Originally Published on There Are Four Mics – A Star Trek Podcast
(We’re moving our Star Trek Discovery related content over here where it belongs)
As previously discussed, there were just a few moments in the first few episodes of Star Trek Discovery that had me concerned. The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not For the Lamb’s Cry dissolved all of those concerns. And having seen the entire season already, this episode is somehow even better in retrospect. The biggest shocker about this episode is how jam packed with stuff it is. And obviously, The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not For the Lamb’s Cry is a stupidly terrific episode name. Let’s say it as much as we can in this Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry review.
Lorca brings Burnham in on the little secret of him capturing the monstrous beast from the USS Glenn aboard the Discovery at the end of “Context is for Kings.” This was a plot development that brought me a significant amount of joy. A lesser show would have dragged this secret out over the space of several shows, when it really holds limited story potential in my mind. So for them to immediately do away with it just minutes into the next episode? The only pattern this show is establishing at this point is blowing up my expectations, and that’s hella exciting.
And the tardigrade itself also broke my expectations in a pretty delightful way. The creature transforms from a horrifying beast dubbed “Ripper” in the beginning of the episode, and ends it as a pitiable and docile creature being treated unfairly by Starfleet. This is one helluva story arc for a creature without lines. I’m really looking forward to the time when Starfleet can power its fleet without stabbing tardigrade nipples.
Introductions and Goodbyes
We got a lot of introductions to the Discovery crew last week. This episode is also packed with a bunch of firsts! We get to meet Wilson Cruz’ Dr. Hugh Culber for the first time. This fella is jam packed with charisma and charm. Likewise, Jayne Brook’s Admiral Cornwell shows up. This may be because of the benefit of hindsight, but I feel like Cornwell establishes her badassery in the thirty seconds she’s in this episode. Cornwell is a force.
On the other end of the spectrum, we give an unexpected good-bye to Rekha Sharma’s Commander Landry. This revelation was as shocking as it was devastating. Sharma won my heart with her performance of Tory Foster in Ronald Moore’s Battlestar Galactica reboot, and was very excited to see how her character was going to play through the season. Having the tardigrade earn his name “Ripper” by tearing Landry to shreds was a disappointment, and served as further evidence that Star Trek Discovery isn’t going to flow the way the generic way I expected.
And while we technically said goodbye to Captain Philippa Georgiou back in “Battle at the Binary Stars,” her tragic fate is related to us in what amounts almost to a throwaway line. I stopped the Blu-ray and rewatched this portion looking for any wiggle room that the writers may have left themselves. Regretfully, I found none. It seems pretty unambiguous that Voq ate Georgiou.
Unexpected Character Traits Emerge
Lorca gets some characterization in this episode that came as a bit of surprise to me. We see his room of weapons, which is a clearly indicator that he might not be all there morally. And he really bullies Stamets into getting his act together to get this whole spore drive thing working the way it’s supposed to. I was very unsympathetic to him, until he made the decision to play the distress call coming from Corvan 2 shipwide. It really effectively demonstrated the urgency for them to get their house in order. But also it furthered the shift from being a bunch of scientists into being reluctant soldiers. It was an unexpectedly meaningful moment from a character who has had few, and gave indications that he might never have any.
Tilly’s conversation with Burnham at the close of this episode clearly one of the highlights so far. Emphasizing how incredible Burnham has been as a member of this crew already, Tilly helps her recognize the depth of strength and courage she possesses. Tilly doesn’t pressure Burnham to finally view the last will and testament of Captain Georgiou. She only lets her know that she doesn’t need to fear not having the strength. I would rank this conversation as one of the kindest and most beautiful conversations in all of Star Trek. I love it even more because it highlights Tilly’s evolution in her ability to tap into her own strength.
This post is already long, and yet hasn’t even touched on the developing dynamics between Voq and Mary Chieffo’s L’Rell. That’s how ridiculously full this episode is. I had kind of glossed over the development of their relationship the first time I watched it, as I had little concept of its importance. Seems like they straight up are falling in love, and have a beautiful moment aboard the Shenzhou. And then the poor guys comes back to find Kol being all “I am the Captain now?” Heartbreaking. L’Rell’s a hero though, and pretends to betray Voq, only to get him to safety. All her talk about supporting Voq because she doesn’t want the burden of leadership is even more interesting, and perhaps a bit melancholy, given the ending of the season.
Let’s Dial It Back Just a Bit
While the episode was absolutely outstanding and easily the best yet, there were moments that were too much. On Corvan 2 when it zoomed in on the child coming out of the dilithium mine wondering aloud “Who saved us?” This feels like a ‘50s comic book move, and felt silly here. Discovery has rarely flirted with the kind of stuff that I find to be too cute by half. But it feels as if it’s becoming more infrequent as the season goes on.
The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry? It’s a damn near perfect episode.
Pick up all of Star Trek Discovery season one on Blu-ray from Amazon here.
Or if you’re in the mood for a Star Trek Discovery podcast? Joe and Jason talk about “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry” over on Disco Night. It’s our sister podcast, so check it out and subscribe!