Star Trek: Discovery

“Despite Yourself”

3 stars.

Air date: 1/7/2018
Written by Sean Cochran
Directed by Jonathan Frakes

Review Text

"Into the Forest I Go" was an hour that brought a lot of pieces together in this uneven first season of Discovery, and it ended with a final twist that we now see serves as a sharp left turn into a new arc set in Trek's Mirror Universe. The MU was of course famously established in TOS's "Mirror, Mirror," before lying dormant for decades until DS9 picked up the mantle for its annual hijinks. Then in its final season, Enterprise also ventured into the arena with "In a Mirror, Darkly," which featured some time-bending that brought the USS Defiant back from the TOS era into the Enterprise's prequel era. The events surrounding the Defiant are specifically referenced in "Despite Yourself," which is a solid outing that sets up this new setting and looks to be just the beginning.

What isn't clear is how long we'll be in the MU — and whether this will prove to be a significant story point that has larger implications to this series' characters and reality, or if this is just a detour-like lark for some antihero intrigue. Will this venture into the MU figure into a cohesive or thematic whole for the season, or will we get to the end of it and wonder, "What was all that about?" "Into the Forest I Go" indicated the war with the Klingons was a necessary piece of business that must be dealt with, but alleged it was just the prologue before a more Trekkian scientific mission of discovery could commence. "Despite Yourself," on the other hand, shows signs of this series becoming a series of prologues followed (or interrupted) by more prologues.

At the same time, there's potential here related to the concept of self-identity and the appearance of one to others, a theme that has been present throughout this season especially with regard to characters like Burnham, Tyler, and Lorca. Different roles in the MU may further press these already-present issues. Those issues are on full display in "Despite Yourself," which might be the most thematically cohesive episode of the series so far.

The amusing paradox of the MU is that, for all its darkness and its population of homicidal maniacs, it engenders a lighter tone than the straight-on seriousness of Discovery's normal universe. That's because the MU (with the possible exception of DS9's "Crossover," I suppose) has always been elevated into the realm of comic-book exaggeration. Discovery appears to be following suit, and that allows some of the fun to emerge. (The characters at one point theorize that the Discovery has swapped universes with its evil counterpart, raising the question of what that ship is doing in our universe while this ship is in theirs.)

Perhaps the most inspired choice here is the revelation that the mirror-Discovery's captain is Tilly (nicknamed "Captain Killy" — subtle). This means our awkward and verbally unprepared Tilly must take on the role of pretend-captain while in this universe. In the process, she must undergo a complete transformation of appearance and personality. She must become a different version of herself where she literally lets her hair down. This results in some funny scenes that show promise for letting the character out to breathe a little more. (Also funny: Lorca's "chief engineer" impression using a Scottish accent.)

Meanwhile, Burnham learns that her counterpart, who was formerly the captain of the mirror-Shenzhou, has been presumed killed in this universe by mirror-Lorca. So a plan is enacted for her to alter the "presumed dead" storyline by resurfacing — and bringing Lorca back to the Shenzhou as her prisoner and reclaiming command of her ship. There's a scene where she's attacked by the now-captain of the Shenzhou that took over command after Burnham was out of the picture. This guy has no intention of turning command back over to his former boss, so he tries to murder her instead. This leads to an effective fight scene in a turbolift, and as Michael stabs her attacker she has a look of horror that reveals the distance between her real identity and her assumed one. Role playing here is going to take a toll on the conscience.

As for Lorca — well, there's still the question of how he fits into all this. I remain suspicious over the fact he survived the destruction of his previous ship, the Buran, and I'm even more suspicious about the fact the MU's Buran was also destroyed. There was also that blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment in "Into the Forest I Go" where he apparently overrode the destination of the final jump that ultimately brought the Discovery here. If he brought the ship here intentionally, why? I don't know how this fits into his agenda, given how sideways the whole situation goes, with him ultimately being thrown into an Agony Booth. As always, Lorca always acts like he's on the up-and-up, but there are clues indicating lies and hidden motivations.

Meanwhile, Stamets reveals brief flashes of temporary lucidity in between long bouts of spouting random-seeming oracle-like psychic gibberish containing occasionally ominous clues. As identity crises go, the one existing in between human and oracle is perhaps the most dire.

Correction: The other identity crisis here, and by far the most intense, is Tyler's, as he continues to remember unspeakable surgical horrors undertaken by L'Rell. He visits her in the brig and she tells him what was done to him was a joint effort he willingly participated in, all but explicitly confirming he was transformed from Voq with radical surgeries and brainwashing. She even seems to try "waking" him with an activation phrase that triggers the buried persona inside him. Interestingly, this doesn't completely work, and L'Rell is surprised to discover Tyler still remains partially in control of Voq's mind. We have a programmed personality battling for control against the suppressed personality without knowing for certain what actually lies beneath. (As I've said before, he's basically Boomer on Battlestar Galactica.) Tyler's reaction to this is, understandably, panic. He swears Burnham to secrecy about his disturbing flashbacks because he doesn't want to be sidelined.

So he goes to sickbay to make sure he isn't a ticking time bomb. Turns out he is. Culber finds evidence of massive surgeries, organ transplants, and other possible radically invasive procedures and brainwashing. These apparently slid under the radar during previous exams, explained away by his torture, before Tyler hangs a red flag on them here. That's a pretty convenient conceit considering red flags should've already been hung all over a missing POW who had been sitting for months in a Klingon prison cell. Culber tells Tyler he's grounded until he can get to the bottom of it — and in response Tyler snaps Culber's neck and kills him. Just like that.

It's a rather shocking and sudden fate for a character who was just becoming an interesting part of the ensemble. But I suppose that's the cost/benefit equation when it comes to narrative character deaths: If you must kill a character, doing it in a way that registers as a loss for the audience while also making it a notable moment for the killer makes dramatic sense. Still, that Culber would so foolishly confront a security risk alone in this manner, and the fact that sickbay is so conveniently empty for this to happen (Discovery's general sense of under-population is an ongoing problem) smacks of contrivance — as does the drawn-out serialized plot structure that allows Tyler to go on the away mission with Burnham to the Shenzhou (where they subsequently slide into bed) while Culber apparently lies dead on the floor waiting until next week's episode to be discovered. Is this a Federation starship or a secluded murder-mystery mansion on the upstate coast?

Jonathan Frakes returns to the franchise to direct this episode and it's a mostly effective and entertaining one. Like "Into the Forest I Go," it shows this series working with a more confident narrative that spreads the story around the ensemble pretty well. It looks like we're going to be in the MU for a while. Let's see what the crew can do over here.

Previous episode: Into the Forest I Go
Next episode: The Wolf Inside

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147 comments on this post

    Looks like everyone on the Ash/Voq train was right...

    Captain Tilly! LOL.

    So far, so good...

    God damn, rest in peace Culber. Liked him a lot.

    Finally resolved Stamet's quote a bunch of episodes where he asked Tilly "What are you doing here, captain?"

    Fun episode IMO, twist with Ash was super obvious though. Was hoping for some sort of red herring. Costume team gets extreme props for this episode.

    While moderately interesting, the episode is ultimately somewhat disappointing for me since we’re just seeing a rehash of very familiar themes from the Mirror Universe but in Discovery style. We’ve got the subplots of Tyler with his torture flashbacks — pretty clear now that he was Voq and has been surgically altered to be human. And Stamets’ condition is just flat out bizarre at this stage.

    But I seriously hope the 2nd part of this first season of DSC is not some extended story arc of how Discovery gets back to its own universe, while having all kinds of adventures in the MU. Would much rather the characters genuinely develop as themselves -- not Tilly acting as a captain in the MU. That schtick will wear thin quick.

    After enough MU in the Trek cannon (DS9 went overboard for me, ENT had to do its 2-parter just to tick the box), I'd rather not waste more than 1 DSC episode on it -- although it was telegraphed pretty good. Must say, the agonizer booths on the ISS Shenzhou look far more terrifying than anything from the canon.

    One good thing for me is I do like how the episode refers to the Defiant and basically the events in ENT’s “In a Mirror, Darkly” — being the solution for how to get back. I like the recognition of prior Trek cannon and giving it some integrity — after what this series has done to the Klingons, its refreshing to have something that is familiar.

    Also liked how it wasn't immediately obvious Discovery was in the MU we know so well. The crew went through the whole examination of quantum signatures and retrieving the data core to figure it out. Have to wonder how much Lorca is hiding as he pressed "Home" at the end of "Into the Forest I Go" and that led to the "incomplete navigation sequence" and Stamets going catatonic. But in the MU, Lorca's a fugitive and he's getting tortured in the agonizer booth -- guess he didn't know what he was in for?

    As for Tyler/Voq, will be interesting to see how this develops given the Tyler/Burnham romance going up a notch. I'm surprised Tyler kills the doctor -- perhaps to show he's really unstable (if that wasn't obvious enough already). The scene with him and L'Rell was more of the same vague crap.

    2.5 stars for "Despite Yourself" -- probably will be liked by folks who like the MU gimmicks and inconsequential character transformations. Not a bad plot but definitely a familiar one -- just wishing this series would do something original (if that's still possible in Trek).


    That aside, today's episode was an amazing entrance into the new arc that I'm glad is taking place (the Klingon War got a little too ridiculous and quickly resolved). After watching shows like Arrow and The Flash, it's always fun to see what characters do and how they act in a "mirror" or "alternative" universe, this case with Tilly being the captain.

    3.5/4 for me. Keep the hotstreak going from the last episode as well Discovery. #FuckTheHaters

    Great episode, I would give it 3.5 stars. Yes, the Ash/Voq thing was kind of obvious, but there is still a mystery as to exactly what happened. Even the Klingon female seemed confused that he wasn't behaving as she thought he would. Perhaps something went wrong with whatever she did to him.

    @Rahul, I don't see the mirror universe plot as a gimmick, not if the writers focus on our universe's characters and how they deal with the situation. That's what made the original series episode so good, and it would seem this show is going down that same route, except they are doing it as a multiple episode arc. I really liked it, and am looking forward to the upcoming episodes. I still think the captain may be somehow linked to what's happening, but who knows. That's what makes it fun to watch!

    Are we going to see a mirror Philippa soon? I feel like it’s strong possibility. I don’t want them to spend the whole rest of the season in the mirror universe since that would get a little tedious.

    Hi Shannon,

    The reason I say "gimmick" is due to the artificially created situation that forces the characters to act totally differently -- I think it's OK for 1 (possibly 2) episodes over an entire series. It was incredibly well pulled off in TOS's "Mirror, Mirror" but if it turns out to be a multiple episode arc happening early in the series (and after a several week break), we're just getting used to the characters as they're supposed to be and now we have to see them repeatedly acting as something antithetical to their nature -- at a minimum the timing's not great. Beyond that, we possibly lose who the characters really are ... who knows.

    I don't deny it is fun to watch, but it's likely not particularly meaningful and it's been done so many times before. In TOS's "Mirror, Mirror" you had Kirk's speech to Mirror Spock about 1 man striving for change etc. which was one reason (among many others) that the episode wasn't just like "let's tweak the costumes and sets and make the characters act evil".



    Im actually not certain it's an artificially created situation in the way I think you're implying. Im still very suspicious of Lorca's override on the last jump. The mirror universe could be much more of a plot point than just a couple episodes spend messing around with alter egos depending on Lorca's involvement.

    What if this is Lorca's home universe? He escaped Captain Burnham (or killed her) and found a way into the prime universe to escape. Lorca's ship was destroyed (with him on it) so mirror-Lorca took his place, got command of the Discovery and used the spore drive to go home...with the benefit of having a Federation starship to fight the Empire.

    Hi msb00th,

    I agree with you on the suspicion re. Lorca's override (what exactly does "Home" mean to him). So having that in the background could provide substance for a multiple episode arc. Presumably, this means Lorca has a masterplan in place and I think @Todd's comments are intriguing.

    But just the fact that there is this Mirror Universe where all the guys who are supposed to be good are bad is an artificial plot device, for me.


    While I am slightly disappointed they seem to be going simple MU rather than something more interesting I have to say I am going along with this arc for now. Any bets on who the emperor is? My money is on Captain Georgiou. But maybe it is Lorca somehow and that's how they get found out. Outside bet is Hoshi.

