Monday, November 13, 2017

Subspace Reviews: Star Trek: Discovery - Ep 7 - "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad"

Episode seven brings us to a return of an unexpected reoccurring character this season. Harry Mudd.

I'm sure he's over that being left to rot on a Klingon prison ship.

A return of Mudd, and an episode of this new series which feels surprising like a Classic Trek or Next Generation episode. A dangerous situation. A colorful foe. An internal conflict. The ship on the line. And Lorca gets to die.

But no news on what's happen to Cornwell. :(

The episode is built around a time loop, instigated by Harry Mudd. We don't learn how he got the technology to pull this off, but that's one of many unanswered questions. But I suppose one might say this is just a TV show and we should really just relax.

His plan is to board the Discovery and enact his plot against Lorca. To do this he gets inside a near extinct gormagander (a giant space whale/panda) near the Discovery, knowing it will end up aboard the ship.

"Okay. No no tell it about the cheddar biscuits. And no one ask it to roll over!"

Why it is brought aboard I'll explain shortly. But how Mudd found one is unknown. How he got it into place is unknown. How he knew where the Discovery was is unknown.

Many questions. But that isn't a great shock. We have logic jumps in stories, and Mudd can be an annoyingly resourceful man.

But we also have many mysteries to this series. Another one, how did Mudd escape the Klingons?

Because it is still uncertain what state Mudd's relationship was with the Klingons holding him. He liked to think that he had worked the prison system to his favor. Alternatively, he could have been a paid informant of the Klingons.

Another option, is that he was being used. The Klingon's quietly placed the little creature in the cell for Mudd to use, and also spy on the cell. They may also have fed Mudd the information on Lorca's history to color his view of the captain and get him to butt heads with Lorca. He might have been L'Rell's puppet.

Or it could be a mix of options. But how did Mudd get out? Did L'Rell let him escape to chase Lorca and a possible bounty? Did she outright make a deal with him? Or, perhaps, Kol did.

If this plotting did happen it might explain how Mudd got the animal, as the Klingons may have had access. And with their intel he might have had been given a clue to where the ship would be.

It could answer many questions. Or not.

Once Mudd accesses the Discovery, he planned to make his presence known, shooting security and other crew. The ship security protocols would go on.

And an Andorian space helmet fits in to this...He probably was having a time finding one to fit his wide head.

Then, when he was trapped, he would taunt Lorca and let him know he was coming for him.

He'll also be messing with the ship's systems and protocols.

And then start rooting through the Spore Drive systems, trying to get them to work.

But in any situation, he ends his efforts in a singular way...

...blowing up Discovery.

But not to worry. It is all part of the plan. Because then the time loop restarts. 30 minute run, and then you blow up the ship.

The idea is to allow Mudd to experiment,  to learn the patterns of security, to break the computer security, to get control of the command functions.

And along the way he gets to have fun with Lorca...

...and snack in various hot spots.

But mostly he gets in a lot of practice killing Lorca. Again and again.

Eventually, he'll work out all of the ship's tricks and get the Spore Drive under his control.

The ship itself was experiencing a normal work day. Well, those working did. Those off duty were having a party. I am guessing it is in part to celebrate Tyler's new position as Security Chief.

It's a chance for junior officers to blow off steam, drink, and commiserate. It's not the sort of place Michael Burnham feels comfortable. Everyone is loosened up and expressive, not Burnham's thing.

But Tilly is having a great time, playing drinking games, flirting, and trying to get Burnham to have fun to. She is buzzed.

They both eye Tyler, and Tilly thinks that Burnham has something for the new officer. And she has admitted some feelings to herself. But, to Tilly, she says that they just work together.

But Tilly pushes her to talk to him, as he gives a toast to the crew, the fleet, those lost, and those recovering. Everyone is moved.

Burnham gets to talking to Tyler, but it is awkward and she comes off like she wants to end the conversation. And as she does it, she's annoyed with how it's going. She's in conflict.

The pair are called to the bridge, and Tyler ribs her a little on the way.

They run into Stamets and Culber on the way. They accidentally knock over some equipment they are moving. But Stamets is all happy and eager to hug when he sees Burnham.

