Star Trek: Discovery Recap: Choose Your Pain—But Whose Pain?


Returning 2020

The spore drive is mega-popular with Federation higher-ups which means that Tardigrades are suddenly a hunted species… and so Burnham’s new burden is the pain she’s indirectly and accidentally inflicting on it (sometimes it sucks being too smart for everyone’s own good).

But forget all that because suddenly we’re witnessing Lorca getting a Klingon ass-kicking and being taken aboard their ship—a targeted abduction with the aim of extracting valuable information about the spore drive. The mission to rescue the  Discovery’s captain now takes precedence over the Tardigrade’s well-being.

In Klingon jail, Lorca meets Harry Mudd, a familiar guy to longtime Trek fans. He’s mysterious, slick, and sarcastic. And he doesn’t wince while watching a fellow human get his skull crushed. (He’s had practice, like the title episode says, the Klingons allow their captives to choose who gets the pain).


Lorca isn’t given the choice though, the Klingons take him even after fellow Starfleet prisoner Ash Tyler steps in. Probably because an English-speaking Klingon wants to talk spore drives with him. When he declines, she tortures him with… bright lights. And a Clockwork Orange-esque eyelid opening device.

Back on the Discovery, Stamets, Tilley, and Burnham are developing a way to simulate the Tardigrade’s navigational powers without hurting it. The debate leads to a massive fight with acting Captain Saru who insists that they Black Alert torture the Tardigrade in order to save Lorca. His decision nearly kills the Tardigrade, rendering it close to useless. Still, Saru pushes Stamets to use it again.


Back in jail, it comes out that Mudd is a spy, Lorca is the kind of Captain who does NOT go down with his ship, and Tyler, well, we still don’t know much about Tyler—other than the fact that he volunteers to be a Klingon punching bag. That, however, was part of the escape plan (just not for Mudd).

With Lorca and Tyler back on the ship, the Discovery makes another spore jump to evade a Klingon attack—only it wasn’t the Tardigrade navigating, it was Stamets, who’d injected himself with Tardigrade DNA. This series of successes (aka an extreme lucky streak) leaves Saru feeling forgiving and generous. When Burnham gives him Captain Georgiou’s telescope, he gives her permission to save the Tardigrade. So she sets it free.

And then there’s that ending. Um, Stamets, are you okay?

4 questions we have about this week’s episode

1. Who is Lorca really? Why did Harry Mudd seem to know him (or at least know about him)?

2. Ash Tyler is another new mysterious character. Who spends 7 months in captivity and then escapes like it’s NBD? Was Lorca really the key to his freedom?

3. Is Lorca’s refusal to get his eyes fixed a way of punishing himself for blowing up his last crew?

4. Is Burnham’s fatal flaw that she can’t function if she isn’t in charge?