Son of None

Story: The Wolf Inside
Written By: Lisa Randolph
Series: Star Trek: Discovery
Year: 2018

I really enjoyed last week's episode, it seemed like it set the series on a new exciting path...and this week it delivers on that path.  In short, I loved this episode. It built everything up, had great twists and turns in the story, and definitely has me excited for more.  I think while I felt last week was the show really starting to come into it's own...this was the episode that has officially, 100%, sold me on the series.  
Still trapped in the Mirror Universe, Burnham and Tyler are clinging to each other in the madness of the this universe, while Lorca remains in constant torture. While Burnham has found top secret data on the Defiant, she can't decipher it herself, and sending the info to the Discovery and Saru in any way would be easily caught by the Terran Empire.  While they are stuck at a bit of a crossroads trying to figure out how they will get the info back to Discovery, the Terrans send Burnham and the Shenzhou to a planet that holds the key leadership of the Alien Resistance, lead by a Klingon.  Burnham sees that alliance of aliens as a bit of hope, a possible mirror version of a Federation, and she can't see herself destroying it. So, she devises a plan to land on the planet with Tyler, claiming she can get vital info that will bring down the resistance once and for all, as opposed to just hurting them with the planetary attack.

On the Discovery, Tilly and Saru attempt to piece together what happened in the Sickbay, and hope to find a way of curing what ails Stamets.  They believe it was possible Stamets was taken out of his quarantine by Culber, and Stamets was then the one to kill his own romantic partner.  But Tilly thinks she can use the spores to save Stamets, where conventional medicine has failed him.  Though it seems at some point she has failed, and that her attempts to use the Spores to save him has actually killed him, by the end of the episode he jerks back with a little bit of new life...and then we see into his mind, and there he meets the Mirror version of himself...clearly this thread will play heavily in the episodes to come.  

On the planet with Burnham and Tyler is where things get truly interesting. Not only are we seeing an alliance with many Federation members, so we get new designs for the Andorians & Tellarites, but we also get bearded Sarek...and Mirror Voq. Hey I wonder what happened to Prime Voq...its been a while since we last saw him...Oh yeah...that theory that Tyler was Voq?  Yeppers!  Seeing his Mirror Counterpart awakens everything within Tyler, and after he attacks his mirror version for what he sees as a violation of T'Kuvma's ideals, he is luckily spared his life, but once he is back on the Shenzhou he reveals his true self to Burnham.  She herself beams him into space to die. 

Or so it seems, she does beam him into space...but he is quickly beamed aboard the Discovery.  They may be in the ruthless mirror universe, but they intend to still hold him accountable as they would in the Prime. He is a spy and a killer...and they also use his transportation as a clever way to sneak the disk with all the info on the Defiant to Saru! That was a clever bit of writing I didn't quite pick up on until it happened.  It felt very Star Trek to me. 

Then we get to the big ending. After Burnham has sent Tyler back to Discovery, she and Lorca discuss when they can return themselves, but Lorca seems to think that may take longer, and that they will have to power through a little longer. Just in case Saru gets nowhere. But while Burnham has promised not to destroy the planet until Voq and his people escape, soon another Terran ship arrives, and begins to attack.  It turns out to be the Emperor's ship...Emperor Georgiou!  It's quite the fun reveal, sure to give tons of weird feelings to Burnham next week!

Something else to note before I wrap up, Lorca's resistance to returning to their ship, and the shady smirk on his face when Burnham sees Emperor Georgiou for the first time only add fuel to the fire, for me, that he is actually a Mirror Lorca all along.  More and more signs are pointing to that fact for me.  Can't wait to see how it all unfolds now. The show seems to have hit a real stride, and I am quite excited for more. 

NEXT TIME: Emperor Georgiou

The Second Chapter

Story: Despite Yourself
Written By: Sean Cochran
Series: Star Trek: Discovery
Year: 2018

The big question left with us before the break in the season, was where had the Discovery ended up?  With all the teases of multiple universes to explore with the Spore Drive once they end the war, it could be anywhere right?  My working theory before this episode aired was that they were never in the Prime Universe when the show began, as had been touted by the production team, but were in some yet unexplored Trek universe... and I thought just maybe, the big reveal might be that the strange new universe they now found themselves in, could be the original Prime universe of Trek of Yesteryear.  I thought that might be a neat would show that they weren't really lying when they said the show took place in the Prime universe, but would be a simple explanation for all the design and other choices that seem so different from the old shows.  I have no real problem with the design of this show, though I often wonder why they didn't just set it in the distant distant future. Like 100 years after the TNG era. That is neither here nor there in the end, because we finally find out where they ended up...and it turns out they are in the Mirror universe.
I think this was a solid start for the second half, I found it to be an entertaining and engrossing episode, the characters have really begun to click, and I rather enjoy the idea that they haven't just snapped back out of the Mirror universe after one episode.  They could be there for the rest of the season as far as we know...maybe for the rest of the show (though that seems highly unlikely to me). And working theory may still yet come true by the season's end! I think that could still be neat, they manage to get out of the Mirror but step into Prime and they are still like "wait what?"