    What if Georgiou is Hoshi's daughter, and the Empire became a dynasty? :o

    ...Ash is Voq, surgically altered into a fake human. My theory is that L'Rell is planning to have him capture or kill Michael Burnham, but L'Rell seems to have thought her code words would have some immediate effect that they did not. Ash is ready to break her neck for a moment, and she expresses genuine confusion. Time will tell how that will eventually play out, but I enjoy being strung along by this, I want to know the whole story of L'Rell. She's just got way too many cards up her sleeve for a Klingon, something's not right.

    "Lorca is actually from this universe" is an interesting theory but it ignores the technobabble plot development at the start of the episode: how has he managed to conceal that his quantum signature does not match the rest of the universe (this was from the script for "Parallels" for those interested in TrekTrivia)?

    That seems a mighty feat, but then, Lorca does have all those wonderful toys. Is he the Batman of the Star Trek Universe, or is he just Bela Lugosi out to suck your bluid? Ah ah ah, Nick Meyer isn't telling you, ah ah ah! :D

    This Trek is sassy bassy and likes to mess with my head and my ideas of what Star Trek is about, and how I think of it and what it means to me. I enjoy this experience immensely. I like this show.

    ..."Captain Killy." Saru wins a point for "That's totally uncreative." And I have one more tidbit:

    No show or movie has ever made me too scared to laugh but DISCO has accomplished just that feat. When Tilly is first on with the captain of the Cooper, and Lorca poses as the 'Chief Engineer,' I was so shocked by the tension of the scene that I actually couldn't laugh, even though his Scotty impersonation was absolutely dead on. I will probably die laughing the next time I hear it. He has to conceal his voice somehow, they can't know he is Lorca because they don't have any data on this universe about his identity yet. This, to me, is good, layered, detailed humor that works on a lot of levels.

    ...I am going to echo others here and give it a solid 3 and a half our of 4. This entertained me.

    A bit of nitpicking here...

    I am having a bit of trouble with the concept that Tyler can release the force field in the brig at will and nobody else knows a thing about it. Also with him killing Culber, and still going on the mission. Does nobody visit Culber's sickbay and see his body laying there? Did Tyler actually move the body and hide it?

    Anyhow, I am glad the Voq/Ash (non-)secret plot twist is revealed. It was so badly kept hush that the sooner it played out the better. It would have actually had the right impact had they been able to keep it a secret. But there is nothing more mundane than a big twist that you know is coming ahead of time. I was relieved they did it now and didn't drag it any longer.

    Terrific production (again), costume work, and directing by J. Frakes.

    For all else, I'll wait Jammer's review.

    It's fascinating to me how this episode dramatically improved once Tilly embraced her evil side. The first half was an utter, joyless slog.

    My guesses:

    Lorca turns out to be Mirror Lorca. Prime Lorca died when his ship blew up (everyone thought it was unusual that a Captain wouldn't go down with his ship) and his plan the entire time was to get to the MU.

    The emperor will be Georgiou making Burnham have the complicated FEELS.

    This show confounds me. Sometimes it's decent escapist entertainment, but there is just nothing below the surface.

    Where's the moralizing? The philosophy? Allegories that make you consider the human condition? I want these things in a Star Trek show. What I couldn't care less about are the internal plot machinations that don't mean a thing past that. I want these sci-fi stories to mean something past the show itself. That's what made Star Trek so beloved in the first place.

    I am really, REALLY appreciating Martin-Green's performance in this episode. It is right on point. When she stabs Connor, you could see how subtly she feels pain for all the loss she caused on the Shenzhou in the prime universe.

    All of the performances in this were amazing. Everything was sold very well. I really, REALLY hate to see Culber go (he always seemed the most reasonable person on the crew, therefore easy to like and sympathize with—reminded me a lot of someone like Geordi), but his death was affecting, and promises to be more so, if the sneak peek at the end of this episode means anything. I kinda hope he is replaced with a Mirror version of himself, but given his Wilson Cruz's place in the credits, it's probably not likely.

    3.5/4 easily. Could be convinced of 4/4.

    It looks like we're going to be in the mirror universe for the remainder of the season. There are a lot of potential storyline threads to follow for the next several episodes so that's not a problem. Hopefully, like ST:ENT's controversial third season, the show uses its narrow setting to tell a variety of stories, to avoid the audience growing restless.

    One mystery I'm curious to see revealed is the identity of the Emperor. Two theories I'm already intrigued by are Philippa Georgiou (the captain of the Shinzou in the original universe) and Saru. Both offer some great potential. With Georgiou you have an easy connection to draw to Sato (the Enterprise character who became Empress of the Mirror Universe in the great two-parter "In a Mirror, Darkly") as well as a great payoff to Burnham's character. With Saru, you have an alien secretly leading an Empire of anti-aliens, not to mention an alien who, in our universe, is by nature meek and timid, but in the Mirror Universe could be ruthless and cruel.

    Another idea I hope I'm right about is that Lorca is actually from this Mirror Universe. There's a load of questions that concept would raise but without thinking it through too deeply I think that's the biggest shock they could pull out of this show so far, and it would go a long way to explain why he has been so un-Starfleet in his thinking and actions.

    Todd above is most likely correct: Lorca is from the MU and escaped to the prime to avoid death. He took prime Lorca's place in order to obtain command of a science ship, where he worked on a way to get home with a weapon to take another stab at the Emperor. His ruthless attitude is explained by him being MU, which at least would take a bit of the edge off of what was wrong with a lot of S1 (the anti-Trek attitude).

    Another loose end is explained by Lorca being MU, which is why he shot down a Federation shuttle to break Burnham out of prison. He needed her to bring to the MU with him as his cover so that she could take command of the Shenzhou again. If he had shown his face anywhere by himself he'd have been killed or arrested, but in the custody of a feared captain he might get by as a prisoner while he carries out his plan. Presumably once he does what he wants he'd then take his pseudo-revenge on Burnham and kill her.

    One thing problematic about all of these 'aha!' surprises is that they're being telegraphed enough that they're predictable, while still enabling the writers to 'cheat' and simply do something else later on if they feel like it. To me that's a lose-lose for the audience: read the foreshadowing clues correctly and all the guessing games become pointless, but risk having correct interpretations of facts upset by writer's whimsy just to spite expectation. People loved LOST in S1-2 because of the page-turner suspense of all these mysteries, but it didn't take too long for many fans to turn from "this is so cool!" and flip directly into "f*** this show, it's just messing with us at this point." Discovery is doing much the same, and is directly in line with what the new Star Wars episodes are doing in terms of making many promises in the form of mysteries to be answered. Maybe on this show they'll have done a better job actually having answers to them than Star Wars has done.

    About the story of this episode, the pacing by Frakes was good and overall nothing too much screamed out of editing or continuity problems that previous episodes have suffered from. I still find the dialogue very perfunctory but I guess that's what's been established by this point. One notable continuity error I noticed is the claim that the Terran Empire is xenophobic and human-only. By Mirror, Mirror we know that Spock is first officer on the Enterprise, and if that's roughly ten years from now it makes little sense to think that the Vulcans will both cease hostilities with the Empire, that their people will be accepted as tolerable, and that Spock will then rise through the ranks to Commander even though he claims he has no aspirations to command. Basically there's not enough time for all this so I think they made a boo-boo.

    I'll also just mention again that there's something really off-kilter with the visual effects in this show. They offered a rare exterior shot of the Discovery alongside that other Empire vessel early on, and I was shocked at what the look of it was as they ships moved near each other and the other one warped out. I swear it looked like graphics from a PC game 15 years old. What in the world is going on? These are the cheapest visual effects that I've ever seen in a production like this. The ships look worse than what we saw in The Fifth Element for Pete's sake. I just can't understand it.

    Perhaps I spoke too soon about Culber:

    Awesome! I love MU episodes. We'll see how long they stretch this out. And I love how they kept with the tradition of referencing another series MU episode. Keep it up Discovery

    They kept saying Emperor, not Empress, so sadly for me it's probably not Empress Hoshi, which is what I was hoping for, and probably not Georgiou either. I have no clue who it may be at this point, but I'm sure it's someone we already know.

    And I agree that the special effects on the exterior of the ships sort of suck. The rest of the effects are great for the most part. Not sure why the ships look like crap.

    I can't understand why they keep sending Ash on all these missions when they know he's practically a nutcase. And killing Culber and getting away with it for long enough to go with Lorca and Mike? No way. Btw, where is the CMO?!?

    One thing I didn't like is that in all the other MU episodes it was sort of campy and melodramatic. Here they are playing it totally serious. Not what the MU is about, at least for me.

    And I sincerely hope the entire rest of the season isn't in the MU. Another episode or two would be plenty. But since I'm 99% sure that Lorca is going to be from there, they almost have to finish the season out in the MU, or pretty much ditch his character.

    Also I don't know if was sort of an inside joke or what, that they didn't know who the chief engineer was from the database in the MU, so Lorca had to fake it, because they don't know who their own chief engineer on Discovery in the prime universe is either. :D

    A good episode. 3 stars.

    I also hope they devote some time to the MU Discovery that got switched into the prime universe, so we can see what happened with that whole situation.

    Staments will be the Terran Empire emperor.
    Lorca already knows this and is trying to get to him.

    The Discovery we've seen is from neither the Mirror nor the prime universe.

    The Tyler/Voq/Klingon war plots will go the way of Captain Phasma and the identity of Rey's parents.

    All these comments, and nobody has yet noted the subtle redesign of the Constitution class?! When they're looking at the diagram of the Defiant, it's not the classic 1960's Connie that we know and love - the nacelle pylons have angles, the deflector looks weird etc. I'm not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand I've been happy to defend DSC not trying to recreate a 1960's TV set, despite their closeness to the TOS timeline. On the other hand, the original Connie is a goddamn iconic ship, *and* it was also shown in ENT looking exactly the same!

    I quite enjoyed this episode - especially Captain Killey! - but please, please, please, if they do actually get to the Defiant, please keep the exterior. Update the interior if you must, but don't fuck with those classic lines! ENT demonstrated quite handily that it doesn't need to be altered to fit in alongside other ships - it looked right at home on TV in 2004.

    @Tim C:

    'nobody has yet noted the subtle redesign of the Constitution class?!'

    It was the first thing I noticed when they showed the image on screen. It _really_ pissed me off for about 45 seconds. Then my head canon kicked in, and rationalised that the USS Defiant was brought back in time from the PU to the MU's 22nd century and — in the intervening years until now — probably received a refit that is specific to the MU only, and doesn't affect the PU Constitution-class design.

    I really do hope my head canon is right.


    I hope you're right too. I honestly don't mind the visual updates that DSC has done - a 1960's aesthetic to the interior sets and technology would look very silly in 2017 - but the look of the original Constitution class is as iconic an image as Star Trek has. I really wouldn't want it to be altered just for the sake of modernity. It just doesn't feel necessary, especially when ENT demonstrated just how impressive that design can look when filmed without the limitations of a 60's studio model setup.

    I think this is the first DIS episode I didn't actually mind as much as I mind the others, and I credit Jonathan Frakes for this. He at least injected _some_ Trek feeling into this show. The producers would be very wise to get him (and LeVar Burton) to direct as many episodes of this turd of a show as they can, if they actually want to eventually want it to live up to the Star Trek name.

    Culber's death-by-neck-twist brought to mind Worf, and his penchant for neck-breaking (RIP Weyoun 7). Must be a Klingon thing, and I'll bet anything that's a Frakes touch.

    So here's my theory:
    • Lorca is deffo from the MU;
    • He escaped to the PU (probably killing his PU counterpart);
    • He found out about the PU Discovery and its Magic Mushroom Drive™, and decided that bringing it back to the MU would be the perfect way to gain forgiveness from the Emperor for whatever thing he did he had to escape for in the MU.

    If this theory is right, it's a fucking lame Trek storyline to base an entire series on. Ugh.

    I'm wondering if Ash won't end up siding with the Federation in the long run; he doesn't even remember being Voq and his reaction reminded me of Boomer being activated in Season 1 of BSG.

    Dear God, a mirror universe episode / arc already? LOL. Maybe it's time for a clip show. That's the ticket.

    Sadly I cut my cable so I will have to settle for living vicariously through all of you.

