(written from a Production point of view)
As the crew attempts to let loose at a party, Harry Mudd triggers a time loop that repeatedly destroys the ship and kills the crew in an effort to learn the secret of the spore drive and sell the Discovery to the Klingons.
- 1 Summary
- 2 Memorable quotes
- 3 Log entries
- 4 Background information
- 5 Links and references
Michael Burnham attends a party on board the USS Discovery, where Sylvia Tilly and other crewmembers are having drinks, dancing, and playing games like beer pong. There is a brief power interruption causing the lights to dim and music to stop. Just afterwards, Tilly approaches Burnham to discuss her recent interactions with Ash Tyler, which included calibrating rifles in the armory and a shared dinner at the end of their shift. Tilly encourages her to give Tyler a sign that she is interested in him before losing her chance. Tilly asks how Tyler compares to Burnham's old boyfriends. Burnham demurs, asking how he compares to Tilly's boyfriends, to which Tilly states that while having been interested in soldiers in the past, she is now going through a musician phase.
Tyler then gives a speech to the crowd, honoring those who have sacrificed and died for the war against the Klingons. Tyler then approaches Burnham and Tilly, causing Tilly to leave. Burnham and Tyler are then summoned to the bridge and leave the party, with Tyler noting that she was saved from having to make small talk with him. Burnham apologizes in the corridor, but notes that her experience with parties is limited, in part due to her rank while on board the USS Shenzhou. Tyler notes that is no longer an excuse. Burnham then collides with Paul Stamets who is with Hugh Culber. Burnham apologizes, with Stamets being uncharacteristically friendly, talking about how moments like that make life so "gloriously unpredictable". He then turns to Tyler, commenting on his height and complimenting him on how grounded he is despite his torture by the Klingons. (DIS: "Choose Your Pain") Culber apologizes for Stamets' behavior, which causes Stamets to reveal the cybernetic augment Culber developed for him to make his connection to the spore drive more comfortable. Tyler and Burnham then board the turbolift.
On the bridge, with Saru noting an unidentified signal is ahead, Captain Lorca declares yellow alert. Burnham states that the signal is biological in nature, and identifies the organism as a gormagander, a spaceborne lifeform. She notes that its health is compromised. Lorca cancels the yellow alert, adding that he thought gormaganders were extinct due to hunting. Burnham corrects him, noting that their practice of feeding on alpha particles in solar winds often causes them to ignore their reproductive instincts. Lorca then prepares to order Discovery leave the area, but Burnham tells him that since the creature is on the Endangered Species List, they are required by law to take the creature to a xenological facility. Lorca grants permission to do so.
The gormagander is beamed into the shuttlebay, with Burnham present. Abnormal readings are detected in the creature, which then opens its mouth. A person in a spacesuit emerges and attacks the Discovery crew, injuring and killing several. Burnham manages to call the bridge to declare an intruder alert. Lorca has the intruder confined in the corridor, and calls for the situation to end. The intruder then takes off his helmet to reveal he is Harry Mudd, apparently escaped from Klingon custody. Mudd threatens to discover what is special about the Discovery and then sell the ship to the Klingons to destroy the Federation's chance to win the war. Mudd wants revenge due to being taken away from his beloved Stella, and curiously says he will kill Lorca as many times as possible. Lorca notes that he doesn't see this situation ending with the loss of his ship, to which Mudd replies "not this time", and noting he has the data he needs for the next time. After stating that he will see Lorca "earlier", he activates an anicium-yurium explosive device. The explosion gradually spreads through the ship, destroying it.
Burnham is attending the party, watching Tyler give his speech. She and Tyler are summoned to the bridge. On their way there, they discuss her behavior at the party. They begin to enter the turbolift, but Stamets runs down the corridor and calls to them, talking about how they have "been here before" and he seems to be the only one who realizes it. Culber comes running to meet him and apologizes, with Stamets complaining about how no one will listen to him. As Culber takes him away, he yells that everything starts with a gormagander. Burnham and Tyler are puzzled as the turbolift doors close. As they arrive on the bridge, a yellow alert is called. Lorca chastises the two for their lateness. Saru explains that the detected signal is not an enemy ship, but a gormagander. Lorca cancels the yellow alert, while Burnham and Tyler look at each other in a puzzled manner. Saru states that the gormagander's health is at risk and that as it is on the Endangered Species List, needs to be taken care of. Both Burnham and Tyler advise against it, but Saru says that the Endangered Species Act is quite clear that action needs to be taken, and that failing to do so could put Lorca at risk of a court martial. Lorca orders the creature beamed into the shuttlebay. Both Burnham and Tyler request permission to participate in the operation, and Lorca doesn't care as long as they handle it.
