Homer would be proud.Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 7 takes its name from Homer’s “Iliad.” This week’s episode may prove to be the most fun in the series thus far. From a recurring character to time loops, Star Trek: Discovery was full of pleasant surprises. Sanity was a major theme in this episode and Lt. Stamets did everything possible to keep his during this unending incident.
MAIN CHARACTERS, WRITERS, DIRECTORS
Cadet Sylvia Tilly
Captain Gabriel Lorca
Harcourt Fenton Mudd
Stella Grimes Mudd
Writers: Aron Eli Coleite and Jesse Alexander
Director: David M. Barrett
After an interesting log given by Burnham into her opinion about some crew mates on board the USS Discovery, the Science Specialist emerges at a party. Tilly questions Burnham on the relationship status of she and Tyler after their “two dates.” Burnham evades her questions with ease and probes a tipsy Tilly about her own relationships with men.
Lorca calls both Burnham and Tyler to the bridge to examine an ill space whale-gormagander. He chooses to beam the whale a shuttle bay. In the shuttle bay, the awaiting Burnham and the rest of the science team ready themselves for the giant space creature when Harry Mudd dives out in a space costume and bombards the science team with phaser fire. Burnham communicates to the bridge about the shuttle bay’s present condition. Mudd reveals himself to Lorca by taking off his helmet and swearing revenge against Lorca. He vows to sell Discovery’s secret propulsion system to the Klingons as Lorca’s penance for banning Mudd from his lady love, Sweet Stella and detaining him in the Klingon prison. Then Mudd triggers an explosion.
Miraculously, Burnham reemerges at the party. Lt. Stamets charges Burnham in an attempt to prohibit her from leaving the party. He rambles on about a gormagander. Burnham pays him no heed only to realize Stamets was telling the truth. She ponders his premonition. She recognizes Mudd in engineering studying Discovery’s new propulsion system. And Stamets slays him. He divulges that they have been through the same scenario numerous times. Again the ship explodes.
The scenes reset and this time Stamets blitzes Burnham in the corridor as she is walking to the shuttle bay. There, he outlines their temporal loop paradox and his retention of all the previous incidences. Coupled with Mudd’s interest in the spore drive, Stamets leaks to Burnham all Mudd is missing is him to piece the puzzle together. Begging for a secret to persuade Burnham when the loop restarts, she simply whispers to him. The cold boot this time allows Stamets to screech that Burnham’s secret is loveless times and his annoyance of the time loop. He teaches her “to dance” in the corridor and gives her advice about love so next time she can ask Tyler about Mudd while they disco.
The time loop restores itself. Burnham while slow dancing with Tyler admits the time loop dilemma to him. Tyler remembers a story about Mudd and Burnham theorizes Mudd’s device to aid him is a time manipulating apparatus. On the bridge, Mudd greets the crew and transports Lorca to the brig. There Mudd confesses to killing Lorca 53 times. (If the time loops is set for 30 minutes at maximum then the USS Discovery has been in this time loop for a little over a day.) Tyler attacks Mudd, He in turn, defends himself killing Tyler with dark matter. Stamets is threatened with dark matter by Mudd who regards him as temporal loop cognizant. Stamets gives in. He teaches Mudd about the spore drive and confides himself as its missing element. Mudd has every component needed to give the ship over to the Klingons.
Tyler dead, Burnham hatches a new plan. She needs the loop to renew itself if she ever wants to see Tyler alive again. Burnham accesses the captain’s quarters to meet Mudd and disclose that she killed T’Kuvma and the Klingons want her more than anything else. She then eats the dark matter.
The loop reestablished, Mudd reaches the bridge to see a dismayed Lorca who is willing to trade the Discovery, Stamets and Burnham for the rest of the crew’s release. Mudd accepts the agreement and dissolves the time orb halting the time loop. He then dispatches the ship’s location to the Klingons. After leaving the bridge, Stamets and Burnham escorted by Mudd unveil a truth that Stella is not who he is running to but running from. They also declare that the non-critical systems on the ship were not disarmed and that the captain’s chair is a non-critical system. Tyler rewired the chair. The coordinates of the ship were not sent to the Klingons, but to Stella and her father, an arms’ dealer who is making a fortune off the war and who put out a reward for Mudd’s capture.
In the transporter room, Stella and her father, Baron Grimes await Mudd. And he has the perfect excuse for leaving Stella. Stella forgives them and the entire family is transported off the Discovery. Tyler in the transporter clues Burnham to the fact that he is very much interested in a relationship with her.
