Episode 13 Review

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I’m a little late with the review this week, thanks to contracting a beautiful Aussie summer flu.  Gotta love those unexpected little life hiccups!

It’s almost not worth doing a review for Episode 13, because Episode 14 drops in about an hour here in Australia, but I’m a completionist so here goes.

The Facts
Episode Number: 113
Episode Title: “What’s Past Is Prologue” or “Lorca Chews The Scenery” or “Michelle Yeoh Kicks Ass.”
Written By: Ted Sullivan
Directed By: Olatunde Osunsanmi

Whats Past Is Prologue - Lorca

Mirror Stamets to Lorca: “Gabriel.  I really hoped you were dead.
Lorca, in response: “Well, you can’t always get what you want.

Burnham to Saru: “It’s good to see you, Saru.
Saru: “You as well, my friend.  It appears your situation has become dire.  Is the captain with you?
Burnham: “He’s one of them.  He’s Terran.  He used us, and the Discovery, to jump here to his own universe.  It was his plan all along.

Saru to the crew of the Discovery: “It is well know that my species has the ability to sense the coming of death.  I do not sense it today.  I may not have all the answers, however I do know that I am surrounded by a team I trust.  The finest a Captain could ever hope to command.  Lorca abused our idealism.  And make no mistake, Discovery is no longer Lorca’s.  She is ours.  And today will be her maiden voyage.  We have a duty to perform and we will not accept a no-win scenario.  You have your orders.  On your way.

Whats Past Is Prologue - Discovery Soars Through Space

Moments of Interest
Lorca arrived in the prime universe via an ion storm and a transporter accident that was very similar to the one that sent Kirk, Uhura, McCoy and Scotty to the Mirror Universe.

There are a few obvious parallels with real world issues woven through this episode, including a clever play on a recent US election promise, and a little dig at big industry and their sometimes… careless lack of concern for our environment.

The appearance of Lorca’s minions, as Georgiou goes to confront him, is very similar to the Borg reveal in Star Trek: First Contact.

The Review
I’ve dropped the recap, because if you’ve watched the episode you don’t need me or anyone else giving you a blow by blow description of what’s just happened.  It’s a bit redundant, and probably a little frustrating for the reader.

Instead, I’ll focus on some of the stand out moments of the episode.

The first thing I want to comment on is the direction.  Olatunde Osunsanmi is a very talented individual.  His ability with the camera is uncanny.  There are moments in this episode where it could have become unnecessarily melodramatic, but Osunsanmi never lets it get there.  He manipulates the performances of the actors and the motion and angles of the camera expertly, never allowing anything to go too far, and somehow shapes all of these almost over the top plot points into meaningful, character defining drama.

Ted Sullivan’s script is big.  Motion picture big.  The stakes are shockingly high, perhaps the highest they’ve ever been in any Star Trek episode or movie, and the little character moments are intimate but equally as big and oh so Star Trek.  This man loves Gene Roddenberry’s creation, and he tips his hat to past series’ wherever he can in really beautiful and meaningful ways.

As much as this episode is one big dramatic action piece that barely lets up, it’s also a little fun and self-deprecating and even a little batshit crazy, thanks, in large part, to Jason Isaacs’ scene stealing performance.

Whats Past Is Prologue - Lorca Usurping The Throne

Jason Isaacs chews the scenery like a pro.  You can tell when an actor enjoys the role he or she is playing, and Jason must have loved playing this wolf in sheep’s clothing.  He goes for it, but instead of hamming it up and turning Lorca into a Bond-villain, he gloriously and lovingly portrays a man who is descending into madness and delusion.  Lorca doesn’t just want to be Emporer, he believes he is destined to rule – that the Universe wants him on the throne, and wants him to crush the aliens of the galaxy beneath his boot heel while keeping humanity in a choke-hold under him.

As well as Jason, we see exceptional performances from Michelle Yeoh, Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones and Anthony Rapp who is pulling double duty up until the moment Lorca dispatches Mirror Stamets with a quip and a point blank phaser blast.

Whats Past Is Prologue - Stamets and Landry

This episode puts everything on the line, including the very fate of all universes, everywhere.  Somehow, through all of that, it also tells a couple of intensely personal stories.  We see Saru rise beyond his species’ limitations to abandon fear and embrace hope and courage, and we see Burnham try to redeem herself by saving the woman she loved like a mother, despite the fact that woman is a dark and ruthless reflection of the hero she knew.

There are layers upon layers in this episode, and this is not an episode you should just watch once.

Absent from this action-packed 43 minutes are L’Rell and Tyler, and we barely get to see Tilly, but that’s not a bad thing.  The story needed to narrow down on these characters for a bit and it felt right that this climax be very much about Stamets, Burnham, Saru, Georgiou and Lorca.

Whats Past Is Prologue - Georgiou Gets Ready To Kick Ass

While Ash and L’Rell are missed, we do get to see a little bit more of the crew of the Discovery, working together and becoming a team.  Finally.  With Lorca gone, it seems they can at last be at their best and they more than rise to the occasion.  We also get to see the return of Commander Ellen Landry, which was welcome.

Amusingly, Mirror Landry is very similar to Prime Landry, just a little more trigger happy (believe it or not) and blood thirsty.  She’s also completely committed to Gabriel Lorca in this universe too.

Whats Past Is Prologue - Old Friends Reunite

Every character featured prominently gets a moment to shine, but none more so than our favourite Kelpien.  Saru goes nova in this episode and steals the entire season.

In “Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum” we were shown a Saru who was not ready for command, but once in the Mirror Universe was forced into it. We’ve seen him grow in the position of acting captain, but he hasn’t really been a leader.  In this episode he is, and delivers one of the best speeches we’ve seen in Star Trek in a long time.  It’s above, in Quotable, if you want to check it out.

I really love how Ted just gets these characters and organically advances their personal stories while giving us an hour of entertainment that is just awesome.

It’s no secret I love this show, despite my odd, minor issue.  Two of my biggest issues have been the death of Philippa Georgiou and something I haven’t mentioned to date.  We hardly ever get a really good look at the Discovery.

