Monday 9 October 2017

Review: Discovery #3 - Context is for Kings

Discovery's third episode, Context is for Kings, finally introduces to the USS Discovery itself, and my main takeaway from meeting ship and crew is to wonder if this air of mystery will continue; I kind of hope so, as it certainly has me intrigued right now. Continue below for spoiler fills thoughts on the episode below:

What does Captain Lorca want from Burnham?

This is my first point of intrigue. It took me a couple of viewings to really take in how much Lorca had manipulated the events of the episode. But towards the end he confirms he contrived for Burnham to end up on the Discovery, and earlier on she mentions her shuttle being rerouted from the expected location - This implies to me that the entire shuttle accident and miraculous appearance of the Discovery was a set up (I rather hope so for the sake of that shuttle pilot sent spinning off to who knows where!).

And then once on board Landry has her security offices hold back from intervening in the fight, before suddenly interrupting herself and declaring the captain wants to see Burnham; was this also some sort of test? And if so, for what? Burnhams ability to look after herself?

I rather hope Lorca isn't so sinister a character as to have engineered the accident on the USS Glenn as another test. But at this point, who knows! He does have a skeleton of a Gorn in his creepy lab after all; what does this tell us about his previous escapades?

So why go to all this effort to get Burnham on board; what has he seen in her that is so worth that work? If the war has motivated Starfleet to accelerate the research into the spore-drive, what was Lorca's involvement six months prior? Where has he come from, and what are his motivations? And related to that, what are the implied-nefarious black-badge wearing arm of Starfleet up to on the ship?

The rest of the Discovery crew

The relationship between Georgiou, Burnham, and Saru was the highlight of the Shenzhou episodes, and so I was really looking forward to seeing where that goes, and was not disappointed. I love how Saru walks a curious tightrope of being comfortable and familiar with Burnham (casually offering her an orb of blueberries as he takes her to her assignment), while also even more on edge than before; no longer able to trust the mutineer. So far at least this seems to be the core relationship of the series, and I'm fascinated to see if they ever find comfort and respect with each other, or if they will forever be a little on edge and in competition. Equally I wonder how much Burnham and Detmer's relationship will be explored, after that cold encounter in this episode, and how that might contrast with whatever unfolds with Saru.

We also started to get to know a few more of the Discovery crew: Stamets in engineering, I find quite endearing; I enjoyed his dedication to his work and found that made me quite forgiving of his resultantly rather rude and sarcastic temperament. Cadet Tilly seems loveable, but I'm waiting to see if I really like her, to see what she brings to the crew. And then there's Landry, who made the most impression for me (even while I feel like it should be the others stealing the show for having more on paper of note); she's so dry and aloof - I didn't much take to her at first, with her dehumanising attitude to the prisoners (and really, what's up with the Federation issuing life sentences and sending prisoners down the mines; doesn't seem very progressive or redemptive!), but with each scene I appreciated her to-the-point attitude ever more.

Holey mushrooms!

The Discovery's saucer is full of holes. For reasons... One being it made for an amazing introductory shot, with the camera moving through one of those holes. I have new appreciation for holey starships.

Now, the spore drive. Here I am intrigued again. It seems to suggest this technology will allow near instantaneous transportation across the galaxy. Given poor old USS Voyager a century later didn't bother to give this a go, one has to wonder what terrible things are about to unfold that send this technology into oblivion. We know what price the crew of the Glenn played for playing with their magic mushrooms; what fate awaits our new heros?

While we wait to find out, we certainly got to enjoy ourselves on our first jaunt across the galaxy, with pleasing visits to Starbase 11, Janus VI, and a Preserver obelisk (on an Andorian moon apparently).


I want to know what's going on! What is Lorca up to? What does he want from Burnham? What is the USS Discovery really for? What is going to happen with the monster thing? So many questions, the next episodes can't come soon enough. And we've still got to catch up with the Klingon side of the story too!

PS, I also really enjoyed the passage in the passages quoting from Alice in Wonderland (a nice TAS nod no less). Why was Burnham saying this aloud? Who knows? Helping the monster chase her? Claustrophobic? Who cares; it added lovely texture to the scene.

Star Trek: Discovery will continue weekly, and it will 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 new show, visit my Star Trek: Discovery guide page.

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