[REVIEW] STAR TREK: DISCOVERY Episode 4 ‘The Butcher’s Knife’

What an episode! In addition to having the second longest episode title in franchise history (“For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky” has it beat by two words), “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry” is possibly the most Star Trek-iest episode of Discovery yet.

Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham
Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham (CBS)


If I’m being honest with myself, once I push past my enthusiasm for having a new Star Trek show on TV, there were things with the first three episodes that rubbed me the wrong way, like a miss-understanding of the Prime Directive or a Starfleet officer desecrating an enemy’s dead for the sake of a tactical advantage when there was no immediate threat (T’Kuvma was going to let them go so that they could tell others about what happened).  There’s none of that in “The Butcher’s Knife.”

Well, there is one. L’Rell (Mary Chieffo, who is owning this role) states that they ate Captain Georgiou. The Klingons never took me as a race that would eat their foe’s dead, but it was established that they were low on food, so I’ll let it slide. This does, however, seem to negate the return of Michelle Yeoh, despite what she said at NYCC unless its more holographic messages and/or flashbacks.

Jason Isaacs as Captain Gabriel Lorca on the bridge of the U.S.S. Discovery
Jason Isaacs as Captain Gabriel Lorca on the bridge of the U.S.S. Discovery (CBS)

Keeping with the Klingons, Voq (Javid Iqbal) is trying to keep order while affecting repairs to the sarcophagus ship and, in desperation and with L’Rell’s urging, takes a dilithium processor from the now abandoned Shenzhou. While they do so, Kol (Kenneth Mitchell) uses food to turn T’Kuvma’s crew against Voq, which he does to steal that ships clocking technology. This creates an interesting parallel between him and Captain Lorca (Jason Isaacs): both are using new/experimental technology to help gain an advantage in the war, and will seemingly do anything to accomplish their goals.

It is also revealed that Kol is in House Kor, a reference to the first ever Klingon, played brilliantly by the late John Colicos in “Errand of Mercy” and three amazing episodes of DS9. Could a young Kor be in the show’s future?

Rekha Sharma as Commander Landry; Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham
Rekha Sharma as Commander Landry and Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham (CBS)

Onboard Discovery, Lorca tasks Landry (Rekha Sharma) and Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) with studying the creature — which they name Ripper — found aboard the Glenn and figuring out how it was able to take out a dozen or so Klingons with ease. Burnham takes the tried and true Star Trek route of trying to understand the creature first, while Landry wants results quicker. The latter attempts to cut off Ripper’s claws and is shockingly killed in the process (a shame because Sharma was effortless in that role and she will be missed).

Without Landry looking over her shoulder, Burnham continues her research and is able to determine that Ripper is not a predator, but a creature that has a symbiotic partnership with the spores used in Discovery’s experimental drive. Using equipment salvaged from the Glenn, her and Stamets (Anthony Rapp) are able to use Ripper to make the drive finally work, just in time to save a Federation dilithium mining settlement from a Klingon siege.

Martin-Green continues to amaze as Burnham. Her non-verbal scene while watching Georgiou’s will was particularly impressive. All the other actors are settling into their roles nicely, especially Rapp, as Stamets seems to soften throughout this episode.

All in all, a great episode that finally feels like Star Trek without any caveats.

What did you think of the fourth episode of Star Trek: Discovery? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Andrew Cardinale is from a Boston suburb where he works in IT. When he’s not doing something Star Trek related, he writes, follows local sports and listens to far too many podcasts.

You can follow Andrew on Twitter @acardi.

10 Comments Join the Conversation →

  • Mark Abukoff

    Actually Klingons have eaten their enemy’s flesh before. In DS9, there was talk of eating the heart of their enemy…

  • I could do without the spin effect before the Discovery makes a jump. It’s too over the top for me, and something that Star Trek has never seen before. Same thing goes for spinning effect on the ship itself. Other then that, GREAT EPISODE.

  • Singels

    “feels like Star Trek without any caveats.”

    I think that abusing a creature, it was clearly in pain while in the navigation chamber in engineering, without anybody saying anything, was something very much not Star trek in my view.

    I do like the show so far and I will continue to watch it.

    • JimNauseam

      I believe there will be a moral choice involving that in episode 5.

      • Singels

        Probably, nothing to do but wait and see.

  • J Eric Thompson

    Good, albeit unsettling. The reference to eating Georgiou is handily justaposed with the cut to the vivid, Hannibal-esque presentation of the food later in the episode. The exploitation of “Ripper” for advanced propulsion has echoes of the Voyager episode “Equinox.” Hopefully things turn out better for both crew and creature. So far, so good.

  • vinx

    this is not star trek,,,

    • JimNauseam

      Sure it is. Check out the title.

    • Joe

      Correct, it is a complete ripoff Gene R must be spinning in his grave

  • A saddened patriot

    I’m loving this. Yes, it took me until Ep.3 before I was hooked. Its obvious that the spore drive and all its ethical questions will eventually go the way of the dodo, since lets face it…….in the future no one flies on spores. Great ethical questions ( very trek) and we’re off and running!