Rainn Wilson’s explosive return to Star Trek: Discovery results in a phenomenal episode that’s pure Star Trek. “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad” stands tall alongside similar Star Trek episodes that have employed the familiar trope of being caught in a repeating time loop. This particular loop, caused by Mudd in an attempt to steal the Discovery, always ends with its destruction. The only way out for the crew is if they can learn to love, trust and support each other like a true family.
This episode shows the crew of the Discovery functioning less like a military crew and more like a family. They are forced to rely on each other and trust each other implicitly in order to survive the dastardly schemes of Harry Mudd. The intensity builds as the episode progresses, culminating in a brilliant finish made possible only by the teamwork of the Discovery’s crew.
For the second episode in a row, Star Trek: Discovery mirrors the wisdom of Qoheleth. This time, the lessons learned by the crew of the Discovery can be summed up by Qoheleth’s words in Ecclesiastes 4: “Two are better than one…if either of them falls down, one can help the other up….Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
The lyrics from Al Green’s “Love and Happiness,” a song which was used in this episode, remind us that “love is walkin’ together, talkin’ together.” Lt. Stamets understands this truth better than perhaps anyone. Even with his unique ability to exist outside of Mudd’s time loop, he still needs the help of his fellow crew mates to overcome Mudd. Prior to this episode, Stamets had been grumpy and isolated, abrasive to nearly everyone around him. He has heretofore been able to survive with little assistance from others, but while caught in the time loop he realizes that he is ultimately unable to survive on his own. The only way for him to get through to his fellow crew members and save them is to make a genuine emotional connection based on, of all things, love.
The message of this episode is simple: we need each other. Relationships are essential, both individually and corporately. We need friends and we need family. You can’t go it alone. Humans just aren’t built that way. We have an innate desire to be loved by others and to be in relationships with them. This desire mirrors our deepest desire to be in a relationship with God, just as God desires to be in an intensely personal relationship with us.
Every relationship requires some degree of self-sacrifice and risk. Discovery’s crew has had to take some enormous risks in trying to save each other, but stepping outside of their normal routine to take those risks has always paid off. God wants us to step outside of our comfort zone and take some risks ourselves. Only then will we be able to love others and find the relationships we naturally desire.