The Star Trek: Discovery episode The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry certainly crams quite a bit into its 50 minute runtime, but it mostly works. Burnham is beginning to find her place on the U.S.S. Discovery, and is surprisingly fine that the murderous creature from the last episode, who’s since been dubbed Ripper, is now the ship. What Burnham is uncomfortable with is her new task, which is to weaponize the creature’s abilities.
Ripper’s nature might not be so murderous than its initial behavior and appearance has indicated, but the others on the Discovery are more concerned with harnessing its destructive capabilities. That close–minded drive leads to a character death, which brought back earlier memories of another Star Trek death done wrong. I remember feeling much of the same annoyance when TNG killed off Tasha Yar, leaving me to fume at the fact that the far more delicate, less interesting Deanna Troi continually took center stage. At least there are no wilting violets to make this more off-putting.
The show is wise enough to put more emphasis on Burnham’s ability to balance her Vulcan upbringing’s emphasis on being guided by facts and research, as well as her more emotional human nature, which surprisingly allows her to form a bond with Ripper. Both may hold the key to saving the residents of a mining colony who are under attack by the Klingons.
But in another surprising, borderline schizophrenic move, we are guided to feel sympathy for a few of them, such as Voq, the outcast who became the successor of T’Kuvma, who is now both martyr and messiah to his people. Voq and L’Rell, the woman who served by T’Kuvma’s side for years, are forming their own political and personal connection, which deepens after Voq is betrayed and left for dead. To continue on his path, he’s told he’ll have to sacrifice everything, so should be very interesting to see where the show takes this. Will he continue to be sympathetic while we root for the Federation, and all the other off-screen Klingon deaths they inevitably rack up? Perhaps Star Trek: Discovery understands how schizophrenic we all are as well. It certainly takes skill to keep invested in a character like this, even after he openly, unashamedly talks about eating Captain Georgiou. Yuck.
Speaking of the beloved late captain, she’s involved in another misstep in an episode full of them, most of which are manipulative, awkward, or just embarrassingly saccharine. In case anyone failed to grasp the dynamic between Burnham and Georgiou, she shows up in hologram form to leave her a telescope and tell Burnham she feels the same pride in her that she would of a daughter. Couple that with an earlier shot of a little girl at the mining colony gazing up and wondering who saved them, and it rings even more false.
Awkwardness aside, The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry feels like another important piece of a puzzle that’s being assembled as carefully as MCU. Or perhaps I’m just relieved that there’s still one very fun corner left of mainstream nerdom that Disney doesn’t own.