Star Trek: Discovery’s third episode, “Context Is for Kings,” steps away from the high paced drama of the first two episodes and introduces us to the title ship, the Discovery.
Having ‘Context Is for Kings’ so set apart from the first two episodes felt very much like the episode ’33’ from Battlestar Galactica. Like Galactica, we needed to get to know our characters and set up the major drama very quickly before we settled in for the long haul. Unlike Galactica, however, most people are already familiar with the universe Star Trek resides in so we spent significantly less time fleshing that out, and more time getting to know our protagonist, Michael Burnham. Now with all that set up out of the way, it’s time to dive into the real meat of the series.
Burnham ends up on Discovery seemingly by accident. The premise of her being a prisoner one day, then recruited to the Discovery the next seems somewhat ridiculous on the surface, but Captain Lorca explains that they’ve sort of been given a carte blanche to fight the war however they see fit. If that means plucking a random prisoner off a stranded prison ship to help them with their goals, then so be it. Ridiculous? Maybe. But all of Discovery seems mysterious and “off grid” in a way, so let’s just roll with this.
Captain Lorca himself also seems “mysterious.” I love how they explain the low light setting as an eye condition, giving them a practical in-universe reason for having a darker atmosphere on the Discovery. I do wonder if this mysterious eye condition will actually come into play in the plot, or if it’ll simply be used as a device for keeping the setting darker. Either way, it’s an interesting character trait.
“Context Is for Kings” consistently sets up Discovery as a potentially morally ambiguous star ship. First we are led to believe that they may be working on a secret weapon, but it’s soon revealed to actually be a new way of traveling. However, once that misunderstanding is cleared up, we are shown that Captain Lorca had the creature that killed the crew of their sister ship secretly brought on board the Discovery. Once again, their morals are brought into question and we aren’t quite sure what their end game is. I have a strong feeling that this type of questioning and conflicting motives will become a consistent theme of Star Trek: Discovery. It’s going to be a messy journey.
Speaking of messy, Burnham once again displays questionable morals by breaking into the science lab using her roommate’s saliva (um, ew, but okay). Her goal is to find out if the Discovery is leading an honorable mission or if they are planning something destructive, but she still broke in. If we were placing her on a D&D alignment chart, I’d put her pretty solidly in Chaotic Good. She doesn’t care much for laws and rules if they go against what she perceives as “good.” I like that. I, too, am pretty Chaotic Good, and I find that a very appealing character trait. I’m nowhere near as badass as Burnham, of course, but I understand this trait at least.
I’ve noticed that a lot of people who hated the first two episodes seemed to enjoy “Context Is for Kings.” It was very different from the first two episodes so I can see why. I’ve enjoyed all three episodes, however, and I’m really excited to watch this messy, morally questionable, chaotically good, mysterious adventure unfold.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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