[DSC] Context Is for Kings

[DSC] Season 1, Episode 3: Context Is for Kings

Rating: 3

“Context is For Kings” is an exciting and intriguing episode, but also a little bit of a “wait and see” episode, making it difficult to rate. Depending on how a few things play out, this could be the beginning of either some interesting or lame stories. We may adjust the rating later. We do get introductions to what will probably be the main supporting cast for the rest of the series, and they all seem really promising. Burnham gets some good scenes, especially some with Saru, and I like the performances from the new characters, even if they have to deal with often subpar dialogue.



Burnham delivers some sci-fi jibber jabber to explain that things are going wrong on this prison transport shuttle, and to re-establish that she’s a smarty pants. The reveal that the pilot of the shuttle isn’t going to be helping them out of the situation was a pretty great sight ‘gag’.


They’re rescued by the Discovery! I liked that we got some nice, sweeping shots of the ship.


The head of security, Commander Landry, greets them by calling them all garbage. Doesn’t seem *super* Starfleet, Landry.


A black Starfleet insignia is noted. Section 31 maybe? It certainly seems like their type of operation. I’m actually hoping it’s not. I’m pretty ambivalent about Section 31 now. It was great in Deep Space Nine, but it seems like the dark underbelly of the Federation has been pretty well explored at this point.


Lt. Detmar is on the Discovery. People in this era of Trek sure like to glue gizmos to the sides of their heads.


One of the other prisoners tries to fight Burnham, not because his dislike for her reached a boiling point, or because he saw an opportunity (being in a crowded mess hall with a lot of security), but because he collaborated with the writers in wanting to make Burnham look real tough to the Discovery crew.


Saru is the first officer!¬†They seem to set up Landry as a kind of “right hand” to Lorca, and I wonder how Saru will fit in/interact with that dynamic. Saru doesn’t seem to have a similar outlook.


We meet Captain Lorca, who wants to put Burnham to work on some mysterious project. He has a standing desk because he’s a real go-getter.




We meet Cadet Tilly, Burnham’s new room mate. They hit her nervous weirdo shtick pretty hard, but it actually still works pretty well in contrast to Burnham’s tortured stoicism, especially when they introduce that Tilly is pretty ambitious and wants to be a captain someday.


The ship goes to “Black Alert” (!) and some stuff floats around. Burnham knows something’s up!


There’s a great scene where its made clear Saru both cares about and is wary of Burnham.


Burnham is supposed to help on a top secret project lead by Lt. Stamets, AKA Rude Science Man. I like that he seems to be a genuinely good, principled person, which I’m sure will be a big factor in the inevitable internal conflict that develops later.


Burnham watches Tilly sleep


But don’t worry, it’s not weird, she just wanted some of her drool.


She finds a bunch of sparkly plants.


There was an accident on Discovery’s sister ship, where they were also working on the same kind of experiments. The Discovery is headed there to salvage scientific equipment.


Burnham asks what they are working on, confused that it had elements of both biology and physics. That seems like a kind of random distinction for Burnham to require an explanation for. I wonder if it was to set up some nonsense speech for Stamets.


Whatever happened on the Discovery’s sister ship, it really twisted up the crewman. It was gross! In a good way!


Oh dang, a Klingon is there! And he’s spooked.


Because of MONSTERS!!


Stamets’ friend was especially gross.


Burnham lures the monster away so the rest of the team can get back to the shuttle. While she crawls through Jeffries tubes she nervously recites lines from Alice and Wonderland to herself. I’m not usually down for characters on Trek reciting literature, but this one kind of works because it seems like she’s trying to stay even-headed.


The other prisoners leave, and its clear Lorca intentionally brought Burnham onto Discovery because he thought she could help with his project. Her motivation for turning him down is a highpoint of the show so far. It isn’t because she feels guilty about what she did on the Shenzou, but because she suspects Lorca is up to some business that isn’t in line with Starfleet’s values.


He tells her he isn’t trying to develop some super weapon, but a new super advanced method of space travel that will not only help win the war, but obviously benefit Starfleet in exploration. I would love it if this were true – It’s a more interesting, more subtle conflict if the end goal isn’t just another super weapon that’s developed under suspect circumstances.


Then Lorca reveals he’s had a fortune cookie in his pocket this whole time.


Turns out Alice in Wonderland isn’t just any ‘ol book that Burnham will quote for fun. Her foster mother (Amanda!) read it to her. Also, Cadet Tilly is like “Is that a book???” — I guess Burnham is ahead of the curve, books are way in vogue by TNG times.


Lorca and Landry scheme nebulously in some weird lab with a buncha alien animals.


Turns out Lorca had the Monster beamed on board! What does he want a monster for?? Does he have to do some animal abuse to get the magic speed juice?? Or is it all just for another super weapon…………….