[REVIEW] STAR TREK: DISCOVERY Episode 6 “Lethe”

As Star Trek: Discovery approaches its midway point, certain character motivations are becoming clear and the arcs for the remainder of the season are coming to light.

SPOILERS AHEAD

Review: Star Trek: Discovery – Season 1, Episode 6 “Lethe”

More so than even last episode, “Lethe” is all about Lorca. As we learned last week, Lorca is the sole survivor or an early Klingon War tragedy. Instead of going down with his ship like the old adage indicates, Lorca blew up his ship, killing his crew to save them from torture and death at the hands of the Klingons. Though he cleared all of his Starfleet psychological assessments to get another command, we find out in this episode that it’s all a ruse: he’s broken, Ahab-like, with a need to get back at the Klingons and a desire to surround himself with similar people.

Both Burnham and the newly promoted security chief Ash Tyler exhibit some of the same traits. Burnham is a mutineer with a chip on her shoulder and something to prove while Tyler, after spending seven months in captivity, shares with Lorca a similar dislike of the Klingons (that is, unless a certain fan theory turns out to be true). The fact that Lorca has the similarly broken people in prominent positions (Burnham gets assigned a science position on the bridge in this episode) isn’t a coincidence.

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

But the kicker to all that is what Lorca decides not to do at the end of the episode. After mounting an unsanctioned rescue mission to save Sarek, Lorca is visited by Admiral Cornwell. She assumes, rightly so, that Lorca is still troubled with what happened to his previous command and is acting recklessly with Starfleet’s prized possession: Discovery. After reminiscing about their past, he seduces her. Later, he is startled awake and readies a phaser at her, which was hidden conveniently under his pillow. She realizes what’s going on and tells him that he’ll be relieved of command.

Instead of going right back to Starfleet, however, she instead takes on Sarek’s mission, to negotiate a peace with two defecting Klingon houses. Predicatively, its a trap set by Kol to capture a high ranking official, but rather than running off to her rescue as he did Sarek’s, Lorca decides to pass it along to Starfleet command and wait for orders. This non-action cements his position on the show as an antagonist, which could certainly evolve into a villain.

Jason Isaacs as Captain Gabriel Lorca and Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham
Jason Isaacs as Captain Gabriel Lorca and Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham (CBS)

All of this is going on while we find out more about Burnham’s past with Sarek and Amanda.

A secret member of a Vulcan group that wishes to break away from the Federation sabotages the ship that he and Sarek are on, killing him and leaving the ambassador for dead. Sarek uses his mystical katra-phone to reach Burnham for help. When Burnham reaches back, she sees that Sarek is reliving the moment where she graduated from the Vulcan Science Academy but is not accepted to the Vulcan Expeditionary Force. Burnham sees this moment in her life as a failure and wonders why Sarek is revisiting it until Tyler astutely points out that Sarek’s probably being critical of himself than Burnham. She goes back into the memory only to discover that Sarek was given an ultimatum that either Burnham or Spock could join the force, but not both, due to their human genes. Sarek picks Spock, but instead of telling her this, he lets her think that she was denied admission and sends her off to Starfleet instead. This one act has impacted Burnham’s entire life, and Sarek refuses to talk to her about his reasoning at the end.

Shazad Latif as Lieutenant Ash Tyler and Jason Isaacs as Captain Gabriel Lorca
Shazad Latif as Lieutenant Ash Tyler and Jason Isaacs as Captain Gabriel Lorca (CBS)

“Lethe” is another solid effort in what’s turning out to be one of the better first seasons of any Star Trek series. Jason Isaacs continues to impress as Lorca, especially as we discover more about that character. Burnham, after realizing she never failed in getting into the Vulcan Expeditionary Force, seems to have a huge weight lifted off her shoulders, and this emotional swing for the character is played brilliantly by Sonequa Martin-Green.

With three more episodes until the mid-season break, it will be interesting to see what more gets revealed in the coming weeks.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Tell us 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.

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7 Comments Join the Conversation →


  • David Zane Taylor

    Well, they certainly are going out of their way to bait the hook even further with this mirror universe fan theory and they certainly dropped some huge ‘clues’ that somehow we have the evil Lorca running around in our universe. I’m going to trust the writers and producers and not worry or fret but honestly, I’ve never been a fan of the mirror universe story line on any of the shows. Just seems like a chance for the actors to go ham fisted into acting mode. But hey, if ‘our’ Lorca is evil does that mean ‘over there’ he’s a good guy? Maybe we can swap? 🙂

    • Alan Alaric Roi

      People see what they want to see. I guess if they’d watch The Doomsday Machine, they’d figure that Commodore Matt Decker was a mirror version of the real Commodore, since getting his crew killed unhinged him as well.

  • Denny Russo

    Good show last night – my thoughts with Burnham being promoted to Science Officer, Saru now First Officer who feels slighted by Burnham for her mutiny on Giorgiou. This sets up a situation where Lorca wether good or bad is putting the crew in harms way and Saru will essentially have to do the same thing Burnham did on the probably mirror bad Lorca. Good Lorca lives and Saru now understands and Burnham is exonerated. Just a thought….

    • A saddened patriot

      Wow, honestly your assessment was 3 inches from mine. Can’t wait to see what happens next

      • Denny Russo

        Agreed but enjoying the ride! All in all it’s nice to have Trek back on TV and I like the risk taking. People forget all the trek series for the most part have had bumps in the road. My only real complaint is the it’s way technically advanced to be 10 years before Kirk, so I pretend in my head it’s the Kelvin timeline lol

  • Jim Coyle

    What if Ash Tyler is a Klingon agent? His appearance was a bit too convenient.

  • Jon CK

    They’re at war and everyone who acts neutral or hesitates according to normal procedures gets killed or will be killed. This isn’t about Lorca it’s about surviving war, it’s about discrimination sexual and racial. Cornwall wants Lorca replaced because he won’t wait for Starfleet to approve his every action. Like Starfleet his waiting for orders is actually what Cornwall would suggest. Tyler is what happens to all Starfleet personnel when they follow orders & aren’t immediately killed. If they survive they get educated which will hopefully happen to Cornwall. They’re at war people! Lorca ONLY raises his phaser when his 2nd scar the triangle is touched. That’s not being BROKEN that’s been WOKE.