With Georgiou back, albiet as the Mirror version of herself, we get to feast on Michelle Yeoh’s performance and it’s excellent.  In this episode she gets to rock some of those incredible martial arts moves that she’s known for, and she grabs and holds our attention in every scene she is in.

Whats Past Is Prologue - Lorca and Burnham

This series has some of the finest actors on television in it, and for anyone to stand out in such talented company should be hard, but Ted Sullivan, Olatunde Osunsanmi, and the generosity of each actor in the series lets it happen – whether it’s Sonequa, Jason, Anthony, Doug or Michelle.

On top of the wonderful performances and having Michelle back in such a substantial way, we finally do get to see the Discovery in action and it is excellent.  It’s a special effects tour de force, and just plain satisfying as our gorgeous new vessel shoots the crap out of the Emporers city-ship.

Whats Past Is Prologue - Discovery Attacks

in Star Trek this series namesake vessel (or outpost) is a character, and Discovery is a character we haven’t seen enough of.

Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

I could keep raving about this great episode, but I won’t, because I want to go and watch the next one.

To wrap up, what I will rave about is the climax.  It is everything you want it to be.  Excellent effects, emotional and intense music, beautiful editing, fast paced and sensitive direction, outstanding acting, phasers, photon torpedoes and explosions galore, and a completely unexpected double twist!

In the climax, as Michael presents Georgiou to Lorca in a faux attempt to save the Discovery, we get to see Georgiou enact her revenge and skewer Lorca with that big ass broadsword of hers, we get to see everyone kick the living crap out of each other (none with as much style and grace as Georgiou), we get to see the mycelial destroying globe of energy at the heart of the Charon blow up, we get to watch Landry die, again, and we get to see Michael save Georgiou, and Paul interacting with Hugh one more beautiful time.

It’s those last two moments that deliver the double twist.

Georgiou returns to the prime universe aboard the Discovery (and isn’t too happy about it), and the Discovery makes it home, but doesn’t make it back in time to save the Federation.  She makes it back nine-months later and the Klingons have won the war.

It all works.

The trip through the mycelial network is beautiful and wonderfully realised by the Visual Effects team, and gives us a moment with Hugh that is meaningful and sweet.  The saving of Georgiou is satisfying, and the unexpected time-jump is surprising in a way that some of the twists on this show haven’t been.

It wraps everything up beautifully and leaves us hungry for more.

In the After Trek preview, we see Admiral Katrina Cormwell and Sarek boarding the Discovery, but not too much else is given away.  I can’t begin to imagine what they will do with Georgiou, but whatever it is, I doubt the Emperor will be survive the season. I see her sacrificing herself for Michael.

A tiny spore lands on Tilly at the end of the episode. Is it, somehow, Hugh? Will it allow Paul to stay in touch with his beloved?

Is this the end of the Mirror Universe in Star Trek: Discovery? It feels like it should be, but I doubt it.

Whats Past Is Prologue - Georgiou and Burnham

Five Starfleet Deltas

This was a great episode, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the last two episodes this season.

See you in a day or two with a more prompt review.

Live long and prosper.

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Episode 12 Recap and Review

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A good episode with some outstanding moments, some unnecessary ones, and far too short a runtime.

If I was allowed to write only one sentence to describe this Star Trek: Discovery episode, that would be it.

Of those three comments, the one that irks me the most is the “too short” one.  There was a single exceptionally weak scene in this episode that could have been fixed by another two or three minutes of dialogue and action, and I don’t know why they didn’t give us more?  They certainly had time to because “Vaulting Ambition” is the shortest episode yet in live Trek history, coming in at only 37 minutes.  Prior to that, the shortest live Trek episode had been “Battle at the Binary Stars” which was 39 minutes long.

What’s going on guys? Did the editor get slash happy?

But, as per usual, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

The Facts
Episode Number: 112
Episode Title: “Vaulting Ambition” or “They Eat Kelpiens Here”
Written By: Jordan Nardino
Directed By: Hanelle Culpepper

Vaulting Ambition - The Empresses Court

Lorca to Burnham
: “What are you afraid of?
Burnham: “Georgiou.
Lorca: “You mean Emperor Georgiou.
Burnham: “Logic tells me she’s not the woman that I betrayed.  But this feels like a reckoning.
Lorca: “Your Georgiou is dead.  She’s a ghost.
Burnham: “Haven’t you ever been afraid of a ghost?

Tilly to Saru, about Stamets: “I know it’s subjective, but he really does look better.  I mean, just look at his skin, it’s so dewy.

Stamets to Mirror Stamets: “Is this the afterlife?  Are you some sort of narcissistic Virgil leading me to judgement?
Mirror Stamets: “Yes, Paul.  You’ve been wrong about everything.  There is a God, and She’s very very mad at you right now.”  Beat.  Scoffs.  “I totally had you for a second there, you can’t deny it.  You should have seen your face!  I mean, our face.

Saru to the Doctor treating Toq (Tyler/Voq): “Burnham said he claimed to be a Klingon, but… how could that be possible?
Doctor: “His genome matches the one we have for Lieutenant Ash Tyler in our Starfleet database.  His brainwave patterns, however, are highly irregular.  Unless someone can tell me how they put a Klingon inside a Starfleet officers body, I don’t know how we can treat him?

Burnham to Georgiou: “I earned my command on the Shenzhou.
Georgiou: “You were hesitant to use it back at Harlak.  Those rebels could have escaped, I had to dispatch them myself.
Burnham: “I had it under control.
Georgiou: “You’ve grown soft.
Burnham: “And you’ve grown cruel.  If you missed me, then say it.  Otherwise let me be.

Georgiou to Burnham: “I do love you, Michael.  I would never grant anyone else in the Empire the mercy of a quick death.
Burnham: “You don’t love me.  You don’t love me because you don’t know me.  Before today, you and I have never met.  I am Michael Burnham, but I am not your Michael Burnham.  I’m from another universe…

Burnham to Georgiou: “Our bond, it seems, is strong enough to cross universes.

Saru to L’Rell:I do not know where your Voq ends and our Tyler begins, but they are both in jeopardy.

