(written from a Production point of view)
As the crew attempts to let loose at a party, Harry Mudd triggers a time loop that repeatedly destroys the ship and kills the crew in an effort to learn the secret of the spore drive and sell the Discovery to the Klingons.
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Act One Edit
Michael Burnham attends a party on board the USS Discovery, where Sylvia Tilly and other crewmembers are having drinks, dancing, and playing games like beer pong. There is a brief power interruption causing the lights to dim and music to stop. Just afterwards, Tilly approaches Burnham to discuss her recent interactions with Ash Tyler, which included calibrating rifles in the armory and a shared dinner at the end of their shift. Tilly encourages her to give Tyler a sign that she is interested in him before losing her chance. Tilly asks how Tyler compares to Burnham's old boyfriends. Burnham demurs, asking how he compares to Tilly's boyfriends, to which Tilly states that while having been interested in soldiers in the past, she is now going through a musician phase.
Tyler then gives a speech to the crowd, honoring those who have sacrificed and died for the war against the Klingons. Tyler then approaches Burnham and Tilly, causing Tilly to leave. Burnham and Tyler are then summoned to the bridge and leave the party, with Tyler noting that she was saved from having to make small talk with him. Burnham apologizes in the corridor, but notes that her experience with parties is limited, in part due to her rank while on board the USS Shenzhou. Tyler notes that is no longer an excuse. Burnham then collides with Paul Stamets who is with Hugh Culber. Burnham apologizes, with Staments being uncharacteristically friendly, talking about how moments like that make life so "gloriously unpredictable". He then turns to Tyler, commenting on his height and complimenting him on how grounded he is despite his torture by the Klingons. ("Choose Your Pain") Culber apologizes for Stamets' behavior, which causes Staments to reveal the cybernetic augment Culber developed for him to make his connection to the spore drive more comfortable. Tyler and Burnham then board the turbolift.
On the bridge, with Saru noting an unidentified signal is ahead, Captain Lorca declares yellow alert. Burnham states that the signal is biological in nature, and identifies the organism as a gormagander, a spaceborne lifeform. She notes that its health is compromised. Lorca cancels the yellow alert, adding that he thought gormaganders were extinct due to hunting. Burnham corrects him, noting that their practice of feeding on alpha particles in solar winds often causes them to ignore their reproductive instincts. Lorca then prepares to order Discovery leave the area, but Burnham tells him that since the creature is on the Endangered Species List, they are required by law to take the creature to a xenological facility. Lorca grants permission to do so.
The gormagander is beamed into the shuttlebay, with Burnham present. Abnormal readings are detected in the creature, which then opens its mouth. A person in a spacesuit emerges and attacks the Discovery crew, injuring and killing several. Burnham manages to call the bridge to declare an intruder alert. Lorca has the intruder confined in the corridor, and calls for the situation to end. The intruder then takes off his helmet to reveal he is Harry Mudd, apparently escaped from Klingon custody. Mudd threatens to discover what is special about the Discovery and then sell the ship to the Klingons to destroy the Federation's chance to win the war. Mudd wants revenge due to being taken away from his beloved Stella, and curiously says he will kill Lorca as many times as possible. Lorca notes that he doesn't see this situation ending with the loss of his ship, to which Mudd replies "not this time", and noting he has the data he needs for the next time. After stating that he will see Lorca "earlier", he activates an anicium-yurium explosive device. The explosion gradually spreads through the ship, destroying it.
Burnham is attending the party, watching Tyler give his speech. Her and Tyler are summoned to the bridge. On their way there, they discuss her behavior at the party. They begin to enter the turbolift, but Stamets runs down the corridor and calls to them, talking about how they have "been here before" and he seems to be the only one who realizes it. Culber comes running to meet him and apologizes, with Stamets complaining about how no one will listen to him. As Culber takes him away, he yells that everything starts with a gormagander. Burnham and Tyler are puzzled as the turbolift doors close. As they arrive on the bridge, a yellow alert is called. Lorca chastises the two for their lateness. Saru explains that the detected signal is not an enemy ship, but a gormagander. Lorca cancels the yellow alert, while Burnham and Tyler look at each other in a puzzled manner. Saru states that the gormagander's health is at risk and that as it is on the Endangered Species List, needs to be taken care of. Both Burnham and Tyler advise against it, but Saru says that the Endangered Species Act is quite clear that action needs to be taken, and that failing to do so could put Lorca at risk of a court martial. Lorca orders the creature beamed into the shuttlebay. Both Burnham and Tyler request permission to participate in the operation, and Lorca doesn't care as long as they handle it.