Trapped there, with Stamets and the Spore Drive out of commission, the extract some data files from a destroyed ship in order to figure out what this Mirror universe is all about, and who they are all meant to be in order to survive in this more ruthless version of the Universe.  Tilly, it turns out, is the Mirror Discovery's Captain.  Which leads to some fun awkwardness, before she manages to make it work. It turns out Lorca is on the run in the Mirror universe, having killed the Captain of the Shenzhou in an attempted coup against the Emperor of the Terran Empire...that Captain being Burnham. 

Since neither is meant to be on the Discovery, they concoct  a plan to get aboard the Shnzhou, and use Burnham's Captain status to access high security files, to see if they can figure out how the Defiant ended up in the Mirror universe (see Enterprise's "In a Mirror, Darkly"), hoping that whatever got it there can be reverse and send them home. It is a neat plot device built on Trek lore, it features a great new version of the Mirror Universe...and I am down to see if they succeed in their plan or not.  And Lorca (treated as a prisoner to get aboard the Shenzhou with Burnham and Tyler in tow), who I am pretty sure put in the command that stranded them all there, is stuck in an Agony Booth. Good. The Jerk. 

Beyond that, I think the rumors about Tyler being Voq are all but absolutely confirmed by name at this point. There were rumors once people noticed that Tyler showed up right after Voq disappeared, and I felt that it was a pretty clear indication that the theory was true at the end of the mid-season finale, because his talk with L'Rell just said "sleeper agent" to me...and since Voq would have to "give up everything" in order to take down the Federation, becoming human seems an obvious route. In this episode though he is briefly awoken by L'Rell via a poem, and then when he is somewhat confronted by Dr. Culber about how it seems his mind was probably tampered with and his entire body seems to have been restructured...he kills Culber in order to remain on the mission with Burnham and Lorca.

I also have a new theory about Lorca...I am beginning to think that if anything, maybe HE isn't from the Prime Universe.  The Mirror Lorca is supposedly on the run from the Terran Empire...what if he managed to jump universes, ended up trapped in the Prime Universe (or whatever universe the show has actually been taking place in), and then managed to get into Discovery in order to hopefully devise a way back to his own Universe?  It would explain why he is a bit overzealous with his war efforts, and there are little clues that might support this theory. In the previous episode, he tells the crew that when he took over as their Captain, they were just scientists, and now they are warriors. That was an accomplishment in his view.  Maybe he had intended to hold off on the plan, but the worry of his plan being derailed if Cornwall made her recovery, the weirdness of getting some medal from this Federation he may not believe in, and the idea that Stamet may make no more jumps had him accelerate his plan to return home. And just after he put in his little command that screwed up the jump and sent them into the Mirror Universe, he, in fact, says the line "lets go home."  To me this is some definite evidence in my theory's favor! I'm not usually one for spouting out all my crazy theories, because if I'm wrong I look dumb, and if I'm right who really cares. But I think I just needed to write these ideas out.  

At any rate, this was a pretty great episode, it had me re-engage with the show, got me to rewatch a few and finally catch up on my reviews...and has me genuinely excited for more.  The episode had a solid script, and some wonderful direction from Trek alumni Jonathan Frakes.  There was a spark in this episode, and it bodes well for what is to come. 

NEXT TIME: Lost in the Mirror

133 Jumps

Story: Into the Forest I Go
Written By: Bo Yeon Kim & Erika Lippoldt
Series: Star Trek: Discovery
Year: 2017

Faced with the Klingons heading towards Pahvo, the Discovery is ordered back to the fleet at Starbase 46. Lorca decides to try and avoid that if at all possible, hoping to defend Pahvo and take down the Klingons and figure out their cloaking tech once and for all.  He concocts a plan for Burnham and Tyler beam aboard the Klingon Ship of the Dead to planet some sensors...and then have Stamets make 133 micro jumps in a row, while Saru collects data on the cloak.  It's a crazy plan!
While on the Ship of the Dead, Tyler sees L'Rell and goes into PTSD shock, and Burnham must plant the second sensor, on the bridge, herself. Once there she ends up distracting Kol from firing upon the Discovery while it completes its mission by facing him in hand to hand combat, getting a bit of closure for herself about Georgiou along the way.  The mission is a success, and they destroy the Ship of the Dead and Kol with it, rescuing Admiral Cornwall in the process, with L'Rell jumping onto Tyler in order to be taken aboard Discovery. This key point leads to a major tease in this episode, Tyler confronts L'Rell in the brig, and she cryptically tells him she always keep him safe, and "soon."  Is he a sleeper agent?  Are the theories that Tyler is actually Voq true? Most likely!  Still fun!