Stamets to Hugh: “Are you caught in the network too?
Hugh: “No.  I’m gone.
Stamets: “Gone?
Hugh: “You don’t know, do you?  Paul, I’m so sorry… but I died.

Georgiou to Burnham: “Your people are dangerous.”  Scoffs.  “The Federation.  I know it well from the Defiant‘s files.  There is a reason why they’re classified.  Equality.”  Scoffs.  “Freedom.  Cooperation.
Burnham: “Cornerstones for successful cultures.
Georgiou: “Delusions that Terrans shed millennium ago.  Destructive ideals that fuel rebellions, and I will not let you infect us again.

Vaulting Ambition

Moments of Interest
The guys added to canon in the subtlest, most appropriate way yet.  It was a nice moment and added a little something new to the now 50 year history (almost 51 year history) of the Mirror Universe (“Mirror, Mirror” aired in 1967, in the second season and will turn 51 in October of this year).

What did they do?  If you remember back an episode or two, Michael was narrating her personal log and commented on how different the light was in the Mirror Universe.  Light has played a big part in this series so far, with Lorca constantly reacting to bright light, and with the Discovery’s corridors and work spaces almost always shrouded in shadow.  In this episode, Georgiou reacts to an unexpected bright light and tells Michael that its one of the only real differences between her people and the people of our universe.

This addition to canon does not detract from or contradict anything that has gone before it, and gives more substance to this ‘reality.’

If you look back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Enterprise Mirror Universe episodes, all of them were visually darker in both tone and lighting when compared with normal episodes.  It makes sense, and it makes you smile.  It’s just a real nice touch.

The Recap and Review
“Vaulting Ambition” is, in many ways, the calm before the storm.  Despite the short length of the episode, a lot happened in it.  Possibly too much.  Let’s take a quick look at everything our favourite heroes and villains were subjected to:

  • Michael and Lorca head off to the ISS Charon on a shuttle.  She’s going to present him to the Emperor.  On the trip, they learn that the USS Defiant information they thought would save them, won’t.  Heaps of it has been redacted.  They hope they can find the unedited version on the Emperors big palace-ship.  As they get closer, Michael zaps Lorca with a pain inhibitor so he can better withstand the Agony Booth.

Vaulting Ambition - Off to See the Empress

  • Tilly and Saru are monitoring Stamets, and Tilly believes he’s getting better.  He’s still in a coma, but instruments show a lot is going on inside his mind.
  • Is it his mind?  We cut to Paul and Mirror Stamets somewhere in the glowy mycelial network.  That quickly changes to the shadowy corridors of the Discovery.  In this scene, we learn that something is wrong with the network.

Vaulting Ambition - The Mycelial Forest

  • We skip over to the Emperors unnecessarily huge, small-star-powered palace-ship.  Michael presents Lorca to the Emporer, who promises him a lifetime of pain.  While there, Georgiou asks Michael to choose a Kelpien from three who are standing off to the side.  Unsure of what’s going on, she picks one who looks like Saru, but isn’t Mirror Saru.  Mirror Saru is still on the Shenzhou, waiting to scrub Michael’s finger nails.  As Lorca is dragged away after a beat down by Georgiou, Burnham is invited to dinner and called “daughter” by the Emperor.

Vaulting Ambition - Georgiou and Burnham

  • We visit with Saru and Toq (Tyler/Voq) in Sickbay, where Toq is loosing his proverbial shit.  For one brief moment, Ash comes through, begging for help.
  • Over on the palace-ship, Lorca is thrown into an Agony Booth.
  • We don’t spend too much time with Lorca and his screams, and instead pay a visit to Georgiou and Burnham at dinner.  We and Michael quickly realise that the Kelpien she chose back in the throne room wasn’t so a slave could be set free.  That Kelpien was dinner.  Because that’s how evil these guys are. This scene nicely echoes something Saru said many episodes ago, about his species being like cattle.  When Michael finds out what she’s eating, she struggles heroically to not vomit.
    Was it just me, or did anyone else think Georgiou was going to push the chopsticks through the back of Burnham’s throat when she fed Michael the threat ganglia?
    Apart from the unpleasantness of eating another sentient species, dinner takes an even worse turn when Georgiou accuses Burnham of trying to usurp her and sentences her to death.
  • Then we’re back with Stamets and Stamets.  We discover that the mycelial network is taking over Mirror Stamets because he’s been in there too long.  We also get a glimpse of a familiar person… Hugh is haunting the corridors of the mycelial created Discovery.
  • We jump to the throne room where Michael reveals she and Lorca are from another universe.  She hands over Captain Philippa Georgiou’s Starfleet badge and encourages the Emperor to scan it.  Emperor Georgiou quickly discovers that Michael is telling the truth, and to stop any information from leaking kills everyone in her Council, except for a guy called Lord Eling, with an evil flying fidget-spinner.  He is sworn to say nothing, and granted governorship of Andor for his troubles.
  •  Back on Discovery, Saru is visiting L’Rell.  He tells her what is happening with Voq and asks for her help.  L’Rell channels her Bond-villain self and tells Saru what they did to both Ash Tyler and Voq:
    • The real Lieutenant Ash Tyler was captured at the Battle of the Binary Stars.
    • The Klingons harvested his DNA.
    • They reconstructed his consciousness.
    • They rebuilt his memory.
    • They modified Voq to make him appear human, inside and out.
    • They grafted Voq’s psyche onto Tylers.
    • Voq gave his body and soul to Klingon ideology.

