In Star Trek: Discovery's "Context Is for Kings," we're finally introduced to Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs) who already sets himself apart from the other Trek leaders with his preference for hanging out in his ready room over sitting in the captain's chair. An experienced military leader, we already know he's willing to break rules in order to win the war against the Klingons as seen with his secret experiments and enlisting ousted Starfleet mutineer Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) as a temporary crew member.
He is a man of both strategy and action, something he shares with Star Trek: The Next Generation's Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), though he'd probably see Picard as a bit of a slowpoke when it comes to putting a plan into action. What Lorca can learn from Picard, who is often regarded as the "thinking man's captain," is to be mindful of his arrogance or risk endangering the entire Federation like Picard did when he accidentally insulted an omnipotent species who then put him face-to-face with those gnarly Borgs.
Lorca is also a fierce leader, one who refuses to show any weakness or lack of confidence to his crew. "He's a wartime leader," Isaacs tells TV Guide. "It's really important to him that the crew are inspired and slightly afraid and intimidated by him." It's a façade that Star Trek: Enterprise's Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula), the very first captain of the USS Enterprise, would have been well to use. His doubts were not so inspiring for his crew, making him a much less effective leader.
On the other hand, Lorca uses fear and strength as a means of controlling his crew and while it may be working for him now, it's uncertain how long that will hold up. We're seeing a bit of mistrust among the team already with Lt. Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp), who speaks of him with disgust and refers to him as a warmonger.
Although he confides a bit in Burnham, whom Isaacs says he sees as both his intellectual and strategic equal, Lorca could lean more into his crew like the original series' James T. Kirk (William Shatner). The beloved captain often deferred to First Officer Spock's mind and Chief Medical Officer McCoy's heart when plagued with major decisions, balancing both of their opinions before making the final call. That intimate council — which usually kept him in check — helped him out of many sticky situations and could do the same for Lorca. Despite the difference, though, Lorca does share Kirk's penchant for bending the rules in order to do what he feels is right and that will certainly get him far.
Plus, he's pretty resourceful. Through his travels, he's already collected a number of tools which he hopes will aid the Federation in winning the war including Klingon weapons and a menagerie full of eclectic creatures. There's also the spore technology he discovered which, if used the way he wants, has the possibility to transport someone anywhere in the galaxy in an instant.
However, we have yet to see Lorca rely on his diplomatic skills like Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), who spent his time aboard the Deep Space Nine station in the Bajoran sector navigating tricky relationships with locals who saw him as a holy man while also dealing with different alien species harboring ulterior motives. Even Star Trek: Voyager's Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) needed to rely on diplomacy in order to unite two very different crews while stranded far away from Earth in the Delta quadrant. To be fair, Lorca is already at war which calls more for action than words.
It's too early to tell exactly what sort of captain he will turn out to be but so far, it's clear that he is very different from what we're used to seeing. If Lorca can hone the admirable qualities of those that came before, however, he just may find himself listed among the best.
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