Star Trek Discovery – The War Without, The War Within

Well that was a fun episode of Deep Space 9. All very Treky but set amid the turmoil of war, as people examined their conscience and their troubled relationships. No Morn though, so maybe not.

It was good I think. There was some bonkers stuff but it was consistent bonkers stuff rather than gaping plot holes (well until the mandatory Dicovery BIG TWIST). I was deeply concerned when Tilly began to pressure Michael into trying to help Ash Tyler recover his sense of self but the script handle this well on balance.

It isn’t uncommon in SF series for characters to do violent things when they are ‘not themselves’ courtesy of SF reasons. Ash Tyler has been, in particular, not himself. In previous episodes with his underlying Klingon Voq personality resurfacing he murderd Doctor Culber and attempted to murder Michael. The parallels with excuses made by domestic abusers (i.e. ‘I wasn’t myself’) can’t be avoided but at the same time bonkers SF plotting makes Tyler a sympathetic character (also the ulitmate Goth surely). It was a tricky path to navigate but they did it. Michael declined to take on the burden of helping Tyler heal psychologically and explained her reasons in a way that was not cruel but rather pragmatic and focused on her own self care.

Meanwhile the war is hopeless for the Federation. There is an implication that the Klingons are more devestatingbecause they are disunited – which doesn’t make a lot of strategic sense but presumably the overwhelming advantage of cloaking technology has made all the difference.

So we get a bonkers plan and it is over the top and very silly but silly in a good way. It is fine to have mad handwavey science if it all hangs together. As a side quest Stamets gets to run his own mini-genesis project on a desolate moon – a plot element which seem to have been added mainly for the cool terraforming sequence. Again, I’m not complaining – I want cool terraforming sequences in my TV shows. I love Better Call Saul but it does singulalry lack any cool terraforming sequences.

Rankings

  1. Episode 9: Into the Forest I Go
  2. Episode 13: What’s Past is Prologue
  3. Episode 14: The War Without, The War Within
  4. Episode 12: Vaulting Ambition
  5. Episode 3: Context is for Kings
  6. Episode 10: Despite Yourself
  7. Episode 4: Seriously stupidly long episode name
  8. Episode 2: Battle at the Binary Stars
  9. Episode 6: Lethe
  10. Episode 11: The Wolf inside
  11. Episode 8: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
  12. Episode 5: Choose Your Pain
  13. Episode 1: The Vulcan Hello
  14. Episode 7: Seriously WTF Discovery Scriptwriters? [revised title]

Bits and Pieces

  • I’m probably alone in this but I missed Lorca
  • The redhead gang decide to cheer up Tyler in the canteen
  • Nobody is buttoning up their jackets because the war is just TO desperate
  • Is it Qronos of Qonos? I can’t remember and I refuse to look it up
  • So there’s plan that is unlikely to get through an ethics committee in motion, courtesy of Sarek and the Georgiou-formerly-known-as-Emperor…
  • The whereabouts of the shuttle pilot remains unknown
  • Luckily the Georgiou-formerly-known-as-Emperor let Saru know early on that he was a menu item back in the other universe. This got the awkwardness over quickly for Michael.
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23 thoughts on “Star Trek Discovery – The War Without, The War Within

      1. It had fewer explosions, and focused on actual character interactions πŸ™‚

        Wake me up when a character has an interesting point of view, rooted in their specific culture. Or when Saru starts foisting Kelpian literature on Tilly as inspirational material. πŸ˜›

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  1. This episode was very much a “OK, let’s just find our footing here before we go in for the big climax” type of thing. I’m glad to have it, because honestly I feel like some very basic reactions have been missing (“Tyler is actually a Klingon! But, wow, there’s more urgent stuff going on now; better shelve that for two episodes”); it’s a kind of connective tissue.

    Stamets’s terraforming project would’ve been really nice to bring up as an alternative to being stuck forever in the Mirror Universe, wouldn’t it πŸ˜› The mycelial network is bugging the heck out of me; way more than Trekkish technobabble ever did. It’s like if they made a whole B-plot about how hard Scottie’s working to bring the Enterprise to Warp 8 like Kirk wants, and at the climactic moment, he actually manages it.

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  2. I liked the observation made by one reviewer that the season appears to be heading towards a mutiny to end the run as a deliberate book-end to the start. It’s just that the contortions necessary for them to get there have been rather extreme…

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  3. I was glad to see Admiral Cornwell again – I must have blinked and missed the bit where she was transported off the ship before the jump to the mirror universe; I’d been assuming she was locked in Discovery’s lavvy.

