Oct 18, 2017

Can Burnham Heal and humanize Lorca?


We have now had a little of Lorca's back story and we can perhaps see that his experiences have filled him with pain, hate, guilt and implacable resolve to win at all costs.

Burnham has also lost much and is pained and and feeling guilty and both are trying to do penance for their shame and guilt, however Burnham despite her Vulcan upbringing is in possession of much more humanity and compassion than Lorca.

I believe one of the key plot points going forward is that she should talk him down off his self imposed ledge to become a more reasonable leader. To remind him that for a victory to mean anything they must remain true to their ideals so that if they emerge on the other side of the conflict they can do so with honour.

One of the lines from Ender's Game springs to mind "The way we win matters" and I think that it is Burnhams place to remind Lorca of that.

Oct 19, 2017

Kev, this is a great suggestion. This would certainly be the most classically Trek way to proceed, and I hope we get to see that. If the Section 31 theory turns out to be correct, we might see Lorca being pulled in these two different directions and struggling to make a choice. I will look forward to that.


This show has me thinking about Ender's Game as well, which I last read more than a decade ago when I was in the Army, and I'm so glad you mentioned it. More specifically, I've been thinking about the sequel (Speaker for the Dead) about the aftermath of war, and have been wondering what direction the show will take after the war.

Oct 19, 2017

I believe it is just as hard to revert to peace after a war than go to war after a peace. War leaves its marks both visible and invisible and we carry them around with us long after we should have shed them. Trying to rebuild Starfleet into an exploratory fleet afterwards will likely be a difficult road to travel.

Oct 19, 2017

Yes, this show is doing a wonderful job of making trauma a part of the setting. I know that I've been thinking about Kirk's relationship with Klingons in this light now, and I'm excited to watch TOS and the movies through this lens at some point.

Oct 20, 2017

Hey kev, this is a really interesting idea about Burnham healing and humanizing Lorca. It also makes me wonder what role Lorca will serve for Burnham—I hope the healing and/or redeeming will be mutual. I suppose Lorca is already helping Burnham on the path to redemption, simply by bringing her on board. But it's a bit unclear to me right now whether Lorca is really trying to redeem her, or just using her in his fanatical desire to win the war...or maybe the two are connected for him? Anyway, I'm just saying I hope this isn't the same old Jane Eyre type story of "woman finds life fulfillment by healing a wounded man," but that the healing/humanizing goes both ways.

Your question also made me wonder if the tardigrade stuff provides any foreshadowing for the relationship between Lorca and Burnham. The tardigrade begins as this lost, frightened, aggressive, isolated creature that will fight to preserve itself at all costs—similar to Lorca. Burhnam tames it, but enters into this extremely complex, problematic relationship where she cares for it and finds good use for it, but also causes it tremendous pain. She ends by setting it free. I wonder if we will see an arc like this at all with Burnham/Lorca? And I wonder what being "set free" would look like for Lorca?

Oct 20, 2017


This discussion has opened my eyes to a few possibilities that I hadn’t considered:


1) That Lorca, presented initially as a rather simplistically “evil” or duplicitous character, is actually going to defy our expectations of that character trope. And that Michael, very initially presented as the opposite of that, is going to do (and already has done) so as well. If a nuanced and complicated view of humanity in times of crisis is what they are aiming for, I’ll be very, very pleased. That would feel very classic Trek to me, and would certainly overturn the judgments that I made about both characters when I first met them.


2) That the heavy emphasis on violence, and on showing graphic violence, might serve to bring about awareness of the true and lasting effects of trauma. I think there is still a strong possibility that it’s been included because violent shows are popular right now, but it could also be true that Discovery wants to show the truth about what it means to be at war such that we, as the audience, open our eyes to the consequences of violence and to the lived experiences of those who have witnessed it.


To point 1), can anyone think of some characters in other Trek series that were initially presented as “bad,” but who became “good” over time as we got to know them?

Oct 21, 2017

You mean besides Tom Paris? I wonder if Gul Dukat from Deep Space Nine might fit this rubric, though he finishes more evil than he began. I'm keen to hear what other people come up with.


Rainbow, that's a funny observation about Lorca. I mean, he is kind of a gothic hero, isn't he? He's got a secret pain, isolation, and a special burden. But Burnham seems to be straight out of Jane Austen -- she's snarky, she doesn't accept rules blindly, and she doesn't take guff from anyone.

Oct 21, 2017

Q maybe, started really mad and bad and got less so.

Oct 24, 2017

It would seem the task of humanizing Lorca may be more difficult than I had envisioned. The idea that he would sacrifice his lover to retain command is a very dark turn. Also what is the story behind the Delta shaped scar on his back?

Oct 24, 2017

I really hope that he's going to have a change of heart about that.


This business with the scar is intriguing! I suspect that there's a lot more to the story of the USS Buran.

Oct 24, 2017

I’m trying to remain hopeful, along with Glenn, that our next teaser proves us wrong in our judgments about Lorca. Maybe the symbol is just a remnant of his time in that fraternity back in San Francisco? :)

Oct 25, 2017Edited: Oct 25, 2017

If you see STD as Star Trek's answer to Shakespeare's The Tempest - with Lorca as Prospero, drawing all kinds of characters to his ship-as-island, where his machinations will restore Burnham-as-Miranda to her rightful place of dignity - then yes, like Prospero in The Tempest, we'll get a happy ending for Lorca. But I don't think that's the book STD is referencing. I think they're going Moby-Dick on us. (And why not? - Melville's story worked like gangbusters for Nicholas Meyer's "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.")


I do see Lorca like Captain Ahab, with "beating the Klingons" as his whale. If anything, his obsession will end him; I don't see this as his redemption story. I do see STD as Burnham's, though - or at least what will be her return to heroism from her long struggle as an antihero, wrestling with when to follow rules and when to break them (which is a theme especially prevalent right now; one may see our current mainstream fascination with comic book movies/TV shows as our culture's yearning for true heroes). Burnham will surpass Lorca eventually, because I think she is our rooting interest, not him. Lorca's arc seems to resemble that of a classic tragic hero: a shining officer of great promise who was so humiliated in battle that it reforged him into a control freak/ maniac bent on revenge - or at least I hope he continues to be, because characters like him make awesome engines for serialized conflict and drama! LOL

Oct 26, 2017

Yes! These are some great points, BionicDave, and I love the invocation of The Tempest here, especially as that line "strange new worlds" that lies at the heart of the franchise is a riff on a line from that very play.


I've been wondering for some time how long Captain Lorca will actually be on the show, and I very much feel that there is some room in the premise for Lorca and the Klingon War to be left behind before too long while the Discovery goes off on a mission of ... er ... discovery. We certainly aren't going to be able to sustain our current plot over the course of several seasons. Right?

Oct 26, 2017

Lorca may be just the foil, Burnham is a mutineer but she is perhaps still a better officer and leader than Lorca. So perhaps at some point we will be put in the position of saying Lorca is the upstanding officer but he is just too extreme, Burnham might be flawed but is more reasonable than he is. I believe that the war arc will be one season, that Lorca may sacrifice himself in some way at the end as he realizes that he is broken and may not ever be whole again but he can still do some good. That may allow subsequent seasons to be Burnham and Discovery doing real exploration.

Oct 27, 2017

Kev, that's what I've been beginning to suspect as well. But so far all of my predictions have been wrong, so I've probably just jinxed it!

Oct 27, 2017

I have also experienced that in Westworld. My predictions often fall wide of the mark.

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