The Star Trek: Discovery series started with a two episode “movie”, and then this past week the episode “Context is for Kings” officially kicked off the series. Overall, the series is better than previous Star Trek series. Specifically, the characters are more interesting, the ideas are smarter and the world is better understood. There are some spoilers in this post, so please don’t read on if you haven’t see the show yet.
The recurring theme that made itself most present during the third episode was around ethical duties and moral ambiguities. More specifically this was in question following Michael Burham’s mutinous actions aboard the U.S.S. Shenzou last week. Her decision to engage with the Klingon ship led to the death of more than 8000 people. Including the death of her former captain, Georgiou.
Under the strict orders of the Discovery’s captain, Captain Lorca, Burnham complies, but she’s stuck with this unwavering sense of doubt about what the team is up to. Burnham can’t trust the team she has been assigned to and doesn’t want to disobey the rank of command, leaving her in a confusing and ambiguous position. She’s not the only one, either. Lieutenant Saru, who has been promoted to First Officer aboard the Discovery, wants to use Burnham’s intelligence to help his captain but considers her a dangerous weapon. Burnham’s new direct officer, Lieutenant Stamets, wants to work without interruption on his scientific research, but takes qualms with the co-opting of his team’s discoveries for the purpose of war.
Stamets has a call with a friend and former research partner, who is doing parallel research on USS Glenn. He talks about how their research is too slow for the happiness of Lorca, whom it is clear he does not like. Then the Glenn suffers a cataclysmic accident after doing a trial run of the same research that the Discovery is apparently behind in, so Stamets, Burnham, and others rush in to salvage the research.
During the journey, Stamets tells Burnham that he and his dead friend were happy in the lab, doing amazing research. Then the war started, their research was co-opted, they were separated so that they’d be “twice as fast” in their work, and Stamets had to work for the “warmonger” Lorca.