As they arrive in the shuttlebay, Tyler wonders how Stamets knew of the gormagander, while Burnham points out encounters with them are rare making it unlikely he would know of one. As the creature is being beamed in, Tyler prepares to draw his sidearm, resulting in a crew member asking if he thinks the creature is armed. Once the creature arrives, Burnham scans it, and detects a faint transporter beam. Suddently, the ship goes to black alert, indicating the spore drive is being used. On the bridge, Lorca tells Airiam that he did not order a jump, and she responds that she did not activate one. Lorca asks the computer to show him engineering, but it refuses his request. Lorca orders Tyler to go to engineering to see what is going on. He arrives with Burnham to find the door locked from the inside, but it opens after a moment. The computer announces that the spore drive is three minutes from an overload. They enter engineering to find Mudd there. Tyler orders him to raise his hands and back away from the controls, noting that he won't ask again. Mudd states that he will, and also wants to know how the controls in engineering work. Tyler attempts to shoot Mudd but is blocked by a forcefield. Mudd goes on about how he does not understand what the devices in the spore drive chamber do, or what they connect to.
Burnham asks the computer to beam Mudd out of engineering, but he already took control of it. He again demands to be told how to operate the drive, but is suddenly shot by Stamets.
Act Two Edit
Burnham tells Stamets that the drive is going to overload, but he already knows. He states that it has happened multiple times before, and he has not figured out how to stop it. The Discovery is then destroyed by an explosion. The timeline returns to the party, with Tyler asking Burnham to dance, but the two are summoned to the bridge before she can answer. After they leave, Staments appears at the party in search of Burnham, asking Tilly where they went, though she does not know. On the bridge, Burnham explains about needing to save the gormagander due to the Endangered Species Act, and Lorca agrees. In the corridor, Stamets intercepts her, demanding that she not talk and just listen. He tells her that the ship is caught in a temporal loop that repeats itself after about 30 minutes. She wants to take him to sickbay, believing his behavior to be a side effect of his spore drive use, but he convinces her to go with him.
On the bridge, Lorca is overseeing the recovery of the gormagander when he is called to sickbay. After the turbolift begins to take him there, the destination is overridden by the computer. The lift stops, and when the doors open a crew member falls through them with a knife in his back, put there by Mudd who is behind him. Lorca tries to order a red alert but is overridden by Mudd. Mudd orders Lorca out of the lift, noting that he doesn't have time to "take it from the top", and quickly explains that he fabricated the message to be alone with Lorca, who he wants to help him access a room he has yet to enter. Lorca refuses to help him, until Mudd accesses the self-destruct program.
Stamets explains to Burnham what is going on, and his belief that Mudd has a technology that allows him to repeat the same 30 minutes over and over so he can learn about the spore drive and then sell the ship to the Klingons. Staments can exist outside the time loop due to the Tartigrade DNA compound he injected himself with, which as it is a multidimensonal creature, enables Stamets to exist outside the loop. He tells her he cannot stop Mudd by himself, and that he will eventually figure out that Stamets is the missing piece of the spore drive. He believes Tyler knows something about how Mudd is controlling the loop and needs her to talk to Tyler about it. To prove to her in the next loop that they had this conversation, he asks her to tell him a secret that she has never told anyone. She whispers it to him, and he says he is sorry. She asks where Mudd is, and Stamets replies that it is usually the time he kills Lorca.
Act Three Edit
Lorca brings Mudd into his private lab, which is filled with weapons. As Mudd picks up one weapon and asks what it does, Lorca points out that killing a Starfleet captain would get the perpetrator locked up for life. Mudd then tells how he has killed Lorca 53 times with varying methods, including being shot with a phaser, vaporized, and beamed into space. He then notes that his 30 minutes is just about over, but that he will figure out how the spore drive works eventually. Mudd then shoots Lorca with the weapon he had picked up, disintegrating him.
