The look on Burnham’s face after they repel the Klingon attack of Corvan II is not of joy or even relief. It’s of disgust at what they’ve done to a creature in the name of progress and survival.

Apparently, Starfleet regulations allow it? Or is it one of those Inter arma enim silent legēs things, where Starfleet is looking the other way with Klingons on the rampage?

Either way, kinda puts Captain Janeway’s reactions over some Starfleet alien-killing in the name of faster propulsion (i.e., the Equinox episodes of “Voyager”) in a different light.

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    As is clear, Starfleet Regulations pretty much have gone out of the window in a time of war...leaving aside the issue that, apparently, the Discovery isn't regular Starfleet.
    – Paulie_D
    Oct 9, 2017 at 14:12
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    "Inter arma enim silent leges" = "Between weapons, the law becomes silent", more colloquially, "In times of war, the law falls silent". Oct 9, 2017 at 14:55
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    There is a difference in this case: Janeway was upset that the Equinox was explicitly killing the aliens to power the drive. In this case, although Ripper is in some distress, there's no evidence it's actually dying as a result of its treatment. Yet, anyway. Oct 9, 2017 at 15:27
  • I thought that Burnham was only projecting her own disapproval onto the situation, not that she was correctly interpreting distress from the creature. The creature has no trouble striking back against abuse.
    – Gaultheria
    Oct 9, 2017 at 19:06
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    It seems that animal abuse is going to be a recurent theme in this serie. The character of Saru, a Kelpien who was hunted (or used a livestock, my memory is fuzzy) as food. Also, they reminded clearly that food was synthesized on this ship, thus allowing to focus the concern of animal cruelty mainly on the propulsion issue. So this problem will probably be adressed in the next episode.
    – Edelk
    Oct 9, 2017 at 19:32

2 Answers 2


When we first meet Captain Lorca, he says quite plainly that he has discretion, and that Star Fleet have given him a mandate to do just about anything. While we have yet to receive any independent confirmation of his claim, it's clear that everyone else on his crew, including his XO, his now late Security Officer Landry, and Lt. Stamets, who seems to be Chief Engineer (but wears science-silver, so maybe he's actually Science Officer?) believes it. Landry was a fan; Stamets isn't; Saru appears to be having misgivings.

Burnham herself seems to agree in the general sense with Lorca's basic premise that Star Fleet must win the war. However, both her reaction toward the end of "The Butcher's Knife..." and clips from the preview for "Choose Your Pain", make it clear she's deeply uncomfortable with with the specific solution to making the drive work.

It's actually too early to know what Star Fleet thinks, beyond, "Yay! Someone saved Corvan II". The research is double-plus-top-secret. USS Glenn was operating as much as a black-ops ship as Discovery. Admiral Cornwell herself may yet have no idea what the details of the drive's function are. Indeed, we can probably assume she doesn't--otherwise, Burnham's deductions would not have been necessary.

If nothing else, I think we now have the answer, surprisingly early, as to why the Spore Drive did not catch on and replace Warp Drive. If there's no way to artificially reproduce the results obtained by slotting a mega-tardigrade into the system, and there's no way to obtain its consent or mitigate the negative effects upon it, there's no way a post-war Star Fleet would be willing to continue to use the system.

  • The whole thing is a set up for the main character to redeem herself by stopping a bad captain, which the audience knows she can do, but she will have to struggle with mixed feelings because of how badly her mutiny went the first time. Oct 10, 2017 at 14:09
  • I'm not really sure I'm convinced of that. That Burnham is going to achieve some sort of altered status I think is obvious--there's not much point in telling this story if she winds up back in hack in the end. I think we still need to learn more about Lorca before we can declare him a "bad" captain. He certainly is a determined one, however. Oct 10, 2017 at 14:24
  • It's also not clear yet whether Lorca knows what effect using the spore drive has on the mega-tardigrade that' they're depending upon for navigation. If nobody's actually told him, we can't yet condemn him for not caring. Oct 10, 2017 at 14:28
  • I'm not condemning him. It just looks like this is the set up. Except this time she will be recognized for doing the right thing. I will be happy if I am wrong. Oct 10, 2017 at 14:32
  • One possibly tangential point I realised a little while after I commented... Right now, Burnham is not actually at liberty at all. She has not been pardoned. She's been pressed into service as a convict. Oct 10, 2017 at 15:49

There are quite a few theories buzzing about, about discovery maybe showing the 'birth' as it were of Section 31. Memory alpha about section 31:

"Section 31 was the name of an officially-nonexistent and autonomous clandestine organization which claimed to protect the security interests of United Earth and, later, the United Federation of Planets. Loosely speaking, it was Starfleet's black-ops division, operating separately from and usually without the knowledge of Starfleet Intelligence"

Which would fit into the points you made about Starfleet normally not accepting these kinds of situations. There might even be a few hints to this. For example the prisoners pointing out the black starfleet badges.

A vid I quickly found about the theory

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