Here we are, at the midseason finale of the first season of Star Trek: Discovery. It feels like this season has flown by, and yet when I reflect on it, the writers and actors have done an incredible job developing their characters. I’m emotionally engaged in this narrative and in the people in a way I rarely am at this point in a show. Expectations were high because it’s Star Trek, and I have to say, Discovery has delivered in a way I wasn’t sure was possible for a new iteration of the franchise.
This episode had me on the edge of my seat from the first few scenes, as the end of “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” led straight into “Into the Forest I Go.” The intensity didn’t let up throughout the episode, and it was a wild ride from beginning to end.
Good and bad
Admiral Cornwell is alive! I unceremoniously wrote her off for dead in my last recap, but it turns out that not only did she survive, but she’ll make a full recovery from her wounds. I appreciated her level of badassery; her injuries were serious, and it looked like there was no coming back from them, but Cornwell managed to hold her own. It will be interesting to see how that story unfolds now, given that she believes Lorca is unfit for duty but Starfleet is ready to give him medals.
Speaking of the scenes aboard the Klingon ship of the dead, Tyler is clearly not as over his experiences at the hands of the Klingons (and specifically L’Rell) as he appeared to be, which isn’t a surprise. You don’t come out from something like that unscathed, and it’s nice that the show isn’t brushing his trauma under a rug. He’s confronting it, and the shame that comes with what he was forced to do to survive. He has nothing to actually be ashamed of, but the show does a great job showing how he feels about it, and it’s nice that Michael is there to tell him that. I appreciate that Discovery is digging into this issue.
Captain Lorca was in fine (and intriguing) form in this episode. We’ve seen him lead, and we’ve seen him manipulate, and we got to watch him do both in a masterful way here. He was an inspiring leader, but he also definitely convinced Lt. Stamets to make some questionable decisions in regard to his own personal health in the name of duty. But just when you think that everything Lorca does is tinged with his own agenda, he does something like telling Starfleet to hand over the medal they wanted to give him to Stamets. I love the contradictions in this character, and the fact that I’m totally taken in by him, even as I know his motives are questionable.
It was so great to see Michael have her moment with the Klingons, and I appreciated that she held her own in a realistic way. Yes, she got a bit pounded, but it was clear from the beginning that her goal wasn’t to win. It was to stall as long as possible so Discovery could get its data and beam her out. She didn’t emerge unscathed, but she got in a few good blows and managed to snag Captain Georgiou’s Starfleet badge back in the process.
Things to ponder
I still stand behind behind my theory of Tyler’s true identity (even if Shazad Latif has somewhat debunked it), but am now wondering if his memory has somehow been wiped. The trauma he experienced when he saw L’Rell felt very real, and the scene at the end of the episode between the two of them made it seem like he senses something is not quite right, but he doesn’t know what exactly it is. (Am I reaching too hard at this point to make this theory a Thing?)
It’s hard to overstate how much I love Stamets and Dr. Culber as a couple. Their affection for each other is infectious; I can’t help but smile every time I see them on screen. I’ll admit that I’m incredibly worried as to what Stamets’ fate will be, as he collapsed after an incomplete spore drive jump.
The back half of the season starts January 9, and it seems like the episodes will revolve around Discovery being on its own in an unknown region of (presumably Klingon) space. All in all, these first nine episodes were, frankly, incredible, and I can’t wait to see where the show boldly takes us from here when it returns.