Star Trek Discovery Recap: The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry
Episode 4: "The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry"
As the episode opens, we are amidst what seems like a chaotic lightning storm in space. But surprise! It's actually an up close look at Michael Burnham's Starfleet uniform being synthesized. Considering it's that easy to make them, that explains why Starfleet changes uniform designs seemingly every five minutes. But even as the computer gives her a new uniform, it also reminds her that although she is now assigned to the Discovery, she also has no rank.
Burnham's roomate Cadet Tilly comes in with a package for her freshly delivered, which turns out to be the last will and testament from Captain Georgiou. Burnham is triggered by the mention of the Captain she betrayed, and shoves the package under her bed like a little kid hiding her diary when her mom walks in the room.
She's summoned to the bridge right after, and walks in on her old Shenzhou companion Saru in the turbolift. He's pretty pissed that Starfleet's first mutineer is now a member of his new crew. She's like a bad rash he can't get rid of. The two crewmembers walk onto the bridge into the middle of a huge battle with the Klingons, but it turns out to actually be a battle simulation, Wrath of Khan style, and one where everyone happens to have been killed good and dead by the Klingons. Captain Lorca is pissed at the poor performance from his crew.
Lorca takes Burnham to his secret chamber we saw at the end of last week's episode, where he has all kinds of alien weapons stashed, and he reveals to her that he has the creature they found onboard the Glenn in last week's episode trapped in a cage. He wants Burnham to take the creature, which killed dozens of Klingons on the other ship and resisted even phasers set to kill, to find out how it can do these things, and to weaponize it. Burnham is teamed up with Security Chief Landry to figure out how to weaponize the creature, which Landry unimaginatively nick names "Ripper." Burnham reveals that the creature has a lot in common with the tardigrade species from Earth, which is microscopic.
Meanwhile on the disabled Klingon ship we find out that Voq and L’Rell have been stranded out there for the six months since the war started, without supplies and with their crew starving. How starving? They ate the body of Captain Georgiou, that's how much.
Captain Lorca gets a call from Starfleet that the mining colony Corvan 2 is under attack. Corvan 2 is where half the dilithium crystals are mined, which without them means Starfleet has no warp drive. When the Admiral asks Lorca if the Discovery is ready to make a jump (using the spores revealed in last week's episode) and get to the colony for a rescue mission, Lorca totally lies and says yes, despite knowing that the Discovery has never jumped that far before. So...does this mean Lorca is just crazy? Lt. Stamets tells him there's no way in hell they can make the jump, but the Captain tells him he'd better figure out how to do it, and fast.
The Discovery attempts to use the spores to jump to Corvan 2, but they end up near a sun, and are yeanked into its gravitational pull. The ship just barely makes it out in one piece, and Lt. Stamets is injured. The following scene in sickbay introduces us to the Doctor Hugh Culber, played by Wilson Cruz. Between this and Jared Leto in Blade Runner 2049, the cast of My So-Called Life has found a cozy spot in sci-fi in 2017. Stamets tells the Captain that he's not a soldier, and if he leaves he's taking all the spore technology with him. Lorca guilts him into staying on board, at least for now.
Lt. Landry decides to take matters into her own hands. Impatient with all of Burnham's big word science talk, she tries to sedate the creature and then slice off a piece of it, but it escapes and kills her. Frankly, she had it coming for doing something as stupid as that. Farewell, Lt. Landry. Even Tasha Yar on The Next Generation lasted longer as security chief than you did.
The tardigrade ultimately does prove useful, but not as a weapon. Burnham discovers that the creature consuming the spores is what allows the Discovery to make the jump in the first place (think the navigators in Dune). By using this method, the ship is able save the colony and jump out again before the Klingons knew what hit them. The day is saved, but there are no hugs because this crew seems to all totally hate each other. Except cadet Tilly, who is always annoyingly chipper.
Speaking of the Klingons, Voq has now been deposed as the torchbearer by Commander Kol, and stranded on the wreck of the Shenzhou by the Klingon commander him. Kol wants to go back to war with the other Klingon houses once the war with the Federation is over. L'Rell appears on the Shenzhou and tells Voq that the matriarchs will help him get his revenge, whoever they are. All we know is that this means more subtitles. Yay.
After the successful mission, Burnham is given some alone time by her roomie Cadet Tilly, who gives her some space to open Captain Georgiou's will. There's a holographic message from telling Burnham how proud of her she is, and she leaves her an old Earth telescope that's a family heirloom. This scene is extra sad because Burnham totally stabbed Captain Gergiou in the back which resulted in her getting eaten by Klingons. Seriously, what an undignified way for Michelle Yeoh to go out.
This episode has some really nice action sequences and cool concepts to play with, and it's interesting that the characters who rely on smarts and scientific methods (Burnham, Stamets) are basically underdogs who have to chafe against a warmonger Captain to maintain Starfleet's integrity. We've seen "bad captains" in other Star Trek shows before, but never on the ship the show is actually about. We still don't understand how this series is anywhere near where they say it is on the timeline, but we are going to just have to let that go if we are going to enjoy this show at all. But so far, this show is taking a lot of Trek sacred cows and tossing them out the airlock, and it's been fun to watch.