Welcome to Star Trek Season 1 Episode 5: Choose Your Pain.  We rest from the ship as the central setting of the story instead venturing to a Klingon prison shuttle. Captain Lorca’s ability to command is challenged.  And Mudd makes his first appearance on the show played by Rainn Wilson.


  • Michael Burnham
  • Saru
  • Captain Gabriel Lorca
  • Ash Tyler
  • Lt. Paul Stamets
  • Cadet Sylvia Tilly
  • Dr. Hugh Colber
  • Harry Mudd
  • Keyla Detmer
  • Rhys
  • L’Rell
  • Airiam
  • Admiral Cornwell
  • Director by Lee Rose
  • Story by Gretchen J. Berg, Aaron Harberts and Kemp Powers
  • Teleplay by Kemp Powers
  • Airdate October 15, 2017



In a dream, Michael Burnham switches places with the tardigrade in the cultivation bay and feels the painful side effects of the displacement activated spore up drive or the new propulsion system.

Lorca is a guest at a Starfleet admirals’ meeting where the admirals whisper suspicions that Burnham may not have incited the war with the

Star Trek-Comic Con
Cast & creators panel at SDCC 2017

Klingons even though they do not want her on the Discovery. Lorca is steadfast that it is his ship and his rules.

Traveling by shuttle back to the Discovery, Lorca is taken hostage by a boarding Klingon party. Meanwhile, Saru, now the commanding officer, orders several jumps to locate the captain. Burnham informs Saru on the effects these jumps have on the tardigrade. Saru Ignores her warnings so Burnham beseeches Dr. Culber. Culber diagnoses the tardigrade’s brain will not function at all if these jumps continue. Both enlighten Stamet. With

Stamet’s behind her, Burnham enlists Tilly’s help to copy the tardigrade’s DNA to a receptive animal and continue the life of the project.

On the Klingon prisoner transport, Lorca meets Harry Mudd. Trapped there too, Harry Mudd instructs the captain on the culture. In order to stop a mutiny, the Klingons offer a captive to “Choose your pain.” The captive decides who will take the next beating from the Klingons, a beating that is at times fatal. Harry Mudd chooses Lt. Tyler Ash, another captive.
Lorca survives torture by the Klingons. Knowing his sensitivity to light, the Klingons force open Captain Lorca’s eyes and shine a bright light in them. Mudd shares his dislike for Starfleet because initiated the war. Harry Mudd snitches that Lorca blew up his last ship and crew of the ill-fated USS Buran. Lorca confesses that the Klingons ambushed the ship making him the only survivor and he would not subject them to Klingon torture. Deducing that Mudd is working with the Klingons, Lorca enlists the aid of Tyler to escape the shuttle leaving Mudd behind. Mudd swears revenge.

During the argument between Saru and Burnham about the life of the taridgrade,  Saru accuses Burnham’s reckless behaviour demonstrated with this tardigrade is exactly what got Captain Georgiou killed.  Burnham did not disagree. Saru confines Burnham to quarters when she, Culber, Stamets and Tilly produce a DNA transfer from the tardigrade to humans and that humans now have the power to navigate the displacement activated spore drive or the new propulsion system. The suggestion, Saru discredits as a violation of Federation law. Instead of that pursuit, Saru researches qualities of great captains like bravery, self-sacrifice, tactical brilliance and compassion. And during the next operation of the spore drive, the tardigrade enters cryptobiosis or “tun” which is a state where all metabolic processes standstill, a death like condition. It is severe. The tardigrade is revived by Stamets, he privately decides to navigate the next jump for the displacement activated spore up drive in the tardigrade’s stead. But, Stamets is severely injured and revived quickly.
Saru ascertains Lorca is in one of a caravan of Klingon ships and that he is being pursued by the other craft. So Saru beams Lorca and Lt. Ash Tyler onto the USS Discovery before their transport explodes. He acknowledges the tardigrade’s danger as a navigator to the new propulsion system and orders Burnham to release the animal. Burnham frees the creature into space where it then disappears. Saru also admits he was jealous of Burnham’s position and relationship with Georgiou. As a peace offering, Burnham entrusts Saru with Georgiou’s telescope.  He,later cnacels his findings of his own merit as a captain in Lorca’s absence.

Later, in his quarters, Stamets confides in his partner, Dr. Culber, that the experience in the cultivation bay was unimaginable. Dr. Culber suggests he be more careful and after Stamets withdraws from the mirror, his mirror image lingers for a brief moment longer.


Self-sacrifice is a theme in “Choose Your Pain.’ It is listed by Discovery’s computer as well as notable captains including Kirk. Stamets decided to choose to hurt himself over the tardigrade by navigating the ship in the last jump. Also, dare I say, Burnham’s empathy in her dream where she is in the cultivation bay navigating the USS Discovery instead of the tardigrade is also a type of self-sacrifice…a stretch maybe, but those are my thoughts.

“Alice In Wonderland” symbolism of dreams as Burnham experienced still adds value and credibility to the series. It deepens Burnham’s CBS Logounderstanding of the situation.
Burnham relinquishing Captain Georgiou’s family heirloom to Commander Saru may have major significance. First, it can represent his initial search into his own self-discovery. Second, it may clue the audience into the fate of Saru’s deepens Burnham’s making capabilities while he is a commander of the ship and his ability to protect his captain well.


Lee Rose’s direction in this episode was good. I enjoyed the lighting giving a certain ambiance to Lorca’s cell. She debuted as director in the film “The Color Of Courage” with Terminator famed Linda Hamilton. Her other credits include “Grace and Frankie” “and “Under The Dome.” The edgy writing is due to actor and director Kemp Powers. He was a staff writer in the Discovery episode “The Vulcan Hello.” He is credited with “This Day Today” and “Fight Your Way Out.”
Harry Mudd makes his debut in the new series not as comedic relief but sinister and some dark humor moments. Saru and Burnham’s turbulent relationship feels near explosive as Saru loses his temper and possibly his patience with Burnham; it resolves itself-for now, nicely. Burnham does endure the guilt of Captain Georgiou’s death even if no one detects it.Quietly, Burnham is several steps ahead of Lt. Stamets in his discovery of the spore propulsion and she may predict its demise. Ash Tyler finally enters the series after being credited without acting in a single episode until now.


Star Trek Season 1 Episode 5: Choose Your Pain veered us away from the ship and we learned some of Captain Lorca’s past. We know some facts about Lt. Ash Tyler. Next week’s episode 6 is “Lethe” and is sure to bring more interesting story lines. If I were you, I would stay tuned…

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