He is very different since he's started being the key to the Spore Drive. He is looser, goofier, and happier. He's spacey.

He also shows off the devices that Culber has installed in his arms. They allow him to more easily interface with the technology with no ill effects. It explains how they've been able to jump in this and the last episode.

On the bridge, the ship finds a gormgander passing through the area. They are thought to be near extinct. And, per Starfleet protocol, they are required to move the animal to a facility that can ensure it's safety.

Lorca doesn't really care. But if it's necessary, he orders Burnham to bring it onboard.

Science and Medical prepare to bring the animals onboard.

And that is when Mudd starts his ploy. Again and again. With no one aware of the loop it would be easy for Mudd to eventually crack the mystery.

But he has an unknown problem. Stamets. It seems his modified DNA now makes him aware of the time loop. Each time Mudd jumps back, he goes along with him. So he's rode each Discovery detonation back in time and he's not happy. Well, he's kind of happy as he is loopy.

But he can't fix this problem alone. He can disrupt Mudd a bit, but it's just slowing Mudd down. Mudd is slowly making progress, and sooner or later he'll figure out the Spore Drive. He needs allies. So he catches Burnham early in the loop to get her to listen to him.

When he finally wins her over, they try to work out what Mudd is doing. So they decide they need someone else. Tyler. He knew Mudd for months. He might know about the device he's using, or some secret of Mudd's.

(Stamets also gets Burnham to give him a secret he can use to clue her in each time that he's telling the truth. The secret is that she's never been in love.)

But Burnham's awkwardness in engaging Tyler at the party (which is where Tyler starts each loop) eats up time, and they get called to the bridge. And Tyler runs off, while Burnham stays and is frustrated by her interpersonal problems.

Stamets just quietly starts dancing with her, and gives her some romance advice. And he'll repeat it next loop, so Burnham can try over...for the first time.

She is more successful with some prodding from Stamets, and she gets Tyler dancing quickly (and Tilly is watching, very pleased), and they talk some, and kiss. She also learns some more about Mudd. And then she apprises him of the threat they are facing.

When a frustrated Mudd just takes the bridge to demand answers, Burnham, Tyler, and Stamets race up.

But Mudd still has control of the ship, and he kills Tyler.

This leaves the bridge in shock.

Burnham is enraged and tries to rush Mudd, but Saru stops her. He begs her not to be another death.

It is nice to see him be able to act as a sober and thoughtful leader. And it's nice to see him care about Burnham.

Stamets then, to stop the killing, reveals he is the key to the Spore Drive. And I wonder if they had a plan before this, or they are still winging it.

He even shows of his nifty new interfaces.

Mudd is quite pleased. He has the ship under control. He has the drive in his power. He has the Klingons arriving shortly to get the ship, and pay him nicely. (Mudd has a deal with the Klingons. Which bolsters the idea that this is largely a Klingon plot.)

The crew needs another go to try and save the day. But Mudd has no need of a do over. So Burnham plays on Mudd's greed.

She visits with Mudd and gets him talking about his coming reward, and then gets him to talk about his poor Stella. They are so tragically kept apart, but it's clear he'd forgotten about her in his plans. It's clear he just wants the money so he can run off again. He wants all he can get, and then more.

So she reveals to him that she is the one that killed T'Kuvma. A bane to the Klingon Empire. The person who started this war.

And that shocks and intrigues Mudd. There is a price on her head. And it seems to be even higher than the price to acquire the Spore Drive. That's impressive.

Mudd starts to salivate at the idea of getting the double bounty.

And then Burnham kills herself.

So Mudd, right as the Klingon's arrive, has to restart the 30 minute loop. And he's annoyed that he has to do it all again. But he has it all worked out, so it will be easy.

Meanwhile, Stamets grabs Burnham. Burnham grabs Tyler.

And Tyler and Stamets race to the bridge to put in action the plan they probably started developing last loop.

And the key to victory is the captain's chair.

Too complacent in his control, Mudd misses the changes this time around, and is surprised to find everyone waiting for him on the bridge. Even Lorca welcomes him up.

But he has control.