    The first episode of Discovery that I thought truly amazing. All the others before this I have thought were either just ok or just downright bad. Johnathan Frakes amazing direction helps and the new designs for the mirror universe are sublime.

    Love live the empire.

    It was fairly predictable they'd end up in the MU, and I don't really mind an arc devoted to it as long as they keep it interesting. What me and others above have mentioned and are worried about is if there's actually a Star Trek humanitarian message at the end of this story. The teaser suggests all the characters might lose themselves to the MU if they aren't careful, and I'm just hoping that's not also a cautionary tale for the writers.

    That said, this episode looks beautiful. I loved the holographic interface on the tool that Tyler was using to extract the computer core. The set designs were also great, with the Terran Empire having these dramatic costumes and logos; I am genuinely terrified of what life must be like for that society.

    I haven't seen the mirror episodes of Enterprise, and maybe they'd help fill in some of the gaps here--

    @Peter G.

    "By Mirror, Mirror we know that Spock is first officer on the Enterprise, and if that's roughly ten years from now it makes little sense to think that the Vulcans will both cease hostilities with the Empire, that their people will be accepted as tolerable, and that Spock will then rise through the ranks to Commander even though he claims he has no aspirations to command. Basically there's not enough time for all this so I think they made a boo-boo."

    I'm under the impression that the history of the MU was changed by having the Defiant go back in time in ENT. Is that not correct? To me this MU already seems very different from the one we know in the TOS - DS9 episodes.

    Why in the hell would a doctor go up to a patient they suspect has been drastically transformed by an enemy to tell them this news without erected a force field or bringing security?!?

    Why does the drama of this show hinge on the characters being massive idiots???

    I kinda laughed when Burnham murdered a man and acted upset for a minute. Like in the show it was supposed to be this big thing. Like "OMG the MU changed her so much!!!". Except we've already seen her commit cold-blooded murder in the very first episode so to me it's just more of who this awful human of a character is.

    Hmm, pretty solid, bold resumption of the first season last night. We're finally learning more about who Tyler really is, and I appreciate how even L'Rell's Grand Evil Plan(TM) isn't quite going off without a hitch.

    Shazad Latif did some nice work here trying and sometimes failing to conceal all of the built-up trauma and confusion stewing within Tyler/Voq.

    As Dr. Venkman said, he's "got at least two or three people in there already," and that really comes through in the performance, not to mention the flashes back not necessarily to torture sessions but of a particularly grisly and invasive surgical procedure.

    My first reaction to Tyler snapping Dr. Culber's neck, (well, second reaction; first was WTF?!!1) was "well, he's not really dead."

    Not only is there likely another Culber in the Mirror U, but I wouldn't rule out Stamets' latent abilities/state of being being used to resurrect the doc. There's too much invested in his character for me accept the shock death.

    Finally, I loved how Lorca decided "okay, time to cosplay as our Mirror counterparts"...not to mention how he roughs himself up on a bulkhead (conveniently precluding the need to visit sickbay where poor Dr. Culber could still lying dead where he stood).

    I also liked how not only was Tilly not particularly jazzed to play her evil counterpart ("Killy", LOL), she wasn't suddenly *really good* at the act. Put on the spot, she started out a little rough before finding her rhythm. She also seemed genuinely disturbed at the prospect of a murderous version of her out there.

    At the same time, we saw that while she was responsible for thousands of deaths and also took out a few Klingons, having to take out a former crewmate in the turbolift (albeit his Mirror version) took a lot out of her in turn.

    That wasn't some abstract casualty; she grappled and struggled and twisted the knife, and if she hadn't, it would have been her lying dead in the lift when it reached the bridge. Having to immediately hide her very normal human reaction to having just killed someone was more great work from SMG.

    Finally, going in knowing this was a Frakes-directed episode, I loved how swiftly and efficiently things moved, but without wrapping everything up by episode's end.

    I'm not opposed to the remainder of the season (or a good chunk of it) being devoted to foiling L'Rell (if her plan ever gets off the ground) and getting back home (preferably with some form of Culber and Stamets still among the crew).

    But if it only takes two or three more eps, I won't complain either, as I wouldn't mind the season ending with some kind of resolution to one or more of the arcs rather than another Big Cliffhanger.

    Ok so how did Tyler go through all of the required physically and scans when coming aboard the Discovery and them not be able to tell he's Klingon?

    Klingons are more different from us than just looks. They have different physiology, blood chemistry, they have redundant organs, etc. McCoy was able to sniff out a disguised Klingon just with one quick scan.

    I really feel like the writers don't actually think about the stories they're writing.

    Also how were they able to disguise their ship and themselves so quickly? Where did they get those outfits? There are no replicators in this time.

    Remembering Tyler drinking what looked like iced coffee (out of a stemless wine glass for some reason) in the mess hall, I suddenly realized...that was a nod to the Raktajino nearly everyone on DS9 got hooked on, right?

    This show is weird. It wants to be its own thing. It feels like a reboot to the point that it alienates most Trek fans. Yet it requires that you have intimate knowledge of Trek stories to understand what is currently going on.

    I imagine for anyone who is using Discovery as a starting point for Trek is confused as hell about this alternate universe thing.

    @ Chrome,

    "I'm under the impression that the history of the MU was changed by having the Defiant go back in time in ENT. Is that not correct? To me this MU already seems very different from the one we know in the TOS - DS9 episodes."

    You're not going to like my answer! At the end of "These Are the Voyages..." we see that the ENT canon is understood as being consistent with the TNG canon, since it segues into The Phoenix as we know it. And a corollary of this is that if ENT exists in the PU then its mirror universe must also be the 'P-mirror' universe. I guess there are two ways around this muddle: (1) To suppose that a parallel MU could come to exist without affecting the PU, so that one dimension changes while the other is identical (wtf), or (2) that the entire series of ENT may or may not be a true prequel, and that *only the series finale* is what Riker and Troi were watching in the holodeck. Ugh.

    @ John Harmon,

    "Ok so how did Tyler go through all of the required physically and scans when coming aboard the Discovery and them not be able to tell he's Klingon?

    Klingons are more different from us than just looks. They have different physiology, blood chemistry, they have redundant organs, etc. McCoy was able to sniff out a disguised Klingon just with one quick scan.

    I really feel like the writers don't actually think about the stories they're writing."

    Didn't you hear what they said? L'Rell....crushed his bones...and made him shorter. And removed his organs. And gave him a new personality. And...changed his DNA? Whatever, don't even try to think about this. The writers seem to have decided to give the Klingons very advanced technology since as of TOS the Klingon spies masquerading as humans are cosmetically human-looking but scan immediately as Klingon on a tricorder. Maybe they'll prevent this being another continuity glitch by later claiming that a secret society of Klingon wizards did it.

    Speaking of continuity glitches, what is it with this show and nicking TNG/DS9/VOY-era sound effects, anyway? The 'incoming hail' signal is straight out of TNG.

    @John Harmon:

    The real question is why Tyler's identity hasn't yet been unmasked by Lorca's tribble.

    @ Josh:

    Because, as John Harmon himself so astutely pointed out previously:

    'the drama of this show hinge(s) on the characters being massive idiots'. Thus, it would never have dawned to Lorca to screen his new Security Chief by bringing he obvious Tribble solution into the picture.

    Sun, Jan 7, 2018, 9:36pm (UTC -6)
    "What if Georgiou is Hoshi's daughter, and the Empire became a dynasty?"

    I had the same exact thought as soon as they said that Burnham was the Shenzhou's Captain.

    I'm sure either way ... Emperor Hoshi will be mentioned.

    Peter G.
    Mon, Jan 8, 2018, 12:26am (UTC -6)

    Great thoughts Peter. "One thing problematic about all of these 'aha!' surprises is that they're being telegraphed enough that they're predictable" ... exactly what was going through my mind watching this one. It was fun, but damn, I could almost guess the script as they went along. My call that Lorca was from the MU is looking more plausible as we go.


    So, the MU it is.... I think we all pretty much saw this coming. I'm sure now they will plagiarize some of the stuff from 'Mirror, Mirror' from TOS. (still today the best MU episode in all of trek.) We'll see if there will be any impact as a result of this "incursion".

    Ah SNAP! ..... I didn't see that one coming :-) We will still see the good doctor in the MU.... I wonder if he's straight? :-) ... and... if you watched 'After Trek', I'm betting he's not done in the PU either. (I'm about done with 'After Trek' btw.... eeeesh)

    Stamets should be interesting as we go ahead... kind of a human Tribble is seems :-)

    CAPTAIN TILLY!!!! HAHA!!! Funny as crap in the beginning as she stumbles to sound mean.... and she learned to be a bad ass pretty quickly! I'll tear out your tongue and use it to lick my boots" ... lol I just love this character!

    I didn't much like the fight in the elevator. It seemed too staged or ..... choreographed... I also don't know why one would lose or loosen their grip just because gravity went away.

    This episode wasn't Michael's best... many times it looked like Green acting, and that's never a good thing. I should be thinking Michael...

    The Ash/Voq thing... we all saw this one coming for sure, but does L'Rell have some sort of voo-doo over him? She says she'll tell him everything if only he'd just let her out and boom.... Ash hits the button... no restraint whatsoever.

    No one else in medical when Ash kills Culber? ... really? .... come on...

    I will also chime up about the CGI in this thing... damn, 8 million an episode and it looks like a 20 year old video game? BAB5 looked better.... damn, the actor's must be sucking it up.... I hope so anyways.

    They could have elaborated about/described the agony booths .... not everyone has seen Enterprise.

    This should be a fun ride. Many twists we haven't yet pondered I think... this seems to shed some light on Lorca's keen interest in Burnham.

    I'll go 3 stars on this one.

    Seriously, they should keep Frakes on the docket... nice pacing etc... "One take Frakes" doesn't get enough love in the industry for his work. You'd think he would do lot's of directing.

    I think Ash/Voq should try to keep Michael in her MU role as a powerful captain and work his best to keep her from being assassinated. He should also try to get her to destroy Discovery.

    From his point of view this would 1} Let him be loyal to Michael (as he has strong feelings for her), 2} Help the Klingons of the Prime Universe by keeping the cloaking device info. from the Federation.

    Geogiou or Stamets could be the Emperor as others have speculated. But I think it would be more interesting if one of them turned out to be a human member of the Rebellion. There are probably some, but they would have to do a lot to prove themselves.

    Perhaps Michael starts seriously considering going along with Ash/Voq's plan until it requires her to kill MU Georgiou who pops up as a rebel leader. She can't allow herself to be responsible for her death twice and betrays the Empire getting Discovery back home somehow.

    Re: Terran Empire and Vulcans: What we see in ENT is Vulcans being subjugated by humans. Nevertheless T'Pol is in a fairly high position. What I see happening is that the species subjugated by humans are still represented on starships (after suitably demonstrating loyalty) which allows Spock to gain his high position as well. That we see Vulcan rebels in this episode is not a counterargument. After all, DS9 gave us human rebels despite Earth being subjugated by the Alliance. It also gave us select humans serving on Terok Nor and even piloting runabouts (Smiley before defecting)

    I'd rate this one as three, maybe 3.5 stars on the Jammer scale.

    There was a lot I liked about the episode, most of which was noted by the others. Frakes direction was excellent - this was the first episode where I didn't find anything off in terms of pacing, wonky shots, long drawn out stares which served no purpose, etc. The acting was great (even from SMG, who has underwhelmed me in the past). All of the main characters (other than Saru) were given pretty weighty roles to play as well. In some ways, this is the first episode which didn't feel like the "Micheal Burnham show." And I'm happy we seem to be (mostly) done with the godawful Klingons for now.

    That said, there were things which made it imperfect. The biggest is everything in the show was just way too on the nose. Finding out Ash=Voq wasn't a surprise to me by any means, but it seems to have been done in the most straightforward manner possible. The Mirror Universe also wasn't a surprise, but it was spolered, so again it wasn't a shock. Neither was Captain Tilly. There was tremendous foreshadowing in this episode that Lorca was actually from the Mirror Universe, and given the show hasn't had any real red herrings to date, I have to believe that is the case now. The only surprising things in this show were Culber getting his neck snapped (and they stepped on this shock by immediately announcing he wasn't dead off show) and the fanwank of the Defiant getting name dropped. And on a completely different note, Burnham/Tyler remain very unconvincing as anything other than platonic friends.