The side effects Stamets has begun to experience with the Spore Drive really take their toll on him in the 133 jumps, and he nearly dies as a result. Nevertheless, he agrees to do one last jump, a true final one, in order to get the ship out of dangers way faster and back to Starbase 46.  Lorca, always the shady son of a bitch, puts in some secret command before he makes that jump...and it has a major ill effect on Stamets, and puts the ship in some new place, very probably a parallel universe of some kind...where are they?  What is to come next? 

I rather liked the mid-season finale...or the end of "Chapter One" as the production seems to be calling it. It tied up some elements, teased new ones to come, and left me with a definite interest in where things are to go.  I have some theories, but I don't really know just yet, and that is rather fun.  This show isn't perfect, it definitely has some flaws...and it isn't necessarily what I thought I wanted, but it has, for the most part, kept me engrossed, kept me wanting to see how it turns out. And there is always hope that they can build on that, develop their characters a bit more, and really make something great out of this.  Or they could screw it all up.  We shall see!

NEXT TIME: Where Are They?

If You Want Peace, Prepare For War

Story: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
Written By: Kirsten Beyer
Series: Star Trek: Discovery
Year: 2017

Burnham, Tyler, and Saru venture to the planet Pahvo, hoping to use the apparent naturally occurring transmitter to their advantage, hoping they could utilize it's signal to detect the cloaked Klingon ships that are wreaking havoc on the Federation.  Once their however, they find it isn't uninhabited, or at least the planet has a non-corporeal lifeforce.  The entire planet seems to be connected in peace and harmony.  And once Saru is given some freedom from his natural fear by the planet...he never wants to leave it. 
The B-plot is one the Klingon ship, with Admiral Cornwall being interrogated by L'Rell, but L'Rell claims she wishes to defect.  Her motives seem dubious, but she is in definite conflict with the new Klingon leader Kol, and when she discovers her comrades have all been murdered by him, that only elevates that conflict. This plot is essential to the ongoing story, but I must say it wasn't nearly as interesting as the Pahvo stuff, or even the smaller element of this episode, which is that things are beginning to get a little weird and uncomfortable for Stamets with all the Spore Jumping.  I think the Klingon plot was serviceable, but when there is a Strange New World to explore, I found jumping back to the Klingons and the ongoing story a bit of a letdown.

The thing I really loved about this episode is Pahvo.  I like the look (all those blue trees and rocks), I like the idea of an entirely peaceful world within the currently war torn universe...I like what it developed for Saru's character...and I loved their ending.  When asked by Burnham to let them use the transmitter in an attempt to end the Klingon conflict, Pahvo just decides to invite the Klingons to the planet and hope that the Discovery and Klingons can just come to terms. When all they really understand is peace, what more can you expect?

NEXT TIME:  Showdown With Kol

Thirty Minutes of Mudd

Story: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad
Written By: Aron Eli Coleite & Jesse Alexander
Series: Star Trek: Discovery
Year: 2017

I will never be a fan of Harry Mudd, and I genuinely didn't understand why the folks behind Discovery thought it wise to resurrect this awful and dated character. And the truth is...they really haven't.  Rainn Wilson's character is nothing like his TOS counterpart...and in this episode that is even more apparent.  He is sort of a trickster villain, akin more to Q or something (minus the godlike powers), and I think the entire idea of the Wilson character would've been better served if he just wasn't called Harcourt Fenton Mudd.  Because that guy sucks, and WIlson's character doesn't suck nearly as much.
This episode had a neat Trek premise, a villain has overtaken the ship via a time-loop device, and he keeps replaying the same 30 minutes over and over again in order to figure out how the Discovery's unique drive system works, and take that info to sell to the Klingons for money.  I like the premise, like the character developments that occur within the time-loop (and the fact that they must start anew once the problem is solved), and I thought the development for Stamets in this one was great...I rather liked how the Spore Drive is changing his personality, and allowing him to see things (like time loops) that he may not have otherwise seen.

