Review: ST Discovery -Despite Yourself: The show finds a universe that suits it

Star Trek Discovery is back and as dark as ever – maybe a tad darker. Indirectly Will Riker is back – in the form of episode director Jonathan Frakes (he also directed an episode of The Orville last year). Quite whether is was Frakes or whether it was just the set-up work done in the previous episodes is hard to tell but this was a confident, exciting, upsetting and funny episode. It managed to be what the show has been promising to be: darker, more serious but still Star Trek.

A spoiler warning. Not possible to talk about this episode without LOTS of spoilers both for the episode and the show in general. So if you haven’t been watching and think that you might best not to read on much further.

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When last we saw Discovery, Stamets was comatose having done one mushroom-warp too many and the ship was somewhere it shouldn’t be. If you guessed ‘mirror universe’ then you would be right!

The crew work things out quickly and if anybody says “too quickly” then watch the original Mirror, Mirror again – they take more time to work it out than Kirk did. The comedy comes from making Tilly the most dreaded captain in the Terran Empire and Doug Jones gets the best lines detailing her many sobriquets which finish with “Captain Killy”.

The Terran Empire is fleshed out a bit in an info-dump. It is xenophobic and has an Emperor. A slight departure from canon as the original mirror universe had Spock as a senior officer of the Enterprise but heck, this could be the next mirror universe over.

For Captain Lorca haters he gets put in a torture booth – so something for everybody this episode…

…except for Doctor Culber fans. Things go not good there. A shocking event – it is OK for characters to die but to kill off one half of the only stable romantic relationship and the first gay couple in Star Trek is problematic. We’ll see – there maybe more twist and turns yet and of all the places to get killed, a starship medical bay is the best to maybe get unkilled.

Speaking of which, Tyler is pretty much confirmed as being a drastically modified Klingon and almost certainly Voq – the visionary Klingon who took on the mantle of unifiyingthe Klingon’s only to be deposed in a coup. As a character, Tyler is close to working as tragic figure – a deep cover Klingon spy (probably) whose cover identity is genuine. Yes, it is much more angsty than normal for Star Trek but it’s kind of…I don’t know…I want to say ‘Goth’?

Speaking of angst…Michale Burnham gets to kill a former crewmate who she had seen die previously, so Tyler doesn’t get all the angst. Of course, this is the evil mirror version of her ex-crewmate but still.

Rankings

  1. Episode 9: Into the Forest I Go
  2. Episode 3: Context is for Kings
  3. Episode 10: Despite Yourself
  4. Episode 4: Seriously stupidly long episode name
  5. Episode 2: Battle at the Binary Stars
  6. Episode 6: Lethe
  7. Episode 8: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
  8. Episode 5: Choose Your Pain
  9. Episode 1: The Vulcan Hello
  10. Episode 7: Seriously WTF Discovery Scriptwriters? [revised title]

Bits and Pieces

  • I like that Dr Culber gets to list a whole bunch of test starfleet does to spot Manchurian candidates, dopplegangers and people in disguise. Not that any of them included a basic DNA test apparently.
  • No, the Mirror universe doesn’t make sense the more you think about it but that’s canon. The same people end up in more or less the same places but evil. How does that work? It doesn’t – don’t think about it. Sshhhh.
  • Maybe that shuttle pilot from Episode 3 is the Terran Emperor. I hope so.
  • Stamets is having visions and uttering dire warnings about a palace.
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14 comments

  1. Peer

    As the saying goes: if the captains in pain, the mice are having sex.

    Boy, that show made a left turn into “grimdark”. And its not just the universe. The ending was tough. The doctor being killed even more so. With all that personal dying, I dont know if a second season is planned.

    After Lorcas talk about destiny I still deem it possible, that he is from the mirror universe. He was at large anyway.
    And my take for the emperor is either Stamet or Mudd (or more likely Georgiou)

    Liked by 2 people

    • camestrosfelapton

      Oh yeah…I hadn’t thought about the fact that mirror Lorca is on the run…and Lorca was very keen on finding parallel universes…it’s making a lot of sense.

      Oh god – it makes 100% sense! Mirror Lorca was being chased by mirror Michael – so Lorca recruiting Michael makes sense.

      Mirror Lorca might even have been relatively good by Terran standards and hence found it easier to fit in with the federation.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. stevejwright

    My guess would be that a second season is certainly possible – the rumour mill says it’s been greenlit already – but Ash Tyler will be working out some tragic redemption arc for the rest of this season, and will be but a (possibly fond) memory by the next one. I don’t think killing Culber is something he can reasonably come back from, in story terms. It’s the sort of irrevocable action that has to have profound consequences. (There’s a wisecrack somewhere in there about Tyler being well and truly Voq’ed, but I am far too mature to make it.)

    This is still not the continuity I’m familiar with, by the way – the design of the Defiant isn’t quite the Constitution-class we know and love (and saw in that Enterprise two-parter), and the Klingons in this universe are still using their Lexx-style insectile fighters. Never mind, I’m sure it will all come out in the wash. Possibly.

    The fact that no one has seen acroL’s or mahnruB’s bodies doesn’t bode well for either of them actually being dead – I can’t help feeling they are likely to arrive later in the season, at an embarrassing time for their prime-universe counterparts.

    And, my, Burnham knows how to make an entrance, doesn’t she?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. stevejwright

    Oh, and if we’re playing “guess the Emperor” – well. Nobody knows what the Emperor looks like, so clearly he has something to hide. “He” might be female, even though Connor used male pronouns… but my WAG is that the Terran Empire is virulently xenophobic, and the Emperor’s big secret is that he isn’t human. So I’m putting some money on mirror Sarek. (Not a lot of money, mind.)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Cora

    The mirror stuff was actually kind of fun and well done, though rather predictable.

    I really hated the whole Tyler/Voq reveal and what happened to Doctor Culber, hated it so much that it canceled out the fun bits of the episode for me. For starters, they just destroyed about the only thing I actually liked about Discovery – the pairings of Stamets/Culber and Burnham/Tyler – in one swoop and they did it for cheap shock value to have a twist that surprised absolutely no one, since people had figured it out months ago. What is more, Discovery just killed off half of the first gay couple in Star Trek history and they killed the third character of colour (five, if you include the two dead Klingon leaders who were played by actors of colour) in only ten episodes. Plus, they revealed a character played by an actor of Pakistani origin to be a sleeper agent for an enemy power. And while the production team seems to be aware how offensive killing one of only two gay characters in Star Trek history is, they seem to have zero awareness for how offensive killing off all but two main characters of colour (and I’m pretty sure Tyler won’t survive the end of the season and maybe Michael won’t survive either) and having an actor of Pakistani origin (who’s presumably muslim) play an infiltrator and sleeper agents truly is.

    By this point, I fear that the only thing that can save Discovery would a cheesy “Surprise, season 1 was a bad dream, so here is the real season 1” reveal.

    Like

  5. Mark Hepworth

    Wow.

    I just finished watching, and that’s the most coherence I can muster.

    Killing off the doctor is a terrible blow – that was the most interesting relationship in the show. Dare I hope for some sort of retcon – the return of mirror doc?

    The payoffs from the first half of the season were spectacular.

    Liked by 3 people

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