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.
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?