The timeline returns to the beginning of the party. The power flickers. Burnham and Tilly begin to have a conversation much as they did before, but Stamets interrupts it and sends Tilly away. Burnham begins to comment on how she didn't think Stamets was interested in the event, but he interrupts her to say "You've never been in love", her secret she had told him in the prior loop. She asks why he would say that, and he tells her about the time loop and that he needs her help. She believes him, and he instructs her to talk to Tyler. She wonders why Tyler would talk to her, and Stamets tells her that Tyler likes her.
When Tyler approaches her he asks her to dance, but with the time loop in mind, she tells him that they don't have time for that. Realizing that put him off, she attempts to correct herself, but the two are summoned to the bridge. Tyler departs. Burnham then leaves with Stamets, noting that she will not be able to be alone with him again before the timeline is reset. She is upset with herself for blowing a chance to fix things, but Stamets tells her the situation is more complicated since she likes Tyler. He asks her to dance, "for science", so he knows what he is working with. Burnham does not understand how to step out of her corner and connect with someone. Stamets tells her about how he and Culber fell in love, through Staments telling him to get lost due to the music he was humming, Kasseelian opera. Burnham notes that does not make sense, but Stamets explains that he and Culber value each others' honesty, and that it is the foundation of relationships. With Staments noting that she has to do better the next time, the ship is destroyed, resetting the loop.
Burnham seeks out Tyler after his speech, asking him to dance. After a moment, she asks him about being in the Klingon prison cell with Mudd. He notes that she is not one for small talk, and she replies that she never understood it. She does understand that relationships are built on honesty, and as such begins to tell him about Mudd and the time loop. Tyler wonders why Stamets did not speak to him. Burnham notes that he tried without success, but feels that since the two like each other, Burnham would be more successful. The two kiss. They are then summoned to the bridge, but she asks him to ignore it. Tyler then tells about how Mudd once bragged about robbing a Betazoid bank and defeating its security measures, using a time crystal. They meet with Stamets to go find out if Mudd indeed has such a thing.
Memorable quotes Edit
"You are mad!'"
"No, I'm Mudd."
- - Michael Burnham and Harry Mudd
"Never hide who you are. That's the only way relationships work."
- - Paul Stamets, to Michael Burnham
"Dance with me. For science."
- - Stamets, to Burnham
Log entries Edit
- "Personal log, Specialist Michael Burnham, Stardate 2136.8. Despite my fears to the contrary, I seem to have found my place on this Discovery. An air of routine has descended upon the ship, and even I am a part of it. I've made friends. Well, one at least. I take comfort in my work. This ship has quickly become the most important weapon in the Federation's arsenal in our war against the Klingons. And because of her, the tide has turned. Because of us, we are winning. Lieutenant Stamets' ability to pilot the ship's spore drive has given him access not just to all of space, but to unseen parts of his personality as well. As we perform our daily responsibilities, I confess I find some members of my fellow crew more interesting than others. Lieutenant Tyler has suffered so much, and still maintains such dignity and kindness. I find him... intriguing. But I fear my personal history interferes with my ability to forge relationships. I am among the others... but also apart. I wish sorely to step out of my comfort zone, yet don't know how. But tonight, I will face one of my greatest challenges so far. Tonight we are having... a party."
- "Captain's log, Stardate 2137.2. Captain Harcourt Fenton Mudd recording. I am about to close the deal of the millennium..."
- "Personal log. Just as repetition reinforces repetition, change begets change. I guess the truth is, we never really know what's coming. Sometimes the only way to find out where you fit in is to step out of the routine, because sometimes where you really belong was waiting right around the corner all along."
Background information Edit
Format and title Edit
- This is the first episode of the Star Trek franchise since "Encounter at Farpoint" not to start with a teaser. This episode, instead, opens with a recap of previous episodes before going straight into the opening titles. It was the first of two consecutive episodes to do this, with the second being "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum".
- The episode's title is taken from Homer's The Iliad, Book XIV.
