Star Trek Discovery: 1:06 Lethe
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After vetting Lieutenant Tyler and engaging in a round of laser tag with him in what some are calling a continuity breaking holodeck (chill guys, it was more of an advanced light-gun game combat simulation, The Discovery has an experimental spore drive for crying out loud) Lorca offers Tyler the permanent position of Chief of Security. Having no living family and experience fighting the Klingons does seem to make him the ideal candidate. The fact that he fights like a Klingon, something he seems to have picked up in his seven months as their prisoner, doesn't hurt at all. Tyler truly seems to have landed on his feet on the Discovery, but still he eats alone in the mess, which makes it all the more adorable when Tilly, now referring to Michael as her mentor in her unofficial officer training, suggested she and Michael join him. Their introductions are cut short though when Michael received a psychic blast message from her adopted father Sarek. He was in danger and needed saving.
Half way across the galaxy, Sarek was on a secret political mission to broker an alliance with the heads of two independent Klingon houses that stood apart from the new united empire and sought to undermine its current leadership for their own gain. Seeking any way to bring the war to a quicker conclusion, Sarek was on his way to these secret talks when his companion, a Vulcan logic fanatic, because that's a thing apparently, injected himself with some sort of chemical and turned himself into a living biological bomb. Stating Sarek's insistence in the embracing of other cultures at the expense of pure logic was the reason for his targeting, the poor sap blew himself up, but not before Sarek managed to throw up a force field narrowly saving his own life, but leaving him unconscious and dying as his ship drifted in a nebula.
The same Vulcan soul mojo that Sarek used to communicate with Michael in the pilot was now in use again, but this time on a sort of emergency setting, sending a subconscious distress call out across space to Michael. All wonder at the ability to psychically communicate across star systems aside (I always feel sci-fi writers never understand just how big space actually is), Michael begs Lorca for the chance to save the man that raised her, even if it has to be framed as the saving of a diplomatic mission.
Sure enough, Lorca agreed, but when they reached the last known position of Sarek's ship, wouldn't you know it, that pesky nebula turned out to be hazardous to the Discovery's spore drive, in a very volatile and explosion inducing sort of way. This meant that Michael, along with Tilly and Tyler, would have to take a shuttle in and using gear to enhance Michael's psychic connection to Sarek and find him in this brier patch like some kind of game of cosmic divination.
As the passed deeper into the nebula, Michael delved deeper into Sarek's subconscious, trying to reach out and communicate with him, her end goal being to get him to wake up and turn on his ship's transponder so they could more easily pinpoint his location. But she found herself trying to decipher the memory Sarek seemed to be stuck in. It was the day Michael learned she had failed in her application to the Vulcan Expeditionary Group, a day she felt great shame over as having let Sarek down in his assertion that a human could be educated and trained in the Vulcan ways. As she pondered why Sarek was so focussed on this memory, back on Discovery, things were getting a little more salacious.
Admiral Katrina Cornwell (Jayne Brook) had boarded the Discovery to address Lorca's position as captain of their wartime flagship in person, particularly if he was ready to retake command so shortly after having been captured and tortured. It turned out however that they had a deeper personal connection going back many years and that she actually cared about him as a person first, a captain second, especially knowing what he had to have gone through with the loss of his previous command the USS Buran, which is what presumably prompted the in-person visit over a long range transmission.
Old feelings a sexual tension were worked out in fine Star Trek tradition as Lorca proved himself to be just as virile as Kirk and Picard before him, bedding his old friend the admiral. It was when Lorca, jolted from sleep as Cornwell inspected his scars with her fingers and forced a phaser in her face that she realised just how psychologically damaged he really was. The realisation that he had skilfully bluffed his way through his psych evaluations, just as he had manipulated her was shockingly clear. Lorca, in a rare sign of vulnerability, begged her not to take the Discovery from him as it was all he had in the world.
Back in the nebula, forced with the knowledge that in his dying moments, her adoptive father was thinking of her most shameful moment and the prospect of reliving that moment, Tyler had some key words of wisdom for her which showed an emotional competence on top of his general badassery. In death, Sarek wasn't thinking about Michael's shame, but his. In going into his mind one more time, Michael discovered a truth that Sarek had kept hidden for years. The Vulcan Expeditionary Group were reluctant to accept a non-Vulcan but out of respect for Sarek's position would except one and only one non-Vulcan candidate. He either had to choose Michael now, or his half-human son Spock when he decided to join. Sarek, in one of those tried and tested Star Trek moments where sentiment plays into a Vulcan's decisions, chose Spock over Michael and subsequently lied to Michael, telling her that she had failed in her application, instead advising her to join Starfleet instead.
Of course we all know Spock went on to join Starfleet as well so his lie, and the subsequent shame it caused Michael ,was for nothing, which made Sarek bury it down all the deeper. Finally learning the truth, that oddly enough her adopted father wasn't perfect and that was ok, was the key to getting Sarek to wake up and signal for help. With Sarek safely back on board Discovery, he seemed to deny any knowledge of what happened in his heading the way emotionally distant parental figures are wont to do, but Michael left him knowing that was a conversation they were definitely going to have another time.
As for the diplomatic mission, with the window for meeting the Klingons closing and Sarek too injured to be moved, Admiral Cornwell took over as any chance of peace had to be pursued. Before departing she let Lorca know that when she got back, she would recommend he undergo rehab and evaluations, something Lorca agreed to in exchange for keeping his command. Unfortunately however, the meeting was and had always been a trap and now with a Starfleet admiral, the Klingons had a pretty powerful bargaining chip. When informed of this development, instead of racing in to save her is his usual style, Lorca for once in his life showed restraint and instead said they would wait to see what Starfleet's orders were. As Saru left to ask Starfleet Command for their orders, Lorca was left looking g into his own reflection, his phaser still on him, possibly as as a symbol of his distrust and madness? What kind of man has Captain Lorca become?
Seeing a more intimate side of Lorca, but also the deeply damaged one that probably shouldn't be in charge of a Starship was intriguing and left me wondering - Had he suggested the mission to Cornwell specifically because he knew its dangers might take her out of the picture? To leave me questioning the motives of a Star Trek captain in such a way was a bold move by the show. Also, it was great to see Tyler, Tilly and Michael bond, forming something closer to the kind of ensemble casts we're all used to from the Star Trek of old. But with regards to the Michael/Spock connection, Star Trek: Discovery is going to have to do the proverbial or get off the pot. If Michael and Spock grew up together, even with an age gap, get to it! Show us cadet Spock for crying out loud.