CBS All Access’s newest iteration of “Star Trek” continues to spark with imagination: In “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry,” Burnham makes a big discovery, the Klingons fight both Starfleet and each other, and a character we barely met last week meets a tragic end.
[Editor’s note: Spoilers for Season 1, Episode 4, “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry” follow.]
You Spin Me Right Round, Baby, Right Round Like a Starship
One of the most exciting moments of “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry” was actually seeing the Discovery in action — not only discovering that the saucer section consists of spinning discs, but that when the spore drive is fully implemented, the entire ship turns into a dazzingly spinning top.
The effects are great, and while the battle at Corvan II was a bit brief, it was also one of the show’s most memorable action sequences to date. And who do we have to thank for it?
We mentioned it in last week’s review, but the fact that a fundamental part of “Discovery’s” plotline seems to involve the cultivation of mold for space travel remains delightfully bonkers. And “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry” only enhanced that bonkers-ism by re-introducing last week’s monster as the solution to the Discovery’s navigation problems. Add “giant-sized tardigrade-esque creature” to the list of odd new aliens this show has brought us; “Ripper” seems set to become a breakout character. (He’s actually kinda cute, when he’s not straight-up murdering people.)
Death Comes to the Discovery
In an interview with IndieWire at the beginning of the season, executive producer Alex Kurtzman said that while characters would die on “Discovery,” “no one is going to die without a good story reason.”
Does the death of Commander Landry (Rekha Sharma) line up with that concept? It’s hard to say, because she basically died to show us how the monster works, specifically that being aggressive towards the creature won’t work out well. That said, it wasn’t hard to see it coming, and frankly felt like a weak goodbye to a character who could have been fun to see evolve over a few more episodes. Farewell, Landry. We hardly knew ye.
Also, “Discovery,” a bit of a warning: That’s the second prominent female character of color you’ve killed off. Not that we’re hankering for more deaths, but hopefully this isn’t a persisting trend.
Because, speaking of which…
Oh My God, They Ate Michelle Yeoh!
The dearly departed Captain Philippa Georgiou’s prized telescope made it to Burnham, but more importantly we found out what happened to her actual body (left behind on the Klingon ship) — the Klingons ate her.
Thankfully, this didn’t actually happen on camera (don’t know if that’s an image we’d ever be able to forget) but it does technically line up with Klingon traditions like eating the hearts of one’s enemies (a prerequisite for entering the kingdom of Sto-vo-kor). Still — the line about picking the flesh off her skull was, um, graphic.
Klingons Gotta Eat
This was probably the most discussion of Klingons and food in an episode of “Star Trek” since the introduction of gagh. Beyond the fate of Georgiou’s body, the lack of provisions — and how that ended up swaying the loyalty of T’Kuvma’s followers — had a touch of tales from the American Civil War, where soldiers often found themselves starving.
The triangle established here between L’Rell (Mary Chieffo), Kol (Kenneth Mitchell), and Voq (Javid Iqbal) isn’t super-engaging yet, largely because these characters have yet to show much personality beyond Klingon tropes. But next week promises more direct engagement with them, and hopefully that additional development will help.
A Quick Note Regarding Hair
One interesting detail about Burnham’s journey is that while living on Vulcan and serving on the Shenzhou, she kept her hair straightened — however, following her court-martial, she’s stopped doing so.
Clothes Make the Woman
At the beginning of Episode 3, Burnham has been stripped of everything, including her confidence. But at the beginning of Episode 4, she gets to once again wear the uniform of a Starfleet officer, something she never thought would happen again, and the awe Sonequa Martin-Green communicates with just a look is genuinely touching.
However, her hair remains natural. She might be back in uniform, but she still isn’t back to her previous self. The events of the pilot have left her forever changed.
Great Moments in Obscure Casting
Major points to “Discovery” for giving the role of Admiral Cornwell to Jayne Brook, a character actress who’s always been a forceful on-screen presence. Brook has been working actively for decades, but for those of a certain generation, she’ll always be bitchy Carolyn from the classic 1990 comedy “Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead.”
Love Is in the Air
This is also the first episode featuring Wilson Cruz as Dr. Culver, whose chemistry with Lieutenant Stamets (Anthony Rapp) is undeniable, though clearly rooted in bickering. How their relationship evolves will be one of the lighter storylines we can probably expect from the season.
“Discovery” is set during wartime, but beyond the Corvan II rescue, that pervasive sense of danger could be more prominent.
And despite the notes of wonder that come with watching a microscopic creature made large serve as navigator for a starship, the most “Trek”-ish note comes courtesy of a character who we just learned got eaten by Klingons. Georgiou’s final message to Burnham is beautiful, but “the mysteries of the universe” need to stay front and center for this show to continue finding the light in the darkness.