Trek Series Updates, and Readers Vote

Star Trek CaptainsStar Trek is facing something of a renaissance at present, with a new caretaker team in place dreaming up more exciting and thought-provoking adventures in the universe created by Gene Roddenberry.  Despite that, and despite a push by CBS for more Trek on their streaming platform CBS All Access, there hasn’t been a lot of news about their new shows in recent weeks, and what we have heard hasn’t been particularly illuminating.

Last month, Deadline, TrekMovie and other notable Trek and entertainment websites, reported that Michelle Yeoh was in talks with CBS to lead a new Star Trek series, most likely centred around the Mirror Universe’s Emperor Georgiou and her mischief-making in the normal Trek time line.

CBS have not made any official announcement yet, though they have acknowledged they’ve considered the possibility of a Georgiou Section 31 series.

For those of you who may have forgotten, a Season One deleted scene was released earlier this year showing Georgiou being recruited by a mysterious Section 31 operative (possibly their leader) called Leland, played by Alan van Sprang.  Months later, Georgiou showed up in trailers for Season Two and the subtext was that she’s now working for that particular organisation.

Alan van Sprang as Leland

Why a Section 31 series and not a series that goes back in time to focus on Captain Georgiou?

Firstly, you’d be paying out a lot of money for a cast that would almost never get a break.  Georgiou’s Shenzhou also had Saru and Burnham on it, as well as Detmer, and those characters would feature prominently.  Between shooting Discovery and a Shenzhou series, Doug Jones, Sonequa Martin-Green and Emily Coutts would barely get any free time to focus on other projects, which is important to an artist if they want to have longevity in the entertainment industry.

Secondly, the sets for the Shenzhou no longer exist.  They were struck and used for other sets, which is standard practice in most television shows.  Rebuilding that beautiful ship’s interiors would prove prohibitively expensive.

USS Shenzhou Bridge

Finally, Michelle has just come off of the success of Crazy Rich Asians, which she starred in alongside Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Nico Santos, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina, and Ken Jeong.  She’s always been in demand, but she’s going to be in even greater demand now.  Will she have the time?  Would the beautiful and ethereal Michelle Yeoh even want to commit to a standard 12-13 episode run of a series?

Then again, many of us said the same thing about Patrick Stewart.  We thought the new Jean-Luc Picard show would be a special or a limited series, and it was recently announced it would be longer.

Speaking of that series, we still know next to nothing about it.

Ambassador Jean-Luc Picard

Alex Kurtzman recently stated that writing on the series had begun, and that actual production was scheduled to commence sometime in April next year (2019) with an air date in late 2019.

That’s something.

We still don’t know the title, if there is one yet, nor the basic premise.  Whatever they’re developing in the writers room is not leaking out, which is good, but it would be really nice if they’d share a few plot points now and then.

Our last news item from around the Trekverse comes courtesy of the wonderful Anson Mount.  Or, if you prefer, Captain Christopher Pike.

Next Chapter - Star Trek Discovery Season 2According to Anson, the thirteen-episode order for Season Two has been extended by one episode.

You can read a tiny bit more about that extension, including where the confirmation came from, at TrekMovie here.

This isn’t all that exceptional.  It happened in Season One, where Star Trek: Discovery‘s order went from 14 episodes to 15 episodes.  Extra episodes can happen for a number of reasons.  It could be the studio saying “we are super impressed… give us one more,” or it could be “this is super expensive, let’s get more bang for our buck, do another episode.”  They could also be doing an extra episode to create a back-door pilot for a new series.

Disco Christopher PikeEither way, I don’t care.   More Trek is more Trek and that makes me a very happy fan!  Particularly if this new episode gives us some additional time with the crew of Discovery and the crew of Pike’s Enterprise.

I know I’ve said this half a dozen times already, but if one of the new shows coming out is not a Pike’s Enterprise show, I will be SO disappointed.

That’s it for the news update! See what I mean? Not much news out there.

For those of you who don’t know, Star Trek: Discovery Season Two will air in the United States and Canada on January the 17th, 2019.  In Australia and elsewhere in the world, Episode One will air January 18th.

Now, to wrap up this post, here are some reader lists from our What if Then was Now? Part 1 article.

Pardon, you say?

Approximately a week ago Star Trek: Sentinel posed the question: what if Star Trek: The Next Generation was released now, in today’s ‘streaming’ world of 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 or 15 episodes a season?  Which of the 26 first season episodes would you use if you were told to cut their run down?

I received some interesting responses, and of those two people totally okay with me posting their suggestions.  As you can imagine, there were a few e-mails saying we should forget Season One altogether, while a lot of other people were happy to think about the idea and give me their take.

Below, are the two I’ve been given the okay to reproduce.

First, a reminder of the rules:

  • You have a 12 episode order.
  • The pilot (season 1) and finale (season 7) episodes cannot change, so those seasons receive a 13 episode order.
  • You can change the order of any episode, except for the pilot and finale.

Let’s take a look!

Star Trek The Next Generation Encounter at Farpoint

Treklad_uk_1701 selected:

Encounter at Farpoint Part 1
Encounter at Farpoint Part 2
The Battle
Where No One Has Gone Before
Hide and Q

Hide and Q

The Big Goodbye
Haven
11001001
Datalore
Home Soil
Heart of Glory
Skin of Evil
The Arsenal of Freedom

Treklad thought that The Arsenal of Freedom episode was a pretty good one, and could work as a season ender.  It would by-pass episodes that seem to hint at something bigger coming in the second season, ideas that were never followed up on (Romulans and parasites).  He also wanted to show the crew actually exploring and engaging with strange new life forms.  As a fan of Crusher and Picard, he also felt it was important to show the beginnings of their on again off again romance.

