“The Examples,” is a Discovery heartbreaker

Discovery heads to an asteriod colony that could potentially be in the destructive path of the DMA, the five light year anomaly that can chew up a planetary system and poop it out like a wad of chewing gum.  With little choice, Discovery leads an evacuation effort with one small complication:  The colony has a prison and doesn’t really care if the prisoners live or die — but Captain Burnham certainly does!  Meanwhile, a brilliant scientist, Ruan Tarka, comes aboard to run a dangerous experiment to understand the DMA.

This was a highly effective episode of Star Trek Discovery and is a welcome course correction from the melodramatic rigmarole that seemingly paralyzed the narrative over the last couple of weeks.   Gone are the sidequests and distractions, as the DMA is officially put front and center where one would expect a universe-ending threat to be placed in a story.   As a result, “The Examples” feels more focused than the last two episodes that struggled to justify their existence, much less tell an interesting story.

The heart of the episode is its humanity.  I like it when the utopian ideals of Starfleet run afoul of staunch and uncaring civilizations.  Honestly, the best Star Trek is told in historical parallel and how many times have we heard a certain wedge of the population of the United States advocate cruelty to the incarcerated?   How many times have we heard them say that the imprisoned should be used for medical experiments or be denied treatment for disease?  These barbaric Americans are the colonists and Discovery tells them, “No, they  deserve dignity and we are better than this.”

Add onto that the character of Felix, played with stunning humanity by Michael Greyeyes, is the focal point of the prison story.   He is a leader, he is eaten with regret, and his final scene is so beautiful and poignant that it is easily on of the most memorable scenes of the season.

What’s more, David Ajala has straight up been killing it this season and has evolved Book into one of my favorite characters.

The story on Discovery of Tarka and Staments trying to unlock the secrets of the DMA wasn’t as strong, but they were certainly entertaining.  Shawn Doyle is incredibly entertaining as Tarka, a sort of Wesley Gone Wrong, but at the same time, he embues the character with charm and charisma… you just can’t hate the guy. I’m also grateful that Discovery didn’t have Staments and Tarka butt heads out of pure ego, but rather had them work together and develop a mutual admiration early on.

Now, why they had to create a miniature galaxy destroying anomaly on the ship in the middle of an evacuation is anyone’s guess and flies in the face of logic and elementary reason, but still…

“The Examples” was a strong episode that got Discovery back on the track it desperately needed. It was exciting, emotional, and held a mirror to society as all good Star Trek should.

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