Story and script Edit
- At first, there was a longer backstory about the first meeting between Hugh Culber and Paul Stamets than ultimately ended up in this episode. This original version of the story provided more details than the installment ultimately established about the incident. (After Trek: "Episode 6")
- Katherine Barrell is the first actress to portray the actual Stella Mudd. Kay Elliot played multiple android duplicates of Stella in TOS: "I, Mudd".
- In retrospect, Stamets actor Anthony Rapp commented that, prior to finding out the backstory between his character and Dr. Culber in this episode, he and Culber actor Wilson Cruz had a pretty good idea about how their characters first met. "I mean, it's really helpful to know some of that," Rapp observed. "I think it was pretty evident already in the sort of fabric of the writing before we knew the details. It was something like that." (After Trek: "Episode 6")
- Rapp also appreciated the scene between his character of Stamets and Burnham dancing in a corridor, a significant contrast to the science-heavy dialogue Rapp had been tasked with delivering in a lot of the series' earlier outings. "It was really refreshing to get an intimate, quiet scene, talking about, you know, intimate, quiet moments between Human beings," he said. "So that was really refreshing and it was also in the middle of shooting this really kind of crazy episode." (After Trek: "Episode 6")
- Mudd's space helmet was intended to be of Andorian design. It was designed and created by Ray Lai and Mario Moreira, who were inspired by the Orion disguised as an Andorian in "Journey to Babel". They also wanted an "anime" look. (After Trek: "Episode 6")
- For the shipboard party, Gersha Phillips designed multiple outfits, pleased to get the Discovery crew out of uniform for a change. (After Trek: "Episode 6")
- Aaron Harberts stated that part of the motivation of making this episode was financial, stating "In terms of the time loop, we were desperate to save money, I am not going to lie."
- This episode required a lot of filming. As a result, Anthony Rapp commented afterward, "It was a frantic shooting schedule. (After Trek: "Episode 6")
- The party footage in this episode took four days to film. (After Trek: "Episode 6")
- Although the "Andorian" space helmet was extremely hot to wear, Rainn Wilson nonetheless had fun doing so. (After Trek: "Episode 6")
- During filming, Mudd's crystal kept sliding down his wrist, so the production staff used magnets to hold it in place. (After Trek: "Episode 6")
- Many takes of Mudd killing members of the Discovery crew were filmed. In each of those takes, Rainn Wilson had fun addressing members of the cast with nicknames. For example, he referred to Lorca actor Jason Isaacs as "old man", and addressed Saru using a variety of names alluding to tall, lanky people, including Manute Bol and Yao Ming, as well as calling him "Lurch", "Stilts", and "Avatar". The fact that so many takes of Mudd offing Discovery crewmembers were shot gave Wilson lots of opportunities to make up such nicknames. (After Trek: "Episode 6")
- During the breaks from filming, many games of ping-pong were played. Ping-pong players among the shooting company included Rainn Wilson, Jason Isaacs, Tyler actor Shazad Latif, and Director David M. Barrett. "This was an intense episode, and they played a lot," remembered Wilson Cruz. (After Trek: "Episode 6")
- In directing this episode, David M. Barrett became the first director of a prior Star Trek show to work on Discovery, having previously directed the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Divergence".
Music and sound Edit
- This episode involves the first uses of source music in an installment of Star Trek: Discovery. Songs featured are "We Trying to Stay Alive" by Wyclef Jean (which, as revealed on After Trek: "Episode 6", was suggested by Alex Kurtzman) and "Love and Happiness" by Al Green, both of which are played at the party aboard the ship.
- The stardates given in this episode (2136.8 to 2137.2) appear to be more chronologically advanced than the first onscreen five-digit stardate seen in a filmed Star Trek episode (1965's "Where No Man Has Gone Before", whose beginning stardate was 1312.4), despite this story taking place nine years prior to the TOS episode. They are also higher in number than the stardate in the following episode, "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum", which is set on stardate 1308.9.
- The multicolored holographic display Lorca is studying in the montage at the start of this episode previously appeared in "Lethe" (when Admiral Cornwell arrived on the Discovery) and later reappears in mid-first-season finale "Into the Forest I Go". The latter episode establishes it as a display of parallel universes.
