Title: Star Trek: Discovery – “Lethe”
Air Date: October 22nd, 2017
Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure, Drama
Star Trek: Discovery seems to have officially found its footing, as “Lethe” displays it is possible to mix in the shows new, darker direction with the foundation of the franchise it was built on. This episode begins after a “logic extremist” critically wounds Sarek – Michael Burnham’s adoptive Vulcan father – a mission to save him occurs.
So far in the show, Sarek has merely served as an expositional device to further develop Michael Burnham’s story. While that is still the case in episode six of the season, “Lethe” also progresses the Star Trek: Discovery version of the character in ways we haven’t seen yet.
James Frain does a wonderful job in his scenes transitioning between his rigid Vulcan attitude to his un-Vulcan like emotion, brought about whenever Burnham is involved, something that Sonequa Martin-Green has struggled with when placed in the same role.
Martin-Green is at her best when alongside Mary Wiseman, Cadet Tilly Sylvia, which is best demonstrated by the mentor aspects – and of course the statement from Tilly herself – seen throughout the episode. “Lethe” did a seamless job of combining the storylines and characters together as well, as Burnham, Tilly, and the newest member of the Discovery, Ash Tyler, who himself was rescued just last week, set off to rescue the Vulcan at the behest of Captain Lorca.
Each character’s inclusion in the mission made sense and didn’t seem forced, as opposed to scenarios earlier on in the season. It also opened up lines of theatrics to move the plot forward as well, leading to Captain Lorca and Admiral Cornwell actually expounding upon their relationship, which turns out to be a complicated one.
Jason Isaacs and Jayne Brook do a fantastic job of conveying the complexity of their dynamic in each scene, especially after Lorca subconsciously draws a phaser on her. Cornwell’s statement of “I really hate that I can’t tell if this is really you” in response to Lorca’s pleading is not only well acted (by both), but communicates exactly how I have felt about the Captain all along.
Throughout Star Trek: Discovery, Gabriel Lorca has been shown as a firm, but fair leader. Yet there have also been sprinklings of moral gray within his nobility, displayed in both his actions and the way he has been framed cinematographically, be it daunting music or simply holding the camera on his expression for a bit. It’s honestly what makes him one of my favorite characters right now. He is a mystery.
Another mystery comes in the form of Ash Tyler, who simply seems too good to be true so far. From his modesty after the Battle Simulation (which was awesome by the way) to his immediate willingness to trust Burnham, the black sheep of the Discovery, so far something just seems off. Regardless of that, Shazad Latif is doing a great job as the character. He may not have the chemistry established with Burnham that characters like Tilly, Lorca, and Saru have quite yet, but the rumors of a love interest between the two could work well.
Alongside a romantic relationship introduction of his own, last episode saw Lt. Stamets grow more relatable and human as a character, but this episode he felt off. While it’s certainly a means to progress the ending of last episode – double Stamets trouble – Anthony Rapp’s performance made Stamets’ look like he was on drugs. It will be interesting to see if this leads to a mirror-verse storyline in Star Trek: Discovery, but for now it just felt odd.
The fighting and cinematography in “Lethe” wasn’t odd though, it was just kind of bad. All of the fight scenes for this episode centered around one between Master and Student, when Sarek fights Burnham out of his mind multiple times, as he relives his final memory of regret before his possible death. Quick camera cuts mask slow, uninteresting choreography between the two characters, enough so that I had flashbacks of the first season of Iron Fist.
Fighting aside, the story involving Sarek’s last memory of Burnham is an endearing one. While our protagonist interprets that her adoptive father is reliving this specific memory because he sees her as his greatest failure, it’s actually the other way around. Alongside a Spock name drop, it’s revealed that Sarek is presented a Sophie’s Choice regarding his two, not full Vulcan children, one he regrets deeply. Not only does the scenario flesh out Sarek’s emotional side, it gives a more reason to Burnham’s actions and attitudes without being too over the top expositional, showing more than telling (even though it does tell too).
Verdict: “Lethe” reaffirms that last episode wasn’t merely a fluke and that Star Trek: Discovery finally seems to have found its bearings. Solid acting performances, an interesting main and side plot, and a lot of Star Trek nostalgia make for another great episode. A Vulcan salute that the rest of the season can continue to expand upon the positive things the series has done over these last two episodes.
Feel free to share your own opinions about the episode below. Be sure to check back next week for the seven episode of the season, as the review will go up immediately after the show concludes on CBS All Access at 8: 30 PM EST.
- Great acting throughout
- Burnham mentoring Tilly
- Morally Gray Lorca
- Sarek's Sophie's Choice
- Lt. Stamet's 180
- Fight cinematography