TroisWigisSentient selected:

Encounter at Farpoint, Part 1
Encounter at Farpoint, Part 2
The Naked Now
Where No One Has Gone Before
Home Soil
Haven
The Battle

The Battle.jpg

The Big Goodbye
Datalore
Heart of Glory
The Arsenal of Freedom
Symbiosis
The Skin of Evil

Skin of Evil

TroisWigisSentient (which is a fantastic handle) preferred a season full of character development, choosing her episodes because she felt they either gave every character a chance to shine, or gave the ensemble an opportunity to work together.

A great selection of episodes from both of our contributors!

At the end of the week we’ll be applying the ‘What if Then Was Now’ process to Season One of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Check back then, and keep the discussion going via e-mail or in the comments.

LCARS Interface

Episode 11 Recap and Review

Star Trek Discovery Recap and Review Banner 27102017

I’ve been really worried about my inability to find adjectives when reviewing Star Trek: Discovery.  I shouldn’t have been concerned.  This latest episode added a new one to my frequently used list: chilling.

There are moments in “The Wolf Inside” where I went cold watching Shazad Latif’s performance.  Not in a bad way, in a good way.  He was completely compelling and it was unnerving.

But, I’m getting a little ahead of myself.  First…

The Facts
Episode Number: 111
Episode Title: “The Wolf Inside”
Written By: Lisa Randolph
Directed By: T.J. Scott

Quotable
Ash to Michael
: “You’re my tether.  You bring me back.  You did it before we were stranded in this place, and you’re still doing it now.

Saru to Michael: “An oppressive regime is by nature a fearful regime.

Lorca to Michael: “You have to do it.  Give the order.  You have to wipe them out.
Michael: “But I can’t send hundreds of rebels to their death to save myself.
Lorca in response
: “What about your crew?  The Federation?  Our universe?  Be a massacre by Klingons.  Sometimes, the end justifies… the terrible means.
Michael
: “Permission to speak freely sir?”  Lorca nods.  “I fear that your suffering has influenced your judgement.  I will find a way to get what we need to Discovery,  But in the meantime, lives are hanging on my command – here and at home.  And this rebellion against the Terrans, it’s an unshakeable union of species.  Klingons, Vulcans, Andorians, Tellarites.  It’s the closest to a Federation this universe may ever see.
Lorca, in response: “What’s your point?
Michael: “My point is that a Klingon leads the alliance.  A Klingon!  They rally behind him.  If we can walk away from this with the means to successfully negotiate with the Klingon race… that’s real hope for finding peace at home.  Please, sir, I no longer have my pips but I’m still Starfleet.  Don’t force me to slaughter this coalition of hope.

Mirror Voq: “Master Sarek sees all.  His wisdom pierces minds.  If you truly come in peace, he will find it in your heart.”

Tilly to Saru: “The laser photon emissions are comprised entirely of exotic matter found in the mycelial plane, and when that matter integrates with Stamets’ own neural materials, it should restore his cognitive function.
Saru in response: “A scientist saved by his own specimens.
Tilly: “The veins and muscles of the universe.  Fungi are the only organism with the biological apptitude to link death with life.

Though there will obviously be spoilers here, please keep in mind that this is a big, spoilery episode just like the last one and I need to put up that graphic one more time.

Despite the fact most of the spoilers below have been predicted by fans and have been out there for a long time, I’m going to respect those of you who have been avoiding fan speculation and spoilers and give you a chance to click away now…

Spoiler Alert

The Recap and Review
Star Trek: Discovery
has become so much more than a science fiction drama commenting on the sociopolitical landscape of our times.  It’s now a tragic love story for the ages.

That sounds quite melodramatic, but I think it’s true: Paul Stamets and Hugh Culber, and now Michael Burnham and Ash Tyler/Voq.  Perhaps even L’Rell and Voq?

It’s also a show that comments on family.  Star Trek has always done this, but none quite as blatantly as Star Trek: Discovery.

We explore family through the lense of adoption with Michael, Sarak and Amanda.  We explore it through the older role models we all take on in life, with Michael, Philippa Georgiou and Gabrielle Lorca.  We explore it through the discussions the crew have about their own families – most particularly Tilly and her troubled relationship with her mother.  And, of course, we explore it through the fact that this is a crew of people who are close knit out of necessity and have become like family.  That last one we’ve seen in every Star Trek incarnation, and we have had glimpses of some of the others in every series, but I’d argue none have done some of these quite as well as Star Trek: Discovery.

Each previous series will always hold a very special place in my heart, because I love them all, particularly Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation, but Star Trek: Discovery is now my favourite series because of it’s complexity.

Is it perfect Star Trek?  There will never be a perfect anything, but it is Star Trek and it’s the right Star Trek for now.  We live in difficult and, you could say, dark times and this is a Star Trek that responds to that.  For a long time now the creatives behind the series have promised us that we will see the cherished values of the Federation on display, and we have, intermittently, but with this and the last episode they have started to shine.

These adventures in the Mirror Universe will define this crew, I think, in so many ways.