    In the end, while I liked this episode a good deal, there really isn't that much depth to Discovery once you scratch the surface.

    @ Chrome,

    "I'm under the impression that the history of the MU was changed by having the Defiant go back in time in ENT. Is that not correct? To me this MU already seems very different from the one we know in the TOS - DS9 episodes."

    This episode takes place nearly 100 years after the ENT episode remember, and about 10 years before TOS, and about 100 years before DS9.

    So saying that something is different than the other episodes is sort of meaningless, since pretty much anything could have happened between any of those time periods.

    And writers, at least please mention Empress Hoshi! Thank you.

    @ BZ,

    "Re: Terran Empire and Vulcans: What we see in ENT is Vulcans being subjugated by humans. Nevertheless T'Pol is in a fairly high position. What I see happening is that the species subjugated by humans are still represented on starships (after suitably demonstrating loyalty) which allows Spock to gain his high position as well."

    Except that we're told point blank that the Empire is a "humans only club". That doesn't leave much wiggle room for interpretation. And I also don't buy that the Vulcans were enemies of the Empire (merging their tech with Klingons) and yet Spock is an exception, since in Mirror, Mirror he uses the threat of having Vulcan allies to keep others in line. The direct implication of Spock's comment is that the Vulcans are especially notorious for being ruthless, which tonally puts them on the same side as the Empire.


    There's no weight to anything in this show. It's like every moment exists simply to distract and titillate vacant eyed zombies; like a human dangling a ribbon in front of a cat, then punching the cat in the face when it grows bored.

    You know what after giving it some thought I think MU Burnham might be the emperor. Piecing the clues together... The emperor is described as "faceless" meaning it would be easy for a coup to replace one with another without the majority of the empire knowing it had even been done. It is said that MU burnham was killed by MU lorca trying to pull a coup and then lorca was killed by the emperor. So burnham is "presumed dead" meaning no body. So what if what really happened was Burnham killed the emperor, assumed the throne quietly, declared Michael Burnham dead and killed lorca to cover it all up? Stamets prophetic "Don't go into the palace!" Is a warning because when our Burnham tries to present our Lorca to the Emperor she doesn't realise that she is in great danger because the emperor knows she is an imposter. Personally I like the Idea it is Georgiou because of the conflict that will bring Burnham, but it would be interesting also if Burnham were made to confront the "Ruthless" version of herself as emperor. We have seen our version of Burnham act ruthlessly before, what if the MU is a chance for Burnham to see what she COULD have become without the mentorship of Sarek and Georgiou? All I ask for is a good story. Either one of these could work if done right.

    From the AV Club: "It doesn’t help that Discovery still hasn’t managed to build a convincing sense of place in its real reality. “Mirror, Mirror” is from TOS’s second season. By the time it aired, viewers knew enough about the main characters and the universe they inhabited to be able to appreciate the differences. (It also helped that TOS’s morality tended to be pretty black and white, which makes an “evil” universe more tenable.) With “Despite Yourself,” we’re still midway through season one, and there’s not enough of a contrast between the dark and violent reality our heroes find themselves in, and the dark and violent reality they’re trying to get back to.

    Really, it’s just a different iteration of the same problem as before, that fundamental lack of identity. The Mirror Universe isn’t a concept that allows for nuance. In order for it to work, it needs to be a negative reflection, one so extreme that it’s exciting just seeing the writers getting a chance to indulge their inner assholes for a change."

    @Peter G

    Maybe Vulcans as a group tend toward rebellion, but a strong faction support the Empire and are often successful in its military. These would of course be the dominant group on Vulcan itself thanks to the Empire's power.

    Thus, Spock and other implied Vulcan officers in the TOS MU episode. Like in the Roman Empire, there were a lot of non-Roman loyalists and opportunistic collaborators.

    @ Peter G.

    "Except that we're told point blank that the Empire is a "humans only club". That doesn't leave much wiggle room for interpretation. And I also don't buy that the Vulcans were enemies of the Empire (merging their tech with Klingons) and yet Spock is an exception, since in Mirror, Mirror he uses the threat of having Vulcan allies to keep others in line. The direct implication of Spock's comment is that the Vulcans are especially notorious for being ruthless, which tonally puts them on the same side as the Empire."

    I think you are missing certain historical parallels. Don't think slavery and subjugation ala american slavery, think of it more along roman times because that is where the MU draws most of its inspiration I think. The romans conquered and subjugated dozens on nationalites and races and clearly viewed Roman society and Citizens as superior to all others. yet they also incorporated the conquered into the empire. Non Roman foreigners and even freed slaves were given high ranking and powerful positions in both the millitary and government. The Romans were loath to waste talent when they saw it, their prejudices not withstanding. Now that doesn't mean these people were ever 100% accepted into Roman society, but it does mean seeing a conquered German or Provincial Greek in a high ranking position of power was not rare.

    For those who are wondering about Vulcans apparently not being loyal to the Empire in this episode and then becoming loyal by TOS, in such a short time, in the beginning of this episode is clearly mentioned that the Vulcans that attack the Discovery are "rebels", therefore implying that the majority of Vulcans agree with the Terran empire's methods, even if they're not a part of it, per se.

    About the episode, I liked it. Tilly was a delight as always, SMG's portrayal of Burnham conveyed the necessary amount of guilt and yeah, the Ash/Voq thing was pretty much predictable and many people guessed right, including myself, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing and I don't dislike the way they're dealing with it. My theory, as many others' here, is that Lorca is definitely from the MU, even if he is a bit too "decent" for the MU standards.

    Now, what I decidedly did NOT like about this episode was that they veered into "bury your gays" territory. Even if it turns out Dr. Culber isn't really dead, it was still an unnecessary move, imo.

    2.5 stars - bad acting and a flat-exposition filled script.

    The dialog is remarkably bad in this episode, even compared to other Discovery episodes. The whole hour was just exposition - when we weren't getting a complete infodump via the highly convenient "Klingon computer core" retrieved from the debris, which apparently contains a full guide to the mirror universe including detailed personnel files for our characters plus information on how everything is supposed to look, we were being treated to scene after scene of characters a) explaining to other characters what was happening and b) explaining to other characters what their character conflicts were and what they were feeling. No concept of "show, don't tell". Overall the episode was better than some of the weaker hours earlier in the season like Lethe, but it's easily the worst example of dialog writing the series has presented so far. It's some of the worst dialog writing I've ever seen on television.

    I have my misgivings both about the whole idea of a multi-episode arc in the mirror universe, and about the way it looks like it's going to be done. The show can't choose how to approach the inherent campiness of the mirror universe material, resulting in an awkward tonal mix - it's schlocky without fully intending to be (unlike the knowing excess of In A Mirror Darkly) and without giving the comedy (here mostly surrounding Tilly) free rein. There are moments in this episode when the material yearns to be played with a sense of fun and a wry smile, even a couple of scenes that would have worked better played outright for laughs or in a deadpan style (Burnham's arrival on the ISS Shenzhou bridge), but the show can't relax and break out of its pseudo-gritty "grimdark" trappings long enough to give the material the lighter touch it would really benefit from. The results remind me a little of Alexander Siddig's misdirection of Profit And Lace (though that's obviously a much worse episode); there's no sense of style here, no deftness of tone.

    The mirror universe doesn't work unless you either a) use it as a dramatic device to inform the prime universe and its characters, or b) go all-out romp, though this only works in small doses. It's already clear that this arc isn't going to be either a serious look at the mirror universe (which could have been tremendous in capable hands - like a more expansive version of Crossover and Mirror Mirror, with room for a discourse on what Star Trek is and what it actually means) or a full-on adventure romp (like In A Mirror Darkly or arguably Shattered Mirror). So I'm left asking what the purpose of the MU arc is, why we're here, if it's not going to inform our characters or be written/directed/acted with any sense of fun. The show also hasn't established its prime universe anywhere near well enough for a "dark", alternate version to be in any way distinctive or meaningful at this point.

    I'm genuinely surprised they're tying in to In A Mirror, Darkly (itself a tie-in to The Tholian Web), I figured Discovery would want to avoid any association with the last prequel spin-off serious that was poorly received, cancelled and helped kill the franchise. I'm mostly just surprised that the show's really going down the road of doing what is essentially a revival of the 5-episode Mirror Universe arc planned for Enterprise Season 5. The fact Enterprise was going to decamp to the MU for multiple episodes after In A Mirror Darkly was so well-received was an admission of the main show's fatigue - the MU version was more fun for everyone (viewers, actors and writers).

    It seems Lorca is from the MU, a rebel who came to the prime universe (either by accident or on purpose) and used his time there to develop the jump technology (while impersonating his counterpart) so he could return to his home universe and use it to overthrow the emperor, possibly for the greater good but possibly for his own gain. This, if it does turn out to be the case, while still a poor idea on which to base a series, has been somewhat better handled than the Tyler/Voq debacle, which has become incredibly boring and repetitive - everyone already knows, yet they still insist on trying to squeeze more "mystery" and suspense out of it every week.

    A couple of positives: as a setpiece, the turbolift fight scene was probably the best-executed fight scene I've seen the show do. Mary Chieffo continues to be compelling.

    Next week: Burnham is going to have a Moral Conflict because she has to do a Bad Thing to maintain cover.

    Next season: apparently it's going to be about "faith" and "science versus faith". Hands up anyone who thinks Discovery will do a better job of this well-worn topic than DS9 (or TNG, or VOY, or TOS) based on present form.

    John Harmon: "The emperor will be Georgiou making Burnham have the complicated FEELS. This show confounds me. Sometimes it's decent escapist entertainment, but there is just nothing below the surface. Where's the moralizing? The philosophy? Allegories that make you consider the human condition? I want these things in a Star Trek show. What I couldn't care less about are the internal plot machinations that don't mean a thing past that. I want these sci-fi stories to mean something past the show itself. That's what made Star Trek so beloved in the first place." - Exactly this. I also totally agree with Peter G's comment about how the show's supposed mysteries and surprises are overtelegraphed to the point they become tiresome and predictable, and about the poor exterior visual effects. If Discovery is to thrive it needs to focus on good storytelling, not on "tricking" its audience, especially if the tricks aren't even good enough to fool people.

    I found this a riveting episode, on a par with “Forest” last year (which I con­sid­ered the best up to that time). After a couple of stinkers, DIS now really delivers.

    Ruling Empress of this episode is, of course, Tilly. I liked her from the very begin­ning, she has only grown better since (no one com­­plain­ing about her choice of words, huh?). Her wish to become captain has been granted in amaz­ingly short time, and I wonder whether there will be a cost as­so­ci­ated with it.

    With Ash, it’s the opposite. I found him hard to bear from the very beginning, oscillating between bad­assery, madness and PTSD randomly, and I can’t stand his mum­b­ling speech which makes it neces­sary for me to switch to sub­titles. Sure, he is an im­por­tant plot tool, but this does not mean I have to invest him emo­tion­ally. His killing of Culber (the first un­ex­pected thing he ever did) won’t help, either, and I found his speech to Micheal (“What­ever this place makes you to do, or me”) distasteful.

    Glad to see not too much of Micheal here. Not that I dislike her actively, but I prefer ensemble work, as was done here. She was terrific as IIS captain, conveying both her moral out­rage and her playing to the rule simultaneously.

    Yet the elephant in the room is Lorca. He was fastest of all to adapt to the MU’s rules, but that could be the result of his military thinking and does not necessarily entail that he is now “back home”. Also, some of his re­morse speeches about Stamets condition ring some­what true.

    But if, as so many fans want to believe, he was orig­i­nal­ly from the MU, then I want to know why he came back to the place where the most ruth­less people of the multi­verse hunt for him, where he has no allies and nothing to care for? Why not stay in the Prime Universe, given that he is the wolf among sheep there and can achieve any military career easily and risk­free? Or is he mis­sing the agony booths so much?

    Other points: If he knew about the Terran way of treat­ing pris­on­ers, his of­fer­ing to pose as one would have been extreme­ly ballsy. And in the scene where the crew responds to the “Cooper”, he was very close to an­swer­ing the call (which would have blown the cover im­me­di­ate­ly). His looks when he com­ments “That’s absurd” appears ab­so­lute­ly genuine.