    It is apparently part of the design specification of the USS Discovery that it must be commanded by a mirror universe psychopath. Whatever Sarek and uoigroeG have planned, it will clearly involve something more than peaceful probing of the Klingon homeworld (it’s Qo’noS btw, but the capital Q means something gargly in Klingon phonetics), and it sounds like it’s going to end badly for someone.

    Poor Tyler. I don’t know what’s going to happen to him. Will he die a tragically heroic redemptive death at the season’s climax, or will he be kept around longer, to generate more Angst for the plot generators?

    The yrevocsiD blew up for reasons undetermined when it entered the prime universe… but does this guarantee none of the crew escaped? It would be interesting if Captain Killy is loose in the real world.

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    1. We can have all the redheads!

      It was a bit DS9 flavored and the terraforming was a nice bit of Trek. But now we’re back to let’s be savage and burn the entire home Klingon population with the woman who did it before. Exactly how this is supposed to fit into the Original Trek universe I give up, but Burnham throws things off the rails, so she’ll do it again. And some of the kids on the bridge had lines! So overall I enjoyed this episode more than I have most of them.

      I was wrong/confused about Tyler — Tyler consciousness wasn’t grafted on to Voq, but instead somehow Voq consciousness was grafted on to Tyler. So I thought they did fairly well with it, but Michael’s you have to work through it yourself speech is going to go right out the window since she’s going to need Tyler and his Klingon Voq knowledge and L’Rell to throw the burn everybody plan off the rails.

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      1. That’s why I was initially confused, also because L’Rell said that Tyler was layered on Voq, I thought. But it sounds like they combined their bodies or something? But they were hiding Voq’s DNA, so most of the body and original mind is Tyler. And because Tyler started to recover from stresses with the Discovery and his relationship with Burnham, he was able to partially fight the embedded commands. It isn’t very well thought out, but then that’s par for the course for this show (and not entirely alien from Trek shows in general.)

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      2. Frankly, Michael’s “You have to work through your pain yourself and suffer like I did” speech to Tyler annoyed me and I’m usually a Michael apologist. After all, Tyler was the one person aboard the Discovery who treated Michael well from the first moment they met on. Everybody else, including even the otherwise wonderful Tilly, initially treated Michael badly, but Tyler never did. I understand that Michael is pissed off at Tyler and also not good with emotions in general, but Tyler was always supportive to her, the only one who was, and now that he needs some support, she shoves him away. Not cool, Michael.

        Though I like that the rest of the Discovery crew does not treat Tyler badly. Indeed, they treat him a lot better than they treated Michael, even though Tyler has actually killed someone, even if he was not himself at the time, whereas all Michael did was attempt a mutiny that went nowhere and show some spectacularly bad judgement. Hell, the scarred redhead from the bridge (Detmer?) wouldn’t give Michael the time of day, but sits down with Ash. I’m pleased that the Discovery crew is behaving much more like I would expect Starfleet personnel to behave, now Lorca is out of the picture, but I can’t help but notice the double-standard there.

        In fact, the way Discovery treats the characters of Michael and Ash illustrates why I hate redemption arcs in US media (and the whole concept is a very American thing. There isn’t even a good translation for “redemption” in German). Because redemption arcs are generally used as an excuse to heap abuse and humiliation on a character, who usually doesn’t deserve it. There are some rare examples of redemption arcs that work – Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 is one – but most of them don’t, because the characters usually don’t deserve all the pain and humiliation heaped upon them. Michael certainly doesn’t deserve what happened to her and while Voq would deserve bad things happening to him, Voq is gone and Ash Tyler is a completely different personality stuck in the same body. And I’d rather see Michael and Ash helping each other through the awful things that happened to them, then have them torn apart for the sake of cheap drama and yet another stupid redemption arc.

        My dream ending would be that Michael and Ash decide that the Federation, the Klingons and the war can screw themselves and run off together to become space pirates or something. But that’s not going to happen and I fear that one or both of them won’t survive the season finale.

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      3. I think you’re downplaying the abuse angle there, Cora. Yes, Tyler was not in control when he tried to kill her, but he remembers trying to kill her and Voq isn’t gone from him, just suppressed. And before Voq took over fully, he lied to her about what was happening to him as Tyler, so she can’t trust him. It’s hard for Michael to be with a man who tried to kill her, to have him touch her while remembering him trying to kill her, even if he wasn’t in control. And there’s the fear that Voq might pop up again at any time (though Voq only tried to kill her reluctantly in the end.) She doesn’t hate Tyler, but she is telling him that she’s simply not able psychologically to be his crutch and to help him, that he has to do it on his own because she simply can’t trust what they had in the past — she doesn’t know what was Tyler and what was sub-consciously and consciously Voq. And also because Tyler being dependent on her is not going to really help him deal with his fractured psyche. Michael has been so thoroughly traumatized by everything that’s happened to her, all the betrayals and guilt at her own betrayals — she probably would be a whimpering ball if it wasn’t for her Vulcan training. So she just can’t manage it. But that will change when she needs Tyler to help her thwart the genocide of the Klingons that’s planned.