Let’s take a look.  Rather than do a blow by blow recount, which I personally hate (though I do them a lot), here are the important facts:

– Stamets is discovered holding the body of his own personal Imzadi.
– The crew suspects Stamets killed Culber in a spore-induced fit of disorientation.
– Tilly believes that Stamets’ condition is a ‘spore’ related issue and not a medical one, and petitions Saru to let her tend to him.

The Wolf Inside - Saru and Tilly Examine Paul

– Michael reflects on the nature of darkness in all of us, and wonders how long it will take for the Mirror Universe to change them all, irreparably.
– Ash declares Michael is his “tether” to everything good.

The Wolf Inside - A Tragic Romance

– Saru asks Burnham in a secret communication whether or not she has found a Mirror version of him, because in the Prime Universe there are so few of his kind.  She has, and he’s her “servant,” but she can’t bring herself to tell him that so says that she hasn’t.  Saru, for his part, is also a little dishonest and doesn’t tell her that her friend, Hugh Culber, has been murdered. During that conversation she let’s Saru know she has the information about the USS Defiant that they’ve been looking for.
– The Empress orders the Shenzhou to destroy the alien alliances base of operations.
– Michael “adjusts” those orders and beams down with Ash to “obtain information”, while in reality seeking the help of the Klingons, Vulcans, Andorians and Tellarites.  She wants to know why and how these Klingons have all come together to stand against the Empire with a coalition of aliens. Her other equally important goal is to warn them so they can escape.

The Wolf Inside - Michael Negotiates with Mirror Voq

– We get to see a Vulcan with a goatee, and wouldn’t you know it… it’s Sarek!  He is called the Prophet in this universe.
– The leader of the alien resistance, nicknamed “FireWolf,” is Voq Son on None.
– Sarek convinces the resistance that Michael isn’t lying and laying a trap for them.

The Wolf Inside - Houston, We Have a Goatee

– Tilly looks like she’s having some success with her treatment of Stamets… until he flatlines.  I wasn’t sure if he was dead, or, as she warned might happen, was lost in the mycelial network.  All hope, however, is not lost as after a while he shows signs of recovery.
– As Michael negotiates with the resistance, the personality overlay that L’Rell tried to remove from Tyler last episode almost completely dissolves and Voq pushes his way through the Ash personality.  He shouts at Mirror Voq and attacks him.
– This goes as badly as you’d expect, with Ash’s actions almost getting he and Michael killed.
– Sarek brings peace to the explosive moment, and Michael tells Mirror Voq she can give him and his followers an hour to escape before she has to carry out her orders, but she needs something in return to justify her trip to the surface. He provides locations for various coalition assets, saying they will be safe by the time the Empire deciphers the data.

The Wolf Inside - Voq vs Voq

– Michael and Ash beam back to the Shenzhou.  Michael orders Ash into her quarters where we finally receive 100% confirmation he is Voq.  This is the chilling scene.  The change in Tyler is eerie, unsettling and beautifully acted.  The Ash personality is erased as he remembers Burnham killing T’Kuvma. Even though I’ve been on the Ash is Voq team for a while, the shift in personality was so menacing it hit me and I was on the edge of my seat.  If this scene had been performed with a lessor actor, it would not have worked.  Shazad Latif is brilliant as is Sonequa.  Her reaction and shock to his revelation takes the scene to an entirely new level and makes it so real.
– Michael doesn’t believe it at first.  Then Ash/Voq tells her something only he could have known and then tells her he killed Doctor Culber.
– Ash/Voq attacks Michael and overcomes her.  She’s so deeply shocked she can’t fight this man that she thought she new and has fallen in love with.  Moments before he can deliver the death blow, Mirror Saru saves her life and calls for security.  Boy, that Kelpien is STRONG!
– Ash/Voq is dragged to the transporter room to be beamed into space, and Michael slips the Defiant data into his belt without him knowing. Then, with a subtle change of coordinates, hits energise.
– The Discovery rescues Ash/Voq, Saru grabs the disc and places him in the brig.

The Wolf Inside - A Conflicted Lorca

– A little while later Michael tells Lorca she feels adrift in this horrible universe after Tyler’s revelation, and that she has nothing to keep her grounded, or, to use Ash’s words, tethered to the real her.  Lorca tells her she’s wrong.  She has him.  It’s perhaps the most touching scene between these two strong characters yet.  For once, Lorca is not all bluster.  In fact, it’s almost a very different Lorca to the man we’re used to.  I found myself wondering if the Agony Booth had broken him. I also found myself thinking they should take an Agony Booth back to the prime universe to cure Lorca of his grumpiness.
– Our Stamets meets Mirror Stamets somewhere on the mycelial plane in an enigmatic moment that suggests these two will get up to some mischief.
– The Empress arrives and it’s Philippa Georgiou, and she is not happy with Michael.  She bombs the crap out of the resistance base before the allotted time frame Burnham had given them for their escape, and then gets all Empressy with our hero.  How does this version look?  Cruel and forbidding!

The Wolf Inside - Empress Philippa Georgiou

And that’s the episode in a nutshell.

So… next week?

Who knows.  We knew this big reveal about Voq was coming and we knew it would be devastating, but I can’t even begin to anticipate how this will unravel or play out over the next few episodes left in Season One.