As they arrive in the shuttlebay, Tyler wonders how Stamets knew of the gormagander, while Burnham points out encounters with them are rare making it unlikely he would know of one. As the creature is being beamed in, Tyler prepares to draw his sidearm, resulting in a crew member asking if he thinks the creature is armed. Once the creature arrives, Burnham scans it, and detects a faint transporter beam. Suddenly, the ship goes to black alert, indicating the spore drive is being used. On the bridge, Lorca tells Airiam that he did not order a jump, and she responds that she did not activate one. Lorca asks the computer to show him engineering, but it refuses his request. Lorca orders Tyler to go to engineering to see what is going on. He arrives with Burnham to find the door locked from the inside, but it opens after a moment. The computer announces that the spore drive is three minutes from an overload. They enter engineering to find Mudd there. Tyler orders him to raise his hands and back away from the controls, noting that he won't ask again. Mudd states that he will, and also wants to know how the controls in engineering work. Tyler attempts to shoot Mudd but is blocked by a force field. Mudd goes on about how he does not understand what the devices in the spore drive chamber do, or what they connect to.
Burnham asks the computer to beam Mudd out of engineering, but he already took control of it. He again demands to be told how to operate the drive, but is suddenly shot by Stamets.
Burnham tells Stamets that the drive is going to overload, but he already knows. He states that it has happened multiple times before, and he has not figured out how to stop it. The Discovery is then destroyed by an explosion. The timeline returns to the party, with Tyler asking Burnham to dance, but the two are summoned to the bridge before she can answer. After they leave, Stamets appears at the party in search of Burnham, asking Tilly where they went, though she does not know. On the bridge, Burnham explains about needing to save the gormagander due to the Endangered Species Act, and Lorca agrees. In the corridor, Stamets intercepts her, demanding that she not talk and just listen. He tells her that the ship is caught in a temporal loop that repeats itself after about thirty minutes. She wants to take him to sickbay, believing his behavior to be a side effect of his spore drive use, but he convinces her to go with him.
On the bridge, Lorca is overseeing the recovery of the gormagander when he is called to sickbay. After the turbolift begins to take him there, the destination is overridden by the computer. The lift stops, and when the doors open a crew member falls through them with a knife in his back, put there by Mudd who is behind him. Lorca tries to order a red alert but is overridden by Mudd. Mudd orders Lorca out of the lift, noting that he doesn't have time to "take it from the top", and quickly explains that he fabricated the message to be alone with Lorca, who he wants to help him access a room he has yet to enter. Lorca refuses to help him, until Mudd accesses the self-destruct program.
Stamets explains to Burnham what is going on, and his belief that Mudd has a technology that allows him to repeat the same thirty minutes over and over so he can learn about the spore drive and then sell the ship to the Klingons. Stamets can exist outside the time loop due to the tardigrade DNA compound he injected himself with, which as it is a multidimensonal creature, enables Stamets to exist outside the loop. He tells her he cannot stop Mudd by himself, and that he will eventually figure out that Stamets is the missing piece of the spore drive. He believes Tyler knows something about how Mudd is controlling the loop and needs her to talk to Tyler about it. To prove to her in the next loop that they had this conversation, he asks her to tell him a secret that she has never told anyone. She whispers it to him, and he says he is sorry. She asks where Mudd is, and Stamets replies that it is usually the time he kills Lorca.
Lorca brings Mudd into his private lab, which is filled with weapons. As Mudd picks up one weapon and asks what it does, Lorca points out that killing a Starfleet captain would get the perpetrator locked up for life. Mudd then tells how he has killed Lorca fifty-three times with varying methods, including being shot with a phaser, vaporized, and beamed into space. He then notes that his thirty minutes is just about over, but that he will figure out how the spore drive works eventually. Mudd then shoots Lorca with the weapon he had picked up, disintegrating him.
The timeline returns to the beginning of the party. The power flickers. Burnham and Tilly begin to have a conversation much as they did before, but Stamets interrupts it and sends Tilly away. Burnham begins to comment on how she didn't think Stamets was interested in the event, but he interrupts her to say "You've never been in love", her secret she had told him in the prior loop. She asks why he would say that, and he tells her about the time loop and that he needs her help. She believes him, and he instructs her to talk to Tyler. She wonders why Tyler would talk to her, and Stamets tells her that Tyler likes her.
