spore Drive (they really need come up with a better name than that), there are so many red flag there. First, as I mentioned last week, we know that it isn’t something that exists in later incarnations of the series, so something catastrophic must happen as a result of it. Well, at least something more catastrophic than what has already happened as a result of it. The major red flag is that this drive destroyed the Glenn, and no one on the Discovery knows exactly what happened. Yet, Lorca is super gung-ho about using the drive despite the unknowns. Each decision Lorca makes worries me more and more about his command abilities.