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Star Trek Discovery - Lethe - Review: "Lorca's Schemes"

Star Trek: Discovery 1.06 "Lethe" Review:
Directed by Douglas Aarniokoski & Written by Joe Menosky & Ted Sullivan

The sixth episode of Discovery put Lorca and Michael to the forefront in the two main storylines that focused on exploring the characters' weaknesses and addressing what they would do when faced in difficult situations. Both Michael and Lorca are different characters with their own ways of handling things so their approach to how they faced these different problems was interesting. The episode itself also devoted its time briefly to Cadet Tilly, as well as integrated former POW Ash Tyler into the crew, another one of Lorca's strays that Starfleet itself isn't exactly keen on.

Doug Aarniokoski is a director responsible for several Arrow episodes, having worked on Seeing Red and Broken Arrow, as well as plenty of episodes of Bull and Limitless, and The Flash's Rogue Air, so he has a track record of working in genre shows and he brings to the table a well-directed episode that benefits from Joe Menosky (A veteran Trek writer) and Ted Sullivan's script. Yes the storyline is fairly predictable this week as we all know by now that Lorca is a dodgy Starfleet Captain who isn't afraid to break the rules to get what he wants, but that didn't stop it from being an entertaining hour that kept me invested in both his and Sarek's plight. It helps of course that Jason Isaacs is really adding depth to Lorca in his personality, and really helping bring that extra charisma to his role that makes him so memorable.

It turns out not everyone on Vulkan is happy with the way that Sarek has intergrated Michael, a human-born child into a society that still maintains plenty of its beliefs in its proud mindset. It's not just the Klingons who want to remain independent, there's also different sects of Vulkans that no doubt make for plenty of conflict. This was good to get a break from the Klingons this week as the Vulkans were pushed to the forefront, where the attempt on Sarek's life put him in jeopardy and forced Michael to do what Sarek had once done for her, enter his mind and save him. But Sarek himself has secrets that Michael may not be willing to find out. The fact that he himself was responsible for Michael not getting what she wanted was a nice revelation especially when we learnt that Sarek opted for Spock over Michael instead, Spock of course being Michael's much more famous half-brother, and this served as a fun way to tie in Discovery further to its original. Of course we know that Spock ended up following Michael's path and joining Starfleet anyway, making Sarek an early contender for Vulkan's worst dad of the year award. It's once again a shame that Spock himself isn't able to address Michael in anyway so we don't see the other character's reactions to Michael's story as presumably he will be limited to namedrops only, but that's understandable, especially if the show wants to continue escaping from the shadow of the original series.

Spock also wasn't the only original series character that was mentioned this week too, with Michael namedropping The Enterprise for the first time on the show. The Enterprise even before Kirk it's important to remember is held up as the shining example as to the ship that Starfleet Cadets want to one day serve upon, as Michael uses this to motivate Tilly into adapting her diet and working out more to better train physically for the role of a Captain. We're much more likely to see Pike show up than Spock, especially as Pike himself has already been namedropped once on the series. This is different from having someone like Spock show up as obviously, Pike isn't quite as well known as Spock and there's a lot more past to explore with his character that hasn't quite been revealed as say, someone like Spock's was.

We also learned a bit more about the connections and the past relationship between Jayne Brook's Katrina Cornwell and Lorca this week as both characters shared a bed together before things got ugly between them. Cornwell is aware that Lorca's personality has changed and he's far from the man she once knew, because even though he's able to fool the tests that every Starfleet Captain must undergo the extreme measures have made Lorca look so alien to Cornwell that she expects to remove Lorca of his Captaincy, taking his ship away from him once she returns to Starfleet. Lorca tries to intervene, claiming that without Discovery there would be nothing left for him, but Cornwell sees through his mask. The freakout where he ended up pulling his phaser on her the following morning showed that he's not completely stable, but then again, that may have also been part of Lorca's "act." He's unpredictable, but only to a certain degree, as it was almost inevitable that he'd end up finding some way to get rid of Cornwell or at least take her off the board for now, when she wound up getting kidnapped by the Klingons after taking Sarek's place at the so-called peace talks, which were quickly interrupted.

It seems like the war will continue at least for now, and the Klingons now have a much bigger prize than Sarek in the form of a Starfleet Admiral and Lorca's direct superior. What was interesting to note that Saru may already be suspecting something is amiss with Lorca's handling of the situation, as Lorca's attitude to rescuing Cornwell is one to sit back and wait and only rescue her if Starfleet orders him to. Time will tell whether that backfires, but it will no doubt have great consequences for Lorca if Cornwell is successfully rescued.

Ash Tyler continued to bond with Michael and Tilly this week over the rescue mission for Sarek. Ash represents an unknown factor at this stage and he may be more than he appears, as Lorca has conveniently kept him on board despite being a POW and could have secrets hiding up his sleeve. Could Ash be the result of Voq having to sacrifice everything for his objective? There's a common thread there with his connection to L’Rell in particular. If this does happen it will be a bit predictable, but would at the same time make for a potentially game changing twist in a similiar way to how Agents of SHIELD handled the whole revelation with Grant Ward, which added an extra bit of depth to his character, making him far more fascinating than he had been before. But at the same time, Ash could just as easily be a standard member of Starfleet.

This episode hit all the beats of a classic episode of Star Trek and remained fairly true to its original series in spirit. It's hard not to imagine Enterprise encountering the Discovery at some point and the connections continue to help establish it as part of the same universe. The inclusion of the holodeck was a pretty cool addition, and the fleshing out of both Michael and Lorca's characters helped them shine, in a solid, if predictable episode that continued the fine form of the series thus so far.

What did you think of Star Trek: Discovery's latest episode, "Lethe"? Let me know in the comments section below and check out the next episode tonight through CBS All Access, or the following day on Netflix outside of the US and Canada.

This review was updated at 16:44pm BST to reflect a few minor changes in the article that have been outlined in the comments below as well as hopefully making a few things clearer.

About the Author - Milo MJ
Milo is an Arsenal FC supporter and loves TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, Justified, The Wire, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Person of Interest. He reviews Preacher, The Exorcist, Star Wars Rebels, Star Trek Discovery, Silicon Valley and Veep for Spoiler TV and will be covering Castle Rock, Counterpart, Krypton, Marvel's New Warriors, Rise, Marvel's Runaways, Pose, Succession and Trust. He also contributes to comic reviews on a weekly basis for All-Comic. He also regularly watches and reviews films on Letterboxd, and you can find his ever-changing list of 300 favourite movies here.
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