Given everything that happened in this episode, it’s strange that it was a comparatively quiet one for Star Trek: Discovery. On most other shows, this would have been an action-packed episode. But our brave characters got the chance to reflect and come to terms with what’s happened to them in “The War Without, the War Within.” As the series heads to a stellar first-season conclusion with next week’s episode, this installment provided plenty of fodder for thought.
The good and the bad
Sarek is back! I’m pretty sure I start out every recap of every episode that James Frain guest stars in with that exclamation, but really. I feel like I gush way too much about the acting in this show, but it’s so well cast, and Frain is no exception. He had some really nice moments in this episode; it was great to see him go up against Emperor Georgiou and be protective of Michael. And their parting, and Sarek’s words about love, were so beautiful. You could tell Michael was taken aback when Sarek referred to Amanda as her mother, because that by extension means that Sarek considers himself her father.
We got some answers on Ash’s storyline this week. It looks like Voq is indeed, gone, though Ash retains his memories. He’s not really Tyler or Voq though, but someone new. That was a fantastic scene between him and Stamets, but the real highlight was between Ash and Michael. I loved everything about it. Of course, the part of me that roots for them as a couple wanted to see them make up, but it’s not that easy or simple. I appreciated the reason that Michael was angry had less to do with Voq and more to do with Ash lying to her, and that she basically told him “I can’t save you, you have to save yourself. Just like I did.” I think the door isn’t closed on that relationship, but Ash needs to process the trauma he’s been through first.
Tilly’s scene with Michael was so great. Sylvia’s grown quite a bit, thanks to her time in the Mirror Universe. For so long, Michael had things to teach Sylvia, but now Tilly recognizes that she has her own wisdom. Sylvia is very good at emotions and feelings, and that experience is valuable for Michael who…isn’t.
Things to ponder
It looks like where we ended up at the end of the last episode was slightly misleading. The war is still ongoing. While the Klingons are winning and inflicting heavy, heavy losses, the Federation is still fighting. Admiral Cornwell is still around, and seems to have recovered completely from her earlier injuries. She had an incredible scene with L’Rell, trying to figure out what the Klingons want and how to defeat them once and for all. In the end, they come up with a daring plan that involves attacking Kronos itself. Conveniently, they are able to quickly regrow spores (a little too convenient, but I’m willing to forgive it to allow the plot to move forward) and are on their way. The catch is the plan is mostly masterminded by Emperor Georgiou.
I will admit I yelled “THIS IS NOT GOING TO END WELL” when Michelle Yeoh walked out in that Starfleet uniform. Putting the Discovery, Starfleet’s one real weapon against the Klingons, in the hands of a ruthless xenophobic anti-alien leader is such a bad idea. The look on both Saru’s and Burnham’s faces was pretty great, and probably mirrored the expression of horror on my own.
Next week is the season finale, and it will be interesting to see where the writers leave us. I’m hoping there’s not too much of a cliffhanger, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was. I think we can all agree it’s going to be full of edge-of-your-seat tension though.