Originally published on Set The Tape
With the previous episode of Star Trek: Discovery acting as something of a second pilot episode, one that established a new mission for our lead character of Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), ‘The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not For The Lamb’s Cry’ helps to remind audiences of the threat of the war with the Klingon Empire; something that was spoken about but seldom seen previously.
With a Federation mining colony under attack from the Klingons as the main driver of this episode, it not only shows audiences how the war is unfolding, but just how different the characters in Star Trek: Discovery are from previous series.
Whilst Captains like Picard, Sisko, and Kirk would lament the plight of the people under siege, and make saving them their first priority Jason Isaacs’ Captain Lorca is much more concerned with the effect that the loss of the dilithium crystal mine will have on the war effort. Lorca isn’t the kind of captain that we’ve had before, even Captain Sisko lamented the loss of life above resources during the Dominion Wars.
Lorca goes on to use the loss of innocent life to motivate his crew to work harder, playing haunting transmissions from those under siege across the ship’s intercom, but even then it doesn’t feel like he himself cares, but is simply manipulating the emotions of his crew for his own ends. This plays out further towards the end of the episode, whereafter saving the colony, the Discovery immediately leaves, leaving the wounded to fend for themselves. He’s saved the facility; the people mean little to him.
His focus on the war ties into Burnham’s story, when we discover that room we saw at the end of the last episode is the place where he hones his study of war, complete with display cases full of weapons, the skeletal remains of a classic series Gorn, and the monstrous creature from the remains of the USS Glen.
Lorca wants Burnham to study the creature, to adapt it for use in the war; something that is at odds with the approach Burnham would take as a scientist. Over the course of the episode we begin to learn more of the creature, the gigantic tardigrade, which does take away some of the mystery and fear that surrounded it in the previous episode; though this is replace with a sense of wonder, and even sympathy.
With the tardigrade being the missing component the crew needs in order to make their spore drive engines, which will allow them to use the new technology to travel almost anywhere in the galaxy in the blink of an eye. Despite this being a hugely important step towards a way to win the war things are called into question when Burnham sees that the creature is put in pain whenever the spore drive is used.
Though not completely addressed, it’s clear that this will become a conflict going forwards in upcoming episodes, where the characters will have to question if it is right to harm a sentient creature, even if it can mean saving billions of lives. Whilst this question would be a swift “no” in other Star Trek series, it’s sure to be more complex here; and will probably be a conflict on which Burnham and Lorca will fall on separate sides after Saru’s comments that both Burnham and Lorca ‘act insincerely and without thought of the consequences in pursuit of their own goals’.
This episode also brings the Klingons to the forefront when we discover that following the battle at the binary stars, the crew of T’Kuvma’s ship have been stranded for six months and are trying desperately to survive and repair their ship.
Whilst these scenes aren’t nearly as engaging as those involving the Klingons in the first two episodes, they do establish further drama within their ranks, with Voq finding himself set upon a very different path by the end. These scenes do give us one of the most shocking, and surprisingly upsetting moments of the episode, however, when we learn that the Klingons ate the remains of Captain Georgiou. Despite no longer being on the show, this small line hits hard, and reminds audiences of just how important the character is to the story of Star Trek: Discovery, something that is reflected in the final scene.
The fourth episode of Star Trek: Discovery continues to build well upon the universe already established, and gives us some interesting looks into some of our main characters. It also begins to set up further story elements and conflicts that will be sure to play out in further episodes, and adds more fuel to the theory that perhaps the Discovery is more involved with Section 31 than the Federation.
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