“That’s how I learned that the real world isn’t always at hear to logic. Sometimes down is up. Sometimes up is down. Sometimes when you’re lost, you’re found.” – Michael Burnham to Cadet Tilly.
This week Star Trek: Discovery had a hard task. It had to keep the momentum from last week’s premiere but also introduce a whole new set of characters and a new story that will keep us going for an entire season. For the most part, this was a second pilot for the show, and it had to work if they wanted to keep their viewers coming back.
Starting six months after the end of the second episode, Michael Burnham is now in prison and known around the galaxy for her actions in the last episode and being the first person convicted of mutiny. When her prison transfer is rerouted and intercepted by the USS Discovery, Michael is forced to start working aboard Discovery where a mysterious new technology is being developed to win the war against the Klingons.
Last week, I said that Sonequa Martin-Green was the MVP of the episode and once again I am ready to give her that award. It is a very different Michael Burnham that we meet this week. While she is still in control of her emotions, she is also accepting her actions from the last episode and is ready to simply to her sentence and nothing else. But what this episode was able to do with Michael was showcase this intelligence that we had heard about in the premiere episodes. There is one scene, in particular, that was incredible to showcase that knowledge. When on a mission aboard a ship that has been destroyed, a mysterious beast is aboard and to save everyone she develops a plan in a few seconds, based on her knowledge, and executes it perfectly. This one scene alone shows us a lot more about Burnham and what we can expect from her in the future.
The other character from last week that we get to see again is Doug Jones’s Saru. While Jones got a lot less to do this week, he owned every second he was on screen. As a newly promoted First Officer aboard Discovery, Saru’s relationship with Michael’s is different in this episode and if last week the sarcastic elements of their relationship were my favorite part, this week it’s replaced by something else completely. Michael started a war with the Klingon that got her captain killed, she knows it, and Saru knows it. They both blame themselves for what happened on the Shenzhou. The chemistry between Jones and Martin-Green is something that I hope the writers are going to keep playing with. Their regrets are different and yet connect them, and they both know it. It will be interesting to see how the power dynamic keeps changing between them since now Michael is not Saru’s commanding officer but his subordinate since she isn’t the First Officer anymore.
This week’s episode introduced us three new characters. Science Officer Paul Statmets portrayed by Anthony Rapp (Rent), Cadet Sylvia Tilly portrayed by Mary Wiseman (Baskets, Longmire) and Captain Gabriel Lorca portrayed by Jason Isaac (Harry Potter series, The OA). These three characters are all very different and bring something new to the series and a different kind of relationship with Michael that will be interesting to see.
Rapp’s character, Paul Statmets is the one that we spent the most time with this week outside of Michael. As a Science Officer trying to invent a new technology, Rapp is able to give us a lot with almost nothing. His disdain for Michael is known very fast, his witty and amazing comebacks made him an entertaining character for this episode and a nice contrast to Michael and her Vulcan ways. It will be interesting to see how is characteristic changes when the relationship will be introduced next week and how predominant it will be, after all, he is the first main gay character in the Star Trek Universe. Rapp really shines when he does his monologue about the war and how Michael can’t understand how he feels. It shows us an empathy and how science drives him, just like it drives Michael in a way. Their dynamic is explosive, and it is going to be interesting to see how it will develop as they are both the most intelligent people in the room.
Just like Rapp’s character, Wiseman’s Cadet Kelly bring a nice contrast to Matin-Green’s Michael. As the newcomer fresh out of Star Fleet Academy, Cadet Kelly has everything to prove. She wants everyone to like her, and so it is for that reason that when she learns who Michael is, she doesn’t want anything to do with her. But it’s hard when the person you are trying to avoid is your bunkmate. Wiseman brings youth to her character and to the show. She is just like us, an eager viewer who wants to know everything. Her relationship with Michael is going to be a major one, she might be the only one on this ship who actually like her, although it could be argued that Saru does too. She has ambition and openly states that she wants to be Captain one day and she knows everything about Michael through her file, it will be interesting to see how she will evolve along the way and when Tilly will lose this naivete that she has right now.
And last but not least we are introduced to Jason Isaac’s Captain Lorcas in this episode. Being a huge Harry Potter fan, I was excited to see that Isaac would be in this show. His captain is different than anything we have seen yet. By the end of the episode, we still don’t know if we should trust him. He wants to win the war, he stated it openly to Michael, and he is ready to do anything to win, including taking a transport shuttle with convicted felon off his course so that Michael could join his crew. He is a man of ambition, and from the last shot of the episode, we can see he is a man of secrets. It is a bold choice to make us doubt the Captain of the series, but it is an interesting one, and one that I hope will have a nice payoff in the end. I am interested to see more of his relationship with Saru and how it contrasts with the relationship between Michael and her former Captain.
It is interesting that this week the Klingons were only mentioned by name and we didn’t see them (or almost didn’t see them). I am sure we will go back to seeing more of them and their society soon, but I am glad that this week’s episode only stayed aboard the Discovery and its mission, it made a much more coherent story and created a much more entertaining episode. I do hope that the writers will keep going this way and won’t lean too much on the Klingon’s and we will visit them only from time to time.
In general, Context Is for Kings is a solid episode and works as a second pilot for the series, it is a lot tighter in the way it tells its story than the first two episodes and makes me believe that this show is on its way to becoming great.
TINY LITTLE BITS I LOVED
- Seeing the USS Discovery for the first time was very nice and a good callback to seeing the Enterprise for the first time.
- THEY ALMOST SAID SPOCK’S NAME, I WISH SHE DID SAY IT, BUT THEY ALMOST DID.
- Michael reciting Alice In Wonderland when trying to distract the monster was a nice nod to being in a future where our life events did happen.
- Michael taking down these prisoners in one sweep was amazing and badass.
- The Klingon shushing the boarding team was pretty funny.
- Cadet Kelly: I’ll call you Mikky I think that’s a little more approachable.
Michael: No you won’t.
Cadet Kelly: Oh yeah, no I won’t.
- “My uncle Ever plays in a Beatle’s cover band that hardly makes him Jonh Legend.” – Science Officer Paul Statmets to Michael.
- “You’re out of your depth here Non-Vulcan Number Cruncher.” – Statmets to Michael.