Before I finish this review, I want to commend the designers of Star Trek: Discovery for the new Andorian and Tellarite look.  These are the best looking Tellarites I have ever seen, and the Andorian design is beautiful.  Yes, there are changes to what we know, but they are far more subtle than the changes made to the Klingons.  Strangely, when you see the new Klingons side by side with the Tellarites and Andorians they look ‘right.’

The Wolf Inside - New Andorian and Tellarite Designs

Another thing I want to mention is I was wrong about the Empress image in my last review.  The image I posted, thinking it was the Empress arriving, was actually a crew member stumbling over Stamets and Culber.  Sorry about that.  That’ll learn me!

“The Wolf Inside” did not feel as crammed as the last episode, in fact, just the right amount of everything went into this episode.  It was overwhelming because at its heart it was a very emotional story, but everything was wonderfully executed and handled so well by all parties involved.

A few final observations:
– We saw more of the Saru under the Starfleet uniform, and the makeup is exceptional.
– Death by transporter is something these Terrans are quite fond of!  Those scenes were handled very well.
– I loved seeing the USS… sorry, ISS Shenzhou again.  I love the design of both the exterior and interiors of that vessel.
– This episode we felt something that so few episodes of any series ever manage to evoke.  A real sense of jeopardy.  Was Ash going to die?  Was he going to kill Michael?  Was Stamets’ story finally over?

I feel like a broken record, but this is now my favourite episode.

I am desperate for episode 12.

Predictions
1. I still think our Lorca originates from the Mirror Universe.
2. The Discovery leaves the Mirror Universe next episode, right at the very end, after a particularly devastating personal and physical throw down between Michael and the Empress.  The Mirror Universe has done what it needed to do.  It’s challenged our heroes, it’s outted Voq, it may still out Lorca, and it looks like it will resolve whatever it is that is happening with Stamets.
3. We’ll see a lot of Michelle Yeoh in Episode 12.
4. Stamets and Stamets will save the Discovery from the Mirror Universe.
5. This will be the beginning of the end for the spore-drive.  I believe it’s going to have something to do with the Mirror Universe and the fear the Terran Empire could sweep through, into our Prime Universe, and wreck havoc on an already overwhelmed Federation.
6. Someone will die, and someone will be reborn.  I believe Lorca is going to bite the dust, and Culber will become infused with mycelial “stuff” and brought back to life.

I don’t have any predictions about Ash/Voq at the moment.  I have no idea what is going to happen there.  If you’d asked me before seeing “The Wolf Inside,” I would have thought that his love for Burnham would see him overcome whatever it was that was happening to him (remembering that we still weren’t 100% sure last episode if Voq had been overlaid on Ash, or if Voq had been surgically altered to pass as human).

Ash/Voq seems so completely Voq now, I don’t think there’s any space for Michael’s love to win the day.  I could be wrong.  I doubt that Ash/Voq calling Michael his “tether” was a throw away line, but it could also have been a line designed to highlight to us just how much this is going to hurt her.

Respect to Lisa Randolph.  This is the best written episode to date this season, and that’s saying something because there has not been a clunker among them.

Tips for the Producers
Just one, in this new section I hopefully never have to use again.

Please, no more Klingon titties.

We get it.  You’re on a streaming service now and you can be a little more risque, but we don’t need it.  The gore I’m okay with.  You’ve pushed it a bit, and it’s sad that the use of gore means it excludes children from discovering this show until later in life, but it has always served the story.  The Klingon breasts we’re seeing every few episodes don’t.  I know this sounds prudish, but hear me out.  These shots feel like you’re trying too hard to be Game of Thrones and, frankly, it’s a little pathetic.  Showing them in bed on top of each other (which I seem to remember from a few episodes back) is enough.  We’re not stupid.  Showing Klingon breasts doesn’t enhance the story.  If anything it detracts.

If we want to watch Game of Thrones, we’ll go watch it.  If we want to see breasts, we’ll use Google and find them.  We know Voq/Tyler and L’Rell had sex and constant reminders are little more than shameful and unnecessary titillation.  If you think this will attract people to the show, you’re mistaken.  People don’t watch Star Trek for titties.  They watch it for challenging story lines, beautifully crafted characters, intelligent dialogue, and hope.

Please consider this feedback.

Scorecard
Five Starfleet Deltas

My issue with the above notwithstanding, this is an intelligently crafted episode that is entertaining, thought provoking, inspiring and moving.

I loved it.

I want to make special note of the music this episode.  It was so subtle, but so clever and emotionally charged.  I don’t know if I’ve heard such a careful score before for a television show?  The music was at times threatening and ominous, and then deeply moving.  Jeff Russo outdid himself this outing.  His music has been wonderful the whole series long, but this episode it was so right in every way.

Personal Resonance
More and more this show is affecting me – in good ways, but often profound ways.  I love that a show can do this to me at this stage in my life.

I’ve accidentally found myself quoting lines of dialogue at people – recently I provided professional supervision to some allied health workers, and without meaning to, I quoted Philippa Georgiou: “…take good care of those in your care.

A few weeks later, I accidentally quoted Tilly to my boss after completing a psychological test to measure my ability to be empathic and compassionate.  I was off the chart, and in response said: “I love feeling feelings!”

There have been more instances, but I won’t bore you with them.  I’ve also found myself contemplating the actions of the characters at random moments, wondering what I would have done if I were in their shoes.  I have never done that with any of the J.J. Abrams movies.