When Tyler approaches her he asks her to dance, but with the time loop in mind, she tells him that they don't have time for that. Realizing that put him off, she attempts to correct herself, but the two are summoned to the bridge. Tyler departs. Burnham then leaves with Stamets, noting that she will not be able to be alone with him again before the timeline is reset. She is upset with herself for blowing a chance to fix things, but Stamets tells her the situation is more complicated since she likes Tyler. He asks her to dance, "for science", so he knows what he is working with. Burnham does not understand how to step out of her corner and connect with someone. Stamets tells her about how he and Culber fell in love, through Stamets telling him to get lost due to the music he was humming, Kasseelian opera. Burnham notes that does not make sense, but Stamets explains that he and Culber value each others' honesty, and that it is the foundation of relationships. With Stamets noting that she has to do better the next time, the ship is destroyed, resetting the loop.
Burnham seeks out Tyler after his speech, asking him to dance. After a moment, she asks him about being in the Klingon prison cell with Mudd. He notes that she is not one for small talk, and she replies that she never understood it. She does understand that relationships are built on honesty, and as such begins to tell him about Mudd and the time loop. Tyler wonders why Stamets did not speak to him. Burnham notes that he tried without success, but feels that since the two like each other, Burnham would be more successful. The two kiss. They are then summoned to the bridge, but she asks him to ignore it. Tyler then tells about how Mudd once bragged about robbing a Betazoid bank and defeating its security measures, using a time crystal. They meet with Stamets to go find out if Mudd indeed has such a thing.
Lorca is on the bridge, overseeing the recovery of the gormagander, wondering where Burnham and Tyler are. Suddenly, music starts playing which Lorca and Saru cannot shut off. Mudd enters the bridge, reduces the volume, with the computer referring to Mudd as "Captain". Mudd beams Lorca into the brig and threatens the crew with weaponized dark matter capsules. Tyler, Stamets and Burnham enter the bridge, but a force field prevents them from shooting Mudd. It doesn't prevent him from using a capsule on Tyler, who is painfully disintegrated. Mudd then threatens to disintegrate the entire crew starting with Saru, but Stamets comes forward as the missing piece of the spore drive. Mudd beams himself and Stamets to engineering. Burnham and Tilly examine the gormagander in the shuttlebay and discover Mudd's ship and its larger time crystal. However, they need more time to figure out how to stop the loop, but Tilly points out that Mudd no longer has a reason to reset the loop himself, as he already has everything he needs. Burnham thinks otherwise.
Mudd is recording a captain's log in the ready room, when Burnham enters to see him. While she is there, he sends a message to the Klingons about their location. Burnham then identifies herself as the killer of T'Kuvma and points out that the Klingons would pay a lot to get her, even more than for the Discovery. Before Mudd can stop her, she commits suicide with one of the dark matter capsules. Mudd then destroys Discovery to reset the loop. When the loop restarts, Stamets is able to inform Burnham and the others about what is happening, and the crew is prepared for Mudd's arrival on the bridge. To Mudd's surprise, Lorca offers Mudd his chair. Mudd does not believe the crew would give in to him, but Stamets tells him that the loop must end for everyone's sake. Lorca offers Mudd a deal; he can have Discovery and Burnham if the crew is spared. Lorca does not want to kill his crew again, as he did on the USS Buran. Mudd accepts the deal.
Mudd sends a message to the Klingons, right before the time crystal disintegrates, removing his ability to reset time. A vessel hails Discovery, after which Mudd leads Burnham and Stamets to the transporter room to receive two people from that vessel. On the way, Stamets tells Mudd that if he was truly distraught over not having his Stella, it would not have been difficult to find her as her father, the Baron Grimes, is an arms dealer who has made a fortune selling weapons due to the war. Mudd wonders how Stamets could know that, and Burnham tells Mudd that the computer archives are a non-critical system, one that Mudd did not take control over. Now that his time crystal is gone, he cannot reset the loop to correct that mistake. Stella has been looking for him due to the fact that he skipped out on her and the dowry from her father, who put out a reward for Mudd. Tyler arrives, which distracts Mudd enough for Burnham to take Mudd's weapon. Mudd notes that the Klingons are still coming, but Tyler tells him that he rewired the captain's chair, another noncritical system, to actually send a signal to Grimes. The Baron and Stella arrive on board, and after some conversation with Mudd, agree to take him away and keep him away from Starfleet.
Burnham and Tyler talk about Stamets telling them about their interactions during the time loops. Tyler notes he is sad at having missed their first kiss. The Discovery then goes back to its usual business.