The issue with this episode comes at the end.  In order to tie up the Mudd storyline (hopefully for the rest of this series run), they manage to foil his plot, and then instead of imprisoning him for killing them all over and over again with a dangerous weapon with the hopes of stealing their top secret technology to sell to the enemy...they just call his former fiance and family, and send him off to get married. While in some ways I like the idea that it ends not with someone going to jail or being just seems like they made him too mad and criminal to allow that.  I can kind of see the idea of it being a Trek ending where they find some understanding in the just doesn't mesh with what he did in the story.  If he hadn't been Mudd, they maybe would've been able to more properly send him to the authorities, and maybe he could've returned in some new interesting way down the line.  But being Mudd...they need him to go marry Stella and become the creep from TOS (who was a sex trafficker by the way).  The ending just falls short for me, particularly when I rather enjoyed the episode leading up to that conclusion (with the exception that I hate that he IS Mudd).

Neat concept, muddled ending, bad returning character. It was a bad idea to bring Mudd back into the Trek fold, and this episode would have been far more interesting if they had just created someone new, and fixed the conclusion.


Sarek's Katra

Story: Lethe
Written By: Joe Menosky and Ted Sullivan
Series: Star Trek: Discovery
Year: 2017

Sarek's ship is attacked by a Vulcan who believes in "total logic" and is part of a small rogue Vulcan terrorist group.  He blows a whole in Sarek's ship, and though Sarek survives the attack with the help of a force field...he is terribly wounded.  His Katra reached Burnham who must somehow find out where Sarek is, and save him before it's too late.  
Meanwhile, the B-story involves Lorca's relationship with Admiral Cornwall, and his own mental health.  Throughout the episode it becomes increasingly clear that Lorca is suffering from PTSD. Cornwall is charmed by her old friend Lorca, and she even sleeps with him, but ultimately realizes that he mentally unfit to keep his command for much longer, and decides she will make sure that his position is put into serious question by Starfleet. Unfrotunately, she ends up kidnapped by Klingons when she heads out on her diplomatic Lorca remains in command.

The Sarek story was interesting to me, had some nice ethereal Vulcan mysticism, and added some character depth to Burnham.  The Lorca storyline also was good for character development, and ultimately I think that is what made me like this seemed to be about trying to develop the characters of the show, and since Burnham really needed a little more of that, this episode worked for me.

NEXT TIME: Mudd's Time Loop

Mudd's Prison

Story: Choose Your Pain
Written By: Kemp Powers
Series: Star Trek: Discovery
Year: 2017

Though the Discovery's use of Ripper in the Spore Drive has helped turn the tides of the war effort in the Federation's favor, Burnham is becoming increasingly aware that the use of the drive is torturing the Tardigrade, and that begins to wear on her morality a bit. When Lorca is kidnapped by the Klingons, Saru must take command of the ship, and doesn't want to hear Burnham's argument against the use of the Tardigrade, end only wishes to move forward in using the drive to find his lost Captain.  Saru is clearly worried about actually taking command, and hopes he has the abilities to succeed in his duties, so he does his best to remain in control and not take any guff from Burnham.  
Meanwhile, Lorca is trapped in a Klingon prison with a young officer named Ash Tyler, and a con man named Harry Mudd. Ugh. I have always hated Harry Mudd, and while this version of him isn't nearly as awful as the Original Series counterpart, the taint of that classic character kind of hurts it a bit. They are different enough that you have to wonder why they decided to use the same character?  Especially as Mudd is no fan favorite.  At any rate, Rainn Wilson's version is decent enough as an antagonist. Eventually Lorca and Tyler escape, but they leave Mudd behind since he was aiding the Klingons by feeding them info. 

Back on Discovery, Burnham is able to convince Dr. Culber, Stamets, and Tilly that the use of the Tardigrade is not only torture, but that everytime they use it, it is degrading the they need to find another way of using the drive before it kills the creature and they are left with no alternative.  They come up with a risky plan, which involves injecting the Tardigrade's DNA into a human.  In the end Stamets injects himself with the DNA to help the ship escape after recovering Lorca and Tyler, which opens up new possibilities for where that character will go. 

It's an episode that I liked, particularly the Tardigrade moral quandary.  The Lorca in prison stuff was only okay (if not somewht standard and generic), tainted slightly by the presence of Mudd, though again it might as well have been a new character...but just the name bugs me.  But the story of Ripper, of Stamets deciding to take the leap and inject himself with the DNA to run the spore drive, and the unsure command of Saru...all worked rather well for me.

NEXT TIME: Is Lorca Still Fit For Command?