This show has swept me up in its embrace and I don’t want it to let go.

If you haven’t checked out Star Trek: Discovery, or if you’re still clinging to a misplaced dislike because of how different it is to past Treks, I implore you to let go and give it a shot.  This is a quality show, and they’re doing good things.

Share this journey with us.  I doubt you’ll regret it.

Star Trek: Discovery airs in the United States on CBS All Access, with new episodes appearing on Sundays at 8:30pm ET.  In Canada, the show airs on the Space Channel at 8:00pm ET, also on a Sunday.  Outside of the US and Canada, Star Trek: Discovery airs on Netflix on a Monday at 8:00am in the United Kingdom and usually at either 6pm or 7pm in Australia.

See you in about a week for another review.

Live long and prosper.

LCARS Interface

Episode 10 Recap and Review

Despite Yourself

Well.  Holy crap.  That was one intense episode.

It should be obvious by now that these recaps are full of spoilers, but just to be on the safe side… be warned, there are some major spoilers ahead!

If you haven’t seen Star Trek: Discovery Episode 10 “Despite Yourself” and want to remain unspoiled, do not read on.  You’ll regret it.  Really big stuff happens in this episode.

First things first:

The Facts
Episode Number: 110
Episode Title: “Despite Yourself”
Written By: Sean Cochran
Directed By: Jonathan Frakes

Quotable
Michael to Tilly, Lorca, Saru and Ash: The Terrans appear to be the antithesis of us in every way.  They’re an oppressive, racist, xenophobic culture that dominates all known space.  And they’re ruled by a faceless Emperor.”

Lorca to Michael, Tilly, Saru and Ash:No way we’re asking these neighbours for a cup of sugar.

Tilly to everyone, at one major reveal in the episode:Tha… ah… that’s me.  That’s me!
Lorca in response:That’s absurd.

Lorca to Tilly:You just get rid of them as fast as possible, and you talk as little as possible.
Tilly to Lorca:That’s ah… that might be a little hard.  Have you noticed that I talk a lot?
Lorca in response:Defy your every instinct.

Tilly to the USS Cooper:Hello, this is Captain Tilly.  What the heck?  Heck?  Hell… what the Hell?  Hold your horses!

Michael to Tilly and Saru as she reads off Captain Tilly’s nicknames:And finally…
Saru, reading over Michael’s shoulder:Captain ‘Killy’?  Well that’s not very clever.

Burnham to Lorca:Destiny didn’t get me out of prison, captain.  You did that.

Burnham to Tilly: “…You have the strength of an entire crew that believes in you.  Fortify yourself with our faith in you.  That’s what a real captain does.

Tilly as Captain Tilly, to Captain Danby Connor: “The only pleasure I take is from the blood of my enemies staining my uniform.

Tilly as Captain Tilly, to Captain Danby Connor:If you greeted me that way, Connor, I’d cut your out tongue and use it to lick my boots!

If you hadn’t noticed, Tilly gets all of the best lines this episode.

And now… RED ALERT!

Spoiler Alert

Interesting Bits and Pieces
– For the first time, Saru’s threat ganglia respond to Ash Tyler.
– The Agony Booths we see on the Shenzhou look like a natural evolution of the ones we saw on Star Trek: Enterprise.
– It looks like the starbase they were meant to be jumping to is in orbit of a famous Star Trek planet, Organia!

The Recap and Review
After a quick look back at the season so far, we pick up right where Episode 9 concluded with an intense, emotional, sometimes funny and at times tongue-in-cheek episode.

In case the events of last episode are a little fuzzy in your head after the two-month hiatus, at the end of Episode 9 Lorca meddled with the spore jump coordinates, things went bad for Paul in the reaction chamber, and the USS Discovery found itself lost after an “incomplete” jump.

We're Not In Kansas Anymore

As the crew try to figure out why they’re where they wanted to be after the jump from Pahvo, but nothing else is, Vulcan rebels appear and attack the ship!  Taken by surprise, they’re rescued by the starship Cooper.  We quickly learn something is up thanks to a testosterone laden message from the captain of that vessel.  We also learn that Stamets is stable but unresponsive and the spore-drive is down, stranding the Discovery.

It’s then that Saru discovers that the quantum signatures of that ship and the Vulcan vessel are off.

That’s not possible,” Burnham says.  “All matter native to our universe resonates with the same quantum signature.  Nothing can change it.

Saru agrees with her as Lorca quickly states the (to us) obvious: “Unless… this is not our universe.”  And we jump to the opening credits.

We rejoin Lorca, Burnham and Saru in Lorca’s Ready Room where Lorca shows them the same map he revealed to Stamets last episode to convince him to make the 133 jumps.

The Mycelial Network

Meanwhile, in Sickbay, Paul has regained consciousness.  He still has his Gary Mitchellesque eyes, and is talking to himself about a ‘palace’ as Tilly tries to “annoy” him into being a little more coherent.

Culber gently tells her that Paul is in a state of neurological-dysregulation, the like of which he’s never seen.

Paul gets up and as Hugh tries to get him back into bed, he mumbles about the palace again and throws Doctor Culber across the room.

Lorca comes in soon after and Tilly takes that as her cue to leave, and Hugh very calmly and very directly tells Lorca off, asking him if he’d planned all of this?

Is Hugh the smartest and most perceptive person on the ship?

