Star Trek: Discovery Magic To Make The Sanest Man Go Mad Review
Star Trek: Discovery: Season 1, Episode 7: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad takes on a classic Trek premise and offers a memorable combination of camp and suspense.
Now, there are a lot of words that can describe Discovery, and if you’ve been keeping up with it like I have, I’m sure “camp” isn’t one of them. To date, the show has been nothing if not gritty, with a sharpness that distinguishes it from its more mild-mannered predecessors. So it’s not just surprising but shocking that Sunday night’s episode was able to inject outlandish elements in its story and make them work.
Most of this camp, of course, comes courtesy of Harcourt Fenton Mudd (Rainn Wilson), free from Klingon prison and all too eager to wreak fresh havoc on the USS Discovery. Armed with time-manipulating technology, Mudd is able to seize control of the ship and engage in some truly ludicrous shenanigans. In fact, Mudd feels less like Mudd than he does Q, toying with the crew as he terrorizes them and exploiting his knowledge of how they’ll react to whatever he does to stay in control.
The Q parallels are even more apparent in his interactions with Lorca (Jason Isaacs), with Mudd even referring to him as “mon capitane”, the mischievous alien’s pet name for Picard, at one point. Unlike Q, however, there is a sadistic streak to the character that we never saw in the Mudd from The Original Series. This is amply demonstrated when Mudd catalogues the various ways he dispatched of Lorca over the course of the show, shooting the captain from various angles and points of entry and even beaming outside the ship to flounder in the cold depths of space. It is undoubtedly funny that Mudd took advantage of the situation to indulge his hatred for Lorca, but there is a real nastiness to the sequence that makes him very different from the original Mudd and the program very much at home with the darker aspects of Discovery.
But even with these darker aspects, the episode still finds room for levity and humor, with both Mudd and Stamets (Anthony Rapp) poking fun at the set-up by saying they are tired of having to repeat themselves over to the others since they are the only ones aware of the time loop. This adds an additional layer of parody to the episode that respects the source material but doesn’t take itself seriously enough that it can’t see the humor in it, something that is truly the mark of a great show.
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