Harry Mudd has created a thirty minute time loop and is going through the loop as many times as he pleases all to learn Discovery‘s secrets, take over the ship, and sell it to the Klingons and there’s not a thing any of the crew can do about it except maybe Staments who, thanks to his recent tardigrade upgrade, lives outside of the normal flow of spacetime and, so, it’s up to him to get all Guinan up in this situation and save the crew from a galactic con man.
You’ve really got to hand it to Discovery that this is a show of quality. To take an often used Star Trek cliche, the time loop, and remix it into something so viscerally entertaining and fun was no small feat, but they did it. They did it in droves. So much so that, while episodes like “Choose Your Pain” will probably be hailed as great episodes (and they are), “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad” will probably be remembered as the episode that made Star Trek: Discovery fun and, believe me, this show needed that.
I’ve said it before, but Rainn Wilson kills it as Mudd. He’s a bit more cutthroat here than we remember him, but it serves the character well to put himself in a situation with a reset button to wipe away all culpability. It’s… just like Mudd to do! I mean, come on… this is a guy who, in the original series, becomes a space pimp and then tries to use androids to take over the Enterprise. I’m sure he’s got a few skeletons in the closet, both figuratively and literally.
I’m really digging the integration of Burnham into the Discovery crew as well. Far too often, we’re presented with the outsider character who acts like a complete jerk, thus, making the character that much more of an outsider. With Burnham, however, she’s craving a place in her new universe and willing to work for it. It’s also nice to see that the rest of Discovery’s crew is slowly accepting her.
I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this before, but I really also like how Discovery is more of a “lower decks” type of show, with most of the on-ship excitement taking place almost anywhere but the bridge. I honestly think that “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad” features the most bridge time we’ve seen on the show so far and, proportionally, it’s still not a lot. That’s fine, though, because Discovery has developed its own identity apart from its predecessors, making the Star Trek series feel new again.
Some fans probably will scoff at the ending. I really haven’t checked anyone’s comments on this episode, but I’m sure that the cries of “Oh, why didn’t they arrest Mudd?” are intermingled with crocodiles tears over the imagined death knell of the series — it’s been renewed already, you morons. Well, call me crazy, but sending Mudd away with Stella was the most classic TOS thing that Discovery has done yet. Kirk would have done the same thing with a smirk on his face and, let’s be honest… monogamy is a fate worse than death for poor little Harcourt. Then again, I’m sure the same people crying about that are probably crying about the crew dancing to “Stayin’ Alive” while, at the same time, praising The Orville which practically survives solely on 20th and 21st century on pop culture.
So, yes… bring in the fun, bring in the noise. Discovery has found its sense of humor and adventure while maintaining excitement and wonder. Star Trek: Discovery has become my new Sunday night ritual… along with waiting for CBS All Access’ terrible streaming to actually work.