- This is the first episode of Discovery in which no Klingons appear, though they are Mudd's would-be customers.
- As well as featuring in this episode, time loops are depicted in TNG: "Cause and Effect" and ENT: "Future Tense". When he first read the script of this episode, Anthony Rapp was taking a break from binge-watching through the entire run of TNG, and the next episode on his list was "Cause and Effect". Once he watched that installment, he came to the opinion that this one is "a great tribute" to that episode. (After Trek: "Episode 6")
- This episode marks the first known 23rd century time travel loop and the earliest chronological time travel event in that century before the TOS episode "The Naked Time", which was the first of three such time travel episodes of Season 1 of TOS. The next two were "Tomorrow is Yesterday" and "The City on the Edge of Forever".
- Mudd destroys the Discovery with an anicium-yurium reaction; this explosive interaction also featured in TNG: "Night Terrors".
- This is the second episode to feature the destruction of a Crossfield-class starship, the first having been DIS: "Context Is for Kings", which depicts the destruction of the USS Glenn by the Discovery, the latter itself being destroyed in this installment.
- Like Guinan in TNG: "Yesterday's Enterprise", Stamets is somehow conscious of changes in the timeline in this episode.
- The "random communications officer-man" Mudd disparagingly refers to in this episode is actually R.A. Bryce. This episode was his first appearance since "Context Is for Kings", and he wasn't named on-screen until the next episode, "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum".
- Whereas this episode includes Burnham revealing to Mudd that she killed T'Kuvma, she admits the exact same thing to Kol (and his Klingon followers) in "Into the Forest I Go".
- Although numerous android duplicates of Stella previously appeared in TOS: "I, Mudd", this was the first episode to feature her father.
- Assuming Harry Mudd's kill count of Captain Lorca is accurate, he kills Lorca and the entire crew of the Discovery at least fifty-six times in this episode.
- Using conventional mathematics, the same thirty minutes being repeated, Mudd's statement of killing Lorca fifty-three times, and the additional three loops after Mudd's statement, at least approximately twenty-eight hours pass between the beginning of the episode and the end of it.
- By setting up a romantic relationship between Michael Burnham and Ash Tyler in an alternate timeline prior to that relationship being initiated in the main timeline shortly afterwards, this episode is similar to the TNG installment "Parallels", which set up a married, romantic relationship between Deanna Troi and Worf in an alternate timeline. The foreshadowing was paid off for Burnham and Tyler in "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum", and for Worf and Troi in TNG series finale "All Good Things...".
Reception and aftermath Edit
- After Trek "Episode 6" discusses the making of, and events in, this episode.
- Precisely two weeks before this episode was released, Executive Producer Aaron Harberts revealed, in After Trek: "Episode 4", that it would explain how Culber and Stamets first met. The next episode of After Trek debuted the scene where, in a corridor, Burnham and Tyler accidentally meet with an uncharacteristically optimistic Stamets and an apologetic Culber.
- After Trek host Matt Mira was highly appreciative of how this episode portrays Mudd, Mira telling Rainn Wilson, "You stole the show and the Discovery." (After Trek: "Episode 6")
Production history Edit
- 14 June 2017: A day of filming; party scene with Stamets and Burnham 
- 12 October 2017: Title publicly revealed 
- 29 October 2017: Premiere airdate on CBS All Access
- 30 October 2017: International release date (outside Canada and the USA)
Links and references Edit
- Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham
- Doug Jones as Saru
- Shazad Latif as Ash Tyler
