As controversial as “Star Trek: Discovery” has been for some fans, this week’s episode certainly takes cues from classic Trek episodes. In a way, this story, which is called “The Examples,” takes a small break from the usual gigantic stakes that Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) usually faces and gives this new captain a problem much like what Kirk or Picard would have met.
ATTENTION READER: THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS AND INFORMATION ABOUT “STAR TREK: DISCOVERY” SEASON 4: EPISODE 5
The episode was written by Kyle Jarrow, a screenwriter, musician, and author. Jarrow is listed as a producer as well for “Discovery.” This information is relevant because it is Jarrow’s first episode of Trek. He wrote what appears to be a “throwback.”
The story begins as the crew of the Discovery are attempting to figure out the cause of a substantial Dark Matter Anomaly (DMA), which is terrorizing the galaxy. Some fans speculate that this force could be the “Discovery” version of V’Ger. While that is not clear, Burnham and Lt. Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) realize that this anomaly is not a natural phenomenon. It is a destructive power created by someone or something.
Burnham figures out where the DMA is headed, and Admiral Charles Vance (Oded Fehr) dispatches her to evacuate the system in its path. Vance also assigns Stamets to work with a mysterious researcher named Ruon Tarka (Shawn Doyle), who might help figure the DMA out.
Jarrow clarifies that the DMA is unlike anything that Starfleet has encountered before, thanks to a scene with Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz) and Kovich (David Cronenberg). Kovich counsels Culber and ticks off what the anomaly is not, and among those known powers (such as the Q Continuum).
The AR Wall Technology
The Discovery arrives at a former prison colony, which is nothing more than a few asteroids, strung together by cables. Burnham and her boyfriend, Cleveland “Book” Booker (David Ajala), venture down to the surface to try to free the prisoners.
This is the point in the story that feels like it could have been an episode from “The Original Series” or “The Next Generation.” Even though the production uses the fancy AR Wall technology to film these scenes on the prison base, the actors are clearly on a stage, much like Kirk (William Shatner) and Picard (Patrick Stewart) operated on 55 and 30 years ago, respectively.
Burnham must solve a problem on the surface. This is very much like the old “planet of the week” formula, which fans know so well. And the underused Lt. Gen Rhys (Patrick Kwok-Choon) gets to do a few things this episode as well.
Like the ‘Old Days’
Meanwhile, Stamets is flustered by Ruon Tarka’s boldness, and Saru (the great Doug Jones) must step in to mediate between the two great minds. In a way, this is very much like the situation between Chief Engineer Argyle (Biff Yeager) and Kosinski on the TNG episode “Where No One Has Gone Before.”
Eventually, Stamets joins with Tarka and Jet Reno (Tig Notaro) in an experiment to determine how the DMA is controlled. Thanks to this, the three understand that the DMA is actually capable of being steered, and the destruction in its wake is deliberate.
Saru shuts down the experiment before they can see its true capabilities. Once complete, they have something to work with moving forward.
Not so much ‘Touchy, Feely’
As many fans have noted, “Discovery” is an “emotional ride,” as commented by the podcast Discussing Trek. Some fans enjoy the emotions and feelings which are nearly always-on display, but aside from just a few quiet moments, there is not a lot of ’the feels’ on “The Examples.” As noted before, this episode seems more like “The Man Trap” or “Skin of Evil.”