On last night’s Star Trek: Discovery: Context Is for Kings episode, fans were introduced to Captain Gabriel Lorca, and actor Jason Isaacs, who portrays Lorca, gives insight into the captain in several interviews. Note: If you’re not seen the episode, there will be spoilers.
Lorca has a “war to win,” said Isaacs. “He’s been given a science ship. He’s been given people who are explorers, not warriors. And he needs the staff and crew around him to be people who are going to do what needs to be done, because he thinks, slightly arrogantly or possibly correctly, that the Federation has the wrong mindset, that they’re up against enemies who are way more capable than they are, and that he is going to have to somehow make a breakthrough in technology and suspend the normal rules of engagement and Federation directives, if he’s going to save not just the people who are on the ship, but an infinite number of planets from slaughter and invasion. He’s got an enormous amount on his mind.
“He’s a guy who’s seen a lot of action. He’s seen a lot of war. He’s been affected by it. Does it make him cold or does it make him efficient? Does it make him unsentimentally brilliant at strategy or does it make him inhuman? He’s seen what death can do, and he’s seen what happens when the enemy wins, and that has affected all of his decisions.”
How does Lorca view Burnham? “She’s someone that has already made a decision to do what needs to be done practically and smartly in a crisis situation, and she gets who the enemy are and how you need to treat them,” said Isaacs. “That’s pretty rare. She’s also very capable. She has a computer brain — she was raised on Vulcan and did particularly well at the academy. And she will be invested in him, because he’s saving her — and that’s not nothing, either, when you’re trying to build a chain of command. She’s capable and she’s willing, and to an extent, her loyalty is up for grabs.”
“This is an unbelievably able woman who, at the right moment, saw what war required,” said Isaacs in an interview with ETonline. “She might have been punished for it, she might have been a mutineer, there might have been tears and the war was started, but she made a really smart and sound decision. She understood the enemy and she knew what needed to be done and, in fact, she’s prepared to break all the rules and do it. If I’m getting ready to get this thing done, if I’m in any way going to give ourselves the competitive advantage in this war and try to kill our enemies before they kill us, I need people around me who are likely to be able to make those kinds of decision and who will be loyal to me, more than the Federation, should it ever come to it. She’s a good call on my part. I need to recruit someone like her and more people like her. The only thing is, once I meet her, she’s so obviously crippled with guilt with what she’s done with the loss of her original captain, it’s going to take a lot of work to get her back to the formidable, ruthless fighting force that she was some time ago.”
Fans saw Lorca’s room of animals including the one that tried to take out the away team on the USS Glenn. Why does Lorca have this menagerie? “We’re losing this war and I’ve been given license to do whatever the hell is necessary to try and see if I can in any way shift the odds,” Isaacs said in an interview with TV Guide. “And so I have in my private study area, anything I want including weapons, gasses, poisons, creatures…Anything that, if examined correctly, might give us an edge because we need something to turn the tide in the war. And that’s why someone like me has been given this ship and given license to go off and — not under the glare of anyone else’s spotlight — see if I can come up with a solution, any kind of creative solutions to this problem of imminent destruction.
“So the tardigrade might be one, some of the Klingon weapons I’ve got might be it…The spores might be it. I just need something and I need it fast and I need people to help me, and hence, one of the reasons why I get Michael Burnham to be on my team. She is someone who’s prepared to break the rules… Someone who’s really smart strategically and someone who I think will ultimately be loyal to me since I’ve given her a second chance at life.”