Vaulting Ambition - L'Rell

  • L’Rell refuses to help, telling Saru that this is war.
  • We go back into the mycelial network where Paul finds Hugh.  In a heartbreaking moment, Hugh tells his love that he’s dead.
  • After the loveliness of Hugh and Stamets, we return to the Emperor and Michael.  Burnham begs the Emperor to help them, but she’s not interested.  In a really unwise move, Michael discloses the existence of the DASH drive and Georgiou wants it.
  • Next we visit with Saru and L’Rell.  He shows her images of Toq trying to rip his heart out of his chest.  L’Rell appears unmoved, so Saru beams Toq into her cell.  As Saru leaves her craddling Toq, she screams out to him that she can undo what has happened to him.
  • We skip back to the Agony Booth and Lorca screaming.  He’s being tortured by the brother of a woman Lorca used to be with and discarded, and the brother ain’t happy.
  • We don’t spend much time there before we go to the worst scene, possibly, of the entire series: L’Rell removing the Voq personality from the Ash Tyler personality.  So, she kills Voq, even though it’s his body, and leaves Ash.  We think. The scene is too short, there is no explanation for the Klingon brain wipe device, and her actions make no sense.
  • Back in the mycelial network, we’re with Paul and Hugh again as Hugh tries to help Paul come to terms with his death.  These scenes are beautiful, and just make me miss Hugh even more.  And I was already missing him a lot.  The big thing to happen in this scene was that Hugh snapped Paul out of his coma.
  • The next scene confused me a bit, and that’s probably what the producers wanted.  I’m not sure which Stamets is where? It looks like our Paul woke up on the ISS Charon.  The Mirror Stamets, I believe, woke up on the USS Discovery.  That Paul rushes with Tilly to the cargo bay that holds the spores… to find they are dying.

Vaulting Ambition - Empresses Starship Palace

  • On the Charon, Georgiou insists Burnham bring the Discovery to her, and Burnham complies.  Saru is a little doubtful, but she convinces him it’s the only way.
  • We do a series of quick inter-cuts between Lorca and his torturer going at each other, and Georgiou and Burnham sort of facing off.
  • In one of these quick mini-scenes, Georgiou reacts to some bright light.  This shocks Michael as she realises Lorca has been lying all along.  He’s really from the Mirror Universe.  He was also Georgiou’s lover. To put the boot in, Georgiou pretty much says that Lorca groomed Burnham.  He feigned affection for her as a fatherly figure, then seduced her, turning her into his lover, all for the Terran throne.
  • We wrap everything up with Lorca over-coming his torturer and telling him that he liked the guys sister, but found someone better.  He then stomps the guy’s head in and we cut to black.

Vaulting Ambition - Lorca is Not a Nice Man

Like I said, a lot happened in this episode, and some of the plot points didn’t get the time they deserved and actually needed.

The big take aways: Paul is back, finally.  Lorca is from the Mirror Universe, which many of us had expected.  The Mirror Universe guys are so evil they eat Kelpiens.  Ash might be back, but he’s now Klingon body Ash.

Yes, I know that last one is a confusing sentence.

I enjoyed this episode, but one thing really annoyed me.  The scene where L’Rell removes the Voq consciousness.

First, where did she get the device that enabled her to do that?
Second, why would she essentially kill Voq?  And it appears that’s what she’s done.  She even gives the Klingon death roar to announce Voq’s arrival in Sto’Vo’Kor.  She loved him.  Why not erase Ash?

Those two issues above could have been resolved with a few simple words… “Voq would not want to live in this weak body…” or “The Tyler personality was too strong.  Voq was weakened by the surgery and now he has been usurped.”  Something like that.  It would have also made more sense if the device she had used to eradicate Voq’s consciousness looked like it had been jury-rigged out of Federation medical tools.  You wouldn’t have needed to explain that, because it would be obvious.  Now it just looks like she was carrying the personality-wiping device around in her space purse, and all Saru had to do was get someone to go fetch it from wherever they keep prisoners’ belongings.

With a 37 minute run time, they could have fixed that.

The brevity of the episode and these plot issues are why this episode doesn’t get a five.  The Mirror Universe episodes have been wonderful, but this one lets the season down by not using everything at its disposal to tell its part of the story.

The dialogue was great, the direction was great, everything worked – the episode just comes off as lazy and unnecessary in places because of the lack of explanation (shown, not told – not exposition) and time given to scenes that didn’t need to be there.  Speaking of which.  Eating Kelpiens.  Did we need to go there?

Burnham’s psyche is screwed up enough.  She lost her parents as a child.  She discovered her adoptive father lied to her, making her feel second class for no reason for at least seven years of her adult life.  She betrayed someone she loved in an attempt to stop a war from starting.  She lost an mother-figure because of her actions, and many other people she cared for.  She lost her rank and position in Starfleet, and was sentenced to life imprisonment.  She’s been isolated and hated ever since.  Now she’s eaten a sentient being, a sentient being that reminds her very much of someone she cares for and feels like she also betrayed.  How will she face Saru after this?

I don’t think that scene was necessary.  With the evil flying fidget spinners, Agony Booths and ruthless bombardment of planets, we already know the Terran Empire is ruthless and evil.  Eating a Kelpien added nothing to this but fucked-up-ness.

There is something some fans are taking exception to, though it doesn’t bother me too much.  It unsettles me, but I get.  It’s the “Lorca is a dirty old man” thing.

I think it’s in keeping with his character.  He will do anything to achieve his desired goals.  While it’s not insinuated he had an intimate relationship with Michael when she was young, it is distasteful that he even went there when she was older – especially after being a father figure.  Lorca has done heinous things throughout the run of the show, so this isn’t so shocking to me.  I’m better able to accept his manipulations than I am the magic brain wiping device, or feasting on Kelpien, because the groundwork has been laid for that reveal.

The one question that remains with Lorca is… does he love Michael?  We’ve seen his over protectiveness in almost every episode.  Was it because of love, or was it need?  Did he keep her safe because he knew that through her he could get the crown, and kill the Emperor, and was that the only reason he worried after her?

This episode raised one or two new questions for us, while revealing a twist or two and confirming at least one more fan theory, but it didn’t do much more.  It was good, but it could have been better.

Something the writers might want to remember as they prep Season Two: We the fans have been two steps ahead of you this entire time. We picked Lorca and Ash back in episodes three, four and five and have been patiently waiting. We love Star Trek. We don’t love Star Trek like a Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead fan loves their show. We love it like a football or baseball fan loves their sports. Like a sports fan knows the batting averages for a particular team back through the ages, we know Star Trek just as intimately. We’re intelligent. We’re educated. We’re passionate and we are devoted. As this series has shown you, we will get behind you if you treat us with respect, which you have. You do, however, have to work a little harder if you want to surprise us because we will dissect every frame and obsess over it if we need to. You guys have done an incredible job, but I think you’ve underestimated us a bit. This isn’t a challenge, twists for the sake of a twist are dull and disappointing so we don’t need them, but to your credit you did keep us guessing and wondering “are we right?” and we have loved it.