    Eagerly waiting for more. I would also really like to learn how the “ISS Discovery” fares in the PU. I’d even more like to learn how your hu­man­ity is af­fect­ed if you are forced to pose as a psycho­path 24/7.

    The “faceless Emperor” also sounds intriguing. Be­cause of the “faceless” part, it could be virtually ever­yone, even Emony Dax. I note that we have not yet learnt of the MU counter­parts of Saru, Georgiou, Stamets, Culber, Corn­well and, I say with emphasis, Tyler, since every­thing seems to con­cen­trate on him.

    The preview for next week seems to indicate that our heroes will meet the Rebellion and make contact with a certain goateed Vulcan. This does not sound like the MU arc is going to end in that episode, so we will not run out of Captain Killy too soon.

    Seems like I'm the only one glad to see Culber go. I thought he was a poor actor, and utterly unconvincing as a doctor.

    @ James:

    I'm glad to see him go, too (although it seems he'll be back anyway). I find him throroughly dislikable, like the rest of this cast.

    Aaaand they killed off one of the only likable characters they had. That leaves just Tilly now, unless when Stamits comes back he’s likable Stamits and not asshole Stamits.

    And they added a delta to the Terran empire logo... why?! WHAT IS THEIR OBSESSION WITH DELTAS??!! It’s comical at this point.

    I really didn’t think they would go there and tamper with the Connie. I thought they’d have the sense to just never show one on screen. But no... and if you think this was just a MU upgrade, then why didn’t the I.S.S. Enterprise look like that?

    I would like if it turns out that Lorca is from the MU, that would at least justify his character. I wonder if his security chief was too. Unlikely I guess.

    The whole Tyler/Voq thing is just really boring at this point. Just say it out loud already.

    Easily the best episode so far. Before this I thought I could take or leave Discovery but now I'm fully onboard. The death was shocking, in a GoT way, I did not see it coming, I'd be surprised if anyone did.

    The plot was interesting and we actually saw some emotion from the characters, not just moody, expressionless robots. For the first time, I loved it!

    @John Harmon

    I wouldn't say I'm a Trekkie but I know what's going on in the alternative universe. It's fairly straight-forward (at least at this point.)

    I like the Mirror Universe idea a lot, but was disappointed with What DS9 did with it (even though that's normally my favorite series). TOS, Enterprise and Discovery all have a good take on it in my opinion.

    While not much of a Star Trek novel person, is there any fiction about the MU that anyone here would recommend?

    I wish we'd gotten a TNG episode with evil Picard, Wesley as a knife wielding punk who stabs Riker in the back for him, Worf as traitor to genuinely honorable Klingon Empire, etc.

    After 20+ years of having the Internet, people still seem to think complaining/arguing incessantly is going to accomplish some end which heretofore has not materialized.

    You know what they say about madmen repeating the same actions while losing sight of their goal... I feel that way about popular culture discussions online.

    Wanna chime in that I have no idea what you people complaining about CGI are talking about, this episode in particular was absolutely gorgeous IMO.

    "After 20+ years of having the Internet, people still seem to think complaining/arguing incessantly is going to accomplish some end which heretofore has not materialized."

    After 20+ years of having the Internet, some people still didn't figure out that having the discussion IS the end.

    I must say I do think everyone is just a being little harsh, seriously has anyone watched the first season of the TNG a lot of it is god damn awful, have you watched the fourth, fifth and sixth seasons a lot of its god damn phenomenal. A star trek TV reboot after all these years was going to have its kinks and hitches and I think the show has genuinely shown improvement between the start of season 1 and now, in a couple of seasons it could be fantastic. It might just need time to get there. This isn't me ranting about criticism that's expected and a lot of parts I agree with, but saying stuff like it has no depth I mean we are 11 episodes in were you expecting the Atlantic ocean already give it time to dig down. People watching two episodes then saying I'm stopping like please just give it a go Trek takes time to get where it needs to be. Season one isn't going to be perfect. I think the other thing people have been struggling with is some of the technological mistakes, I agree there have been some glaring issues and some more minor ones, I mean small things move past them all Trek series have plenty of issues with tech stuff especially with the holodeck, the big stuff the writers just need to be more careful with canon and I understand why that annoys you. Sorry, that's just been frustrating me a little.

    To talk about this episode:

    -Holy cow the Culber death caught me out. But from watching After Trek he ain't gone, perhaps some sort of MU relationship
    - Captain Tilly was, in my opinion, Wiseman's best acting, great scene love the Scottish accent from the Cap
    -SMG great combat scene in the lift
    -Great costume work I loved the art of the MU
    -Lots of questions, the emperor especially, not sure how long the arc will last perhaps the whole season perhaps a few episodes lets hope it doesn't drag the pacing has been perfect for the past few episodes
    -Great Directing from Frakes

    That's a good point Genga. There's also the fact that shows are so quick to be cancelled that they have to grab you right away. Though it seems all the shows I become mildly interested in recently (Sense8, Dirk Gently) are cancelled within 2 seasons and I have no idea why, because they are just as violent and sexy as Game of Thrones (which i've never been interested in watching).

    Let's just hope Discovery's brand of violent and sexy is the "right" one to keep it on air. I'm prepared to wait a bit longer for the depth, but I just hope the writers know that Trek should more than constant suspense and plot twists.

    Hah, the episodes get funnier by the day.

    Shortly before Dr. Culber gets killed, he says: "You are not you", so I instantly had this in my mind:

    And after "No shit", Voq snapped his neck xD Great, I am finally getting some amusement out of this. 10/10

    @Wolfstar: Your "hands up if you thing Discovery will handle "Faith vs. Science" better than DS9", was that an ironic statement? If yes, I ironically put my hand up.

    Genga said: "-Holy cow the Culber death caught me out.
    - Captain Tilly was, in my opinion, Wiseman's best acting, love the Scottish accent from the Cap
    -SMG great combat scene in the lift
    -Lots of questions, the emperor especially"

    This just goes to show how trite and soap-operay this show is. All people respond to are its shocks (death! elevator fights!), po-mo humor (Scottish accent!? How ironic! And isn't it cool that Tilly is a captain?!) and teases (who is the Emperor?!), which only exist to set up more shocks and teases. The show is so cynical and base. It exists only to jerk audiences around.

    And look at how this episode introduces us to the Mirror Universe: a giant infodump in which Michael reads off a computer screen and explains the workings of Mirror Trek. Instead of having its characters discover all these differences slowly, the episode, in its obsession with rushing, relies on you having seen every other Trek Mirror Episode. If you haven't, this episode literally reads as gibberish.

    I fell asleep around minute 32. I looked forward all day to seeing this episode, but it put me to sleep, and I wasn't even tired.

    I didn't read most of the comments so I don't know if anyone else has brought up this theory. I think that the Lorca we've been with since the beginning of the series is actually MU Lorca that crossed over. Meanwhile, our universe Lorca is either dead or mia. Think about how many things would make sense if that were the case. They mentioned that Lorca was staging a coup of the empire. Which means that mirror Lorca might actually be a moral, honorable man who hates to see the oppressive empire smash everyone to the dirt (this universe Lorca must be an absolute saint). This would really explain Lorca's personality of being morally questionable but also having some semblance of morality. Compared to what he's used to, he's actually acting like an upstanding citizen, but to everyone else he's doing some pretty sketchy things.

    So, the method of how MU Lorca came to our universe is as of yet unknown, but the reason he wanted to go back is most likely to finish what he started. He wants to complete his mission of overthrowing the empire. Then either he'll be content to stay in his own universe or make the whole thing look like an attempt to get himself and his crew back home.

    This would certainly be an interesting twist that would actually fit Discovery's theme of making unconventional people the main characters. I.e. a criminal and a mirror universe rebel.

    Also I forgot to add: there's a clue that suggests my theory of Lorca being mirror Lorca is true. When he talks to Burnham about what they'll have to do to survive in this universe, did anyone else get the sense that he was speaking from experience?


    'Which means that mirror Lorca might actually be a moral, honorable man who hates to see the oppressive empire smash everyone to the dirt'

    Whikst I'm firmly onboard with the idea the Lorca we've been exposed to is the MU Lorca, I find this idea about his motivationsl laughable. Sorry. The 'moral, honorable' Lorca was likely the PU Lorca, and I reckon he's long, long dead.

    'This would really explain Lorca's personality of being morally questionable but also having some semblance of morality.'

    No. No, it wouldn't. The only thing his *occasional* displays of what passes for morality and decency explain is to make sure he doesn't get caught out in the PU.

    The fact of the matter is that people in the MU advance their lot in life through killing superiors off. So, the more simplest — and most likely — explanation of MU Lorca's motivations is that he wanted power in the MU, it all went south for him, and now he's a wanted man.

    @Ed: The first Star Trek novel I ever read was Diane Duane's Dark Mirror: a TNG-set mirror universe story, which sounds like precisely what you want! It was later contradicted by DS9's mirror universe eps, but if you don't mind that, then it's a very entertaining read. I believe there are a number of other MU novels, published a couple of years ago, but I haven't read them so can't recommend.

    Ok, so something has actually started *happening* on Discovery...this was one of the first episodes that I actually enjoyed.

    Yet, I still find this entire affair quite soulless and bland, like it's missing a coherent message or purpose. Still, at least there is some kind of plot now, though I think the writers should really realise once and for all that making everything Dark and Gritty and filling the story with Unexpected Plot Twists does not equal depth! Especially if most of the Unexpected Plot Twists have been telegraphed a mile away! Only the death of the poor doctor was of any surprise, though that scene highly reeked of Shock Value.

    It will be interesting to see how Discovery holds up to multiple viewings, because it hinges most of its appeal on Suspense and Unexpected Plot Twists. Once these secrets are revealed, what will remain? I had a similar problem with Battlestar Galactica, which I loved the first time around, but found much much less interesting on second viewing, when I already knew what was going to happen. If nothing, BSG had me completely riveted the first time around, and I gobbled up a few episodes in a row to find out what would happen next. Discovery, sadly, only has me mildly interested.


    Thanks! It sounds good. I like Diane Duane.

    Regarding the ship visuals (which I agree are off), I think the issue is the blur filter they are putting on after the rendering is done. Blurring final rendered images is typically done in CGI these days to not make it look more crisp and high resolution than the actually filmed elements. However, in a lot of shots they unintentionally recreate the dynamics of tilt-shift photography by blurring the edges of the shot more than the focal point. The result is instead of having ships which look substantial, they look like dinky little models.

    It just occurred to me that the theme music of Discovery is absolute genius and 100% appropriate for the content of the show.

    After the introductory "space, the final frontier" chimes+horns plagiarized from TOS which is rendered entirely pointless by the absence of narration, the theme sets into a series of repetitions based on 5 dramatic sounding arpeggios each following the other sequentially. Next, a violin enters the scene emphasizing with pathos a romanticized strain over the top of the arpeggiated melody, rising and building with each repetition. After 6 or 7 repetitions when this is well and truly drilled into our heads, we are treated to the classic horn fanfare which preceded the TOS and TNG themes, which here builds to nothing but a final conclusive "dun dun" to finish off the sequence.

    It is the perfect soundtrack for a show that has nothing to say but says it anyway - emphatically and repetitively, rounded off with tributes to a legacy it can never hope to live up to. As a whole the theme it is intended only to create drama and tension while lacking direction or vision - just like Discovery itself. Unlike each of the previous themes (including even ENT) there is no sense of progression in the music, no feeling of being on a melodic voyage, just a series of motifs hammered into the listener with affectation and pretense. It reminds me of a dog staring up at its owner hoping that if it puts on a cute enough face and wags its tail pathetically enough it will get fed.

    So let me get this straight. Unexpected twists are for "shock value" and foreshadowed twists are "predictable"?

    Death has always been a problem in Trek. Most of trek pre-Enterprise was of the "redshirts die to show how dangerous everything is" variety. Enterprise, meanwhile started off with "nobody ever dies", and kept that up most of the time. Discovery, meanwhile, killed off three seemingly main characters by now. I think that's the best approach we've had in Trek.

    Somebody mentioned how Burnham is all shocked after having to kill someone despite killing multiple times before. I read this as her recognizing the victim as someone she served with and respected in the prime universe.

