In the Chapter One finale (as the producers are calling it), Into The Forest I Go, Captain Lorcas reveals himself to be a consummate manipulator and schemer. Ordered to Starbase 46 by Admiral Terral, Lorcas is forced to take action contrary to those orders.
From the first I’ve never thought bringing Michael Burnham onboard Discovery to be as altruistic a gesture as it seemed. Instead, Burnham’s presence has subtly and softly weakened the moral resolve of the Discovery crew. She’s done this by showing herself to be a kind and capable person who’s previous actions, originally despised, are slowly seen in a new light. So when Lorcas tells the crew he’s going to disobey Terral’s order, they actively and eagerly participate in what amounts to mutiny. Even Timid Commander Saru is wagging two fingers at the Starfleet regulations he was quoting a few episodes ago.
Now the Klingon cloaking technology is a thorn in the Starfleet war plans, so the need to counteract it is a very high priority. The plan to place two sensors at the opposite ends of the Klingon ship of the dead and then micro jump 133 times with the spore drive is completely bonkers. Stamets is obviously concerned about trying something like that, but Lorcas once again uses ego massage and gentle persuasion to get Stamets to not only do what Lorcas want, but to make him feel almost like it was his own idea.
The plan also requires two people to beam across to the Klingon ship and place sensors at either end of the ship so they readings can be made. Lorcas was going to assign someone other than Burnham to the mission. An incredibly quiet move on the part of Lorcas. Lorcas has been, up to now, showing Burnham level of trust and faith one would expect in only the closest of relationships, but to suddenly discount Burnham from the mission puts her on the back foot. Lorcas has been nurturing Burnham’s need for this trust, so when it seems like he’s taking it away, Burnham pleads to be allowed to go on what is in all likelihood a suicide mission.
Lorcas relents and lets Burnham go. Burnham feels validated, but Lorcas has no need of Burnham any more. The crew has proven that they will follow any order he gives, provided it’s couched as a solution to a problem for the ‘greater good’. So now Lorcas’ best hope is that Burnham will be killed, or at the very least captured. What Lorcas didn’t count on was the incompetence of the Klingons.
Tyler and Burnham beam over to the ship of the dead as the cloaking device disengages. This is fine. But the ease at which they move through the ship, first aft then to the bridge, is absurd. Where are the standing guards on a bridge that size? Where are the guards anywhere? And once on the bridge Burnham is able to set up the second sensor and monitor Discovery’s progress. When it’s clear that the Klingons are going to leave before Discovery can complete its scans Burnham reveals herself to the Klingons.
Kol shows himself to be an absolutely rubbish commander. Instead of protecting his people and his ship in the face of an unknown enemy action he allows himself to be drawn into single combat? For honour? Klingon honour is one thing, but stupid command decisions are quite another matter. He, his crew, and his ship pay for this stupidity in spectacular fashion.
When the battle is won, Admiral Terral informs Lorcas that he is to receive the Legion of Honour once he and Discovery reach Starbase 46. Where they should have gone in the first place. Lorcas, however, suspects something other than feteing him is in the minds of Admiral Terral and the rest of Starfleet Command. Rather than directly disobeying this order, Lorcas takes a different tack.
Lorcas seeks out Stamets and informs him that he’s requested that Starfleet gives Stamets the Legion of Honour for his part in the success of breaking the Klingon cloaking technology. Stamets is duly gracious, but informs Lorcas that this jump to Starbase 46 will be his last. Ever. Lorcas accepts Stamets position of doing ‘one last jump’ with equal grace and leaves Stamets with ideas of peace and glory in his head.
Ever the confident captain, Lorcas readies his crew and his ship for the jump to Starbase 46. He enters the jump coordinates himself. Or does he? Stamets last jump goes terribly, terribly wrong. Discovery and her crew are spit out in the middle of a debris field somewhere, but no one can determine where. Discovery is lost. Or is it?
Into The Forest I Go has me conflicted. I haven’t trusted Lorcas and his motives from the first, so to have my suspicions confirmed is gratifying. I actually respect Lorcas more for following through on his plans thus far instead of just allowing things to peter out. He is clearly a driven man and will not stop until his plans are fulfilled. The problem I have is with the portrayal of the Klingons.
As an adversary they are certainly impressive looking and are capable, we are seeing through Tyler’s experiences, of terrible acts of violence and torture. However, as a cohesive fighting force they are easily distracted and therefore weak. I would prefer the Klingons to be as equally cunning as those we’ve seen in previous incarnations.
The Klingons, in the original series of Star Trek, were developed as an analogue to the Soviet Union. For those of us who grew up during the cold war we easily identified with them as an enemy. However, as the real Soviet Union was never underestimated or disrespected, so too were the earlier versions of the Klingons. These Klingons, though, are a weak and diluted version of that original concept. And that’s just too bad.
As Chapter One of Star Trek: Discovery closes I am acutely aware of the flaws in the show. I am equally aware of the good points. Fortunately for fans of science fiction television and Star Trek fans in particular, the good outweighs the bad. When Chapter Two begins I hope the good will continue to increase and by the end of the series we can forget the points we don’t like and just remember that Star Trek continues it’s more than 50 year tradition of boldly going.
Star Trek: Discovery returns Sunday 7 January, 2018 with Despite Yourself.