In the event you’ve been sitting round ready for Discovery to discover a steadiness between basic Trek storytelling and its dedication to serialized storytelling with a single fundamental character, than “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad” is the very best we’ve received up to now.
I’ll admit up entrance that I really like a time loop episode. They’re all the time good fodder for each comedy and drama, and even the obvious and normal of jokes are normally enjoyable sufficient in case you care concerning the characters. That and the truth that I’ve been fairly clear on my affection for Stamets as a personality meant that this episode was just about tailor-made for me. There have been some fairly clear issues, nonetheless, however I total loved this episode far more than every other we’ve had so far. I didn’t even thoughts the hilariously on level private log of Burnham’s, the place she simply spoke the message of the episode out loud—even that unhealthy little bit of storytelling is a basic little bit of Trek.
“Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad” begins at some indeterminate time (I’m certain somebody is aware of, however I’ve by no means been good at translating stardates to regular Earth time) after the final episode. Burnham and the Discovery have settled right into a routine, together with her within the official function as “specialist” provided to her by Lorca in final week’s episode.
The tide of the conflict has turned in favor of the Federation, because of the work of the Discovery. Stamets’ model new DNA and navigational expertise have made him act out in all types of utmost methods. He’s very chipper and pleasant as of late. Burnham’s log additionally hints that’s she grown drawn to Tyler, which is simply… going to be a catastrophe in a nasty manner when no matter’s ready to be revealed is revealed.
The loop begins with a celebration—by which we discover out that the long run events just about like the current, proper all the way down to one of many 400 variations of beer pong I bore witness to in faculty—which serves two functions: it implies that they get to arrange the loop with a music cue from Wyclef Jean’s “We Making an attempt to Keep Alive.” It’s thematically a humorous tune title for this story and a much less determined reference than the Elon Musk one was a number of weeks in the past, however nonetheless, these things all the time ages poorly on Star Trek.
Anyway, after Tyler takes the time throughout this occasion to speak about everybody who died, I assume, he and Burnham are summoned to the bridge. They knock into Stamets on the best way there, and we, uh, get a first-hand glimpse at simply how the spore drive is altering Stamets:
On the bridge, the ship has run into one other basic scifi trope: the house whale. This one, referred to as a “jormungandr” (presumably after the Norse fantasy), is endangered and Starfleet rules require that they convey it on board. That’s when Harry Mudd exhibits up.
He escaped the Klingons and is kind of rightfully pissed at Lorca for leaving him behind and has determined to determine the Discovery’s secret and promote it to the Klingons in revenge. He’s received the power to reset time, so he’s looped 30 minutes of the Discovery, spending the loops determining the way to hack the ship’s techniques, the way to keep away from safety, and varied components of the spore drive. The one factor he’s lacking is, mainly, Stamets.
On the identical time, Stamets is Mudd’s greatest downside. His time within the spore drive and with the magic tardigrade DNA means he lives outdoors the loop and remembers them taking place. And his frustration with reliving the identical 30 minutes again and again has helped him regain a few of his regular surliness. (One level I’m deeply inquisitive about, which this episode solely hints at, is how Stamets’ boyfriend is dealing with Stamets’ clearly very exhausting character swings. This needs to be a pressure.)
Stamets is coming to Burnham and Tyler to inform them concerning the loop, saying all of it begins with the jormungandr. Extra importantly, he’s determined Burnham is the important thing to stopping this as a result of Tyler spent essentially the most time locked up with Mudd and presumably has some data they’ll use. At one level, Burnham says that Stamets instructed her that he tried simply speaking to Tyler, however Tyler wouldn’t open up. However Burnham and Tyler like, like one another, so she may also help him.
And that is the place the construction of Discovery harms even this, its finest episode. A extra logical perspective character for this episode is Stamets, since he’s the one who remembers the loops. We should always see him fail to attach with Tyler, however as a substitute we’re instructed he doesn’t. And never even by him, however by Burnham, as a result of she’s the lead, somewhat than this present being an ensemble that may simply transfer round factors of view.
Equally, Lorca, because the individual Mudd hates most and the one that, up till now, has had the closest connection to Tyler is the obvious individual for Stamets to attempt to speak to about what’s occurring. However that is Burnham’s present, so it’s Burnham who has to have a private connection to every part. And so a love story that has not had sufficient time to develop needs to be spelled out in phrases on this episode. It’s a slipshod manner to make use of Burnham’s newfound feelings to screw her when Tyler is revealed to be a spy. I hate that, of all of the clichés we’re going with, we’re going with the Spy Who Liked Me. Ugh. Gross. Not even the montage of Mudd killing Lorca makes me really feel higher.
Anyway, Burnham’s shitty socializing spells doom for Tyler opening up till Stamets—sure, Stamets—talks her via feelings. Him speaking about how he met Culber is legitimately beautiful and delightful. Stamets and Saru are in a relentless battle to be my favourite.
So Burnham figures out that Mudd has a time crystal machine on his arm and a bigger crystal in his ship, which is within the house whale. (Actually, Mudd understanding that Starfleet rules require bringing it aboard is a few high-quality planning.) However Mudd kills Tyler, so Stamets, worn down by seeing everybody die and being the one one that remembers it, turns himself over to Mudd. Burnham desires him to reset time so she will save the ship and get Tyler undead, so she reveals who she is and the way a lot the Klingons would pay for her after which commits suicide. Mudd resets the timeline, the crew works collectively to get round Mudd’s commandeering of the ship and as a substitute of the Klingons exhibiting up, it’s Mudd’s Stella—whom he by no means actually cherished as a lot as he did her dowry—and her arms-dealing, livid father who exhibits up.
This helps clarify how Stella will flip from loving Mudd in Discovery:
To this being Mudd’s prevailing picture of her by the unique sequence:
None of that explains how these two actresses are presupposed to be solely 10-12 years aside in age, nonetheless.
This type of pulpy scifi plot, with an added theme about love and feelings, is true within the strike zone of Discovery. Do I believe it might need been higher if Burnham hadn’t been the main target? Sure. There’s a lot of speaking as a substitute of exhibiting as a result of Burnham needs to be instructed every part as a substitute of experiencing it herself. I additionally don’t know how Stamets knew what Burnham was planning within the penultimate loop, since he wasn’t round for any of it and he’s the one one who may have remembered.
Nevertheless it was enjoyable, it was total unobjectionable, and we now have a brand new sport referred to as “Decide your favourite Stamets line”:
- As days go, it is a bizarre one.
- (distracting Tilly) I simply noticed the most popular man over there and he’s in a band.
- If I’ve to elucidate this once more, I’m going to throw myself out an airlock.
- Dance with me. For science.
- (dancing with Burnham) Are you able to let me lead, please?
I’m going with “I simply noticed the most popular man over there and he’s in a band.” Anthony Rapp nailed the supply on that one.
- Of all of the loop variations, Lorca’s “I don’t give a rattling. I nonetheless don’t give a rattling” concerning the jormungandr was a stand-out.
- Mudd’s line “There are actually so some ways to explode this ship it’s like a design flaw” was a little bit of lampshade hanging on the premise that I loved.
- “I’ve by no means been in love” is a bizarre secret to inform somebody so that you simply’ll imagine them after you overlook a dialog. I’d have gone with one thing extra like “I hated my foster brother’s pet sehlat and was glad when it died” or one thing. One thing extra particular and fewer prone to be taken as a bizarre insult when it’s blurted at me within the subsequent loop.