"Thought those things had been hunted to extinction."
"Hunting isn't the cause of its reduced numbers. It's primarily due to their mating practices, or lack thereof. They spend their lives feeding on alpha particles in solar winds. They're often so consumed by this task that they ignore all other instincts, including reproduction."
"That's as depressing a trait as I've ever heard."
- - Gabriel Lorca and Michael Burnham
"As science specialist, I'm the most qualified to handle the needs of this creature."
"I don't give a damn. I just want it done."
- - Michael Burnham and Gabriel Lorca
"I request security oversight of the operation, captain."
"I still don't give a damn."
- - Ash Tyler and Gabriel Lorca
"You are mad!'"
"No, I'm Mudd."
- - Michael Burnham and Harry Mudd
"Never hide who you are. That's the only way relationships work."
- - Paul Stamets, to Michael Burnham
"Dance with me. For science."
- - Stamets, to Burnham
"'What the hell are you doing on my ship?"
"You ask me that question every single time. You know that, don't you? No, of course you don't."
- - Gabriel Lorca and Harry Mudd
"Do you know how many times I've had the pleasure of taking your life, Lorca? Fifty-three. But who's counting? And it never gets old."
- - Harry Mudd
"There really are so many ways to blow up this ship, it's almost a design flaw."
- - Harry Mudd
- "Personal log, Specialist Michael Burnham, Stardate 2136.8. Despite my fears to the contrary, I seem to have found my place on this Discovery. An air of routine has descended upon the ship, and even I am a part of it. I've made friends. Well, one at least. I take comfort in my work. This ship has quickly become the most important weapon in the Federation's arsenal in our war against the Klingons. And because of her, the tide has turned. Because of us, we are winning. Lieutenant Stamets' ability to pilot the ship's spore drive has given him access not just to all of space, but to unseen parts of his personality as well. As we perform our daily responsibilities, I confess I find some members of my fellow crew more interesting than others. Lieutenant Tyler has suffered so much, and still maintains such dignity and kindness. I find him... intriguing. But I fear my personal history interferes with my ability to forge relationships. I am among the others... but also apart. I wish sorely to step out of my comfort zone, yet don't know how. But tonight, I will face one of my greatest challenges so far. Tonight we are having... a party."
- "Captain's log, Stardate 2137.2. Captain Harcourt Fenton Mudd recording. I am about to close the deal of the millennium..."
- "Personal log. Just as repetition reinforces repetition, change begets change. I guess the truth is, we never really know what's coming. Sometimes the only way to find out where you fit in is to step out of the routine, because sometimes where you really belong was waiting right around the corner all along."
Format and title
- This is the first episode of the Star Trek franchise since "Encounter at Farpoint" not to start with a teaser. This episode, instead, opens with a recap of previous episodes before going straight into the opening titles. It was the first of two consecutive episodes to do this, with the second being "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum".
- The episode's title is taken from Homer's Iliad, Book XIV, line 217 ("πάρφασις, ἥ τ᾽ ἔκλεψε νόον πύκα περ φρονεόντων"), in Robert Fagles' translation. It refers to Aphrodite's sash or girdle, a love charm which the goddess gives to Hera in order to beguile Zeus.
Story and script
- Having enjoyed how Rainn Wilson had portrayed Harry Mudd in the earlier DIS Season 1 installment "Choose Your Pain", the writing staff of Star Trek: Discovery chose this as the optimum time in the season to have him return to the show. "We knew we wanted him back," noted Erika Lippoldt. 
- The DIS writing staff decided to have this episode largely separate, tonally, from the rest of the first season. "We just always had this notion of, 'Let's just have one episode where it's kind of crazy and fun and, like, sci-fi-wacky, you know, kind of comedic stuff,' and that kind of all got poured into that one episode," Erika Lippoldt explained. 
- Initially, there was a longer backstory about the first meeting between Hugh Culber and Paul Stamets than ultimately ended up in this episode, providing more details about the incident. (AT: "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad")
- Aaron Harberts stated that part of the motivation of making this episode was financial, stating, "In terms of the time loop, we were desperate to save money, I am not going to lie." 
- However, piecing the episode's plot together was an extremely sophisticated challenge for the roomful of DIS writing staffers. One of those writers, Kirsten Beyer, reflected, "The process of creating that episode was as terrifying and difficult as anything we've ever attempted as a room." ("Star Trek: Discovery: The Voyage of Season 1", DIS Season 1 DVD & Blu-ray special features)
- Katherine Barrell is the first actress to portray the actual Stella Mudd. Kay Elliot played multiple android duplicates of Stella in TOS: "I, Mudd".
