Here’s our spoiler-filled review of Star Trek Discovery‘s Magic To Make The Sanest Man Go Mad.
First of all, let’s deal with the expert-level trolling of this episode’s opening log statement from Burnham, where she explains that she’s settling down on “this Discovery”… That’s just mean, right? That’s playing with the emotions of fans waiting for that slice of mirror universe-goodness in the most cruel way. Frankly, you gotta love it.
Because, like the whole episode does, the scriptwriters are playing with time, it’s only at the end of the episode that you realise the log entry is being made after the events of ‘Magic to Make The Sanest Man Go Mad’, which are largely controlled by Harcourt Fenton Mudd and his time crystal.
He uses it to good effect, too. Indeed, it provides the most enjoyable, and most Trek-like, 50 minutes of the series so far. Personally I’ll take all of this the show has got to give.
In a series that has concentrated largely on the broad arc of the story, this was a refreshingly self-contained splash of timey-wimey intrigue that could have happily sat among any of the previous TV incarnations of the show. That it tapped into in-world events of the past, and illuminated many things about the recurring characters at the same time, to create a perfectly rounded addition to the series is all the more pleasing.
It even got it’s geeky throwback reference in at the end, by allowing us to meet the younger, actually living and breathing, incarnation of the Harry Mudd’s legendary beau, Stella. Oh, and her Dad.
Essentially, ‘MTMTSMGM’ places Stamets as Bill Murray at the centre of a a Groundhog-30-minutes scenario, every iteration of which ends with the destruction of Discovery. This leaves him to work with the members of the crew to defeat Mudd’s plot to steal the ship and sell it to his former Klingon captors, each time learning more about them.
The set up, and Mudd’s enjoyment of killing Cpt. Lorca in as many interesting ways as possible, just for funsies, allows Rainn Wilson to camp it up in a fiendishly malevolent turn. While Sonequa Martin-Green gets to add some new colour to Burnham’s character as she metaphorically and literally dances around Tyler in increasingly personal ways, only to forget all about it in the end. Most strikingly, we see Burnham sacrifice herself in a risky gambit to save the rest of her crew and defeat Mudd’s plan. She’s come a long way by the end, even if they can’t remember why.
As such, the most heart-warming thing about Burnham’s log is that she feels more closely connected to Discovery and happy with her place there, despite not remembering anything about the events that bought her so much closer to Tyler and other members of the crew. Beyond what Stamets has told her about it, that is. Nice, right?
For once in my reviewing career, I’m not going to try not to over-think this one. It stands as a great addition to Discovery, and further proof – if any was needed – that the second run of the show is more than deserved. We’ll have to wait a little longer to see how Stamets and the whole of the Discovery plot works in connection to the mirror universe, but when the wait is enjoyable as this, that’s just fine.