Lorca takes Hugh off Paul’s case, much to Hugh’s annoyance, and leaves.

Culber and Lorca

We cut to Ash in a cool little pod thing with arms and he’s trying to extract a data core from one of the wrecked ships.

Now is probably a good time for a little diversion.

Some die-hard Star Trek fans have taken exception to the modernising of vessels and equipment in Star Trek: Discovery.  Some of it I agree with, like the rampant use of holograms and, though I love the new uniforms, I am still a little bewildered by just how different they are.  But, some I don’t agree with.

The creatives behind this series had to update everything otherwise Star Trek would lose all relevance and be nothing more than a homage to a very old television show that was great for its time, but not so much so now.  In 1966 Star Trek was cutting edge. In 2017/2018 it isn’t. That doesn’t mean we dismiss it, but as reasonable human beings it does mean we make some understandable allowances.

To make Star Trek: Discovery more than just a quaint homage, the team had to push everything up a notch.  On The Expanse we have people using their mobile/cell like communications devices for everything – they’re projecting 3-D images from the devices that they can manipulate with their fingers, and they have worker pods that are a step or two up from what we see in the first few Star Trek movies.  We have similar technological advances in Killjoys, Supergirl, the sadly now cancelled Dark Matter and more.

Star Trek: Discovery had to push further, because as much as Star Trek is known for it’s philosophy, excellent characters, ethical approach to everything, inclusion, positive future, and challenging story lines, it’s also known for its future-forward technology.  It set the bar and inspired generations.

This pod that Tyler is flying, is, like many other ‘leaps’ on Star Trek: Discovery, a necessity, and is in keeping with the original series’ ability to imagine the future by extrapolating on the present.  We’re so far beyond what Gene Roddenberry and most everyone else involved with that first Star Trek could have dreamed of in their present, that it is so very right the new people shepherding this series forward, be equally as future focused.

We’ll always have the original series, and many of us will continue to love it, but Star Trek won’t exist for our children and their children, if we don’t adapt it for today.  I, personally, would not want to take that away from future generations.  Star Trek is more important than that.  Very few, if any, millennials, are going to be interested in checking out the original series.  That’s sad, but most likely true. For a generation or two more, the first few films might still hold their attention, but that too will eventually fade because we’re living in the future now and we’re already using devices that appear far more powerful than the communicators and PADDs of Trek’s yesterday.

Enough of my sermon.  I feel passionate about this, because Star Trek has shaped my life.  I want it to help shape the lives of the children of today and tomorrow, because it’s one of the few things we have left that teaches compassion, inclusion and hope.  We need Star Trek more than we ever have.

Back to Tyler and his cool little worker pod.

As he glides between the debris toward his destination he starts to hallucinate, and we see a little more of his torture (?) at the hands of L’Rell.

As the bridge crew watch his pod wobble around, confused by his sudden inability to fly stuff, he snaps out of it and successfully retrieves the data core.

As with everything Star Trek: Discovery does, the entire sequence is slick and looks beautiful.  It’s also carefully and thoughtfully directed by Jonathan Frakes, who uses a series of angles and cuts to show us the intensity of Ash’s experience.

Back on Discovery, Ash confronts L’Rell and this is where things get very interesting.

L'Rell Triggers Ash

As Ash asks L’Rell to tell him what she did to him, she suggests he opens the cell… and he does!  WTF Chief Security Officer?!

Mary Chieffo, throughout her time on the show, has shown she is an incredible actor, but in this simple scene she blows all of her other performances out of the water. It’s subtle and pitch perfect.

How any actor, under that much makeup and that many prosthetics, can convey the seductiveness and complicated emotions of the character in that moment is beyond me.  Why haven’t we heard of this incredible young woman before now?  She may be one of the most under rated actors around.

As she seduces Tyler, he grabs her by the throat.  Her response?  She utters the first few words of T’Kuvma’s prayer: “Who do we seek?

Suddenly Ash is not Ash anymore.  In a perfect copy of Voq’s voice, Ash recites the prayer with her.

Then he snaps out of it.  Much to L’Rell’s shock.  It’s clear she didn’t expect that.

You have another name.  Say it.”  She encourages him.

I know what my name is!” he screams back as he brings his phaser to bear on her.  Looking a little unhinged, he continues with: “If you don’t tell me what you did to my mind, to my soul, I’m going to make you scream it as you die.

The prayer should make you remember, something is wrong!” L’Rell says, sounding surprised, confused and perhaps even a little frightened.

You’re damn right something’s wrong,” he yells.  “Now tell me!

He shakes himself out of it and runs from the Brig as L’Rell affirms to herself that he will return to her.

So, Tyler is Voq.  Now we just need to know one of two things: has he been surgically altered with Ash’s memory engrams layered over the top of his original personality?  Or, has Ash had Voq’s memory engrams layered over his personality and all the torture flashbacks are just that.  Flashbacks?

Starcrossed Lovers

We visit with Ash and Michael for a brief, intimate moment, as Ash tells her that his flashbacks are worse and asks for her help to get through it all.

She suggests he come clean about his PTSD but he begs her to let him handle things his own way.  For now.

She tells him she’ll trust him, and is called away to engineering.  We linger on Ash for a few seconds as he shatters a glass in his hand.  That boy ain’t controlling shit!

In engineering, Tilly shows Michael the now open data core.  They work out they can read it and Michael gets to work.

