Star Trek Discovery: Choose Your Pain

Star Trek Discovery: Choose Your Pain October 17, 2017

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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  • “…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.

      • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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
          • ChrisDACase95

            Well if you don’t mind I could use help with a debate I’m having. Not a troll that’s bothering me but someone who I had a theological conversation with.


          • Tried a short, gentle statement and question. Let’s see what happens 🙂

          • ChrisDACase95

            Actually it’s ten days to late. No longer necessary. I have been having trouble reading about Joe Dallas and his following with the Ex Gay ministry, but that’s yesterdays news.

          • ChrisDACase95

            Although it irkse that to this day conservation therapy is advocated.


          • ChrisDACase95
          • Crumbs she looks like our Prime Minister… 😉

          • Ok, I’ve had a look at the two blog posts and the comments. She sounds like she’s got very different ideas from me, and different even from some mainstream ideas, about salvation and the Kingdom. One thing I will say, she appears to believe in ‘Once saved, always saved’, which is good imo. And then there’s the interesting but flawed idea that all these things like Islam, homosexuality and ‘evolution’ are ‘ushering in’ the Tribulation and are signs of Christ’s return. Which is supposed to be a good thing, isn’t it? I can never tell whether some people actually believe it or not, or whether they rejoice in it or not. No, these weird doctrines are far too ingrained for me to tackle, even if I thought it was my calling, which I don’t atm. What is needed for all blind people – and I mean spiritually blind, of course, and I am not naming any names – is for their eyes to be opened. Once you see the message of Grace, you can’t unsee it, and life and faith are never the same. But I believe that takes a work of the Spirit. It certainly did for me.

        • 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.

        • ChrisDACase95

          Tony I also wanted to thank you for putting up with my problems. I know I shouldn’t let fundamentalsit sites and trolls to get under my skin, but I blame my autism for that. They really get to me on that level, right next to flat Earthers, but I doubt you wanna open that can of worms because these guys get ugly.

          • Don’t worry mate, all’s fine 🙂 Yeah, Flat-Earthers really get to me as well; I just don’t argue with them. I am quadruply disqualified to talk to them because I am an amateur astronomer. a Pilot, a Scientist and a navigator, so obviously anything I say to them means I am part of the conspiracy! 😀

          • ChrisDACase95

            Well how about this piece of advice; these blokes worth arguing with ? (You’ll see them immediately) or should I leave this alone due to it being a a three year old page.


            (Really wish we had eachothers email, make our correspondence a little less public, but I really do appreciate your help Tony. You handle things far better than I could.

          • No worries mate. You can always contact me via my blog at

            Oh and I’d leave it alone. I have learned to spend time on the things that really matter! And that’s despite me too being autistic!

          • ChrisDACase95

            I would prefer if there was a contact fourm on your site, but I could use your help with something else.


          • ChrisDACase95

            I wouldn’t mind if there was a contact fourm on your site for a proper correspondance, but while we’re here I need your theological opinion on soemthing.



          • Hi Chris, sorry, I haven’t been on here for a while and only just seen those links. I have had a good look and, in a nutshell, one of the pages is simply proof-texts against proof-texts, which is almost always entirely non-productive because those good at proof-texting can make the Bible say whatever they want, iin either direction.

            For the other, proper essay, I have to say that while Jonathan has put a lot of his heart and sould into that piece, I have to say that *in my opinion*, he has written from his own understanding (as we all do!) a mixture of different impressions of what Christian Universalism is, and also what certain Bible passages mean. For example, the bit about the ‘narrow’ and ‘broad’ paths, I interpret completely differently from him. Which is fine; we can each only go with what we believe the Spirit is saying to us. He also makes certain assumptions based on his own theology, so that some of his arguments present as self-evident when actually they are only self-evident if one first agrees with the premises. For example, in point no. 9, he appears to assume that Hell is an axiom which his readers already agree with, and therefore that premise of Hell being agreed is what his argument depends on.

            At the end of the day, this guy is fully entitled to his own opinion; it may well be different from yours and from mine (which likely will also be different from each other!) but he’s still entitled to express it. Some people will like it; others won’t. From a theological point of view, I am still studying hard on these ideas, but not from such a (what I see as a) mixed-up perspective. But then I do have a lot of life experience and wisdom learned in the crucible of suffering. We all have that to different extents.

          • ChrisDACase95

            The thing is I always feel myself being pulled back to fundamentalists and their arguments like a fish on hook. It’s like a lure you know ? It stems back from when I was in a dark place months back, where I got so far into the fundamentalist road that I was in a dark and spiritual depression that entailed a lot of gaslighting.

            Well I’m semi pleased to say I nearly got into a pretty violent argument with this one lass that ended civally so things may be looking up.

            Link if your interested.


  • 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

    • 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

  • 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.