I really prefer this long story form version of Star Trek.

Thank you for what has been, so far, an exceptional first season of my favourite television series.

At least one of my predictions was proven right with this episode, the Captain Lorca we know has been the Mirror Universe Lorca all along.  A few online reviewers have thought this for a long time, and with our suspicions now proven right what’s left to speculate on?  For me, it’s Lorca’s longevity.  As brilliant an actor as Jason Isaacs is, and as compelling and intriguing a character as Garbriel Lorca is, I still don’t think Lorca is making it out of Season One alive.  That’s prediction one.

Prediction 2?  Lorca and Burnham will have it out in a big fight next episode.

Prediction 3?  Lorca and Empress Georgiou will die at each others hands in an insane battle to the death.

Prediction 4?  I think Mirror Stamets is working with Lorca, and is part of the rebellion to unseat Emperor Georgiou.  I think he engineered Lorca’s escape to our universe.

Any more?  Yep.

Hugh has been “consumed” by the mycelial network and will only appear to Stamets when he’s hooked into it.  The supposed death of the mycelial network, as commented on by Mirror Stamets this episode, will impact significantly on Stamets’ loss because if the forest dies, he won’t get to see Hugh again.

They will leave the Mirror Universe at the end of Episode 13.

Episodes 14 and 15 will wrap up the Klingon war, and signal a few things for the coming season which I think will still be all about redemption, but also new beginnings.  New beginnings for the Federation post war.  New beginnings for Michael, who Starfleet has to think differently of now.  New beginnings for Ash.  New beginnings for L’Rell.  Perhaps even a new beginning for the Klingon Empire.  Most importantly, a new beginning and a new mission for the Discovery.

4 Deltas

Next week’s episode is called “What’s Past is Prologue.”

Star Trek: Discovery airs in the United States on CBS All Access, with new episodes becoming available 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 UK and at 7pm in Australia.

See you next week for another review.

Live long, and prosper.

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Episode 11 Recap and Review

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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

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.
: “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.

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.

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

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.


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).

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.

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

Episode 9, Mid-Season Finale Recap and Review

Episode 9 Recap and Review Banner

Holy crap.

What an episode!

Lorca is a… PIG.  A manipulative, sociopathic ass!  I had to stop myself from hurling my phone across the room toward the end of this episode because of his actions.

Last week’s “Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum” was touted as the ’emotional’ episode for the first-half season, but for me it was this episode.  I shed tears three times, twice because of the tragedy of a particular situation, and once out of surprise and anger.

“Into the Forest I Go” was (for me at least) a roller coaster ride – and I loved it.  Eight out of nine of the episodes this season have been my favourite for at least a week, but now this and “Lethe” hold equal first place for this ‘chapter’ of the story.

Some reviewers have had issues with the episode, or have been unimpressed.  I was the exact opposite.

It was so so good.

Let’s get into it.

The Facts
Episode Number: 109
Episode Title: “Into the Forest I Go”
Written By: Bo Yeon Kim and Erika Lippoldt
Directed By: Chris Byrne

Culber to Lorca
: “Well I’m not ready to play roulette with his brain.

Stamets to Lorca: “You want me to make 133 jumps?!

Lorca to Stamets: “I know what drives you, lieutenant.  You’re not just a scientist, you’re an explorer.  You could’ve just stayed in a lab on Earth, but you chose to go where no one has gone before.” *squee!*

Stamets to Lorca: “You’ve been accumulating this data from my jumps the whole time?  And these scattered pockets of negative mass… it’s… they could indicate alternative parallel universes connected to the mycelial network… and with more jumps we could find a pattern – perhaps even the coordinates to reach them!
Lorca to Stamets: “You showed me this invention could take us to places that we never dreamed we could reach.  This is far beyond our preconceptions of time and space.
Stamets to Lorca: “Captain, I didn’t know you cared.
Lorca to Stamets: “We have to win this war.  But then…
Stamets to Lorca: “Then the journey continues.  (*squee* again)  If we can save Pahvo, defeat the Klingons and do all this… 133 jumps it is.

Lorca to his crew: “We are about to face the most difficult challenge we have ever attempted.  Today we stare down the bow of the Ship of the Dead.  The very same ship that took thousands of our own at the Battle of the Binary Stars.  When I took command of this vessel, you were a crew of polite scientists.  Now, I look at you, and you are fierce warriors all.  No other Federation vessel would have a chance of pulling this off.  Just us.  Because mark my words, you will look back proudly, and tell the world you were there the day the USS Discovery saved Pahvo and ended the Klingon War.

Interesting Bits and Pieces
– In this episode we get the first real indication of the existence of the Mirror Universe for this series.
– Starfleet has ‘pattern simulators’ that can mimic the life signs of other species’.  This is a great idea.  New tech for Trek, but tech that makes sense!
– The 133 jumps are an homage to the Battlestar Galactica Episode “33,” source: After Trek.”
– When the Discovery does it’s ‘last’ jump, for a moment, the ship is split in two, evoking a scene from the TOS episode “Mirror, Mirror.”

The Recap and Review
Before jumping into the episode I need to correct something, last week I wondered if “Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum” was the shortest live-action Trek episode ever, coming in at only 41 minutes.  It wasn’t.  The shortest is actually “Battle at the Binary Stars,” which runs only 39 minutes.

Okay… after a brief orientation to what’s happened across the last few episodes, we go into a teaser!  No cold open this episode.

The Discovery is still at Pahvo, and Lorca is arguing with Vulcan Admiral Terral (via hologram) on the bridge.

Lorca and Admiral Terral

I don’t think that’s a great move.  If I were Terral I would have demanded privacy because he knows how insubordinate Lorca can be.  Discovery‘s bridge crew get to watch their captain argue with a senior officer which doesn’t seem wise to me.

Terral wants Discovery to leave Pahvo and return to Starbase 46.  Lorca wants to stay and protect the Pahvo.