Next scene, Michael informs Saru, Tilly, Ash and Lorca that they are indeed in a new universe, one where a Terran Empire, not a United Federation, is the greatest power and one where a bunch of non-human species have entered into a rebellion against the Terrans.

They’re all called to the bridge because the Cooper has come back.

As they prepare to respond to the Cooper (because if they don’t, it’s threatening to blow the crap out of them), they learn that the Terran Universe Discovery is most likely now in their universe.

And here, we finally have a Star Trek character refer to the Mirror Universe as the Mirror Universe, as Burnham tells Lorca he can’t respond to the Cooper because he’s not the captain of the “Mirror Discovery.”

Tilly is.

Captain Killy

This is where the fun begins!

Up to this point the episode has been deadly serious.  It maintains its air of intrigue and tension, but from here on in merges it with a taste of the camp and wild abandon we’re all familiar with from the Mirror Universe.

Lorca guides Tilly into the Captains chair and gives her a few handy tips.  She is obviously terrified.

Then, in a scene that shows the brilliant comedy timing of both Mary Wiseman and Jason Isaacs, we’re treated to one of the most unique greetings between starships ever, and what may have been an homage to James Doohan and Scotty with Lorca assuming a Scottish bur.

I laughed out loud at Tilly’s greeting, and I admit my hands went to my face in both shock and amusement because I both felt terrible for her and was just plain delighted by every word she said and every facial expression she conveyed.

Kudos to the casting directors of Star Trek: Discovery.  Did they know how amazing these guys would be in EVERY single episode?  I swear this is the best ensemble cast on television anywhere – and I just came off holidays where I binge watched more television series than is probably healthy.

After they deal with the Cooper, Lorca instructs Saru to get everyone ready – especially Tilly.

We’re treated to a fun montage as they prep Tilly and the Discovery and her crew to pass unnoticed in this strange universe.

Star Trek: Discovery looks cinematic every episode.  It’s production values are outstanding, and everything about the show is beautiful.  This episode it took another step up because it was being directed by someone very familiar with directing major motion pictures.  If “Despite Yourself” has a fault, it’s that too much was packed into its run time, but despite that, Jonathan makes it flow and everything he does is just right.  His direction is dramatic when it needs to be, increasing tension and making the stakes feel high, and he flawlessly meshes in the camp and corn when needed using wonderful devices to transition certain scenes.

Commander Riker Gives the New Guys Some Tips

So how does this version of the Mirror Universe hold up to those seen on Star Trek: Enterprise, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: The Original Series?

Really, really well.

In fact, it looks how it should.  Rather than just a belt and a cut off uniform to show more mid-rift, they give the uniforms a wonderful makeover with leather and gold plating, and update the Terran Empire logo just enough to make it look gaudily magnificent but still like the symbol we’re used to.

There’s a whole slew of badges and medals and the agony booths look perfect and, I was pleasantly surprised to see, very much like the prototype we saw in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “In a Mirror, Darkly.”

Back in Lorca’s Ready Room, we learn that Michael was the Captain of the Shenzhou and is presumed dead, and that Lorca is a fugitive wanted for her murder.  Lorca was the Captain of the Buran in this reality also, but lost his crew in an attempted coup against the Emperor.

Lorca asks about the Emperor, but Michael tells him the Emperor is shadowed in mystery.

For those of you who have seen Star Trek: Enterprise, you may remember that Hoshi Sato took over the USS Defiant at the end of “In a Mirror, Darkly,” and laid waste to her enemies using it’s advanced technology and became Empress.  Interestingly, in one of the teaser images from episode 11, it looks like the ‘Emperor’ arrives, and is most definitely an Empress – though we don’t see her face.

The Empress of the Terran Empire

You have no idea how happy I will be if it was Hoshi!  She’d be pretty old, close to 130, but humans in Star Trek are long lived. I’d love to see Linda Park back on Trek, but I admit it is unlikely.  I would, however, settle for Hoshi being mentioned.

We cut to a scene where Lorca talks about the USS Destiny.  Data from the rebels lets the Discovery team know that the Destiny arrived in the Mirror Universe sans spore-drive, but it doesn’t give any specifics.  That data is only available to command level officers.  Lorca and Burnham have hatched a plan, however.  They will lure the Shenzhou to their location, and Lorca, Burnham and Ash will beam over with Ash serving as Michael’s personal guard.  Lorca will be her prisoner.  Michael will try and obtain the information they’re after because that will be their ticket to getting home.

Saru is not happy, but Lorca is insistent.

During this scene we get a look at a wireframe graphic of the USS Defiant.  In shape, she is very similar to the Constitution Class vessels we’ve come to know and love over the years.

USS Defiant Wireframe Image

There have been changes – the saucer has some alterations to it and the warp nacelles have been “enhanced.”  It’s hard to tell if the unusual blocky bulge on the main drive is an addition, or part of the other nacelle.  It will be interesting to see if we actually get to experience the ship on screen as something other than a graphic.

Next we visit with Culber and Ash in Sickbay.  Ash is concerned.  His flashbacks are getting worse and he’s worried.  He wants Culber to do a more detailed examination of him.

Ash is a little volatile but seemingly rational.  Culber starts the deeper scans as Paul shouts out from a nearby bed “Stay out of the palace!

As Culber goes over to soothe his beloved, Paul’s eyes revert to normal and he seems coherant for a moment.  He looks at Hugh and says: “Be careful.  The enemy is here.