He figures out that Stamets is aware of the loops and is annoyed at his "cheating". But Stamets explains that he just explained to them that they can't win and this can't keep happening. It needs to stop.

And Lorca makes an offer to Mudd. He can have the ship and the drive and the two officers with no fight, but Lorca wants a guarantee for the rest of the crew. They can go home. He doesn't want to loose another crew.

Mudd agrees, and takes the captain's chair. He contacts the Klingons and awaits there arrival.

When they are approaching, he takes Burnham and Stamets down to the transporter room. He gloats about his brilliance.

But then he's jumped and at there mercy. He thinks this was stupid as Klingons are about to board the ship, and he'll let them kill everyone on board if they want.

But Tyler rerouted the chairs commands, and they've since restored control of the ship. Mudd didn't call the Klingons. He called Stella.

And we finally get to see the real Stella. As opposed to the one Mudd will someday conjure up as an android. She is the daughter of a powerful baron and weapon's manufacturer.

Stella is so pleased to find Mudd safe. Though she's also a little pissed at him for seeming to run off. But she seems to adore him.

And she looks great. Her outfit has a great 60's vibe to it. Her and her father would have fit in great in Classic Trek.

And he seems mortified that she's there. You wonder, is he embarrassed by his deceit with her? Does he care for her in some way? Or does he hate having to take responsibility for his actions?

The baron says that he doesn't care for Mudd, but his daughter loves him. So he's paying off Mudd's debts. Tyler asks that he just make sure Mudd stays with Stella until the end of the war. Hopefully he'll stay out of their hair then.

Of course, he also violated Federation law...But he also knows about the drive, so I guess they are hoping Stella's dad will keep Mudd contained until the wars over...he did break the

And the arms merchant's ship heads off. And it's a beauty. It has all these nice touches. Like, do you see that lion statue on the front the ship. Classy.

It is different, but it really reminds me of the Antares type freighter, first shown in the animated series (they were later added to one remastered Classic Trek episode). Maybe it's just me. It has older and bigger nacelles in different positions. But all the ships on Discovery are still using older nacelle tech. And it looks like it was popular for some time to sling warp nacelles low, before the Constitution class started a trend of shifting them up higher, like they were on the NX class.

And we finally get to see Stella! We have seen her once before in Classic Trek. She was an android creation of Mudd's, created for him to be able to tell to shut up...And seeing her now, I wonder how accurate that version of her is. It may be that years of living with and knowing Mudd will wear down her pleasantness. But I wonder.

Mudd loves to spin reality to make himself more noble, more suave, more roguish, more a superstar. What if the version of Stella we saw in Classic Trek was the fiction that Mudd had built up in the years since he ran off on his wife? What if he's built a version of her in his mind that justified his abandonment. He made her the villain of the tale, not him. He was the victim.

from "I, Mudd"

Ir's something to think about the next  time you watch that Classic Trek episode.

Stamets continues to be somewhat off in his personality. And now we find that he is seeing time differently. He can feel time getting meddled with. What else does he connect to?

Burnham is continuing to learn about herself. She had the dream of command and responsibility to fill her life once. But that was taken away, and she was left with her self-loathing. Now that she's climbed out of her sadness and sees the breadth of humanity, it is overwhelming. It's scary. She is stumbling now to try and catch up with everyone else. Hopefully, she'll find it fulfilling.

And then we return to Lt. Ash Tyler. Who is he?

The show continues to toy with us. Unlike last episode, this one only drops one reminder. He came out of his Klingon experience maintaining his positive demeanor. It is impressive.

And the more you look at Tyler the more he looks like the classic Starfleet officers. Brave. Daring. Thoughtful. Compassionate. Always thinking of others. Ready to listen. He's a classic Trek character.

Or is it all a lie? Or do they want us paranoid, and focused on him? So someone else can work in the background? We have to keep going back and forth like this until we have some sound evidence to follow.

The romance with Burnham complicates things. He continues, if he is Voq, manages to masterfully hide himself. Alternatively, again, he could be a sleeper agent, not aware of his identity.

But with the romance, what is the show's plan. A tragic love? A redemptive love? True love? Lost love? We have to wait and see, don't we?



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