Star Trek Discovery: Groundhog Day

Title: Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 7: “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad”
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction
Platform: Streaming – CBS All Access
Director: David Barrett
Writers: Aron Eli Coleite and Jesse Alexander
Rating: TV-14
Release: October 29, 2017
Cast: Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Jason Issacs, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman
Feature image: Source


“I used to exclusively go for soldiers but I’m kind of going through a musician phase right now.” Cadet Sylvia Tilly – Star Trek: Discovery

Party time on the Discovery. Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) tentatively walks into the party. They are playing rap music, so hip-hop has made it to the 23rd century. Cadet Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) is tipsy and she wants her roomie to make a move on Lt. Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif). She isn’t because, “I used to exclusively go for soldiers but I’m kind of going through a musician phase right now.” Ash makes an inspiring speech to the partygoers about the war. Tilly thinks she might be back into soldiers now. Before Ash and Burnham can talk, they both are notified to go to the bridge. On the way there, they run into Lt. Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz). Stamets is blissed out. Stamets asks the pair what is up with them. The bridge is on yellow alert because they have come upon a gormagander, an endangered space creature. Burnham explains to Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs), “Hunting isn’t the cause of its reduced numbers. It’s primarily due to their mating practices or lack thereof. They spend their lives feeding on alpha particles in solar winds. They are often so consumed by this task; they ignore all of their instincts. Including reproduction.” Bored by the explanation, Lorca responds, “That’s as depressing a trait as I’ve ever heard of.” Since it is an endangered species, the Discovery has to take it aboard. Burnham: “As Science Specialist, I’m the most qualified to handle the needs of this creature.”  Lorca:” I don’t give a damn. I just want it done.”
Tyler: “I request security oversight of the operation, Captain.”  Lorca: “I still don’t give a damn.”

Once down in the loading bay, they get abnormal readings from inside the creature. A man emerges from the creature, shooting at the crew. It is Harry Mudd (Rainn Wilson). He is able to get to the bridge and confront Lorca. Lorca: “What the hell are you doing on my ship?”  Mudd: “You ask me that question every single time. You know that, don’t you? No, of course you don’t.” Mudd continues, “When you left me behind with the Klingons, you robbed me of my dear, sweet Stella, the only woman I have ever loved, and I will have my revenge. Also, I’m going to kill you as many times as possible.” Harry is going to sell the ship’s secrets to the Klingons. The ship explodes and we are back at the party.

“As days go, this is a weird one.” Lt. Paul Stamets – Star Trek: Discovery

Stamets shows up at the party and tells Burnham and Ash that this has happened before. Stamets: “We’ve been through all this before… multiple times, actually… and I hate to tell you but I have yet to find a way where it ends with a win for the home team.” They think he’s acting crazy so he gives them a hint, “it all starts with the gormagander.”  The ship gets a black alert; someone has activated the spore drive. It’s Harry Mudd in engineering; he’s taken over the computer and is behind a shield. Stamets gets behind him and shoots him. Stamets: “As days go, this is a weird one.”

It is a new party scene; Stamets is looking for Burnham. He tells her about the time loop they are in; Mudd created it and it runs in a 30-minute cycle. Stamets asks Burnham to tell him a secret so he can prove that they had this conversation. She whispers her secret. We get a funny montage of all the times Harry kills Lorca. In the next loop, Stamets tells her the secret, “You’ve never been in love.”  She believes Stamets; he needs her to talk to Ash. While teaching her how to dance, Burnham asks how she can connect to Ash. Stamets: “Never hide who you are. That’s the only way relationships work.” Later, she asks Ash to dance. They dance to Love and Happiness [Rev. Al Green makes it to the 23rd century. At least they have good taste in the future in music] and kiss. Burnham informs Ash about what is happening. He tells her that while he was a prisoner with Mudd, he told him about a big heist he pulled off with a time crystal. Later on the bridge Mudd shows up again to take control of the computer. Mudd has been trying to find out what makes the spore drive work. He kills Ash with some dark matter. Stamets tells Mudd he’s the piece that is missing.

“I murdered T’Kuvma, the Klingon messiah.” Michael Burnham – Star Trek: Discovery

To save Ash, they need to get Mudd to set back time. Tilly and Burnham find out that his ship is in the gormagander. Burnham goes to Mudd and tells him that he can get more money selling her to the Klingons. Burnham: “I murdered T’Kuvma, the Klingon messiah.”  She swallows the dark matter killing herself; forcing Mudd to reset time.

This time the crew is ready for Mudd’s next appearance. Lorca tells Mudd he will hand him control of his ship if he will spare the crew’s life. Mudd transmits a message to the Klingons, but the crew reroutes his message to his girlfriend Stella (Katherine Barrell) father’s ship. They arrive. Stella: “Harcourt! Where have you been? I have been so worried about you.”  Mudd: “It’s been such a tumultuous year. I couldn’t even begin to explain.”  Stella: “Try.” Stella loves Mudd and forgives him; he leaves with her.

“I’m just sad we missed our first kiss.” Lt. Ash Tyler – Star Trek: Discovery

Ash and Burnham have an awkward conversation about their dance. Burnham: “What I’m feeling is complicated… and strange.”  Tyler: “It’s okay. I’m not going anywhere.”  Burnham: “What is it?”  Tyler: “I’m just sad we missed our first kiss.”

Harry Mudd makes his grand return and tries to find out the secret of the ship’s spore drive so that he can sell it to the Klingons. While he’s there, he can also get revenge on Captain Lorca for leaving him in the Klingon prison camp by repeatedly killing him. He has a time crystal that can create a 30-minute time loop. He can use it to gather information until he gets what he came for. It would have worked except that because Paul Stamets has melded genetic material with Ripper the tardigrade, he can exist outside the timeline. This allows him to recruit Burnham to stop Mudd. Once everyone knows what is going on, the crew cons the conman by making him think they are handing him the ship. When he tries to contact the Klingons with the Discovery’s location, he actually contacts the Grimes’ ship. They take Mudd with them.

This is the first time that this show has shown a sense of humor [on purpose]. There were many funny scenes, Tilly being drunk at the party and trying to get Burnham to hook up with Ash. Stamets being very loopy from the time loops; the montage of all the times Mudd kills Lorca. The episode was light and fun [if you consider someone killing people repeatedly light and fun].

The only thing I didn’t really like was the end. Harry Mudd just leaves with Stella, and that’s that. Mudd totally skips punishment, unless you think being with Stella is ample punishment. In the original Star Trek, we see a robot replica of Stella that is a nag. The real Stella seems nice. Now maybe she became a nag after living with Harry, or the robot replica might have been Harry’s false image of her. We know Harry is a lowlife sociopath, so he can’t be considered a reliable narrator. Lorca doesn’t appear to be the type to let someone get away with killing him and his crew repeatedly. At least we should have gotten some type of indication that life with the Grimes is going to be hell.

This was a good, fun episode, with nice work from all the actors. I’m glad the writers remembered that Star Trek can be light and fun. It was nice to see the crew work together to defeat Mudd. The Ash and Burnham romance keeps chugging along. Maybe next they’ll exchange promise rings.

Grade: A-



Anthony (Kbear!) Nichols | Editor-in-Chief
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