Star Trek Discovery Season 1 Episode 4 Review: The Butcher's Knife Cares Not For the Lamb's Cry

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It was clear from the opening scene - an atomic view of the replicator creating Burnham's new uniform from pure energy - that Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 4 was going to be a visual feast of stunning effects, gripping action, and epic scale.

Studying the Ripper - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 4

From the 3-D mirror function to our first glimpse of the Discovery's bridge in battle mode (even if it was a simulation) the episode was out to impress viewers with the technology of this future world, making it as pretty as it is powerful.

The slick and sexy Discovery scenes stand in counterpoint to the earthy and organic-looking Klingon ship. No less pretty and no less (potentially) powerful, but T'Kuvma's ship is mechanically the antithesis of the Discovery.

L'Rell of House Mokai - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 4

While Lorca is attempting to get his ship to basically teleport to anywhere in the known universe, Voq would be happy if his ship could manage to move on its own terms. He is a leader with fervor but little charisma and a lot of self-doubt. The captains are as different as their ships.

And where Lorca has his faithful but fatally impulsive head of security, Landry, Voq is bolstered by the support of the intuitive and clear-sighted L'Rell.

I do not want the mantle of leadership. Standing behind you, I am free to move. Able to be your enforcer, defender, campaigner.


I found it interesting that the episode's title, "The Butcher's Knife Cares Not For the Lamb's Cry" (the second longest name for an episode in Trek history by the way) is never referenced in the dialogue. To some extent, this allows us to speculate as to who is the butcher and who is the lamb in this scenario.

The most obvious is Lorca as the butcher and Burnham as the lamb. Landry makes it clear that Burnham's natural curiosity is seen as an impediment to achieving the goal of weaponizing the tardigrade creature.

Lorca isn't interested in what you are. He's interested in what you can do. For him.


Science and Security - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 4

The most literal interpretation would be Landry as the butcher and the tardigrade creature she names "Ripper" as the lamb. After all, she actually tries to cut it apart for study. A bit like the adage about the goose that laid golden eggs.

Of course, Ripper is no goose and Landry pays dearly for her poorly thought out dissection attempt. Based on her scenes with Lorca and Burnham, I wonder if she wasn't spurred to recklessness by some sort of professional jealousy of Burnham and Lorca's interest in her. I guess we'll never know now.

Burnham: You judge the creature by its appearance and by one single incident from its past. Nothing in its biology suggests it would attack except in self-defense. Commander, this creature is an unknown alien. It can only be what it is, not what you want it to be.
Landry: It's amazing how much I hate Vulcan proverbs.

There no reason there can't be many lambs. With Lorca wielding the blade, he may attempt to sacrifice Burnham but Stamets is the one with blood on his face in this episode and who doesn't look at Tilly and think sheep?

Lorca - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 4

Stamets, the pure scientist, is also potentially capable of playing the butcher. His entire life has been devoted to the spores and their potential for unlocking the universe's secrets.

The Power of Science - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 4

Ripper is the key to that lock and he may disregard the obvious pain the creature experiences in order to realize his life's objective. I personally hope, a little half-heartedly, that he turns out to be more humane than his sciency snark would suggest.

The frontal lobe is overrated. It only contains memory and emotional expression. It's completely unnecessary.


That hardly seems fair. I always wanted to converse with my mushrooms.


There were a number of fascinating elements presented in the unfolding of the main plot-lines here.

On the Discovery side, they are now able to be anywhere in the universe in the blink of an eye. But on the Klingon side, Kol of House Kor now possesses an equally powerful tool in the form of T'Kuvma's cloaking technology.

It's a intergalactic game of cat and mouse except that the cat is as fast as thought and the mouse is invisible.

Lorca, the Stand Up Captain - Star Trek: Discovery

Burnham's relationship with Ripper may prove problematic for not only her personal discomfort in exploiting the creature but for the rest of the crew (and command) if they decide to take over the handling of the tardigrade because Ripper likes her back (in case you missed the meaning of that puppy dog lick it gave her.)

If Voq is going to the House of Mokai's matriarchs for leadership training, we're going to be truly immersed in some old-school Klingon discipline. Mind you, if they start chanting "What is dead can never die," I may not be overly impressed.

Saru's threat ganglia are a neat use of the biological in such a tech-heavy genre. As a species bred to be prey, it is logical that Kelpians would develop abilities to detect danger. Why it should be so outwardly obvious is a little beyond me.

Burnham: You can tell your threat ganglia to relax. I'm only here to help.
Saru: My ganglia remain unconvinced.

I thoroughly enjoyed Saru's scenes with Burnham as it showed respect for their shared history and tragedy. His distrust of her and her methods is an honest response to what happened on the Shenzhou. If he had welcomed her to the Discovery, it would've been extremely out of keeping with what we know of his character so far.

Taking Over the Com - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 4

Burnham: A valuable asset. That's what you called me.
Saru: I was speaking hypothetically. Politely. And as someone who was certain I would never see you again.

And with Lorca resting his aspirations on Burnham and Tilly developing some talkative form of hero worship for her, it's refreshing to have someone always ready to call the rankless former First Officer to account. I look forward to seeing how they learn to cooperate.

Together Again - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 4

There's a parallel between Burnham's new start and Voq's defeat at the hands of Kol. Each must begin at the bottom in order to achieve their goals. Burnham is a Starfleet officer with no rank while Voq is a Klingon with no house. They must both sacrifice in order to rise to the occasion.

Who else was totally riveted by the action scenes on Corvan-2? Lorca's patience in luring the Klingon's in was intense. Isaac commands not only the Discovery but the focus of viewers when he directs the battle like a maestro standing at his podium. Because he never sits. Seriously.

We're the tip of the spear in a science vessel filled with wide-eyed explorers.


I study war. This is where I hone my craft. I try to learn from the best.


Don't forget to watch Star Trek: Discovery online and revel in all the cinematic-level visuals. Any one of the episodes that have aired so far would look phenomenal on a movie screen. What an amazing time we live in for entertainment quality.

Anyone else a little taken aback at Landry's demise? I definitely didn't expect her to bite it so soon. Also, how awful was it to learn that the Klingons ATE Captain Georgiou? Oh, ew...

Stamets and Saru are brutally honest in their interactions with Burnham but, in her own way, so is Tilly. I think they've made it abundantly clear that the Discovery is NOT a diplomatic vessel by any means.

What are we hoping for next? More Klingon immersion? I'm hoping for fewer Voq-L'Rell soulful gazes. Klingons don't do mushy. 

I'd also like to see Burnham and Lorca sparring with some of those weapons he's collected. Lorca's menagerie has been called out by observant Trekkers as a bit anachronistic. Might to nice to see what sort of skills he's acquired in his study of war.

The Butcher's Knife Cares Not For the Lamb's Cry Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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Rating: 3.5 / 5.0 (43 Votes)

Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 4 Quotes

Burnham: You can tell your threat ganglia to relax. I'm only here to help.
Saru: My ganglia remain unconvinced.

Burnham: A valuable asset. That's what you called me.
Saru: I was speaking hypothetically. Politely. And as someone who was certain I would never see you again.