Lorca, eventually, seemingly complies, to the surprise of his crew.  But, this is Gabriel Lorca, he does exactly what he wants to do – and is smart enough, in this circumstance, to at least give the appearance of obeying orders.

He has Discovery warp to Starbase 46, rather than jump using the DASH drive.  At warp, the Starbase is three hours away.  He wants to use those three hours to devise a plan to save the Pahvans.

Using the excuse that Stamets is having issues with his interface for the spore-drive (if only Lorca knew), he rationalises his choice to go to warp, delaying their return.

Lorca orders Stamets to Sickbay for a full examination, so that there is a data trail backing up the decision.

Stamets is not happy to comply, but he does, obviously concerned to discover what Hugh will find.

Doctor Culber Delivers Bad News to Stamets and Lorca

After the opening credits sequence, we return to the bridge where the crew, using some very Trekkian technobabble, find a way to crack the Klingon cloak.

The problem?  To get their attempt to work, they have to beam someone aboard to plant sensors.

Another problem?  It will take days to collect enough data to succeed.

Lorca decides the spore-drive is their best bet because, with enough jumps, they can gather the data at speed.

He leaves the bridge and goes to Sickbay where Culber tells him that Paul Stamets’ brain is being changed by his interaction with the spore-drive.  The scans show that the tracts within the white matter of Paul’s medial temporal lobe are being restructured.

Culber doesn’t want the captain to play games with Stamets’ brain, Lorca is less than concerned with what the doctor wants and orders a report. He’ll decide whether or not to risk Stamets then.


Hugh Culber is not a happy doctor and Lorca’s all no nonsense and captainy.  He takes Stamets with him to implement stage one of his heinous efforts to use and manipulate this overly dedicated and naive scientific genius.

Lorca Tempts Stamets

In his private chamber, he shows Paul what they need to do, telling him he needs him to make 133 jumps so they can map the cloak, break it and save the Pahvans.

Stamets is a bit overwhelmed, so Lorca swoops in for the kill, showing Paul a map full of data from every jump made that shows scattered pockets of negative mass that could indicates alternative, parallel universes.

More jumps might let them access these universes.

Paul, like a junkie, is hooked.  Lorca has convinced him to put his life at risk.

Jason Isaacs is amazing in this scene.  So is Anthony Rapp.  Jason is so manipulative and uses his voice so well, you can hear him weaving a spell just for the lieutenant.  He’s both mesmerising and contemptible all in the same moment.

Anthony, for his turn, plays the wide-eyed naive explorer and self-sacrificing scientist to absolute perfection.

It’s a great scene.

Back on the bridge, Lorca orders a boarding party of two, there’s a little back and fourth around who should go, and it ends up being Michael and Ash.

Some fans have been annoyed by this scene, because Michael’s argument is that she is familiar with the vessel.  Of course, she only spent minutes on it in episode two – however, the Shenzhou was taking detailed scans when they first encountered the vessel, and she probably is pretty up on its specs and is able to use her personal memory of the bridge of the Klingon Ship of the Dead and those scans, and any Discovery has made since, to be an effective navigator.

Planning to Attach the Klingon Ship of the Dead

It’s a non-point, and people just need to let go a little and accept that she was trained on Vulcan to survive and thrive in a Vulcan educational institution, and she was accepted into the Expeditionary Group meaning she would have to have an incredible memory and capacity for reasoning.  She was also raised by a species who knows a lot about the Klingons, and has probably done her own research because they killed her parents.  Though she says she’s the right person for the job because of her time on the ship, that’s probably just a quick way for her to circumnavigate a lengthy argument with Lorca because he doesn’t actually know how long she and Georgiou were on the Sarcophagus ship.  This slight bending of the truth doesn’t derail the fact that she most definitely is the best person for the job.  Seriously people, deal with it.

Star Trek: Discovery has gone out of its way to focus on character, and everything we’ve learned about Michael says she is extraordinary in every way – except, of course, for all the emotional stuff.

Lorca’s expression, after giving Burnham permission to go, has me wondering (again) what does Michael mean to him?  It’s clear he doesn’t want to risk her, and despite denying that when she challenges him, it is obvious she is valuable or meaningful to him in some way.

Tilly is Concerned for Stamets

We leave the bridge and visit Engineering where Tilly accidentally lets the Stamets cat out of the spore-drive bag as Hugh hooks a medical-cuff to Paul to allow him to treat the lieutenant while he’s in the chamber.

Symptoms?  What symptoms?  Oh yeah… THOSE symptoms…

Hugh is going to stay and monitor the jumps.

Back on the bridge, Lorca gives a rousing speech which is beautifully inter cut with reaction shots from the crew, the process of readying the DASH drive, and Paul Stamets bravely facing what he knows is a series of jumps that could literally shred his brain.

Far out does Anthony Rapp sell those moments!

The Toll of Jumping Discovery Begins to Show on Stamets

They detect the signature of a cloaked Klingon vessel entering the Pahvo system, and jump back.

We switch to the Klingons.  They do their Klingon thing.  Growl a lot.  Act arrogantly.  Talk about destroying stuff, and decloak to face off against the Discovery.

Michael and Ash beam over, wearing pattern simulators that will mask their human life signs, and carrying the sensors needed to win this engagement and hopefully provide information that will help the war effort.

After placing the first unnecessarily large, bright and vocal sensor, Michael detects a human life sign!  Yay!!  Admiral Katrina Cornwell is alive.  Wasn’t just a fan boy wish after all.

They revive Katrina but she can’t feel her legs.  Not great.

Unfortunately, for Ash, L’Rell is there too and this triggers a pretty devastating Post Traumatic Stress episode for our favourite head of security, and we get the first of some very disturbing flashbacks to his torture (?) at L’Rell’s hands.

Ash See's L'Rell

Burnham shoots L’Rell as she slowly approaches Ash, who is frozen in place, unable to act.

Poor Ash has a total meltdown and collapses, and Michael is forced to leave him in the care of the Admiral, who, thankfully, is a psychiatrist.

Shazad Latif is incredible in this scene.  He so sincerely and so effectively shows Ash’s distress.  The scene affected me with its intensity.