- Rainn Wilson described this outing as a "pretty meaty episode" in which Mudd "gets a lot to do." (Star Trek Magazine issue 189, p. 17)
- Stamets actor Anthony Rapp found it fascinating for his character to be the only one to be aware of living through a very oft-repeated time loop. "It was really interesting, 'cause, like, I think that Stamets approached that just like he would approach so many things, ultimately like a problem to solve. Like, a scientist would approach that, I think, like, 'What are the questions here? Now, how do I answer these questions?'" ("Star Trek: Discovery: The Voyage of Season 1", DIS Season 1 DVD & Blu-ray special features)
- Anthony Rapp also commented that, prior to finding out the backstory between his character and Doctor Culber in this episode, he and Culber actor Wilson Cruz had a pretty good idea about how their characters first met. "I mean, it's really helpful to know some of that," Rapp observed. "I think it was pretty evident already in the sort of fabric of the writing before we knew the details. It was something like that." (AT: "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad")
- Rapp also appreciated the scene between his character of Stamets and Burnham dancing in a corridor, a significant contrast to the science-heavy dialogue Rapp had been tasked with delivering in a lot of the series' earlier outings. "It was really refreshing to get an intimate, quiet scene, talking about, you know, intimate, quiet moments between Human beings," he said. "So that was really refreshing and it was also in the middle of shooting this really kind of crazy episode." (AT: "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad")
- Disabled actor George Alevizos was included in the party scene "to show wartime sacrifice." (AT: "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad") He went on to appear in several later episodes.
- Mudd's space helmet was intended to be of Andorian design. It was designed and created by Ray Lai and Mario Moreira, who were inspired by an Orion who is disguised as an Andorian in "Journey to Babel". They also wanted an "anime" look. (AT: "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad")
- For the shipboard party, Gersha Phillips designed multiple outfits, pleased to get the Discovery crew out of uniform for a change. (AT: "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad") However, other items of costuming for the party were purchased from suppliers rather than being created especially for the show. 
- This episode required a lot of filming. As a result, Anthony Rapp commented afterward, "It was a frantic shooting schedule." The party footage alone took four days to film. (AT: "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad")
- Gersha Phillips designed multiple outfits for the party scene, happy to get the crew out of uniform for a change. Detmer's outfit, in particular, was inspired by Seven of Nine. (AT: "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad")
- Although the "Andorian" space helmet was extremely hot to wear, Rainn Wilson nonetheless had fun doing so. (AT: "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad")
- During filming, Mudd's crystal kept sliding down his wrist, so the production staff used magnets to hold it in place. (AT: "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad")
- Many takes of Mudd killing members of the Discovery crew were filmed. In each of those takes, Rainn Wilson had fun addressing members of the cast with nicknames. For example, he referred to Lorca actor Jason Isaacs as "old man", and addressed Saru using a variety of names alluding to tall, lanky people, including Manute Bol and Yao Ming, as well as calling him "Lurch", "Stilts", and "Avatar". The fact that so many takes of Mudd offing Discovery crewmembers were shot gave Wilson lots of opportunities to make up such nicknames. (AT: "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad")
- During the breaks from filming, many games of ping pong were played. Ping-pong players among the shooting company included Rainn Wilson, Jason Isaacs, Tyler actor Shazad Latif, and Director David M. Barrett. "This was an intense episode, and they played a lot," remembered Wilson Cruz. (AT: "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad")
- In directing this episode, David M. Barrett became the first director of a prior Star Trek show to work on Discovery, having previously directed the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Divergence".
- A scene that was ultimately cut took place in the episode's fourth act, immediately after Burnham commits suicide by consuming one of the dark matter capsules, therefore disintegrating, and a frustrated Mudd utters an expletive. This version of the scene did not yet have the computer voice address Mudd, although it does so in the final version. The subsequent excised scene featured Tilly, Stamets and Lorca, with the former officers speaking with their captain from the other side of the brig force field, the visual effect for which was never completed. Tilly told Stamets and Lorca that Burnham's plan had been to kill herself in order to persuade Mudd to reset the timeline, an act Stamets referred to as a considerable sacrifice for love. Despite reasoning that Mudd's greed might convince him to reset the timeline, Lorca, as Stamets counted down the end of the loop, doubted that even if the timeline was indeed reset by Mudd, neither of them would know. However, Stamets objected to this, commenting that he himself would know. The episode then resumed as in the final version, with an irritated Mudd destroying the ship in order to reset the timeline. The deleted portion of the episode's fourth act is available on the DIS Season 1 DVD and Blu-ray collection.