- Anthony Rapp as Paul Stamets
- Mary Wiseman as Sylvia Tilly
Guest starring Edit
- Wilson Cruz as Hugh Culber
- Katherine Barrell as Stella Grimes
- Peter MacNeill as Barron Grimes
- Rainn Wilson as Harcourt Fenton Mudd
- Milton Barnes as Deck Crew #1
- Emily Coutts as Keyla Detmer
- Jason Deline as Medical Officer
- Hamza Fouad as Deck Crew #2
- Julianne Grossman as Discovery Computer
- Patrick Kwok-Choon as Rhys
- Sara Mitich as Airiam
- Oyin Oladejo as Joann Owosekun
- Ronnie Rowe Jr. as Comm Officer 2
- Izaak Smith as Jogger #1
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- George Alevizos as wounded Discovery crewman
- James Eddy as Discovery crewman
- Ana Shepherd as Discovery crewman
- Julie St-Louis as Discovery crewman
- Nick Stojanovic as Detmer's date
Stunt double Edit
airlock; Alpha Centauri; alpha particle; Alpha Quadrant; anicium; armory; arms dealer; bank; bat'leth; beanpole; Bee Gees; beer pong; Betazoid bank; black alert; brain; Buran, USS; cafe; cane; captain's chair; chronal displacement; Code 7.5.3; con man; containment field; court martial; cybernetics; dance; dark matter; DNA; dowry; Endangered Species Act; Endangered Species List; extinction; fish; four-dimensional race; funk; funkmaster; fraternization; French language; GNDN; gormagander; Gorn; Green, Al; Grimes' ship; hoverchair; humor; hunting; intruder alert; Jean, Wyclef; Kasseelian opera; katana; lei; "Love and Happiness"; man cave; mating ritual; mek'leth; messiah; molecular lock; motor; Mudd's ship; multidimensional creature; non-equlibrial matter state; officer trainee; officers manifest; orthogonal index; partner; petunia; phone; power relay; Prototaxites stellaviatori; pulse scope rifle; red alert; Romeo and Juliet; sanctuary; science specialist; self-destruct; Shenzhou, USS; small talk; solar wind; space whale; Starfleet General Orders and Regulations; Stuart; suicide; T'Kuvma; tardigrade; temporal loop; time crystal; time loop; time stream; volatile encryption; Vulcan Science Academy; "We Trying to Stay Alive"; weaponized dark matter; worker bee; xenoanthropologist; xenology; xenologic classification; yellow alert; yurium
Alpha/Beta Quadrant Overview Edit
11 Leonis Minoris; Acamar; Adelphous; Ajilon; Aldebaran; Alpha Onias; Alpha Quadrant; Amar; Andoria; Archanis; Archanis sector; Archer; Ardana; Azha; Azure Nebula; B'Moth; Ba'ku; Balduk; Barolia; Beta XII-A; Beta Lankal; Beta Leonis Minoris; Beta Quadrant; Beta Pictoris; Beta Rigel; Beta Thoridar; Brestant; Briar Patch; Carraya; Castor; Celes; Chi Leonis; Coridan; Cursa; D'deridex; Delta Outpost; Delta Outpost 6; Delta Outpost 7; Delta Outpost 8; Delta Outpost 9; Delta Outpost 10; Delta Outpost 11; Deneva; Dewa; Deep Space K-7; Dinasia; Elas; Elora; Epsilon Outpost; Epsilon Outpost 1; Epsilon Outpost 2; Epsilon Outpost 3; Epsilon Outpost 4; Epsilon Outpost 5; Epsilon Outpost 6; Epsilon Outpost 7; Epsilon Outpost 8; Epsilon Outpost 9; Epsilon Outpost 10; Epsilon Outpost 11; Galorndon Core; Gamma 400 system; Gamma Eridon; Gamma Hromi; Ganalda; Gasko; Gorath; H'atoria; Halee; Hromi Cluster; Hyralan; Iconia; Iconians; Iccobar; Ikalia; Japori; Jouret; K't'inga; Khitomer; Klach D'kel Brakt; Krios; Korvat; Lambda Geminorum; Mempa; Mempa sector; Miridian; Morska; Narendra; Nequencia; New Providence; No'Mat; Omega Leonis; Organia; Orion; Paulson Nebula; Pheben; Pollux; Praxis; Qo'noS; Qo'noS sector; Qu'Vat; Ramatis; Regulus; Risa; Rura Penthe; Sherman's Planet; Son'a; Starbase 12; Starbase 23; Starbase 24, Starbase 157; Starbase 234; Starbase 343; Tarlac; Tananda Bay; Tellun; Tomed; Tranome Sar; Troyius; Unroth; Valt; Vulcan; Xarantine; Yridia; Zibal
Unreferenced material Edit
- "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Discovering Mudd Again, and Again, and Again" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
- "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad" at Wikipedia
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"Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum"