Discovery slowed down the world building and galaxy hopping action to a crawl in these episodes. What was framed as two episodes where two important rescue missions took place, turned out to be heavily character building for us as an audience. Episode 5, “Choose Your Pain” gives us a look at Captain Lorca when he is on his own. Lorca is called to a tribunal to explain his bold behavior in the past few weeks. The Discovery, and it’s spore drive, is the Federation’s most valued technology. Admiral Cornwell is an old friend of Lorca’s, but she reigns him in saying he is not allowed to use the drive without Federation permission. On the way back to his ship, Lorca is abducted by a Klingon ship. What follows is a great character episode for Discovery’s Captain and now Acting Captain Saru.
Aboard this prisoner vessel, Lorca meets classic Trek character Harry Mudd. Played by The Office‘s Rainn Wilson, Mudd is a sleazy guy who immediately comes across as only caring for himself. The Klingon prison guards ask the prisoners to choose their pain (also the episode title) which means they choose who gets beat next. This is to not allow a bond to form between fellow captives. Also in the same cell as Lorca is Ash Tyler. Tyler has been captive for several months, since the battle from the show’s premiere. Lorca is immediately skeptical of his words because no one could survive Klingon torture that long. Tyler explains that this is because the female Klingon captain of the ship has taken a liking to him.
The subplot of this episode finds First Lieutenant Saru, as acting captain, trying to balance what he believes is necessary in war time and what other’s say is right. The ripper from last episode plays a part where everyone on board agrees they are putting it in extreme pain when the jump with the spore engine. Hurting alien life is strictly against Federation rules, but Saru is willing to pay the price if it means getting Lorca back. Saru has a great line to Michael reminding her that her insubordination is exactly what got them into this mess, when she recommends to wait for another option to jump. Captain Lorca and Ash Tyler take it upon themselves to escape. As they fight and shoot their way out, Lorca’s trust increases. They end up escaping on a Klingon ship. To get to them, Saru orders the ship to warp, but Science Officer Stamets injects himself with ripper DNA, allowing himself to be a replacement guinea pig for the jump’s parameters. Saru is able to make it in time to shoot the warbirds chasing Lorca, but Stamets is critically injured. He is able to be revived and the team let the ripper leave the ship, free to travel the universe along the spore trail.
Episode 6 is very similar in structure and plot. Michael is surprised by large pain in the middle of the day. It is part of her connection with her Vulcan adoptive father, Sarek. He is mortally wounded across the galaxy and needs rescue. The scene where is is injured is great. There are radical Vulcans that do not want assimilation with humans and one of these extremists is going to blow up the ship. Sarek just stares at him inquisitively as he preaches his message and pulls out the detonator. That is, until the last second, when Sarek puts a forcefield between them. It is still not enough to keep the ship from being heavily damaged. While Michael is traveling in an away ship to rescue him, with Ash Tyler piloting, she has visions of a single day in her and Sarek’s past. She learns that she was not accepted into the Vulcan Science Academy because Sarek had to choose between her and Spock. The academy would only allow one un-pure Vulcan in. Sarek chose Spock but of course Spock would later rebel against his father, choosing his own path. This along with his negligence of his daughter, was Sarek’s greatest regret and the memory he reminisces on in his final moments. Michael is of course able to rescue him in time, learning more about herself in this great character exposition episode.
Rating: 8 Vulcan mind melds out of 10
For more: Cole Hickey