Music and sound
- When Composer Jeff Russo first began writing music for Star Trek: Discovery, this episode was one he knew he would have to compose music for, including a musical theme for Harry Mudd.  "I did go back and study the scores for the Mudd episodes from The Original Series when I was thinking about what to do for Episode 7," he reflected. "In the end, though, none of what had been written or recorded for that original character was going to work in our context, because the Mudd character is being portrayed in such a different way; it just didn't really make much sense. [However], it was a lot of fun to go back to those Original Series scores and listen to the music." 
- This episode involves the first uses of source pop music in an installment of Star Trek: Discovery. Songs featured are "We Trying to Stay Alive" by Wyclef Jean (which, as revealed on AT: "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad", was suggested by Alex Kurtzman) and "Love and Happiness" by Al Green, both of which are played at the party aboard the ship. "Ride Of The Valkyries: Introduction to Act III: Lohengrin" by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is also used in this episode, as an excerpt of classical music that Mudd has played over the shipboard computer's speakers on Discovery's bridge.
- For the part of the episode that features a series of rapid cuts showing Mudd take over the Discovery and kill Lorca multiple times, Jeff Russo wrote a dramatic music cue called "Captain Mudd". "You know, one of the things I needed to do there is we needed to tie the whole sequence together, because it was so schizophrenic. You know, because there were all these cuts, it was happening again and again and again and again, and he was in that time loop. Right?" Russo recalled. "And I think that the way to do that is to sort of play through the whole thing without trying to change every time we did a cut. So, we would do things like change the tempo a little bit, or slow down the tempo a little bit, or change something as opposed to trying to make a big shift every time. And I think that was the thing that sort of kept it all together." 
- Jeff Russo was delighted to write "I Can't Dance", a musical cue that accompanies the moment Stamets dances with Burnham in a corridor. "That was fun to do, and I really enjoyed that," he enthused. 
- Several of the musical cues from this episode were released in the soundtrack collections Star Trek: Discovery - Season 1, Chapter 1 and, later, the vinyl LP Star Trek: Discovery - Season 1, Chapters 1 & 2. The first, called "Personal Log", is used for the episode's first scene, with Burnham dictating a personal log entry; the second, "What Did You Mean by That?", can be heard at the end of the scene in which, when asked by Stamets about the nature of his relationship with Burnham, Tyler says she "would hate to be inappropriate," prompting Stamets to question what he meant; the third and fourth cues from this installment are the aforementioned "Captain Mudd" and "I Can't Dance"; and the fifth and final cue, namely "Stella", is audible during Mudd's conversations with Stella and Baron Grimes, their subsequent departure from Discovery, as well as continuing into the start of the next scene, with Burnham and Tyler meeting in a corridor. Both "What Did You Mean by That?" and "Personal Log" were released in the initial soundtrack album only, omitted from the vinyl LP.
- The stardates given in this episode (2136.8 to 2137.2) appear to be more chronologically advanced than the first on-screen five-digit stardate seen in a filmed Star Trek episode (1965's "Where No Man Has Gone Before", whose beginning stardate was 1312.4), despite this story taking place nine years prior to the TOS episode. They are also higher in number than the stardate in the following episode, "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum", which is set on stardate 1308.9.
- The multicolored holographic display Lorca is studying in the montage at the start of this episode previously appeared in "Lethe" (when Admiral Cornwell arrived on the Discovery) and later reappears in mid-first-season finale "Into the Forest I Go". The latter episode establishes it as a display of parallel universes.
- This is the first episode of Discovery in which no Klingons appear, though they are Mudd's would-be customers.
- As well as featuring in this episode, time loops are depicted in TNG: "Cause and Effect" and ENT: "Future Tense". When he first read the script of this episode, Anthony Rapp was taking a break from binge-watching through the entire run of TNG, and the next episode on his list was "Cause and Effect". Once he watched that installment, he came to the opinion that this one is "a great tribute" to that episode. (AT: "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad")
- This episode marks the first known 23rd century time travel loop and the earliest chronological time travel event in that century before the TOS episode "The Naked Time", which was the first of three such time travel episodes of Season 1 of TOS. The next two were "Tomorrow is Yesterday" and "The City on the Edge of Forever".
- Mudd destroys the Discovery with an anicium-yurium reaction; this explosive interaction also featured in TNG: "Night Terrors".
