‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Episode 3 Review: Pure Trek with a Dark, Intriguing Edge

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The third episode of Star Trek: Discovery might have been better used as the first episode. If it had, CBS All Access might see more people subscribing to continue watching. The show is hitting its stride in Episode 3 and giving fans a true Star Trek feel, but with a much darker edge. I’d almost be tempted to say we were in the mirror universe. But more than likely, we’re in a Section 31 universe.

This post has spoilers for Episode 3 of Star Trek: Discovery. Don’t read on unless you’ve already watched the episode. 

Star Trek: Discovery is beautifully filmed. And now it’s introducing a plot that is as intriguing as it is eye-catching. While the characters in the first two episodes felt a bit “wooden,” Episode 3’s characters felt more complex and fleshed out. Perhaps this is because many of the characters in Episodes 1 and 2 simply weren’t going to be with us for very long, so there wasn’t a good reason to flesh them out.

But now that’s changed.

Take Captain Lorca. He’s some kind of supreme commander who is so important to the Federation that he can bend any law or court ruling as he desires. Lorca wanted to keep his natural eyes, so now he must change the lights slowly. He keeps a Tribble at his desk.

These small details work together to quickly create an intriguing, three-dimensional character. His “menagerie”included a skeleton of a Gorn, a Cardassian Vole on a table, and that alien creature in a cage. The feel of it all reminded me, just a bit, of The Governor on The Walking Dead. Except I believe that Lorca has a good heart and isn’t going to end up crazy. (But if he did, then Burnham would be facing a decision about mutiny and if she was willing to commit it again, which might make for an interesting plot twist.)

The science officer, Lt. Paul Stamets, is a bit of a jerk to Michael Burnham, but he’s understandably upset that his science breakthroughs are being co-opted for a war machine. I’d dare say that some scientists today would feel the same way. The security chief, Commander Landry, also isn’t very nice, but that gives her more character.

And Saru, as always, is going to be fun to watch. It’s interesting to see someone who is naturally “prey” interacting on a starship that has to be tough when facing a formidable enemy. I wonder how he got the position of First Officer?

Tilly is also a fun character. I’m enjoying that we have a ship full of people who aren’t all at the top of their game. It’s almost like Lorca wanted a ship of Barclays, to some degree. Tilly’s personality is endearing, she provides a bit of comedy that the show needs, and she’s ambitious but highly imperfect. It’s a great combination. Her dynamic with Burnham will be great to watch, kind of like the old days of watching Seven of Nine with the Doctor or Data with Worf.

Some think they’ll end up more like Kim and Paris:

Episode 3 has also revealed that this series is much more than just about a Klingon war. We have a new technology that Discovery is experimenting with, and a new class of ship that uses dark badges and is highly secretive to the point of being “above top secret.”

This sounds a lot like Section 31. They existed even in the days of Enterprise, nearly 90 years before what we’re watching now, when they tried to recruit Malcolm. They wouldn’t mind bending rules and risking lives for a greater purpose. I believe Discovery is firmly in the camp of Section 31.

As for the technology, the spores remind me a bit (visually speaking) of the mysterious creature at the heart of The Expanse series on Syfy. Yes, some of the scenes were incredibly dark and quite gory. But it was necessary to show us just how high the stakes are and just how dangerous this technology (or the creatures who are drawn to it) can be.

The fact that they’re experimenting with a faster form of travel —but one we don’t see in future series — leads me to believe that something is going very, very wrong. Is this transwarp like the Borg used? Is this a precursor to the Genesis Project? Is this another Warp 10 story like Voyager? Is this an attempt at creating an Iconian type system of travel?

This series feels so much like the Trek that fans love, but with a gritty edge, a compelling war, and an intriguing mystery all rolled into one. I can’t wait to see what journey they take us on next.

What did you think about the episode? Let us know in the comments below.