Star Trek Discovery: 1.03 Context is for Kings
Last episode Michael Burnham's would-be mutineering may have gone awry, but it was with her Captain's blessing that they both beamed over to the Klingon ship to try and capture their leader. But when Captain Georgiou was killed, Michael allowed her anger to overcome her as she took a kill-shot in retaliation, bringing about the exact scenario she herself had warned against, galvanising T'Kuvma's as a martyr to the Klingon's cause, triggering a full scale war between The Federation and the Klingon Empire.
Six months and a court martial later, Burnham is persona non grata even among her fellow prisoners on board the transport she finds herself on, due to the war she brought down on everyone. When something goes awry with the transport – a moment of really dark humour from Star Trek – Burnham and her fellow cons are brought onboard the Discovery, that just happened to be in the right place to save them. Once on board and taken to the ship's mess for some chow, the prisoners try to kill Burnham right in front of a room full of Star Fleet personnel, precisely because they know her reputation as a mutineer means none of them will try to save her.
Sure enough, some of Burnham's crew mates from the Shenzhou are on board the Discovery, including my favourite from the premiere Saru as the Discovery's First Officer. Her reputation proceeding her, Burnham gets dumped over night with Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wisemen), an awkward yet outgoing cadet with dreams of one day being a starship captain and a heart big enough to do it – I swear to God if they red-shirt her...
She also gets to meet the newest Star Trek Captain, Gabriel Lorca, played by Jason Issacs. I had my hands clasped together in hope that he'd be playing Lorca as an Englishman but I'm saddened to say he's playing him as an American. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I just thought it might be cool to have an English Star Fleet Captain who's not, you know, French. Lorca is introduced standing in darkness, not just for an ominous effect we're assured, but because he's stargazing, the old romantic. It's when he has to ease the lights back up though as a war injury meant he can't be exposed to sudden bright light, we begin to learn there's more to this new ship and its crew than meets the eye. With black Badges on board and covert operations being worked on to advance the war effort, this is very much a War Time Star Fleet with some real shady Section 31 stuff going down. It's apparent very early on that it's not a coincidence that The Discovery picked up Burnham, as Lorca puts her to work on a special op, even though he doesn't brief her on exactly what they're working on.
It's here we introduced to Science Officer Paul Stamets (played by Rent's own Anthony Rapp) a man of science who for one doesn't like non-briefed personnel working on his project and two, doesn't appreciate his research being co-opted by Starfleet for their war effort. When another Starship, the USS Glenn – no doubt in reference to John Glenn, the first American to Orbit the Earth back 1962 – goes dark following its own experiments, The Discovery moves to intercept the it and recover everything they can about the top secret project from the wrecked vessel.
Once on board The Glenn, Star Trek: Discovery brilliantly delves into some real David Cronenberg/John Carpenter body horror territory,a real departure from the standard monster of the week fare, as they find the bodies of the crew hideously malformed and twisted. A lone survivor from a Klingon raiding party is also on board, creeping around before getting killed but what looks to be some kind of macro-bug creature.
Some Alien-esque tunnel crawling and and mad dash to escape later, Burnham and the away team make it back to the Discovery with all the research date and equipment they could grab, minus the one red-shirt who didn't make it. The Glenn is destroyed and Lorca officially (or unofficially) offers Burnham a position on board his ship to help with the war effort as he has leave for Star Fleet to win this war, whatever it takes. Burnham, in a great show of character, turns him down refusing to get involved in his shady dealings – before Lorca shows her that Stamets' research is designed to tap into the fundamental forces that bind the universe together on the microbiological and atomic level, allowing Star Fleet the chance to instantly transport their ships anywhere across the galaxy and back again. This is something that will not only help them win the war, but beyond that, help Starfleet expand across the known galaxies. Touched by Lorca's more honourable, romantic side, Burnham agrees to stay as the prison transport takes the other prisoners on to their original destination, something that sets on Saru's danger sensing quills, even if he doesn't know why. It's not as if the rest of the Discovery crew want her there.
And just before the credits roll, we see that Captain Lorca has something else up his sleeve. A menagerie of weird looking creatures and remains in a secret lab on board the Discovery, where he had the macro-bug creature beamed aboard before destroying the Glenn. Looks like he's taking his brief to do whatever it takes to win the war very seriously – a dark secret at the heart of The Discovery and its mission.