- This is the second episode to feature the destruction of a Crossfield-class starship, the first having been DIS: "Context Is for Kings", which depicts the destruction of the USS Glenn by the Discovery, the latter itself being destroyed in this installment.
- Like Guinan in TNG: "Yesterday's Enterprise", Stamets is somehow conscious of changes in the timeline in this episode.
- The "random communications officer-man" Mudd disparagingly refers to in this episode is actually R.A. Bryce. This episode was his first appearance since "Context Is for Kings", and he wasn't named on-screen until the next episode, "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum".
- Whereas this episode includes Burnham revealing to Mudd that she killed T'Kuvma, she admits the exact same thing to Kol (and his Klingon followers) in "Into the Forest I Go".
- Although numerous android duplicates of Stella previously appeared in TOS: "I, Mudd", this was the first episode to feature her father.
- Assuming Harry Mudd's kill count of Captain Lorca is accurate, he kills Lorca and the entire crew of the Discovery at least fifty-six times in this episode.
- Using conventional mathematics, the same thirty minutes being repeated, Mudd's statement of killing Lorca fifty-three times, and the additional three loops after Mudd's statement, at least approximately twenty-eight hours pass between the beginning of the episode and the end of it.
- By setting up a romantic relationship between Michael Burnham and Ash Tyler in an alternate timeline prior to that relationship being initiated in the main timeline shortly afterwards, this episode is similar to the TNG installment "Parallels", which set up a married, romantic relationship between Deanna Troi and Worf in an alternate timeline. The foreshadowing was paid off for Burnham and Tyler in "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum", and for Worf and Troi in the TNG series finale "All Good Things...".
Reception and aftermath
- AT: "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad" discusses the making of, and events in, this episode.
- Precisely two weeks before this episode was released, Executive Producer Aaron Harberts revealed, in AT: "Choose Your Pain", that it would explain how Culber and Stamets first met. The next episode of After Trek debuted the scene where, in a corridor, Burnham and Tyler accidentally meet with an uncharacteristically optimistic Stamets and an apologetic Culber.
- Garrett Wang commented, "What's interesting about the whole Harry Mudd bottle episode is that, in my eyes, that kind of serves as Discovery's holodeck episode." Erika Lippoldt and Bo Yeon Kim agreed with this assessment. 
- The episode was a highlight for Erika Lippoldt and Bo Yeon Kim, the latter stating that both of them "love" it. "It's so much fun, and it shows a different side to the show," commented Lippoldt, "but you also really get glimpses into all of our characters' personal lives a little more, and it's a great episode." Kim agreed, adding, "And Harry Mudd is just fantastic in it," with which Lippoldt concurred. ("Star Trek: Discovery: The Voyage of Season 1", DIS Season 1 DVD & Blu-ray special features)
- After Trek host Matt Mira was also highly appreciative of how this episode portrays Mudd, Mira telling Rainn Wilson, "You stole the show and the Discovery." (AT: "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad")
- This episode was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form), but lost to The Good Place episode "The Trolley Problem".
- As soon as he saw that this episode references Kasseelian opera, Jeff Russo had a conversation with the producers in which he asked to compose some Kasseelian opera to be heard later in the series. 
