Star Trek Discovery: Choose Your Pain

Episode 5 of the first season of Star Trek: Discovery begins with Michael Burnham having a dream in which she, rather than the giant tardigrade, is serving as the link between the ship’s navigation system and its spore drive – causing her intense pain.

Precisely when Michael is concerned that each jump harms the tardigrade, Capt. Lorca is abducted by Klingons, which necessitates that the Discovery make multiple jumps. In a Klingon prison cell, Lorca meets Harcourt Fenton Mudd. Mudd comments on the intelligence of the Klingons and their tactic of having prisoners “choose their pain” – whether a beating will be inflicted on you or someone else. It prevents bonding – and Lorca notes that Mudd is remarkably free of bruises. Later, Mudd reveals that Lorca was the only person to survive from the last ship he commanded. Lorca adds that he in fact killed his crew, rather than have them be captured and tortured. Mudd says that “confession is good for the soul,” adding that it is too bad that none of them has one any more. In rescuing him, Dr. Stamitz is hooks himself up to the propulsion system. Towards the end, there is a wonderful reconciliation between Saru and Burnham. Saru gives Burnham an order, to save the life of the tardigrade, since it may be sentient, and he has “no claim on its soul.” She does this – by setting it free.

Rainn Wilson does an incredible job of playing Harry Mudd – although he looks significantly older than he appeared when we encountered him “later” in the Original Series.

The episode is concerned with an inclusive ethic of life, features a same-gender couple among the crew, and talks about the “soul” within a largely secular framework. I still feel that the series feels more and more like Star Trek with every episode. Do you agree?

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  • http://www.flyinginthespirit.cuttys.net/ Tony Cutty

    “…the series feels more and more like Star Trek with every episode”. Yes, I agree. It’s taken a while to get this far, and it took some getting used to, but I am glad I persevered. I’m intrigued, though, what happens to the Spore Drive to make it defunct before TOS, where the only FTL drive was warp drive.

    Then again, in the TOS movies, ‘transwarp drive’ was abandoned because it damaged spacetime, or something, so maybe something similar might happen to the Spore Drive..

    • ChrisDACase95

      Off topic Tony, but I was wondering if you could help me with something. I’ve gotten into an argument yesterday about errors in the Bible and homosexuality among other things, and when I try to walk away he’s rather presistant about giving me grief.

      https://religionnews.com/2017/10/18/church-clarity-pressures-pastors-and-churches-with-unclear-positions-on-homosexuality/

      • http://www.flyinginthespirit.cuttys.net/ Tony Cutty

        Hey Chris, I’m flattered :) Hope I can help. I saw the guy’s comments (I’m assuming you mean Mark) not only to you but also to others, and have read to just past where you blocked him. And I don’t blame you. What would you like me to do to help? I can begin by reading on…but I wanted to clarify first. Just let me know. PS fwiw I too have always been ambivalent about Naomi/Ruth, but David/Jonathan I would say that David was probably bisexual. And I’m not going to shoot you for having an opinion 😉 But never mind that right now; how would you like me to help? Just name it.

        Edit: I have looked at his other comments on other threads and it appears that his whole reason for being on Disqus is to be acerbic with people and then call them trolls. And he’s of course not noticing that he is actually conducting some of the most trollish behaviour I have ever seen. It’s almost like watching Monty Python’s Argument Sketch – simply taking the contrary viewpoint, but, in his case, in a disparaging way. I wouldn’t take too much notice of him if I were you; save your wisdom for those who have the ears to hear. He seems to be more mouth than ears 😉

        Edit 2: Dear God, can you imagine living near that guy? He’s deadly. I need to go listen to some decent worship music to get his echoes out of my head.

        • ChrisDACase95

          I don’t know, maybe help with theological arguments I guess. It’d be a moot pint I guess considering this guy is presistant in getting the last word and ridiculing any and all information that condradicts what he’s saying. I don’t know, why I let people like that get to me; I personally blame my autisim for giving me a confrontational attitude. Such is life as a fundie fighter.

          Admittedly this may also be paranoia seeing as the guy outright admitted on another thread that he looks for his targets on social media.

          • http://www.flyinginthespirit.cuttys.net/ Tony Cutty

            I see what you mean. He’s very reasonable and thoughtful and well-balanced on there, and I am glad to see that. I will perhaps make some gentle comments on another angle; I don’t think there’s much point in debating theological issues there, as I think you realise. I will have to wait a couple of days, though, because today is a sad anniversary for my family so I will be ministering there today I think :)

            And I know what you mean about the autism. It can be difficult in that way :)

          • ChrisDACase95

            Thnx, but I wouldn’t mind you dropping your pastor knowledge on him. And folks like that need to be througoughly rebuked, especially when they are arrogant and vicious. I try not to think about his blog besides it establishing him as just another fundamentalist, but I consider his troll persona his true personality at this point.

