This week’s episode “Lethe” focuses on Michael Burnham and her adoptive Vulcan father Sarek. A classic episodic formula, it builds upon character development. It’s another solid episode to the series.
The episode starts with Sarek about to embark on a diplomatic assignment with his assistant. However, it seems the assistant is part of a Vulcan radicals group who are against the relations Vulcans have made with other species. They blame Sarek for his part in making Human-Vulcan relations. Setting off a suicide bomb, the extremist heavily wounds Sarek.
Because of Sarek’s telepathic connection to Michael Burnham, she is able to sense he is in danger. She tells Captain Lorca who confirms it with the Vulcans. Burnham asks Lorca to let her find and rescue Sarek, and he allows her to take a small team consisting of Cadet Sylvia Tilly and pilot Ash Tylor.
Tylor has earnt Lorca’s respect, but before take-off, Lorca warns him to bring Burnham back in one piece, or not to return at all. This is a beautiful moment that shows Lorca cares about Burnham, although we still don’t know if it’s for the right reasons yet.
Going down memory lane
To find Sarek, Burnham uses her mind connection with Sarek. In his mind, he keeps repeating a memory from her graduation. However, he can also see her presence in his mind and expels her twice from it.
Upset that she is unable to wake him up, Burnham doesn’t know what to do. The memory shows her being rejected from the Vulcan Expeditionary Group. Burnham believes that in his last moments, Sarek is remembering her failure.
It’s Tyler who explains to Burnham that there must be more to the memory, as it doesn’t make sense for him to think of her failure in his last moments. She return’s to Sarek’s mind. Confronting him about it, he reveals that it was not her failure but his.
The Vulcan Expeditionary Group tell Sarek that only one of his children may join them, as both are part human and having two would be too much. Sarek has to chose which child, Burnham his adoptive daughter, or Spock his son who is half human, half Vulcan.
Sarek chooses Spock, therefore failing his duties as a father to Burnham. After the confession, Burnham wakes Sarek up from his mind, and he is able to send out a signal for them to find him in reality. They are able to save him.
Back on the ship, Burnham confronts Sarek. She tells him that she is his daughter and that he is her father. But she won’t push the issues between them currently.
During this time back on the ship the Admiral Cornwell has visited Lorca. As an Admiral, she berates Lorca for his disregard of Starfleet regulation. She believes he has been too rash with his actions, putting Starfleet’s most important ship in danger.
As a friend, she tells Lorca that she is worried about him. He has only recently come back from being a prisoner that was tortured. Lorca, however, plays some sexy jazz music and they end up sleeping together.
In bed, Cornwell touches Lorca’s back scars whilst he is asleep. This triggers him to wake up, grab her by the neck and point his phaser at her automatically. She is shocked by his behaviour and believes that he’s not ready for duty. Lorca begs her not to take away his ship, that he needs the Discovery.
After Sarek is saved, Admiral Cornwell takes his place on the diplomatic assignment. Before departing, she informs Lorca that after she returns they will talk about how he will step down as Captain and get help.
The diplomatic assignment, however, is a trap by Klingons. They capture the Admiral and kill her guards. Saru informs Lorca of this development and Lorca interrupts him before he makes plans to rescue her, informing Saru that they will first wait for orders from Starfleet.