Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Discovery 1x4 "The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry"

rating: ***

the story: Burnham solves Lorca's biggest immediate problem in true Star Trek fashion.

what it's all about: I've mentioned before that it's still too early to know just how serialized Discovery is.  It's possible that the whole season will feature one continuing story, so that every episode is linked.  This has become increasingly standard since Star Trek last had a TV series (Enterprise).  For now, I'll continue to treat episodes in their immediate context, and consider "The Butcher's Knife" as a kind of second half of the "second pilot" that was "Context Is for Kings," much as "Battle at the Binary Stars" was a continuation of the first episode, "The Vulcan Hello."

In that sense, we get some clear resolution in this episode, seeing where Burnham settles in among Lorca's crew, and even see her at her unabashed best, which was probably kind of necessary after seeing her Starfleet career literally self-destruct previously.  We see her perform a classic compassionate solution to a vexing problem, another alien life-form needing to be understood (see: "The Devil in the Dark").  If you don't want to see this as merely a continuation of previous episodes, that act itself is as close as Discovery has gotten to Star Trek's episodic roots.

In the process, we get the show's second shocking death of a character who seemed like they would otherwise have been in it for the long haul.  Previously it was Captain Georgiou (a lot of fans are saying it was obvious she was going to die, when they saw Michelle Yeoh listed as a guest-star; it could just as easily have meant Burnham merely being transferred to another ship, which is to say, Burnham's fate at the end of "Binary Stars" itself couldn't have been predicted, either, except in hindsight).  This time it's Landry.  Matter-of-fact Landry in a lot of ways represented the darkest fears of Lorca himself, his apparent rogue captain status.  And yet, once Burnham figures out the truth behind the alien life-form, Lorca isn't there demanding everyone ignore it.  One has the sense that Landry wouldn't have been so malleable.  And yet, she's a compelling element of the episode all the same, and it's a shame to see her go.

criteria analysis:
  • franchise - A classic Star Trek narrative.
  • series - Burnham finds her place in the new crew.
  • character - Finding redemption in the process.
  • essential - It's a little disappointing that she is so straightforwardly heroic this time.\
notable guest-stars:
Rekha Sharma (Landry)
Michelle Yeoh (Georgiou)

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