    So she only cares about murder when it's someone who has a face that looks like someone she used to know. That makes her worse

    No, she's trained to not show emotion when having to kill someone. Not just because she was raised on Vulcan, but because she's a (now former) first officer. How many times has Riker shown emotion when killing a random mook?

    @BZ: No, not every unexpected twist is for shock value, and not every forshadowed twist is predictable (at least by everybody). That said, the twists on Discovery are very predictable and mostly for shock value. Take Voq/Tyler for example. This was discussed on this forum as "If they really go through with that totally obvious and nonsensical twist, that would be pretty bad" - about three episodes before it actually happened. So we already knew that Tyler is Voq. Then the big dramatic twist comes when he kills the Doctor. Does the Doctors death have any meaning for the story? Any character developement? No. We already knew Voq is evil, and Tyler is just a tacked on personality, so it means nothing for him either, as he isn't even "real". So that was purely to shock people: Omg, they killed the Doctor! It informed us of nothing that we didn't know already. It only confirmed that everybody on board Discovery is an Idiot: Why would the doctor confront Tyler, who is obviously very unstable, alone? Why is he the only one in the MedBay? The reason is quite simple: So that he can get killed for shock value and Tyler can still go on the mission.

    Or take the Tardigrade "plot twist": Yeah, it is not evil, it is just scared ... Who didn't see that coming? And regarding main character deaths: I think you refer to Georgiou, the Chief of Security, and now the Doctor. Georgious death was utterly pointless, stupid and avoidable (so, shock value), the Chief of Security died and utterly pointless, avoidable and stupid death (so, shock value) and the Doctor is most likely not dead ... Just because Game of Thrones kills a lot of main characters and it works quite well, does not mean that it works every time.

    Regarding Burnham showing emotion, I think the original poster meant that he just didn't buy her acting, and didn't believe her emotions. Which is not surprising as we never see her interacting with that guy at any point prior ... we are just informed that they worked together - that hardly puts anything at stake for the audience, so it makes it really hard to put oneself into her shoes. If Worf killed Riker, yeah, we believe him that he is totally emotional about that - but here it is just another random mook, as far as the audience is concerned.

    One might wonder that at this point the surprise isn't that Tyler is Voq (it was pretty clear by "Into The Forest We Go"), but rather, as Jammer pointed out, that Voq may wish to remain Tyler. Is there something about the Federation's attitude or message that's attractive to a Klingon of the old era? There's an interesting angle they could explore.

    @ Chrome,

    "Voq may wish to remain Tyler. Is there something about the Federation's attitude or message that's attractive to a Klingon of the old era? There's an interesting angle they could explore."

    That could have been interesting, but since Voq was, of all Klingons, a crazed anti-Federation fanatic it seems to me that he would be the least likely (and least interesting) Klingon to see something attractive in the Federation. From what this episode shows us it seems to be fairly clear - almost telegraphed - that Tyler's love for Burnham may end up trumping whatever else he used to value. He basically says to her point blank, in what I can only describe as an awkward monologue, that no matter who he is or what else he does, he's going to protect her above all else. I take that to be something he'll stick to and I imagine the inevitable conflict is going to be between his love for her and his previous attachment to L'Rell and conquest. I can't really say which will win, but I don't think one of the options open is for him to endorse the Federation as some passion of his. That may come with the package if he chooses Burnham but only incidentally.


    One thing I can think of is that Voq was a pariah in Klingon society while Ash is a respectable member of Starfleet.

    There's also the fact that something went wrong with the brainwashing on a technical level. He knows something weird is going on, but the Voq identity was still largely suppressed.

    Even when he killed the doctor, he was probably doing it so he could continue enjoying being Ash, not so he could start doing Voq's job as a spy.

    Wow, you guys are a tough crowd.

    Culber's death is important because it shows a character (Tyler) that has now done something truly awful that he will have to answer for -- something that cannot simply be undone (MU and sci-fi twists notwithstanding). It will force consequences. And because it's not a random redshirt, it will have consequences for everyone else. It's a character death that has meaning *because* the character was part of the ensemble. It is not simply "shock value." It was shocking, yes, but it will also have character value (assuming it's not totally botched, which I don't think it will be), because it will simply have to.

    And why all the hate for the Voq/Tyler storyline's predictability? The point isn't the reveal; it's the implications that follow. Tyler's persona, even if it is false, has taken on a life of its own. It may not be "real" in the strict sense, but it's real to Tyler, just as Boomer's identity on BSG was real to her. That's the whole point -- the horror of realizing you are not who you thought you were as explored with a sci-fi concept (albeit one already done masterfully on BSG) and what that means to you.

    Hey, what do people here think of the previews for the next episode, "The Wolf Inside"? It looks pretty amazing to me with:

    --Michael still in apparent command of the MU ship with Ash/Voq at her side, dealing with the stress of living as a Terran Empire officer.
    --The Disc. crew look like they're getting the spore drive back online.
    --Michael mind-melds with a Vulcan.
    --A planet is subjected to what seems to be a horrifying bombardment from a ship.
    --Brutal scenes of war.

    @Jammer thanks for that. I hope you're right and the future implications actually pay off in a meaningful way.

    That's the gamble with serialized TV. You have these questions and you're wondering "is this actually going to mean something later, or will the writers just get lazy and forget it?". Who knows with this show? The writing hasn't given me much confidence so far.

    "--Michael still in apparent command of the MU ship with Ash/Voq at her side, dealing with the stress of living as a Terran Empire officer.
    --The Disc. crew look like they're getting the spore drive back online.
    --Michael mind-melds with a Vulcan.
    --A planet is subjected to what seems to be a horrifying bombardment from a ship.
    --Brutal scenes of war."

    Sounds like everything Star Trek isn't and shouldn't be

    "Culber's death is important because it shows a character (Tyler) that has now done something truly awful that he will have to answer for -- something that cannot simply be undone"

    Just like all the other characters, he finally fits in now :P

    Sorry couldn't help myself on that one. This is why I don't like the characters though, they've all done awful things (with a few minor exceptions). As a result I can't care about what happens to them. For instance, I'm sure Michael is going to be devastated when she finds out what Tyler did, but the drama from that is lost on me because I don't care about Michael at all.


    Okay let me rephrase that. The only reason that MU Lorca is able to pass in the PU and not look like a complete psychopath is because he's more like a MU Vulcan than anything else. I just don't think they would have invested so much time in making him seem like a complex character with a genuine good side if only to have him be purely evil. We've seen that it is possible for MU characters to have some decency.

    I dunno, I think it would be a cool twist so I'll stick with my theory. We'll find out though.

    I'm just chiming in here to go on record as saying I really enjoyed this episode. It entertained me. It had good internal momentum.

    Discovery has won me over to the point where I've decided I'm not interested in parsing every last plot point to find all the flaws, or to pick apart the show for violations of canon. Of course, I'm not saying people shouldn't do that - go nuts! Knock yourselves out! I just wanted to add a little positive note here in support of an entertaining episode of Star Trek. And to add that I started enjoying Discovery a lot more, for its own merits, when I stopped worrying so much about all that stuff.

    I'm just happy Star Trek is on the teevee again, just like it was in the old days, a new episode every week. Yes, there have been some stinker episodes and sloppy storytelling this season. But what a thrill when good-to-great episodes like these last two hit the airwaves.

    Thanks, Jammer, for the consistently excellent reviews.

    John Harmon:
    "Why in the hell would a doctor go up to a patient they suspect has been drastically transformed by an enemy to tell them this news without erected a force field or bringing security?!?

    Why does the drama of this show hinge on the characters being massive idiots???"


    I can't believe I had to scroll throught the comments for so long before finding a comment about the idiocy of that scene. Given everything Culbert found out with that advanced scan (god knows why they didn't use it, like, the moment Tyler came on boad) and the suspicions he had about Tyler's persona, it wouldn't take a master mind to put all the pieces together. Even without putting the pieces together, why, but why would Culbert want to go to a person with an obiously utterly twisted psyche and dicuss it with him instead of the captain or LITERALLY anyone else but Tyler?! But once again, logic and common sense are twisted and subjugated to the plot's convenience. A hallmark of Discovery.

    As for Lorca originally being from the MU, quite possible. And quite lame. The showrunners prided themselves in Discovery not being your "traditional" Trek, and having a grittier and morally dubious tone, and by making the driving force behind that different take originate from the MU would erase all that effort and make the whole development utterly pointless. Not that I cared for it in the first place, but if they decided to stick with it, then they should either stick to it or develop it in a consequential way. Making Lorca from the MU would just be a magic wand washing all the nonsense away by negating everything that drove the show up to this point. However, I will discuss it further if and when it comes to that. RIght now it's just speculation. It might be a red herring, but seing how Tyler/Voq turned out to be, it might be exactly where the show is heading. Time will tell.

    I will say this though, if nothing else, the pacing of the scenes is incomparably better than in the first half of the season.


    But Tyler goes to Culbert and says, to paraphrase, I feel weird. I feel like the Klingons might have done something to me that I don't remember.

    Culbert then says we did a the usual tests. Yes, your body is all f----- up because you were tortured by Klingons for months but you seem to be recovering and don't show signs of any known form of brainwashing.

    Tyler keeps saying how he's afraid there's more, so Culbert grudgingly does some extremely detailed scans that are apparently far beyond what a doctor would normally do.

    Now why would he distrust a man who voluntarily comes into Sickbay and asks for help? If Tyler wanted to hide whatever is wrong with him he wouldn't call attention to it. If he knew for sure that he was a surgically and genetically altered spy, he'd be happy that he passed the initial examination and try to avoid the doctor.

    Tyler seems worried, not threatening until he actually attacks Culbert.

    Culber's death had zero impact on me because he was totally underdeveloped and has had minimal screen time, and also because Wilson Cruz is one of the weakest members of the ensemble. We've never been given a chance to get to know him, and Cruz's line delivery in this episode was awful. And I say this as a gay guy who was looking forward to there being decent, rounded gay characters on this show. I cared more about Jadzia and Lenara in Rejoined, about Riker and Soren in The Outcast, and about Odo and Laas in Chimera than I have so far about Stamets and Culber - because the aforementioned examples were characters whereas the Discovery crew members are just figures. With the exception of Saru and L'Rell (and Georgiou and Cornwell) who seem like actual people, most of the characters on this show are written as plot devices, not as people, which is why they're so flat and hard to relate to. Boomer on BSG was very three-dimensional (and excellently performed) and her being a Cylon was never the endgame, whereas Tyler is sketchily drawn and totally defined by the plot device his character was conceived as. Him being Voq is the endgame: based on present form, I doubt we're gonna get a serious, high-quality character study of what this means for him as a person, the show is just interested in playing up the "mystery". Stamets has been transformed into a plot device (which he was probably always intended as), Tilly is an audience surrogate self-insert with no defining attributes other than an overwritten naivete that should never have seen her graduate from Starfleet Academy. Lorca is mystery-as-character - he exists as a point of intrigue first and as a person second (and is thus a total waste of Jason Isaacs - compare and constrast with his fantastic, terrifying character on The OA). And Burnham is totally inconsistently written; instead of the series showing us things about her, we're instead constantly told them by other people.

    I was really hyped for Discovery in the run-up to its premiere and didn't want to get on board the negativity train - indeed, I didn't really understand why so many people seemed to be so negative about the show before it had even debuted - but its issues are so manifold and baked in, and it's such an unpleasant viewing experience, that I'm only still on board out of morbid curiosity now. This isn't my Star Trek, it's just awful - way worse than Enterprise and perhaps even worse than the Abrams films.

    terrible. This series sometimes seems an involuntary parody. Acting and storytelling are very bad. Proceeds linking situations that seem to be unrelated one to each other. Colors, directing and special effects have the sole purpose of stun the viewer so that he does not see the absolute void of the show. This is not star trek, alternates an acceptable episode and an unwatchable, and this is the unwatchable one. Poor Frakes, poor Star Trek, poor us.

    I'm not as negative on the show as many of the commenters on here are. But I will say that I think it's true if you strip away the visuals there isn't much there.

    The absolute best Trek episodes - City on the Edge of Forever, The Inner Light, Duet, The Visitor, In The Pale Moonlight, etc - are basically stage plays. The visuals and even the sci-fi trappings can be stripped away, because ultimately the story is about the journey of the characters - and is still compelling even if you imagine the actors on a bare stage in plain clothes.