In the real world, I work two jobs, one is as an actor, the main one is as an allied health professional working with people who have mental health issues.  I do a lot of work with people facing trauma, and who are having psychotic breaks right there in front of you.  It’s tough for them, it’s rough for you as their support person, and it’s just not pretty or sane or easy in any way.

I was so impressed by Shazad (and, later, Cornwell) and was happy with Star Trek and how they were handling this issue.  A lot of people experience PTSD in the real world, police officers, soldiers, emergency services personnel, doctors, nurses, teachers, youth workers, social workers, psychologists, and more.  The very fact the writers were finally focusing on Tyler’s PTSD at all impressed me.  We’ve gone here before in the history of Trek (most memorably with Picard), and it’s right we visit this issue again.

Another interesting part of this scene was Cornwell’s reaction to Burnham.  She seemed both surprised to see Michael there, pissed Michael was there, and then impressed with the new science specialist.  You were left with the distinct feeling Michael was not what Cornwell was expecting.

While this is happening, the Discovery is trying to keep the Klingons occupied by engaging them in battle.

Back on the Klingon Ship of the Dead, Burnham has activated the last unnecessarily large, bright and vocal sensor and is listening in to the Klingons.  To the writers’ credit, they have Burnham activate the Universal Translator which means we don’t have to listen to the Klingons growl, and the actors can focus on acting and not on getting their Klingon lines right.

All of these scenes build the tension perfectly.  They’re beautifully paced and as a result you’re on the edge of your seat.

We cut to Stamets at one point and he is not having a good time.  The toll is shown with some remarkable visuals and disturbing camera angles.

I did not think Paul would survive.

Back on the Klingon ship, Cornwell is trying to walk Ash through his episode as he suffers more terrifying flashbacks.  She uses the exact same techniques we use in real world de-escalations, which is great.  If only Deanna Troi had gotten this much meat in her role as a psychologist.

We visit with Culber, Tilly and Stamets as Culber tries to reason with Lorca, begging him to stop the jumps as he watches his partner writhe in the spore chamber.

It’s heart breaking, and one of the times I felt my cheeks get wet from the emotion of it all.

Michael Confronts Kol

We switch back to the Sarcophagus ship.  To buy the Discovery time to complete its 133 jumps, Burnham blows her cover and gets all wonderfully mouthy with Kol.

Kol is arrogant and over confident, Michael challenges his honour, he pretty much tells her human’s don’t understand honour, so Michael goes in for what she knows will be a powerful blow.  She tells Kol she is the human who killed T’Kuvma.

Back in the cell with Katrina and Ash, the Klingons discover them and Admiral Cornwell has to try to protect herself and Ash with a phaser Michael left behind, but unable to feel her legs she can’t move as much or as swiftly as she needs to, to take down both warriors.

Cornwell Defends an Almost Comatose Ash

She implores Ash to get up, and finally breaks through his PTSD episode.

He acts, and helps take out the last Klingon.

Back on the Klingon bridge, Kol thanks Burnham for killing T’Kuvma telling her that when he kills her it will seal his power.

She challenges him to a fight and he takes her up on it.

Throughout all of this, he taunts her with Georgiou’s Starfleet badge and it’s clear Michael wants that last artifact of her friend, captain and mother figure back.

The fight between Kol and Michael doesn’t go well for Michael, but she holds her own, proving that she paid attention while studying Vulcan martial arts.

Michael and Kol Go Head to Head

Kol grabs Michael and for a moment it looks like it’s all over for her.

He growls about becoming absolute ruler of the Klingon Empire, because killing Burnham will make everyone happy, but Michael isn’t too interested in Kols delusions of grandeur.

He pushes her back to cleave her in two, but she takes advantage of this and keeps her balance and fights back, stabbing him with a non-fatal blow, but a blow strong enough to make him stagger.

On Discovery, they locate their crew and start to beam them back.  L’Rell takes advantage of this and hitches a ride on Tyler’s back.

Burnham is Beamed to Safety

Back on the Klingon Ship of the Dead Kol gets over confident.  As he advances on her, Michael is contacted by Discovery and told to get ready to beam out.  In a daring move she lunges forward and grabs Georgiou’s Starfleet Delta badge from Kol, and throws herself over a railing and falls as Discovery‘s transporter beam takes hold and beams her to freedom.

With confirmation everyone is safe, and with the surprise that both Cornwell and L’Rell are on board his ship, Lorca orders a photon torpedo strike on the now cloaked Klingon vessel.

Lorca lets loose the dogs of war, and in a very surprising turn, Kol and the Sarcophagus ship explode.

The Klingon Ship of the Dead Explodes

I did not expect that, I didn’t think Kol would die so early and I didn’t think we’d lose the Klingon Ship of the Dead at the mid-point of the season.

That just leaves L’Rell as our main antagonist… but, what an antagonist she is!

This surprising turn of events gives us a beautiful moment between Saru and Michael.  I think this may have finally given the both of them the closure they needed.

As Michael watches the ship explode in a blinding flash of light, the look on her face is perfect.  Sonequa Martin-Green evokes so many emotions in this scene, relief, shock, satisfaction, regret, sorrow, confusion… it’s a big moment for her character.

Lorca’s reaction to her and Ash’s return is strange.  He doesn’t look happy.  He doesn’t look disappointed.  He looks angry.

I need to make a special mention of the music in this episode, but particularly this scene.  It is epic.  Evocative.  Moving.  Just beautiful.

As the Klingon ship gives it’s last dying shudder, Michael realises Ash isn’t behind her anymore.  She looks worried as we cut to a conversation between Lorca and Admiral Terral, who is telling Lorca that Cornwell’s emergency medical shuttle has arrived safely at Starbase 88.  She’s going to be fine!  Yay!!

Lorca tells Terral to send her his best (yeah, right), and then rattles off his successes, including the almost completed cloak-breaking algorithm to be sent fleet wide once it’s finished.

Terral tells Lorca to get back to the Federation where he’ll receive the Legion of Honour.

Lorca doesn’t look thrilled, even thought this probably means he’ll be able to keep his command, even with Cornwell arguing he needs time to heal.