        As for the rest of the crew, Michael wasn’t rejected initially simply for a mutiny. Nor, technically, did she get Georgiou killed since it was Georgiou who decided to board the Klingon ship instead of following Star Fleet orders. But the Federation does feel — and she also feels — that Michael caused the war, a war in which thousands have died after a battle that Michael started that wiped out several starships, and Michael’s killing of the Klingon prophet which temporarily united the Klingons to go to war. Red-headed Kayla is scarred because of Michael — because of that battle Michael caused and she almost died from that. Michael had good instincts about what was going on, but Michael tried to take over and that launched the war — sooner than might have happened. So yeah, they don’t like her much at first; they have an impression of her as a betrayer they can’t trust at first. But the series over the episodes show that the crew was warming up to Michael after she saved their butts several times and they accepted her as a specialist on the bridge because MirrorLorca pretty much didn’t tolerate anything else.

        Tyler did horrible things but they know that he was not in control of his mind when he did them, that he had been tortured and had his mind taken over by a Klingon. So even though they’re nervous that the Klingon might pop up again, they accept that Tyler had essentially a mental illness caused by the Klingons, that he was forced to be a sleeper agent, not willingly one. They know he feels awful for what happened, that he would not have done that himself. But Michael was not taken over by a Klingon mind. She did what she did willingly and consciously, including mutiny and lying. So they didn’t treat it the same way, which seems kind of logical. (I also think that they are slowly getting a bit more Trek-ish on the show, and the treatment of Tyler fits that.)

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  4. So this episode wouldnt have existed if it was a show with episodes, instead of a season arc. A lot of loose ends tighten, which I liked, but the last 15 minutes or so, there was a lot of stalling so the finale can happen next week.
    I bet a can of vanilla coke that the devious plan from the Mirroruniverse will change the faces of klingons to look like they used to.

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      1. Later Trek, as the classic Trek look has been explained at Enterprise.
        Oh and I also miss Lorca. It was interesting to have a mad captain…

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      2. I kind of miss Lorca, too. He was mad and an awful person, but at least he was always interesting. Meanwhile, this episode was kind of dull.

        Also, if Discovery is so intent on having a redemption arc, why not try to redeem Lorca? At least, he would have been a challenge.

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      3. I honestly thought MirrorLorca maybe was going to be redeemed from his time in the Prime universe or was going to have turned out to be a secret Terran freedom fighter working with MirrorVoq in the Mirrorverse, but he was just an Emperor wannabe who did help out the Federation so that he could get back. He was a cool potential villain and then he wasn’t a very good villain in the end, nor a redeemed or secret hero. (I think MirrorLorca did love MirrorMichael because he just threw his whole shot away trying to get PrimeMichael to join up with him.) So I didn’t really miss MirrorLorca because he turned out to be a disappointment. I do miss Jason Isaacs though, so I wouldn’t mind if somehow they could have PrimeLorca turn up alive at some point. But I’m still debating whether I’m going to watch the show its next season or not.

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    1. There are some trademark issues between the various production companies with rights to Trek that require changes to visuals so that they are slightly different from previous properties, such as uniform design, Klingon appearance, etc. and Fuller seems to have run with that to update the Klingons to a more brutal look. It is doubtful that they are going to change it at this point.

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  5. We *may* be getting Prime Lorca back — in the new Star Trek Discovery novel, there is a scene at the end (after the main story and after the epilogue, so I don’t think this is a spoiler for the novel itself) that implies he is alive and in the Mirror Universe. I don’t know how canonical that is, since I don’t know if the new Discovery novels are supposed to be counted that way, but it gave me hope for Lorca Prime showing back up somehow.

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  6. Yeah, I want my Jason Isaacs back!

    Though I get so irritated at some of the plot elements — like Michael, the twisted sort of Mary Sue/Cassandra who always has the right ideas but nobody will listen to most of the time; or Tyler who was always too wimpy to be security chief, and who in the hell would make a guy who’s just been tortured for 6 months into a security chief anyway, and is the Federation or is it not advanced enough to test the guy’s friggin’ DNA, and could they at least make up their bloody minds about whether that’s actually Voq’s body or not; or sure, grow a complete planet’s worth of fungal spores in a few seconds, be my guest! — that I don’t know if continuing to watch is really gonna be worth it.

    Sigh.

    Oh, and I want to see more fight scenes with Michelle Yeoh! Go get ’em, Michelle! How can you have a whole series with Michelle Yeoh and not have more fight scenes???

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