The fourth episode of Discovery returned us to the traditional heart of the Star Trek franchise: science. At Saturday's panel at New York Comic Con, executive producer Aaron Herberts emphasized that the show would focus more on biology and life sciences, rather than physics. That was on full display in "The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry."
Good and bad:
We finally got to meet Dr. Hugh Culber, played by Wilson Cruz, looking resplendent in his white uniform, after a jump using the spore drive didn't exactly go as planned. He's the planned love interest for Lt. Stamets, though it's unclear at this point how close the two are in the show. As a side note, Cruz and Rapp are old buddies from the musical Rent, and I think it'd be a shame if the writers didn't take advantage of this by making them sing at some point on the show. (I'm kidding. Sort of. Not really. Musical episode, anyone?)
Meanwhile, Michael is assigned to the creature taken from the Glenn and ordered to curb her curiosity and figure out how to make it "useful." After it kills Commander Landry (a pretty predictable death, though I love Rekha Sharma and wish she'd stuck around longer), Burnham realizes that the creature, similar to a tardigrade, actually controls the spore drive. It's a grim realization that the process also hurts the tardigrade (nicknamed Ripper), though. This ethical conundrum — functionally torturing a living creature in order to use it for technology's sake — will certainly play into future episodes.
Tilly and Michael have a few really nice moments in this episode. I absolutely love the way their friendship is developing, a sort of parallel to the Georgiou/Michael relationship. I'd love to see more interaction between the two of them. And of course, it was lovely to see Michelle Yeoh again, even if only in holographic form. The producers have assured us we'll see more of her in Discovery, and those scenes can't come soon enough.
It's clear that Saru and Michael have a long way to go to fix what's broken in their relationship, if it's even reparable. They weren't fond of each other before the events that led to Captain Georgiou's death, and it's not clear whether he can ever trust her again. Michael seems to fumble her encounters with Saru as well, using the excuse to apologize to him to lure him down near the tardigrade to see how his threat ganglia responded. It seemed clear to me that her apology was genuine, but it wasn't exactly framed in the best way.
Things to ponder:
The producers specifically have stated that it's important to them that Klingons aren't relegated to being an "Other" in this show, and we see their point of view as well. That really started coming together in this episode, with the introduction of Mary Chieffo's L'Rell. It's refreshing to see a Klingon woman taking a central role in this series, because while we have seen Klingon women before (who can forget the iconic Duras sisters?), they often don't have a place on starships. It will be interesting to see what Chieffo does with her character.
Meanwhile, Voq found himself in not-ideal circumstances, marooned aboard the Shenzhou, which is dead in space. Kol took command of his ship, the only one in the entire Klingon Empire with a cloaking device (and we also were treated to the grisly revelation that the Klingons had eaten the body of Captain Georgiou). L'Rell still follows Voq, though, and is willing to take him to the matriarchs of the House of Mo'kai for help. But he will be required to sacrifice "everything" to gain the power he desires as T'Kuvma's heir. Does that include L'Rell?
Lorca also continues to be a magnificent enigma in this episode. What is his deal? It's clear that he thrives on being a wartime captain, rather than one whose main focus is science. What is with his light sensitivity? He's a fascinating character, and Jason Isaacs plays him very well.
All in all, this was a solid episode of Star Trek: Discovery, and a great follow-up to last week's game-changer (which I still maintain should have been the pilot episode). Michael's starting to be accepted by the Discovery crew and is earning her place aboard the ship. It also centers on both science and ethical dilemmas, which makes it possibly the most "Star Trek" episode of Discovery we've had thus far. This show has incredible potential, and it's so gratifying to watch it get better and better every week.