With more Trek elements than before, episode 5 really gets Star Trek Discovery into its stride. “Choose your pain” follows the kidnapping and rescue of Captain Lorca, it works as a stand-alone episode but does incorporate into the wider season arc.
The episode starts with Michael Burnham having a nightmare about the Spore Drive and how it affects the tardigrade, AKA Ripper. Ripper has shown signs of degradation after every spore jump. She asks a medical officer Dr Culber to look at Ripper’s condition for confirmation.
Captain Lorca is away from the ship at a meeting with Starfleet officials on the work Discovery has been doing. Since the spore drive is so important, they make emphasis on being less active and working to find ways to replicate the technology across Star Fleet.
On a shuttle back to Discovery a Klingon destroyer kidnaps the captain and takes him to a prison ship.
Acting Captain Saru
With Captain Lorca missing, First Officer Saru is made acting Captain whose first task is to find and rescue Captain Lorca. You can tell he’s not confident in the role, although very determined.
He prioritises finding the captain above the concerns Burnham presents him in regards to the tardigrade. Although it comes across as cruel, it’s also understandable. There’s still conflict between Saru and Burnham.
Saru’s anger at Burnham is possibly also one of the reasons he digs his heels in to continue using the spore drive despite protests from Lt Stamets and Dr Culby. It’s easy to be sympathetic towards him when he asks the computer to measure his skills as a captain against previous well-renowned captains.
Reckless and cruel decisions aside, Saru manages well under the situation and his actual commands on the bridge are confident. He has a lot of character development in this episode, and you can see a possibility of reconciliation with Burnham in the future. The gifting of the telescope at the end of the episode feels a little forced but still sweet.
Classic fist fights
On the prison ship, Captain Lorca meets his cellmates. One is Harcourt Fenton Mudd, a con artist Trek fans will remember from the original series. The other is Lieutenant Ash Tyler.
Aboard the prison ship, Klingons will come into the cell and ask the prisoners to choose someone to have pain administered at. Lorca notes that Mudd is miraculously bruise-free.
When taking into the torture room himself, he is able to confirm that Mudd has been an informant on other prisoners. Lorca and Tyler later make an escape, punching some Klingons and shooting others. I could definitely see a bit of Kirk in the action sequence.
The who escape, are pursued, and then rescued by Discovery who made the jump via spore technology sans Tardigrade. Stamets uses himself in place of Ripper.
Tyler and Lorca make it back. Speculations wonder if Tyler is perhaps Voq the torchbearer transformed to look human to act as a spy. Also, not related to the plot, but do Klingons have multiple genitalia each?