Monday, 6 November 2017

Review: Discovery #7 - Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

Week after week each episode of Discovery just seems to get better. Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad, episode seven, is by far the most standalone in the series so far, and so very very Star Treky. Continue below for my spoilery thoughts on last week's episode.

View from outside the loop

The idea of a timeloop is not exactly over used, but the times it has come up in Star Trek or otherwise are so memorable it feels very familiar. So this episode really had to do some work to justify its use of that device. One of the ways it made the idea seem fresh was to present the loop not from the point of view of Stamets, the only person besides Mudd who knew what was unfolding, but from Burnham instead.

This allowed the episode to use the timeloop to explore Burnham's personal issues and feelings, giving us many ways for her to fail and eventually succeed in interacting with Tyler, trusting Stamets, and saving the day. Along the way we got to know Stamets a bit better too, with that lovely dancing-in-the-corridor scene the highlight (I wonder if Stamets just wanted a break-loop by that point).

I am glad we skipped over how Stamets managed to brief Burnham ever faster every loop, and just cut to what matters, culminating in her brave self sacrifice to save Tyler and the Discovery.


Glorious absurdity

The other special thing about this timeloop story was Harry Mudd. Turning this looping escapade into a heist is a brilliant twist, especially with Mudd's absurdity and charm leading us through. There's something quite amazing about this character that allows him to storm around the ship murdering people willy-nilly and still be a likeable character.

By the time of the last loop Mudd doesn't manage to kill anyone, and even while he gets played, it feels like he came out on top, getting away with mass murder, theft of a starship, and collusion with the enemy - All to simply be handed over to Stella and farther. This ending is perhaps the most absurd thing of the many in the episode, and yet it feels right because of Mudd's character, and because it was such a delightful callback to how a classic Trek episode would work - Complete with a bunch of Starfleet officers feeling terribly smug about how clever they are.

Speaking of absurdities. I just loved how this episode was so out there; The fact Mudd of all people is a time traveller, Mudd's Andorian helmet, the wackily named gormagander, and Saru's repeated not-a-fish line, Lorca's exasperation at being played by Mudd every time we see it, that brilliant murdering-Lorca montage, and indeed just how Mudd pronounces Lor-cah!


Further thoughts
  • So Lorca's got a giant time crystal thingy sitting in the shuttlebay now?
  • Gesture control transporters were fun!
  • Best line: Mudd's near fourth-wall breaking addressing to "random communications officer guy".
  • Poor gormagander; is the best way to transport such a rare zero-G dwelling creature really to beach it inside a starship?

Conclusion

This episode is the most standalone by far of the series so far, and I think that coupled with it's humour and clever twists on the time-loop format is going to make it a pretty instant classic. This is going to be one of those episodes people can just casually refer to, and everyone will know it inside and out. Deservedly so; it was so good!


If you liked the episode too, you might want to have a look through my round-up of behind the scenes bits and pieces from this episode.

Star Trek: Discovery is be distributed almost everywhere in the world on Netflix, except for the US where is will be available on CBS All Access, and Canada where it will be on Bell Media channels and services. To keep track of all the latest details from the show, visit my Star Trek: Discovery guide page.




1 comment:

rocketdave said...

This was a very fun episode. I admit, in the beginning, I was somewhat put off by the way Mudd was casually murdering people, which seemed kind of out of character for him, but once I realized that the time travelling was negating the murders he committed, cavalierly treating the whole thing like a shoot-em-up game where everyone has unlimited extra lives made a little more sense to me. Sure, when he initially planned on quitting the time loop, he apparently had no problem with leaving one person dead, but Mudd probably thought Tyler deserved it for abandoning him on that Klingon ship. He has, after all, shown a vindictive streak before, when he intended to permanently exile Kirk and crew on the android planet. Anyway, it might be tough to lock Mudd up for crimes he didn't commit (though the 29th century time cops might disagree, considering the way they treated Captain Braxton).

Having now seen the real Stella, I wonder if she really turned into an overbearing harridan in later years or if the android representation we saw of her was an exaggeration.