- 14 June 2017: A day of filming; party scene with Stamets and Burnham 
- 12 October 2017: Title publicly revealed 
- 29 October 2017: Premiere airdate on CBS All Access
- 30 October 2017: International release date (outside Canada and the USA)
- 12 November 2020: US broadcast premiere on the CBS Television Network
Video and DVD releases
Links and references
- Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham
- Doug Jones as Saru
- Shazad Latif as Ash Tyler
- Anthony Rapp as Paul Stamets
- Mary Wiseman as Sylvia Tilly
- Wilson Cruz as Hugh Culber
- Katherine Barrell as Stella Grimes
- Peter MacNeill as Baron Grimes
- Rainn Wilson as Harcourt Fenton Mudd
- Milton Barnes as Deck Crew #1
- Emily Coutts as Keyla Detmer
- Jason Deline as Medical Officer
- Hamza Fouad as Deck Crew #2
- Julianne Grossman as Discovery Computer
- Patrick Kwok-Choon as Rhys
- Sara Mitich as Airiam
- Oyin Oladejo as Joann Owosekun
- Ronnie Rowe Jr. as Comm Officer 2
- Izaak Smith as Jogger #1
- George Alevizos as wounded Discovery crewman
- Mustafa Bulut as Discovery crewman
- James Eddy as Discovery crewman
- Andrea Gallo as Discovery alien sciences crewmember
- Julian Lewis as Discovery crewman
- Paulina Miel as Discovery engineering technician #2
- Daniel Montlouis as Discovery helmsman
- Ana Shepherd as Discovery crewman
- Julie St-Louis as Discovery security officer
- Nick Stojanovic as Detmer's date
- Ronald Tang as Discovery engineering technician
- Thomas Kane as stunt double for Rainn Wilson
ability; airlock; Alpha Centauri; alpha particle; Alpha Quadrant; anicium; armory; arms dealer; arsenal; bank; bat'leth; beanpole; Bee Gees; beer pong; Betazoid; black alert; brain; Buran, USS; cafe; cane; captain's chair; chronal displacement; Code 7.5.3; comfort zone; con man; containment field; court martial; cybernetics; dance; dark matter; dignity; DNA; dowry; Endangered Species Act; Endangered Species List; extinction; fear; Federation-Klingon War (2256-57); Festoon, The; fish; four-dimensional race; friend; funkmaster; fraternization; French language; GNDN; gormagander; Gorn; Green, Al; helmet; hoverchair; humor; hunting; intruder alert; Jean, Wyclef; Kasseelian opera; katana; kindness; kiss; lei; "Love and Happiness"; man cave; mating ritual; mek'leth; messiah; molecular lock; motor; Mudd's ship; multidimensional creature; multi-legged; non-equilibrial matter state; officer trainee; officers manifest; orthogonal index; partner; party; personality; petunia; phone; power relay; Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin; Prototaxites stellaviatori; pulse scope rifle; "random communications officer-man"; red alert; Romeo and Juliet; sanctuary; science specialist; scientific methodology; self-destruct; Shenzhou, USS; ship's complement; small talk; solar wind; space; space whale; spore drive; General Orders and Regulations; Stuart; suicide; T'Kuvma; tardigrade; temporal loop; time crystal; time loop; time stream; volatile encryption; Vulcan Science Academy; Vulcan ship; "We Trying to Stay Alive"; weapon; weaponized dark matter; worker bee; xenoanthropologist; xenologic facility; xenologic classification; yellow alert; yurium
Alpha/Beta Quadrant Overview
11 Leonis Minoris; Acamar; Adelphous; Ajilon; Aldebaran; Alpha Onias; Alpha Quadrant; Amar; Andoria; Archanis; Archanis sector; Archer; Ardana; Azha; Azure Nebula; B'Moth; Ba'ku; Balduk; Barolia; Beta XII-A; Beta Lankal; Beta Leonis Minoris; Beta Quadrant; Beta Pictoris; Beta Rigel; Beta Thoridar; Brestant; Briar Patch; Carraya; Castor; Celes; Chi Leonis; Coridan; Cursa; D'deridex; Delta Outpost; Delta Outpost 6; Delta Outpost 7; Delta Outpost 8; Delta Outpost 9; Delta Outpost 10; Delta Outpost 11; Deneva system; Dewa; Deep Space Station K-7; Dinasia; Elas; Elora; Epsilon Outpost; Epsilon Outpost 1; Epsilon Outpost 2; Epsilon Outpost 3; Epsilon Outpost 4; Epsilon Outpost 5; Epsilon Outpost 6; Epsilon Outpost 7; Epsilon Outpost 8; Epsilon Outpost 9; Epsilon Outpost 10; Epsilon Outpost 11; Galorndon Core; Gamma 400 star system; Gamma Eridon; Gamma Hromi; Ganalda; Gasko; Gorath; H'atoria; Halee; Hromi Cluster; Hyralan; Iconia; Iconians; Iccobar; Ikalia; Japori; Jouret; K't'inga; Khitomer; Klach D'kel Brakt; Krios; Korvat; Lambda Geminorum; Mempa; Mempa sector; Miridian; Morska; Narendra; Nequencia; New Providence; No'Mat; Omega Leonis; Organia system; Orion; Paulson Nebula; Pheben; Pollux; Praxis; Qo'noS; Qo'noS sector; Qu'Vat; Ramatis; Regulus; Risa; Rura Penthe; Sherman's Planet; Son'a; Starbase 12; Starbase 23; Starbase 24, Starbase 157; Starbase 234; Starbase 343; Tarlac; Tananda Bay; Tellun; Tomed; Tranome Sar; Troyius; Unroth; Valt; Vulcan; Xarantine; Yridia; Zibal
- "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Discovering Mudd Again, and Again, and Again" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
- "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad" at Wikipedia
|Star Trek: Discovery
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