Meanwhile, Michael has gone to find Ash.  She tracks him down to his cabin, and in a beautiful scene that is full of emotion gets him to talk about his experiences on board the Klingon prison ship.

The interaction between Michael and Ash is handled with such care by the director.  If anything, this first half of the season has been defined by that word.  Care.  Though a lot has changed from what we’re used to as Trek fans, we cannot deny how much care has gone into every aspect of this production.

Michael Comforts Ash as He Comes to Terms with His PTSD

As Ash and Michael sit together, Ash admits he cultivated a relationship with L’Rell to survive.  From the way he glances at Michael throughout the scene, it is clear he is unsure if she will understand what he did and why, or if she will condemn him.

For him, it’s laying everything to do with this new relationship on the line.

Shazad Latif and Sonequa Martin-Green play this perfectly.

Michael gives him the absolution he doesn’t seem to have been able to give himself, and we leave them, holding each other, to visit with Stamets and Lorca in the shuttle bay as the mycelial network traveling scientist stares into space in deep thought.

It’s this scene that made me loathe Lorca without reservation.

Up until now I’d been able to forgive or find a way to understand his machinations, not this time.  To so recklessly and possibly selfishly use another life, one already in pain and one that has already given so much, is reprehensible.

Lorca Manipulates Stamets

Lorca knows what the spore-drive is doing to Stamets, and after setting up the new dangers faced by an approaching Klingon fleet, paints a picture that has Stamets offering to facilitate one more jump to keep the crew safe.

Lorca thanks him, then starts to rabbit on about what they’ll be able to do with the spore-drive once the war is over.

Stamets stops him and tells Lorca that this jump will be it.  The last one.  Disappointment is etched in every line on Lorca’s face.  Eventually, he masks it, knowing it won’t be the last jump.

We cut to Ash, deep in a nightmare.  It’s a series of inter cut scenes that are quite confronting and appear to show Tyler being sexually assaulted by L’Rell.

Tyler wakes with a start.  He was asleep on a couch in his quarters, with Michael.  He leaves her and finds his way to the brig where he approaches L’Rell.

Another flashback causes him to collapse to his knees.

What did you do to me?”  He asks her.

L'Rell Has Something Over Ash

Do not worry, I will never let them hurt you.”  She responds seductively.

This is interrupted by the ships computer calling people to their command stations.

As Ash gets to his feet, L’Rell utters an ominous “Soon.

We cut to Stamets and Culber in Engineering where they are preparing for what both hope is the last jump the lieutenant will ever have to make.

Stamets walks up to Culber and clasps his partners face in both hands, giving Star Trek it’s first ever gay male kiss.  Can you believe that has taken 51 years?

The scene is handled perfectly.  There’s no fuss to it.  There’s no build, there’s no excessive use of emotion or reaction, it’s just there.  It’s just like two straight people kissing before the next part of a big adventure.

Though, for Trek, this is a history making moment, it was treated just right by everyone involved.

Finally, the First Gay Kiss on Star Trek

As Paul enters the spore chamber with Hugh watching on, we cut to Lorca over riding navigation and entering new coordinates into the DASH drive.  The image shows a list of spore-jumps, with the last three entries being:
SPORE-JUMP 132: 071-MARK-898

They jump, Stamets screams, something weird happens in the spore chamber as the walls appear to crystalise.

Tilly announces the computer is calling it an incomplete navigation sequence.

Paul opens the door to the spore chamber and collapses on the floor of engineering as Tilly and Culber rush to his side.

Hugh says Paul is starting to crash.  Paul opens his eyes and they’ve gone white with his pupil and iris barely showing through.  He’s rambling, making no sense, and we’re left wondering if he will survive.

On the bridge, they don’t know where they are.

The camera pulls back, through the bridge window, through a debris field of destroyed ships and fades to the closing credits.

Now that is a cliff-hanger.

Weeks ago, Jonathan Frakes (yes, Commander William T. Riker himself) let slip that the Discovery goes to the Mirror Universe this season.  It would seem safe to assume that is where they are now.  I don’t think Lorca realises that, and it will be interesting to see how it all pans out.

That’s not really a prediction, I know, but I only have one for this episode.

Up until I saw “Into The Forest I Go” I had become convinced Ash was Voq.  I don’t believe that anymore.  I think it’s still a possibility, but one that seems less likely.  When I think about it, was there enough time between L’Rell sending Voq away and Ash’s discovery by Lorca on the Klingon prison ship, for Voq to have been fully transformed?

Could he have been surgically altered and healed in that short a space of time and then indoctrinated into Federation culture and taught it’s language, flawlessly, so quickly?

I’m thinking two things now.  Either Voq is meant to replace the real Ash – who is currently on Discovery – at some point, or Ash is a sleeper agent who has been brainwashed to work for the Klingons, who will be triggered later in the war?

Last episode and this episode, L’Rell was keen to get on board the Discovery.  Was it to reunite with Voq, or was it to trigger her sleeper agent?

I think this storyline will play out this season, and I can’t wait to find out what the heck is going on.

Five Starfleet Deltas

This episode was excellent.  I really enjoyed it.  It had me in suspense, it had me in tears, it had me smiling, gasping and even looking away at points.

Excellent acting (as always), incredible music, outstanding directing, brilliant effects, and perfect editing and pacing.

I don’t know if people would have tuned back in with as much excitement as I’m hearing out there in the fan community, if the last episode for this half of the first season had been “Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum.”

This episode was the right choice to wrap up what the producers are calling ‘chapter one.’  “Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum” was a great episode, but it’s cliff-hanger ending wasn’t big enough.

One of the really pleasing things about this episode, is that we’ve discovered two new bright and shining lights in the writing world.  Bo Yeon Kim and Erika Lippoldt.  What an outstanding story and beautifully crafted script.

Star Trek: Discovery returns to CBS All Access on the 7th of January, and returns to Netflix on the 8th of January.

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 UK, and 6:00pm AEDT in Australia.

I hope you enjoyed this episode as much as I did!

Star Trek: Sentinel‘s recaps and reviews will return in early January.

I can’t wait for the next episode.

Until then, and always, live long, and prosper.

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