    Discovery hasn't reached this level yet, but I wouldn't expect it to. I don't try to imagine the episodes as stage plays though. I try to imagine them as episodes of 90s Trek, without modern effects and fancy camerawork. The answer I generally find is mediocre at best. This is because the basic work of character development is still underdone (albeit better than most Trek series in the first season) and the plotting to date has been nothing special.


    Saying if you strip the visuals away from a visual medium that it would be worse isn't a particularly profound observation. Visuals are storytelling.

    And as a follow up, City, Inner Light, and In Pale Moonlight all have some pretty iconic, quotable visuals even if they're rather "simple" - the design of the Guardian, Picard clutching his flute in the dark of his quarters, Sisko staring directly into the camera. These episodes too would experience a marked loss without visuals.

    TV and Film are more than just the script, the dramaturgy.

    @ Lobster,

    You're right. Visual storytelling can turn a good script into something memorable. But visuals cannot turn a bad script into something memorable, only something flashy. The question is what's left over when you peel away the effects. In the end the core of the piece has to be the story, the writing. We're here to see human beings telling a story. That is not replaceable.

    @Peter G.

    From a larger perspective outside Star Trek I'd actually say that's quite factually untrue - my favorite director Mario Bava never had a good script his entire career but his mastery of visual storytelling created highly memorable films that have directly influenced many of today's top directors (David Lynch, Guillermo Del Toro, Scorsese to name a few) and regularly play retrospective series' in theaters.

    Wow this show really isn't popular here! I've been lurking on here for a fair few years whilst going on binge sessions through all the Trek series. They have all had their highs and lows. Especially in their first series.

    Yes Discovery is different. Probably closer to DS9 I would say in the darker mood, episodic arcs and the overall ease of getting into battle. Morally there are certainly shades of Janeway and Sisqo in terms of dubious decisioning.

    The loss of Michelle Yep was disappointing and I hope she may show up in the MU.

    In saying all that, I really like the show. The lead actress isnt always the most captivating but that may be a function of her Vulcan upbringing. Her diction is also a little off putting especially when she pronounces the word Good! See if you notice next time.

    But there is some great chemistry among the ensemble which I think comes through. There has been some comic relief although not to the extent expected on Star Trek. We also don't have the typical outsiders story from what I can gather: Spock, Worf, Data, 7 of , Odo etc... which goes to the human condition or explores what it means to be alive. I am guessing that Tyler may serve this purpose (i.e. a superimposed synthetic personality) but he is going to need an incredible redemption arc to achieve that feat. Does that have legs to run as a story? Possibly.

    I would have to agree with Karl Zimmerman, Trek is characterised by essential theatre style interplay. What with the special effects we haven't seen that happen. I hope as the series settles down perhaps in the second season we get to see the cast showing off their acting chops in low tech high drama epsiodes.

    The Mirror Universe has become a new crutch for Star Trek. I'm so glad TNG avoided the MU during its 7 year/4 movie run. (and the TNG MU comic book miniseries is non-canon so it doesn't count)


    You see a bit of both over the 10-episode-long comments. Some positive, some negative. I like Discovery also for the same reasons you mention. I am not too fond of this episode - for clunky settings in a couple of key scenes (Jammer also touches on them in his review) but mostly because I have never been a big fan of the mirror-universe episodes. Having said that, I am totally on board with DSC, probably more so after 10 episodes then I was with all of the previous series after 10 episodes, except TOS.

    Lobster Johnson,
    Good point. Filmmakers like Lynch, Leos Carax, Aronofsky bank on visuals (sometimes with zero storyline) in their movies. I personally am not a fan of art-with-no-storyline films, but I respect that they have their followers.

    Patrick D,

    So true.. I am also glad TNG never did it. DS9 was a typical case of a series overdoing it (yawn), and I say that despite the fact that DS9 remains, to this day, my favorite Trek series in its totality.


    I'm actually a big fan of the Mirror Universe in theory, but I agree with you about how it was used in DS 9--my favorite Star Trek series in all other respects.

    For one thing, they simply went there too damn much. Another thing is, the value system expressed in their MU history was atrocious. Reform leads to societal collapse. Not being a fascist dictatorship makes you weak. Yes, the show was often about bending the rules of a liberal society but only in certain circumstances.

    For me, the Empire either lasted or reformed into something like the Federation. I do like the non-DS 9 portrayals, but I hope Discovery has a couple episodes there and then leaves it behind forever.


    Yes, I see now that in an earlier comment, you did say that you did not like DS9's use of the mirror universe. Agreed on the reasons too.

    Just to clarify, this episode did also have some strong moments.

    The scene with Ash and L'Rell in the brig was very well done. Latif and Chieffo really milked that moment where Ash switched to the Voq' identity and began talking in Klingon. Same with when L'Rell realizes that something is wrong and Tyler tries to free himself mentally and get away, awesome performances by both. It also helps that Frakes was behind the camera, and knew the angles to use (1st-person views switching back and forth was masterful), to make those moments as intense as possible. Even the second time I watched that i.d.-switch sequence, I was captivated by the tension.

    I can say the same with the fight scene between Connor and Burnham. Martin-Green had some of her best performances of the series in this episode, including in that elevator scene. Tilly also had really strong scenes in the first 30 minutes. She probably benefits from this mirror-universe visit more than anyone else in terms of character development.

    Having said all that, I still hope next week is the end of this mirror-universe saga..

    I like it, it had a different feel which I believe may be the FRAKES FACTOR (-tm). Maybe he'll get them to interject some meat and potatoes to go with the hundred pounds of cake frosting as well. A lot of flash and not a ton of substance, with very rare exceptions.

    Though I love DS9 they went to the MU about 2 or 3 times too many and ultimately watered it down and wrecked it (see also: the Borg on VOY). This trip to the MU will be cool but only if it's for 2-3 episodes, not for an entire season or rest of the show I think. It's too gimmicky.

    I also believe Lorca is from the MU. It makes a ton of sense.

    "Having said all that, I still hope next week is the end of this mirror-universe saga.." Mertov

    Yes! Or even if we get stuck there for three, then let THAT be the end of it. But tell a good story while we're there.

    I've probably said something like this before, but I'd like to see Michael tempted to stay where she is, as it's strangely the first time in her life she's ever fit in. She's a rare popular Imperial captain. As you say, the elevator fight was great. So the way I'm imagining it is she gets a little too used to her role.

    Maybe Tyler tries to use this to keep her there, get her to destroy the Discovery and thus get to be with her AND serve the Klingons by keeping the spore drive and cloaking device secrets lost forever.

    Before she does anything really bad, she feels sorry for her crew and the rebels and comes to the Discovery's assistance and helps get the ship back home. I hope she meets Michelle Yeoh's character again in whatever MU role she has.

    I see her as either a rare human rebel or the Empress. Speaking of the mysterious Emperor or Empress (Emperor might be used for both men and women in the future like sir) I'd like to meet them given all the ranting about "the Palace." But that would take a lot of story to get them to earth. I doubt the Emperor travels much.

    Tilly was lots of fun having to act tough and dominant when that isn't her nature. "What the heck!" "Hold your horses!" It made me think about what repressed character traits she might have, though when she started getting into the role.

    I agree with your comments on L'Rell and Tyler scenes.

    Seeing how there isn't much left tying the characters to the Prime Universe, I could see the MU arc playing out for the rest of the season. I mean why redo the uniforms/ship and have everyone take on an alternate identity if you're only going to use that for a few episodes.

    Plus, it seems that Lorca has a big plan in store for the Discovery and its crew. He may say he wants to get the Discovery home, but all his actions indicate that he's pretty happy being in the MU for now. It was him that sent everyone here, after all.

    @ Chrome

    Maybe he's really the MU Lorca and he'll try to make the crew help him in his plot to become Emperor in exchange for something they need to get the ship home.

    This will involve entering the Palace as they were warned not to do.

    I imagine Saru causing chaos in the Palace running around with his panic-driven super strength and speed. :)

    Excellent review, Jammer! And you are spot on, it's not about the Tyler/Voq reveal (we already had suspected that), it's about the aftermath of that knowledge. BSG did a fantastic job with the Boomer character. Even after learning she was a Cylon, she resisted it. It took several years of brainwashing from Cavil to convince her to see herself as a machine. Even then she turned on Cavil at the very end to save Herra... I digress... I'm looking forward to Tyler's journal as he learns more about who he truly is.

    TL;DR at the end.

    @Jammer: Well, I can only mirror the feelings of others in this thread. To me, Culbers death wasn't meaningfull beyond being an obvious plot-hook to create some drama. Of course his death has implications for the story, but his death itself does nothing for me. Culber played a really minor part in this series so far - he mostly sticks out because he is gay. Otherwise, he is pretty flat. He is not the EMH from Voyager, nor is he Bones. He was, to me at least, always a second line character. And the only person he seems to have regular contact with is Stamets - so his death means literally nothing to any other character. Saru has never spoken to him, Lorca does not seem to care about anybody anyways, and Burnham doesn't know him. Tilly never talked to him.

    And for Voq/Tyler: Again, his drama just leaves me cold. Maybe he does not want to be Voq again, maybe he does. Maybe he killed him when he was Voq, maybe he didn't. Right now, it seems that he only does not want to be Voq because his brainwashing didn't work right and he is (of course) in love with Burnham. So I fully expect the show to pull the trigger at one point and make him Voq again, so that Burnham can have some drama, too. The show just operates on drama, and creates it wherever possible, and forces it some time.

    Boomer was never introduced as a Cylon, and there was no clear forshadowing that she would turn out to be a Cylon, and she was finally beeing revealed in the season finale of season one. She had a life other than being a Cylon. Tyler has so far only shown to be usefull to Lorca, and being attracted to Burnham. There was never a moment where the crew just sat together (like they would do in BSG) and talk about things. For all the focus on character, Discovery feels like there are islands that small groups of characters are inhabitating, but never venturing out of those boundaries, with the possible exceptions of Lorca and Burnham. Saru only talks to Burnham and Lorca, Tilly talks only to Burnham and Stamets (well, and to Lorca, briefly), Tyler only talks to Burnham and Lorca ... Of course there are short interactions between the characters, but not enough to build chemistry of any kind, as the only people who actually act are Burnham and Lorca - everyone else mostly reacts. On Voyager for example, Janeway would give an Order, Tuvok would tell Harry to adjust his sensors or something, or contribute some alternative solution to a problem, Tom Paris would make a snarky comment, and Chakotay would berate Tom Paris, and later in the Episode, Tom and Harry would sit in the mess hall and talk about something, and B'Elanna would walk by, talk to them briefly, Neelix would annoy them, and so forth.

    On Discovery, none of that happens. Lorca gives an Order, and that order gets executed - except if Burnham has something against that, then Lorca will maybe change his mind. Later, nobody talks about anything (except for the previously mentioned character islands), because everybody is busy doing something thats in a moral grey area. There is never any kind of human interaction between members of the crew, if it doesn't involve Lorca or Burnham: Yes, at first, everybody viewed Burnham with mistrust, and now everybody likes her - but does Stamets like Saru? Does Saru know that Tilly even exists? I wouldn't know, as there is never a private moment on the show.

    So, TLDR: What I am trying to express is that there is no chemistry between most of the characters, and almost no character has any motivation that goes beyond what is necessary to move the plot along. Half of the bridge crew does not have a name and has never said anything other than "Yes Sir". We don't even know if they have a chief engineer, for crying out loud ... or a Chief Medical Officer... So consequently, it is very hard to care for characters that we only know because of their utility to the plot - and half of the characters aren't even likeable to begin with. There is no cocky Riker with a winning smile or a Dianna who is really understanding and caring, everybody is grumpy, on edge, and totally stressed out. That may be realistic if you are at war - but it doesn't make the characters enticing. And interesting characters like Saru get no screen time anymore.

    What you said about Boomer is wrong, like super wrong.
    There is this whole arc with helo and Athena (the other 8) down on Caprica starting in Episode 1 Season 1. Have you even watched the show?!
    Everybody knew from the start that she was a cylon. *sighs*

    Sun, Jan 14, 2018, 9:06am (UTC -6)

    I don't believe we "knew" she was a Cylon until she had sex with Chief in one of those ammo-lockers. (spine red thingy) .... or that episode. I don't think it was from the get-go.

