Sometimes watching Star Trek: Discovery can be very stressful. The fact is, the show has made clear that its characters aren’t safe. I have a pretty good sense of who the show might kill off and who it won’t (for example, I think we’ll continue to see Michael Burnham for a long time), but there’s always a chance I’ll be wrong. Episode 11 of Discovery, “The Wolf Inside,” was a nailbiter for me (but at this point, when am I not at the edge of my seat when watching this show?).
Pros and Cons
One thing I’m really appreciating is that the Mirror Universe in Star Trek: Discovery has a purpose beyond “Let’s see how different we can make things.” Sure, that’s a part of it, but it’s not the main purpose of the arc. First, as I mentioned in my previous recap, the Terran Empire’s xenophobic and racist platform provides important commentary, given what’s going on in the U.S. right now. It also asks fundamental questions about the nature of people, something that Burnham struggles with in this episode. And finally, it gives Michael the opportunity to further understand the Klingons and what it will take to make peace with them.
You can see the toll that playing this role is taking on Michael, and how she feels the person she was slipping away as she tries to fit into this new role. When you pretend to be someone you’re not, how long will it be before you become that person?
We’ve really seen Tilly come into her own in the Mirror Universe. Perhaps it’s knowing that a version of her exists in which she’s a strong, confident captain, or perhaps it’s the act of faking it, but she’s really come a long way. (Again — asking the question of how long it takes before faking it becomes the real thing.) I loved watching her argue with Saru about why she should be in control of Stamets’ recovery.
Speaking of Stamets, did anyone else cry at that opening, when he was cradling Culber’s body? That was really hard to watch. This show is so beautiful, and allows for such quiet, heartfelt moments in the midst of the action. It’s so well done.
It was interesting to see a little more about the Terran Empire — specifically, that they use aliens as slaves. Another quiet moment I loved in this episode was seeing Burnham lie to Saru about having seen his kind in the Mirror Universe. It was a small lie, but one that preserves his dignity.
Things to Ponder
Michelle Yeoh is back! I suspected we’d see her in the Mirror Universe, and in fact, I was pretty sure she’d indeed be the mysterious Emperor. It’s so nice to see her again, and I can’t wait to see how she’s used in the next episode. (And I loved seeing James Frain as Sarek again — with a beard, no less.)
The Ash/Voq scenes were absolutely stellar in this episode — props to actor Shazad Latif for his excellent work. All of this came to a head much faster than I expected (though that’s something I find remarkable about the series as a whole, just how fast it moves), but now it’s out in the open. Ash has accepted his identity as Voq, and that Burnham and the Starfleet officers are his enemies. Or has he? He’s got all his memories back, but is the implanted memory of Tyler still in there? Is he going to be torn between allegiances, or is that all over? I spoke with Shazad Latif about Ash/Voq and other aspects of this episode over at Fangrrls.
I’ll admit there’s some selfish hopefulness in those questions. I absolutely love the character of Tyler, I think his chemistry with Burnham is amazing, and I think a story where a Klingon hero works to bring peace could be really interesting. But the showrunners haven’t let me down yet, so even if things don’t go how I want them to, I have no doubt it’ll be fascinating.
You’ll notice I haven’t said much about Lorca in these recaps. I don’t really know what to make of him or what he’s doing at this point. The fact that he’s up to something is clear. But I can’t determine what. I’ve seen some speculation that Lorca is actually from this Mirror Universe, which is why he’s manipulated events (even possibly interrupting the spore jump in the first place) to end up here. I’m not ruling that out. But he hasn’t been used much these past two episodes, which makes me think something big is coming.
Also, what was up with the scene in Stamets' mind? He met his Mirror Universe counterpart — does this mean that his opposite is also in a spore coma? Is it possible that Stamets' counterpart could take over our Stamets? Am I just imagining or reading way too much into all of this?
The Mirror Universe is certainly stressful, but I’m about ready for the crew to get back to their own universe. I want to see how what Discovery has experienced in this universe will impact the regular universe, and also how the Mirror Discovery has messed things up on the other side (because you know they have wreaked some havoc).