The sixth episode of Discovery is entitled “Lethe” – the Greek spirit of forgetfulness. Interesting that Burnham spent most of the episode trying to remember, and Sarek spent most of the episode trying to forget.
This episode begins with Sarek embarking on an unnamed diplomatic mission. Turns out, there is a small faction of Vulcans that believe humans to be an inferior race, and therefore deem humans unworthy of consideration, or even, assimilation into VUlcan society.. One of these Vulcans is Sarek’s shuttle companion, who manages to turn himself into a bomb, severely damaging the shuttle, as well as Sarek himself. As in “Battle at the Binary Stars,” we see that Sarek left part of his katra (explained in this episode as an “eternal life force” like a “Vulcan soul) in Michael’s mind. She seems to have a different take on the matter than Dr. McCoy did in The Search for Spock, “That green-blooded son of a bitch.” Burnham is not McCoy level angry, or even angry at all. This episode expands on Burnham and Sarek’s past relationship, and we find out that Michael was injured in another bombing directed towards humans and their possible assimilation into Vulcan society and culture. Sarek had to use his katra to save Michael; she was dead for three minutes. Their connection is strong, so this is how Michael tries to save him after he’s drifting, injured, in space. We don’t truly learn much more about Sarek in this episode, but we learn a good deal more about Burnham through him. In a flashback, propelled by Burnham stepping into Sarek’s mind through his katra, Burnham is speaking to Amanda, Sarek’s human wife, about her impending acceptance into the Vulcan Expeditionary Group (VEG) – which turns out to not be an acceptance, but in fact, a rejection. Later, it is revealed the rejection was a result of Sarek making a choice. The VEG was willing to admit only one human: Sarek’s half-human son, Spock, or his adopted human child, Michael. (A connection between this prequel and the Original Series!) Sarek chose Spock. He did not choose wisely as Spock ultimately decides to join Starfleet. Again, we discover more about Burnham through Sarek; she does forgive him for manipulating her and for lying to her and for failing her; she does save his life through a Vulcan mindmeld. “Live long and prosper” is the opening line of this episode, and we see Sarek and Burnham doing just that, while discovering more about their own relationship. Sarek believes he failed Michael and Michael believes she did not fail Sarek as she thought she had.
2. Captain Lorca
As it turns out, Sarek’s mission is to broker peace between two warring Klingon houses. Since Sarek is incapacitated at the moment, Lorca suggests Admiral Cornwell go in his place. Prior to this development, we see Cornwell arriving on Discovery to discuss Lorca’s, basically renegade, behavior. She is concerned for his well-being, as he is not the man she remembers. Awkwardly, suddenly, and with zero resistance, Lorca seduces Cornwell and gets her into bed. There is no apparent attraction between the two, but I’ll say that’s the acting, not the writing, on the show. Cornwell touches the scars on Lorca’s back during the night and he loses it – he strangles her and pulls a phaser on her in bed; she storms off, rightfully so, stating he is in no way fit for command. He basically begs her not to “take his ship away,” and that’s that. The brokering of peace between the Klingon houses winds up being a trap and Cornwell is taken as a hostage – and Lorca is granted a gift from whatever God he believes in. (I assume it’s Ares.) Lorca does not mount a rescue mission as he does for Sarek, and Saru is surprised. It’s against everything we’ve seen Lorca stand for. He’s not one to shy away from a fight. It seems he has won one fight though – the fight to keep his ship. As he tells Cornwell before she leaves, “May fortune favor the bold.” Not quite as self-deprecating as Kirk’s “May fortune favor the foolish.”Continued below
3. Ash Tyler
After a heart-to-heart with Burnham at the tail end of the episode, Tyler leads Burnham to the realization that she’s more human than Vulcan – that she can’t fight her humanity. Is Ash really a Klingon? Who knows. It’s possible. His backstory is transparent and vague, but for some reason Lorca loves him and his capabilities as a warrior. I guess that’s it. That’s what he loves. His capabilities as a warrior. Tyler kills more Klingons than Lorca during a hologram simulation of battle (precursor to the holodeck?) and Lorca is known for “collecting” people he believes will assist him in his seemingly endless war with the Klingons. We see Tyler join Burnham and Tilly (That’s her name!) on their mission to save Sarek. Lorca demonstrates his, not affection, but desire, to keep Burnham alive by sending his best warrior to protect her in a possibly dangerous situation. The captain tells Tyler not to come back without her – well – he is chief of security now on Discovery, as appointed by Lorca.
Burnham and Tilly get some more screen time together in this episode, starting with a jog around Discovery. Burnham is giving Tilly advice on how to get ahead in terms of her career. It’s a no nonsense approach we’ve come to expect from Burnham; an approach where it seems she is basically (forcing?) her will upon Tilly, as shown when Burnham reorders Tilly’s breakfast for her because her selection is not the optimal one. This could just be her Vulcan side taking over, but it seems controlling. Tilly does later state Burnham is pushing her to be the best she can be, but it doesn’t quite seem believable. This mentor/mentee relationship does also show where Tilly’s strengths outweigh Burnham’s. Tilly is not afraid to go over and introduce herself to Ash Tyler when she sees him sitting alone. Maybe the difference isn’t that Burnham is afraid, maybe it’s just that she doesn’t care to approach others and become friends. This appears to be one of Tilly’s strengths – so perhaps they can both learn from one another.
5. Random Thoughts
It took me longer than it should have to discover why Burnham and Tilly were wearing shirts that said “Disco” on them as they jogged around Discovery. I’m just not up with the abbreves, I guess. I don’t feel an emotional connection to any of these characters. I also don’t believe they feel anything for one another. I’m not sure where that fault lies: with me, with the writing, with the acting. I need a show like this to make me care about the characters. Maybe that will come with time. This was a much tighter episode in terms of plot, but somehow also disappointing in its portrayal of good and bad as being plain old black and white. The science was lacking as well. The show has grown in terms of storytelling, but it doesn’t feel like this was the show we were sold on. There was talk of the Burnham/Georgiou duo, there was a feeling of hope and discovery, and now we’re left with a captain searching for war, with no real hope, and with no real discovery.