THEMES AND OTHER LITERARY DEVICES
The seventh episode of Star Trek: Discovery delves into love. The quote taken from the Iliad goes something like this:
“There is the heat of love, the pulsing rush of Longing, the lover’s whisper, irrestible-magic to make the sanest man go mad.“
The poem written by Homer is in dactylic hexameter and the passage in referenced in Book 14 Lines 259-261. It was published in 800 BC. Dactylic hexameter is a meter for classical epic poetry in Greek and Latin. It is also known as heroic hexameter or six feet hence the term hexa
means 6. Each foot is dactyl or a long syllable followed by two short syllables—long-short-short. An example of a dactyl foot would be “HU-man-ly” as in humanly possible or “TY-pi-cal“. An example of a poem written in dactylic hexameter is Longfellow’s “Evangeline” and nursery rhyme “Hickory Dickory Dock.” Rare is it in English , though. Interestingly enough, hip hop music is believed to be written in this heroic meter.
Our poem takes place ten years into the seige of Troy. Achilles in unwilling to participate in the war effort against Troy after the Greeks pillaged a city Chryse gaining the daughter of Chryes, a priest for the god Apollo and Achilles seizes Briseis and has to relinquish her to Agamemnon, the leader of his army…
Some themes of the “Iliad” are honor, courage and love versus wrath, eternal slaughter, torture and disgracing warriors. It seems akin to Discovery’s mass murders by Mudd especially dehumanizing Captain Lorca. Mudd admitted to killing the captain 53 times before again killing him which is reminiscent of Achilles degrading Hector’s body. This may be too much of a read into the subject. Mudd enjoyed killing the crew of Discovery repeatedly. Burnham’s courage was tested when she decides to kill herself to restore the time loop allowing Tyler to live again. So was her love tested as well.
The quote itself was used for motifs and symbols, such as “a lover’s whisper,” “longing” for a lover, “madness,” and “sanity.” I believe like Burnham whispering into the ear of Lt. Stamets, her and Tyler’s yearning for one another specifically in the turbo lift when they discussed the kiss. And the casual loop hammered away at Lt. Stamets’ sanity. Mudd appeared to be a little maniacal this episode. A result of the time loop. Stamets and Mudd contrast and parallel each other. Both learn from the time loop. Stamets learns more about his crew mate Michael Burnham and Mudd learns more about the ship. These two characters gain access to off limits areas or secured areas.
With Mudd again it is the ship and with Stamets it’s access to Michael Burnham’s personal life which she heavily guards.
This episode of Star Trek: Discovery conjured the lighthearted spirit in its audience this week. The crew as a team resorted to trickery to solve the problem of Mudd’s devilry through his wielding of a time crystal. Stamets, Burnham and Tyler all had a hand in Harry’s demise and the explanation behind it. In many ways, this episode reflected classic Star Trek ingenuity. I believe the fans responded to that writing in a very positive way. We have Aron Eli Coleite and Jesse Alexander to thank for this. Coleite and Alexander both wrote for the TV series Heroes which aired from 2006-2010. Toned with complex story plots reaching over several episodes such as is the norm for writing in comic books, Aron Eli Coleite clicked perfectly into that series as a producer and writer being a comic book writer himself. However, in the episode “Magic To Make The Sanest Man Go Mad,” he wrote for a standalone episode. Jesse Alexander tagged along with him as a writer on “Heroes” also steps out of character to write this bewitching episode. Both have joined forces once again to write, but on Star Trek: Discovery.
What I like about the time loop was it was never tiresome. The reset was manageable and not too predictable. The reason for the time loop was address quite well as was each time loop reboot. Though the episode was shot entirely on the Discovery, it did not feel like a “message in a bottle.” The plot, setting and the scenes were contained to the ship, but not claustrophobic or confined. I never really felt deprived of another world experience. David M. Barrett directs this episode with great balance. You have to like a person whose credits include stunt work right alongside producing and directing.
The casual time loop was that one event depended upon another event depended upon another event where this last event was the cause of the first event. Those loops are always mind-boggling.
Star Trek: Discovery’s episode this week explores love and its craziness not to mention a pressing time loop and a pesky villain. With an allusion to the “Iliad” in its title, Star Trek Discovery concocted its most amusing piece this series yet. Enjoyable, I look forward to more from this franchise’s newest evolution.