          • ChrisDACase95

            Also wouldn’t have minded if you helped rebuke or correct some of his statments with you scriptural expertise. I don’t want to ask too much if today is a sad anniversary like you said.

          • http://www.flyinginthespirit.cuttys.net/ Tony Cutty

            Back again after a short hiatus. I’m trying to think of the best way to do this; being gentle is my way and I tend not to argue with trolls. But I do find it pathetic that these people just traverse their gun turrets on all comers. I guess words don’t cost some people anything, whereas for you and I we have paid for our experiences with blood sweat and tears. And that’s where our words come from. About Scriptural expertise, well, I suppose I do have some of that, but the stark fact in these things is that no amount of expertise, knowledge, wisdom or experience is ever going to change an entrenched viewpoint. So generally I don’t even try. Father will bring him round in His own time, if the bloke is listening to Him. If not, it’s his loss. I think I’d just let it go, personally. But I do fully understand – and empathise with – the feelings that the rights-and-wrongs of it all engender. It’s frustrating trying to think to that level…

            [Edit] and the other thing is that you saw how he responded to even my slightest, slightest, wafer-thin gentle rebuke. There’s not going to be any reasoning with him; it would be like fighting fire with petrol.

        • ChrisDACase95

          I guess short version is if you could help back my arguments up from a theological standpoint, even if it may be a fools errand. I have the overwhelming temptation to continue the argument, but I know if do I’m only gonna get myself worked up.

        • ChrisDACase95

          Actually checking out Premier Christianity I found he is far from the only one in his bunch. The scary thing is I hear how American Fundamentalists can be the worst, but then I discover UK fundamentalists and suddenly I get terrified.

          https://www.premier.org.uk/content/view/full/874452

  • Rabble Rawser

    I haven’t watched it. I don’t want to pay for more stuff and I am sick and tired of Roddenberry’s Fascist vision of the godless future.

    • John MacDonald

      I’m pretty sure Kirk believed in the Judeo Christian God (or some monotheistic equivalent). In the 1967 episode “Who Mourns For Adonais,” in rejecting worship of the Greek pantheon, Kirk says: “We have no need for gods. We find the one quite adequate.”

      • John MacDonald

        “Who Mourns for Adonais?” reminds me of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, where Kirk is unwilling to worship an entity calling itself God

    • http://batman-news.com Scott

      One wonder’s what your definition of “racist” is? “Star Trek”, in a number of episodes clearly looked at the fascism as a dangerous concept. Look at “Patterns of Force”, “The High Ground”, “In A Mirror Darkly” and any number of DS9 episodes during the Dominion War, all of which point out the dangers of highly top controlled societies and how the people within them are treated. As to using “godless” as an insult, you’ll need to try better. Roddenberry was a humanist. He was honored by the American Humanist Association. Maybe “godless” in the sense of not having one religious belief in the Federation of the future. You should check out “The Man in the High Castle”, or not in your case as you’d have to pay for that as well.

  • Obscurely

    The regular human characters on the new Trek seem much more, well, human — from the potentially amoral Captain Lorca on down, they’re more complex and conflicted than those in the earlier shows … not sure if this is because television writing is that much better than the Enterprise series that ended 12 years ago (!!) or if the show’s creators consciously decided to show us a darker and deeper iteration of the fundamentally optimistic/hopeful vision that all previous Trek series have evinced?

  • robrecht

    My two sons and I like the new series, but in addition to the relatively minor problems of discontinuity with TOS, my oldest son came up with perhaps the biggest difference between TOS and Discovery. In the original series, each episode functioned as a separate and relatively self-contained story, typically being written by different authors working independently. But beginning with TNG, and then more and more with each of the later series, one needed to follow season long narratives to understand the evolution of the story-arc. This can be interesting, of course, but it is different from TOS, and something of the punch of each episode is lost.

    • Realist1234

      Agreed. I think this was one of the reasons Enterprise was not as popular – for at least 2 series there was the same story in each episode – the Xindi. It just got boring. There’s a difference between having the same back-story to each episode, eg Voyager’s trying to get home, and making that back-story the main plot of each episode. I also never found the Klingons particularly interesting (though they were well-played in DSN), so its a pity so much time is being spent on them in this new series. Im also not very keen on the main character, and so far I havent warmed to any of the characters, though its early. Its ok so far (Ive seen 5 eps) but it needs to get better, otherwise it will go the same way as Enterprise, only sooner.

  • Brandon Roberts

    haven’t watched it myself

  • http://batman-news.com Scott

    I’m clearly loving “Discovery”. They are doing a great job of doing what “Star Trek” does best. DS9 looked at a society in war during the “Dominion War” episodes, “Discovery” is also showing what does does to people. While also looking at other things, like the ethics of using a living being in a way that damages it while providing a need for someone else. Good stuff.