    It was super clear from the beginning. Did anybody actually watch BSG?
    The other cylons while watching were constantly talking about Helo and Athena. They set everything up for them like in the reastaurant and other places. It was never a secret.
    Not to mention all the stuff that "happened" to Boomer like the bombing of the watertank or the thing with her locker.

    Have to back up @Booming here.

    It was definitely clear from the mini series that Boomer is a Cylon.

    The reveal that Sharon is a Cylon is the last shot of the miniseries. And every episode of the first season, starting with the first, begins with a prologue about the Cylons having many copies, with a split screen showing Boomer/Sharon. Not sure how you can say that wasn't a clear, defining part of the character from the get-go.


    A few days ago, I was reading your review of the final episode of Voyager, and this remark caught my attention:

    "Ultimately, the overall biggest problem with "Endgame" is that no one pays a price for Voyager getting home, despite all the questionable means exploited to get there. There's a lot of talk about how getting home is not the most important thing about Voyager's existence. Indeed, one of the story's key turning points comes when Harry — yes, Harry — makes a "rousing" speech in the conference room about how Voyager's mission is the journey and not the destination. Unfortunately, coming from Harry, I found this speech laughably portentous. It's also not very true. Voyager has always been about the destination, because the journey has usually been contrived for the sake of easier entertainment value."

    Your criticism was made in the context of a larger criticism about the show's being a series of one-off, self-contained episodes, where there are no consequences, where there is no continuity, and where characters do whatever the jerry-rigged plot of the week require them to do.

    I've liked Discovery very much, on the whole, but find it interesting how the serialized format does not necessarily erase the problems in Voyager's storytelling.

    While Voyager's "destination" - overriding focus - was always getting the ship back home, with the little moments that made up the journey scattered into overplotted, underwritten story pieces that never mesged, Discovery's "destination" is also a problem: It is whatever "gotcha" or twist moment the show wants to spring on us (Voq's identity reveal, for example) so that we'll be awed in the moment...

    Characterization and character motivation, week in and week out, vary in accordance with the immediate need to deliver big on one of these "Bang" moments.

    The problem with structuring a show that really is made up of a series of mini-arcs, each leading to its own "Wow, What a Great Moment That Was!" is that you've made it harder for yourself to just slow things down (kind of like when Nicholas Meyer, after hearing Ricardo Montalban's first line readings as Khan, told him, "You're letting them see your top. Never let them see your top.")

    The min-arc structure (which is also on Game of Thrones) encourages this kind of roller-coaster approach to storytelling.

    Voyager should have been more about the journey than the destination. Discovery should find a way to be more about the journey than the turning of the screws on us while we ride the bus.

    Possible solution (easier said than done): settle for something in between complete serialization and complete one-offs. Battlestar Galactica did somewhat well in this regard; it had an overarching arc but in between the grand moments characters talked about things that did not immediately further the demands of the plot.

    Discovery has shown it is capable of finding some kind of balance ("Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad"); I hope it tries again.

    Okay, sorry, I just misremembered, then, mea culpa, it has been quite some time since I watched the series. Either way, the point remains, that Boomers "real life", her human identity, was real and relatable enough that in my memory her cylon identity is the "fake" identity - thus her struggle became relatable. Which is not the case with Tyler, which was the whole point I was trying to make. Discovery so far has not made me care for its characters, hence the drama feels empty and forced.

    Sorry for the double post, but you can't make edits here: Boomer was so relatable, that I remembered the story from her point of view, apparently.

    Saru said something odd in this episode. That the navigational computer was confused because nothing was where it was supposed to be but ultimately their coordinates relative to the galactic center were correct. This implies that all the stars are in a different configuration in the Mirror universe. I thought this was a silly thing to introduce, but I just rewatched Mirror Mirror and there was this exchange:

    Kirk: Star readings?
    Scotty: Everything's where it's supposed to be. Except us!

    So... there's that. proof this isn't the same mirror universe I guess? :P

    Frakes saved this one but the scripting is still amateurish. The storyline continues to be convoluted. Most people here are caught up in the drama trying to guess what comes next. I personally could not care less because I don't care about the characters, and the reason is, they exist only as props to move along the pre-determined plot. Essentially every character is a plot device, especially burnham and tyler. The characters that I'm supposed to care the most about, I care the least about. If we are to care about the main characters, we must see them living their daily lives, going through the motions, encountering every day situations. But the series is so focused on serialization that we totally miss it. But it's not even doing serialization correctly. BSG built great tension in the first season with its use of the second storyline down planetside--you essentially had two parallel serial arcs that you knew would eventually clash and produce good stories.

    So, why should I care which universe they are in? Does it even matter?
    For me not at all. I have no sense of place for the Enterprise or her crew at this point. I don't know where they are and I don't care that much.

    By this time in TNG we were getting into things like Q ("Hide and Q"), meeting Lwaxana Troi for the first time, a fun early holodeck episode "The Big Goodbye", and then of course "Datalore" with the crystalline entity.

    Were these incredible episodes? Of course not, but the point is, midway through season 1 the writers were stepping out and establishing big characters and concepts.

    With Discovery, we have some story arcs that really went nowhere, and now an abrupt switch into the mirror universe that feels like a big reset button. Now, don't get me wrong, I think the mirror universe is fun. But I think you do things like that once you have the basics down, once you have established the universe a bit more. We don't have any big characters. There was one semi-successful guest star who played Mudd and that was my favorite episode of the first season.

    I think the entire show is totally weighed down by its prequel status and I can almost feel the constrictions in place on what they can do. Maybe that's why we are in the mirror universe already. The more I watch the more I'm sure it was a mistake to do another prequel. They should've just gone forward with the series, something totally new. And I know a lot of people are with me on this. It doesn't mean we can't have some fun in the past, but it's the past and we can all feel it. The actors can feel it too. That means it's even MORE important to focus on the basics, the characters, their lives, their relationships. The universe needs to be FLESHED OUT more, we need some stories about crew members on the enterprise, we need to see different areas of the ship, get a few more standalone episodes. These arcs are just....falling flat. I can't think of any other way to put it.

    The two funniest and truest lines of your review:
    '"Despite Yourself," on the other hand, shows signs of this series becoming a series of prologues followed (or interrupted) by more prologues.'
    'Is this a Federation starship or a secluded murder-mystery mansion on the upstate coast?'

    This one slightly exceeded my expectations. But since I knew in advance the Discovery would end up in the MU, my expectations were very low. I've always felt that the MU was a gimmick that worked for its first episode (or two), but as a sci-fi concept falls apart when you think about it too much. Starting with "Through the Looking-Glass" it has been used mainly for good vs. evil caroonish mayhem, which I've never cared for, and "Despite Yourself" was no exception.

    Still, there were some surprisingly good character moments here (humorous and otherwise), and some of the best scenes of the episode involve the crew preparing to act like their counterparts (especially Tilly).

    Although I am in favour of killing regular characters once in a while (Anyone Can Die and all that), I am sad that Culber is dead, because after all the hype we got about finally showing a long-term homosexual relationship on Star Trek, we've only gotten 2 or 3 scenes of them actually together, and he could have been an interesting character in his own right.

    The Tyler/Voq/L'Rell stuff isn't working for me at all. I see that they're trying to create a realistic portrayal of the psychological effects of what he's been through, but something about it feels... off.

    @ Jammer,

    Love your observation of the backwards tone of the 'evil' universe being lighter and the 'good' universe being grim. It reminds me of the series The Lexx, in which


    the heroes discover after some time in a horrific life that the universe in which they grew up was the 'good' one out of the two! The sardonic humor abounds as they eventually have to leave that living hell in order to enter the 'dark zone'.

    I love reading these comments sections in general, but it kind of spoils it when people bring in stuff from outside the show like the doctor not being dead. Couldn't we have a policy not to discuss that sort of thing, at least not without a spoiler warning?

    I thought this was the best episode yet. Surprised to be deep into the comments and no reference to Trump. I thought that was clearly what the writers were going for when they had Michael describe the Terran Empire.

    I was very surprised by Culber's death. Even though the Discovery producers have made it clear they're not afraid to kill off main characters this was tasha yar level senseless. It's a shame, he was the most likeable of the main crew and we hardly got any exploration of his character.

    This is my first post on Discovery but I am thoroughly enjoying it so far. With a few obvious issues that Jammer's mentioned here and in previous reviews:
    - The spore drive is stupid (I've no issue with point to point travel, but this set up is way too far fetched)
    - Continuity

    It's a shame they didn't set it after Voyager, it would have given them a lot more freedom and they don't even make any use of TOS era stuff anyway so I don't see the point in the self-imposed restriction from the time period.

    So I have a basic MU question that I don't understand...

    If a secondary universe is supposed to mirror a primary universe in some fashion with some details changed, they must have some common starting point where the two break off - Sliding Doors style, right? For example, in this MU, there are a lot of similarities (ships, names, people, languages, technology) that seem to indicate that the two universes had an extremely similar history up to some particular point in time. When was that point - two centuries ago, two minutes ago, twenty thousand years ago, the Big Bang?

    It seems to me that the further back in history the common point is, the more radical the differences would be between the universes. To the point that anything more than 50-100 years earlier makes the MU unrecognizable.

    What am I missing? Or is this just a sci-fi trope i should simply grin and accept?

    The MU is 100% writer's device. There is no logical way you can have a divergence that is so similar, with the existence of the same people, yet completely different or "opposite." There is no way to reconcile it.

    After seeing what it took to turn a Klingon into a convincing enough human for a deep cover mission, I've got to say... I'm feeling a lot more sympathy for Arne Darvin than ever before. :)

    After a generally terrible first chapter, I've finally brought myself around to watching the rest of Season One. Bringing the Mirror Universe into Discovery so early reeks of desperation (or more misguided fanservice, which DIS has served up in abundance).

    The main problem with using the MU here (aside from the fact that it has been played out on DS9 and ENT) is that capricious and gratuitous violence is already a hallmark of Discovery in the (supposedly) Prime Universe. Think back to the violent conclusion of "Battle at the Binary Stars" or the sudden, bloody death of Cmdr Landry or the shocking murder of Dr. Culber in this very episode. I mean, how much worse could the Mirror Universe really be?

    As usual, the visual effects are excellent, but even Jonathan Frakes's steady direction couldn't eliminate the excessive lens flares and dutch angles that we've come to expect from DIS. Is this really what they think people want?

    Anyway, I'm finishing up an initial viewing of VOY Season 7 at the same time as I watch the rest of DIS Season 1. For all of its faults, Voyager is the only one I'm looking forward to watching each night.

    OK, so I've said before I'm fully up for a bit of Mirror Universe action. And for me this didn't disappoint. I think Frakes brought a sure guiding hand - it could've lost balance swinging from the grimmest of dark drama (the Tyler story is getting pretty black, and the killing of Culber definitely counts as a "whoa!" moment) to the typically MU comedic overtones (Captain Killy and Scottish engineers an example). But I thought it carried off those moments with sureness of touch that provided laughs and shocks with equal aplomb.

    If there's a downside there's the willingness for all concerned (Burnham/Culber/Saru) to overlook Tyler's obvious instability. Necessary for the plot but really.....?

    I love the idea of the MU Discovery turning up in our universe - now that would be an interesting one episode diversion - and am I alone in waiting with anticipation to see evil MU Saru? 3.5 stars.

    This is where Discovery lost me.

    I hate hate HATE the stupid, retarded, cartoonishly moronic mirror universe with an all-consuming passion. It's the dumbest, lamest, most idiotic thing Star Trek ever did, and why they keep doing it is a mystery to me. Every episode to feature it has been irredeemably putrid.

    In most Trek series, I can ignore the wretched mirror universe episodes because they have no place in continuity. Discovery is designed so that I can't. The knowledge that this drivel is going to infest the show is too much for me. You lot are welcome to pick the peanuts out of this poop, but I'm out.

    Discovery really is Trek for the Scandi Noir generation.

    Question: where is Admiral Cornwell in this episode? Wasn’t she rescued from the Ship of the Dead?

    Great episode all around, but how can it be the MU without sexy belly button baring uniforms on the female officers?? I for one would love to see Detmer in one of those.

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