This spooks the good doctor.

We jump to Tilly and Michael getting ready for their new roles as Mirror versions of themselves.

Tilly, as per usual, is adorable.

Lorca walks in on both women and seems strangely comfortable and even slightly too knowledgeable about how people act in the Mirror Universe.

I’m still a little on the side of “this is Mirror Universe Lorca,” but admit to not being entirely convinced.  It feels like the Mirror Universe is a huge part of this new Star Trek, but I know we’ll have to wait and see.

Tilly

Lorca, Tilly and Michael go the bridge where Tilly starts snapping out orders, getting herself into character so she can successfully play this harsher, crueller version of herself.  She orders her crew to hail the ISS Shenzhou and we get to see Ensign Danby Connor again – only he’s not an Ensign anymore.  He’s now Captain of the Shenzhou.

Secluded in Lorca’s Ready Room, Burnham is shocked to see Connor.

As Tilly sets up Burnham’s return, Lorca smashes his face into the door to bloody himself up and they enter the bridge.

Connor doesn’t seem too happy to see ‘Captain’ Burnham back.

She pushes Lorca ahead of her and makes him kneel as they further elaborate on their story, telling Connor she faked her death so she could hunt Lorca down.

Despite Yourself

After some snappy reparte between Captain “Killy,” Connor and Burnham, the Shenzhou heads their way.

After the above unfolds, Ash returns to Sickbay for an update from Doctor Culber.  As some of you may remember, I mentioned how he was becoming a favourite character of mine a few reviews ago.  In this episode, he gets a lot of screen time.  Which was wonderful, until this now infamous scene.

Hugh questions Ash about some skeletal and neurological issues he’s found, and Ash can’t recollect anything along those lines having happened to him in the past.  Hugh pushes a little more, talking about the massive scarring to his organs and suggesting there has been a personality “overlay”, and before we know it our beloved Doctor is dead.

With L’Rell’s voice echoing in his head, Ash has snapped Doctor Culber’s neck.

It’s one of the more shocking scenes to ever appear in a Star Trek episode, because it’s entirely unexpected.  You start to sense that Hugh is in danger, but your head doesn’t go straight to the “he’d dead, Jim” thought.  Then… he’s dead, Jim, and you’re left stunned.

Culber’s death created something of a furour.  One of the first openly gay characters in Star Trek, in a meaningful relationship with another crew member, and a gay man of colour as well… lots of accidentally wrong messages being sent there.

It became such a thing – and the writers knew it would be a ‘thing’, so much so they talked to GLAAD about it – then on After Trek they pretty much told us that Culber wasn’t quite dead.  We were told to look into the real Paul Stamets’ work on the mycelial network for some clues about what is to come.

From this shocking moment, we start the wrap up of the episode – and it happens fast.

Captain Burnham and her Bodyguard, Ash

Michael, Lorca and Ash beam to the Shenzhou.

It doesn’t go according to plan.  Lorca gets thrown into an Agony Booth, Connor shows Michael how unhappy he is about her being alive and tries to rectify that by attacking her in the turbo life.

In one of the best staged Star Trek fights ever, Michael is forced to kill Connor, and we’re left wondering if any Danby Connor in any universe anywhere is allowed to live past his early to mid-twenties?

Burnham Faces Off Against Connor

It was great to see Sam Vartholomeos again, and just as sad to see his character wiped off the face of existence.  Again.

“Despite Yourself” ends with Michael sitting in the Captain’s chair of the ISS Shenzhou. It’s quite forbidding and begs the question, just how long will they be there?

This episode is wonderful.  As I said earlier, it’s only real fault is in how much it tries to pack in to less than an hour of viewing.  Somehow, with all of these plot points, and the differing yet complementary tonal shifts, Jonathan Frakes weaves it all together beautifully.

Every performance is excellent, every effect spot on, every music cue perfect, every camera angle carefully thought out and evocative.

It’s the best episode to date (despite Hugh’s death).

Predictions
This is a terrible prediction, because the producers have all but told us Culber isn’t dead.  So, I predict Paul has some special spore-driven power that brings his beloved back.

Ash, if the above prediction is correct, is found out and we start to finally deal with the complexities of this character, and the actual PTSD someone would have whether they were the survivor of Klingon torture or were a Klingon who had been through what Voq has apparently been through.

The Empress of the Terran Empire is Philippa Georgiou (if the ruler in actually female).

The Discovery goes head to head with the Defiant.

Our Lorca is the Mirror Universe Lorca, and the Prime Universe Lorca is a homocidal maniac.

Captain “Killy” gets more awesome lines in Episode 11!

We see a goatee.

Scorecard
Five Starfleet Deltas

The next episode of Star Trek: Discovery airs tonight in Australia, and should have just aired in the US and UK.  It’s called “The Wolf Inside.”

Star Trek: Discovery airs in the United States on CBS All Access, with new episodes appearing on Sundays at 8:30pm ET.  In Canada, the show airs on the Space Channel at 8:00pm ET, also on Sundays.  Outside of the US and Canada, Star Trek: Discovery airs on Netflix on a Monday.  8:00am BST in the United Kingdom, and usually at 6:00pm AEDT in Australia, but last week the episode dropped at 7:00pm so it might arrive later than usual again.

See you in a few days for another review.

LCARS Interface