Star Trek: Discovery is pulling no punches this week with episode 4×05, “The Examples.” We’ve got some good, old-fashioned discussion of justice and ethics in this episode. We’re also looking at the age-old question, “Who watches the watchmen?,” or in this case, “Who counsels the counselor?” There’s a lot to dig into with this episode. Here are a few of my thoughts on “The Examples.”
What Constitutes Justice?
The Akaali people are potentially in the path of the DMA, thus forcing the evacuation of their planet. Save for the “examples.” The Federation, which abolished the death penalty some time ago, will not allow for the execution of these four prisoners, regardless of their crimes. Most of these crimes are hardly severe enough to warrant the years of jail time these “examples” have served, much less the death penalty.
While this episode has its own conclusions about justice in this situation, the real question episode 4×05 makes the viewer ask is “What is justice?” What is the function of prison? Is it to keep dangerous people out of society? Is it to rehabilitate criminals into upright citizens? Or is it simply to punish bad people and force them to serve as an example to people outside of prison walls? Justice tempered with mercy is a delicate balance to maintain. It also requires the viewer to consider the role of choice in a person’s life. Felix (played masterfully by Indigenous actor Michael Greyeyes) forces the viewer to consider what that balance looks like in the real world.
Who Counsels the Counselor?
One thought in the back of my mind this season is that Dr. Culber seems to be burning the candle at both ends, not only serving as Chief Medical Officer but as ship’s counselor as well. His conversation with Kovich (king of body horror, David Cronenberg) highlights not only the importance of self-care but the dangers of distracting yourself from your own emotions with work or other activities. I appreciate Kovich’s straightforward approach to his assessment of Culber. Here’s hoping the good doctor will take some time for himself, and maybe seek some counsel of his own.
I’m exceptionally suspicious of the devil-may-care Ruon Tarka (Shawn Doyle). His lack of reverence and respect for our crew doesn’t sit right with me. Then after his conversation with Book, my dislike of Tarka is confirmed. The man is sus! We’ll have to wait and see if he’s truly up to something.
One other thing that really grabbed my attention in this episode is the return of Tig Notaro as Jett Reno. I’ve missed seeing Jett on my screen and she never fails to crack me up every time. Here’s hoping for more Commander Reno in coming episodes very soon.
Also, can we talk about how the sphere data, Zora (Annabelle Wallis), is now capable of EMOTION?! This is an incredible leap forward in robot sentience, but it’s not without hazard. I’m extremely interested to see where this new fact takes us this season in Star Trek: Discovery.
What did you think of “The Examples”? Leave me a comment and let’s talk Trek.
The next episode of Star Trek: Discovery will air on December 23, 2021, on Paramount+.